A Scientific Spring

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Breast Pocket Cocktail”

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

2 oz. rye whiskey

3 oz. Schlafly Dry Hopped APA

2 dashes of orange bitters

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


“Left Hand Cocktail”

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

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

1.5 oz. bourbon

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

3/4 oz. Campari

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

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

Add 3 cherries on a pick as a garnish.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

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

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

But now I am!

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

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

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

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


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)


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


Yellow Chartreuse

Well, I did it… I bought my first bottle of Yellow Chartreuse.  Green Chartreuse is one of my favorite things, so I’ve been intrigued by it’s yellow sister for a while now and knew that sooner or later, I’d bite the bullet and need to reunite these siblings.  I must say, I really like the yellow Chartreuse as well.  But not nearly as much as it’s powerful counterpart of the green variety.  Chartreuse is a pricey liqueur (around $55-60 a bottle).  While I really like the yellow Chartreuse, a milder, sweeter, less potent (80 proof, as opposed to the 110 proof of the green) version of the liqueur, I don’t know if it’s really worth the price for my budget.  The green variety is worth every penny, plus some, in my opinion.  I’d probably pay $100 a bottle if I needed to, and for some context, I’ve never paid more than the price of green Chartreuse for any other liquor.  But to be quite honest, I don’t know if I’ll rush to the booze merchant, to pony up the money for another bottle of the yellow stuff, when I run out.  I don’t think that this’ll be the only bottle I own, but I also won’t be heartbroken if my bar goes some months without it.  At this point at least (and I’ll be the first to admit that my mind might completely change, 360 degrees, by the time I reach the bottom of this bottle, as often my taste does during the course of just a 3 ounce cocktail), I don’t think the price tag justifies treating it as a staple in my bar.  Nevertheless, I’m enjoying it quite a bit while it lasts.  And I’ve mixed up 4 drinks using the yellow stuff, and 2 of which I love!  So, who knows what the future holds!  Following, are four drinks that call for yellow Chartreuse, one drink I made just because I loved the name, one 100% classic cocktail, and the last one just because I wanted a drink that called for Benedictine and the drink’s named after one of the best cocktail towns in the world.  Enjoy!

“3, 2, 1 Cocktail”

I found this drink, and “Aurora’s Bed” and the “Cloister”, all from a blog called “Cocktail Virgin Slut” (http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/) – what a great wealth of cocktail recipes!  This drink, the 3, 2, 1, was the first drink I tried with my new yellow Chartreuse.  This was a nice and smooth drink, and I did notice that the yellow Chartreuse was indeed sweeter, more floral and smoother than the kick, bite and punch of the green Chartreuse.

1.5 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

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

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)

“Mujer Verde”

This drink was delicious! It reminds me a lot of the “Last Word” (https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/), one of my favorite cocktails! I must love the combination of green Chartreuse with lime juice – they go so well together!

1 oz. gin

1/3 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

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

Garnish with a lime.

(“The Art of the Bar”)

“Aurora’s Bed”

For this drink, I made my first infused simple syrup – a saffron-infused simple syrup.  To make this, I followed the basic recipe for making simple syrup… equal parts sugar to water, and boil (https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/dashes-and-splashes/).  But the water I used had saffron left in it overnight.  What I did was use 6 threads of saffron for a quarter cup of water.  I placed the saffron threads in the cup of water and let it sit out overnight.  The next day, I used this water to combine with sugar and boil to make the simple syrup – very easy!

I then used this saffron-infused simple syrup to make the “Aurora’s Bed” cocktail. It was a very good drink… sweet, sour and herbal.  But even though making the saffron-infused simple syrup was easy to make, it took some time, and so I don’t know if I can honestly say that this drink was worth the effort.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. saffron-infused simple syrup

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

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

Garnish with lemon or orange.

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)


“Cloister”

Here’s yet another fantastic drink!  I love this one!  The herbal taste of the yellow Chartreuse mixed with the tartness of the grapefruit is delicious.  A top notch cocktail!  (I am a huge fan of grapefruit juice in my cocktails though.)

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/4 lemon juice

1/4 simple syrup

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

Garnish with a lemon.

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)

“Fine & Dandy Cocktail”

This drink was OK.  I only made it because I was attracted to its name.  It’s just a very sour drink with an orange twist (kind of tangy though unfortunately).  A little simple syrup might help out, but still a decent drink.

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. lemon juice

3/4 oz. triple sec

1 dash of Angostura bitters

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

(“Savoy Cocktail Book”)

“Old Fashioned”

One of the most classic of all classic cocktails – the “Old Fashioned”.  It’s pretty wonderful… a very nice way to drink whiskey as an alternative to just whiskey and water.  Sugar, bitters, water and bourbon – excellent!  This recipe is based upon the one Matt Seiter featured in Feast magazine last month.

2.25 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. water

1 sugar cube

2 dashes Angostura bitters

3 ice cubes

Muddle the water, sugar cube and bitters.  Add whiskey and 2 ice cubes, stir.  Add 3rd ice cube and serve.

(http://www.feaststl.com/recipes/article_29fd5cc4-ffe4-11e0-902b-0019bb30f31a.html)

“San Francisco”

This is just a random drink I found in my “Bartender’s Bible”, as I was looking for a new drink that called for Benedictine.  It’s an OK drink… a bit too sour for me, but then again, I’d be totally content to have another one if someone made another one for me.  Ha!

