Mixology Monday: Cola de Lagarto: Return of the Lizard (Tail)

I’m glad I checked into my google reader today. New mixology Monday post before the due date this time for me.

This month Jacob at the Liquidity Preference blog thought up Retro Redemption (full post here). The first drink that I thought could use a makeover was …shudder. The Cosmopolitan. That too sweet, chemical-bottled taste (obviously I’ve had some bad ones folks) of that 90’s staple (and for certain people I know still a staple) drink. But there’s no cranberry juice in the house and I’m not making a special run just for that.

So instead I opted to peruse Gourmet Magazine’s stockpile of drinks they’ve put into their magazine over the years. Did you know they’ve been around since 1941? What’s Gourmet? Never mind.

Two things were imperative to tonight’s drink. 1. I had to be actually interested in trying/drinking the cocktail. 2. I had to have the ingredients on hand (this is after all a short notice posting for me since it’s due tomorrow). After weighing my options, and being grossed out by many more, I decided to try the Cola de Lagarto (tail of the lizard). This is from a 1974 cocktail recipe via Gourmet. Here’s their description:

This drink is probably called “tail of the lizard” because of its green color—not because, like a tail that falls off and grows back, it’s easy to have another, and another. Wine cocktails have been unfairly tainted by their association with overly sweet wine coolers, but the renewed interest in classic cocktails has also brought this category back from the brink of disaster. The ingredients in this version may seem a bit strange, but they actually go together quite nicely.

In a shaker combine 3/4 cup dry white wine, 1/3 cup vodka, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon each of fine granulated sugar and green crème de menthe, and 4 ice cubes. Shake the mixture vigorously for a few seconds and strain it into a chilled tall glass. Makes 1 drink.

Ok, first off, with the amount of liquor that they’re pouring into this thing, if you had several you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning by the fourth (maybe not dead, but DAMN). The recipe measures in cup sizes, which should have been a warning. It’s considered a ‘wine cocktail’, but 3 oz of hard alcohol in there too makes this awfully potent. Anyway, I’m killing two birds with one stone in this post as I am subbing out the dry white wine with Lillet Blanc (checking off another bottle this week from the ‘forgottens’), and I’m getting a Mixology Monday post done. Gold star.

Ok, so I’m taking a lot of liberties here by subbing or leaving out ingredients. But all for this drink’s redemption. I’m saying goodbye to vodka, fine granulated sugar and green crème de menthe, and adding in gin and Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters. Although, yes, technically there IS a green dye in the bitters (looking for another bitters as you read this), it is nowhere close to that alarming green color that was in the original article. But to play on the drink’s original name, I added a lime peel spiral inside the drink for the ‘lizard’s tail’. I made two versions of the drink, with the first using closer proportions to the original. However it made a huge drink with left overs in the shaker. It tasted really strong too (this, also, was the version my husband preferred because it ‘tasted strong’). I tweaked the second, reducing the proportions of the main two ingredients and adding in 1/2 oz of unsweetened pineapple juice. Overall it’s a bit tart and definitely tastes wine-like. And those mint bitters? Well, like the original recipe, the mint works here. Albeit very subtle, those bitters just add the right touch of a finishing note. Here’s my updated version:

4 oz Lillet Blanc
2 oz Bombay Dry Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice (this one came from a can)
3 dashes Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters

Garnish:
lime peel spiral (to make, use a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife and peel a spiral from a large-ish sized lime. It’s best to start from the pointed end and work your way around. Be careful that your peeler/knife is sharp as this makes cutting the lime easier, as well as your finger. Ouch.)

In a shaker filled with ice, combined all ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Collins glass with a lime spiral fitted around the inside of the glass.

This was a fun post idea. It makes me wish I could stumble upon a dusty old pile of cocktails books with secret ingredients like herring and jello that call for a touch of nutmeg. Can’t wait to see what everyone else came up with.

Grapefruit’s Last Hoorah

Why are there grapefruits still around at the farmer’s market? That’s what I’d like to know. Wasn’t I told by a reliable source that citrus is a winter fruit? Something to do with a long, drawn-out rainy season. And the unseasonable cold temperatures we had in California. But here they are, grapefruits.

On occasion I’m requested to mix the odd Greyhound here at the house. But ugh. So boring sometimes. One needs a little something extra. Some oomph. Oh, yeah- and something not vodka.

I have a couple of recipes using grapefruit, but I want to keep them to the side for other specific recipes. So going on the hunch that Noilly Prat French Dry Vermouth is good in everything (obviously not everything, but was really quite tasty in some baked ziti dish I made the other day- very unexpected), I added some in here.

2oz Broker’s Gin
1-1/2oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2oz of Noilly Prat Dry French Vermouth
2-3 dashes of Miracle Mile Orange Bitters

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add all of the ingredients. Shake well to mix and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

It just works. The bitters give a nice spicy quality, and overall it’s a touch sweet and fragrant. And more exciting then a greyhound. However, with one last note. I did make a version with vodka. It’s a little less exciting. The gin adds that little oomph.

