Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

Rule 37: Black Russian

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



Yes, this is a pretty simple one, and no, I’ve never had it before. The Black Russian consists of only two ingredients, vodka and coffee liqueur, neither of which I’m particularly fond of. I’m not a coffee drinker, and vodka lacks… personality. But, this was an easy cocktail to concoct, so I decided to make a batch and take it along on a woodland walk. Turns out it travels quite well as a trail sipper, so here we go.


rule37blackrussianBlack Russian
From Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail

- 1 oz vodka (Bully Boy)
- 1 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua)


Um. That’s it.

Dale says to build over ice in an Old Fashioned glass, so we don’t even have to shake. Or stir. Though you can add a stirrer to give it a quick spin here and there. No garnish on this one.


You can play with the amounts any way you please as long as it’s equal parts. A 2oz drink over ice might make a nice little nightcap nipper, but is kind of an underwhelming handheld drink. Unless you’ve got straight liquor in your Old Fashioned glass, you could do better than a few ounces. Go ahead and make this one a double.

If we’re using vodka, might as well use GOOD vodka. I like Bully Boy’s (of course) because it’s really neutral without a syrupy/glycerin mouthfeel, or too much heat. It’s just nice. Reviewers have described it as “wet granite” which is odd and awesome at the same time. The coffee liqueur de rigueur here is Kahlua. Pretty standard.


rule37blackrussian_alt2Not surprisingly, the bouquet here isn’t terribly complex. Booze and coffee. If I think really hard about it I can go with “The top notes of an astringent sting become overwhelmed with roasted bitter char and soft creamy sweetness. Hints of chocolaty mocha pair well with the lifted spirit warmth.”

…aaaaand it tastes like coffee and booze. With a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Admittedly, the flavors are much more chocolate than coffee, starting with a milky sweetness before the roast char bitters bite back. A slight alcohol heat eases in as a peppery sensation and continues through the finish. The initial sweet chocolate mingles with char becoming a lingering velvety dark mocha.

After several gulps and some typing (on an empty stomach) the computer screen suddenly gave a good wobbly lurch to the left before righting itself again, so heads up: this drink is decently boozy, even if it doesn’t taste it. A liquor and liqueur ingredient list still counts as all-booze.


The Lady Friend sez: “I just smell coffee mocha Kahlua smell. Mmmmm… it tastes mainly like Kahlua, and then after it’s been in your mouth a second or two you get that alcoholic burn from the vodka. Yeah, that’s kind of tasty and dangerous.”


I think we’re actually on the same page with this one.
Amazing.


rule37blackrussian_alt

Nature tip: Maine mountain streams are not as cool and refreshing as they appear.
Bring booze instead.


Wake Up, Maine

Warning: rant ahead.


After moving to Portland about a year ago from Braintree, MA, I breathed a sigh of freedom after living under some of Masachusetts’s draconian liquor laws. There are drink specials here! Happy hour! Granted, the selection at my local “packies” isn’t quite what I could get in MA (the Boston market is a big one for craft beer and increasingly, craft liquor) but there are some fantastic local offerings, such as Maine Beer Company and Marshall Wharf brewery. Yeah. Lunch IPA is plentiful up here. Think about that.

Maine is one of the top states for breweries per capita, coming in at number 6 (little New England neighbor Vermont is number 1). My brother, who moved to Portland, OR last year, loves to brag about all the breweries out there (143 according to this site) but was shocked to discover Maine was so high up on the list. Even MA doesn’t crack the top 20. This is the beauty of “per capita” statistics. Maine has about 40ish breweries, but only about 1.2 million people in the whole state. So when skewed per person, we’re doing pretty good. And growing. As a result, more and more people are coming to Portland as a craft beer destination, and the city is hosting more and more brewfests and craft beer events. Last weekend, Portland hosted The Festival.

The Festival was held in Worcester, MA last year, and kind of flew under the radar. This year, however, it was highly publicized, and moved up to Portland. Organized by Shelton Brothers Importers (based in MA), this event pulled together world-class breweries, many from Europe, to showcase some incredibly rare and special beers, focusing mainly on Belgian styles and sours.

No, I didn’t go. I’m more of a hophead than a Belgian lover, and I don’t think sours are much fun. Plus, tickets were a whopping $65 for not much beer. More on that below.

