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Thursday
Feb242011

Mixology Monday: Some Like it Hot

This month's Mixology Monday is hosted by The Backyard Bartender, and the theme is Some Like it Hot. As Nancy writes in her promo post, "make anything you want to, as long as its served hot."

I was a bit confounded by this one, to be honest - hot cocktails are a bit outside of my comfort zone. The Ace has tried a number of hot cocktails at various wintertime parties the past several years, but none were big hits with partygoers. I personally love a good mulled wine, but generally I am left with a bowl three-quarters full of tepid booze at the end of my holiday gala. Sure, there's the possibility that I just plain suck at making cocktails - but people seemed to enjoy all of the chilled drinks on the menu just fine. So what the hell - I figured I'd just go for it and have some fun with this while I am at it. 

In reading some of David Wondrich's writing about late 19th- and early 20th-Century cocktails in his excellent book Imbibe!, many of America's hot cocktail recipes come from way back in it's mixology history. Unfortunately, many of these drinks don't translate all that well today. The Hot Toddy, for example, is a drink of spirit (pick one, but Islay malt scotch was a favorite in Jerry Thomas' day) plus citrus peel plus water plus hot iron out of the fire. Oh - and if you're not man enough you might add some sugar. I whipped up a Hot Toddy with Scotch the other day - just as research - and all that I can say is that this flavor profile has officially exited the American palate. Something along the lines of drinking hot bong water...

So where to go from here? I thought about the hot drinks that I have liked in the past. Most of them were comprised of rum, a sweetener and hot milk or butter. Something about the dairy seems to calm down the acidic burn that spirits tend to develop when served hot. It needed to be a sweeter rum - perhaps a demarara rum. And not many things go with demarara rum better than falernum and allspice dram. Then it dawned on me... Hot Tiki. Huzzah!!!

I dug into the Tiki archives and found a source of inspiration in Donn Beach's classic Hot Tiger's Milk recipe. The Tiger's Milk batter is pure genius - who doesn't love butter, honey and coconut? Just add some falernum for its herbal sweetness and allspice dram for its warmth and voila - you've got a drink! 

So for The Ace Saloon's maiden MxMo voyage, let's do a hot Tiki-inspired drink designed to leave your punch bowl empty at the end of the evening. Okay okay - so KISS released Heaven's on Fire well after they lost their makeup (why, oh why?) and after Ace's departure. But the name still works for this hot little number. 

Heaven's On Fire (a.k.a. Hot Ace's Milk)
Adapted from Don the Beachcomber' Hot Tiger's Milk cocktail - circa 1937 
Special thanks to Jeff Berry's fine book Sippin' Safari (2007) 

1 1/2 oz. El Dorado 5-year demarara rum
1/2 oz velvet falernum
1/4 oz. allspice dram
3 tsp. Donn's Tiger's Milk batter (see below)
5-6 oz. milk, brought to just below boil 

Place the milk in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until just below boiling (be careful not to overcook the milk and get those nasty milk curds on top of the drink). While the milk is heating, combine the rum, falernum and allspice dram and Tiger's Milk batter in a coffee mug. Pour the hot milk into the cup over the mixture, stir the drink to combine the ingredients and serve.

Donn's Tiger's Milk Batter
Also from Don the Beachcomber circa 1937 (thanks again Bum)

1/4 oz. (say 1/2 tbsp or a 1/4" slice from a stick) soft butter
1/4 oz. honey 
1 oz. Coco Lopez

Combine ingredients in a small bowl or ramekin.  Measure out for drinks.  Makes about 3 drinks. 

So there you have it - February 2011's Mixology Monday theme Some LIke it Hot. Special thanks to The Backyard Bartender for hosting this month. Be sure to check out her wrapup post to see what all the real mixologists come up with.  Enjoy and stay hot!

