Issue No.O30 “Tails from the Bookworm” Chinatown

 

 


 

here was something odd about the room, the lights were dim and the polished glass  tables were set with long sticks. Strange figures were painted on the light shades and on the menus , the kid sniffed the air heavy with garlic, onion and a whiff of aroma wending its way from the kitchen that she had never smelled before, this was new territory and it made her nervous. A small woman  in pajamas shuffled over and nodded politely at the gathered diners, pen and pad in hand. The kid stares at the menu, none of it makes sense! What does this mean?  How can something be sweet & sour and what are egg drops???  Oh, and why is this woman wearing jammas in a restaurant! This place is weird! The kid slithers down in her seat hoping to become miraculously  invisible. “What would you like miss?” Six pairs of eyes look in her direction, as she feels heat running up her neck. She scans the paper menu in her hand and shrugs, “C’mon love, we haven’t got all day , we’re hungry!” She slides down even further in her seat then flinches from the kick aimed at her under the table “Ummm, I’m not hungry” She blushes the shade of the silk lantern hanging above her head “Well you’ve got to eat something or there won’t be anything till breakfast” . Realizing the seriousness of the situation she was in, eat now or starve till morning, she chooses starvation  ”not hungry” she mumbles then slips under the table hoping the fancy carpeted floor would just swallow her hole , she receives another kick under the table and hears a snicker “I don’t think she’s ever had Chinese food before” the words directed at the waitress ” any chance you can make her a ham omelette?” The waitress shakes her head and replies  solemnly “I’m sorry lady,we don’t make omelettes  ,  this is Chinatown!

The kid in question was myself, just in case you had not figured it out, I grew up in a Polish household raised primarily on sauerkraut , latkes kabanos  (dry sausage) and chicken  soup ( which we ate every single day) . My first outing to an actual sit down restaurant where a waiter takes your order and you don’t have to do the dishes when you finish eating , was at a Chinese restaurant, where instead of my omelette I was presented with a steaming bowl of egg fried rice with crisp english peas that would burst in my mouth when I bit them, it was sublime! I think it was my best friend’s birthday treat, her sister tormented me with  kicks under the table and rolling eyes, I was the Polak nit twit and they were better than me because they knew Chinese food. I wanted to punch her for making fun of me.

Times naturally have changed , I mean forty some years have passed and thankfully I now  brandish  chopsticks with flair. Chinese food ranks up there as one of my favorite cuisines along with Thai and Japanese food, give me a bowl of eggy, crunchy rice or a cup of miso and I’m as happy as you’ll ever see this curmudgeon.  2015 in the Chinese horoscope is the year of the goat or sheep, I was born under that sign, stubborn , tenacious and the ability to chow down a mountain of food are all flags I fly with panache. I decided in honor of the Chinese New Year , February 19th, to explore one of my favorite movies ( yes I realize its not a book but it would have  made a rather splendid hard boiled crime novel a la Chandler or Hammett) . Set in Southern California amid the water wars and droughts (what’s new?) that took place in the early 20th century , the movie has everything ,there’s a smoking hot dame with a killer wardrobe, a dead guy, an evil father, a midget with a knife and lots of whiskey, what the film does not have is anything to quench the thirst on all those hot, parched days, there’s a mention of a Tom Collins  and iced tea but thats about it. So I figured I’d gather up a basket of foods the Chinese use to symbolize good luck and prosperity    ( lord knows some of the characters need a big change of fortune)  and whip up a few refreshing beverages to revive and keep these characters cool. Its also citrus season here in Socal so I made abundant use of our seasonal bounty too. Cheers and  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Take 1 scene 1: Another stakeout

Enter our hero, J. J Jake Gittes, a hardened whiskey drinking Private Dick and ex LAPD. Jake is on the tail of  one Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for the LADWP, according to his wife he’s been cheating and she wants hard proof so she can screw him for every penny! J. J has spent the day and part of the night in his hot automobile , driving from the Pacific ocean to the east side where he finally gets his proof, Hollis is shacked up with some hot little chica who can’t keep her arms from around his neck. What Jake needs to stop his mouth from feeling like sandpaper and his eyes from drowsily closing is this version of Duke Antone’s Harvey Wallbanger, featuring tangerines (which in Chinese culture symbolize good luck ; oranges represent gold and prosperity, a favorite addition to any Chinese New Year table) Galliano, jasmine  scented Gunpowder green tea and gin.