So when I stumbled across this article today, I was infuriated:

Portland Press Herald, June 26, 2013



Unbelievably bad publicity. Beer festivals in Maine are in trouble if this state doesn’t shape up and reevaluate its silly rules. If you want to be part of the craft beer game, and reap the benefits of festivals pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the economy, then you have to provide a welcoming environment to the hosts and vendors of the event. Here’s what needs to change:

- Drink Tickets
This is just plain silly. Limiting patrons, who pay ticket prices upwards of $50 (The Festival was $65) to 48 oz of beer is insulting. That’s equivalent to four 12oz beers, or three 16oz pints, which any craft beer drinker can take down without blinking. When you divvy that up into pours of <2oz, it's highly unsatisfying.
Naturally the Maine Liquor Licensing and Compliance Division claims that the 48oz limit wasn't in effect for this event, yet I'd put money down that they threatened the organizers that they'd better adhere to the rule regardless. Criminal bureaucracy bait and switch.


- Not Letting the Brewers Pour their Beer
This was a big beef with The Festival. The brewers are basically told that they can’t touch their own beer… can’t serve it, can’t provide the equipment to serve it, can’t touch it. Not even the distributors can get involved. Because of licensing issues, it qualifies and a “catered event.” Everything has to be owned and handled by the catering company that officially serves the beers, in most cases by people who know NOTHING about the brews they’re pouring. This defeats the whole purpose of an event like this. Let the brewers bring their own team to serve and spread knowledge about their own products. Get real and come up with some realistic guidelines for a beer event.


- Cost
The Festival was $65 per ticket. Plus fees. The upcoming Maine Brewers’ Guild event in July (“Craft Beer Comes to Maine State Pier”) is $50, $75 for a VIP which gets you in an hour earlier. The only reasonably priced ticket we’ve encountered is the Portland Brewfest for $35. Come on. If BeerAdvocate can throw the ACBF in Boston for $47.50 per ticket which includes over 600 different beers from 140+ breweries, why should I pay MORE money for a third of the breweries? Did I mention that the ACBF doesn’t have drink tickets and that the brewers actually pour and handle their own beer?

When Massachusetts does a better job of handing an alcohol-related event, you know you’re in trouble.


- Mandatory Donations
There was an issue where basically the organizers were forced to give a donation to charity to obtain the license in the first place. I mean, donating to charity is great, but not when you’re told you HAVE to do it if you want your license. That’s extortion.


- Liquor Violations
Apparently, some of the volunteer servers were doing some tasting of their own, which is against the rules. If the brewers can’t touch anything, then aren’t these volunteers under the direction of the catering company? So isn’t it THEIR duty to police the event? You can’t blame the brewers for this one at all if you’re going to tell them they have to be “hands off” for the event.



As a result of these issues, Shelton Brothers won’t be back to Maine for another Festival unless the contradictory and uninviting laws change. The venue was great, the patrons were great, and nearly 2,200 people pumped $750k into the local economy. Apparently Maine won’t be seeing that money again until they get their act together and make some realistic regulations for these events. Which makes more sense: one event that nets $750k and pisses off all the vendors and organizers, or keeping them happy, so they come back year after year, and hopefully dump more and more money into the local coffers?


Stop chasing away business, Maine. You’re being an asshole.

Rule 37: Rum Collins

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



Ok, ignore the last post. That was started last week when it was merely “wum” out. It’s officially balls hot. 90°+ and humid with high probability of local scattered swass outbreaks.


rule37stretchycat

Even the cat is trying to air out his naughty bits.



I need something refreshing.

I had originally been thinking of a Tom Collins, but I had a few of those this weekend, and wanted a change. Hot weather means rum, and I do love a good Daiquiri, but perhaps a more refreshing version.

BAM! Rum Collins.


So, a Tom Collins is simply a Gin Sour (I make my sours 2:1:1, that is, 2oz spirit, 1oz citrus, 1oz simple syrup) served in a highball (well, ideally a Collins) glass, over ice, and topped with club soda. It’s a tall, cool, refreshing drink. Very nice. I don’t prefer gin (I’m getting better about that) but this one is easy for anyone to take down. Another good description I’ve heard is “sparkling lemonade with gin.” Pretty much. Though gin mileage varies per individual.

Anyway, a Rum Collins is simply a Rum Sour (a Daiquiri) served tall, over ice, with soda. A Daiquiri Highball. Sound good? I thought so. Apparently James Bond thinks so too.


rule37rumcollinsRum Collins

- 2 oz rum (Bully Boy)
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- Top club soda

Shake the rum, lime, and simple syrup in a shaker, as if you’re making a Daiquiri. Actually, this is a Daiquiri, but with soda. Pour into a highball/Collins glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Traditionally, this was garnished with a cherry and lemon slice, but I went with a lime peel. Cherry would be ok, but lemon doesn’t make sense in a lime-based drink.