Sleepy Pink Flamingo

Sometimes you need to make a drink quickly. You flip through a cocktail book until you land on something you’re pretty sure you have all the ingredients to. And then it turns out you don’t. A short while ago I was politely asked by my husband if he could pretty much have the upstairs to himself for a work phone conference. On a Sunday. Groan. I had been lingering over some books deciding on trying something out when I found myself in a panic and just grabbed the first cocktail book within reach. The Grog Log. Flipping through I stopped at the Cruzana. Perfect, there was just a hair shy of 2oz of grapefruit juice left from a defrosted bag from some Blanco Oro’s I’d squeezed awhile back. And surely there was a bit of Gold Rum left. I can see a bottle in the way back of the liquor cabinet.

For those of you who live with someone who puts empty bottles back instead of throwing them away… You can guess at my frustration level right about now. But since I was in hurry to grab ingredients and make a mad dash downstairs to mix this drink, I thought I could sub out some gin instead. I happen to like gin and grapefruit sometimes and thought maybe there’s a chance this would work.

2oz grapefruit juice (I used Blanco Oros which produce a bit more sweet juice than your run of the mill grapefruit)
3/4oz Fee Brother’s Maraschino Cherry Syrup (I’d do this to taste depending on your juice- this stuff is sweet)
2oz Broker’s Gin

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and build ingredients. Shake and pour all into a chilled collins glass. (the chilling may not be necessary but it’s a hot one out today and this just tastes better with a really cold glass)

Was this a success with the gin? Well, a couple factors that I would change next time. First, since the grapefruit juice is sweet already, I’d down that syrup to 1/2 an ounce. As is it’s just a tad too sweet for me at 3/4oz in this drink. Second, perhaps this is a drink that could stand a strong base spirit as the gold rum. Something to consider for next time when we do a rum stock up. But overall this worked for me. Mainly sweet with a hint of tart- the gin mellows way out into the background with only subtle notes.

Loose Ends/New Favorite Gin

The idea behind having a scratch pad blog is that you tell yourself you can go a month or two without having to write anything because nothing new has come to fruition. Which has been the case. Night after night of Angelas and Manhattans until one day picking up a bottle of Aviation Gin on a stock up trip at BevMo and realizing: this.is.my.new.favorite.gin.

I’m not really using this site as a review site. If something that I enjoy happens to be worth sharing, I will simply let you all know what that is. Why Aviation Gin? It just tastes fantastic. The anise in here really pops and I capital L love anise flavor. Currently there is a bottle and a martini glass living in my freezer…. I don’t think I need to spell this out folks. Can I name this drink the Lazy Man’s Martini?

Anyways, if you were following the Limoncello saga, you might want to strain it out of that bottle, stick it in a glass bottle with a nice stopper-top, and stick that kid in the freezer. It’s done.

Also, I had the opportunity to sit in on a new Bitters vendor at work today and I have 8 new reasons to make some fantastic tasting drinks. Word is that the Cana Rum Bar and the Tar Pit already are using these. Hopefully soon I can let on who and where to buy them. The best news about these: no dyes. Sorry Fee Brothers, you just got bumped. Your Peach bitters is about to become shamefully shelved.

Aperol G&T


I enjoy Gin and Tonics like some people enjoy water, or cocaine. They go down pretty easily and are light enough that I can have them with the heaviest of meals. Occasionally though they get quite dull and an extra oomph of something is needed. I like to think that many cocktails are given birth with that thought process. Foul, rancid water? Hey, let’s add some beer to that! And so forth.

So a week or so ago we went over to BevMo and stocked up on some more items for the bar. On a recommendation we found and picked up a bottle of Aperol. Aperol is another of those Italian aperitifs… slightly bitter, slightly sweet. This one tastes of oranges.

The syrupy nature of this liqueror made me think that it needed a couple of ingredients to cut that down.. and so I thought of a gin and tonic. And the conclusion? So. freaking. tasty. I need to make a barrel of my own tonic water because I think this concoction might just become my new summer drink.

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1 oz Aperol
Tonic water

Fill a Collins glass 2/3rds with ice and build up with gin and aperol. Top glass with tonic water.

 

We Forgot About the Italians!! The Negroni

We all know a certain “holiday” is tomorrow, however I grew up in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood (I even speak Italian, albeit I’m pretty rusty now, but I did study it for 7 years and can basically read it still) and two days before after St. Patrick’s day is St. Joseph’s Day. Now, as I have been without religion going on almost 20 years, I really don’t know (remember) much about the man, or what the holiday is about, not unlike St. Patrick as well (snakes and stuff, right?), but since I know that the 19th was another “holiday” or saint’s day or… there’s a lot of specific information that is becoming increasingly apparent to myself, and to you, that I am oblivious of… anyways, let’s make a drink to commemorate the oft-overlooked saint with a classic “Italian” (I’m sure this is disputed somewhere) drink, the Negroni. Hey, this means TWO celebratory reasons to drink this week. You’re welcome.

1 oz Campari
1 oz Gin
1 oz Sweet Vermouth

orange slice for garnish

In a rocks glass with ice combine all 3 ingredients. Garnish with the orange slice. Salute!

