3 Monks and a McGee

Well, I finally picked up my very own bottle of Chartreuse (the original, green variety) last week, and got busy mixing up some cocktails…

Like a friend of mine said, he describes Chartreuse as “gin on acid”.  This is a pretty good description.  Gin is very spicy with strong scents and tastes of botanicals.  Chartreuse is just that, only with scents and tastes of hundreds (130 to be precise) of spices and herbs flying at your nose and tongue, bouncing off the walls of your mouth and nose… so many in fact, it’s fun to guess what you’re smelling…  anise? clove? cinnamon? rosemary?  You can smell each and every one wait in line, then step up to the stage to take a bow, giggle, and then slip in to the shadows…

The first cocktail I tried was the Bijou.  I really didn’t care for this drink, and it wasn’t very pleasant.  It was a little too strong – very alcoholic.  It seemed like the gin and the Chartreuse were competing with each other… maybe a lighter gin, like a New Amsterdam, might be better to let the Chartreuse take center stage.

“Bijou”


1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz green Chartreuse

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

Dash of orange bitters

Maraschino cherry for a garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1300241159&sr=8-1

A nice way to enjoy the Chartreuse is to just simply enjoy the Chartreuse… by enjoying a nice, small glass of Chartreuse and ice.  Chartreuse is 110 proof (55% alcohol), so while it’s quite tasty on its own, it’s also quite strong and can knock you on the ground.  Watered down by the melting ice just makes it better and less intense.  It’s definitely something worth sipping… very nice.

I found another cocktail recipe that many suggested as the perfect cocktail to introduce oneself to Chartreuse… The Last Word.

Whether it’s a good introduction to Chartreuse or not, I don’t care… it’s a delicious cocktail!  The recipe calls for maraschino liqueur, which I don’t have.  Based on how much I love Cherry Heering, I should probably buy some (typically Luxardo’s the recommended brand).  I’ve never had maraschino liqueur, but I’ve read that it’s sweeter than the liqueur I have… the glorious Peter Heering Cherry liqueur.   Cherry Heering is one of my favorite cocktail ingredients, and supposedly it’s a much richer, tarter tasting cherry liqueur… different than maraschino liqueur, but what I have (and what I happen to love), so I figured it’s close enough to make The Last Word.  Maybe I’m wrong… I don’t know, but if I am wrong… I don’t wanna be right ; )

[NOTE: After writing this particular post, I did in fact buy some maraschino liqueur and made an authentic “Last Word”… For later notes and a photo of a real “Last Word”, which is now one of my favorite drinks, visit another post called “Trips Back and Forth to the Booze Merchant at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/ -Scientist McGee 5/8/11]

So the typical recipe for a Last Word is:

“The Last Word”

(no photo available)

1 oz gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz maraschino liqueur

1 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://ohgo.sh/archive/chartreuse/

My recipe, given what I have on hand, is:

“Denis’ Last Word”


1 oz gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

1 oz lime juice

Very good, I must say!  Actually, I should say… very good potential.  What I mean is that with a little tinkering, I could tell that this drink had the potential to be one of my favorites.  This version, which I doubt the swapping out of a different cherry liqueur would have this effect… was much too heavy on the lime flavor.  Maybe it was because I used bottled, pre-fab lime juice, I don’t know… I doubt a trusted recipe such as this would be so heavy on the lime taste though.  Also, I’d used a brand of gin called New Amsterdam, thinking that I didn’t like the way a stronger gin like Tanqueray seemed to compete with the taste of Chartreuse in the Bijou drink.  For this drink, I used New Amsterdam gin instead, a much tamer, lighter gin.  Big mistake… maybe it was the overpowering lime juice or maybe it was the weaker gin, but I could barely detect the gin.  So… I made some adjustments in my mind…

A couple nights later, I tweaked the recipe, and voila!  One of my favorite drinks!  Since it’s not the original recipe of The Last Word, maybe I should rename it?  Maybe this one should be called The Counter Argument?

“The Counter Argument”


1 oz Tanqueray Gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Delicious!!!

The Counter Argument beat The Last Word, in my opinion.  At least The Counter Argument beat my tweaked version of the Last Word (with a different cherry liqueur).   Without having maraschino liqueur, I can’t say 100% what a true Last Word tastes like.  But I’m pretty happy with my Counter Argument.

And I’m pretty happy with my bottle of Chartreuse… whether I’m drinking it straight on the rocks, or if I’m mixing it with gin and Cherry Heering.  It’s a pretty wonderful elixir.  Once autumn rolls back around (which I’m in no rush for), I look forward to trying a Brigadier, which is…

“Brigadier”

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

About 4 ounces hot chocolate

Mix ingredients in a warmed mug and stir


The road to the present…

Welcome back to Scientist McGee’s!  This is my second blog, and I’m glad you could make it.

