Issue No. 027 “Tails” from the Bookworm “The Sun Also Rises”

 


“One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever.

The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to the place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north;it whirleth about continually,and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea;yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come,thither they return again.”

emingway, the master of deep dark stories, war hero and legend as well as legendary drinker, Hemingway and his generation that endured the First World War and came out the other side  darker and disillusioned and  yet in some ways emancipated from the morals and traditions that their ancestors held so highly . The quote above from Ecclesiastes discusses our impermanence , the cycle of life-death-life, how everything that is returns to where it came from, it is also where the book gets it’s title from. WWI was the catalyst that made a good portion of the world examine this Zeitgeist, writers, painters, poets all wondering and exploring who are we, where did we come from, where are we going, a major theme in this story of the lost generation in The Sun Also Rises, who wander empty filling their time with partying, drinking, traveling , chasing after what they can’t have and  searching for the unknown to make them feel whole again , no-one exemplifies this more than the  main protagonist  Jake Barnes.

In an alternate universe where the war had never happened, Jake would be considered a total stud, men want to be him and women want to be with him, but Hemingway decided to emasculate this poor chap who’s war scars are not only mental but physical too. After suffering a serious injury he is left impotent ( I think the one thing men fear most ) its almost cruel that papa doled out such a heavy burden on this poor chap, there’s not much else for him to do but to drink and hide himself in a glass of beer, brandy ,absinthe, wine and back to beer again, yes this guy knew how to hold his drink , and sometimes not, in every way but one the true man’s man . The other major theme for Jake’s character is his relationship with Miss emancipation herself Lady Brett Ashley, she nursed him through his war wounds then tears his heart to shreds all through the book , all because she can’t live a life without S.E.X.

So in following Jake through the book I decided to concoct drinks for him through various points in the story, there’s a lot of travel and back and forth, Paris, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Madrid and stop offs in between, Hemingway had a deep affection for Spain, along with fellow journalist Martha Gelhorn   he covered the conflict of the Spanish civil war and  became  an aficionado of bullfighting, the flavors of Spain are my starting points in most of the drinks, from the saffron and fennel in Paella,  cherries and chocolate in Basque country , to Jamon and sherry in Jerez.

Hotel Crillon, Paris

Its Five O’clock and I’m waiting for Brett, but she’s not here,  I fill my  time writing letters,  they’re not very good letters but they’re on Crillon stationary so I hope that’ll make them better. At a quarter to six Brett still has not shown up so I head down to the bar to see George the bar-man, he fixes me the popular drink of the day a Jack Rose, I take a sip and give a deep sigh , where could she be?

The classic Jack Rose is made from applejack brandy, grenadine and lemon, simple and tasty enough but what if we tweaked the ingredients and gave it some complexity and Jake Barnes something else to think about other than the heart stomping “Lady” Brett.

Le Jacqueminot

1 1/2 oz Lustau Spanish Brandy de Jerez infused with black peppercorns for a couple of days ( 1/4 cup black peppercorns to 1 750ml bottle brandy)

1 oz Spanish rioja/tempranillo

3/4 oz  pomegranite grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

3/4 oz lime juice

2 dashes peychauds bitters

two drops rosewater

1 drop vanilla

1/2 oz egg white

 fresh ground black pepper

strawberry lambic ale for finishing

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything but the ground black pepper and lambic ale into your shaking tin with 4 ice cubes, shake for about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass, top with splash of lambic ale and finish with ground black pepper

 

Fishing in Burguete

It was a long walk and the country was very fine, but we were tired when we came down the steep road that led out of the wooded hills and into the valley of the Rio del la Fabrica. The road came out from the shadow of the woods into the hot sun. Ahead was a river valley.Beyond the river was a steep hill.There was a field of buckwheat on the hill. We saw a white house under some trees on the hillside.It was very hot and we stopped under some trees beside a dam that crossed the river. Bill put the pack against one of the trees and we jointed up the rods, put on the reels, tied on leaders and got ready to fish…..this is thirsty work and we hadn’t even begun!

G&T

A classic refreshing drink to partake in when you’re hot and parched is the Gin & Tonic, a drink that the Spanish have come to claim as one of their national drinks, sipped at lunch with boquadillos or at the beginning of a late late dinner. I’ve been playing with flavoring tonic water for a while, my most successful were a red pepper tonic where I used red pepper juice instead of water  or my other favorite a pinch of saffron that gives that golden hit of yellow and intense, complex flavor.

One of the quintessential  seafood dishes  of Spain is Paella, rice flavored with saffron and fennel that is baked in skillets with a selection of seafood, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari or whatever came fresh from the water that day, peppers and pimenton also  imbue this dish with fruity and earthy flavors.

Tie me up, Tie me down

1 1/2 oz Bols genever gin ( maltier than a regular gin)

1/4 oz kubler absinthe

3/4 oz genepy

3/4 oz dolin or martini blanc vermouth

3/4 oz white verjus

for the saffron tonic

if you want to be adventurous you can make your own tonic syrup but you have to be very careful about the amounts of cinchona bark you put into the mixture, too much can make a person quite sick.

if you feel like cheating as I very often do, ( not from laziness more that I’m incredibly impatient) try this hack…

1 liter bottle tonic water

4-5 strands saffron

add saffron strands to  tonic water and tighten bottle so you limit the bass that escapes, if you’re luck enough to have a CO2 tank at home and the carbonating apparatus that goes along with it then you don’t have to worry, and good for you! The Saffron infuses fast so don’t worry too much about time on this one

 

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

For the drink

Build your ingredients into a mixing glass, add 5-6 ice cubes and stir for twenty seconds or so. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice cube of choice, top off with the saffron tonic, and garnish with a long fennel frond and if in season some halved pea pods and a pea tendril make this drink really super pretty as well as tasty.

Fiesta of San Fermin, Bullfights and  Pamplona…

“I leaned over the wall and tried to see into the cage. It was dark. Someone rapped on the cage with an iron bar. Inside something seemed to explode. the bull, striking into the wood from side to side with his horns, made a great noise. Then I saw a dark muzzle and the shadow of horns, and then, with a clattering on the wood in the hollow box, the bull charged and came out into the corral, skidding with his forefeet in the straw as he stopped, his head up, the great hump of muscle on his neck swollen tight, his body muscles quivering as he looked up at the crowd on the stone walls. The two steers backed away against the wall, their heads sunken, their eyes watching the bull.

“My god isn’t he beautiful?” Brett said

Bloody Mary/Bloody Bull

The Bloody Bull is a drink similar to a Bloody Mary but has the addition of  beef stock, the Bloody Mary ( or Bucket of Blood as it was first called)has its origins in early 19th century Paris made  in Harry’s Bar ,an American bar that had been shipped over to Paris and reassembled just in time to rehydrate all those thirsty expats who had decamped in the city around the time of Prohibition, also just after the Russian Revolution happened, Paris was flooded with that odorless , clear spirit called Vodka, that the bartender at Harry’s began mixing with tomato juice , salt, pepper and other seasonings. It  quickly caught on  with the American contingency as a hangover cure and was renamed sometime in the Forties as the Bloody Mary.

Rather than use beef stock to flavor my version I used a ham bone and some bacon fat, that I sealed in a vacuum bag with vodka and allowed gentle heat to do the rest. I’m also quite obsessed right now with making a clear drink that looks like water but packs a punch of flavors so instead of tomato juice I made tomato water, made by hanging pureed tomatoes in muslin over a container where the tomato water drips into, all the flavor of sweet ripe tomatoes without the chunky bits.

Jamon , Jamon 

2 oz smoked ham and  bacon fat washed vodka

2 oz  tomato water

1 oz fino sherry

1 oz white verjus

good 2 pinches of maldon smoked salt

1 pinch ras el hanout

1 pinch pimenton espellete

3 dashes celery bitters

baby radish with leaves to garnish

For the tomato water

blitz 15-20 roma tomatoes in a vitamix, pour liquid tomatoes into a heavy bottomed pan and set on a medium heat until it starts to simmer and the pulp rises to the top of your pot. whilst this is happening line a  large chinoise strainer  with an even larger coffee filter and place over a pot or large pitcher. Once the tomato liquid has bubbled up, pour it into the chinoise strainer and allow the tomato water to drip through without agitating it. The yield should be about 2 quarts, store ing the fridge it will last a couple of days.

For the Jamon vodka

for those of you without fancy gadgets here’s a hack to achieve similar result to sous vide….

1 liter bottle vodka

1 ham bone ( your local butcher can provide and also chop in half if needed)

1 tablespoon smoked bacon fat ( a good excuse to make BLT’s, save the bacon fat after cooking)

1 large ziplock bag

1  ice cooler ( igloo will do,  keeps ice cold but also hot things hot due to its insulation)

a long cooking thermometer

Add your vodka, ham bone and bacon fat to the ziplock bag, zip up the bag until almost closed, leave a small opening where you can squeeze the air in the bag out, if you don’t the bag will not sink the air keeping it afloat and the vodka  will not infuse fully) once the air is removed seal the bag fully. To your igloo ice chest add  60 degree celsius hot water, insert thermometer and bag of vodka/ham. Close lid on chest, I’ve gone so far as to place my igloo in a box surrounded by a blanket ( no I did not sing it a lullaby ) The water temp can go down as far as 54 degrees but you will need to top it off with hot water once it starts to dip below 55, so have a kettle of hot water ready to go.  Let the bag sit for a couple of hours, then remove and allow contents to cool off before straining out fat and ham bits. Pour vodka into a sealable container , put on lid and store in fridge for 3-4 hours until fat has frozen solid and is easy to scoop off. Strain vodka again then store in airtight container back in the fridge till ready to be used.

