Saturday, December 15, 2018

Astro-Punch: The Practice: Aries-Virgo-Aries-Aries-Aries x2

So Thursday we started out with the Theory. Today, a bit of a practicum on how to construct and evaluate punches for maximum tastiness. The MacGuffin? Let's look at my own placements and riff on that.

All my personal planets (for those unfamiliar: all those inside the asteroid belt, including the "Lights") are Aries except for my Virgo Moon, so the structure of these punch recipes goes as follows:

1 Aries Sharp
2 Aries Sweet
3 Aries Strong
4 Virgo Weak
Aries garnish/spice

You can make punch to the extent of filling garbage cans if you want (I tremble at the thought of juicing that much citrus..), but for individual servings 1/2 oz per part makes an appropriate serving size. (e.g. 1/2 oz Sharp, 1 oz Sweet, 1 1/2 oz Strong, 2 oz Weak = 5 oz + minor dilution when shaking briefly with a couple pieces of ice).

Let's go to the ingredients!

Four Rams and a Lamb
lime juice
grappa (100pf Nardini)
green tea
chili powder (Peruvian chili-lime blend)

Somehow, on the nose, the citrusy chili powder and Meyer lemon go together splendidly. In all, the balance works, but I'd probably use a more assertive, or at least textured, Weak component. A blend of dried herbs and flowers ontop of green tea would work even better; keep the green tea because of its affinity for citrus, by which I mean more the Spice than the Sharp. Despite the proof, the grappa slips in under the radar: it's been known to do this, so I would recommend caution, though the green tea's caffeine probably helps here too.

Granted, Meyer lemon trends more towards Pisces - the zest's oils are rather floral and the juice is softer than normal lemon juice, which fits the sign in which Venus is exalted. Alas, it's the only falernum I have on hand, but it still has an appropriate kick. In my case, it'll swing because of my Aries-intercepted-under-Pisces, though YMMV.

Erigone at the Racetrack
lime juice
Cherry Heering
gold cachaça (Ypioca Ouro)
ginger ale
brandied cherry

The punch ratio allows for an elongation of the cachaça flavors; underneath the coppery aging note there's still a bit of funky petrol more readily found in unaged variants. Hey, Aries likes to go to the races. Virgo's gentle ginger is a welcome compliment, and, when using a drier brand like Canada Dry, balances the Sweet. From past usage I've found Cherry Heering tends to run a smidge dry, so the mini-Sweet-boost worked well. Finally, racy lime demonstrates why it's better than lemon in this application: it brings out fruitier notes and keeps pace alongside funky spirits (e.g. cachaça, tequila, rum).

In all, this perhaps expresses in a more pure form something I've been driving at for the entirety of Feu-de-Vie. Cocktails are iconographic. Each recipe contains a blend of full-on archetypes rising towards something more fully-realized because of the ingredient nuances. The variants on the Manhattan align like Picasso's Nude Descending a Staircase, conveying mood and motion in the same way 75+ years of comics have delineated Superman, tried and teased from all angles and cultural shifts. Robust entities, pure Forms and spirits. Cocktails are Strike a Pose, There's Nothin' to It.

Ok, and post-script: tasting both of these at once when I (who, me? A lady? No!) burp a little. It tastes a little like A-1 Steak Sauce. This is not a bad thing, especially if you're an Aries.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Astro-Punch: The Theory

And now for a bit of a lark or parlor game and some non-holiday holiday season FUN.

I have been going off into parts unknown as of late, delving into my long-simmering passion for astrology. It's been an interest since I was a teenager, but in the last two years or so I've started seeking out community and even went to my very first conference recently. And while there, since I'm currently a meh astrologer, the least I could do to make a contribution would be to bring in a stronger skill-set, namely, cocktails.

But how to connect the two? The obvious answer would be to make personalized cocktails based on a person's natal chart (go here to get a free chart construction and find out your placements!). But the rubric?