Well, like I mentioned in my first post, I’ve been taking photos of each cocktail I make.  Well, not each and every one of them… I think maybe about a third of the cocktails I’ve made… I don’t always think to do this.  Like I don’t have a picture of a Martini or a Manhattan or a White Russian or a Gin & Tonic, so I guess I mainly remember to take a picture when I’m trying a new cocktail for the first time.

To catch up to present day, I wanted to post all of the pictures I have thus far.  Some of these I actually only made once.  Not because they’re not good necessarily, but well… I don’t know why.  I guess they just didn’t strike a chord with me enough to return to.  Most likely it’s because they were just average.  I didn’t fall in love with them… but I didn’t hate them either.  (If I hate one, I’d remember it… like the Long Island Iced Tea.)  So some of them I don’t have a strong enough memory of them to say much about them, so I’ll just list the recipe.

Anyways, this is the 2nd and I guess last post that’s more about catching you, the readers, up to speed to where I am today… starting with last summer and my Schnucks gift card, to early Spring 2011 today.  Now, with my first post being an introduction and this second post being a gallery of my “hits and misses” over the last 3/4 of a year, this brings us to modern day… and you know what “modern day” means, right?  That’s right – my first very own bottle of Chartreuse only 4 days away!

Remember, as you walk through my gallery of 2010/2011 cocktails, and later on through new ones I try… If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, questions, comments, etc., please by all means, let me know… I’d love to hear what you suggest!

So now, in chronological order, they are…

“The Bronx Bomber”

1.5 oz gin

1/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz dry vermouth

1/2 oz orange juice

1/4 oz lemon juice

1/4 oz simple syrup

orange twist for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Old Pal”

This is one I made when I bought my bottle of Campari, an Italian aperitif that’s an infusion of herbs and fruit which is pretty damn bitter.  The jury’s still out on what I really think of Campari.  When I tried this drink, the Old Pal, I was not thrilled.  It was pretty bitter if I recall correctly.  However, I did like the Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) I tried, in addition to the Venetian I tried about a week ago (gin, Campari, dry vermouth, amaretto, and a lemon twist).  However, like I said the jury’s still out on Campari.  I am indeed warming up to it, and finding that I do crave it some times, but it’s just so bitter, that it’s not always satisfying to me.  Only time will tell, I guess.

1 oz whiskey

1 oz Campari

1 oz dry vermouth

orange twist for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Rob Roy”

I do like a Rob Roy.  This has become one of my favorites, up there I think with the Manhattan.  I like a regular Rob Roy, a perfect Rob Roy (sweet & dry vermouth) and a dry vermouth. Here’s the recipe for a regular Rob Roy:

2 oz blended scotch

1 oz sweet vermouth

bitters to taste

lemon peel for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“The Knit Knot”

This is a cocktail that I made up for my wife to toast the launch of her new online business, “The Knit Knot”.  I made this drink with her in mind, based upon a combo that she’s loved for a long time – vanilla and orange juice.  She says it tastes like an Orange Julius from the mall.  I think it’s actually quite better than that.  It’s pretty damn tasty, I must say.  And I add a maraschino cherry to add one more note and an extra cute color.

1.5 oz Absolut Vanilia Vodka

3 oz orange juice

1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“Stiletto”

2 oz whiskey

1/2 oz amaretto

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.amazon.com/Bartenders-Bible-Mixed-Drinks-Everything/dp/0061092207/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299558901&sr=8-1

“Dry Rob Roy”

2.5 oz scotch

1.5 teaspoons dry vermouth

lemon twist for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.amazon.com/Bartenders-Bible-Mixed-Drinks-Everything/dp/0061092207/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299558901&sr=8-1

“The Blood & Sand”

Perhaps my favorite drink right now.  It’s such a great blend of tastes that creates an all-new flavor all its own.  Plus, it’s such an easy drink to remember how to make because it’s all equal parts, an ounce of each.  Nice and easy and delicious!  Mmmm… the smokiness of the scotch meeting the delicious blend of tart cherries and oranges, and with all being equal parts, none of the flavors take over… they blend perfectly, in harmony, to make a knock-out flavor.  I can’t say enough good things about this drink.  It’s so good, I think it would appeal to all.  Go out and ask your local bar tender if they have Cherry Heering, and if they do, ask them to make you a “Blood & Sand”.  Most likely, you’ll have to tell them how to make it, but again, it’s one of the easiest drink recipes to remember. It’s perfect!  (Plus it’s got a cool history… named in tribute to a silent film starring Rudolph Valentino about a bullfighter)

