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Gojira: my new-found infatuation with matcha

“I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of”….I’ve had that old David Cassidy song replaying in my head now for like a month. I thought you should know. Cool story, bro.

It’s no secret around these here parts that I get joy-boners with anything remotely related to Japanese culture and their beautiful people. Not in a creepy otaku kind of way but more in a healthy-obsessive, “will probably steal something if given the chance”-kind of way. So it’s cool. In binge-watching Japanese bartenders make cocktails on youtube (or as I call it: “Raul’s Saturday night”), I came across the use of matcha in cocktails, which I’d never seen before and loved the color it injects into drinks; So I ran to my nearest Asian food market with a roll of quarters (my preferred method of payment) and realized that this shit is not cheap. But I did learn this: the brighter and prettier the tea powder looks, the better quality it’ll be (assuming it hasnt been chemically enhanced). This type of matcha tea is typically considered “ceremonial” quality and if you’re looking to add it to cocktails, its the way to go, albeit the more expensive option.

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Matcha will not be for everyone. Lets just get that out there right now. It’s kind of thick and obviously has a prominent herbal flavor to it (well, I mean, its pulverized green tea leaves basically) that wont appeal to those that dont fancy tea so much but much like egg whites or powdered sugar, it gives the drink an interesting mouth feel. Kind of like when you share a drink with someone who has a little something on their lip that you couldnt figure out what it was until it was too late. Just. Like. That.

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You dont need a fancy bamboo tea whisk for this but it just helps in breaking down the powder so you’re not chewing this shit like its boba tea, but it helps. Stirring it with a spoon works just fine, plus you’re gonna shake the crap out of it later AND double strain it so relax.

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The final bit is lemon verbena, which is lovely and I want to carry it with me everywhere I go because I am all but certain that is highly addictive stuff. It gives the drink a bright citrus aroma that’s perhaps more inviting than mint and it blends the notes from the tea, the floral gin and acidity of the manzanilla sherry all together and right up in your face.

Gojira (go-gee-rah)

1.5 ounces of London dry gin (I used Berkshire Mountain’s Greylock gin here)
1 ounce manzanilla sherry
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 barspoon of quality matcha tea
Absinthe rinse
lemon verbena for garnish

In a mixing bowl, pour the gin, sherry and matcha. Whisk/stir well to combine the 3 and dilute the tea powder. Pour the contents into a cocktail shaker, add the simple syrup, ice and shake the hell out of it. Double strain into a rocks glass  that’s been rinsed with a bit of absinthe, adding some fresh ice (a big block of ice works best) and garnish with a sprig of lemon verbena.
NOTE: If you cant find any verbena, it’s cool, simply take a lemon swath and rub it on the sides after pressing some of the oils into the glass.

The Rules Have Changed

“if i am lost it’s only for a little while”

When I started Death To Sour Mix, I did it out of what (at the time) I believed to be a selfish necessity of what was lacking in the cocktail blogging community. Was there much of a community back then to begin with? If I was to compare 3 years ago to how bloggers, photographers, bartenders and home-aficionados operate online today, how information is shared through social networks, how craft cocktail bars, recipes, brands, etc., are disseminated, how that exquisite content is produced and how bloggers collaborate with each other now, I would say no. A cohesive, gorgeous and information blog is tough to manage in this digital era where your content needs to be of exceptional print quality with stellar writing and increasing production values to stay afloat; Where tweeting and instagram’ing is just as important as the blog post that went up at three in the morning. I look around at so many cocktail blogs now and I rejoice in what we’ve become. Where before I would generally recommend a handful, now I recommend them by categories and styles based on who’s asked the question. There are others that have been around much longer than me and have seen their sites evolve into works of art and new ones bring with them fresh takes on what is relevant, what is informative and together they are redefining the purpose of a cocktail blog. The rules have changed but the goal has stayed the same: produce that which you’re passionate about to the best of your ability & share it, with hopes that you’re not alone in your madness.

