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...]