The Duke’s Punch

serves 12

1  bottle Aviation gin

1 liter of Jasmine gunpowder green tea, chilled

6 oz of  fresh squeezed lemon juice

12 oz of Galliano liqueur

12 dashes of orange bitters ( angostura orange works well here)

3 oz of simple syrup

1/2 oz vanilla extract

1 liter of tangerine or orange soda ( my favorite for this is Fanta)

3-4 tangerines segmented and cleaned of any stringy membranes

2 blood oranges sliced thinly on a mandolin

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

In a large pitcher or punch bowl add all of your ingredients except for the orange soda, add either one great big chunk of ice or 5-6  2 inch cubes to dilute and chill, store in fridge until ready to serve. Once ready, portion out ice in your glasses and pour over the chilled punch, top with an oz or two of orange soda and decorate with tangerines and oranges.

Take 1, scene 2: Chez Mulwray 

Jake gets back to his office thinking his job is done, all he can think of is a shot of scotch and that little blonde he met at the diner two nights ago. As he walks though the door he’s flagged by his two assistants, Mrs. Mulwray is back except this time its the real one. Jake realizing he’s been set up goes back to the water plant to confront Hollis and find out what the deal is, too late though Hollis is being fished out of the drink dead as a dodo! The only way to get to the real story is track down his lady wife.  J.J arrives at Chez Mulwray just in time to see the gardener looking at something shiny  in the Coi pond, curious Jake thinks but just then is distracted by Hollis’s wife, her silk blouse and riding breeches clinging to her, Jake gives her elevator eyes as his words and throat dry up. Evelyn Mulwray, a stunning beauty offers our man iced tea, Iced tea! Methinks not, I propose this  refreshing combination of Mezcal , lettuce juice ( lettuce represents rising fortune), aloe vera, and meyer lemon juice finished off with some tart wood sorrel.

Green Manalishi

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1 1/2 oz lettuce juice

1 oz floc de gascogne

1/2 oz aloe vera juice

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

maldon smoked salt to finish

garnish with wood sorrel flowers and leaves.

 

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

In your trusty shaker add all ingredients except for salt and garnish. Add 4-5 ice cubes and shake hard for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned or rocks glass, add a pinch of smoked malden salt and few wood sorrel leaves to finish  .

(note: wood sorrel grows in abundance in Southern cali, you’ll find it on your hike in the canyons or growing in your back yard, wood sorrel like sorrel is a sour grass and adds an incredible freshness to any drink or dish, I snagged some and planted it in my yard)

Take 1 scene 3: Murder, a midget and Lunch at the Country Club

After Jake meets with the grief stricken Mrs. Mulwray he suspects foul play, the smoking dame Evelyn has him hooked and he’ll do anything to bring her some peace , turns out Hollis was in trouble over some  missing water deal, JJ starts to investigate and heads back to the water and power headquarters where he’s met with double  trouble in the form of a security guard and his midget henchman monkey, Jake trying to escape gets his nose slashed by the ape. Cut to the next morning and Gittes receives news at his office , Hollis and Evelyn’s father were once business partners so he figures who better to visit to collect dirt on the stiff. Pops comes in the intimidating and powerful form of Noah Cross, he meets Jake at his Country Club and thinks he can sway Jake away from his water investigation by offering him double to search for Hollis’s missing girlfriend.  The old man plies him with wine hoping to soften him up. No dice old timer! Jake don’t work that way! Cross may have faired better had he tried getting our man JJ one of these delicious smashes, pineapple mixed with coconut scotch  ( the golden pineapple symbolizes prosperity , luck and fortune whilst dried coconut at New year represents  friendship and unity) finish all this love off with a touch of Saigon  cinnamon .