It’s a fairly tropical drink, so feel free to decorate with flags, umbrellas, crazy straws, or drink stirrers. I have a pretty green flamingo.

Couple notes here: I used Bully Boy rum because it’s goddamn fantastic. Was the cursing necessary? Yes. If you’ve tasted the Bully Boy then you’ll agree with me. Use any white/light rum you’ve got, but know that Bacardi isn’t going to have much flavor to it at all.

I also use a raw simple syrup, made from equal parts raw sugar and water. It gives the drink a touch more dark brown sugar flavor rather than white sugar. Also, it’s practically healthy. Yeah, let’s go with that.

The lime ratio varies by recipe and by personal taste. I like things a bit more tart, so I’m fine with the simple 2:1:1 ratio. Dale DeGroff gives all his sour recipes as 1 1/2 :1 :3/4, lowering the spirit to the more regulated serving, and easing off of the citrus by 1/4 oz to make a sweeter drink which he feels suits the American palate a bit closer. I started out using his recipes and they’re mighty tasty, but I like a little more pucker and flavor nowadays, so it’s a full ounce of lime juice. Either way, the ice dilution and club soda will ease the sharp edges a bit in this cocktail, versus the unmolested Daiquiri.


The nose here is quite simple: lime and Bully Boy happiness. That white rum just gives off sugar cookies, bunny sneezes, and rainbow dust. It’s like a Disney movie in a glass. Until the booze kicks in. Then it’s like parts of Alice in Wonderland.

It tastes like a bubbly Daiquri… a perfect combination of tart, sweet, and spirit. With bubbles. The club soda (and ice) dilute the drink down a touch, but does help to make it a bit more refreshing; I find regular Daiquiris just make me want another Daiquiri, whereas this drink is a bit more thirst-quenching. Quite nice on a day when my lower region is sitting in a puddle of dampness.
Yeah. That was gross. I agree.
But the drink is really really tasty.

Especially today.

Rule 37: Painkiller

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



This spring has been irritating.
Largely it’s been cold. Then a little warmer. Then suddenly 90 degress for three days. Then back down to the low 60s. Now it’s hovering in the 70s and incredibly humid.

The weather in Maine is like a cat trying to decide which side of the door to be on.

Well I’ve had it. Time for tropical drinks. It’s warm enough.
(Actually, up here it’s pronounced “wum.”)


rule37essentialcocktailHaving exhausted the recipes of Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail over the past several years, I finally sprung for his second book, The Essential Cocktail. This one has quite a bit more design work in it, lots of photography, and more information about the individual recipes, specific ingredients, and techniques. However, this means there are a lot fewer actual recipes, and many of them (as feared) are repeated from Craft of the Cocktail. Still, there are enough new ones to keep me happy, and the book is divided up into categories (classics, sours, tropicals, etc) which is helpful for finding a particular KIND of drink, rather than just skimming an alphabetical list of recipes.

Wanting a fruity tasty tropical drink, I merely perused the fruity tasty tropical drink section. Simple. What was not so simple was finding a drink I hadn’t had before. The Painkiller was a familiar name, but hadn’t been dumped down my gullet, so let’s mix this one up.


rule37painkillerPainkiller
From Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail

- 2 oz Navy Rum (Pusser’s recommended, used Sailor Jerry)
- 1 oz coconut cream (Coco Lopez)
- 2 oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz orange juice

Mix it up, shake it up, pour over ice. This can be a tall or a short glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg. Dale is very insistent on that point. I also tossed an orange peel in there.


So, a couple things to note: navy rum is specified here, which is generally a higher proof. The Pusser’s Dale recommends varies in strength, depending on where you get it, but in the US it’s generally 94 proof. Also, apparently Pusser’s decided to TRADEMARK the “Painkiller” in 2003, and claim ownership, like Gosling’s did with a “Dark ‘N Stormy.” I think it’s kind of a dick move, and their 4 oz of pineapple juice is quite different from the version used here. So between that and the use of Sailor Jerry, by law, this technically isn’t a Painkiller. Ugh.

After that legal nonsense, I need some sort of drink… to… kill… the pain.


Nose: Well, with that fresh nutmeg grated across the top, that’s about all there is to smell. I’ll have to reevaluate after sipping some off.

