Saturday, April 22, 2017

White Bull

Ah, finally, we've hit the last third of April and a recipe that has been lingering for a few years can now be published. There's a method to this madness. First there was Bucentaure (and a lot of the concept is laid out there). Then there was Bull with a Barette. (then there was Chimaera taking the base in another direction) And now we complete a trilogy --and a promise-- that sprung from trying to fit too many ideas into one glass: the White Bull.

(granted, I may have one more in me that incorporates egg white, saffron, and Suze, but we'll have to see how that goes..)

As tasty and structure-playful as Bucentaure and Bull with a Barette are, they're friggin' heavy aged-spirit cocktails hitting at a point when all the flowers are popping open. I consider White Bull to be somewhat more Aries-inflected, and not just because we're only a couple of degrees into the month of Taurus at time of posting: it's leaner, cleaner, small red berry-noted -- perfect for a spring that's still emerging in fits and starts from chilly breezes and drizzles that prolong the blooms. Not for nothing, it still possesses Taurus' sensuality. You could say it's an elaborate riff on summery Douro Valley sipper White Port and Tonic. And, whichever incarnation, it's still a Vieux Carré at core.

White Bull
1 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof rum
1 oz white port
1/2 oz pisco
1/2 oz Mahia fig eau-de-vie
1/4 oz Skinos mastiha liqueur
3 drops Fee Bros. cherry bitters
1 dash Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish bitters
1 oz tonic water
lemon twist garnish

Build on good-sized rocks, give a little stir, and garnish.

Frankincense, sweet lime, clear golden light bitter, cherries, spiced figs and bright fruit, green ginger, grassy Jamaican funk as it evolves. Ethereal, fresh in a perfectly springtime manner, but packs a wallop.

Enjoy with Marcona almonds - you'll thank me.

I leave it to your imaginations and tastebuds, but I do invite consideration for ingredient evolution - particularly the bitter ingredients.

Mahia fig eau-de-vie is an underused, brilliant and rare flavor that needs to get a lot more love. As in La Primavera nella Campagna, I find that clear eau-de-vies offer delicate spring-like approaches for otherwise autumn-oriented fruits.

Thank you dear reader - a little over 5 years and now 100K hits. :) Hope I can keep being productive and worth your valuable time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Anadyomene's Waves

Happy Tiki Month, folks! We here at Feu de Vie* are getting back into the swing of things and boy are there a ton of recipes yet to refine and post, let alone the recipe bunnies that pop into the head unbidden. Above all, we had to squeak this next recipe in before Tiki month ended for a whole 11 months.

*and I truly mean We - check out Boomer's first official attributed post!

For those not in-the-know, one of the best internet cocktail parties of the year is always Tiki Month, hosted by Doug at The Pegu Blog each February. Doug explains the origins in the first link better than this Jane-come-lately can. But, quite simply, Tiki is the advanced thermonuclear global timeshare, the Indiana Jones adventure of cocktails. The wistful sunsoaked beaches and hula skirts of Tiki were meant for the dreary, snowy winter months (that were yet chock-a-block with fresh winter citrus!). While some crazy spirits saddle up with NOLA cocktails like the Vieux Carre or Sazerac for Mardi Gras, others party the whole month with Jet Pilots, Mai Tais and Missionary's Downfalls. So while you may be doing Orpheus-knows-what with beads and the Krewe de Muses tomorrow, join the party and make yours Tiki!

Now then, way back when I promised all of you a second cocktail using my ethereal Meyer lemon falernum. My first, the Telesto (with falernum recipe ready and available for cri-Tiking), was an odd gin-rum-arrack riff on the Saturn style of low-proof blended recipes with orgeat. This time around, we're expanding the spirit range and attempting a tequila-based recipe using a tequila blend. Granted, tequila doesn't quite have the range that rum does, with all the variation in and around the Caribbean alone, but there are still altitude- and aging-based nuances available to play with.

The sinking sun glimmers gold and pink on the placid surf, her shell drifting towards shore....had she always been there, coasting the waves? The sailor watched in trepidation, the foam drip drip dripping from her locks. Her long fingers reached back and wrung kinks into the flax. The land was not her natural state.

Why yes this is a Tiki cocktail in a clamshell birdbath. Why do you ask? #garnish

Anadyomene's Waves
3/4 oz blanco tequila
3/4 oz reposado tequila
1 oz Don's Mix #2
1/2 oz Meyer lemon falernum
1/2 oz lime juice
6 drops Bittercube Jamaican #2 bitters

Shake with crushed ice and strain over over larger cubes.
Garnish with untold waves of citrus zest (Meyer lemon, lime, grapefruit).

If using falernum without Meyer lemon juice added in, add 1/4 oz ML juice to the mix. As when working with all citrus, check the tartness, especially with the grapefruit, and adjust accordingly.