Bol D’Or

1 1/2 oz of toasted coconut scotch ( see below for details)

3/4 oz cardamaro amaro

4-5 chunks of grilled pineapple

2 halved limequats

1/2 oz Vietnamese cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has cinnamon powder infused in it whilst still warm)

3/4 oz of lime juice

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss the halved limequats and pineapple chunks into your shaker tin, add the simple syrup and muddle pressing the oils out of the citrus, add the remaining ingredients and cracked ice and shake for about 5 seconds. Dump into a vessel of your choice and garnish with citrus leaves and a speared limequat.

(Note: Toasted coconut scotch, you will need 2 cups worth of shredded coconut that has been toasted in a medium oven for about 5-10 minutes till its partially nice and golden, toast too much and you will remove all of the yummy fatty oils that will fragrance your scotch. Add this to a container with a bottle of inexpensive blended scotch, such as Famous Grouse, stir and allow to sit overnight covered. If you are using the sous vide method to infuse , add your ingredients to a bag, seal it up and sous vide at 55 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, strain immediately and store in an airtight container).

Take 1 scene 4 :Alone at last

….and action!  J. J now has some serious questions for Hollis’s ex , he meets up with the dame for dinner where he gives her news of Papa Cross trying to throw him off track , he needs Evelyn’s help to get more answers , but first she needs a drink, stiff and  thirst quenching, something to loosen her lips and spill some beans, she orders a Tom Collins..and Cut! so how to make a Tom Collins more , well interesting, its fine and all but its essentially a boozy lemonade which if thats what you want then great, but how about trying it with preserved or fermented citrus. My version here uses preserved kumquats ( the literal meaning of the word is golden and as we heard earlier the color gold is very auspicious for new year celebrations in China, Kumquat plants are given as gifts) , coriander tincture, Old Tom gin , a touch of chili and club soda.

Tom Tom Club

2 oz Old Tom gin such as Haymans or Ransom ( if gin is not your bag substitute a good vodka)

3/4  oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/8 oz of coriander tincture ( soak one cup of coriander seeds in a bottle of Everclear spirit, strain after 2-3 days of soaking)

1 dash Scrappy’s firewater bitters

2-3 preserved kumquats ( see below for recipe)

sliced kumquats and a pinch of Szechuan pepper for  garnish

club soda to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the kumquats with the simple syrup in your shaker, add remaining ingredients and 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds and dump into highball glass, top off with soda. garnish with kumquat or citrus slices and a pinch of ground Szechuan pepper.

(Note: Preserved Kumquats, you will need a large jar, a couple of pounds of kumquats halved , kosher salt and in this case a cup of coriander seeds. Line the bottom of your jar with salt, layer kumquats and salt with coriander seeds until they’re all used up, finish with a heavy layer of salt and seal the jar. Leave for a couple of weeks, when ready to use rinse off the kumquats to eliminate some of the salt)

Take 1 scene 5: Bedtime stories

After dinner , Jake and Evelyn decide to do some in depth investigations , they head to the Mar Vista Inn retirement home to get a personal look at these land owners who are stealing all the water, whilst there they are confronted once more by the switchblade toting midget and his big dog handler, the exchange must have been exhilarating since our hero and his beauty end up in each other arms and finish the scene in bed , smoking, literally!  Early in the morning Evelyn hears some news and has to leave tout suite, but not before telling JJ that her papa, Noah Cross is dangerous and he should stay away. He follows her to a house where she seems to be holding Hollis’s piece on the side hostage . He confronts her and she confesses the girl is her sister. I would think after this all nighter Jake would be ready for a choice beverage , since the time of day is dawn might I suggest this version of a tequila sunrise….