I stopped sharing my passion with the world for a long time. I shut everything down and worked on myself in a way that I cant recall ever attempting to in the past. It was with good reason, in my humble opinion; As Jordan Buckley would say “it is better to destroy than to create what is meaningless, so the picture will not be finished“. The last year of my life was filled with triumphant highs and heart-breaking lows. My personal & professional life were sinking ships with me in the center, not knowing which way to swim. Which is such a fucking cliche but drowning is perhaps the most constant feeling I’ve had throughout. Having struggled with lapses of depression throughout my life, I knew all too well that I needed help and that if I ever wanted to be the person I wanted to be, a lot needed to change; So I did just that, and I made new friends, discovered books without pictures, took some hard advice and changed what I hated while accepting that there are some that cannot change no matter how much you try and that you simply need to learn to let go. My mind and much to my surprise, my heart have long now healed and with the peace & happiness I’ve found in my battles, I am ready to move on in life.

Death to Sour Mix almost died but the ideal never will. While I was away, I’ve been bangin’ tins anywhere I can, pointing cameras in peoples faces, bartending, training, designing cocktail menus, learning about herbs, spirits, amyl nitrites. I’ve been busy as hell, but I can say with little humility that I am in the best shape of my life to write the shit out of this cocktail blog. Our time apart will only make for a better Death and I’m beyond excited to share whats to come with you all. Thank you all for your patience and your support, now go get the Jäger and lets make some drinks!

Sincerely yours,

Raul

River Of Gold

First post of the year…one that I had planned for the END of last year but here we are…yayyyy?!? Screw it. So by now the holidays and all their bloated spectacle are but a distant memory, yet all the weight that you got as a “present” is surely still sticking around. But it’s cool, because pants fit much better when they’re sweatpants or leggings which is all I wear these days to mask my new-found curves. I hope that all of you reading this had some great cocktails or at the very least, a solid beer over the past few weeks. Some of them might have been so good in fact, that you don’t remember them at all. Nor do you remember throwing up in the Uber but you know what, it’s all behind us. Let’s look forward. Let’s be more than what we were and make something great out of the new year. I’m obviously talking about cocktails, you guys. Be who you want to be, regardless of the year, but at least have a beautiful drink in your hand.

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Onto the cocktail. It’s fruity, full of wood notes, which mixed with the char from the pineapple, make for a fun time. GUARANTEED. Cognac is still a spirit that I struggle with in cocktails, to be honest, yet it’s super-easy for me to make into a tasty punch. It’s cold and warm months are far away, so I thought to bring a bit of tiki flavors and temperatures to the season. So put on some shorts, crank up the thermostat and invite that one friend you have over. Cause shit is about to get crazy. Unless it doesn’t. And you just have some sparkling conversation for a couple hours and then politely call it a night by 10 pm. I’ll leave that up to you.

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RIVER OF GOLD

makes around 10-15 servings

BOOZE

cognac | 3 cups blanc vermouth | 1 cup

BITTERS

Angostura bitters | 10 dashes Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters | 10 dashes

CITRUS, SYRUPS & JUICES

roasted pineapple juice | 2 cups lemon juice | 1 cup honey syrup* | 3/4 cup

MISC.

black tea | 2 cups

Pour all the items above into your beautiful punch bowl of choice and give it a good stir.

Taste it a bit and check if it needs a bit more of this or that, depending on how you’d like it.

Punch will undoubtedly need some ice, this is to chill it and dilute it since it would be a bit too concentrated at this point, even if you had chilled the liquids beforehand. I suggest making a big block of ice in whatever random bowl or Tupperware container you have. Or if you’re really cool, make clear ice blocks yourself like THIS.

Get a ladle ready, some cups and you’re done!

Rum Is The New Black

This is my absolute favorite way to enjoy a rum old fashioned. It has sweetness, depth and a smoothness that makes it hard to resist whenever I look at my bottles of rum.

