Two of My Favorite Drinks

They’re like twins… sometimes hard to tell apart, but definitely different.

A “1794” cocktail

2 parts rye whiskey
1 part Italian vermouth
1 part Campari

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A “Boulevardier”

Equal parts rye whiskey, Campari and Italian vermouth.

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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!


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.


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.


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)


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

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

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

Loop Tonic

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

2 oz. white tequila

1 oz. dry vermouth

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

dash of celery bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

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

The Plantation

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

5 fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 oz. gin

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 oz. grapefruit juice

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

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

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

(“The Art of the Bar”)

Sitarski

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

1.5 oz. dark rum

2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon simple syrup

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

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)

The Blue Devil

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

2 oz. gin

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 tablespoon maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon blue curacao

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The New York Bartender’s Guide”)


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.



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!