Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Compound It!

ICYMI: Tiki Month has begun on Doug's Pegu Blog. This year the focus is on current Tiki, or the currents within Tiki, or somesuch. Anyway...

There has been and continues to be a lacking in my tiki-ing. While most of the time I make do with a deft substitution or two (as not all rums are available in all jurisdictions) sometimes i have to go without. Once you've tasted enough rum you can make educated substitutions when a recipe calls for a rum you have not got. There is one substitution though that is forbidden. NOTHING can replace Lemon Hart 151.. they say. If you haven't got it or Hamilton Demerara 151 then forget it! JFL advises  such and also against El Dorado overproof meanwhile Kevin Upthegrove suggests some alternatives rather than outright substitutions. Might get you in the ballpark, or the parking lot, but, really, if you haven't got it you're skunked. If the recipe can't accomodate "the ole switheroo" then why bother, right? Well... there was that Golden Grain trick DJ Hawaiin Shirt mentioned...

One could rely on southern friends and chance shipping liquor across a border. One could also travel and hope that dusties can be found in Michigan or upstate NY. If Lamb's 151 would suffice a trip to Quebec might do.. There are "imperfect" substitutions available of course. Most of the year Bacardi and JWray are the overproof options in Ontario. There is Stroh 80 from time to time but it's best left for feats of fortitude and use in the kitchen. But wait, what's this? From St Vincent comes Sunset 169 (84.5% alc/vol). Gadzooks! It's certainly not hooch, after all.

So armed with a bottle of Sunset, the Pearson square (learned from Matthew Rowley's latest book) and Lemon Hart 80 (or perhaps another 40% abv demerara rum?) one can make erzatz Demarera 151... maybe.

It's resting. I'll let you know.

Be Well!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mixology Monday Curriculum Vitea: Brace Yourself

It's cold. You need to warm up. Doc has suggested we come up with bracing tonics before going out in the cold. I prefer the apres, but what do I know? I'm not a doctor.

Umpteen Thursdays ago I made the Sazerac Toddy as found on CVS. It wasn't really my bag; some drinks are such. I was left with much absinthe whipped cream (as I had made a batch in my iSi whipper) and wasn't sure what to do. I eventually came up with something. Before we proceed, you do have protection hot cocoa mix right?

Firstly the whipped cream:

10 oz whipping cream
4 oz Absinthe
2 oz simple syrup

Combine in an iSi charger. Best if prepared somewhat in advance.

Secondly the hot cocoa:

Currently in the pantry is a store-bought mix of which I use three tablespoons per serving. You could make your own such as this.

Thirdly you will require:

1.5-2 oz rye
3 dashes Peychaud's
1 swath of lemon peel
mace, cinnamon, or cayenne pepper

Sazerac Hot Chocolate

Combine rye and bitters with cocoa mix in a mug and whisk to make a paste. Meanwhile heat a kettle of water to boiling. Rub lemon peel on rim of mug. Once boiled pour hot water over paste. Whisk to combine. Top with however much or little whipped cream you desire. Garnish with mace, cinnamon, or cayenne pepper or a combination thereof.

Be well; stay warm

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MxMo One Oh Four: Parade Of Forgiveness

I did my best to offer more than one definition of a Forgiving Cocktail. Let's see which aspect most struck a chord:

First to arrive is Dr. Gary Elliot of His Eponymous Mixology with an appealing twist on a drink with a ratio that can't be nailed down.

Second is Pete Barmeister (is that his real name?) of Meticulous Mixing who encourages us to relax, perhaps in the tub, and find a rug with which to tie the room together. Maybe have a second drink too...

Third I, your humble host, make a template out of a New Orleans classic.

Fourth we have Leigh of Salt & Bitters sandwiching gin or tequila or whatever between celery and some bubbly!

Fifthly fabulous Fred forgive's Fleming's figurative firewater fiasco fortuitously forgoing filtered foreign... bottlings.

  Sixth to arrive are the Boozenerds with three takes on a classic we all "Count" on from time to time.

