• Mixology Monday LXXII Cocktail: CSA Gin

    The CSA Cocktail.

    The CSA Cocktail.

    Another Mixology Monday is here and (hopefully) we got this in under the wire. This month’s theme is “Drink Your Vegetables” and is hosted by Rowen at the Fogged In Lounge (a very good cocktail blog, worth a visit). And thanks, as always, to Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping this whole shindig going. So here are the details of the theme:

    csa2Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.

    csa3csa4So you would think that a “farm” blog would have this one in the bag, right? Not so, my friends, not so. We struggled mightily. It’s a good theme, and certainly we like our veggies, but somehow it took a bunch of time for us to formulate anything remotely original, interesting or blogworthy. And we aren’t big Bloody Mary fans, so no fallback there, either.

    csa5So what to do? Two things. Firstly, we chose to use fennel, one of our favorite ingredients (we may change the name of our blog to “Fennel Farms”). Secondly, we decided to use veggies to actually craft the base spirit and the cocktail. In this case we use veggies, fruits and spices to make “gin” and then formulate a cocktail.

    csa6And since gin often features the anise and citrus flavors we find in fennel and some gins (Hendrick’s) favor cucumber, we figured we could start with the traditional juniper and build a “gin” with veggies, herbs, citrus and spices. In the end, we used juniper berries, cinnamon (cassia), baby fennel (more citrus notes), fennel fronds, cucumber slices, rosemary, lime peel, lemon peel and Cara Cara orange peel. We muddled like crazy, then added some vodka (a good use for vodka, you could never predict how gin would respond to all these new flavors) and then muddled some more. And then it got interesting.

    csa7Right out of the shaker we got the cinnamon, cucumber and a touch of the rosemary. Good, but not like gin. So we let the mixture steep for 6 hours and the citrus and fennel stared to kick in, while the cinnamon faded. Better, but not there yet. 12 hours later we got more of the fennel, citrus and the sweetness of the cucumber. Basically, we ended up with a ligher (albeit cloudier) version of Hendrick’s. We can live with that. We had to live with that, time was running out.

    csa1Now that we had our “gin”, we made the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) cocktail. With all the flavors here, we didn’t add much. A little lime, a little agave syrup and a few dashes of Angostura. The CSA cocktail opens with  cucumber and citrus nose followed by a sweet cucumber and agave sip. Then you get the lime and finish with the fennel, rosemary (we got more rosemary than juniper, we think) and cinnamon. Not bad, and it certainly would beg the question; “is this cucumber vodka or Hendrick’s?” And that will have to do. Rowen, you made us work on this one.

    The CSA Cocktail:

    (Serves 2)

    • 6 juniper berries
    • 1/2 cinnamon stick
    • 2 or 3 rosemary needles
    • Zest / peel of 1/2 lime
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 lemon
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 orange
    • 1/4 cup baby fennel, roughly chopped
    • 1 fennel frond
    • 4 slices cucumber
    • 6 oz. vodka
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. agave syrup
    • 4 dashed Angostura bitters
    • 2 lemon twists for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Add the juniper berries, cinnamon stick and rosemary to a cocktail shaker. Muddle thoroughly. Add the citrus peels, chopped fennel, fennel frond and cucumber. Muddle some more. Then add the vodka. Muddle again.
    2. Pour the entire mixture into an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least 6, and preferably 12, hours.
    3. Place the entire mixture in a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, agave syrup and bitters. Shake until well chilled and double strain (at least once, maybe twice) into a chilled cocktail glasses, flutes or coupes. Garnish with the lemon twists and serve.
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  • Weekly Cocktail #47: Hemingway Hated Hawaii

    The Hemingway Hated Hawaii cocktail.

    The Hemingway Hated Hawaii cocktail.

    Did Hemingway really “hate” Hawaii? It’s hard to say, but he didn’t seem to like it all that much…but more on that later. Meanwhile, the Putney Farm crew is enjoying our trip to Kauai the rainy “Garden Isle”. Knowing that the weather can be terrible unpredictable, we started to build ourselves a tropical bar to help pass the time and make our umpteenth hand of bridge a bit more enjoyable. It is a riff on our “basic home bar” of citrus, sugar, gin, rum, Cointreau and Angostura bitters, but instead of whiskey we have tequila and we slip in some Bittermens Tiki bitters. Tiki drinks, Margaritas, Palomas and old school British colonial cocktails like the Pegu Club and Pink Gin are all on our fingertips. Life is good my friends, very good.

