• Mixology Monday C Cocktail: The Hoffman House

    DSC_0372Wow, 100 Mixology Mondays. In this day and age of instant online popularity and even faster irrelevance, a hundred of anything seems significant. And one hundred global online cocktail parties is even more outstanding….it seems good booze has some real staying power in popular culture. And that’s a good thing, as we cocktail-loving folk are always trying to keep both the grumpy teetotalers and Fireball-drinking, whipped cream vodka chugging heathen at bay…..just kidding (not really).

    mxmologoThe other special thing about Mixology Monday C is that our founder, Paul Clarke of the Cocktail Chronicles blog, and now the truly awesome book, may join us once again. Pretty cool. And we have to thank both Paul and Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party going- they truly are key players in the modern cocktail renaissance. Again, pretty cool.

    Seeing as how we have a bit of a milestone MxMo, Fred Yarm is hosting, and he looks to Paul’s new book for inspiration. And we think they found the perfect theme of “elegance”. Here is the summary:

    But what does Mixology Monday “Cocktail Chronicles” mean? I figured that we should look to Paul’s magnum opus and digest the theme of it all — what is timeless (or potentially timeless) and elegant in its simplicity. Paul commented in his interview, “[it]’s wonderful to see that level of creativity but simplicity is going to be the glue that continues to hold interest in the cocktail together. The moment that we make cocktails too difficult or too inaccessible to the average guest, the average consumer, then we start losing people.” Paul does support a minor tweak of a major classic as well as dusting off a lesser known vintage recipe like the Creole Contentment; in addition, proto-classics like the Chartreuse Swizzle and the Penicillin intrigue him for their potential to be remembered twenty years from now. Moreover, he is a big fan of the story when there is one whether about a somewhat novel ingredient like a quinquina, the bartender making it, or the history behind a cocktail or the bar from which it originated. Indeed, I quoted Paul as saying, “If I write about these and manage to make them boring, then I have done an incredible disservice. So I feel an incredible obligation not only to the drinks themselves, but to the bartenders who created them, and also to the heritage oSo for this theme, channel your inner Paul Clarke. Think about simplicity, elegance, and timelessness to the point that you would not feel strange about drinking and writing about this at MxMo M.f cocktail writing to try to elevate it.”

    So for this theme, channel your inner Paul Clarke. Think about simplicity, elegance, and timelessness to the point that you would not feel strange about drinking and writing about this at MxMo M.

    We couldn’t pick a better theme, although this one made us a bit sad. Why? Because we immediately knew exactly what cocktail we would feature, the Hoffman House. If stranded on a desert island with only one cocktail choice, this would be it. Yes, we thought (and perhaps drank) long and hard looking at other choices, but there was never really any doubt. 

    DSC_0349In case you are unfamiliar, the Hoffman House is a classic Martini variant named after one of the best of New York’s cocktail palaces of the late 19th / early 20th centuries. It is truly a simple and elegant creation. 2 parts Plymouth gin, 1 part dry vermouth, 2 dashes orange bitters and a lemon twist. Serve up. Act like Nick and Nora Charles. Repeat. Act like their dog Asta. Repeat….um, well, maybe not.

    DSC_0351Too much vermouth you say? Hogwash. Try it with good, fresh vermouth and you will never go back to “dry” Martinis.  Prefer olives? Nope, with orange bitters you need a lemon twist- and you will be stunned at the brightness of the citrus and herbal flavors.

    DSC_0356The only change we suggest you try is going away from 82-proof Plymouth and to a London Dry gin of 94 proof for a big, clean kick. We like Brokers or Beefeater (USA version) here, but the clean (almost soft) Plymouth is still delightful. And if you make a pitcher of Martinis, the Hoffman House with Plymouth is a true crowd pleaser…just make sure your guests know about Uber, this drink goes down way too easy. 

    Oh, and did we note The Hoffman House is just beautiful to look at? Again, simplicity and elegance often lead to true beauty.

    DSC_0365So thanks again to Paul and Fred for creating and hosting another MxMo. Let’s hope we do see MxMo M….

    The Hoffman House Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. Plymouth gin (or a crisp London Dry gin like Brokers or Beefeater)
    • 1 oz. Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
    • 2 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s)
    • Lemon twist

    Assemble:

    1. Place all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until very well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Give the lemon peel a very good twist over the cocktail and add to the drink. Serve.

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  • A Cocktail Experiment With Ash Apothecary Flavored Syrups

    ashFull disclosure; cocktail-oriented folks send us all sorts of cool spirits, bitters, flavorings and gear to try out here at the farm. We make no promises, but if we like an ingredient or tool we use/mention it in our posts (and always disclose the source). That said, we almost never do a full post on something that is sent to us…until now.

