Archive for the ‘Dubonnet’ Category

The Vesper, and a quinquina comparison

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

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I got hold of some Lillet the other day. I really like Dubonnet so had been looking forward to trying Lillet. Dubonnet and Lillet both belong to the ‘quinqina’ category of flavored wines, namely quinine flavored wine-based aperitifs. Dubonnet is red while Lillet is white, though Dubonnet also produces a less well known white version and Lillet also has a red version. The situation is a little like that with vermouth, where vermouth producers typically offer both sweet and dry versions. (more…)

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…)

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…)

Rye Whiskey!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

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My excellent friend Nathan brought be three bottles of rye whiskey from the US yesterday – Wild Turkey, Old Overholt and Rittenhouse. I haven’t had too much of a chance to play around with them yet, but the Wild Turkey is excellent stuff, and while the Old Overholt and Rittenhouse are a little lacking in aftertaste they are still nice mixers that are distinctly different to bourbon.

The Wild Turkey makes an excellent Manhattan – dry and spicy with good depth of flavor. It really does taste totally different to a Manhattan made with a quality bourbon, though I must admit a Woodford Reserve Manhattan is also very good. The Old Overholt and Rittenhouse are nice enough in a Manhattan but they don’t have the backbone of the Wild Turkey. Old Overholt and Rittenhouse don’t taste too bad in an Old Fashioned, but would probably be best in drinks with juices and other ingredients – i.e. drinks where the whiskey isn’t doing all the work. Comparing them with Blantons Bourbon, Blantons still makes a far superior Old Fashioned and I’m not a big Blanton’s fan.

Right now I’m trying the Rittenhouse in a Capetown Cocktail (1 1/2 oz rye, 1 oz Dubonnet, 2 dashes Orange Curacao, 1 dash Angostura Bitters, stirred over ice and garnished with a lemon twist). The Rittenhouse works nicely in a drink like this. It is drier than bourbon would be, just a little spicy, and the bitter and herbal flavors of the Dubonnet help make up for its lack of finish.

I need to hurry up and make some more drinks with these rye whiskeys while my bar here in Shanghai is still intact. I’m planning to leave China soon which will mean saying good bye to my bar.

One interesting thing to note though is this. . . I remember seeing a recommendation to use Jameson Irish whiskey as a substitute for rye in a Manhattan. Since tasting some real rye I can see some logic behind this suggestion. I think I’d recommend Jameson over the usual Canadian whiskey substitution. Jameson is more astringent than sweet, but it does have a little of the spiciness of a true rye. It certainly has more character than the Canadian Club that bartenders tend to use for Manhattans.

P.S. I also tried a Wright Brothers Cocktail (1 oz rye, 1 oz port, 1/2 oz lemon juice, sugar syrup to taste, an egg white – shaken over ice). The rye taste didn’t really come through but it was not a bad refreshing drink.

The Heart of Darkness

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

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There is a club in Phnom Penh called the Heart of Darkness where I spent a couple of memorable evenings back in August. I drank Guinness and Tequila Slammers. The environment was a confused medley of Cambodian elites and their gun toting body guards (the doormen were very selective when searching customer for weapons), local foreign residents, higher class working girls (since the working girls apparently had to pay a fee to get in), and bemused looking tourists. It was lots of fun, but not really a sit-back-and-savor-your-drink type of environment. I have no idea if Heart of Darkness served Martinique rum. I discovered the dry and complex tasting Martinique rums at some other bars in Cambodia, most notably Riverside in Battambang, which gives huge pours of the excellent St. James Ambre for just US$1. (more…)