Category Archives: Mixology Monday

MxMo LVII: Flores de Mayo

Mixology Monday Logo

[ UPDATE: The round-up post is up – here. ]

I’m quite grateful to Paul Clarke at Cocktail Chronicles  for being able to host this month’s Mixology Monday.   Lately, the monthly incentive of MxMo has been the one thing helping me keep the site updated.  Probably like many folks who decided to “start a blog”, after the rush of initial postings, it gets quite difficult to maintain a consistent pace of writing.  Its almost like…shudder…work.  How Erik at Underhill Lounge  or Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut manage daily postings is completely beyond me and my liver.  Maybe they are cyborgs.  Or half-alien.  (And yes, I clearly read too many comic books as a kid.)

This month’s round robin will occur on Monday, May 16th with the theme of  Flores de Mayo – Floral Cocktails.  For most of us, turning the page on the calendar from April to May means finally getting to say goodbye to the weeks on end of cold, gray drizzle that followed a winter of endless snow, or in the case of us on on the Pacific Rim, winter of endless rains. (Unless you are living up the glam life in LA or beach bumming in the O.C., in which case I hope you are enjoying that endless SUNSHINE. Grrr.)  As the sun starts becoming more frequent and the temptation to play hooky mid-week gets stronger,  nothing brightens the day better this time of year than the fresh blossoms hanging from the trees on the street and popping up in your neighborhood gardens.   Goodbye cabin fever, hello springtime!

The challenge is to feature a cocktail that highlights a floral flavor profile or includes a floral derived ingredient, whether home-made or off the shelf.  With the ever expanding catalogue of spirits (and the kitchen labs of home enthusiasts), there’s a whole host of directions for you to choose from – elderflower liqueur, creme de violette, chamomile infused gin, hibiscus grenadine, rosewater, lavender syrup – or to create.   With some luck, one of the garnish gurus will figure out a way to turn an orchid into a swizzle stick.

So if you want to join the virtual bar crawl, shoot me an email that includes a link to your blog entry for your drink to barmancometh (at) hotmail dot com, or post a comment to this entry by midnight on May 16th that includes the same.  Also, please link back to the Mixology Monday website and include the MxMo logo.  If you don’t have your own blog, I can feature you here with a guest blog post, but I will need to receive your submission by May 14th.  I will post a round-up of everyone’s cocktails within a few days after, post haste.

Kampai!

Glogg

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it snowed in San Francisco for the first time in 30 plus years — it passed without much media coverage, so its understandable if the rest of the country hadn’t heard.  Regardless of the reality that a fleeting dusting of snow doesn’t hold a candle to the Snowmageddon that’s hit the Northeast and MidWest since shortly after the cranberry sauce ran out, there has been a touch of very un-California chill in the air lately.

All of which makes this month’s Mixology Monday really timely.   Host Nancy at Backyard Bartender has chosen Some Like It Hot – as her theme:

“Make anything you want to, as long as it’s served hot. I’m sure this is tremendously seasonally appropriate in parts of the country that are not Houston, where it is currently 79 degrees. Don’t pretend you’re not jealous.”

While not sub-zero outside, it’s also far from a Houstonian seventy-nine either.  A warm drink is just the right thing to take the chill out of the fingertips and toes tonight.  The great thing about Scandinavian mulled wine is that you can make a large batch of the stuff, store it in a glass jug in the back of a dark cupboard, and weeks later it tastes even better.  The sharpness of the fresh cardamom and cloves mellows out allowing the orange and cinnamon to poke through.  This recipe also calls for carmelizing sugar in brandy.   I’ve seen some that use vodka but I find the flambeed brandy tastes far superior.  So much that these go down like pure crackulated candy – before you know it, you are positively knackered.  And wondering if you just saw a talking Snowman sneaking nips out of your liquor cabinet with a couple of Keebler elves.

1 bottle red wine
1 bottle ruby port
1/2 bottle brandy
8 – 10 cinnamon sticks
2 dozen whole cloves
orange peel (one whole orange)
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbs cardamom seeds (from whole green cardamom pods – about 18 pods)
1 cup almonds, whole, blanched
2 cups sugar

1. In large pot, heat wine, port wine, spices, peel, and raisins. DO NOT BOIL.
2. In saucepan, combine sugar and brandy.  Heat slowly and stir until golden brown syrup. Light and flambe.
3. Add carmelized syrup to wine pot.  Cover and mull for 1.5 to 2 hours.
4.  Serve hot in handled glass mugs.

MxMo: Coffee Flip

Whether its Snow-mageddon in New York City, or chilly monsoons out West, or even cold so cold it turns boiling water into instant fog,  this time of year often calls for heavier, rich cocktails that touch deep in the same place of our lizard brainstems as does meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Sensibly then, this month’s theme for Mixology Monday is See You On The Flipside.   As host Josh Cole of Cocktail Assembly describes it:

“The flip is one of those cocktails that so successfully defies the seasons. When it’s cold and the icy chill is tearing its way through to our bones, the heated flip opens it’s arms and embraces us like a warm blanket. When it’s hot, the cool flip lowers the heat and can bring back that spring day memory of a creamy shake enjoyed on a front porch. There’s never a bad time or temperature to enjoy the frothy glory that is the flip.”

Flips are fun for taking old recipes for spins with a twist as the base recipe of a flip – base spirit, a little sugar and whole egg – is simple and forgiving.  I’d recently purchased a bottle of St. George Spirits Firelit Coffee Liqueur, their artisanal take on the classic coffee liqueur which in their talented hands combines cold pressed single origin coffee, unaged Chardonnay brandy and cane sugar.  Kahlua this is not.  I wanted to make a coffee flavored flip with it, so decided to see if there were any existing recipes for coffee flips that I could use as a starting.

