absinthe

Minty Dollar

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“Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure. Then comes the julep”

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Today marks the start of the Kentucky Derby. And that friends was my extent of Derby knowledge. I could have wiki’d something on the matter, pretended I can point to where Kentucky is on a map or perhaps looked for horse pictures on the internet but that wont end well. When does it ever? All I know is that this time of the year, people start drinking Mint Juleps (and random variations of the classic drink/remedy) like they’re going out of style while speaking in southern accents (Oh, just me? You’re no fun).

So what is a mint Julep and how is it a craft cocktail? If anything, this is one of those deceptive drinks that look simple but to really enjoy one like it was intended, it does require some proper technique. At its most basic, it’s bourbon, water, fire, heart! …With your powers combined, I am Capt– No ‘Planeteers’ in the crowd?! I judged my audience wrong. Again. So yeah, at its most basic level, a Mint Julep is Bourbon whiskey, water, sugar and mint. That’s it. But its getting all those pieces to work together is where the craft comes in.

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  • Kentucky bourbon
  • Fernet Branca
  • Absinthe
  • Simple sirup
  • mint leaves

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The sip should be fragrant, slightly sweet and depending on the bourbon you’re using, it would then take its charming characteristics. Delicious. No wonder people were drinking this shit as a remedy back in the day.

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Some folks like using mint-infused simple syrup and that’s probably the easiest and best way to get the great mint flavor combined but if you want to be a fancy southern belle (and who doesn’t?!), a silver cup is the way to go, and that calls for rubbing/muddling the mint around the borders of the cup.

I don’t own any silver (It’s not like I’m hunting werewolves or some shit) so I took a red ‘Dixie’ cup and painted it silver. Problem solved.

Here’s how I make a classic Mint Julep + my preferred version of one, which reduces the amount of Bourbon but adds Fernet Branca & a hint of absinthe.

The Mint Julep

2 1/2 oz Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
~10 mint leaves

Take the mint leaves in your hand and lightly rub them all around the inside of your cup.
Top up your cup with crushed ice.
Measure and pour the simple syrup over the ice.
Pour the bourbon over the ice in a circular motion to chill & dilute it as it reaches the bottom.
You’ll need to add a bit more crushed ice to the top, as in all likelihood it now looks like you dropped it.

The garnish being paramount in a Mint Julep, take a couple of the nicest mint sprigs you can find and slap them a bit before pinning them in the cup. Add a straw and you’re all set.

Minty Dollar

2 oz Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/8 oz St. George Absinthe Verte
~10 mint leaves

Take the mint leaves in your hand and lightly rub them all around the inside of your cup.
Fill your cup 3/4 of the way with crushed ice.
Measure and pour the bourbon, Fernet, absinthe and simple simple syrup into the cup.
Take a spoon and while holding the cup from the top, stir it in a fast up & down motion.
Now top up the cup with crushed ice to make it look nice and round.

Take a couple of the nicest mint sprigs you can find and slap them a bit before pinning them in the cup. Add a straw and done.

[ Enjoy ]

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With regards to ice, if you have an ice crusher, a) God bless you and b) Can I borrow it forever? If not, I find that a mallet and Lewis bag do the work just fine; With the added bonus of it being one hell of a stress relief.

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*Maker’s Mark generously provided the bourbon & julep cup for this post.

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Summertime Sadness

summer_drinking

 These are the drinks that kept me busy during this past summer.

I posted a little while ago on twitter on how glad I was that summer was over, making room for some wonderful stirred drinks… and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks that nobody seems to shut up about. I mean, they are tasty, much like a pumpkin beer with extra cinnamon on the ri– focus!— I love the fall. Not because I’m lazy and enjoy wearing sweaters and Uggs as much as possible, but because it’s the perfect time to go for a walk without the fear of melting onto the sidewalk, you can meet with friends and not have to cringe internally at their 3rd degree sunburns all around the contours of their sunglasses or better yet, you can stop drinking bud lite lime now.

This past summer, I kept cycling 3 cocktails at home that were tasty representations of summer. Each one with its own merit and nuance but all 3 of them incredibly refreshing and uniquely flavorful. Oddly enough, each one has spirits that I wouldn’t traditionally consider as “summery” but damn if they don’t all work in their own way. In a summer full of margaritas, juleps and bud Lite Lime, these were the ones I kept coming back for when it was time for a refreshment.