Go big with flavor here - you won't regret it. You want tequila with hogo, if you can find it. Get a big grassy, peppery blanco (i.e. Siembra Azul) and a rich, earthy funky lowlands reposado (i.e. Corralejo). Bottles bold in tequila flavor (and perhaps less sweetness) win in this cocktail.

Proboscis: candied pink butterflies made of crystalline sunbeams. Meyer lemon, pink peppercorn, ginger, grapefruit, faint grassy agave.

Tastebuds: a burst of sweet pink spice on the tongue dries to tartness over the palate. Agave emerges sip after sip. Even as it dilutes, you find more layers revealed. Pink lemonade, weak cinnamon, shimmer of dark spices cooking underneath.

That thing with the name? Let just say an ice strategy of crushed ice pressed into the form of a scallop shell in the glass would not go amiss. It came to me while breathing in my seaweed/sea air shampoo a year and a half after getting the recipe down. Darn Venus combust sneaking out through the art - and here I thought I was a tomboy..

Seriously, though, if you look at the structure, there are far more variants out there than you can swing a drunken Kermit at. The Golden-Eyed Tree Frog for one. So glad I didn't name this one after a Bajan lizard.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The NOLA Variations: Infernal Negotiations

Infernal Negotiations
1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz Maker's 46 bourbon
1/2 oz tawny port
1 tsp falernum
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash smoke tincture
1 rinse absinthe
lemon twist for garnish

Rinse and freeze. Stir. Strain over a big rock. Garnish.

The smell of a humid backroom, damp with smoke as the antique wire fan lazily wafts across the room. The men who gather there -- spared half the sun by heavy wooden Venetian blinds, eyes glinting against the black slats of shade -- mutter with grizzled vulgarity.

Ah, but the taste in the glass.. The Sazerac is too pure, too friendly. The lemon, the Peychaud's, the moody frisson of absinthe -- all these linger yet, but underneath a black stake of sternness, spice and smoke swirling through red fruit, caramel and 46 drops of black soul.

A handy method for all kinds of revenantion. I been dead longer than this blog's been around. Howdya THINK I came back, huh? *itch itch itch*

Monday, February 20, 2017

MxMo CXVI: Irish Wake

Life's been what it is, old paths dwindling, new paths glimmering before. One's personal approach to the spirits has undergone some re-evaluation and is beginning to peek through on the other side. But the old camaraderie burns strong and bright yet, and for that you take the time - because being able to slip back into the old groove like no time had passed and the great shake-up that was 2016 never happened is not something that should have been taken for granted.

Today is the last Mixology Monday. Our ringmaster and professional cat-herder Frederic makes the final call, with the theme Irish Wake.
So it is time for the final theme, the Irish wake. The Irish wake is a funeral tradition that is a send-off that begins at the time of death until the body is handed over to the church. It is viewed as a crucial part of the grieving process. My first Irish wake was a little over a year ago when Boston barman Ryan McGrale met his untimely demise. While the wake part with the family was sober, the mourning process with the Boston bartenders and the New York City ones who traveled up was most certainly not. Irish whiskey flowed. I remember getting home and wondering why my key would not work and I considered sleeping in the garage. Turns out, it was the wrong key on my key ring and it took awhile to figure that out. So what better way to celebrate the life and times of Mixology Monday and its 11 year run as the premiere "monthly online cocktail party" than with Irish whiskey.

For this theme, the approach is two fold. You can go traditional and generate or uncover a cocktail recipe calling for Irish whiskey. Alternatively, you can talk about a personal moment either where  Irish whiskey played a role in life or where drinks in general helped the grieving process. Such stories were actually rather cool for MxMo 41 "Vodka is Your Friend," so there is precedent for that, but it's not like we can break Mixology Monday for future events by straying from the rules.
Follow the link here to see the round-up for how everyone else took the time to salute.

It's been my experience that one happens upon certain communities during the course of one's wanderings in life, where your own interests intersect others' in such a way that the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. Usually it's a confluence of an objective topic like a fandom or other source of geekery burning so bright that all the best naturally gravitate like moths to that siren fire call: X-Files on back in the day, the Whedonverse or comics on AICN during the 'naughts, cocktails on Twitter during the Great Cocktail Renaissance for the past decade or more.

Feu-de-Vie didn't start up in time to participate during Paul Clarke's tenure, but by the time Fred Yarm took up the reins I was very well clued-in that this was the thing to do. And my was it ever. September 2012 revealed an intense count of young gun cocktail blogs with more yet to rise, and the feel of the cocktail blogosphere in general throve on rapid output from all quarters. The number of vibrant postings in a week would make your head spin. Skip participating in MxMo for the blog hit boosts - the sheer number and quality of outputs, and the sense that you were part of a community keen to the idea that "what before had been unthinkable was now both do-able and transcendable (and delicious!)" - there's no greater oxygen for a creative spirit. Put that between your cheek and gum, dadgummit.