1.5 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1 oz. lemon juice

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

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)


Some more monks enter the scene.

I’m back to write about some new friends for the old bottles in my liquor cabinet.  And wouldn’t you know it, they’re another bunch of monks.  In addition to the great Carthusian monks that make Chartreuse, my cabinet is now home to my latest addition, the Benedictine liqueur, originally made by the monks at the Benedictine abbey in Normandy, France.  While Benedictine is not made up of as many herbs as Chartreuse, it is made from 27 different herbs & spices, and its recipe dates back to more than 500 years ago.  But don’t be mistaken, other than its ties to monks from centuries ago and its wonderful use of herbs and spices, there is no other similarities between the two wonderful liqueurs.  Benedictine is a strong, 80-proof sweeter liqueur.  I first heard of Benedictine because of the drink called the Bobby Burns (scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine).  For quite some time, I’ve wanted to obtain my own bottle, and now, just in time for the colder months, I have my own.  I actually haven’t made a Bobby Burns with it yet, but have experimented a little with two very top-notch cocktails featuring the liqueur – the Monte Carlo and a Vieux Carre.  In addition to these two cocktails featuring Benedictine, I’ve thrown in a random, unassociated cocktail called the Millionaire, a rye whiskey drink that uses an egg white, eggs being something rather new for me to use in drinks.  While I didn’t care for the Millionaire all that much, the two Benedictine drinks are up there among some of my favorite drinks I’ve ever made.  Enjoy…

Monte Carlo

This is one of my new favorite drinks!  I love drinks that have just a couple or a few ingredients, quick and easy to make, that are just simple and good.  The Manhattan for example, one of my favorite drinks, and this drink reminds me very much of a Manhattan, but quite different tasting.  Just 2 main ingredients with some bitters – simple and perfect!  Here’s a drink that’s perfect in the evening time, when you come home from a hard day at work.  It’s no fuss at all to make, and it’s a soothing, stiff drink.  It’s got the kick of rye, with the sweetness of the Benedictine that’s reminiscent of the vermouth in a Manhattan, with the nice taste of bitters, and the refreshing zing of the lemon twist.  It’s a very well-crafted, simple cocktail.  I highly recommend it!

2 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. Benedictine

1 dash of Angostura bitters

1 lemon twist for garnish

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

(“The Art of the Bar”)

Vieux Carre

Here’s another really nice drink featuring Benedictine, the Vieux Carre.  I first tried this drink at my local bar, Sanctuaria, and then later recreated it at home using my new bottle of the Benedictine.  I don’t typically make a lot of drinks on the rocks, but more and more I’m becoming fond of these drinks.  And the Vieux Carre is a good one to add to my rotation.  It’s got a lot of different flavors going on in the mix – brandy, rye, vermouth, Benedictine, and even two kinds of bitters.  It’s another stiff drink with a refreshing note because of the sweetness of the brandy, Benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters and vermouth.   It’s another really nice stiff drink.  I guess that’s another selling point of Benedictine for me… Just like Chartreuse, it’s a liqueur with a high alcohol content.  Not nearly as alcoholic as Chartreuse, but high enough so that it gives a cocktail a real kick.

3/4 oz. brandy/cognac

3/4 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/4 oz. Benedictine

1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Garnish with a lemon twist

Stir well with ice, then strain in to a rocks glass with ice.

Millionaire

This cocktail’s kind of a strange one to me.  For one, there’s a few different recipes out there for drinks all called a “Millionaire”.  All the different recipes refer to this drink as an old classic, but the recipes are about as different from each other as night and day.  I generally find a drink that sounds good to me in a book or online somewhere.  Before I make it however, I usually look up a few other recipes online to kind of see the variations of different recipes and look for the one that sounds best to me.  Usually I find small variations, that probably don’t even make that much difference, but still, one may sound better to me than another due to one using more or less of a particular ingredient.  So anyways, I looked up this drink, comprised of rye, triple sec and egg white, and was surprised to find other recipes (still referred to as an old classic) that don’t feature any of these ingredients, but instead call for sloe gin, apple brandy and rum!  There apparently is two old classic drinks, both called a Millionaire, that are two completely different drinks!  If anyone knows the story behind this, let me know, because I’m very interested in hearing what it is.  So anyways, below is a recipe for what perhaps some people call a Millionaire.  It’s completely different from what some other people also call a Millionaire.  Either way, at the end of the day, whether this is the true Millionaire cocktail or the other one is, or there’s two drinks with the same name, I didn’t care for this drink all that much.  It did not have a strong taste of anything really, but rather a cooled down, light taste of rye, with a frothy and silky texture.  There weren’t really any other strong flavors jumping out in the drink either, but just a light silky, watered-down taste of rye.  I don’t know if it’s because this is a really old drink, and perhaps it has not stood the test of time due to Americans’ tastes having possibly changed over the years or not, but it does seem to have a very “old fashioned” sensibility about it, kind of like an egg cream drink.  An egg cream drink was quite a treat for people back in the day, but to me it’s just not that flavorful.  But people used to really enjoy it.  This is what I imagine is the case with this drink.  I don’t know… maybe it’s just me, but I’m not a big fan.

2 oz. rye whiskey

1/2 oz. triple sec

1-2 dashes grenadine

1/2 oz. egg white

Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds (because of the egg white), and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


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!