Welp, the more I think about it, the more precise and refined my ideas become, but also the more elaborate the groundwork gets. Further, it's getting to the point where I want to pull in the natal charts of some noted cocktailians such as Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway to test some theories. That much is gonna take some work, to the extent you'll likely find a full appendix on it in the Feu-de-Vie cocktail book (!!! Yep! Already hard at work on it, dribs and drabs noted on Twitter as they develop).

So in the meantime let's have some fun with a simpler exercise without the higher-end analytics.

There are so many styles of cocktails, what would be a consistent framework to swap-in varying ingredients based on multiple elements of a person's chart? (because Sun signs alone don't count in my book, we're so much more and don't get me started on the asteroids) How about ever-friendly Punch, the granddaddy of mixed drinks dating back to the misty days of the East India Trading Company? I could see the likes of William Lilly partaking.

Plus, punch relies on a set formula that doesn't require much tinkering with the ratio. As the old rhyme goes: One of sharp, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak

To break it down:

Sharp - the acid, the Sour, the counterbalance to the Sweet element. Generally citrus juices with low pH (lemon, lime). Other citrus can be used (orange varieties, pineapple, Meyer lemons mildly-so), but these tend to contain some Sweet, so a more complex balancing is needed (i.e. a drier sweetening element and/or a bitter liqueur and/or ratio adjustments).

Sweet - sugar, syrups, oleo saccharum, liqueurs.

Strong - the spirit or regular-proof alcohol. In some cases this could be a fortified wine, but you would want to dial back the Weak element, as punch has a particular balance to it.

Weak - water, teas, tisanes, carbonated beverages like ginger ale or seltzer, potentially cider, beer or sparkling wine. The low-if-any proof element that extends your concoction into a session potable.

Ah, but wait! Sure, we have the basic Planter's Punch ratio above but 1) "Punch" derives from the Hindi "Panch" meaning "5", as in the number of ingredients, and 2) it is a truth (that should be) universally acknowledged that a good cocktail must be in want of a #garnish. To that end, there is a second part to the rhymeA dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled with plenty of ice.

Bitters? Spice? This sounds like a mediating element which either ties it all together or does PR for presentation or for one's nostrils. From a veritable pharmacopeia of choices, no doubt.

As you might notice, we have 2 sets of paired opposites: Sharp/Sweet and Strong/Weak. How would this play out astrologically?

Well, astrology does have a lot of systematic food and herb assignments in existence already. The most obvious connection would be Sweet to the planet Venus, who rules stone fruits, roses and other sweet and pleasing things.

Whereas Sharp would be the opposite of Sweet, we pair the lesser benefic Venus with lesser malefic weapon-laden Mars. Hot and dry Mars associates well with the Fire element which associates with Choler, one of the four humours, also known as yellow bile. It's a light hop (hoplite?) and a skip from Choler back to acid.

As to the second set of paired opposites, there are 2 other possible pairings with the planets to follow suit with Venus/Mars. Strong/Weak could either be Jupiter/Saturn or Sun/Moon. Given that the Weak element is watery and the Strong element consists of fire(water), and that Jupiter/Saturn signs remain consistent for everyone born within a 1 or 3 year timeframe, the faster-moving Sun/Moon match the ingredient types better and allow for the kind of personalization that we're expecting for this exercise. At that, you could say that the cocktail revolves around the spirit choice in the same way the planets revolve around the Sun.

Finally, if the word-choice above didn't give it away, the ruler of herbalism and alchemy-minded Virgo, swift-footed mercantile Mercury, would be our go-to for bitters, spice, and garnish.

So to that end, here's a set of ingredient ideas to get you started. I fully expect to refine, rework, expand and expound (down Virgo Moon, DOWN!) upon this list for the book, especially to align families of ingredients by element and modality. Also, consider playing around with the iconography on the bottle for assignments - it's why I generally assign cognac to Leo but give centaur-labelled Remy Martin to Sagittarius.

Oh, and, wondering how certain ingredients play out in recipes? *eyes that long list of tags to your right*

I don't promise anything magickal or life-solving in these ideas (please, let's steer clear of finding answers in a bottle - ask an astrologer instead!). Staying on the level with personal preferences, likes, dislikes keeps it fun. Although, if you're looking for answers in combining bottles, shoot me your personal planets in the comments and I can help with a recipe, free of charge. I'll post my own tomorrow to provide an example.