What's more, beyond the privilege of getting to host two monthly events (Fire and Ice, natch) and generally always having my best brought out by the events, I've had the great muse-ly pleasure of inspiring others. Pineapple-squash ferris wheels aside, I'm just glad the combination of Irish whiskey and Tiki proved so appealing to encourage folks to come back to MxMo one last time. Mind, an Irish whiskey Tiki Mardi Gras/NOLA cocktail would be the ne plus ultra for this month, naturellement.

And yet, as the old maxim goes, "those who burn brightest also burn shortest." So many of those young guns faded before too long. Cocktail blogging is a difficult enough endeavor, even if one has a plan to balance recipe development and output with moderation and self-care. And, alas, we (and our livers) all do get older and life does have a way of getting in the way. Take it from someone who's struggling with senses of imminent turning points of late and whose other Piscean pursuits also include astrology - there's literally something in the stars happening right now; we're in a year characterized by Uranus, planet of radical unexpected change. The Cocktail Renaissance moment has passed; it's mellowed and in the process of maturation. There's still plenty of room for new recipes and ideas, but, man, would I love to see everyone's recipes get some re-love and appreciation rather than be lost to the ether. For all the joy and fire shared during the best of times, as MxMo rests I do hope our fellowship continues.

So, a toast is in order for all the Mixology Mondays of the past, and those One True dreams of a distant future when the cocktail renaissance may yet be needed and come again.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for some comfort food.

Cinnamon Toast Old Fashioned
2 1/4 oz butter-washed Irish whiskey (Writer's Tears)
3/4 oz cinnamon syrup
3 dashes bitters (Fee Bros Whiskey-Barrel-Aged OF bitters)
cinnamon stick & cinnamon-sugar toastette for garnish

Stir with light ice and strain over a big rock. Garnish.

The cinnamon syrup is 1:1 syrup following JFL's method.

The infusion uses Don Lee's method for the Cinema Highball (also in the PDT recipe book) - make sure you're using clarified *unsalted* butter (no need for popcorn).

Pretty much exactly in-line flavor-wise. You could probably split hairs with the ratio to suit your taste, but 3 spirit : 1 sweet : 1 dash bitters produces a rich, sweet full mouthfeel that is immistakeable for real cinnamon toast. You might be able to dial down the sweet by subbing some cinnamon tincture or adding a neutral bitters like Abbott's or Boker's, but you also have to keep a tastebud open to what whiskey you're infusing. High-quality Writer's Tears, apart from being a classy way to send off our beloved (please do NOT scold on infusing such a dram - I KNOW I know..), has a distinct full body to it, which only enhances the overall cocktail.

Yes, Writer's Tears is a rich dram. Yes, we're loading it with butter also. Such occasions call for decadence like this.

Much love to all participants and hosts past and present, and especial gratitude to Paul Clarke and Fred Yarm for keeping the torch burning as long as it has. I'm grateful for the luck of sharing such a bright moment with you all, pushing boundaries and sharing in mutual bedazzlement. May your paths run true, and may ours cross yet again in the future, for a drink or two!

And, for the future, keep an eye out. We might just get back into the swing of things enough to get some settled recipes published. [Boomer: Stay tuned...]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Impromptu: Peach Sunshine

Bear with me folks. Right as I was writing up my MxMo 100 post a month ago, I got a call that sent me into a tailspin (but from which I've largely recovered). Sitting down to type has been difficult since, though. I'll have more thoughts to share as I work through my backlog, but for now I figure the best way to stretch the blogging muscles is to dash off some of the less-than-prompt impromptus that have been piling up in the meanwhile.

So what do you do when you've hit the dog days of summer, have (at long last) just gotten a stack of Beachbum Berry books from Amazon, and are craving the mother's milk panacea known to man as coconut cream? You blend, baby, blend!

Then, once you work (ha! "work") through the Pain Killer, the Aurora Bora Borealis, several variations of the Pina Colada, and skip over the Chi Chi, you're left with half a can of coconut cream and a big blinking "what next?" sign over your head. It was about then that I posed the "coconut cream and a spice element" challenge to JFL over at Rated R Cocktails (I need to get some coconut milk so I can try the Lono Cup!). I had been noodling perhaps a more floral coconut-pisco-allspice dram recipe, but that'll have to stick in the back-craw of my brain for another time.

Instead, my eyes alighted on the good Jersey peaches my bf had brought over and that blinking slightly-fritzy sign over my head turned into a lightbulb!

It's time for this recipe to get published. It got a bit of a highlight over Labor Day weekend (cheers @MacCocktail!) and just today I got a needed kick in the rear when this sweet ditty showed up over on Stir & Strain. Elana's been doing great stuff with coconut cream this summer and completely hit it out of the park with a Pina Colada royale-type recipe. But yeah, there's a lot of similarity and here I am stewing around as a creative Hamlet (not in a good way) in the background.