3/4 oz blended scotch

3/4 oz Peter Heering Cherry Heering

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

3/4 oz orange juice (freshly squeezed juice of a blood orange preferably)

orange peel for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

(Most of the recipes you see for this drink, it just calls for orange juice, but one I found somewhere, called for the juice of a blood orange which makes perfect sense with the name and it tastes really good.  So if you feel like going to the trouble of buying blood oranges, I highly recommend them, but if you’d rather make this more of an everyday drink, like myself, just use some orange juice in a carton that stays good for quite some time.  That makes it nice and easy, but for a treat, I highly recommend blood orange juice.)

“The Move Over”

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz Cherry Heering

dash of bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“Margarita”

(the 2nd photo is with one of my new glasses!)

This is a drink I never had much interest in.  When it came to ordering a drink at a Mexican restaurant, I always tended to opt for a Mexican beer instead…  Until we had 70 degree weather in February in St. Louis, a few weeks back… I wanted to enjoy the perfect weather with a drink on the back porch, so I made a margarita and now I really like this drink!  Now I love the Mararita in fact…

1.5 oz silver tequila

1 oz triple sec

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

splash of simple syrup

Shake and strain into a chilled, salt-rimmed cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Long Island Iced Tea”

One of my least favorite drinks to date… I just thought that this drink tasted like a muddled, sweet sugary mess.  I’m not a fan.  Maybe I just made a bad version of this drink?  I don’t know.

1/2 oz vodka

1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz rum

1/2 oz tequila

1/2 oz triple sec

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz lemon juice

3 oz Coca-Cola

lemon wedge for garnish

Stir and serve in a large glass with ice.

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

And my cocktail menu for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (“Oscar Night!”) was all champagne-based cocktails:

“Champagne Cocktail”

(no photo available)

Originally appeared in “How to Mix Drinks” by Jerry Thomas in 1862… This was a very good drink!

1 sugar cube soaked in Angostura bitters

champagne

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“French 75”

(no photo available)

Legend has it that this drink was improvised by an American soldier out in the French countryside during WWI.

1 oz gin or cognac

3/4 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lemon juice

3 oz champagne

lemon peel for garnish

Shake and strain gin/cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice in to a flute, and then top with champagne.

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Buck’s Fizz”

(no photo available)

Invented at the Buck’s Club in London in the 1920’s, this was the inspiration for the Mimosa.  This was delicious and top notch!

2 oz orange juice

splash of gin

splash of Cherry Heering

3 oz champagne

orange peel for garnish

Shake OJ, gin and Cherry Heering with ice and strain in to a flute, topping it with champagne.

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Mimosa”

(no photo available)

If I’m not mistaken, the Mimosa was invented a few years after the Buck’s Fizz, in Paris, and “mimosa” means “mimic” in french(?)

2 oz orange juice

4 oz champagne

1/2 oz triple sec float on top (optional)

orange zest for garnish

Pour OJ in to a flute, fill gently with champagne and the drink will mix itself.  Optional: Top with a 1/2 oz float of triple sec for an extra kick.

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

Notes:

-While I credit the books/websites I got the recipe from, sometimes I modify the way the recipe’s written.  For example, obviously freshly squeezed juice of any sort is better tasting than juice from a carton.  But hey, I don’t need to specify “freshly squeezed” vs. not.  That’s up to you, eh?  If you want to take the time, squeeze the juice yourself, if not, then pour the juice you have in the fridge.

-Also, I may modify the recipes in different ways too. I don’t own any Cointreau, so usually, I’ll substitute triple sec for where most recipes specify Cointreau.  Maybe some day, I’ll own some Cointreau, and I’ll know what I’ve been missing, but until then, I’ll specify triple sec, and if you want to use Cointreau, go right ahead.

-Also, the pictures shown here are usually ones from a week night, so the chances of seeing a garnish that it calls for are slim to none.


The Scientist has entered the year 2000!


Greetings modern folk…

This is Scientist McGee, and I’ve never really even read a blog until about a week ago.  That was when my wife started her own blog chronicling her foray in to running an online business.

So since I want to read hers, I figured, well… I’d better see what all this blogging stuff is that I’ve been hearing about for the last decade or so.  Supposedly, there’s millions of DIY journalists out there making more of an impact on the opinion-sphere than the traditional CBS’s and Newsweeks of the world.  That’s pretty cool and all, but I don’t have the time nor energy to create anything right now legitimate enough to expect the “public” to follow or learn any credible information from.