 

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

For the drink

add all ingredients to a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes, stir for about twenty seconds , strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice , garnish with a pickled or non pickled radish and a spindle more of smoked salt and pimenton. You can also garnish with pickled peppers or baby tomatoes, the choice is yours.

 

After Fiesta and back to Bayonne

“It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company. Afterward I had coffee. The waiter recommended a Basque liqueur called Izzarra. he brought in the bottle and poured a liqueur glass full. he said Iazzarra was made of the flowers of the Pyrenees. The veritable flowers of the Pyrenees. It looked like hair oil and smelled like Italian Strega. I told him to take the flowers of the Pyrenees away and bring me a vieux marc. The marc was good. I had a second one after the coffee

Bayonne , a town that straddles the Pyrenees on one side of it Gascogny on the other  the Basque region,( oh, no you thought I meant Bayonne NJ famous for its drugs, prostitution and mob influences as well as for producing Shaquille O’Neil) no the original French Bayonne is famous for its chocolate making, wine production and scenic vistas and is slightly more civilized. Vieux marc is a dessert brandy made from grape pomace similar to grappa, a great accompaniment to the classic Basque dessert of cherries, kind of like a cherry soup , officially known as Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin, mmm, yes long isn’t it? Imagine trying to say that after making friends with  a bottle of wine and a couple of brandies. This cherry soup served with a dollop of fresh cream to balance out the sweet tartness of the fruit, all you need is chocolate curls and you’d have a liquid Black Forest cake…so I got to thinking

For my cherry soup I kinda sorta  made a version of a Ramos Fizz  crossed with an egg cream, but with a cherry shrub and Maraschino instead of lemon and orange flower water, and chocolate chili bitters with a dusting of chocolate powder atop, and to give it some base a touch of dry oloroso  and topped off with soda.

 

Matador

1 1/2 oz bourbon

1 oz cherry shrub

1 oz dry oloroso sherry

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 lemon

1/2  oz cream

1 oz egg white

3 dashes chocolate chilli bitters

1-2 oz soda water

For the cherry shrub

pit about a pound of cherries and let them cold macerate with 1 cup of sugar in the fridge for a couple of days, the juice should be drawn out of the cherries , then add 1 cup of banyuls vinegar, stir and put back into the fridge to allow, fruit, sugar and vinegar to get on first name terms. Leave for further 2 days. When finished strain liquid through a cheesecloth and chinoise strainer, taste, you are looking for a balance between perfect tartness and a little sweet, you can add sugar or vinegar as needed but remember you don’t want to wash out the cherry flavor.

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except the cream and cola to your boston shaker with 2-3 ice cubes, whip shake to froth up the egg for about 40-50 seconds. Add cream and gently stir in, pour into a chilled collins glass  and top off with coca cola, dust on top a pinch of chocolate powder. Garnish with fresh  or homemade maraschino cherries.

 

Madrid, to pick up the pieces of Lady Brett 

The Norte station in Madrid is the end if the line. All trains finish there. they don’t go on anywhere. Outside were cabs and taxis and a line of hotel runners.It was like a country town. i took a taxi and we climbed up though the gardens by the empty palace and the unfinished church on the edge of the cliff, and on until we were in the high, hot modern town. the Taxi coasted down to Puerta del Sol and then through the traffic onto the Carrera  San Jeronimo. All the shops had their awnings down against the heat. The windows on the sunny side of the street were shuttered. The taxi stopped at the curb. I saw the sign HOTEL MONTANA on the second floor. The taxi driver carried the bags inside and left them by the elevator. I could not make the elevator work so I walked up. On the second floor up was a brass sign: HOTEL MONTANA. I rang and no-one came to the door. i rang again and a maid with a sullen face opened the door.

“Is Lady Ashley here?” I asked, I knew what was waiting, Brett would fall into my arms and I’d make her feel safe but she would never truly love me , it was pretty to think we could have had a damned good time!

To come to Jake’s aid on this hot summer day in Madrid , were I the maid opening the door I would be handing him a cold refreshing glass for his thirst and his woes, this drink below is based on  Ajo blanco or what is sometimes called a white gazpachio, that uses grapes , almonds and bread, instead of bread am using manzanilla sherry for a touch of nuttiness and depth , for the almond factor a delightful orgeat from the gents at Wilks & Wilson and then of course  crisp , sweet grapes with  dry Txakoli  as a spritz, its a sort of take on a Rebujito a couple of these and a plate full of pintxos and he’d forget all about that fickle lady he lost his heart to, at least for a moment !

 

Volver

2 1/2 oz good manzanilla sherry, Lustau is my current favorite

1 oz orgeat

1 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz amaretto

6 or so ripe green grapes, plus a small bunch for garnish. If you can get muscat grapes even better

2-3 lemon verbena leaves plus a sprig or two for garnish

1-2 oz Txakoli ( a sparkling dry white wine drank in regions of Spain as early as breakfast, I mean we have champagne brunches so why not eh)?

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

In your trusty Boston shaker muddle lightly  grapes and lemon verbena leaves with orgeat and lemon, add the rest of your ingredients plus 5-6 ice cubes. Shake for about 20 seconds then dump into a vessel of your choice. Top off with the  sparkling Txakoli , garnish with either a mini bunch of grapes or a few grape halves plus a lemon verbena sprig.

 

Next up….an ode to Autumn

Issue No.025 ” My Heart belongs to Daddy”

 

up, I know Miss Monroe is singing about her sugar daddy, she’ll gladly flirt but won’t lift her skirt for any laddy. The Daddy in question  here is my Pops who you may remember my mentioning in previous posts, Popsi’s name was  Iggy, Ignacy to be exact. He passed away from the big C on June 8th 2001, as you can imagine it utterly destroyed me, he was my hero, my light, my anchor , my all. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember him, I had dog tags made for me that I wear daily as a reminder of him worn close to my heart, I’m a sentimental fool but you see  like any little girl I think my Popsi was the best dad that walked the earth. Of course   there were times when he drove me absolutely bonkers like the day I came home from college looking for my cool ass beaten up leather motorcycle jacket only to discover he had cleaned out my closet of anything he thought was unladylike and pretty much burned all of it!!!?  Or the time he wouldn’t let  fourteen year old me hang out with the pot smoking boy of nineteen I was dating one summer so I sneaked out anyway and had the entire police force of my home town looking for me , I could handle my shit , I was a mature kid,  I knew when to say no   but to my Pops I was his baby that he needed to protect forever and ever amen till time ends and hell freezes over!  My ode this issue and for Father’s day is for  Iggy Mlynarczyk  , musician, day dreamer, soldier, life saver, father and best friend  .

We had a curious journey together the 33 years that I spent with him, filled with fairy tales  and make believe that helped me out of the darkest places when I was a kiddie. He taught me to follow my dreams and my heart as he had not been able to, to  be respectful, keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth closed until it was needed. My pops was a farm boy, one of nine kids being raised  in rural Poland  like so many other families   eking out an existence where they could,when the kids reached eleven or so they were sent out to work for other farmers to bring money back to the house, it was on one of these excursions  during WWII Popsi’s  sister who I’m named after was captured by the Gestapo, a petrified farmer trying to save his own kids  gave her away as a migrant gypsy, my dad saw the scene from the field he was working in and ran to her aid, he  begged them not to take her  knowing she was not strong enough to survive the ordeal instead he struck a deal and they took him instead  to a camp first in Poland then later to Germany where  he was forced to work digging ditches for burying bodies and farming the land.  During his time there he made friends with a German girl called Gisella who would sneak him food from her family table and books to read to teach him the German language. After  a few years of watching , waiting and building courage Pops hatched an escape plan  aided by his friend , so his story goes she helped him  and two others escape . Dad was just 17 , the other two were not as lucky as young Iggy, they were captured and shot as an example to the rest of the inmates, Pops journeyed on alone through a bitter winter  traveling on foot from Germany to France picking clothes and boots off dead soldiers and existing on frozen roots and other peoples throw aways.  One morning he found himself staring into Bakery  shop window, it was early enough that there were no people around except the baker who took pity on him and beckoned Pops in, so hungry he  stopped for a second not knowing if he would get turned in but that gnawing ache in his belly lead him forward through the door, the baker turned out to be one more of his guardian angels, he fed him, gave him clothes and a hot bath and a few days later he was picked up by  the French  resistance who transported him to an  RAF  hospital  close by . There he was enlisted in his Majesty’s service and  eventually he was sent to the UK  , Pops was taught to play the Piano and in his barracks and would play at the town hall dances in Lincolnshire where he shared more than one dance with a very young Miss Thatcher, it was also in that town that he had his heart broken by a young lass who’s own father forbade her to mix with a foreigner . In his early thirties he moved to a small town in Derbyshire ( home to Miss Austen’s Darcy) where he met and married  my mum, not a long union but one that produced two very different kids, my brother first then in 67 myself . According to family stories Pops suffered a serious mental breakdown, not surprisingly the trauma of his earlier life finally caught up with him, giving him night terrors and turning him into a ghost, he was further tormented by the barbarian “Doctors” of that time and given the One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest treatment, “healing” by electrocution! I won’t go into the details of how or why my parents divorced, they did when I was about five, it was a nasty experience all around, fights and attempted suicides  turned into a year of custody battles and tugs of war, it was also the first time I ran away from home, I think I was maybe six. Iggy was eventually granted custody of his two willful children and devoted   the rest of his years raising two kids as a single parent, we were his everything and though he had a funny way of showing it  his love was never ending, he never said I love you, or gave us hugs ( not until I was older and forced him into expressing himself) but there were many nights he would sit by my bed side stroking my hair and singing  a Polish “Lulka” or lullaby to get me to sleep.

