Archive for the ‘orange bitters’ Category

Bamboo Cocktail Story

Friday, February 15th, 2013

My latest story for DRiNK was on the Bamboo Cocktail. Follow the link to check it out. I like the Bamboo for a couple of reasons. First, it is one of a relatively small number of cocktails that use sherry. Sherry seems underrated both as a wine to drink straight and as a mixer. Second, it is sometimes nice to drink cocktails that contain no spirits.

Around the time I was putting that story together I also did some experiments with amontillado sherry and Dominican Republic rum. I think I got at least one winning drink out of it, maybe two. More on that a little later.

The Pegu Club

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

My latest article for DRiNK is on the Pegu Club. It’s a great drink so go check it out. Special thanks to the translator for an excellent job on the Chinese. I did not make her life easy, what with poetry and other assorted weird stuff. The art work is also nice.

DRiNK is a good magazine, and it’s mere existence shows how much the cocktail scene in China has changed since I started this blog.

Years ago I remember sitting on an airplane here and leafing through a hospitality magazine that had somehow ended up in the seat pocket in front of me. It was not bar specific – more like a general restaurant magazine that included wines and spirits info. I forget the title. Anyway, the quality of information was shocking. An article on French wines was illustrated with colorful Belgian beer bottles. Well-bred ladies were cautioned to always add the ice before pouring their wine. Doing things the other way round would be most uncouth! Another article summarized the main categories of spirits and liqueurs. Having no idea what Angostura Bitters were, the writer came up with a tale about elderly Dutch men doing shots of the stuff by the fireside during winter.

I will link to a few other articles I have written for DRiNK soon.

My occasional writing for DRiNK is one reason things have been quiet. Writing articles that get published somewhere else takes the edge off the urge to write here. Despite that though, I do have a few interesting things in store. Besides cocktail stuff, there may even be a cautionary tale or two about the bar industry.

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…)

Researching Apricot Brandy cocktails

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I tried out a range of apricot brandy drinks while selecting my entry for the recent Raiders of the Lost Cocktail. The following gives a summary of what I tried, ranked not very scientifically from best to worst. (more…)

Pisco Bell-Ringer

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I’m going to try a few different pisco cocktails over the next few entries here, just to maintain a little bit of a pisco theme. Some probably won’t be so great. However, there is one excellent one coming up shortly, and hopefully there will be a couple of other good ones besides that.

 

This one is something I found while looking for something else. It is called a ‘Pisco Bell-Ringer’ and comes from David Wondrich at Esquire.

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The Calvados Cocktail

Monday, August 13th, 2007

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You might be wondering what calvados has to do with this Mixology Monday’s orange theme, but a closer look at this ‘calvados’ drink reveals the name to be something of a misnomer. Just a third of the drink is calvados, with the remainder comprised entirely of things orangey. (more…)

Tweaking the Blackthorn. . .

Friday, June 29th, 2007

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The Blackthorn cocktail is one of my favorites, a gin base with a generous splash of both Dubonnet and kirsch. Dubonnet and gin appear together in all sorts of early 20th Century drinks. In the Blackthorn the Kirsch adds an extra dimension to a well worn combination. The drink is intensely fruity, but the use of eau de vie rather than a liqueur keeps things at the dry and bracing end of the spectrum.

 

I am surprised this drink is not better known. Part of the reason may be confusion about recipes. (more…)

The Sleigh Flip: or Santa may not make it. . .

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

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The theme for this week’s Mixology Monday (hosted at Spirit World) is Drinks for a Festive Occasion. I was a little stumped about what to contribute. I had been thinking about something using my homemade Pimento Dram, the Jamaican allspice liqueur. Allspice evokes the holiday season more than most tastes do. I am not entirely happy with how my Pimento Dram has turned out though. The only over-proof rum I could find was Bacardi 151 which may be the reason my Pimento Dram is a little harsh, and the allspice taste is more ‘hot’ than fragrant. However, rough Pimento Dram is better than none.

