cocktail

Pillar of Autumn (End Of Season)

Living in New England, you get rich flavors growing all over the place in random orchards and farms so we’re lucky to have a lot of variety, which works wonders when making cocktails. Like this one.

When I started writing this post, I had a terrible cold (probably not “terrible” but I’m a big baby when it comes to getting sick), it was a week before Thanksgiving (aka ‘the only time of the year you should openly be thankful of anything’) and that deep regret for what I and an unnamed turkey would do to my body was but a distant bridge far, far away. Well, November is done and the struggle is here. Fun fact, kids: if you eat enough cookies and caramel flan at a steady pace throughout the day, you become a grumpy asshole that swears you can communicate with animals small & large. It’s a bad look. I regret nothing.

Autumn recipes are done. I think the way that Labor day marks the end of me being able to wear some bitchin’ white linen capris, Thanksgiving marks the end of fall weather drinks and sadly, the end of socially acceptable drinking of pumpkin beer with sugar rims. I say fuck-that to all of those things because if I could, I’d kick back a Budweiser with a sugar rim (on the can!) while wearing my comfortable white linen. So today’s drink may come too late but I’ll leave that up to you. All I want is for you to get wasted.

A shaken drink with muddled apples & ginger, fresh lime juice that joins forces with the pressed juices, Averna amaro and cherry bitters to bring it depth and finally, Applejack and bourbon to give it strength. It’s sweet and refreshing. Exactly what I’d want to drink in between those tasty stirred cocktails I’ve recommended you sip:

I’ll have some new “WINTER” cocktails shortly, or what I like to call it: “Everything around me is cold & dead and all I want to do is drink Mexican hot chocolate under fur blankets until April”. I’m not above calling a cocktail “(Lil)Let It Go”, so expect that one. #sorrynotsorry.

Pillar of Autumn
1 oz bourbon whiskey (Berkshire Mountain Distillers)
1 oz Applejack (bonded if you roll like that)
1/2 Averna amaro
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes cedar cherry bitters (Apothecary Bitters)
1/3 of McIntosh apple, peeled + small piece of ginger, peeled
2 barspoons of real maple syrup

Take about 1/3rd of a peeled apple, chop it into smaller chunks and add to empty shaker. Add the peeled piece of ginger and muddle them together until you’ve extracted most of the juice.

Add the lime juice, bitters, Averna, bourbon & Applejack to the shaker, along with the maple syrup.

Fill shaker with ice and take it for a ride until chilled.

Double strain into a chilled glass. No garnish needed.

[ Enjoy ]

Initially I made this with Virgil Kane’s ginger-infused bourbon which is DELICIOUS and if you have the chance, definitely check them out, be it for this drink or simply to sip it on a leisurely walk at the park. I wasnt able to find enough of it around to make it the basis of this cocktail however, hence the muddled ginger.

#OnLocation: The Baldwin

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#OnLocation is a new section where I check out local craft cocktail bars and share an intimate look at their operation; From the influences, flavors and styles, I’ll showcase aspects of the bar that make it special and their drinks unique.

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Located in the historic Baldwin mansion in Woburn, Massachusetts, sits a restaurant that many have known for the past decade as Sichuan Garden II, a restaurant with an excellent pedigree in Chinese cuisine, but seemingly hidden within is  The Baldwin, a craft cocktail bar of the highest caliber. The bar shares the same roof (and proprietorship) as the restaurant and gets its illustrious name from the same historic walls that house it.

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The mood: You walk into a dimly lit room to the right where a multitude of vintage decanters, candles, fresh citrus, an ornate register from an era long gone and a colorful tiled bar set the stage. Not a single part of it feels industrial or quickly manufactured; Instead, you are greeted with an intimate environment with antique touches peppered throughout that yields an experience that is more than the sum of its parts.

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A pleasant surprise that you wont notice until after you finish taking in the sights is just how harmoniously quiet the room is. Sure, there’s some music in the background, but I’m there to imbibe and have a great time, not test out the range of my vocal chords and yell “I’M GONNA GO PEE” into someone’s ear.