Seventh is Joel of Southern Ash with another bubbly concoction. This one indicative of his Italian roots.

So there you have it folks. I'll leave the door unlocked as I'm hoping a few more guests will drop by...

                                                              *      *     *

Here's one now! It's the tikitender himself JFL (Eddie?) from Rated R Cocktails riding into town on fumes with a Tiki Skeleton.

Next is Marius Iordache of Arcane Potions with a tropical libation and laissez-faire approach to measuring citrus juice!

Finally (so far) is Thiago Barbosa of the Bartending Notes blog with thoughts about the prescribed verus the practiced, the Italian outlook, and a bottle of Spumante.

I can't say which aspect of forgiveness was most appealing to people (bubbles?) but I thank everyone who participated! Thank you to Fred Yarm for allowing me to host and thank you to DJ Hawaiian Shirt for suggesting I host this theme!

If I've left anyone out or misspelled anything please let me know.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

MxMo 104: Forgive This Old Square

I'm unsure wherefrom came the phrase "forgiving cocktail." It may have been in Rumdood's review of Cuban 151. Perhaps not. With Fred's help and for the purposes of the MxMo I expanded my earliest definition of a forgiving cocktail. I wasn't thinking originally of a drink that allows for error or weakness but was thinking more of templates, or gospels, or... sandwiches. Stay with me.

A sandwich. You could try different bread, or even toast it. A new cheese, a different meat. Spinach rather than lettuce. Avocado in place of mayonnaise. An undigested piece of potato. No, wait not that last one. Anyway, change what you will a sandwich is still a sandwich and is still recognisably so. Much like Rowen's call for Manhattans there are drinks which when altered still retain their identity. This is what I first thought of as a forgiving cocktail. I've mentioned one such drink before but today we'll be seasonally appropriate and be bitter and stirred.

Vieux Carré
0.75-1 oz whisky
0.75-1 oz brandy
0.75-1 oz vermouth
0.5 tsp - 1 tbsp benedictine
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
1-2 dahses Peychaud's bitters
citrus twist, peel, or slice (omit if desired)

Choose a desired volume and maintain a 1:1:1 ratio for the first three ingredients. Stir, or shake. Strain, or not. Up or down. Rocks or neat. Garnish or not.

I've discovered recently that it is canonical to shake a Vieux Carré. So here is a drink that could be averaged much like that chocolate chip cookie recipe that made the rounds a few years ago. If you google the Vieux Carré you'll find disagreement about measurements, methods, and garnish but agreement about the ratio and that it's an excellent drink. My recent experiments with yellow Chartreuse VEP in place of Bénédictine didn't offer any marked improvement or intrigue but my variation on one of Erik's variations did. Give it a go!

A photo posted by dagreb (@dagreb) on

Vieux Carré (Variation à Dagreb)
1 oz Ballantine's blended scotch
1 oz Pâpidoux calvados
1 oz Cinzano sweet Vermouth
0.75 barspoon Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Stir vigouroulsy amongst whole and cracked ice. Sieve into a chilled coupe. Garnish with peel of oro blanco.

Forgive me!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Mixology Monday CIV: Forgiving Cocktails

I'll be honest, when the MxMo theme is too metaphorical I struggle with the concept; usually I opt out. Hopefully my theme for this month doesn't vex you in a similar fashion. The idea has been rolling around in my head for a while, the idea of forgiving cocktails. I'll attempt to explain.

It could be the antithesis of a drink so delicately structured that even 1/8 oz too much or too little of an ingredient causes a train-wreck. I'm not suggesting all out free-pouring but perhaps you've come across a recipe that can roll with the punches of an over/under pour now and again. Perhaps you're at a ballroom or a hotel and the unenthusiastic and/or fresh-faced (bar) staff don't inspire confidence. They may not know Campari from calamari but If you want a cocktail what do you do?  Order something that can't go too wrong. A Manhattan? Perhaps a Negroni or whatever in your wheelhouse is the drink equivalent of pizza, ...or sex. (you recall that old adage don't you?)

