Posts Tagged ‘bitters’

Hot Whiskey Sling

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Mixology Monday 11: Winter WarmersYou say “winter warmer,” I think “hot toddy.” I should probably think “hot whiskey sling,” if I’m not mistaken, since I favor them with lemon juice, but “toddy” is the term I’m accustomed to using and bedad if winter warmers aren’t about personal comfort. I’ll call it a sling this once, though, since other people are watching; I recommend executing it thusly:

Remove your shoes and don slippers. If it’s the right time of day, consider pajamas and a robe, too. Take your most favorite mug — chipped and coffee-stained though it may be, it’s the faithful friend that’s seen you through many a nerve-jangling morning — and fill it with water. Fill a measuring cup of similar capacity and microwave it, along with your mug, until the water boils. Empty your now-heated mug and pour a 2-ounceish slug of whiskey into the bottom. If it’s a bonded whiskey, so much the better. Swirl your trusty honey dipper around in its pot until you’ve worked up a nice, thick ball of honey, stick it in the mug, and pour in the scalding hot water, swizzling until the honey is dissolved. Finally squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top of it all, give a final stir or two, and breathe deeply.

Terribly imprecise, I know, but this one’s a drink to feel your way around. Did I say microwave? I did, and unapologetically. Feel free to put the kettle on for a more satisfying auditory experience, but it’ll just take longer. How sweet should it be? Depends on how you like your coffee or tea. How much booze should it contain? Depends on whether you’re fighting off a cold or just the cold (less, if the former). What kind of booze should it contain? Whiskey, certainly, if you’re going to call it a hot whiskey sling, but you can use whatever base spirit you like. I wouldn’t do gin myself, but there are those who do. How much water? I’d hope you’re drinking out of a thick-walled large-capacity ceramic mug — the kind you can wrap both hands around — and not one of those wee 8 oz. affairs or a poncy glass job, but everyone has their own thing. Go with it, and fill it with as much water as seems right. Personally I like to leave a decent collar to allow easy insertion of a snoot to inhale the fumes. Properly speaking, there should be a dash or two of Angostura bitters on top of it all, but this is one drink that I leave ‘em out of. You’ll do what seems right.

I could cite a few official recipes here, but what’s the point of that? You’d likely just adjust the ratios to suit your choice of vessel, alcohol, mood, whathaveyou. I don’t think it’s possible to make a bad hot whiskey sling, unless you make it weak and watery. Avoid that cardinal transgression and you’re home free. Ms. Thirsty complains that hers are never as satisfying as the ones I make her, but I suspect that’s less about execution and more down to the final instruction for a really good winter warmer: have someone else serve it to you. You’re too busy being cold and wanting warming to be shuffling about in the kitchen or bar.

Look for more precise, well-reasoned Winter Warmers from this Mixology Monday to be catalogued shortly at Imbibe Unfiltered, the electronic arm of our liver’s favorite organ.

Update: All told there were 22 entries this month. Read ‘em and mix.

Not dead… just resting.

Saturday, 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

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.
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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?

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.