Pops was never much of a talker, he was however an amazing story teller and  would on occasion after a wee nip of his favorite dram spill his memories for me as a  reminder to be grateful for the life I was given, no wars to fight , food on the table, a roof over my head and a good education were pretty much all he said I needed, boyfriends and rock music were most definitely not part of his prescription .  Since we’re talking booze you know there has to be a link here in my story to some sort of liquid refreshment, yes indeed, the wee nip of Iggy’s truth serum was the Mother of all libations uisige beatha ,  the water of life, fire water whatever you want to call it, commonly known as  Whisky, to be exact that peaty, stinky green bottled monster,  Laphroaig. My first taste came   somewhere back in the early eighties when I was going through my teenage angst years, the bottle was only ever brought out on special occasions and was kept in Iggy’s not so secret, secret stash hole, I would watch my dad sip his glass of amber nectar watching with awe as his face brightened and his smile would erupt, I felt for sure it would cure my blues so I poured myself a glass and retreated to my red painted womb of a bedroom, lighting a clove cigarette and whisky in hand  I thought I was super sophisticated, that is until I choked on the first sip of Laphroaig the rest being spilled on the floor. Times have certainly changed, Islay scotch whisky is now one my preferred tipples, over the years I have learned to love that smoky , briny flavor picked up by smoking the barley over peat moss fires before going off to be distilled .

There’s nothing  unusual about the drinks that follow , but I think the old man would have enjoyed one or two whilst waiting for the horse he backed to win or relaxing reading one of his Louis Lamour Western novels or maybe comforting his troubled memories,   his tastes were pretty simple and classic, Chopin played the theme song to his life, Maggie Thatcher was his dream girl,  when he could scrape his pennies together  meat and two veg were his idea of fine dining, every day I saw him he wore a jacket and tie, pressed pants and shined shoes, at times his socks may have been full of holes but he presented as the perfect put together gent, both inside and out .

Islay be seeing you

1 1/2 oz Laproaig 10

1/2 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 honey to hot water)

1/2 oz ginger syrup ( fresh ginger juiced and added to a simple syrup)

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz Yuzu juice

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything into your trusty Boston shaker and add 5 ice cubes, this drink needs a good shaking and the flavors of both the scotch and rum stand up to being well whipped around so shake for about 35 seconds until the drink is ice and chilly . Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with ice, garnish with one or more candies ginger cubes.

when to drink:  whilst watching the horse races  on the telly, as an aid to numb the pain of the local clergyman’s sunday visit, or just for the hell of it!

 

Peat-er & the Wolf 

2 oz Laphroaig 10

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz ginger syrup

2 oz Theakstons Old Peculiar ale or Newcastle Brown ale ( plus the bottle for topping up)

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Shake everything except the beer over ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled ice filled highball glass and top off with the brown ale

When to drink: After painting the house , fixing the roof, cleaning your daughters closet and building a fire, as a reward for being the Best Dad EVER!

 

 Lincoln’s Peach

1 1/2 oz Laphroaig 10

1 oz creme de peche

1 oz calvados

3/4 oz maple syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2-3 oz Lapsang Souchong tea chilled ( depending on glass size)

1 ripe peach

2 drops vanilla extract

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Chop half the peach into cubes and put aside for muddling, the other half of the peach needs to be sliced into 1/4″ slices for garnish.

In the bottom of your shaker add the peach cubes, vanilla and maple syrup and muddle, add the rest of your liquid ingredients plus 5 ice cubes to shaker and shake  for about 25 seconds, dump into a chilled glass and top off with more ice, garnish with peach slices.

When to drink: Goes down well after a day spent chasing thunderstorms away with that big stick, unravelling the cat from the washing line, or tending to Aunt Judy’s raucous brood of five.

 

The Old Man’s Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Earl grey tea soaked Laphroaig 10 ( steep 6 tea bags in one 750ml bottle of whisky)

3/4   oz cinnamon simple syrup ( 1 spoon of Vietnamese cinnamon powder steeped for 4-5 hours in hot simple syrup)

1/2 oz  brandy

3 dashes angostura bitters

two orange twists

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the simple syrup, bitters and 1 orange peel in the bottom of a chilled old fashioned glass, add the whisky and brandy and stir for a few turns. Add a couple of hunks of ice and stir for about 15 seconds to chill slightly but not dilute too much. Spritz over the orange oils from the second twist and rub on the rim of the glass , plop the twist into the glass and sip slowly.

When to drink: As an after bed time story treat,  as a partner to your favorite Spaghetti western or just to warm the cockles of your heart.

 

Cheers to you Popsi , wish you were still around for hugs on this Father’s day! Miss you so so much,  Love always!!!

Issue No. 024 “Bittersweet Symphony”

 

 

 


hat bitter ruby red elixir , something about its balance of bitterness ,sweet and underlying herbal notes had me hooked from the get go. Yes I’m talking about Campari the bitter sorceress that plays so well with others yet always manages to stand out with her own amaroidal voice, I use it in all manner of ways , mixed with lemon lime soda, IPA beer & grapefruit, freeze it into an after dinner palate cleansing treat, or dehydrate it into pink fairy like dust for sprinkling.

There’s a tale out there (maybe tall maybe true) about a  Nobleman also partial to a glass or two of this jewel like temptress, the story goes that  one day around 1919 a certain Count Camillo of Florence , Italy  made a simple request  to his bartender , he needed his usually satisfying Americano cocktail made stronger, the Americano is a highball built over ice consisting of equal parts Campari  and sweet vermouth topped with soda water . The bartender pondered and turned to a bottle of gin, he poured out an equal amount of gin and added it to the glass but this time without soda and finished with a spritz of orange oil. The result was at once bitter and sweet, racy and refreshing and warming and spicy, the color of a deep red treasure  winking across the bar at the Count demanding that he savor it, he became a man bewitched , the bartender named it using Camillo’s last name  and so the Negroni was born.

Who knows why the good Count thought of it, maybe a day of frustrations led him to need something stiffer we shall never know, so happy was he with the result  the Count and his family opened a distillery and made the first pre-packaged version marketed as Antico Negroni ( and you thought bottled cocktails were new!). The Negroni  has become one of the most recognized classic drinks and in many cocktail bars I’ve  auditioned at the first drink I was  asked to make to prove ability. If the bartender shakes it or adds the wrong ratios then its an immediate fail, but get the proportions, garnish  and the chill on the nectar just so and your taste buds will be enveloped in its splendid bittersweet symphony.

Typically drank as an aperitif  , the  bitterness rounded out by a spicy sweet vermouth plus the nerve taming tonic of a good dry gin is the perfect end in my mind to the day or beginning of a great evening,   these days  I’ve seen the Negroni made with Dutch Genever adding a lovely malty finish or turned into a lesser known classic the Boulevardier by subbing out whiskey for the gin, the whiskey I think turns the drink into an after dinner sipper which is fine since the chinoto from the Campari also works as  a digestive aid. The Negroni to me is also the quintessential summer cocktail  and with summer  ( yes time has gone too fast this year) comes Negroni Cocktail week put together by Imbibe magazine and Campari , a seven day celebration of the classic Negroni and its variations, participating bars will donate a portion of Negroni sales to their favorite charities,its also a chance for the bar community to gather together and give something back. If you would like to join in the festivities go here for a list of participating bars in your area, my own list includes The Varnish, Eveleigh, Tasting Kitchen and Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles and Broadway restaurant in Laguna , please also visit us at Ink in West Hollywood where I’ll be serving up our Rapid Barrel aged Negroni sous vide for 2 days, as well as our Boulevardier finished with a splash of lambic ale, or if you’re hearing the call of adventure maybe I’ll hook you up with a hit or two of Campari dust.

And now , without further stories my Ode to the Negroni and all it inspires , but if like me you prefer playing the Hermit from time to time and are not in the mood for playing with others, here’s seven days worth of recipes for you to get your own bitter sweet symphony on with!

monday June 2nd….Start your engines with this lovely smooth Barrel aged Negroni. 

Serves 12 ( or 4 really thirsty peeps)

12 oz Fords Gin

12  oz Noilly Prat or Cocchi Vermouth Di Torrino

12 oz Campari

16 dashes orange bitters

1 barrel stave ( Tuthilltown distillery  in NY sells packs)

orange zest for garnish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Combine everything in an airtight preferably glass container like a ball canning jar ( a big one) stir and add the barrel stave. Allow to sit in a dark corner of your pad for at least a week, no cheating you need a nice flavor to develop. If you are lucky enough to have access to an Immersion Circulator, toss everything into a large vacuum sealable bag, seal up and sous vide at 55 degrees C for 2 days, let  the bag chill down before decanting into an airtight bottle .

Once ready, pour in 3 oz of batch per person into a mixing glass, add cracked ice and stir for about 30 seconds until a nice chill develops on your glass, strain into chilled ice filled rocks glasses and garnish with an orange twist, feeling fancy, you can flame the twist by setting fire to the expelled oils from the twist.

Tuesday June 3rd….chill out with a Negroni sour

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4  oz Sweet vermouth of choice

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

dash rosewater

1 oz egg white

garnish with Campari dust (recipe below)

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish to a Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 1o seconds, add 4-5 ice cubes and shake again for 25 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled vessel of choice and sprinkle over a pinch of Campari Dust

 

Wednesday June 4th…round out hump day with Ink’s variation on a Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cocchi rosa

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

a splash of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

garnish with an orange peel

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add spirits only into a mixing glass with cracked ice and stir for 25-30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass , add splash of lambic ale and finish with your twist of orange peel.

 

Thursday June 5th….indulge with a Negroni Milk shake (you did Yoga all week you deserve it)

1 1/2 oz  Bols Genever

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 cup of vanilla ice cream

2 dashes peychauds bitters

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 bar spoon citric solution 10:1 water to citric acid

1/8 oz vanilla extract

Campari dust to finish if you so wish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to a blender  with 4 ice cubes and blitz for about 15 seconds or until its nice and smooth, pour into a chilled glass of choice, add straw and slurp away!

