How ‘Bout An Old Fashioned?

It occurred to me today I’ve never made an Old Fashioned. Drank many of them, but never actually made any. And with the arrival of a GIANT bottle of Angostura bitters in the house (do they make a small bottle even?) now is the time for making one. Apparently there is a lot of hub-bub on how to properly make one. In my opinion, the less you mess with a classic the better it is.

1 sugar cube (La Perruche is in the house)
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2-3 drops of water
2-1/2oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
1 lemon peel

Drop the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. On top of that sugar cube drop the water and the bitters, muddle together. Add the bourbon and stir together to mix. Add 2 ice cubes. If you can successfully ignite a lemon peel (or orange peel- I would have chosen the orange but alas, none in the house), spark it and drop into the glass. If you’re like me, and have been shown by the bartender at Bigfoot West about 30 times now how to do this, but immediately forget once home- maybe consider muddling the peel with the sugar, or just giving it a good twist and dropping it in the glass. Tip back.

No notes. Just enjoyed some bourbon with aromatics.

Try 30- still not a success.

 

Elliot Gould Approved, Sorta

There’s a bottle of Jim Beam in the house. Not sure when it arrived but it’s there.

A friend of mine sent this image to me a while back.
Sometimes I think my husband reminds me of Elliot Gould. I think he’d rather not hear that. He also gets called Wolverine in public by 7-11 clerks. And drunk guys in Vegas.

Tonight we’re watching the Long Goodbye. A movie I swear up and down I’ve never seen, but one he swears I have seen. The movie made me think of this poster and that I should use Elliot Gould as an excuse to use up some of this Jim Beam.

The first incarnation of this was so wrong. I had to cut down on the lemon juice and up the marmalade for added sweetness. This version though I’m pretty happy with. The drink has the right balance of sweet and sour, with really bright notes from the citrus. Also the citrus and the cherry elements play well off each other.

 

The Long Gould-night Sour
2-1/2oz Jim Beam
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon of Mixed Citrus Chunky Marmalade (Considering this was a home made gift from a friend I do not have a recipe. However, I would suggest looking for a smoky concoction. Better even if it’s mixed with cherries. If you are using a fine cut marmalade, go less than a tablespoon- or rather, just do it to taste.)
3-4 dashes of Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
Luxardo Cherry garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, build up all of the ingredients sans cherry. Shake vigorously for at least 20-30 seconds to breakdown the marmalade as much as possible. There is going to be a lot o peel left in the shaker, but you’ll also get a lot of bits into your glass which is totally fine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass containing one luxardo cherry at the bottom.

A Little T&C

Necessity breeds imagination. Isn’t there a saying along those lines? This weekend we’ve holed up in the house for a couple reasons. One, work. Work work. My husband has a lot of it. 90% involving computer and programming and other things that make no sense to me. Second is also work. House work. Lots of dusting due to the start of what is to be a long, drawn out construction project that has already resulted in the loss of use of the downstairs bathroom. And a couple of fights with the home insurance agency. Third, the closure of the 405 freeway. For a short while now we’ve been warned by the transit authorities to STAY AWAY from the west side of town. Avoid the airport!! Avoid leaving your houses!! Better yet, just leave town until Monday morning. Last check all the freeways were green and I’m sure all those idiots who paid for expensive helicopter rides over what was supposed to be insane gridlock for 40 miles in every direction are kicking themselves right now. Deservedly so in my opinion.

Anyway, we bought some grill fixings and decided to just stay put for two days. No biggie. Except that we somehow forgot to stock up the liquor cabinet. It’s been slowing bleeding out for the last month or so. Company comes over and there goes that bottle of Buffalo Trace. And oddly a whole bottle of Jägermeister (how did that get in there?). And wasn’t there a bottle of Finlandia for Bloody Marys?

Surprisingly though we had a couple of almost depleted Tequila bottles. Enough to make some cocktails. But with no whole limes around the house either, a Margarita was out of the question. And I have just been informed by the husband that he really isn’t a fan of them anyway.

There was a whole bottle of Campari though. No gin- the Aviation got used up in some martinis two days ago. Home bartenders are hanging their heads at this sorry state of this liquor cabinet right now.

So a quick search on the internet for tequila and campari brought me to the A Dash of Bitters blog. And this post here. This recipe below is only a slight modification. I upped the Campari by a ¼ ounce to blow out the tequila and make the Campari stand out more (my reasoning was that I wanted this to taste like Campari, not just a slight bitter aftertaste). I also added a squeeze of lime. I felt it needed a touch of an acid. And tequila and lime, blah blah blah. So here you go! It’s slightly bitter and tangy and a hint of that rich reposado tequila is there in the background, which is where I wanted him to be.

