2013 = 1 ; 2014 = 1+?

Happy new year everyone! I only posted one new blog entry in 2013, but I’ve stayed active on Twitter (@scientistmcgee) and Instagram (@scientistmcgee), as well as peddling vintage cocktail glasses on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/scientistmcgee).

My only 2013 post followed the birth of my first kid and introduced the “Little Man” drink I rolled in tribute to him.  As I assumed, from that point on I really have not set aside the time to write lengthy blog posts. That does not mean in any way that I have not been enjoying the art of drinking well and reading worthwhile cocktail books and literature this past year. I have certainly been doing that! In fact I think I’ve had more fun sharing my experiences on Twitter and Instagram, because it’s afforded me the opportunity to meet and interact a lot more with new friends and interesting folks who enjoy cocktails as well… such as Cori Paige (Under My Host), Dave Weglarz (StilL 630), Sara Graham (Dishcrawl St. Louis), Bill Foster (The Big O), and others on Twitter and Instagram such as @DrinkDMV, @WorthyBar, @AmuseDouche11, @The_Warthog and @TheDuke001.  Twitter and Instagram offer such an interactive forum, where there’s so much more back-and-forth and sharing between others I can learn from and enjoy with.  So much so that I got my first opportunity in 2013 to sell my Etsy vintage glassware in a face-to-face public setting because I met Sara Graham through posting pics on Twitter.

So needless to say, I’m certainly grateful for the role WordPress has played in this fun hobby of mine.  Without WordPress, there would be no “Scientist McGee”.  This is where my alter-ego and hobby persona was born.  It’s what encouraged me to foster and grow my interest, by allowing me to connect with others in the first place.  The cool thing is that according to my “annual WordPress report” below, my blog brought in 6,400 visitors, although I only had one new post.  That’s because what I write about and share isn’t “breaking news”… it’s got no “limited shelf-life” or “expiration date” of relevancy.  I write about a time-honored tradition that has been around for over 100 years, and hopefully will never go away… the cocktail.  And although new drinks will be concocted, and new spirits and cordials invented, as well as new methodologies in which to make new libations will be tried, the basics and fundamentals of making a good drink will outlive me.  That’s why I’m happy that what I’ve written about on this world wide web will always serve as a decent resource to others when googling subjects such as “chocolate bitters”, “yellow chartreuse” and “how much is a ‘dash’?”.  I love it when I myself google a drink recipe for reference, and my own blog pops up as a good resource!

So although 2013 has not been a busy year for me in regards to WordPress, it has in fact been a very busy year in my personal family life, as well as my drinking life over on Twitter, Instagram and Etsy.   So if you only see me on WordPress occassionally, thanks, and I’ll see you from time to time.  But if you want to join me over on these other sites, and enjoy drinks together much more often, it would make me very happy as well.

I can promise you one thing about WordPress, and that’s that I will have at least one new post in 2014.  Once a year, I post my updated “Scientist McGee Cocktail Menu” for my home bar, updating editions annually to include all the new drinks I’ve tried in the prior year.  Although I’ll need to find the time to do so, I do plan to post an updated year-end “cocktail menu” within the next month or so.

So stay tuned and keep your glasses chilled!

Thanks, SMcG

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Introducing “Scientist McGee’s Annual Cocktail Menu: 2011 Edition” – Now you can play along at home with the Scientist!

Welcome to 2012, the second year of Scientist McGee!  This blog was created on March 6, 2011.  It’s hard to believe that it’s only 10
months old.

I’ve had a lot of fun along the way, trying new drinks and sharing them with all of you!  All of you have been really nice and supportive, excited to see what new concoctions the Scientist would post next.  It’s fun enjoying the drinks and it’s also fun to document them so that I can refer back to them later on, but it’s obviously a whole lot more fun to do, knowing that my friends and some like-minded strangers are actually reading it and getting a kick out of it too!

So thanks a lot for having fun with me, and I hope you tag along for some more cocktails in 2012 as well.

To celebrate the close of the first year of the Scientist McGee blog, I’m starting what will hopefully be an annual tradition – a recap of the cocktails shared on the blog in that year, in “Cocktail Book” form!

Click on the 2 links below to access a printable version of all the cocktails (except for one bad vodka drink I choose to forget, and therefore removed) from the Scientist McGee blog in 2011.  The book is separated in to two documents, and put together make a very handy guide that I hope you all will enjoy.  (Makes a great gift too – ha! ha!)

Scientist McGee’s 2011 Cocktail Menu COVER, TABLE OF CONTENTS and MEASUREMENTS

Scientist McGee’s 2011 Cocktail Menu

Thanks, and cheers!

SMcG


A Crisp Chill in the Air

Summer’s winding down and there’s now a nice, crisp chill in the air during the evening time.  Pretty soon, it’ll be chilly or cold enough to warrant some drinks to really warm the soul.  But for now, it’s nice to savor the last few chances we have to enjoy the remnants of summertime.  Summertime’s a magical time with long, bright evenings and lots going on around the city.  That’s why September-October’s the best time in St. Louis… You get to savor the final fleeting moments of summer, while also enjoying a nice, chilly breeze in the evening time.  A perfect balance between the fun summer and the cold winter.

