Pimm’s Cup

I really enjoy a good Pimm’s Cup. So much so, that I really should find myself drinking them much more often than I do.

Oddly enough, I usually find myself enjoying them on the most American of holidays… 4th of July, Labor Day, etc. Mainly I guess because these holidays are summer ones where I find myself kicking back on the porch without a care in the world (other than the St. Louis heat and humidity).

However, I usually do feel a bit weird drinking these on the 4th of July for instance. Oh well, they’re a great summertime refresher, so who really cares about tradition and what’s proper anyway, right?

A 2014 Independence Day Pimm’s Cup

2oz Pimm’s No.1
1/2oz lemon
A couple ounces of ginger ale
Garnish w/ a cucumber

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A 2014 Labor Day Pimm’s Cup

2oz Pimm’s No. 1
1/4oz lemon over ice
A bit of ginger ale
A cucumber garnish

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And what a Pimm’s Cup looks like when for some reason, you forget that a Pimm’s Cup has Pimm’s in it and accidentally use gin instead. It’s actually not a bad drink, and I wouldn’t object to someone handing me one.

2oz gin
1/4oz lemon
A bit of ginger ale
A cucumber garnish

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Step-by-Step through Forgotten, Delicious Cocktails

Hey there everyone, I’m back.  After nearly 2 months of being MIA, I’m back to share the tales of 5 new cocktails and 2 new books!

That’s right.  I haven’t posted anything since May.  My lapse is owed to a couple things… 1, I’ve been really busy with my day job (less time to drink and write) and 2, I went to Ste. Genevieve, MO with my wife to celebrate our 10th anniversary in early June.  Ste. Genevieve is about an hour or so out of St. Louis and is one of the several regions of Missouri wine country.  The weekend trip basically rekindled my fondness of wines, and ever since, I’ve been back on sort of a wine kick.  It’s been a nice break from mixing up drinks, and just lazily pouring stuff out of a bottle and kicking back in the evenings.  The only problem with wine though is the fact that I tend to fall asleep on the couch at about 9pm, waking up, with the TV on, at midnight, and then dragging myself to bed in the middle of the night.  Wine’s great, but it makes me very, very lazy.

Even though I’ve been drinking much more wine lately, that’s not to say that I haven’t been replenishing and growing my spirits/liqueurs supply, as well as my cocktail books supply.  Since my last post, I’ve invested in a couple new types of rye whiskey (High West Double Rye Whiskey and Riverboat Rye Whiskey), a bottle of Calvados (apple brandy) and a bottle of amaro (Ramazzotti
brand).  I’ve also invested my time and attention in to Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails” (http://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Spirits-Forgotten-Cocktails-Alamagoozlum/dp/1592535615).  This is an awesome book, and apparently, one of the pioneering books of the current cocktail renaissance (originally published in 2004, “unearthing” these “obscure” drinks at the time, that are very well known today, just 8 years later).  Even though, 8 years has dated this book, it’s still an awesome book worth buying for the way it’s laid out and the entertaining writing of Ted Haigh, aka “Dr. Cocktail”.  Another book I’ve really enjoyed reading is the 1956 edition of Patrick Gavin Duffy’s (not to be confused with the curly-haired dad from the sitcom “Step by Step”) “The Official Mixer’s Manual” (http://www.amazon.com/Official-Mixers-Manual-Home-Professional/dp/B002CNKC7Y/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343534430&sr=1-7&keywords=official+mixer%27s+manual).  I actually received this book as a surprise gift in the mail from my good friends in Lincoln, NE.  (I love any kind of fun mail, but receiving a cocktail book in the mail as a surprise?  It doesn’t get much better than that!)  Actually, I had picked up a copy of this book at a book fair back in April, but it was an edition from the late ’60’s or ’70’s (I can’t remember exactly) and I hadn’t really gotten in to it yet.  However, this earlier edition from the ’50’s is way more old school in its approach and references, and makes for a much more captivating read.  I’ve really enjoyed flipping through this book, which organizes its drinks by base liquor and liqueur.  Originally published in 1934, it’s definitely a great, classic cocktail book and really a “who’s who” of cocktails.  It features a huge amount of drinks that are very popular today.  It’s a very dependable, quality cocktail guide.