What I found was a classic flip recipe for a cocktail that didn’t involve any coffee or coffee liqueur, but instead involved port and brandy, which when adding the egg, gave it the appearance of creamed coffee with the faintest suggestion of a coffee-like flavor. Using this as the base, I figured I could swap the Firelit for the brandy and an aged demerara rum for the port.  Swap the nutmeg for cinnamon and a dash of mole bitters, and the end result was a coffee flip with a Californios spin.  In both cases I left out the cream as I was worried they would veer to far in the dessert cocktail direction.  Based on the final product, the cream might be a nice addition, especially as the Firelit has such a strong flavor profile.

Classic Version

1 oz. brandy
1 oz. port
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg
1/2 oz. cream (optional)

Combine and shake once dry, once with ice.  Strain into coupe.  Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Californios Version

1 oz. aged demerara rum (El Dorado 15)
1 oz. coffee liquer (Firelit Coffee Liqueur)
1 barspoon simple syrup
1 egg
1 dash mole bitters

Combine and shake once dry, once with ice.  Strain into coupe.  Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.

Fish House Punch

This month’s Mixology Monday theme is Forgotten Cocktails.  Host Dennis at Rock & Rye has challenged folks “…to bring to light a drink that you think deserves to be resurrected from the past, and placed back into the spotlight. It could be pre-prohibition, post-war, that horrible decade known as the 80′s, it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is somewhat obscure, post it up.”

In the age of online cocktail parties, iPhone cocktail apps, and glossy magazines devoted to drinking, I’m not so sure how obscure anything can be at this point, but this tipple is definitely from the past.  Way past.   Colonial-era 1732 past.  Not sure if George Washington drank this stuff, but I sure feel the urge to put on a powdered wig while sipping it.  (Full disclosure: Yes, Virginia – I once was a “historical re-enactor” at a Colonial Williamsburg type museum.  I got the tri-corn hat and knee breeches, but mercifully, never had to wear that wig.)

Returning to the story – way back in ye olde yonder, a bunch of well to-do, proto-plutocrats in Philadelphia started what is the oldest private club in the country, replete with a “castle” clubhouse along the Schuylkill River, christening it the “State in Schuylkill Fishing Corporation”, or the more common Schuylkill Fishing Company.  The original club was established under a treaty with the local Native American tribe and limited to 25 members, since increased to a wopping 30.  The club’s activities were pretty simple and continue to this day – Catch some fish.  Cook some fish (and meat).  Drink some hooch.   Members do all the cooking and rumor is they pay their rent in fish.

Their house punch was a closely guarded secret.  An early recipe appears in “Professor” Jerry Thomas “How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion” published in 1862, followed by a slightly different one in the Philadelphia Times in 1896.   Charles H. Baker, Jr. in his 1939 “Gentleman’s Companion”claims the original as well.  Regardless, the recipes all seem to involve similar ingredients in varying proportions: lemon, sugar, water, rum, cognac, peach brandy.  A fairly basic punch recipe provided a twist with the addition of the peach brandy.  Most recipes referring to “peach brandy” usually assume a creme de peche or peach liqueur – but I wonder how one of the new school peach eau de vie’s would taste? Experiments might need to follow.

Its really quite tasty with a subtle wallop – you’ll quickly drain your punch glass and before you know it, you just might convince yourself that you too, could someday own a yacht.

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 quarts water
1 quart lemon juice
2 quarts dark rum
1 quart cognac
4 ounces peach brandy

Dissolve sugar in large bowl with some of the water.  Add lemon juice. Finally, add rum, cognac and brandy along with rest of water.  When ready to serve, add large block of ice and allow to cool for one hour out of heat.

Single serving:

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 ounces spring water
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
1 ounce cognac
1/8 ounce peach brandy

Stir with ice and strain into punch cup over ice.

Garnish with lemon wheel.

Recipe courtesy of Dave Wondrich.

The Easthampton – Redux

Something about the last week in August always brings a bit of the blues.  Labor Day lurks just around the corner, signaling the traditional, if not official, end of summer.  The days get noticeably shorter, especially when leaving the office after work to find the sky already darkening.  Parents rush to the downtown stores for the last of back to school shopping.  The lazy mid-summer baseball season starts heating up in expectation of October playoff races.  Vacations wind-down and the next period for extended time off isn’t until the winter holidays.  Thoughts turn inward to the meditative and softly melancholy.

Appropriately for this change of seasons, Lush Life Productions, the host this month for Mixology Monday, has chosen “Brown, Bitter & Stirred” for its theme.  While some folks in Gotham City might disagree, drinks like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned never struck me as year-round drinks.   When the days are warm and long, I find myself reaching first for refreshing tall drinks like collins, swizzles and slings, as well as concoctions involving seasonal farmer’s market fare for modern twists.  Yet, as the season – and mood – turns, cocktails involving brown liquors, bitters and more brown liquors are just about what I need today.   However, as I am not quite ready to completely let go of summer just yet, I’ve taken the traditional Manhattan for a trip to the outer banks of Long Island for the upcoming Labor Day weekend through an infusion of end of summer strawberries and a complementary dash of rhubarb.

2 oz. strawberry-infused Rittenhouse 100*
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes rhubarb bitters

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass.

* Hull and slice one pint of organic strawberries – its important to use sweet, ripe strawberries, otherwise the infusion flavor will fall flat.  Infuse in high proof rye for approximately one week.  Strain through fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth, then bottle.

Recipe courtesy of Barman Cometh.