Harriet's Highball

Harriet's Highball

Me: Hey, J. and M. [our favorite married-couple-with-new-baby-in-Montreal friends] invited us over on Mother's Day afternoon for cocktails. J.'s mother and grandmother are in town. J. says her mother and I will get along because we're both drinkers.

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The Pregnant Pause

It's been un longtemps and a day since I've posted, which means lots to catch up on even if you're one of my kindly regular readers -- let alone a newbie gamely bouncing on the blogwagon thanks to my recent Saveur Best Cocktail Blog nom (#believethatscalledahumblebrag #hinewbies).

Everything you need to know about my truancy, as well as my all-telling *general*outlook*on*life*, you can glean from the following statement: I feel acutely guilty that, thanks to uterus-subletting fetus, I'm not inclined to drink for you guys as much as I once did. Isn't it awful how I'm letting y'all down, spending my current pregnancy largely away from alcohol? Without a coupe in her claw, who is this Blogtender personbot?

Talking like a normal now... I'm totes pregs! A girl is due in August. I drink a lot of nonalcoholic beer these days (it takes the edge off, it really does). I also allow myself one sip per cocktail ordered by the PhoBlograpHusband whenever we're out, and when out at restaurants with ace bartenders, I ask them to mix me up a mocktail of my own.

At MEDIAnoche in St. Louis (my old stomping ground, was there in February), one bartender complied with a lemon juice-ginger syrup concoction that was damn fine and delightful. I found myself relishing its memory (and replicating it in pic below) as if it were a real, actual drink. I hadn't caught every move he'd made in its construction; was it really just lemon juice and ginger syrup? I might have tasted fizz. At least mocktails are still getting my mixology mojo going, right? At least I still have that?

FYI, I have no plans to turn this blog dry for the next few months. My one-sip rule stands for the full-hooch tipples I'll continue to roll out here. Is that controversial? If so, let some modern-day Carry Nation twist up her bloomers, cause a stink online, and pave the way for my appearance on Anderson touting my hedonistic child-ruining. Cocktail-book deal to follow, natch.

Having said that, today's cmocktail is, in fact, without alcohol. I started with that lemon-ginger base and wanted to see what I could work up from there. Turns out it was the sprightly kick of fresh ginger that felt like fizz, so no soda needed, but the recipe I drafted this weekend did include grapefruit soda and a quick hit of Liber & Co. Spiced Tonic Syrup, which I was kindly sent as a review sample several weeks back and do recommend as a quirky, comfortably priced change of pace from bitters. (Think Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters, with a more concentrated flavor and a quinine-y finish, bought at a half-off sale.)

Impregnate the Pregnant Pause with light or dark rum or tequila, or gin, or even bourbon. I think this recipe's got legs, versatility-wise, and damn if it's not refreshing as all get-out. Maybe not as refreshing as the half-gallon of mint chip I downed last week, but that's just the expectation talking.

The Pregnant Pause

1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce ginger-infused simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon Liber & Co. Spiced Tonic Syrup

Grapefruit soda, to fill

Cucumber wheel and rosemary sprig, to garnish

1 1/2 ounces booze of choice, to taste (optional)

Combine juice, syrups and liquor, if including, in ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a Pilsner glass over ice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with cucumber and rosemary.

Tasting Notes

My grapefruit soda came from SodaStream. It's one of the little flavor-adding packets you get when you buy the start-up kit. FWIW, I only used half the packet and the soda turns out just as flavorful and (I'm assuming) not as sweet.

As I suggested above, swap in Fee Brothers Barrel Aged Whiskey Bitters for the tonic syrup, or even Angostura. You basically just want a couple dashes (maybe 2 or 3 to taste) of something that plays against the other flavors.

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The Bathtub Gin(ger)

In my quest for Total World Cocktail Domination, last week I made myself a little spreadsheet of upcoming recipe contests, those expressly for cocktails as well as others where my commendable potations will be up against some lame-ass summer salads or whatever.

First at bat: a grapefruit-and-ginger recipe contest courtesy of a skin-treats company. Winners get paid in grapefruit and ginger-scented bath-product gift baskets!... Wait, I've never mentioned what a slut I am for a nice, relaxing bubble bath? Well, there you go.

Starting from scratch, here's how I manifested The Bathtub Gin(ger). I am writing this all down for you because one day The Museum of the American Cocktail will ask that my brain be donated to their archives, but that won't be possible because I never plan on dying. So you guys can pass this along to them and I bet they'd even give you money for it.

Attempt #1: Take everything I know and/or have at my disposal in the grapefruit and ginger departments, combine with appropriate cutesy wordplay and visual puns, pour into a glass. This means gin, sloe gin, ginger syrup and fresh grapefruit juice, plus some egg white (creating visual pun of frothiness = bubble bath) and a salted and sugared rim (because I like Salty Dogs).

Result: Salt overpowered EVERYTHING. Blergh.

Attempt #2: Nix salt/sugar rim, see what happens when you add in some Luxardo. Why? Because Luxardo's proven itself a stealth facilitator of awesomesauce cocktails before.

Result: All Luxardo, even though I only used half an ounce. Damn.

Attempt #3: Back to drawing board. Try using World's Greatest Cosmopolitan as a template, swapping out cranberry juice for grapefruit and ginger syrup for regular simple syrup. (Oh wait... I don't use simple syrup in the World's Greatest Cosmopolitan.) Keep all other elements of WGC intact: lime juice, triple sec, confectioner's-sugar rim.

