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Martin Doudoroff

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Everything posted by Martin Doudoroff

  1. Other than the brand Sam referenced, it doesn't mean a damn thing.
  2. I've done side-by-side taste tests from previously-unopened bottles of every major sweet, dry and bianco vermouth available in the U.S. Some of the impressions I'm hearing in this thread strike me as dubious. Generally speaking, it's fair to say that the Italians make lousy French-style vermouth (dry), and the French make lousy Italian-style vermouth (rosso and bianco, both sweet). The only exception I've found is Cinzano, which makes solid vermouths in all three styles. Martini also makes reliable rosso and bianco vermouth. Noilly Prat and Boissierre make reliable French vermouth. These are all inexpensive workaday products for mixology and cooking (in the French cases), and are certainly distinct from each other, but they're all similar "quality". We don't get Carpano's entry-level vermouths in the USA, but we do get their Punt e Mes and Antica Formula, both of which are extraordinary, significantly different from the more typical products, and suitable for drinking straight, in addition to applications in mixology. The two Vya vermouths from California are also extraordinary and I cannot recommend them enough for mixology or drinking straight (certainly neither are "overwhelmingly sweet" by any reasonable standard). The main warning I have about vermouths is that they are relatively low proof and they oxidize unbelievably quickly. They don't exactly "go bad" but their character, particularly the nose, changes within minutes after opening a bottle for the first time. You can test this easily enough by picking up two identical small bottles of vermouth, opening one and decanting some, sealing it again, waiting half an hour, then opening both bottles and tasting samples from each. (This may account for the "mustiness" comment I spied earlier in the thread.) Different brands may change at different speeds and in different ways: I haven't tested them all in that regard. The best practice is to buy the smallest bottles you can and not let them sit around.
  3. Interesting. What distinctions does the law draw between categories #2 (flavored brandy) and #3 (brandy liqueur or brandy cordial)? I've never encountered an unadulterated eau-de-vie that tastes like fresh fruit, and I cannot see how that would be possible. There's no way enough of those characteristics would survive the distillation process to produce that sensation. The nose, on the other hand, should be spectacular. It's also worth noting that the better liqueurs tend to be at the higher end of the proof scale, although that is not a sign of quality, per se. Brizard's stuff tends to be 60 proof. I've noticed that herbal liqueurs seem to lend themselves better to high proof than the fruit liqueurs (witness absinthe or get).
  4. what would it have been? A sweeter liquor based one, or a dryer eau-de-vie?I am assuming the former. ← The answer is that you cannot just assume. Most often, it will mean the liqueur, but there are notable exceptions that continue to derail people. This problem has been exacerbated through clerical errors. Most recipe books are re-statements of recipes from earlier books. One author might erroneously assume that "Apricot brandy" meant the liqueur and rewrite a recipe a calling for "Apricot schnapps". Then a third author might re-state the second author's butchered recipe with different proportions that the third author finds more agreeable. Now you've got an old recipe that may or may not be good, a newer recipe that is almost assuredly undrinkable, and a newest recipe that might be at least okay. And they all have the same name. Happens all the time.
  5. A few points: As far as I know, no, there is no comparable apricot liqueur to Brizard Apry available in the U.S. Pretty much every other brand I've ever tasted was between bad and revolting. It's a sad state of affairs. Generally speaking, in the United States, you should approach purchasing any liqueur from Bols, Hiram Walker, Jaquin, Llords, Boulaine, or any other marque that seems to produce "one of every flavor" with extreme unease and trepidation. Brizard, despite their distribution problems, is the lone exception: not all are the best, but none are bad. (Note that we've never been able to get more than a fraction of Brizard's entire product line on these shores.) Bols makes decent liqueurs in the Netherlands for the European market, but those products have no relation to the products marketed as Bols in the USA, which are (cheaply and poorly) produced in Canada by a whisky conglomerate. When in doubt, if it seems too cheap to be good, it's probably not fit for consumption. Regarding terminology: Alas, "Apricot brandy" can refer to either a liqueur (typically low proof, very sweet) or an eau de vie (typically spirit proof and bone dry). "Apricot flavored brandy" only refers to a liqueur. In the USA, "apricot schnapps" is also a liqueur. Fruit liqueurs almost always have some color (there are a few exceptions). Few fruit liqueurs get above 60 proof, but it isn't out of the question. Fruit liqueurs generally smell and taste something like fruit-flavored candy. Fruit eau de vies are almost always completely clear and color-less, tend to be spirit-strength (in the vicinity of 80 proof), tend to smell beautifully like the fruit they were distilled from, and tend to taste like wood. Fruit eau de vies and fruit liqueurs cannot be substituted for each other in cocktails, nor can you produce a fruit liqueur by sweetening a fruit eau de vie.
  6. Very intriguing question. I don't have an answer for you, but I have two speculations to offer: 1) During at least a good part of the era you're focused on, New England was distilling vast quantities of rum, and it seems to me that--geographically speaking--much of the rum that was available around the Great Lakes might have come from there. Rum was also being made in places like New York and probably anywhere else that molasses might reasonably be shipped. 2) Whatever aging the rum enjoyed was probably inadvertent, from being transported in a barrel. Whatever aging characteristics the rum got were probably more in line with dock rum than what a rum aged in the tropics might taste like. Suggestion: the Screech people in Newfoundland have recently begun pushing their product into the States. Check it out. It might be a good one to try.
  7. Kummel is probably a little stronger flavored than your Aquavit/sugar combo. This drink might not need a garnish, especially with such a nice glass.
