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!


The Ward 8, the Obituary, the Negroni and the Bronx Cocktail

Well, hello there! Welcome back to Scientist McGee’s.

Since my last post, I’ve tried a few new drinks at home, bought a few new books to peruse, but the most fun update of all, I became a member of my first official Cocktail Club.

I became a member of the Cocktail Club at a St. Louis bar & restaurant called Sanctuaria ( http://www.sanctuariastl.com/ ).  Sanctuaria has a wonderful cocktail menu with over 150 fine-crafted cocktails to choose from.  Eighty of these drinks are classic cocktails, with the other 70+ drinks being the creations of Sanctuaria’s talented bartenders.  What a joy!  While the pocketbook won’t allow me to indulge in my new club’s benefits as often as I’d like to, I’m excited that it’s another important component in my “amateur journey in to the world of spirits”.  I now have an outlet where I can learn more about drinks from experts and other cocktail fans, instead of learning everything on my own from books and the internet.  The bartenders there truly love the cocktail and it’s truly fun to watch them work their craft.  As a member, I get discounted prices off every cocktail, discounts off retail bottles of liquor and invitations to members-only events.  The “gold-level” of the membership is earned when a member has tried all 150 drinks on their main menu.  That’s going to take quite a while, but some day for sure.   At my first visit, I was 2 for 2 with leaving the drink selection up to the bartender, just giving him a few things I was looking for in a drink.  Both drinks that he suggested hit the nail right on the head and I got to try two amazing drinks that I just loved… the “Jabberwock” (sherry, caperitif and gin) and the “French Parade” (cognac, Green Chartreuse, Cointreau, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters).  Two awesome drinks!  I almost hate that I can’t just drink these two drinks 74 more times each to reach the 150-mark, but oh well, I do love trying new drinks all the time too.

Yesterday, I went out to one of the biggest used book & record sales in St. Louis.  For a few bucks, I was able to pick up a few fun cocktail books… “Playboy’s Host & Bar Book” by Thomas Mario and “Cocktail Hour” by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel.

Playboy's Host and Bar Book.Cocktail Hour: Authentic Recipes and Illustrations from 1920-1960

The Playboy book seems to have a wealth of information all about entertaining and different spirits, along with tons of recipes.  The other book is a little more quirky and fun, but has lots of fun pictures of old ads and images celebrating the cocktail culture.  I think this book will inspire me trying a few new drinks… which it already has – a really good drink called the “Ward 8”.  A good whiskey drink even my wife enjoyed.  There’s a lot of drinks I try that I like but my wife hates (e.g. Negroni, see below).  So when there’s a drink I try that we both like, those stick out in my memory and get a little asterisk (*) next to them in my book, because those are good ones to remember to make again.  Because it’s always more fun to have someone share in the drink you make rather than drinking alone, right?  Well, the Ward 8 is one of them.  It’s a fruity/tropical whiskey drink, which may sound weird, but it’s quite good… because yes, it’s got some fruit juices in it, but the taste of the rye whiskey is very prevalent as well.  It’s a good balanced drink for anyone who likes the taste of whiskey, but doesn’t want a drink that’s straight alcohol.

So anyways, that’s an update in the land of Scientist McGee.  I leave you with recipes for 4 cocktails that I’ve tried since the last time I posted an update.  They are the Ward 8, the Obituary, the Negroni and the Bronx.   I hope you enjoy!  Cheers!

“Ward 8”

Like I mentioned above, this drink is one for both whiskey lovers and lovers of fruity drinks… a great blend of the two.  Neither aspect overwhelms the other, but both aspects shine through in a perfect pairing.  It’s got an almost tropical flavor with the orange and lemon juice and grenadine, but the rye whiskey definitely makes an appearance at the end of each sip.  I highly recommend the Ward 8, especially for mixed gatherings of people with diverse tastes.