 

Friday June 6th….get your friday frisk on with this cross between a Negroni, a salty, spicy margarita and a michelada….The Negritalada (perhaps)

3/4  oz of thai chili infused tequila ( if you want a pony kick instead of a ass whooping you can use half spicy and half regular tequila)

3/4 oz Vida Mezcal

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz agave nectar

1 oz fresh ruby  grapefruit juice

1/2 oz lime juice

a dash of vanilla extract

salt rim and IPA beer to finish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish into a your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds with 5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled, salt rimmed highball glass filled with ice, top off with a generous splash of IPA beer.

 

Saturday June 7th….Amp up your weekend with Negroni jello shots and Campari Dust Pixy Stix (or lines depending on your mindset)

For the Jello shots ( you will need to do this in stages giving one layer time to fully set before adding second layer)

Gin layer:

1 x 7 gram packet of  Knox gelatin

1/3 cup of Aviation gin

2/3 cup of lemon lime soda

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/4 oz rosewater

Campari layer:

1  x 7 gram packet Knox gelatin powder

1/3 cup Campari

1/3 cup sweet vermouth

1/3 cup orange juice

Add gin+rosewater / Campari to a small bowl with the packet of gelatin powder, stir and allow to dissolve for 1 minute, meanwhile in a pan add your lemon lime soda/sweet vermouth+OJ to the heat and heat up to just before simmering. Take off and add lemon lime soda to gin rosewater and vermouth OJ mix to Campari. Stir to incorporate and fully dissolve the gelatin powder, add sugar and stir again dissolving sugar. Let sit for 3-4 minutes then pour into silicone ice cube trays from Cocktail Kingdom filling up to the half way line. Let sit for few minutes then place in the fridge for 3 hours to let fully set. When set repeat with second layer. To extract from tray, warm up a small palette knife with hot water and run around the edges of each cube, gently coax out and , depending on your mood, either gobble up or arrange neatly on serving tray .

 

For Campari Dust

1 cup Campari

1 cup powdered sugar

mix together well to dissolve sugar, I found its quicker to get absolutely all the lumps out if your sieve your sugar first. Add the slurry to a heavy bottomed pan and set onto a medium heat, this part takes some patience since you have to stand and stir the mix whilst it slowly evaporates down to a paste. Once pasty, take off heat and quickly spread out onto a silpat lines baking sheet ,spreading evenly with your trusty palette knife. Add to a very low oven and let it dehydrate over night. Once dry add to your blender and wazz it until it resembles a fine pink powder. Store in airtight container with silicone packets to stop it from clumping . Slurp up through straws, add to your ice cream, milk shakes, sours etc.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Sunday June 8th….Finish off with a refreshing Negroni Bianco Sgroppino

The Classic Negroni made with white bitters , carbonated  and poured over Campari grapefruit granita

serves 4

For the Campari Granita:

1/2 cup Campari

3 cups strained ruby grapefruit juice

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 oz rosewater

1/4 oz vanilla extract

Add grapefruit juice and sugar to pan and set on heat to dissolve sugar, add to Campari, rosewater and vanilla and stir. Allow to chill before pouring into a metal container that you will then set in the freezer. Every couple of hours you will need to stir the freezing mix to stop ice crystals from forming . When set, cover top with a sheet of parchment paper to protect from freezer burn.

for the Negroni Bianco:

6 oz Aviation gin

6 oz Tempus Fugit Gran Classico

6 oz Dolin blanc vermouth

add everything to a pitcher with a scoop of ice and stir to chill and dilute . Pour into either an ISI gun or a Twist and Sparkle contraption and charge with one CO2 gas charger.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

With all your components ready and your glasses nice and frosty, get an ice cream scoop and portion out a generous scoop of the Campari granita into Coupe glasses, pour over the carbonated Negroni Bianco and garnish with  a twist of grapefruit peel.

 

Cin Cin!!!

Issue No.021 “When Irish eyes are smilin”

 

 

ure tis like a morn in Spring…..

 

Ive had a thing about Irish boys since as long as I can remember, my first crush was on a young butcher boy called David, I think  I was nine and he was sixteen, something about those sparkling , twinkly smiling blue eyes would bewitch me and put me under the bumbling idiot spell,  oh and the manly way he would handle a meat cleaver gave me goosebumps all over! Then there’s one of me favorite movies, “The Quiet Man” not because of John Wayne or the lovely Maureen O’Hara  but for the character of Michaleen Flynn, impish, charming, dry humored and totally hilarious, if you have not seen the movie I recommend renting it the next time it pees down with rain, though in the City of Angels you might have to wait a year or two!

Irish boys can go one of two ways, they are either dark and broody like a pint of Guinness or cheeky , lighthearted and play well with others like a wee dram of Jameson, whichever way they go I love them both and any that come in between. March 17th in case you were not aware is the day the Irish commemorate Ireland’s number one son Saint Patrick by wearing Kelly green and having an all out feast, its the only time the Lenten observations are lifted by the Catholic church in Ireland to allow for celebrations to be carried out properly and by properly I mean till they drop or their liver gives in whichever comes first. The other thing I love about the Irish is anything they put their hands to is full of  beautiful, soulful expression, made with thought and care.

For instance lets take a wee gander at the best selling Irish beverage, Guinness. Guinness stout is made from water, barley roast malt extract, hops and brewers yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark color and characteristic taste. It is pasteurized  and filtered,making the product requires knowledge in the sciences of microbiology , mycology , bacteriology  and thermodynamics. Despite its reputation as a “meal in a glass”, Guinness only contains 198 calories per  pint  fewer than skimmed milk or orange juice and most other non-light beers. Until the late 1950s Guinness was still racked into wooden casks. In the late 1950s and early 1960s aluminum kegs began replacing the wooden casks; these were nicknamed “iron lungs”. Draught Guinness and its canned counterpart contain nitrogen(N2) as well as carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic “surge” (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen and the dispensing method described above

A brilliant  bit of liquid engineering, right? Then there’s Irish whiskey,  one of the greatest styles of whiskey in the world  and also one of the most ancient. Unfortunately, the 20th Century saw the decline and fall of the Irish whiskey industry. In recent years Irish whiskey has begun to make a comeback. Today, Irish whiskey is the fourth most popular style of whiskey in the world behind scotch, bourbon and Canadian whiskies. Distilling technology came to Ireland earlier than many parts of Europe, probably brought over to the island by missionary monks. The first distillates were called “uisce  beatha”  Gaelic for “water of life”, which was eventually anglicized into the word whiskey that we use today. Currently there are only three functioning distilleries in Ireland producing this Eau de Vie, it is typically distilled three times as opposed to twice which makes it far more smoother and less harsh on the finish.

I hope I am doing them a justice in featuring both these lovely brews in the following selection of celebratory concoctions.

Slainte!

DIY Irish Cream (better than Baileys)

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey such as Jameson

1 oz Strauss heavy cream

1/2 oz simple syurp

1 oz homemade coffee liqueur (recipe below)

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Coffee Liqueur:

(recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

1/4 cup fine ground espresso

2 1/4 cup water (divided)

1 cup turbinado sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups light rum

optional rinds of 2 blood oranges

Cold brew the coffee by combining the grounds and 1 1/4 cups of the water into a sealable glass jar, shaking it, then refrigerating the mixture for 12 hours. Strain through a coffee filter into another sealable glass jar.Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let this syrup cool to room temperature. Add cooled syrup, vanilla bean, blood orange rind if using and rum to the glass jar that contains the coffee. Let that mixture steep for 3 days, then remove the vanilla bean and rind and bottle the liqueur.
For the Irish cream:
combine ingredients in a mixing glass with 4 ice cubes and give a good stir to incorporate and chill down, strain into a glass of your choice, over ice or straight up, either way its delightful!

 

Little  Oge Flynn

for the drink:

1 1/2  oz of Irish whisky infused with Ibara chocolate ( I used one wafer or tablet per 1 bottle of whisky, you need to break it up and let it sit and ruminate for at least a week, lucky for me the impatient one I sous vide mine at 55 degrees for an hour and a half to get a good amount of flavor)

2 of good quality  piping hot coffee or espresso, espresso is my favorite it has less acid and more flavor

3/4 oz cinnamon simple syrup ( Vietnamese or Saigon is fuller and more intoxicating in my opinion) 1 tablespoon per 3 cups of 1:1 simple , needs to be added when the simple syrup is hot

4 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

1 dash of vanilla extract

1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez PX sherry ( the raisins in this  and the chocolate are beautiful together)

for the milk foam:

in your ISI gun add all ingredients and charge with one NO2 canister

8 oz of skim milk ( or buttermilk)

1/4 oz vanilla extract

3 oz of egg whites

1 oz 1:1 simple syrup

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Assemble your ingredients in a shaking tin stir a couple of times and pour into your warmed glass or vessel of choice , top with a generous cloud of milk foam and shaved dark chocolate, garnish with cinnamon stick.

 

Tay & Sympathay

A spin on a White Russian

2 oz Earl grey infused Irish whiskey ( 8 tea bags to one 750ml bottle of whiskey)

1 oz Amaretto ( not very Irish I admit but great with Earl grey)

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 drops vanilla extract

1 oz Strauss heavy cream

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add all ingredients  except the cream to your mixing glass, stir with 4 ice cubes and strain into a chilled coupette or over 1 large ice cube. If serving up pour the cream slowly onto the back of a spoon into the drink so that it lays carefully on the top, if using an ice cube pour the cream onto the top of the rock and it will cover the surface and float at the top.