Autumn is here. I’m not a beach person (even though I got that beach bod! FELLAS, AMIRIGHT?! …laughs alone in an empty room that smells oddly like dog farts), so the idea of summer going away, much like that gross pimple you got on your nose a few weeks back, is a welcomed treat cause now we get to talk about pumpkins! Hey, I wont try and tell you how to live your life but if #pumpkintalk isn’t something you’re having with random strangers ad-nauseam these days, well friend, you need Jesus.

I like the fall for drinking. I mean, I like ANY-FUCKING-SEASON for drinking but the fall brings with it a more relaxed sense of imbibing that is simply lost in the summer, where it’s all about “QUICK POUR THAT COLD DRINK IN MY MOUTH AS FAST AS YOU CAN! I’M WEARING FLIP FLOPS AND A CROP-TOP SO OBVIOUSLY I DON’T HAVE ANY TIME TO WAIT FOR SOME FANCY SHIT” …something like that. Where “autumn drinking” is more along these lines:

“Oh. Hello there. Didn’t see you there while I was admiring my new boots and super-cute scarf. Take your time and stir me up a drink that I can sip while reminding everyone on social media how much of a “fall person” I am. Oh and can you make it taste like a pumpkin spice latte?!”

Those were not aimed at anyone other than myself. But we can talk about my new boots later…

Anyone can make a quality rum Old Fashioned by simply replacing the whiskey for rum (or for mezcal like in a Oaxacan Old Fashioned) but this one is a bit different with the syrup used and the addition of the cacao. It rounds out with the lower notes of the rum that make it a smooth sip without being overtly sweet

Rum Is The New Black

2 1/2 oz Phraya premium gold rum

1/4 oz Thai syrup*

1 dash Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters

1 dash Bittermen’s Taza Chocolate extract

*For the Thai simple:
take 1 part palm sugar (natural sugars from coconut blossoms) to equal part water; Add to that a couple pieces of fresh lemongrass (pro tip: beat them up a bit with a muddler to loosen up the fibers and release its flavors). Boil. simmer. cool. strain. bottle. You know the drill.

In a mixing glass, add all these ingredients with some nice pieces of ice and stir.
Double strain into a rocks glass with a nice chunk of ice & press a grapefruit peel
over the top, serving as a garnish as well.

[ Enjoy ]

I make these with Phraya rum (a premium rum from Thailand) but really, it’s hard to go wrong with whatever aged, quality rum you have; Be it Appleton reserve, El Dorado or Diplomatico Reserva. Let me know what your favorite sipping rum is in the comments!

 

Harlow & Sage

Estamos de regreso con una nueva serie the bebidas utilizando tequila como la base principal, jugando con la idea the mezclar regiones…. JK. The blog is still in English. For now.

Hello again, muchachas and welcome to the last post which features the stellar photography by Lyudmila Zotova. Hopefully there will be more down the line with her (or other rad people out there!) but there was only so much you can do in a couple hours. Though I do believe Sting would disagree with that statement.

I was recently told that my drinks, interesting as they may seem, are not always easy to make due to some of the ingredients not being so easy to find. My initial reaction was: Oh fuck. What do you mean you cant find a rare form of gum Arabic that only grows in a tiny region of Africa?! You mean to tell me not everyone has access to the vast options of booze we swim in (like Scrooge McDuck) here in Boston?!

I want there to be a big range of cocktails you can make anywhere but I also like introducing readers to new products that I believe are exciting and new in the arena of craft cocktails but I’ll make an effort to make them as accessible as possible moving forward, with the occasional sumptuous tipple.

*Remember a while back when I posted this gin drink (which I’ve since updated so do check it out) where I used this fun syrup made from guava juice and sage ?!? No? It’s totally cool. We’re still friends but I will NEVER forget this betrayal.

