• MxMo XCVII Cocktail: The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan

    perfect4Time again for Mixology Monday! Let’s get right to the booze. This month’s theme is from our fearless leader, Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut is “I’ll Take Manhattan”. Thanks again to Fred for hosting…here is the breakdown:

    mxmologoTurning to David Wondrich’s Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic’s creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, “The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.” In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth’s fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is… However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born. For this theme, actuate it any way you’d like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? …Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you’re right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and theres plenty of room to explore and tinker if that’s your thing, too.

    Great theme. The only bummer for us is that we would easily choose the Brooklyn, one of our favorite cocktails, but also one we have blogged about (one of our most popular posts, in fact) and is already in the announcement post. Happily, the Brooklyn itself is a riff on another classic Manhattan variant, the “Perfect Manhattan”.

    perfectperfect1perfect2So what makes it “perfect”? Basically, the Perfect Manhattan adds dry vermouth along with sweet vermouth of the classic Manhattan. And when you use rye whiskey for your Manhattans (and we do prefer rye), the herbal flavors of the dry vermouth lighten the overall taste of the cocktail and compliment the rye’s “spicy” notes. Adding both a dash of Angostura and Orange bitters gives you citrus notes and a dry edge to the finish. Overall, the Perfect Manhattan is the “right” Manhattan to try if you find the classic version a bit heavy and sweet. (It is much less of a “brown drink” as Carolyn would say.)

    The other “perfect” thing about the Perfect Manhattan is that if you like cocktails at all, the recipe uses ingredients that you should have. Rittenhouse rye, sweet and dry vermouth, Angostura bitters and orange bitters are all staples of a good home cocktail “bar”. So if you don’t have any of these ingredients, now is the time to get them!

    perfect3As for the vermouth, you can go with M&R or Dolin for sweet, but we prefer the bolder flavors of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica. As for dry vermouth, we strongly recommend Dolin and its smooth, herbal flavors.

    perfect5Finally, we suggest you garnish with good quality maraschino cherries, either homemade or Luxardo will do nicely. Nothing makes a Perfect Manhattan more perfect than a few cherries…

    The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
    • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi)
    • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
    • Angostura bitters
    • Regan’s Orange Bitters
    • Maraschino cherries, for garnish (Luxardo)

    Assemble:

    1. Place all the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Garnish with 1 or 2 cherries. Serve.

  • Citrus Cordials (Go Make A Gimlet)

    cordial5One of the great, ongoing arguments of cocktail geekery concerns the classic Gimlet. You see, some folks say a Gimlet is just Rose’s Lime Juice (originally Rose’s Lime Cordial) and gin. Other folks say a gimlet can be gin, fresh lime juice and sugar or maybe gin, Rose’s and then some fresh lime juice. Now this may seem somewhat trivial, but this kind of esoterica gives drinkers “cocktailians” an excuse to have more drinks…all in the name of “research”. Nice trick, huh?

    Regardless of the recipe, the Gimlet is a good cocktail that is also very easy to make. And since gin and Rose’s are available (and shelf stable) all over the world, it is nice to have a cocktail you can enjoy almost anytime/anywhere (joining classics like the gin and tonic and Scotch and soda). And even with Rose’s in the US being pretty artificial (corn syrup and plenty of preservatives and colors), the classic Rose’s and gin Gimlet is still served in plenty of good bars.

    cordialBut the Rose’s ingredient list did get us thinking that we could probably make our own lime cordial, and since we have a bunch of lemons we could make lemon cordial as well. So what is a cordial? Basically, a cordial is a mixture of concentrated citrus juice and sugar, usually also flavored by the citrus zest. Lime is the most popular cordial, but lemon and grapefruit cordials are also quite good.

    cordial1What is the difference between a cordial and a citrus syrup (like sour mix or oleo saccharum)? Most cordials are reduced by half using heat, while most syrups are not reduced or are made using “cold” methods. In general, syrups will have fresher, lighter flavors, while cordials will have a stronger more “candyish” flavor. We like both syrups and cordials in cocktails, but find that a combination of cordial and fresh juice adds extra layers of flavor to cocktails and house-made sodas.

    cordial2As for making citrus cordials, it’s easy (we adapted a recipe from Imbibe). Zest and juice some citrus, heat the juice with sugar, let it reduce by half and then cool, add zest and steep, then strain. From there, you can make gimlets (and a very good riff on the Margarita, btw) with your lime cordial and some fresh juice. With the lemon cordial we suggest you make the best whiskey sour of your life.

    cordial4And if you aren’t feeling boozy, the cordials are an easy base for tasty sparkling limeade / lemonade. We suggest 1 part cordial and 1 part juice to 3-4 parts sparkling water. Regardless, once you make some citrus cordial, it doesn’t seem to stick around very long- there are just too many tasty things you can make.

