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Craig E

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Everything posted by Craig E

  1. Recently discovered a huge grapevine growing on a chainlink fence in our backyard. The little wild grapes are tart and intensely red inside, so I thought they'd be good cocktail fodder. I remembered a clever drink from @bostonapothecary I found on Kindred Cocktails: Me and My Grandfather (so called because it paired unaged and aged grape-based spirits--pisco and cognac respectively). I muddled a handful of wild grapes and added equal parts lemon juice, mosto verde pisco, VSOP cognac, and the spruce syrup I'd made. (That last continues the foraging-in-the-yard theme, but mostly I used it because I couldn't be bothered to whip up the spec'ed regular simple syrup.) This turned out pretty grapey (surprise surprise) in an appealing way. These little unexpected grapes have lots of possibilities. I think mother nature is encouraging my cocktail hobby.
  2. Finally got to trying an Inkwell and I really liked it!
  3. Good but not great, I'd say. I did manage a Coke float/root beer float flavor pretty well, but the final drink wasn't as dynamic as I hoped. The whey is not a concentrated flavor (in cocktail terms) so not easy to feature and retain a vibrant drink. (I'd make an analogy to using orange juice instead of lemon as an acid in a mixed drink.) Guess there's a reason cream rather than milk is often called for in cocktails. So I think better success with my clarified milk might come in experiments that don't try to feature the dairy flavor, but rather move in other directions that might benefit from a more subtle lactic factor. I may just shake some superfine sugar into it and play with a "milk simple syrup." And I think next try will be something with lemon juice. Might work well in something in a Collins or sidecar realm.
  4. Latest experiment is clarified milk. Following this recipe, I heated whole milk and added lemon juice. After letting it curdle, I strained it through cheesecloth then coffee filters. The result was a translucent yellow-green liquid. Not especially clear (apparently I'd need much more serious filters to achieve that), but different enough in appearance from milk to give it some possibilities for cocktails. (Meanwhile threw a pinch of salt on the strained curds and made a great ricotta pizza out of it!) First drink experiment with the clarified milk was following an internet recipe for a bourbon milk punch. Bourbon, milk, vanilla, simple, nutmeg atop. This was rather meh, and I realized I have a big jar of whey and no good plans for using it. Then I remembered the bottle of Fee Bros. cardamon bitters ("Boker's style") that someone gave me a while back. In taste and especially aroma, these are strongly redolent of root beer flavor. I thought, root beer + sweet dairy flavors = root beer float, so that became my goal for a new concoction. Since Averna amaro has a pretty strong cola flavor, I thought it could play a sizable role. It took a few trials to settle on the best base spirit. I worked with some overproof demerara rum split with Jamaican rum, but these were too assertive in their rumminess. Something column-stilled would work better, and I settled on Flor de Cana 4 after deciding a shot of it wasn't all that different an experience than a nose-burning Coca-Cola burp. Split it with bourbon. So in the end it was 3/4 oz. each Flor de Cana, Elijah Craig bourbon, Averna, and clarified milk, plus 1/4 oz. simple syrup and two dashes Boker's bitters. Garnished with a brandied cherry.
  5. Also don't forget the orange twist--that little bit of orange oil helps lighten the syrupy-ness.
  6. Punch magazine's facebook feed posted that it's opening today.
  7. Worked out another winner, that I'm calling Pining for the Fjords. 3/4 oz each gin, aquavit, grapefruit juice, and spruce syrup, plus 1/4 oz lime juice, served in an Amère Sauvage-rinsed coupe with a grapefruit twist.
  8. Coming across @Rafa's Fir Geddiboutit on Kindred was among my inspirations. edited to add: and your own Snowdrop shows you've had similar ideas before!
  9. Ooh, first experiment turned out great! Built on the Last Word template, subbing aquavit for gin and spruce syrup for maraschino, and adding a grapefruit twist. I'm calling it the Firred Word.
  10. Got around to a project I've been thinking about for a while: making a piney syrup with needles from the big spruce tree in my front yard. Prepared with a bunch of Googling, concentrating on reassuring myself that the tree was properly identified. (Apparently some trees like spruce are great, but other similar-looking species like yews are toxic!) step one: collect green branches, shake the dry needles off, bring inside and pluck. step two: combine with sugar and water (I did 1:2:2). step three: while stirring, bring to a boil for a bit, then cut the heat and let sit for a few hours step four: strain through cheesecloth step five: throw in a little vodka as a preservative. Taste test is very appealing; now to figure out what kind of cocktails I can make with this. Open to suggestions!
  11. Midnight Prayer by Brian MacGregor, Jardinière, San Francisco, CA. 1 1/2 oz Gin, G'Vine Floraison (Plymouth Navy Strength) 3/4 oz St. Germain 1 t Crème de Violette dash Regans' orange bitters Stir, strain, up, lemon twist. For those in the "St. Germain makes everything better" camp, this drink will confirm your bias. Its sweet lychee flavor added instant appeal to this sourless Aviation. I've never had the G'Vine gin, but figured the navy strength Plymouth would be closer to the original intentions than the London dry gins I have on hand. I was amazed that high octane of the base spirit (57 ABV) was wholly masked by the mix.
  12. Christmas in Kentucky: 1 oz Overproof bourbon, Knob Creek (Elijah Craig) 1 oz Aperol 1 1/2 oz Grapefruit juice 1/2 oz Lime juice Shake, strain, lowball, rocks. Very nice. The grapefruit and Aperol both contributed a mild bitterness, just enough gravitas.