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A bar is only as good as its bartenders. You can have all the pieces needed but knowing what to do with them is a whole other story; Enter Ran Duan. The Baldwin is Ran’s baby since its inception 3 years ago and it doesn’t take long to notice the absolute attention to detail in every inch (even the bathroom. It’ looks like a sauna in there) of the bar to know this place was meant to be something special. You may know Ran as the bow-tie wearing, ink loving, cocktail shaker-extraordinaire in various competitions all over the place; A self proclaimed “cocktologist” and proprietor of The Baldwin.

When I asked him about his influences in creating The Baldwin’s bar program, one that boasts a cocktail menu that changes every 2 weeks,  the focus is on seasonal flavors, an “everything goes” kind of attitude towards ingredients when making cocktails and a deep-rooted desire to always keep things fresh.

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Vannaluck Hongthong & Joel Atlas (pictured above) make up the rest of the dapper bar crew at The Baldwin. Van, being the newest to the Baldwin team, is the nicest guy you’ll meet, but can shake up a drink like it owes him money. Then there’s Joel (who unfortunately was gallivanting elsewhere the day of the shoot) being Ran’s long-running ‘cocktologist’ at the Baldwin and a crucial part of the team.

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Not all ice is created equal. At The Baldwin, great care is placed in the way their ice is crafted, as a paramount component to their cocktails. From an initial 300 lb block of ice, which is then broken down into more manageable 50 lb blocks, to witness their ice being prepared before opening their doors was a treat in itself. From the use of chisels, chainsaws and butter knives, it’s a complex process that yields the ideal ice for a variety of drinks (more on that later).

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You can see more of the ice crafting process in the gallery below:

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And now onto the cocktails! As I mentioned before, they have a cocktail menu that changes every 2 weeks, along with a dedicated Mai Tai section but the real fun lies in having them make you something per your request. The team here really has an ability to craft a delicious cocktail every-single-time that had me wondering a) how can I make love to this right now? and b) what the hell is in this that’s so damn delicious? Weather its citrus or spirit based, a classic or something completely random (like drinking out of  a whole pineapple), they never missed the mark.

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The team from The Baldwin were kind enough to share a couple of their cocktail recipes, which you can find below.

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William Burrough

1 1/2 oz. London dry gin [Beefeater 24]
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. earl gray tea syrup*
1 bar spoon of Greek yogurt
10 drops orange blossom water
shake vigorously with ice.
Double strain into a glass & garnish with a cherry.

*make some concentrated dark Earl Gray tea and while still hot, add an equal amount of sugar.

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No Stone Unturned

1 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1/2 oz. Absinthe
1/2 oz. Fernet Branca
Pour all into a mixing glass and stir.
Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.
Garnish with a bit of salt on the cube.

 

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A bit of sage advice from Ran came towards the end of the day, when I asked if he had any tips or advice for someone making a cocktail [at home] or perhaps looking to discover something new at a bar, to which he answered with a question:

“Do you drink for the taste or for the feeling?”

…I’ll leave you with that to ponder.

A big thanks to the The Baldwin for being so a accommodating in the process but above all, for making it clear that it is possible to make inspired craft cocktails outside of Boston city limits.

The Baldwin is located at: 2 Alfred St, Woburn, MA 01801

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Death to Anonymity

You guys, I got business cards;

…What I’m actually going to do with these cards is a complete mystery to me right now, but at least now I don’t have to hope the slightly-drunk individual I’ve been talking to for the past hour can remember a) where they are and how they get there, but more importantly, b) to read my blog. I’m fairly certain the majority of these cards will end up in those bowls at Quiznos with the hopes of scoring me a free sandwich, but only time will tell.

Why do I need business cards for a site that doesn’t technically have a business model? Branding. Because in order to raise awareness for something you care deeply about (any blogger that writes about a dedicated topic for free has a profound attachment to it), you need to market yourself. Because we all know  that if a tree falls in the woods and all that shit. Basically It’ll be like I’m handing someone a ‘selfie‘ of my site, except it doesn’t have ‘#yolo’ anywhere on it. I don’t know how to do any of this, so I’m hoping to learn about it as I go. Painfully, I’m sure.

