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…)
Archive for the ‘gin’ Category
Well this week’s Mixology Monday topic is gin.
I should have lots of ideas for this one since gin has become a favorite spirit of mine. I’ve had dreadful arguments about the whole vodka versus gin thing with friends who believe the former is the most versatile cocktail ingredient. I think gin deserves that honor. Sitting here writing this though, I can’t say that I have any particular drink in mind for this Mixology Monday. However, there is one thing that I believe does need to be said.
Gin occupies a unique space in the world of mixed drinks. (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…)
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…)
I haven’t posted anything for the last couple of Mixology Mondays. My excuse in April was being on holiday and having no access to Champagne. It seems it isn’t a popular drink in the remoter parts of Western China. I didn’t have a very good excuse in May since I was already back in New Zealand by that stage. All I can say is that I still hadn’t got around to setting up a bar in my apartment and the idea of tequila drinks didn’t inspire me enough to make me rush out and go shopping.
This month my bar is more or less functional and the theme is cream, a theme which seems very doable. (more…)
Today’s Mixology Monday, hosted at Martini Lounge is all about shooters. Shooters are really not my thing. Designing a shooter seems as much thinking up an amusing name as creating a tasty drink. Maybe they have a place though. The Austrian barman at a little place I sometimes visit here in Shanghai has a habit of mixing his favorite customers a quick ‘shot’ as they leave. He usually mixes up rum, lime, and something sweet. It makes a friendly and pleasant end to the evening.
Generally though I just don’t like shooters so I had trouble thinking of anything for this Mixology Monday. But perhaps Pink Gin could be considered a shooter? I was very skeptical about Pink Gin the first time I tried it so I think I either made it on a shot glass or made a very small quantity in a rocks glass. Actually it isn’t so bad. It isn’t something I ever really drink, but there is something quite nice about room temperature gin with bitters. If you really and truly enjoy gin then you should also enjoy it at room temperature, right? So why not try a shot of Pink Gin?
Simply put a couple of dashes of bitters into the glass, tilt the glass to distribute it evenly, then add the gin. If you enjoy the taste then slowly savor it rather than tossing it back. If you don’t like the taste then toss it back and go make something else.
I made this one because I wanted to try something else with Anisette, and the recipe appealed due to the ‘old fashioned’ inclusion of an egg. I also figured an anisette drink with egg or cream might see the aniseed taste get mellowed out. The name is also kind of cool. It is hard to imagine bunch of stock brokers wandering into a bar and ordering this though. I guess brokers had different tastes a hundred years or so ago.
1 1/2 oz white port
1/2 oz gin
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz anisette
Shake with ice and strain into a wine glass. The recipe suggests using a cocktail glass, but depending on the size of the egg this may be a little small. Since 19th century eggs were smaller than eggs today, you could also consider using only half an egg.
This thing tastes more like a vermouthy wine flip than anything else. The anisette is very much in the background. I won’t be rushing to make this again in a hurry, but nothing wrong with it if you feel like something unusual. If I made it again I might try scaling down the vermouth and upping the anisette.
I happened to be drinking this concoction when I received an e-mail from a good friend telling me he was now a father. I had done a search on cocktailDB for a drink containing apricot brandy, cognac and gin, and found the Une Idee Cocktail (3/4 oz cognac, 3/4 oz gin, 3/4 oz Italian vermouth, 1/4 oz apricot brandy). Since I wanted a drink that would really let me taste the Marie Brizard Apry I decided to up the apricot brandy to a 1/2 oz. Technically then the drink I had made was different to the recipe.
On opening my e-mail box I read my friend’s happy news and it seemed only appropriate to christen the drink after his newborn son given that it was, sort of, a new recipe, so the Ariel it was.
