Friday, January 30, 2015

Punchatawny Phil

Pellet, who much resembles one of Boomer's fore-hamsters, Philo.

On to #101 and the weekend! And all I have to say is, really David Wondrich - I can grok pun-avoidage but this one is square in your wheelhouse and virtually writes itself!

Folks, I give you a little ditty over a year in the making [Boomer: G'night! (again)]. With all your prep for the Super Bowl this weekend, don't forget about Groundhog's Day Monday morning. You may need an eye-opener. Or, y'know, given the line-up this year you may skip the festivities entirely and go straight toasting the rodent [Boomer: yay!] the night before.

Punchatawny Phil
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz hickory syrup
1/2 oz cinnamon-infused Pennsylvania rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz tawny port (Sandeman)
1 1/2 oz hard cider (Woodchuck "Amber")
1 oz boiling water
nutmeg or orange slices for garnish

Ideally, fill a thermos with boiling water ahead of time, mix all your ingredients (save the boiling water) in a pot on the stove for a quick heating, then empty the thermos and add your punch mix plus the boiling water called for in the recipe. Twist on the lid and head off to Gobbler's Knob with the family to enjoy the festivities, sipping from little thermos cups.

If for some reason you're planning a viewing party spread at home, set out orange slices and nutmegs to grate for garnish - your guests can make their own prognostications! Orange slices for bright sunny spring around the corner, sleepy punch-y nutmeg for 6 more weeks of winter. Let the punch rest in a crock-pot set to Low for an hour or two before serving.

You get warm hickory and cinnamon on the nose with a dance of citrus. For such a small amount, the hickory grabs your tastebuds from the get-go and provides a lovely body to the sip. Afterwards you pick up the cider-y tang undergirded by the lemon juice, and then a rolling creaminess from the port - the apple and grape dance well together. A hint of menthol and spice from the rye comes through last, but is not so overt that it throws all the other ingredients off - in fact it pairs nicely with the hickory. Wonderful dry finish from the cider. It's not Chatham Artillery by any means, but it works.

On the ingredients: despite the name, I would avoid Rittenhouse rye here: too potent and not rough-spicy enough. Local PA distillers Dad's Hat and super-new reboot Kinsey, or even Old Overholt fit the punch. If without hickory syrup, maple will do in a pinch, though it has a wonderful quality all its own; you don't have to make it either do a quick search for local providers such as Razz's. The port? I like Sandeman for its black pepper note - it makes me think of the Pittsburgh area for some reason.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Impromptu: Wabe Gimble

So the day before National Hot Toddy Day I made french toast. Don't be surprised, it was a Saturday and I often use French toast to try out different flavor combinations in the toppings. ("Ohhhh.." you're now saying) And this one time I used some Bual madeira because I was out of milk plus some spices in the batter, then topped it with a schmear of guava jelly. It was a little on the acidic side but still quite tasty. So immediately after I threw together a cocktail based on the flavors. Because I didn't know the day after was National Hot Toddy Day (after reading through my blog feed that morning) and because it was still before noon, I made a toddy.

It was nommy, like fruitcake. Turns out it's a simplified toddified West Indies Punch (and when I saw this use of guava last year, I thought it utter brillig). And I had a heckuva time coming up with a name.

Perhaps not a full-on Jabbertoddy (that sounds brutal), nor even a Snarktoddy. It needed to be soft, flowing, travelling.

Wabe Gimble
5 oz chai green tea
2 oz bual madeira
1/2 T guava jelly
Lemon twist

In your serving mug, brew a hearty 5 oz of chai green tea (1 teabag). Brew it dense and spicy.

As you're brewing that, add the guava jelly and a small splash of boiling water to a mixing vessel and stir to dissolve.

Add the madeira to the guava syrup and blend.

When the tea reaches desired strength, remove and wring out teabag and add in madeira mix with a quick stir.

Garnish with lemon twist.

Bright raisiny fruitcake, lemon and earthy guava, sweet but drying. A pinch of mace would be over the top, but just-so. Nor would a shot of cognac.

Why I've taken so long to post this since National Hot Toddy Day was nigh on 3 weeks ago? Recipe bunnies. Much like plot bunnies but with the ability to shut down your liver in their multitudes (note: my liver has not shut down). But the tricky thing is managing them into a blog posting scheme. Do I include the other little bunny related to this recipe in this post or do I shift it over to this more relevant ingredient-themed post? It's been driving me mad, I tell you.

