Harvey CherrybangerIt’s Mixology Monday again, and this month those who like to blog about ‘craft cocktails’ are taking on the very ingredients that the new cocktail movement was a rebellion against.

mxmologoScott Diaz at Shake, Strain & Sip is the host this week, and he outlines the challenge thus:

“The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey.  From its humble beginning, to the “Dark Ages” of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald “Platinum Age” of the cocktail,  master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available.  But with all this focus on “craft” ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious.  The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves.  Some even go as far as to post “rules” that may alienate most potential imbibers.  Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest.  As such, this month’s MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft,  will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less.  There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves.  So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin’!

Well, I wasn’t feeling inspired to join in this month until the looming figure of my overly tall Galliano bottle caught my eye. “I actually quite like Galliano”, I thought. But it is terribly sweet. So I thought about what might be a good base spirit to mix it with and decided on a newish addition to my liquor collection, Kirsch (aka Kirschwasser), a brandy made from sour cherries. Kirsch (or at least the brand I have, Massanez) is delicious, but very dry, so I figured it would balance the sweetness of the Galliano and vice versa.

A little taste test bore this out, but it was thin – all high notes, needing some depth and body. To try and add this without sweetness, I turned to my favourite artichoke liqueur, Cynar, and a bit of Fees Brothers Rhubarb Bitters, a flavour that I am very fond of. The resulting cocktail was good, but then I remembered thinking that grapefruit would go nicely with dry eaux-de-vie such as Kirsch. The addition was an improvement, so after a quick suitably smutty 80’s name, this is the result. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a pretty good drink. Delicious even.

The Harvey Cherrybanger

2 oz Kirsch

1/2 oz Galliano

1/2 oz Cynar

1/2 oz grapefruit juice

Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit. Stick on some Human League and consume.

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Happy Birthday to me!

decon1The Boo Lion turned one last week, so I decided to get busy with the power tools and do a little deconstruction work.

But first, some thanks to those of you who have helped me during my first year, and yes, I mean you, the readers. I’m very grateful to my friends, and anyone who stopped by to read this blog. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and they say how they’re enjoying reading my blog. The even greater surprising pleasure was the wonderful kindness and support from complete strangers in the cocktail blogging community. I hadn’t even read blogs before I started this one, and I was amazed at how nice and friendly other bloggers can be.

Thanks a lot guys!

Anyway, after a year it’s about time to pull out the power tools in service of mixology.

Last week, I blogged about Negronis. I left out one of the most fun – the Deconstructed Negroni.

The Deconstructed Negroni has nothing to do with Derrida and postmodernism. It’s about separating out some of the ingredients through the technology of molecular mixology, specifically nitrous canisters to create foam. I know it doesn’t sound like a job for the average kitchen cocktailian, but don’t despair, there is another method!

The Deconstructed Negroni is made by Charlotte Voisey as a version of her Unusual Negroni, which I featured last week, but with the Aperol being made into a foam that sits on top of the gin and Lillet Blanc mix.

If, like me, you don’t have nitrous canisters, you can use a whisk. Eric Felten recommends using a sturdy wide mixing glass, and rubbing a small whisk between your hands like a boy scout rubbing a stick to make fire. I don’t have a small whisk, and I wasn’t very happy with my resulting foam (although it was still quite passable). Electric whisks are very expensive in this country. Electric whisk heads are not. Neither are power drills.

DSC_1174Oh, yeah! That’s the way I do it.

DSC_1180I can’t believe I waited a year to use power tools in the service of the cocktail arts.

DSC_1101The Deconstructed Negroni

1 1/2 oz gin

1 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Aperol foam

Lightly stir gin and Lillet over ice in a rocks glass. Spoon Aperol foam on top.

Aperol Foam

1 oz Aperol

1 egg white

2 oz strained grapefruit juice

2 tsp orange bitters*

Whisk ingredients into a frothy foam (with whisk, electric beater or power drill).

First of all 2 teaspoons of orange bitters is a hell of a lot! I like my Angostura Orange Bitters, but they’re very strong, and can easily overpower a drink. I used two small dashes, and less would have been fine. But you certainly want some, as I think orange is very important in a Negroni.

As with the Unusual Negroni, you want a light and/or citrusy gin with this one – Plymouth and Hendricks work well.

Finally if, you don’t have Aperol and Lillet, you can use the usual Negroni ingredients – sweet vermouth and Campari. This makes a good drink, but the Aperol and Lillet combo is better.

The drink is a winner! It’s fun to make, good to look at or show off, and delicious to drink.

Addendum

A final Negroni variation I neglected to mention is apparently quite chic in cocktail circles now, but I don’t have ingredients for it. It’s the White Negroni. Putney Farm has a great article about it, and Jason Wilson has a recipe in the Washington Post. I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks, and checking out a few of Wellington’s cocktail bars. Maybe I’ll get a chance to try one.

Negroni2This post is mostly about the Negroni, but I’m going to start with an Italian lesson.

1. americano (n)

An Americano is a drink made with bitters (Campari), vermouth and soda. According to most sources it got its name around about the 1890s because of all the American tourists drinking it. I call bullshit. Were there loads of American tourists in Italy in the 1890s? Did they then choose to drink strange bitter European liqueurs? I think the more likely explanation is that the name came from ‘ameri’ the word for ‘bitter’. I have no evidence to back this up.

2. Negroni (n)

The name of an Italian Count who wanted to strengthen his Americano by subbing gin for soda. It worked, and the story seems a little more legit, although there are at least two Italian Counts vying for the credit.

3. sbagliato (adj)

Mistaken, as in, “I mistakenly poured champagne into your Negroni, instead of gin, by mistake. (Mama Mia!)”. You mistakenly what? No I don’t believe it. The Beefeater and the Asti Spumante look nothing alike. The bubbles weren’t a giveaway? Now, I read that the drink usually called ‘Negroni Sbagliato’ is simply called ‘Sbagliato’ in Italy. Back in the day, cheap (or not-so-cheap) dry sparkling wine was often used as a luxury version of soda water. So the Sbagliato is really just a luxury Americano, but maybe its invention really was a happy mistake.