    But when the team at Ash Apothecary from Brooklyn (they have a kickstarter, btw) offered to send us some flavored syrups, we looked at their flavors and decided to give them a try. And we are very impressed with what they sent- enough to run an experiment making easy, but deeply flavored, riffs on sours and tiki drinks using their syrups.

    ash5ash6So why would “farmers” like us use someone else’s syrups vs. making our own? Firstly, the syrups are excellent, with clear and creative flavors. Secondly, consistency can be hard to maintain at home. There is a reason bartenders most often use quality ingredients from good suppliers, rather than DIY- good products taste the same every time. And finally, we all get lazy…or just ARE lazy.

    But not so lazy that we wouldn’t try a boozy experiment. A few of the syrups like Chocolate and Chai Masala were faves in coffee and tea, and we love the rose syrup but can’t quite figure out what to use it with (still trying..). However, when we saw Lavender Bud, Honey and Ginger, Cafe De Olla and Winter Spice syrups, we knew exactly what to do…make a few sours (and think tiki, as well).

    ash4The key here is to pull out the syrups, a bottle of dry gin and a decent bottle of rum. We went with Brokers, a traditional dry gin, and Flor de Cana 4 yr. a quality (but affordable) gold rum. Then we got some limes, lemons and a grapefruit and started mixing. Generally gin will go with floral and lighter spice, while aged rum can handle bigger flavors/spices. Gin likes lemon and lime, rum likes lime and grapefruit. We started with a ratio of 2 oz. spirit, 1 oz. sour and 1/2 to 3/4 oz. syrup, and commenced with the mixing/tasting.

    What did we come up with? Firstly, the Honey and Ginger syrup works with both the gin/ lemon and rum/lime . Too easy. As for the Lavender Bud, well, you know we like lavender, gin and lemon- and this was great, all herbal gin, lemon and bright lavender (and no soapy flavors you can get with some floral syrups or liqueurs).

    ash1Next we dug deep into the “archives” and remembered one of our favorite lost cocktails, the Port Antonio; a rum, lime, falernum and coffee liqueur cocktail (awesome, btw). Since the Cafe de Olla syrup is a mix of spices and coffee we know we had a fit. A simple combo of the rum, lime and syrup was delightful riff on a Daiquiri with a backbone of coffee that works way better than you might expect- try it.

    Finally we had the Winter Spice syrup, which tastes a lot like Allspice Dram, but without the booze. Spices go with tiki, so we did a riff on a Jet Pilot using the rum, grapefruit, lime and syrup. Perfectly tiki, but very easy…and very good.

    ash2So thanks to the team at Ash Apothecary for giving us, yet another, excuse to enjoy more cocktails!

  • Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Wunderlich Park

    ginYes it’s Tuesday, but we drank this on Monday and we are hosting Mixology Monday this month so we get a little slack. Besides, a good drink is worth waiting for….who needs to be on time? Anyway, here is a quick reminder of the theme:mxmologo

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    Last week we made a cocktail using Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1. Venus is a welcome newcomer to the Bay Area’s ever-growing band of craft distillers. But we do have a “grandaddy” of craft distillers here on the Bay Area, St. George Spirits of Alameda. St. George distills all kinds of spirits (all worth trying, particularly the coffee liqueur and their truly unique Rhum Agricole), but we are huge fans of their family of gins.

    gin2And we do mean “family” of gins. St. George has three gins: the “Botanivore” a dry, smooth and (unsurprisingly) botanical gin, the “Dry Rye”, a pot still and rye grain creation that has a fuller, spicier flavor, and then there is the “Terroir”, a truly “hometown hooch”.

    gin3Terroir Gin was designed to truly reflect the land of northern California, and in our opinion, St. George absolutely nails it. The key flavors are Douglas fir, bay laurel and sage. But if you have ever smelled a Redwood forest in the morning, that is how the Terroir Gin tastes, clean, clear notes of pine and forest floor and just a bit of citrus to balance the sip. The Terroir is strongly flavored stuff, the pine almost kicks you in the face, but there is nothing like it (just as there is no place like Northern California).

    As for our cocktail, we wanted to make a Martini variant that highlighted the forest flavor of the Terrior while softening the edges. When we tried vermouth with the Terrior we found the herbal flavors could fight with the pine flavor. The bitter edges of quinquinas didn’t work either. So we tried a few dashes of Pineau de Charentes, a French fortified wine that has sweet, slightly honeyed flavors with a touch of acidity. The Pineau took some edge off the Terroir without muting the overall flavor.

    gin4We also wanted to see if we could expand on the forest / pine flavors of the Terroir and we already had an ingredient in mind, Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit bitters. The hoppy bitters have their own earthy notes with a nice kick of grapefruit. The added citrus (along with a big lemon twist) truly balanced the pine and earth flavors of the Terrior and the sweet notes of the Pineau.

    gin5We named the cocktail the Wunderlich Park, after our local park that has a large Redwood forest. If you want to know what a walk through our local park is like, just try a cocktail with the Terroir Gin.

    gin1Thanks again to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping our monthly cocktail party on track…