Got a question or better placement idea? Anything surprisingly ring true? Throw it at me in the comments! Let us repartée!

Signs Sharp (♂) Sweet (♀) Strong (☉) Weak (☽) Spice (☿)
Aries (♈) lime juice, white grapefruit juice falernum,
Cherry Heering,
Ancho Reyes
unaged cachaca,
unaged r(h)um
peppermint tea,
white tea
Taurus (♉) pink lemon juice,
Cara Cara
orange juice

cinnamon syrup,
allspice dram,
mint syrup
rhum agricole,
tequila para mi amante
English or Irish
breakfast tea,
peach tea
allspice, cinnamon
Gemini (♊)
Finger lime juice,
Split lemon &
lime juice,
Don's Mix if ♊

Don's Spices #2,
Don's Mix if ♊,
other split
mastic resin
pisco, tequila,
infused spirits, contrasting split
spirit pairs
strawberry agua
dolphins, kumquats,
split bitters
Cancer (♋) Lactart (lactic acid),
pineapple juice

coconut cream,
coconut sugar
winter squash
gin or other Mother's Ruin
Milk, melon juices or melon agua fresca,
infused water
orange juice,
tangerine juice,
lemon juice
Gran Marnier,
oleo saccharum,
ginger syrup
ginger beer,
San Pellegrino
citrus sodas
(except chinotto)
ginger coins,
lemon mint,
orange bitters
Virgo (♍) shrub syrup,
apple cider vinegar
honey syrup,
maple syrup
gin, genever,
herbal tea,
ginger ale,
green tea


Libra (♎) lemon juice
orgeat syrup,
vanilla syrup,
stone fruit or
pear eau-de-vie
rose black tea,
apple cider
(juice or hard)
edible flowers,
sweet anise
Scorpio (♏) unsweetened
cranberry juice,
blood orange juice

amari, sloe gin,
creme de cassis,
coffee syrup
bourbon, rye whiskey lapsang souchong tea,
San Pellegrino chinotto
star anise
Satsuma orange
juice, other festive winter citrus juice,

monastic herbal
(Benedictine, Chartreuse, etc..),
nocello/nocino, Jagermeister
Batavia arrack,
Remy Martin cognac
Earl Grey tea,
Belgian-style beer
sage smoke,
Capri-corn (♑) Seville orange juice
bitter aperitivos (Campari, Suze),
King's Ginger
tonic water,
bitter lemon soda

acid phosphate,
Tang if ♒♀
Tang if ♒

synthetically-aged whiskey

esp. Coca-Cola, VitaminWater
and similar

soy lecithin,
or xantham
gum-based cocktail foam
or air (made with an ISI Whip!)
Pisces (♓) Meyer lemon
or yuzu juice
Buddha's Hand
oleo saccharum
sherry, sake

candied violets

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Tiki Impromptu: Sands of Ipanema

Late Friday nights on Twitter when the Tiki cocktail set get antsy make for the best weekends. It started...not-so innocently enough:

One tweet led to another and suddenly we were all bombing a glassware company's Mentions. Oh la la! Only Europe was getting these spiffy-keen Tiki coupes with Moai design stems that we've ever only seen in Beachbum Berry's Remixed. Not if the North American Tiki set had anything to say about it!

And then I had the grand idea that we'd all do Tiki-off with coupe-style recipes.

Doug's been showing off his uber-gorgeous pics and recipes, as have the rest of the crew (follow my starter tweet buried in the one above).

So folks (and Libbey), have an all-new recipe, that's perfect for coupes!

Sands of Ipanema
1 oz gold Barbados rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
1 oz gold cachaça (Ypioca)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 oz Meyer lemon falernum
1/2 oz coconut cream
Meyer lemon umbrella garnish

Shake on minimal ice to get the mix blended and aerated.
Pour over shaved ice mound in a pre-chilled cocktail coupe or large goblet.
Garnish with a Meyer lemon umbrella.

