Monday, October 31, 2005

Tonight's experiment: a Bronx. (Incidentally, the site of that recipe, Drinkboy, is a large part of my inspiration for this whole endeavor.)

Brands used: Martini&Rossi dry white vermouth, ditto sweet red vermouth, Seagrams gin.

First impressions:
1. Smell: I still think sweet vermouth smells like spaghetti sauce. Do they use oregano in it?
2. Sight: The presentation isn't all that appetizing. A muddy orange color. Although given that tonight is Halloween, I suppose it is nicely apropos. Still, I'm not sure I care for opaque drinks in a cocktail glass.
3. Taste: cocktail has a strangely savory taste to it. And a tingly spicy kick on the front of the tongue as an aftertaste. I think that the slight bit of pulp in the orange juice is not good. But the overall balance of flavors is good--sour, bitter, sweet, and alcohol flavors are all present, but none stand out strongly. However, the combined herb tastes of the gin and vermouths is what I notice most. It's still pretty unfamiliar to me, so I'll have to try this one again in a few weeks and see what I think of it then.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

For a short time now, I've been on a cocktail kick. This shall be my journal of experiences.

I unabashedly claim no deep knowledge of cocktails, merely a strong and growing interest. In fact, there are still a few liquors that I have yet to develop a good taste for (whiskeys and gin in particular), but this is the beginning of a journey, so please forgive any naivete.

Tonight, two experiments.

1. Triple Sec vs. Cointreau: a taste test.
I am to understand that Cointreau is a kind of triple sec. In many cases drink recipes will offer them as substitues for each other. I've been making quite palatable cosmopolitans with De Kuypers Triple Sec, and I wondered if there was that much of a difference.

I poured half a shot of each, at room temperature. First, the Triple Sec. I found it had an orange candy taste, very sweet. Not something I'd drink straight, that's for sure. Cloying, almost. Then, the Cointreau. The label says that Cointreau is 40% alcohol (to the Triple Sec's 24%), which gave it a drier, less cloying taste. But the real difference is that Cointreau tastes much more of orange zest--a complex, bitter taste. Still, both were unbearably sweet on their own. But in a very simple cocktail, I can see where the Cointreau would add more complexity.

2. Drambuie.
My dear friend Julian has lately made his drink of choice Drambuie and soda. He visits this coast fairly frequently, and the last time he was here we made a trip to BevMo and picked up a bottle in anticipation of drinking it after our traditional visit to Manresa (which is an absolute must-go restaurant if you are ever in the SF bay area). Which means I have a practically full bottle of Drambuie in my liquor cabinet. Now, I'm not a big fan yet of the whiskey family, so I haven't broken into it until tonight. But in general I trust Julian's taste, so I gave it a try.

Knowing nothing about Drambuie, I thought I'd but some Drambuie over ice and top with soda. My first sip almost made me gag. The sweet honey taste was overpowering. I was thinking that it could really use some citrus...then I decided to actually look up a recipe. After adding some more soda and a squeeze of lime, the drink was definitely more palatable. In fact, palatable enough to have two.

Still, I think Julian will still have plenty to drink when he visits again. I think the honey taste is still a bit cloying, leaving my mouth with the nasty fuzzy feeling of too much sugar. But they were tasty while I was drinking them. I still think that a bit more lime juice would have been an improvement.

Still, so much still to drink, and learn. Life is good.