Now that we’ve learnt the lexicology, let’s get on to the boozeology.

The Americano was actually originally called the Milan-Turino. It was invented by Gaspare Campari, who was a master drinks-maker by the age of 14, invented the most famous bitters in the world and founded the company that was to become the sixth-largest multinational spirits producer. Quite a guy! He was from Turin, but moved to Milan and opened his Caffe Campari there, naming his signature drink after his two home cities, which were also home to the two ingredients, his own Campari, made in Milan, and Cinzanno Vermouth, made in Turin.

americanoAmericano

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

soda water

orange or lemon slice

Build over ice in an Old_Fashioned glass, top with a squirt of soda and garnish with orange or lemon slice. Alternatively, build in a highball glass of ice and add about 2 oz of soda.

Lemon is the traditional garnish and orange was used in the Negroni to distinguish it, but personally I think that the orange just works better with the Campari.

The Americano is a nice enough drink, but the improvements are better.

As mentioned, if you use sparkling wine instead of soda water, you get a Sbagliato. This drink was invented (mistakenly or not) by bartender Mirko Stochetto, at the Bar Basso in Milan during the 1960s.

sbagliatoSbagliato

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

dry sparkling wine

orange slice

Make in the same way as an Americano, in an Old-Fashioned glass, although, for fun, I like to put it in a Champagne glass.

For authenticity, the sparkling wine should really be Italian. It seems that the original was probably Asti Spumante, but it’s trendier to use Prosecco, these days. There’s nothing wrong with using cheap Champagne, Cava or something else, though. I’ve tried all three, and like this drink quite a lot. It’s light, fun and easy to drink.

That finally brings us to the Negroni – the strengthened (and I think much improved) version of the Americano.

The most probable story of the invention of the Negroni was that the Italian playboy Count Camillo Negroni (when returning to Italy after having been a cattle rancher in the US for a while when he fled home due to the fathering an illegitimate child), drinking Americanos at the Cafe Casoni in 1919, decided to strengthen them with a bit of gin. A classic was born.

Negroni1Negroni

1 oz gin

1 oz Campari

1 oz sweet vermouth

orange slice or zest

Combine in an Old-Fashioned glass of ice and stir, or stir in a mixing glass of ice and strain into a coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with orange slice, wheel, wedge or zest.

That’s the drink, in all its simplicity. Now let’s get on to some choices and variations:

The simplest choice is if you want it on the rocks or up. Apparently in Italy it is always served in an Old-Fashioned glass with ice, but in recent years, cocktail fans have been straining it into a cocktail glass. I prefer the latter approach. It seems to make a nicer drink to me, and can also be a beautiful clear red which just makes it more appealing.

A few drops of Angostura or orange bitters is another common choice, although it’s not really necessary, given that Campari is, itself, a form of bitters. That said, I do like a couple of drops of orange bitters in my Negroni, especially if I’m using Aperol instead of Campari and using lighter citrusy gin.

Which brings me to the gin. I think the best choices are either a good traditional London dry like Tanqueray (one of my top choices) or a milder gin with good hints of citrus, such as Plymouth Gin. I wouldn’t recommend more herbal gins like Bombay Sapphire or the Botanist, really.

One trend is to increase the amount of gin. Personally, I think this is a mistake. I don’t really consider the Negroni a ‘gin drink’. With the equal parts formula, the three ingredients come together to create a completely new third flavour which is neither gin, Campari nor vermouth – the Negroni flavour. I think you lose this if you up the ratio of gin. You have a new gin drink, which is not a Negroni, nor is it as good.

Another, much better, trend is to use the Negroni template – gin, bitters, vermouth-like sweetener – to create similar drinks. There are quite a lot of these, but many require Amari (Italian potable bitters) that I just can’t get. Neither can I get any kind of sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica, and Punt-e-Mes are popular ones) other than Martini and Rossi. Here are a few that I have tried:

unusualThe Unusual Negroni

1 oz gin

1 oz Aperol

1 oz Lillet Blanc

orange twist

Stir ingredients with ice (or ‘throw’) and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

This drink was created by bartender Charlotte Voisey for Hendrick’s Gin, and it’s a good gin for the drink. A lighter gin is called for, and one with good citrus flavours, so I’ve also found that Plymouth works well in this drink. Aperol is a lighter, more orangey, sweeter version of Campari (read to the end for availability in Taiwan), and can work well to introduce those wary of Campari to Negronis. The Aperol, being sweeter, is balanced by Lillet Blanc, being less sweet than Italian vermouth. Lillet is an aperitif wine with a similar profile to vermouth, but again, like all ingredients in this drink, it’s lighter and brighter. I like to add just two drops of Angostura Orange Bitters, as well.

Voisey ‘throws’ this drink to create some aeration, but I haven’t actually tried that myself.

The Unusual is my favourite Negroni, and a great bet if you want to win someone over to the drink. In my experience, no one likes their first Negroni, so see if you can make this their (or your own) second.

But sometimes you don’t want light:

cyn-cin (2)Cyn-Cin

1 oz gin

1 oz Cynar

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 dash bitters

2 wedges orange

Shake liquid ingredients and juice of one of the wedges with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the other wedge.

Jason Wilson attributes this variation to bartender Chris Cunningham, and writes of it, and other variations, in his book ‘Boozehound’, and in a Washington Post column.

Cynar (sadly unavailable in Taiwan) is the fantastic artichoke liqueur that I’ve written about before. It makes this Negroni rich and herbaceous. Another winner.

hankypankyHanky Panky

1 1/2 oz gin

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Fernet Branca

orange twist

Stir well with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Ted Haigh unearthed this cocktail, created by Ada Coleman at the Savoy Cocktail, home of one of the most influential cocktail books ever. He stresses the importance of actually expressing the essential oils in the orange before garnishing. He also says that the drink languishes because of its unfortunate name. I love the name! Apparently, upon tasting it, a certain Sir Charles Hawtrey declared “By Jove! That is the real Hanky Panky!”

I agree with Charles. This might be a bit clichéd for cocktail geeks, but Fernet Branca (alas, also not to be had in Taiwan) is one of my very favourite drops. I use a teaspoon in this drink. The proportions are different from a standard Negroni, but the Fernet is stronger, and a lot more bitter than Campari, so it still has a definite Negroni-ness. It’s great.