A good stir mixes that nutmeg down into the drink, and now I get aromas of coconut, pineapple and orange. There’s a touch of vanilla sweetness as well, but in general, the aroma sum does not add up to more than its separate parts. I can clearly identify each ingredient. Not that it’s bad – they’re all quite tropical and yummy – but it doesn’t really mesh together as well. Perhaps it will in the taste.

rule37painkiller_altTaste: OOOOOoooohhhhhhh hominahomniahominakerzam. That’s gooooooooooooood. The flavors do mingle together a bit better in the taste, but are still identifiable. Coconut cream lovliness all over everything. Pineapple sweet tropical fruit. A touch of orange tart (I hesitate to say tart, as fresh orange juice is generally pretty sweet, but compared to the coconut and pineapple, the orange IS the citrus tart in this drink). The rum is harder to identify. Sailor Jerry is a SPICED navy rum, with a LOT of vanilla in the bouquet and flavor, but it’s no match for the other flavors in here. The nutmeg really adds a nice spice to the finish, and helps create another layer other than fruity sweetness. Don’t leave it out of this drink: it really works. There’s a very slight alcohol sour hiding underneath, but mostly this is one you could pound without even tasting the booze. Hence the higher proof rums… you’ll never notice them in here. Coconut and pineapple make almost everything taste wonderful, but this drink is a touch too sweet. It could use a little splash of lime tart, and some bitters would just make it better, but as-is this is alarmingly tasty.


Trademarked or not, this tasty concoction can will get you into trouble.

Rule 37: Nolita

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



This one came from an idle afternoon snooping around Kindred Cocktails, which is proving to be a very handy resource. A recent blast down to MA brought the NH State Liquor store across our path, and since the Lady Friend was taking advantage of a St Germain sale, I did some wandering of my own, coming away with a sale-priced bottle of Kahlua. How I’ve gone this long without some Kahlua on the bar, I’m not sure, but I do know it rules out a lot of new drinks, being a gap in the ingredients available. So now I have some. And need to use it.

Kindred Cocktails lets you search by a particular ingredient, and after several unappealing suggestions, I decided to go with this Negroni variation. It’s simply splits the sweet vermouth with the coffee liqueur. Tia Maria also comes up for this sort of thing, but for now the Kahlua will have to do. According to the creator on San Diego Food Finds, this one is named as a mashup of “Negroni” and “Cafe Lolita,” apparently a brand of coffee liqueur. Don’t have that, but do have Kahlua, so in we go.


rule37nolitaNolita
From San Diego Food Finds via Kindred Cocktails

- 1 oz gin (I used GTD Wire Works because it’s AWESOME.)
- 1 oz Campari
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
- 1/2 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
- 1 dash bitters*

It’s a Negroni at heart, so STIR it. Use Julep strainer and serve up or on the rocks. I prefer my Negronis (or variations) on the rocks with one giant monster ice block. Garnish with a lemon peel.


*Yeah, so they simply say “dash of bitters” but neglect to specify WHAT bitters. I could go with orange here, which would play nicely in the Campari flavors, but with that addition of coffee liqueur, I’m going to use the old standby, Angostura. I’m assuming that when people say “bitters” but don’t specify, they mean Angostura. A little cinnamon/spice should also work here.

Nose: Actually, with that big iceberg in there, I don’t really get much aroma at all. There’s a hint of gin botanicals, and a very subdued Campari, but that’s about it.

rule37nolitabottlesTaste: Cold. Slightly syrup mouthfeel, as can be expected from that Campari ooze. Light gin up front, followed by bittersweet puckering orange Campari, and finishes with a coffee roast. I really wish this was more dramatic, but that’s how it is. It’s quite nice, but it’s a Negroni with some coffee flavor. For the second sip, I rolled it around in my mouth a bit more to warm it a touch, and it had a bit of a numbing effect from the booze rather than the cold. The gin is certainly prevalent, matched with the Campari spice. I’m sure this would be quite a bit rougher without the vermouth, but I can’t really pick out any of its essence among the big flavors. Again, the finish is a coffee roast, like a good stout/porter, bitter rather than mocha or dark chocolate. I bet Kahlua gets somewhat chocolatey when mixed with whiskey, but with the brighter, sharper flavors in a Negroni, it sets itself apart as the darker ingredient. The Angostura is nowhere to be found, though I suspect it’s lurking in the finish sheltered by the coffee flavors.

This is quite nice with the Wire Works, an American style gin, which eases off of the juniper a touch. I think the combination of a big, brash London Dry style would be an odd pairing of pine and coffee.


Is this a good time to say that I don’t drink/like coffee?

Even so, this is a good alternative to a regular Negroni. Something about it feels more like a cold, damp, rainy day drink. A little brown liqueur in an otherwise bright drink. It dims things down a bit.
Wonderful.

Rule 37: Blue Hawaiian

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



There’s a monster lizard!!!