Rise and Shine

1 1/2 oz tequila

3/4 oz strega

1 oz pomelo juice ( pomelos again signify prosperity)

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lime juice

pinch of smoked salt

3/4 oz aperol to line the bottom of your rocks glass

blood orange slice and pink peppercorns  to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake everything but the Aperol in your shaker with 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds. Meantime layer the Aperol on the bottom of your chill glass and place on top one large rocks cube. Strain the shaken drink slowly onto the rocks cube so as not to disturb the Aperol, you want this drink to look layered. Finish with a pinch of peppercorns and the blood orange slice.

Take 1 , scene 6: Forget it Jake, its Chinatown!

The next day JJ get an anonymous tip off that leads him to the original but fake Evelyn’s place where he finds not Evelyn murdered and the cops waiting there for him in hiding, the cops suspect the real Evelyn of this murder and Hollis’s, he pressures Jake to produce Mrs. Mulwray or he’s going down himself. Jake returning to Evelyn’s mansion discovers whats shiny in the Coi pond, a pair of glasses he assumes belonged to Hollis, he confronts Evelyn about her sister to discover she is both her sister and daughter and guess who’s the daddy? That’s right evil papa Cross. Jake decides to help the ladies escape their predicament and spirit them away to Mexico, he suggest they hide out in her butler’s pad in Chinatown. Before she leaves she lets Jake know the eye glasses belong to her father implicating him as Hollis’s  and not Evelyn’s killer, you follow? JJ summons papa Cross to the mansion once the ladies have left to settle his deal for the girl. Sadly things go awry , the movie ends with Evelyn shot in the eye and papa Cross  whisking the sister/daughter away. Jake tries to help but his buddies stop him with the words “forget it Jake , its Chinatown”.

This sad ending makes me think that only one drink could soothe a man’s soul . The Sazerac has a special place in my heart, its the perfect ending to a day, a meal, a story. This one gets a little extra aroma from the Chinese Five spice syrup thats paired with this lovely Taiwanese ( yes thats correct) whisky ,this particular one aged in ex bourbon barrels. Its quite stunning in a cocktail as well as by itself.

The Chinatown

2 1/2 oz Kavalan ex bourbon barrel aged whisky

1/2 oz cynar

1/2 oz Chinese 5 spice simple syrup ( use same method as for cinnamon simple syrup above)

1/2 oz absinthe ( such as Kubler or Pontarlier)

1 pomelo twist

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Pour your absinthe into a chilled glass, swill around  coating the inside of the glass and pour off a little if theres is too much in the glass. Set aside. In your mixing glass add the whiskey, sugar and Cynar plus a handful of ice cubes. Stir for about 20 seconds then strain into your absinthe rinsed glass. Finish off with the pomelo twist.

 

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.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

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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;

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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. 012 Pour Some Sugar In Me

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ow very English of me , pip pip, spit spot , bloody ell, and all that me ol china!

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Tea is my all healer, got a cold, get a cuppa, need refreshing get an iced one, need a kick get some yerba. Its such a multi tasker that am surprised have not gotten to tea time before.

The bloody English like to claim it as their own,what with elevenses, low tea and high tea, the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the PG Tips chimps but whatevs, the brilliant Chinese are most likely the first to brew up a pot for medicinal purposes no doubt and most likely it was green or white, but us Brits we have to cook everything to within an inch ( of its life) so the leaves get a good roasting and turn to deep black teas . As a kid there was only one way of