Ah! But here's the post anyway! And it's Feu de Vie's 100th post! Oh frabjuous day! Callooh, callay! (finally! Got that one out of the way) After the Rhythm of the Night naming debacle of last month I promise you a year of minimally-prepositioned cocktails (Jane of the Jungle notwithstanding), starting with this one -- not "Gimble in the Wabe" but "Wabe Gimble". Short, sweet, incomprehensible to everyone except those who can both get the reference and twist it around again. You're going to be seeing a lot of that this year on the blog, so stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled because the next month or two will be quasi-incestuous with reference and interminglings. What fun, yes?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mixology Monday, January 2015: Blue

Shoo-blue, shoo-be-doo.
Shoo-blue, shoo-bley-waaaahh..
In the still...of the niiiiiight.
I-ey was, kinda tiight..


Good evenin' everyone. We're finally back for the new year with a little ditty for January's MxMo, hosted this month by the ever-inventive Andrea of Ginhound. Our theme? BLUE.
January needs a bit of color - or perhaps the month after all the holiday mania makes you

Either way this months Mixology Monday is a chance to live those emotions out.

You can dazzle us with a brilliant blue drink or you can share that blue feeling with a melancholic drink?

Blue has been predicted as a new cocktail trend several times in recent years, and I have seen it on several menus, but more as a ironic statement than wholeheartedly love. I will say however that the Shark I had this October at PDT tasted like love to me.

But any mixer of blue drinks is faced with a bit of a dilemma as there is nothing “natural” about E133 - the most common of blue food colors: Do I really want to mix chemicals into my prefect mixture of fresh juices and good booze.

Feel free to interpret blue as freely as you wish - if natural is the way you want to go blueberries, violets, cornflower or red cabbage could be good ingredients to work with.

Me? I just started my homemade blue curacao - as seen in the photo above. And I am prepared to go all in with E133.
When active, click this link to see what blue into the round-up post.

A wintry cocktail accented by Spanish bitters had been on my mental to-do list for some time, something light and fluffy-white or perhaps clear. So, this seemed a perfect opportunity to whip one up. How I connected that to blue cocktails? Not entirely sure. My head tends to work too fast for me to keep up so I just let it do its thing and take notes, however incomprehensible at times.

But, to extend onto the Blue theme, I figured first that a lovely Alexander-type cocktail would meet that mental image (and be perfect for later in the week, January 31st being National Brandy Alexander Day) -- and a scrumptious buttery 100% blue agave reposado tequila (preferably from the highlands) would be a good anchor (ciao, Dagreb!). Granted, a reposado tequila Alexander isn't a new idea (see the Feisty Alexander, Stardust Cocktail), but something within that scheme that side-steps the cacao has its possibilities.

To that, while Galliano is a fave, would be an interesting tweak on the normal creme de cacao and would pair decently with the reposado, it just didn't calmly intone "cerulean blue" and give me the mental push to go further. It was a tad too sweet, to be honest. Instead I ended up going with something much more thematic: homemade blueberry liqueur last seen at a much earlier MxMo (yes, it's held up with a rich blueberry flavor all this time). Still sweet, but much less treacly.

To finally take it over-the-top, I pulled out a buried ace: butterfly pea tea for a real blue color (no curacao needed! your mileage may vary) first employed on a dare way back when.

The berries, violet and citrus of the Spanish bitters suddenly started making lots of sense. And a fresh grating of cinnamon over top brought out the blueberries like brown eyeliner for blue eyes.

Blue Light Special (thanks Mr. DiPippa)
1 1/2 oz butterfly pea tea-infused reposado tequila
1 oz half 'n half
1 oz blueberry liqueur
1 dash Spanish bitters
light dusting of cinnamon for garnish

Shake the liquids on light ice until quite frothy.

Pour into chilled serving glass.

Grate fresh cinnamon over top.

On the nose you get cinnamon-agave-cream and blueberries like fresh-baked blueberry bread.

On the palate, earthy blueberry roundness, cream and buttery agave, lace-like flavor intrigue from the bitters, and a cinnamon finish.

Sooo... while I was aiming for a nice pastel blue color here, I ended up with something a bit more gray-purple. Like most blue food-related items, butterfly pea tea has a litmus-like quality in that exposure to acids will shift its color towards red. I thought I had enough base with the half 'n half, but apparently the reddish blueberry liqueur had enough pull. And, it kinda depends on the lighting - this particular drink pictured could trend towards a pale cornflower blue in the right light. Chalk it up to melancholy-blue then?

Huge thanks to Andrea for an evocative theme and for shouldering hosting duties for the third time in a year! Big cheers also to Fred for fighting to keep everyone's favorite internet cocktail party going yet another month. Getting close to MxMo C!

Cyan-ara everyone!