Posts Tagged ‘gin’

The Mint Cocktail

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintFor a mint-themed mix-off, I couldn’t avoid taking this plainly-named recipe for a test drive. The Mint Cocktail comes to us from Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (though he would have it shaken), and is obviously not a cocktail. No matter, for while I abjure the proliferation of ‘tinis, I’m resigned that a cocktail is pretty much anything containing liquor, and if Harry wants to keep me company, so much the better.

The Mint Cocktail6 oz. white wine
4 oz. gin
1 oz. crème de menthe
Sprigs of mint

In a pitcher, soak a few sprigs of mint in 3 oz. white wine for 2 hours. Add the rest, stir vigorously with ice and strain into glasses, garnishing with additional sprigs.

It’s good, in its own special way, though confusing. There’s an initial hit of crème de menthe so patently unnatural in its intensity that “Andes” is the first word to mind. It lessens over time, either due to stratification or numbing of the palate, but with gradual warming and subsequent sips, the wine (I chose a sauvignon blanc) makes itself known. I can’t really say the same for the gin — Seagrams again, here — which may as well have been vodka for all that it withstood the crème de menthe. What isn’t clear, and has yet to be investigated, is whether the two hours of marinating mint leaves actually makes a difference or is merely an act of ritual. I failed to detect any subtly natural minty undertones beneath the crème de menthe’s one-note onslaught, and note that the CocktailDB’s Mint Cocktail recipe cuts to the chase without any prolonged soaking.

I give it neither a yea or nay yet — if I never had another, I wouldn’t mourn — but might be inclined to try marinating a much larger quantity of mint leaves and relying on their contribution alone, perhaps muddled with a bit of sugar for maximum effect.

The Southside Fizz

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintThis one from Lucius Beebe’s Stork Club Bar Book of 1946. He includes it in the “Morning at the Stork Club” chapter, but there’s no reason to restrict its service to the hours before noon. The Southside Fizz is really just a pleasant, minty lemonade — unless you’re employing a particularly potent gin, it goes almost unnoticed — suitable whenever a refreshing long drink is indicated.

1 1/2 oz. Gin
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 sprigs mint
1 tsp. sugar

Shake well, strain into a highball glass and fill with seltzer.
Decorate with a sprig of mint, and a cherry if you’re feeling saucy.

The quantity of mint should be adjusted depending on the potency of your particular strain of leaf. Two may well be too little. Flakes of leaf will be broken off by the ice when shaking … for the clearest drink, and one which won’t leave unsightly vegetable matter clinging to your guests’ teeth, you may wish to strain through a mesh sieve.

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 Monkey Gland

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

monkey testesI had always assumed the Monkey Gland to be a cocktail of a certain type — you know, the “Long, Slow, Fuzzy, Comfortable Screw Against the Wall,” “Screaming Blue Orgasm” and “Kamanawanalei’a” kind of long drinks, whose raison d’être is to provide flirtatious bar-goers a bit of eyebrow-arching titillation when placing an order. Not really something one wants to drink, but something which circumstances (wisely or otherwise) suggest would be The Right Move. I’m pleased to report that this is not the case.

1 1/2 oz. London dry gin
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1/2 tsp. pastis

Shake with cracked ice and strain.

The Monkey Gland is not the product of a late 70’s fraternal organization’s party manual, but is an honest-to-god pedigreed tipple. Regan cites it as having first appeared in Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, but its name hearkens to a practice begun a decade earlier, when, in 1920, Dr. Serge Voronoff began implanting slivers of freshly-vivisected monkey testicle into the scrota of elderly Frenchmen. Voronoff, who had studied the physiology of Middle-Eastern eunuchs, was convinced that testosterone was the key to a long and healthy life, and promoted his xenotransplantion procedure as a $5,000 fountain of youth. The public’s interest was piqued, and a drink was born. The Monkey Gland is the spiritual progenitor of today’s Liquid Viagra — wholly different concoctions, but each co-opting the name of a contemporary virility treatment to suggest a stiffening drink.I’ve not had a Liquid Viagra, but I suspect that the chief difference between it and the Monkey Gland is that the latter is actually palatable. Ratios for the Monkey Gland vary widely, but the ingredients remain largely the same (Benedictine in lieu of pastis is a common variant). Haigh calls for full teaspoon of pastis, which I find a bit heavy, so here I have reduced it to 1/2 tsp, but otherwise employ Doc’s ratios. 1/2 tsp. is still enough to make its presence felt, but those who favor licorice may wish to double-up.

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.