Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fifty-Fifty Martini

Sometimes you want a little more out of your Martini. The Martini was originally a wine cocktail with a good helping of vermouth (fortified wine) and some bad prohibition-era gin to back it up. It was really a vermouth-lover's drink and did its best to hid the poor quality of spirits available at the time. If one purpose of the cocktail is to spread the expensive stuff thin over a lot of cheap liquor so that it goes farther and has more effect, than the Martini is guilty of this.

But following prohibition, the quality of gin went way up as imports became available. People's tastes changed and they wanted stronger drinks. Most vermouths made in California were of lesser quality than the stuff from France and Italy. We imported less of the good vermouths because of our taste for dry cocktails, until eventually only poor quality vermouth was available in most bars. So we had the reverse of the original cocktail with almost no vermouth present.

Now, though, you can get good stuff all around. And most bars don't mind pouring a little more vermouth in a cocktail. It's not something that they often charge for. So go ahead. Get a Martini made with half gin, a strong one like KO Battle Standard Navy Strength gin, and Dolin extra dry. You won't regret it--or maybe you will.
  • 2 oz. gin (KO Battle Standard Navy Strength used)
  • 2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin extra dry used)
  • Spanish olive
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the olive.

(Whiskey) Milk Punch / Gin Milk Punch

Today I wanted to tackle several milk punch recipes at once. They are all very similar in that they require sugar, milk, nutmeg and a spirit. Strangely the New York Bartender's Guide differentiates between a classic milk punch and a whiskey milk punch with separate titles and measurements (parts as opposed to ounces) but the recipes are pretty much the same.

The Whiskey Milk Punch and Milk Punch both call for three ounces of blended whiskey. Now I have rye and bourbon blends, but I think that when a recipe calls for blended whiskey, it means Irish or Canadian whiskey. Why? The smoothness makes it less of a flavor factor. Otherwise you can make a Bourbon Milk Punch (This one oddly served neat in an Old Fashioned glass) with that flavor profile. These drinks are subtler than that.

Then there's the Gin Milk Punch. I know what you're thinking. Why would anyone like milk and gin? Actually I've found this combination to be great in other dessert drinks, and actually the nutmeg helps with the spice profile a lot. It's less important that gin has spicy flavors and more noticeable that this is a holiday drink with hints of juniper.

That said, pick your gin carefully. I prefer a prohibition style gin over dry gin for dessert drinks. They have funky sweet notes that go well with creaminess. Filibuster Gin (Not Available outside the distillery) is aged in two barrels and flavored with only four botanicals. It is close to whiskey in that way and makes a great milk punch.

(Whiskey) Milk Punch
  • 3 oz. blended whiskey (Tullimore Dew used)
  • 8 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Dust with nutmeg.

Gin Milk Punch
  • 3 oz. gin (Filibuster dual cask used) 
  • 8 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass . Dust with nutmeg.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Night Cap

The original home remedy for sleeplessness is warm milk. The Night Cap (probably originating as a home remedy given its name) suggests how much better this drink would work with a little rum. Of course you could use any light rum for this drink since nutmeg and milk are the primary flavors, but this is a colonial drink. It stands to reason that a colonial rum is the best and most classic option.

I love how the funky and sweet Buzzard Point colonial rum from District Distilling Co. makes this drink taste more old fashioned. The colonial rum is made with panela sugar, which tastes a little woody because it comes from fresh pressed sugarcane. Made this way, the Night Cap a great holiday warmer of a cocktail and a joy to sip on by the fireside.
  • 2 oz. light rum 
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • warm milk 
  • freshly grated nutmeg
 Pour rum and syrup into a heated coffee mug. Fill with warm milk and sprinkle with nutmeg.


The Locomotive is an old world hot cocktail in the style of English mulled wine or the Rumfustian, which is a hot dark beer and egg drink with a similar texture. This drink is really savory with a rich red wine like a Zinfandel. The heated egg adds a thickness that the liqueurs and cinnamon seem to cling to. I wanted to show that the lemon slice, if it remains on the surface keeps the cinnamon close to the drinker's nose, which is a great effect when sipping this hot holiday-style mulled wine.

This drink was the perfect opportunity to showcase Luxardo spirits, which are of better quality than those bargain liqueurs. Here are the maraschino cherry and triple sec.
  • 6 oz. dry red wine
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (Luxardo used)
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. honey
  • whole egg
  • lemon slice
  • powdered cinnamon
Warm red wine, liqueurs and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the honey dissolves, but do not boil. In a separate container, beat the egg and add it to the heated mixture stirring quickly for about a minute. Pour into a warm coffee mug, add the lemon slice on top and sprinkle it with cinnamon.