So while an almost unbearably cold time of the year is right around the corner, and soon I’ll be reaching for some cozy whiskey and scotch drinks inside the heated home… For now, I’m enjoying holding on to summer and being on the back porch for as long as I can.

That’s why you’ll only find one “sneak peek” at winter drinks in this post (the Brigadier).  For the most part, the drinks featured in this latest post are about as summery as you can get – The Americano, Planter’s Punch (meaning an actual punch shared by friends on a good ole St. Louis back porch Labor Day barbeque), and the Ramos Fizz.  It really doesn’t get much more summery than these cocktails.  And it really doesn’t get much better in general, no matter what time of the year, than these 3 cocktails.  So shake and stir ’em up while you can, because winter’s almost here, and pretty soon we’ll all be sitting on our couches wrapped up in sweatshirts, wrapping our hands around some hot toddies or maybe a Brigadier.

“Americano”

What a tasty drink!  Here’s a drink that’s light & refreshing, while still definitely tasting like an adult beverage with its dryness.  It’s nice and bittersweet, but not quite so bitter as a “Negroni”.  This is definitely a back porch cooler.

1.5 oz. Campari

1.5 oz. sweet vermouth

3 oz. club soda

1 orange slice for garnish

Pour into an ice-filled highball glass and stir, topping with club soda.

(“The Essential Cocktail”)

 

“Ramos Fizz”

Also known as the “New Orleans Fizz”, this amazing drink dates back to 1888.  It was invented by its namesake, Henry Ramos, and I must say it’s a pretty decadent drink!  It’s decadent in its appearance, it’s decadent in its taste and it’s decadent in its preparation. This drink calls for 2 things I’ve never used in a cocktail before – 1. orange flower water, and 2. an egg.  While using egg whites in cocktails is not uncommon, this is the first time I’ve gotten around to actually using them myself.  (I must admit, I was kind of intimidated by the thought of it, but that’s all behind me now.)  Since we’re using egg white to add body to the drink, we need to shake it with all our might… much longer than a regular cocktail.  Some recipes say “shake it long & hard”, some say “shake it viciously”, some say “shake it for at least one minute, preferably two”.  Like I said, I was a little weary of drinking raw egg, so I shook it intensely for about a minute and a half.  I shook it so long that my hands were frozen and arms quite tired by the time I was done.  A tip for next time would be to wrap a towel around the shaker before beginning.  Also, I’ve read some where that one should not be so weary of the raw egg in cocktails because the alcohol, and the citric acid of lemon/lime called for in many drinks, diminishes the chances of salmonella.  Anyways, enough about the egg… this drink is quite a drink!  It’s a fantastic decadent drink!  It’s thick & creamy, sweet & citrus-y!  You feel like you’re on top of the world when you’re drinking one of these fellas!  I highly recommend treating yourself to one of these.  I just wouldn’t recommend mixing it up when you have multiple guests, unless you lift lots of weights and have very strong arms to handle the amount of shaking needed for multiple drinks of these.

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

1.5 oz. simple syrup

3/4 egg white

2 oz. heavy cream

2 dashes orange-flower water

club soda

Shake vigorously for 1.5-2 minutes, and then pour in to a highball glass with no ice. Top with club soda.

 

“Planter’s Punch”

I finally bought my first punch bowl set!  I’ve wanted one for quite some time, and a Labor Day barbeque seemed to be just the justification I needed to track one down.  To break in my new punch bowl, I turned to one of the most famous punches, a classic rum punch called “Planter’s Punch”.  I’m especially partial to the Planter’s Punch because one of the legends of its origin points to the early twentieth century in St. Louis.  Many people think the punch was created at the Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis in the early 1900’s.  Others think it was created by actual planters in Jamaica much earlier.  Who knows for sure… I’m content to compromise and hypothesize that perhaps it was originally created by actual planters in Jamaica, and then later popularized in the U.S. at the Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis.  That’s good enough for me!

Anyways, it’s a really good drink.  Good enough that I could see myself enjoying a whole punch bowl to myself if need be.  So I mixed up a batch to bring to our friends’ home, transporting it in a plastic pitcher, and planning to take a photo once I assembled the punch at their home… but it slipped my mind!  So unfortunately, I’m sad to say that I do not have a photo of my very first punch.  I do however have a picture of the making of the punch, the packaging of the punch and a picture of my new punch bowl set, along with a picture of a Planter’s Punch solo-style in a highball glass.  So below, for the mathematically challenged, I’ve listed two separate recipes – 1. a recipe for a single-serving drink, and 2. a multiplied recipe suitable for an 80 oz. punch bowl.

Now since this was my first attempt at a punch, and I was also transporting it to a location in which I wasn’t sure of the set up, I did something I’m not sure I needed to do… Instead of just mixing all the ingredients together in the bowl and then adding a big ice chunk, I shook two servings in a shaker to get the right proportion of water added to the drink from the ice, and then poured them in to the jug.  I did this 6 times I think.  This way, I knew that whatever the circumstances turned out to be, the drink would taste just right.  I’m not sure if this was totally necessary, but it turned out well, so it was worth the extra work of shaking.  Again, I guess the theme of this blog post is being exhausted from shaking so long.