Deconstructed Negroni

Another good one, but I’m going to cover that in my next post.

luciengaudinThe Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

1 oz gin

1/2 oz Cointreau

1/2 oz Campari

1/2 oz dry vermouth

orange twist

Stir with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.

Another drink from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, named after a famous French fencer from the 20’s. It makes sense as a Negroni with the added orangey flavours of Cointreau, but I wasn’t too thrilled with it. I think it needs a bit of Orange Bitters, and would quite likely also work better with Aperol instead of Campari.

BoulevardierThe Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz sweet vermouth

orange twist or cherry

Stir with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist or cherry.

I’ve left this to last for the obvious reason that it’s not a Negroni at all, being made out of Bourbon rather than gin. No matter, it’s a wonderful drink that stands up to both the Negroni and its other relative the Manhattan in quality. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Conclusions

The Negroni is a marvellous drink, not only of itself, but in the way it can be easily adapted. I’ve only listed a few of the variations, being, as I am, constrained by my lack of alternatives for the Campari and the Vermouth, but there are countless variations possible. Try one.

Note: I have found Aperol in only one place in Taiwan, a small distributor called Fontanbev. Their website is a horrible Flash mess, so if you can’t navigate it, their address is Zhongxiao E Rd, Sec 5, No. 508, 21F-3, and they have a small shop on the first floor of the back of that building (Phone 02-2759-1358). The Aperol is about 900NT, I think. I’ve mentioned before that you can get Lillet Blanc from Sundy.

MXMO: The Black Krampus

December 15, 2012

mxmologo-2The holiday season is upon us, so I’m going to bring you a nice hot drink, courtesy of that traditional Yule figure from the north. The one who keeps a list of which children have been naughty and nice, and visits them at Christmas time to give them what they deserve.

No, I’m not talking about the fat man, but this guy:

220px-Krampus-Postkarte_um_1900Meet Krampus.

Yeah. He looks like a cross between Beelzebub and the Pedo Bear, right?

KrampusCard3(2)According to some Germanic traditions Krampus accompanies St Nick (or sometimes works of his own accord) and punishes the naughty children at Christmas. If you’ve only been a little bit naughty, he’ll just swat you with his birch branches, but if you’ve been bad, he’ll carry you off to eat or to throw you into the fires of hell (at least that’s what he tells us – I wouldn’t trust my kids alone with him).

m157137641So why a Krampus cocktail?

Well it’s time again for Mixology Monday, the monthly gathering of cocktail bloggers.

Edit: You can now see all the great contributions to the theme here. Go on, check them out!

This time the theme is Humbug: Something that turns traditional Christmas drinks on their heads, or goes against the spirit of Christmas, or celebrates a Christmas villain, or … well let me quote this month’s host JFL from Rated R Cocktails:

Lets face it the holidays suck, yeah I said it. You put yourself in debt buying crap people will have forgotten about in a month. You drive around like a jackass to see people you don’t even like, or worse they freeload in your house. Your subjected to annoying music, and utterly fake, forced kindness and joy. Plus if you work retail your pretty much in hell, so don’t we all deserve a good stiff drink? So for this Mixology Monday unleash your inner Grinch. Mix drinks in the spirit of Anti-Christmas. They can be really bitter and amaro filled. They filled with enough booze to make you pass out in a tinsel covered Scrooge heap. They could be a traditional holiday drink turned on it’s ear. Or they could be a tribute to your favorite holiday villain. If you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa then you still suffer through the holidays, so feel free to join in with your Anti-Holiday drink as well. Whatever it is add a hearty “Humbug!” and make your drink personify everything annoying or fake about the holidays.

Bugger that!

I love Christmas, and those anti-holiday wankers who profess to hate it can sod right off.

Krampus5-1That said, the aforementioned Krampus, who I just found out about last year, fits the bill. He must be the original Christmas villain, right?

So this idea is a Krampus toddy. Taking the nice soothing hot toddy and turning it into something bitter and vicious that all but hardened boozers would turn their noses up at. A Toddy not for Santa, but for Krampus.

krampus_1So it’s black and mean. I took a Scotch Toddy I made a couple of weeks ago and amped up the nastiness.

The first little helper – Fernet Branca. This is a very bitter (and black) amaro (bitter liqueur) from Italy. Unfortunately it’s not available in Taiwan, and I only have my bottle thanks to my network of booze mules (well it’s really a triangle, rather than a network, and each of my three mules has only made an annual average of one trip over the last year, so I’m always looking for volunteers – apply within). If you are in Taiwan, you can get Luxardo Fernet from Sundy, which is apparently very similar.

krampus_lrgThe second little helper is Blackstrap Molasses, doing duty as the sweetening component of the toddy. I knew I was on the right track when someone online called it ‘nasty stuff’ when I put out a help call while trying to find it in Taiwan. Blackstrap is thick and strong. Its most common cocktail application is the Black Strap (aka Black Stripe) cocktail. You can read more about it here.

DSC_0923The Black Krampus

2 oz Islay Scotch

1/2 oz Fernet Branca

1/2 oz blackstrap molasses

Warm a glass with hot water for a few minutes before discarding. Dissolve molasses in 3 oz of near-boiling water. Add the booze and stir. Serve hot.

Optional additions: grated nutmeg or a twist of lemon might make nice garnishes, but I didn’t have any on hand to try. Fees Brothers Black Walnut Bitters are good, and help with the ‘black’ theme, but you need a good 4 or 5 dashes to stand up to the other strong ingredients. Edit: and I just discovered that a few dashes of orange bitters (Angostura) – instead or as well as the Black Walnut – cuts through the nastiness very well.

Verdict: It looks like motor oil in colour and consistency. It tastes like Chinese medicine. That said, the three powerhouse ingredients do balance each other out quite well, and if you like strong bitter flavours, you might like it. Also, I swear it’s doing wonders for my sore throat.

l_krampus_b_300x257(2)Certainly a toddy for Krampus, or perhaps one to leave out for Santa (if you don’t want him to come back next year).

x-jones-krampus(2)

Merry Christmas!!! (and don’t be too good)

Hot Toddy – A Template

December 8, 2012

The last week or so, I’ve been messing around with a template recipe for some hot toddy variations. It’s a little rough, but I got a few nice results.