 

Barefoot in the grass

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey

1 oz  sorrel juice

3/4 oz St.Germain

1/4 oz fresh yuzu juice ( sub lemon if you cant find, I get at a Japanese market)

1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water)

3/4 Floc de Gascogne ( an aperitif wine, use Lillet blanc in a pinch)

1 oz egg white

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your Boston shaker and dry shake  without ice for 10-15 seconds. Add 4 ice cubes and shake again for  25 seconds. Strain into a chilled ice filled Old Fashioned glass and spoon over the egg white meringue. Garnish with wood sorrel leaves if you can find them if no baby arugula looks just as pretty.

 

Innisfree Cup

2 oz Irish whiskey

2 oz strong brewed mint tea ( cooled)

1-2 sugar cubes depending on your sweet tooth

3 generous dashes angostura bitters

1 oz cynar

about 6 mint leaves for muddling, 8-10 leaves for laying in bottom of glass and 3-4 generous bushy mint sprigs for garnish

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add your bitters and sugar into the bottom half of your Boston shaker, splash in a touch of mint tea to help dissolve the sugar, muddle the sugar and bitters. Add six mint leaves, no need to muddle, over muddling will result in bitter sludge tasting mint, shaking the drink with ice should beat up the mint just enough. Add the whiskey, cold tea and Cynar and about 4-5 ice cubes. Shake hard for about 30 seconds.  In a 12 oz glass lay the remaining mint leaves in the bottom , pile on top a generous scoop of crushed ice, I beat mine up in a ziplock bag with a muddler. Strain the contents of your tin over the ice and add  a  touch more  crushed ice on top. Dash over a little more Angostura bitters, garnish with a festive straw and your mint sprigs.

 

The Brooklyn Maker

(a spin on a Boiler maker, using a variation on the classic Brooklyn cocktail)

1 1/2 oz Redbreast Irish whiskey

1/2 oz CiaoCiaro or Averna Amaro

1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz dry vermouth such as Dolin Dry

2 dashes Miracle Mile orange bitters

4-5 oz of dark Irish porter  beer such as Guinness

 

In your mixing glass add all ingredients except for the beer, stir over ice for about 25-30 seconds, strain into a bottle of mini carafe . In a second matching mini bottle pour your dark beer.

When presenting the drink make sure both the beer and the cocktail are chilled as well as the glass, this drink can be served over ice or without, you can also play with different beers to lighten it up slightly, since I’m a bitter lover I chose the combination of dark porter and Amaro.

 

In the spirit of the Holiday and my large living Gaelic friends I leave you with this saying by Brooklyn’s Irish daughter , Mae West…”You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough”

 

Next up…something to wine about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue No. 020 ” Hot Blooded, Check it and see!

 

y plan was to avoid the subject of Valentines day since I think its a bit too much of a Hallmark holiday, but reading an article recently in my bible the NY Times I came across a book review that tickled me. The book in question is by garden expert Helen Yoest titled ” Plants with Benefits” and it turns out to be a bit of a Horticultural Kama Sutra. I think you should all have realized by now I’m a bit of plant nut, I can’t grow one to save my life but I love using them in all manner of drink concoctions wether they be boozy or not so much. We’ve all heard how Asparagus is supposed to be an aphrodisiac but so too are carrots , fennel, pineapples , peppers and pomegranates , they all have boink boosting properties. As I started digging a bit deeper I found all sorts of goodies on how the Aztecs used agave plants to “increase effect” , how basil was used to make women more sexually attractive or how men go wild for licorice , seriously!

So to help you revv up your engines for the 14th here’s a few ideas to inspire and not one glass of champagne in sight…..

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) contains pheromones, phytoestrogens and an estrogen like substance called estragole. It is used to increase libido, mixed here with Mezcal and agave that increases “effect” whatever that may mean!

Finnochio 

1 1/2 oz Vida or La Purtita Mezcal

3/4 oz fennel apple shrub ( fennel and apple juice, mixed with apple cider vinegar and sugar, steep with toasted celery seeds over night) see shrub post for more details

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz agave

1 oz cocchi americano

dash Miracle Mile or Bitter truth Celery bitters


Shake everything over ice in your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds and strain into a chilled ice filled old fashioned glass, garnish with a sprinkle of smoked salt and cracked black pepper, finish with a fennel frond

 

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) known to be an invigorator, sacred fruit to Aphrodite ( you know goddess of Love!) paired with agave based Tequila for more feel good factor

It’s a Love Thing

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

1 oz pomegranate juice

1/2 oz lime juice

1 /2 oz campari

1/2 oz agave

about 1 oz of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

 

Put everything except for the ale into your Boston shaker with about 5 ice cubes, shake for 25 seconds and strain into an ice filled glass of choice, top with the strawberry lambic

 

Pineapple (Ananas cosmosus) aphrodisiac, a small glass taken daily is said to promote energies of love, mixed here with rosemary which has a strong erotic effect,  chili and vanilla both also known to be mood enhancers .
Apple of my Eye
1 1/2 oz aged rum
1 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
4 drops vanilla extract
a small sprig of rosemary for muddling
Muddle rosemary sprig with Falernum , agave and lime juice. Add rest of your ingredients and shake in Boston shaker for 30 seconds with 4-5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled glass of choice and garnish with a pinch of chili powder and some vegetation .
Wheat (Triticum aestivum) strengthens the sexual organs, paired here with saffron which evokes sexual desire , cinnamon used for erotic stimulation and vanilla.

The Mojo

1  1/2 oz wheated bourbon such as Buffalo Trace or Makers Mark

1 oz dry saki

1/2 oz simple syrup infused with  cinnamon and pinch of saffron ( add tablespoon cinnamon powder and saffron pinch to your simple syrup when still warm

2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 oz Averna amaro

Stir all ingredients in your mixing glass with 5-6 ice cubes, stir for 30 seconds or so until your glass becomes nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled coup or martini glass and garnish with a twist or a mint leaf for a bit of aromatic effect.

 

Next up…..looking for that pot of gold 

Issue No.019 Give me little drink from your Loving Cup

 

 

 

 

magine if  going on a cleanse  was as easy as switching on a vacuum cleaner and having it all get sucked out, all evils just washed away and us absolved of our many imbibed sins.  We spend so much time taking care of the outside, the visible parts of us , gussying it up, making it all shiny , yet we put so much crap into our bodies not really thinking too much about the consequences, or dealing with them many years down the line.

Modern diets and lifestyles, i’m not preaching honest, wreak havoc on us . Lets face it we’re all guilty especially at this time of the year when we’ve just spent a month ( maybe more) indulging in a plethora of delights from christmas pudding and mince pies, to egg nog and copious amounts of champagne (ok that was my holiday diet). You get to January and all your bits have gotten a bit softer, bit wobblier , you feel sluggish and lumpy. So the next step is you sign up for a new gym membership to get back into bikini shape, but what about the inside, whats the saying , beauty should start from within , right?A popular method of inner spring cleaning is the fast, you give your digestive system a rest by only drinking juices or teas or spicy maple lemonade. Fasts are  nothing new of course, but they’re pretty bloody trendy these days and not just as  religious practice during Ramadan or Lent  which both employ fasting as part of the “making yourself holy” schtick . A fast is great but but whilst washing your inner bits its not really putting anything back into your system.

I live in the city of Angels, the land of mashed yeast and alfalfa sprouts according to that great Noo Yawker Woody Allen, here there  is an almost unnatural   obsession with juice cleansing, juice bars popping up all over the shop, charging $10 a go for a cold pressed bottle of green nectar, its also become popular to add, dare I say it ( waiting to be struck down by lighting) a shot of vodka or gin to said juice mix, I mean I wrote about it this time last year so I know it to be true. But this month as a change of pace and to give us all a break I decided to concentrate on the beneficial aspects of juice cocktails , or mocktails.  As a bartender I get at least one request a night to make a mocktail of some sort , since I’m a lover of veggie juice I always try to incorporate it somewhere on any drink list I have a hand in. Recently  however I started thinking about making healthful tonics not only that will cleanse those twenty  odd miles of twisted pipes in your tum but that will also help put you back on the right track with the addition of plant extracts.

Phytochemistry ( yup a big word but not a scary one) is the science of chemicals derived from plants, natural chemicals of course,that are used to heal and prevent illness, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines are all derived from Phytochemical mixtures and have been used for centuries before modern medicine was even considered, in fact a whole slew of modern medicines are synthetic imitations of plant based compounds.You may be asking yourself at this point did I suddenly decide to change track and start writing a wellbeing blog, rest assured I did not but as someone that has over the years developed intolerance to all sorts of foods I started looking at ways of making my body feel better and stronger naturally. Here’s just a few…for my chronic migraines I take Feverfew daily, for joint stiffness ( brought on by standing too long and gluten in my diet) I take Boswellia ( same family as Frankincense, you know one of the gifts that a wise man carried) and Turmeric , for upset tummy I use Black walnut tincture or charcoal powder and as an immunity booster oregano or astragalus. Don’t get me wrong I still pop an Advil every now and again much to my Witch Doctor’s disapproval, sometimes pain needs a faster method of being whipped, especially if I’m behind the bar facing 6-8 hours of shaking drinks and attempting to be sweet ( not my forte) , but popping one too many and your liver will start to suffer, too many artificial chemicals will eventually take a toll.

Natural healers are all around us,  take for instance extra virgin olive oil, believe it or not it has similar actions to ibuprofen, its a powerful anti-inflammatory , turmeric one of the main components of curry also great for pain and joint stiffness, eating hot peppers helps to release endorphins and make you feel good, ginger root helps with upset tummies and has a higher level of cancer fighting anti oxidants than most berries ( and its often cheaper than them ) it also helps eliminate pain and inflammation. So using these guys as part of my phytocleansing arsenal, here then are this months soothing cups of love full of natural, plant based free radical fighting superheros.