Single serving:

1 oz. dark rum

1 oz. light rum

2 oz. orange juice

2 oz. pineapple juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1 maraschino cherry or orange slice for garnish

Shake well and strain in to an ice-filled highball glass.

Punch bowl:

11 oz. dark rum

11 oz. light rum

22 oz. orange juice

22 oz. pineapple juice

5.5 oz. lime juice

2.75 oz. simple syrup

Orange and lime slices for garnish

Totals 74.25 ounces, plus the water added from shaking with ice (or an ice chunk added later).


“Brigadier”

And last but not least, the sign of winter coming…  The nice, crisp chill in the air that’s such a relief from the hot summer right now will soon turn to blustery, cold winds and ice storms.  Let us be prepared – Stock up your cupboards with hot cocoa, whiskey, scotch and Chartreuse!

The final drink of this post is definitely a warmer-upper on a cold winter night.  Not only will the hot cocoa warm you up, but there’s quite a kick right away that’ll heat you up…  The Chartreuse hits you right away with quite a hot & spicy note, and then fades away in to a dark, rich cherry-chocolate flavor with the Cherry Heering and hot cocoa.  This is definitely a drink that’ll keep you company when you’re staying inside to escape the assault of the cold.

1 oz. green Chartreuse

1 oz. Cherry Heering

4 oz. hot cocoa

Stir and enjoy.

(created by San Francisco bartender, Neyah White)


Sherry makes an appearance…

I decided to pick up a bottle of Sherry finally.  I’ve been tempted to buy a bottle of Sherry ever since I tried a “Jabberwock” at the St. Louis bar, Sanctuaria.  The “Jabberwock” was the first drink I had at this bar, and it’s made up of sherry, caperitif, and gin.  It was a fantastic drink.  Like vermouth, sherry is a fortified wine.  Sherry’s fortified with brandy, giving it a slightly caramely taste.  The kind of sherry I bought is a fino sherry, which is a light and dry sherry.  I feel like cocktails with sherry have a very delicate and light character.  I have to say, I’m not totally in love with sherry, but it’s definitely a nice change of pace.

Four of the five drinks listed below were ones I tried using my new bottle of sherry, and the fifth is just a classic cocktail (the Monkey Gland) that I wanted to try.  Three out of the four sherry drinks were quite good, with only one being a dud. *  That’s pretty good odds based upon the fact that there aren’t really that many drink recipes out there calling for sherry.  In addition, it’s really good odds considering the fact that the search for the drink recipes came after my buying the sherry.  Usually, if I find the drink recipe before buying a bottle of something new, the drink’s almost guaranteed to be good.  This is typically the case because the recipe tends to speak for itself.  The combination of ingredients sounds so good that I’m compelled to buy a new ingredient.  On the other hand, when an ingredient has piqued my interest first, and then I have to scrounge up recipes to use it in, often times it’s easier for me to fall short.

So here they are, a few sherry drinks, plus an old classic stand by…

“Seville Cocktail”

This drink was probably my favorite of all the sherry drinks I tried. It was really good and made me question my theory that I don’t care for drinks combining gin & orange juice.  I’m now open to the idea!  This was a really good drink because of all the extra ingredients in addition to the gin/orange combo… the lemon, the sherry and the sugar.  The sherry really adds a nice flavor and some substance.  I often think the gin/orange combo tastes hollow, but the sherry adds a worthy element, and it also cuts through and softens the intensity of the juices.  Very good drink!

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. fino sherry

1/2 oz. orange juice

1/2 oz. lemon juice

2 t simple syrup

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Sevilla”

This was quite an elaborate drink for me to make.  (especially on a weeknight – ha! ha!)  I’ve never used ground cinnamon in a drink before, and I’ve never even tasted hot pepper jelly until this drink.  I found this drink in Dale DeGroff’s “The Essential Cocktail” book, and I have to say, it’s quite an interesting drink.  It’s a spicy drink, a quite spicy drink!  Overall, I like the idea of the drink.  However I would say that the texture of the ground cinnamon was a little off-putting.  It’s got such a dry texture, it kind of made me thirstier each time I’d take a drink.  I actually think it’d be a better drink without the ground cinnamon rim.  Also, I personally liked the spice of the hot pepper jelly, but that too could be removed based on personal preference or your mood at the time.  It’s great if you want a drink with some heat, which is definitely fun, but I think a drink with just the rum, sherry, orange and lime might be quite a good drink.  With the cinnamon and jelly, the drink resembles an actual meal (and that was DeGroff’s point, I think), but without the cinnamon, it’d be more “drink-like”.  Try it, and see for yourself!

1 oz. white rum

1/2 oz. fino sherry

3/4 oz. orange juice

1/4 oz. lime juice

1 t hot pepper jelly

ground cinnamon to rim the glass

1 flamed orange peel for garnish

Shake well and fine strain in to chilled cocktail glass.

(“The Essential Cocktail”)

“Poppy Variation”

This drink was the dud of the group.  It was OK, not terrible, but not great.  It’s like a slightly sweeter dry martini.