Reading a few blogs, I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one drinking hot drinks these days, as the weather turns cold in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s not freezing in Taiwan yet, but it has been cold, grey, wet and miserable. Perfect Hot Toddy weather.

DSC_0892Most modern recipes for Hot Toddies are whiskey (or other spirit), honey and lemon juice, with some cinnamon and cloves, but this not what the original hot toddy was. David Wondrich explains (and the old recipe books back him up) that the Toddy (hot or cold) was a descendent of the punch, with the fruit taken out. The recipe goes something like this:

Old School Hot Toddy

2 oz spirits

1 tsp sugar

3 oz hot water

That’s it. You should warm the glass with a soak in hot water first. You can grate a little fresh nutmeg on top, too (I haven’t got any, so haven’t tried it). Brown, raw or Demerara sugar is recommended, but white or simple syrup work fine.

Dark spirits tend to work best, with Scotch, Rum, Brandy and Bourbon being favourites. I’ve tried them all before and last week (the first day it got cold) had one with Woodford Reserve that was delicious.

After that experience I wondered about varying the recipe with liqueurs for sweetener. This is something which the writer’s don’t really suggest, but I thought worth a try. Then I got fancy (my first attempt lacked something) and tried adding some extra strong flavour in small quantities. That gave me this template:

Fancy Toddy Template

2 oz spirits

1/2 oz sweet liqueur

1 tsp strong modifying agent

It could probably do with improvement, and might not be to the taste of purists, but it’s certainly fun playing around with on cold winter nights.

The drink that led me to experiment with this template was made with (sadly the last of) my bottle of Bowmore 12-Year Islay Scotch. Toddies usually call for smooth single malts, but I’d decided they’d be much nicer with a bit of a kick, and I think a smokey Islay really works. I think I had a drink called ‘Under the Tartan Sun’ (from Boozehound) in mind when I thought of Tuaca as a sweetener. Tuaca is an Italian vanilla liqueur, so you could also use Licor 43, or maybe even Galliano. I thought it still wanted a little something and I felt that was Fernet Branca, the beautiful bitter minty ameri.

Scotch Toddy

2 oz Islay Scotch

1/2 oz Tuaca

1 tsp Fernet Branca

3 oz hot water

It was great. 5/5

DSC_0875Next day (or possibly the same night) I went for brandy, and did it B & B style.

Brandy Toddy

2 oz Cognac

1/2 oz Benedictine

1/2 tsp absinthe

Also very good. 4/5

Next I tried gin, and think I have to agree that aged spirits work better in Hot Toddies. The first attempt (with Botanist, Yellow Chartreuse and Maraschino – I don’t know why I thought it might work) was just awful. The second matched some floral flavours, was alright and could be worked on.

Hendrick’s Toddy

2 oz Hendrick’s Gin

1/2 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

2 drops rose water

It was alright. The flavours matched nicely, but it was rather thin. 3/5

Next was rum. I started with the high-proof Bundaberg OP and realised that you can’t use high-proof spirits (or too much spirits) in Hot Toddies. The evaporating fumes make it impossible to drink for a couple of minutes. I had to use my only other aged rum at the moment, Havana Club Especial. It was still a great drink, but I think a more full-bodied sweeter rum would have been better. Having never made Tiki drinks I was also not sure about the (Fees) Falernum. Really, I just threw it in for the hell of it. I was, perhaps, forcing things to fit the template. But it ended up really improving the drink, so why not?

Rum Toddy

2 oz dark rum

1/2 oz Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

1-2 tsp Falernum

Great. It only misses out on 5 stars because I think a more suited rum would have been better 4.5/5

Next I tried Calvados, which is true apple brandy (that is not a liqueur called brandy, but a distillate made from apples). I think I was reaching for things to match it with, but the Chartreuse more or less worked, and I think Angostura suits Calvados. I really wanted to try it with Peach Liqueur, but didn’t have any. The result was fairly nice, but nothing special.

Calvados Toddy

2 oz apple brandy

1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

O.K. 3/5

Finally I tried a toddy with Genever – the Dutch ancestor of gin, and a bit of a favourite of mine, although I never really know what to mix it with. The ingredients I ended up with – Cynar artichoke liqueur and rhubarb bitters – were a weird match, and though I really liked it, I’m not sure that many other people would.

Genever Toddy

2 oz Genever

1/2 oz Cynar

1 dash rhubarb bitters (Fees)

I liked it, but doubt it would have broad appeal, so 3.5/5.

And that’s it. I can’t really say that any of these are better than plain Woodford Reserve Bourbon with sugar, but it’s good to have a variety. Do you have any favourite toddy recipes?

There’s a new kind of bar that I’ve only read about in books. Cocktail geeks will know what I’m talking about. They’re called Classic Cocktail Bars, Vintage Cocktail Bars, Craft Cocktail Bars or just Speakeasies. Some of these places have staff decked out in Prohibition-era uniforms. Some of them have secret entrances and passwords. Some of them are reservation-only. Some of them are hidden behind plain doors in alleys or through back doors of  other store fronts. But the one thing they have in common (the good ones, anyway) is a dedication to great drinks, specifically by mining the resources of the bygone golden age of the cocktail and applying these principles to making great new concoctions with top-class ingredients.

Of course, I’d never been to one of these places before. We just don’t have them here in Taipei. Nothing close even. Until last night that is.

When I met Frank Chu, a New Yorker, he told me how he and some other friends with Taiwanese heritage, in love with the craft cocktail scene in New York, were poised to try out the concept in Taipei. He’d found my blog useful in sourcing some ingredients and wanted to invite me to the soft opening.

I was thrilled, but, I have to admit, a little sceptical. I guess I’m just naturally cynical. I’ve been disappointed by too many bars in Taipei. Sure, some of them are nice, but going there for the cocktails is like going to the cinema for the popcorn.

