Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A few of you cocktail bloggers out there pointed to the NYT "The Cuke" recipe, the winner of the summer cocktail contest. I wanted to try it out, but it's a pitcher drink. I decided to try to make a single one. I had coincidentally made cucumber salad on Saturday, and so with the Cuke in mind I kept the watery seedy parts and made them into cucumber juice. This juice and some extra cucumber went into a glass with mint, lime, and sugar. The rest was made just like a mojito except with Hendricks.

And I drank it right down, forgetting entirely to take a photo. No more plain mojitos for me this summer, no. Mmmmmm.

Also, I must give another plug for my local wine and liquor store, Beltramos. I just discovered that not only did they have some Falernum, but they also carry Fee Bros. orange and peach bitters! Don't go in right away to buy the peach--I got the last bottle on the shelf.

Those guys know their stuff, and are always ready with a recommendation that has never been wrong. The only problem is that I keep buying stuff there to try out that isn't on my Mr. Boston list. And my liquor storage is overflowing again.

Derby Daiquiri

I don't like blender drinks. Too loud, too much cleanup, too cold on the palate. A cocktail shouldn't give one a brainfreeze.

So although this drink is tasty, it's not really worth the effort. Especially obtaining "shaved ice", which is another level of labor I'm not willing to provide.

1.5 oz Light rum (Bacardi Silver)
1 oz OJ
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar

Blend with 1/2 cup shaved ice. Pour into a champagne flute.

By the way, the nasturtium garnish was my own idea. Although it's very pretty, the peppery aroma doesn't really work, so I'd recommend a fruity garnish instead. The recipe doesn't call for a garnish, but for goodness sake, it's a blended daiquiri! At least add a paper umbrella.


I spent last week in Texas on business. I explained to one coworker that if you consider Dallas to be one buttcheek of Texas, and Fort Worth another, well, Arlington is right in the middle. That's where we were staying.

So given that this was my third trip is as many months, I didn't feel the need to redo the steak/chicken-fried/tex-mex/hushpuppies experience. We also decided to forgo a visit to the bar near that hotel that is known for a trashy experience for each day of the week: bikini contest Mondays, wet t-shirt Tuesdays, mudwrestling Wednesdays...

Anyway, given the environment, the very long meetings and even longer flights we endured, I was happy to get a good stiff drink as my welcome home recipe.

2 oz rum (Bacardi Silver)
.5 oz Triple Sec (Potter's)
.5 oz dry vermouth (Martini&Rossi)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Liqueur update: Advocaat and Fresh Mint-Infused Creme de Menthe

Some of my homemade liqueurs are starting to mature now. I made some Advocaat a while ago, and it's finally reached drinking time. I poured the half gallon (that's a full dozen eggs' worth) into two bottles, one for me, one for Julian. There happened to be just about one liqueur's glass of leftovers, so I had a taste.

All I can say is that it's Super Eggnog. Sweeter, thicker, more alcoholic (depending on how you mix your nog). Deadly addictive. I mourn the fact that currently my Advocaat is in my fridge in the Bay Area, and I am on a business trip in Dallas.
There will be another batch of this, although it's more of a fall/winter drink than a summer one. And I will use brandy instead of vodka as the spirit.

Also, time came to strain and filter the fresh mint infusion version of my homemade Creme de Menthe trials.

I was a bit disturbed by the color. It had taken on a deep greenish gold color that did not lessen with filtering. The extract itself smelled mostly of alcohol, with some mint and some....vegetable smell. The vegetable smell and color makes me worry a bit. But since the commercial mint extract version I made was clear, I think that making this version green Creme de Menthe was the correct thing to do. I added green food coloring to a simple syrup batch, and added this to the infusion. Now this needs to mellow for a while. Then I'll taste test vs. the extract one. I also made a small bit of half-and-half (given that both batches didn't quite fit into their bottles).

Speaking of bottles, if you need some neat ones on the cheap, check out American Science and Surplus. They have decorative bottles, lab glass, and corks for topless bottles you might already have. I bought a variety of sizes and types. All I can say is make sure you match the collective volume of your bottles to the volume of your liqueurs--I think I way under-ordered.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cuban Cocktail No. 1 and Daiquiri

The next drink after the Cuba Libre is the Cuban Cocktail No. 1. It contains rum, lime, and sugar.

Wait a minute, isn't that a Daiquiri? And there is a recipe for Daiquiri on the same page! The only difference were proportions.