1.75 oz. gin

3/4 oz. dry sherry

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Adonis Cocktail”

This was a very nice cocktail.  It’s silky & light.  It’s sweet, but also a bit deep & dry, with notes of caramel from the sherry.

2 oz. dry sherry

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1 dash orange bitters

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Monkey Gland”

My original notes on this drink are pretty funny to read, because I started off not liking the drink much, but as I drank it, I liked it more and more.  I don’t know if that’s the best characteristic for a drink- to be bad at the beginning but good by the end, but who knows… it is what it is.  Here’s my actual notes, written as I drank the cocktail…

               1- I don’t know… the anise and OJ tastes a little medicinal.

               2- It’s OK, not great, not bad.

               3- It’s kind of a nice, fruity absinthe drink, which is a bit unusual.

               4- It’s kind of grown on me.

Ha ha! This drink got the best of me!  Hats off to it for that!

1.5 oz. gin

1 oz. orange juice

1/4 oz. grenadine

1 splash of absinthe

orange peel for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

* As I was writing this post, I actually remembered a 5th sherry drink I tried, which was terrible. It was such a dud, that I didn’t even want to write about it, so beware… BEWARE the “Quarter Deck”.  It was terrible!


A random assortment of drinks, tied together by nothing more than time.

This latest post is a random grab-bag of cocktails.  There’s no overarching theme.  There’s no prominent new ingredient used in all of the drinks.  They’re not all from some new book I bought.

These four drinks have nothing in common other than the fact that I’ve made and drank each of them in the last couple of weeks, since my last post.  Each of them comes from its own, unique source as well… the Loop Tonic from a blog I read called “Spirited Cocktails”, the Plantation from one of the first cocktail books I ever bought called “The Art of the Bar”, the Sitarski from the actual first cocktail book I ever bought, Gary Regan’s “The Bartender’s Bible”, and the “Blue Devil” from a book that I picked up at a used book fair called “The New York Bartender’s Guide”.

Loop Tonic

The Loop Tonic has knocked my socks off!  It's a drink I just happened to read about in a blog called "Spirited Cocktails".  When I read about this drink, I was shocked by the idea of putting tequila and green Chartreuse together (I'd never tried that), but looking at all of the ingredients together, I thought it looked really, really good, and had the potential to be amazing.  I was intrigued... especially by the notion of celery bitters.  And that's the only thing I needed to go out and buy to make this drink that seemed so exotic to me.  So that day, I went out and got some celery bitters, and made up this drink.  I'm so glad I did because this drink is super delicious!  I flip, and grin ear-to-ear, when I think about making this drink, because it's so tasty and such an interesting drink!  All of the ingredients meld very nicely together, and the celery bitters add a really nice bite to the drink. If you like Chartreuse and you have 6 bucks to spare, I highly recommend going out and buying the celery bitters to try this drink.  

2 oz. white tequila

1 oz. dry vermouth

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

dash of celery bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“Spirited Cocktails” – http://spiritedcocktails.com/index.php/2011/07/29/beautiful-combinations-tequila-chartreuse/ )

The Plantation

This is a really great drink as well.  I found this drink while flipping through the pages of perhaps my favorite cocktail book I own, “The Art of the Bar” by Jeff Hollinger & Rob Schwartz.  I was bored and wanted to try something new, when I stumbled across this drink which called for basil.  Since the basil plant on our back porch had just recently begun to look healthy and good, I figured this’d be a fun one to try.  It was a good call, because this drink is really good!  The fresh taste of the basil, mixed with the lime and gin, make this a really refreshing summer cocktail.  I love basil in general… I love its taste and I love its smell… basil makes me happy.  So this drink, incorporating fresh basil, makes me happy too.

5 fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 oz. gin

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 oz. grapefruit juice

1 basil leaf for a garnish (the original recipe calls for a slice of grapefruit as the garnish)

Muddle the basil and sugar in the bottom of your cocktail shaker until it’s like a paste, then add the rest of the ingredients and ice.

Shake well and then strain, using a fine-mesh sieve, in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The Art of the Bar”)

Sitarski

Again, an evening where I was a little bored of my standing drink menu, I started flipping through the pages of the very first cocktail book I ever bought, Gary Regan’s “The Bartender’s Bible”.  I wanted to make a drink using dark rum in order to try the Jamaican rum my wife and I had won a couple of months ago, while on vacation, playing “Name That Tune” on a stormy day at our resort in Montego Bay.   This bottle of rum holds a special place in my heart for two reasons… 1- It reminds me of one of the most fun vacations I’ve ever been on, and 2- It reminds me of the victorious, proud feeling I had when my wife and I schooled a bunch of youngsters by knowing more music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s than they did.  I always love when music comes up in trivia games, as it lights the biggest competitive fire in my belly.  But I digress, that’s neither here nor there.  I wanted to try the rum, and so I picked out this drink, the Sitarski.  This drink’s pretty good when you’re looking for big ole drink with rum that’s easy to kick back and enjoy.

1.5 oz. dark rum

2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon simple syrup

Shake well and strain in to an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)

The Blue Devil

This last drink was purely made because I wanted to try a bottle of blue curacao that I’d just bought.  So I flipped to another cocktail book’s index and looked under “B” for blue.   Sure enough, there were 12 drinks with “blue” in the name, and 9 of them contained blue curacao.  This drink’s nothing special, but if you really need a blue drink, it’s good enough.

