Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…

Greetings friends & patrons!

I’ve made a few too many trips to Friar Tuck’s over the last week or two, and picked up some Peychaud’s bitters, Grande Absente absinthe and Luxardo maraschino liqueur…  Great purchases if you ask me!

The mini bottle of absinthe was the way to go (pictured in the Sazerac photos) because it was only $12 or so, and so I didn’t have to fork out around $70 for a regular sized bottle.  It was a great way to go to since absinthe is so strong, most drinks I’m finding recipes for only call for a splash of it to coat the inside of a glass.  So this little bottle will last me a long, long time.  But even if it doesn’t, I now know how highly I think of this green elixir, and won’t mind shelling out the big bucks for a big bottle.  I’d tried absinthe several years ago, but just straight (well, with water and sugar and what not, but still…).  At that time, I thought it was just OK.  But now, using it in cocktails, I think it’s the tops!  Like I said, a little goes a long way, and the anise flavoring of absinthe really lends a cool and refreshing note to any cocktail it’s added to.  It makes a whiskey drink seem summery!  And that’s something to sing about!

The Peychaud’s bitters was a pre-requisite to buy in order to make the Sazerac.  Peychaud’s bitters is from New Orleans and its creator is credited as the creator of the Sazerac cocktail.  So, there wasn’t much choice there.  But it’s really good too.

The Luxardo maraschino liqueur is something I’ve wanted to buy ever since I fell in love with Peter Heering CherryLiqueur (for a photo of Peter Heering, see my blog’s gravatar image… What a guy!).

Once I got the Cherry Heering, I started noticing that there weren’t all that many recipes that called for it’s rich, tart flavor, and instead most drink recipes called for maraschino liqueurs, which are made from the Marasca cherries and are lighter and bitter-sweet, and have a note of almond flavor from the crushed cherry pits.  One of the most revered maraschino liqueurs is the Luxardo brand.  At first taste, I wasn’t that thrilled because it was quite different from the CherryHeering which I love.  But after a few tries and a few different recipes, I’m hooked on it too.  It’s typically used in very subtle ways in drinks, and it plays more of a background role, lending a nice support to the ingredients in the forefront.  It’s the Steve Buschemi of the cocktail world.

In addition to the acquisitions of these new ingredients, I also picked up a great book from the library… “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff.  I already have a great book by Mr. DeGroff, called “Essential Cocktails” which has been featured many times in this blog with recipes pulled from it.  This book however, is a nice compliment to that book.  I think it came out before “Essential Cocktails” and is more of a “complete and everything” guide to cocktails, from basic explanations and histories of each type of liquor, to a guide to unique measurements, to recommended websites and further reading, to an alphabetical list of tons of cocktail drinks.  Where as “Essential Cocktails” is like a greatest hits album which nicely organizes all the best drinks in to their proper categories (Classics, Moderns, Sours, Highballs, etc.), this book is more like the “Bartender’s Bible” which is almost like a dictionary which lists tons of drinks alphabetically, but has much nicer pictures and descriptions than the “Bartender’s Bible”.  Each book is unique to itself and offers a benefit, and so I’d recommend both books if you have the time and money to spend, or a library where you can borrow it for a few weeks.  The nice thing is that there are drinks featured in “Essential Cocktails” that aren’t in “The Craft of the Cocktail” and vice versa, and even some drinks that are listed in both have slightly different recipes and therefore you can select which one fits your palate better.  Both are top notch books and great resources to have… Reading them is so fun that they inspire me to run to the kitchen to mix one up!  That’s why I recommend reading them in the evening time, rather than in the morning before going to work.  They can be frustrating if read when you can’t go mix a drink.

Well, enough dribble-drabble… On to the drinks you can make for yourself at home in your bar, or call me up and come on over and I’ll mix one up for you myself…

“Sazerac”

What a drink!  I love it!  It’s perfect for when you want the nice, stiff taste of a whiskey drink served up, but it’s hot outside and you need some refreshing thirst quenching.  The rye whiskey adds spice, but the lemon and absinthe make it cool and refreshing.  Plus the sugar makes it a little sweet.  When preparing, you only coat the inside of the glass with absinthe, but it’s surprising how much you can taste the absinthe in the drink.  Top notch!

