After the Negroni, the Daiquiri is probably my favorite cocktail. This seemingly simple drink – rum, lime juice, sugar – is refreshingly sublime when made with a good rum. Actually, this is an excellent test for any rum – if it doesn’t make a beautiful Daiquiri, then maybe something is wrong with it…
A rhum agricole Daiquiri (and a Pegu Club) at Pegu Club
This post is devoted to Daiquiri variations that use rum as the base, with a little bit of this or that added. Continue reading
Since living in the U.S., there are a few holiday traditions that I have adopted. While I refuse to be involved with turkey in any shape or form, I can certainly appreciate a nice holiday punch. I’ve noticed that it tends to make family reunions a little more pleasant for everyone. And some, like the Fish House Punch, are so tasty that they get requested year after year.
There is a little place from out of town
Where, if you go to lunch,
They’ll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.
Tequila is not a spirit that is very well represented in mixed drinks, and even less so in tiki cocktails. Beachbum Berry’s Total Tiki app includes only 4 tequila recipes out of a total of 238. Two of these recipes mix tequila with rum to great effect.
The first one, Jim’s Special, created at cult tiki bar Tiki-Ti in LA, pairs aged tequila with dark Jamaican rum. Coruba dark Jamaican rum provides body to the drink with plenty of molasses, while the aged tequila (7 Leguas añejo) adds wonderful notes of pepper, cinnamon, honey, and wood. With two such strong elements, you need other standout flavors – passion fruit syrup, orange with curaçao, and lime for acidity. Finally, a touch of orgeat rounds everything out. The resulting cocktail is deep, strong, mysterious, and delicious.
The Mixology Monday Challenge this month is about coconuts, right in the footsteps of a recent pineapple challenge. There is something delicious about a proper Piña Colada made with fresh ingredients that I could not resist. For the coconut element, using fresh coconut water instead of cream preserves the coconut flavor but cut downs considerably on the sweetness, which is a good thing. There is no need to compensate by adding sugar – pineapple is plenty sweet on its own. My pineapple had the right balance of sweetness and acidity and was fine as is, but if it’s very sweet, adding a squeeze of lime juice can help make flavors pop.
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.
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.
The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, Preserves, could not have arrived at a better time. A few weeks ago, armed with a good knife, a very large pot, and a lot of patience, I made a traditional British marmalade.
It’s been a few years now that I’ve been trying to track down the elusive Seville oranges. They are not commonly found in stores and have a short season. So I was quite excited when I saw them appear at Specialty Produce, my local source for produce. Bumpy, thick-skinned and full of seeds, with an intensely bitter juice, they are not the friendliest of fruit. But under the right conditions, they can become sublime.
It’s winter, but that’s not a reason to not enjoy tiki cocktails. When the weather is colder, spice-forward cocktails are especially appropriate.
Here are a couple of tiki drinks that I have enjoyed recently. The first one is the Winter Diamonback that was created at the El Dorado lounge in San Diego. It is based on the template of Harry Craddock’s Rattlesnake, one of my favorite cocktails that combines rye with lemon, simple syrup, egg white, and a rinse of absinthe. Changing the sweetener from simple syrup to a combination of cinnamon syrup and orgeat is the basis for the Winter Diamondback. With its cinnamon and absinthe flavor, it is unmistakably a tiki drink in the vein of Don the Beachcomber’s best creations, even though it’s rye-based. The blanket of egg white softens the flavors and helps blend everything harmoniously.
After Fire! in August which gave me an excuse to make a classic tiki Volcano Bowl, this month’s Mixology Monday challenge was Smoke!, the theme picked by Elana of the Stir and Strain blog.
When considering smoke, two ingredients came to my mind immediately: mezcal and Laphroaig. I decided to focus on Laphroaig as I don’t use it very often. I bought a bottle after falling in love with Sam Ross’s Penicillin, a new classic that pairs blended scotch with ginger, lemon, and a touch of smoke from the Laphroaig. Sam seems to play with Laphroaig quite a bit; his Fitzroy is a great Rob Roy variation where Laphroaig makes a great impact.