Thursday, January 31, 2013

Booze and Sympathy: Fun with Russian Caravan Tea Syrup

Russian Caravan is grand stuff, a blend of smoky Chinese teas that’s a natural compliment to cocktails. There was about a third of a cup of tea left in the tin. I made a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, and added the tea the second I turned the heat off. (Strain after 5 minutes, cool, bottle, refrigerate.)

When We’re Alone
  • 1 1/2 — 2 oz cognac
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon Russian Caravan tea syrup
  • 1 tsp Cruzan Blackstrap rum
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Patience and Fortitude
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 tsp Russian Caravan tea syrup
  • 1 dash Jerry Thomas’ decanter bitters
  • tangerine twist
  • Small splash soda
In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle a broad, thin strip of tangerine peel with the bitters and syrup. Add ice and spirits and stir gently. Splash of soda.

Monday, January 21, 2013

MxMo LXIX: Fortified Wines—Whispers of the Frost

Many thanks to Jordan Devereaux of Chemistry of the Cocktail for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday, and for his very fine and tasty theme, Fortified Wines. Here at the Lounge, we’re big fans of port, madeira, and the whole range of sherries. The rich flavors and little dose of extra alcohol make these wines perfect for wintertime drinking, alone or in cocktails.

Here’s a classic recipe I’ve liked for a long time which has two fortified wines, port and sherry. Most recipes I’ve seen don’t mention what sort of sherry, though a very sweet one seems too heavy for the port. Also, most recipes call for sugar, which is totally dispensable, even with a dry sherry.

Whispers of the Frost
  • 3/4 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz port
  • 3/4 oz sherry (Amontillado)
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Elegant fruit and nuts brightened by the spray of lemon oil from the twist. Mellow and warming. Have two—they’re small.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Martini Time (and a Thyme Martini)

Greetings from the bleak shores of post-holiday confusion, where those of us in northern latitudes stumble around in the cold and dark, numbly bumping into things. (“Stupid parking meter!”) Martinis help a lot. It’s true that they increase the delirium but then you don’t mind it as much as you did before. They seem so astringent and boozy that you can’t help but think after a sip or two that they’re good for everything that ails you. (They’re not, but even so….)

And there’s something comforting in that trace of brine from an olive. Its savoriness is sort of bracing—like soup for people who drink. That’s why I like a garlic-stuffed olive. Big flavor. Substantial. Add a green herb and it’s practically a meal. I’ll just illustrate with a recipe here:

Thyme Martini
  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • thyme sprig
  • lemon peel
  • scant pinch sea salt
Gently muddle a 2- or 3-inch sprig of thyme with a wide, thin piece of lemon peel and a pinch of sea salt. Add plenty of ice and the gin and vermouth. Stir and double strain. (Second one is mesh to catch the bits.) Garlic-stuffed olive.

This is exactly what it sounds like, a Dry Martini with stronger herbal notes. Think about going easy on the muddler since the thyme can get pretty assertive if you mash it hard. (I guess you could add more booze to dilute it. Heh.)

What’s that salt doing there? Why not extra olive brine? I gotta say I’m not crazy about the Dirty Martini for some reason. I understand why other people like them but to me, they always taste, uh, dirty. But a small pinch of sea salt in a cocktail like this is very nice indeed.
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