Archive for March 2013

Deviled Eggs

deviledEggs

I was going to stop at three food-based cocktails for my Parade series, but then “deviled eggs” was mentioned to me as a joke (I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it since it is one of my lines; maybe something in my subconscious was trying to protect me). I’ve never made a full egg drink before, always staying with just the whites, so thought it might be fun to give it a go.

Deviled Eggs

  • 1.0 oz. Silver Tequila
  • 1.0 oz. Mezcal
  • 1.0 oz. Benedictine
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz. serrano balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 dashes Chipotle Single Malt bitters
  • 2 dashes Caramelized Ramp bitters
  • 1 pinch sweet onion sugar
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 whole egg

Shake without ice then shake with ice.
Double strain into cocktail glass.
Garnish with cracked black pepper.

I don’t make many drinks with lots of ingredients, sticking mostly to a 3-4 + bitters sort of model, but I felt this one called for it. I wanted smokiness and spice, so I used a mezcal and tequila base with the serrano balsamic and chipotle bitters for some bite. For sweetness, other than the balsamic, I turned to Benedictine and a bit of a sweet onion sugar (in the past I tried to use this in a cocktail that turned out to taste like an everything bagel…), and in keeping the vegetable direction I added the caramelized ramp bitters. The lemon juice added some needed acidity and with the paprika seemed to work with the deviled egg theme. The final result with the egg was tasty but I didn’t think pushed things enough where they needed to go. Enter the Dijon mustard, which I think gave it just the right bite.

I can’t believe I made a deviled eggs cocktail.

Pig Grease and Corn Bread

pigGreaseAndCornBread

Pig Grease and Corn Bread

  • 1.5 oz. Maple bacon-infused Bourbon
  • 1.0 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. Flag Hill Sugar Maple Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 4 dashes Urban Moonshine maple bitters

Stir with ice and strain into old fashioned rimmed with pancetta over ice.

I’ve had bacon-infused or bacon-washed whiskey at a number of places, but had never tried to do it myself. So when the line in Parade about “pig grease and corn bread” was spoken I immediately thought of it. (Man, that says something about me…)

At first, I used a 100% corn whiskey and since I had recently infused some rye and port with duck fat successfully I tried a similar approach with the bacon, infusing the whiskey with the drippings after frying up a healthy amount of bacon. Um.. no. Pretty disgusting (got a bottle here for free for anyone who wants it). Next I tried infusing another batch of corn whiskey with a few slices of bacon for about 12 hours. The results were exceptionally strong (the corn whiskey was also cheap and 100 proof), and I wasn’t sure I was necessarily tasting what I would describe as bacon. Finally, I went for bourbon, which at least is over 50% corn so still kept with the theme of the drink, and I also went with a maple bacon as opposed to simply a smoked applewood. The results were much more palatable, so I used this as a base.

After an attempt using maple syrup (way too sweet, even in a small amount) I opted for a maple liqueur, with the amaro for some added bitterness and the maple bitters to tie the bitter with the sweet. The vermouth just opened up the drink a bit, smoothing out the rough edges. For a garnish, I fried up some pancetta, let it dry, then ground it up and rimmed the glass. The saltiness was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the drink, and certainly contributed to the bacon taste of the result. Alternatively, I have tried it with a little sprinkling of bourbon smoked salt instead, and that was equally yummy.

Mmmmm… bacon.

Apple and Some Coffee

applesAndSomeCoffee

OK, even though Watermelon Pickles was the first Parade drink I conceptualized, I hadn’t really locked on a concept for the whole collection and so hadn’t proceeded with mixing anything up. Coming up with random drinks isn’t as fun for me as finding a theme that I can carry through. It was when I heard a line, spoken by Leo, that all he wanted for breakfast was “an apple and some coffee” that things came together. Apple and coffee I could work with. Now I had two drinks based on food spoken about in the show, and the theme was set.

Apple and Some Coffee

  • 2.0 oz. Apple Brandy
  • 1.0 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 0.5 oz. Kalhua
  • 2 dashes coffee bitters

Stir with ice and strain into coupe.
Grate coffee bean as garnish.

I used Carriage House apple brandy here, but would be curious to try some applejack in its place to see how that changes things. The Kalhua obviously brings on the coffee taste — a little goes a long way here. I felt the Cocchi brightened up the result somewhat, which was feeling dark and heavy from the Kalhua, and added some bitterness as well. The coffee bitters provided some additional coffee flavor while countering the Kahlua’s sweetness. The final garnish of the bean is really for the nose more than anything else.

