Posts Tagged ‘acarpous’

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.

The Release Candidate

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

1 very healthy slug rye
1 careless splash creme de cassis
3 liberal dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters

rocks.

Or something like that. When you stagger home at 2am, after another 16-hour day at the code mine, getting-on towards the end of a 92-hour week, it’s conceivable that anything tastes good. This just did.

I should determine if such a thing has a name already, but I’m about to face-plant. If it doesn’t, I dub it (the eventually-to-be-refined version) the Release Candidate, in honor of the labyrinthian nightmare of XML and actionscript that’s being shipped — hell, high-water, or heart attacks notwithstanding — tomorrow night. Oh. Make that tonight. Shite. Goodnight.

Rum and Coconut Water

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

this coconut is probably too old to contain waterIncredibly simple, and incredibly tasty. The hardest part is reputed to be locating the coconut water — not milk, mind, but the clear liquid that sloshes about in a green coconut — but it sounds as if it may be becoming more available in North America due to increased interest in coconut water as a sports drink. Apparently it also makes an excellent blood plasma substitute, should you find yourself bleeding-out on a desert island and possessed of the necessary IV equipment, though this may be apocryphal. No doubt The Professor would know.

2 oz. rum
4 oz. coconut water
1 dash Angostura bitters

fill a highball glass with ice, cubed or crushed, add rum and coconut water and stir a bit. a straw might be nice.

I’m using Harvest Bay Coconut Water, sold in 11 oz. octagonal TetraPaks, found in my neighborhood grocery store’s juice aisle. At around $1.79 each, boxed coconut water is a bit cheaper than buying a green coconut, too, though you’re deprived of the gelatinous flesh.

I’ve been meaning to try this for some time, having seen mention of it in an eGullet thread back in June. I bought the coconut water, but it promptly went into hiding at the back of the refrigerator, having migrated behind the infrequently-used tubs of curry paste, mango pickle and assorted whatnots. A late-August Cocktail Chronicles post on the subject reminded me that I had the stuff somewhere, which I then excavated, but again, didn’t do anything with. Today, as October wanes, I have at long last consumed a Rum and Coconut Water. Did I say the hardest part was finding coconut water? Obviously for some of us, the hardest part is getting around to making the damned thing.

The verdict? It’s refreshing, light, and vegetatively coconutty — or perhaps coconuttily vegetative. I’ve not tried mixing it with a dark dark rum, but medium-bodieds like Mount Gay Eclipse or Barbancourt 3-star do quite nicely, adding subtleties without overpowering the coconut water. This being a Caribbean beverage, a healthy dash of Angostura can’t possibly be misplaced, and helps to further broaden the drink. I enjoy it as a frappé, poured over crushed ice and swizzled until a nice frost is worked-up.

The Yard of Flannel

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

It’s a damp and drizzly evening in Portland, and Ms. Thirsty is feeling a cold coming on. Of course, the ever-inventive science of mixology has produced countless potations for just such a circumstance, so it’s an excellent opportunity to investigate a traditional — if little-practiced — cure. Thus we embark upon our own version of the Cocktail Chronicles’ Gettin’ Jerry With It, taking a page (in this case, page 61) from Jerry Thomas’ seminal 1862 work, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. We have halved the Professor’s recipe, since a quart of this unknown commodity seemed a bit much, but otherwise faithfully reproduce his Egg Flip, aka (and more poetically) the Yard of Flannel.

1 pint ale
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch nutmeg

Whisk eggs, sugar and nutmeg in a bowl, then bring ale to a boil. Once ale is boiling, pour slowly into egg mixture, whisking to prevent curdling. Transfer to a pitcher, then pour back and forth into another pitcher, from a great height, until exceedingly frothy.

It may be that in the New York of 1862, ale was ale was ale, and when Jerry Thomas said to use ale, you knew exactly what he meant. Not being much of a beer historian, I’m willing to entertain the notion. In the Pacific Northwest of 2005, however, ales range from sweet to sour, sharp to bitter, dark to light, herbal to malty, strong to mild, and countless other diametrically-opposed poles of the palate. There’s no such thing as generic ale, and unfortunately, ale is far-and-away the most significant component of this recipe. Your choice of ale will very much determine the character of your Yard of Flannel. Given the other ingredients in the drink, Pyramid Brewing’s seasonal Snow Cap Ale, described as “complex and spicy, yet deliciously smooth” seemed likely to fit the bill. Lagunitas’ Censored might have been a good candidate, too.

If a single rule governs the boiling of a pint of beer, it is this: watch it closely! Do not turn away to whisk-up your eggy ingredients. Get the egg, sugar and nutmeg business dealt with first, then, and only then, attend to the matter of the beer. A boiling pot of ale will likely develop a mighty head, and, unattended, will cascade forth from its saucepan, douse the flame and make a nasty puddle on your stovetop. This advice is informed by recent experience.

When pouring the hot ale into the bowl of whisked eggs and sugar, we are directed to proceed in small measures, stirring constantly lest curdling take place. Pouring and whisking as bidden, there was, indeed, no curdling … not proof that such care is necessary, but it certainly didn’t hurt. This done, decant from the bowl into one of two pitchers/mugs/steins/big-things-with-handles, that the fun may commence.

Thomas was famed for the spectacular production value of the Blue Blazer: flaming whiskey poured back-and-forth, at arms’ length, between two pitchers. The final step in the manufacture of a Yard of Flannel is a fluffier, gentler version of the same extreme showmanship. Instead of ropes of fire, however, you’re pouring cocktailian contrails, so if something goes wrong you’ll just need a mop and a shower, not a fire extinguisher and a skin graft.

