Archive for the ‘aperitif & digestif bitters’ Category

Corpse Reviver Article

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Another article just appeared in DRiNK. Since this issue looks at brandy, I wrote about the Corpse Reviver. The Corpse Reviver is more like a semi-forgotten category than a single cocktail. The famous Corpse Reviver #2 is based on gin, but most of the other Corpse Reviver recipes use brandy. Oddly, despite being a diverse bunch, Corpse Revivers never seem to call for American spirits like bourbon, rye, etc. I figure they were a specifically English thing. (more…)

A Couple of Articles on Amari

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Just a quick post to note that a new issue of DRiNK is out. This issue looks at the wonderful world of amari, and I have a couple of articles. The first story looks at the origins of amari. The second looks at amari cocktails, namely the ever-popular Black Manhattan, and the obscure but tasty Brooklyn Heights.

Not much else to say except to note that it’s nice to see Amaro Montenegro is now available in China- check out the Tasting Room article. If you ever come across this stuff I recommend trying it on the rocks with Bacardi 8 (equal parts) and an orange slice. Simple and delicious.

La Cosa Nostra

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I was trying to think of more uses for Cynar, the Italian artichoke-based aperitif that somewhat resembles Campari. I decided its bitter vegetal notes would be complemented by Kola Tonic and threw this one together. I think it works, though perhaps the Tia Maria could be toned back to 1 tsp.

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Cynar has has one of the coolest label designs out there (more…)

The Romanza Campari Cocktail

Monday, May 5th, 2008

This one comes from eGullet, and before that from bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout at Pesce restaurant in San Francisco.

In some ways this would be good drink for introducing people to Campari. OK, the dose of Campari is kind of heavy for that purpose. Still, the classic Campari drinks (i.e. the Negroni and the Americano) are complicated by the inclusion of vermouth – another problem ingredient for many people. This drink is free of vermouth, Grand Marnier increases the sweetness, and fruit juice lightens things a little. In fact the drink is purely about rich and bitter sweet citrus. The taste is intense but free of surprises. While quite bitter, this drink reflects the current fashion for drinks that are light on spirits and heavy on juices and liqueurs.

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(more…)

Experimenting with Pineau des Charentes

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

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Pineau Experiment No. 6 was perhaps the best of the bunch. . .

The next step was to try mixing some drinks of my own using Pineau des Charentes.

Pineau turned out to slightly awkward stuff to mix with, probably on account of it having such a mild taste. My natural inclination was try substituting pineau in recipes that traditionally call for other aperitif wines (i.e. following well worn patterns like Manhattans and Martinis). This approach did not work well.

While I did not come up with anything truly exceptional, several experiments yielded one or two promising results. (more…)

Stomach Reviver

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

I had high hopes for this one and was not disappointed. I like drinks with lots of herbal flavors and this one obviously fits the bill.

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1 oz brandy (Prince Arignac Armagnac V.S.)

1 oz kummel (Wolfschmidt)

½ oz Fernet Branca

5 dashes Angostura Bitters

 

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

 

This would make a nice alternative to a liqueur after a meal. Or you could drink it any time you want a complex, contemplative, and rather medicinal drink. The Fernet Branca comes over heaviest, but the kummel makes its presence felt and the brandy provides the perfect mild but rich base for it all, with the bitters giving some extra complexity. Kummel mixes interestingly with strong herbal flavors, and it is a nice match for brandy too. Drinking this is like tasting a new herbal liqueur with a caraway base. I’d definitely drink this again. Mind you I tend to like this sort of thing.

Two drinks with Fernet Branca

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

I got hold of a bottle of Fernet Branca the other day. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but it can be a little hard to track down. At Tara 57 in Shanghai, when Marcus was still working there, I used to drink a simple Fernet Branca cocktail (gin, Fernet Branca and Italian Vermouth) pretty much every time I went in. The bitter taste of Fernet Branca is very much my kind of thing.

 

Besides the simple Fernet Branca cocktail Marcus also used to make something called The Pharmacy. I think this drink was made from cognac, crème de menthe and Fernet Branca, though I’m not sure about the proportions. I’ll have to ask Marcus sometime. Anyway, the drink was rich, minty and bittersweet. It was the type of drink that could make a good introduction to Fernet Branca. (more…)

If our language was whiskey. . .

