El Presidente #4

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In some circles, the El Presidente is otherwise known as a Cuban Martini. It's also one of those cocktails with slippery origins; in my Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails, this is the fourth of four known El Presidente recipes printed. Variations include:

- El Presidente #1: Light rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine; a slim change-up on a classic daiquiri, replacing its simple syrup with pineapple juice. (Which, now that I think about it, is a great idea.)

- El Presidente #2: Light rum, dry vermouth, bitters. Difford's describes it as "bone dry" and "rather like a rum-based, old-school Martini."

- El Presidente #3: Light rum, dry vermouth, Cointreau, grenadine. A Trader Vic's recipe, of which Vic himself allegedly said, "This is the real recipe." (But I think he claims that about all of his concoctions? At least about the Mai Tai, which he said he flat-out invented.)

- El Presidente #4: Light rum, dry vermouth, Cointreau. "Dry but not bone dry, with balanced fruit from the triple sec and vermouth." Ding ding ding ding ding, we have a winner!

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Now that I've tasted this, I might actually propose a fifth version with a splash of club soda or even tonic. The former because of  the mojito-Cuban link, the latter because this El Presidente also manages to remind me of a nice, sweaty gin and tonic, which is actually one of my most favorite things to drink on the first hot day of summer.

But as-is is still a-plenty good. Crisp, light... dare I say, in its own weird way, Moscato d'Asti-like? (There I go with the fizzy thing again.)

Just try it.

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El Presidente #4

(Taken pretty much straight-up from Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails)

1 ½ ounces Bacardi Superior light rum

¾ ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth

½ ounce Cointreau

Lemon, lime and/or orange twists, to garnish

Pour all liquid ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir briskly with a bar spoon for about a minute. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add your garnish.

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The (World's Greatest?) Frozen Banana Daiquiri

Something that may or may not surprise you: I'm one of those people who likes to scour the Internet for variousDIYtutorials and then implement them all over my house, oftentimes to the mild chagrin of the PhoBlograpHusband. (Two nights ago, our kitchen table was occupied for 12 hours by our crockpot, wrapped in a beach towel, 'cuz I was making yogurt.) If I were born fifty years earlier,  I would have been a devout Hints from Heloise kinda housewise. As it stands, since the start of summer my freezer has contained a big Ziploc full of banana peels and eggshells, so I can spend my weekends making nutritious, eggshell-and-banana peel fertilizer for my outdoor plants.

Also in my icebox are whole, way-overripe bananas whose peels have turned brown. The peels will inevitably see the inside of the aforementioned Ziploc; the bananas themselves are there because a few weeks ago I read online about making a soft-serve, ice cream-like dessert using nothing but frozen bananas and a blender. Given that pregnancy has kicked my ice cream addiction into disgusting overdrive, I thought this was worth a shot. I also thought, frozen banana daiquiris.

Frozen daiquiris -- a regular daiquiri (rum, lime juice, sugar) buttressed with pureed fruit and crushed ice -- get a bad rap, of course, because their crushed-ice component has allowed them to become conflated with Slurpees and slushies, and so now they are most commonly made from chemicals and food coloring, served out of a whirring machine at someplace like a Sandals resort. This is tragic, because how often do we get to enjoy the wholesome flavor of pureed fruit in our cocktails? Who wouldn't enjoy the foamy, frothy wonderfulness that an ice-blended cocktail provides? (Even I capitulate to the delectable siren call of a Frappuccino at least once per summer.) And when was the last time you got to freaking drink a banana?

A frozen banana daiquiri seems like it should be arduous to make, but it is not. It is surprisingly simple (dump stuff into blender, turn blender on) and it is surprisingly good: Smooth and creamy, with a nice, tangy, lime-y undertone, and not at all too sweet. What I found most surprising was how well its constitution held up. I figured this drink would start separating, rum and melted ice sloshing atop a swamp of banana mush, within minutes. It absolutely did not. All in all, this cocktail was so impressive and enjoyable that Sean took it upon himself to drink the whole thing (after my one, obligatory sip). He even stored it in the fridge while he went to play Frisbee for two hours, came back and drank the rest and it still held up.

