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.