2 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz orange juice

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 teaspoon of grenadine

1 lemon peel for a garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Obituary”

I saw this recipe in a book, I recently flipped through at a bookstore, that was all about absinthe.  It’s called the Obituary, but in layman’s terms, it should simply be called an “Absinthe Martini”.  If you like Martinis, but you are craving the taste of absinthe, you need one of these.  Nothing too complex, basically just a dry Martini with a nice absinthe flavor.  Very good.

3 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

3/8 oz absinthe

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

“Negroni”

This actually wasn’t the first time I tried a Negroni.  I believe it’s actually the third time or so.  I’m really not a huge fan of the drink based on taste alone, but I do crave it from time to time when I’m stuffed from dinner.  When I’ve got a belly so full, it feels like it’s going to burst, this drink, which is heavy on the aperitif called Campari which supposedly serves as an appetite stimulant, hits the spot.  Beware though, it is very dry and bitter.

1.5 oz gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Bronx Cocktail”

I didn’t care for this drink all that much.  I think it was just that the proportions of the ingredients made it taste too similar to Tang, which I’m not a fan of.

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1 oz orange juice

dash of Angostura bitters, optional

orange peel for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

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


Goin’ on down to New Orleans… in my mind

Hey everybody,

I’m back with a short blurb about cocktails in my home in the months of March and April.

Baseball’s back, and that means that the weather in St. Louis is warming up.  With hotter weather, that usually means lighter drinks, so that’s what I’ve been having a little more of these days.  Just a “little more of” though, because I really tend to enjoy whiskey on a regular basis much more than say gin or tequila.  But it’s hard not to crave some lighter, more refreshing drinks in the spring & summer time, so I’ve been making some easy-to-make tequila drinks on a warmer spring evenings – the Havana and the Tequila Sunrise drinks.  I’m sure my taste for lighter drinks will only increase as the weather in town becomes swelteringly hot and unbearably humid.

Also, I’m posting here some very basic cocktail recipes for 2 of the most classic cocktails of all time… the Manhattan and the Martini.  These two classics are such staples that I’ve neglected to post anything about them up to this point, I think.  So I’m honoring them with a little attention and a little of the spotlight, for good measure.  They are, after all, 2 of my favorite, go-to drinks.  When I don’t want to mess around, and I don’t want to think too much, and I want to just go for an easy-to-make drink that can’t go wrong… these are the drinks.  They’re perfectly simple.  When I’m in the mood for whiskey, it’s the Manhattan (even though, half the time I’ll make the drink’s variation, a Dry Manhattan with dry vermouth and lemon, and the other half of the time, I’ll go for the classic Manhattan); and when I’m in the mood for gin, it’s the Martini.  Both of these classic cocktails showcase the base spirit so perfectly and clearly, without having to drink either of the base spirits straight.  Vermouth plays the role of the red carpet in both drinks so perfectly, and lets the stars of the drinks shine through.

And last, but not least, I’m offering up a recipe for a drink that I’ve not yet tried, but I will be trying at some point this weekend.  I tend to get very intrigued by cocktails with a good history behind them.  Ever since I started enjoying making cocktails and reading about them, I’ve been intrigued by one called the Sazerac.  The Sazerac is apparently one of the first important cocktails.  It’s a signature drink of the great city of New Orleans.  It was created in the 1860’s and was originally made with cognac as its base.  Over time however, rye whiskey gained in popularity as cognac’s popularity with the public decreased, and now the Sazerac is a rye whiskey drink.  I think another reason I became intrigued and obsessed with trying this drink is the fact that it contains absinthe, and so it seemed to me that it’d probably be a while before I could make this drink myself, since absinthe’s pretty darn expensive.  However, it dawned on me this morning that my spirits store, Friar Tuck, sells miniature “sampling” bottles of many liquors, a couple of which I think were bottles of absinthe!  So, I’m going today to get get a little bottle for around $6.00 I think.  This is actually perfect too, because I’m really only buying the absinthe for this drink, and this drink only calls for enough absinthe to coat the inside of the glass.  So this tiny little bottle should last quite a while for the purpose of making Sazeracs.  Another item I need to pick up at the store today is a bottle of Peychaud’s bitters.  The Sazerac recipe calls for specifically Peychaud’s brand of bitters.  Apparently, Antoine Peychaud was a Pharmacist in New Orleans and he concocted this special blend of spices and botanicals, and using his bitters, his pharmacy was actually the birthplace of the Sazerac cocktail.  (His pharmacy seems alot better than my local Walgreens… The closest thing I can get to a Sazerac at my modern pharmacy is Four Loco.   Actually, I guess Four Loco is a good modern equivalent though to a drink that contains absinthe, since both Four Loco and Absinthe have reputations for seriously harming one’s physical health and possibly killing you, but I digress…)   Anyways, that’s my objective today… to purchase the Peychaud’s bitters, a little bottle of absinthe, and a lemon, and be on my way to trying a Sazerac for the first time this weekend.