    The "tropical bar". All you need while in warmer climates.

    The “tropical bar”. All you need while in warmer climates.

    hem1But what about a cocktail book? Don’t we want to educate ourselves whist we imbibe? Of course we do. So we brought along “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion“, Phillip Green’s excellent cocktail book inspired by Hemingway’s love of booze. And whether you liked Papa’s writing or not (we are fans, but with a wink), the man knew how to mix a drink and throw a party. Our kind of guy.

    Our alarm clock.

    Our alarm clock.

    hem4As we worked through the book we found a great recipe for a basic highball of gin and coconut water, and it was extremely tasty. (It may not be an intuitive mix, but the coconut water takes any rough edges off the gin while keeping the best herbal notes.) We then found a recipe for the “Green Issac’s Special” or “Tomini” a combo of gin, coconut water, lime juice and Angostura bitters. Even better. And as we are in Hawaii and exploring long drinks, we wanted to go a bit more tropical/tiki so we added a dash of Cointreau (Hemingway disliked sugar in his cocktails, we like a touch of sweet) and some of the Tiki bitters. The sweet orange and extra spice took the cocktail over the top. So now we had a new cocktail, but no name. Not yet.

    hem5But as we read on, it turned out that Hemingway didn’t really take to all the “Aloha” you get in Hawaii, or at least what you get on cruise ships in Honolulu. Go figure. We would have thought that the big wave surfers, free divers and watermen of Hawaii would have appealed to Hemingway. But Hemingway died in 1961 and missed out on a generation of special athletes and personalities that would match any bullfighter or Caribbean rum runner. His loss. But he was dead, so we will give him a pass.

    hem8But Hemingway’s dislike for Hawaii did give us the name for our cocktail, and we do love a touch of alliteration at the farm. The Hemingway Hated Hawaii is a light, but very flavorful, long drink. You get an aroma of herbal gin, spice and lime, followed by the clean cold taste of the gin and coconut water with a touch of sweet orange from the Cointreau, and a finish of tart lime and spice from the Angostura and Tiki bitters. This drink goes down easy and is perfect on a warm day. We will drink this all summer, wherever we are- even if it is in Hawaii. Sorry Papa, but we think you might understand.

    The Hemingway Hated Hawaii.

    The Hemingway Hated Hawaii cocktail.

    Hemingway Hated Hawaii:

    Ingredients:

    • 4 oz. coconut water (found at most markets these days)
    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 2 dashes Bittermens Tiki bitters (or a drop of Allspice dram)
    • Lime wedge, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a highball or collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve.

    —–

    The Green Issac’s Special or Tomini:

    Ingredients:

    • 4 oz. coconut water
    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Lime wedge, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a highball or collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve.
  • Weekly Cocktail #25: Corn ‘n Oil

    Corn ‘n Oil cocktail.

    Let’s start by noting that this is not a drink that we expect many people to make at home. The Corn ‘n Oil is a very good cocktail, but perhaps a bit random “esoteric” for some. But since this week’s bonus cocktail was a Manhattan variant, we figured we could try something a bit different for our weekly post. And the Corn ‘n Oil certainly is “different”.

    Blackstrap rum and velvet falernum are not common ingredients, but are useful in plenty of cocktails.

    The Corn ‘n Oil combines blackstrap rum, velvet falernum, lime juice and Angostura bitters and is served on the rocks. And if you are unfamiliar with blackstrap rum and velvet falernum, you are not alone. To be honest, we only have them on hand because both are common accents in tiki drinks, and we do like our tiki drinks. Blackstrap rum is basically very dark rum. Cruzan is the blackstrap rum in tiki circles and in the Corn ‘n Oil. It has overt molasses and spice flavors with some clear bitter notes. On first sip, it seems unappealing, but somehow it grows on you. Many tiki drink aficionados use the Cruzan as the “float” instead of more common dark rums like Meyers. Cruzan Blackstrap rum is cheap ($15) and good stuff- so worth a try if you find it.

