Monday, September 17, 2012

Mixology Monday, September 2012: Equal Parts

Did you know? It's Mixology Monday! A venerable institution among cocktail bloggers, MxMo has been the web's premiere rotating monthly cocktail party, now on its 65th iteration. The event, on a hiatus since February but long-helmed by Paul Clarke, has been passed to the great Frederic "Fear the" Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut to take up the charge.

Feu de Vie didn't even exist the last time MxMo took place, so it's a thrill to be a part of it this time.

To start things off again, this month's theme is Equal Parts. The challenge, as described on the Mixology Monday site:
For this month, I have chosen the theme of equal part cocktails — those simple drinks where only one jigger is needed despite how many ingredients are added. These recipes have gained a lot of popularity as classics like the Negroni and Last Word have resurfaced, and variations of these equal part wonders have become abundant.
Find or concoct a drink recipe that has an equal parts recipe. Garnishes do not count, and if you want to be a non-purist and include a dash of bitters, that is fine too. 
When active, this link will send you to the summary post of this month's festivities.

This is going to be an odd post, both for the multiple recipes and because the inspiration as linearly-read happens backwards. The Hello Katie and Oh Good, My Dog Found the Chainsaw are a response to the Hell Kitten not being as spirit-centered as this MxMo's "Equal Parts" theme might expect, and a number of their elements derive from the Hell Kitten and not vice versa.

Hello Katie

So I wanted to keep thematic with the Hell Kitten, but with more structure. As far as major Equal Parts formulas go, you have the how'd-they-come-up-with-that? Last Word, the classic class-of-its-own Negroni, the split-spirit-with-vermouth Saratoga, and the split-spirit-Sour Between the Sheets. I decided on a Between the Sheets variation, mainly because it's just so darn comfortable. It's one of the first serious cocktails I ever ordered - mainly as a conversation piece, but without flavored spirits or otherwise over-sweet. Also: I haven't yet gotten to the original Last Word cocktail (and my herbal liqueur collection is lacking); I am Negroni-formula'ed-out at the moment; and if I want to pull elements from the Hell Kitten, I've already done a tequila-vermouth combo. A fruit juice carryover would suggest a Sour at that.

So, I grabbed the tequila, strawberry, and citrus (when it had grapefruit..) from the Hell Kitten, but in doing so wanted to veer to a slightly different set of flavors from El Clavel Rojo. The white Rémy V and red tequila por mi amante, plus Galliano's vanilla and the original cocktail's name, "Hell Kitten", all added up to wanting to name this one "Hello Kitty" - but apparently that name's been grabbed a few times already.

But then I looked at the ingredients again and realized they're a good introduction to my major spiritous loves that I've blogged about thus far, if the relevant tags are anything to go by. If not Hello Kitty, then how about, *waves*, Hello Katie? I do generally do the anonymous act on here and Twitter, but you can call me Katie or Kate. And though I'm sure Feu de Vie has been a bit under the radar so far, I'm glad you stopped by for a visit and do hope you return!

Hello Katie (top),
Oh Good, My Dog Found the Chainsaw (bottom)
Hello! -Katie
3/4 oz tequila por mi amante
3/4 oz Rémy Martin V (eau-de-vie)
3/4 oz Galliano l'autentico liqueur
3/4 oz Meyer lemon juice

Shake, strain, chilled coupe, Meyer lemon twist.
Small crack of Himalayan pink sea salt if desired.

The tequila por mi amante is mellow and laidback in its strawberry flavor, Rémy V harmonizes and balances, Galliano's low anise note best emerges here, followed by a creamy sweetness, and the Meyer lemon's aromatics are a lace shawl over the strawberry and spice while not being overly tart and palate-burning like regular lemon in a Between the Sheets.

The Hello Katie's variant, the Oh Good, My Dog Found the Chainsaw, uses cachaça in place of the Rémy V (and a Meyer lemon twist in the shape of Stitch ears perhaps?). A more "street" cachaça like 51 Pirassununga tends to dominate while a higher grade like Leblon is much gentler like the eau-de-vie and whose grassy notes frolic with Galliano and the Meyer lemon nose - and perhaps bring out the strawberry even more.

Hell Kitten

Think of this as the love-child of Hello Kitty and The Most Interesting Man in the World. That or it's the cocktail version of pink Victoria's Secret sweatpants with "P I N K" arced across the rear.

It all started with the thought that I could showcase some spare hibiscus tea ice cubes as an ingredient. I had made them in my Tovolo 1-inch cube trays, which, interestingly enough, hold a little over 1 oz of liquid per cube if filled to the brim. (a ha! Units for Equal Parts!) Exact 1 oz cubes wouldn't be out of the question. But what then? How about a fast, furious and cute riff on the El Diablo?

Hell Kitten
2 oz habanero-infused blanco tequila
2 oz ginger ale
2 1-oz strawberry juice ice cubes
2 1-oz hibiscus tea ice cubes
Strawberry or strawberry-habanero blossom garnish

To a rocks glass add tequila, then ice, then top with ginger ale. Give a quick stir to get the drink pink. Really PINK.

Garnish with a strawberry, or, if you're really craving heat, a small strawberry inserted inside a seeded/veined habanero, cut with petals to look like a flower, as pictured (drink fast because it will infuse).

  • I used this recipe for habanero tequila. Mind the infusion carefully and taste-test after each hour. Even with a seeded and veined habanero being infused, it picks up plenty of heat by the 2-hour mark (a tiny taste test at that mark gave me a serious capsaicin high). 3 hours was just about right.
  • Please please please please PLEASE practice scrupulous safety techniques when handling these little buggers (the habaneros). Use rubber gloves, protect your eyes, clean anything they touch before anything else touches it. I thankfully avoided it and don't want to know what a stray swipe of 350,000 Scoville units in the eye feels like.
  • As for the structure, usually a highball is a 1:2 ratio mixer:spirit or vice versa. It's a bit overloaded on the mixer side with the ice, if only to manage the heat and to account for the time it takes for the ice to melt (and, 2 ice cubes doesn't make much sense amount-wise - 4 works a lot better).
  • In addition to hibiscus ice, since the Equal Parts part of the theme would make it difficult to double-up on the same mixer, I also made strawberry juice ice cubes. If lacking a juicer: puree fresh berries, double-strain through a fine sieve and cheesecloth. The juice will remain thick, regardless of pulp removed, but that thickness is good for adding body to the drink, which moderates the tequila's harshness. (also, the leftover pulp is gangbusters if added to pancake batter)
  • Ginger ale instead of ginger beer: the sweetness to balance the heat, and why cause confusion where the heat's coming from? The name does include Kitten after all.