So how do we make the World's Greatest Frozen Banana Daiquiri? I think I'm still working on that. What I know so far is, you definitely want to use at least a 50-50 ratio of light and dark rum. I suspect 100% dark rum would be most pleasurable (but we ran out). Yes, you can taste the alcohol in the recipe below, but it wouldn't hurt to be stronger still. My other suspicion is that this should be topped with a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg. The banana and lime flavors do play nicely against one another, but I think there's room in there for a third, outta-left-field flavor.

Of course, most frozen banana daiquiri recipes you're going to find online are going to tell you a) light rum only, and b) garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Take that shit to the Bahamas, yo!

The (World's Greatest) Frozen Banana Daiquiri

3/4 ounces Kraken Black Spiced Rum

3/4 ounces Bacardi Light Rum

1 tablespoon triple sec

1 1/2 ounces lime juice

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 banana, medium/large, preferably frozen and preferably overripe, sliced up into a handful of pieces

1 cup crushed ice (usually takes about 3-5 ice cubes depending on size)

Lime peel, to garnish

Combine all ingredients except peel in blender. Blend on a low speed for five seconds, then blend on a higher speed until drink is smooth. (Shouldn't take more than 10 seconds.)  Pour into chilled hurricane, martini or cocktail glass. Garnish.

Tasting Notes

OK, so what rums would kick this drink into World's Greatest territory? Honestly, name your poison. If I had more than a splash left of the Kraken, I would've gone whole-hog Kraken. Spiced Navy rums would be great, I'm guessing; I'm partial to Sailor Jerry.

You don't *have* to cut up the banana beforehand, or pre-crush the ice -- but I did both, the latter using my hand-cranked Ice-O-Mat. It'll just cut down on your blender time. This is important to someone like me who has a crappy blender as I'm always worried I'm going to kill the damn thing someday. And I really did only need to blend on high speed for like another 5-10 seconds.

You want to use an overripe banana because the riper it is, the more sugars it's got in it. You know how when you eat an underripe banana, it can sometimes have that unpleasantly bitter, "green" taste to it? I don't know why, but that taste tends to come out even more when you puree the banana, even if it's a just-ripe banana. I know this from trying to make the banana "ice cream" using a just-ripe banana. Stick with as-overripe-as-you-can bananas.

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The World's Greatest Mojito

In Sean's Ph.D. program, there lives a British lad named Harold Thorrington, all of 22 or 23 years of age. Of course his name is Harold Thorrington, for he is so very, very British, and of course his mates call him Harry. Harry Thorrington looks like the cuddly-button love child of Tony Blair and Paddington Bear. Really, his name is just so terribly goddamned British -- the very utterance of it makes me want to punch a crumpet.

Like many British blokes with few years and countless pints under their pudgy belts, Harry (who really is quite lovely and keeps me in stitches, I must say) only knows how to drink one way: More. Before the holidays, he confessed to me the three cocktails he'd ever consumed, at least to his recollection: a mojito, a Cosmopolitan and... oh, pish posh, I can't remember the third. Doesn't matter. The point is, I assured him he'd certainly had very bad versions of those drinks, wherever he'd had them, and I resolved to make him the World's Greatest versions soon.

I am the master mojito maker. Ask anyone who's ever had one of mine at The Royale in St. Louis. Facebook posts odes have been composed in humble praise of my mojitos! Texts are sent across thousands of wireless miles, expressing dismay that I am no longer located in the Central time zone, where I would be called upon to fashion the birthday mojitos of aging Midwesterners! And yet I've never mentioned my mojito mojo here. Why? Because mojito-making magic isn't held in high esteem as it was six-ish years ago. It's like bragging that you finally figured out all the lyrics to "I Like the Way You Move."

And yet! The fact remains that mojitos are fantastic when properly made -- "one of the world's greatest [Ed. note: Told ya!] and most refreshing cocktails," to quote one source -- and certainly their reputation as the unofficial cocktail of Cuba is buttressed by enough history to trump whatever flyspeck of uncoolness they might be yoked with at this particular nanomoment in pop culture. Fucking Hemingway himself once wrote, "It wasn't just a drink. It was a symbol of national pride." Harry Thorrington thinks you're a wanker if you don't agree.