Sunday
Feb202011

Grapefruit Cocktail Extraordinaire: The Plantation

My current favorite bar is Comstock Saloon in San Francisco.  It's really an amazing place in the North Brach area of town.  You simply won't find a more professional set of barkeepers anywhere - led by the two chief mixologists, Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin.  Back in the day, both of these guys came from Absinthe on Hayes Street in San Francisco, and a couple years ago Jeff co-wrote a brilliant book called Art of the Bar which shows off his considerable talents behind the bar.  

Ooh - check out that green cocktail!The Art of the Bar has been in my Library for some time now, but recently I found myself digging through the tome looking for a grapefruit cocktail for Mrs. The Ace.  My wife, a well-documented grapefruit cocktail lover, was looking for something new to help her pass another rainy Bay Area winter evening.  Lo and behold, I found this thing of beauty that includes not only grapefruit but also is a fresh basil cocktail.  

This drink has a lovely, fresh taste to go with its brilliant green coloring. The basil and sugar make a nice, light pesto of sorts that go nicely with the citrus flavors of grapefruit and lime. And if you float some club soda on top you get a great little summertime cooler for your trouble. It's almost enough to make anyone forget that it's still cold and rainy outside. In just a few short weeks this drink will be much more useful as a harbinger of Spring.  

Plantation Cocktail
Adapted from Art of the Bar (2006) by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz

4-6 leaves fresh basil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 oz. Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz. Cointreau (or Combier)
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
Club soda (optional) 

Combine the basil and sugar in a mixing glass and muddle until the basil is liquified into something that looks like pesto.  Fill the mixing glass with ice. Add the gin, orange curacao and juices to the glass and shake well for 10-20 seconds until well-chilled. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled tall collins glass filled with ice. Top with a float of club soda for a summer cooler (optional). Garnish with a slice of grapefruit. 

Tuesday
Feb012011

Super Bowl Drinks - Round 2

So as I wrote about here, The Ace is giving you some Super Bowl-themed cocktail recipe ideass that you might want to try at your big game party this coming weekend. Given that Green Bay and Pittsburgh are both beer towns, this can be a little tough. My last post focused on Pousse Cafes for the two teams - which are basically colorful shooters for the event. Not exactly the most impressive drinks from a mixology perspective, however. This post attempts to give you some more interesting and tasty options for your soiree. Here goes...

Packer Paloma
Adapted from Boozehound (2010) by Jason Wilson 

3 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
2 oz. blanco (silver) tequila
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 3/4 oz. agave nectar (to taste)

Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2 full of ice. Add the grapefruit and lime juices, tequila and agave nectar to the shaker. Shake well and pour directly into a tall collins glass. Garnish with a slice of lime and a slice of grapefruit.

George Baker was a Packer fanThis an alliterative take on the classic Paloma cocktail - which is kind of a grapefruit margarita.  Grapefruit is a very good mixer with tequila, and this drink is very bright and refreshing. In fact, the Paloma is much more common in Mexico than is the veritable Margarita. It is also comprised of ingredients that you can squeeze and prepare in advance - allowing you to prepare this drink quickly at your party. 

I like to use white grapefruit in this drink (in fact I used fresh local oro blancos) - and I think the 3/4 oz. of agave nectar just offsets the bitter qualities of the white grapefruit. If you use ruby grapefruits then stick closer to the 1/2 oz. I also sometimes like to mix a little Cointreau or Combier into this drink.  

Oh yeah - and drinks on the house to patrons singing Una Paloma Blanca

Corn n' Steel
Adapted from recipe on back of John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum bottle

2 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap rum
1/2 oz. velvet falernum
Dash of Fee Brothers' aromatic bitters (recommended for its heavy cinnamon flavor)
1/2 lime
pineapple for garnish 

Combine the rum, falernum, bitters and the juice from the lime in a shaker with lots of ice and shake for at least 20 seconds to chill. Pour (including the ice) into a highball glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple on the rim of the glass.