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If I were an eloquent man, I could easily hype up my site to people in a positive, memorable way, but on average, it goes a li’l something like this:

Hello.
Oh, no, I'm not Lou Diamond Phillips from La Bamba.
So you enjoy beverages?
Damn, that's a cool jacket. Where'd you get it? J. Jill?
I write. I have a site. There's this thing. Online.
<begin sweating for no reason>
So, do you know how to read? No? That's weird.
Can I borrow your phone? Oh is that a flip phone?! Never mind.
I take little pictures. Well they're not little. I guess they're regular size.
You know what? Forget my face. FORGET YOU EVER SAW ME!
<I then knock the drink out of their hands and bolt out of that Denny's>

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I commissioned Print and Grain [an army-of-two] letterpress company from the lovely Portland, OR to design these and man did they deliver. The style they designed works great with my site’s bad boy attitude and I’ll proudly spread them like a virus wherever I go.

*be sure to check out their shop on Etsy for more on Print and Grain letterpress products.

MxMo: Branches In A River

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“You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we’re going
Lodged in life
Like two branches in a river
flowing downstream
caught in the current
I’ll carry you. You’ll carry me
That’s how it could be
Don’t you know me?
Don’t you know me by now?”

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After sitting a couple rounds of MxMO out, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of playing around with resin and liquor, the same way the people from Jurassic Park did. That movie still scares the crap out of me. Just sayin’. This month, it’s the ever sexy duo known as the Booze Nerds leading us into the woods:

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.

This cocktail worked out beautifully with this month’s theme in that I was working on a drink with Zirbenz and either rosemary or thyme or lavender inspired by Linklater’s Before Sunrise?!? So when I read Zirbenz on the announcement post I knew now was the right time. I settled on thyme in the end to dance around with the Alpine liqueur and tossed in a European mix of ingredients that I’m very happy with in the end, that met my original concept for the drink.

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  • Bols Genever
  • Zirbenz
  • Apricot Eau de Vie
  • Lillet rose
  • bitters
  • muddled thyme

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Before Sunrise holds up. It is 90’s-as-fuck and slightly creepy but damn did Ethan Hawke have great hair. I watched it recently with my wife (her first time) with hopes of it culminating in a marathon screening of all 3 with the best wine $8 can buy…but after her losing any and all interest in it after about 10 minutes or so, it ended with me watching them alone. But she didn’t get any of my fancy wine.

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For this to work best, I’d advise you buy some German rock sugar from Teavana. Make a 1 to 1 syrup with it and you will instantly fall in love with the flavor; Not as cloyingly sweet as regular sugar or honey, with a quality that I can really just describe as “soft”. It works great in this one to just give a bit of sweetness and balance.

1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Lillet Rose
3/4 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur
1/2 oz Blume Marillen Apricot Eau de Vie
1 dash Bittercube Bolivar bitters
1 dash black mission fig bitters
1/4 oz German beet syrup*
1 small sprig of thyme for muddling

Add the sprig of thyme and the syrup in the shaker and muddle for a bit. Pour in the rest and shake it fast (But watch ya self). Double strain into a rocks glass with some ice. It helps to extract the oil from a lemon peel onto the drink in the end. Garnish with the peel and a small sprig of thyme.

[ Enjoy ]

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Zirbenz is a stone pine liqueur from Austria. Known by some as “the agave of the Alps”, it is pine-y as hell but in the form of a very pleasant finish. I can see it going great with a nice gin.

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Lost in Translation

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The purpose of a great craft cocktail, one made with thought, skill and care, is to delight.

 

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Holy crap did this post take FOREVER! I was planning on posting this at least 2 weeks ago and then I may have been abducted by aliens (the non-butt-probing kind) or something ’cause I never got around to sharing this delightful post with all of you wonderful alcoholics humans.