The only nit I might have to pick is that, while both cocktails are perfectly good in their own right, this is annus 2015 of the Cocktail Renaissance and this is the cocktail blogosphere we're talking about. If a "Tropical Rum Peach Frozen Blended Cocktail" recipe hasn't been done yet, it and several similar ones (that arise from their concocters being in the same social and mind spheres) might well come along anyway, in short order or years down the road. Seriously, how many of us socially-networked cocktailians have absolutely delighted to see Tiki getting a huge spotlight this year, and wanted to go on a tear when the latest Tiki tipple from Rated R or cocktail virgin pops up in their feeds? If you expect a recipe to have lasting value, it would behoove it to have a proper name instead of being a generic no-name so people know what they're talking about. Besides, the T.R.P.F.B.C. is a mouthful of a name - surely there's something zingy that would suit the glassful of win that the cocktail is?

Peach Sunshine
half of a ripe peach, peeled, stone removed, slightly chopped
1 oz coconut cream (Coco Lopez or Goya preferred)
3/4 oz white grapefruit juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz gold rum (Prichard's)
3/4 oz madeira (Malmsey)
1/2 oz pisco
2-3 dashes allspice bitters
grated cinnamon and peach slice for garnish

Blend all but garnish with 4 oz crushed ice until smooth (add ice last as you're building).
Pour into goblet, garnish, ooooh..

Bright, fluffy, dreamy. Slightly-sharp peach powerhouse, resting on a luxurious coconut satin sheet, with warm hickory-noted rum, writhing Madeira-maple and spice beneath.

Moreover, while with some coconut cream cocktails you want nothing to get in the way of the mouth-coating richness as you sink into tropical paradise, sometimes there's more to it. Rated R Cocktails did a Pina Colada Redemption series a couple years back, whose recipes I tried out when working through that first half of the coconut cream this year. The Pina Colada (JFL Style) isn't entirely to my tastes - the lime juice is a tad too sharp, lemon might work better there. But there's a lot to consider in the entire series*, particularly the point about the Pina Colada not being a properly Tiki cocktail for its lack of balance. It's a total sweet bomb. The JFL Style adds more sour and a dash of bitters to the mix, which turns the drink more refreshing in nature. I kept that in mind for this recipe, not just with the citrus fruit but with the madeira as well, and it helps the peach pop like nothing else.

*go check out the Shipwreck, named after one of the best G.I. Joe characters!

The name itself is pure off-the-top-of-the-head when trying to combine peach and Tiki worlds, though on later checking I see it's been used in a lot in preserve and quickbread recipes too. A natural connection for many, no doubt. I almost considered calling this Twilight Peach for the darker spirits used, but the unfortunate young adult book linkages and perhaps getting called out as confusing Nintendo's two biggest franchises put the kibosh on that. Apropos and for the record, Gamecube enthusiasts, I do think this recipe would be fit for a 3-D Mushroom princess on vacation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mixology Monday XCIX: Ice, Ice Baby Round-up!

Hello everyone - it's round-up time! July seems to have been a busy month for a lot of us, what with Tales of the Cocktail, vacations and plenty of other things going on. Turnout was a little on the lighter side compared to recent events, but general excellence reigned as well. In addition to several old-pros, we welcomed 3 newtimers to the fold, and what struck me most about all the entries was how everyone ended up picking a unique angle on how to either handle or present our theme, Ice. Without further ado, on with the Ice-Capades!

Marius of Arcane Potions starts the festivities off with the Rejuvenation Orb, an ice-spherified cocktail featuring Monin apple syrup, citrus, and, oh the possibilities, gin. What's more, he offers two different options on how to handle the cocktail, with the logistics of a cocktail-in-ice-sphere and the small serve size it presents. Fascinating and gorgeous.

New to MxMo and cocktail blogging in general, Pete of Meticulous Mixing gazes deep into the crystal ball and returns with the best ways to make big perfectly-clear blocks of ice perfect for hand-carving. He also offers the Crystal Pear Gin cocktail as a way to show off the blink-and-you'll-think-it's-not-there ice. Keep an eye out, folks, he's clearly off to a good start!

Next, Julia of A Bar Above gets indulgent with frozen cream cubes for a decadent Bourbon Milk Punch. Anyone up for a pitcher of these, a set of inner-tubes and a lazy winding river?

Also new to MxMo, one of the ice experts at Ice Cubed Manchester joins us via egullet to showcase a biblical-themed ouzo/raki/calvados mix, In a Gadda Da Vida, featuring a hand-carved and bandsaw-cut ice apple (with a grapefruit peel serpent for good measure!). For more cocktail ice showcases, check out their Twitter feed ().

Next on deck, our favorite catherder-in-chief, Frederic of cocktail virgin slut, pulls out the Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold to design an in-your-own-home-freezer frozen cocktail. Instead of a plain-jane frozen daiquiri, he takes it to the next level with an apricot-and-orange daiquiri variant, giving us the Frozen Periodista.

