Monday, December 11, 2017

spy in the house of love

2 oz Aviation Gin
1/2 oz Lychee-Black Tea Syrup (*)
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) Steep 4 tsp lychee-black tea leaves in 8 oz boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and dissolve in an equal volume of sugar. The tea can be found in decent Asian supermarkets such as Reliable Market in Union Square, Somerville, MA, or on Amazon such as this one (same brand I used).
For my second drink at the Cocktail Lab at Earl's Prudential, I wanted to utilize an unique tropical tea that I found at a local Asian market that combined lychee flavor and black tea. To bolster the fruitiness and round out the tea and tropical notes, I added Cointreau to the mix, and balanced the syrup and liqueur's sweetness with lemon. After trying a few spirits, gin seemed to allow the tea syrup flavors to shine through the best. For a name, I continued on with my Anais Nin theme and opted for her novella Spy in the House of Love.

the basque and bijou

1 oz Appleton Estate 12 Year Rum
1 oz Remy VSOP Cognac
1/2 oz Roasted Green Tea Syrup (*)
1/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe with 1 1/2 oz soda water, and garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) Steep 4 tsp roasted green tea in 8 oz boiling hot water for 5 minutes. Strain and mix with an equal volume of sugar.
For my fifth and final night at Earl's Cocktail Lab at the Prudential Center, I decided upon a literary tribute to author Anais Nin via a trio of drinks on the menu. The first was inspired by the Fascination Street, a punch I had made three weeks prior. I kept the Cognac, tea syrup, and lemon juice elements but split the spirit with aged rum and swapped the jasmine tea for a roasted green one. And instead of guava jelly, I added some brighter notes from elderflower liqueur to counter to the darker ones offered by the tea change as well as some soda water to lighten the body. For a name, I opted for the story The Basque and Bijou from Delta of Venus.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

jasper's rum punch

1 1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
1 1/2 oz Jasper's Basic Stock Mix (*)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lime slice-cherry flag (mint sprig only).
(*) Jasper's Basic Stock Mix: Stir to dissolve 12 oz sugar in 16 oz lime juice. Add 1 oz Angostura Bitters and 1 heaping tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Refrigerate. Shake before using. I made a scaled down version of this mix.

Two Sundays ago, I spotted a mention of Jasper's Rum Punch and recalled that I had never tried this drink before. Therefore, I hunted down the recipe and backstory from a combination of Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and Jeff Berry's Potions of the Caribbean. Haigh regaled how rum collector Stephen Remsberg in 1972 acquired the recipe from Jasper Le Franc who had created both the mix and the punch as the lead bartender at the Bay Roc Hotel in Jamaica. The recipe for the mix in Berry's book was more precise, so I ended up going with that one.
The punch provided a mint aroma over Jamaican rum notes. Next, lime with a caramel-like element from the bitters filled the sip, and the swallow offered funky rum flavors accented with a lot of spice.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Courvoisier VS)
1/4 Bacardi (3/4 oz Privateer Tres Aromatic Overproof White Rum)
2 dash Port (1/2 oz Sandeman Tawny + 1/4 oz Simple Syrup)
1 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a glass; I added a lemon twist and freshly grated nutmeg as garnish.
Two Saturdays ago, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to uncover the evening's libation. There, I spotted the Hudson that had elements of sangaree and punch, so I decided to give it a go. Once prepared, the Hudson offered up lemon, grape, and nutmeg aromas to the nose. Next, lemon and grape on the sip gave way to Cognac and funky rum on the swallow with a grape finish. Overall, the combination reminded me of the Chicago as well as the St. Charles Avenue Punch.

Friday, December 8, 2017

el presidente

1 1/2 oz Don Q Añejo Rum
1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 bsp Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1 bsp Grenadine