Anyways, I’ve gotten a bit off track.  Back to what I was saying… Yes, I’ve been a bit absent as I’ve been drinking the “lazy man’s drink”, but as I’ve been drinking my wine, I’ve been enjoying reading up and jotting down some new cocktails to try (at least for a few minutes before I’d fall asleep).  Here in this new post, I share with you the “East India Cocktail”, the “Calvados Cocktail”, the “Pegu Club Cocktail”, the “S.G. Cocktail” and the “Brooklyn”.  Enjoy!

“Brooklyn”

The Brooklyn cocktail is a cocktail I’ve been wanting to try ever since I got in to making cocktails.  For whatever reason, it caught my eye the moment I saw it online or in some book I was flipping through.  I think it caught my eye because it’s got a couple of my favorite ingredients – rye and maraschino.  It also caught my eye because of 2 other characteristics – I loved the name and also, my interest was piqued by an ingredient I’d never heard of… Amer Picon.  I’d never heard of Amer Picon and then as I started asking for it in stores around town, no one ever had it.  (?)  Come to later find out it’s because it’s a French liqueur that for some reason isn’t available in the U.S.  Well, I gave up on that idea, figuring I’d never get to try a Brooklyn cocktail, but at the same time, never really forgetting about the drink.  It was always in the back of my mind as a drink I’d love to try, and thought about from time to time.  Well, thanks to “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails”, I learned today that there are in fact substitute ingredients that come close to matching Amer Picon that I could get my hands on.  He encourages the use of Torani Amer as a close substitute, but I can’t get my hands on that in St. Louis.  So the closest I could do was get a bottle of Ramazzotti.  Amer Picon, Torani Amer and Ramazzotti are all amaro liqueurs.  “Amaro” is Italian for bitter, and these are bitter aperitifs, made of a mixture of herbs, spices, roots, citrus peels, etc.  According to descriptions of Ramazzotti Amaro online, it’s a 200 year old recipe of 33 herbs and spices, with “notes of orange peel, cardamom, myrrh, galangal and cinnamon”.  Most of the amaros on the market are made in Italy, but Amer Picon is one of the few (if not the only one) made in France.  But alas, it’s not available here in the states, even though you’ll see it in many old recipes.  So, I’m not exactly sure how close Ramazzotti comes to Amer Picon, but from what I can gather from info online, it comes close enough.  I think it’s pretty damn interesting tasting, and this drink is pretty damn tasty!  The Brooklyn is similar to a Manhattan, but with a nice, heavy layer of the amaro adding some complexity and depth.  I love the healthy dose of maraschino.  Mmmm… it’s a very good drink – sort of a deeper, more herbal Manhattan.  Very good!

2 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. dry vermouth

1/4 oz. Amer Picon (or Ramazzotti?)

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

Stir well with ice and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“East India Cocktail”

This is a pretty good drink I found in the PDT Cocktail Book.  It’s a pretty mellow drink (albeit, pretty heavy on the “orangeyness”), and a nice cross between a “tropical drink” and a “real cocktail” (no offense, anyone… Some of my favorite drinks are tropical drinks).  The orange curacao/pineapple combo really lightens the drink up, while the dark rum and bitters brings it back down to earth.  Pretty good.

1 3/4 oz. brandy

1/2 oz. orange curacao

1/2 oz. pineapple

1/4 oz. dark rum

2 dashes of orange bitters

Shake well with ice and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with an orange peel.

“Calvados Cocktail”

This drink was decent.  At first, the drink tasted a little “medicinal”, but after a while, it grew on me and into a somewhat complex taste with its healthy dose of bitters.  I’ve never been a big fan of cocktails with OJ, but this one’s OK.  I’m not convinced however, whether I really like apple brandy or not.  I feel like I could like apple brandy, but I don’t know… Maybe it’s just that there aren’t many good apple brandy cocktails out there?  I don’t know… there’s not a ton of recipes calling for apple brandy or Calvados, but the ones I’ve tried, I’m not crazy for.  Hmmm… only time will tell, I guess.  I’m not ready to give up on it.

1 oz. calvados

1 oz. orange

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. orange bitters

Shake well with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“Pegu Club Cocktail”

This is a very good cocktail!  As I’ve said a hundred times before, I’m not normally a fan of gin and orange juice, but I have to say… gin and triple sec and lime juice is great!  This drink is more of a daiquiri than anything else, and it’s a solidly well put-together summer drink!  I like how it’s a really refreshing summer drink, but the bitters tone it down a bit and make it more of a complex drink.  Recommended for sure!