2 oz. gin

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 tablespoon maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon blue curacao

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The New York Bartender’s Guide”)


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”)


Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!

I’m somewhat obsessed with liqueurs.  Often, I get obsessed with the idea behind a liqueur.  Something about one will pique my interest… maybe it’ll be an intriguing recipe for a drink it’s in (i.e. Cherry Heering and the “Blood & Sand”), maybe it’ll be the story and legend behind it (i.e. Chartreuse and the legend that only 3 monks know the true recipe at any given time), or maybe it’ll be the curiosity of a flavor I’ve never tasted in my life, along with a bottle that’s nearly as pretty as an old European church.  This last example is what caught my attention and began my curious obsession to try St. Germain’s elderflower liqueur.  The bottle alone should get anyone excited to at least try a taste.  And when I finally got a bottle of my own, I was very pleased with how this fancy liqueur tastes.  I was a little worried that it was going to be another liqueur as floral as creme de violette (nothing against creme de violette, I just wanted something different).  It was different.  I saw a description somewhere online that was spot on… this person said that it’s floral, but not too floral, sweet, but not too sweet.  This is true – I was really happy with its unique flavor.  True, it’s floral, but only in a subtle way.  It also has quite a few other flavors going on as well, to make a very complex flavor.  It’s got tastes of pear, peach, honey and citrus, and probably many more.  It’s damn good, and it really spruces up a drink.  It’s a great way to take a very traditional cocktail that you’re used to having, and that’s good, but that you want to make a little more special.  For example, the first drink I made was the “French Gimlet”.  I made this very simple drink because I wanted the St. Germain to stand out, so that I could taste the liqueur I’d just purchased.  And this is a perfect example of taking a very simple drink and making it something a little more unique and something special by adding the St. Germain.

“French Gimlet”

2 oz. gin

1 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Le Jacques Strap”

The second drink I tried with my new St. Germain was one I found online with a silly french play-on-words for a name.  Paired with the creme de violette, this drink was very floral, but in a very soft manner.  I find creme de violette to have an intense floral character, whereas the St. Germain has a nice, soft floral aspect.  So mixed, it was a nice balance.  This was a fun drink with its many different notes of flavors, all held together with the old, familiar background of gin.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/4 oz. creme de violette (original recipe calls for Creme Yvette)

2 dashes orange bitters

2 dashes green Chartreuse

Stir and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Hemingway Daiquiri”

The reason I picked up a bottle of St. Germain a few days ago was because I had a thirst for a cocktail using grapefruit juice.  I stopped by the ole grocery store to pick up some grapefruit juice, and that’s when I spotted the bottle of St. Germain being discontinued at this store and at a bargain price.  This drink is named after Ernest Hemingway, as it was reportedly one of the drinks he’d drink at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, in which he frequented.  Apparently, Hemingway enjoyed his drinks a bit stronger though, so he’d order it as a double, using twice as much rum.  This gave way to the drink also being referred to as a “Paba Doble” (“doble” meaning double).  I thought this drink was just OK… really nothing special.  Maybe next time I’ll make it as a double, with 3 ounces of rum, and maybe I’ll like it more too?

1.5 oz. white rum

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. grapefruit juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Harry’s Manhattan”

In addition to my recent acquisition of the St. Germain, I’ve been spending time flipping through the pages of my newest cocktail book, “The Savoy Cocktail Book”.  This is a great old book with hundreds of recipes, compiled by Harry Craddock and published in 1930.  Harry Craddock was the bartender at the American Bar inside the Savoy Hotel in London, England.  Harry Craddock left the U.S. for England to continue bartending, when Prohibition struck.  I’ve made the following two cocktails from the book.  I was not very fond of the latter (Champs Elysees), but the former was magnificent!  In his book, it’s just referred to as the classic  “Manhattan”, but I refer to it as “Harry’s Manhattan” because I thought it was neat that he suggested using a couple dashes of maraschino liqueur rather than the modern tradition of using a maraschino cherry.  (This is my first and only old cocktail book, so maybe this practice wasn’t just Harry’s, but rather the old way of doing it?  I’m not sure.)  The modern maraschino cherry is pretty much sugar and red food coloring, whereas the maraschino liqueur is true to the marasca cherries it’s made from and even features a nutty taste that comes from the pits of the cherries.  This was one of the best Manhattan cocktails I’ve ever had!  It wasn’t quite as sweet as a Manhattan made with maraschino cherries, and it tasted almost silkier and smoother.  It’s unusual that Harry suggests shaking the drink as well.  Most drinks that consist of all alcoholic ingredients call for being stirred.   I don’t know, but I’m converted… this is my new way of making a Manhattan.  Thanks Harry!

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

2 dashes maraschino liqueur

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(based on the “Manhattan Cocktail No. 1” recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock)

“Champs Elysees”

Whereas I loved the drink above, I was not a fan of this drink.  I’m not too sure of the brandy & Chartreuse combo.