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

This month’s Mixology Monday, kindly hosted at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour, is all about whiskey. Note, simply whiskey, not necessarily whiskey cocktails. I should have lots to say about this month’s topic but somehow I don’t.

Of course there are many things I could cover. I could choose a favorite whiskey cocktail and write about that. I could write about my family’s ritual of drinking tea with whiskey in the morning on Christmas Day. I could write about a favorite whiskey, maybe Lagavulin or Laphroaig. (more…)

The Autumn Frogman

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

This was actually written for November’s Mixology Monday but since I shifted my blog I am reproducing it here.

The topic of this month’s Mixology Monday is bitters. On a recent trip to Cambodia I happened to pick up a bottle of Suze. I had heard of Suze before but never tried it. From what I could make out of the label it seemed to be flavored with Gentian, an ingredient I’d only vaguely heard of before. The shop where I bought it was Phnom Penh’s largest French supermarket so I was fortunate enough to be able to ask a passing French woman what Gentian tasted like. ‘Aniseed’ she said. That didn’t sound entirely right to me since I had a feeling Gentian was something different. However, given that aniseed is such a divisive flavor I figured her description meant Suze had some kind of interesting taste and so I grabbed a bottle.

The French woman clearly was not much of a Suze drinker, or perhaps was as confused about aniseed as I was about gentian. When I finally got the bottle back to Shanghai (along with my other Cambodian finds – St. James rum and Marie Brizard Apry) I tasted no aniseed. I found the Suze rather like Campari, but less intense and without the orange taste. Apparently gentian is some kind of bitter flower. Suze is lighter bodied than Campari, less bitter, a little floral, and apparently has a wine base. I like it.

Suze tastes great with a splash of soda or tonic, but I wanted to find some Suze cocktails. I did a little research but came up with nothing. There were a few cocktail suggestions on the Suze website, but none of them grabbed me. The standard cocktail websites don’t mention it much.

So in honor of the approaching Mixology Monday I did a little experimentation myself. Because of Suze’s similarity to Campari I took the Negroni (a favorite of mine) as my starting point.

I tried mixing 1 part Suze, 1 part gin and 1 part French Vermouth. This was drinkable but I felt it didn’t mesh together well. Perhaps it would work with the proportions changed around – the gin dominates a bit. I thought Suze would go nicely with some fruit, and that some sweetness and acidity might help put the gin in the background, so I tried adding some orange juice. A version with equal parts of Suze, gin, vermouth and orange juice wasn’t too bad, but lacked character.

Another day and another attempt and I came up with something I was happy with. This time I used calvados instead of gin, to produce a fruitier gentler drink that plays off Suze’s relatively mild bitterness. Calvados always reminds me of Autumn and so bringing out the calvados bottle seemed fitting for the season as well. I think this would make a nice aperitif before an autumn meal involving cooked apples – maybe pork with apple, or chicken Normandy?

So the recipe. . .

Autumn Frogman

1 oz Suze

1 oz calvados

1 oz French vermouth

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze a twist of lemon peel over the drink to extract the oils, rub the peel around the rim of the glass, and drop into the drink. A dash of orange bitters might also be nice instead of the lemon twist, though I haven’t tried this yet.

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This drink isn’t as bold as the Negroni, but I think Negroni drinkers will appreciate it. Personally I’m very pleased with it. For an aperitif this drink is slightly mellow (something that could probably be changed by upping the ratio of Suze), but the mellowness seems part of the charm. While I would never want to abandon the wonderful Negroni I can see myself substituting the Autumn Frogman occasionally when I feel like something slightly more low key and heart-warming. If you simply happen to want to bring out the Suze this drink is just the thing.

Why is it called an Autumn Frogman? This drink has three French ingredients so the name was always going to refer to France, and who could refer to the French without having a joke at their expense?

I am from New Zealand and in our minds (or is it just in mine?) the French will forever be associated with the bombing of a Greenpeace protest boat, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbor. Yes, I know it happened in 1985, but we’re talking about the French here! The Rainbow Warrior was sunk in winter, but I expect the French agents spent the Autumn wet-suited up and training for the mission. The Calvados also matches the Autumn theme. So I present to the world, the Autumn Frogman!

Being an unforgiving person, on a previous occasion I came up with a Rainbow Warrior cocktail, but that will have to wait for another day.