• 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.
  • The Cask-Strength Bourbon Old Fashioned

    ofA funny thing often happens when you “go deep” into a subject, you often find yourself back at the beginning. And that is certainly true when you get into cocktails. You may play with tiki, sours, endless Martini and Manhattan variants, molecular mixology, shims, cobblers, smashes, etc. But in the end, you will most likely find yourself a fan of the original cocktail; spirits, sugar, bitters and water. These days, most people call that drink an Old Fashioned.

    of3of4And even at its most basic, you can still play around with Old Fashioneds. They work with different spirits (beyond whiskey, aged rum or brandy Old Fashioneds are a delight), sweeteners and bitters, and experimentation will yield very tasty results. But the one area we suggest is going back even more to the source, and try using high-proof, “cask-strength” spirits. And we don’t mean “bonded” spirits at 100 proof (although they are great in cocktails) we mean the hard stuff, 110 proof -140 proof. Yup, serious booze.

    of5Now you may say, “whoa, that will be way to strong”. But part of the magic of cocktails is dilution with water; not enough- the drink is too hot, too much- the drink is watery and bland. But if you get it just right, the drink sings. And with cask-strength spirits, the drink not only sings, but changes in the glass as you slowly sip at your cocktail (and we do recommend a slow pace).

    of6of7of8Now purists may say that we should use rye instead of bourbon and that you shouldn’t add anything other than water to quality, cask-strength bourbon. And while we understand these arguments, we can say that we prefer bourbon (and there are more cask-strength options available) and that you need to try the Cask-Strength Bourbon Old-Fashioned before you judge it. This drink is true alchemy, always changing over time, but with deep caramel, wood, spice and balanced sweetness throughout. Just try it… Continue reading

  • Mixology Monday XCVI Cocktail: The Five Dollar Milkshake

    bailey4

    Well, we are back…just in time for Mixology Monday. Seeing as how it is 4/20 we might have expected that the theme would be “herbal”….  In any event, Whitney of the Tipicular Fixin’s blog came up with the excellent theme of “Drink of Shame”. So here is the breakdown:mxmologo

    So, you’re a certified, mixologist, craft-tender, bar chef, or fine spirit enthusiast…now. But, there was a time when you only ordered Long Island Iced Tea. Or, maybe you always made the Jello shots for your frat? Perhaps you’re the reason that your local had an Island Oasis machine for so long? Rye & Ginger? Vodka Seven? Someone was ordering these things. Your street cred would be ruined if you ordered or (gasp) served one now, but don’t you miss it, just a little? Wouldn’t you love to have one more Jolly Rancher? A chance to drink a mudslide without shame? We all made questionable drink choices in our past, the popular drinks from 1970 to the year 2000 were a cheap, sugary mess. Now is the time to resurrect your favourite drink from the time before modern Mixology. Give a new life to the drink… maybe you need to use fresh ingredients, or you can try elevating the spirits. Make everything from scratch or remove an offending ingredient. Do whatever you can to bring back and legitimize a drink you used to love.

    Oh my, but that theme does dredge up some interesting memories. And since we started our drinking “endeavors” (careers?) in the 1980’s we have plenty of truly shameful drinks to consider. Along with the aforementioned Mudslides and Long Island Iced Teas we have Woo-woo’s, Sex-on-Beaches, Kamikazes, 501-9s (don’t ask), Jager shots and “Gin Rickeys” that may have had gin…or Everclear….umm, whatever. And these are just a few of the rogues gallery of our wayward youth we could consider.

    bailey

    Before

    But it didn’t take long to find a truly shameful drink to reinvent. You see, I had a serious sweet tooth in my college days. And one of my favorite drinks was Bailey’s, Kahlua and Bourbon (any bourbon, whatever swill was in the well) on the rocks. At the time I loved it- not only was it super-sweet, but boozy and fattening as well (perhaps a harbinger of overindulgence to come).

    bailey1

    After

    We recently tried my old favorite for reference and it was horrific pretty bad. The only flavor was overwhelming, yet bland, sweetness. No coffee flavor came through and the only redeeming quality was that it resembled a boozy milkshake. At least that is a decent place to start…who doesn’t like booze in a milkshake? (What? You have never tried booze in a milkshake? We suggest you correct this oversight.)

    bailey2Happily, we could easily improve on my old favorite and add some real flavor. We kept the Baileys, used St. Georges’ NOLA coffee liqueur for real coffee flavor and used decent bourbon- and more of it. Then we added spice with Allspice Dram and Amargo Chuncho (Peruvian bitters that add spice, herbal and extra coffee notes). What did we get? A very tasty, boozy “milkshake”, with clear bourbon, cream and coffee notes, along with spice and even a hint of chocolate flavor. It is still a ridiculously fattening, sugary and strong drink…but at least it’s good.

    bailey3As for the name, it is a riff on a great scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction”. Yes Vincent Vega, this is truly a “Five Dollar Milkshake”. Continue reading

  • 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.