Happy Holidays from Scientist McGee! (2012 SMcG Cocktail Book)

Happy holidays, everyone!  Tis the season to raise a glass and toast our friends and loved ones!

My gift to you, to help with your toasts, is a new & improved 2012 edition of the “Scientist McGee Annual Cocktail Book”.  Last January, I posted the very first edition of the collected recipes from the Scientist McGee blog. That edition collected nearly every recipe I had posted over the lifespan of the SMcG blog, with just a couple awful drinks removed to spare your taste buds.  This new & improved 2012 edition includes those same recipes with another year’s worth on top of it.  Plus a revised table of contents with a special “key” noting particular ingredients with “big personalities”, such as Chartreuse, Campari, absinthe and creme de violette.  Basically “supporting actors” that can “steal the scene”, and for which some folks may not be particularly huge fans of (although others may “stand in line to get a ticket just to see this over-the-top supporting actor”).  I figured these ingredients warrant a heads-up or a come hither note for my readers and imbibers.  Once again, the “book” is posted in two parts that can be downloaded and printed, and then put together to create the finished product.

Download the book here:

Scientist McGee’s Cocktail Menu – 2012 Edition COVER &TABLE OF CONTENTS & THE BASICS

Scientist McGee’s Cocktail Menu – 2012 Edition THE DRINKS AND BOOKSHELF

The “Scientist McGee’s Annual Cocktail Book: 2012 Edition” also features some “last minute cocktails”, just in time for pressing.  These 6 new drinks are featured below and showcase some new ingredients for my home bar – swedish punsch, orgeat, Plymouth Gin and IMG_2785Fernet Branca.  The latest 2 cocktails, the Hanky Panky and the Wellington, came from a brand new cocktail book, hot off the presses a couple of weeks ago, called “Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”.  This book was written by Matt Seiter, a high school buddy of mine and all-around good guy, who happens to be the bar manager of Sanctuaria.  Sanctuaria is a tapas and cocktail bar in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis, MO.  This book is the tale of that bar and its cocktail club, and features the recipe of every single drink on the cocktail club menu – all 150 of them!  It features the story behind each of the 70 original drink creations along with beautiful photos of each drink.  I definitely and highly recommend picking up a copy at http://www.sanctuariastl.com .  I guarantee that there will be many, many drinks from this book that will grace the future pages of this here blog, and I look forward to drinking each and everyone of them!

So I hope some of you enjoy the drinks – Happy holidays, and thanks to all of you who enjoy reading this blog, enjoy following my day-to-day imbibing on Twitter (@ScientistMcGee), and enjoyed some glassware from the “Scientist McGee’s Cocktail Glass Emporium” (http://www.etsy.com/shop/scientistmcgee) – it’s been quite a busy and fun year!

IMG_2646“The Hesitation”

This is a very good drink.  This was the first drink I tried my new bottle of swedish punsch out with.  I wanted to really taste the swedish punsch when I tried it for the first time, so I chose this very simple drink that’s equal parts rye and punsch.  This recipe makes for a rich, fragrant, slightly sweetened rye whiskey drink.  Very good.

Equal parts…

Rye whiskey

Swedish punsch

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

“Have a Heart Cocktail”IMG_2500

This drink wasn’t anything super unique or magnificent, but very good for what it is… which is a very good sour. It has a little bit of something special with the complexity of the Swedish punsch.

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. Swedish punsch

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. grenadine

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

Garnish with a lime

(“Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails”)

IMG_2522“Hoop La!” Cocktail

This is a good, easy-goin’ sour.  It’s nothing that special either, but it’s good nonetheless.  I like the gentler side of the Lillet and triple sec, against the strength of the brandy and lemon.