Springtime Gin Fizz

Admit it. You love smelling your fingers after you’ve gone and picked some herbs.

Ok, well I do. Last year we finally got around to redoing our front ‘yard’ that was admittedly turning into an eyesore for the neighborhood. One tree was dead. There was a bush that was trying to kill itself from lack of water. And tall phallic things were shooting out of some leafy succulents. It was scary looking. With the help of a friend of mine who moonlights doing landscape design, we finally got our shit together. Now the front of our house looks presentable, and is flanked by two lavender bushes and rosemary crawling all over the bottom half of it. It smells lovely walking by it.

We use rosemary a lot since we’ve put those in. And as soon as we planted it last year I went out and made a rosemary gin fizz that was made from the simple syrup in this recipe. At least two of my friends have received this syrup as part of a gift over the last year. And now I’ve come full circle and I’m not about to give the same rosemary syrup as a gift. And as spring approaches I thought I’d add some floral notes to this syrup and then combine it with some bright citrus to tide me over until the weather stops doing things like have the sun out shining for the first couple hours of the day and then have temperatures PLUNGE and clouds come rushing in. Sigh. And I want to move to Portland… Hrmm.

So I tinkered with the rosemary and lavender outside and made them into a simple syrup. Found here. And then decided on making a Springtime Gin Fizz.

2-1/2 oz Gin (I used Hendrick’s to add a touch more floral note to the drink)
1 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
1 oz Rosemary Lavender Simple Syrup
Club Soda

Spring of rosemary for garnish (optional- you may find this too overpowering in your glass. If so, toss it and enjoy the drink as is.)

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Pour gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in. Mix with a bar spoon and top off with club soda. Garnish if you like.

Keep in mind that the simple syrup here is not a typical ratio and will not produce very sweet results. The meyer lemon juice here makes up for that. However, if you are using regular lemons, you will need to taste and adjust according to your desire of sugar. And the lavender? Very subtle. Don’t worry, it’s not going to smell like your Grandmother’s purse. The lavender creates some soft floral nose that I feel works well with the Hendricks. Fizzy springtime in a cup.

 

Garnishes Up In My Face, and Vamping Up a French 75

Recently my husband and I took a trip to Vegas for a couple of days. Unfortunately the morning of I had come down with a horrible bout of food poisoning. We ended up canceling all of our dinner plans, but kept the cocktail tastings since that was about all I could take. We visited the bar at Postrio at the Venetian, had a beautiful drink with Hendrick’s Gin and Grapefruit juice (I wish I could tell you all the ingredients; hell, I wish I remembered them so I could make this at home). The garnish was this large section of grapefruit. It really looked… beautiful. But it was pretty clumsy to drink. I love a garnish that adds to the drink, but if you’re concerned with it falling off, or on your face, while you’re trying to drink, then what’s the point? We ran into a similar problem at a Champagne bar at the Palazzo. The lemon twist was HUGE. I had to take it off to drink out of the flute… otherwise it might have come tumbling out. Not to make this a downer post, but the champagne cocktail itself was a one note drink. Which made me think about what I’d want in one. And hence a post about drinks with Champagne (or, Prosecco since that’s all that I have on hand).

 

Well. Damn, I still have that container of orange simple syrup lurking in my fridge. And well, I’d love to riff on the French 75 I had at that champagne bar. How could a drink made with lemon juice and gin.. have no flavor?

 

I have a tiny bit of Citadelle Gin that I should use up. Do you ever have a bottle that has been hanging around for awhile, and not because you don’t like it.. you just have a tiny bit left and cannot throw it out? Welcome to my world. I cannot waste things, like food. I cry if I find a half dead head of lettuce in the fridge and I have to throw it out. And I also have on hand is some brand X prosecco(it’s really not that great of a prosecco here and you would laugh at how much I bought it for. So really, any dry bubbly will work here) that is going into a risotto recipe after this. But on to the drink recipe…

 

2 oz Citadelle Gin (this boasts 19 different ingredients and since it had both orange and lemon peel on this list I figured this would work fine)
1-1/2 ounce Meyer lemon juice
1 oz orange simple syrup
prosecco to top it off with

 

Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a highball glass. Top it off with prosecco. I would suggest not filling the glass all the way to the top with prosecco as you will drown out the other flavors (and possibly have it fizz all over you and the floor).

 

I upped the lemon juice by a here for some more zing in the drink and to balance out the very dry prosecco. The orange simple syrup added just a hint of sweet orange flavor. The gin is a bit buried in this drink. And honestly, for all its boasting of ingredients I couldn’t really distinguish them all when tasting it by itself, so mixing it in here just added one more level of flavor. Oh, and due to some camera difficulties and white balance, the full glass is not shown here due to it looking like a big ol’ glass of pee. It was starting to go flat and I wasn’t about to waste it.

 

So, comparing this drink with the French 75 I had in Vegas… well, for starters you can taste the citrus, and there is not a hint of bitterness. It is sweet and sour and light. And I think I’ll have another.