Dead Man’s Mule

Originally from Met Bar, London
Presented here as modified @ Drink, Boston
 

I’m a fan of mules. Not the ones that put little balloons full of drugs into their bodies but the kind that you drink out of a metal cup full of crushed ice. This is an odd drink and one that at first you may not like but damn if it’s not tasty as hell! At Drink they make their own delicious ginger beer but if you don’t want to be bothered with it, Fever Tree makes a mean one that works perfect with cocktails.

1 oz Green Velvet Absinthe
1 oz Wilks & Wilson orgeat
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz lime juice
Fever Tree ginger beer to top
 
If you have a copper mug, now’s the time to use it.
Add crushed ice to the mug about 1/2 full (or 1/2 empty if that’s how you choose to see the world). 
Pour in everything except the ginger beer. Stir lightly (swizzle even!)
Add more crushed Ice and top with the ginger beer. 
 

Eulogy

Anvil Bar, Houston
 

This is my favorite one of the 3. It’s a bit sweet tho, which is why I add a bit of crushed ice to it so it doesn’t become that overtly sweet drink that you like at first but hate towards the end. Tons of flavor here. So much flavor here on the first sip. Such that I went out and bought a bottle of Strega and Batavia Arrack the very next day.

 
3/4 oz Batavia Arrack van Oosten
3/4 oz Jonh D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz lime juice
 
Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice and show it who’s boss.
Strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
 

Art of Choke

The Violet Hour, Chicago
 

This is like a mojito that threw away its self tanner, stopped partying, went to college and got a job. If you’re a drink snob by now, then just reading that last sentence plus the the fact that this thing has Cynar as a main ingredient is making you salivate.

 
1 oz Banks 5 Island Rum
1 oz Cynar
1/4 oz green Chartreuse
bar spoon of lime juice
bar spoon of Demerara sugar syrup
handful of mint leaves
 
Lightly muddle the mint in your shaker.
Add the rest and shake it with some large pieces of ice.
Double strain into a rocks glass with a single ice cube. Garnish with a small mint sprig.
 
 
 
 

MxMo: Wildfire

*warning: If you or a loved one is suffering from ‘Game of Thrones’ withdrawal at this time time, please consult my creepy hand, which has been held firmly in the air, waiting to give you the most excellent high 5. Also, you are a nerd. And I love you.

That time of the month y’all. Nope. Gotta’ re-do that horrible intro. Fuck it. Mixology Monday is here again, this time hosted by the ever mysterious and always entertaining Muse of Doom of Feu de Vie. A few words to set the mood:

Find and/or develop a recipe that incorporates Fire.

You don’t have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly — heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey! (orFire Rock Pale Ale, etc..) You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. (and if you’re grilling fruit, save some for me, will ya?)

In essence, bring the heat! Bring the Fire! Bring your inspiration!

I gotta admit it, you guys. I had no clue as to how to incorporate fire. I mean, that’s not even an ingredient, that’s a freaking element for crying out loud! So I cried for a while and considered making a molotov (a real one with Alize or something amazing) and just having a photo shoot with it, cause you know they look bad-ass but I refrained and here we are.

wild_w

 

So yeah, green fire from Game of Thrones lore. That’s basically the whole premise of this here craft cocktail. Oh what’s that? where’s the green fire? Funny you should ask that, friend. In short: That’s just not gonna happen in an edible way tonight. Booze burns a lovely blue, regardless of the color of the actual liquor. Here I’ve set some absinthe with a bright green hue on fire but mainly because a) it’s 110 proof and that stuff will basically burn a hole in you anyway. b) as I mentioned, this specific brand has a rad color. c) it pairs well with the flavors in the drink which yeah, I guess is important if I’m writing up a recipe around it.

In looking for a drink that had some element of green liquor on fire, I found the “Old Flame” from the excellent PDT cocktail book which I then used as a guide moving forward. Here we subbed the gin for pisco, the Chartreuse for Strega and added some absinthe which FYI, pairs great with pineapple. Fresh pineapple. Not that shit out of a Dole can. You’ve been warned.

crafting:

1 1/2 oz Porton Pisco
1/2 oz Strega
1 barspoon of Bitter Truth Creme de Violette*
1/4 oz Absente
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz fresh pineapple juice
egg white

Dry shake (no ice) the pisco, strega, lemon, pineapple and egg white.
Add ice and the barspoon of creme de violette.
Shake some more and strain into a coupe. Almost there…
PRO tip: when using matches, wait until the sulfur has burned off before you use it.
Light the 1/4 oz absente in a jigger and slowly float/pour it over the top (as seen above).