Oh…and when you get sick of being too righteous  and good, toss in a shot of your favorite liquid poison.

 

Street Phyto Man  

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 3 oz fresh pressed carrot juice

1/2 oz fresh pressed turmeric juice ( or a quarter teaspoon of powdered root)

1/2 oz fresh ginger juice ( or as hot as you can stand it)

2 oz fresh apple juice

1 bar spoon of devil’s claw  tincture ( available at most health food stores)

a pinch of cumin powder

Add everything to your tin with a couple of cubes of ice , no need for tons of dilution, shake for about 10 seconds only then strain into a vessel of choice. Drink it fast or within 15 minutes, the longer it sits the more the valuable elements within the juices will evaporate so you’re just left with carrot tasting water, defying the whole purpose.

great for stiff joints, replaces electrolytes, aids sluggish digestion, lowers sugar levels, soothes the pain)

 

The Kick Inside (an ode to my first vegetarian hero Kate Bush)

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

1 oz fennel juice

3 oz fresh apple juice

6 mint leaves

3 slices jalapeño

1 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz agave ( plant based and low on that nasty sugar index)

black walnut tincture

fennel fronds and mint sprig to garnish

Using your trusty muddler mash up  mint and jalapeño with the agave and lemon juice, add rest of ingredients ( except garnish) and ice. shake for about 15 seconds an dump into a highball. Gussy it up with your garnish and sip away!

Helps with sluggish digestion , rebalances healthy flora in your body, releases endorphins and makes you feel good all over.

 

Flip It Good!

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

3 oz chilled jasmine green tea

1 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz agave nectar

1/2 oz fresh ginger juice

1/2 oz egg white

bar spoon really fruity extra virgin olive oil

bar spoon Camu Camu powder

4 drops of vanilla extract

toss everything except for the olive oil into your tin and dry shake for 10 seconds without ice to build up a nice froth, add ice and shake again for a good 15 seconds to incorporate the Camu Camu. At last second stream in the olive oil, it adds a lovely velvety texture and fruitiness to the drink, shake again for few seconds. This is similar to making a Ramos Fizz, add the fat too soon and the drink will not whip up well.

High in antioxidants, Vitamin C, powerful anti-inflammatory and free radical fighter, immune booster and mood enhancer.

 

Phyt The Power

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

1 whole ripe avocado

1 whole ripe banana

1/2 cup finely chopped lacinato kale

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 oz agave nectar

4 oz unsweetened almond milk or coconut water

bar spoon chlorophyll powder or spirulina

1 ml dropper full of astragalus and ashwaganda ( in the immunity section of your health food store)

Add everything to your blender and blitz on high till your mix is nice and smooth, there will still be green bits of kale but as long as you can get them through a straw you should be good to go.

Great blood cleanser, blood builder, oxygen booster, immune booster, chock full of anti-oxidants and healthy oils to make your skin, nails and hair look strong and vibrant.

 

Chill-dren of the Revolution

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Ok , so this one takes some time to prep but once its done and presuming you made  a batch it will last in the fridge for about a week.

1 silicone ice cube mold (1 ” cube size)

vegetable spray

1/2 cup chilled mint tea

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup of ginger juice

1 cup fresh apple juice

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon powder

3 capsules Rhodiola Rosea, open up and just use the powder

1 teaspoon agar agar powder

2 tablespoons agave nectar ( sweeten to your taste)

put everything together into a saucepan except for the agar and the Rhodiola powder, bring  to a simmer and whisk in the agar agar, whisking for a couple of minutes to makes sure there are no lumps.

meanwhile have the silicone ice tray mold sprayed with veggie oil ( wiping out the excess with a paper towel) this helps release the cubes when ready.

take mix of the heat and add the agave nectar, stirring it in,  cool slightly before whisking in the Rhodiola, again make sure there are no lumps or clusters, you want to make sure it dissolves fully.

pour into prepared mold and let set in fridge for about 1/2 an hour or longer if you can wait that long.

for the drink, take 3 cubes and put into a cup or heat resistant glass, add lemon wheels or a twist, a couple of cloves and another twist of fresh black pepper. Pour over a cup of boiling water, the cubes will dissolve . Stir and enjoy the aromas hitting your senses.

Great stress reliever, mood enhancer, energy booster, helps your brain rebalance all the good brain chemicals such as seratonin and endorphins.

 

 

 

Issue No. 011 Squeeze my lemon

I am 70 yrs and was taking this product. I find it is great! Buy cialis online? If you have a good relationship with your pharmacist, let him know your concerns about drug costs.

 


ed Zeppelin sang its anthem the best, “squeeze me babe, till the juice runs down my leg” an obvious blues metaphor for , well you know what! Yet how is it the humble  lemon,  is so  misunderstood ? I mean we’ve all heard the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” or “don’t buy that car,its a total lemon”.  What’s so wrong with being a bloomin lemon? In my eternal quest to give a good fluffing to the under dog I decided the lemon  needed a bit of positive attention . Here’s some stuff you might not know…the lemon has way more uses than just being an indignant symbol,oh yes, use it as a mood enhancer, a cleaning tool, as a battery ( you need some electrodes for this jobbie) use it to get rid of nasty smells and to keep insects away. Its history is documented as far back as  90BC in both China and India, its name is derived from the Arabic word for  citrus, limun which itself has its roots in Sanskrit, it  became popular in Italy around the 1500′s and was then transported to the Americas by old man Columbus. Is all of this too much information for you? Wait, there’s more….the clever Italians were the first to use it to make liqueurs  and in Arab and Indian cuisines its preserved with salt and used to flavor all manner of dishes and then there’s  the whole other world of cocktails.

Two of my personal favorite members of the lemon clan are the meyer lemon for its sweet and fragrant tartness and the Ichang lemon offspring, the yuzu most prominently used in Japanese cuisine but experiencing a bit of a fan club in modernist chefs. Am also getting into these days the Ozzie cultivat finger lime and preserved black limes both of which add a lovely quality to both food and drink experiments of mine. I have to however just stick to lemons with Pomelos and mandarins, and countless oranges if I included them all we’d be here till next Christmas so am going to attempt to keep to a strictly tailored list. In my head I can hear my  friend Paddy saying “keep it short, there’s a good girl”.

So the question is, how do you get the citrus into your drink? Do you infuse the peel into your liquor, do you use the oil from the rind to spritz onto your finished drink, or is it just by using the juice? It depends on how you like to get your fix, as  a base or as an aroma,a finish or as a tart slap. As miss Browning would put it, “how do I love thee, let me count the ways”…..

Infusing

The simplest way of making an infused spirit is to chop up a generous amount of your flavoring agent and toss it into a jar along with a bottle of your favorite booze, depending on the strength of your ingredient’s flavor you do a combo of shaking and sitting ( not you the jar) for 1 day to a week, for citrus usually you just want the zest, not the pith nor the flesh, however I like to add a wee bit of the pith and flesh, am always tempted by a bit of flesh…and a lover of all things bitter. The pith adds a nice bitter finish and the flesh the slightly tart slap.

Bitter lemon Gin

4 lemons of choice, peeled with minimal pith.

1 peeled lemon chopped in half including the pith

1 liter bottle of gin ( my choice at minute is Ford’s from the 86 Co.)

1 large screw top mason jar

toss it all in the jar and let it sit in a dark place for 24-48 hours or so shaking from time to time. If you have access you can vacuum pack your ingredients in a cryo baggie and toss into an immersion circulator for 1 hour at 65 degrees ( yes 1 hour does it) let the baggie cool down and strain through a chinoise strainer or micro bag, same goes for your jarred infusion, when its done strain and re-bottle.

I  infused  an aperitif called Cocchi Americano the same way except that I infused that with kaffir lime leaves .

Bitter Lemon Drop

2 oz bitter lemon gin

1 oz kaffir lime Cocchi

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz simple syrup 1:1 ratio

4 drops Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters

cane sugar for rimming of your glass

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

shake your ingredients over ice in a Boston shaker, strain into a chilled sugar rimmed glass.

Squeezing

With any drink you make its always advisable to use the freshest ingredients, bottled or packaged juices are usually pasteurized and they lose that bright fresh quality, pasteurizing leaves the juice tasting a bit dull. Juice only as much as you need for your drinks, you can use the remainder the next day only if its been stored in the fridge overnight. My favorite citrus juicer is the  professional strength one from Waring available at Amazon (link below). Make sure when storing your juice you do so in a clean and wiped container, the juice will pick up any flavors so make sure you the last thing you stored in same container was not 1) cat food or 2) last nights chicken Biriyani, you will have to run the bugger through the dishwasher several times and then rinse it in lemon and salt to get rid of any odors, ( lemon juice works well to get rid of nasty smells too)

My personal favorite drink that includes lemon juice is the sour, a  2:1:1:1 ratio of spirit, egg white , sweetener( you can use a sweet liqueur instead of simple syrup) and lemon or lime juice. Since I added the nut milk I cut down on the ingredients a bit so as not to waste.

The drink below contains pistachio milk, made by soaking 2 cups of shelled  and roasted pistachios in 2 cups of warm water for about 4 hours which are ran though a food processor and then the liquid is strained off, you can turn this into an orgeat style syrup by adding 1 cup of simple syrup and a few drops of orange flower water, I just use the milk for this drink.

