It’s that time of the month: Mixology Monday. What did you think I meant? mixologymonday.com holds a monthly cocktail contest called, oddly enough, Mixology Monday. To participate, I’m also supposed to post a link to Scott Diaz’s site, Shake, Strain and Sip. Scott has a couple of stellar tipples in my book, most notably a little number called Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, about which I should definitely blog in the near future.
The theme of this round is “From Crass to Craft,” which will attempt to remove some of the snootiness of craft cocktailology by demanding that we use lowbrow or non-craft ingredients. I love this, because my book celebrates any drink that tastes great, regardless of the craft esteem of its contents. I even have a little section of “Lowbrow” drinks in there.
I thought a perfect drink to offer up to the contest was one of the first I ever created and one I’m still quite proud of, despite the inclusion of Rumple Minze, a high-proof peppermint schnapps. At least it’s real schanpps in the sense of its alcohol content (schnapps is supposed to be highly alcoholic. The peach “schnapps” made by DeKuyper, for example, is an abomination against true schnapps.). The Christmas Baby is creamy and delicious, and I was happy to serve them up at a party last Christmas despite having invented the snooty Marais cocktail long before then.
Christmas Baby ✯✯✯✯✯
3/4 oz Rumple Minze
3/4 oz creme de cacao (white)
3/4 oz Frangelico
3/4 oz Baileys or Carolans Irish Cream
1 oz heavy whipping cream
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small pinch of cocoa powder.
Matt Seiter is a talented drink maker working at Sanctuaria in St. Louis. He’s just published a great recipe book showcasing 150 of the cocktail offerings there, new craft drinks and great classics alike. I picked one of his creations pretty much at random last night (the Little Miss) and it’s fantastic, five stars all the way! I’m seeing all kinds of other amazing drinks and can’t wait to find out how great they are. The book is loaded with color photos of the cocktails and has a ring binding that allows you to lay the book flat on your bar (like mine). I recommend you pick up a copy posthaste!
The best app for iPhone I’ve found to date for cocktails is BarNotes. It’s got a slick design, nice features, and is loaded to the gills with excellent cocktail recipes from pro bartenders and regular humans alike. I’m honored they’ve chosen to feature me in their list of Great Barkeeps. It’s a free app, so download it now and start sharing your fave recipes! The revolution will be app’d!
Really stoked about this offering from Julie Reiner of the now regrettably closed Lani Kai in New York. It’s probably the most un-tiki of all tiki drinks I’ve ever encountered, which is precisely its charm. The perfect solution for dudes who think they’re too manly for a tropical rum drink, this one is more like an Old Fashioned with super-rich dark rum added. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Plus the Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters, which are basically Angostura bitters on steroids.
Black Pearl ✯✯✯✯1/2
1 1/2 oz Old Forester 100-proof bourbon
3/4 oz Cruzan Black Strap rum
1 tsp rich demerara syrup (2:1)
1 dash Fees Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters
Stir and strain into a rocks glass containing a few ice cubes. Orange peel garnish.
I grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. In the 1980s, it was a great place to be a kid/teen in that it was relatively safe, beautiful during the summer, and offered the world’s best skiing about 20 minutes from my house. But, you couldn’t argue that it was any kind of paragon of metropolitan culture. This applied in spades to night life and drinking. Utah has long suffered from draconian liquor laws that have stunted its night-time appeal. However, It’s been over 20 years since I’ve lived there, and word is that the times they are a changin.’ The infamous Zion Curtain has finally fallen, and other ludicrous laws seem to be petering out by the wayside. Good evidence of this is the newly refangled Bar X. A long-time SLC institution, the X has been been revamped to reflect the cocktail renaissance the rest of the country has been enjoying for several years. Their Medicine Hat cocktail, created by David White and Duncan Burrell, is as crafty and tasty as any offering on either coast.
Medicine Hat ✯✯✯✯1/2
1 1/2 oz Laird’s bonded applejack
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz rich (2:1) simple syrup
1/2 tsp grenadine
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Hyper-knowledgeable Dan Chadwick over at Kindred Cocktails created this one and apparently his wife loves it. Perhaps the name of it is slightly unfortunate, but Dan has enough cred with me that it totally doesn’t matter. I feel like his site is the best craft cocktail resource/social media platform on the web. I won’t diss him by adding this drink to my list of “Pretentious and Otherwise Annoying” drinks in my next book. Nope. However, if you were a Spanish-speaker, you might almost think the name of this drink is “Ham,” which doesn’t make any sense at all. Anyway, this is a spectacular tiki-esque delight with a hint of walnut, which is unusual for a tropical tipple. A little work, but worth the effort. Tip: use fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.
Ja Mon ✯✯✯✯1/2
1 oz cachaça
1 oz dark rum
1/2 oz añejo rum
3/4 oz Velvet falernum
1 tsp Nux Alpina
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
3/4 oz lime juice
4 dashes orange bitters
Shake and strain.
This is a really successful aquavit cocktail, which really isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. Aquavit is basically vodka that’s flavored mainly with caraway, plus some other things, and it has a unique and dry taste to it. Linie, the brand I use, is made from potatoes and is sent on a 19-week sea voyage from Norway around Australia and back again just to age it in wood barrels. The wood expands and contracts with the severe weather/temperature changes, releasing its character into the spirit. I’ve made one or two mediocre attempts at using it, but they don’t equal this one. Something about all the fruit flavors make it work, maybe. Or the sweetness of the falernum. I couldn’t track down who came up with it or where it was created for sure, but there’s a Nickle Rose bar in San Rafael, CA, so maybe this is their signature tipple. They don’t appear to have their own website with menu, so I couldn’t check. And I’m not driving from Oakland all the way to freakin’ San Rafael.
Nickle Rose ✯✯✯✯1/2
1/2 oz aquavit
1/4 oz Velvet falernum
1/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz grapefruit juice
2 or 3 dashes peach bitters
1/2 tsp Campari
Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with the Campari. Shake the other ingredients and strain into the glass. Orange peel garnish.
This diabolical and hessian delight was fabricated at Alembic in San Francisco. Who actually devised it, we may never know. Actually, it probably wouldn’t be that tough to find out; you’d just have to go there an ask, most likely. I may not get to it any time soon, but that should stop you from running/screaming to the nearest spirit proprietor to acquire the needed items to craft it. I finally was able to use my own homemade nocino for the first time, and it mixed really well. I need to be clear: this drink is very good. Not at all crappy. You could serve it on chain mail with a smoked goat’s head, if you liked.
Black Metal Manhattan ✯✯✯✯✯
2 oz rye
1/2 oz Ramazzotti
1/4 oz nocino
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Had to share this great recipe created by Alex Smith who works at Honor in Emeryville, CA. It’s a superb vehicle for the homemade clove bitters I posted about earlier. Delicious and seasonal!
1 1/2 oz apple brandy
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz cranberry liqueur
3 dashes clove bitters
Stir and strain. Garnish with fresh cranberries on a pick.
1. Purchase a 4 oz bottle of Angostura bitters.
2. Pat yourself on the back, because it’s cool to make your own stuff.
3. Deposit five whole cloves into the bottle.
4. Allow to steep for 48 hours, shaking the bottle several times a day.
5. Pour into another container, then strain the bitters back into the bottle using a small funnel and a fine-mesh strainer, such as a tea strainer.