Equal parts…

brandy

Lillet Blanc

triple sec

lemon juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“Savoy Cocktail Book”)

“Trinidad Sour”

Now here’s a VERY SPECIAL sour!  What a unique and delicious drink!  My friend Jack recommended this drink to me when I put a plea out for suggestions for a pre-Thanksgiving stay-at-home cocktail.  His recommendation prompted me to go to the store the next day or so and pick up my first bottle of orgeat (an almond cordial syrup).  This drink is amazing.  This drink is thick and creamy, frothy in fact! IMG_2632 This is a tough drink to describe for me.  I had never had Angostura bitters in this large of quantity before.  Plus it was my first taste of orgeat too.  So two “firsts”, I guess.  This drink is like a typical cocktail turned on its head… Instead of the bitters and the syrup adding the finishing touches, the rye whiskey adds the finishing touch on a drink featuring a full ounce of Angostura bitters.  Don’t worry folks, it’s not actually that bitter of a drink either…  It actually reminds me a lot of a “Blood & Sand”, oddly enough.  You all owe it to yourself to try this drink.  Thanks Jack, for the gift of the “Trinidad Sour”.

1 oz. Angostura bitters

1 oz. orgeat

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. rye whiskey

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

“Hanky Panky”IMG_2797

This was the first drink I made at home from Matt Seiter’s “Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”, and it was very interesting and really good.  The gin and sweet vermouth alone would be too sweet, shallow and light, but the Fernet Branca grabs them both and pulls ’em back down, keeping them grounded.  The Fernet comes in at the end and is a bitter bite that pulls the gin and vermouth back to reality, and rounds the drink out.

1.5 oz. Plymouth gin

1.5 oz. Italian vermouth

1/4 oz. Fernet Branca

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

garnish with lemon

(“Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”)

“Wellington”

This drink is really good… a really interesting sour with the mellow Swedish punsch ending that lingers.  I love the very small amount of Heering.  Actually, I think this drink really has the perfect balance of all the ingredients in the right proportions.  Really damn good!

IMG_28041.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. Swedish punsch

1/4 oz. Cherry Heering

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

garnish with a lime

(“Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”)

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Been a long, long time…

 

After what I think is the longest stretch of time without a new Scientist McGee post, I’m back with a fair share of new drink recipes.  It’s been nearly 3 months since I last wrote, and in that time I’ve mixed up 8 new drink recipes and also become the proud owner of an all-new bar in my home!  I had outgrown my old bar which was an old victrola record player.  The victrola was a good bar and did a good job, but with the accumulation of more and more ingredients, and more and more glassware, I was sort of taking over our dining room table and buffet.  I was getting sideways looks from my wife, and I knew something had to be done to organize my growing hobby.  Lo and behold, as I’m mowing my lawn one nice Saturday, I go out to the alley in the back of my house, and I find the answer to my problem… an old cupboard of some sort.  Problem solved!  I LOVE my new bar!  Plenty of space for all my glasses, punchbowls, books and ingredients, with room for growth to spare!  Did I mention that I LOVE my new bar?

Any ways, it’s been 3 long months since I’ve done a new post, so it’s about time I get on with posting some new drink recipes.  I’ve got 8 for you, so here goes nothin’…

“Water Lily”

From my most beloved cocktail book, The PDT Cocktail Book, comes the first of eight cocktails.  The Water Lily’s a very well-rounded drink, albeit a bit candy-ish.  “Buyer beware.”

Equal parts…

gin

creme de violette

triple sec

lemon juice

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

Garnish with an orange twist.

“Improved Gin Cocktail”

This recipe comes from David Wondrich’s wonderful Esquire magazine articles.  With my recently acquired first bottle of genever, the predecessor to gin, I was on the hunt for a good drink to introduce myself to this spirit.  I tried this drink with my new bottle of Boomsma brand genever, Oude style.  “Oude” meaning aged in oak barrels, and a bit of smokiness not typically associated with gin.

To be honest, my first taste of genever didn’t tell me if I loved it or not.  Maybe it’s an acquired taste? I’m not sure, but it was OK..  It reminds of me of Calvados or apply brandy actually…. smoky and whiskey-like, but with a little bit of a flat or shallow element and a lackluster sting at the end (?).  This one’s a simple drink, with just a nice taste of the maraschino.  With the smokiness and “woodsiness” of whiskey and the “bite” of gin, it’s a real go-between of the two.  Hmmm… time will tell, I guess.

2 oz. genever

.5-1t simple syrup

1t orange curacao, triple sec or maraschino liqueur*

2 dashes of bitters

(*I chose maraschino)

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

With a lemon peel, rub the rim, then squeeze and drop in to your cocktail.

