Archive for the ‘to enjoy’ Category

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?

Cafe Galliano

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Mixology Monday 2: CoffeeI’m a dedicated fan of C. arabica* … one of those people who doesn’t really wake up until the Pavlovian bite of the morning Joe hits the tongue, and for whom a day without coffee is a day that never really begins. Perhaps it’s precisely because I hold it in such esteem that I dislike the standard complement of coffee drinks — Irish Coffees, Spanish Coffees, etc — for while hot coffee is allowably paired with cream and sugar, I find that alcohol lends it a foreign nose, a thinner mouthfeel, and the uncertain outcome of an ill-balanced speedball. The only justification for Spanish coffee, in my estimation, is that it keeps an elite subset of the nation’s waitstaff in the practice of hurling ignited 151° from one glass to another. Thus, when the final trump is blown and Jerry Thomas descends to walk once more among mankind, there will be a sufficiency of practiced acolytes to cast crowd-parting Blue Blazers before his retinue.

Which is a roundabout way of saying fie on mugs of hot coffee adulterated with slugs of booze, whipped cream, and cinnamon sticks. Fortunately, there are short, cold coffee cocktails in greater number than one would think, given the rarity of their appearance in the wild. Brandy isn’t an uncommon mate to coffee: with Cointreau, it yields the Merger and the Coffee Cocktail Variation (the one that actually calls for coffee); with kirschwasser it produces a Blackjack or Coffee Kirsch; add an egg white to the latter for a Parachute Cooler. For Mixology Monday II, however, it’s a combination of coffee, brandy, Galliano and cream that creates the Cafe Galliano.

1 oz. cold coffee
1 oz. brandy
3/4 oz. Galliano
shake with ice and strain. float cream on top

Galliano and CoffeeMy bottle of Galliano sees very little use, so I’m pleased to find an excuse to trot the unwieldy thing out. Pairing Galliano with coffee is pleasingly appropriate, too. I had heretofore assumed the name stemmed from it being somehow Gallic, but instead it’s in honor of Major Giuseppe Galliano, an Italian army officer who seems to have lead a series of brave but terribly unsuccessful routs, defeats and retreats in Italy’s African colonial campaigns of the late 19th century. He is inextricably associated with Ethiopia (née Abyssinia), where he met his death, and whence the Arabica bean originates!

I’m even more pleased to find that I rather like the Cafe Galliano. Cold, the coffee has more presence than one might expect from a drink in which it comprises a mere third. I tried to float half-and-half in lieu of cream, but repeated attempts invariably resulted in it sinking like a stone to form a vaguely curdled-looking cloud at the bottom of the glass. One should definitely practice before serving a Cafe Galliano to others… the texture doesn’t suffer — it’s no cement mixer — but neither is it the prettiest thing going. No great matter… with a quick stir it takes on something that looks very much like Baileys, and tastes very much like the prelude to a second round.

* Coffee is a member of the Rubiaceae family, by the way, which also includes Cinchona, trees that produce Peruvian Bark, whence quinine, whence Tonic Water, whence the salvation of summer.

I’m merely speculating on this last point. Speaking of speedballs, though, Wikipedia informs us that the kids’ trendy new speedballs are made with heroin, cocaine and Everclear — a true drug cocktail — and called Mad Max Beyond Thunderdomes.

The Pie Slinger

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Here’s a random Sunday afternoon concoction. Not so different from an Applejack Sling, it turns out, but richer and more tannic. Almost tea-like.

2 oz. Laird’s applejack
1 oz. Meyer lemon juice
3/4 oz. Tuaca
3/4 oz. pimento dram
2 dashes Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters

Shake well with cracked ice, strain into highball glass of crushed ice, top with a few squirts of seltzer

I’ve had some homemade pimento dram on hand for several months now, but haven’t really put it to much complicated use. It’s delicious just splashed into a rocks glass filled with ice and the brown spirit of your choice, which is how I’ve been been working my way through it to date. Do yourself a favor and make some, if you haven’t already… you can’t buy the stuff in the States these days, and it’s a unique addition anytime you’re in the mood for some tropical spice. There’s a boatload of sugar in it as well, which allows pimento dram to serve as a grenadine or simple syrup would, while delivering its allspice punch.

