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Entries in Lemon (5)

Tuesday
Nov272012

Broken Saddle

I have long been a big fan of Pizzaiolo over in Oakland.  As I wrote about here, they were a big part of the reason that I got into cocktails back in the day.  They serve amazing food and drink at both their original location and at their sister spot, Boot & Shoe Service.  

Mrs. The Ace and I were at Pizzaiolo a few weeks back and we were both delighted with this little ditty from their current menu.  The fresh bite of the lemon is offset nicely by the smoky essence of the tequila and the bittersweet quality of the aperol & carpano.  And as usual the server was kind enough to jot down the proportions for me to dabble with at The Ace!

The Broken Saddle
Pizzaiolo Restaurant, Oakland, CA

1 oz. tequila blanco (or subsitute reposado if you like a little smokier flavor)
1/2 oz. aperol
1/2 oz. carpano d'antica
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice 
tonic (use Jack Rudy tonic syrup + sparkling water if at all possible - see below)

Mix all ingredients except tonic in cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into a tall collins glass over ice.  Top off glass with the tonic water and serve.  

Please, PLEASE try looking online or around your neighborhood to see if you can score a bottle of Jack Rudy tonic syrup for this (or any other) cocktail in the place of traditional tonic water.  You just pre-mix a simple ratio of syrup to sparkling water in advance so that you have a mixture to top off your drink when complete.  The Jack Rudy syrup combines the slightly bitter quality of quinine alongside a little bit of sugar and lemongrass and orange peel.  This stuff blows away your Mom and Dad's Schweppes tonic, folks...  

There you have it.  A complex little cocktail.  I recently served this drink at a party and it was a definite crowd-pleaser.    

A special thanks to the folks at Pizzaiolo for their willingness to talk cocktail shop with their patrons.  If you're in their neighborhood, stop by and check them out for yourself.  

Saturday
Jan152011

Three Rounds of Classic Whiskey Cocktails

Let's knock off a trio of classic cocktails from the 10-Bottle Bar list. These three hold a pretty special place in my heart. All three of these drinks entered my recipe rotation relatively early on in my cocktail travels - and each helped me grow to love the process of making (and drinking) cocktails.  

I also love these drinks because they each follow the classic cocktail formula of spirit, sugar and water plus flavor of choice. For all of the eccentric recipes and ingredients that bartenders out there may conjure up, cocktails generally follow a pretty simple pattern of ingredients. That said - despite all of their similarities each of these drinks are quite unique and each conjure up memories of different times of the year for me.  

  • The Whiskey Sour - with its lemony freshness and sweet finish - is a Spring/Summer drink for me.
  • The Mint Julep is straight Summertime.  Aside from the obvious Kentucky Derby references, this drink revels in its frosty nip and its minty freshness.  
  • The Sazerac is great all year long, but its warm flavors may be at their best in the Winter months.  

So lets get down to it - here are three whiskey drinks from the 10-Bottle Bar that every beginning mixologist should have in their rotation.  

Whiskey Sour

2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup or gomme syrup
1 egg white

Place an up glass in the freezer to chill. Place all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake for at least 30 seconds to emulsify the egg white**.  Add ice to the shaker and shake for another 10 seconds to thoroughly chill the drink. Strain into the chilled up glass and serve with a few dashes of Angostura bitters on top of the egg white head.

** Tip - crack the egg on the shaker glass and use the bottom half of the eggshell to retain the yolk while letting the white run over the edges and into your shaker.

This is a classic drink from the "sour" category of drinks (similar to a pisco sour). The sugar softens the strength of the whiskey a bit and the lemon adds a little brightness.  But the egg white is the star here - it adds a silky smoothness to the drink and makes this cocktail a sure-fire money drink for those who are somewhat whiskey-averse. But don't just take my word for it - here is a pretty solid profile on the drink

 

Mint Julep
Adapted from www.kentuckyderby.com

2 oz. bourbon
1 tbsp. simple syrup
8-10 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
Finely crushed ice
Pewter or silver julep cups (optional but highly recommended)

Fill (literally pack to the top) the pewter julep cup with crushed ice (see link for an ice crusher here). Place the mint leaves in a bowl or a glass with the simple syrup and muddle until the mint leaves have broken down and the oil from the leaves has spread into the syrup. Pour the minty syrup on top of the crushed ice in the cup.  Next pour the bourbon over the ice and minty syrup.  Add one more thin layer of crushed ice on top of the drink to cover what should be a slushy-looking whiskey/sugar/mint mixture. The sides of the pewter cup should be very frosty.  Poke the branch of the sprig of mint into the ice and serve.

