runoknows mentioned in his post about our trip to Ace Beverage. One of the first things I noticed when we walked in is the room. There was plenty of space to walk around and you could see just about everything. The spirits generally comprised the perimeter of the store with the middle devoted to Ace's substantial wine holdings. (As a complete aside, before going to Ace Bev, I had hoped that this place would be a great store. You see, while I was a member of the Award-Winning Virginia Fighting Cavalier Indoor/Outdoor Precision (?) Marching Pep Band and Chowder Society Revue, Unlimited! my nickname was Ace. Hence, a desire for greatness in all things named Ace . . . but I digress.) A lot of the spirits are located behind counters, save a gorgeous wall of bourbon and whisky (insert drool here.) Joe Riley, Ace's Wine guru and resident spirit man extraodinary, was our contact and I have to say he was a pleasure to talk to. He was more than willing to show us all the new goodies he had and talk to us about spirits, distilling, local bartenders and restaurants and cocktails.
The biggest thing that struck me in our conversation with Joe, which lasted about two hours, was his honesty and willingness to help. I've been to a lot of liquor stores in DC and VA and I can tell you from experience that Joe was the best person to deal with bar none. For example, I asked him about the Laird's Bottle-in-Bond Applejack that doesn't seem to be sold in the DC area. His first reaction was to call his Laird's supplier and leave a message asking for the info. Now I ask you, when was the last time you got that level of service? When talking about a classic-style cocktail, part of the fun is the history and remembering a different time and place in our society. Joe embodies this classic style of shop keeping - friendly, helpful and personal. Personally, these are the types of attributes I look for in just about any place I'm spending my hard-earned money. Joe and Ace Beverage are the epitome of this. That's all I've got to say about that.
Now at this point you may be yelling into your computer, "BUT WHAT THE HELL DID YOU BUY???" Well, first I would say you may want to quite yelling at your computer, it makes you look crazy. Second, it needs to be noted that when I went on this trip to Ace I went specifically to buy items that Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz has recently brought to the US market. These items are pretty rare and a cocktail geeks' wet dream. Wow, I probably shared a little too much there, huh . . . anyway, the items from Haus Alpenz will have a "Haus" before the description.
On with the Haul:
This is the Kubler Absinthe. This absinthe is classified as a "white" absinthe because, unlike the "verte" or green absinthes, it has not been steeped in fresh botanicals a final time giving it a green hue. It is as clear as gin. As Sean mentioned, our friend Roy and I did an absinthe tasting, but seeing as that was last weekend, I can't remember any detailed notes. Hmmmm, sounds like a good idea for a post . . .
(Haus) This is the St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. It is also known to cocktail geeks, like yours truly, as "pimento dram." The base of the liqueur is rum and if you've ever tasted allspice you have a general idea of the flavors here - clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. It is used in punches, tiki drinks and many classic cocktails. Keep watching this space for recipes and cocktails using this and all the other goodies Sean and I talk about . . . damn, this is a tough job!
(Haus) This is the Batavia-Arrack van Oosten. My understanding is that "Batavia" is Dutch for Jakarta and "Arrack" is the general eastern term for spirit. Eric at Haus Alpenz gives a more detailed description here. Considering this is an ingredient from the 1600's on, this is the epitome of classic!
(Haus) "The Scarlet Ibis" is a mixture of three rums from Trinidad. This rum was commissioned by a modern-day speakeasy in the Big Apple by the name of Death & Co. They wanted a more flavorful, higher proof rum for their cocktails and Haus Alpenz was happy enough to oblige. There is only 29 cases of The Scarlet Ibis, I consider myself very lucky to have a bottle in my collection.
(Haus) This is the main thing I wanted to get on our little shopping trip. Creme de Violette. An essential ingredient for an Aviation cocktail. I have to take a minute to talk about the Aviation. If you do an interweb search for the recipe of an Aviation, most recipes you find will contain gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur in various proportions. No mention of Creme de Violette. So how is this an essential ingredient in a cocktial that doesn't seem to call for it. There are several theories on why this is the case. Here is the one I believe: In one of the seminal classic cocktail books, "The Savoy Cocktail Book" written by Harry Craddock 1930, the Creme de Violette was left out of the recipe. Subsequent authors and practicioners followed Mr. Craddock's path and continued to leave out the violette. However, as early as 1916 in Hugo Ensslin's book "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" the violette is front and center in the cocktail. If someone out there wants to espouse other theories on this, feel free to leave a comment!
I have tried various recipes for the Aviation and found that the best one is as written here by Erik Flannestad of the Underhill Lounge. His recipe:
1.5 oz Gin (Plymouth)
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Marachino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/2 tsp. Creme de Violette
1/2 tsp. rich simple syrup
Shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Well, now what else do I have for you? I've been talking alot about my infusions and concoctioneering. One of the things I really wanted to try (along with the bacon-infused bourbon) is a pecan infused rye whiskey!
First I wanted to toast the pecans. Use a dry pan and put the nuts on low heat. Stir them frequently until they become fragrant. BE CAREFUL! The nuts have lots of oils (insert inappropriate comment here) and will burn very quickly if you aren't careful.
After toasting my nuts (heh) I let them steep in a litre of baby Sazerac for 72 hours. After the steeping, strain out the nuts. If you want to get all the little bits and pieces [Jeebus, how many jokes can I make about this!!!!] you can strain the liquid through cheese-cloth or a wet coffee filter. Bottle and enjoy!
After making the pecan-rye I decided I wanted to try some form of pecan pie cocktail. I had in my pantry some Lyle's Golden Syrup (a british product) that is a lot like karo syrup but sweeter and seems to have a deeper flavor. I took some Lyle's and mixed it with some hot water (the stuff is thicker than molassass) in order to get it to a pourable state. This stuff tastes just like the sweet goo inside a pecan pie!!!
A Scofflaw's Pecan Pie
2 oz Pecan-Rye
.75 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup Syrup
3-4 dashes Fee's Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a whole pecan-half.
Alright folks, time for me to get some dinner. Have a good night and I'll see you at the bar!