1.5 oz. cognac or brandy

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/4 oz. lemon juice

1/8 oz. simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(based on the recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock)

“Remember the Maine”

I can’t remember how or why I found this drink, but I stumbled across it online somewhere.  What a lucky stumble!  This drink was really good!  It’s a nice stiff drink, with an interesting, complex taste.  The absinthe in the forefront made the drink quite intense, while the Cherry Heering hung out in the background offering a nice subtle base.  Very tasty indeed.

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

2 t Cherry Heering

1/2 t absinthe

Stir and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


“The Gilroy Cocktail”

This drink too… I don’t know how or why I found this one, but I did so online as well.  And again, I really liked this one too.  It’s nothing fancy, just a good, solid drink.  If you ever want a solid, good cherry cocktail, this is it.

1 oz. gin

1 oz. Cherry Heering

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.




The only liqueur to have a color named after it…

Welcome back everybody,

Not much has happened since the last time I wrote a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve only got two new cocktails to share with everyone today.

However, I’m pretty excited to share one of them in particular.  The reason being? It contains the wonderful liqueur, Chartreuse… “the only liqueur to have a color named after it”.  I’m excited to have a new Chartreuse cocktail to share here for 2 reasons…

1. I love Chartreuse.

2. I’d say that nearly 85% of all readers who stumble upon my blog, do so as a result of their search for information on this amazing liqueur.

It’s really interesting and really fun to see, in the WordPress site stats page, that probably 95% of the keywords searched, that lead readers to Scientist McGee’s blog, are in fact “Chartreuse”.   Obviously there’s tons of other people out there, just like me, who love this delicious and potent herbal liqueur, and if my small, obscure blog comes up in their search results, there’s obviously not as much information on the internet about Chartreuse as there should be.  But that’s OK… I’m excited that other Chartreuse lovers have found my little blog as a result of our shared love for this wonderful drink.

The cocktail that I’m including today, that showcases Chartreuse is “The Scofflaw”.  This drink is a wonderful whiskey drink.  Apparently, when this drink debuted in 1924 at Harry’s Bar in Paris, it originally contained grenadine instead of Chartreuse.  So out there on the internet, about 2/3 of the recipes I found had the original recipe of 1.5 oz rye, 1 oz dry vermouth, 3/4 oz lemon and 3/4 oz grenadine, but about 1/3 of the recipes I found (including a Washington Post article) featured this modern recipe:

“The Scofflaw”

3/4 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz dry vermouth

1/2 oz Chartreuse

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 dash of orange bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon peel.

This is a great drink… It’s relatively light because of the dry vermouth and the lemon juice, but also has a wonderful Chartreuse punch!  I don’t know who decided to swap out Chartreuse for the grenadine in the old recipe, but it was quite the upgrade.  What a move… it’d be like the St. Louis Cardinals trading away pitcher Ryan Franklin for Roy Halladay.

Another drink I tried in the last couple of weeks was “The Communist”.  I found this drink in a search for a new cocktail that featured Cherry Heering.  This drink’s relatively good.  It’s no “Blood & Sand”, which I still think is the best drink featuring Cherry Heering that I’ve found so far, but it’s OK.  (However, I may not be the most unbiased judge of this drink, because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of the gin/OJ combo.)

“The Communist”

1 oz gin

1 oz orange juice

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Those are the two new cocktails I have to share with you today.  I expect to have quite a few new ones in the weeks/months ahead though, because I’m pretty excited about picking up a copy of “The Savoy Cocktail Book” today.  This book is a treasure chest of great, classic cocktail recipes, compiled and written by Harry Craddock, Head Bartender of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London, in 1930.  I’ve already started rabbit-earring the pages of all the tasty drinks I want to try.

Until next time, Cheers!


Back in St. Louis

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update to the ole Scientist McGee’s blog… a really long time.  It seems like ages in fact.  Since my last post, over a month ago, I took a trip to Jamaica.  It was a wonderful and restful time away from the daily grind.  My wife and I stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay… all you can eat, all you can drink.  I had a lot of tropical drinks, from morning to mid-morning, to lunch, to afternoon, to dinner, to after dinner and so on… repeat for 7 days.  It was great… the drinks were very nice and easy and thirst quenching… lots and lots of Tequila Sunrises and an occassional Margarita thrown in there, amongst random others like the Bob Marley, Rum Punch, Pina Colata, etc.  I even got some classic drinks mixed in as well, like a Rusty Nail, a Harvey Wallbanger, a Manhattan, etc.  The people in Jamaica are amongst the nicest I’ve ever met, and the bartenders were no exception.  They were happy to oblige and make a few drinks for me that weren’t on the menu because you can only take so much rum and tropical drinks after a few days.  I even tried a new drink that I’d read about in the book I brought along to read on the beach.  (Which reminds me… I’ve added a new piece to the side bar of my blog, on the right-hand side… It’s a list of books that I own or have read, and a brief rating of what I thought of them… check it out.  And if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know.)   The book I read on the beach was called “The Little Green Book of Absinthe”, and as the title suggests, it’s a book dedicated entirely to Absinthe.  Pretty fun read, with little anecdotes, quotes and tales of the history of Absinthe.  I was even happier to notice that the bartenders at the resort had in fact a bottle of Pernod behind the bar.  A lot of the drinks in the book had too unusual of ingredients for me to order them, but one in particular struck my fancy on the 5th day of our stay.  My wife had gotten hooked on Mimosas while we were there, and so I thought that the “Death in the Afternoon” cocktail sounded like a perfect companion to hers.