So I decided to try an experiment and make both.

The appearance is about the same for both. I put a lime spiral in the Cuban, and a wheel on the Daiquiri to tell them apart.

Cuban Cocktail No. 1          Daiquiri
.5 oz lime juice               1 oz lime juice               
.5 tsp simple syrup             1 tsp simple syrup         
2 oz light rum                1.5 oz light rum             

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

It turns out I didn't need the garnishes to tell them apart. The Cuban's predominant flavor was rum. The lime and sugar were just small notes, keeping the drink from being just a cold shot of rum. The Daiquiri's main flavor was lime; in fact, it was overly limey in my opinion, so I added a couple of dashes of simple syrup until it tasted right to me.

But the key think here is that although the ingredients are the same, the proportions make these two completely different drinks. The Daiquiri is to the Cuban Cocktail No. 1 like a margarita is to a martini. Both are good, just very different. I can't even tell you which I preferred, since I liked them both and found that I couldn't really make a comparison. However, I did find myself drinking the Cuban first.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cuba Libre and Dark 'n' Stormy

Mr. Boston is coincidentally serving up some basics., in the C-D section of the rum chapter: Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Dark 'n' Stormy. I'll put the Daiquiri in another post and reserve this one for the rum and soda drinks.

First, the Cuba Libre. Otherwise known as a rum and coke, with lime. Come on, you know what this tastes like. You've had a ton of these in college when the only things on the counter were some off-brand rum in a plastic bottle and some Store 24 cola-flavored beverage.

Still, there's a reason why these are popular. Refreshing and drinkable. Goes with chips and salsa pretty well.

.5 oz lime juice
2 oz light rum (Bacardi silver)
Cola (Safeway Select Diet Cola. )

Combine ingredients in a tall glass with ice.

The Dark 'n' Stormy is a more unique flavor, and I believe I posted about it before but can't find that post now. I did use a very gingery ginger ale, Reed's. You can find it at Whole Foods. I suggest using the yellow label. The red label stuff is so very gingery that it overpowers the drink.

This drink is great because it is easy to make and the ingredients are often on hand.

2 oz dark rum (Gosling's Black Seal)
4 oz ginger ale (Reed's)

Combine in a highball glass over ice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


You know how dictionaries put fake words in them to catch copyright-infringers? I think the Creole is a fake drink made by the Mr. Boston's legal department. No one in their right mind would ever think of this, let alone try it and decide that the result was worth writing down for posterity.

I've been dreading it for a while. I couldn't skip it on the basis that the ingredients were too unusual to buy a whole bottle of, or that it was too difficult to make. So I screwed up my courage and mixed it up. Who knows? Maybe it would be good. Like gazpacho or something.

Anyway, for your horror and amusement, here is the recipe:
1.5 oz Light rum (Bacardi)
Dash Tabasco (alright, getting weird here, but not unheard of)
1 tsp lemon juice
1.5 oz Beef bouillon (That's right, it said beef bouillion BEEF. In a DRINK. Oh, and it was Herb Ox bouillon, if you must know.)
Salt and pepper to taste. ("To taste." The most ironic two words in the entire book.)

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass.

It's not like gazpacho. It's like spicy, sour, and salty beef soup, served ice cold. I tried more "salt and pepper to taste". I tried more lemon. I tried having it with dry crackers to make me really thirsty. I tried it with strong cheese. No dice; I gave up after about ten courageous sips.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Cream Puff (and Ramos Gin Fizz)

Back to the Mr. Boston's journey, it's time for the Cream Puff.

Now that's a tough-sounding drink.

Actually, this is kind of what I expected the Cherry Rum to be like. This drink is slightly sweetened alcoholic milk. The key here is to drink it so as to get an alcoholic milk mustache. Then go find your significant other and ask, "Got rum?"

2 oz light rum (Bacardi Silver)
1 oz light cream
.5 tsp simple syrup
Club soda

Shake rum, cream, and simple syrup with ice and strain into a chilled highball (oops, I used and old fashioned) glass over two ice cubes. Why specifically two? Fill with club soda and stir.

Now, if what you want is a frothy creamy drink, I'd recommend instead a Ramos Gin Fizz. Julian had one of these in a restaurant bar and insisted that I make him one sometime. This Sunday afternoon he came by, and I happened to have two fresh egg whites leftover from my batch of Advocaat. I also had a few ounces of gin leftover in a large bottle from the thyme-infused gin recipe I'd just made. I also had an opened container of cream from the Cream Puff. Obviously, fate was trying to tell us something.

