April 13th, 2008

Dexter & Stagg
  • tmfiii

Mixology Monday - Fruit Liqueurs!

And just when you turn around, it's another Mixology Monday.  This time around our host is Anna over at Morsels & Musings.  Thanks Anna!

For this months MxMo, Anna has selected "Fruit Liqueurs" which is kind of funny since Sean and I just finished an orange liqueur tasting not long ago and so I had to think of something different flavor-wise to use.  Unfortunately my homemade tangerine ratafia is still aging and it won't be ready until June 1st.  But it is spring and the weather is beginning to turn sunny and warm again (at least here in Northern Virginia) that a fruit liqueur theme should not be to difficult.

Well, those are famous last words.  I began by looking through the bar at what I had - various orange liqueurs already mentioned, creme de mure (blackberry), limoncello, creme de casis, frambois, creme de peche, cherry heering, calvados, applejack, maraschino and apricot eau-de-vie all begging to be used.  But thoughts turned to one of my favorite fruits - the humble delicious peach.  My first thought was to work on a riff of peach tea.  I have some newly made swedish punsch with it's lemony, rum and black tea flavors that would play very well with the creme de peche.  Unfortunately, I couldn't quite come up with a drink that made me completely satisfied.  I'm sure there is a drink in there somewhere, and I aim to find it, but that shall be a project for another day.

The next day, I was pouring over some books, trying to find some recipes that I can tinker with when I decided that I needed something nice to sip on.  It was this past Friday night and it was a very warm day but around 10pm a quick and strong thunderstorm came through.  At that point I decided a Dark & Stormy would be the perfect fit for the evening.  The sweet dark Goslings and the biting fizzy ginger beer certainly hit the spot.  Then a light went off in my head.  I was holding the basis for my MxMo drink at that very moment.

I quickly ran to the bar and begin playing.  The following drink was the results:

A Georgia Thunderstorm
2 oz Goslings Black Seal
1 oz Messenez Creme de Peche
.25 oz St. Elizabeth's Allspice (Pimento) Dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
4 oz Ginger Beer (I used Regatta and then Bundaberg - both with excellent results)

Build everything in a chimney glass filled with lots of ice.
Garnish with mint sprigs and a straw.
Sip slowly until the dark sky passes.

The drink is spicy, peachy and fairly sweet.  It may even be too sweet for some folks, but if you've ever had really good authentic southern sweet tea, you'll get this drink.  It is meant to be sipped slowly letting the fragrance of the mint hit you before the ice cold liquid caresses your lips like the fuzz of a ripe peach.   On a hot summer evening when the clouds break and the rain showers everything around you, this will be a fantastic beverage.

Of course, this wouldn't be the Scofflaw's Den if I didn't give you at least one more recipe.  The following recipe is an original creation that I submitted to a local cocktail competition.  I won't know how I did until the end of the month, but I thought I would share it with y'all anyway.  I really enjoy this drink and certain ingredients are adaptable to whatever you may have in your home bar (or for a bar that may not have certain name brand spirits for that matter . . . it pays to know your audience I guess!)  And unfortunately there are no pictures of this drink.  When I created it, I wasn't thinking of putting it in this post and when I did decide to do so, I didn't have the main ingredient.  Oh Well.  Without further adeu . . .

De Lente Smash
4 medium ripe strawberries
5-6 medium basil leaves (or 3-4 very large leaves)
2 oz Genever style gin (Boomsma, Zuidam Holland or Damrak) OR 1.5 oz London Dry Gin (Plymouth)
.75 oz Rich Simple Syrup
2 dashes Peach Bitters

In a mixing glass, muddle the strawberries, basil leaves and simple syrup.
Add gin and bitters and pour all into an iced shaking tin.
Shake until the tin frosts.
Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  (I used the hawthorne strainer in the tin and a fine mesh strainer over the glass.)
Take one small basil leaf and smack it with your hand.  Float the bruised leaf on top of the drink and garnish with a sliced strawberry.

Well, there you go.  Thanks again to Anna and I hope everyone has a great MxMo. 


Mixology Monday: The Summer Crash

I don't have an MxMo icon for those one - I think tmfiii found one, somewhere, but I'll be darned if I can find one, and I refuse to use his because it smells funny, kind of like North Carolina.  I've been wondering about where the mysterious icons show up from anyways, given that I'm going to need one for June's bourbon MxMo.  But, in a way, I digress.

It's funny, to me, when a Mixology Monday sneaks up on you like this one seemed to do.  It's doubly funny when I'm stuck as flat-footed as I was in terms of "what to make."  And I wasn't certain what to make.  Anna, host of it this month from Morsels & Musings, defined it as:
Definition of fruit liqueurs?
Well this is what I’m going for: a sweet alcoholic beverage infused with fruits or fruit flavours.

The only drinks I won’t accept are ones made with fruit only, rather than using a fruity alcohol of some kind.