What started as a predicted “2-4 inches beginning in early afternoon” before the main blizzard event rapidly escalated when at 7am, there was a blanket of 4″+. Yeah. Apparently some sort of “microburst” which “didn’t show up on radar” hit Portland and dumped half a foot. BEFORE the actual blizzard. Awesome.

Weathermen/women should be publicly whipped when they’re this wrong.
Or take a pay cut.

I know which would be more entertaining on the 11 o’clock news.

Yes, I’ve heard it before: it’s nearly impossible to predict the weather. So… why is that a profession? Couldn’t we just throw darts at a board of weather events with about the same rate of accuracy? Or let a monkey do it? (That would be awesome.) It’s not even that they’re so constantly wrong: it’s that there’s no accountability. Why is this a magic job with no consequences for consistently poor performance?
And how do I get this job?


So, the Lady Friend and I were discharged from work at noon, and proceeded to spend the rest of the day drinking stouts, and watching The Empire Strikes Back, certainly both fine choices for a snowy afternoon. But then it was cocktail time, and something had to be done. I had already decided I wanted something with rum. And pineapple. Because screw you, snow. It’s going to be tropical in my belly.


This one comes from The Rum 1000 by Ray Foley. It’s a half decent go-to if you’re looking specifically for rum drinks, but a tad annoying, as many cocktails are named by brand. I don’t need different recipes for an Appleton Daiquiri, a Bacardi Daiquiri, a spiced Daiquiri, and several other variations. At least there wasn’t a Captain Morgan’s Daiquiri. Wait… the “spiced” one was. Ugh. I guess it was a bit of a stretch to get to 1,000 recipes. But basically a lot of them have rum and pineapple, so I picked one and went for it.


rule37bluehawaiianBlue Hawaiian
From The Rum 1000 by Ray Foley

- 1 oz white rum (Bully Boy!)
- 1 oz blue curaçao
- 1 oz coconut cream (Coco Lopez)
- 2 oz pineapple juice

The book says to “blend with a scoop of crushed ice until smooth” and serve in “a glass.” Very detailed. I went a different route. Shake everything as normal, strain into a snow-filled pineapple cup, garnish with a cherry, pineapple slice, and a whole bunch of tropical tiki junk. Drink. Repeat until the snow stops.


Broke out the tastilicious Bully Boy on this one, and juiced up some fresh pineapple. Coconut cream makes everything taste happy (Coco Lopez has a squeeze bottle… use that. It’s much easier than the can) and blue curaçao turned everything blue-green. The pineapple cup took some doing, but was worth it just for the occasion. I wish I had made it bigger.

The drink smells… well, like sugar cookie rum, pineapple, and coconut. There’s a slight astringency from the rum, but this isn’t a complex sipper. A couple dashes of Angostura bitters would really help this along, but it’s not necessary. Somehow any drink that uses blue curaçao doesn’t seem worthy of bitters.

It tastes… well, again, about how it smells. The coconut cream is forefront in the flavor, which a choking sweetness and syrupy texture. Bully Boy rummy goodness adds to the sweet, but the booze helps cut through a bit. The pineapple just kind of hangs out in the background making everything juicy and happy. I don’t get any of the blue curaçao, though a touch of that alcohol astringency might be from that triple sec dryness.

It’s not terribly complex, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a super-sweet tropical drink to make you forget about the accumulating snowdrifts. Sunshine in a cup. If you have enough of them, you can actually feel the deck of the cruise ship sway under your feet. Don’t fall overboard. There’s no water: just snow.

Rule 37: Jack-In-The-Box Cocktail

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



I just wanted something tasty.
That’s all.
Minimal effort.
You know, one of those Friday evenings when you don’t want to think/blog too hard.
Oh, you don’t have a blog?
I do, and sometimes it’s a pain royale with cheese. Until I have a drink or two. Then it’s easy.

The usual Friday night routine involves finding/choosing a unique Rule 37 drink because I haven’t bothered to do that step in the preceding week. Usually. Sometimes I do, and that makes everything easier. When I have a starting place, it helps a lot. Once the drink has been chosen, I have to think of the “hero,” or main shot of the cocktail itself because I haven’t bothered to do that step either. This means choosing the right glass, deciding on a lighting setup, choosing a background, testing the lighting setup, deciding it doesn’t work, redoing a different lighting setup, chilling the glass, making the drink, making the garnish, getting the chilled glass out of the freezer, pouring the drink and staging the garnish all before the foam/oil on the drink surface dissipates and the frost on the glass melts. Before I even get to taste it.

First world problems. I am aware of this.


