Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Vieux Carre on Fat Tuesday, the Last Day of Marti Gras

3/4 oz Whistlepig Rye
3/4 oz Copper & Kings American Brandy
3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
1 bsp Bénédictine 
1 dash Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters
1 dash Scrappy's Orleans bitters

Pour everything into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice and give it a good stir. Garnish with Lemon twist.

Traditionally this is made with Cognac but as cognac is just a specific type of fancy French Brandy, I wanted to try out how this new bottle of Copper & Kings American Brandy would work here. It worked well. As far as the very simple procedure, I've seen versions that are made in a mixing glass and strained into either a Cocktail glass or an Old Fashioned glass with ice as well as the simple method I have above. While this drink does do well with a little extra dilution, I liked the idea of keeping it all with one set of ice instead of mixed with some and then poured over new ice.

Today on the 2017 Sunset Cocktails Calendar is Fat Tuesday, the last day of Mardi Gras and the day before the start of Lent. I was trying to think of a good New Orleans drink to make I settled on This Vieux Carre named after the French Quarter. I half considered making a Hurricane but Hurricanes are harbingers of vomitous hangovers. So, while I'm stuck up here in cold, damp New England (despite this freakish February warm stretch), nowhere near Mardi Gras, and even though I'm no longer a good Catholic loading up before giving up some dear vice, I do plan on drinking this and eating a metric fuckton of Cajun Dirty Rice while listening to some good old New Orleans music with either some New Orlean Cottonmouth Kings....

or... Goatwhore!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Revolver on National Kahlua Day

2 oz Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon
1/2 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy's Orange Bitters

Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled Cocktail Glass. Garnish with an Orange peel.

Today, February 27th, on our Sunset Cocktails Calendar is National Kahlua Day, so Happy, um, National Kahlua Day, I guess. Does this feel like a national observance for a brand made by the brand itself? Fuckit, there are plenty of wicked nice Kahlua drinks and I don't need an arm twist to make one.

I could have made a Black/White/Orange Russian (I don't think Red Russians have Coffee Liqueur) but I think I already mentioned that I don't really like them when I made the Orange Russian. I do, however, love bourbon so this seemed like a good idea. I was surprised that the Orange Bitters and peel didn't conflict with the Coffee Liqueur making it more like that fucking Tootsie Roll shot/Orange Russian. They actually complimented each other very well adding a full, citrus sweetness to the bourbon with an added richness from the Kahlua.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Pistachio Suissesse on World Pistachio Day

1 1⁄4 oz La Clandestine Absinthe
1⁄2 oz Pistachio Orgeat*
2 oz Almond Milk
1 Egg White
1 bsp White Creme de Menthe
6 oz Ice

Shake Absinthe, Orgeat, Milk and Egg White without ice until the Egg White blends in and froths nicely. Reshake with ice and double strain into a Highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a few drops of Orange Flower Water.

*Pistachio Orgeat (From Imbibe, sort of)
1 cups near-boiling water
2.5 oz. shelled, unsalted pistachios
3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tbsp Gum Arabic/1/2 tbsp Xanthan gum (optional)**

(if using the gum mix) Heat 1/4 cup of the water to a near-boil, about 3 minutes. Put the gum powder in a glass or small jar, then slowly stir in the hot water. Stir together until all the powder is integrated. (Some small white clumps may remain.) Let this mixture sit for 2 to 3 hours. When it looks more like a gel, stir again to smooth out the mixture. (It's OK if there is a small layer of white foam.)

In a blender, combine the water and pistachios and blend on high for 2 full minutes—the longer you blend, the more refined your finished syrup will be. Fine-strain the nut mixture through a nut-milk bag into a glass jar. Add sugar and gum gel, if using and mix or blend until uniform. 

Today, February 26th, is World Pistachio Day. I was trying to figure out what in Satan's Hell I was going to make for this when I came across a Pistachio Orgeat recipe. I like regular Orgeat very much but never made it from scratch. This seemed to be as good a time as any. I did deviate from the recipe to make the Pistachio Orgeat quite a bit when it came to adding the various gums, resorting to how I add them when making regular Gomme Syrup.

When looking for Orgeat cocktails that I could try out this new Pistachio goodness I, of course, came across the classic and revered Absinthe Suissesse. I did actually use Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Liqueur as I didn't have actual Creme de Menthe and I didn't want to use Rumple Minze. I don't think I've ever even made an Absinthe Suissesse before which is criminal and clearly proves that I hate myself.

