Where to begin…

6-11-13 The little man 6-11-13 billiken Summer Relief 6-11-13

Where to begin this SMcG post?  It’s my first post since December of last year, and a lot’s happened and changed since then.  Most significantly, I’m a dad now!  My wife and I had our first baby on May 23rd, and his name’s Elliott.  If you do the math, he’s not even 3 weeks old yet, and I’ve been off on leave of absence from work this whole time (I go back to work this Friday).

So although I’ve got numerous new cocktails I’ve tried since December 2012 to write about, I guess it’s only fitting that I start with an original one I created specifically to mark the occasion of our little man Elliott’s birth… It’s called “The Little Man”.  In addition to this drink (the most important one to me), I’ve got 19 other new drinks I’ve mixed up for the first time, and one delicious punch on top of that, since my last entry.  There’s no way though that I’d want to even write about that many all in one post, nor could I even do so if I wanted to, what with the 3-week old baby in the house and all.  So I’m going to keep this post really short and sweet, in hopes that by doing so, I’ll be more inclined to write more frequently than I’ve been doing recently.

So for sake of brevity, I’ll keep this post to two drinks – two cocktails that I invented in fact… “The Little Man” and “The Billiken”.  Although the Little Man is the drink closest to my heart, the Billiken is the original creation that I’m most proud of simply because it’s a damn good drink (if I do say so myself).  The Billiken was created back in March during the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament in tribute to my hometown school and alma mater college basketball team of Saint Louis University.

“The Little Man”6-11-13 The little man

1.5 oz Still 630 rye whiskey

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Meletti amaro

2-3 dashes of simple syrup

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash lavender bitters

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

Garnish with an orange twist

Many of these ingredients play a specific role in the characteristics of a drink created in homage to my baby boy Elliott…

The Still 630 rye whiskey because his dad loves rye whiskey and this particular rye because it’s a great St. Louis whiskey.  I love my hometown of St. Louis, and I’m excited to share my love for this town with little Elliott.  The lemon and amaro because when Elliott’s throwing a fuss, he can be a bit sour and bitter.  But then you add the simple syrup and lavender bitters because in the end, he’s just a sweet little baby who happens to smell like flowers (at least to his parents).  (The orange bitters and garnish don’t have any special meaning.)

But above all cheesy symbolism, the drink’s a fun one to drink.  It’s a refreshing drink that I think would appeal to many different folks… it’s a sour while still being a mellow, smooth drink.  I think that the variety of ingredients, from the amaro to the simple syrup to the lavender bitters to the lemon create a few different layers of subtleties, and offer a little bit of something for everyone’s tastes.  A good drink for a great time in my life.  Cheers to Elliott!

6-11-13 billiken“The Billiken”

1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

1/4 oz St. Germain

1 dash of Boker’s bitters

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

Garnish with a lemon peel hugging 3 blueberries

Of all the spirits to choose from, I figured gin spoke to me most when it came to basketball.  (Whiskey just doesn’t seem like a basketball liquor.)  The particular ingredients in this drink are fitting because, like SLU, none of them are particularly cheap (inexpensive).  Also, these specific ingredients (ie. Lillet, St. Germain) tend towards the fancier and “less rugged” persuasion, I guess you might say… also similar to SLU and its student body.  Lastly, the blueberries fit the school colors and may serve as a loose reference to basketballs.  But most importantly, it’s a well built and tasty drink.  I think of it as sort of an “elegant Corpse Reviver”… light, fancily delightful and delicious… like a ballet or a good game of college basketball.

“Summer Relief”Summer Relief 6-11-13

Why not throw one more drink in to this post for good measure, now that I’m on a roll (and the kid’s being good and napping)!  (kind of like a bonus hidden track on a ’90’s cd, eh?)

