The Grenade Launch

Ladies and gentlemen, where have I been all your month?

Where I've been is, first I went out of town for work, then I came home with a cold, then I went out of town again. The short month flew by, my skedge was always being cut at the corners, blogging got squeezed out, and all in all, it was a real Feh-bruary. (I just came up with that, really I did. You can use it, though. Or how about Meh-bruary?)

Throughout, I was hoping that an idea would percolate in the back of my head for this cocktail contest I wanted to enter (deadline: oh, about 89  minutes from this very moment): PAMA's Best Home Bar Star. Just as it sounds, submitted recipes must include PAMA pomegranate liqueur, and the contest's only open to amateur, at-home mixologists.

And yet, no inspiration was striking. Like, none. Feh-bruary really lived up to its name-I-just-made-up and I wasn't coming up with any sort of hook to hang this drink on. So what I did was,  I went to the supermarket, hoping that browsing the aisles would somehow reveal a perfect, secret ingredient to me. In the juice aisle, I found my muse.

Did you know that the French word for pomegrante is grenade? And just like a grenade, BOOM -- cocktail framework smacks me upside the head. French ingredients, something that really goes pow on the palate. Voila.

The Grenade Launch

1 ounce Bulldog Gin

3/4 ounce PAMA

1/2 ounce St.-Germain

1/2 ounce Lillet

1 dash yellow Chartreuse

1 dash orange blossom water

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.

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The Remix to Ignition

Did you know today's National Hangover Awareness Day? I did as of 90 seconds ago! Which is when I saw a tweet about the more-a-promotional-stunt-than-actual-commemorative-day Day. Although it makes sense, when you read the press release think about it: The Monday after the Super Bowl, in fact, clocks more calls in sick to work than any other day of the year.

If there were an official Five O'Clock Press Release in response to the NHAD press release, nobody would read it it would read:

"We here at the blog appreciate that easing up on the gas can be a wise move for some, fo' sho'. We also encourage imbibers to experience many different kinds of alcoholic highs; all the better to one day happen upon the hangover that works best for you! So don't kill the headlights and put it in neutral, bros! Instead, try downshifting just a gear or two and spending your post-Bowl happy hour with an enjoyable, easygoing, 100% vino-derived cocktail, comprised entirely of lovely aperitifs and fortified wines. No harsh liquors or swilly beers that'll stick in your craw come morning! We like to think of it as the Remix to Ignition*: A newly jiggered kind of cocktail with a pleasant, rounded buzz, definitely not a buzzkill!"

*No lawsuitable copyright infringiness intended towards His Eminence R. Kelly, composer of said musical masterpiece in question, "Ignition (Remix)." That's actually one of my all-time favorite songs. It reminds me of my old friend Mike, whose levels of inebriation could be calibrated thusly: Level I - fake British accent. Level II - Choosing this song at karaoke. Level III - Roaring like a lion. Level IV - Destroying other people's mailboxes. Level V - Throwing own TV off balcony. If only he'd drank a Remix to Ignition before singing the remix to Ignition... think of all the poor mailboxes that would've been saved.

The Remix to Ignition

3 ounces Lillet

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 ounce port

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake (no need for over-vigorousness), strain into stemless wine glass that's got a few handsome ice cubes a-waiting in it.

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The Corpse Reviver #2

Do more classic cocktails, is my #1 resolution for the blog this year. As much as I love, and have no plans to cease, inventing original recipes, perhaps I should ease up on bedeviling you all with my illimitable tipple perspicacity (resolution #2: consult thesaurus more) for the sake of some insightful, happy hour convo-worthy history lessons on drinks that have stood the test of time, or haven't but deserve as much. Plus, discuss how to make said vintage drinks at their finest, a la The World's Greatest Cosmopolitan. (Resolution Trois: I am the greatest!)

Let's start with Corpse Revivers which, like their titular cadavers, are making a comeback. The phrase refers to a genus of hair-of-the-dog cocktails; Corpse Reviver #1 and Corpse Reviver #2 are the individual species you're likely to encounter. Strangely, they resemble each other not at all. Their generally-agreed-upon ingredients break down thusly:

Corpse Reviver#1: Cognac, Calvados, sweet vermouth

Corpse Reviver #2: Gin, triple sec, Lillet, absinthe, lemon juice

It is my understanding that both can be traced back to the Savoy Cocktail Book, authored by legendary barman/American expat Harry Craddock and published in 1930. However, when mentioned elsewhere, #2 is almost always credited as an expressly Craddock creation whereas #1's genealogy seems much muddier, or maybe just less interesting. Maybe #1 was, like, made by his rival but still good enough to be included in his book? Cocktail history really is crippled by the fact that people were probably drunk (i.e. forgetful and/or brazenly self-aggrandizing) when they wrote this shit down.

There are other Corpse Revivers as well. Depending on the source you consult, you may come across "Corpse Reviver No.2 #2" (not a typo), "Corpse Reviver #3 or" the "Savoy Corpse Reviver," which apparently stems back not to London's Hotel Savoy circa the 1930s but to some dude in the 1950s...? Repeat what I just said about crippled history.

Anyway, so how's it taste? Because I was too drunkenly forgetful to write that shit down, I'm relying on what the PhoBlograpHusband had to say about it: "The general base was the citrus from the triple sec and the lemon juice, with the herbaceousness of the gin sort of getting along nicely in there. But that absinthe note really came through, it's really pervasive. It was really nice and bracing. I can see how old-timey people would have had this in the morning."