The Ariel Cocktail
3/4 oz cognac (Martell)
3/4 oz gin (Bombay Sapphire)
3/4 oz Italian vermouth (Martini)
1/2 oz apricot brandy (Marie Brizard)
This drink is smooth and rich. The cognac and apricot hold the foreground, while the gin and vermouth throwing in plenty of botanicals that make it a little bracing rather than too sweet. A refined drink. I suppose I should try it with the originally suggested 1/4 oz of apricot brandy to see how that compares. Another possibility might be using a dry apricot brandy.
Again Kumuhana looked carefully about him, and up into the monkey- pod boughs as if to apprehend a lurking listener. His lips were very dry. With his tongue he moistened them repeatedly. Twice he essayed to speak, but was inarticulately husky. And finally, with bowed head, he whispered, so low and solemnly that Hardman Pool bent his own head to hear: “No.”
Pool clapped his hands, and the little maid ran out of the house to him in tremulous, fluttery haste.
“Bring a milk and gin for old Kumuhana, here,” Pool commanded; and, to Kumuhana: “Now tell me the whole story.”
“Wait,” was the answer. “Wait till the little wahine has come and gone.”
And when the maid was gone, and the gin and milk had travelled the way predestined of gin and milk when mixed together, Hardman Pool waited without further urge for the story. Kumuhana pressed his hand to his chest and coughed hollowly at intervals, bidding for encouragement; but in the end, of himself, spoke out. . .
Milk is not the first thing you associate with gin, and gin and milk is not the first thing you associate with Waikiki. Gin and milk was a popular concoction in the 19th Century though, and Jack London made it Hardman Pool’s drink of choice in his Hawaiian short story The Bones of Kahekili (1919). I think I also remember hearing somewhere that the Queen Mother used to drink gin and milk. To observe that gin and milk is no longer popular as it was would be an understatement, but with endorsements from Jack London and the Queen Mum perhaps everyone owes it to themselves to give it a try?
I made a passing mention of warm gin in last month’s post on the Sleigh Flip (a flip involving hot beer, rum and egg). In that post I suggested that warm gin sounded like a very bad idea. After writing that though I started thinking warm gin might just be worth a try. Gin and milk seemed a good combination for a warm gin drink, and also had the interest factor being something I had heard about but never tried.
I am sure that gin and milk would taste fine on the rocks, and the drink probably was often drunk that way. However, I doubt Hardman Pool’s gin and milk included ice. The Bones of Kahekili is set on a Hawaiian cattle ranch in the year 1880, a place and time when ice may not necessarily have been available. I am guessing that Hardman Pool’s gin and milk was simply mixed at room temperature. Here in Shanghai though it is freezing right now, and moreover this month’s Mixology Monday is looking at winter warmers, so warm gin and milk seems just the thing. Back when gin and milk was popular I expect it was served warm in winter. Before the introduction of electric refrigeration it would have been much easier to warm drinks in winter than to cool them in summer.
To make a basic gin and milk is very simple. Pour a measure of gin into a glass and top up with three or four measures of milk. Full fat milk is best for this drink. Sweeten with sugar if you want. You can adjust the proportions according to taste.
I decided to adjust the recipe a little, as follows:
4 oz hot milk (ideally full fat)
1 teaspoon orgeat
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Mix ingredients together in a glass. For a truly hot drink microwave for a few seconds after mixing. Send the way predestined of gin and milk when mixed together.
Hot gin and milk tastes much better than it sounds. Hot gin is sharper, less warming, and less rich tasting than rum, whiskey or brandy – the popular spirits used in toddies and other warm drinks. Less cloying than more traditional hot drink ingredients, gin makes an interesting change. Mixing hot gin with milk makes the sharpness manageable and results in a pleasantly approachable concoction. The orgeat adds a type of sweetness that complements both the milk and the gin. Leaving the bitters out would not hurt too much, but they give a little extra depth.
Hot gin and milk makes a pleasant winter drink. It is warming, nourishing, totally unfashionable, and even comes with a story attached!