Instead, I think I’ll try this thing out as sort of my own journal.  I’ve never been a journal keeper in real life, nor do I really want to begin one now in an online version.  But the one topic of information I was curious to seek out once I created my WordPress account was cocktails and the world of mixology.

This is something that I am obsessed with right now.  I say right now, because my obsessions do tend to change over time.  But right now I can’t read enough about cocktails and I tend to spend all of my money on cocktails… bottles of liquor, glassware, mixed drinks at bars, etc.  I used to spend all my money on records, then I spent all of my money on comics, now I spend all my money on spirits and fun spirits-related things.

My obsessions change, but that’s not to say my tastes change.  Once I become obsessed with something, that thing will always be something I love.  It’s just that once I’m no longer obsessed, it’s filed away in to the reserves of my interests and loves.  I can’t be truly obsessed with something forever, because my obsession can only occupy that much time and interest for me if there’s mountains of new information that I don’t know about and am excited enough to absorb in large quantities.  I obsessed over records until there wasn’t enough old music that was new to me to occupy that much time being spent on it… Now I just love music and buy records at a more “normal pace”. The world of comics was new to me a few years ago, so there was decades of stuff that was new to me, so it kept me occupied rummaging through it all and finding out what I liked and what I didn’t like.  Well, now I’ve found some favorites and now it’s nice to slow down as new stuff is made and I can discover a new thing here and there, a little bit at a time, and now I buy comic books at a “normal pace”.

Well, now it’s spirits!  I always drank beer, typically cheap beer.  Then I got in to wine, and enjoyed learning about wine. Then I moved back to beer, and enjoying good quality beer.  But then last year, we went to a big ole liquor store to get some mini-bottles of some scotch for a friend’s birthday, and my wife, for some reason wanted to buy a bottle of Bailey’s.  I always liked gin and tonics, and my former boss, who was a great guy, always talked up Tanqueray gin, and when I saw that a bottle of Tanqueray gin was only about $18, I ponied up the money to buy a bottle.  That was my first step.  Then a couple weeks later, with a gift card to a local grocery store I’d gotten from my employer as a christmas gift, I charged ahead to the store with the intention of building up a bar…

So with I think around $75.00, I went and got some basics… I had the gin, so I added a bottle of rye whiskey, rum, vodka, dry vermouth and some Kahlua.  I’d never really drank liquor, so this was a new world to me… and I loved it!   This was last summer I think? (it’s hard to keep track of time) Early last summer if I’m not mistaken?  And now I can’t get enough, and am slowly building up my bar with some more “obscure” stuff like Campari, Peter Heering Cherry liqueur (which may be my best purchase to date!), and I’m really excited today, because as of next Friday, I’ll have saved up enough “fun money” to buy a bottle of green Chartreuse!  This will be the most money I’ve ever spent on anything that’s consumed – my local spot’s got it for $55.00.  To date, this is the equivalent of the record I had spent the most money on – $45.00 on a 45 of Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire” in spanish… ha! ha!  But yes, now I spend all my “fun money” on building up my home bar.

(which is just a hollowed out old victrola – I have a nice victrola that my folks gave me, and it still plays 78’s fairly well with a little tending to and winding, but I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed listening to really old music on old crackling records that I have to wind constantly to keep playing, so I brought the old 78’s that were stored inside the victrola, under the player, down to the basement and now use the empty space to store my bottles and shakers and such)

Today in fact, my wife and I went to an antique mall and I spent $9.50 on some cool old glassware – 2 small cocktail glasses that will be perfect for drinking the Chartreuse neat, 1 fancy kind of crystal cocktail glass that’ll just be fun for any fancy cocktail, and then 1 fun glass with a green thick base/stem that’d be good for fancying up an “on the rocks” drink instead of using just the old fashioned glass.   I’ve got a few different nice sets of glassware that all match for regular day-to-day drinks with guests – I’ve got some cocktail glasses, old fashioned glasses and some champagne flutes.  Those all do the trick and are the perfect glasses for functionality.  Now my interest turns to building up an eclectic mix of glassware comprised of individual one-of-a-kind glasses.  Hense the $10 shopping spree at an antique mall today.  I can’t wait to use one tonight!

So anyways, next week is me getting my coveted bottle of Chartreuse… I’m pretty excited!

I’ll try and chronicle my booze journey, with this blog, as I learn about and love the spirits!  Also, for the past few months, I’ve made it a habit to take a picture of each new drink I try making at home.  So I’ve got a few pictures of those too, that I’ll try and post and talk about a  little too.

So… this is the introductory blog to my “Travels Through the World of Spirits” chronicles!

Cheers,

Scientist McGee