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mbrowley

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  1. mbrowley

    MxMo: Tiki

    Mahalo, Doug ~ Thanks for rustling us all together this month. I know how much you hate tiki and what a burden this must've been. I had every intention of not writing anything until I got back from my bourbonic Kentucky adventures next week, but you've prompted me to finally make those Bompas & Parr Mai Tai jellies that, to borrow a line from Richard E. Grant, has been squatting on my brain like an octopus for a fortnight. Along the way, I learned why my gin & tonics (and only my gin & tonics — not, say, my tiki drinks) glow in the dark of certain night clubs. Enjoy! The full post, including technique notes, and that glow-in-the dark deal, is here. The short version of the recipe: Mai Tai Jellies 8 oz medium Jamaican rum [i disregarded "medium" and used a mix of 5 oz Appleton Estate 12-year with 3 oz Smith & Cross] 5 Tbl orange curacao [Cointreau] 5 Tbl orgeat (see below) 2 oz 1:1 simple syrup 2 oz lime juice 2 packets (14g total) powdered gelatin [Knox] Mint leaves Combine the rum, curacao, orgeat syrup, sugar syrup, and lime juice in a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the liquid. Leave the gelatin to soften for 10 minutes. Gently, gently heat the liquid (do not bring it to a boil), stirring constantly, until the gelatin is melted. Once the gelatin has totally melted, pour the whole lot through a strainer and into a pitcher. Pour this mixture into a prepared mold or glasses (see above) and set it in the refrigerator at least four hours, but 12 will give it a stronger set. When you are ready to serve, unmold and garnish with the sprig of mint. ~ rowley
  2. Dakki ~ You're absolutely correct. There was such potential for this piece...to be split into about three separate articles; one on home distilling, one on craft distilling, and another on commercial spirits that evoke some of moonshine's white dog history. Instead, we got a sloppy, poorly thought-out writing conflating disparate concepts that was in parts just flat-out factually wrong. I was so angry at the flubbed chance to say something worthwhile when I read it that I wrote a response called A Writer's Guide to Moonshine here to get better information out. It was writing such as this that inspired me to write Moonshine! in the first place. Learned distillers and drinkers can disagree to some degree on what constitutes moonshine, but we can agree on what doesn't: the majority of Mr. Ozersky's article. The Time article was fumbled conceptually and, as a result, is a disaster of misinformation that readers who don't know any better will take as fact.
  3. mbrowley

    MxMo XLII: Dizzy Dairy

    Chris ~ Thanks for hosting this month. I admit I was crestfallen when I heard of the topic—dairy cocktails are the entire focus of the book I've been working on this year and I was hoping to keep the topic under wraps. But I'm happy to join in with a recipe and a call for help. My full post about Mixology Monday and the book is here. For my contribution, I went with sweetened condensed milk in a Brazilian batida, inspired by a recent trip to Rum Bar in Philadelphia. More info's at the original post, but here's the recipe: ~ rowley
  4. mbrowley

    Vintage Cocktail Books

    Erik ~ my assumption was that the "ladies' companion" was the single male reader of the book, not the book itself. Not a joke so much as a lame elbow in the ribs, boys'-club humor that hasn't aged well (note one companion to his multiple ladies, thus tomcatting about town).
  5. mbrowley

    Bourbon vs. Rye

    I enjoy bourbon so much on its own that I confess I don't use it much in cocktails, though my grandfather made his Manhattans with bourbon, so that's the way I do. I don't get all fussy about it, though. Now, an old fashioned is a temperamental drink and rye just doesn't cut it for me (for the record, I prefer mine with bourbon and without that Carmen Miranda headsalad muddling up the mix—just an orange peel is fine). I'll use either in a sour, though I wouldn't use a bourbon for a Sazerac (and call it that). On receiving a bottle of Templeton Rye last week, I began playing with a cocktail and need to tweak proportions more, but it seems it could go either way: whiskey (rye or bourbon), Torani Amer, Cointreau, and Angostura orange bitters. Hmmm...maybe I'm going even more minimal than an orange peel in that old fashioned, after all. [edited for spelling]
  6. mbrowley