**The original recipe called for Ticaloid 210S which seems to be "a mixture of gum arabic, a fantastic emulsifier, derived from tree sap, and xantham gum. Gum arabic is great for cocktail applications because its emulsions don't break when they are suddenly diluted, and they are immune to temperature changes, acidity and alcohol. The xantham is a stabilizer, which protects the emulsion from separating. If you can't get TIcaloid 210S, you can substitute a mixture of powdered gum arabic and xantham gum in the ratio of nine to one." So I would just mix my own at 8/1 as the Orgeat recipe called for a little more Xantham to be added on top of was was already assumed in the Ticaloid 210S.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weeks 44 and 45: Golan Heights Revisited [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Snow Fairy batch #5/Mon Jardin
Overall Rating: 3.7/3.7
Appearance: 4.0/4.0
Louche: 3.5/3.5
Aroma: 3.5/3.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 3.5/3.5
Finish: 3.5/4.0
Overall: 4.0/4.0

Style: Blanche
ABV: 53%/72%.
Country: Israel
Distillery: Golan Heights Distillery

Appearance: Both are perfectly clear with no sediment or discoloration.
Louche: Both louched well, clouding up easily. I'd say that it seemed that Snow Fairy filled out more quickly but on rewatching a poorly shot video that I'm not going to post, it may have been because the fountain drip on that side was way heavier.
Aroma: I opened the Snow Fairy first which immediately started to bloom. Opening the Mon Jardin only filled the room more fully with the unique scent of this Absinthe. Similar to batch #1 but definitely more forthcoming. 
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Very unique, significant floral and Anise without being sweet and Wormwood without being too bitter. Coriander is quite noticeable along with a significant Calamus. The Mon Jardin is bolder but that is to be expected with equal parts of water/absinthe between the 2. 
Finish: I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the slightly different flavor profile between these 2 as dilution greatly affects what flavors are brought out in an Absinthe. The lighter Snow Fairy is a bit more floral while the Mon Jardin has more bite and a bit of tongue numbing.
Overall: Definite, significant improvements from batch #1, more detailed and complex. Although the scores were quite similar, the edge, for me, goes to the Mon Jardin. I just tend to prefer higher proof blanches.

David Zibel of Golan Heights Distillery in Israel was gracious enough to send me an updated version of His Snow Fairy Absinthe Blanche as well as it's 72% AVB undiluted sister, Mon Jardin. While I did enjoy the originality of the first batch, it was very monochromatic. This updated version keeps the similarly unique flavor but with more complexity that you can now start sorting out a quick parade of flavors.

According to David, Snow Fairy and Mon Jardin consist of Artemisia Absinthium, Anise Seed, Fennel, Coriander, Lavender, Calamus, Elecampane Root, Sassafras, Cardamom, Chamomile, Angelica, and Star Anise. I'm not familiar with Elecampane Root at all or, I'm ashamed to admit, Sassafras outside of Yosemite Sam. I was really trying to find another brand this was similar to by aroma, but I really couldn't and that's certainly not a bad thing at all. I do like different.

I was hoping to get a good video in the snow but it was an unseasonably warm February week here in New England so I'll go with the pics I took when it did actually snow. I've been sitting on this review for too long waiting for the next snow and it's been a while since my last review. I was nine short of getting all 52 done last year but that's no reason to not keep going and then going past 52. There are so many more Absinthes to try and I already have over a dozen more bottles on hand, but more on that on National Absinthe Day...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Rosemary Ginger Mezcal Margarita on National Margarita Day

2 oz Xicaru Silver Mezcal
1 oz Cointreau 1 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Rosemary Ginger Simple Syrup*
2 dashes Hella Bitters Lemon Ginger

Start by drawing a Lemon wedge over the rim of a Cocktail glass (I don't have any actual Margarita glasses) and rim with salt. Then shake everything with ice and strain into the salt rimmed Cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.

*Rosemary Ginger Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 ounce ginger, chopped
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

Combine everything in a small sauce pan and heat to a near boil. Take off the heat and simmer for 30 minutes making sure the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool and strain into a clean, glass container you can keep in the fridge.

Following further along the 2017 Sunset Cocktails Calendar we see that today is National Margarita Day. While this syrup is rather tasty, and would probably also work well with Gin, I do hate Margaritas.

I must say, that if I did happen to like Margaritas I'd praise them for their immense variety and perceived versatility. Unfortunately those are some of the very reasons I hate them. People seem to throw whatever miscellaneous bar items or some fuckery of a fruit smoothy in a blender, add Tequila, then call it a Margarita. Even the one I got the idea for this one from with Tequila, Lime, Sugar and the snootiest of Sparkling Water(?!) completely leaves out the use of a lovely Triple Sec.

"A margarita is a cocktail consisting of triple sec, tequila and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt or sugar on the rim of the glass. The drink is served shaken with ice, blended with ice, or without ice."