There you go, Leo. Have a nice breakfast. Much better than the pig grease and corn bread they gave you. Hmmm. Pig grease and corn bread…

Watermelon Pickles

watermelonPickles

In the musical Parade watermelon pickles are mentioned a few times, once by me, so as I was trying to think of some drinks I could make related to the show I almost immediately locked on to this quirky condiment. I had no idea what the things were, but I could at least play with the thought. So I did.

Watermelon Pickles

  • 2.0 oz. American Dry Gin
  • 0.5 oz. watermelon syrup
  • 0.25 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz. tequila lime vinegar
  • 3 drops salt water
  • 2 dashes lemon bitters

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
Garnish with sweet watermelon pickles.

I did actually find a jar of the sweet pickled watermelon rind, which are.. interesting, so I added it as a garnish. The drink itself, though, is inspired more by the idea of pickles and watermelons than by the actual taste of the food. I had a watermelon simple syrup from Monin’s and used this with some gin (Bluecoat). For the pickling I added the vinegar which I found in a specialty shop last year, plus a little lemon juice for even more pucker and acid. I added the salt just because that’s what I like with my watermelon and to generally enhance the flavors already present, and finished with the lemon bitters to balance the sweet and tart.

Watermelon Pickles. Drink it, don’t eat it.

Parade

parade

Parade is the true and tragic story of Leo Frank, a Jew from Brooklyn who was tried for rape and murder, convicted, exonerated, then lynched in Atlanta, Georgia at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a tale of a dark part of American history, of our racism, hatred, media sensationalism and mob mentality, retold by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry in the American art form of musical theater.

I am in a production of Parade that will be presented by the Footlight Club, America’s oldest running community theater, in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA. It isn’t a show that would immediately inspire you to make drinks (well, maybe to start drinking…). It is a very sobering piece of theater, powerful in its message, dealing with themes that don’t steer you to more frivlous pursuits.

Yet I have set myself up now within my theater community. People expect cocktails from me, even though I have only been creating show-related cocktails for about a year. So with Parade I got constant questions about what was coming. I joked about “Moonshine and Manischewitz” but really had no ideas. Cocktails seemed a silly tie in.

And so they were. With our rehearsals for the show, we found that irreverence itself helped in dealing with the weightiness of the subject matter. Joke in rehearsals and you can deal and commit to the seriousness of the performance. So the cocktails followed a similar suit. I made no attempt to be “inspired” by the show for cocktails and instead produced rather silly concoctions based on throwaway lines in the show that mention food.

This came from one of my own lines (for those who might know the show, I am playing Britt “Big News!” Craig). At one point I mention watermelon pickles. I almost immediately thought I could pull off that combination in a drink. That became my first in a series of four drinks extracted from lines in Parade that deal with food.

Enjoy the drinks and be irreverent. Sometimes the sobering facts of our world require it.

Tapu

tapu

Mixology Monday

I missed last month’s Mixology Monday since I was out of the country for half of the time (I need to post of my cocktail experience in Australia soon), so was glad to be able to participate in this month’s theme, From Crass to Class, as presented by Scott Diaz at Shake, Strain & Sip. The announcement in full:

The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey. From its humble beginning, to the “Dark Ages” of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald “Platinum
Age” of the cocktail, master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available. But with all this focus on “craft” ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious. The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves. Some even go as far as to post “rules” that may alienate most potential imbibers. Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest. As such, this month’s MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft, will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less. There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves. So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin’!

I was especially eager to throw my hat in for a couple of reasons. First, I have caught myself out being much too serious and snobby about drinks as I dive more into the craft cocktail world. I mean, seriously, how can you have a Black Truffle Negroni then not scoff at a Malibu and Coke? But I keep reminding myself it is all about enjoyment and different tastes and it’s no fun when someone looks down at something for any reason. I’m getting better, but sometimes it’s so HARD.

Second, I have been building up my bar for 6 or 7 years now and have collected a lot of junk (er, sorry, “different tastes”) over that time, especially from the early days when what I picked up at the liquor store were the bottles that were a) the cheapest and b) recognizable names to a novice (Hello, Midori!). I constantly toy with the idea of having a liquor cabinet clearing party where every drink is made with these older mixers just so I can get rid of the damn things.