I was just fucking around with the idea of tiki but with “Spanish flair”. What that means exactly, I don’t know. But I imagine it would be like me going out to a bar wearing a Hawaiian shirt, those sweet shoes bullfighters wear and a Mexican sombrero. If you wear this exact combination when you go out, please don’t. Just. don’t

Once you’ve made the syrup and placed it in some form of bottle or empty milk carton, you can start cranking these out in no time. My wife gets thirsty real quick so I’ve learned to make these in about 8 seconds. I know better now. Oh no, I think she’s coming…

Harlow & Sage

2 oz reposado tequila [ Espolon ]

3/4 oz Licor 43

1 1/2 oz guava & sage syrup

1 oz fresh lime juice

several dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

Measure and pour all except for the bitters in a shaker
Add some ice (ice), baby?
Beat the hell out of it and strain into a glass full of crushed ice
Hit it with the Peychaud’s bitters at the top to give it a nice red color
Garnish with sage leaves / kaffir lime leaves, an orange peel or a picture of me.

[ Enjoy ]

I used fresh guava for the syrup in this recipe BUT you can literally use ANY fresh fruit and I bet you it will work, as long as it’s sweet in nature with a strong backbone. This would go perfect with stone fruit like peaches mirabelle plums just to name a few.

Diving Bell

The original name for this was ‘Pavlovian Bell’ but then that started to sound pretty dumb. Not that ‘Diving Bell’ isn’t dumb. Maybe I should have just called it ‘Taco Bell’.

This week I meant to post about a couple events I attended a while ago (No. None of them were “How to tell your wife you wear her heels while she’s at work”) that were a lot of fun. And by fun, I mean they had A LOT of rum. But I was suddenly presented with these gorgeous shots by the lovely Lyudmila Zotova from a collaboration we did a little while ago and I couldn’t resist posting them. This was the first real collaboration for the site and now I dream of the day I get to work with more photographers/ fellow bloggers. Just picture me laying on the couch, being fanned with banana leaves while I lethargically tell someone else how much Malibu-to-Alize ratios to use, and then expect them to shoot it too?? A man can dream. But I digress, working with Lyudmila was fantastic (you’ll see a lot more of her work on the site in the weeks to come) and it was a learning experience for the both of us (I taught her that it is hot as balls in my apartment).

This is a refresher; A cocktail you sip on a sunny day, with Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ still playing on your phone while you shake it (both the drink AND your booty). This is how I enjoy my cocktails but you are your own master. With last week’s julep I started my spring cocktails here on the site, so this will be an ongoing series of bright, flavorful drinks for the weeks to come, ending with 2 months of just Polaroid shots of me drinking Coronas in my underwear with a confused look on my face. Why? When did this site ever make any sense? Hope you try it out and let me know how it is!

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I’ve been using Caorunn gin all over the place lately. Full disclosure: I was provided a bottle of it a while back BUT it’s pretty damn good. More than that actually. It has a softness to it that makes it incredibly easy to drink. I wish I was drinking it now…

All photos courtesy of Lyudmila Zotova. To check out her awesome work, head over to her site and/or tumblr and be sure to give her shit for not having a twitter account yet ;]

This is my second cocktail using The Owl’s Brew but because I’m SUCH a rebel, I use 2 parts booze to 1 part tea (#sorrynotsorry) and also the second time I use my ‘Death to Sour Mix’ (I cant even read that without rolling my eyes) which I talk about more in THIS post.

Diving Bell

1 3/4 oz gin

1/2 oz elderflower Liqueur

1/2 oz blanc Vermouth

3/4 oz Owl’s Brew Pink & Black

1/2 oz Death to Sour Mix*

Measure & pour all ingredients in a shaker and fill up with some big ol’ pieces of ice.
Beat it to death for a little bit to teach it who’s boss.
Double strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with a grapefruit (any citrus really) peel

[ Enjoy ]

In case you cant get your hands on some of the grapefruit shrub and you happen to have a bottle of grapefruit bitters lying around, a couple of dashes of that + a bar spoon of simple syrup can make a tasty sub. As for the gin, a nice citrus-forward gin will work (Plymouth, Beefeater, Greenhook, Junipero…) nicely.

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