Without any further ado… Here’s recipes and photos of the 5 cocktails discussed above:

“Havana”

1.5 oz  rum

3/4 oz  triple sec

1/2 oz  lime juice

1/4 oz  simple syrup

A splash of orange juice (I actually enjoy about a full 1 oz of orange juice)

A dash of orange bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass (Optional: coat the rim of the glass with sugar)

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Tequila Sunrise”


This drink is really easy to drink… it’s really easy to make and it’s really refreshing and tasty, and it looks really pretty too!  My wife loves it, and I agree.  It’s just a really fun, easy drink, that’s really tasty.

1.5 oz blanco tequila

4 oz orange juice

3/4 oz grenadine

Fill a highball glass (I prefer to use a good sized white wine glass, like the one pictured) with ice, and build (no stirring/shaking necessary) the tequila, followed by the orange juice, and then lastly pour the grenadine slowly through the drink to create the “sunrise” look.  Lovely!

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

“The Manhattan”

2 oz whiskey

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

3 dashes of bitters (I prefer Fee Brothers’ Cherry Bitters in my Manhattan, from time to time)

1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Stir the whiskey, vermouth and bitters with ice, and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

“The Martini”

There’s a million variations on how to make a Martini… this is my preferred recipe:

2.5 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1 or 3 olives for garnish

Stir the gin and vermouth with ice, and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

Most people remember James Bond ordering his martini “shaken, not stirred”.  However, the general rule is that a bar tender stirs drinks with ice when all of the ingredients are alcohol based, and shakes drinks when the recipe includes fruit juices and other non-alcoholic ingredients.  So, the general rule is that a Manhattan and Martini should always be stirred to mix with ice, rather than shaken.  However, there is no right way and wrong way to drink… One should do whatever they want to get the drink however they like it.  I’ll stir a Manhattan and Martini 95% of the time, but every now and then, I do tend to enjoy the frothier texture one gets by shaking a drink as a result of small ice chips breaking up in the shaking process.  So once in a blue moon, I will in fact shake the martini.  You can kind of see the difference in the picture below of a shaken Martini – it’s not quite as clear as the picture of a properly stirred Martini above.

(Martini, shaken)

And last, but not least, here’s the recipe of my next adventure… the Sazerac!  We’ll see if it lives up to the hype.

“Sazerac”

(no photo yet)

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.  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 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


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


The road to the present…

Welcome back to Scientist McGee’s!  This is my second blog, and I’m glad you could make it.

Well, like I mentioned in my first post, I’ve been taking photos of each cocktail I make.  Well, not each and every one of them… I think maybe about a third of the cocktails I’ve made… I don’t always think to do this.  Like I don’t have a picture of a Martini or a Manhattan or a White Russian or a Gin & Tonic, so I guess I mainly remember to take a picture when I’m trying a new cocktail for the first time.