This idea of forgiving cocktails first began for me when one night I swapped the "bottom shelf" for the "top middle shelf" and was delighted by the results. It wasn't exactly the same but it was delicious none the less! The idea continued with other drinks that wlecomed whicever brand I was pouring. Perhaps for you similar things have happened with a Mai Tai or an Adonis. Perhaps you've made a stinger with Spanish brandy and been pleased with the reuslts? Whatever it may be find or invent a drink you feel is a forgiving cocktail and share the results.

How do you participate?

- Discover or invent a recipe that is your idea of a Forgiving Cocktail!

- Include the MxMo logo and a link back to Mixology Monday and Nihil Utopia in your post. 

- Alert me of your submission in the comments on this blog-post or tweet me @dagreb (with the hashtag #MxMo please).

- The deadline is December 21st. Please be punctual as I would like to have the roundup posted before Christmas Eve.


Monday, October 19, 2015

MxMo See Ai Ai! Spooky Sips

"Is it sweet?" She asked, half watching netflix and half playing on her phone.
"No... it's more sour," said the imbiber.
"You like sour"
"Yes. Yes I do."
 For a moment she appeared to ponder whether she herself was sour or sweet.

                                   *                                       *                                             *

This month's Mixology Monday theme is Spooky Sips. Chosen by our old pal JFL at Rated R Cocktails. I thought it was gonna be easy! It occured to me that a good place to dig up recipes might be Sloshed! (seemingly now defunct) or perhaps 12 Bottle Bar. So to the interwebz I went. The Vampire just wasn't what I wanted to present to you. The Jack Torrance though grotesque would require buying at least one bottle and perhaps some cookery. That just smacks of effort! So to VS&FC I went wherein I found Satan's Whiskers. I can't recall the last time I made a Satan's Whiskers but I do recall not enjoying it. Last time was curled, this time I went straight. No sir, don't like it. Odd really as it seems like something I would drink. I'm not sure what the problem is. Perhaps it's the Between The Sheets problem....

I decided to go Tiki. A couple of drinks came to mind. Well, maybe more than a couple. I made as near as I could to a Mai Kai Black Magic. What could go wrong? Tiki and the occult. Mysterious sweeteners and unobtainable rum. It should be a slam dunk! Turns out it's just not my bag. Don't get me wrong, it is a good drink. It has many layers and evolves over time, but I'm not dying to have another one.

Back to the drawing board I went. My girlfriend had shared some buzzfeed nonsense recipes. I was doubtful. One did look tasty, essentially a New York Sour with tequila. Not particularly spooky though... The other ghoulish delight called for Absinthe and coconut. This seems to be a common combo for Hallowe'en. I came across a similar recipe seemingly promoted by Lucid. It tasted like an All Sort. A coconut roll to be precise. It did look spooky though...

I was getting concerned that I'd have nothing to offer. In other circumstances I'd say to Hell with it and try again next month. I was loathe to disapoint JFL and not have a submission. To my library and the internet I returned. All things dead, devilish, diabolical, and Hallowe'en related I read about. Mostly I stuck to CVS and Savoy Stomp. I still wasn't convinced I'd found the right thing. A Zombie and all it's iterations seemed too obvious. Making up a drink seemed too exhausting.  I even considered going out and buying a watermelon...

So, there I was without a drink to drink let alone blog about. I decided to return to the Atomic Grog list. There had been that second drink name that popped in my head when I called up the Black Magic recipe. Perhaps it's my Catholic upbringing or perhaps it's my teenage exposure to Skinny Puppy but the name sticks in my mind. I had recently made falernum and also made passion fruit syrup. (For a punch or two) how could I pass this drink by?