In hopes of finding something simple, I started flipping through a 1965 edition of Mr. Boston and found some wacky stuff, but this one didn’t seem too outrageous. Just equal parts apple brandy and pineapple juice, with a dash of bitters. I’ll give it a try.

There doesn’t seem to be much history or story behind this one, though many examples of the drink appear throughout Teh Interwebz, though one is a completely different concoction using vodka. Ick.


rule37jackintheboxJack-in-the-Box Cocktail
From Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide, 1965 ed.

- 1 oz apple brandy (Laird’s)
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- Dash of bitters (Angostura)

Old Mr. Boston sez “Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3oz cocktail glass.”
Simple enough. Shake it VERY well to get a nice foamy pineapple juice, and serve it in a chilled glass. I made a double, which fit quite nicely into a modern 5oz cocktail glass.



Yup. Pretty easy. I don’t have any FRESH pineapple juice on hand at the moment, so the canned will sadly have to suffice for tonight. One review stressed using the fresh juice, and normally I agree, but I don’t have a method of juicing fresh pineapple. Yet. Citrus fruits, yes; large tropical hard fruits, not so much. The drink turned a lovely orange-pink color, but it looks lonely without a garnish.

rule37jackintheboxbottlesIn we go. Well. It smells of apples and the so-called pined apples. They kind of battle back and forth between tart and sweet, with the crisp apple seeming almost sour up against the syrupy tropical nectar. There’s an astringency in there as well (the Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy is 100 proof) which is likely providing some of the sourness, and deep underneath lurks the cinnamon spice of the Angostura. I suspect that the drink needed a heftier dose of bitters, but we’ll see when I sample it.

There’s also a waft of mildew from the Old Mr. Boston. Old indeed.

Sour start. It’s the apple tart combined with the alcohol that begins the drink with a frowny note. The pineapple washes in to cheer everything up, all sugar and sunshine, then a kick of booze stings the tongue pushing the pineapple aside. The Angostura comes in on the heels of the alcohol fire with a dry spice linger in both the flavor and mouthfeel. It finishes a tad sour and dry overall. Sometimes that apple brandy lends a sweetness, and sometimes a tart sour depending on the other ingredients.It plays the part well, lending that alcohol pucker when you need it, or an apple crisp sweetness when up against bitter foes, like Chartreuse.


rule37jackintheboxaltIt’s by no means bad, but just not as fruity and sweet as I would have expected. Quite well balanced, actually, as pineapple just can be TOO sweet if you let it. The Angostura really did come through in the flavor, and the play of apple and pineapple wound up being more interesting than anticipated. You could make a milder, sweeter version of this using the regular 80-proof Applejack, but I think the added boozage helps tame the tropical sweetness to a good balance. I’m dying to try this with FRESH juice and reevaluate. Perhaps soon.

Rule 37: Hanky Panky

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



Yikes.
I didn’t know what I was getting into with this cocktail. I just wanted something simple, but this one comes with a lot of history. I’ll try to make it brief.

The Hanky Panky Cocktail is an old one, coming from the famed American Bar at the Savoy Hotel and head bartendress, Ada Coleman, wonderfully described in this LUPEC post. As for the cocktail, here’s the story, in her words:

“The late Charles Hawtrey… was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.”



rule37hankypankybottlesSince it was an official Savoy cocktail, it got put into Harry Craddock’s (who was the head bartender at the Savoy after Ada) also-famous Savoy Cocktail Book. And since it’s in the Savoy Cocktail Book, it’s covered over on the Savoy Stomp blog, which attempts to go through the entire book, drink by drink. There’s also some further info over at Cold Glass, where the use of particular vermouths is discussed. Like the Historic Core Cocktail, I think this one would really benefit from a big, flavorful vermouth like Carpano Antica or Punt y Mes. I have Martini & Rossi. Work with what you have.


rule37hankypankyHanky Panky
Originally from Ada Coleman’s American Bar
Recipe from Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book

- 1 1/2 oz gin (GTD Wire Works)
- 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Rosso)
- 2 dashes Fernet Branca

Stir (no juices involved) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel. Don’t skimp on the garnish with this one… it’ll make a difference.



Sooooo… it’s basically a Sweet Martini with some Fernet in it. Ok then. Not my usual type of thing, but let’s give it a try. I’m using GrandTen’s Wire Works American Gin in this one to ease off the juniper a touch. Savoy Stomp suggests using “a gin with some spine” but I’m not the biggest fan of the London Dry juniper bombs. Plus, Wire Works is awesome.