So with a little trepidation I found the coffee shop which is the faux front for the ‘Speakeasy’ (although it’s a fully functioning cafe, which seems to be very nice), Frank and his partner Yee showed me around to the back, I found the secret button and the hidden door in the wall was opened.

Now I was somewhat relieved. The interior is beautiful. It’s an intimate area divided into equal parts table seating and bar seating, with what is easily the best bar I’ve seen. I sat at the bar, eyes instantly drawn to the amazing collection of spirits and liqueurs – full of things that I’ve never seen in Taipei before, and was introduced to Ounce’s secret weapon – the bartender.

As soon as I saw Lee Peare working and started talking to him, my last qualms were gone. I might not have seen it before, but I knew this was the real thing. And I hadn’t even tried the drinks yet.

The cocktail menu has a selection of about a dozen original creations, a handful of Lee’s takes on the classics and a small selection of champagne cocktails. Apart from the latter they are all priced at a very reasonable 350NT (about $US12). And you are more than welcome to order off-menu.

For my first drink, I tried a Birlinn (named after an old Scottish type of longboat), a drink with two types of Scotch (Oban 14-year and Tallisker 10-year), Carpano Antica (a type of vermouth unavailable in Taipei) and Branca Mente (a menthol bitter liqueur also unavailable here). The drink was beautiful. Smooth scotch, then bitter, and then some smoke, but cooled off by the mint. Perfect balance.

I then had an Aviation (off-menu) which was also expertly made, but best of all was a ‘Treacle’ (Rum Old-Fashioned with a dash of apple juice) made with some old Planter’s Pyrat XO Reserve Gold Rum. It was easily one of the best drinks I’ve ever tasted.

My final treat was that Lee (as a gesture of thanks for the help they found this blog to be) invited me to taste any of the bottles behind the bar. Let me stress this. Ounce has a lot of bottles that you CAN NOT get in Taipei. Kid – candy store.

I said that Ounce’s secret weapon was the bartender. Lee Peare was fantastic. He’s a perfectionist and not just with the drinks, he was obviously completely in control of the bar. Every detail was specified by him – the beautiful bar itself, the wonderful quality glassware and tools, the prominently displayed bitters dispensers and the excellent built-in garnish rack. He very clearly knows his stuff, and talks about it passionately. And the results speak for themselves.

Lee is from Ireland originally, where he worked at Harry’s and met Frank, Yee, and the other partners behind Ounce while working at Pound in New York. His vision for Ounce is a place where the focus is squarely on the drinks and where people can have a real quality cocktail experience from the moment the enter the door.

I think that feeling of the ‘experience’ is key. I’ll bet some of you were cringing when I started talking about a false front and secret entrance. I’ve always been very sceptical about that idea too. But Ounce don’t want to be exclusive. A bit of mystery, sure, but not secrecy. After a while in the bar I realised that whole thing really does help with that feeling of a special experience.

Conclusions

Great atmosphere.

Fantastic bartender.

Amazing drinks.

If you’re in Taipei, get down to Ounce! You won’t be disappointed.

Details

Location: Inside Relax Cafe, No. 40, L.63, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2

Phone: 2708 6755 (reservations are likely to be necessary)

Hours: Tue-Sat from 7PM

Website: ounceTaipei.com

Note: At the time of this post, Ounce hasn’t had its official opening yet, but they are in business, as is the cafe at the front.

Corpse Reviver #2

October 30, 2012

Halloween’s not really my bag, but I’ll certainly use it as an excuse to down a couple of my favourite cocktails.

A Zombie would be nice, but I don’t have the luxury of the fancy rums needed. No matter, a couple of months ago, I tried this one, and it became an instant favourite:

Corpse Reviver #2

1 oz gin

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lillet Blanc

1 oz lemon juice

1 dash absinthe or pastis

Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Optionally drop a cherry in the bottom or garnish with lemon or orange twist.

This is a great drink. The balance is important, but it’s not difficult to get it tasting just right, with every ingredient coming through. It’s light and refreshing, so could conceivably do its job of corpse-reviving if you’re the sort that’s into the hair-of-the-dog. Personally, I think it would be a great Sunday brunch drink. My wife’s also a big fan, and she’s quite fussy with her cocktails.

Most recipes go for these proportions (for some differences, check out this Kaiser Penguin post) and it seems like the perfect balance to me. The only tricky part is that ‘dash’ of absinthe. I find that absinthe can easily become too much in a cocktail. I’d recommend less than a 1/4 tsp, and personally I just do it ‘Sazerac style’ – coat the glass with it and then dash out the excess.

I love gin and I love Cointreau, but the real rockstar ingredient is the Lillet (pronounced ‘lee-lay’ but softly on the ‘lay’). I finally got my hands on a bottle of this (previously unavailable in Taipei) from Sundy, and if it wasn’t essentially a 1000NT bottle of wine, I’d be drinking it all the time, straight or with tonic over ice. It’s really delicious.

Lillet Blanc (there’s also a ‘Rouge’) is broadly an ‘aperitif wine’, similar to vermouth, and specifically a ‘quinquina’ similar to Dubbonnet (which I also adore). It tastes to me a little like a souped-up Sauvignon Blanc, and there are indeed Sauvignon Blanc grapes in there, along with others, and various herbs and spices to add (fairly light) flavouring.

In cocktail circles, Lillet is often used as a vermouth substitute to create interesting variations on classic vermouth drinks. I’ve tried Martinis, Manhattans and Negronis with it, and they’re all great.

For mixing purposes, there is some controversy about how close it is to the original ‘Kina Lillet’ called for in many old recipes. Some say ‘Kina’ was much more bitter, others say not much, and Lillet themselves say that it hasn’t even changed. Read this Savoy Stomp post if you’re interested in the details.

Back to the Corpse Reviver. As the ‘#2’ suggests, there were a number of drinks with this name (back around the turn of the 19th century), but only #1 and #2 are really still in circulation, and the #2 is the most popular of the pair (check out this post for more). Just as the ‘Cocktail’ was originally a hangover cure, Corpse Revivers were one of a number of drinks with similar names (Eye-Openers was another popular one), designed to cure you with a bit more of what ails you.