Makes 2 coupe-fulls or 1 large goblet or bowl-full.

For the umbrella, zigzag cut a Meyer lemon to make 2 pretty halves (step 13) (ignore the step to remove the ends, they're needed for the umbrella). Next, remove the pulp. Then, with a paring knife gently slice out the white pith (except at the base-end) to make the garnish less heavy. Down skewer into a bed of shaved ice in your cocktail glass and freeze briefly to set. Avoid over-freezing, the shaved ice should dissolve somewhat with the cocktail to create a balanced dilution; over-freezing will re-harden the ice and prevent meltage.

Sparkly spicy Meyer lemon swirls on the nose giving way to cachaça's grassy funk and mild coconut exoticness on the palate. Grapefruit massages the middle of your tongue, with a bit of lilt and caramel-vanilla to drive it home.

Since Tiare was the one who started it all I started by turning to a write-up she had done on ice garnishes. I tried doing an ice shell, but I still need a bit of practice on that (note to self: you don't have to give yourself frostbite for your art). For this recipe I also wanted to do a citrus peel umbrella, and both felt like too much/no good way to logistic into the same glass. So I opted for a simple hill of sand and umbrella. Not as tiki-elaborate as some others, but it fit the recipe well, including the name, which was there before I last-minuted the presentation.

Libbey, we North American types can make your coupes look good.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Impromptu: Cashew Chicken Fizz

Coming at you live from windy PA, 3.5 years in the making: HIT IT FELLAS!!!

🎶 Chickity cashew, the Cashew Chicken
You have a Gin Fizz and your brain starts tickin'
Readin' Twitter 'til my eyes bleed
It's a darn big feed
What's Chris Mac up to this time of night?
Iiiiif Tiki month it's D.A.Winship
Or Kaiser Penguin
Have Tiare / Rated R made a Mai Tai?

What, sweet 'n sour? I don't use that
Really, I don't use that
(But if I did I'd have a Daiquiri)
Although makin' fresh's got a flaw
Leave ya half'a lime, it's Iron Law
Now don't get me started on my fifteen other orgeats
Set my latitude to NOLA mood
Now my Ramos's got a (OOH) 10-minute shake
Barkeep, I'll have a Saz'rac.

Procrastinatin' and I think I'll visit Southern Ash
Cocktail Virgin has gotta Sharpie Mustache
I'm the kind of Muse who takes three years for a toast
Don't understand what I mean?
It's an "art post"
Let me guess, this is all so much TL;DR
Let's have a recipe - it's fluffy and good

So take one ounce homemade cashew cream
Pair that with tequila (aged) and dry sherry
Half ounce each of lemon juice (Meyer,
Eureka) and one more of honey boo'
One ounce of club soda too
You gotta give't all a shake, so don't add too soon
Oh and hey, ginger's necessary
So muddle and then don't dare forget the sesame

Muddle and then don't dare forget the sesame
Muddle and then don't dare forget the egg white babe
Dry shakes work best with Hawthorne springs - @dagreb

(with apologies to the Barenaked Ladies)

Cashew Chicken Fizz
1 oz anejo tequila
1 oz dry sherry (amontillado)
1/2 oz honey bourbon liqueur*
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Meyer lemon juice
1 oz cashew cream
1 egg white
3-4 drops toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 ginger coin, muddled
1 oz seltzer
candied ginger for garnish

 Pour. Muddle. Dry shake. Wet shake. Seltzer in the glass. Strain and quick-stir. Garnish.

Creamy dreamy delight with sesame, ginger and sherry fanciness.

*Wild Turkey American Honey

I'm finding that perhaps egg white is a must when using thicker non-orgeat nut applications.

For cashew cream, I followed the recipe here at Chocolate-Covered Katie.
7 hours of soaking and nothing but cashews and water creates a thick cream whip that tastes of both cashews and (unmistakeably, oddly) real cream. Thin to your preference.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Copa del Aidon

Have a Copa! Copa del Aidon! Just hop ova' Pyriphlegethon!
Have a Copa! Copa del Aiiiii-don!
Muse di'int debunk and now has to get drunk with a Coooopaaaaah!
Don't call H. R....

