• Mixology Monday LXXIX Cocktail: Silver And Green

    silver4It’s Mixology Monday time again. It seems like it just happened, but since we hosted, our mixology “workload” was a bit higher than normal. But just as we thought of slacking, we saw the new theme “resin” from Booze Nerds and just couldn’t resist. Here is the lowdown:

    mxmologoWe thought hard about a theme that would work well for this time of year, and after contemplating the food, booze, and decor we like for the holidays, we settled on “Resin.” From savory rosemary in a stuffing, to a delicious juniper-y gin in a martini, to a fragrant fir ornament or garnish, our friends the evergreens have a lot to offer… The challenge: come up with an ingenious creation using the resin-y ingredient of your choice. Zirbenz, retsina, hoppy IPA, pine-nut puree, even? Sure! Spirit, garnish, aroma, all are fair game.  Whatever resin means to you, we want to hear it.

    silver7silver8Hmm…well the first “resin-y” ingredient we thought of was…well, a herb we don’t grow here at the farm. Ahem. But the next thought was to use a herb we do grow here at the farm, rosemary. Not only was it the first ingredient mentioned in the announcement post, but we grow it here for cooking and as an ornamental. We got plenty o’ rosemary.

    silverAnd, of course, we went to gin. Not just because of the juniper connection, but because we like gin and it works well with pine-y flavors like rosemary. So the next trick was to find a resinous modifier or liqueur. We looked at the bar and we immediately picked out our bottle of Kummel.

    silver1So what is Kummel? It is a sweet Northern European liqueur flavored with caraway, cumin and fennel. Sweet, savory and spicy, Kummel is a challenging ingredient, with both flavors of rye bread and holiday spice cookie. Strange stuff, but fun to play with. And Kummel seems resin-y, and certainly would play well with the gin and rosemary. So now all we needed was a recipe.

    silver2Happily, we noticed the Silver Bullet cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book and decided to riff on that. A simple combination of 2 parts gin to 1 part Kummel and 1 part lemon juice, the Silver Bullet is a good drink on its own (basically a play on a White Lady). Juniper, citrus and spice, with a sweet caraway undertone, the cocktail is weird, but tasty. But when we muddled some rosemary, rubbed a bit on the edge of the glass and used some as a garnish, it brought pine, juniper and citrus to the fore, making the Kummel’s spice more of an undertone. An excellent, albeit very funky, sip. We call this new cocktail Silver and Green.

    silver3silver5And while we like the flavor, we will admit to enjoying to look of this drink even more. In the right light, it does glow silver and the green rosemary almost sparkles on its own. Nice. So thanks to the crew at Booze Nerds for another excellent MxMo theme and to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party rollin. Happy Thanksgiving!

    silver6Silver And Green:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. Kummel
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • Fresh rosemary

    Assemble:

    1. Place a few pieces of rosemary in a cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Lightly muddle. Add ice and shake until well-chilled.
    2. Rub a sprig of rosemary lightly and then run it along the edge of a cocktail glass or coupe. Strain the cocktail into the glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig. Serve.
  • Weekly Cocktail #22: The Margaret Rose

    The Margaret Rose. A good intro to “Daisy” cocktails.

    This week’s cocktail takes us back to the classics. The Margaret Rose is a well-balanced cocktail made of gin, Calvados (or Applejack, in a pinch), Cointreau, lemon juice and grenadine. The Margaret Rose is smooth, with clear apple flavor and a very tasty sweet / tart combination from the lemon and the Cointreau. The gin adds some depth and complexity. The grenadine adds more sweetness and the rosy color. This drink is easy to make, works well in any season and is a good introduction to a class of cocktails known as “Daisies”. More on that in a bit.

    This recipe first appears in print in “The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book“, a 1937 book that came out a year or so after the more famous Savoy Cocktail Book. In a nutshell, the Savoy book was written by an American Harry Craddock, working in the UK. The UK Bartenders Guild thought that the Savoy book was perhaps a bit too “American” and came out with their own cocktail guide, The Cafe Royal. Both are good cocktail books and each has some unique recipes. For whatever reason, the Savoy is a more popular modern reference. Maybe it’s the illustrations.