I don’t want this post to be only drinks I made up, so here’s a good one as we hit our summer stride… the “Summer Relief” from Matt Seiter’s book “Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars”.  This drink is downright delicious! It’s one of the heartiest gin drinks I’ve ever had.  The grapefruit, honey syrup and surprisingly the St. Germain all add up to provide a substantial body for the drink.  It’s a substantial and hearty drink, but also kind of a “girly” drink.  But I don’t use the adjective “girly” to mean anything but awesome.  I mean it in the highest form of praise that I can… like a fashion model with great style and amazing perfume.  (I know that that is probably the absolute weirdest description of a drink that you’ll find in this entire Scientist McGee blog, but it’s in my notes and I trust my notes and my seemingly tipsy self from February, and it does ring a bell and I remember feeling strongly about this, so there you go! ha! ha!)

1 1/2 oz gin

1 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 oz honey syrup (1:1 water:honey)

1/4 oz St. Germain

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

Garnish with grapefruit

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

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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


The Off-Season


It’s been nearly a month since my last post, and I don’t have a lot to show for it.  I wondered today why that was.  And it’s pretty much because our hometown baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, have been in post-season play… October baseball.  As you may have heard, the Redbirds won the World Series.  In St. Louis, virtually all of every day life slows down a bit and takes a back seat to post-season baseball when the Cardinals are playing in it.  Restaurants that aren’t pizza joints or bar and grills take a hit because people aren’t going out and spending time enjoying nice dinners.  Evening meetings and classes either get cancelled or they get cut very short, by speeding up the agenda.  Weekend chores get delayed to free up afternoons in front of the TV.  And me taking the time to look through books for new cocktail recipes and spending the time in the kitchen preparing them and taking a photo of them takes a backseat as well.

St. Louis is historically a beer town, and the Cardinals are one of the only things that trumps beer around here.  So as the days went on and games continued, my beer drinking did the same.  So if I wasn’t cracking open a beer, I certainly wasn’t spending the time necessary to find new cocktails to try.  I was instead mixing up the quick and easy standards that I’d made many times before.

So now that October baseball is finished, we all find ourselves with a lot more time on our hands.  We have our evenings and weekends free again, so to speak.  There’s no more rushed, quick 2-minute commercial breaks while watching the game.  I once again have the time to peruse cocktail books while relaxing in the evening.  I have time to pause the TV and mix up a special drink.  I have time to sit down and post these drinks on to the Scientist McGee blog.

“Jewel Cocktail”

I found this drink in “The Savoy Cocktail Book”, and under its entry, Harry Craddock added a note that said, “A medium-dry, fast working cocktail.”  “Fast working cocktail” can be used to describe any drink that calls for the 110-proof Chartreuse, and this is a great drink for lovers of the liqueur. The Chartreuse definitely takes center stage, while just being “watered down” by the gin and vermouth.  If you love Chartreuse, as I do, you’ll like this drink.  The Chartreuse is balanced nicely with the flavors of the orange bitters and lemon peel, with the gin and vermouth rounding it out with some extra body.

1/3 green Chartreuse

1/3 gin

1/3 dry vermouth

dash of orange bitters

garnish with a lemon peel and a cherry

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

(“The Savoy Cocktail Book”)

“Bobby Burns”

The Bobby Burns is a classic cocktail that can also be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but I took this recipe from Dale DeGroff’s “Essential Cocktail”.  To be honest, it’s not one of my favorite drinks, but then again, scotch isn’t really one of my favorite spirits.  But some times I am in the specific mood for the smoky flavor of scotch, and when I am, this drink is a good one.  With the scotch and the Benedictine, it almost coats your mouth like a syrup with a smoky, buttery flavor.

2 oz. scotch

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/2 oz. Benedictine

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

(“Essential Cocktail”)

“Can-Can Martini”

 

I got this drink from the St. Germain company, and it’s a great way to enjoy the elderflower liqueur.  It’s nice & sweet, but dry… like a floral martini.  It’s a nice, simple cocktail.  It’s good when you want a straight forward gin drink that goes down easily, with the sweet, delicate taste of St. Germain.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. St. Germain

1/4 oz. dry vermouth

lemon peel for garnish

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


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.