Posts Tagged ‘gin’

The Pepper Delicious #2

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Mixology Monday 10: Festive OccasionI’d been planning to concoct a photogenic and tasty Kwanzaa-colored pousse café for this holiday edition of MxMo, but I was introduced to a drink this weekend that’s much more deserving of attention. It’s neither a traditional favorite nor easily prepared en masse, but I’m definitely going to be serving it in the coming weeks and beyond.

The Pepper Delicious #2The Pepper Delicious #2

2 oz. aquavit
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 mint leaves

Muddle the pepper, mint and simple syrup. Add lime juice, aquavit, and all the ice you can manage. Shake well and strain, floating a thin pepper round and a sprig of mint on the surface.

That’s right: a red bell pepper. Don’t knock it… it imparts an unexpected, fresh vegetal element and tints the cocktail a wonderful warm color. The garnish, along with the odd escaped flake of muddled mint, makes for a particularly Christmas-colored presentation.

Christian Krogstad of House Spirits Distillery was mixing these up at their open house on Saturday, employing his eponymous Krogstad Aquavit. Make it with gin, he says, and you have the Pepper Delicious #1. I assumed at the time that the recipe originated with Ryan Magarian as a vehicle for House Spirits’ Aviation Gin, but Citysearch informs us that the Pepper Delicious is on the menu at Canlis, one of Seattle’s premier restaurants, where they use Plymouth in theirs. Food and Wine Magazine thought enough of the Pepper Delicious to feature it in their list of top holiday cocktails for 2006. They attribute it to Canlis but don’t call the gin. Whomever is responsible deserves plaudits… I’d call Canlis, but it’s a bit late and the MxMo deadline looms. If you know (or are) the drink’s author, please comment.

Aquavit hasn’t been a stock ingredient in my bar, so I can’t say how the Pepper Delicious #2 fares with other brands, but the Krogstad has earned a place on the shelf now. I’ve tried a Pepper Delicious #1 with both Plymouth and Aviation gins, and in both cases it’s a somewhat milder affair. The #2, with aquavit, is a slightly hotter drink, whose caraway and anise notes nudge it just that much closer to a “holiday” flavor profile. With gin, it’s softer, and the pepper has a bit more room to show its influence. It’s an excellent drink in either incarnation — Ms. Thirsty favors the gin version — so don’t let an absence of aquavit stop you from treating yourself and those you love to one (or more). Go on… it’s the holidays.

Update: 28 other drinks for a festive occasion await your attention.

The Lucien Gaudin

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Here’s a gem of a drink that I’ve only just now discovered. It shouldn’t have taken so long — both Kaiser Penguin and The Spirit World have covered it — but I tumbled to the Lucien Gaudin via Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. It had heretofore escaped my attention, as it shares a page with the frightful-looking Leatherneck and didn’t rate its own photo or extended commentary. Oh, Lucien … you deserve better.

Lucien GaudinM. Gaudin was a renowned French fencing champion who earned the world title in 1905 and went on to win four gold and two silver medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Robert Hess speculates that the drink may have been created to commemorate the 1928 performance, when Gaudin took the golds for both individual foil and épée, but if so, the celebration was relatively short-lived … a banker in professional life, financial difficulties drove Gaudin to commit suicide only six years later, in 1934.

1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. Cointreau

Stir with cracked ice, strain and garnish with orange peel.

As a drink, the Lucien Gaudin bears more than a passing resemblance to the Negroni. Half as much Campari makes it less bitter, but the dry vermouth and Cointreau in the Gaudin combine to create a lighter, less syrupy substitute for the Negroni’s sweet vermouth. A pale rosé compared to the Negroni’s dark ruby hue, it’s tempting to liken the Lucien Gaudin to a Negroni with training wheels on, in that Campari can be challenging to some palates, but that would be a disservice. Each has its own merits, and as a lighter, cleaner cocktail, the Lucien Gaudin is better-suited to occasions where a crisp drink is wanted. If you enjoy a Negroni (and why wouldn’t you?) the Lucien Gaudin deserves your consideration. You may find it to be a new favorite.

Looking for variations, a cursory turn through the bookshelf finds only one other source for the Lucien Gaudin, in Trader Vic’s 1948 Bartender’s Guide. Vic’s recipe yields a smaller drink — just 1 1/2 oz. — with a higher gin ratio (3:1:1:1). Those seeking a similar ratio in a more modern size should increase the gin to 1 1/2 oz. in the recipe above.

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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Mixology Monday III: Mint

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Mixology Monday: MintIt’s Mixology Monday again, this time hosted by Rick at Kaiser Penguin. There’s much to explore in the world of mint-containing cocktails — I don’t regularly make anything with mint, though we’ve a nice bush of it growing in the Old Mews (now the kitchen garden) behind Slakethirst Manor. Time to put it to use.
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Mr. Manhattan

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintNo relation to the more familiar drink bearing the name of our premier island, the recipe for the Mr. Manhattan was delivered to these shores in Craddock’s Epistle to the Americans, who were suffering under the strictures of Volstead. Craddock, meanwhile, sojourned among the Britons and ministered to their spirituous needs at the Savoy’s American Bar. Ever thoughtful, he marked the Mr. Manhattan for our special notice as a concoction whose merits might not be diminished for want of … licit sources of alcohol.

Crush 1 cube sugar with a few drops water
Add 6 leaves mint and muddle further, then add
2 oz. gin
2 tsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Shake vigorously and strain

It may be possible to approximate a genièvre de la baignoire by reaching for the lowest possible shelf, but Seagrams was chosen in the interest of all concerned. Thus, the singular virtues of Mr. Manhattan as an aid to the Prohibited have gone un-investigated; however, ratios of juices have come under some scrutiny, and it is the above which proved out.

Canonically, Craddock calls for a single dash of lemon juice and four of orange. Taking an official dash at 1/8 tsp, the lemon and orange hardly made themselves known at all, and would doubtless prove insufficient to ameliorating an unsavory bootleg gin. At twice that volume it’s still a stiff gin drink with a bit of color and a minty nose… no, we found best a 4x multiplication of citrus, and thought in the end a bit more yet might serve well. The palate can only endure so much experimentation, alas, and so we settle on the recipe presented here. The mint — increased to 6 leaves from 4 — acquits itself well, thanks to a vigorous muddling, and plays very nicely with the orange.