Most people have the mental image of old ladies and young socialites drinking juleps at the Derby. Okay - so that's partially true. But the high whiskey concentration of this drink is burly enough to command your respect and to make it sufficiently macho for even the toughest of tough guys to order. And on a hot Summer day the frosty glass and super-chilled whiskey with mint is SO refreshing that you'll soon forget the heat!  Oh yeah, and once the ice melts a bit and dilutes the drink a bit the drink gets even better. 

Postnote on how NOT to make a Mint Julep: I happened across this link at Jeffrey Morganthaler's site tonight.  This is culturally relevant, folks - there are bars that actually serve this drink!  Mmmm - can I get one of those Mojitos with bourbon instead of rum?  Yeah, that Mint Julep thingy... the one with Rose's lime AND sugar AND sour mix AND Sprite.  I LOVE that one... And don't get me started about bars that substitute cleavage for cocktails.

Sazerac

2 oz. rye whiskey (bourbon will do as well and some also use VSOP cognac)
1 tsp. of simple syrup
Absinthe
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
lemon peel for garnish

Set an old-fashioned glass in the freezer to chill. Combine the whiskey, syrup and bitters in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for at least 30 seconds to thoroughly chill the drink. Remove the glass from the freezer and pour a few dashes of absinthe in the glass. Roll the absinthe around the glass to rinse the glass and discard the remainder of the absinthe.

Strain the chilled whiskey/syrup/bitters mixture into the old-fashioned glass, peel a lemon over the drink to ensure that the oils from the rind fall into the drink then toss the lemon peel into the drink (note that some purists toss the peel out). Serve neat. 

This is a classic New Orleans cocktail (in fact it seems that the Louisiana Senate has even dubbed the Sazerac as the official drink of New Orleans. This is a very simple drink in its ingredients, but not so in its preparation. There is little margin for error - as there is no egg white to smooth over any mistakes and there is no extra water (as in the mint julep) that can dilute the drink if you do not make it quite right. But once you get the hang of the preparation this drink has a serious payoff. The whiskey is strong and undiluted, with a lovely whiff of lemon oil floating on top of the drink and the ghost of absinthe running around in the drink's undercurrent.  

Note: I tried out my new bottle of Whistlepig rye on this recipe just to see how it worked in a Sazerac, and frankly I do not recommend this particular rye in this drink.  Whistlepig is a truly amazing rye whiskey and is simply devine on its own, but its spicy flavor with vanilla and floral notes do not quite work in this drink. Stick with Rittenhouse 100 rye or - as Jason Wilson recommends here - try a nice VSOP cognac for this drink.

These three drinks start to hint at the importance of preparation and serving style in mixology.  None of these drinks require a special syrup or the preparation of an unusual potion in advance.  What they do require, however, is attention to detail to ensure that the drink is served at the right temperature with the right delivery of the flavors.  This is what really sucked me into the mixology game - the connection to well-prepared foods and the sneaky difficulty in pulling off the preparation just right to make the result taste better than the sum of the parts.  Perhaps you will find some enjoyment in this too!

Sunday
Jan092011

The Aviation

I haven't posted a 10-Bottle Bar recipe in a while, so I thought I'd go with one of the drinks that got me into mixology back a few years ago.  

This was back in 2007 when spirits like Creme De Violette were just hitting the US market and the SF Chronicle was starting to write more words about the great cocktail that could be made with these spirits. As it happened, I had just read a piece profiling Creme De Violette and Pimento Dram (both of which had just been imported to the States for the first time in many years by Haus Alpenz) and the many great cocktails that one could make with these spirits. The star of the article was the Aviation, and as it happened I walked into Pizzaiolo in Oakland that same evening and found - gasp- an Aviation on the menu! Naturally I ordered one (or was it two?) and the first incantation of The Ace Saloon was incorporated the next day with my purchase of a bottle each of Maraschino and Creme De Violette.  

But enough of my not-all-that-interesting Genesis story.  Lets talk about the Aviation. So here's the recipe.

The Aviation
Adapted by Gary Regan from Hugo Ensslin's Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916)

1 1/2 oz. dry gin (I use No. 209 or Plymouth)
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 oz. Creme De Violette (Rothman & Winter) 

Place an up glass in the freezer to chill.  Combine all liquids in a shaker with LOTS of ice and shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds (the side of your metal shaker ought to be coated with a layer of frost).  Strain the drink into your now frosted up glass and garnish with a brandy-soaked marasca cherry.  