Result:  Weirdly lacks a center. What starts out as the right amount of sweetness somehow evaporates into nothing. This is getting frustrating.

Attempt #4: Brainstorm other possible ingredients. Remember the beauty that is grapefruit-Campari sorbet. Graft Campari and a splash of sloe gin onto WGC recipe.

Result: Getting there...

Attempt #5: Spend way too much money on a bottle of Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Flavored Vodka, all the while lamenting, "Whither art thou, Domaine de Canton?" Curse the SAQ for putting you in this predicament. Go home, construct a recipe using those elements you like best from attempts 1-4. Decide that the ginger syrup needs help; find ginger ale on sale.

Result: This...

The Bathtub Gin(ger)

2 ounces Bulldog Gin

1 ounce Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Flavored Vodka

1/2 ounce Campari

2 ounces freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice

1 ounce ginger syrup

1 raw egg

About 2 ounces ginger ale

Confectioner's sugar, for the rim

Mint sprig, to garnish

Rim a cocktail glass with confectioner's sugar and set aside. Combine gin, vodka, Campari, grapefruit juice, ginger syrup and the white from raw egg in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Before straining contents of shaker into sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, pour about two ounces of ginger ale in the glass first. Garnish with mint sprig.

Tasting Notes

To make ginger syrup: Mix a half-cup of granulated sugar and a half-cup of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While waiting for mixture to come to a boil, grate a thumb-sized piece of ginger into the pan. Stir until mixture reaches a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a container and let cool before using. This will make you more syrup than you need. You can refrigerate or freeze the rest.

As you probably already figured out, I poured the ginger ale into the empty cocktail glass first because I didn't want to shake the carbonation out of it. If you've got Domain de Canton on hand, try it in this recipe (instead of or in addition to ginger ale) and let me know what it tastes like!

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The Golden Gate

If you want to drink at Death & Company, you talk to the guy standing outside with the pad and pen. In winter, he'll be the one donning a puffy coat as big as a monster-truck tire. You give him your name, your cell's digits and the number of people in your party -- a number which should always be exactly two. (Seven's the max, but take a moment to picture seven liquored friends trying to divvy up a tab of several $13 cocktails.)

He'll then instruct you to go somewhere else (try Tile Bar or the McDonald's on the corner) until you get a call from him that your table's ready. This is when you kindly inform him that you'd actually prefer seats at the bar. This is how you will insure having the time of your life at Death & Co. -- and getting your money's worth.

No offense to the cocktail waitresses, but I don't drink away my monthly car-insurance premium to chitchat with them tableside once every 20 minutes. I'm looking for dinner and a show, which is what the bartenders put on nightly. These guys (and one woman that I've seen so far) are rock stars, brandishing their shakers the way guitarists thrash at their Fenders. (Given their pre-Prohibition ties, vests and shirtsleeves, I'm guessing the band they'd be in is The Decemberists.) You will soak up more cocktail knowledge from them in an hour than you will watching Cocktail 297 times; I may not remember where I left my cell phone this weekend, but I remember the name of the first-ever bartender I had there (Alex Day).

Having said all that, this cocktail may be one of the easiest on Death & Co.'s menu that even us mere mortals can successfully fashion. Have it with brunch, and use any leftover Grandma on your French toast.

 

The Golden Gate

(Adapted from Death & Company)

2 ounces Grand Marnier

3/4 ounce grapefruit juice

1/2 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce B & B

2 teaspoons Campari

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake it like a rock star. Strain into snifter.

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The Albino Old Fashioned

Have you bought your bottle of white whiskey yet? Why not? The Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey I've got isn't even top-of-the-liniest (that would be this) and it's still supremely drinkable. Have I not yet convinced you of this?

If not, get a load of this: The hands-down easiest cocktail you could ever fashion -- as in old-fashioned (BWAHAHA). This was yet another cocktail I caught wind of while Googling around for corn whiskey concoctions to make. And like the other corn whiskey cocktails I've already made, yet again I was surprised by this one. I just keep on expecting/assuming that my jar of rotgut's gonna taste like, well, rotgut. But really it's so sweet it's almost cute, and its afterbite is pleasingly bracing.

The Albino Old-Fashioned

(Adapted from Bar Celona, a new-ish cocktail/tapas lounge in Williamsblarghburg)

2 ounces Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey

About 4 or so brandied cherries

Grapefruit peel

Muddle brandied cherries in the bottom of a highball glass. Add your preferential amount of ice, pour in whiskey. Run the inside of the peel (the pith side) along the rim of your glass, then fashion peel into a twist over the mouth of the glass before dropping it in. (I've never been fully convinced that essential oils make their way from the peel to the drink when you do this, but I like how much I look like I know what I'm doing when I do this.)

Tasting Notes:

I tried this with a single dash of bitters; specifically, Fee Brothers Peach Bitters. It took a lot of the bite off the front of the drink, almost to the point where I felt it was too rounded. However, that might be just what some drinkers need as an introduction.

To make homemade brandied cherries, combine in a saucepan 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and half a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer about a pound of cherries (preferably previously pitted) in this mixture for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick, stir in 3 1/2 tablespoons of brandy. Refrigerate in a Mason jar. These will last a few months, although their colors will start to brown after a couple weeks.

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