    All About Bitters (Part 1)

    Been digging much into 19th century medical texts lately. Saw an 1845 reference just yesterday that suggested peach leaves could be used as medicine (half an ounce of dried leaves infused in a pint of boiling water for irritated bladder, "in sick stomach and hooping-cough"). I've only seen the water reference and no word whether peach leaves surrender their virtue (in the parlance of the day) to alcohol, which would be preferable when making tinctures for bitters. We may be heading down snakeroot territory here, but I've yet to research any modern survey on side effects, so take that as a matter of historical interest rather than a suggestion to run out and get dried peach leaves for tinctures. By the by ~ We have no peach trees, so, um, anyone have suggestions for where I can get dried peach leaves for tinctures?
  7. mbrowley

    MxMo XXX--Local Flavor

    I'm with you, Chris ~ vodka's not my usual tipple, and bloodies aren't what jump to mind when I want to wrap my hand around something cold, but drinking whiskey by the pool invites stares. Besides, this is quite nice. Just...go easy on the Herbsaint. Tried the drink with an Herbsaint wash and it was too much. Mere drops.
  8. mbrowley

    MxMo XXX--Local Flavor

    This one was a lot of fun. In the end, we settled on a Bloody Mary variant leveraging our proximity to Mexico, but with a nano-locale twist. The result? Clam Squeezin's, Absinthe, and the Bloody Fairy Cocktail I just poured another and am about to walk out the door to nurse it down under the blazing azure sky...
  9. I concur. Something about one of your recipes bothered me a little, Erik, though and it didn't take long for me to put my finger on it—I'm cheap. Er, that is, I'm always trying to squeeze as much value as I can from life and I saw some opportunity in the lemon slices that macerate in the rum and arrack for your Tales version of punsch. I've had luck with lemon pies and the old Shaker recipes that call for very thinly sliced lemons seemed a decent match for the lemon slices we'd otherwise just throw out after making a batch. So a pie was in order. Not a cocktail, of course, but lemons, rum, arrack, sugar, and a dose of finished punsch baked in a shell and inspired in part by this thread. Here's the recipe for lemon punsch pie. And, by the way, we're nearly halfway through the scaled-down one-liter batch. I should have made more, but want to play around with more tea varieties, especially a large dose of dragon eyes longan tea I have from In Pursuit of Tea. Authentic? Maybe not. Tasty? I'd lay money on it...At this rate, we'll need a new batch of punsch next week, so I'll let you know. This should be a magazine article! ←
  10. mbrowley

    Cordial Campari

    On the way back from the airport yesterday, I got sidetracked and hit just about every mom n pop liquor store on the (admittedly meandering) route home on my perpetual quest for more Malacca and obscure bourbons. There were many bottles of old-formula Campari to be had but I also saw 6-7 bottles of the Cordial Campari. I was curious, but not terribly tempted: at about $20 a pop, that's more than Havana Club blanco (Cuban, not Bacardi) goes for in these parts. After once having had a liquor cabinet that sprawled over three rooms, I'm trying to keep the current incarnation to a reasonable level. Something about this spirit just seemed to say "dud." Am I wrong? Am I missing out by passing these over?
  11. mbrowley

    Peychaud's Bitters

    In Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, Sara Roahen writes eloquently of so many aspects of eating and drinking in pre- and postdiluvian New Orleans that, it is, at some places, nearly heartbreaking. She writes in particular and at length of Pableaux Johnson and the coveted invitation to eat Monday red beans at his house around his grandmother's big old table. Now, I never did get a bowl of red beans at that table, but Pableaux did prepare something for me that I treasured almost as much. One hot, muggy-ass day, he poured me a glass of cold water with several hefty shots of Peychaud's and I immediately smiled as the swirling water took on an expanding spiral of pink. I'd been taking water with bitters for years and, little did Pableaux know, but that one gesture made me feel more at home than he could have realized. These days when it's hot and I'm in a group where several people are drinking bottled water, everyone knows which is mine: the pink one. Honest, now, what desk is living up to its potential without a bottle of Peychaud's in the drawer?
  12. mbrowley