So no, this isn’t really a zombie reanimator kind of thing. It’s more for self-prescription. Does it work? Well I’ve never actually tried it for its intended purpose. If you have a Halloween party planned, why not track down a bottle of Lillet and get ready to try it the next morning. Better yet, get started now. Corpse Revivers could be self-perpetuating.

It’s Mixology Monday again and this week’s challenge – ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ – sees me joining up with another Taiwan-based beverage enthusiast, Tearroir, and making a Taiwanese tea-infused Scotch drink which I’ve named the Sucha Rob Roy.

MxMo is a monthly gathering of cocktail bloggers, and this month, hosted by Ed at Wordsmithing Pantagruel, sees us making something with one or more significant ingredients which must be green. (Edit: Summary now up here.)  I’d just bought my first bottle of good, smoky Islay Scotch and couldn’t help but think ‘Green tea would be good infused in this!’ Well I wasn’t the first to think of infusing Scotch with tea, of course, and further research also led me to see that MxMo had already used ‘tea’ as a theme. No matter. I was keen to try my local Taiwan tea with some Caledonian peat-juice.

Not only am I a beginner when it comes to Scotch, but I know nothing about tea, which is a crying shame, as, being in Taiwan, I live right in the middle of one of the very best tea-growing countries on the planet. Some of the best high-mountain oolongs and other teas are grown within easy driving distance of my home.

So that’s where I turned to local expat operation Tearroir for help. Not only do they sell some of Taiwan’s finest tea, but their mission is to try and let Western tea-drinkers have the same informed, appreciative experience of drinking tea that wine-lovers have drinking wine.

Last weekend I had a great lunch with one of Tearroir’s founders, Austin, to learn something about Taiwan tea. Austin first came to Taiwan to further his Chinese studies, but ended up spending more time in mountainside teahouses than in the classroom, and, incidentally, learning more Chinese from tea masters – happy to talk for hours about their passion – than he did from his professors. On his return to Taiwan, Austin knew he was going to do something involving tea, and after meeting oenophile, David, they had the idea of not just selling some of Taiwan’s teas, but also trying to help develop a tea-appreciation culture similar to that which exists for wine.

I love the way Tearroir’s passion for tea matches the passion for spirits and cocktails held by those of us involved in, or influenced by, the ‘craft cocktail movement’, so this week’s cooperation with Tearroir goes further than just picking up some tea from them.

But, I did pick up some tea. The first is called Tie Guanyin, which means something like ‘Iron Buddha’ in Chinese. It’s a tea which is very similar to (and often thought of as being) a dark, heavily roasted, high-mountain Oolong. My novice taste buds got an immediate impression of good deep earthiness (a taste I love in spirits), then some richness, and some pleasant, slightly bitter tannins.

The second tea I tried was Pu-er tea, (Pu-er Cha)which is made in China (Yunnan), but, in this case, undergoes extensive ‘post-fermentation’ and aging for 15 years in Taiwan, which gives it its distinctive characteristics. An aged tea with an aged spirit seemed like a good choice. On tasting this tea, I was even more impressed than with the Tie Guanyin. I loved it. It also had some clay-like earthiness, but seemed much deeper and richer, with more complexity and a heavenly aftertaste.

Next I started to infuse the tea in the Scotch – a bottle of Islay Bowmore 12-Year. My online research gave infusion times ranging from two minutes to two weeks, so I was really not sure if I was going to get a good result first try. With that in mind, I only infused a small 180 ml, (giving me a result of about 150 ml) of each tea, which didn’t leave much room for experimenting with different cocktails.

I started with the Tie Guanyin, adding a level tablespoon to the Scotch in a sealed jar (the leaves are very tight, almost like peppercorns, so this is quite a lot) and shaking a little now and then. After ten minutes the taste was already detectable, and I stopped it and strained it at twenty. It’s by far the easiest infusion I’ve ever done.

The Pu-erCha is much looser and leafier, so I added a 1/4  cup. After an hour there was little effect, so I left it for two. Unfortunately, it was a little long. An hour and a half would have been much better.

I left both infusions a few days to mellow. I’m not sure if that was necessary, but I was out of time anyway, and wanted to get into some cocktail-tasting fresh, later in the week.

The Tie Guanyin was the clear winner of the two. Sipping it neat, the first impression is all smoky Scotch, but then a strong clear earthy tea aftertaste comes through, rising delightfully and giving a warm flush to the sides of the mouth. I love it. It truly exceeded my expectations. It made me think pleasantly of fresh rain on deep grey granite.

The Pu-er Cha was less successfully. I’d let it become too bitter, and it was not a nice sipper. Also, the flavours just didn’t really match those of the Scotch as well.

I tried both of these in Old-Fashioneds (of which the Tie Guanyin was fine, but not spectacular),  and a couple of other drinks each, but I’ll jump to the one that I thought was the winner, and my MxMo submission:

Sucha Rob Roy

2 oz Tie Guanyin tea-infused Islay Scotch

1 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 – 1 tsp Green Chartreuse

1 dash Fees Whiskey-Barrel-Aged Bitters

tea leaf garnish (optional)

Stir all with ice. Strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Optionally, garnish with a tea leaf.

The Bobby Burns is a Rob Roy variation with added Benedictine. I used Green Chartreuse instead, as I thought the herbal grassiness would go nicely (and to add to the ‘green’ MxMo theme), and used the Fees Whiskey-Barrel-Aged for my bitters for similar reasons (but Angostura or, certainly, orange would have suited nicely, too). The Rob Roy itself is a Manhattan variation of course, and this was honestly the best, most complex Manhattan-style drink I’ve had.

There were so many delicious layers of complementary flavour, each coming through clearly. The smoke of the Scotch, the pepper of the bitters, the herbal tones of the Chartreuse (slightly too dominant at 1 tsp – 1/2 would probably be better), and finally, and most satisfyingly, the deep earthiness of the Tie Guanyin tea for an impressively solid aftertaste.

The name ‘Sucha’ (soo-char) is a bit of Chinese abbreviation from the words for Scotland and tea.

My results with the Tie Guanyin infusion and the Sucha Rob Roy, leave me more than happy with my experiment.