Need inspiration? How about . . . .
Apple Schnapps
Apricot Brandy
Crème de Cassis
La Grande Passion
Mandarine Napoléon
Well - heck.  Calvados ain't sweet, but it is made from fruit - would black cherry Smirnoff count?  I don't know, so I won't do the cherry lime rickey thingamabob I've worked on, though I had been thinking of putting in Cherry Heering into it, so that definitely would've counted.  And Cointreau is curacao, so that helps...

But screw it.  Marshall might be Mr. "I'm going to invent new drinks", but I had some ideas for the same contest he's entering, and I've got this too.

I came up with one idea.  I tried it out, liked it - even Cathy liked it, and she's notorious for what she doesn't like in drinks more than anything else - but I couldn't get excited about it.  Given, as Marshall said, this is the Scofflaw's Den, I'll throw in the recipe at the end.  But I wanted something that said "FRUIT" and also kind of said "spring or summer".

(A random aside: I'm having to write this whole thing in a constant battle against my cat The RZA, the little gray one in my icon picture.  She wants me to go to bed.  Bed!  Me!  Now!  It's too early, I've had two cigars tonight, it ain't happening until I finish my post.  But she keeps trying to take the battle to my nice glass of Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale and that just ain't cool.)

(And no, we didn't know she was a girl cat when we named her that.  Her brother is Master Shake, given that he was declared by the vet yesterday to be "neurotic" it's even more appropriate.)

There are two books that I think any aspiring mixologist must have.  The first is Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology, for reasons I've detailed before, but in short: it's the darn most useful book that any mixologist can ever own.  The second is David Wondrich's Imbibe!, which is more historical than necessarily day-to-day like JoM, but has some interesting and delicious recipes in the back of it.

One of the recipes is for what's called a Cherry Smash.  I've made more than a couple of them, but never for me - to be honest, I've never made one for myself.  I don't even think I've sipped one!  But the people I've made them for have thoroughly enjoyed them, and hey, that's the sign of a great drink.

I was going to use that as my MxMo drink, but you know what - I don't think I have any brandied cherries!  Maybe some of my dried tart cherries were, that's what I'd used before, but I'm fairly certain I'd dumped those.  Oops.

I've had, as of recently, a refreshing interest in blackberries again.  Horton Vineyards, probably my favorite Virginia winery, has a blackberry wine I love, and I found fresh blackberries at my local Harris Teeter and bought some.  While at Ace Beverage recently, I also picked up a bottle of a blackberry liqueur that is exquisite called G.E. Massenez Creme de Mure.

Taking the recipe for the Cherry Smash as an inspiration, I reworked it to do two things: one, kill that stupid 375 mL bottle of Cointreau that had been weeble-wobbling through my bar's life, continually refilled by minis (yes, I'm stupid, and only today replaced it with a might 1 L bottle of Cointreau), and two, work with blackberries instead of cherries.

I didn't want to call it just a "Blackberry Smash", however.  Given the sometimes Beaker-esque plot twists my mind can go through occasionally (a reference that only a few of you out there will get, and honestly, sure, whatever, I don't care), I went through some variants and ended up with what I'm calling a "Summer Crash".

Note: I suck at naming things.  I consider that my biggest failing as a writer, also because I'm incredibly egotistical about my writing.

Summer Crash
1 1/2 ounces apple brandy
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce G.E. Massenez Creme de Mure
1/2 ounce lemon juice

Lightly muddle a handful of blackberries in the bottom of a bar glass.  Add the ingredients on top.  Top with ice and shake like crazy.  When it's so cold that your hands ache and the blackberries have been pulverized, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Drop in a blackberry or two - they'll sink - and put a large sprig of mint to float on top.

Now, you're going to think: won't that be gritty with bits of blackberry in it?  Well, there are bits - but it's not gritty.  At least, not as far as I found.  I found it delicious, with the mint providing a nice balance to the taste.  If you're familiar with the original recipe, you'll note that I replaced the cognac with apple brandy - you could use Calvados, I would assume, but I wanted something more USofA - and the lemon juice was reduced while the fruit liqueur was increased (to balance flavors more).

Honestly, I'm really quite very happy with how this drink came out.

My other drink (and, again, like Marshall, I have no pictures of this one) was good, I was just less enthused about.

The Today Stuff (what did I tell you about me naming things?!)
1 1/2 ounces Hendricks gin
1 ounce G.E. Massenez creme de mure
1/2 ounce lemon juice

Shake over ice, strain into a low ball or chimney glass, top with Fever Tree ginger ale or a mild ginger beer.  Give a light stir - garnish with what you feel is appropriate (I'd suggest blackberries and mint, but as you might be able to tell, I kind of like those things).

Anyways, I hope you enjoy.  If you make these, let me know, and tell me what you think.  I'm always excited about how my creations do "in the real world", as it were.  And if you're looking for the G.E. Massenez creme de mure in the DC area, I'd suggest Ace Beverage in NW DC.  That's where I got mine.

(And if you know who does the MxMo icons, let me know as well so I can prepare for June!)