    Liquor Store Scavenging

    Scored three bottles of Laird's bonded in the clearance bin of a small store in Leucadia, California. Everything else was overpriced, but at $8.99 a bottle for the Laird's, I was walking on clouds. My mom's even gotten in on the act, playing the innocent old lady asking for Malacca in smaller stores, hoping they don't know what they had. No dice so far. Last place I saw a bottle was over at Doc's forming the spine of a pink gin. Best deal I ever saw on bourbon was the Costco in Kansas City. They had Booker's for $35 a bottle (it's $70 at the little corner markup near my house). Didn't have time to snag it, so I went back the next day intending to buy a case—maybe even their entire stock to have it shipped home. Gone. Gone! Asked at customer service. Apparently the distributors did not like to see it priced so low, so they called it back to their warehouse. The entire inventory had been packed up and shipped out the night before. Argh. I was that close to dropping a week's salary on as many cases as they had. Now, the best deals for me are down the road in Tijuana groceries where the Cointreau and old formula Campari are about half price they are in the US. Havana Club? Also quite cheap there. Oh ~ I also ask at garage and estate sales if there's liquor afoot. More often than not, the organizers don't think to sell the stuff lurking in cabinets, closets, and basement shelves. For every unopened bottle of ancient bourbon, you'll have to heft the creepy weight of ten open and room-temperature bottles of coagulated Bailey's Irish Cream, but there can be some gems.
  13. Irvin S. Cobb, that opinionated and well-spoken liquor industry mouthpiece, writes in re: mint... ~ Irvin S. Cobb's Own Recipe Book (1936), Frankfort Distilleries, Louisville. Hyperbole aside, I'm with Cobb on this; peppermint is fine for the garden, but spearmint is—in our house, anyway—the only fitting mint for a juelp or mint syrup.
  14. mbrowley

    Falernum: The Topic

    Undoubtedly, the sublimity quotient would increase. But Herbsaint is a hard sell in the Rowley household; I'm the only one who drinks it. Once I snag some more mango, I'll opine on that delicious recommendation... I've also blown through almost all my falernum inventory. I can tell not only because there's more room in the fridge, but also because I'm hearing "What the hell is Falernum No. 4?" less often. Made a liter for a patio party of a watermelon-based drink we called the Mama Charlie that was heavy on the stuff. Our friend Mama Charlie herself is allergic to mango, so I juiced a watermelon for her, added the rum, falernum, bitters, etc. Another friend drank about half of the liter before anyone noticed. He still can't pronounce "falernum" but now we all know what kind of fancy underwear he sports. Time to get out the zester, toast the almonds, bruise the Penzey's cloves, and rustle up some overproof rum.
  15. mbrowley

    Falernum: The Topic

    I've been playing around a bit over the last few months with recipes using various falernum formulations (the Latin geek in me wonders: would that be falerna?). This one is turning into the drink of the moment, probably because it's been so damn hot here in San Diego: The Smakatoa 4 oz Pyrat XO Reserve rum (Bacardi 8 or Appleton's are also nice) 4 oz Naked mango puree ½ oz falernum 3 dashes Angostura bitters 1 oz seltzer Mix the first four ingredients in a pint glass. Add ice cubes to within an inch of the brim, stir with a bar spoon, top with seltzer, give it a quick swirl with a spoon, and serve immediately. As I mention in the full write-up, I’m not a big fan of seltzer in cocktails, but this helps to lighten the thick mango puree admirably, making it better suited to leisurely summertime drinking. Note that it makes a big, tall drink. I like smaller-portioned cocktails when they are largely alcohol, but a half-sized version of this just leaves me wanting more. [if the image seems blurry, adjust your screen and/or squint your eyes] [edited to fix typo]
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