Not dead… just resting.

October 21st, 2006

Based on my publishing schedule, it looks like it’s been … 4 months! since I last had a drink. Which is patently untrue, of course. I could offer up a number of excuses for not posting, but in truth I’ve just been drinking a lot of IPAs, zinfandels and bourbon-and-bitterses. Not that I haven’t shaken up the occasional cocktail, but the lure of other potables has been getting in the way of dedicated, documentary exploration. It happens from time to time. Sometimes for extended periods of time. I’m going to climb back on the mixological wagon though — there are too many drinks undrunk to do otherwise.

The Derby

June 12th, 2006

In the run-up to last week’s Mixology Monday I compiled a list of mint-containing drinks that I thought I’d like to sample. I made my way through three of them but had only so much time to allocate to drink, leaving other potential worthies untasted. In particular, I’d wanted to examine the Derby, for which I found two distinct recipes: one with peach bitters (in Craddock, Duffy, and Trader Vic’s), the other with peach brandy (in Embury and Beebe).

I don’t know when peach bitters entered their decline — CocktailDB implies that they failed to survive Prohibition, though Bergeron is calling for them ‘48 — but I suspect the reason that later authors employ peach brandy is that the bitters were growing scarce, if not already extinct. Lest customers seeking Derbies go unserved, brandy was substituted. Fortunately (and thanks in no small part to Ted Haigh), Fee Bros. has reintroduced peach bitters to the bartenders’ arsenal, so the merits of Derby evolution may be assessed.
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The Ideal Bartender

June 6th, 2006

Tom BullockAstute readers of the last few days may have noticed the addition of a new category of content: The Ideal Bartender. I’ve imported Tom Bullock’s 1917 bar book — scanning and proofing courtesy of Project Gutenberg — both as a public service (it’s a bit easier to navigate this way) and with a mind to extensively sample and make notes upon the contents. I wouldn’t qualify it as anything approaching a masterwork, but The Ideal Bartender is an important document from an interesting time. All are invited — exhorted, in fact — to mix it up and comment on Bullock’s recipes as well.
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Mixology Monday III: Mint

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

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.