At any rate, a sunny(ish) April afternoon begged for a long(ish) drink of some sort. I was thinking of a Brandy Presbyterian — one of Dad’s favorites — when the unlabeled bottle of pimento dram caught my eye and begged to be included. As someone who’s baked more than his share of apple pies, this was a drink I couldn’t help but concoct. There are countless recipes said to approximate the flavor of hot apple pie — this one’s more like a nice slab of cold apple pie straight from the icebox: fruity, sour, tannic and spicy. It’s a very quaffable cooler.

The Jack Rose

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

In a discussion of Laird’s Applejack, Catherine asks if there’s a definitive recipe for the Jack Rose. I can do no better than to quote David Embury, writing in 1948:

… if you will examine a dozen books of cocktail recipes, you will find formulas varying all the way from applejack and lemon juice half and half with a few dashes of grenadine to applejack and grenadine half and half with a few drops of lemon juice.

I haven’t found quite the diversity of opinion that Embury cites — doubtless his reference library was broader than mine — but there’s nothing approaching unanimity. Embury himself favors a strong:sour:sweet ratio of 8:2:1, his standard for Sours, while Ted Haigh’s recipe in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails calls for 1.5 oz applejack, 1 oz lemon juice, and “2 or more dashes” of grenadine, yielding a far more sour ratio of something like 12:8:1. The CocktailDB recipe, on the other hand, proposes a 3:1:1 ratio. David Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks opts for 4:2:1, Trader Vic would have the Jack Rose at a startling 2:2:1, and Regan’s Joy of Mixology instructs that we mix at 10:3:x, copping out with “grenadine to taste.”

Wondrich describes his version as “…smooth and sweetish and deeply deceptive. Sipping it, you can’t tell it contains liquor of any kind, let alone applejack.” Having made one à la Wondrich, I can confirm that assessment. Unfortunately, it’s not the drink I’m looking for, and neither is Haigh’s overly-tart version. De gustibus non disputandum est, but I cast my vote for Embury’s, in which the applejack is foremost. Thus, the Slakethirstian Jack Rose is comprised of:

2 oz. applejack
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. grenadine

Shaken and strained.

The Sunset Gun

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

The notion of single-serving micro-infusions is pleasing, though the requisite hour’s wait makes the Sunset Gun no spur-of-the-moment tipple. Its name implies a certain ritualized consumption, wherein the daily infusing of a few drams of whiskey coincides with changing from tennis whites to dinner dress … the sort of comfortably civilized prelude to evening that Noël Coward and Graham Payn might have indulged in on the terrace of Firefly, gazing down at Blue Harbor as the sun sank below the horizon.

I came upon this one in H. Paul Jeffers’ 1997 High Spirits. He doesn’t lay claim to its origination, but a cursory leafing through the bookshelf finds no precedent. Google Book Search identifies a single subsequent appearance in the unfortunately-named Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mixing Drinks, however, and it’s quite similar to the CocktailDB’s Duppy Cocktail, in which the cloves are merely a garnish.

2 oz. whiskey
1/2 oz. curaçao
3 cloves
2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters #6

Steep cloves in the whiskey for 1 hour and remove. Stir whiskey and curaçao with cracked ice and strain. Return cloves to glass and top with bitters.

Jeffers is agnostic regarding the whiskey to employ — it needn’t even be whiskey with an “e” as far as he’s concerned, calling for “blended, rye or bourbon.” I’ve tried it with rye, but find this to be one of those drinks that does very well with Scotch. The blended whisky of choice chez Slakethirst is Teacher’s, which contributes lush, smoky notes to our Sunset Guns. Should foresight fail and sunset’s advent find you with uninfused whiskey, a dash of Fee’s Aromatic Bitters might serve in lieu of the hour-long marination of cloves, though not nearly as subtly, and at the cost of introducing extra bittering agents.