• Weekly Cocktail #51: The Queen’s Park Swizzle

    The Queen's Park Swizzle

    The Queen’s Park Swizzle

    Happy Friday everyone! We like Fridays here at the farm, and the best thing about them is they happen every week….So now that the weekend is here and the forecast is for sunny skies and 80 degrees, what to drink? When the sun is out we tend to look towards gin, rum and long drinks.  G n T or a Collins? Great, but we have been there (and will continue to do that). Tiki? Awesome, but often complicated. Punch? Always good, but then we have to throw a party (a good excuse, btw). But how about a Swizzle?  Now that is something worth exploring…

    swizswiz1What’s a swizzle? Basically it is a rum-based cocktail (almost always, although Chartreuse swizzles are very tasty) served with crushed ice that is then vigorously stirred or “swizzled” using a spoon or “swizzle stick”. When you swizzle the cocktail a nice layer of frost forms on the outside, and the drink itself gets very, very cold. Popular in the Caribbean, swizzles are meant for long, lazy sipping on hot days.

    swiz2swiz4There are all sorts of swizzle recipes out there, but this one, The Queen’s Park Swizzle, is one of our favorites. A combination of mint, Demerara rum (we add some aged Jamaican rum), lime juice, sugar syrup and bitters, the Queen’s Park Swizzle is a simple, smooth and flavorful drink. It is also very strong, with almost double the normal amount of booze, but these drinks are meant to be nursed over time. As it is, we usually have only one (and if we had two we probably wouldn’t remember anyway).

    swiz5The one surprise about the Queen’s Park Swizzle is the flavor. You might expect a big bold drink, but instead you get soft, mellow flavors. You get a big whiff of mint from the garnish, followed by a sweet, rich rum sip with just a touch of the lime, mint and bitters. This is really a rum drink, with the other players in supporting roles. Demerara rum (we use El Dorado 3yr old here), with its smoky flavors is the traditional choice for this cocktail, but we add the aged Jamaican for a little more funk and vanilla notes.

    swiz6As for the history of this cocktail, the recipe supposedly comes from the (now closed) Queen’s Park hotel in Trinidad. Some say this was one of the first swizzles, but like most things in cocktail history, the facts are a bit fuzzy. Pretty much everyone in the hemisphere had rum, sugar, limes and bitters. Most people had readily available ice by 1900, and they all know how to stir. So maybe this was the first swizzle, maybe it wasn’t. We just know the Queen’s Park Swizzle is our first choice when we swizzle….now we just need to swizzle more often…;-)

    swiz7The Queen’s Park Swizzle:

    Ingredients:

    • 8-10 mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
    • 2 oz. Demerara rum (or use 3 oz. and omit the Jamaican rum)
    • 1 oz. aged Jamaican rum (optional)
    • 1/2 oz. rich simple syrup (2 to 1 sugar to water)
    • 1/2 oz lime juice
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Lime wheel, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Place the mint leaves in a highball or Collins glass. Lightly muddle the mint and rub it along the inside of the glass.
    2. Add the liquid ingredients to the glass and then fill it with crushed ice. Then, using a spoon or swizzle stick, stir the drink until it is very cold and a light frost forms on the outside of the glass. Top off with more crushed ice to fill the glass, if needed.
    3. Garnish with a big sprig of mint and a lime wheel. Serve.
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  • Mixology Monday Cocktail #1: The Calm Sunny Day

    The Calm Sunny Day. Neither dark, nor stormy.

    The Calm Sunny Day. Neither dark, nor stormy.

    There is one week to go before Mixology Monday drinks are due. But since we are hosting, we figured we should post a few examples of cocktails that might fit our theme of “inverted”. If you want the whole download on the theme, click here. But the basic idea is to create or share a cocktail that in some way inverts or “flips” common parts of the drink. You can invert the ratio of spirits, liquor and bitters, or flip the colors, flavors, theme, etc. Plenty of ways to be creative.

    sunnysunny6To start, we decided to go with something easy, but as we got into it we realized just how many ways you can play with a cocktail. Our first “inverted” creation is the Calm Sunny Day, essentially an inverted Dark ‘n Stormy. The Dark ‘n Stormy is a well-known long drink combining Goslings dark rum, lime juice and ginger beer (or ginger ale in a pinch). It is a bright, funky and spicy summer drink, usually served on the rocks in a highball glass.