Now I totally understand, love, advocate, and often make variations on cocktails. I'll even go so blasphemous as making a Rum Martini** as long as the rest of the drink actually still resembles a Martini, leaving the name 'RUM' Martini to signify the deviation. I did try to keep this particular variation fairly basic with the addition of the syrup and use of Mezcal (Tequila is a Mezcal and I just don't ever have any Tequila around). I guess I'm inconsistently picky but if you're going to just leave out important core shit, then just call it something else for Satan's sake.

 Maybe next year I'll try to come up with some kind of Absinthe Margarita I can tolerate.

** Though, I really gotta say, any Martini that doesn't have Gin in it should be subjected to stop and frisk before it's allowed into the general population. I did end up changing the name of my R'lyeh Rum Martini after a good, critical conversation and much mental shadowboxing as it contained neither Gin nor Vermouth.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: McKinley’s Delight for President's Day

3 oz. James E. Pepper 1776 Rye
1 oz. Dolin Rouge Vermouth
2 dashes Kirschwasser
1 dash St. George Absinthe

Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.

Happy President's Day for you all you here in the States. For all of you outside of the States, I hope our current political situation is providing you with some terrifying entertainment. This President's Day will be much happier with a few of our 25th president, William McKinley's favorite drinks. They are very, very strong drinks back from a time where our leaders weren't... who am I kidding, politicians have always been asshats and politics has always been a shitshow. Drink plenty, seek truth and bite deeply.

At first I figured on using and old, old name in Rye with a few measures of Old Overholt, but the recipe I found specifically called for 100 proof Rye, so I went with the ever more patriotic 1776 Rye from James E. Pepper. The recipe also called for Cherry Brandy in which I used Kirsch and, lastly, I figured I'd use a good ole 'Murican Absinthe for this patriotic day. I guessed a bit at the process and glass style for making this quite robust cocktail but it seemed to make sense.

I came across a fun article from the New York Post that I got this recipe from which relates the favorite drinks of all of our previous presidents from George Washington who, himself, owned a whiskey distillery (though he was known for enjoying a Port laced with Molasses more than Whiskey) to our most recent ex President Obama who had his own brewer with their own White House Honey Ale with honey from their own White House hives. It seems that very few presidents completely abstained from drinking, even Warren G. Harding sneaked a dram of whiskey while he was out golfing as president during prohibition.

Both Lincoln and Jimmy Carter rarely drank but they did so in polite social situations and good old George W did happen to quit after a unsurprisingly misspent youth. As far as I can gather, the only presidents that never drank are our 24th president, Benjamin Harrison, who "leaned more toward God than Demon Alcohol" and the 42nd, motherfucking Donald Trump. I don't trust a person who doesn't drink unless he's a recovering quitter.

Some wise words from our iconic 32nd president, FDR himself, that I strive to live by... “a gentleman learns his capacity and tries not to exceed it. If he must drink to excess, he does so when he has no call to be in touch with anyone else.” ... though I don't know too many of you that would ever refer to me as a gentleman and it could explain why I'm really bad at staying in touch with anyone.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sunset Not-Really-a-Cocktail: National Drink Wine Day

6 oz Wine

Pour Wine in Wine glass. Drink Wine. Repeat. Wine.

Today on the 2017 Sunset Cocktails Calendar is National Drink Wine Day. Outside of an occasional Shiraz with some bloody, half raw side of beef, I don't really drink that much wine on its own. I'll have a Port, an Aromatized Wine or Vermouth in a cocktail but not much more than that outside of when I go visiting wineries.

Not much to say about wine, it's tasty with cheese and meat, it's fun to shop for fun labels, and it's supposedly good for your health in whatever that word "moderation" means. I did find a bottle of some type of Ravenswood wine in the kitchen for today, though it's been there so long that the label fell off. Luckily they had their branding on the cork or I wouldn't know what I was drinking.

In anticipation of national Drink Wine Day I did get a few bottles of really nice wine fromFranklin Hill Vineyards when I was down in NJ/PA last week but I left them all at the Pretty One's house. I'm just going to assume they're all empty by now, so, I leave you with a picture of the lovely Pretty One herself drinking wine as well as an interesting link about Wine and geography with a map. Wine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Happy Valentines with a Reign in Blood

2 oz Xicaru Silver Mezcal
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Blood Orange Juice
1/4 oz Lime juice
2 dashes Scrappy's Chocolate bitters

Shake everything with ice and double strain into Old Fashioned glass. Fill with Ice and garnish with a Blood Orange Wheel.

What says I love you more than a pretty cocktail at sunset and Slayer?