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. triple sec

3/4 oz. lime juice

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“S.G. Cocktail”

This is a pretty good drink.  It’s nothing super special really, but just a nice drink for a sit on the porch after a hard day’s work in the summertime.  It’s just a nice and simple sour rye and juice drink.  The lemon actually packs quite a punch, if not a bit too much of a punch.  That being said, I was happy to find, just a few pages earlier in Duffy’s book, a drink called “Ink Street”.  The “Ink Street” is almost the same ingredients, but instead of an equal parts mix, it calls for 2 parts rye, and only 1 part orange and 1 part lemon (no grenadine either).  I think this proportion might suit my taste a little better.

1 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. lemon juice

1 oz. orange juice

1 t grenadine

Shake well with ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


Springtime Splurge Activated!

            

In my last post, I declared winter to be officially over and introduced some new ingredients that I splurged on to inspire some new springtime drinks.  Well, these ingredients are gleefully being used!  I’ve got four new great cocktails for you featuring anejo tequila, Aperol, Rothman & Winter orchard pear liqueur and rhubarb bitters!  All four of these cocktails are top notch, and so fortunately, I’m now sitting back, enjoying the beautiful weather and feeling very good about my bulk booze purchase.

(Side note: In my last post, I mentioned how I don’t normally drop that kind of money to buy this much alcohol all at once.  So to see how I’m digging myself out of the debt I now owe to the household budget, see my new business venture selling vintage cocktail glasses at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScientistMcGee?ref=si_shop)

“Eclipse Cocktail”

The first cocktail, and definitely my favorite of the four, is the Eclipse Cocktail.  This drink is SOOOO good!  It kind of reminds of me of the Blood & Sand cocktail (one of my favorites!) in that the smokiness of the anejo tequila reminds me of the B&S’s scotch with lemon instead of orange, Aperol instead of sweet vermouth, and of course the Cherry Heering as Cherry Heering.  This drink is mighty good. It’s got a fresh kick of tequila shrouded in a velvety curtain of citrus and cherry… mmmm.

2 oz. anejo tequila

3/4 oz. Aperol

3/4 oz. Cherry Heering

3/4 oz. lemon juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon peel.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

“Rhubarb & Rye”

This next drink is an interesting one for me.  It’s very heavy on the rhubarb, which at least in my town of St. Louis, is not the most common flavor.  Yes, I see a rhubarb pie from time to time, but when I do it’s usually a pleasant surprise and seems like a rare opportunity.  In fact, I’d never tried rhubarb until I was an adult.  I like rhubarb though.  Something… maybe its obscurity, maybe the fact that it’s a vegetable but it tastes like a fruit, I don’t know… but something about it kind of freaks me out in a good way.  I like it though, and I like this drink that is definitely heavy on the rhubarb… an entire half-ounce of the rhubarb bitters in fact!  The first time I made this drink, I scaled the use of the bitters back to 5 dashes (which is still typically a liberal amount of bitters).  The second time I made it, I went for the entire half-ounce, as the recipe calls for, and it was a good call.  The rhubarb definitely takes a front seat, but that’s the point I guess.  It’s a very refreshing, springtime whiskey drink.  The rye definitely plays in the distant background and the rhubarb, along with its citrus friends of lemon and orange, takes center stage. Very nice!

1.5 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. Aperol

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. rhubarb bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon peel.

(http://www.kindredcocktails.com)

“Statesman”

This was an interesting drink too.  It reminded me of a Martini.  It was good, and had the crisp bite that a Martini delivers.  The Chartreuse, oddly enough, takes the place of the Martini’s olive(s), and the pear liqueur smoothly and effortlessly takes the place of the dry vermouth.  If you like a Martini, but are open to something new, give this one a try.

2 oz. gin

1/2 oz. Rothman & Winter orchard pear liqueur

1 bar spoon of green Chartreuse

1 dash of orange bitters

Stir well with ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon peel.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

“Improved Whiskey Cocktail”

Last, but definitely not least, is the “Improved Whiskey Cocktail”.  This is a very good drink!  The maraschino and absinthe rinse add a real depth and very subtle complexity to the nice and smooth whiskey base.  The whiskey’s nice and smooth because of the simple syrup.  This is a very good whiskey drink that goes down very nicely.

2 oz. rye whiskey

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

1/4 oz. simple syrup

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Stir well and strain in to a chilled, absinthe-rinsed rocks glass.

Add a few ice cubes and garnish with a lemon peel.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

Money well spent indeed!  Spring is here!


A Scientific Spring

 

I, Scientist McGee, am formally declaring myself ready for spring time!

