The White Negroni

Having been hooked on the Negroni for quite some time, it made sense that I would be at least as enthralled by the White Negroni. It is, in a way, the French cousin of the Negroni – the base of gin is maintained, while the Campari and sweet vermouth of Italian origin are replaced by Suze and Lillet, which both are French ingredients.

 

Negroni blanc

A White Negroni with Junipero gin Continue reading

Timeless elegance

Timeless elegance is the theme of this month’s Mixology Monday Challenge and Special 100th Edition. With the resurgence of cocktail culture in the last 15 years, it’s interesting to note that we seem to have gone though a cycle. The old classics were rediscovered, elevated, tweaked, riffed on. Eventually we got a bit side-tracked with exotic ingredients, molecular mixology, or 20-component cocktails. Now the trend seems to be for simple yet memorable cocktails.

One person though always stayed the course, and his vision of perfectly crafted cocktails inspired countless bartenders all over the world. That person, of course, is Sasha Petraske, who passed away a few days ago. It’s quite incredible how much of a deep impact he had on the cocktail world as a whole. So many bartenders I admire have worked in his bars, or have been trained by people who worked in his bars. Many of them have opened or managed successful and influential bars. Continue reading

That’s not a Martini!

Finding something original for this month’s Mixology Monday Challenge, “almost, but not quite, a Martini“, was somewhat of a difficult task. The Martini is such a popular cocktail that it already inspired hundreds of variations (and I am not talking about the abominations that don’t bear much resemblance to the gin and dry vermouth classic, other than the glass they are served in). For example, The Savoy Cocktail Book contains endless variations on this theme that only differ by dashes of various ingredients, from bitters to curaçao, grenadine, or absinthe… Continue reading

Reflective Blue

Like a lot of my cocktailian friends, the Aviation is one of the drinks that really got me into cocktails a while back. Lured by the appeal of a cocktail with a beautiful pale blue hue, for months (years?) I looked for that elusive bottle of violet liqueur. When I finally put my hands on one, the Aviation became my go-to cocktail for a while and was what I would serve to my friends at cocktail parties. I loved how refreshing and interesting it was, despite having only a few ingredients.

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Tailspin

The Tailspin is another cocktail from the Death & Co Cocktail Book, this one from the Classic & Vintage section.

I realized while making it that it’s a Bijou (gin, sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse, orange bitters) with a Campari rinse.

At Death & Co, they make it relatively Chartreuse- (and vermouth-) heavy with 1.5/1/1 ratios. I am used to 2/1/1 as in, for example, the Bartender’s Choice version, although historically this may be an equal-parts drink (see Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual), like its younger cousin the Negroni.

I used Dolin sweet vermouth, which is lighter than the Carpano Antica used in the Death & Co version. It’s a pretty drink, although a little busy. You would think that, as a fan of the Negroni and green Chartreuse, I would be all over this one. But Chartreuse is richer than Campari, so the cocktail ends up being a little over the top for my taste buds. And there is a lot of Chartreuse in that cocktail.

All in all, it’s best enjoyed as a post-dinner drink.

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Old Harbor Distillery

Old Harbor Distilling There are close to 100 breweries in San Diego, but only 6 distilleries, including this one that opened just a few weeks ago. Old Harbor Distilling Co. was co-founded by Michael Skubic, head distiller, who also co-founded Hess Brewing. The distillery is located in a nondescript industrial warehouse space in the East Village in a not-so-pleasant part of town. Walking around the building past a few homeless people, I finally spotted a small sign that confirmed I was in the right place (the building now has a colorful mural that makes it hard to miss). Continue reading

The Monroe

Although the classic Improved Gin Cocktail is a favorite, gin-based Old Fashioneds are not something you see very often. So I was intrigued when I saw one in Death & Co new cocktail book. Even better, this particular one was an occasion to use my homemade orgeat (I used a coconut orgeat that I made with a fresh coconut using the same technique I normally use with almonds).

The Monroe (Scott Teague @scotchpineapple): Junipero gin, crème de pêche, homemade orgeat, Peychaud's and orange bitters, club soda

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A study in demonology – back at Satan’s Whiskers

London August 2014

Cocktails with orange juice are evil, I’ve always been convinced. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find too many good things to say about The Bronx or the Blood and Sand. Even PDT could not get the Monkey Gland right. All these cocktails seem to compensate for their inadequacy with catchy names. Continue reading

MxMo Pineapple Challenge: the Riviera and the 1956 Zombie

This month, the Mixology Monday Challenge is hosted by Thiago of the Bartending Notes blog, and the theme is Pineapple. Of course one option is to go with pineapple juice as the pineapple component, and we will explore that option with the second cocktail. But unless making fresh juice from scratch, I often feel that the quality of pineapple juice is a bit left to be desired. Infusing the base spirit with pineapple seems like an excellent solution to get a fresh pineapple flavor. Typically pineapple is paired with rum which seems to emphasize its sweetness. But why not highlight the herbaceous nature of pineapple instead, and pair it with gin. So I decided to make a pineapple infusion with Beefeater London dry gin.

After 48 hours, I tasted the gin and it was intensely flavored. It is the main component of Toby Maloney’s creation, the Riviera cocktail. The other elements are Campari for a touch of bitter orange, maraschino liqueur for sweetness and funk, and orange bitters to round everything off. An egg white creates texture.

The Riviera (Toby Moloney)

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Sympathy for the strawberry

Strawberries in cocktails, I know what you think, it just brings back memories of awful strawberry “daiquiris” or other sickly sweet concoctions. But sometimes (most times) it’s good to keep an open mind.

I recently bought a bottle of Dorothy Parker gin at the recommendation of a cocktailian friend. This gin, in addition to its Juniper backbone, has floral notes including hibiscus and elderberries that got me a bit stuck at first. But why not look to classics for inspiration… In the Savoy Cocktail Book, there always seem to be pearls hidden between endless Martini variations. Case in point, the Bloodhound, which is actually a “perfect” Martini, incorporating both sweet and dry vermouths. The particularity of the Bloodhound is that it adds fresh strawberries to the mix. Strawberries are in season and grown locally here in San Diego, and pairing them with the hibiscus notes from the gin sounded like a good idea.

For the sweet vermouth, I did not want aything too sweet, so I opted for Punt e Mes which combines dark berry flavors with an underlying bitterness. I did not bother muddling the strawberries, so the taste ended up on the subtle side. It’s probably best to muddle them a bit, unless your shake is especially energetic and your strawberries super ripe.

The resulting cocktail is is very much anchored in Martini territory, with the bonus of strawberry undertones and a beautiful color. The sweet vermouth and strawberry pairing is a very nice one that also works well in desserts – think strawberries macerated in red wine. Also the Dorothy Parker gin was especially well suited for this cocktail which allowed its unique flavor to shine.

 

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