• 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

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  • 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.
  • 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