Nose: Yup. Smells like orange. Must be all those orangy oils I spritzed over the top. Will have to reevaluate after sipping some off. There is a botanical gin quality below the orange… astringent, juniper, and a sweetness. There’s the barest hint of menthol/mint from the Fernet Branca, but it’s buried deep down.

Taste: Rounded pine and juniper. Herbs. Mint. Medicine. Eucalyptus. A boozy quality, but not burning… more warm than hot. Bittersweet and mouth-puckering, yet rounded out by the vermouth. Dry, herbal finish with woody spruce notes.

Whoa.

That’s an interesting tipple. I was worried that I either put too much or not enough Fernet in this one. It’s powerful stuff, and the recipe specifies two drops. I put the barest splash – a splish really – into the mixing glass and it comes through very well without overwhelming the drink. The Wire Works does get a bit weak in the mixture, which is what Savoy Stomp was referring to… you need a bigger gin. I’m still pleased with the Wire Works, as I think it creates a softer drink, but others might want that slap of pine from a London Dry style. Quite sippable.


Let’s see what SHE thinks:

rule37hankypankyalt“I still get orange peel in the smell, but I smell the juniper fragrance. Hmm. I’m initially shocked at how sweet and smooth it is. I get sort of a grapey sweetness balanced very well with that juniper floral… hmmm. It’s not bad, it could probably use just a touch less sweet vermouth, but that’s a very easy way to take gin. You want to appreciate a good gin, and I think I got a little too much of the vermouth. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but I think it dominated. I forgot about Fernet Branca! …I don’t get much of that. Maybe I would pick up more of the Fernet if the vermouth wasn’t as much.”

Review: Stella Artois Chalice


“It’s a chalice, not a glass.”



stella_chalicesSo, I belong to a word-of-mouth marketing group called BzzAgent. Every once in awhile they send me some free stuff, and I tell people about it. Pretty simple. Occasionally, they have BOOZE stuff, which is pretty much why I signed up in the first place. This is one of those times. They sent me a logo’d 33cl (~11.2oz) drinking chalice to drink their beer with. I already had the 40cl (~13.5oz) bigger sister, likely from some bar giveaway, but unique glassware is always fun. Until I have to move again.


Stella Artois is the current campaign, and they sent me a glass chalice. They like it when you call it a chalice. Stella is a Belgian lager, and a big brand of Anheuser-Busch InBev which is pretty much the largest producer of beer in the world. I would show you some choice quotes from the legal agreement they sent out, but that link has mysteriously disappeared. Basically I’m not supposed to mention any other brands and just stick to the Stella basics, which is difficult because I like to compare things. For example, there may be another beer company who made it a point to create their own custom drinking glass to enhance the flavor of their product. Just saying. It happens.

Not that this is anything new. A great number of breweries, especially in Europe, have brand-specific glassware to serve their beers in. The theory is that the shape, size, thickness, and other features of the glass are tailored to each individual beer and everything tastes better. Certainly glassware makes a difference. You wouldn’t want a martini served in a plastic red cup, or a fine scotch sipped through a twisty straw (well, maybe you would, but you know what I’m saying). So that’s where Stella is coming from. They’re also big about the ritual of the drink. There’s a certain well-known Irish stout that also has a bit of ritual for a proper pour, but the Stella dance is a NINE STEP NUMBER:


stella_ninesteps

Yikes.



Now, I’ve never known a bartender to go through that many steps to pour a beer, despite what the commercials say. Even on a train. But then I don’t order Stella that much. The tastiest one I ever had was from a keg, but most likely you’ll find it in a bottle. A green glass bottle. Green glass doesn’t block as much light as brown glass, and the beer gets skunky, like a number of other imported European brews. In sciency talk, the beer is light-struck in a process called photodegregation. When the light-sensitive isohumulones in the hops are exposed to light, they break down creating, among other things, sulfurous atoms creating the undesirable aromas and flavors. Why they haven’t made the switch to UV-blocking brown glass despite this known flaw is beyond me, but I suspect it has to do with brand recognition. Some argue that the sulfurous qualities are intentionally created traits in certain brews. I don’t really buy that. I’ve had both good and bad examples from the same brewery, so either way, inconsistencies exist in the product. Maybe it’s from being light-struck, maybe not, but a beer brewed in Europe has plenty of opportunity to sit in less-than-ideal conditions, even on the supermarket shelf. So let’s do the ritual and see if the chalice can enhance my Skunky Artois.


stella_steps


I had my bottle chilled and ready to go. The glass was washed purified, and I popped unveiled the bottle. The alchemy part was fun, but I skipped the plum bob for the crown, also known as building a head. Having misplaced my antique Belgian dagger, I went with a samurai sword for the beheading. It seemed to work just fine. The head crown was judged to be exquisite, I cleansed my glass chalice, and bestowed the frosty beverage upon myself.