Last Rites
1 oz lime juice
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
0.5 oz falernum
1 oz light rum (Porto Morrettes Cachaça Prata)
1.5 oz gold rum (Appleton V/X)
8 oz crushed ice

Blend on high for 5-7 seconds. Pour into a chimney glass or tiki mug. Add more crushed ice as needed.

adapted from Atomic Grog

In and of itself there's nothing really spooky about this. It is a sour. As is most Tiki. A sour with a little of this and a little of that. Give it a foreboding name and an ostentatious garnish and voila! (A story about a drink returning from the grave doesn't hurt either!)


Monday, September 21, 2015

Mixology Monday See? Aye! : Orange Juice

It's time for the monthly online cocktail party! Seems of late this is the only time my blog gets an update; I ought to change that! Anyway, this time 'round DJ Hawaiian Shirt has chosen orange juice as the theme. "Not orange liqueur, or oil, or bitters, or tangerine juice. Orange Juice." Alright then there are usually at least two varietals of oranges available from grocers here. I believe bottled, canned, or carton-ed juice is also permissible so that's, uh, a few options.

Some of you may be expecting a drink with an onion. Yeah, that's not going to happen... this time! While I like to think of myself as a gin drinker or a whisky drinker I'm sure my blue box would attest that rum is my most frequently recycled tipple. My girlfriend once had a forgiving theory that rum drinks call for a larger pour and rum drinks usually attract company so going through rum more quickly than other liquors is an illusion of sorts. So now you know a rum drink is coming. You also know what an enabler is.

I may have mentioned in past posts that Schumann's American Bar was to my mind a book to be taken seriously. I recall making this drink according to the recipe therein (I may have omitted the nutmeg) and being unimpressed. I suspected that fresh orange juice would have improved it. For some reason I didn't make the drink again. Even after reading Colonel Tiki's treatise about orange juice. Even after stocking the bar with more and better rums and syrups life went on. Life went on without this drink in my repertoire.

I let the days go by; I let the water hold me down; I found myself living in an apartment in a divvied up old house. I was cognisant of how thin the walls (and ceiling/floor) were. Sometimes late(ish) at night I'd want a drink and not want to disturb my neighbours (well, really just the one. If I disturbed the others I wasn't too concerned) with blending or shaking so I'd stir. Occasionally though a Sazerac or a Vieux Carre wouldn't do. Something more tropical would do!

I discovered some things. It was possible to build and stir (rather than shake as directed) this one drink and still have tasty results. It was also not necessary to always use the same varietal of juice nor the some type of rum. Each time I'd make this drink I would be eminently satisfied and wonder why I spent so much time combing through recipes (for which inevitably I was always one ingredient short) when I could be drinking one (or more!) of these! What was my problem exactly? I don't know, being a completist perhaps.

So, it was always tasty. It still is. Whichever varietal of orange I squeezed. Whichever dark rum I grabbed from my shelf. Whichever recipe/brand of grenadine I used it was always accommodating. This accommodating drink is an idea I've wanted to blog about. Maybe we'd call them "forgiving drinks"? I expected the Vieux Carre to be my first such post but it looks like that will have to wait for another day. Today we're talking about orange juice. Orange juice and rum. Forgiveness over ice you might say.

What be this drunkard's dream forgiving drink? Planter's Punch. You will encounter many recipes for such. The common thread seems to be rum, orange juice, and syurp. I usually use Schumann's recipe, as I alluded to, which gives a range for the rum measurement. However, if you underpour here and/or overpour there (with any of the ingredients) it will matter little. Delicious it still will be!

Planter's Punch
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.25 oz grenadine
2.75 oz orange juice
1.75-2 oz dark rum
stemmed cherry

The directions are "Shake well over ice cubes in a shaker, strain into a large highball glass over ice cubes, add orange wedge amd cherry, sprinkle with nutmeg." So do that. Or use a DOF, or build and stir, or use mace instead of nutmeg, or omit the cherry. Or all or none of that. You won't hurt the punch's feelings.

Be well!

Perhaps next time I ought to present a steadfast unforgiving drink. We'll see!

Thanks you Mssrs. Clarke, Yarm, Hwalek.

ps The photo is of a different drink, but you get the idea.