A “Death in the Afternoon” was a classic Ernest Hemingway drink and is…

1/2 oz. Absinthe

4.5 oz champagne

Stir together in a champagne flute.

(recipe from “The Little Green Book of Absinthe”)

And now for all the different drinks I’ve tried since my last post, in no particular order…

“Aviation” (w/ creme de violette)

Shortly after a post of mine a couple back, called “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…”, in which I had just recently acquired some maraschino liqueur, I got a great tip from a reader who recommended me trying it with some Creme de Violette (some times referred to as Creme Yvette).  Thank you to him, because it’s a great addition and a serious twist on the drink itself!  As you might imagine, the creme de violette is very floral and a very strong flavor… a little added to a drink goes a long way, and definitely “blues” up the color of the drink, which is kind of fun.  In the Aviation, it definitely adds another dimension.  In this drink, using only 1/4 ounce is nice as then it’s somewhat subtle, as opposed to its strong presence in the “Blue Moon” coming up next.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/4 oz creme de violette

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Blue Moon”

Fresh in to my creme de violette kick, I attended a wonderful wedding reception with a very nice open bar and I spotted a bottle of the creme de violette behind the bar… but no maraschino liqueur.  I asked the bartender what he’d recommend for the creme de violette, and he made me a “Blue Moon”.   Pretty great drink, I must say.  The violet melds wonderfully with the lemon, and it seems to almost bond with and transform the gin.  It’s a drink of 3 really good flavors working really well together.  Each flavor seems very clear and distinct, but also blend nicely to make an overall flavor greater than the sum of its parts.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz creme de violette

1/2 oz lemon juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Mary Pickford”

This drink was one I found in the book “The Cocktail Hour”, which is a book celebrating the old fashioned drinks and their history, and I wound up really liking this one.  It’s a great summertime drink.  It’s sweet & refreshing without being “candy sweet”, due in large part to the nutty element of the maraschino liqueur.  The recipe looks very simple, but its taste is surprisingly complex… again, thanks in large part to the maraschino liqueur, which leads me to my revelation that – the maraschino liqueur is king! (in my book anyway)

2 oz light rum

2 oz pineapple juice

1 t maraschino liqueur

1 t grenadine

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(recipe from “The Cocktail Hour”)

“The Stork Club”

Another drink I grabbed from this same book was “The Stork Club”, named after a famed nightclub in New York.  I didn’t care much for this drink, and after this one and “The Bronx Cocktail” from my last post, I’ve decided that I don’t care for the gin and orange juice combo in drinks.  It tastes like watered down OJ to me, and similar to Tang… which is never good in my opinion.  Oh well.  The lime juice made it a little better, but still the gin and OJ combo tastes flat & hollow to me, leaving me wanting something more.

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz triple sec

1/4 oz lime juice

1 oz orange juice

Dash of Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(recipe from “The Cocktail Hour”)

“Cherry Vodka”

I made this drink on a whim because I wanted to try a new drink using Cherry Heering.  I found this one online, and I did not like it.  But full disclosure, I don’t like vodka (as you may have noticed, there are very few vodka drinks in any of my posts).  Since vodka doesn’t have much of a taste, this drink tasted like I was drinking just lime juice with some Cherry Heering, and a noticeable “hole of nothingness” where the vodka was.  I won’t be making this one again ever.

1.5 oz vodka

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Galliano Margarita”

I bought my first bottle of Galliano yesterday (along with 2 new glasses, pictured here)! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the Galliano, as I was sort of just buying it because my wife likes “Harvey Wallbanger” drinks, so I bought a half-bottle (375 ml).  But boy was I in for a very pleasant surprise!  I love it!  I was under the wrong impression that Galliano was strictly a vanilla liqueur.  I hadn’t realized how it has quite a bit of an herbal undertone as well, and a strong anise secondary flavor too.  I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed this on the prior occassion when I had tried it before, but I hadn’t.  I have to say, I think that Galliano is very good indeed.  Plus I lucked out by stumbling upon a recipe for a drink that I just loved.  When I brought the bottle home, I didn’t want to just make another Harvey Wallbanger, so I looked online for what I could make and figured I’d give a Galliano Margarita a shot.  What the hell, eh? It was around 95 degrees out, so perfect, right?  Oh my, what a treat!  What a good drink!  I highly recommend this to everyone.

1 oz tequila

1 oz Galliano

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.  Salt rim.

(As you can tell from the picture, I wasn’t in the mood for a salted rim.)

“Limon Sunrise”

And last but definitely not least, is a drink I looked up also online when I  found myself reminiscing about the endless Tequila Sunrises in Jamaica and also re-discovered a bottle of limoncello I’d forgotten we had in our house.  This one’s a very fun drink for the summer time.  Very refreshing and the orange & lemon combo is very good.

