So yeah . . . it's been since the last MxMo that I've posted and for that I'm sorry. Things have been pretty busy lately. I've been working at an immigrants' rights non-profit as a pro bono attorney for the last week. Of course this just means that after a day of do-gooding, I have to go to my "real" job and work on for-profit stuff. Makes for a very busy life with very little free time.
BUT! That doesn't mean I didn't constantly think of you dear reader. Well, okay, I didn't, but I felt bad for not posting, especially since it seems that I'm always promising to post. So here is a post that gives you a good idea of what I've been up to for the last few weeks. I hope you enjoy! Plus, there are some recipes peppered throughout.
One thing that has been a constant here at the Den is lamenting the availability of certain spirits in the DC area. Whether it be because the Commonwealth doesn't like to play ball with small producers or just the time and effort it takes for new products to work into this market, it can be a maddening waiting game. But there are those out there who listen to the cries of us cocktail geeks and work incredibly hard to bring tasty treats to our (my) thirsty lips. One of these tireless workers is Eric Sneed of Haus Alpenz
. I have talked to Eric several times and he has been very informative about when and where I can get some of his tastey treats. Hopefully, within the next week or two, I'll have some bottles that, at least for us cocktail geeks, will be similar to Indiana Jones finding that little golden statue in the opening scenes of Raider's of the Lost Ark. [Little trivia for ya, Alfred Molina
, Doc-Ock from the Spider-Man movies also played Satipo, Indiana Jones sidekick that took the golden idol and refused to throw Indy the whip in the beginning of Raiders.] Keep your eyes open for my update once Eric's goodies come in.
Of course, I also haven't been sitting on my laurels. Here are a few new things that I've added to the bar:
This is a bottle of the Massenez Creme de Gingembre. It is a ginger liqueur that smells and tastes just like fresh ginger. Not quite sure what I'm going to use it in, but give me time . . . :-)
El Dorado 12 year old demerara rum from Guyana. This is a delicious rum. Sweet and smooth, it made a Bermuda Rum Swizzle taste like I was in the tropics. Luxardo
Maraschino Liqueur. Quite possibly the best maraschino liqueur in the world. Made from marasca sour cherries. Ummmm . . .
Clement Creole Shrub. The Creole Shrub is something I have been dying to try for a long time. It is an orange liqueur in the vien of Cointreau and Grand Marnier. Except where the base spirit in Cointreau is neutral alcohol and in Grand Marier it is cognac, the Creole Shrub is a rum based liqueur. The rums are steeped with bitter orange peels and the resulting liqueur is soft, sweet, orangy with just a slight burn/bite from the rum. This stuff is delicious!
Zuidam Genever Gin. This is an imported gin from Holland. Genever is a style of gin that is distilled from malted grain mash, very similar to whisky. This style of gin is a bit sweeter than the London Dry style and has a very soft, rounded mouth feel. The Zuidam is a popular brand drank by many in the Netherlands. My cohort runoknows
has already written a post about genever and includes a link to a recent article from the Washington Post. I recommend you check this out.
I used the Zuidam in the "Next to the Last Word" cocktail. Next to the Last Word
1 oz Gin
1 oz maraschino liqueur
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1 oz lemon juice
Shake everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel, or if you want, as I did, a flaming orange twist.
The drink was excellent. The genever gin gave it a smooth round mouth feel. Much different that a london dry, such as Plymouth, where the gin is strong lets you know right where it is. This is a perfect example how one change in a drink, just going to a different style of gin, can change the character of the drink.
The last two bottles I acquired are the Boomsma Jonge and Oude Genever gin. You'll notice the difference in colors between the two. This is because the Oude is aged for at least one year in oak casks. This is the original style of gin. The gin cocktails that were being served in the 1800's were using this style gin. A real treat to actually be able to sample the flavors of history.
Of course, with all these new bottles, I have officially run out of bar space. I'm thinking of getting rid of things such as "plates" in order to make more room for this hobby of mine. Either that or I'm going to have to buy a huge cabinet to keep everything in. Eh, what are you going to do!
But, if you've been a regular reader of the Den, you'll know that I like to create things. "Concoctioneering" is fun and if things work out, you'll have a one of a kind cocktail that hopefully will inspire others and make you new friends. Hopefully friends that will pay to drink your new cocktail, but, unfortunately, my friends are lazy, good for nothing mooches (I kid, I kid!) . . .
One of the things I've had it in my head to do is a bacon-infused bourbon. There are many reasons why this crossed my mind. First, I love bacon and I love bourbon. These are two complemetary flavors that I wanted to see if I could work into a cocktail. Then, I read some blog posts here
(that unfortunately used Jack Daniels) and here
, where Blair aka Trader Tiki was greeted with a "Maple Leaf"
using a bacon infused bourbon. Then I read this article
in the December 2007 issue of Food & Wine magazine about Eban Freeman of Tailor in NYC. The article discusses the method called fat-washing to infuse a spirit with any flavoring you can think of. Hmmmm . . . bacon has fat . . .
So here is what I did:
Started frying up some bacon . . . ummmmmm.
Once the bacon is cooked, you pour off the melted fat and strain it in order to get any crispy bits out of it. Probably don't have to do this, but I did. I only used two cups of Maker's Mark bourbon for this experiment. In the picture below you can see the bourbon inside the container where the infusion will occur, a spoon and a glass to hold the melted fat.
I took the spoon and started stirring the bourbon to get a nice vortex down the middle. The I slowly poured the melted fat into the bourbon to get it good and incorporated. This is fat washing. Then you let it set on the counter until the fat works its way through the bourbon and collects at the top. At this point you put the lid on the container and stick in the ice box for 24 to 48 hours. When time is up, take out the bourbon and you'll see that the fat can congealed on top forming a protective layer. Remove this fat and then strain the bourbon through a moist coffee filter (this gets rid of any little bits of fat that remain) and bottle.
The results were interesting. The bacon gave the bourbon a smokey/savory flavor. The inherent sweetness of the bourbon (especially a sweeter bourbon such as Maker's Mark) was pushed into the background. There wasn't a flavor that I would call "bacon" but there was something there that was familiar to bacon. That probably doesn't make sense, but them be the breaks.
Here is the bottled bacon-infused bourbon with my new friend "Smithfield" that I, ummmm, acquired recently. Is it twisted to name a wooden pig Smithfield and pose him with bourbon infused with his fleshy counterparts? Yeah, probably, but I like it!
Well folks, I was going to continue and tell you about my pecan-rye and the drink that I came up with for it. But it's late and I'm really tired. Check back in a day or two and that will be up. As a teaser, the drink tastes exactly like pecan pie . . .