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getting your dose of tea tannins, stewed in a big old pot to a dark brown, add some milk and you have a terracotta deep colored brick so strong you can stand on it, add a coupla lumps of sugar and your good to go. My uncle was the one that introduced me to milk-less and herbal teas, we had mint growing like a wild fire taking over the garden in summer time, all different kinds too, penny royal, spearmint, peppermint so he would pull it up, dry some for winter and the rest we would brew into a sugar spiked tea that sat in the fridge in buckets. To this day its probably my favorite tea to drink. My gran would make teas from all sorts in the garden, she claimed each one thing had a purpose in the garden as well as for the body and in the spirit of me old China men , she used them as healing tissanes. My most memorable was a nasty tasting and smelling drink made from Feverfew, it reeked up the house but like a miracle got rid of tummy aches in minutes, no doubt the scent of it was enough to make the nastiest tummy bug pack its bags and move on to more hospitable bellies. Gran was my inspiration for getting into herbal remedies and tinctures, I had a whole wood and glass medicine cabinet full of roots and leaves, bottles and twigs, I read for shits and giggles Culpeper’s Complete Herbal guide, it was my bible until I discovered Led Zep at age 13 and then it took second place to Jimmy Page and his witchy ways.

Thats pretty much how tea started its journey though, a plant brewed with hot water as a tissane for ailments, at some point it was discovered that certain leaves contained stimulants like caffeine and it became the popular pick me up way before coffee and that hideous bull pee concoction . Actually the bull thing has been a bit of an inspiration of late, I am currently working on a natural, tea based butt kicker that will get a dose of the old Co2 so that I can help ween my co-workers off their expensive , destructive and nasty canned habit, am certain I can concoct something to make them happy.Green tea is also used to flavor several gins on the market including Beefeater and contains high levels of the cancer fighting super hero anti-oxidants .

My personal favorites to use in adventures of the cocktail are Earl Grey, named after a British Prime Minister and flavored with bergamot orange oil, the rumor is the oil was added to offset the lime tinged waters of Northern England where the minister resided. Earl Grey is best used with Bourbon and Gin, try infusing a bottle of gin with a few spoons of Earl Grey to make your next Collins or sour, its quite lovely! Lapsang Souchong , a black tea that has its leaves dried over pine fires, a similar process used when making peaty scotch, the smoke from the fires lends the tea an aromatic smokey aroma and flavor, by itself its an acquired taste but make a simple syrup with it and mix it with rum or the afore mentioned scotch it’ll blow your mind. Chamomile infused in vermouth or wine based mixers and green tea, jasmine green and orange blossom my two loves work well infusing gin or vodka. There is seriously a plethora of blends you can play with, mango coconut tea infused rum, mixed into a Mai Tai, green tea gin mixed in a Singapore Sling or a lapsang tea and scotch old fashioned. Here’s a few tea based recipes to whet yer whistle!

The Big Chill

This drink is inspired by the summer staple Sangria

2 oz chamomile infused Cocchi Americano (recipe below)

2 oz Reisling or Gruner Veitliner wine

1 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

1 oz aquavit , gin or vodka

3/4 oz agave

4 drops miracle mile orange bitters

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

chopped citrus such as kumquats or blood oranges

bubbles, choose from ginger beer to champagne

mint sprig garnish

 

In a Boston shaker muddle your fruit with the agave , bitters and lemon juice, not too ferociously, you want your fruit to still look pretty in your glass. Add the rest of your ingredients except for bubbles and garnish, give a good shake for 30 seconds or so with ice and dump into a wine glass of choice, top with bubbles and garnish.

This is also great as a pitcher, make your mix but don’t add ice or bubbles until ready to serve, I suggest adding the ice to your glass rather than the pitcher so that the mix does not get diluted too fast as it stands.

The Sinnerman

The love child of a Sir Sazerac and her Ladyship Julep

2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Earl Grey Tea simple syrup (recipe below in basics)

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

6 mint sprigs

3 dash Peychauds bitters

Absinthe rinsed glass

mint sprig garnish

In your trusted Boston shaker muddle the mint with simple and bitters, toss in the rest of your ingredients with ice and shake, strain into your chilled, absinthe rinsed ice filled ( preferably with a cube) old fashioned glass, top with mint sprig and if you like add an extra spritz of absinthe on top of the drink and mint so that you get a whiff under your nose as you imbibe.

Matcha, Matcha Matcha!