[ Enjoy ]

The Architect

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This one’s for you, Tony. You classy ol’ fox.

I struggled making this cocktail at first. Which brings me to my first point: don’t force a drink. Sometimes they just need to be unceremoniously discarded and forgotten; Much like Lindsay Lohan. I got the idea for this one a little while back while getting some refreshments @ Drink (yes. I know I’ve talked about this place before but you wouldn’t shut up about that place either if you had a drink blog). I was alone that day, putting out the vibe*; Which is when I met the most regal 70 year old man. In the 2 hours that followed, we talked about 2 things: architecture & absinthe. He was even kind enough to draw me a diagram. Class act, that Tony.

So none of that info, or “a story of forbidden love” as I like to think of it, was pertinent to the actual drink except for the fact that it’s where it gets its name, along with its inclusion of absinthe. I would like to end this post saying that if he were to taste this, he would love it but that’s bullshit. In fact, I’m sure he would hate it and go back to Drink, only to burn it to the ground.

*the vibe: Raul standing uncomfortably in a room, sweating profusely and giving the distinct impression that he just strangled someone in the men's room.

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Absinthe
Ramazzotti
Fernet Branca
Bitters
salt

For the salt, I used Elana’s recipe from Stir and Strain for ‘vanilla salt‘. That site deserves way better than just a side note here (it’s been on my ‘Read‘ list since day 1) and you NEED to check it out (now) but I’ll have a full post dedicated to her site shortly.

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This is a stirred drink, served over ice.

1 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth  [ Cocchi Vermouth di Torino ]
1/4 oz Absinthe  [ St. George Absinthe Verte]
1/2 oz Ramazzotti amaro
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
8 drops Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig bitters

Add all these guys into a mixing glass with ice and stir.

Add a large ice cube into a rocks glass and pour the cocktail around the cube.
Take a pinch (what’s less than a pinch? well that) and place it on top of the ice.
[ Enjoy ]

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La Muerte Chiquita

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This is my first real foray into mezcal-based drinks. I think I’m in love.

I’ve been ordering drinks with mezcal as much as I can to get a feel for how it works and the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) differences between one another; How smoky is this one? Does it work better with this juice or that one? Does it even mix well with other spirits without being a bully? Does it make me look fat in these pants? Based on the few that I’ve had, I can tell you that mezcal is a beautiful addition to a home bar (any bar really) in the way that absinthe is or like having both, bourbon and rye.

I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bottle of Montelobos mezcal for a while. To the point where I became obnoxiously slightly obsessed with the notion that if I was going to buy mezcal, it was going to be that one or none at all. That’s stupid. I know. Long story short, I got me a bottle and now we’re like best friends. I wanted the first drink I made to be more evocative of its origins (Oaxaca), so I went all Mexican up in this bitch…by way of Brooklyn, NY? Wait. what?? The xocolatl mole bitters are a must but the real treat is the chocolate extract that Taza (MA local) and Bitterman’s made, which gives it a rich flavor. To round it out, you have the dram which is basically being all creepy and coy (like Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club) until the very end, where it comes out, almost enhanced by the smokiness making it a pleasure to sip.

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Mezcal
Allspice Dram
Absinthe
Bitters
Mandarins

Fun fact: Initial trial runs had tabasco and creme de cacao which work well with the mezcal but didnt do it for me here. I wanted this to be a mix of a Monkey Gland & 20th Century, while maintaining some of the more traditional aspects of mezcal.

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1 1/2 oz mezcal   [ Montelobos ]
1/4 oz allspice dram   [ St. Elizabeth ]
1/4 oz absinthe   [ St. George Absinthe Verte ]
1 1/2 oz mandarin orange juice
2 dashes of Taza Chocolate Mexicano Extract
2 dashed of Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters

Prepare your glass with an absinthe rinse (like you would a Sazerac):
Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice and distribute the absinthe over it.
This will coat the glass with absinthe and help chill the glass.

Pour all ingredients into a shaker and beat the devil out of it.
Ditch the ice from the rocks glass which should now have a lovely absinthe aroma.
Strain into the rinsed glass and garnish with a flamed mandarin wheel.

[ Enjoy ]

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