Monday, April 20, 2020

Bourbon Branca

This is a simple cocktail that combines two very unlike things. I love how bourbon softens the dryness of Fernet Branca, adding vanilla notes to the menthol and earthy Italian spirit. For this cocktail, I chose the whiskey that is iconic of Kentucky bourbon flavor, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond edition. It is strong and smooth, with a vanilla and hazelnut nose and a sweet center and nutty finish. The recipe says that the lemon twist is optional. I strongly advocate for it if you have fresh fruit. It ties these two spirits together. Without citrus zest they tend to fight each other for your attention.
  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Fernet Branca
  • lemon twist (cut zest in a long strip and use a sharp knife to shape it into a shoestring width. Twist it over the drink and drop it in)
Combine all ingredients except zest in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with long lemon twist.

Botofogo Cocktail

There must be an alternate universe out there where bitters are hard to find but you can walk into any liquor store and pick up a bottle of Amer Picon. In our world, Amer Picon has disappeared in the U.S.

That's the link between the Botofogo and a Manhattan. Amer Picon is a great substitute for orange bitters. It has a cola-like richness and tons of bitter orange flavor. My homemade Amer is made with Ramazzotti, orange peels, MurLarkey Justice white whiskey, and Royal Combier.

A Manhattan with orange bitters lightens up a Manhattan for spring drinking. Fortunately there are a half dozen commercially available kinds of orange bitters from Regans and Hella to Fee Bros. Bittermans. You can still make your own with the peels of six oranges and a cup of high proof neutral spirits. Let the peels soak for a month and strain out the solids. These bitters are cheap and never go bad. Once you have these, you are on the right track to making Amer Picon.
  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • several dashes Amer Picon
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Summer Fizz (and DIY Strawberry Liqueur)

This is a fun drink that I imagine would be great for outdoor sipping in the summer. If only it was warm enough this spring...and we weren't social distancing. Sadly, no pool drinks in the foreseeable future. 

You can use any whiskey you choose, and I recommend Irish or Canadian for their lightness and the fact that they are blended for swift drinking. The heavy portion of grapefruit juice needs a sweet cordial for balance. That's where strawberry liqueur comes in.

There are a number of strawberry flavored cordials on the market. I quickly made this rum-based one using Vitae's platinum rum infused with strawberries while I folded in some strawberry syrup I made on the stove.

DIY Strawberry Liqueur
To make this take a cup of any white rum and soak six cored strawberries in it for three days. Take an
additional six berries and add them to 1/2 cup of white sugar and water. Heat these to boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Mash the berries while they are hot to make a jam and allow it to cool. Strain the fruit from the syrup and fold it into the strawberry rum. Bottle it in something that seals. It should keep for six months refrigerated.

Now for the cocktail:
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 3 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp. strawberry liqueur (Homemade Vitae based used)
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except club soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. 

Sherry & 7 and Sherry Twist #3

Sometimes a cocktail is known by more than one name, especially when it is simple and easy to riff on. The Sherry & 7 makes a lot of sense. It is a soft, before dinner drink that makes the best of its two ingredients. The maraschino cherry (one of those ice cream topping cherries) perfectly ties in the oak of the whiskey. It's a simple pleasure like so many Seagram's 7 cocktails.

Why we need three Sherry Twist cocktails, however, is beyond me. To change it up, I used MurLarkey Heritage whiskey for its "old country" corn whiskey taste. Incidentally it is white wine cask finished, so Heritage pairs well with fino sherry. The lemon twist is perfect here to tame the Heritage's assertive bite and tie it in to the citrus scent of the sherry.

Sherry & 7
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's 7 Crown whiskey 
  • 3/4 oz. dry sherry (Lustau fino used)
  • maraschino cherry
 Stir liquors in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Sherry Twist #3
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 3/4 oz. dry sherry (Lustau fino used)
  • lemon twist
Stir liquors in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thinly peeled lemon zest.

Danny's Downfall

I thought it was the Yeoman Calvary that brought Danny's downfall. But that's not what happens in the Irish ballad "Danny Boy." That's the "Croppy Boy," a different Irish ballad, sad but beautiful. Danny's Downfall the cocktail is smooth, sweet and inviting. It is equal parts whiskey, gin and sweet vermouth. Any brands will do, I suppose, but I was going for softer flavors with less bitterness and spice. Silky like an Irish ballad.

With a cocktail that has only three equal ingredients, and some of them potentially overpowering, it was important to choose carefully. I wanted an Irish whiskey, of course, because they are simple and carry no strange peat or malt aftertaste, nor do they have an overly oaky scent. So Proper Twelve it is.