To catch up to present day, I wanted to post all of the pictures I have thus far.  Some of these I actually only made once.  Not because they’re not good necessarily, but well… I don’t know why.  I guess they just didn’t strike a chord with me enough to return to.  Most likely it’s because they were just average.  I didn’t fall in love with them… but I didn’t hate them either.  (If I hate one, I’d remember it… like the Long Island Iced Tea.)  So some of them I don’t have a strong enough memory of them to say much about them, so I’ll just list the recipe.

Anyways, this is the 2nd and I guess last post that’s more about catching you, the readers, up to speed to where I am today… starting with last summer and my Schnucks gift card, to early Spring 2011 today.  Now, with my first post being an introduction and this second post being a gallery of my “hits and misses” over the last 3/4 of a year, this brings us to modern day… and you know what “modern day” means, right?  That’s right – my first very own bottle of Chartreuse only 4 days away!

Remember, as you walk through my gallery of 2010/2011 cocktails, and later on through new ones I try… If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, questions, comments, etc., please by all means, let me know… I’d love to hear what you suggest!

So now, in chronological order, they are…

“The Bronx Bomber”

1.5 oz gin

1/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz dry vermouth

1/2 oz orange juice

1/4 oz lemon juice

1/4 oz simple syrup

orange twist for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Old Pal”

This is one I made when I bought my bottle of Campari, an Italian aperitif that’s an infusion of herbs and fruit which is pretty damn bitter.  The jury’s still out on what I really think of Campari.  When I tried this drink, the Old Pal, I was not thrilled.  It was pretty bitter if I recall correctly.  However, I did like the Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) I tried, in addition to the Venetian I tried about a week ago (gin, Campari, dry vermouth, amaretto, and a lemon twist).  However, like I said the jury’s still out on Campari.  I am indeed warming up to it, and finding that I do crave it some times, but it’s just so bitter, that it’s not always satisfying to me.  Only time will tell, I guess.

1 oz whiskey

1 oz Campari

1 oz dry vermouth

orange twist for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Rob Roy”

I do like a Rob Roy.  This has become one of my favorites, up there I think with the Manhattan.  I like a regular Rob Roy, a perfect Rob Roy (sweet & dry vermouth) and a dry vermouth. Here’s the recipe for a regular Rob Roy:

2 oz blended scotch

1 oz sweet vermouth

bitters to taste

lemon peel for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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

“The Knit Knot”

This is a cocktail that I made up for my wife to toast the launch of her new online business, “The Knit Knot”.  I made this drink with her in mind, based upon a combo that she’s loved for a long time – vanilla and orange juice.  She says it tastes like an Orange Julius from the mall.  I think it’s actually quite better than that.  It’s pretty damn tasty, I must say.  And I add a maraschino cherry to add one more note and an extra cute color.

1.5 oz Absolut Vanilia Vodka

3 oz orange juice

1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“Stiletto”

2 oz whiskey

1/2 oz amaretto

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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

“Dry Rob Roy”

2.5 oz scotch

1.5 teaspoons dry vermouth

lemon twist for garnish

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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

“The Blood & Sand”

Perhaps my favorite drink right now.  It’s such a great blend of tastes that creates an all-new flavor all its own.  Plus, it’s such an easy drink to remember how to make because it’s all equal parts, an ounce of each.  Nice and easy and delicious!  Mmmm… the smokiness of the scotch meeting the delicious blend of tart cherries and oranges, and with all being equal parts, none of the flavors take over… they blend perfectly, in harmony, to make a knock-out flavor.  I can’t say enough good things about this drink.  It’s so good, I think it would appeal to all.  Go out and ask your local bar tender if they have Cherry Heering, and if they do, ask them to make you a “Blood & Sand”.  Most likely, you’ll have to tell them how to make it, but again, it’s one of the easiest drink recipes to remember. It’s perfect!  (Plus it’s got a cool history… named in tribute to a silent film starring Rudolph Valentino about a bullfighter)