I have an upcoming “educational” (say what?!) post on sake where I lie to you all with non-confirmed facts (mainly because I was too lazy to “bing it”) about that deliciousness from Japan. It’ll basically be a “rule of thumb” type of post if you’re interested in sake to sip it instead of boring wine (if you’re feeling sexy) or to mix it with other spirits (if you’re feeling adventurous). In that post I go over soju (used here) which is not a sake but if you can keep a secret, I’ll have you know that this stuff makes for a fantastic vermouth sub. Yup.

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  • Soju/Shochu
  • Vodka
  • Apricot Eau De Vie
  • Triple-Sec
  • Bitters
  • Simple syrup

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Soju or Shochu? At this point its the same thing. Soju is traditionally from Korea, while Shochu is of Japan. This Kaikouzo Soju is actually Shochu marketed as soju. Usually they are all under 25% ABV and are distilled very much like a neutral grain spirit (potatoes used quite often), with the master distiller infusing flavor throughout the process or at the very end.

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I wanted to make it easier to start remembering hot to make my drinks. This is a simple stirred drink in a 4,3,2,1 method where you start with one spirit and from there you add 1/4 less of the next. Yeah that was confusing:

1 oz Kaikouzo Soju
3/4 oz Imperia Vodka
1/2 oz Metté apricot Eau De Vie
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dashes of Dr. Adam Elmegiram’s Teapot Bitters
1 dash of simple syrup (just a dash)

Add all into a chilled mixing glass full of ice and stir. With every drink you make you’ll start refining your stirring technique. When I started, I was a subtle as a blender on max. It was ugly.

Strain into a smaller martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

[ Enjoy ]

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This drink plays close to a vodka martini, what with its crystal clear appearance and velvet flavors. The soju itself could potentially be used as a blanc vermouth of sorts, but there is definitely a broader flavor profile in it making you want to sip it slow to let those flavors do their work. 

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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.

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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 ]

MxMo: Cosmopolis

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“Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side”
-Frederic Yarm

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This month’s MxMo pulled me out of retirement (more on that later). I missed the last one and wasn’t gonna let the same thing happen again, especially with Frederic of CocktailVirgin fame (fancy-shmancy writer at large) and big Kahuna to Mixology Monday. I liked this month’s theme a lot. Whenever there’s a chance to take something old and make it new, I’m all over that. I mean. Isn’t that what mixology is all about?

As soon as I read the stipulations of MxMo LXXV I immediately thought of this great video I watched a while back by Nils Boese. So really its a series of videos (ALL IN GERMAN!) where this guy teaches you how to make classic drinks (and how to wear the tightest shirt possible) but every now and then he’ll throw something random (like a Jaeger negroni) and I’ll be feverishly trying to translate it, like an asshole, until I give up. How much are German lessons?

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  • Junipero gin
  • Cointreau
  • Leopold Bros Cranberry liqueur
  • Lime juice

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Not all cranberry juice is created equal. I stay the hell away from any juice from concentrate (aka sour mix) so in this case, I’ve replaced the cranberry juice for liqueur. It works surprisingly well and the one from Leopold Bros is nice and tarty without tasting like syrup.

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Surprising absolutely no one, this drink is pretty damn easy. The idea here is for a pleasant gin cocktail with familiar flavors enhanced by the botanicals in a good gin that vodka just simply doesn’t have, along with the richness of the liqueur. 

1 1/2 oz Junipero gin (or your favorite gin with citrus notes)
-substituted the citron vodka for a dry gin with citrus notes.
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Leopold Bros. cranberry liqueur
-substitutes the cranberry juice
1/2 oz lime juice

Add all these little creatures into your mixing apparatus and turn it into something tasty.
Double strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange peel, after pressing its oils on top of the drink.

[ Enjoy ]

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To my left are the proportions used for a common Cosmopolitan. In fact, that drink in the back is a 100% legit cosmo… that I’m actually drinking right now… For this specific iteration with the gin, I would advice crankin’ up the lime to 3/4 oz, as it plays better with the liqueurs’ sweetness.

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