While I did type the use of 1/4 oz of Lime juice in the ingredients I actually used Meyer Lemon juice as that's what I had on hand. And while I'm not very well versed in Mezcal, I feel that Meyer Lemons blend very well with the spirit. That could just be my limited experience and bias against limes.

This drink is actually pretty decent for a Kindred Cocktail submission. You wouldn't think it would all go together but the Mezcal smokiness contrasts with the sweet citrus in a pretty good way. I don't get much of the Chartreuse or Chocolate Bitters through but perhaps they are what it keeping the balance.

The beautiful thing about this is that it could really be either a nice Valentines cocktail or a vicious Anti-Valentines cocktail depending where you're coming from. I guess it could also be a vicious pro-Valentines cocktail if that's what you guys are into, I'm not here to judge.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Snowstorm Scotch: International Scotch Day

On a night like this you can hear old gods whisper...

This one didn't make the calendar as International Scotch Day on  February 10th is apparently a new thing. I was considering making a rare Scotch cocktail but I figured the spirit of the observance was to enjoy, well, the spirit on its own.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi'tippeny, we Fear nae evil;
Wi'usquabae, we'll face the devil!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: The Abolitionist’s Old Fashioned

2 oz Privateer True American Rum
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1 cube Sugar
2 dashes Hell Bitters Orange
Splash of Soda Water

Muddle Sugar Bitters and Soda Water in an Old Fashioned glass until they are beaten mercilessly. Fill with ice adding the Rum and Grand Marnier.

The original recipe called for Hurricane Rum (I figured another Massachusetts brand would do) and Napoleon Liqueur which could be considered similar enough to Grand Marnier for this purpose.

I can't believe I forgot to post this yesterday (guess I was too distracted by a new phone to finish the post). While February 6th doesn't mark any kind of drinking holiday per se, it does maek the anniversary of the 1858 brawl in the House of Representatives here in the good ol' U.S. of  'Murica. "The altercation began between Laurence Keitt of South Carolina and abolitionist Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania..." Those were the days, eh?

That being said, this particular cocktail was actually made in honor of a Congressional beatdown in 1856 of Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner (another abolitionist)at the hands of Sen. Preston Brooks of South Carolina further proving our politics have always been pretty well fucked.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Pisco Sour Day (Peru)

2 oz La Caravedo Pisco Puro Quebranta
1 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Gomme Syrup
1 Egg White
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake first four ingredients vigorously without ice until the Egg White is nice and frothy. Shake again with ice and double strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a few dashes of bitters in the foam.

To prove how dedicated I am to this I just got my first bottle of Pisco and sat outside in the February cold just to make the Peruvian National Pisco Sour Day. I don't even like sours, though, Meyer Lemons make sour drinks tolerable. I do, However,  love a good egg white drink.

I've never has Pisco before and in the sour it looses most of its character, as does just about anything in a sour. It's a clear Brandy usually made in Chile and Peru. I have no idea if this brand is a good representation of the style but it kinda reminds me of grappa. That being said, I'm not very well versed in grappa. I'll need to try this in something else.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: H.G. Wells on Science Fiction Day

2 oz Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon 
1 oz Dolin de Chambery Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Butterfly Absinthe
2 dashes Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters

Stir everything with ice and strain into an ice filled Old Fashioned Glass

Happy February 2nd, it's Science Fiction Day. It's also my mother's birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Lastly, February 2nd is also Groundhog Day and that little bastard saw his shadow this morning predicting six more weeks of winter. #notmygroundhog

While Science Fiction Day itself isn't a drinking holiday, I see no reason why we can't toast to those visionaries of Science Fiction who have inspired us and challenged us to see things with new eyes. In this bleak political climate people are rushing to catch up on their favorite old time dystopian fiction. I personally haven't really liked much of the new dystopian fiction, especially the young adult subgenre as I feel as they're far less of a glimpse into possible, terrible futures and more about symbolically defying parental figures and dealing with hormones. How can you tell I'm getting old..?

Authors like Aldous Huxley, Ira Levin, Ray Bradbury, and George Orwell all gave us cautionary glimpses into the future with books like Brave new World, This Perfect Day, Fahrenheit 451, and Nineteen Eighty Four respectively, but H.G. Wells filled out that genre of admonitory projection and dystopian joy. Stories like The Time Machine, The Sleeper Wakes, The Shape of Things to Come tagged along with his  some good monstrous fun like War of the Worlds, The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, and The Island of Doctor Moreau which were also cautionary tales of progress, ethics and obsession.

H.G. was a forward thinker in the context of his day and he had a hell of a moustache. I hoped I could trace my family line to his but it doesn't seem to. I'm not related to either of the two master storytellers who separately made such an impact with War of the Worlds long before I was born, H.G. nor Orson... who spells his name wrong.