2 oz. Cazadores Reposado Tequila
½ oz Campari
¼ oz French Dry Vermouth
¼ oz Fee Brothers Maraschino Cherry Syrup (finally broke into this!)
dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
Squeeze of a ¼ lime

Stir all of the ingredients together with ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with spent lime.

After I made this I glanced down at the comments and realized that others were also adding limes. I think I’d nix the Maraschino syrup next time because I don’t feel like it adds much. In fact, for the next round I made this with Aperol instead of Campari and left out the syrup. Then I subbed out some Castillian Bitters from Miracle Mile Bitters (a local, artisanal bitters company in L.A.) I thought it worked, but another taste tester, not being a fan of the Aperol, thought it tasted too medicinal. To each his own.

I will be enjoying this on the porch by my little lime tree that is slooooooowwwly growing me some new limes. The biggest about the size of my thumb.

The Yale Special

Recently a copy of The Savoy Cocktail book arrived in the mail. It was a belated Valentine’s Day gift from my husband. Belated not because of him, but because Amazon couldn’t decide if they wanted to ship it to us or not. Emails kept popping up in the inbox saying things like, click this link if you’re really certain you want us to send this to you whenever it comes in stock; the outlook was grim that this would ever arrive. But then it did.

I’ve been trying to find drink recipes to use up the bitters I bought and I thought the earlier cocktail recipe books could help in that category since they were dropping them in to all sorts of drinks back then. Scanning the book I came across the Yale Cocktail. However, I realized that I would immediately have to make a couple changes as I have still not bought any Angostura bitters (I know… I know…). Also, the recipes are coming directly from the original book and the measurements are kind of all over the place. Sometimes there are just fractions and other times it just says to put in a wine glass full of something or in this recipe, a glass of Gin. Now, my idea of a glass of gin and Harry Craddock’s idea could be on opposite sides of the room. I’m sure out there somewhere someone has compiled the measurement translations… but why make it easy on myself?

Well, all I had in the house was Hendrick’s and for this cocktail, it just wasn’t working. So then I remembered that I had a 2oz bottle of Finlandia Tangerine Fusion (it came with a much larger bottle of regular Finlandia) and thought maybe that I would use it here. It worked! I had to up the amount of orange bitters to really give it the extra flavor I was looking for, and I went with 1/2 the juice of a tangelo instead of a squeeze of lemon. The end result: spicy and then fruity, which was the right combination for me. Next I need to work on proportioning glasses to the drinks.. I always seem to come up with too much room in the glass.

2 oz Finlandia Tangerine Fusion
6-8 dashes of Fee Brother’s West Indian Orange Bitters (original recipe called for 3 but the flavor was just not there)
2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1/2 juice of a tangelo
club soda to top

In a mixing glass with ice combine all the ingredients except for the club soda. Stir to combine, and strain into a small chilled cocktail glass. Top with club soda.

One Tart Squirrel

The first time we had to stock up for a Tiki Party I was introduced to a whole new world of liqueurs and flavorings that I’d never heard of. One of the those items was Creme de Noyaux. It’s an almond “flavored” liqueur (as far as I know, no actually almonds are used, just pits from apricots) that pops up in a variety of drinks in the tiki world. After we actually started experimenting with it my husband became enamored with it and now we own two large bottles of the stuff. So… I’m trying to think up drinks that will use it up and make some space for other bottles. No need to crowd the shelves with TWO of these guys when a bottle of Stranahans could easily take its place.

Joining my ever growing collection of citrus at the house this week is a bag of tangelos we harvested out of our own backyard. Long thought of as a dead plant that needed to be removed, all the crazy rains Los Angeles received recently ignited the spark of life back into this thing and we have now got a tree heavy with fruit. I’d never tried a tangelo before, so being the cautious type.. I gave a bag of them to a friend as a ‘gift’ and told them to get back to me quickly on how they tasted. The most important thing was that they came back alive the next day and I had not produced a big ol’ tree of poison. The verdict was that they were really sour but very juicy, perfect they told me for marmalade. Well, sour is fantastic for drinks, not on my toast, and then I decided to try and marry this flavor with the Creme de Noyaux.