So I was glad to reach to the back of the cabinet to two of my earliest acquisitions which I rarely use: the aforementioned Malibu as well as a bottle of Kahlua. From these, I present the Tapu:

tapu

Tapu

  • 2.0 oz. Rittenhouse Rye
  • 0.5 oz. Malibu rum
  • 0.5 oz. Kahlua
  • 1/8 oz. lime juice
  • 1/8 oz. Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into coupe.

Malibu is sweet. Really sweet. I initially tried to make it more prominent in this drink, but it had a too overpowering flavor and texture (very syrupy and viscous) so I kept reducing it to the final half ounce. I matched this with the Kahlua, which I like a bit more but can also overwhelm a drink. For the base spirit, I went with a bonded rye (100 proof) which wouldn’t be dominated by these mixers. Rum might have been more obvious, but that was the reason I steered away from it.

At that point I put in the bitters to offset the treacliness. Lots of bitters. The spiciness of the Angostura played well, plus as the most common bitter I thought it worked better with the theme as opposed to pulling out some obscure “craft” bitter (not that there is ANYTHING crass about Angostura). Originally, the drink was stirred without citrus, but to go further Tiki and to add just a hint of bright acid to a heavy drink, I added a little lime and shook up the results.

For the name, I wanted something Tiki. To follow the theme in full, I went back to my first experience with anything to do with Tiki, another somewhat crass and cringeworthy item that could be found in the back of the liquor cabinet that is TV pop culture, the Brady Bunch. I watched reruns of the show as a child after school and I believe the Hawaii vacation episodes with the little Tiki idol was the first I ever knew of the cultural phenomenon that is Tiki. I might have moved on since then, but that bottle is still at the back of the cabinet right beside that bottle of “In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.”

So I looked up the Brady Bunch Tiki episodes and saw that one of the three was named “Pass the Tabu.” Tabu or Taboo were certainly possibilities, but a little further investigation showed that in Polynesian culture Tapu is the original form (from which we get taboo) and has a meaning that something is holy or sacred with implied prohibition. I thought that was a perfect flip of meaning for the Crass to Class theme.

And now I have a reason to pour out my Malibu for my guests without guilt, at least a half ounce at a time.

Lead White

leadWhite

“White. A blank page or canvas. The challenge? Bring order to the whole. Through design. Composition. Balance. Light. And harmony.”

That’s how Sunday in the Park with George starts, and is how I will start this last post on my Cocktails in the Park with George (or Sunday in the Park with Cocktails — still can’t decide…). The final color Seurat used in his famous painting was lead white. My drink came off slightly off-white, but let’s just say that this was to account for the effects of time. Sure, I’ll go with that.

Lead White

  • 1.5 oz. Pisco (Macchu Pichu)
  • 1.0 oz. Malibu
  • 1.0 oz. Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. heavy cream
  • 1.0 tsp. cream of coconut
  • 1 egg white

Shake without ice initially, then with ice.
Strain into chilled sundae glass.
Top with club soda and grated nutmeg.

Sort of started in the Pisco Sour direction, but didn’t introduce the sour. Instead I went to the pantry and refrigerator and pulled out all my whites with the cream, cream of coconut and egg white. The Malibu and Orgeat introduced plenty of additional sweetness, so it seemed appropriate to put this in a sundae glass in the end as really it was a dessert in a glass. A lot of what I make is on the bitter and boozy side, so this was a nice change for my friends with a sweet tooth for drinks. Add as much club soda as desired to lessen the sweetness and increase the frothiness.

And of course I will end this string of posts with the quote that ends Sunday in the Park with George. Also very appropriate.

“White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities.”

Cobalt Blue

cobaltBlue

After using Blue Curacao, where could I go for my blue tint? I had one more blue drink for my Cocktails in the Park with George, the Cobalt Blue (hex #0047AB), and for that I turned sheepishly to a blue vodka that did the trick.

Cobalt Blue

  • 2.0 oz. UV Blue Vodka
  • 1.0 oz. Hpnotiq
  • 0.25 oz. Bittermens Amère Sauvage
  • 2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass.

UV Blue is a raspberry flavored vodka, and I combined that with the vodka-based fruit juice liquor Hpnotiq (also blue, with a touch of green). Very sweet and not very complex at this point, so I poured in the bitters, going for the gentian Bittermens Amère Sauvage and some classic orange bitters. I don’t normally drink vodka drinks, and wouldn’t necessarily reach for this recipe on a Saturday night, but I think I pulled off a drinkable, layered drink that wasn’t just sweet and fruity and was, yes, a nice hue of blue.

Just one more to go to complete the palette.