The Corpse Reviver#2

3/4 ounce Bombay London Dry Gin

3/4 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounce Lillet blonde

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 dash Pernod absinthe

Lemon twist, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Tasting Notes

Many recipes, even those that go way back, will insist upon Cointreau rather than no-name triple sec. I just didn't have any around.

Likewise, there's nitpicking to be done as to whether Lillet or dry vermouth is the proper ingredient here. Some sources will even cite Swedish punsch (Not a Typo #2) as the proper ingredient... you know what? All this history stuff is hard. I may be rethinking Resolution #1.

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The Refresherer

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband

Yesterday Rose mentioned our pre-moving“Drink Us Out of House and Homeland” party, which left us depleted of booze but rife with empty bottles and hangover headaches. Among the copious, and at times senseless, consumption (see our friend Jason mistreat a bottle of Michter's below), a few cocktails were born. As our liquor levels ran lower and lower, our need to innovate grew higher and higher. But perhaps my favorite creation of the night was not a particular drink, but a certain game I invented, Box of Mystery.

The idea behind Box of Mystery was simple if a bit sophomoric. Put twelve bottle of liquor in a box and make one of your guests pick a bottle at random. The guest in question then fashions a drink using said liquor. The first few rounds of Box of Mystery yielded few surprises -- Cognac = Sidecar, Gin = Martini, Rye = suck it straight from the bottle  -- but the cranberry-flavored Smirnoff vodka, now that one resulted in a twist of creative, collaborative delicious genius. Which I present to you now.

The Refresherer

1 1/4 ounes Smirnoff cranberry vodka
3/4 ounesLillet
Splash pomegranate juice
Splash ginger ale
Lime wedge

Combine the vodka, Lillet and pomegranate juice in an old fashioned glass with ice and stir. Add ginger ale and a squeeze of lime. Refresh!

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The Paris When It Swizzles

Inventing cocktails is hard, y'all! Especially when you think you've come up with the wittiest cocktail moniker this side of an H.L. Mencken bon mot and don't want to waste it on a subpar recipe. Even more especially when you're putting together said recipe and discover that more than one authority has published more than one set of rules for what, exactly, constitutes a swizzle.

According to Tasting Table, where I first read about Death & Co.'s Robert Johnson Swizzle, any and all swizzles are composed of a liquor, a liqueur, a fruit juice and crushed ice. Meanwhile, one of my at-home bartending books lists the swizzle's fundamental ingredients as a liquor, crushed ice, lime juice (specifically, not just any juice) and club soda... so, like, a rickey? I had to side with the Church of Pre-Prohibition-Style Speakeasy-ish Cocktail Lounges.

Next step: A drink known as the Paris When It Swizzles needs ingredients from France. Seems obvs, but I resisted doing so through my first three attempts because, well, rums and tequilas go better with fruit juices, right? They go so well, in fact, they just sort of faded into the aftermath of the juice and no matter what I drizzled in there to coax them out -- Campari, oregat (that's the almond-y syrup key in classic mai tais), chocolate bitters -- the alcohols' flavors just refused to come out of hiding. I basically had a screwdriver on my hands. Meh.

Feeling momentarily defeated, I retreated to my Robert Johnson Swizzle recipe and leaned on it like a set of training wheels. I also figured I'd try going whole-hog with the Fronche booze idea, and thank goodness I've kept that bottle of Lillet in my fridge since forever, despite convincing myself that I'd never figure out a drink to put it in, because now we were getting somewhere!

The Robert Johnson Swizzle features great, tart complexity, which I was more than happy to ape, which I did via the vanilla syrup, lemon juice, and barrel-aged bitters. The Very Cherre juice -- which is not at all like a certain other cherry juice -- had been, like the Lillet, sealed in our fridge for months now, something I picked up at a gourmet market hoping I'd one day find it a home in some nice barware.

The Paris When It Swizzles

1 1/4 ounces Remy Martin

3/4 ounces Lillet

3/4 ounces Very Cherre

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla simple syrup

3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

Fill a Pilsner glass (or something similar; think summer cooler glassware) with crushed ice. Place it in the freezer momentarily while you make your cocktail by combining all liquid ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shaking vigorously for a good 20 seconds. Strain into glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lemon twist.

Tasting Notes:

As with the Robert Johnson Swizzle, I'm recommending shaking the cocktail rather than "swizzling" it in the glass because most of us don't own swizzlers. I'm not talking any whozit-whatzit doodad-festooned stick to put in your drink, but specfically a long, slender, wooden stick with little prongs at the tail end that do the bulk of your mixing. Honestly, I've never seen them anywhere but live and in person at Death & Co.

You can swap in a citrus-y white wine (something in the sauv blanc family?) for the Lillet and/or Pom Wonderful for the Very Cherre (they're equally hefty, so the balance should maintian).

To make a quick and easy vanilla simple syrup, heat a cup of water and a cup of granulated sugar on the stove, stirring frequently, until it's brought to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in a tablespoon of vanilla extract, stir a bit more, bottle and refrigerate. Of course, you can also make a syrup with honest to goodness vanilla beans. There's a recipe with great photos here.

Sean got me a vintage, hand-cranked ice crusher for Christmas, which means no more wrapping ice cubes in a hand towel and banging them with a mallet, yay! Srsly, eBay's always got vintage crushers up for bid at under $20; I highly recommend considering one.

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