When I cut my tangelo open the first thing I realized was that my idea of sour and my friend’s idea of sour lived in two separate worlds. These were slightly sweet and slightly sour, and crazy juicy. Cutting one open just poured liquid out. Trying to formulate a drink recipe out of this took a couple turns, and I think that I might even candy some jalapeños next time and add to this, just because I think it could use some heat. But anyways, I think that I was able to make a combination of flavors that was light, refreshing, and used up some Creme de Noyaux (albeit not nearly enough).

2-1/2 oz of light rum
1/2 oz of Creme de Noyaux
4 tangelo slices (cut about 1/4″ thick)
1 tsp of honey (I used some local orange blossom honey)
2 dashes of bitters
1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice

one tangelo wheel for garnish

Muddle together the tangelo slices and the honey. On top of the muddled mixture, fill mixing glass 2/3 way with ice and add rum, Creme de Noyaux, bitters and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run a lighter over both sides of the tangelo wheel and drop into the glass.

I know, RUM. Again! These are all mixed drinks though, not straight rum. I think I need to take one of the Rum education classes at the Cana Rum bar here in L.A. to really get to know and appreciate rum. And why the Squirrel name? Creme de Noyaux drinks I learned are referred to as pink squirrel drinks. I don’t necessarily know if this fits the category, but I like the name so I’ll stick with it.

Bitters, Stocking Up and a Manhattan

I happen to work at a place that sells a lot of high end supplies and food and bar stuff here in Southern California. I own way more crap in my kitchen than I need due to the employee discount, however, it seems that I am lacking in the bar mixer ingredient department. Since I’ve set out now to become more active in learning about cocktails, I did a big stock up today. Falernum (how was I making Tiki Drinks without this stuff?), Fee Brothers: maraschino syrup, orange bitters, mint bitters, some luxardo cherries. Sweet! Now I have a couple more layers to work with here. Except.. what do I do with the bitters?

Well, I guess one should taste all of their ingredients first.

Unfortunately I tried the luxardo cherries first and decided I’d try the rest later as these were the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted. And I had to try a Manhattan with one of these little jewels resting in the bottom of my glass.

I am not 100% sure on the exact proportions of how much sweet vermouth really should go in here, but the recipe below is what I usually follow.

2 oz Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

1 Luxardo Cherry for garnish

Add a the cherry to the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass. Stir ingredients in a mixing glass filled 2/3 way with ice. Strain into the cocktail glass.

This Rye has a lot of sweet nose to it but is surprisingly not as sweet as I expected when straight up. Luxardo cherries also are not as cloyingly rich as you would expect. Even though as you strain one out of that dark, luxurious syrup in the jar, all you can compare it to is those maraschino cherries on your ice cream until you taste it. This is restrained sweetness. I feel like the sweet vermouth is what adds all the …sweetness (really am at a loss for another word here) to the drink. With a bourbon I would use less sweet vermouth, but here the proportions balance out. And at the end you get a nice boozy cherry.

 

The Angela, and Introductions


Bad whiskey. Or at least not sip-able whiskey. Is sitting on the shelf left over from it’s need during Christmas time as being the main ingredient in my home made egg nog. Which reminds me I need to invest in a larger punch bowl. It’s Old Crow. And really, it is fine mixed in with diet coke, and even was fantastically subdued in the egg nog. But you can’t sip it while watching an old episode of Murder She Wrote. On netflix. Yes, I’m watching it on purpose. So what to do with it? Well, sometimes I will make a poor version of a Manhattan (because it is not Rye), but oops, no sweet vermouth either tonight. And really, I’d like to get back to the mystery and make this quick. So what other flavor is delicious where you want to still taste some whiskey? Oranges. Grand Marnier. Bitters. While this combination is not new, it really makes a couple glugs of Old Crow quite tasty. So here is the loose recipe.

2 Fingers of Old Crow
½ ounce of Grand Marnier
3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters (to taste)

I’ve lovingly nicknamed this the Angela because I like to make this lately while watching the above mentioned show. And on a last note… this blog is a record of sorts of me putting down some drink recipes and concoctions. And really is a discovery into mixology for me. I’m not a bartender, or mixologist. The only drinks I’ve made and sold to people were coffee based about 10 years ago, and the closest I’ve come to working in a bar was as the DJ here in Los Angeles. However, I do love a good cocktail, especially if it leans towards the classic variety, and occasionally veers off wildly into the realm of Tiki. I also am a believer of the art of crafting your own ingredients, even growing them. This is not meant to be an encyclopedia of drinks by any means, and will evolve as my journey through learning about cocktails and their history reveals itself to me. So there may will be corrections. And I am sure I will say something wrong at some point. This is the internet after all. Comments, corrections and ideas are welcome and encouraged. Now let’s go make some drinks.