Since the object of the exercise is to maximize frothiness, it’s worth considering the size of your vessels before beginning the pouring process. A fair head is going to develop from this flying font of beer, so reach for your largest steins. If you’ve no two vessels that can accommodate the equivalent of, say, 26 fluid ounces, set some of it aside. The exact manner of pouring is left to the reader, but assuming that your aim is true and you manage to keep the drink off the floor, you’ll soon be casting your very own yard of flannel: a three foot skein of tan, foamy liquid, falling from mug to mug. Keep in mind that while it’s coursing through the air, your flannel is cooling off, so pour back and forth only as much as is necessary to ensure the proper body without rendering it lukewarm.

A mug of flannelThe verdict? Well, it’s no Cock Ale, but astute readers will have noticed that this post has earned a simultaneous filing under both the “to avoid” and “to enjoy” sub-categories. When presented with Jerry Thomas’ cure for the common cold, Ms. Thirsty’s candid assessment was that “it certainly tastes like it has medicinal properties.” Granted, Ms. Thirsty doesn’t care much for dark ales, and had just been exploring the restorative powers inherent to 100° Southern Comfort, so perhaps hers was not the most objective palate in the house. Still, despite the brown sugar, this is a bitter brew, and unless one has made a habit of drinking hot beer, it’s not something one can readily wrap one’s head around. I’m not sure that I ever managed to quite accustom myself to it, but there is virtue in perseverance, and I began to find some merit in the Yard of Flannel about halfway through the drinking of it. The texture is silken, a bit like a well-steamed latte, and previously unnoticed flavors assert themselves. With Snow Cap, I found that a strong hazelnut nose arose from the Flannel. I’m not sure that I’d make one with Snow Cap again, but I’m a bit curious as to how other ales would bear up. Of course, I’m also a bit curious as to when exactly one would want to drink one of these concoctions. Personally, whether coming down with something or not, when it’s cold outside and I want to be warm on the inside, I instinctively turn to a hot toddy, like the Falkland Island Warmer — it just resonates with me. Probably an Ayurvedic thing, with Flips ill-suited to my doshas.

Incidentally, many recipes for the Yard of Flannel call for the addition of several ounces of rum, and warn against allowing the ale to come to a boil. Both of these modifications to Thomas’ strike me as damned good advice, and should I find myself pouring a Yard in the future, I’ll likely concern myself less with the letter and more with the spirit of the Professor’s directions.

I do think that everyone should try a Yard of Flannel (or its near-relative, the Ale Flip) at least once, if only to discover for oneself the joy of juggling streams of hot beer and raw eggs. Leave a comment if you do, making a note of the ale you employed. If there’s a perfect ale for flipping, I’d love to hear about it.

On Falernum

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

I am recently returned from a week in Texas, where I availed myself of another state’s take on liquor control — i.e. a bit more free-market, a bit less central committee. Courtesy of the vasty Spec’s Liquor, I’ve acquired a few bottles unavailable to luckless webfeet: Herbsaint, Noilly Prat dry vermouth, and John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, along with some Fee Brother’s Falernum Syrup for comparison. No Torani Amer, unfortunately, but you can’t win ’em all, and the hard-to-find Velvet Falernum was one of the biggies on my list.

Falernum, a mildly alcoholic lime-and-spice liqueur, is an essential component of a number of classic Caribbean cocktails. There seems to be some disagreement concerning the history of falernum, but those who enjoy folksy — if unlikely — origin myths may see the alleged story of its creation. Falernum had all but vanished from these shores when The Sazerac Company discontinued their production some years back, leaving only a few flavored syrups to meet the needs of the US market. Fortunately, the purported original recipe, John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, is once again being imported (and much-promoted by Dale DeGroff).

Many sources suggest that the Fee’s syrup product can be freely substituted in equal parts whenever falernum is called for. It certainly would be convenient if true, since, being non-alcoholic, Fee’s products can be easily ordered while acquiring the boozy Velvet Falernum requires out of state travel or the assistance of visiting friends. Instead of something complicated, like Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai or the Zombie, the best comparison of the two products’ mixological merits seemed to be a very basic Bajan tipple, Corn ‘n Oil.

This from the John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum recipes page:

Corn ‘n Oil

1 oz. rum
1 oz. Velvet Falernum
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass of more freshly crushed ice.

Curiously, the drink reminds me of nothing so much as a Cuba Libre — falernum has within it the sweet-spiciness of cola and the citric tang of lime. Made with Velvet Falernum, Corn ‘n Oil is a short, thin, pale, spicy and elegant cooler. Made with Fee’s, it’s thicker, flatter on the palate, less spicy and more like an under-diluted soda concentrate. There’s really no contest between the two — where Velvet Falernum yields a lively drink, the Fee Brothers’ Falernum Syrup delivers a monotonous thud. If forced to use Fee’s, I would add a few more dashes of their Aromatic Bitters to increase the spiciness, and up the rum to 1.5 oz to thin-down the syrupiness and approximate an alcoholic falernum.

Before my bottle of Velvet Falernum is exhausted I’ll have to have a go at making a batch of my own to test against it. This recipe from eGullet is hailed by some as being superior even to the John D. Taylor product, and Robert Hess records an un-sourced recipe for producing 30 gallons of falernum which is a bit more complicated and would require careful reduction.

Of course, all of the foregoing disregards the fact that most drinks calling for falernum ask for a mere dash to 1/4 oz. It’s possible that outside of Corn ‘n Oil, where the falernum plays such a major role, the Fee’s product is acceptable. I tend to suspect otherwise, but am willing to be proven wrong. I’m not sure what the next beverage trial will be — I was sure that Chas. Baker had recorded some uses for it in The Gentleman’s Companion, but a cursory pass turned up nothing. Perhaps the Royal Bermuda.

Update: Following the eGullet recipe mentioned above, Slakethirst West Indies Falernum has been made. It’s good!