1.5 oz gin (Gordon's London dry gin)
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz lime juice
2 Tbsp cream
1 egg white
1 Tbsp simple syrup
3-4 dashes Orange Flower water (I had none, so I omitted this. I need to try it again after getting some)
.25 oz club soda
Combine all but the club soda in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for a good long time until foamy (one minute). A blender is also an option. Strain into a chilled wine glass and top with soda. Stir.

When I was pouring the cream into the shaker, I paused. I was afraid it would curdle from the acid, or at the very least, the citrus would clash with the dairy taste. I was so wrong. It was really, really good. Like an excellent key lime pie. Or lemon curd. The lemon and lime blend nicely with the gin to keep the drink from being insipid from the sugar and cream, and instead turn it into a flavorful, refreshing drink. Seriously, I loved this drink. Now I have to figure out what to do with all the egg yolks I'm going to have leftover.

Mixology Monday: Mint

This Mixology Monday is hosted by Kaiser Penguin, one of the most entertainingly named cocktail blogs out there.

First of all, I am reminded of a certain friend of mine C., who tells a story of the year that his household made a green Creme de Menthe-based concoction to fill the enormous gallon-sized hurricane glass that was the central fixture of their St. Patrick's Day party. Multiple straws were inserted into the glass to allow for group imbibing. C. was loathe to leave the glass full at the end of the party, so did his best to do the drink justice. It ended with him on the bathroom floor, exuding mint from every pore and moaning, "So...minty...sooooo... miiiinty..." It took him a couple of years to tolerate mint again. I guess that lesson didn't completely stick, since now he is a big fan of my mojitos.

I recently went on a liqueur-making binge. I wanted to make some Creme de Menthe, and so I decided to try two recipes. One is pretty quick, and uses mint extract. The other makes it's own extract from fresh mint, of which I have much. Too much, in fact. I dug up my mint this spring and replanted in a buried plastic tub. I'm still pulling up mint stragglers, so I'm never at a loss for fresh mint, and probably never will be.

So the basic recipe for the storebought extract-based: 1 cup simple syrup, 3 tsps mint extract (I used a peppermint and spearmint blend), 3 cups vodka. Shake and bottle, let age 2 weeks.

The fresh mint version is basically the same, except you make your own extract first by putting the mint and vodka together for a couple of weeks, then straining it out and adding the sugar. My mint is spearmint, so it will be sweeter. But based on a tip I read at this excellent liqueur site, I added a peppercorn to the mixture to sharpen the flavor. I'll post again once it's finished.

Now, my Creme de Menthe isn't quite "ripe" yet, but I decided to try it out anyway. I decided to make one with a cream base to balance any harshness. Luckily, CocktailDB has many excellent recipes. I picked a demure-sounding cocktail called Atlanta Belle.

1 oz Bourbon (Blanton's--it has a horsey on the stopper. It just seemed to fit.)
.75 oz Creme de Menthe (mine)
.75 oz Creme de Cacao (Potter's)
1 oz cream
Shake with ice and pour into a sour glass.

Well, it's pretty much what you'd expect. Minty and sweet. The mint was pretty harsh, but I think it was mellowed by the bourbon and cream enough. Also, it is strangely addictive. I kind of want another one. I think it's the mint. But I suppose I should be careful. I don't want to end up on my own bathroom floor with mint-flavored regrets.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cabinet Meeting #2: The good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

For the second Cabinet meeting, my friend Chris and I had the same idea: rye. We both wanted to taste rye against bourbon. The liquor stores have shelves and shelves of bourbon, but never more than 5 or 6 ryes, it seems. So he bought a bottle of Michter's, I bought a bottle of Old Overholt (on the recommendation of the good people at Beltramo's). Michter's is about $30/bottle, Old Overholt is $15. We decided to taste against Jim Beam as a standard bourbon comparison.

I did the pouring, so I knew which was which. The Michter's got the worst reviews from the others, although they may have been reacting to the slightly higher alcohol content. It was actually my favorite. Everyone agreed that they thought the Michter's was the bourbon. They liked Old Overholt best, and JB second. When I tasted blind myself, I couldn't tell which had a "rye" flavor, since they all tasted pretty different. I guess this means we'll just have to drink more ryes.

However, we did all agree that a Manhattan with orange bitters and rye was not the same as a bourbon Manhattan, and is a very excellent drink.

