The new issue of Drink is out. The theme for this issue is rum, well known as one of my favorite topics. Fittingly, I got to write not one, but two articles. . . (more…)
Archive for the ‘curacao’ Category
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.
Mixology Monday (hosted at Scofflaw’s Den) has suddenly sprung on me, bringing the theme of bourbon. I feel a bit inadequate about my effort this time round. Recently I have hardly been drinking bourbon. Mostly it has all been gin, with occasional detours to explore French aperitifs. This state of affairs is a bit odd now I come to think about it. When I first got into cocktails I drank plenty of bourbon drinks (mostly Manhattans and Old Fashioneds), with rum thrown in for variety. Things seem to have changed, and consequently I am low on creative ideas for bourbon. Mind you, when it comes to bourbon I sometimes wonder how creative you need to be. Isn’t an Old Fashioned about as good as it gets? Posting about the Old Fashioned seems redundant though, so I am going to throw together a new (to me) bourbon cocktail from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. (more…)
I said I would follow up my recent Genever post with a post on Genever cocktails. Here are five recipes for traditional Genever cocktails. These are all drinks you could have ordered in an upscale bar in the Nineteenth Century United States. In other words, these are the drinks that got gin cocktails started. The recipes come from Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide. Darcy O’Neil from the Art of Drink kindly put the entire book online, accessible here.
So Mixology Monday has suddenly arrived again, and I am completely unprepared. The month is hosted by Anita at Morels and Musings and the theme is fruit liqueurs. I was thinking of making something with crème de cassis, but then my eye fell upon my bottle of Kuai Fei lychee liqueur. Lychee liqueur deserves a little more respect than it gets, so why not give it an outing? I realized I had a grapefruit in the fridge. Then I remembered there was a Japanese (?) drink I had been meaning to write up for a while, the China Blue.
Having made some quality grenadine, the next step is to find some drinks to try it in. Three drinks immediately come to mind, the Clover Club, the Pink Lady, and the El Presidente. The Clover Club and Pink Lady are simply grenadine sweetened and flavored gin sours, while the El Presidente is a complex rum, orange Curacao and vermouth affair that gets a gentle lift from a teaspoon of grenadine. (more…)
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…)
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.
Last night I dropped into Trader Vic’s recently opened Shanghai restaurant for a Shanghai Expat hosted cocktail party. The service at Trader Vics is five star, the Polynesian decor takes you a world away from the grime and grind of Shanghai, and the food and drinks are not half bad. However, you can’t help thinking the cocktails could be better. The drinks are by no means bad, but it is depressing to patronize the joint that invented the Mai Tai only to find the great drink a mere shadow of what it could be. (more…)