• Bonus Cocktail: The Fourth Degree

    fourth10How do you know when you have officially become a cocktail geek? (Besides, you know…blogging about them.) Well, there are a few signs; multiple bottles of bitters, obsession with vintage glassware, too much gin and very little vodka, rum from at least 6 different Caribbean countries and the obligatory bottle(s) of absinthe are all reliable signs. Throw in some Falernum and Fernet and it is pretty clear that you, my friend, are a cocktail geek.

    fourthBut there is another major sign that you have gone over to the dark side (and, let’s face it, some of us enjoy it over here). Vermouth. If you have multiple bottles of vermouth and they are (hopefully) in the fridge, then you are probably a cocktail geek. And if you actually mix, match and test different recipes with different vermouth, then you are definitely a cocktail geek. Welcome.

    fourth2But even if you aren’t a cocktail geek (yet) we do suggest that all educated drinkers keep a good bottle each of sweet and dry vermouth. Keep them in the fridge, and use them often. Each brand has its charms and we suggest you experiment. And beyond the basic Martini and Manhattan, there are many experiments worth trying. We suggest the Fourth Degree be one of your first experiments.

    fourth8We will forgo some of the history (the drink, with differing recipes, is found in the Savoy and Imbibe!), but the Fourth Degree is a classic from the “golden age” of pre-prohibition cocktails. It lands somewhere between the Martinez (the proto-Martini) and the classic “wet” Martini. Not surprisingly, it uses gin and vermouth. But in this case, equal amounts of gin and both sweet and dry vermouth- along with a dash of absinthe and a lemon twist.

    fourth4Now you may say “meh”, but we suggest you try the Fourth Degree before you judge it. The drink is a bit sweet, but the flavors are deep, multi-layered and complex. You will get herbal and anise notes, but also surprising hints of fruit, chocolate and almond. The aroma of herbs and lemon peel is just as delightful. And, due to the large proportion of vermouth, the drink isn’t too strong. Go ahead and have another…

    fourth9The Fourth Degree is also a recipe that welcomes experimentation. Many have made the drink dryer with a larger proportion of gin, and that is very good. You can also play with the vermouth. Changing the sweet vermouth from M&R to Carpano Antica to Dolin to Vya will make for a substantially different drink. As will changes with the dry vermouth (we like Dolin and Vya here). But, of course, to truly experiment you need to collect a bunch of vermouth….hmmm….see what we mean?

    The Fourth Degree Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 3/4 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. dry vermouth
    • 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
    • 4 dashes (1 tsp.) absinthe
    • Lemon twist

    Assemble:

    1. Add all the liquid ingredients to a cocktail glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Garnish with the lemon twist. Serve.
    Advertisements
  • 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 #18: The Upside-Down Martini

    Upside-down martini using vinho verde instead of vermouth.

    One of the cool things about the cocktail renaissance is that inspiration comes from pretty much anywhere. And while there are always a few mixologists, enthusiasts and bartenders with “attitude”, cocktails tend to live in a welcoming, open and happy place. After all, it is just fun with booze and friends. Why mess with it? If somethings sounds good, give it a try.

    And we bring this up because rather than try and hide it, we will ‘fess up and admit this cocktail comes directly from Martha Stewart (or at least her magazine). Martha probably doesn’t rate very cool in urban cocktail circles, but we are in the sticks country out here and will take whatever inspiration we can get ;-). To be fair, the upside-down martini has been around for quite a while. Basically a martini that is 3-1 vermouth-to-gin vs. 3-1 gin to vermouth, the upside-down martini is an attempt to lighten what is a very boozy, but excellent, drink. But even with a good dry vermouth like Dolin, the upside-down martini can sometimes be a bit cloying and lack character. However, Martha (or her drinks editor) adapted the traditional recipe to include white vinho verde, rather than dry vermouth, and suddenly you get a very good summer cocktail.

    So what is vinho verde? Vinho verde is light, young Portugese wine that translates into “green wine”. And that is a very good description. Vino verde is usually less than one year old, overtly tart with citrus notes, slightly fizzy, low-alcohol (usually 8%-10%) and cheap (less than $10 per bottle). Vino verde is a very tasty summer wine by itself, but when combined with a touch of gin and a few olives, you get something altogether different, and better.

    The trick with this cocktail is that you get a very light drink that still tastes like a martini. The vinho verde’s “green” flavors go well with the juniper of the gin and the briny notes of the olives, but the overall body of drink is very light from the low-alcohol and slight fizz of the wine. And if you are a martini drinker, this is a very good thing. Martinis rock, but as Dorothy Parker says…”two at the very most”. Summer is about long, lovely days- but regular dry martinis can make for short, blotto tipsy nights. The upside-down martini with vino verde is a great way to turn a martini into a light, “long”, refreshing drink. If you are not a fan of typical “fruity” summer drinks, this version of the upside-down martini may be for you. And if you are a gin-and-tonic fan, the upside-down martini is a fun diversion.

    Upside-down martini and ingredients.

    As for the recipe, we suggest a 3-1 ratio of vinho verde to London dry gin. Even if you don’t normally like the juniper in gin, we bet you will find it is a good foil for the citrus and tang of the vinho verde. We also suggest including olives or some other briny garnish. The touch of brine melds well with the drink, it will lack an extra dimension if you omit the olives (we also tried cornichons, and they worked quite well). We tried the recipe with just a lemon twist, but most vinho verde has overt lemony flavors and the twist gets lost. The olives do make a difference in this cocktail.

    So if you, or a friend, prefer traditional or classic cocktails more than the normal citrus-and-sugar drinks of summer, then the upside-down martini is worth a look. And if you just want a light summer cocktail, that also looks pretty cool,  then the upside-down martini with vinho verde certainly fits the bill. Thanks Martha!

    The Upside-Down Martini:

    (Adapted from Martha Stewart

    Ingredients:

    • 3 oz. vinho verde (we like Casal Garcia- tasty and cheap)
    • 1 oz. dry gin
    • Olives, caper berries or cornichons, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. In a medium lowball (or highball, if you like) glass add the gin and vinho verde. Add ice to fill glass, stir until well-chilled. Add olives, stir a bit more and serve.
  • 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?

    Continue reading