It’s been well over a month since my last post, and I have no real good reason for the delay at all.  The true reason for the dry spell has been a total lack of inspiration on my part.  I think I’ve been totally uninspired to try new drinks, because of the limbo between winter and spring that I found myself stuck in.  I had grown tired of warm winter drinks, but wasn’t quite ready yet to mix up cool summertime favorites.

Well, it’s warm out there, and beautiful too!  And I’m ready to drink spring and summertime fancy drinks!  So in today’s blog, I’m putting winter to rest, and providing a “sneak peek” at some of the new lighter ingredients that should be gracing the SMcG blog in the next several months!

Let’s close out winter, shall we?  And then I’ll show you the fun assortment of ingredients I splurged on this weekend, and am very excited to try!

Closing out the winter months, I’ve got two good ones for you…

“Breast Pocket Cocktail”

My favorite of the two is my favorite because it’s one I dreamed up.  I call it the “Breast Pocket Cocktail” because it could very well be concocted at a beer drinkin’ party with a secret flask of rye in one’s breast pocket of their jacket.  It’s a beer cocktail featuring the pride and joy of St. Louis, Schlafly beer (http://www.schlafly.com/), specifically Schlafly’s Dry Hopped APA (American Pale Ale).  I love Schlafly’s Dry Hopped APA, and as I was drinking it recently, I thought that it would go great with some rye whiskey added to it.  The beer itself is very hoppy and aromatic, and I thought it would mix nicely with the spiciness of rye (my favorite type of whiskey).  After a few tries, I figured out a good balance where the APA contributes flavors to the drink without overshadowing the other ingredient.  The hops of the APA go really well with the spice of the rye, and the orange bitters and lemon add a refreshing citrus zip.  I’m not one to make up my own drinks.  I think this is technically only my second?  The way I see it is that there are thousands of amazing drinks that have already been made up, that I’m sure I’ll never even have time to try.  I enjoy drinking my way through these, so why would I feel the need to focus on making up my own drinks as an at-home bartender?  Unless inspiration strikes me, and I’m craving something that probably does not exist – like a cocktail featuring a hometown beer.  I have to say, I’m quite proud of this delicious drink!

2 oz. rye whiskey

3 oz. Schlafly Dry Hopped APA

2 dashes of orange bitters

Build over ice, in a rocks glass, then stir gently, and garnish with a lemon peel.


“Left Hand Cocktail”

This cocktail’s one I made last night using one of my new ingredients, Aztec Chocolate Bitters (Fee Brothers).  This drink comes from “The PDT Cocktail Book”, and actually calls for Bittermens’ brand of “Xocolatl Mole Bitters”.  The only snag was that the Bittermens bitters cost $20 for a 4 ounce bottle, and I did not want to spend that much money on a bitters.  So instead I bought the Fee Brothers, which ran me $6.50 for the same size bottle.  I’d never tried either of these chocolate bitters, so I was a little worried that they’d taste dramatically different, and perhaps they do… I won’t know until I get a taste of the Bittermens.  I have a feeling though that they’re similar enough to warrant saving the $14.  Both are based on Mexican ingredients, featuring chocolate, peppers and spices.  Some reviews I was able to find online described the Bittermens as more complex in its flavors and the Fee Brothers as having the chocolate flavor more prominent.  Maybe this is true, however I found that I really liked the Fee Brothers bitters because of its spiciness.  Maybe they’re more chocolaty than the Bittermens, but they’re also definitely not just chocolate… they’ve got some peppery spice and kick to go along with it!  (I’m sure the Bittermens are in fact better and more complex, because the Bittermens are 53% alcohol, whereas the Fee Brothers are a water-based bitters, but the $14 I saved bought me 4 used jazz records and a stock of plastic LP sleeves on the way home, so I think I definitely won!)

This drink wound up being a very unique and tasty one.  It was a dark, somewhat sweet drink, with a relatively bitter taste (with the Campari).  It also had a nice freshness added though, by the peppers in the bitters, and just a faint  smoky chocolate flavor underneath.  It was definitely a very complex tasting drink, that I was glad I had tried.

1.5 oz. bourbon

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

3/4 oz. Campari

2 dashes of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters (or Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, as called for in its original recipe)

Stir well with ice, and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Add 3 cherries on a pick as a garnish.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

And now, without further ado… I declare winter officially over for me!  On to my new springtime splurge!