(for those puzzling, we had an incident Wednesday night that explains everything)

Copa del Aidon
1 1/2 oz resposado mezcal (Los Amantes)
1 oz bianco vermouth (Dolin)
1 oz Becherovka
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's No. 6 or Bittercube)
white sage smoke

Smoke glass. Stir, strain, pour.

Hard to tell where the smoke ends and the spice begins.

May all souls rest in peace, in memory, in love.

As you can see, I like my stogies rolled thick.
What? What do you think covers up the desiccated flesh smell, especially 8 years on?
Nobody gets my undead hamham humor.
grr.. argh...

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cinderella's Coach

I can see the pumpkin up ahead, hurtling down the road like a rickety jalopy driven by Mr. Toad, lantern light screaming into the forest darkness.

"Faster!" I declaim. "We gotta catch it this year! We've been trying to get this recipe out the door since 2012!" "And don't say it! We don't have room for an Emilio Rivera cameo in this vignette!"

MoD, ever the bombshell waiting to go in her diaphon and plum-paired mask, conductor's jacket, and boots, revs the throttle and looks down at my sidecar. "You better drink that down to a stable level then."

"Since when have I ever been stable?"

"Good point. I still don't know why we have to follow this coach though."

"Because," I cry, gripping the short windshield. "THE CHAISE IS ON!"

The four white horses are no match for four cylinders, and steady-up to a stop as my partner-in-crime and I keep pace aside.

As the bike's motor clips to a halt, whose face should appear at the gilded glass window but that humble lass, pearl hairnet spritzed with gold pins, growing more ashen by the moment. "No! Not now!"

My partner leans back to not obstruct and tilts me an "Ok, let's see this" eye of bemusement. Seizing the opening, I tip my coupé at a jaunty angle and lift my wind-goggles. (with the bomber jacket and long whiskers I'm sure I could be mistaken for Clark Gable) "Pardon me, mademoiselle. Do you have any Brain Poupon?"


My partner's not liking how I start, but I lean in, letting the candlelight catch my eyes so they light up like a hungover jack'o'lantern. "BRaInSsss......"

A squeak comes from inside the coach, and I'm not sure if it's the maiden. "Sacre bleu! I ran him through once! I vill do eet again!"

"Come out from behind her skirts, Remy, and say it to my face, why don't ya?"

From around the flaxen-haired beauty pokes the snout of my old enemy: same empty black stare, same dumbo ears, same overbite that could cut cigars, just a lot more human this time. "You're supposed to be dead!"

"I am dead, ya mook. Doesn't mean I still can't get work. I see you've been playing coachman again, eh?" I grab my bamboo cocktail skewer. "Come on out, I want a rematch!"

Remy just chuckles. "And what do you intend to do avec ça? Pick my teeth? You are just a little undead dwarf hamster. Go away and stop bothering us."

"That's loaded undead dwarf hamster to you, bucko! You might be towering now, but in a few minutes it'll be an equal mano-a-mano. And I know drunken boxing! Hoowah!"

"Just like last time, a drunken lout who knows nozzing of ze finer methods in life. Excuse-moi madam-- Oh no, leave ze coach mademoiselle, hurry!"

He's right, everything's beginning to shrink back to its old self. Why the old dame kept doing this year after year is beyond me. Maybe by now it was her one night out from the great beyond. How many of us coachmen had attended her... Ooh, peanut, for me? *stuff* Anyway..

The fading lady throws herself to the ground, but Remy's not so lucky. A dim squeaking and clawing echoes from the beach-ball-sized gourd. "Don't worry. The bugger'll claw himself out pretty quickly."

MoD gapes askance. "Should I have sought more references before hiring you?"

"Probably so. I mean, that's why you made me head of HR, right?"

"The blog doesn't have HR! You're an admin!"

"Adding additional responsibilities outside the role description! Workplace abuse! I'm reporting you to HR! Hello, me? MoD's at it again. What can we do about this?"

"I'd like to contest these charges."