“Rosebud”

From the great book, “The Art of the Bar”, comes this drink that all I can say is, “Ehh, not that great.”  I’m not a fan of the tequila and sweet vermouth combo.  Maybe you are?

1.5 oz. silver tequila

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth

1 dash of Campari

Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with a dash of rose water;

Stir the tequila and vermouth with ice and then strain in to the cocktail glass;

Flame an orange zest over the drink and then float it on top;

Lastly, add a few drops of Campari to the surface.

“Ehh”

“Junior”


This is a pretty solid cocktail.  I like it… It’s like a mellow sour.  The lime hangs in the background and gets pushed a little in to the shadows by the aggressive rye whiskey.  All four ingredients blend however in to a unique, unified flavor, almost a grapefruit-like flavor.  Interesting, and pretty solid.

2 oz. rye

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/2 oz. Benedictine

2 dashes Angostura bitters

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

(PDT Cocktail Book)

“Rosita”

This is a tasty, “sophisticated” old-fashioned-type tequila drink.  A good drink, with a lot of balance between the sweetness of the tequila and the Italian vermouth and the dryness of the French vermouth, Campari and bitters.  It’s a very smooth drink, with just a nice bit of bitterness and a slight smoky/sweet flavor of the reposado tequila.  Good!

1.5 oz reposado tequila

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

1/2 oz. Campari

1 dash of Angostura bitters

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

Garnish with an orange twist.

(“PDT Cocktail Book”)

“Weeski”

This drink surprised me… I thought it was very good.  This drink’s from the “PDT Cocktail Book” too.  However, the only reason I even tried this drink was because it came from David Wondrich, a man I respect and a cocktail expert I trust whole-heartedly.  Had it not been accompanied with Mr. Wondrich’s backing, I would’ve been too skeptical of the Irish whiskey – triple sec combo.  But I tried it, and I was pleasantly pleased.  It’s smooth, elegant and refreshing like a gin drink, but with the whiskey solid base.  It’s a damn good, easy-drinkin’ cocktail!

2 oz. Irish whiskey

3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc

1/2 oz. triple sec

2 dashes of orange bitters

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

Garnish with an orange twist.

“Paddy Wallbanger”

Ehh again… Not a very good drink, in my opinion.  I think it was kind of flat and “emotionless”.  It was mainly the dry vermouth… The whiskey and Galliano were OK together, but I feel like the vermouth is just a flat and bland connector between the two.  I won’t be making this one again.  Oh well.

1.5 oz. Irish whiskey

1.5 oz. dry vermouth

1/2 oz. Galliano

2 dashes of orange bitters

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

(“PDT Cocktail Book”)

“Harvest Moon”

This drink is pretty good.  It’s nothing magnificent, but it is a good drink.  The ingredients make for a pretty unique, interesting flavor.  It’s a somewhat sweet drink, but with the slight aromatics of the green Chartreuse seeping through.

1.5 oz. rye

1 oz. Lillet Blanc

1/2 oz. apple brandy

1/4 oz. green Chartreuse

3 dashes Abbott’s (or in my case, Angostura) bitters

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

Garnish with an orange twist.


A very, very good book

Hey everybody, I’m excited for this post because it’s sure to feature the first of many drinks from a new book I picked up called “The PDT Cocktail Book”.  I really felt like I had hit a lull of inspiration and needed a new, quality book to perk me up.  I tried buying a book that I’d really enjoyed flipping through at the bookstore called “The Four Seasons Book of Cocktails”, but it turned out to be just a very attractive book, a fun read and flip through.  But when it came down to wanting to make any of the drinks, I wasn’t inspired.  It’s nicely organized, and has some great pictures, but nothing too exciting.