It's interesting - my personal tastes have moved toward the brown spirits (whiskey, rum, brandy) so I hadn't made this drink in quite a while. But as I whipped one up (and drank it, of course) for this post all of those same emotions that I felt back in 2007 came rushing back again. The tartness of the lemon against the floral flavors of the gin is refreshing...  The alchemy of the lemon and the Maraschino adds an almost grainy texture to the gin... And that translucent grey-purple color!!! This is a damn good drink.

For those of you wondering where the Creme De Violette is on the 10-Bottle Bar - it isn't.  As it happens, Gary Regan actually adapted this cocktail recipe first with just the gin, lemon and maraschino back in 2005 when Creme De Violette was not yet widely available in the States.  This version is still quite tasty - though it loses the floral quality and the purple color of the Violette. It wasn't until Haus Alpenz began importing Creme De Violette sometime around 2007 that Mr. Regan adapted his recipe once again for the Violette, thereby taking this drink - in his words - "to the moon."  

Saturday
Jan012011

Three for Brunch Please

So I am headed off tomorrow morning for a little New Year's brunch at some friends' house, and Mrs. The Ace signed me up for brunch cocktails for the event. From a mixology perspective, weekend brunches can be very tough events for mixing cocktails. You normally get a lot of folks that don't prefer to tipple on some combination of the following occasions:

  1. Ever;
  2. Before noontime; or
  3. While their kids are running around the joint looking for steep staircases and/or sharp objects.

So The Ace keeps it simple at brunches. Money drinks only, folks. For tomorrow's little soiree I have picked three of my favorites. The process of prepping the drinks tonight inspired me - so here goes. This is what's on my brunch menu tomorrow AM. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood...

 

Ramos Gin Fizz
Adapted from Henry Ramos recipe at New Orleans' Meyer's Restaurant (1880s)

2 oz. Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 egg white
1 oz. simple syrup or gum arabic
3 dashes orange flower water
2 drops vanilla extract
club soda
Orange Bitters

Pour all ingredients except for club soda and bitters into a shaker WITHOUT ICE for at least 30-60 seconds - long enough to emulsify the egg white into a nice frothy head. Then add ice and shake for another 60 seconds until the drink is extremely cold and frothy.  

Pour the contents of the shaker through a fine strainer into a tall collins glass.  Use a barspoon to stir the drink while pouring approximately 1 inch of club soda over top of the drink. The club soda will turn the frothy head of the drink into something like a meringue topping for the drink.  Finish the drink with a couple drops of the orange bitters.  

Okay - this drink takes a fair bit of work to prepare.  And the cream and the egg white might scare off one or two of you. But this drink is absolutely worth the time and effort. This is like cocktail comfort food - think orange dreamsicle for adults. Truly an incredible drink. The Ace uses this in all instances when the brunch companion claims that they "don't really like cocktails."   

 

St. Germain Cocktail
St. Germain's website www.stgermain.fr  

2 oz. white wine (something simple and inexpensive will do just fine here) 
2 oz. club soda
1 1/2 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

Pour the wine and St. Germain into a tall collins glass with 3 perfect ice cubes.  Use a bar spoon to stir the drink as you pour the club soda over the top of the drink.  Serve

This cocktail is not unusual nor is it particularly creative mixology.  It is, after all, straight off the distributor's promotional materials.  But that doesn't change the fact that this drink is perfect for this situation.  It is light, bright and bubbly (just like the The Ace!) and just tastes damned good.  

 

Celery Mary
Adapted from Scott Beattie's Artisanal Cocktails (2008)

1 1/2 oz. vodka (I use Hangar One Chipotle)
2 oz.  heirloom tomato juice (see recipe below)
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. Apple Farm apple balsamic vinegar
celery salt
kosher salt
black pepper 
15 pickled celery root matchsticks (see below)
13 young celery leaves

Combine the vodka, juices, vinegar, celery salt & pepper in a shaker and stir well. Add the celery root shoestrings and 10 of the celery leaves, fill the shaker with ice and shake. Pour the contents into a tall collins glass and garnish with the remaining celery leaves to serve. 

Heirloom Tomato Juice
Makes about 2.5 cups - enough for 10 cocktails

1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Core the tomatoes and place them in a blender with the salt.  Puree until smooth, then strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer.  Press the puree through the strainer to get as much juice as possible.  

Note: Yes, I live in locavore Northern California.  And of course I am cheating - this is New Year's Day and I am using out-of-season heirloom tomatoes shipped in from god-knows-where.  My most sincere apologies.  This drink really is better with in-season tomatoes. I am working through my guilt one day at a time.  

