St. Louis Sorghum Whiskey

Earlier this month, local distiller Still 630 released his new whiskey made of sorghum. Still 630 is one man, David Weglarz, and what a guy he is. Single-handedly running his distillery and making sure his whiskeys (ryes “Rally Point” and “Maple Sunset”, as well as white dog “Big Jake”) and rum (“Soulard Island Rum”) are available at nearly every respectable drinking establishment and spirits shop in St. Louis, Mr. Weglarz is one of the hardest working people I know.

Distilling his first-class spirits in a modestly small building (a former Hardee’s) in the heart of our city on 4th Street, just a stone’s throw from Busch Stadium, Still 630 is quintessentially St. Louis. I believe that Mr. Weglarz is as honored to have his spirits embraced and enjoyed by so many St. Louisans, just as much as so many St. Louisans are proud to consider his spirits our own.

So I, being such a big fan of this local distillery, didn’t have to think twice about heading down to the distillery the morning after first hearing of his latest product, “S.S. Sorghum” whiskey. When I think of sorghum, I think of a type of molasses because of some syrups I’ve purchased in old-fashioned Americana-type shops, but although I find science fascinating, I’m terrible at knowing anything about it and/or anything earth or plant-related. (I feel proud that I can identify a Bradford Pear or an Oklahoma Redbud tree, and that’s about the extent of my botany knowledge.) So I really didn’t even know what sorghum really is, but Wikipedia tells me it’s a type of grass maybe? Who knows?

But I know that Dave made a whiskey out of it, so I headed downtown first thing in the afternoon. In fact, my little man and I found ourselves in the position to purchase the very first bottle of this new whiskey (see picture)! Obviously that’s a photo of a proud dad and son.

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This is good drink, and a nice something that’s unique to add to one’s home bar. Below is the official tasting notes on the back of the bottle, and in my humble opinion it reminds me of a slightly rum-ish bourbon. Very interesting flavor and very good.

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To enjoy the full flavor of the sorghum whiskey, I’ve been enjoying it so far simply in an Old-fashioned cocktail…

2.25oz Still 630 “S.S. Sorghum” whiskey
1/4oz simple syrup
1/2oz water
2d Angostura bitters
Served over ice, with a lemon twist

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“S.S. Sorghum” can be purchased at the distillery on 4th Street. Learn more about Still 630 here.

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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


Yellow Chartreuse

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

“3, 2, 1 Cocktail”

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

1.5 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

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

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

“Mujer Verde”

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

1 oz. gin

1/3 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

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

Garnish with a lime.

(“The Art of the Bar”)

“Aurora’s Bed”

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

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

2 oz. gin

1 oz. saffron-infused simple syrup

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

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

Garnish with lemon or orange.

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


“Cloister”

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

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/4 lemon juice

1/4 simple syrup

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

Garnish with a lemon.

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

“Fine & Dandy Cocktail”

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

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. lemon juice

3/4 oz. triple sec

1 dash of Angostura bitters

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

(“Savoy Cocktail Book”)

“Old Fashioned”

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

2.25 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. water

1 sugar cube

2 dashes Angostura bitters

3 ice cubes

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

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

“San Francisco”

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

1.5 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1 oz. lemon juice

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

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)


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


Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…

Greetings friends & patrons!

I’ve made a few too many trips to Friar Tuck’s over the last week or two, and picked up some Peychaud’s bitters, Grande Absente absinthe and Luxardo maraschino liqueur…  Great purchases if you ask me!

The mini bottle of absinthe was the way to go (pictured in the Sazerac photos) because it was only $12 or so, and so I didn’t have to fork out around $70 for a regular sized bottle.  It was a great way to go to since absinthe is so strong, most drinks I’m finding recipes for only call for a splash of it to coat the inside of a glass.  So this little bottle will last me a long, long time.  But even if it doesn’t, I now know how highly I think of this green elixir, and won’t mind shelling out the big bucks for a big bottle.  I’d tried absinthe several years ago, but just straight (well, with water and sugar and what not, but still…).  At that time, I thought it was just OK.  But now, using it in cocktails, I think it’s the tops!  Like I said, a little goes a long way, and the anise flavoring of absinthe really lends a cool and refreshing note to any cocktail it’s added to.  It makes a whiskey drink seem summery!  And that’s something to sing about!

The Peychaud’s bitters was a pre-requisite to buy in order to make the Sazerac.  Peychaud’s bitters is from New Orleans and its creator is credited as the creator of the Sazerac cocktail.  So, there wasn’t much choice there.  But it’s really good too.

The Luxardo maraschino liqueur is something I’ve wanted to buy ever since I fell in love with Peter Heering CherryLiqueur (for a photo of Peter Heering, see my blog’s gravatar image… What a guy!).

Once I got the Cherry Heering, I started noticing that there weren’t all that many recipes that called for it’s rich, tart flavor, and instead most drink recipes called for maraschino liqueurs, which are made from the Marasca cherries and are lighter and bitter-sweet, and have a note of almond flavor from the crushed cherry pits.  One of the most revered maraschino liqueurs is the Luxardo brand.  At first taste, I wasn’t that thrilled because it was quite different from the CherryHeering which I love.  But after a few tries and a few different recipes, I’m hooked on it too.  It’s typically used in very subtle ways in drinks, and it plays more of a background role, lending a nice support to the ingredients in the forefront.  It’s the Steve Buschemi of the cocktail world.