    The Classic Gimlet:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice)

    Assemble:

    1. Combine gin and cordial in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Modern Gimlet:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

    Assemble:

    1. Combine gin, cordial and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Putney Farm Whiskey Sour:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. bourbon
    • 3/4 oz. lemon cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters

    Assemble:

    1. Combine bourbon, cordial, juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Lime Cordial:

    Ingredients:

    • 12 limes (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar

    Assemble:

    1. Zest the limes, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the limes until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

    —-

    Lemon Cordial:

    Ingredients:

    • 8-10 lemons (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 cup sugar

    Assemble:

    1. Zest the lemons, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the lemons until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
  • Mixology Monday XCII Cocktail: Persephone

    perp5Wow, its been a while since our last post. And we have some good reasons for that…we will fill everyone in over the next few months. Let’s just say that our interest in cocktails is going to a whole new level, and a larger audience than our ever-patient family and friends.

    mxmologoRegardless, we never tire of experimenting with cocktails, so it is good to get back into the swing with Mixology Monday. We are big fans of this month’s theme of “apples” from Fred Yarm of the grandaddy of all cocktail blogs, Cocktail Virgin Slut. (Fred, it looks like we are following in your footsteps a bit). So here is the breakdown of the theme:

    Apples have been an American booze staple with Johnny Appleseed as its symbolic hero. John Chapman became that legend by planting apple tree nurseries across the northern Appalachia and the Midwest. He did not choose grafting techniques to reproduce sweet edible ones, but bred them to make sour apples perfect for cider and applejack. Michael Pollan inThe Botany of Desire proclaimed, “Really, what Johnny Appleseed was doing and the reason he was welcome in every cabin in Ohio and Indiana was he was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier. He was our American Dionysus.” Apple products began to enter into the mixed drink literature in the 19th century with the Stone Fence appearing in Jerry Thomas’ Bartender Guide and got quite refined by the end of the century such as the Widow’s Kiss in George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks. Indeed, apples have found their way into modern cocktails via Calvados, applejack, sparkling and still cider, apple butter, and muddled apple.

    perpGreat theme, and we immediately knew that we would be doing an applejack cocktail. Applejack (American apple brandy) was once a staple booze in American mixology and is one of our favorite classic cocktail ingredients. Laird’s Bonded is always in our bar and the basis for our favorite riff on the Old Fashioned (applejack, rye, sugar, tiki bitters or allspice dram). But since this is Mixology Monday, we looked for something new to try.

    perp2We immediately went to the PDT Cocktail Book, as it features a number of applejack cocktails, and quickly found the Persephone. Besides our enjoyment of the mythological name (we are geeks for mythology here at the Farm), the Persephone cocktail uses vermouth along with the basic ingredients of a sour. One of our all-time favorite cocktails, the Scofflaw, uses this construct (albeit with dry, rather than sweet vermouth)- so we decided to give Persephone a try.perp1

    perp3Persephone didn’t disappoint. A combination of applejack, sloe gin, sweet vermouth, lemon and simple syrup, Persephone had a dry start from the applejack before you get to the sweet sloe gin, lemon and sugar, but finishes with a delightful herbal and almost sarsaparilla note from the vermouth. The original recipe suggests Dolin vermouth, but we used Carpano Antica for extra depth and that “rooty” flavor. We have since tried this cocktail with the Dolin- it is smoother and a bit sweeter, but also excellent. Your choice, we think you will be happy either way. Continue reading

  • Mixology Monday XC Cocktail: The Barrel-Aged Vieux Carre’

    carre6Wow, time flies. Between a delightful trip back east and going to Giants playoff games, it has been a month since our last post (yes, we are slacking). Giants baseball seems to do this to us every even year. And while we are a bit tired of ballpark food and beer, we are ecstatic about the games themselves. Our boys were at the game when Travis Ishikawa hit a walk-off home run to win the pennant. A memory we can all share for the rest of our lives. Simply Awesome!

    mxmologoMeanwhile, we are happy that Mixology Monday is getting us back to the blog. This month we are hosted by Joel of the Southern Ash blog. We are fans of Southern Ash, and the theme of “Balance” doesn’t disappoint. Here are the details:

    Perfect symmetry is your theme this month!  A “perfect” drink splits the liquor or liqueur evenly between two related ingredients.  The most common “perfect” drink is a Perfect Manhattan where the vermouth is split between sweet and dry to create an altogether different experience.  A perfect Old Fashioned splits the bourbon and rye are both used to create a singularly distinct experience. When done well, splitting the liquor lets each of the unique flavors and components of the shine through.  Because they share a background, they don’t war with each other but instead you get both the mellow sweetness of the bourbon with the spicy backbone of the rye in that Old Fashioned… Why make a choice when you can have it all?! Your challenge is to create a new cocktail or explore an existing cocktail that splits the liquor or liqueur evenly in a “perfect” manner…  Can you challenge yourself with gin and vodka in a light summer appropriate beverage?  Perhaps you’ll delve deep into splitting Sambuca and ouzo in an anise-flavored digestive? Getting bored with tequila, maybe a perfect margarita with the backbone of mezcal will reawaken your appreciation? Campari too assertive for you?  Maybe make a Perfect Negroni with Aperol lightening the weight. Let you imagination run wild!

    carreNow, normally, we aren’t fans of the term “balance” when discussing cocktails (and wine). All too often it just means “what I like”. But in this case, the idea of balanced ingredients and ratios is excellent. It also happens that we already had a very “balanced” cocktail in the works, the Vieux Carre’….even better, a barrel-aged Vieux Carre’ (that’s why we were already working on it).

    carre1carre2For those of you unfamiliar with the Vieux Carre’ it’s essentially New Orleans’ version of the Manhattan. But like many riffs on the Manhattan, this is might be better than the original. The Vieux Carre’ includes equal parts Cognac (or Armagnac, if you are cheap like us), rye whiskey and sweet vermouth along with equal parts of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, a welcome splash of Benedictine and a lemon twist. What you get is something that tastes like a Manhattan but with much more spice from the rye, vermouth and bitters yet smoother flavor from the brandy and Benedictine. And smooth is the word here. When you hear New Orleans called “The Big Easy”, we think that description fits the Vieux Carre’ even more than the Sazerac. Continue reading