Taking Inventory

February 5th, 2007

It’s been quiet around here of late because the booze has all been packed away. I’m in the process of refinishing my bar top, which had been painted with a white latex paint by the previous homeowners. Years of liberal dashings of bitters, drips of wine and rings of godknowswhatelse had taken their toll on the surface and I just couldn’t stand it any longer. It’s remarkable how quickly an Angostura stain will set… pretty much instantaneously, in my experience, and it’s not a nice color. That’s all gone now, thanks to the intervention of some potent chemicals, elbow grease, various grades of sandpaper and lots of vacuuming. Now I’ve just to stain it and apply several protective layers of spar urethane. Shouldn’t be more than a week or so.

In boxing all the bottles up, I took the opportunity to dispose of some of the more questionable items that had been hiding in the shadows (where did that blackberry Manischewitz come from?), and inventory the rest of the stock. Not because it’s a particularly exciting read, but because it’s likely to be a long, long time before I do it again. It seemed a worthwhile exercise.
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Search the Mixosphere!

January 20th, 2007

The MixosphereEver thought about mixing-up something that’s new-to-you, but wanted to see if anyone in your mixological blogroll has had anything to say about it? Needed information about a particular ingredient? Wondered what members of the eGullet, Drinkboy, and Webtender forums had opined on a given topic? Rather than running a load of single searches on each site, or an internet-wide search whose returns are likely to be filled with cruft, try searching the Mixosphere.

Google’s relatively new Co-op service allows the creation of custom search engines, limited to (or just weighted in favor of) specified sites. The Mixosphere Search is a custom search tool that targets not just the sites in the Slakethirst blogroll, but most of the sites in other drinksbloggers’ link collections as well. If you read it (or write it) for cocktail-related information, the Mixosphere Search probably searches it. If it doesn’t, you can add sites yourself (that’s the co-op part, though you’ll need a Google account to contribute).

Some aspects of the tool could use a bit of refining yet — CocktailDB’s “related drinks” listings tend to skew recipe results in its favor, for example — but it’s still pretty handy. Give it a try:


In addition to using the search field above, you can search from this page at Slakethirst, or from Google itself. Searching from Google is probably faster, and it has the advantage of respecting your Google preferences. If you have a customized Google homepage, you can add a Mixosphere search box to it with the click of a button: Add to Google

Hot Whiskey Sling

January 15th, 2007

Mixology Monday 11: Winter WarmersYou say “winter warmer,” I think “hot toddy.” I should probably think “hot whiskey sling,” if I’m not mistaken, since I favor them with lemon juice, but “toddy” is the term I’m accustomed to using and bedad if winter warmers aren’t about personal comfort. I’ll call it a sling this once, though, since other people are watching; I recommend executing it thusly:

Remove your shoes and don slippers. If it’s the right time of day, consider pajamas and a robe, too. Take your most favorite mug — chipped and coffee-stained though it may be, it’s the faithful friend that’s seen you through many a nerve-jangling morning — and fill it with water. Fill a measuring cup of similar capacity and microwave it, along with your mug, until the water boils. Empty your now-heated mug and pour a 2-ounceish slug of whiskey into the bottom. If it’s a bonded whiskey, so much the better. Swirl your trusty honey dipper around in its pot until you’ve worked up a nice, thick ball of honey, stick it in the mug, and pour in the scalding hot water, swizzling until the honey is dissolved. Finally squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top of it all, give a final stir or two, and breathe deeply.

Terribly imprecise, I know, but this one’s a drink to feel your way around. Did I say microwave? I did, and unapologetically. Feel free to put the kettle on for a more satisfying auditory experience, but it’ll just take longer. How sweet should it be? Depends on how you like your coffee or tea. How much booze should it contain? Depends on whether you’re fighting off a cold or just the cold (less, if the former). What kind of booze should it contain? Whiskey, certainly, if you’re going to call it a hot whiskey sling, but you can use whatever base spirit you like. I wouldn’t do gin myself, but there are those who do. How much water? I’d hope you’re drinking out of a thick-walled large-capacity ceramic mug — the kind you can wrap both hands around — and not one of those wee 8 oz. affairs or a poncy glass job, but everyone has their own thing. Go with it, and fill it with as much water as seems right. Personally I like to leave a decent collar to allow easy insertion of a snoot to inhale the fumes. Properly speaking, there should be a dash or two of Angostura bitters on top of it all, but this is one drink that I leave ‘em out of. You’ll do what seems right.

I could cite a few official recipes here, but what’s the point of that? You’d likely just adjust the ratios to suit your choice of vessel, alcohol, mood, whathaveyou. I don’t think it’s possible to make a bad hot whiskey sling, unless you make it weak and watery. Avoid that cardinal transgression and you’re home free. Ms. Thirsty complains that hers are never as satisfying as the ones I make her, but I suspect that’s less about execution and more down to the final instruction for a really good winter warmer: have someone else serve it to you. You’re too busy being cold and wanting warming to be shuffling about in the kitchen or bar.