In addition to the acquisitions of these new ingredients, I also picked up a great book from the library… “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff.  I already have a great book by Mr. DeGroff, called “Essential Cocktails” which has been featured many times in this blog with recipes pulled from it.  This book however, is a nice compliment to that book.  I think it came out before “Essential Cocktails” and is more of a “complete and everything” guide to cocktails, from basic explanations and histories of each type of liquor, to a guide to unique measurements, to recommended websites and further reading, to an alphabetical list of tons of cocktail drinks.  Where as “Essential Cocktails” is like a greatest hits album which nicely organizes all the best drinks in to their proper categories (Classics, Moderns, Sours, Highballs, etc.), this book is more like the “Bartender’s Bible” which is almost like a dictionary which lists tons of drinks alphabetically, but has much nicer pictures and descriptions than the “Bartender’s Bible”.  Each book is unique to itself and offers a benefit, and so I’d recommend both books if you have the time and money to spend, or a library where you can borrow it for a few weeks.  The nice thing is that there are drinks featured in “Essential Cocktails” that aren’t in “The Craft of the Cocktail” and vice versa, and even some drinks that are listed in both have slightly different recipes and therefore you can select which one fits your palate better.  Both are top notch books and great resources to have… Reading them is so fun that they inspire me to run to the kitchen to mix one up!  That’s why I recommend reading them in the evening time, rather than in the morning before going to work.  They can be frustrating if read when you can’t go mix a drink.

Well, enough dribble-drabble… On to the drinks you can make for yourself at home in your bar, or call me up and come on over and I’ll mix one up for you myself…

“Sazerac”

What a drink!  I love it!  It’s perfect for when you want the nice, stiff taste of a whiskey drink served up, but it’s hot outside and you need some refreshing thirst quenching.  The rye whiskey adds spice, but the lemon and absinthe make it cool and refreshing.  Plus the sugar makes it a little sweet.  When preparing, you only coat the inside of the glass with absinthe, but it’s surprising how much you can taste the absinthe in the drink.  Top notch!

1 sugar cube

3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

2 oz rye whiskey

Splash of absinthe

lemon peel for garnish

Combine the sugar and the bitters, and muddle to dissolve the sugar in one old fashioned glass.  Add the rye and some ice, and stir gently to combine.   Take the chilled serving glass and add a splash of absinthe… Swirl the absinthe around to just coat the inside of the glass, and then pour out (in to my mouth) the excess absinthe.  Strain the chilled rye, sugar and bitters in to this prepared glass.  If you’re a purist, rub the rim of the glass with the lemon peel, and then discard.  If you’re not a purist, twist the lemon peel over the top, or rub the rim, and drop it in to the drink for a garnish.  (This recipe is a combination of 2 slightly different recipes from 2 different sources – see references below)

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html and http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Captain’s Table”

Here’s a drink that features Campari, an aperitif bitters made with herbs and fruits.  It’s often described as an “acquired taste” due to its bitter taste.  I’m still not a huge fan, but this was one drink I did really enjoy.  It’s perfect for when you want a refreshing and summery, back porch drink without wanting a “sweet & fruity” drink.  All the flavors are very muted.  The drink’s refreshing with the gin, orange juice and ginger ale, but it’s dry at the same time because of the Campari.  Very good – Campari… you’ve served your purpose in life well.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz Campari

1 teaspoon grenadine

1 oz orange juice

4 oz ginger ale

1 maraschino cherry

Combine gin, Campari, grenadine and OJ… Shake well and pour in to a collins or a highball glass filled with ice cubes, and top with the ginger ale… Garnish with the cherry.

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

“Aviation”

This is a great, simple showcase and use of the maraschino liqueur.  Very good drink.  It has a very unique, nutty taste that you don’t taste everyday in most cocktails.

2 oz gin

3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

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

“Club Cocktail”

Great drink!  I found it to be very delightful to drink while sitting on the back porch on a lazy Sunday afternoon…  Initially, I thought it was a little too heavy on the taste of the brandy.  The caramel taste of the brandy surprised me being side-by-side with the maraschino liqueur and the pineapple juice.  But by the second glass, I really began to love its unique flavor.  It was another refreshing drink that’s not too fruity or sweet.  I guess that’s almost the them of this particular blog post… refreshing drinks that aren’t sugary sweet and fruity.

2 oz brandy

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz pineapple juice

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

lemon peel for garnish

Shake well with ice, and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass… garnish with the lemon peel

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“Waldorf”

This is an awesome alternate take on the classic Manhattan!  This drink’s perfect for when you want a Manhattan, but want a more refreshing drink… The absinthe livens it up a bit, adding a fresh kick.  Very good cocktail.

1/8 oz absinthe

2 oz bourbon (or rye whiskey)

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

The recipe I found said to swirl the absinthe in the glass to coat the inside and then pour out the excess, before adding the remaining ingredients… I was, however, in the mood to have some more absinthe in the drink, so I actually just mixed in about an 1/8 oz of absinthe with the bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters, and then stirred with ice, leaving all of the absinthe in the actual drink, and then strained in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“The Last Word”

Now that I’ve got my maraschino liqueur, I was able to taste what this drink was supposed to properly taste like.  (I’d originally only had Peter Heering Cherry Heering to use, and in one of my previous posts talk about how it didn’t work well and how it actually led to me creating my own variation called “The Counter Argument”.)  This classic cocktail was reportedly brought back to life by a bartender in Seattle (Zig Zag Cafe) who disovered it in some old cocktail recipe books.  Since it’s re-discovery, it’s enjoying quite a revival in popularity all across the country.  It is indeed a good drink.  It too has some really unique flavors and the Chartreuse really shines through and takes center stage, with a really nice accompaniment of the maraschino liqueur.

Equal parts…

Gin

Green Chartreuse

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/restaurants/2008837441_zres11lastword.html

Cheers!