    We found this recipe and notes on the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book from Cocktail Virgin Slut, one of the better cocktail blogs. We tried the Margaret Rose and liked it (Carolyn gave it a nod, and she is normally not a lover of brandy) and decided to do some more research. The Margaret Rose is from a class of cocktails known as “daisies”. Daisies are one of the oldest types of cocktails and were common in the 19th century. Definitions vary, but a daisy usually combines brandy, citrus juice (normally lemon) and a sweet liqueur like Cointreau or Chartreuse. Other spirits like whisky, gin or rum may be part of the recipe. A good combination, and a clear precursor to “Sours” like the Sidecar and, much later, the Cosmopolitan.

    As for the ingredients, the only somewhat “rarefied” ingredient is the Calvados. Calvados is simply apple brandy from the Lower Normandy region of France. Most Calvados is dry, but features clear apple notes and a touch of heat from the alcohol (depending on the quality of the Calvados). American apple brandy, known as Applejack, tends to run a touch sweeter and more tangy than Calvados. Applejack will work well in this recipe, but the drink will be a bit different. Regardless, there are literally hundreds of cocktails (mostly 19th and early 20th century) that feature apple brandy, so Calvados or Applejack are a worthwhile addition to your bar.

    In the end, the Margaret Rose is a good drink to try. It is a good excuse to get some apple brandy, try a “daisy’ cocktail and even get a copy of a cool (if somewhat obscure) cocktail book. Nothing like a bit of history. Or you can ignore the history and just make the drink and enjoy it. That also works pretty well.

    The Margaret Rose:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. dry gin
    • 1 oz. Calvados (or Applejack)
    • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 2 dashes grenadine

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, coupé or flute. No garnish. Serve.
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  • Bonus Cocktail: The Orchard Moonraker

    The Orchard Moonraker cocktail.

    Last week Carolyn and I had a few days in San Francisco and the wine country, and of course that means we enjoyed some great food and cocktails. Ironically, the wine country is filled with signs promoting cocktails along with wine- and we think this is a great thing. Wine country is also farm country and there are all sorts of tasty fruits and vegetables that can make their way in to cocktail menus- and they are, often with tremendous success. Meanwhile, San Francisco continues to be a hotbed for great food and cocktails. If you like to eat and drink, San Francisco is a very easy place to like.

    And our inspiration for this week’s drink, the Orchard Moonraker comes from a visit to Bar Agricole, one of the best bars (and restaurants) in San Francisco. Bar Agricole is well-known for its cocktail program and a mix of both classic and creative drinks. The interior is modern and clean, the spirits top quality, the glassware beautiful and the bartenders knowledgeable. Altogether, an excellent place for a cocktail, and a great place to discover new flavors. In this case Bar Agricole featured their take on a classic cocktail, the Moonraker, which comes all the way from the Savoy Cocktail Book of the 1930′s.

    The original recipe for the Moonraker is equal parts brandy, peach brandy, quinquina (Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano) and a few dashes of Absinthe. We tried it this way with Armagnac and Rothman and Winter’s Peach liqueur- and it is a good drink. Bar Agricole’s adaptation was brandy, Leopold Brothers Peach Whiskey, Cocchi and a few dashes of Absinthe. This was even better. The brandy and peach whiskey feature floral and sweet peach flavors, while the Cocchi adds herbal and bitter notes and the Absinthe cleans the palate. A bit unusual, but a very tasty drink. If you like Manhattans or Sazeracs, you may really enjoy the Moonraker. We certainly liked it.

    But as we are gardeners, and we have fresh peaches from the farmers market (ours are about a 10 days out- we are very excited), we adapted the Moonraker one more time to include fresh peaches and more common ingredients. Our version includes brandy, rye (you can use bourbon), muddled peaches, Cocchi and Absinthe. And if your peaches are not particularly sweet, a touch of sugar may help. The Orchard Moonraker, features overt floral and peach flavors and is a bit less sweet (peach liqueur is very sweet) with a touch of spice and depth from the rye and brandy. We use a little less Cocchi (you can substitute Lillet). The other notable difference is that the drink is cloudy from the muddled peaches. But overall, a tasty cocktail and fun way to enjoy peaches in season.