    Wunderlich Park:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. St. George Terroir Gin
    • 1/2 oz. white Pineau de Charentes
    • 2 dashes Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
    • Lemon twist, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Place all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupé. Twist the lemon peel over the glass and add to the drink. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Abeilles et Lavande

    lav5Since we are hosting Mixology Monday (and don’t worry, the due date is 6/15) we thought we should post a few cocktails for our “Hometown Hooch” theme over the next few days- this is our first. Here is the breakdown:

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    We have to admit, we chose this theme because we have a few local distillers in mind; one well-established and nationally recognized, another a new kid on the block. We will start with the new kid on the block, Venus Spirits of Santa Cruz. The brainchild of Sean Venus, Venus Spirits makes a range of booze including whiskeys, aquavit, an excellent tequila (or “agave spirit”, since it is made in the states) and some very tasty gin. Not surprisingly, we really like the gin (the tequila didn’t last long either).

    lavlav1lav2Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 01 has a cool feature where they show the list of botanicals they use in their gin. In this particular blend, the flavor that truly stands out from the standard juniper and citrus is a delightful touch of lavender. You know the lavender is there but it never dominates or drowns out other flavors. And, most importantly, it doesn’t have any “soapy” flavors you often get with flowers like lavender or violets. With such a unique flavor profile, this is gin worth seeking out.

    lav4As for the cocktail, we decided to use local lavender for inspiration. We have the gin with lavender notes. And as it turns out, Putney Farm honey is mostly lavender and the lavender patch is right by our Meyer lemon tree. From there, we looked at our favorite gin and lemon cocktails and went for a riff on the classic French 75. We sub our lavender honey for sugar syrup, use a local sparking wine instead of champagne and garnish with a lavender flower from the garden. It tastes like a French 75 but with sweet floral aromas and light lavender flavor. A good sip from beginning to end- think lavender lemonade, just better…..way better.

    lav6We call the drink the “Abeilles et Lavande” (translation: Bees and Lavender). This is a serious “hometown hooch” cocktail.  In fact, everything in this drink comes from well within 50 miles….heck, the lemons, honey and lavender come from within 50 yards.

    lav7Abeilles et Lavande:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1*
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 oz. lavender honey syrup (1-1 honey and hot water)
    • 2-3 oz. sparkling wine or champagne
    • Lavender flowers, for garnish

    * Note, if you can’t get Venus gin but want the lavender flavor, we suggest you lightly infuse a lemon/honey mixture with just a touch of lavender, a little goes a long way.

    Assemble:

    1. Put the gin, lemon and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled flute or coupé. Add the sparkling wine.
    2. Slap the lavender flower in your hand and add to the top of the cocktail as garnish. 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 XCIII Cocktail: The Beautiful Corpse

    corpse3Time for another Mixology Monday! And it’s a good thing too, as the monthly online cocktail party always gives us an excuse to play with booze (not that we need an excuse). This month’s theme is “blue” from Andrea of the excellent Ginhound blog. Here is the breakdown:

    mxmologoJanuary needs a bit of color – or perhaps the month after all the holiday mania makes you feel…blue? Either way this month’s Mixology Monday is a chance to live those emotions out. You can dazzle us with a brilliant blue drink or you can share that blue feeling with a melancholic drink.

    Blue has been predicted as a new cocktail trend several times in recent years… But any mixer of blue drinks is faced with a bit of a dilemma as there is nothing “natural” about E133 – the most common of blue food colors: Do I really want to mix chemicals into my prefect mixture of fresh juices and good booze? Feel free to interpret blue as freely as you wish – if natural is the way you want to go blueberries, violets, cornflower or red cabbage could be good ingredients to work with.

    corpseWell, we played around with developing a more blue-feeling drink, but then that bottle of blue Curaçao gathering dust on the top shelf just kept calling. And since we only make Blue Hawaiis in summer, it was time to break the stuff out. But one thing we did decide to do is make a truly blue drink, as so often drinks with blue Curacao end up more green than blue.

    corpse1corpse2We looked for pale drinks to work from and found the Corpse Reviver #2, one of our favorite classics. Not only is it very tasty, but all the ingredients (gin, lemon, Cointreau, Lillet, Absinthe) run from clear to pale straw in color- and would keep us “true blue”. So we subbed the blue Curaçao for the Cointreau and then triple-strained the lemon juice to remove all pulp (for a clearer drink). And we got a very clear, blue drink (and yes, we may have played with photo effects a little..;-). We also added a lemon wheel for extra color and contrast, we like the look.

    corpse4So how did it taste? Great, as always. Oh, and the name? As they say, “live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse……”

    The Beautiful Corpse:

    Ingredients:

    • 3/4 oz. gin
    • 3/4 oz. blue Curaçao
    • 3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
    • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
    • 1 dash Absinthe
    • Lemon wheel, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Add all the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled and triple-strain into a chilled coupé or flute. Garnish with the lemon wheel. Serve.