Friday, March 24, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: The Cocktail on National Cocktail Day.

Today on the 2017 Sunset Cocktail Calendar is National Cocktail Day. This post is a little different than previous ones as it showcases a bunch of drinks from the early days of Cocktails and this may be my last Sunset Cocktail post for a while. I'll be packing things up to move shortly and I don't know if the place I'll be moving to will even have a view at all.

Here are a few Cocktails from the very early days, based on my limited knowledge and meager Google-fu. Please feel free to add or elaborate any information that is relevant and correct me if I'm wrong. I'm often wrong.

We start with what many consider the original drink called the Cocktail. In the early 1800's, before the name "Cocktail" was used as a catch-all for mixed drinks in general, the drink just called the Cocktail was a mix of a Spirit, Sugar, and Bitters.

2 oz E.H. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon
1 Sugar Cube 
2 dashes Angostura Bitters 

Place Sugar Cube in a Rocks glass, dash the Bitters onto the Cube and muddle until Sugar is dissolved. Add a few dashes of water as needed. Add the Bourbon and garnish with a bit of ground Nutmeg. 

Now the Cocktail could be made with any spirit, Whiskey, Brandy, Gin, etc., this one just happens to be a Whiskey Cocktail. If you used Brandy, it would, of course, be called a Brandy Cocktail. Eventually this, for all intents and purposes became The Old Fashioned, though perhaps someday I'll rant about how most bars here seem to load it up with fucking Seltzer. To spice things up, early bartenders started adding in new ingredients as they came into being. You could add a bit of Curaçao and your ordinary Cocktail becomes a Fancy Cocktail, again, with any spirit, making the Fancy Cocktail a mix of Spirit, Curaçao, Sugar and Bitters.

A slightly more evolved Cocktail than the Fancy Cocktail is The Improved Cocktail, adding some Maraschino Liqueur and a bit of beautiful Absinthe. This one here is the Improved Brandy Cocktail.

2 oz Copper & Kings American Brandy
1⁄2 oz Gomme Syrup
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes Berg and Hauck Jerry Thomas Bitters
1 dash St. George Absinthe

Mix everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Lemon peel "The flavor is improved by moistening the edge of the cocktail glass with a piece of lemon".

The Improved Cocktail above has a bit of a different set of ratios than others from old cocktail books but it's pieced together from what I gleaned and what I like. That being said, my "1 dash" of Absinthe often is a generous splash. It seems to me that this is a proto-Sazerac and I often make this when I don't feel like going through the whole ritual of making a Sazerac.

There is some contention that there was a drink called The Cocktail before the above 1800's drink we all adore that was developed in the late 1700's. Again, my Google-fu is weak with this one but it was well worth making.

2 oz Leopold Bros. Navy Strength Gin
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
1 dash Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters

Stir everything and strain into a chilled Rock's glass filled with ice. Garnish with an Orange peel and Candied Ginger.

The articles that I saw this referenced on all credit the 20 March 1798 edition of the London’s Morning Post and Gazetteer for printing the term "Cocktail" and Beefeater Gin and Aromatic Bitters used in the drink. I did not have any Beefeater products but luckily I already had Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger which are 2 magnificently wonderful things I almost always have on hand.

I hope people enjoyed these Sunset Cocktail posts and I hope I'll be able to continue to post them in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: The Irish Cocktail on St. Patrick's Day

2 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey
1/4 oz Butterfly Boston Absinthe
1/4 oz Cointreau
1 bsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Hella Bitters Aromatic

Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled Sherry glass. Garnish with a flamed Lemon twist and a Green Olive (or not).

Happy St. Patrick's Day, when Catholics celebrate his act of driving out the serpents of Ireland and the Pagans revile in the fact that those serpents were a metaphor for the pre-Christian culture that has now been lost by conversion despite some claims of an unbroken connection to the Old Ways. Put down your shitty green beers and lift up some Irish Whiskey, 'cuz in 'Murica (especially around Boston), "Everybody's Fahkin' Irish on St. Paddy's day, Kid!"

I think this drink is officially supposed to be made with Triple Sec which I didn't have on hand so I used Cointreau. I left off the olive as I didn't have any of those as well, nor do I like them very much. Lastly, what better Absinthe to use than one of my favorites in Butterfly Absinthe, which is a modern rendition of a classic pre-prohibition absinthe produced in Boston in the early 1900s, made by the good folks at Distillery Artémisia-Bugnon in the Val de Travers area of Switzerland...  where I must go to visit someday.