"DENIED. Consider yourself suspended, missy!"

With that, MoD rises from the bike, aghast. "Hey, Cinderella-bella." The ol' lass looks towards me.

"C'mon, ma cherie. Hop on. I know a nice place where we can get drinks.."

To be continued...

Cinderella's Coach
1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Gran Gala
1/4 oz orgeat
1 (rounded) barspoon pumpkin butter
mist Galliano

Shake the first 5 ingredients on ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe misted before and after with Galliano.


I had originally started with a base of pumpkin-infused cognac, but, well..try as I might, it just didn't turn out. It doesn't last long if made with puree, and pie pumpkins can be hit-or-miss for flavor.

The difference in switching over to pumpkin butter was stark: pumpkin butter is rich, deep and fruity -- an excellent match for brandy. I've tested using off-shelf Kozlowski Farms (delicious, and a beautiful almost-red color - imagine the caramelization here) which is a great guarantor of consistency, and also homemade pumpkin butter (see below for the recipe, which comes close to the off-shelf). If you've got good pumpkins, more power to you. With the lighter flavors in the cocktail, making from-scratch will also let you fine-tune the flavor profile away from allspice and clove to match the anise and vanilla.

But while the pumpkin butter may be bouncy with the flavor, this is where the orgeat and Galliano really come in, pulling the drink in lighter and more elegant directions, fit for a Gran Gala (yes, I pun, it's a way of life). Though a mist generally functions better on top of egg white foam, Galliano's anise comes through well, diverting the pumpkin aroma from the nose so that pumpkin becomes a prominent though not dominant flavor.

Homemade pumpkin butter (just enough for a small jelly jar)
Half a 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1/4c apple cider
1/4c water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all in a small pot (butter warmer size if you got it), cover mostly with some opening for evaporation, and let slow cook on the stove on the lowest heat possible for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Let cool and store in a jar in the fridge.

The above story was probably not included in Grimm's Fairy Tales for....reasons.

Related recipes:
The Pumpkin Pie: by Erick Castro; cognac-pumpkin butter sour but a straight Sour/egg white formulation (not a New Orleans Sour as one Mr. Regan would term it)
Charante Hessian: by Rhett Williams; Hot pumpkin-buttered cognac
Pumpkin Patch Julep: page has a bad certificate so I'll spare you: not a Julep (has lemon juice); whiskey Cinderella's Coach, without the Gran Gala or Galliano
Also, probably too many others since it's 6 years later, but the heck with that. Unless there's a really distinctive ingredient apart from all the rest (including pumpkin), it all kinda blends into one another.

That said, from all these years ago I must shout-out @dagreb, because this is the proper way to present the recipe.

Bonus recipe!

Cinderella's Coach Royale
1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Gran Gala
1/4 oz orgeat
1 (rounded) barspoon pumpkin butter
3 oz brut sparkling wine/Champagne
mist Galliano

Shake the first 5 ingredients on ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Add wine. Mist with Galliano

The dryness of the bubbly makes this truly magical. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Casa delle Streghe

There are an untold near-infinite number of pumpkin or butternut squash-and-something cocktails at this point gathering up on the interwebs.* Which seems downright anti-foodie, frankly. There are dozens of winter squash varieties out there, all with varying flavor profiles (no, they are not interchangeable, the flavor pairing guide you're reading is just frickin' lazy). You have yellow-colored squashes that pair with lemon, basil, nutmeg, and ginger notes. Next are medium-colored/light orange squashes that get mellow and nutty, and a bit of orange juice or cinnamon wouldn't be amiss. Finally you have the darker colored squashes trending borderline red which do dip into full-on savory territory (think Thai or Mexican or African flavors).

*The lone exception of course being the elegant pumpkin-buttery Mai Chai served in a delicata squash. Big muse-favor for that one!