Then a couple weeks later, at the bookstore again, I came across just what I needed… a book I had seen online before, but nothing I never really paid much attention to – “The PDT Cocktail Book”.  This book is pricey for a cocktail book at $25, but worth every penny!  It’s a book put out by Jim Meehan, head bartender at PDT (Please Don’t Tell).  The actual bar and locale of PDT is a pretty cool story, but I’ll leave that for you to read if you pick up a copy.  Basically, this is a modern version of the Savoy Cocktail book, in that it’s a manual of the day and features many cocktails from PDT, but also many classic cocktails, along with drinks from contemporary drink-slinging peers.  Just like the Savoy book, it’s a snapshot of what drinks are being drank at this time in history.  Also like the Savoy, it’s got no pictures of the drinks themselves, which may sound annoying but it’s not.  Instead it features illustrations inspired by the drinks.  That may sound like a negative to many, and I’m the first to admit – I usually need photos to get inspired, but trust me… these drinks are generally basic enough, with typically only 3-5 ingredients, that you don’t need a picture to get the idea.  Plus the illustrations are kind of more inspiring than a snapshot of the drink could be.  That’s another big reason I love this book… the drinks themselves.  Yes, there’s a few unusual ingredients that I’ll probably never have, and therefore never try, but for the most part, the drinks featured, some may be new, some may be old, but they all resemble the stripped down simplicity of all the classics.  Instead of having a list of 7-8 ingredients, 2 or 3 of which need to be infused or what not, like some current cocktail books… most of these drinks feature all classic, stand-by ingredients… brandy, rye, maraschino, orange juice, bitters, absinthe, simple syrup, etc.   Another great similarity to the Savoy is its simplicity in just organizing the drinks alphabetically.  Only the PDT fixes the one major mistake about the Savoy – it features an index by ingredient as well.  That’s the one annoying thing about the Savoy, it’s nearly impossible to look up drinks by ingredient.  I can’t say enough good things about this book.  It’s an instant classic, and I’m so glad I bought it!  Nearly every page is rabbit-eared because there’s a drink I want to try, and I’ve already started…

This post features 4 of the drinks I’ve tried since buying this book.  They come straight from the pages of the PDT.  Two of them feature apple brandy, I just realized that three of them feature Benedictine, and my favorite is a combo you can’t go wrong with – tequila and Chartreuse.

“East Village Athletic Club Cocktail”

I’ll start with my favorite of the four, the East Village Athletic Club Cocktail.  This is only the 2nd drink I’ve had that has both tequila and Chartreuse, and both drinks are up there in my favorites (the other being the Loop Tonic, made with the green stuff).  I need to scour the internet and books for more drinks with these two troublemakers in it.  (Anyone have any suggestions?)  This drink is a creation of Mr. Meehan’s and he explains it as as a variation on the “Last Word” cocktail (one of my favorite drinks), and it’s amazing!  Tequila and Chartreuse go so nicely together – they hit each other head on and create a real zip!  It’s also the first drink I’ve tasted since buying my first bottle of yellow Chartreuse where the yellow stuff really holds its own and steps up to the plate.  The curacao really adds a nice element too.

1.5 oz. white tequila

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. orange curacao

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

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

 

“Honeymoon Cocktail”

This was a good sour with a nice orange and apple combo flavor, a really nice balance between the two.  I recently bought a bottle of Laird’s applejack, and often recipes will call for applejack specifically, but most call for apple brandy.  I know that applejack is not 100% apple brandy, but it was cheap and I like it.  Now that I know I like it though, I want to buy a bottle of apple brandy and give it a go.  I’m not sure how different the two will be from each other.  I’m assuming the 100% apple brandy will be much better, since the applejack is only 35% apple brandy (65% grain neutral spirits).  In the meantime, this $13 bottle of applejack was a nice introduction in to the apple brandy world.  I like it, and will be returning.  This drink’s almost like a daiquiri, but a little more “mature” in its taste… not as “childish” as rum (no offense to rum) but not as “manly” as whiskey.

2 oz. apple brandy

1/2 oz. orange curacao

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1/2 oz. lemon juice

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

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from Hugo Ensslin’s “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, 1916)

 

“De La Louisiane”

This was a very good, warming drink with a hint of refreshing absinthe…

2 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

3/4 oz. Benedictine

3 dashes absinthe

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

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

Garnish with a maraschino cherry or 3

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s “Famous New Orleans Drinks”, 1937)

 

“Widow’s Kiss”

This was another good drink.  This drink wasn’t all that special, but it’s not bad if you’re looking for a nice, smooth stiff drink…

2 oz. apple brandy

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/4 oz. Benedictine

2 dashes Angostura bitters

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

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from George Kappeler’s “Modern American Drinks”, 1895)