3/4 oz blended scotch

3/4 oz Peter Heering Cherry Heering

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

3/4 oz orange juice (freshly squeezed juice of a blood orange preferably)

orange peel for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

(Most of the recipes you see for this drink, it just calls for orange juice, but one I found somewhere, called for the juice of a blood orange which makes perfect sense with the name and it tastes really good.  So if you feel like going to the trouble of buying blood oranges, I highly recommend them, but if you’d rather make this more of an everyday drink, like myself, just use some orange juice in a carton that stays good for quite some time.  That makes it nice and easy, but for a treat, I highly recommend blood orange juice.)

“The Move Over”

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz Cherry Heering

dash of bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“Margarita”

(the 2nd photo is with one of my new glasses!)

This is a drink I never had much interest in.  When it came to ordering a drink at a Mexican restaurant, I always tended to opt for a Mexican beer instead…  Until we had 70 degree weather in February in St. Louis, a few weeks back… I wanted to enjoy the perfect weather with a drink on the back porch, so I made a margarita and now I really like this drink!  Now I love the Mararita in fact…

1.5 oz silver tequila

1 oz triple sec

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

splash of simple syrup

Shake and strain into a chilled, salt-rimmed cocktail glass.

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html

“Long Island Iced Tea”

One of my least favorite drinks to date… I just thought that this drink tasted like a muddled, sweet sugary mess.  I’m not a fan.  Maybe I just made a bad version of this drink?  I don’t know.

1/2 oz vodka

1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz rum

1/2 oz tequila

1/2 oz triple sec

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz lemon juice

3 oz Coca-Cola

lemon wedge for garnish

Stir and serve in a large glass with ice.

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

And my cocktail menu for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (“Oscar Night!”) was all champagne-based cocktails:

“Champagne Cocktail”

(no photo available)

Originally appeared in “How to Mix Drinks” by Jerry Thomas in 1862… This was a very good drink!

1 sugar cube soaked in Angostura bitters

champagne

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

“French 75”

(no photo available)

Legend has it that this drink was improvised by an American soldier out in the French countryside during WWI.

1 oz gin or cognac

3/4 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lemon juice

3 oz champagne

lemon peel for garnish

Shake and strain gin/cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice in to a flute, and then top with champagne.

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

“Buck’s Fizz”

(no photo available)

Invented at the Buck’s Club in London in the 1920’s, this was the inspiration for the Mimosa.  This was delicious and top notch!

2 oz orange juice

splash of gin

splash of Cherry Heering

3 oz champagne

orange peel for garnish

Shake OJ, gin and Cherry Heering with ice and strain in to a flute, topping it with champagne.

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

“Mimosa”

(no photo available)

If I’m not mistaken, the Mimosa was invented a few years after the Buck’s Fizz, in Paris, and “mimosa” means “mimic” in french(?)

2 oz orange juice

4 oz champagne

1/2 oz triple sec float on top (optional)

orange zest for garnish

Pour OJ in to a flute, fill gently with champagne and the drink will mix itself.  Optional: Top with a 1/2 oz float of triple sec for an extra kick.

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

Notes:

-While I credit the books/websites I got the recipe from, sometimes I modify the way the recipe’s written.  For example, obviously freshly squeezed juice of any sort is better tasting than juice from a carton.  But hey, I don’t need to specify “freshly squeezed” vs. not.  That’s up to you, eh?  If you want to take the time, squeeze the juice yourself, if not, then pour the juice you have in the fridge.

-Also, I may modify the recipes in different ways too. I don’t own any Cointreau, so usually, I’ll substitute triple sec for where most recipes specify Cointreau.  Maybe some day, I’ll own some Cointreau, and I’ll know what I’ve been missing, but until then, I’ll specify triple sec, and if you want to use Cointreau, go right ahead.

-Also, the pictures shown here are usually ones from a week night, so the chances of seeing a garnish that it calls for are slim to none.