  8. Well, the original cocktails were all probably considered morning drinks in their time. It was a stiff drink to start your day and a little dash of "medicine" (bitters) to help with the consequences of the previous days' drinking. As far as I'm concerned, the mimosa, bloody mary and screwdriver, despite being ubiquitous, are lousy drinks at any time of day. My favorite breakfast drinks are closely affiliated with New Orleans: - Milk Punch - Ramos Gin Fizz - Absinthe Suissesse
  9. A few bits on Maraschino cherries and Maraschino liqueur: First, there are three Maraschinos available in the U.S. (your mileage may vary): Stock, Luxardo, and Maraska. For many years, Stock's was all we could get in NYC; it's a bit simplistic, but we were grateful to have it. Luxardo's Maraschino became available again, several years ago, and there was much rejoicing, although I've always found Luxardo excessively woody. Maraska is a lesser-known Adriatic company that, comparable to Luxardo, produces an array of regional products. Its distribution has been a bit dicey, but their products are currently available in New York--at least--and they produce my favorite (by a mile) Maraschino. As of this writing, you might be able to mail-order Maraska Maraschino from here: http://www.wineglobe.com/12716.html Second, Toby Cecchini (Passerby, in NYC) did a nice piece for the NYTimes on May 1, 2005 (search the Times site on "Cecchini maraschino") on this topic. Besides his research, which is interesting, he explains a very effective and accessible way to produce your own macerated cherries after the original (essentially defunct) style: drop by Whole Foods and pick up a bag of Cascadian Farms Frozen Whole Organic Sweet Cherries, dump them in a mason jar, and cover with Maraschino. Better yet, divide them into three mason jars, top one with Marashino, one with bourbon, and one with cognac. Let 'em sit for three days. Eat. I've had them. They're good. Oh, and they LOOK good, too. Note that their taste will continue to evolve over time. For a while, that's a good thing. Eventually, the cherries may become too woody to be palatable (at least to me; maybe some of you California Chardonnay fans will like them that way?).
  10. Yea, that whole "powdered sugar" thing is a real problem, especially with all the hapless bartenders whose only bar guide is one of the gawdawful Mr. Boston books from the last several decades. You can use what we currently know as "powdered sugar" or "confectioners sugar" in preparing the exteriors of glassware or in dusting garnishes, but you simply cannot use it to sweeten a cocktail. Use simple syrup. Additional suggestions: Stop buying half-and-half. It has virtually no use in cocktails, and you can always cut cream with milk to produce your own half-and-half for your coffee or whatever. Also, look out for better cream that doesn't have additives: the better your cream, the better your cream drinks will be. In cases like the Ramos, I think it's always worth trying Dale DeGroff's recipe from Craft of the Cocktail (see page 117). You may elect to adjust his recipes to your own taste (often, in my case, to make them less sweet), but his book has many classic recipes that have been adapted and vetted for contemporary ingredients. (Keep in mind that all his recipes assume a 1:1 syrup.)
  11. Quite a project you've undertaken, here. I have no intention of joining you, but I'll try to keep an eye on your reports. A couple tips: The Savoy is one of the most prominent, early examples of "shovelware" cocktail books. These recipes are seldom fine-tuned or refined. It's quantity, not quality. The point was to produce a big cocktail recipe book for the English market, and the bulk of the book is recipes copied wholesale (accurately or not--for example, the Aviation recipe in Craddock omits the violet liqueur that made the original drink both more interesting and also gave it a hue that was more pertinent to its name) from an assortment of other sources Craddock had from his pre-prohibition days in the USA. Bottom line: - many recipes are essentially identical except for name or some trivial detail - many of these recipes will be terrible if you make them verbatim - many will be terrible no matter what you try - many can become sublime if carefully balanced; experiment Absinthe cocktails: all the qualifiers above apply doubly to the absinthe-intensive cocktails in Craddock. I suggest you order a bottle of Absinthe Edouard from Jade Liqueurs. I doubt you will regret it. I do not recommend any Czech absinthe. I do not recommend "La Fee Vert" brand absinthe. Should you become entranced with the Edouard, I recommend you talk to the Wormwood Society. I recommend not adding sweeteners to absinthe drinks (or absinthe itself) until you've verified it's needed. Absinthe is a liqueur, and the good stuff is already pretty sweet. If you have a crazy sweet tooth (like many 19th Century French apparently did) sweeten to taste. Also note that many recipes published in the 20th Century really mean "pastis" when they say "absinthe". It's always nice to have the real thing, although it won't often make or break a drink. Of all pastis, I recommend Herbsaint and 51 most highly.
  12. It's inevitable that speculation and hearsay play a significant role in this sort of construct. Time and further contemplation may erode some assumptions, but I think Curtis has written closest thing we've got to a definitive popular history of rum as well as the rightful heir and companion to William Grimes' "Straight Up Or On The Rocks". This really is a good book.
  13. The nice thing about drinks such as the Negroni (or the Manhattan or the Martini or the Daiquiri) is that they are combinations of ingredients that have a natural affinity for each other. (Contrasting examples would be the 20th Century Cocktail, the Blood and Sand, the Jupiter, where balance is precarious and perfection is the only degree between sublimity and abject failure.) Unless you subvert yourself with downright lousy ingredients, it's pretty darn hard to go wrong! You can go to great lengths to convince yourself that one particular formulation is the zenith of Negroni-ism, only to be later shocked, SHOCKED, by the winsome characteristics of another. To paraphrase another, the ideal Negroni is the one in my glass at the moment!
  14. Care to describe the flavor profile?
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