zirbenz

Pins & Needles

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Here’s to the end of these damn holidays and to the bright beginning of a new year.

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I love the holidays. Especially new year’s. I have a questionable amount of red and green pants to prove it but in all honesty, I’m just happy that its over. I got real fat just grazing on chocolate, cookies & random seasonal beer this past month and no matter how much I heard that fucking Michael Bublé Christmas album, things just felt a bit off. So here’s to this new year and all the awesome things it may bring to you (but really, to me).

You may or may not know this but our petite Christmas tree, like way-too-many things in our life, had a name: Christopher. And I got the idea for this cocktail while picking it (him?) out with my equally petite wife in a sea of pine needles and sap. He (it?) was crooked-as-shit and had a horrible color but damn it if it wasn’t the best friend $23 (AMERICAN!) can buy, and not a day goes by that I dont…hmmm….that I dont…I miss that little rascal so much. Sorry. I got emotional there and it got ugly. Not as ugly as watching Jennifer Lawrence cry but very similar.

The idea here was to make something tiki-ish, for the cold-ass weather with spirits that reminded me of “being left for dead in a prickly pine forrest in the dead of winter”. Warm thoughts indeed. The pineapple gomme made sense to me as those edible grenades are just as prickly but finding the balance took a few tries. In fact it took me so long to get it right that it’s now mid-January -__-  fml.

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  • St. George Terroir Gin
  • Braulio
  • Zirbenz
  • Pineapple gomme
  • Lime juice

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I don’t make tall drinks like these often but anytime I get to whip out some straws and fancy ice cubes (which I am working on getting perfectly clear), it’s always a fun time. I wanted to garnish these with a little branch of a pine tree but I read somewhere that can be toxic? So yeah, garnishing with poison would be a bad call.

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This is one of those cocktails that you REALLY smell while you’re making it.  In the best of ways; Braulio has a great pine smell to it that is reinforced by the Zirbenz without losing any of its inviting aroma and without it smelling like you just wrestled a christmas tree. Though that.would.be.awesome.

2 oz St. George Terroir gin
1 oz Braulio amaro
1/2 oz Zirbenz stone pine liqueur
3/4 oz Small Hand Foods pineapple gomme
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Add all ingredients in your shaker, but trying to look real cool when you do it.
Add ice and shake hard and fast.
Take a collins glass and top up with cubed ice.
Strain into the glass, garnishing with a lime wheel, rosemary sprig & straw.

[ Enjoy ]

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Braulio [ 'amaro alpino', not the artist ] is the star here but it can be subbed for Fernet Branca if needed, as it has similar qualities to it and should be easier to find (I had to travel to NY to get it). But for those amaro lovers that perhaps don't care much for the minty-ness of Fernet, then Braulio may be a great alternative.

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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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