Look for more precise, well-reasoned Winter Warmers from this Mixology Monday to be catalogued shortly at Imbibe Unfiltered, the electronic arm of our liver’s favorite organ.

Update: All told there were 22 entries this month. Read ‘em and mix.

The Pepper Delicious #2

December 11th, 2006

Mixology Monday 10: Festive OccasionI’d been planning to concoct a photogenic and tasty Kwanzaa-colored pousse café for this holiday edition of MxMo, but I was introduced to a drink this weekend that’s much more deserving of attention. It’s neither a traditional favorite nor easily prepared en masse, but I’m definitely going to be serving it in the coming weeks and beyond.

The Pepper Delicious #2The Pepper Delicious #2

2 oz. aquavit
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 mint leaves

Muddle the pepper, mint and simple syrup. Add lime juice, aquavit, and all the ice you can manage. Shake well and strain, floating a thin pepper round and a sprig of mint on the surface.

That’s right: a red bell pepper. Don’t knock it… it imparts an unexpected, fresh vegetal element and tints the cocktail a wonderful warm color. The garnish, along with the odd escaped flake of muddled mint, makes for a particularly Christmas-colored presentation.

Christian Krogstad of House Spirits Distillery was mixing these up at their open house on Saturday, employing his eponymous Krogstad Aquavit. Make it with gin, he says, and you have the Pepper Delicious #1. I assumed at the time that the recipe originated with Ryan Magarian as a vehicle for House Spirits’ Aviation Gin, but Citysearch informs us that the Pepper Delicious is on the menu at Canlis, one of Seattle’s premier restaurants, where they use Plymouth in theirs. Food and Wine Magazine thought enough of the Pepper Delicious to feature it in their list of top holiday cocktails for 2006. They attribute it to Canlis but don’t call the gin. Whomever is responsible deserves plaudits… I’d call Canlis, but it’s a bit late and the MxMo deadline looms. If you know (or are) the drink’s author, please comment.

Aquavit hasn’t been a stock ingredient in my bar, so I can’t say how the Pepper Delicious #2 fares with other brands, but the Krogstad has earned a place on the shelf now. I’ve tried a Pepper Delicious #1 with both Plymouth and Aviation gins, and in both cases it’s a somewhat milder affair. The #2, with aquavit, is a slightly hotter drink, whose caraway and anise notes nudge it just that much closer to a “holiday” flavor profile. With gin, it’s softer, and the pepper has a bit more room to show its influence. It’s an excellent drink in either incarnation — Ms. Thirsty favors the gin version — so don’t let an absence of aquavit stop you from treating yourself and those you love to one (or more). Go on… it’s the holidays.

Update: 28 other drinks for a festive occasion await your attention.

The Lucien Gaudin

November 19th, 2006

Here’s a gem of a drink that I’ve only just now discovered. It shouldn’t have taken so long — both Kaiser Penguin and The Spirit World have covered it — but I tumbled to the Lucien Gaudin via Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. It had heretofore escaped my attention, as it shares a page with the frightful-looking Leatherneck and didn’t rate its own photo or extended commentary. Oh, Lucien … you deserve better.

Lucien GaudinM. Gaudin was a renowned French fencing champion who earned the world title in 1905 and went on to win four gold and two silver medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Robert Hess speculates that the drink may have been created to commemorate the 1928 performance, when Gaudin took the golds for both individual foil and épée, but if so, the celebration was relatively short-lived … a banker in professional life, financial difficulties drove Gaudin to commit suicide only six years later, in 1934.

1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. Cointreau

Stir with cracked ice, strain and garnish with orange peel.

As a drink, the Lucien Gaudin bears more than a passing resemblance to the Negroni. Half as much Campari makes it less bitter, but the dry vermouth and Cointreau in the Gaudin combine to create a lighter, less syrupy substitute for the Negroni’s sweet vermouth. A pale rosé compared to the Negroni’s dark ruby hue, it’s tempting to liken the Lucien Gaudin to a Negroni with training wheels on, in that Campari can be challenging to some palates, but that would be a disservice. Each has its own merits, and as a lighter, cleaner cocktail, the Lucien Gaudin is better-suited to occasions where a crisp drink is wanted. If you enjoy a Negroni (and why wouldn’t you?) the Lucien Gaudin deserves your consideration. You may find it to be a new favorite.

Looking for variations, a cursory turn through the bookshelf finds only one other source for the Lucien Gaudin, in Trader Vic’s 1948 Bartender’s Guide. Vic’s recipe yields a smaller drink — just 1 1/2 oz. — with a higher gin ratio (3:1:1:1). Those seeking a similar ratio in a more modern size should increase the gin to 1 1/2 oz. in the recipe above.