    sunny1sunny4We decided to invert the Dark ‘n Stormy into a more traditional cocktail, and this is where it got fun. The Calm Sunny Day combines aged filtered rum, ginger liqueur and lime juice (and a dash of bitters, if you like). You get the same basic flavors of the Dark ‘n Stormy, but everything else is flipped. Highball turns to cocktail, dark rum to light, brown colors are now very pale, ginger beer to ginger liqueur and the name gets a change as well. You get the idea.

    sunny2A few notes on the ingredients will help with the recipe. Firstly, we use filtered aged rum like El Dorado 3 yr. or Banks 5-Island. It turns out you can filter the color from aged, darker rums and keep most of their “funk” and flavor. This kind of rum let us change the color of the drink and is a good cocktail ingredient, but if you already have Goslings or other dark rum you can use it (you just get a deeper color, extra recipe below). As for Ginger Liqueur, there are a few producers and each type varies slightly in sweetness and spice. It is best to mix your first version with less ginger liqueur and adjust upwards if needed. And you may need a dash of simple syrup to add sweetness without adding too much ginger. We also add a dash of Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters for extra funk, but it’s totally optional.

    sunny3 Continue reading

  • 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 #20: The Otto’s Grotto

    Otto’s Grotto Cocktail.

    As we noted in our previous post, we recently hosted a small Hawaiian-themed dinner party for a close friend and made macadamia nut tart. The tart was great, but we wanted to be sure to have a cocktail to match, so we looked no further than Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, probably the world’s biggest expert on Tiki drinks. We happen to have his tiki drink iPhone App (so cool) and looked for a tiki cocktail that would go with dessert. We searched on the keyword “coffee” and after browsing a few results, the Otto’s Grotto almost jumped of the screen. It sounded like a perfect summer “dessert” cocktail. So we gave it a try (of course, we tested it before we served it to our friends.. ;-).

    The Otto’s Grotto is a cold drink that features coffee, white rum, coffee liqueur (Kahlua, Tia Maria or home-made), Licor 43 and a dash of heavy cream. But this is not a syrupy white/black russian, but more of an ice-coffee with a kick and some depth. Coffee is clearly the main ingredient, but the rum, coffee liqueur and Licor 43 all add extra flavor. The cream adds a smooth note and mellows the bitterness of the coffee. While we served the Otto’s Grotto for dessert, you could serve this cocktail almost any time of day and get a very welcome reception. It’s good.

    Float cream on top for a good presentation.

    As for the ingredients, good coffee is the key here. Great coffee = great coffee cocktail, ’nuff said. As for the other ingredients, this is where you have some flexibility. And decent white rum will do, the alcohol will mainly boost the flavor of the coffee. As for the coffee liqueur, we use Kahlua (without shame), but Tia Maria will work. And coffee liqueur is one of the best DIY liqueurs you can make at home, here is a good article on the subject from Marcia Simmons at Serious Eats (they have some really good cocktail writers). Finally we have the Licor 43, a vanilla and citrus liqueur that is sometimes hard to find. We like it in the drink and it is worth having in your bar, but you could substitute Tuaca. And in a pinch, vanilla syrup and an extra dash of rum will work just fine.

    Iced coffee, just better.

    Building this drink is by no means difficult, but a few little steps will help. Firstly, when you mix the coffee and liqueurs, check for taste. Coffee is a highly variable ingredient, you may want to add an extra dash of coffee liqueur or Licor 43 to balance the flavors. And finally, when adding the heavy cream, it helps to drizzle it on a spoon just above the drink. This will help float the cream on top. While not a necessary step, it will look good. And if a drink tastes this good, you may as well rock the presentation. Happy Friday!

    Otto’s Grotto:

    (Adapted from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry)

    Ingredients:

    • 5 oz. iced coffee
    • 3/4 oz. coffee liqueur (we use Kahlua)
    • 3/4 oz. Licor 43
    • 1 and 1/2 oz. white rum
    • 1/4 oz. heavy cream
    • Mint, for garnish (optional)

    Assemble:

    1. Place all the ingredients, except the cream, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and pour unstrained into a highball glass or goblet. Float cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint, if you like. Serve.