Posts Tagged ‘brandy’

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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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.

Fish House Punch

Friday, October 7th, 2005

A riparian sceneI’ve just sloshed together a batch of Fish House Punch in preparation for a friend’s party tomorrow evening — it’s the first recipe I’ve made that has occasioned the use of a 3-gallon carboy as a shaker. This most venerable of American flowing bowls is held to have been first concocted in 1732 at Philadelphia’s fishing club, The Colony in Schuylkill* … there are variations to the recipe depending on what source you consult, but they’re mostly pretty minor. In the main, it seems that Fish House Punch is so revered that most know better than to tinker with its sacred formula. Sadly, in using a peach schnapps I depart from the norm — strictly speaking, peach brandy is called for — but unfortunately the State of Oregon doesn’t see fit to sell any peach brandies that aren’t wholly artificially flavored. I hope the founding grandfathers will forgive a transgression in the interest of verity over verisimilitude.

25 oz. Jamaican rum
25 oz. gold rum
25 oz. cognac
24 oz. lemon juice
8 oz. peach schnapps
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 pints water

mix sugar, water and lemon juice until dissolved, add liquor, stir well and allow to stand for several hours before serving, poured over a large block of ice.

Though the requisite several hours of flavor-blending has yet to pass, I couldn’t resist a sample or two. It’s good. It’s strong. It’s the kind of punch that can get you into trouble. It’s terribly, deceptively delicious. Several apocryphal stories attribute gaps in George Washington’s journals to overindulgence in Fish House Punch… I wonder if there are places claiming that “Washington Slepte It Offe Here.”

*In 1732 the club was known as “The Colony in Schuylkill,” but it changed its name to “The State in Schuylkill” in 1783, in keeping with events of the day. Also known as The Schuylkill Fishing Company, it was a quirky sporting gentleman’s affair, claiming sovereignty unto itself. Each of its 25 members had a faux governmental title and whatnot… I believe the club continues to this day, though so far I can only find evidence up through 1981.

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.

The Millionaire

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

This evening we note with interest the Millionaire Cocktail from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. His is a modernized incarnation of The Savoy Cocktail Book‘s “Millionaire #1” and The How and When‘s “Millionaire #4.” It is deep ruby red, tart and pleasing… for better or worse, it’s amazing how the dark rum all but vanishes under cover of the other ingredients. (This Millionaire is unrelated to the previously documented “Millionaire #2.”)

1 1/2 oz. Myers’s Original Dark Rum
3/4 oz. sloe gin
3/4 oz. apricot brandy
Juice of 1 lime

Shaken and strained.

The “juice of 1 lime” business is a bit squishy. Haigh declares the ballpark to lie between 1 and 1 1/2 ounces, and while Ms. Thirsty found the full juice of one of our limes to be too tart, it was just right for me. The appropriate volume will need to be individually quantified.

Other issues, uniquely Oregonian, derive from a state-wide paucity of decent apricot brandies and sloe gins: I am reduced to using Mr. Boston products. The result is satisfactory enough that it deserves documentation, but Millionaires mixed in less restricted states will benefit from better ingredients. Mr. Boston’s artificially-flavored, caramel-colored apricot brandy is particularly foul, and should be avoided whenever possible.