The World's Greatest Mojito

(You can find recipes any and everywhere; this one comes straight from my heart, and muscle memory, during my time at The Royale)

1 1/2 to 2 ounces 10 Cane rum

About 6-10 fresh mint leaves, depending on size

Half a lime

About a tablespoon of simple syrup

Club soda

Grabbing the mint leaves as a bunch between thumb and forefinger, tear them once through and drop into the bottom of a highball glass. Squeeze lime onto leaves, then drop it into glass as well. Cover all of this with your tablespoon (more if needed) of simple syrup. Muddle, muddle, muddle! Fill with ice. Pour in rum. Fill with club soda. Give a gentle stir or two with a bar spoon or swizzle stick before drinking.

Tasting Notes

The details are most important when making a mojito. Different mojito recipes will call for a Collins glass, a soda glass, something fat and round, something tall and slim. I like a highball glass, by which I mean, a glass in which you'd be served a liquor, neat. (I don't mean a shot glass.) I don't make my mojitos like they're coolers to sip through a straw, I make them like they're cocktails meant to be sipped slowly. Through your lips. Like a grownup. Jesus.

I suggest 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of rum in case you do have to use a larger glass, or if you want a stronger-tasting mojito. Some people like to taste the rum more when they drink mojitos.

As I do with my mint juleps, I use just enough leaves to completely cover the bottom of the glass, and I tear them all exactly once. Some people say never to tear mint leaves because you're "bruising" them and this can actually sour the taste of the mint. I say, save that shit for Temple Grandin. (She developed cow-slaughtering systems to make beef taste better, see, by... you know what, forget it, probably a bad example.)

Anyway, what's important is that as soon as you get your leaves and lime down in the bottom of the glass, cover it all with the simple syrup so that all your flavor molecules stay trapped under a syrup blanket instead of wafting up and out of the glass. Muddle until you're sick of muddling; listen for the crunch of the leaves' veins, and muddle the lime to get more juice out of it. (That is the fun part.)

Don't use mint-infused simple syrup, because it's got a brownish-green tint that the white rum won't be able to mask and your cocktail will look like sewage. If you really insist on using mint-infused syrup, then make a special batch where you're letting the mint leaves steep in the syrup only until the second you start to see a coloration.

Use regular ice cubes.

Use 10 Cane white rum, or whatever white rum you like that's not Bacardi. Bacardi gives off a cheap aftertaste which can only be covered by overdoing it on the simple syrup. You don't want that. The 10 Cane is made from cane sugar (not cheapo molasses) and tastes very nice and clean.

Use fresh club soda!

In the end, you want the cocktail to have a cloudy look to it. This means you achieved a good ratio of ingredients and stirred a proper amount. Some mint leaves may inevitably climb up the  glass but the majority of your leaves should definitely remain at the bottom. Don't worry if the drink tastes sweeter as you go, but it also shouldn't taste all-alcohol on the first sip.

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The Charlie Sheen Will Rock You Like a Hurricane

Happy Mardi Gras? This drink is Happy Mar-Winning!

If you drank this drink for five seconds, you'd be like, "Dude! Can't handle it! Unplug this bastard!" It fucks you up in a way that's maybe not from, uh... this terrestrial realm.

This drink has one speed, it has one gear: GO. It's got tiger blood, man! The rum I am on made Sinatra, Jagger, Richards look like droopy-eyed, armless children.

The Charlie Sheen Will Rock You Like A Hurricane exposes people to magic. It exposes them to something they're never going to see in their otherwise boring lives. They may forget about what happened to them tomorrow, but they'll live with that non-existent memory for the rest of their lives. And that's a gift, man.

The Charlie Sheen Will Rock You Like A Hurricane

1 1/2 ounces Rhum Barbancourt

1 ounce 10 Cane Rum

1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice

1 ounce passion fruit juice

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Tiger's blood, optional

Adonis DNA, optional

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