...was all my joy, Greensleeves was my delight...
Sorry; that's about as old a song as they come, dating as it does to the close of the 1500's. Yet despite its' age, the ballad is quite a good one - still sung in a few of the right places - unchanged from its' original lyrics & rhythm. This practice is in many ways similar to that of one of the oldest spirits - Green Chartreuse - still produced today more or less as it was in the eighteenth century when a (c. 1605) receipt for an "elixir of long life" was translated by the Carthusian monks of Le Grand Chartreuse monastary.
Much as with the aforementioned song, Chartreuse can be quite a rarity in the liquor cabinets of all but the most-seasoned cocktailians. Indeed, to the uninitiated Chartreuse can appear to be a little intimidating - a brilliant green in color, with an incredibly-complex flavor deriving from over 130 herbs, spices & flowers; to say nothing for its steep 55% ABV (and similarly-sized price tag). Don't let any of that scare you, though - the spirit is delicious - both on its own, and more importantly, in the many classic cocktails what call for it. In libations such as the Last Word or Bijou Cocktail, the use of Chartreuse typically makes for a beverage that well-exceeds the sum of its' parts. For those of you looking to delve further into classic cocktails of this sort, good starting points for researching recipes utilizing Chartreuse include Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book and A.S. Crockett's Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.
But, venerable classics aside, when my compatriots over at the Mixoloseum announced that a recent Thusday Drink Night was to be sponsored by the folks who produce & market Chartreuse, I was shall we say, delighted at the opportunity to work with an ingredient so dear to my heart. Indeed, many of the drinks (and there were a great many) postulated & sampled that evening were deemed a great success, yet rather amazingly, one of my own concoctions came out of the evening as the winner! And so, I would like to share with you; my joy, my delight...
1½ oz. Plymouth Gin
¾ oz. Green Chartreuse
¼ oz. Carpano Antica Formula
½ oz. Orgeat syrup
1 dash: Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice & shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and enjoy both un-garnished & un-varnished.
Once you've sampled Chartreuse in a cocktail like this, one of the others developed a la minute & highlighted in the TDN wrap-up, or in one of the many classic libations which are (thankfully) re-appearing on bar menus all over - I promise you too will never again be without this lovely spirit...
Sunday, January 25, 2009
...was all my joy, Greensleeves was my delight...
Monday, January 19, 2009
...with a pinch of this, a dash of that - trying something new, whether it be a spirit one hasn't worked with before, a culinary technique applied towards some cocktailian end, or some other creative feat of mixological cleverness. That's the (frankly, rather clever) theme for this month's installment of Mixology Monday, as chosen by the Scribe over at A Mixed Dram. I can't help but think that this theme is certain to bring some serious entries - everything from molecular mixology items (or more fundamental, if still interesting, applications of technique) to rare & esoteric (even by my estimation) ingredients to odd cocktails from antiquity or otherwise.
I started my own considerations about topics for this event with a desire to try something simple - unique & new to be sure - but nothing too crazy, I said to myself. I had settled on a cocktail addition with which I've scarcely ever played - rimming glasses - whether to provide a contrast of flavor, added sweetness, an aromatic component, or any number of other applications.
But my copy of The French Laundry Cookbook just wouldn't stop staring at me from its place on the shelf, so that plan swiftly vanished in the resultant flurry of turning pages. So much for simple; but then again our man did say culinary techniques & tricks were fair game...
For those of you who may not possess or be familiar with this culinary gem, to say nothing of the genius behind it, The French Laundry Cookbook is the work of (3-star Michelin) Chef Thomas Keller - the fellow behind such landmark restaurants as Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc and, of course, the French Laundry. The book highlights Chef Keller's use of and passion for quality ingredients - treated well and lovingly-prepared. It includes a wealth of gorgeous photographs, delightful anecdotes and highly-detailed recipes - many adopted for use by the home cook. And while none of these are specifically geared towards the cocktailian side of culinary tradition, many of the ingredients, concepts, flavor combinations, tips & tricks found within can be applied towards such ends. One such application includes the section in which my roving eye lingered - which focuses on making & using:
"are a primarily visual device, to make a dish look more appealing. They're typically a by-product related to the dish - tomato powder for a tomato salad [...] But some of our powders have a more pronounced effect on the finished dish. [Some...] are used as both a spice and as a powder [...] the oils in the spices add an exciting aromatic element to the dish." -Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook, p. 231
Upon reading that & summarily making several of the presented recipes with varying degrees of success, I was inspired to formulate a worthy cocktail rim. What follows is adapted from Chef Keller's published recipe & technique for Citrus Powder - a substance which, on its own, isn't too good for rimming cocktails with. But as a component of a more-complex mixture of sugar & spices, it makes a wonderfully-fragrant addition to any number of cocktails:
½ Cup: Lemon peel, pith removed & finely-julienned
¼ Cup: Meyer Lemon peel, pith removed & finely-julienned