1 teaspoon Matcha powdered green tea

2 oz Kaffir lime leaf infused white rum or Pisco ( Recipe below in basics)

1 oz orgeat

1 oz lime juice

2 oz coconut milk

3 dashes Scrappy’s cardamom bitters

 

Add everything to your Boston shaker with ice, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a coupette, garnish with a kaffir lime leaf

Rice Rice Baby (ok , so i’m getting corny with the names)

Rice Milk Horchata or an Indian Lhassi is probably one of my favorite drinks to go with spicy food, it dumbs down those evil spice monkeys dancing on your tongue. This version is shot through an ISI gun to give it a bit of fluffing but can be made just as easily just by shaking in a tin. My version is slightly inspired by the Dude’s favorite White Russian and a Ramos, the recipe below is for one drink, if using an ISI you can batch it and make a few at once

1 1/2 oz chai tea infused vodka(recipe below)

1 oz John D Taylor’s Velvet Falernum

2 oz Vanilla rice milk

1 egg white

1/2 oz chilled espresso

1/2 oz agave

1 bar spoon acid phosphate ( adds a zing to milky drinks without adding juice)

3 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

Nutmeg garnish

 

Throw everything into your ISI gun or Boston shaker, in ISI charge with one N02 canister and give a good shake, in Boston shaker toss in some ice and shake for 30-40 seconds. The ISI version is easy to dispense into mini milk bottles, if not using ISI but want the bottled presentation is recommend using a funnel to direct your drink into the right place. Once you’re happy with where your drink landed grate a wee bit of nutmeg and add a straw.

 

The Basics

Tea infused spirits

My rule of thumb is for one 750ml bottle of booze you need about 6 tablespoons of tea, if you get it too strong you can always dilute it with more of the virgin non infused spirit, get it too weak and you wont be able to taste it in your drink once mixers and dilution added. Some green teas can be a bit strong as can lapsang tea. I tend to infuse mostly white spirits or fortified wines since their flavors are less imposing and more able to pick up an infusion, some scotches and bourbons are a little harder to mix with, as with everything I highly encourage experimentation and making your own blends.

1 bottle of vodka, gin , rum or vermouth

6 tablespoons of best quality tea of your choice.

1 large mason jar

a dark corner

throw the spirit and tea into your jar and screw on the lid, give a good shake and place in your dark and undisturbed corner, leave for at least 24 hours shaking a couple of times , taste it and if you think it needs to be stronger leave it for another 12 hours. Once its ready strain through a chinoise strainer and rebottle, if you infused vermouth it should be stored in the fridge, its a fortified wine which means that it will oxidize faster.

You can use the same process for pretty much infusing anything including the kaffir lime leaves in the first recipe, hot peppers should be checked on within 8 hours, they can get crazy spicy, in this case you can always dilute with non infused spirit.

Tea Infused simple syrup

This is one of the first infusions I made when I started to tinker with classic recipes, I used Early Grey tea as my flavor component. The solution needs to be strong so its not lost in the mix.To get the best results use boiling water and cane sugar, do not use brown sugar , the molasses thats in it will change the flavor drastically.

4 cups of boiling water

4 tablespoons of best quality loose tea, or 8 tea bags

4 cups of sugar

Steep the tea as though you were making a cuppa, leave it for about half an hour then strain off liquid, measure your remaining liquid and add an equal volume of cane sugar. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, it should last about a week but no more.

To my Earl Grey recipe I sometimes add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and lemon peels whilst infusing, they add a lovely flavor.

Acid Phosphate

Acid Phosphate was a popular ingredient used at the soda fountains of old, it sounds a bit , well chemical, but its a naturally occurring enzyme found in our own bodies and aids in digestion. In drinks it adds a certain zing if you like, its the slight tartness that balances out milky sweet egg creams but can also be used in soda making, I believe it was a component of the original Coca Cola recipe. Buy it here, its fun to play with and add to your milkshakes.

Next up……Round and round the garden, an ode to Spring

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 .

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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

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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

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