Wednesday, August 31, 2011

George Plantagenet Cocktail

Have some madeira, m’dear
You really have nothing to fear
I’m not trying to tempt you, that wouldn’t be right
You shouldn’t drink spirits at this time of night
—Madeira M’ Dear, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

This first in a wine cocktail series is based on Madeira, of which I am fond more than somewhat. For the Madeira in this, I used a 5-year Malmsey, a very tasty wine, so I’ve called this drink after George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, who was supposed to have been drowned in a butt of Malmsey, poor devil. Whatever really happened, it’s still a hell of a way to go. Everybody raise a glass to old George.

George Plantagenet Cocktail

  • 2 oz Madeira
  • 1 oz gold Barbados rum
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pear Sidecar

I had a great Pear Sidecar at Rams Head in NW Portland that was made from Edgefield Distillery’s own pear brandy. The one I show here combines cognac with a touch of Poire Williams. Feels very French to me for some reason—not just because of the two brandies but there’s just something about pear.

Pear Sidecar

  • 1 1/2 oz cognac
  • 1/2 oz Poire Williams eau-de-vie
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake and strain into an ice cocktail glass.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ephemeral Horse

Life’s a little hectic here at the the lounge lately. I came up with this one few nights ago and barely had time to take the picture, let alone write something. It's got a good dose of Pedro Ximénez sherry held in check by a little Amaro Nonino.

Ephemeral Horse
  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 3/4 oz Pedro Ximénez sherry
  • 1/4 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 3 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters
  • Mezcal to rinse
Rinse chilled cocktail glass with mezcal. Shake remaining ingredient with ice and strain.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Breakfast Cocktail

Rich, elegant, herbal. The housemate and I are of differing views on whether this is best with bitters or without. Good either way, though for me, the bitters adds an astringency that makes it and dries the whole thing down. But I suppose adjusting the ratio of Chartreuse to cognac would cut the sweet a bit while preserving what the housemate calls a roundness. I see his point.

The Breakfast of Champions, as a certain Vonnegut waitress tells us, is the Martini, though Dr Johnson notes that to be a hero, one must drink brandy.

The Breakfast Cocktail
  • 1 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1 – 1 1/2 oz cognac
  • 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 tsp Poire Williams
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth Creole Bitters or other aromatic bitters (optional)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

For an old friend.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jamaica Ginger Blues

A preacher drank some ginger, he said he did it for ’flu
That was his excuse for having the jake leg too
He got the jake leg too, he got the jake leg too.
—I Got the Jake Leg Too, recorded by the Ray Brothers, 1930

The distinction between alcoholic beverages and medicinal preparations has not always been sharply drawn, though Prohibition in the U.S. helped to force the issue. Sometimes a patent medicine was all the booze one could put a hand to. Patent medicines were often dangerous in their own right, but Jamaica ginger extract or “jake,” which had been harmless for years, became the means by which a couple of bootleggers poisoned thousands of people with an additive they believed was harmless, causing often permanent paralysis of the limbs and other symptoms.

The jake leg story haunts me, so I was grimly amused to find recipes with dashes of Jamaica ginger in the elegant Café Royal Cocktail Book. While the poisoning episode seems confined to the early part of 1930 and the victims were drinking a couple of ounces of the stuff mixed with cola, here’s a patent medicine turning up in some Canadian whiskey cocktails. In light of the history, it’s hard not to feel a little spooked.

Nevertheless, I wondered what they tasted like.

There’s a recipe for something called “Flu,” (nice macabre touch), which contains 3/4 Canadian Club Whisky, 1/4 lemon juice, 1 dash Jamaica ginger, 3 dashes rock candy syrup, 3 dashes ginger brandy. The instructions say to shake and strain but do not ice. Leaving aside the question of why anybody would bother to strain something like this without ice, I’m wondering if anyone actually drank this for flu or whether it simply tasted like one might. I think I’ll pass.

Then we have the Hot Deck. It sounds like a Manhattan with a little Jamaica ginger in place of the bitters. Now we’re getting somewhere. Here it is, with plain culinary ginger extract standing in for the jake.

Hot Deck
  • 1 dash Jamaica Ginger (1/4 tsp ginger extract)
  • 1/4 Martini Sweet Vermouth (3/4 oz sweet vermouth)
  • 3/4 Canadian Club Whisky (2 1/4 oz straight rye)
Mix and strain into a cocktail glass.

Though not excellent, this is a perfectly drinkable cocktail. It may not be accidental that the dash of ginger is put first since it takes over the whole thing, and blended whiskey, had I actually used it, would probably fare worse.

These drinks also turn up in the venerable CocktailDB, along with other Jamaica ginger recipes. I tried another, Here’s How, which seems to refer to how to make a weird drink out of good ingredients. Don’t. There is even a nifty icon on the CocktailDB home page called Strange Drink Chemistry that talks about Jamaica ginger and links to the recipes. While they don’t look very nice, they probably won’t poison you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Doctor Is Out

We’re in a scotch mood again (or do I mean still?) over here in the crepuscular haze of the Fogged In Lounge. The doctor is out, not that you’d be able to tell most of the time anyway.

The Doctor Is Out
  • 1 1/2 oz Ardbeg
  • 1/2 oz Cruzan Black strap rum
  • 1/2 oz Gran Classico
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.
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