Posts Tagged ‘acarpous’

The Lucien Gaudin

Sunday, 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.

The Derby

Monday, 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.
(more…)

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.

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 Bunny Hug

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Mixology Monday: PastisThere was an … incident… in my early drinking years involving Egyptian beer and a bottle of arak (this arak, which is akin to ouzo, not Batavia arak, which is a different liquor entirely). It was formative. I have since avoided anise, licorice, and fennel scrupulously, eschewing even the occasional Red Vine in a darkened theater. An otherwise proud and broadminded omnivore, anise and related flavors have been my Achilles heel. Until relatively recently.

It was a Sazerac, mixed a year ago this week, which whispered suggestively that a wash of Herbsaint was nothing to be feared. Somewhat later, a Monkey Gland intimated that one might actually mix with Pernod — albeit a mere 1/2 teaspoon — to very salutary ends. And indeed, in Tuxedos, Turfs, and Trilby No. Twos undocumented, I have splashed the requisite dash with no dire consequences. I’ve actually found my palate probing some of the latter, looking for the lick of licorice that the pastis should provide, and not finding it!

And so to the inaugural Mixology Monday. Paul was generously broad in his requirements, but where’s the joy in submitting a drink like the Tuxedo, in which the dash of pastis vanishes under the weight of maraschino and Regans’ bitters? No, in this I would be guided by the precepts of Chairman Kaga, who demands of his iron chefs that they capture the very essence of the mystery ingredient. In this, I would challenge the advice of the inestimable Harry Craddock. In this, I would embrace pastis, in a ratio not heretofore attempted. I would mix The Bunny Hug:

1/2 oz. Pastis
1/2 oz. Whiskey
1/2 oz. London Dry Gin
Stirred and strained into a cocktail glass

Sheet Music for The Bunny HugCute name, no? Conjures up certain Heffnerian visions which one wouldn’t normally associate with absinthe. As it happens, the drink was likely named for a slow-grind ragtime dance, both hugely popular and hugely scandalous in the 1910s. Cedar Rapids has only recently legalized the Bunny Hug, after banning it in 1913. In Oregon, that same year, a man was stabbed 11 times for attempting to prevent the Bunny Hug from being danced in his establisment.

I’d thought I was prepared, but the Bunny Hug has proven me wrong. Not to say I didn’t have fair warning: The Savoy Cocktail Book explicitly states that “This cocktail should immediately be poured down the sink before it is too late.” Of course, Craddock’s pronouncement hasn’t stopped the Bunny Hug from making appearances in successive cocktail guides down to this day, and neither will mine, but we may dislike it for different reasons.

What does a drink named for a forbidden flapper’s dance taste like? I’m going to have to fall back on Wilde, and say that for those who like that sort of thing, it’s probably the sort of thing that they’d like. That thing being pastis.

Looking at the recipe, I assumed that H.C. merely disliked the flavor of commingled gin, whiskey and pastis, but I was curious as to what that would taste of. Drinking the Bunny Hug proved to be a bafflingly inconclusive experience — it was just like sipping a glass of slightly watered-down Pernod. That ounce of bourbon and gin may as well have been vodka, in that they were completely subsumed by the Green Fairy’s thujoneless juggernaut of a substitute.

I’ve a suspicion that the less pastis-averse may discern something other than Pernod in their Bunny Hugs — possibly something quite nasty if Craddock was any judge — but I’m at a loss to do so. I can stomach pastis in volume these days, if not particularly enjoy it, but it overwhelms my taste buds. Given that I seem to be confined to using it in drips and dashes, I’ll be particularly interested to read others’ contributions on today’s theme. I could stand to find a few more ways to use less pastis more often.

Update: Mixology Monday #1 is a done-deal. 7 other posts on pastis await your attention