If you do supplement your St. Patrick's Day Whiskey with some beer, make sure it's good and poured well, especially if it's a Guinness.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Bloody Caesar on the Ides of March

1 tsp Celery Salt
1⁄2 tsp fresh-ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 oz Death's Door Vodka
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
4 oz Clamato Juice
1⁄2 Lime, in two wedges

Combine celery salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Wet the edge of a Collins glass and rim in the celery salt-pepper mixture. Fill the rimmed glass with ice, add Vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and Tobasco sauce. Top with Clamato. Gently squeeze the lime wedges into the glass, and garnish with celery and give a quick stir.

Caesar: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Aye, Caesar, but not gone.
—Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1

What better way to acknowledge the Ides of March than with a Bloody Caesar. This very Canadian take on a Bloody Mary is often touted as the "Unofficial, Official Cocktail of Canada".

What distinguishes this from a Bloody Mary is the use of Clam Juice mixed with the Tomato. I've never really had a taste for Bloody Mary's and adding Clam Juice, while making it a little thinner, didn't really appeal to me any more. It comes out both briny and savory. I just don't get it but who am I to judge.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Insomnia for Daylight Savings Springing the Fuck Ahead

1 oz. Whistlepig Rye
1 oz. Averna Amaro Siciliano 
1 oz. Butterfly Boston Absinthe
1 bsp Gomme Syrup
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters

Stir first 4 ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Float bitters on top and breathe in the blessing of tranquility.

The last thing I need is a forced loss of sleep on top of my already (un)natural lack of sleep. This is that time of year for the dreadfully unnecessary loss of an hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time. I came up with this Insomnia Cocktail a little while ago as a variation of a Brain Duster and it is a potent fix for sleeplessness.

Hopefully I'll be sound asleep when the clocks roll ahead and I'll wake up in the morning when nature calls wondering why the Hell I slept in so late. Luckily our schedule at work shifted a little do I don't have to get up at any particular time, though, if all goes at it has been lately, I'm just hoping to actually get sleep.

I only now just realized I switched up the glass from a Coup to an Old Fashioned. Shit, these are the things that matter.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

No Sunset Cocktail but HAPPY ABSINTHE DAY!!!

Today on the 2017 Sunset Cocktails Calendar is National Absinthe Day as you may have guessed from my previous post. I was considering making a cocktail but I really just wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Green Fairy in her intimate simpleness. Then my fucking mind was blown by L'Ancienne, yet again, I had to shoot pics, video, find music and write a whole goddanmed review.

Regardless, it was too chilly to also mess around with a sunset shot so now I can go back to just enjoying a nice drink. This pic was from last year from when I lost power for a month. It was fun.

My gods this is a fucking tasty obsession. Fun fact, an ancient word for lord, or often god, was "Baal", so  instead of saying "Oh, my gods" you could say "Oh, my Baals" Say it out loud, it's fun!

Week 46: L'Ancienne on National Absinthe Day [52 Whispers from the Muse]


Overall Rating: 4.8
Appearance: 4.5
Louche: 4.5
Aroma: 5.0
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 5.0
Finish: 5.0
Overall: 5.0

Style: Verte
ABV: 65%
Country: Czech Republic
Distillery: Zufanek

Appearance: A very bright and clear amber with a lean to a greenish tint.
Louche: Beautiful layers that build full but not too quickly. The final louche is thick without being too heavy.
Aroma: A full blossoming in the room when the bottle is opened. Just sitting in the glass for a bit it was distractingly alluring. Mildly perfumed with a rush of Wormwood, Anise and spice.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Rich and spicy while also being completely well balanced. Anise is a bit forward but the Wormwood follows it quickly ending with a peppery tingling. You need to take another sip.
Finish: The flavor lingers for a good long time, it starts sweet and ends with a very pleasant bitterness and tongue numbing.
Overall: This... does not taste like a modern absinthe. I wish I had more experience with pre-ban Absinthes as this gives you the sense of age and perfected maturity.

When I mentioned above that the aroma was "distractingly alluring" it was when I was trying to set up the camera to do a short video. I kept stopping, closing my eyes, and just taking in the smells. it took me far too long to get things set up. I've only ever encountered this under one other circumstance but that would be waaay over my TMI threshold to explain.

I wasn't planning on doing a review on National Absinthe Day but I did want to bring out an extraordinary bottle that I was familiar enough with to just enjoy. I did plan on doing a string of the remaining Zufanek Absinthes that I have, so now seemed like a good a time as any.

This one bottle, while still more than half full, is a failure on my part on due vigilance. I bought it in 2011 or 12 but didn't pay any attention when it was mentioned that it wouldn't be made again. Usually that's my cue to have at least one extra bottle on hand... but I missed it... and there's no more to be found.

