Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home Again!

Herself and I have returned from our long-awaited trip to Chicago. We had a wonderful time, and our friends Bryan and Sara were wonderful hosts! Thanks guys!

Head's still a bit thick from the soggy-end of this damnable cold, and several hours spent in the the timeless gloom that is modern air-travel. So no major reports tonight -- but I aim to post a few entries about our trip over the coming week. Needless to say, we ate and drank every chance we got, but we didn't have many budget-busting meals. Dinner at the Beard-nominated Publican was the culinary highlight of the trip, and we tossed back several good drinks in honor of the vacation gods.

More tomorrow & soon....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Continuing the Cocktail Kick: The Demeanor & The Scoff Law

Over the past weekend, Herself and I tried several cocktails we'd never had before.

First up: The Demeanor.

Gin is a favorite in our house, so we're always looking for new ways to enjoy it beyond the classic Martini. Herself was also looking for a recipe to use some of the creme de violette we have -- so far we have only made a variation on the Aviation with it. We're not big sweet Vermouth drinkers, either, but it's perfect in this cocktail:

The Demeanor (recipe from the Internet Cocktail Database)

1 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. creme de violette
1 dash orange bitters

stir in mixing glass with ice and strain
serve in a cocktail glass.

When first mixed, the drink resembles a generous pour of stump water, but don't let that fool you. Within moments, it clears up an turns a warm caramel color. It's a mighty good drink, mellow yet herb-y from the gin (we used Tanqueray 10). Definitely one we'll be adding to the repertoire!

Next: The Scoff Law

I was looking for a fun drink to make with whiskey and grenadine, and I found a recipe for the Scoff Law in Ted Haigh's Vintage Cocktails. I'm a big fan of a good whiskey sour, and this definitely falls into that flavor profile. Sweet whiskey, tart lemon, smoothing grenadine. And you gotta love the name!

The Scoff Law (recipe from Ted Haigh's Vintage Cocktails)

1 1/2 oz. rye
1 oz. dry vermouth
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. grenadine

shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
garnish with lemon peel.

I liked the drink, but I think I'll have to work on the proportions to get it just right for my palate. As mixed, it was a little too tart for me.

Overall, a very successful couple of experiments.
(And speaking of experiments, more Fernet-Branca drinks to come...)
demeanor - end

The Demeanor (left) and the Scoff Law. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Fernet

I'm playing with cocktails again, this time for an event my friend Chuck is 'hosting' online this month -- Mixology Monday!

The challenge is make a cocktail with an amaro (that's a 'bitter') liqueur as the star of the drink. Perennially difficult (but great for an over-full stomach) is Fernet-Branca. I'm determined to try and make something quaffable out of this stuff!

I started with a recipe provided by the good folks at the The Internet Cocktail Database (pretty much the first stop in any internet cocktail journey, I think) and found a whole bunch of recipes calling for Fernet-Branca. I decided to start with the basics.


The Fernet
(modified from the Cocktail Data Base's recipe found here)

1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
1 1/4 oz Fernet-Branca
1/2 Barspoon of simple brown syrup*
1 dash Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Bitters

Stir with Ice & strain into a cocktail glass.
garnish with a squeezed lemon peel on top

* a simple syrup made with brown sugar instead of the refined stuff. Quite tasty!
I used 1 cup water with 8 oz (dry) of brown sugar. Cooled and strained into a squeeze bottle. It'll keep for a while in the fridge, but put a spoonful of 100 proof vodka into it, and it will keep for a long time!

So how was the cocktail? I gotta admit, the first few sips didn't seem much different (or tastier) than a snort straight out of the Fernet-Branca bottle (Herself would like me to remind all of our potential guests that we never drink straight from any of our liquor bottles. Ever.). After a while, though, my palate warmed to the concoction and I began to appreciate the complexities of the stiff herbal bitterness of the Fernet-Branca and the mellow sweetness of the rye and sugar. The last few sips had a wonderful note of lemon from the peel (which had sunk straight to the bottom).

By the end, I was really enjoying this drink, but I don't think it's going to become a regular fave except as a kinder way to imbibe some F-B when the overindulged tummy troubles begin...

I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars. (It is a pretty drink, though!)