Polamalu's secret to shiny hair... Velvet Falernum!This drink is really just a regular ol' Corn n' Oil - with pineapple garnish for flavor and to adapt the coloring in honor of the Steelers. The Corn n' Oil is also a great little drink, one that has enough sweet to make almost anyone happy.

And best of all the pineapple adds a some extra tropical flavor to help you stay warm on a chilly Super Bowl day.  

 

Mean Joe Greene's Pina Colada

1 1/2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. Coco Lopez
2 oz. pineapple juice
ice

Pour all ingredients into a blender with lots of ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve. Garnish with a cherry soaked in the tears of a Packer fan.  

Okay, okay - so this is just a Pina Colada. But it has black rum and yellow pineapple in it - and it may be the best money drink of all time. So serve it at your party - for cryin' out loud!

The Black & Gold Flip
From Scofflaw's Den website - from Mixology Monday LIV

2 ounces Kraken spiced rum
1 ounce Strega
1 whole egg
Put the ingredients in a glass without ice. Shake for 60-90 seconds to emulsify the egg. Add ice and shake again to thoroughly chill the drink. Strain into a chilled glass, top with some fresh grated nutmeg.

An interesting take on the classic flip recipe - SeanMike uses Kraken (which is very dark to the point of being black) and Strega (which is brilliant yellow) to make this drink. Of course, the black and gold are lost in the process of shaking the flip - but nevertheless this drink was a hit at MxMo a few weeks' back. The drink itself was all right - I have never been a fan of Kraken, but honestly the Strega actually kinda works with it. The biggest barrier for most people will be the spectre of the whole egg. But maybe you can trick people into watching the game while you make this drink for them. 

So there you have it - four cocktails that you can serve to people that you LIKE at a Super Bowl party this weekend. Best of luck, and may the Steelers cover the 2.5!!!

Sunday
Jan302011

Super Bowl Party Drinks - Round 1

The past couple of years The Ace has worked Super Bowl parties, making cocktails for a small group of family & friends. Last year, with New Orleans - one of the truly great cocktail cities in America - represented in the big game I decided to do team-themed cocktails for the first time. Sure, it was impossible to find a viable cocktail for Indianapolis - in the end I had to do a half-assed Boilermaker cocktail (which is really nothing more than a shot of whiskey and a beer). But hey - the New Orleans side of the ledger was outstanding (Sazerac, Vieux Carre and Ramos Gin Fizz were amongst the favorites) and obviously this good cocktail karma carried the day for the Saints on the field.  So why not do the same this year for the Packers-Steelers tilt?

Well as it turns out, there is a pretty good reason why not. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh are pretty much beer towns. Not to say that the denizens of these two fine cities won't have a shot of whiskey here and there - but the overarching drinking culture in these two towns revolves around beer. 

So what to do? Well, it was time to improvise. If I couldn't find cocktail favorites from the two cities, I figured that I would at least go for color combinations that could represent the teams. In some cases, this simply meant adapting a couple classics to capture the colors of the teams. But in other cases I broke down and made drinks using ingredients that The Ace would normally never allow to darken it's door. Don't worry folks, it will be obvious. 

So for those of you that are planning to host a Super Bowl Party this weekend, here are an assortment of cocktails that you can have some fun with for your party. Throughout the week I'll introduce a number of drinks that you can mix in alongside a rotation of legitimate party cocktails to get your party going this weekend!

Pousse Cafe a la Green Bay or Pittsburgh

Two Teams Shooting To Win It All This WeekendIf you are from France then you probably know the Pousse Cafe as a legitimate digestif that "pushes the coffee" after a meal. But if you are from the States then you most likely know it as that kinda cool-looking but thoroughly undrinkable shooter with all those layers of colored liqueurs from that lousy college bar that you still... errr... used to patronize. If you still have no idea what I am talking about, see at right. 

Well, chalk this down as one of those drinks that you pull out only for this kind of occasion. But these drinks are visual crowd-pleasers, and if made with certain ingredients they do not have to taste all that bad. Don't get me wrong - these drinks are never seeing the light of day at The Ace outside of this party. But they are kinda fun for just one day. 