A post shared by Jeff Wells (@greenjenkin) on

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sunset Not-Really-a-Cocktail: Mulled Blood Mead on National Mulled Wine Day

1 Bottle of Mead
1 Blood Orange, sliced (+ some wheels for garnish in each glass)
2 Cinnamon sticks (+1 for garnish in each glass)
7 whole Cloves
7 whole Allspice Berries
3 whole Star Anise (+1 for garnish in each glass)
1 tsp nutmeg

Bring everything to a simmer for 20 minutes or so in a pot with a good lid on (do no boil!). Strain into something made of glass for serving or directly into cups/mugs/goblets. Garnish each cup/mug/goblet with a slice of Orange, a Cinnamon Stick, and a Star Anise.

Today for National Mulled Wine Day I decide to mull some unlabeled homebrewed Mead I have no idea where I got. There was a time in my earlier heathen days when Mead flowed like water, especially after my friends discovered and perfected their Mead brewing skills when commercial mead was scarce. No store bought brand would do after that point so the carboys emptied and filled in divinely blessed glory. It was the drink of choice for over drunken, viking revelry, but as age crept in, those sweet, syrupy hangovers got worse and worse. Don't get me wrong, I'll rarely turn down a draught or two but will certainly not guzzle it to the staggering excess of youth. It's best to keep that magical honey of the gods to more formal occasions, keep beer for socializing and hard liquor for abusing.

This recipe is mostly from the fun blog In the Kitchen with Harry Potter with some additions from an older Mulled Wine recipe I had kicking around. I reintroduced Star Anise and slice of Orange as a garnish from the old recipe which I thought looked pretty. I went with a Blood Orange because I get to use the word "Blood" in the drink. I guess you could further this along by using Viking's Blood Mead but it has nothing on a good homebrew and fuck you if you don't like Blood Oranges.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sunset Cocktail: Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail on National Peanut Butter Lover's Day

1 1/2 oz Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur (divided)
1 oz Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur
1 oz Zufanek Orechovka (Hazelnut) Liqueur
2 tbsps Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter*
2 oz Almond Milk
Fox's U-bet Chocolate Syrup

Decorate the inside of the glass with a bit of Chocolate Syrup. Add some of the Godiva (1/2 to 3/4 oz, just enough to keep a nice dark layer) on the bottom of the glass and set aside. In a shaker, stir (yes, stir first) the rest of the alcohols with the Peanut Butter until the Peanut Butter blends in. Add the Milk with some ice and shake. Strain into the prepared glass, garnish with a peanut butter cup, and wallow in a decadent sugar crash.

For any who don't know me, I. Love. Peanut Butter. When I was a kid my father worked for what was then Best Foods and they made Skippy. I remember him coming home from work with boxes of unlabeled jars that I believe were part of taste screenings and experimental formulas. I felt like each jar was was a unique, special thing and that I was part of a small, select group of people privy to the secrets behind the great minds of Peanut Butter alchemy. To this day, it's the only brand I buy.

Hardest part was not fucking up the cup.
When I say I love peanut Butter, you should also know that this acute love is mirrored by an intense hate for bad Peanut Butter and fake Peanut Butter flavoring. Anything that isn't true, pure and real Peanut Butter is an affront to all that is good, aside from Reese's peanut Butter cups which are, in their own right, a gift from very wise and generous gods. Also, my grandparents lived in Hershey Pennsylvania so Reese's are as much an escape to care-free childlike state of being as Skippy.

With the hate of bad peanut Butter products also is the distaste for the misuse of Peanut Butter. Unfortunately that means I don't like Peanut Butter in Ice Cream or anything else other than on bread, apples and in Peanut Butter Cups. This drink would also qualify. The idea of this drink is horrifying, it's a pain in the ass to make (especially trying to not melt or mangle the peanut butter cup garnish), and it's sickeningly sweet. It took a bit of will to create but I did so to express my love and appreciation for the national holiday and fit it into yet another reason to make an odd drink.

I will probably never make it again, though, I must say that the second iteration I made (as above) was a bit better than the original I got it from. It seemed to resemble, though not well, a peanut butter cup a little more. All I did was change out the Creme de Cacao with Godiva (waaaaay better), add the layering (which may or may not have actually worked) and remove the rum (which I didn't really understand the need for). One last point in keeping with a rant about Margaritas the other day, I really do appreciate the original poster of this drink for not calling it a Peanut Butter Cup Martini.

* Life is too short for flavored vodka, fake maple syrup and bad peanut butter. That shitty, I'm-a-superior-hippy, organic, gotta-stir-it-every-hour-to-keep-it-homogeneous, shit in a jar is just as great a blasphemy as Teddy Bear Peanut Butter or some rancid Costco-ish brand. If you're not going to get a jar of divine Skippy, then for fuck's sake get Jif. If you are a completely cheap bastard, the only store brand worth eating is Wegman's. Wegman's Peanut Butter actually isn't really that bad at all.