Cabinet Meeting #1: Cognac tasting

A group of us have semi-regular get togethers in order to cultivate some vices. Much like how when playing hooky to surf is a "board meeting", we decided that this will be a "cabinet meeting".

Our inaugural event was a cognac tasting. The spirits we had to taste were:
A. Claude Chatelier XO Cognac (~$20/bottle)
B. Remy Martin XO Cognac (~$100)
C. Duc du Loussac VSOP Armagnac (~$20)
D. Dartigalongue XO Armagnac (~$40)

We had brought tasting sheets and instructions, but most of the attendees found the actual process of writing down evaulations to be less fun than the process of tasting and talking about it. Which means that the notes I have to go from are incomplete, confusing, and pretty darn amusing. Some just gave numerical notes. So here I'll try to summarize what was legible on the sheets. In the future, however, we won't let paper get in the way of our drinking.

One interesting thing I learned here--apparently snifters are not the appropriate glass for a tasting, as it concentrates the nose too much. Who knew? I was instructed to provide champagne flutes instead. Luckily, due to IKEA and a tendency to throw large parties, I have more than enough champagne flutes on hand for any size tasting. I don't have any snifters. Sometimes things just work out.

Claude Chatelier XO Cognac
Color: fairly light, the second lightest of the bunch.
Nose: turpentine, grape. Many thought it was pretty harsh, but then again, it was the first one we sniffed.
Taste: dry, harsh; astringent, burning; hate hate hate hate hate.
This one rated lowest on average. After tasting them all in various combinations, however, I rated this one #2. I didn't mind the dryness of it, and found the flavor not complex, but good.

Remy Martin XO Cognac
Color-- medium caramel color.
Nose--Nutmeg, mild, musty, spicy
Taste--mild, less harsh, orgainic, peaty, smooth, bitter
Most rated this one first or second. I rated it #3, mostly because I found the flavor to be interesting, but not all that pleasant. However, the other night I had a glass of this with a cigar on the patio, and found it to be incredible.

Duc du Loussac VSOP Armagnac
Color: pale
Nose: mild, sweet, citrus
Taste: dry, weak, wussy, inoffensive
Most tasters, including myself, rated this one low based on its relative lack of flavor. It was my least favorite to sip, however, it probably would be a good ingredient to blend in a cocktail.

Dartigalongue XO Armagnac
Color: rich caramel, the darkest of the bunch
Nose: bright, sweet, mild, vanilla, multi-layered, yummy
Taste: sweet, spicy, complex, cocoa, easy, smooth
This one was a pleasure to drink, and was a favorite of all. I'll be sure to pick up a bottle the next time I stop by the liquor store.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Champagne, and Bitter Anise at The Slanted Door

My firend Julian is in town, which means I do a lot less drinking at home and a lot more drinking at restaurants and bars.

This weekend we had a wonderful dinner at Rubicon, where we of course started with champagne. They don't list their wine list on the website, so I can't tell you what it was, however! But it was light and refreshing and worked well with the amuse bouches. I suppose since I mentioned the restaurant I should mention that I ate the scallops with pork belly. They were cooked perfectly. The pork belly was good, but we had recently been to the Pig Dinner at Manresa and I was a bit overly pigged, so I mostly tolerated it.

Later we went to The Bubble Lounge, where we had a glass of Krug Grand Cuvee. This champagne was totally different that the one we had started dinner with. It was stong and complex, and perhaps the best tasting champagne I've had. It had a distinctive flavor that I interpreted as dark chocolate. Reading online tasting notes, it seems that most agree with a nutty, toasty, caramel taste.

Yesterday we had dinner at The Slanted Door, which is a very popular Vietnamese restaurant in the SF Ferry building. Upon perusing the cocktail menu, I decide to go for a "Bitter Anise", which sounds a lot like a Sazerac minus the whiskey.
The description: Pernod, Peychaud's bitters, ginger ale and muddled lemon served on the rocks.
Interestingly, the lemon was peeled, so none of the zest was in the drink. It was on the whole a pale orangey pink. The smell was overwhelmingly anise, but the taste was a good blend of anise, bitter, and citrus. However, I found the strength of the anise a bit palate-numbing. After I finished the drink, I experimented by nibbling a section of the muddled lemon, and found it quite tasty. This may have been because of the numbness, though. We decided that it wasn't an ideal pre-dinner drink, but rather would make an excellent summer afternoon one.