Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mixology Monday - In Which No One Is Informed Of Anything

Well December seems to have arrived and ended itself with only a slight rumbling from Reasonable Industries. Have I been dead? Or merely busy? Were the previous months of faithful updating a trick to get you to add yet another amateurish blog to a Feedly list already swollen with abandoned premises? Fear not, despite my external silence like a dormant volcano my fearsome brain has been relentlessly churning beneath the surface, waiting to unleash potent liquids on the unsuspecting Pompeiians of the cocktail world. "'Tis man's lot to wait, and the just man's to wait with trust, the unjust man's with fear".

The Mixology Monday theme, hosted by drinkstraightup.com , was Anise. Based on my experience trying to sell ouzo at the distillery, anise seems to be a Love It Or Hate It spice. I am considerably ambivalent about it, I don't loathe it but I am rarely excited by it (in liquor).  I find its numbing flavor often insipid and domineering, the office boor shouting down its fellows. However, one of my absolute favorite drinks to have in the bathtub is the Absinthe Frappe, which is very cold sweetened absinthe.

 ...I'll be honest, for a long while inspiration failed to strike. I made a shrine to anise on the bar, anisettes huddled with absinthes, Aviation Gin looming over Peychauds, the 4 bottle gift pack of Raki samples in a jumbled pile. I prostrated myself before them, chewing anise seeds and waiting to receive some holy wisdom. Nothing. I used the coffee pot to make Star Anise hydrosol. I made Pernod sugar cubes. I consulted Maude Grieve (did you know aniseed is poisonous to pigeons?!). No fundamental truth about Anise revealed itself. 

Then salvation arrived, as it so often does, in a box of cookies sent by my Nana. Pizzelle (which I had to look up to spell despite having eaten them for 28 years) are anise flavored cookies which my Nana makes by the gross every year. I always called them waffle cookies and eat them two at a time with a thick slice of ice cream in the middle (usually the vanilla carved out of a Neapolitan package).  Once they arrived, all the pieces quickly tumbled into place, an excellent-yet-totally unreproducible drink sprang forth into the world, and I can return to my dormancy, Scotch & Yogurt in hand.

Beet, Anise, and Orange are a Flavor Bible approved taste combination which, although most often combined in a salad, work well in liquid form. Making beet juice is an option for getting beet into drinks, but I Don't have a decent juicer and Do always have Beet Port (sweet, fortified beet wine), Beet Bitters, or Beet Wine laying around some where. 

'Technically A Success'

2.5 oz Beet Wine (~12% abv slightly sweet, with strong beet aroma and raisiny body)
.75 oz Royal Combier (or other Orange Liqueur)
1 Whole Egg (Fresh)
Crumbs from Broken Pizzelle which your Nana shipped across the entire country
Pour together the Beet Wine & Combier in tin, add cookie crumbs and muddle thoroughly until totally dissolved. Add Whole Egg and ice, shake and strain through fine wire mesh.

This drink requires a few ingredients that might be hard to source, namely my Nana's cookies and my homemade Beet Wine. I was going to write up a detailed description of how to make Beet Wine, but the odds of anyone anywhere in any dimension ever caring seemed so low that I didn't bother. You can certainly make your own cookies and Beet Wine. Will you? No. So let's not pretend. As a consolation, here is a Holiday Greeting from my cat BORIS.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Surfeit of Confidence, A Poverty Of Taste

At the distillery tasting room, I occasionally receive unsolicited cocktail suggestions. These I greet with sentiment ranging from gentle pity to outraged disgust. The customers' ideas are typically like a Pottery Barn catalog, something that comes to me undesired but with a frequency that makes me feel I must have through behavior or mere existence somehow requested it. Sure, I will flip through the Pottery Barn catalog if my bowels are suddenly stricken or I need to pass three minutes until Jeopardy starts, but my expectations for revelation are low. Similarly, I will listen to your terrible idea if there is still a possibility I can wring some money out of you. Some, like "my awesome Sazerac recipe" (Pottery Barn Equivalent - a cut-glass monogrammed decanter) don't harm me too much. Others, like the man who upon tasting a Pear Eau-De-Vie suggested that although he didn't enjoy it or brandy in general, thought it would work great in a cocktail he makes composed of Orange Juice, Galliano, Creme de Cacao, Creme de Menthe, and Heavy Cream. I'm not sure how the Pear Brandy was going to work into it, my attention had faded from him, and sped towards the nightmare scenarios in which such a drink might be inflicted upon me. His Pottery Barn drink equivalent is a $40 decorative throw pillow which says "Jingle".

I bring this up because I'm quite aware that someone reading the various entries on this blog might think that I need help with cocktails, desperate, bold lettered HELP. They are wrong. I am perfectly capable of creating delicious cocktails, I simply chose not to for reasons that are difficult to elucidate. However, unlike claims such as "I could've totally played in the NFL, man, I just didn't want to" I am able to back this one.

Letherbee Gin Elixir Combier Cherry Wishniak Fizz
Genius Presented Flippantly
3/4 oz Strained Lime Juice
3/4 oz Letherbee Gin
3/4 oz Elicser Combier
3/4 oz Maraska Wishniak Cherry Liqueur

(If serving as a Fizz)
1 Eggwhite

Combine all ingredients (except Soda...) If using egg white, dry shake first, then shake with ice and strain.Top with soda if desired.

The astute might recognize this as a variant on The Last Word. It works both as an up drink, as well as a Fizz depending on what time of day your liver thinks it is. In the above picture, I elegantly removed my breakfast from the background and replaced it with a vivid representation of Inspiration Striking. Elicser Combier (possibly Elixir...) shares some character with Chartreuse, not as floral (or delicious) with stronger warm, Christmas baking spice notes. Wishniak is a Croatian cherry liqueur along the lines of Cherry Heering, but a bit stronger and less cough syrup like and about half the price. I tried several gins here, and Letherbee Gin from Chicago was the best fit with the Elicser Combier (available at Binny's).