The Pu-er Cha didn’t infuse quite as well (although it may have with a bit less infusion-time), but I still managed to make one very nice cocktail out of it.

Bonus cocktail:

Tea Lily

1 1/2 oz Pu-er Cha infused Islay Scotch

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

1/2 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

1 dash orange bitters

Stir all with ice. Strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and, optionally, a tea leaf.

This was actually very good, having pulled out the big guns – Lillet and St Germain are both divine potions, the latter with a reputation of being able to tame some of the wildest flavours. It worked in this case. The tea lily is a delicious, floral drink. It’s sweet overall, but the smoke, and strong tea flavours are still clearly there.

Final Conclusions: Infusing Taiwanese tea into smoky Scotch can really pay off, and is quick and easy to do. Of course, if you want to try, don’t hesitate to contact Tearroir to get some fine quality Tawian teas.

And if you like this post, please check out some of the other contributors to Mixology Monday. Most of them know a lot more about cocktails than I do.

Having a smashing time!

October 4, 2012

The ‘Smash’ is a cocktail predecessor based on mint – a “Julep on a small plan” as is often said.

This post is the last in a short trilogy on mint, following Mojitos and Juleps.

Before the ‘Cocktail‘ (in the official sense of the word – spirit, bitters, sugar and water), there was the ‘Sling’ – spirit, sugar and water (or ice). The addition of mint, simply makes it a ‘Smash’, and according to David Wondrich, this was a pretty popular drink in the late 19th century. Another way of looking at it is as a cocktail (like an Old-Fashioned) with mint instead of bitters as the spice.

The Smash I’d heard reference to the most was the Gin Smash. I had an old recipe from somewhere and tried it.

Gin Smash

2 oz gin

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp water

3 sprigs of mint

Muddle the mint in sugar and water, add gin, and shake. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass of ice with some finely chopped mint, and garnish with an extra sprig.

Well, it was OK. It should have been better. With some thought, here was what I came up with.

Why shake that mint? Julep and Mojito experts don’t shake it. Everyone says it bruises and tastes unpleasant. Why would it be better shaken in a Smash? But even Wondrich says he likes to shake, and a Smash (SMASH!!!) sounds like it should be shaken.

It needs to be sweeter. Maybe it’s just me, but I think mint requires a little more sugar. I found my Juleps much better that way,

Tanqueray, with its brash Juniper-forward profile, might not have been the best choice for gin. Dutch Genever would have been the stuff in the original Smashes, and failing that something milder is called for.

I tried again, three more times, with Genever (Bokme), the sweeter Old Tom Gin (Haymans) and the milder Plymouth. I came up with a plan for the mint. Here’s what I got:

Gin Smash (Take 2)

2 oz gin or genever

2 tsp sugar

1 tb  water

about a dozen mint leaves

1 mint sprig

Briefly stir sugar in water to almost dissolve it in your serving glass. Muddle mint leaves lightly in sugar. Fill a mixing glass or shaker tin with ice. Strain mint and sugar over this and discard the leaves. Add gin. Shake. Fill serving glass with crushed ice. Strain the drink over it. Garnish with a good mint sprig (giving it a slap to release smell first) and serve with a short straw which forces the nose to go right down in the mint.

Well that was much better!

The trick with the glasses is just a way of getting the mint out and throwing it away after the muddling flavours the water. It’s just a light touch, and a lot of the mint ‘taste’ comes from the garnish sprig in the nose (thanks, Ben, for suggesting discarding). I really think this method works. You could also just fish the mint out with a barspoon. Oh, and rubbing the rim of the glass and the end of the straw with mint works too.

Genever was great. I love that spirit. Pity you can’t get it in Taiwan. It’s very different from normal gin, though.

The Old Tom and the Plymouth were quite similar (you can buy Plymouth Gin at 9City), and much better than the Tanqueray in this drink (although I think the latter would taste much better with this new method). It’s a really nice drink. I don’t think a slice of lemon would go amiss. You could also try something like Benedictine, Curacao, or another liqueur as the sweetening agent too (just leave out the sugar, or muddle mint straight into liqueur). The possibilities are endless.

The next one I was tried was a Brandy Smash, with this recipe from Eric Felten:

Brandy Smash

1 1/2 oz brandy

1/4 oz Benedictine

3 or 4 mint leaves

1 tsp sugar

In a  short glass, gently crush the mint in the sugar with a splash of water. Fill the glass with well-crushed ice, add the brandy and Benedictine, and stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

I used Courvoisier Exclusif VSOP for the brandy. I think it mixes very well, and I like it more and more.

This is another good Smash. With the Benedictine, it’s a little like a mild and minty B & B. Great stuff.
Conclusions

Smashes are good. They’re a good alternative to other simple drinks. I tried the Gin Smash again before I finished this post, with Tanqueray and Martin Miller. They were fine, but the Plymouth (or Old Tom) is the way to go, and Genever, if you can get it. I’ll also definitely try the Brandy one again as we get into the cold weather that usually sees me drinking B & B’s. That said, of all the mint drinks, the Mojito is still my favourite.

Part 1: Mojitos

Part 2: Mint Juleps

Mint Juleps

September 27, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about one of my very favourite drinks, the Mojito.

This week, it’s the turn of another, and much more venerable mint drink, the Mint Julep.

“The Mint Julep is basically just a Mojito but with Bourbon”.

Or so said the poor lady who went on to royally screw-up a Mint Julep (in ways you couldn’t imagine) on video, forcing this fine video rebuttal from veteran cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Morgenthaler’s video is great.

I’ll get to his recipe in a minute.

The ‘Julep’ seems to be yet another of those potent potions that started life as a medicine (remember my posts on Pink Gin, Dubonnet, Benedictine, Gin and Tonic, Navy Rum, Absinthe and even the original ‘cocktail’?)  The word is probably Arabic, and according to David Wondrich all early citations are for Julep as medicine pure and simple.

Yet by the time it got to America, they were putting booze in it (what a surprise) and after a while they added mint. And a while later that word, like the word ‘smash’, meant a mint drink.

And like the Sazerac, it wasn’t originally a whiskey drink. It was made with brandy. Only after the phylloxera epidemics of the 19th century wiped out most of the grapes did the spirit of choice switch from Cognac to Bourbon.