From Kitchen Shamanism, Kafka turns what others might consider a flaw, a hand-crank ice crusher missing a single tooth, into a visual explosion with larger "rustic"-looking ice pieces. He showcases them in an equally-striking Gunroom Swizzle, with Gunroom rum, grapefruit, cinnamon, and Pernod.

Over at Southern Ash, Joel takes the fight to the summer heat with a full-on Gin & Tonic Float featuring a Gin & Lime/Gin Gimlet Sorbet whipped up in the ice cream maker. My mouth waters wanting to try that (and just imagine all the highball/float variants you could do with that model).

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Putney Farm to be precise, the Putneys have apparently been quite busy in the art and science of ice in preparation for their upcoming restaurant! Stewart takes a tangent on that to discuss proper crushed ice and how essential it is to Tiki drinks. Then, he mixes up The Reef Pass, a Mai Tai variant with Santa Maria al Monte amaro in place of simple syrup and basil in place of mint. Herbaciously intriguing..

Our last first-timer is Dy, from her eponymous site, though other might know her as @dy_mixes on the Twitters. She goes the full-on Il Palio route, creating a morphing cocktail that turns a vodka seltzer into a gin and tonic via some special ice cubes designed to quick-melt. How's that for legerdemain?

Mike from DrinksBurgh breaks the mold a little to give a rundown of various ice-making tips, from frozen pineapple mugs, to small batch incubated crystal clear ice spheres, to the feature shaved ice daiquiri. Look how fluffy, refreshing and versatile! And so simple to make with the right tools. Go. Look!

And then as Doc Elliot or the Russians might say, you don't break the mold - mold breaks you. Go watch in real time as a monster of a gravity-powered ice-sphere-maker slowly and elegantly sinks down onto a crystal-clear block of ice, leaving nothing but perfect roundness in its wake. Then stay to read Doc's tips on how to get that crystal-clear ice block to begin with. Purty..

Next up, Laura of Sass & Gin gets....what's the word? Slushy! And boy howdy does she ever. She starts off with a Sangria Slushy including red wine, Pimm's Blackberry & Elderflower liqueur, and fresh fruit. Next she chases that with a ga-ga New York Sour Granita duo, with rye and madeira. *passes around spoons to everyone*

Penultimately, Dagreb of Nihil Utopia slips off into the exotic ethers of Tiki and wends his way to the temple of Blendraka (Boomer: settle down Muse, you gotta finish the post.. MoD: But it's in Tahiti! Right next to the 7-11. Ahem.) There he receives sacred words of wisdom by being buried under an avalanche: ye shall not underdilute your Tiki drinks! He returns to demonstrate to us blended perfection with the Cocoanaut Flaming Re-Entry: you put de rum en de lime in de coconut - and set it on fire!

Finally, I put together two recipes to play off different icy styles. First, I froze up some teeny Hedgehog Pops with rum, coconut water and other tropical accoutrements. Next, I riffed on the Corpse Reviver #2 with gin, bianco vermouth and crème de violette while extending it with special honeydew juice ice in the shape of a lily pad: Nymphéas.

Thanks to everyone here who participated and made this event a success!
Thanks also to Commander Catherder, Fred of cocktail virgin slut, and founder of our beloved institution, Paul Clarke. I can't wait to see what MxMo 100 will be like! (oh the excitement!)

Cheers, and word to your mother.. Peace out.

P.S. That Cocktail Ice Pinterest board I put together? It's now a Cocktail Ice/MxMo Ice, Ice Baby board, with (mostly) everyone's posts (some are not pinnable, and I respect the copyright)! Check it out and pin away!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mixology Monday, July 2015: Ice, Ice Baby, part 2

Well, it's a bit late in the week to still be making with the wild-and-craziness (however much I might still feel it). It's not quite Mixology Monday, but that's ok, we're all in the middle of that straggler-pick-up period before the round-up post makes things official. Have I mentioned I'm hosting this month, with our theme being the delectable "Ice, Ice Baby"? Here's the part of the announcement I'm using today:
It doesn't even have to be pure H2O, either. Flavor it up! Teas, juices, liqueurs, bitters, other frozen edible objects serving as ice. Tell us the nuances of a properly-made Il Palio. Show us why a decorative approach takes your recipe to the next level. Whatever tickles your tastebuds and refreshes you this summer.
Would you believe the cocktail up above was actually a back-up draft idea after a separate frontrunner idea (using bittered ice) fell through on Saturday? And furthermore, this is one of those mamma bunny draft ideas that keeps spawning new ones, of which this is the second or third to see the light of day (Squeaky Frog being the first, impromptu honeydew-infused Hendrick's G&T the second) and it's still not exhausted.

The part of the idea being used today? I quote, "LILY-PAD-SHAPED-ICE?!?!?! Hibiscus flower garnish!". I must not have had enough coffee in me.

But while I'm doing some linking, I should note that this is a very crowded idea-pond already. Ginfluence lists a Lilly Pad with gin-pickled red onion, Richard Boccato has done a definitive Last Word-structured Water Lily, The Straight Up has a falernum-inflected Lily's Pad, Joel Finsel gave us the gingery Lotus, and our own Fred Yarm gave us the basil seed eye-popper Frog Pond.