Or rather, the above doesn't do it justice. Honest to goodness, folks, wouldn't you prefer a world where seasonal flavors were more integrated with what's going on outside? Where flavor changes weren't dictated by quarterly earning statements? Where your pumpkin spice fatigue doesn't start in late August? [insert rant on short-term thinking corporate artificialization of all culture]

Get out of that cubicle! Don't let life pass you by! You're stressed because you live a life that doesn't coincide with Mother Nature and is drowned in light pollution that makes you forget there are billions of stars in the sky! Yaaaaaaawwwwwwppp!!!!!!!


Ok then, class, let's turn back to the blackboard and go over the details for the new fall flavor regime management plan guidance..

MoD's rules for fall flavors

September: hazelnuts, fresh apples, banana bread ebbing over from August, light lemony squashes like Acorn, Carnival and Delicata; light hints of maple; granola
October: full-on tart red apples like McIntosh; medium squashes like Kabocha, Butternut, Buttercup; Pumpkin late month extending to Thanksgiving; walnut and rosemary (to bring back around at Christmas for Jupiterian symbolic reasons); start bringing in the spice cake flavors, perhaps blended with squash to begin integration
November: pecan and heavy maple, heavy squashes like red kuri (which extend into January flavors), smoke, sage and darker flavors with an eye towards maced fruitcake and game meats at the holidays

Don't blame me, blame my synaesthesia and affinity for assigning colors to months based on the visual calendar scheme from the end of that one Richard Scary book when we were all 3. 
Simply put, September: yellow-fading-tan, October: robust red-orange, November: bare tree and roasted turkey brown. Voila!

But now then, frankly this is much more of a September recipe than on October one, but time has not been on the blog's side of late. (though then, I also wanted to do this recipe back in 2012 - perseverance!) You should still be able to get carnival squash at the grocery store, though.

Please your palate! Give it a new flavor beyond pumpkin or butternut! (and follow the link to get the recipe for Carnival squash syrup, plus a bonus recipe for Carnival squash mash)

Casa delle Streghe
1 oz reposado tequila (Herradura)
1/2 oz brandy (Spanish)
(short) 3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz Strega
lemon ring for garnish

Shake, strain, garnish.

The tequila shines through, rounded and deepened by the brandy, with an added lilt of vanilla. The squash syrup adds a gentle lemony creaminess, accentuated by Strega's untamed herbaceous mix. Perfectly witchy.

Just don't overdo the lemon, the squash syrup gets a little shy with the sweetness.

I'd reference the tequila-Strega Acapulco #2 cocktail on Difford's Guide, but the ratio on that with an ounce of lemon juice shows that could have been thought-through better.

My original idea was something along the lines of a Squash Flower Sour. Except squashes and squash flowers don't coincide seasonally for some strange reason.

[Boomer: And you were going to go on a rant about non-local artificiality?]

Oh. Yeah. So we had to make our own fun do.

I tip the hat to Kythera, for sending her dove to let me know the recipe was finished as-is, then to Eriounes (Mousagetes!) for sending me the perfect name as soon as I asked. Casa delle Streghe: the ghost mansion.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Impromptu: 64320:1

When the first sip of the wine has you thinking vanilla boardwalk fudge and your tastebuds cry out for the tiniest accent of sea salt, you know you're enjoying a cocktail-worthy ingredient. Such is the case with Robert Mondavi Oakville fumé blanc.

And when you're working with an actual non-fortified, non-aromatized regular wine (and you're not making New York Sours, sangria, or Kalimoxto) your go-to template has to be PDT's Against All Odds.

I love how specific a request of "non-chardonnay oaked white wine" can get. 

1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
1 1/2 oz Oakville fumé blanc
1/2 oz Combier pamplemousse rose liqueur 
1/4 oz orange liqueur (Gran Gala)
rinse Green Chartreuse

Rinse. Stir. Strain. ooooh..

The combo of Plymouth and grapefruit harks to Salty Dog territory, gin perfect for a summertime seaside splash. Chartreuse adds frisson while Gran Gala rounds and lends an underlying orange zest sharpness. Such a showcase.

Friday, February 2, 2018


Happy belated new year. Sometimes taking the next step forward requires a bit of effort and time. It doesn't always fall on pre-scheduled symbolic dates, or as the rosy fingers of Dawn warm the sky.