“I have talked long, O Kanaka Oolea. There is not the enduring moistness in my mouth that was when I was young. It seems that afresh upon me is the thirst that was mine when tormented by the visioned tongue of the harpooner. The gin and milk is very good, O Kanaka Oolea, for a tongue that is like the harpooner’s.”
A shadow of a smile flickered across Pool’s face. He clapped his hands, and the little maid came running.
“Bring one glass of gin and milk for old Kumuhana,” commanded Hardman Pool.
It was the craze of the day.
The Bunny Hug (click to listen) was a ragtime dance. It was one of a family of ‘lewd’ animal dances that were originally danced in bars and bordellos and spread from there to the dance halls frequented by the more polite portion of American society. Other such dances included the Grizzly Bear, the Camel Hop and the Turkey Trot. In its day the Bunny Hug was the cutting edge, the latest fad. It was loved and loathed, and swept across America and around the world even as cities passed ordinances banning it. On March 27, 1913, dance hall manager Ed Spence of Grants Pass, Oregon was reported to be “in serious condition from 11 knife wounds as a result of trying to enforce his taboo of the ‘Bunny Hug’, the ‘Turkey Trot’ and like terpsichorean confections.” Forgotten today, the Bunny Hug once stirred passions.
The Bunny Hug was part of the transition from the old to the modern. Like ragtime itself, the Bunny Hug filled an awkward gap between two different ages. Traditionalists abhorred it. Its fashion conscious champions quickly discarded it The craze of the day changed. People hearing the words ‘bunny hug’ are now more likely think of a brand of diapers than anything else.
Fittingly, as the craze of the day the Bunny Hug had its name attached to a cocktail. You can resurrect the Bunny Hug by mixing equal parts whiskey, gin, and pastis, stirring over ice (or shaking) and straining into a cocktail glass. Any type of whiskey is OK, but given the strong flavors at work a blended Scotch probably brings a little more to the drink than a Bourbon does. On the other hand, in America (the place the drink would have been most popular) a rye or bourbon would have been more likely suspects. To be authentic substitute absinthe for the pastis.
This mixture of whiskey, gin and aniseed probably divides drinkers as much as Bunnyhug dance divided society. Liking pastis is obviously a prerequisite for trying this drink. Even then the drink is raw, unconventional, and not for the faint hearted. Give it a chance though and you will find some interesting layers of taste to reflect upon. Although this looks like a drink dreamed up by someone in a hurry to get drunk and not much caring how they went about it, just possibly this lush had a sense of style? They certainly created something to ponder on. The pastis grabs the foreground, while the gin and whiskey fight an unresolved struggle for second place. The mixture is jarring in the extreme, yet something in the chaos pulls it all together. Another nice thing about this drink is that virtually any bar has the ingredients on hand to make it (an important consideration given China’s sometimes primitive bar culture), and the concoction is robust enough to stand up to a fair bit of mistreatment. The only way to really destroy it would probably be to light it on fire. It makes a handy drink when in doubt but feeling brave.
In terms of cocktails, the Bunny Hug evokes another age, an age that predates almost everything drinkers now associate with the cocktail. The Bunny Hug predates vermouth atomizers, umbrella garnishes, Oreo cookie rimmed glassware, and snickered requests for Sex on the Beach. It caters to those expecting to be served straight liquor and not much else. Challenging and roughly stylish, it combines the fire of whiskey, the abandonment of gin and the divisive funkiness of pastis.
The same cocktail is now probably better known, in so far as it is known at all, as the Earthquake. Possibly someone recognized the problem with walking into a bar and requesting an extra large Bunny Hug? The name Earthquake is less evocative though. The Earthquake a potent concoction to be downed with lots of bravado and little thought. The Bunny Hug suggests something that to be savored, if only during a quick break from the dance floor.
This site is dedicated to the spirit of the Bunny Hug. Dubious it may be, but did it deserve to be quite so forgotten?