    As for velvet falernum, it is a sweet, spicy, lightly-alcoholic liqueur with lime notes. There are also non-alcoholic falernum syrups, Fee Brothers makes a version that’s widely available. You can also make your own. Falernum, along with Orgeat, is a popular sweetener in many tiki drinks. The only velvet falernum widely sold in the US is John D. Taylor’s from Barbados, the original home of falernum. It is inexpensive (under $20) and will last a long time, but it may be hard to find. In this recipe we suggest you use velvet falernum, but falernum syrup will work in a pinch.

    As for making the actual drink, like many cocktails, the recipes vary. Not surprisingly, the recipe on the back of the John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum bottle suggests a ratio of 3-1 falernum to rum. This is OK, but most current recipes suggest anywhere from a 50/50 split to 3-1 rum to falernum, particularly if using the Cruzan Blackstrap rum. Most recipes do agree that you need 1/4 to 1/3 of an ounce of fresh lime juice and some even suggest a splash of coke. We use a recipe from the cocktail book “Bitters” by Brad Parsons. We like the book and this recipe, but feel free to play around. We like just a bit more lime juice.

    Yes, it does look like old motor oil…but it tastes better.

    As for the flavor of the Corn ‘n Oil, it tastes like a much more flavorful version of a rum and coke. And this is a good thing. (C’mon, secretly most of us like a rum and coke every once in a while 😉 ) The blackstrap rum adds spice, bitterness and depth. The falernum adds clove and sweet lime notes that compliment the acidity of the fresh lime juice. The bitters add even more spice. Overall, there is a lot of good flavor in this drink. But there is one big caveat, the first sip is tough. The overt molasses flavor and bitterness from the blackstrap rum can be overwhelming. But then, suddenly with the next sip, it gets better. And as the ice melts into the drink, it gets good. Real good.

    As we noted earlier, we don’t expect that many people will have the ingredients to make this drink at home, but the next time you see this drink in a good bar, give it a try. If you get past the first sip and the odd name, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

    The Corn ‘n Oil:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. blackstrap rum (preferably Cruzan)
    • 1/2 oz. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum (or substitute falernum syrup)
    • 1/3 oz. fresh lime juice
    • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Lime shell or wedge for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Fill a lowball or old-fashioned glass with crushed ice. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well chilled. Add the lime garnish and serve.
  • Weekly Cocktail #13: The Seelbach Cocktail

    The Seelbach Cocktail

    One of the cool things about cocktails is how one drink can provoke many different reactions (and some fun conversations). And this week’s feature, the Seelbach Cocktail is a very good example. Created at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville Kentucky in 1917, the Seelbach cocktail combines bourbon, Cointreau, liberal doses of Angostura and Peychauds bitters all topped with dry champagne. The drink is sweet from the bourbon and Cointreau, with pronounced spice from the bitters but has a dry, light finish from the champagne. The Seelbach is a balanced, tasty, classic drink that is often seen on better cocktail menus. This is a cocktail we will continue to make, and enjoy, regularly.

    But beyond simply tasting good, what makes the Seelbach so interesting is the varied reactions to the flavors. Both Carolyn and I lean towards lighter gin, rum and tequila cocktails. When we tasted the Seelbach’s sweet bourbon, orange and spice we immediately thought “great for winter holidays”. But our friends who enjoy Manhattans and Old Fashioneds like the Seelbach as a “lighter”, almost summery, drink. If you are a fan of whiskey-based cocktails, the Seelbach certainly succeeds in keeping the flavor profile of whiskey, but also adding new dimensions and a cleaner finish. Having such broad, but varied, appeal is pretty nice trick for such a simple drink.

    Making the Seelbach is easy, but there are differences between recipes on the proportion of bitters. The original recipe calls for up to 7 dashes each of Angostura and Peychauds bitters, while other recipes (like Ted Haigh’s) call for 2-3 dashes each of the bitters. We went with the full seven dashes and like the pronounced spice flavor, but the bitters will show even with 2-3 dashes. These are fun experiments, so feel free to play around. Besides, you can use this as an excuse to make another round. Continue reading