    Orchard Moonraker cocktail and ingredients.

    As for the name, it has nothing to do with the James Bond movie- the recipe has been around a lot longer. But a bit of internet research doesn’t give much more connection to the cocktail. A Moonraker is the name of a small, uppermost sail on some old ships, but is also a knick-name for some old-time British smugglers. Neither seem to have any real connection to the drink, and if they did it’s lost in time. But “Moonraker” sounds good, and the cocktail tastes good. So we will just have to drink it.

    The Orchard Moonraker: (Moonraker recipe below)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. brandy
    • 1 oz. rye (or bourbon, in a pinch)
    • 1/4 ripe sweet peach, in slices (we like the skins on for extra flavor, but skin the peaches if you like)
    • 1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc
    • 2 dashes Absinthe
    • A few dashes of simple syrup if the peaches are tart.
    • Peach slice, for garnish.

    Assemble:

    1. Add the peach slices to a cocktail shaker and muddle thoroughly.
    2. Add the brandy, rye, Cocchi, Absinthe and ice. Shake well to combine. Taste for sweetness and add a bit of simple syrup, if needed.
    3. Double strain (the peach pulp can be thick) into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with peach slice and serve.

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  • Weekly Cocktail #11: The Maiden’s Prayer

    The Maiden's Prayer Cocktail

    Yes the name is….”interesting”, perhaps suggestive, but also a curse. We will get to that. Meanwhile our goal this week was to post a great, but perhaps lesser-known, drink made from very common ingredients. It’s fun to buy things like Maraschino, Chartreuse and Cocchi Americano and learn about obscure cocktails, but sometimes it is good to have a few recipes that you can make anytime, anywhere. We think the Maiden’s Prayer fits the bill.

    And you can probably make the Maiden’s Prayer now, or after a quick trip to the market. The ingredients are dry gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and orange juice. That’s all. (You might want to add some orange or lemon bitters, if you have them…but there we go, getting all “cocktailian”). But the Maiden’s Prayer is a very, very tasty drink. Light, balanced and refreshing, with some depth from the gin. After trying it, Carolyn and I were both surprised the Maiden’s Prayer isn’t a more popular cocktail. The Maiden’s Prayer is certainly a cocktail you could serve to a group and leave everyone happy. And if you have a friend who says “I don’t like gin”, this cocktail might change their mind, the gin blends in quite smoothly. So why don’t we see this drink more?

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  • Weekly Cocktail #10: The Corpse Reviver No. 2

    Corpse Reviver No. 2

    We are back from tiki-land! This week’s cocktail, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a very tasty drink, but also has some good cocktail history attached to it.

    First, let’s get to the back-story. The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is first mentioned in the famous cocktail guide “The Savoy Cocktail Book“. The Savoy Cocktail Book is/was a 1930′s classic cocktail book from the Savoy London Hotel’s legendary bartender, Harry Craddock. It is worth buying as a cocktail recipe book and/or coffee table book. The book has hundreds of old-time cocktail recipes (some great, some happily lost in time), whimsical illustrations and the occasional witty remark from the author. And it is one of these witty remarks that make the Corpse Reviver No. 2 famous in cocktail circles.

    After giving you the recipe for the Corpse Reviver No. 2 (equal parts gin, lemon juice, Lillet, Cointreau and a dash of absinthe), Craddock dryly notes “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”. A good line, and one that has been mentioned in just about every cocktail book since, including Gary Regan’s “Joy of Mixology” and one of our faves, Jim Meehan’s “PDT Cocktail Book“.

    The problem is, that many readers may think the drink is only mentioned because of the (just slightly) silly name and witty comment, but in fact, the Corpse Reviver No.2 is a very, very good cocktail- and one worth making on a regular basis. You may also see this drink on the menu at many good cocktail bars, we suggest you give it a try. And if you happen to feel a bit bleary, this drink would certainly live up to its name, it is a bright, balanced and flavorful drink- with more depth than you might expect.

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