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry and an orange twist.
The El Presidente became quite popular here in Boston around a decade ago as a combination of light rum, dry vermouth, curaçao, and a touch of grenadine. This is the way I have always made the drink, although I have not returned to the combination in years. It seemed to work for my palate and others including the night I mixed them at a friend's house using their recently acquired stash of Havana Club 3 Year. In 2012, David Wondrich in Imbibe Magazine declared that the drink recipe was first recorded as containing "Chambery" which probably meant the blanc or sweet-white vermouth that the region was famous for. For my recipe, I tracked down the 1924 Manual del Cantinero via EUVS that Wondrich referred to as well as the 1932 Sloppy Joe's Bar book via EUVS that included both the curaçao and the grenadine modifiers (the 1924 recipe had an option for one or the other). The latter recipe declared the drink a dry vermouth one (Noilly Prat is best known for their dry vermouth and appears to have never made a blanc style) as do most of the rest of the recipes to follow with the former one only suggesting at blanc vermouth.
Since many people have touted the blanc vermouth version as superior, I merged the 1924 recipe with the liqueur and syrup combination from the 1932 recipe. In the glass, the El Presidente gave forth an aged rum aroma with a hint of orange fruitiness. Next, a sweet white grape paired with the rum's caramel note, and the swallow continued on with rum, orange, berry, and floral flavors. Overall, this combination was a touch too sweet for me so perhaps upping the rum (or using a rougher spirit) and toning down on the blanc vermouth might work. In Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933, they recommend subbing in a rhum agricole for any call of Bacardi during this era to better mimic its grassiness, so perhaps using an overly smooth rum is indeed a detriment here (as is the case in the Twelve Mile Limit from the same era). Moreover, this sweetness could have also been due to the lack of structure imparted by dry vermouth's acid (such as from Noilly Prat), so it came across as a bit more flabby than the recipe I am more familiar with; perhaps this might be effected by my Dolin Blanc bottle not being the freshest (despite it working well recently in other recipes).

Thursday, December 7, 2017

second sip

2 oz Compass Box Asyla Scotch (1 3/4 oz Famous Grouse + 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Cockburn 20 Year Tawny Port (Sandeman Tawny)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
After Thanksgiving dinner, I was in the mood for a digestif cocktail, and I recalled that there was a Fernet Branca recipe on the Bittermens webpage. That drink was the Second Sip which reminded me a bit of an embittered Chancellor or a less floral Skyfall. The provided history was that Avery and Janet Glasser of the Bittermens challenged Brian Miller at Death & Co. to come up with a cocktail with Scotch, their bitters, and Fernet Branca, and this was the result. Once prepared, the Second Sip gave forth a peat smoke nose with hints of Fernet's menthol. Next, a rich grape sip from the vermouth and port led into a smoky whisky and bitter herbal swallow with a chocolate-menthol finish.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

haole's downfall

1 1/2 oz Don Q Cristal Rum (Angostura White Oak)
1/2 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz Guava (Guava jelly melted down 1:1 with water)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a paper umbrella.
Two Wednesdays ago, I ended up on the Kronan Swedish Punsch website where there were a few suggested recipes. The one that called out to me was the Haole's Downfall crafted by Nick Feather at San Francisco's Restaurant Skool. The ingredient listed as "guava" might have meant guava juice or concentrate (guava syrup would probably be too sweet here given the Swedish punsch and simple syrup already in the recipe), but I had some melted guava jelly left over from the Fascination Street that I figured would work well here. Once prepared, the Haole's Downfall gave forth rum and darker tropical notes perhaps from a combination of the guava and Swedish punsch. Next, lime and caramel were joined by viscosity from the guava's pectin on the sip, and the swallow shared rum, guava, and Swedish punsch's tea and funk flavors.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

the clermont

1 oz Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey
1 oz Laird's Applejack
1/2 oz Cider Syrup (*)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
(*) Cloudy apple cider boiled down (perhaps by a third to a half) with cinnamon and clove. Dissolve an equal part of sugar and let cool.
Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I had dinner at Trina's Starlite Lounge. For a first drink, I asked bartender Kevin McNally for the Clermont that seemed like an interesting riff on the Stone Fence. I later asked bartender Isaac Sussman about the syrup, but I regret now not asking about the drink's name. If it were made with a Jim Beam whiskey instead of Wild Turkey, the name would make sense due to the Beam distillery's home in Clermont, Kentucky. Regardless, the Clermont greeted the nose with apple and cinnamon aromas. Next, lemon and apple flavors mingled on the sip, and the swallow offered rye and apple notes with a bitter finish.

something must break

2 oz Dewar's 12 Year Scotch
1/2 oz Sweet Potato Syrup (*)
1/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, add ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) Bake a sweet potato wrapped in tin foil for 45 minutes at 400°F. Let cool, chop, and blend with 6 oz water. Strain through a tea towel with a squeeze at the end, and dissolve an equal part of sugar into this liquid.
In the same Trader Joe's shopping adventure that I purchased the persimmons, I also selected some sweet potatoes for my night at the Earl's Cocktail Lab. I ended up baking two of them: one of them for dinner that night and the other to make syrup the next day. Again, a quick Google search at the store confirmed that sweet potato plays well in cocktails and provided ideas on how to transform them into syrup. Given the roasted vegetal notes, my mind thought that Scotch would work well here; moreover, I added some Cynar to complement both ingredients as well as some lemon juice to balance the sweetness here. The syrup ended up slightly "gritty" with sweet potato particulate, so I opted for serving this on the rocks to hide the light starchy silt. For a name, I dubbed this one Something Must Break in keeping with the Joy Division theme.