Pistachio Sour

1 1/2 oz white rum, I managed to get my hands on a bottle of  the Cuban Havana Club’s version which is the best by far but not so easy to find, the 86 Co. makes one that is quite close in flavor called Cana Brava, Cruzan is also a good choice

1 oz pistachio milk

1 oz egg white

3/4 oz Meyer lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup 1:1 ratio sugar to hot water

1 drop pistachio extract ( I admit to cheating  so far for this one and buy  on Amazon)

2 drops black lime bitters

pistachio nut for shaving onto drink for garnish

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

dry shake without ice everything except for the garnishing nut for about 10 seconds, add  a couple of small ice cubes to your Boston shaker and shake again for a further 30-40 seconds or until you have a nice frosty tin. Strain into a chilled coupette, spoon out some of the egg froth and microplane your pistachio nut on top.

You can also make a really quick lemon ice  with your juice and add simple syrup to taste, remembering that you need to make your ice sweeter when still liquid since freezing will make it less sweet tasting. I throw it in the freezer in a flat freezer safe container and rake the slush with a fork to stop it from growing ice crystals, takes about 4-5 hours to be good and frozen. See below for a variation on this easy recipe.

Citrate

Citric acid is a major component in many soft beverages and is used in place of fresh citrus juice to flavor and add tartness . Its produced by crystallizing lemon juice and decomposes much slower than the juice its made from. It comes in the form of a powder and should be made into a slurry with warm water before adding it to your liquid. I use it to tart up soda syrups  as well as certain carbonated cocktails  but you need to be careful to not have a heavy hand or the lady tart will take over and is really hard to rebalance once its in there.

For a recent project I had to come up with non-boozie food pairings, I wanted to do a yuzu cream soda but had to make it using non chemical additives. Vanilla is the primary flavoring of cream soda and so I came up with a vanilla and caramelized sugar syrup which needed to have somewhat of a shelf life so instead of using yuzu juice I added the peel to the warm syrup and a touch of citric acid for the tart bite. The finished mix worked well in  boozie drinks too and my favorite combo used Earl Grey tea (itself flavored by another citrus , bergamot orange oil) and the yuzu cream citrate, recipe below in basics.


Duke of Earl

2 oz whisky, scotch, bourbon or rye, all work well

2 oz of chilled strong earl grey tea

1 oz yuzu cream citrate

1 oz meyer lemon juice

3 drops angostura bitters

2 drops Miracle Mile yuzu bitters

Belgian style Lambic ale

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

Toss everything into your ice filled Boston shaker except for the Lambic beer. Shake for a good 40 seconds and then strain into an ice filled collins glass. Top with the Lambic and garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of lemon.

Delicious, Scientific Magic.

Who knows how it works but DSM is as Toby Cecchini puts it in his NY Times article on Limoncello,  a bit of a mystery. Limoncello is an Italian lemon based liqueur that a Roman friend of mine introduced me to many moons ago, we would sip it as an after dinner treat or pour it over home made goats milk gelato, it also mixes quite nicely in cocktails or in just a glass of the old champers. You need good quality lemons, high proof spirit ,a big jar and a cup of patience, it takes time to complete the process but is worth it methinks. Look up the full Times article here

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

The Macgyvered  version….

Lemon Sgroppino

( a sgroppino is an Italian cocktail that includes vodka, prosecco and a scoop of lemon sorbet, my version is not strictly true to the original version but tasty non the less )

1 scoop lemon ginger ice (recipe below)

1 oz Limoncello

4 oz cava, prosecco or champers ( or even beer)

1 oz or so of St. Germain foam (recipe below)

lemon zest for garnishing.

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

Place a scoop of your lemon ice in a chilled glass, pour in your limoncello and bubbles and top with the foam. Finish with a sprinkle of lemon zest, the sorbet ice acts as a flavored ice cube, eat with a spoon and then slurp the remainder.

Lemon Scented 

A quick way to get a lemon finish on anything is to spritz the oils from the zest onto your chosen target, the oils add that lovely freshness , a lot of classic cocktails are finished off with a citrus oil spritz and the zest is then rubbed on the rim of the glass to further enhance the experience. Plus if you’re feeling bluesy in these dark days of winter’s reign you can also spritz above your nose and it instantly uplifts your mood ( I swear am not bonkers).

Lemon Like

A new addition to my pantry staples is Sorrel, it has a tart twang to it and although mostly used in soups can be used to infuse spirits and syrups too. For a quick infusion add a generous handful of ripped leaves to your trusty ISI gun, add your liquid, screw on the top and charge with a couple of N2o gas chargers, make sure not to unscrew the cap just the capsule where your gas charger lives. The compression of the gas forces the flavor out of the leaves into the liquid. You can also try infusing in a mason jar, under vacuum or if you’re feeling super adventurous by using a gelatin filtration method, most commonly used in molecular cuisine for making consomme. More on this subject to come.

The Basics

 

Yuzu cream citrate

2 cups organic cane sugar

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups warm water

1 vanilla bean

peel of 1 yuzu fruit

1 teaspoon of citric acid

pinch salt

candy thermometer

pastry brush

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

In a pan add the sugar and 1/4 cup cold water, set onto a medium flame , let the sugar dissolve and start to bubble, lower your flame and with a wet brush wipe down the sides of your pan to get rid of sugar crystals ( or you can just plop a lid on your pan so the condensation runs down the pan and wipes off your sugar crystals). Set in your candy thermometer and let the mix reach 280 degrees. Take off the heat and add your 2 cups of warm water, it will bubble quite a bit and there’s a chance the sugar will seize and get solid so you need to put the pan back on the flame once bubbling stops and stir slowly till you have a syrup base. Add your vanilla bean paste , salt, citric acid and yuzu peel , stir over a low flame for about 10 minutes then take off and pour into a  screw top jar. Let sit and infuse for at least 12 hours.

 

Lemon  ginger ice

1 cup of cane sugar

1 cup of water

1 cup of lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup of dry ginger beer such as Fevertree

1 chopped  stalk lemongrass

photograph by Patrick Obrien-Smith

add the sugar and water to pan with lemon zest, set on medium flame and let sugar dissolve. Add lemongrass, lower flame and stir for about 15 minutes. Take off flame and let sit so the lemongrass and zest can infuse the syrup. Strain out the lemongrass and then add your ginger beer, stir then pour into a freezer proof container , place in the freezer and every so often rake with a fork to stop ice crystals from forming. It will take around 4 hours to set enough to scoop, the lemon ice acts kind of like your ice cube.

St. Germain Foam

2 oz St.Germain liqueur

2 oz egg white

1 oz simple syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2 oz soda water

ISI gun

1 N2o gas charger

Add everything to your ISI gun, screw on cap and charge with the gas, give the gun a good shake test, it should be a nice foam about the consistency of soft peaked egg whites, you don’t want it too stiff or it won’t mix well into your drink so one charge should be enough, if you don’t add the soda the foam will be too stabilized and stiff.

 

And we could not have done this without…..

The Elderflower, a small white blossom that only blooms for a few days in Spring, has a long history in mixology. Due to its delicate nature, the flavor was preserved in syrups that were often too sweet. St. Germain Liqueur has managed to harness the Elderflower’s aromas and flavors in an elegant liqueur that far surpasses its predecessors.

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur should have a place in the bar of any cocktail enthusiast. It offers lovely notes of pear and lychee, balanced by enough tartness to please even the palates of those generally drawn to drier libations. It has an understated yet unmistakable presence, and can hold its own when mixed with a variety of spirits.

 

whip it good

 

ISI whipping gun 

The workhorse

Waring Pro juicer 


Next up….. the Tea Baggers (?) 

 

 

Issue No. 009 Twas a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht!

hrough the years  I have tended bar at many a NYE celebration, NYE as with most other holidays except for thanksgiving, technically not my holiday, is a complete let down , so I would rather be working or doing a Garbo  ( wanting to be alone). There is one NYE however that goes down in memory for me, it was spent in the bonnie town of Edinburgh where until you have experienced the Scot’s celebration of the final day of the year you have not really experienced a NYE. Why you may ask? Well they just do things differently, and plus the party can rage on for days. They even have a different name for the celebration calling it Hogmanay, the word stems from possibly the French or Norse languages of old. They also keep old traditions very much alive and as a bit of a history nut its reet up ma alley. As it should be the traditional drink of Hogmanay is  Scotch whisky, in Gaelic it is called the “water of life”, what better tipple to partake in to ring in the new .

You won’t find any better combination of quality and value. Viagra vs cialis. The difference between a brand name medicine and a generic one is in the name, shape and in the price.

Lets toast with a wee dram of Hogmanay history

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. It is believed the Scots inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings and their celebration of the shortest day but many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950’s( Christmas” is “Christ’s Mass” and mass was banned in Scotland, there are records of charges being brought against people for keeping “Yule” as it was called in Scotland), New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh.
There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of “first footing” which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky or a rich fruit cake called black bun, all intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January) much better  methinks than the boring one night of drunken mayhem which results in either hugging the bog ( toilet to you) or waking up in a strange bed, dont get me wrong nothing bad about either just gets a bit old once you leave yer twenties.The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year,  for me this ritual sounds much more interesting especially as  traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot, any tall dark man would be welcome as my first , second , third or twentieth foot.

An even more interesting and charming custom from  the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scot’s for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. Early on New Year’s morning, householders drink and then sprinkle ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford around the house (a ‘dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast. The song of “Auld lang syne” is a scots song sang on Hogmanay written by  Scottish  number one son and poet Robby Burns , the words literally translates to old, long since, or long long ago.The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships. In my humble opinion old times should be revived especially if it means a tall dark handsome man comes through my door bearing a bottle of fire water.

