Posts Tagged ‘bourbon’

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 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

The Sazerac

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 lump (or tsp) sugar
1/4 tsp pastis
3-4 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 lemon twist

Coat the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the pastis, pouring off any excess. Muddle sugar and Peychaud bitters with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 tsp), or use simple syrup. Stir rye in an iced shaker to chill and strain into glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils.

Despite an abiding fondness for the Old Fashioned, I had not until now sampled the Sazerac, its close relative and one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails. In part, I blame this shortcoming on a perpetual lack of ingredients: I prefer Scotch for neat drinking and Bourbon for mixing, particularly dislike the anise flavors of pastis (Absinthe, Pernod, Herbsaint, etc), and have never owned a bottle of Peychaud bitters because, well, its raison d’être these days is the Sazerac. Fortunately, my recent commitment to stocking a broader bar means that I now have a bottle of Pernod to employ when a pastis is called for, and a bottle of Peychaud on the general principle that I should find more uses for bitters. I picked up some Old Overholt Rye just today, and in the Sazerac I have found ample justification for keeping all three in constant supply.

If you like an Old Fashioned, you will very much enjoy a Sazerac. If you’re not one for short whiskey drinks, this may not be for you, though I would encourage testing that assumption. If you dislike licorice and anise, don’t be put off — the rye seems to mask the aspects of anisette that I find objectionable, and yet the drink is much more complex than straight rye with a bit of sugar. There must be undertones to the Pernod and Peychaud’s that emerge from this venerable synthesis, because there is a honeyed cherry fruitiness to the Sazerac that makes all the difference in the world.

Others have written on the subject better and more extensively than I could hope to, and I direct attention in particular to Chuck Taggart’s excellent appreciation of the Sazerac from his Gumbo Pages site. In print, the recently published vol 1. of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail contains a biography of A. A. Peychaud by Phil Greene, touching in many places on the Sazerac’s 170 year history.

Whiskey Punch – St. Louis Style

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Use a large Mixing glass; fill with Lump Ice.

One jigger Bourbon Whiskey.
½ pony Italian Vermouth.
½ pony Pineapple Syrup.
½ pony Lemon Juice.

Shake well; strain into Stem glass and serve.