• Mixology Monday LXXXII: The Hanalei Sour

    sour5Mixology Monday time again! And not a moment too soon. We were getting a bit one-dimensional with our cocktails here at the farm (playing with Old Fashioned variants mostly), so it is always good to get the creative juices flowing (pouring?). Here is the theme from the excellent Ginhound Blog (they took the name before we could):

    mxmologoSome of the most iconic cocktails are Sours… There is a reason for this: A perfectly balanced sour is a work of art. What has happened to the Margarita shows exactly what is at stake when mixes replace bartender skill. For this month’s MxMo I suggest that we test the sour to the limit: Are there citrus besides lemon, lime and grapefruit that works in a Sour? Is citrus the only possible souring ingredient? Could vinegar or other tart fruits or vegetables be used? Let’s also include the Daisies and the Fizzes – that widens the playing field with eggs and whatever makes you fizz to play with. Let’s play with the garnish – or just take Jerry Thomas’s advice from The Bon Vivant’s Companion: In mixing sours be careful and put the lemon skin in the glass.

    Ah, sours, one of our favorite types of cocktail. And just like last month’s theme of Highballs, it is a good reminder that there are only a few “families” of basic cocktails and that most creations are just riffs on a common core. So with this in mind, we got to work.

    sourThe cool thing about a sour is the basic construct is so easy: spirits, sour and sweet. The hard thing is making them all play nice together. Too much of any ingredient can make a sour into a mess. And while we are not big fans of the term “balanced”, it is the right term for a good sour. The sour brightens your palate, the spirits give some kick and the sweet smooths the flavor. Alchemy.

    sour1sour8Now we just needed some inspiration. In our case, since some of the crew are in Kauai (with a much smaller bar to work with), we chose to use local ingredients as our core. And in Hawaii that means sugar and pineapple, at one time both were the primary crops of the islands. We also have a bounty of local citrus (Tahitian and Calamondin limes) and local rum, Koloa from here in Kauai (good stuff). We also got some local coconut flavored sugar…hmmm. Time to make a local daiquiri variant….that may delve into the realm of tiki. But both daiquiris and tiki drinks tend to be sours, so when in Kauai……

    sour3The Hanalei Sour combines fresh muddled pineapple, lime juice, coconut sugar (or just superfine sugar), Koloa Gold Rum and Tiki Bitters (Angostura in a pinch). We also garnish with fresh pineapple, lime, rim the glass with the coconut sugar (vanilla sugar would also do well here) and add some bitters to the foam on top of the drink. Is this really a sour? Or more tiki? Not sure. But we are sure it tastes good.

    sour4 Continue reading

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  • Weekly Cocktail #60: The Stone 75

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    Ah, cocktails. Just when you think you’ve had enough….they pull you back in. And in this case, “had enough” meant that we recently hosted Mixology Monday and had seen our fill of cocktails and photos. We were a bit tired. Time for some tea, maybe a sip of wine, new kegs on tap (an IPA and a crisp golden ale), and perhaps some hard cider to celebrate the season. Cider? Hmm….

    stoneAnd this is what happens once you start mixing drinks and catch the bug. We got a few different bottles of hard cider to play with and suddenly the gears started grinding turning and we were mixing away. This time the inspiration came from a bit of internet research into different styles of cider. While looking at dry vs. sweet cider we saw a recipe for the Stone Fence, one of America’s oldest cocktails and perhaps our original highball.

    stone1stone2The Stone Fence is the simple combination of a big glass of hard cider and a shot of rum, applejack or whiskey. This drink is literally hundreds of years old and the variety of hard liquor simply reflects what was available at any time or different regions. Applejack in New Jersey or rum in Massachusetts, gave way (somewhat) to whiskey, but all still work. At some point, most people added ice to the mix and we get this “proto-highball”. A good sip, particularly if feeling a bit lazy. But as you may have guessed, the big issue is that this is a strong drink. We will forgo the “fell face-first into a Stone Fence” jokes…but you get the idea.