In all, you see a lot of recurrent ideas: gin (especially Hendrick's), blanc vermouth, violette, maraschino, cucumber, mint, green tea, lemon juice. What's more, even if you step outside the pond, following violette recipes results in much of the same, mash-ups between the Aviation and the Last Word.

So how to do a lily pad ice cocktail while doing something original? Well, the ice is going to be original regardless, so to make it green like a lily pad, why not use mint-noted honeydew juice (because it infused poorly in the Hendrick's) and build from there? Something not-too-boozy felt right for the idea, and the above-linked Water Lily hit me with an idea - someone on Kindred Cocktails had remarked that it was a Corpse Reviver #2 variant, but that wasn't quite right since there was no Lillet-esque ingredient in it. But that exact structure didn't seem to be claimed yet.

With a bow to Claude Monet, I give you:

3/4 oz gin (Magellan)
3/4 oz bianco vermouth (M&R)*
3/4 oz crème de violette (R&W)
3/4 oz lime juice
Honeydew Lily Pad Ice

Shake. Strain. Add ice garnish. Let melt gently to begin infusion.

Light honeydew, citrus, faint vermouth herbs, and mint whisper to your nostrils.
To your mouth, you get honeydew mint ontop of citrus, with various gin/vermouth shadings underneath and a violet finish.
The honeydew is essential to the cocktail. 3/4 oz of lime juice is a heck of a lot, but the melon soothes that acidity to something much more bearable, while at the same time melon's weirdness gets reined in as well.
* Lillet was too sweet and untextured here, no matter how euphonious it would be in a Lily cocktail. Vanilla/blanc vermouth connected all the parts beautifully.

Honeydew Lily Pad Ice
Ingredients: 3/4 oz to 1 oz fresh honeydew juice, 1 jarred hibiscus flower cocktail garnish (rinsed) or other appropriate flower garnish

1. Start by making fresh honeydew juice. Half of a 3 lb melon, seeded and rind removed, yielded approximately 1 cup of juice for me after an initial press/puree and fine-strain. You do want to fine-strain to get the solid particles out, lest they affect the cocktail's texture.

2. Get a baking tray, doesn't have to be big. Layer some kind of paper like a paper towel or napkin and then a sheet of wax paper over it (the paper helps prevent ice formation beneath the wax paper, which will cause your ice pad to stick until it's too late). For an ice mold something simple, circular, and with minimal edges for ice to stick to is needed. It also needs to be an appropriate size for your cocktail serving glass. I used a biscuit/cookie cutter here.

3. To the mold, add an initial layer of honeydew juice, 1/4 to 1/2 oz. Just enough so that when it freezes, the bottom edge of the mold won't leak if more liquid is added. Also, it needs to be enough that your hibiscus flower won't automatically sink through.

To this, and it doesn't have to be a piece of rhubarb like I used here, add a little wedge of something that won't negatively affect the flavor of the ice while it freezes. It's an aesthetic tweak to help create the quasi-heart shape of a lily pad. A piece of honeydew melon would obviously be a good option.

4. Freeze the bottom layer in the freezer for at least a couple of hours. To help keep the liquid from leaking as it freezes, try weighting the mold down with something that will apply even weight. (I used a filled pre-frozen Tovolo ice cube tray)

Once the bottom layer is frozen, position your floral cocktail garnish near the center and add the remaining 1/4 to 3/4 oz of honeydew juice to the mold. Immediately move back to the freezer and let finish freezing for several hours.

5. Once fully-frozen, you may not wish to use the ice pad immediately, so try covering it with a small cup or plastic bowl until ready to use.

Once that moment arrives, remove from the freezer and either let sit a moment until the ice can be shifted across the wax paper or run a little water around the edges to help speed up the softening (make sure to pour off the water before removing the mold!).

6. Once the mold is removed, gently pry away the wedge to leave the ice pad intact.

If you have a hearty hibiscus flower like this, you can actually lift it by the petals into the cocktail to prevent melting and messy fingers.

And I'll let you in on a secret. You see in the final cocktail picture how the ice floats perfectly in the coupe, despite the flower being slightly off-center? I slipped a 1" plain water ice cube underneath to help balance it. Not only does it balance, but its added chilliness prevents the thin ice pad from melting too quickly. Don't let unwieldy cocktail flowers get you down!

A great big thanks to Fred for letting me host again and to everyone who participated! It's a blast to get to do this monthly cocktail jam session with everyone. On to the round-up post!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mixology Monday, July 2015: Ice, Ice Baby, part 1

Er, yeah, kinda small..
All the better to see the pineappley bits inside.
Hello folks! For those just joining, Feu de Vie is hosting Mixology Monday this month, with a theme of Ice, Ice Baby. Anything frozen or ice-prominent goes. (go check out the round-up to see how everyone riffed on the theme)

So here's a quick little appetizer of a cocktail poptail while I finish up something a bit more proper-cocktail-y for Monday.