This weekend, I splurged and bought more than I am usually able to buy at once.  I had to do this though to gear up for spring and summer!  As I explained earlier… I haven’t been inspired to try any new drinks.

But now I am!

Several of these ingredients I’ve been wanting to buy and try for quite some time.  They are the Aperol and the anejo tequila, as well as the chocolate and rhubarb bitters.  Aperol is an Italian bitter aperitif much like Campari (in fact it is now owned by the Campari company), but I’ve heard that it’s perhaps a bit sweeter and bit less intense and less bitter?  (Not sure, but I’ll know soon enough.)  Anejo tequila is tequila that’s been aged for at least a year, but no more than 3 years, in oak barrels.  The oak barrels tend to be old ones that were previously used for whiskeys and Bourbons north of the border, adding more of a complex flavor than other tequilas.

The Luxardo maraschino liqueur is one I’ve enjoyed many times before and just needed to make sure to have plenty in stock for the spring and summer months ahead.  As I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog, I love maraschino liqueur!  I’d go so far as to say that I can’t live without it.  Ha! Ha! Ha! Ahem.

The orchard pear liqueur is made by Rothman & Winter, the same company that makes the creme de violette I have on hand to make my Aviations.  This was bought on kind of a whim because I’ve just recently begun liking pears this year.  Plus I spotted a recipe in the PDT book that looked really good (the “Statesman” with gin, orchard pear, green Chartreuse and orange bitters… mmmm…)

So let Spring begin!  I’ll be gladly sharing some new drinks, featuring these new ingredients that have been added to my bar, in the upcoming season.  Cheers, and Go Cards!


95 degree nights

With summertime being in full, full swing in St. Louis, the lighter, fruit-juice cocktails have really taken center stage at my house.  With temperatures rising above 100 and hanging in the 90’s after sunset, the Gimlet is a great refreshing back porch quencher.  And so are the Colonial, the Gypsy and the Nevada… all drinks I really enjoyed over the last couple of hot weeks.  These cocktails aren’t just great drinks because of the summer heat and their refreshingness, but also because each of these drinks is a stand-alone hit.  Each of them had very well-balanced flavor combinations and were as fun to sip and savor, as they would have been to gulp down whole.

“Colonial Cocktail”

This drink was so good… a tarter tasting “fruit juice cocktail”.  I really haven’t had grapefruit juice in a long time, and one day, got the itch to start making some grapefruit cocktails.  I guess it was flipping through “The Savoy Cocktail Book”… there’s several drinks in there with grapefruit.  I’m glad I got the itch… it’s such a great taste for a cocktail.  There’s something unique about grapefruit juice to me… always has been… it’s not like other juices.  That’s why I think it lends itself so well to cocktails.  It’s such a unique taste to begin with, that it makes a perfect partner to the unique taste blends of cocktails.  This drink grew on me so much that I think I made it four nights in a row.  And that rarely happens.  I like having different drinks almost every night, very rarely ever making two of the same drink, two nights in a row.  So four nights in a row was quite the confirmation that this was a drink would become a regular in my rotation.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. grapefruit juice

3 dashes maraschino liqueur

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from “The Savoy Cocktail Book”)

 

“The Gimlet”

The Gimlet, in its original recipe… with the Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice.  So simple… so good… so refreshing!  I wish I had a jumbo Gatorade Cooler full of it.  I guess it’s for the best that I don’t.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

 

“The Gypsy”

Even though, my favorite Chartreuse cocktail, The Last Word, is one of the most refreshing drinks I can think of, I don’t normally think of Chartreuse when I’m thinking of a “refreshing summertime quencher”.  However, it once again works well in this refreshing, sour cocktail.  The St. Germain really balances out the Chartreuse, sweetening up the drink by muting the Chartreuse a little.  In fact, the St. Germain mutes both the Chartreuse and the lime juice, making for a very nice, balanced and refreshing cocktail.

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 lime wheel for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from St. Germain Cocktails: http://stgermaincocktails.wordpress.com/ )

 

“Nevada”

I’m very lucky to have stumbled across four such great summertime cocktails in the past couple of weeks.  The fourth great cocktail that I loved is called “Nevada” and is in one of the first cocktail books I bought, called “The Art of the Bar”.  The recipe may not look like much on paper, but again, the balance between the ingredients is so good!  Or maybe, I just really, really like grapefruit juice in my cocktails?

1.5 oz. rum

1/2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/3 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1 dash of Angostura bitters

1 lime wedge for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from “The Art of the Bar”)