Vitae Old Tom gin has a mellow aged flavor on a spirit that is molasses based and lightly junipered. The effect is like toasted marshmallow without being overly sweet. This contrasts with London Dry gins with that dry and juniper bite throughout.

Mt. Defiance sweet vermouth is made from cider and wine brandy. It is less herbal than Italian vermouth so that it adds a mild sweetness and less of the deep red color.
  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 1 oz. gin (Vitae Old Tom used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Candy Pants

Sometimes an easy to drink Whiskey Sour is just what you need. Sometimes Seagram's 7 Crown is the perfect initiation to whiskey cocktails. That is the case with the Candy Pants. It's used as an insult: someone is "candy pants" if they can't handle something challenging. A cocktail is "candy pants" for those noobs who whine when they can actually taste booze in their drink. This cocktail is a little about both.

Cherry brandy is a cheap way to sweeten a cocktail and cover over boozy flavors. I don't use cheap cherry brandy. I use Heering.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's 7 Crown used)
  • 1/2 oz. cherry brandy (Heering used)
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • dash sugar syrup (optional for those really needing a sweet drink)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

AquaBeet Martini (Original Recipe)

Is that a pickled beet in your Martini? I think the better question is: "Is that even considered a Martini? The answer is yes, insofar as the Dirty Martini is counted along with the classic recipe.

Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit flavored with caraway and other herbs. It is similar to gin, but it has a lot in common with a flavored vodka. It is savory, so aquavit can be used in Bloody Mary's and briny Martinis. This is important because the brine in this Martini is pickled beet juice!
  • 2 oz. aquavit (homemade used but Aalborg or Linie are good or better for this purpose)
  • 1/2 oz. pickled beet juice
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • pickled beet
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the pickled beet. 

The Vulgar Boatman

I kind of like when cocktail names get corrupted and a new idea springs forth. It starts with a guest mis-hearing the name of the drink (the Harvey Wallbanger) and asking for it wrong the rest of the night No one corrects them and suddenly regulars are flocking to try this new cocktail (The Wally Harvbanger.)

This cocktail is a little more Eurocentric than the Volga Boatman, it's originator. There's German kirschwasser, Swedish cherry liqueur and Polish vodka, Italian vermouth, as well as orange bitters. This drink is richer than the Volga Boatman, and much less juicy. Orange his hinted at with the bitters, not the juice itself.
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Belvedere used)
  • 3/4 oz. cherry liqueur (Cherry Herring used)
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth (Antica dry used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp. kirsch (Kammer kirsch used)
  • dash of orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass 

Derby Fizz

A Fizz is such a delicious and refreshing way to tipple. It is strong, light tasting, and it has a richness that clings without using cream. Its best to down it without a straw so that you have to drink through the copious amounts of foam. 

I like this recipe, commemorating the Kentucky Derby. It's unusual in two ways: one, it is made with whiskey; two, it uses the whole egg. curacao is a nice touch for flavor and brightness. 

The recipe doesn't specify bourbon, but you certainly can do that. The point is you have to use American whiskey to get that vanilla and oak flavor. I felt that MurLarkey's Heritage whiskey was appropriately southern and all-American. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used. American preferred)
  • 1 tsp. curacao
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 egg
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake to chill, then strain out the ice and shake again to create foam. Pour into a chilled Collins glass and pour soda until the foam rises just above the top of the glass. 

Marnier Martini

There's so many Martini variations: many that don't even use the word Martini, but are pretty much the same thing. Still others that carry the name have nothing in common with the classic recipe--I'm looking at you Espresso Martini. The Marnier Martini is more traditional than most. Sometimes the addition of a garnish, whether it be a pickle, a beet, or roasted vegetables, can make a huge difference. For the Marnier, the garnish is anchovies and anchovy vinegar.

Let's start off by saying that this is a cocktail for seafood lovers. You really have to enjoy the briny and salty flavor of anchovies. Whether you use vodka or gin, the overall profile, while light, is going to have ocean funk--hence the name.

To make the anchovy vinegar, simply take a few tiny anchovy fillets and pat them dry. Soak them in enough white wine vinegar that they are submerged (1-2 ounces only unless you plan on making a ton of these). Leave them to soak for at least two days until the anchovy flavor infuses into the vineger. Use the rest of the anchovies in the can for stuffing olives if that is your thing. I find an olive is a great delivery system for these guys, since they don't look too appetizing floating in the drink.
  • 2-3 oz. Gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • anchovy infused white wine vinegar (several dashes to 2 tsp. according to taste)
  • olives (preferably stuffed with anchovies