Man, this terminology gets tricky.


stella_closeupSo, how did it work out?
Well, the brew nosed sweet with cereal grains, and a mild skunky aroma. Not the worst one I’ve smelled, but that sulfur musk is still in there. It does smell corn sweet, which makes sense as corn is an adjunct used in the brew. It’s even bragged about as part of their ad campaigns.

The taste?
Well, it’s a little too sweet. Very rounded, very pleasing, very refreshing. I can’t say that I notice the difference the chalice makes to the taste, as opposed to swigging straight from the bottle. The chalice does impart a nice handfeel… there’s some weight to the chunky stem that counterbalances the liquid. The stem also allows you to handle the chalice without touching the reservoir itself, which would raise the temperature of the beer from the heat of your hand. Lagers should generally be served as cold as possible. Stella recommends serving at 36°-38°F, just a shade above freezing. Bad things happen to warm lagers.


Did it make a difference? Maybe, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Having a little ritual to a beverage can be nice sometimes, but other times you just pour the beer already. Either way, now I’ve got a brewery-specific piece of glassware should I pick up some more Stella. Actually, I’ve got one more bottle in the fridge, so I guess it’s time to start the ritual over again.




Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Rule 37: The Diamondback

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.



Sometimes Teh Interwebz works out the way it’s supposed to.

A couple weeks ago I did a post on the Historic Core Cocktail, which was pretty wild. I happened across another blog in the research, Tempered Spirits, and its author commented back with a suggestion:


rule37diamondback_comment

Sounds awesome. Boozy, but awesome.



Always open to suggestions, I decided to give it a try. I suspect it’s going to be another big boy drink, with those two bonded liquors, and the 110 proof Chartreuse. Kindred Cocktails came to the rescue again here with a little more information. Apparently, there are two versions of this cocktail, one with yellow Chartreuse, and one with the more powerful green (I like to call it Chartreuse2 ). The history is spelled out pretty well on this other site, but the gist is that yellow Chartreuse was originally used until Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Cafe (a well-known craft cocktail mecca) put some green in the mix to liven things up. It’s also listed on this OTHER cocktail site from way back in 2005 when Hollaback Girl was a thing. The green-utilized recipe become adopted as the modern version, so that’s what I’m going with.

Also, yes, we have no bananas yellow Chartreuse.


rule37diamondbackDiamondback
Suggested by Tempered Spirits

- 1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye whiskey
- 3/4 oz Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy
- 3/4 oz Green Chartrueuse

All booze.
Stir this one until icy cold. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass of your choosing. A cherry is suitable for the garnish, though optional. Having a personal cache of homemade cocktail cherries, I opted to include it.



Nose: A decently complex nose snorter. Sweet herbal notes like licorice/anise, laundry detergent, fancy guest soaps and potpourri waft above. Below there’s a warning warmth of alcoholic strength, cooking the nostrils, and hints of brown sugar with apple sweetness. The herbal Chartreuse dominates the aromas here, and you can smell the booze below.

This is either going to be fantastic or vile.

Taste: Alcohol sour, though the cold helps to numb. Bitter herbs and cinnamon spice warmth spreading from the outer edges of the tongue inwards. Fresh green herbs, alcohol heat tingling the tongue and gums. Cinnamon spice again, or is it a tangy botanical of sorts? A lovely hint of apple sweet cruising placidly in the lower currents. The top end is heat, hot coals, a slow burning fire. Rye snap and alcohol sting, and the herbs turn to a floral sensation as the heat passes. Sweet, sugary sensation, I suspect from the liqueur, but with a powerhouse of flavor. This one is complex. This one is boozy. This one is EXCELLENT.


Let’s see what SHE thinks:
“Smells like a sweet apple/caramel. I smell caramel apple mixed with like a whiskey smell. I don’t get Chartreuse. I don’t get anything herbally… from the smell I get mainly the whiskey, but with a little apple.”

I think her nose is on the fritz. Let’s move on.

“Alcohol burn. Hmmm.

I’m waiting for something.


I get an herbalness to the finish. Oooh. Now I really do. But that took awhile.”

Huh. I think her mouth is broken too.


So, apparently we have wildly differing views on what this drink smells and tastes like. She smelled caramel apples and didn’t notice the Chartreuse at all. Where I found lovely complex layers in an alcohol-fueled oven, she tasted nothing but booze and some slight herbs in the finish.

I dunno what to make of that.
But I say it’s a fantastic cocktail.

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