    stone7We decided to play with the basic recipe and craft something with a bit less booze (but just a bit) and a slightly more elegant presentation. We also had some old-school sugar to play with (a piloncillo of Mexican sugar that would be similar to colonial-era sugar) and decided to include it in the cocktail. As for inspiration, we looked to two of our favorite sparklers, the citrusy French 75 and the bitters-heavy Seelbach.

    stone3After some very pleasant experimentation, we came up with the Stone 75. The Stone 75 combines muddled lemon peel and sugar with lemon juice, Cointreau, Jamaican rum, applejack, tiki bitters (Angostura also work) and dry hard cider. Served in a coupé or flute and topped with a lemon twist, this is a very pretty cocktail.

    stone4stone6 Continue reading

  • Weekly Cocktail #58: Embury’s Larchmont

    larch2Well, summer is “over”, at least in the family sense. Kids are back in school, work cranks up, and the holidays are already an insidious little whisper in your ear. So it starts again. Good thing Autumn also brings the harvest, the fall colors and (in Norcal) some good waves. And a few cocktails always help to re-acquaint oneself with “real life”.

    larch4But before summer was over I did get to do a full read of David A. Embury’s famous 1950’s cocktail book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks“. Embury’s book is unique for a few reasons: he was a lawyer not a bartender and rather than simply list recipes he tried to design a way to classify cocktails in a more orderly fashion. And the book does succeed in giving any home (or pro) bartender a foundation for creating thousands of drinks. (Just ignore the often hilarious heath and medical advice, unless you are the type who thinks smoking is still good for you, then by all means, listen to “Dr.Embury”).

    larch3Embury makes the case that almost any cocktail is simply a base (the spirits) and modifiers (sugar, citrus, aromatic wines, bitters, liqueurs, etc.). He also classifies most cocktails into two families. The first family is “aromatic” cocktails using spirits with aromatic wines (vermouth, quinquina, sherry) and bitters, think Martinis and Manhattans. The second family of cocktails are the “sours”, drinks with spirits, citrus (usually lemon or lime) and a sweetener (sugar, syrups, liqueurs), think Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, or (these days) a Margarita.

    larch5This system certainly works for most cocktails and other writers, most notably Gary Regan in the “Joy of Mixology“, expanded on these basic concepts. Good ideas and tools do seem to travel through time. But some of Embury’s concepts (along with his medical advice) have not aged quite as well. And in this case, we mean the proportions of his cocktails.

    larch6You see, Embury liked his cocktails dry. And we mean dry. For aromatic cocktails, he often liked a 7 to 1 (base to modifier) ratio, which fits many current tastes. But for sours, Embury suggests 1 part sweet, 2 parts sour and 8 parts spirits. Embury, it seems, liked to taste the booze in his cocktails. And while most of the drinkers here at the farm agree, we usually go 1 part sweet, 1 part sour and 2 parts spirits (and we see some recipes suggesting 1:1:1). But before we wrote off Embury’s ratios, we gave them a try in a few recipes.

    larchHow did it go? Well, the drinks are very dry and we would prefer both a bit more sweet and sour. But we were surprised, particularly if big fans of the base spirit, how much we liked the drier cocktails. They don’t always work, but when experimenting with a recipe you like, we suggest trying an “Embury-esque” version, you may be surprised…..besides, you get to try another drink.

    larch1Interestingly, Embury has a recipe for one of his favorite sour cocktails, the Larchmont (a town in Westchester), that is a bit of a hack on his 1:2:8 ratio and is a good “gateway” into his style of mixing. The Larchmont, a Daiquiri variant,  combines 1/2 part simple syrup, 2 parts lime juice, 2 parts Grand Marnier and 6 parts white Cuban rum with an orange peel garnish. Since we think of Grand Marnier (not a common mixer) as mostly sweet, this recipe does balance sweetness with what is still a very spirit-forward cocktail.

    The Larchmont Cocktail.

    The Larchmont Cocktail.

    But a very, very good cocktail. Both Carolyn and I thought this was a truly well-balanced sip. We did use white Demerara rum and perhaps a few more drops of sugar than Embury would like, but the flavors were delightful. We got orange on the nose from the twist and Grand Marnier, a smooth lime sip with just a touch of heat from the rum and a slight cognac-ish note at the finish. The drink was sour, but had just enough sweet to let the other flavors lead. So if you want to try Embury’s dry style of sour cocktails, we suggest you first try the Larchmont. It softens the transition to come….

