Some new resources

May 15th, 2005

I’ve recently added a few sidebar links that are worth highlighting:

Chuck Taggart’s Gumbo Pages is an excellent site documenting the gamut of his interests. Chuck knows what it means to miss New Orleans and has a lot to say about its gustatory pleasures, both in his recipe section and throughout his blog, Looka! Of particular interest to me — though it’s all good — is his detailed documentation of cocktails, which I’ve pinned to the sidebar as a resource.

On the other side of the planet, Japanese engineer and hobbyist Tomohiko Takeuchi serves up Takeuchi’s Homebar, wherein he diligently mixes cocktails of his own devising, lovingly photographs them for posterity, and composes something akin to a haiku to describe each one. I’ve yet to actually try anything from the Takeuchi Homebar menu, but his incredibly obsessive attention to detail keeps me returning to browse anew. Some call for particularly weird ingredients, though.

I have found a truly wonderful proof…

May 11th, 2005

Last week, it struck me that while I rail against the Piña Colada, I had never made one myself. I’d been casting about for something good to do with pineapple juice and had allowed my preconceptions of the Piña Colada to rule it out — to rule out what must be the most widely-enjoyed pineapple-based drink on earth. A gross oversight. After all, shouldn’t one of the guiding principles of domestic mixology be that a thoughtfully-crafted potable, mixed purely for pleasure, will reveal complexities and dimensions which none but the most fastidious professional can match? I say yea, it should be so.

In consequence of this, it must be assumed that the Piña Colada is not necessarily a foully chemical concoction, but is merely a drink suffering from long, cruel abuse at the hands of the service industry. There must be an Ur Piña Colada which contains within its frothy matrix the flavor sensation that captured a generation’s palates and went on to inspire so many imitators.

So, I mixed-up the CocktailDB’s Piña Colada recipe. It’s the simplest there is, and may be the original, though unfortunately they don’t cite sources. Verdict: Blah. Flat, uninteresting and bland. If this was the drink that started it all, I’m surprised at its survival. However, it was a far cry from the others I’ve had, whose origins were likely in a bottle of pre-mix. Pineapple and Coconut did seem to be a worthwhile pairing, and so I tinkered. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sazerac

April 27th, 2005

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 lump (or tsp) sugar
1/4 tsp pastis
3-4 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 lemon twist

Coat the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the pastis, pouring off any excess. Muddle sugar and Peychaud bitters with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 tsp), or use simple syrup. Stir rye in an iced shaker to chill and strain into glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils.

Despite an abiding fondness for the Old Fashioned, I had not until now sampled the Sazerac, its close relative and one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails. In part, I blame this shortcoming on a perpetual lack of ingredients: I prefer Scotch for neat drinking and Bourbon for mixing, particularly dislike the anise flavors of pastis (Absinthe, Pernod, Herbsaint, etc), and have never owned a bottle of Peychaud bitters because, well, its raison d’être these days is the Sazerac. Fortunately, my recent commitment to stocking a broader bar means that I now have a bottle of Pernod to employ when a pastis is called for, and a bottle of Peychaud on the general principle that I should find more uses for bitters. I picked up some Old Overholt Rye just today, and in the Sazerac I have found ample justification for keeping all three in constant supply.

If you like an Old Fashioned, you will very much enjoy a Sazerac. If you’re not one for short whiskey drinks, this may not be for you, though I would encourage testing that assumption. If you dislike licorice and anise, don’t be put off — the rye seems to mask the aspects of anisette that I find objectionable, and yet the drink is much more complex than straight rye with a bit of sugar. There must be undertones to the Pernod and Peychaud’s that emerge from this venerable synthesis, because there is a honeyed cherry fruitiness to the Sazerac that makes all the difference in the world.

Others have written on the subject better and more extensively than I could hope to, and I direct attention in particular to Chuck Taggart’s excellent appreciation of the Sazerac from his Gumbo Pages site. In print, the recently published vol 1. of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail contains a biography of A. A. Peychaud by Phil Greene, touching in many places on the Sazerac’s 170 year history.

The Harlem Cocktail

April 22nd, 2005

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/4 oz maraschino

Tried this one several days back without documenting — from the category it should be evident: I give it a Bronx cheer. Cited by an eGullet poster as having appeared in the 1935 edition of Mr Boston, my later edition of same provides a wholly different recipe. Regardless, the search for delicious drinks with pineapple continues to bear little fruit. This one proved unpleasant in an unremarkable way — neither good enough nor strong enough to merit sipping, the Harlem invited me to toss it back (or out) and move on. Another waste of good booze.

Mmmm… Mauby!

April 17th, 2005

mauby labelUpdate: This post is far and away the most popular at Slakethirst, garnering hundreds of hits from searches for “Mauby” and related terms — there’s not much else on the Internet about mauby, it seems. I’ve recently made some mauby from scratch, and have posted a recipe if that interests you. If you arrived here looking for other information about mauby, I’d appreciate it if you left a comment, letting me know what you were hoping to find. –c


I stopped into an Afro-Caribbean grocery yesterday afternoon, hoping to find some Falernum — essential to the true Mai Tai, Rum Swizzle, Fog Cutter and others. No joy with the Falernum, but it’s hard to leave empty handed when confronted with a wealth of imported comestible curiosities. I purchased a bottle of “Sweet & Dandy Mauby Syrup” (and a can of Ghanaian palm nut puree, but that’s another story), hoping it would prove interesting.

Mauby (or “mabi,” “mawbi,” “maubi,” etc.), it turns out, is a much-loved bev in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Cuba — all of the Caribbean, it seems. It derives its name from the central ingredient, the bark of the mauby tree, Colubrina arborescens (or is it Colubrina elliptica?), a buckthorn commonly referred to as “soldierwood” or “naked wood” in the States. Strips of the bark are steeped in boiling water, to which a hefty amount of cane sugar and a variety of spices have been added. On many islands, a portion of a previous batch is used as a starter, and the whole is left to ferment for several days. Fermented or not, it’s drunk ice-cold. Read the rest of this entry »