Archive for the ‘Cocktails’ Category

Mixology Monday III: Mint

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Mixology Monday: MintIt’s Mixology Monday again, this time hosted by Rick at Kaiser Penguin. There’s much to explore in the world of mint-containing cocktails — I don’t regularly make anything with mint, though we’ve a nice bush of it growing in the Old Mews (now the kitchen garden) behind Slakethirst Manor. Time to put it to use.
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Mr. Manhattan

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintNo relation to the more familiar drink bearing the name of our premier island, the recipe for the Mr. Manhattan was delivered to these shores in Craddock’s Epistle to the Americans, who were suffering under the strictures of Volstead. Craddock, meanwhile, sojourned among the Britons and ministered to their spirituous needs at the Savoy’s American Bar. Ever thoughtful, he marked the Mr. Manhattan for our special notice as a concoction whose merits might not be diminished for want of … licit sources of alcohol.

Crush 1 cube sugar with a few drops water
Add 6 leaves mint and muddle further, then add
2 oz. gin
2 tsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Shake vigorously and strain

It may be possible to approximate a genièvre de la baignoire by reaching for the lowest possible shelf, but Seagrams was chosen in the interest of all concerned. Thus, the singular virtues of Mr. Manhattan as an aid to the Prohibited have gone un-investigated; however, ratios of juices have come under some scrutiny, and it is the above which proved out.

Canonically, Craddock calls for a single dash of lemon juice and four of orange. Taking an official dash at 1/8 tsp, the lemon and orange hardly made themselves known at all, and would doubtless prove insufficient to ameliorating an unsavory bootleg gin. At twice that volume it’s still a stiff gin drink with a bit of color and a minty nose… no, we found best a 4x multiplication of citrus, and thought in the end a bit more yet might serve well. The palate can only endure so much experimentation, alas, and so we settle on the recipe presented here. The mint — increased to 6 leaves from 4 — acquits itself well, thanks to a vigorous muddling, and plays very nicely with the orange.

The Mint Cocktail

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintFor a mint-themed mix-off, I couldn’t avoid taking this plainly-named recipe for a test drive. The Mint Cocktail comes to us from Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (though he would have it shaken), and is obviously not a cocktail. No matter, for while I abjure the proliferation of ‘tinis, I’m resigned that a cocktail is pretty much anything containing liquor, and if Harry wants to keep me company, so much the better.

The Mint Cocktail6 oz. white wine
4 oz. gin
1 oz. crème de menthe
Sprigs of mint

In a pitcher, soak a few sprigs of mint in 3 oz. white wine for 2 hours. Add the rest, stir vigorously with ice and strain into glasses, garnishing with additional sprigs.

It’s good, in its own special way, though confusing. There’s an initial hit of crème de menthe so patently unnatural in its intensity that “Andes” is the first word to mind. It lessens over time, either due to stratification or numbing of the palate, but with gradual warming and subsequent sips, the wine (I chose a sauvignon blanc) makes itself known. I can’t really say the same for the gin — Seagrams again, here — which may as well have been vodka for all that it withstood the crème de menthe. What isn’t clear, and has yet to be investigated, is whether the two hours of marinating mint leaves actually makes a difference or is merely an act of ritual. I failed to detect any subtly natural minty undertones beneath the crème de menthe’s one-note onslaught, and note that the CocktailDB’s Mint Cocktail recipe cuts to the chase without any prolonged soaking.

I give it neither a yea or nay yet — if I never had another, I wouldn’t mourn — but might be inclined to try marinating a much larger quantity of mint leaves and relying on their contribution alone, perhaps muddled with a bit of sugar for maximum effect.

The Southside Fizz

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintThis one from Lucius Beebe’s Stork Club Bar Book of 1946. He includes it in the “Morning at the Stork Club” chapter, but there’s no reason to restrict its service to the hours before noon. The Southside Fizz is really just a pleasant, minty lemonade — unless you’re employing a particularly potent gin, it goes almost unnoticed — suitable whenever a refreshing long drink is indicated.

1 1/2 oz. Gin
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 sprigs mint
1 tsp. sugar

Shake well, strain into a highball glass and fill with seltzer.
Decorate with a sprig of mint, and a cherry if you’re feeling saucy.

The quantity of mint should be adjusted depending on the potency of your particular strain of leaf. Two may well be too little. Flakes of leaf will be broken off by the ice when shaking … for the clearest drink, and one which won’t leave unsightly vegetable matter clinging to your guests’ teeth, you may wish to strain through a mesh sieve.

Making Mauby

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

The mercury was headed straight up last week — peaking at an unseasonably hot 94° F — making it an ideal time to try concocting a homemade batch of mauby. It seems as if every island has its own recipes… I borrowed from several and averaged, to make a sort of pan-Caribbean version. Definitely the wrong way to start out a proper experiment, but some of the ingredients sound too tasty not to use. First, I simmered the following for about 10 minutes:

mauby, cinnamon, bay, rosemary, marjoram, anise, cloves, nutmeg4-5 pieces mauby bark
2 sticks cinnamon (short)
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 pods star anise
3 cloves
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
3 cups water

at the end of which, it had reduced quite a bit. I strained it — saving back the mauby bark — into a 3 gallon carboy, dropping the bark in as well. The mauby bark, incidentally, was $2.50/oz. from a local Caribbean grocery. It’s Bedessee brand. Next, I heated

2 cups brown cane sugar
2 cups white cane sugar
10 cups water

until the sugar dissolved, and allowed it to cool. This was added to the carboy, and shaken well. Finally, I pitched half an expired packet of Lalvin D47 yeast I found in the back of a drawer, figuring it couldn’t hurt, and just might help. Didn’t bother to proof it. To keep the nasties out, and just in case the yeast did decide to kick off an active fermentation, I affixed a waterlock, set it in a warm spot and waited.

a pitcher of maubyIt never really developed much of a head… oh, there was a layer of foam on top, and the waterlock was definitely working some, so there was CO2 being produced, but it was nothing like a rolling, active fermentation. I doubt that the D47 had much to do with it. A slight cap persisted for 5 days, at the end of which I decanted it into a pitcher for refrigeration, to halt any further yeast activity.

The verdict: DELICIOUS. Scrumptuously bitter, with lovely herbal and yuletide spice notes. Sweet enough to complement the bitterness — it didn’t even begin to ferment to dryness — without the syrupy heaviness of mauby made from concentrate. It also seems to lack the long, medicinal finish that I noted in the concentrate, but I have a bit of a cold now, so my palate isn’t really on its game. I can see why concentrated mauby is so popular — it’s a fair bit of work for a gallon of beverage — but I much prefer this stuff to R & L brand. Fill a glass with crushed ice, pour in the mauby, dash some Angostura bitters on top and swizzle until well-chilled… then kick back with some Kitch.

I’ve posted about mauby before, and wound up compiling a fair number of informative links in the process. If you’re interested in different recipes, purported health benefits, etc. then see “Mmmm… Mauby!”.

What’s your mauby recipe?