Case in point, this ditty was meant to be a New Year's Day recipe, full of sunshine as gin spice mimicked the icy clash of cold on skin and tongue. Granted, we've still got the weather about right, even if daylight doesn't herald the near-guilt of back-to-work and champagne hangovers. (though I imagine we may want to check in with a certain groundhog..)

So here I am, at it again, with a new bottle sending out recipe bunnies from first taste. The real reason I picked it up is a little ways down the pike yet, but I promise it shall be both intriguing and astrological. In the meanwhile, let me tell you about it, so the right sensations hit you when you read the recipe.

Within the past few years, the Philly area has seen craft distilleries pop up almost at the rate of craft breweries. We've had Philadelphia Distilling around for awhile (proprietors of Bluecoat gin and Vieux Carre absinthe) and the same with Dad's Hat, and since then I've had a chance to try offerings from Kinsey, Bluebird and now Five Saints (to speak of brands I've enjoyed). Of all things, I happened to be in the market for a gin or other spirit with eucalyptus. You read that right. Five Saints' Savory Tuscan Gin has notes of eucalyptus, in addition to rosemary and other herbs, and classic gin notes of juniper and citrus. It has this creamy, lemon-almost-vanilla nose with the botanicals lingering complexly underneath. The green herbs come to play on the fore-palate, with the creamy lemon playing throughout and eucalyptus emerging on the finish.

One of the things that particularly grabbed me was the spirit base quality. It seems like half of the brews or distills I've tried that have come out of the Philly craft scene have been half-assed where quality is concerned - a lot of "throwing things at the wall to see what sticks", and getting away with it because it was the only game in town. There's too much competition for that now. When tasted neat, this 90-proof gin is surprisingly tame and smooth - almost buttery; it broke the stereotype in my head for the quality I could expect from local distillers. The eucalyptus does bring some fire, but at the same time I appreciate the uniqueness of the flavor note. It all creates some unique spaces for quality cocktail creation, which delights my sensibilities best.

So, while I was tasting and pondering my original idea, this creamy-lemon little bunny hopped into my lap and did a binky dance: since we're trending with these flavor notes, how about a riff on the original (gin) Alexander with limoncello?

1 1/2 oz gin (Five Saints)
3/4 oz cream
1/2 oz limoncello
1/4 oz blood orange liqueur (Solerno)

Shake, strain, garnish with a mint leaf.

What can I say? Creamy/milky citrus and green herbs. A treat, from a different angle.

So why the extra liqueur? The limoncello all on its own was good, but it felt like it needed a little flavor-rounding with a similar note. Hence blood orange liqueur, with a bit of red fruit notes.

And before you point it out, Five Saints also produces a blood orange liqueur - it's very tasty and very bold. The unfortunate thing is that it tends to dominate anything to which it's added very quickly. What drove me to pull out the Solerno here was that between the 90-proof gin and the limoncello, this cocktail was already running hot - and the fire was getting in the way of some of the subtlety expected for an Alexander. Sweet, triple sec-y Solerno tamed things just right but let the lemon stay on top.

As for the Five Saints liqueur? Different spirit, different application. My sense is this one would fare best in a brown, bittered and stirred recipe, or maybe a punch. It'll be worth playing around with especially as we get into warmer months.

Cheers, y'all! Keep trying to move forward, even if life gets in the way.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The NOLA Variations: Moo Carré

'Cause now you can lawfully eat King Cake!

Moo Carré
1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz cognac
1 oz bianco vermouth
1/4 oz Galliano
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 1/2 oz milk stout
lemon twist for garnish

Build, stir, fizz, twist.

As our dear MoD was finding out on Anadyomene's Waves, choice of spirits makes all the difference. Despite use of a milk stout -- the lactose is the hinge holding it all together -- you want a good roasty bitter-ish beer, because then the caramel-vanilla flavor note axis emerges and isn't drowned out by sweet. Left Hand and Duck Rabbit make great well-rounded milk stouts that fit the bill. You can taste the Vieux Carré (or at least the Saratoga) underneath, but the axis takes it on its own path.