I'm a sucker for any kind of fuzzy little animal, but hedgehogs in particular because one time I did this spirit meditation thingy and these fuzz-bumpkins showed up. And then I saw these at a few kitchen stores in the mall ->

So I asked myself, if I licked a hedgehog, what would I taste?

The diminutive, woodsy hazelnut seemed like a good start. Pair it with a warm hickory-nut-noted Prichard's rum, or heck, any gold rum. And why not add in some pineapple (because, have you seen what pineapples look like these days?)? Naturally, a popsicle needs a non-alcoholic base in order to ensure freezing, and with this hodgepodge of ingredients coconut water seemed the right fit. Finally, some tiki-ish bitters and lime balance out all the sweetness going on.

Hedgehog Pops (makes 3-4 Zoku-sized (1.5-2oz) pops)
6 oz coconut water
3/4 oz gold rum (Prichard's)
1/4 oz hazelnut orgeat
1/4 oz lime juice
1 1/2 T small-chopped pineapple (thorn-like pieces)
3 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters
popsicle molds

Your mileage may vary according to the size and type of your ice pop molds, so trust in their requirements first and scale up the recipe as needed.

Combine liquids, including bitters, and stir until well-incorporated.

Divide pineapple bits and then liquid cocktail equally amongst your popsicle molds.

Freeze/add popsicle sticks according to your mold's requirements.

An overnight freezing duration works ok here, the Zoku molds may only need 4 hours or so.

Unleash the popiscles and enjoy!

Nose: banana cream and deeper fruity notes, rum and spice

Palate: banana cream, rich rum brown sugar graham cracker pineapple tang, pineapple vanilla spice, wonderful lime-cinnamon accent on the finish.

Using rum named after a Pearl Jam song? That's your own bidness, tyvm.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Meyer Lemon Falernum: Telesto

Let's do some housekeeping here before I consider posting anything for July's Mixology Monday. First off, some love to Putney Farm, whose MxMo event, Hometown Hooch, I missed last month, even though I had the recipe and the pics cobbled together and everything (go check out the round-up showing off all manner of locally-made spirit/beverage cocktails). I fizzled out, and no matter how often I sat down to write, the words weren't coming. Afterwards, I realized that I couldn't give proper due or focus to a spirit producer while touting a new (potentially daring) falernum recipe I'd developed last winter-into-spring in the same post, and I was torn because the spirit in question added something interesting to the related cocktail recipe.

Secondly, and more to the point, this is less one of those throw-down-the-gauntlet/best-this challenges than it is: oh Tiki cognoscenti far and wide, please have a look at the below Meyer lemon falernum recipe. This isn't a proper falernum as you might know it, only with Meyer lemon zests added instead of lime. This has a spice blend keyed to the nuances of the zest in question (and notably lacks nut oils). Does it still fit within the confines of what you consider to be "falernum"? What say you?

I'd be very intrigued to know your thoughts, and perhaps to develop a discussion on nomenclature as relates to extending traditional syrup structures such as falernum or orgeat into different flavor profiles. Do different flavor profiles break currently existing models - if you made the below syrup recipe, would you like it better than original lime falernum in a Saturn or a Zombie? What about, dare I ask, a Corn 'n Oil?

Meyer Lemon Falernum (small batch)
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
9 cloves
8 pink peppercorns, crushed lightly
3 petals star anise
3/4 pod black cardamom
1/8 tsp coriander, crushed
1/8 tsp allspice
1 T fresh Hawaiian ginger (julienned)
1 1/2 oz overproof white rum
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 oz water
Lightly toast and crush all dried spices.
Add dry spices to rum in a mason jar or other infusion vessel, let infuse half a day.
Add Meyer lemon zest and ginger to mixture, let infuse additional 1-3 days**.
Make cold process simple syrup with sugar and water. Add to infusion mixture and shake to blend.
Let infuse one more day then strain, bottle, refrigerate. Let rest one week.
Yields about half a cup of syrup.

**avoid overlong infusion. More than one day will help the spices cement and last longer. Longer than 3 days and the soapier qualities of the peppercorn and cardamom start coming through.

But now then, as of last week, I'm suddenly glad that this post was delayed - for cocktail virgin slut introduced me to the Golden Wave, a late 60's era Tiki ditty. For a cocktail recipe to take the new falernum recipe on a spin, I thought I had been riffing on the Saturn, with a little bit of Fogcutter spirit-mix influence (someone untrain my head please - I've got it fixed in there that "it's not really Tiki unless it has 3 spirits in it", when that just ain't so). No, with that mix of pineapple (subbed for Saturn's passionfruit syrup), lemon, falernum, and secondary sweetener, the Golden Wave is a close ringer for our falernum's featured cocktail recipe - albeit the blending instructions and the fact that it won a bartending association competition put it not that far off from the Saturn, either.

