October 31st, 2007

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Whiskey tasting is done.

Before I started in on my winter drink, I decided to taste a number of different kinds of bourbon and scotch blends to see which would make a good base.  I just have the basic idea of what I want to do right now; I need to get a base down, and then I can experiment.

Last night I tasted the Dewar's 12 year old, Dewar's White Label, and Knob Creek.

Knob Creek is WAY out.  Yikes.  I knew I didn't like it but I'd forgotten how much I didn't like it.

The Dewar's wasn't bad, but I decided if I went with a scotch blend, it'd probably be the Dimple.

So I think the winner will be Maker's Mark.  That'll provide a darn good base, and also a good starting point for people to try different bourbons in the drink.

I'll have to pick up a bottle, but then it'll be figuring out what else needs to go in the drink, and what form the vanilla aspect will take.
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Northern Virginia magazine

So I'm perusing Northern Virginia magazine while buying cat treats (don't ask) and I see in their "(Relish)" (yes, it's in parenthesis) section a "cocktail corner" by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen aka The Liquid Muse.

Hey that URL sounds familiar...oh yeah.  It's in my bookmarks.

She's got two recipes in there from the "resident mixologist" for Bombay Sapphire.  Since I was thinking of picking up a bottle of that (mostly for martinis) soon, I went ahead and picked up the magazine (well, for that, and for the article on take-out).

Here are the recipes.

White Sapphire Ginger Martini
1 ounce Bombay Sapphire
Slither of fresh ginger
8 white grapes
1/2 ounce fresh apple juice

Muddle ginger and grapes at the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add remaining ingredients, then shake with lots of ice.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

I'm not certain if I see the point of this one.  You'll get...sort of grape-ginger-apple flavor?  I'm guessing that the Bombay Sapphire is going to be fairly overwhelmed by everything else, especially the grapes, though you might get a hint of flavor/burn.  And by shaking, it's going to be all cloudy, as the attached picture shows in the magazine, but I guess with 8 muddled grapes it's going to look worse if it was stirred.

The suggestion is for it to go with rich, meaty crab cakes.

Sapphire Bubbles
1 1/4 ounce Bombay Sapphire gin
1 teaspoon fine sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces dry champagne
1/2 ounce mandarin liqueur

Mix lemon juice and fine sugar into stirring glass then fill with ice.  Add gin and mandarin liqueur.  Shake and strain into chilled champagne flute.  Top with champagne.

Again with the shaking!  On his site, Robert Hess often complains about the grittiness that one can get from using sugar in a drink versus simpnle syrup.  You may need to shake to get the sugar fully dissolved, but I'd rather stir (maybe) with simple syrup.  On the other hand, maybe the bubbles in the champagne would cover up the sugar's grittiness.

This is one I could see myself making for Cathy - though it may be too strong for her.

I haven't had any experience with Mandarin liqueur.  Any suggestions on a brand out there?

There's also a review of a vodka that's trying to be a gin called Sonnema VodkaHERB.  I'm kind of wondering the point...
Dexter & Stagg
  • tmfiii

Happy Halloween

 So if you haven't put two and two together, I love Halloween!  I know I've said it before and I'll say it again.  My spooky decorations will probably still be set up until Christmas.  But hey, what's a little macabre here and there.

I was trying to decide what to make to drink tonight that was appropriately themed.  Of course there is Satan's Whiskers or a Zombie.  Maybe I could try to mix something up myself or use a little food coloring to make a drink more forebodding, but honestly, I didn't want to take the time and effort to do that.  But I did want to find something that was new to this blog.  

Over at Jamie Boudreau's blog he posted several halloween themed drinks.  I saw these earlier in the day and filed them away to try at some point (not necessarily tonight.)  Then after reading Sean's post below, I started thinking about shaking versus stirring.  Two of the drinks Jamie posted, the Corpse Reviver #1 and the Corpse Reviver #2, used different mixing strategies.  The #1 was stirred while the #2 was shaken.  Hmmmm . . . seems that multiple forces are telling me I should try these drinks . . . and who am I to argue with the etheral specter compelling me to imbibe.  

Quick aside:  Plus there has been the pint glass that mysteriously cracked while sitting in the sink . . . seriously, the bottom of the glass sheared off in a perfect cut.  And my clock radio deciding that it wanted to display time one hour earlier than it should . . . a week before we normally change the time.  So maybe my apartment has a friendly spirit roaming around.  Or maybe I'm just reading too much into those happenings.  

Back to our regularly scheduled program:  With apologies to Mr. Boudreau, I decided to use the two versions of the Corpse Reviver which he posted yesterday.  

So I actually made the #2 first.

 Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 oz gin (I used Plymouth)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Lillet
3/4 oz Cointreau
dash of absinthe (I used Pernod)

Shake everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  

Here is the final product:



The drink was really good.  No particular flavor stood out, as should be the case in a well balanced drink.  It was tart, sweet, slightly fruity with that back flavor of the pastis that worked very very well.  Doing a little reading on several websites and in a book or two, I learned that both corpse revivers were originally a "hair of the dog" type drink.  One usually drank them in the morning to give energy and shake of the effects of the prior evenings festivities.  The #2 would definitely go down easy in the early morning and could lead to some seriously interesting hours after that!

I then tried the Corpse Reviver #1 containing:

1.5 oz brandy
3/4 oz apple brandy (I used Laird's Applejack)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth 

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Here is the #1:



This cocktail was pretty good.  I think my main issue with it is the sweet vermouth.  I have been using M&R vermouth exclusively because that is what I've been able to find easily.  This weekend I'm going to see if my grocery store as the Noilly Prat (keeping my fingers crossed).  But I tend to get turned off by drinks with vermouth in them.  I think it is the slightly musky aroma and taste that the vermouth has.  Anyway, other than that, the cocktail was nice.  You can taste a nice sweetness from the vermouth and the applejack that slices through the brandy very nicely.  Stir this drink very well to get it as cold as possible.  It really rounds out the edges and makes if go down easy.  (Insert inappropriate joke here.)

Notice the difference in textures of the two drinks.  The #2 is cloudy while the #1 is clear.  This is because the #2 contains lemon juice (an opaque substance) so shaking to chill it is appropriate.  Shaking also incorporates a lot of air into the drink which gives it a bit of froth (which disappears fairly quickly, unless you add some egg white) and clouds up the drink.  The #1 is not cloudy because by stirring, less air is incorporated into the drink.  

So what are ya'll drinking on this most Hallowed of Eves?  Leave a comment and let us know!