1 oz limoncello

3 oz orange juice

Splash of grenadine

Fill a highball-sized glass with ice, and build the limoncello, followed by the orange juice, and then add the grenadine.



The Ward 8, the Obituary, the Negroni and the Bronx Cocktail

Well, hello there! Welcome back to Scientist McGee’s.

Since my last post, I’ve tried a few new drinks at home, bought a few new books to peruse, but the most fun update of all, I became a member of my first official Cocktail Club.

I became a member of the Cocktail Club at a St. Louis bar & restaurant called Sanctuaria ( http://www.sanctuariastl.com/ ).  Sanctuaria has a wonderful cocktail menu with over 150 fine-crafted cocktails to choose from.  Eighty of these drinks are classic cocktails, with the other 70+ drinks being the creations of Sanctuaria’s talented bartenders.  What a joy!  While the pocketbook won’t allow me to indulge in my new club’s benefits as often as I’d like to, I’m excited that it’s another important component in my “amateur journey in to the world of spirits”.  I now have an outlet where I can learn more about drinks from experts and other cocktail fans, instead of learning everything on my own from books and the internet.  The bartenders there truly love the cocktail and it’s truly fun to watch them work their craft.  As a member, I get discounted prices off every cocktail, discounts off retail bottles of liquor and invitations to members-only events.  The “gold-level” of the membership is earned when a member has tried all 150 drinks on their main menu.  That’s going to take quite a while, but some day for sure.   At my first visit, I was 2 for 2 with leaving the drink selection up to the bartender, just giving him a few things I was looking for in a drink.  Both drinks that he suggested hit the nail right on the head and I got to try two amazing drinks that I just loved… the “Jabberwock” (sherry, caperitif and gin) and the “French Parade” (cognac, Green Chartreuse, Cointreau, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters).  Two awesome drinks!  I almost hate that I can’t just drink these two drinks 74 more times each to reach the 150-mark, but oh well, I do love trying new drinks all the time too.

Yesterday, I went out to one of the biggest used book & record sales in St. Louis.  For a few bucks, I was able to pick up a few fun cocktail books… “Playboy’s Host & Bar Book” by Thomas Mario and “Cocktail Hour” by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel.

Playboy's Host and Bar Book.Cocktail Hour: Authentic Recipes and Illustrations from 1920-1960

The Playboy book seems to have a wealth of information all about entertaining and different spirits, along with tons of recipes.  The other book is a little more quirky and fun, but has lots of fun pictures of old ads and images celebrating the cocktail culture.  I think this book will inspire me trying a few new drinks… which it already has – a really good drink called the “Ward 8”.  A good whiskey drink even my wife enjoyed.  There’s a lot of drinks I try that I like but my wife hates (e.g. Negroni, see below).  So when there’s a drink I try that we both like, those stick out in my memory and get a little asterisk (*) next to them in my book, because those are good ones to remember to make again.  Because it’s always more fun to have someone share in the drink you make rather than drinking alone, right?  Well, the Ward 8 is one of them.  It’s a fruity/tropical whiskey drink, which may sound weird, but it’s quite good… because yes, it’s got some fruit juices in it, but the taste of the rye whiskey is very prevalent as well.  It’s a good balanced drink for anyone who likes the taste of whiskey, but doesn’t want a drink that’s straight alcohol.

So anyways, that’s an update in the land of Scientist McGee.  I leave you with recipes for 4 cocktails that I’ve tried since the last time I posted an update.  They are the Ward 8, the Obituary, the Negroni and the Bronx.   I hope you enjoy!  Cheers!

“Ward 8”

Like I mentioned above, this drink is one for both whiskey lovers and lovers of fruity drinks… a great blend of the two.  Neither aspect overwhelms the other, but both aspects shine through in a perfect pairing.  It’s got an almost tropical flavor with the orange and lemon juice and grenadine, but the rye whiskey definitely makes an appearance at the end of each sip.  I highly recommend the Ward 8, especially for mixed gatherings of people with diverse tastes.

2 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz orange juice

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 teaspoon of grenadine

1 lemon peel for a garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Obituary”

I saw this recipe in a book, I recently flipped through at a bookstore, that was all about absinthe.  It’s called the Obituary, but in layman’s terms, it should simply be called an “Absinthe Martini”.  If you like Martinis, but you are craving the taste of absinthe, you need one of these.  Nothing too complex, basically just a dry Martini with a nice absinthe flavor.  Very good.

3 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

3/8 oz absinthe

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

“Negroni”

This actually wasn’t the first time I tried a Negroni.  I believe it’s actually the third time or so.  I’m really not a huge fan of the drink based on taste alone, but I do crave it from time to time when I’m stuffed from dinner.  When I’ve got a belly so full, it feels like it’s going to burst, this drink, which is heavy on the aperitif called Campari which supposedly serves as an appetite stimulant, hits the spot.  Beware though, it is very dry and bitter.

1.5 oz gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

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

“Bronx Cocktail”

I didn’t care for this drink all that much.  I think it was just that the proportions of the ingredients made it taste too similar to Tang, which I’m not a fan of.

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1 oz orange juice

dash of Angostura bitters, optional

orange peel for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

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