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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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.



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!


3 Monks and a McGee

Well, I finally picked up my very own bottle of Chartreuse (the original, green variety) last week, and got busy mixing up some cocktails…

Like a friend of mine said, he describes Chartreuse as “gin on acid”.  This is a pretty good description.  Gin is very spicy with strong scents and tastes of botanicals.  Chartreuse is just that, only with scents and tastes of hundreds (130 to be precise) of spices and herbs flying at your nose and tongue, bouncing off the walls of your mouth and nose… so many in fact, it’s fun to guess what you’re smelling…  anise? clove? cinnamon? rosemary?  You can smell each and every one wait in line, then step up to the stage to take a bow, giggle, and then slip in to the shadows…

The first cocktail I tried was the Bijou.  I really didn’t care for this drink, and it wasn’t very pleasant.  It was a little too strong – very alcoholic.  It seemed like the gin and the Chartreuse were competing with each other… maybe a lighter gin, like a New Amsterdam, might be better to let the Chartreuse take center stage.

“Bijou”


1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz green Chartreuse

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

Dash of orange bitters

Maraschino cherry for a garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1300241159&sr=8-1

A nice way to enjoy the Chartreuse is to just simply enjoy the Chartreuse… by enjoying a nice, small glass of Chartreuse and ice.  Chartreuse is 110 proof (55% alcohol), so while it’s quite tasty on its own, it’s also quite strong and can knock you on the ground.  Watered down by the melting ice just makes it better and less intense.  It’s definitely something worth sipping… very nice.

I found another cocktail recipe that many suggested as the perfect cocktail to introduce oneself to Chartreuse… The Last Word.

Whether it’s a good introduction to Chartreuse or not, I don’t care… it’s a delicious cocktail!  The recipe calls for maraschino liqueur, which I don’t have.  Based on how much I love Cherry Heering, I should probably buy some (typically Luxardo’s the recommended brand).  I’ve never had maraschino liqueur, but I’ve read that it’s sweeter than the liqueur I have… the glorious Peter Heering Cherry liqueur.   Cherry Heering is one of my favorite cocktail ingredients, and supposedly it’s a much richer, tarter tasting cherry liqueur… different than maraschino liqueur, but what I have (and what I happen to love), so I figured it’s close enough to make The Last Word.  Maybe I’m wrong… I don’t know, but if I am wrong… I don’t wanna be right ; )

[NOTE: After writing this particular post, I did in fact buy some maraschino liqueur and made an authentic “Last Word”… For later notes and a photo of a real “Last Word”, which is now one of my favorite drinks, visit another post called “Trips Back and Forth to the Booze Merchant at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/ -Scientist McGee 5/8/11]

So the typical recipe for a Last Word is:

“The Last Word”

(no photo available)

1 oz gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz maraschino liqueur

1 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://ohgo.sh/archive/chartreuse/

My recipe, given what I have on hand, is:

“Denis’ Last Word”


1 oz gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

1 oz lime juice

Very good, I must say!  Actually, I should say… very good potential.  What I mean is that with a little tinkering, I could tell that this drink had the potential to be one of my favorites.  This version, which I doubt the swapping out of a different cherry liqueur would have this effect… was much too heavy on the lime flavor.  Maybe it was because I used bottled, pre-fab lime juice, I don’t know… I doubt a trusted recipe such as this would be so heavy on the lime taste though.  Also, I’d used a brand of gin called New Amsterdam, thinking that I didn’t like the way a stronger gin like Tanqueray seemed to compete with the taste of Chartreuse in the Bijou drink.  For this drink, I used New Amsterdam gin instead, a much tamer, lighter gin.  Big mistake… maybe it was the overpowering lime juice or maybe it was the weaker gin, but I could barely detect the gin.  So… I made some adjustments in my mind…

A couple nights later, I tweaked the recipe, and voila!  One of my favorite drinks!  Since it’s not the original recipe of The Last Word, maybe I should rename it?  Maybe this one should be called The Counter Argument?

“The Counter Argument”


1 oz Tanqueray Gin

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Delicious!!!

The Counter Argument beat The Last Word, in my opinion.  At least The Counter Argument beat my tweaked version of the Last Word (with a different cherry liqueur).   Without having maraschino liqueur, I can’t say 100% what a true Last Word tastes like.  But I’m pretty happy with my Counter Argument.

And I’m pretty happy with my bottle of Chartreuse… whether I’m drinking it straight on the rocks, or if I’m mixing it with gin and Cherry Heering.  It’s a pretty wonderful elixir.  Once autumn rolls back around (which I’m in no rush for), I look forward to trying a Brigadier, which is…

“Brigadier”

1 oz green Chartreuse

1 oz Cherry Heering

About 4 ounces hot chocolate

Mix ingredients in a warmed mug and stir