Throughout 19th Century America, the Mint Julep ruled the roost as the quintessential drink of the civilised gentleman, and the most famous mixed drink known to man. In short, it was the Martini of its time.

But by the early 20th century the Julep was already in fast decline. It was now a symbol of a fading, if not lost, quaint agrarian (and certainly Southern) past. I recently watched the John Ford film ‘Judge Priest’ about ‘the South of yesteryear’ and the Mint Julep (along with the black maid and the brave Civil War veteran) is one of the recurring symbols of this era.

And so I had imagined that it was still that way in the South. Any respectable bar in a good Confederate state would regularly mix up Juleps for its more discerning patrons. A little research on the net suggests that this might not be the case. I have read reports that in Kentucky, spiritual home of the Julep, they are almost unheard of outside of Derby Day (when they are the traditional drink) and then drunk mostly by tourists.

Now the big admission. I hadn’t actually drunk a Julep until a couple of weeks ago. Like the Sazerac, the Mint Julep is one of those drinks that I have read about for a long time, but never quite had the ingredients for. With the Sazerac, rye whiskey, absinthe and Peychaud’s Bitters were all difficult for me. What was the hard-to-find ingredient for the Mint Julep? A tin cup. Yes, Juleps are supposed to be served in special metal ‘julep cups’ and I’m a bit silly about getting things right sometimes. I never found one. Instead I just used the bottom of a small cobbler shaker.

OK, the basic Julep recipe is Bourbon, sugar, water, mint and a lot of ice. The first recipe I tried was the one I mentioned in Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s video:

Mint Julep #1 (Morgenthaler)

2 oz Bourbon

1 tsp simple syrup

12-20 mint leaves

several mint sprigs

Gently muddle the leaves and simple syrup (in a Julep cup, if possible). Add Bourbon. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a bunch of mint sprigs.

That’s it. A very simple recipe. As I mentioned with Mojitos, it’s very important not to over-muddle the mint leaves. Just press them lightly so that they release their essential oils. And as I also mentioned, crushed ice makes the drink. Smash the hell out of it with a rolling-pin in a laundry bag (take your undies out first). Pack the ice in, and the Julep cup will frost nicely on the outside.

Morgenthaler used Woodford Reserve, and as I adore that Bourbon (available cheaply in Taipei, here), I tried that too.

BUT … I wasn’t particularly impressed. I think I like my mint drinks sweeter. I’m not usually a huge fan of sweet, but I like my Mojitos with twice as much sugar as my Daiquiris. I decided to sweeten things up. That meant more sugar and a sweeter Bourbon.

Now I’ve noticed that cocktail writers who are old-time bartenders seem to make their drinks sweeter than those who are more ardent modern cocktail revivalists. These old-timers probably realize that the average bar punter likes their drinks sweeter than we modern cocktail geeks. So I turned to the New Orleans drinks god Chris Macmillian.

Mint Julep #2 (Macmillian)

3 oz Bourbon

1 tablespoon simple syrup

several mint leaves

several mint sprigs

Gently muddle mint leaves (in Julep cup if possible). Pack the cup with crushed ice, making a large cone on top. Pour Bourbon over the top slowly. Pour sugar syrup slowly over the top. Do not stir. Give a nice big sprig (or few) of mint a good slap to wake it up, and garnish.

Chris makes his with Maker’s Mark, a much sweeter and smoother Bourbon than the Woodford, and one which I was not particularly fond of. Also 1 TB sugar is a big raise form 1 tsp. That said, with the trickling through the ice, not so much of it actually gets through.

Well, I likes this one much more. I think I was right about wanting it sweeter. And maybe I was just getting used to Juleps. I liked the next couple even more.

As usual, one of my best booze anecdotes comes from Eric Felten’s great book, How’s Your Drink. He tells how Teddy Roosevelt defended against accusations that his high-spirited behaviour was due to high quantities of spirits. He threatened to sue anyone who printed them. Someone did. He sued. This was just a few years before prohibition and he wanted to straddle the great moral issue of the day. So he swore (on oath, in court) that he never drank highballs or cocktails, but that while in the Whitehouse he had sipped a few Mint Juleps. Luckily for posterity, there is a record of how they were made for the President in the day:

T. R. ‘s Libelous Mint Julep

4 oz rye whiskey

1/4 oz brandy

fresh mint

1 sugar cube

Sliced pineapple. banana, orange and cherries

Gently muddle a few leaves of mint with the sugar and a good splash of water (in a Julep cup, if you can). Add spirits and fill with crushed ice. Stir until the outside of the cup frosts. Garnish with plenty of fruit and mint.

This is quite different, but really quite good. I don’t usually go for all that fruit (the ‘garbage’ as it was called back in the days when it was common), but it was nice for a change, and you can’t deny the appeal for some people who like a fancy fresh-looking presentation (I’m thinking of my wife here). Rye makes for a great change, if you can get it (and for my fellow Taiwan-dwellers, sorry, you’re out of luck), and I’ve noticed before that a little bit of brandy goes very nicely with rye. And I can’t think of a nicer way to get my daily vitamins.

Finally here’s a Julep which is called a Smash. There’s not much difference really. They’re both terms for mint drinks. The Smash is just smaller. This one was provided by cocktail-revival godfather Dale DeGroff as his contribution to the last section of David Wondrich’s book Imbibe – the section for modern drinks ‘in the spirit of Jerry Thomas’.

Whiskey Peach Smash

2 oz Bourbon

1 oz orange Curacao

5 mint leaves and 1 sprig

3 peach slices

1/2 lemon, quartered

Muddle the mint leaves, two of the peach slices, lemon pieces and Curacao. Add Bourbon, shake well and strain into a rocks glass of ice. Garnish with mint sprig and the last slice of peach.

DeGroff calls for ‘bonded’ Bourbon, so use 50% ABV if you can. I used Knob Creek.

I really liked this too. I have to conclude that a little sweetness and a touch of fruit doesn’t hurt a Julep (or Smash).

That’s it for Juleps.

Part 1: Mojitos

Part 2: Smashes

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