  13. I'll have to wait for the morning to get some orange blossom water from the grocery store to finish my batch of orgeat, but in the meantime I'm enjoying the almond pralines I made with the leftovers!
  14. @Rafa's Bourbon Decay (Bourbon, Campari, lemon, cassis). No real surprises here but a likable drink. I often find cassis to be a pushy ingredient, at least the bottle I have, so here I think the Campari is well placed--its bitterness, arriving a split second later, is a welcome counterpoint to the tart sip.
  15. The two new-to-me punches I made for the adults at a graduation party (kids got a raspberry sherbet/pineapple juice/ginger ale crowd-pleaser). Left is a Painful Punch. Right is Ferdinand and Isabella. Painful Punch was good. Labor involved (toasting spices, reducing orange and pineapple juice) was kind of fun and made my kitchen smell good, but in the end this tasted more or less like a simple sangria. Ferdinand and Isabella went faster at the party, and is one I would repeat. I subbed Papa's Pilar rum for the pricy Zacapa 23 at the liquor-store-guy's suggestion and that was a smart $20 saved.
  16. Supplies for a couple of graduation party punches. The Papa's Pilar is a sub for Ron Zacapa 23, which seems like an absurdly expensive ingredient to put in a punch. (Though the oloroso I did buy was almost as pricy.)
  17. ^ Only problem with that is that the lime is upside down!
  18. Happy 'Rack by Jordan Devereaux, Chemistry of the Cocktail 1 oz Apple brandy, Clear Creek 2 Year 1/2 oz Applejack, Lairds 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack, Van Oosten 3/4 oz Lemon juice 1/4 oz Grenadine 1/4 oz Allspice Dram 1/4 oz Simple syrup (optional) 1 pn Nutmeg (as garnish; optional) Shake, strain, up. I'm out of the Clear Creek so I just used 1 1/2 oz Laird's bonded for the base spirit. At the suggestion of a commenter at Kindred, I doubled the grenadine in place of the simple. Used homemade grenadine and homemade dram (which I poured a bit skinny as it's potent stuff). Plum forgot the nutmeg. This was delicious. Maybe more autumnal tasting for mid-May, but a very appealing mix of flavors. ★★★★★
  19. There are fewer variables in a cocktail than in a hamburger, so I'm not sure the analogy holds. I could just suggest a daiquiri for example, but I don't think the results would tell you which bartender was most skilled--more likely just the quality of rum or the luck of better limes. Maybe a better test of the quality of the bartender would be asking for a bartender's choice with a given spirit and see what they come up with.
  20. Alicante by Scott Holiday, Rendezvous, Cambridge. For Drink, Boston 1 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (Pierre Ferrand dry curacao) 1 oz Batavia Arrack, Van Oosten 1 oz Dry vermouth, Noilly Prat 2 ds Orange bitters, Angostura orange (Regan's) 2 ds Bitters, Bittermens Xocolatl Mole 1 twst Orange peel (expressed and discarded) 1 pn Salt (as garnish) As I read it, this recipe seems to be an attempt to use a liqueur as a base, and then work hard to keep the drink from being too sweet. The Batavia arrack added funk, the Noilly Prat dried it out, and the bitters and garnishes did their part to counter the saccharine base. I think it worked: first sip was sweet but then the countervailing forces kicked in.
  21. I imagine you're joking, and in theory I like the idea of foisting more interesting ingredients onto unadventurous guests, but for the record it's worth noting that there are people out there (my wife among them) with shellfish allergies so this would not be a substitution to do without notification.
  22. Yes, I mostly bought the bottle because of this little secret: the falernum I made is about 4 years old. It shows no signs of degradation, but when making drinks for others I thought it prudent to get some fresher stuff. Tasted them against each other tonight. The Velvet Falernum is sweeter; there's lime if you look for it but mostly flavors of soda-pop syrup, and a sugary finish. The homemade, made from this recipe if memory serves, is a "rounder" and deeper flavor, definitely preferable but some of those subtleties may well evaporate in the context of complicated fruity drinks which are the usual setting for falernum. @lesliec you're right, the Strega is pretty wonderful. Since it's herbaceous and honeyish, I just tasted it next to Drambuie, but the latter is far more generic and boring. I think it might be fun to try in some recipes that call for Drambuie, as well as Yellow Chartreuse. Happy to play with the Batavia Arrack too!
  23. Smith & Cross and Beefeater are restocks. The Beam Pre-Prohibition rye I bought on impulse, based on how it did in the NY Times blind test discussed around here a while back. The Strega, Velvet Falernum, and Batavia Arrack are all new to me (though I've been using my homemade falernum for a while). I'm bringing cocktails to a dinner party tonight and the theme is Vietnamese food, so I'm taking the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about the spirit from Southeast Asia. Planning to make Eulogies.
  24. Mexican Razor Blade by Dan Greenbaum, Attaboy, New York, New York (USA) 2 slices Cucumber 2 oz Tequila 1 oz Lime juice 3/4 oz Simple Garnish with pinch of cayenne on a floating cucumber slice. I muddled the cukes before realizing the spec said simply to include them in the shake. The cayenne slid off the garnish slice on the walk from the bar to the table, but that's a small matter. This was terrific! Benefits no doubt from good tequila (I like the Tesoro Platinum I used).
  25. Craig E

    Aperol

    That experience (harsh even distasteful first sip, but surprisingly appealing by the end) was borne out by tonight's experiment, the Paper Trail by Colin Shearn. 1 1/2 oz Bourbon 1 oz Aperol 3/4 oz Salers Gentiane (Bittermens Amer Sauvage) Grapefruit twist Thanks for the inspiration!
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