I was still thinking along the lines of Pimento Dram when I wandered down to the supermarket looking for some cider. The plan was to do mulled cider with a shot of Pimento dram in it. It turned out the supermarket no longer stocked cider, but they did have something unexpected and even more seasonal – Samichlaus Bier from Austria.

Samichlaus Bier (Santa Claus Beer) bills itself as the strongest lager beer in the world. For a while it was the strongest beer in the world but with all the microbreweries opening up in the U.S. over the last decade some U.S. brewery now claims that title. Samichlaus Bier is brewed each year at Christmas and released in time for the following Christmas, meaning it counts as an aged beer. The beer itself is a deep copper color, with a sweet and winey taste, relatively little bitterness, and a staggering 14% alcohol by volume. It used to be made in Switzerland, but now seems to be from Austria.

I don’t know how easy this beer is to buy internationally, but must be widely distributed if it has turned up in Shanghai. It used to appear in New Zealand each year before Christmas. I remember one year walking into a wine shop and being surprised to find the stuff. The woman who owned the shop waxed lyrical about how fantastic it was and I bought a couple of bottles. A year later I happened to walk past the same shop and saw the same beer, now at a give away price, complete with a sign reading “The most revolting beer in the world! Please help us get rid of it!” I think I bought a case.

The Austrian version seems to have less character than the original Swiss version but is still a pleasant beer. It is a bit sweet and you wouldn’t want to drink it too often, but it is definitely not revolting. I thought it would be fun to use Samichlaus Bier to make an ale flip.

A flip is a very old fashioned winter drink that simply involves mixing hot alcohol, an egg, sugar, and maybe something spicy. A Samichlaus Bier flip seemed perfect for the holiday season, and since a flip is vaguely punch-like you could mix this stuff up in a large batch to serve a crowd. Note that I’m not suggesting in any way that this would be a good idea and obviously you should check the details of your home and contents insurance policy first. Alternatively just serve it at a friend’s house and observe the fun.

The recipe. . .

Sleigh Flip (or Santa May Not Make It)

250ml Samichlaus Bier

1 egg

30ml St. James amber rum

2 teaspoons Pimento Dram

4 dashes Angostura Bitters

2 dashes orange bitters

1 teaspoon dark muscovado sugar

If the egg is from the fridge, first warm it in a bowl of hot water to bring it to room temperature or thereabouts. Warm the beer on the stove or in the microwave to just below boiling point. Be careful not to actually let it boil, since it will likely foam up and spill everywhere. In a warm bowl (the bowl you just warmed the egg in would be easiest) beat the egg with the rum, Pimento Dram, bitters and sugar until slightly frothy. Add the warm beer and beat together. Pour into a mug and serve.

This doesn’t have to be made with Samichlaus beer. Any reasonably full bodied beer would work nicely. Samichlaus is a lager but generally ales would work better. Samichlaus works well because it is an extra strong lager with plenty of flavor. You might want to adjust the ratio of sugar depending on the beer you use. Samichlaus is very sweet so you need no more than a teaspoon – in fact you could probably even dispense with the sugar entirely. A drier beer might demand more sugar.

St. James or some other Martinique rum seems an appropriate spirit addition because it has complex but not too assertive flavors and relatively little sweetness. Whiskey would also be interesting too but may be a little dominant. Brandy would be nice but would be less traditional than rum. Rum was often used in flips when they were still popular (in the 19th century and earlier), perhaps because it was cheaper than brandy or whiskey, and a better fit than gin. I am ready to try most things, but a mug of hot gin, beer and an egg? Hmm. . . maybe after a mug of hot rum, beer and an egg.

 

Benedictine makes a nice substitute for the Pimento Dram, though in this case consider leaving out the bitters and upping the ratio of Benedictine since Benedictine is relatively subtle. If using Benedictine consider substituting honey for the sugar. You could even consider trying Chartreuse. It sounds a little crazy, but why be shy when dealing with half a pint of hot beer and an egg? A drink like this calls for heavy flavors.

Enjoy!

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.