Posts Tagged ‘bitters’

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.

Between the Sheets

Monday, August 15th, 2005

Having found unexpected pleasure in the Monkey Gland, it seems wise to reserve judgment about other winkingly-named vintage drinks, in the hopes that some rise above mere novelty. And how better to honor the stimulating promise of the Monkey Gland than to move directly to third base with another salacious standard of the 30’s, the Between the Sheets?

1 1/2 oz. Cognac
1 1/2 oz. white or gold rum
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice

Shake, strain, and garnish with a twist.

I can’t put a date to the drink, but Charles Baker’s 1939 Gentleman’s Companion — after a circuitous tale involving riots, stonings, tommy guns and girls being crushed to death by falling masonry — attributes the Between the Sheets’ origins to a certain Mr. Weber, keeping bar at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. It is, Baker declares, “totally sound, and already quite famous throughout the Near East.” His recipe, incidentally, calls for equal parts of everything.

The recipe above is from Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks, which in turn derives it from David Embury’s in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Embury suggests using lime as an alternative to the lemon, and calls for a gold rum. I’ve mixed the Between the Sheets with lemon and lime, Bacardi and Mount Gay Eclipse, but no variation manages to please. All are too tart by half, with nothing to really back up the citrus.

Embury may be a looming legend of mixology, but I confess that his recommended expression of the Between the Sheets was the one I committed to the sink. In this, I am in accord with Patrick Gavin Duffy, whom Wondrich notes flagged the BTS as being one he “personally [did] not recommend.” I deem it a cocktail to avoid.

Note: Other variations may yet prove palatable. Old Mr. Boston’s recipe calls for a scant 1/4 lemon’s juice, which addresses my concern about the tartness. Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts (1949), on the other hand, presents a “Between-Sheets” comprised of 1/3 cognac, 1/3 crème de cacao, 1/3 cream, a dash of bitters, a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of lemon peel — just cognac and the garnish in common.

Slakethirst West Indies Falernum

Monday, July 18th, 2005

Slakethirst FalernumI’ve concocted a batch of falernum, starting from the eGullet recipe mentioned earlier. It may be that I employed profoundly weak ingredients, but whatever the reason, the eGullet recipe proved to be terribly sweet and not much else. After many trial blendings, tastings, modifications, and re-blendings, here’s the final recipe for Slakethirst West Indies Falernum:

1 cup white rum
zest of 3 limes
9 whole cloves
25 dashes Fee’s Aromatic Bitters
5 drops almond extract

Steep for 24 hours, strain, and add to 16 oz. of a 1:1 turbinado simple syrup.

Three limes’ worth of zest nicely fills a cup of rum and looks absolutely loverly, turning it a pale, pale green in the space of a day. Note that I didn’t muddle the lime zest, as perhaps I ought to have… this may account for differences in intensity observed later.

Three cloves, on the other hand, was definitely not enough to approximate the spiciness of John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum. Clovey spiciness is responsible for the cola-notes in Corn ‘n Oil which make it seem so like a Cuba Libre. So, after 24 hours I strained the lime infusion of cloves and zest and added 6 new cloves for another day of infusing. Even this proved to be insufficient to achieve the proper pepperiness — it may well be that my cloves were old and lacking vim — so I turned to Fee’s Aromatic Bitters to supply the necessary punch. It’s less bespoke because of it, but we’re already using a commercial almond extract, so what the hell. Next time I’ll buy the freshest cloves I can find and see if it makes a difference.

A test blending of infused rum:syrup at the suggested 1:4 ratio yields something very sweet and far less limey than is wanted. It’s only at 1:2 that the lime seems to hold its own. Granted, the quality of the lime flavor achieved in this recipe is a bit different from that in Velvet Falernum, which contains lime juice, but a 1:2 blend makes for a similar intensity.

The commercial Velvet Falernum product is a much paler color than mine, likely attributable to the choice of sugar. I opted for turbinado for a bit more flavor, but those seeking a closer visual cognate should use white cane sugar instead.

Speaking of visuals, I don’t particularly care for unlabeled bottles of fluid in the bar, so a bit of experimentation with glass etching seemed in order. The able Ms. Thirsty and I spent some quality time pushing pixels around and mucking with screen printing and acid creams. It didn’t turn out half-bad, if I do say so… with some modifications to the process, I think we’ll be etching-up vessels for gomme and grenadine in the near future, and likely any other domestically produced mixological reagents that become permanent fixtures of the backbar.

Update: See also this post in the tikiroom forums. 24 cloves macerated, plus 3 additional Tbs and it still wasn’t clovey enough… obviously achieving the right spiciness isn’t just my problem.