The thing that strikes me about Meyer lemon zest's oils in particular is a free-floating floral-yet-herbaceous quality. It's offbeat and seems to me to need similar counterparts in a cocktail recipe. To that end, gin seemed a natural, and strong funky cane-spirits counter-intuitive but agreeable all the same. Just be sure to use regular lemon juice instead of Meyer lemon juice here - Meyers have close to the acidity needed, but have a bit of sugar also, which throws off the balance. With the tiki Saturn as the prototype, one of the planet's moons, an ocean goddess, seemed only fitting to offer a name.

A suitably cosmic glass, no?

1 oz Barrel Reserve Bluecoat gin*
1/2 oz Wray & Nephew overproof rum*
1/2 oz Batavia arrack
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice
(fat) 1/4 oz Meyer lemon falernum
1/4 oz pistachio orgeat
mint + extras for garnish

Blend with 6 oz crushed ice for 5 seconds. Pour into serving vessel and garnish with fresh mint, spent lemon shell, pineapple fronds, Meyer lemon zest, orchids, whatever floats your boat.

*if lacking the aged Bluecoat and W&N, try aging-swapping in regular Bluecoat or Bombay Sapphire gin and then Smith & Cross rum. It's a touch sweeter, but it is Smith & Cross and all..

Spearmint on the nose, followed by soft nut-creamy citrus and faint juniper. On the tongue, the cocktail starts with juniper and pineapple flowing into Meyer lemon with pink peppercorn edges, and sinks into rum funk. As opposed to regular falernum, you get softer more floral/exotic edges with more indiscernible spice warmth and complexity, which elevates the gin and rum grass and funk here.

Depending on which version you enjoy, the Barrel-Aged Bluecoat variation trends towards leaner grassier tastes, pronouncing juniper, mint and pineapple - and late in the drink, the aromas warm up to an almondy meringue founded in Bluecoat's spirit base and citrus, the orgeat and the mint. The Smith & Cross version pronounces this spirit on the initial nose and trends a smidge warmer with pink peppercorn, ginger, cardamom and coriander emphasized.

For those interested in knowing a little more about the on-trend innovation that is barrel-aged gin, Bluecoat in particular, I haven't had the original unaged Bluecoat in years now, but tasting the aged version brings immediate recollection of the citrusy and juniper-forward original. As regards the wood influence on the spirit, I want to say there's a malty quality to it but that might just be the collision of the juniper and the vanilla/toffee aging notes.

Pistachio Orgeat
2 oz pistachio nuts
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup demerara sugar
2 dashes rose water

Cold process: Blend pistachios and water, let rest 2 hours. Wring only once because it's a very rich nut milk. Add sugar and cold process-shake until dissolved. Add rose water and a bit of vodka to preserve.

This may be what almond orgeat aspires to be, the exotic qualities running on all cylinders. A perfect match for the Meyer lemon zest notes.

Finally, stay tuned later on (aka, after I get back from some super-secret spywork) for another recipe (tequila-based) utilizing the Meyer lemon falernum. It proved in testing to be, perhaps, an even stronger/simpler recipe - provided I don't go mucking it up with even more wacky ingredients. We shall see.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mixology Monday XCIX: Ice, Ice Baby

It's that time again... Can you believe we're up to Mixology Monday 99, folks? And in all this time there hasn't once been a theme dedicated to that undersung-yet-essential part of nearly any cocktail: ICE.

The word says it all. Big ice cubes for Old Fashioneds, pellet ice for juleps and cobblers, shaved ice for adult snowcones, crushed ice molded into a cone for a classic Navy Grog. The art of the blender. Tell us why your selected or invented cocktail needs this particular ice usage. Show us how to make perfectly clear ice at home or what you get to work with as a professional drink-slinger.

It doesn't even have to be pure H2O, either. Flavor it up! Teas, juices, liqueurs, bitters, other frozen edible objects serving as ice. Tell us the nuances of a properly-made Il Palio. Show us why a decorative approach takes your recipe to the next level. Whatever tickles your tastebuds and refreshes you this summer.

As you can tell, scaffas are right out the window this time around. Spirits named Van Winkle, Larceny, or actual vanilla ice cubes are pure bonus.

Here's are the specs:
  • Pick or develop a cocktail that shows off the ice usage, then post the recipe, including a photo and your remarks, on your blog or on eGullet's Spirits and Cocktails forum.
  • Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday site, Feu de Vie, and the round-up post when that goes up.
  • Post a link to your submission in the comment section of this post, tweet me @MuseOfDoom, or send an email to muse at museofdoom dot com with "MxMo" in the subject.
  • Entries should be submitted by the end of Monday, July 27th, though I'll keep an eye out for stragglers 'til August starts (afterwards, it's best just to let it go). We be chill like that.
  Many thanks again to Fred at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping MxMo alive, and to founder Paul Clarke!