    The Larchmont:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. white rum (El Dorado)
    • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • Scant 1/4 oz. simple syrup
    • Orange twist, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Twist the orange peel over the glass and add to the cocktail. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday LXXVI Cocktail: Special-Ti’

    Special-Ti' Cocktail.

    Special-Ti’ Cocktail.

    ti2Time for another Mixology Monday, the monthly online cocktail party. Let’s start with thanks to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party going and to this month’s host, the Muse of Doom at Feu de Vie (another excellent cocktail blog). The theme, a fitting one in a very hot August, is “Fire!”. Here is the announcement post and the details:

    mxmofire_zps75bb9668Tiki-philes have their flaming spent lime shells and scorpion bowls. Classic cocktailers have the magic of a flamed orange zest. Molecular mixologists have their Smoking Guns. …You don’t have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly — heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey! (or Fire Rock Pale Ale, etc.) You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. (and if you’re grilling fruit, save some for me, will ya?) In essence, bring the heat! Bring the Fire! Bring your inspiration!

    ti3Great theme. At first we thought of making a flaming tiki drink, and even ran a few fun experiments with Lemon Hart 151 in all sorts of vessels (it lights easily, btw). But after a while, we figured that we would see plenty of flaming tiki, and in better tiki bowls and cups than we have at the farm (we are working on adding to the collection). We also looked at flaming citrus peels over classics, as the announcement post suggests, but nothing really popped. But then a few days ago we used a brulee torch to make Chocolate S’more-bet Sundaes and we decided to use the torch in our Mixology Monday cocktail. Might as well use the thing…

    ti4So what to make? This part was surprisingly easy. We decided to deconstruct one of our favorite summer desserts, pineapple with lime zest and molasses, into a cocktail. We started with the garnish. We cut wedges of pineapple, coated them with dark brown sugar (turbinado or muscovado would also work), caramelized the sugar with the brulee torch and then added lime zest. You could eat this on its own and it is quite good, but a bit one-dimensional.

    ti5But we then made a hack of the standard Ti’ Punch (lime, cane syrup, rhum agricole) and dipped the caramelized pineapple wedges into the drinks and ate the pineapple. We tried a bunch of rums from dark to light, regular rum to a few types of rhum agricole. In the end, we liked Rhum Barbancourt 5-Star, an 8 year-old rhum from Haiti best. We also went light on cane syrup, as we learned that the caramelized sugar from the pineapple would mix into the drink and sweeten as we went along.

    ti6ti7So what did we get? A successful cocktail dessert. Both the cocktail and the garnish would be OK by themselves. But when combined, the sweet acidity of the pineapple, the intense (almost buttery) rum, sour lime and deep sugar flavor all play very well together. The extra texture of the pineapple and lime zest is also welcome. Great fun and something we will make again.

    ti8So thanks again to the Muse of Doom and Fred Yarm for another great Mixology Monday. We can’t wait to see he roundup.

    ti1Special-Ti’:

    Ingredients:

    Garnish:

    • Pineapple wedges
    • Dark brown sugar
    • Lime zest
    • Wooden or metal skewers

    Cocktail:

    • 2 oz. rum (Barbancourt 5-Star)
    • 1 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. cane syrup (or rich simple syrup)

    Assemble:

    1. Push the skewers lengthwise through the center of the pineapple wedges.
    2. Liberally sprinkle the pineapple wedges with the brown sugar and then caramelize the sugar with a brulee torch (or place on a baking sheet under a very hot broiler for about 30 seconds, or until brown). Quickly sprinkle on the lime zest before the caramelized sugar hardens.
    3. Place the pineapple wedges in the fridge for a few minutes to help the caramelized sugar harden.
    4. Meanwhile, combine the rum, lime juice and cane syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé.
    5. Garnish the cocktail with the pineapple wedge and serve.
    6. We suggest starting by dipping and eating the pineapple and then finishing the remaining cocktail. Enjoy.