1 sugar cube

3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

2 oz rye whiskey

Splash of absinthe

lemon peel for garnish

Combine the sugar and the bitters, and muddle to dissolve the sugar in one old fashioned glass.  Add the rye and some ice, and stir gently to combine.   Take the chilled serving glass and add a splash of absinthe… Swirl the absinthe around to just coat the inside of the glass, and then pour out (in to my mouth) the excess absinthe.  Strain the chilled rye, sugar and bitters in to this prepared glass.  If you’re a purist, rub the rim of the glass with the lemon peel, and then discard.  If you’re not a purist, twist the lemon peel over the top, or rub the rim, and drop it in to the drink for a garnish.  (This recipe is a combination of 2 slightly different recipes from 2 different sources – see references below)

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html and http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Captain’s Table”

Here’s a drink that features Campari, an aperitif bitters made with herbs and fruits.  It’s often described as an “acquired taste” due to its bitter taste.  I’m still not a huge fan, but this was one drink I did really enjoy.  It’s perfect for when you want a refreshing and summery, back porch drink without wanting a “sweet & fruity” drink.  All the flavors are very muted.  The drink’s refreshing with the gin, orange juice and ginger ale, but it’s dry at the same time because of the Campari.  Very good – Campari… you’ve served your purpose in life well.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz Campari

1 teaspoon grenadine

1 oz orange juice

4 oz ginger ale

1 maraschino cherry

Combine gin, Campari, grenadine and OJ… Shake well and pour in to a collins or a highball glass filled with ice cubes, and top with the ginger ale… Garnish with the cherry.

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

“Aviation”

This is a great, simple showcase and use of the maraschino liqueur.  Very good drink.  It has a very unique, nutty taste that you don’t taste everyday in most cocktails.

2 oz gin

3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

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

“Club Cocktail”

Great drink!  I found it to be very delightful to drink while sitting on the back porch on a lazy Sunday afternoon…  Initially, I thought it was a little too heavy on the taste of the brandy.  The caramel taste of the brandy surprised me being side-by-side with the maraschino liqueur and the pineapple juice.  But by the second glass, I really began to love its unique flavor.  It was another refreshing drink that’s not too fruity or sweet.  I guess that’s almost the them of this particular blog post… refreshing drinks that aren’t sugary sweet and fruity.

2 oz brandy

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz pineapple juice

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

lemon peel for garnish

Shake well with ice, and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass… garnish with the lemon peel

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“Waldorf”

This is an awesome alternate take on the classic Manhattan!  This drink’s perfect for when you want a Manhattan, but want a more refreshing drink… The absinthe livens it up a bit, adding a fresh kick.  Very good cocktail.

1/8 oz absinthe

2 oz bourbon (or rye whiskey)

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

The recipe I found said to swirl the absinthe in the glass to coat the inside and then pour out the excess, before adding the remaining ingredients… I was, however, in the mood to have some more absinthe in the drink, so I actually just mixed in about an 1/8 oz of absinthe with the bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters, and then stirred with ice, leaving all of the absinthe in the actual drink, and then strained in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“The Last Word”

Now that I’ve got my maraschino liqueur, I was able to taste what this drink was supposed to properly taste like.  (I’d originally only had Peter Heering Cherry Heering to use, and in one of my previous posts talk about how it didn’t work well and how it actually led to me creating my own variation called “The Counter Argument”.)  This classic cocktail was reportedly brought back to life by a bartender in Seattle (Zig Zag Cafe) who disovered it in some old cocktail recipe books.  Since it’s re-discovery, it’s enjoying quite a revival in popularity all across the country.  It is indeed a good drink.  It too has some really unique flavors and the Chartreuse really shines through and takes center stage, with a really nice accompaniment of the maraschino liqueur.

Equal parts…

Gin

Green Chartreuse

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/restaurants/2008837441_zres11lastword.html

Cheers!


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.