Packer Pousse Cafe
Okay, Okay - I dreamed this up myself...

3/4 oz. Finest Call Banana Puree
3/4 oz. Midori melon liqueur

Pour the banana puree into a shot glass (there are actually pousse cafe glasses in France - go figure). Pour the Midori into a jigger, then hold a small bar spoon or baby spoon against the inside of the shot glass and just above the surface of the banana puree. Pour the Midori over the back of the spoon so that the spoon slows down the flow of the Midori enough to keep it from breaking the surface tension of the banana puree, thus keeping the Midori floating on top of the banana stuff. Serve.

Luckily for you, the banana puree has a specific gravity something like that of mercury - so it is very easy to float nearly anything on top of it (bowling balls, your barspoon, etc.). So this is a nice forgiving process even late into the evening. If you're feeling adventurous (or if your good taste won't allow you to pour Midori - good on you) you could try floating green chartreuse on top of yellow chartreuse - or possibly Strega. These will take more of a steady hand, however. Obviously, you will want to test these in advance and make sure that you pour the heavier spirit on the bottom and then float the lighter one on top. 

And now for the Steelers' version...

Pittsburgh Pousse Cafe
Yes, this one was my idea too

3/4 oz. Finest Call Banana Puree
3/4 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap Rum 

Pour the banana puree into a shot glass. Pour the rum into a jigger, then hold a small bar spoon or baby spoon against the inside of the shot glass and just above the surface of the banana puree. Pour the rum over the back of the spoon so that the spoon slows down the flow of the rum enough to keep it from breaking the surface tension of the banana puree, thus keeping the rum floating on top of the banana stuff. Serve.

This one actually tastes kinda good. The banana puree and the molasses of the blackstrap rum actually do pretty well together. 

Stay tuned later in the week. More team-themed drinks coming!

Tuesday
Jan252011

Bitter + Whiskey = Damned Good

It's been a long day - long week for that matter.  I could really use a drink...

Boulevardier - Hipstamatic StyleSo what drink do I reach for at the end of one of those days? For me, it needs to be something with a little kick - preferably something that will help me take that edge off from the day on my way to bed. But if that was the only criteria I'd hit myself in the mind with a shot of Everclear and fall asleep on the couch (not as glamorous as it sounds).

No, this drink can't just be the high-proof hottie at the prom - it needs to have a little European exchange student to it as well... you know, something a bit more interesting. Hmm... I can hear the ladies out there already.

Wow - so we've established that The Ace is still the emotional equivalent of a high schooler. Great... Is there a cocktail recipe coming any time soon? 

So the point of that vague lead-in is that on nights like tonight I really crave a strong cocktail with some pizzazz. It's the perfect night for one of my new favorite cocktails - yet another that I learned of from Jason Wilson's fine book Boozehound.  Here goes:

Boulevardier
From Boozehound by Jason Wilson (2010) 

1 1/2 oz. bourbon (I used Weller Special Reserve tonight, but I'd recommend something like Four Roses or even a rye like Rittenhouse 100)
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano D'Antica please)
1 oz. Campari (Or Gran Classico if you have it)
lemon peel for garnish 

Place an up glass in the freezer to chill. Fill a mixing glass at least 1/2 full with ice. Add the bourbon, vermouth and the Campari or Gran Classico to the glass and stir vigorusly for 30 seconds until the drink is cold. Strain into the chilled up glass and garnish with the lemon peel twist and serve. 

This is, simply put, a damned good drink. Mr. Wilson describes it as a Negroni - only better. You get the spicy flavor of the whiskey (at least you do if you don't use Weller bourbon) along with the bitter of the Campari or Gran Classico - offset with the reassuring sweetness of the vermouth. If the Manhattan grew up, stopped dating cheerleaders and married a girl from the big city then it would become a Boulevardier.  Or me... Whatever. Good night.