Celery Root Matchsticks
Makes 150 pieces - enough for about 10 cocktails

1 pound celery root
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon dill seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fenugreek
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups white wine vinegar
2 cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried chili pepper

Trim the outside edges of the celery root into the shape of a cube.  Slice the cube into 1/8 inch thick squares, then slice the squares into matchstick-size pieces.  Set aside. 

Heat a stainless steel saute pan over medium heat.  Add the fennel, dill, fenugreek and coriander to the hot pan and shake the pan to evenly distribute the seeds over the surface of the pan.  Let the seeds rest over the heat until little wisps of smoke begin to rise out of the seeds (just a few seconds).  Remove the pan from heat and toss the spices in the pan a few times and set aside.  

Combine the sugar and vinegar in a stainless steel pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the toasted spice seeds and the cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and chili pepper, then remove from heat.   

Place the celery root matchsticks into an airtight container along with the still-hot pickling juice and cool the mixture in the refrigerator before using.  The pickled matchsticks will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.  

So again this is a pretty labor-intensive drink. But this is not your parents' bloody mary, folks. It's fresh and spicy (especially if you use the Hangar One Chipotle vodka), a little sweet with a yummy vinegar kick.  I tend to make a few batches of the celery sticks at once - pickled vegetables have a very half life in the fridge.  And the tomato juice is easy to whip up the night before.

Notes on preparation: 

  • The star of this drink is the apple balsamic vinegar.  It is truly beautiful stuff. It adds a little sweetness and a nice sharp acidity to the drink. Here's the website from the folks at Philo Apple Farm to order it - and YES they deliver.  
  • Celery leaves can be a little tricky to find, but they are essential to the drink. They give off a delicious celery aroma and a little grassy flavor - without any of the unpleasant stringy texture of actual celery. I usually get them at Berkeley Bowl - but when in a pinch I usually can find celery stalks at the big chain grocery stores with the leaves still attached.     
Monday
Dec272010

Reviving an Old Corpse

As you can see from my library page, I am a big fan of pre-Prohibition cocktails. Many of the books that I have used to develop my love of libations are from the era, so many of the cocktails from that era really speak to me.

Ah, and what a lovely corpse it is!One of the cocktails that has always intrigued me has been the Corpse Reviver No. 2. Different versions of the so-called Corpse Reviver cocktails began appearing in the cocktail world perhaps as far back as the 1800s, but I came across the Corpse Reviver No. 2 in Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book some years ago. The drink boasted a great combination of flavors - gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice and Kina Lillet.

At first glance this recipe looked quite easy to make. After all - I had plenty of gin, orange curacao and lemon on hand. And in a past life Mrs. The Ace lived in France and habitually keeps a bottle of Lillet Blanc in the fridge. I ran over to the liquor cabinet to whip up my supposed newest masterpiece.

The only problem - Harry Craddock's original recipe calls for Kina Lillet, not Lillet Blanc.  As you can read on this page, Kina Liillet and Lillet Blanc are unfortunately very different ingedients (for those too impatient to click through - Lillet Blanc is what was left once quinine was removed from Kina Lillet's recipe in the 1980s to suit modern American tastes). With Lillet Blanc, this is still a nice cocktail.  But the drink did still leave me a bit empty.  I filed it away in The Ace's vault as a "try again some other day" recipe.  

Fast forward to this past month, when I found a bottle of Cocchi Americano on the shelves at my local liquor store.  I had just read about Cocchi Americano in Jason Wilson's fine new book Boozehound so you can imagine my excitement to break out a Corpse Reviver once again with this new toy!  

Corpse Reviver No. 2
Adapted from Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (1930)

3/4 oz. gin
3/4 oz. Combier (or other orange-flavored liqueur)
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz. Kina Lilllet (use Cocchi Americano)
Absinthe

Place a coupe glass or other up glass in the freezer to chill - give 5 minutes for the glass to frost over. Combine all ingredients (except the absinthe) in a shaker with lots of ice and shake for at least 10 seconds. Pour absinthe into the chilled up glass and roll the absinthe around the glass as a rinse, then throw out the excess absinthe. Strain the drink into the glass and serve.

As you may have guessed - given that I am writing this post - the Cocchi Americano absolutely knocks this cocktail out of the park!  It adds that slight bitterness to the drink that makes this little gin beauty a complex, rich cocktail to savor.  

So yes, consider the old corpse revived - and enjoy the results!  Keep in mind that the drink was designed and thus named by Mr. Craddock as a drink to be taken in the morning or "whenever steam and energy are needed." And of course no exercise in dragging Mr. Craddock's timeless quotes around like this is complete without the reminder that you must be careful: "Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse once again."