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

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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)


Maraschino! The humble, unassuming supporting actor steals the show…

I recently made a drink called the Martinez.  The Martinez is thought to be the precursor to the modern day Martini.   One of the most widely accepted stories about the drink’s origin points to the famous bartender, Jerry Thomas.  Jerry was tending bar at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco and made the drink for a gold miner who was on his way to the town of Martinez, CA.  The recipe for the Martinez first appears in print in Jerry’s 1887 book, and called for Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, a dash of maraschino and bitters, as well as a slice of lemon and two dashes of gum syrup.  Today, many recipes for the Martinez call for a mix of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters.  And apparently, the great Martini evolved from this drink, to the drink we love of just gin and dry vermouth.

Very interesting story and piece of history, yes, but the thing that struck me the most when making and enjoying this drink, however, was just how important of a role maraschino liqueur plays in the world of cocktails… especially in the world of my favorite cocktails.  I originally bought some maraschino liqueur because I’d noticed it in quite a few older drink recipes.  I thought of it originally as an essential, but minor character in my drinks.  But as I sipped on the Martinez drink I’d just made, I realized how much I’d come to rely on this great liqueur to make what would be an average drink become amazing.  I realized that when perusing drink books, the ones with maraschino would jump out at me subconsciensly, because when I see a drink has maraschino, it’s almost certain that I’ll enjoy it.  It’s definitely never the leading ingredient, but it’s often the backbone of a great drink.  I always seem to compare it to some of the great supporting actors, like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I know that when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s in a movie, chances are I’m going to like it, because he’ll add so much to the movie and sometimes become my favorite character.

That’s what maraschino liqueur is to me!  It’s the one consistent through many of the drinks I love and crave.  It appears in the Last Word, the Colonial, Harry Craddock’s Manhattan and the Aviation.  These drinks are all near the top of my list for favorite drinks, and maraschino liqueur is definitely up there near the top of my favorite liqueurs.  So, to celebrate this wonderful liqueur and give it its just deserts, I’m posting one new recipe for my blog (the Martinez), along with all of the drinks that have appeared over the last 9 posts of mine that feature the wonderful Luxardo maraschino liqueur.

Cheers to the maraschino liqueur!

 

“The Martinez”

A good ole all-alcohol cocktail, that’s indeed nice and heavy on the taste of gin, while being sweeter, because of the vermouth, like a Manhattan.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

dash of orange bitters

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“The Last Word”

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

In the top 3 of my favorite cocktails – an amazing drink!

Equal parts…

gin

green Chartreuse

maraschino liqueur

lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

 

“Colonial Cocktail”

from “95 degree nights” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/95-degree-nights/

This is my go-to simple, summer evening drink.  It’s quick’n’easy to make, and a perfect cocktail.

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”)


“Harry’s Manhattan”

from “Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/harry-craddock-says-your-father-smells-of-elderberries/

 This is one of the best Manhattan cocktail recipes out there!  It wasn’t quite as sweet as a Manhattan made with maraschino cherries, and it tastes silkier and smoother.  (The Savoy Cocktail Book suggests shaking the drink.)

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)

 

“Aviation” 

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

This is a great, simple showcase and use of the maraschino liqueur.  Very good drink.

2 oz gin

3/4 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

 

“Aviation II” (w/ creme de violette)

from “Back in St. Louis” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/back-in-st-louis/

A nice twist on the classic Aviation.  The creme de violette adds a strong, floral component.

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.

 

“Mary Pickford”

from “Back in St. Louis” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/back-in-st-louis/

This is a classic drink, perfect for summertime.  It’s sweet & refreshing without being “candy sweet”, due in large part to the nutty element of the maraschino liqueur.

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”)

“Club Cocktail”

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

Great drink!  It’s a refreshing, summertime drink that’s not too fruity or sweet, thanks to the brandy and the maraschino.

2 oz brandy

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz pineapple juice

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

lemon peel for garnish

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

 

“Hemingway Cocktail”

from “Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/harry-craddock-says-your-father-smells-of-elderberries/

This drink is named after Ernest Hemingway, as it was one of the drinks he would enjoy at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba.

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.



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.



Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…

Greetings friends & patrons!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sazerac”

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

1 sugar cube

3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

2 oz rye whiskey

Splash of absinthe

lemon peel for garnish

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

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

“Captain’s Table”

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

2 oz gin

1/2 oz Campari

1 teaspoon grenadine

1 oz orange juice

4 oz ginger ale

1 maraschino cherry

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

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

“Aviation”

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

2 oz gin

3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

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

“Club Cocktail”

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

2 oz brandy

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz pineapple juice

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

lemon peel for garnish

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

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“Waldorf”

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

1/8 oz absinthe

2 oz bourbon (or rye whiskey)

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

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

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“The Last Word”

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

Equal parts…

Gin

Green Chartreuse

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

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

Cheers!