Lets toast with a wee dram of Scotch History

Scotch whisky (often referred to simply as “Scotch”) is malt whisky or grain whiskey made in Scotland. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malt barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late eighteenth century. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means “lively water” or “water of life”. The earliest documented record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, as documented in the Exchequer Rolls, which were tax records of this time, The following quote  records “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae”. This was equivalent to about 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late fifteenth century. Friar John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife, he was  a Tironensian monk  who were well regarded for their skills as alchemists . Lindores Abbey is known as the birthplace of Scotch whisky. You know we owe a lot to those silent men of the cloth, without their alchemic tinkerings we’d all be drinking  fermented potato water, oh wait thats vodka ! Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky. Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions: The Highlands, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown, each of these regions produces very different styles of Scotch. Below a selection of my personal favorites.

Lowland Auchentoshen Three Wood is a triple-distilled malt matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. These casks impart a great deal of complexity and depth to this nuanced whisky; the nose and palate express dried dark fruit, caramel, roasted nuts, and cocoa, while the finish introduces a citrus note. Unlike many delicate Lowland malts, this spirit boasts satisfying heft and weight, making it an unexpected treat. Auchentoshen is nicknamed the breakfast whiskey due to its sweet and delicate nature,  in Gaelic the name  translates to “the corner of the field”

Speyside Balvenie  Doublewood , two casks of different character produce a deeper, more complex flavor and greater character than maturation in only one wood. During maturation, the Balvenie DoubleWood is transferred from a traditional whisky oak cask to an original sherry oak cask, thereby acquiring character from each. The result is a rich, mellow flavor of great depth and unusual complexity Balvenie produces whisky in a traditional style. The use of locally grown barley is preferred, and is floor malted ( malt grains are spread out on a wooden floor which is then heated and smoked). Balvenie has many ranges of whiskey, a slew of core whiskey as well as many limited editions. For the money I love the Doublewood for everyday, the Caribbean cask and the Madeira cask or Islay from the limited edition collection.

The Highlands  Oban distillery (Scottish Gaelic Taigh-stail an Òbain) is a whisky distillery in the scottish west coast port of Oban. It is one of the few distilleries to have been built, in 1794, before the actual town which sprung up later in the surrounding craggy harbor.The distillery has only two pot stills, making it one of the smallest in Scotland, producing a whisky that has been described as having a ‘West Highland’ flavor that falls between the dry, smoky style of the Scottish islands and the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands. Oban is one of only two remaining distilleries in the Western Highlands, and its stills are some of the smallest in Scotland. Oban’s unique, enticing character reflects its origin, showing characteristics of both the Highland and Island styles. Elegant and glowing, it marries the briny sea air character of Island malts to the soft, rich, fruity style of the Highlands.

The Islands Highland park ,this Orkney Islands malt is produced at the northernmost distillery in Scotland, and is renowned for its consistently excellent whiskies. In Scotland and its Whiskies, Michael Jackson described Highland Park as “The greatest all-rounder among whiskies, because it combines so many elements: maltiness, smokiness, heather-honey notes and sherry character, in a rich, rounded whole.” Highland Park 12 Year Old is a surprisingly good value with tremendous complexity. Aromas of sweet peat, heather, smoke and ripe apple lead into satisfyingly malty flavors of honey, heather, pineapple, pear, and smoky peat. Try this single malt with just a drop of water to unveil its depth Talisker ,the malted barley used in Talisker production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature – swan neck lye pipes. A loop exists in the pipes taking the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol condenses before it even reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again these coils are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content).Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery via a network of pipes and wells. Talisker was the favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and henry Vollam Morton. In his poem. “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, Stevenson mentioned “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.” Talisker 10 Year Old is a peaty malt with bold aromas of smoke, spice, and heather. The palate is unmistakably briny and quite complex with flavors of smoked meat, cracked pepper, and a hint of candied almond. The finish is slightly sweet and quite spicy.

Islay

The whiskies of the distilleries along the southeastern coast of the isle of Islay,Laphroaig, Lagavullin, and Ardberg, have a smoky character derived from peat, considered a central characteristic of the Islay malts, and ascribed both to the water from which the whisky is made and to the peating levels of the barley. Many describe this as a “medicinal” flavour. They also possess notes of iodine, seaweed and salt. Caol Ila, on the northern side of the island, across from Jura, also produces a strongly peated whisky. Lagavulin  is an Islay single malt Scotch Whisky produced in Lagavullin on the island of Islay, United Kingdom.The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller’s edition finished in Pedro Ximinez casks, and 25- and 30-year-oldvarieties.A recent 21-year-old bottling, matured solely in first-fill sherry casks, has been extremely well received by enthusiasts.The name of Lagavulin is an anglicization of the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin, meaning “hollow by the mill”. Lagavulin was established in 1830 and has the driest start of all single malts. Full amber in color, with a dominant sherry nose. Full-bodied yet smooth. The dryness is offset by the sweetness of the sherry character. Salty notes and a huge powerful peaty finish. A connoisseur’s malt, and with consistently high marks from late critic Michael Jackson of Whisky Magazine. Ardberg The name is derived from the Scottish Gaelic: Àrd Beag, meaning Little Height. Whiskey Advocate has this to say about Ardberg’s Corryvreckan Single malt: “Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise, and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning!” The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798, and began commercial production in 1815. Like most Scottish distilleries, for most of its history, its whisky was produced for use in blended whisky, rather than as a single malt.Ardbeg whisky is considered to be amongst the peatiest in the world, with most expressions using malt. Ardbeg seldom release whiskies with age statements.

Lets toast with a wee bit o’ the dram

Rusty nail 

A rusty nail is traditionally 2 parts Scotch whisky to 1 part Drambuie a honey and spice based liqueur fortified with malt whisky. I tinkered around and came up with my own version of a honey based liqueur .

Spiced Honey Liqueur recipe:

1 cup  runny honey , orange blossom is my favorite.

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon of lapsang tea

2 medium sized chunks of ginger peeled and chopped

10 whole cloves

10 crushed black peppercorns

3 strips of orange peel

5 oz Islay Scotch ( I used laphroaig 10 year)

smoking gun optional

throw everything together into a small sauce pan, heat through but don’t allow to boil, keep on stove at lowest heat for about 1/2 an hour. Strain through a chinoise strainer and add the Islay scotch. If you want to take this one step further add the strained liquid to a plastic wrapped jar and smoke with your smoking gun, see Issue No.005 for full details on smoking a liquid.

Rob Roy Cocktail

2 oz Oban single malt Whisky

3/4 oz spiced honey liqueur

orange twist

3 drops Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

garnish of cracked black pepper

matches

Flaming orange peel

In a chilled old fashioned glass add your ice cube/s. Pour in the Oban ,  liqueur and  bitters. Give a good stir for about 30 seconds. Take your orange peel in one hand and a lit match in the other, above your cocktail spritz the orange oils out of your twist onto the flaming match so that the ignited oils drop onto your drink. Rub the orange twist on the rim of your glass and drop into your drink, finish with black pepper.

Crooked kilt 

The Crooked Kilt is a new drink on the cocktail scene, created by master drink maker Leo Robitschek, the combination of the scotch with spices and fruit is absolutely lovely and one of my new favorite drinks, here as an homage to the master is my version, instead of Islay scotch I spritz a wee bit of Mezcal on the glass, the addition of the egg white softens the mouth feel of the alcohol so it feels less boozie than it is.

Oaxacan Kilt

2 oz blended scotch such as Famous Grouse or Ballantines

1 /2 oz agave

1/2 oz green chartreuse liqueur

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

1 egg white

5 or 6 mint leaves

2 dash angostura bitters

mint sprig to garnish

spritz of  Mezcal

Toss everything into your Boston shaker and give a dry shake sans ice to emulsify your egg whites, add ice and shake again until you get a nice frost on your shaker tin.Spritz your Mezcal on a chilled coupette glass and strain your cocktail into glass. top off with mint sprig.

Tipsy Laird Nog

Tipsy Laird Trifle is a dessert usually eaten as part of the Hogmanay celebrations, it is a layering of cream, fresh raspberries and vanilla cake soaked in some sort of whisky. I took a Ramos Fizz recipe and tweaked it using Tipsy Laird inspired ingredients.

For the Cocktail

2 oz blended scotch whisky that has been infused with vanilla beans or if you want to be really creative get a vanilla pound cake and infuse that in your whisky overnight, one cake usually works for one 750ml bottle of whisky, for vanilla bean infusion scrape out the vanilla paste of one bean and add to half a bottle of whisky along with the bean itself, allow to infuse for a couple of days giving a good shake every so often.

1 oz ruby port

1/2 oz agave

2 drops orange flower water

2 drops Miracle Mile Orange bitters

2 oz almond milk ( can sub  1 oz heavy cream to make it richer, dairy sadly is not my friend)

1 egg white

1 oz fresh lemon juice

splash of champagne to top off .


Toss everything into your Boston shaker except for champagne and any garnish, dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds, add ice and shake again for another 30-40 seconds or so. Strain into vessel of your choice with a couple of ice cubes added , scoop out the foam and plop on top. Finish with a splash of champagne and a star anise pod or cinnamon stick.

Hot Toddy

A toddy is a hot drink traditionally served in the winter months that includes some form of hot liquid such as hot water or milk, some form of alcohol usually whisky or brandy , honey, lemon and a combination of spices. Below is a version I’ve been tinkering with recently.

Hot Cider

1 liter apple cider

juice of 2 lemons

10 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

2 chunks of peeled ginger chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste depending on your heat preference.

toss everything into a sauce pan and allow to simmer but not boil for about half an hour till the cider is flavored by your spices.

Mackinnon’s Hot Grog

1  1/2 oz blended scotch whisky

1/2 oz Islay scotch

1/2 oz runny honey

1/2 Fernet branca

6 oz hot cider

Add everything to a heat proof glass and give a good stir, garnish with a lemon twist or wheel plus a pinch more of black pepper.

 

Bliadhna mhath ùr!

 

Next up…..The hair of the dog that bit you

Archives

Easy Sign Up



Follow Me On The Web!