Place Lemon peels in two separate saucepans and cover with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat and remove from heat, straining peels from the pans. Cover with water and repeat blanching two more times. Allow peels to cool to room temperature & pat dry with a towel before arranging separately on a parchment paper-lined, microwave-safe tray or plate. Microwave on lowest power setting for 7-10 minutes (depending on microwave) until peels are completely dry - check occasionally & if peels become dry early remove them. Allow to cool to room temperature before combining in a food processor or spice grinder. Process until peel is pulverized into fine powder (there will be a slight amount that will not fully process), then pour into a fine mesh strainer and stir with a spoon to sift into an airtight container. Makes a generous Tablespoon of powder; utilize in the following recipe (©):
Winter Rimming Blend
½ Cup: white Sugar
1¼ Tsp: Nutmeg, freshly ground
1 Tsp: Lemon Powder (as above)
½ Tsp: white Cardamom, freshly ground
Zest of one Tangerine, patted dry
Using a zester or microplane, zest the Tangerine onto some paper towels and allow to stand for a hour before patting dry to remove as much of the oils as possible. In a food processor or spice grinder, process the sugar until superfine. Add first the ground spices, processing until well-incorporated, before adding the Lemon powder & processing to mix. When Tangerine zest is no longer noticeably moist add to an airtight container, along with the sugar mixture. Stir well with a fork, being sure to incorporate the zest throughout & store for up to one week. Use in a variety of cocktails - extreme success has thus far has been had in adding a pinch to the top of Mimosas & Sidecars, as well as a rim on the following:
I absolutely love a good Ramos Gin Fizz - a harmonious blend of Gin, Cream, Egg white and Citrus - developed and made famous at the turn of the century by Henry C. Ramos, first in 1888 at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, then later at his Stag Saloon. Though the drink has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the past few years - and it is amazing to me that it ever became unknown - I have not yet encountered any examples of variations on the (admittedly, perfect as-is) concept. In keeping with my habit of messing with classic formulas, I replaced the Lime juice originally called for with a bit of Tangerine juice, reduced the sugar and, in a nod to another classic - the venerable Pink Lady - combined a bit of Apple Brandy with a blend of Gins. The hints of Tangerine, Orange-flower Water and Gin botanicals are well-accented by the use of the fragrant Winter Rimming blend, which also plays off the reduced sugar & increased Lemon juice in this small, yet delicious, homage to Mr. Ramos' creation (©):
Winter Stag Fizz
½ oz. Plymouth Gin
½ oz. Distillery 209 Gin
½ oz. Laird's 100° Bonded Apple Brandy
¾ oz. fresh Lemon juice
¼ oz. fresh Tangerine juice
2 oz. Heavy Cream
¾ Tablespoon: superfine Sugar
2 drops: Orange-flower Water
1 fresh Egg white
1 oz. Seltzer
Winter Rimming Blend, for rim & garnish (see above)
Prepare a highball glass by running a wedge of Tangerine along the rim, then dipping it in the Wintertime Rimming Blend at a 45° angle & tapping off any excess. Combine all ingredients except Seltzer in a mixing glass & dry-shake hard for thirty seconds. Add plenty of ice & shake very hard for approximately one minute; Add seltzer to prepared glass before straining shaken mixture in. Add a pinch of the Winter Rimming Blend to the foamy top as a further aromatic garnish.
Cheers & Enjoy!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Now, in my previous post you might recall I inquired as to the New Years festivities with which many of you were doubtlessly engaged. I also made reference to my own plans, which in my humble opinion, went over smashingly well. To sum up, I spent the past five days 'down the (New Jersey) shore, in the company of some dear friends, mixing up cocktails and concoctions of all kinds for one & all...
This beverage is compounded by bruleeing cherries with sugar in the mixing glass. In this instance using my own brandied Sour Cherries (in a Cherry-Tamarind syrup) and a mixture of superfine cane Sugar with ground white Cardamom & Iranian Saffron. For the curious, this is made by combining approximately ½ Cup cane Sugar, ¾ Tablespoon ground white Cardamom and ~13 threads of Saffron in a small food processor until all is incorporated and finely-ground. For the brulee flame: a Misto sprayer filled with a 2:1:1 mixture of Lemon Hart 151°, Angostura & Honey Tangerine bitters...
Carefully brulee Cherries until superfine sugar caramelizes. Fill with ice and add remaining ingredients. Shake well & strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda water & garnish with brandied sour Cherries. Brilliant technique & drink Mr. Boudreau!
Take for example, the class of drinks known as Corpse Revivers and "Eye-Openers", or the creation of the Japanese cocktail (very possibly my favorite cocktail) for visiting dignitaries in 1860 by Jerry Thomas. The innovation of the Florodora (a real crowd pleaser, by-the-by) for a stubborn chorus girl in 1901; even the Negroni's rise from the Americano (at left & below) came up at one point or another during the week:
6¼ Cups: Pistachios, peeled
3¾ Cups: Water
3 Cups: white Sugar
1½ Tablespoons: Rosewater
½ Tablespoons: Orange flower Water
Prepare as a normal Orgeat syrup then cool, bottle & add 2½ oz. Brandy. Makes just under 1½ Liters of syrup.
The Tropica Spice
¼ oz. fresh Pink Grapefruit juice
Nevertheless, some wonderous photos were taken (thanks to all who took care of that), a positively-brilliant time was had every day, night & early morning and many happy memories were made. Cheers and thanks to all who attended, and I look forward to doing it all again next year...
Cheers & may everyone's new year be better than that which came before it! Except for those lousy Carolingians...