Friday, August 28, 2009

Religious Cocktails

Since most of my time is spent studying religion(s), is it any surprise that I try to come up with religiously based cocktails? Forgive me for heavily leaning on the Judeo-Christian tradition, but Buddhism and Hinduism don't love booze so very much. Moreover, since I've recently moved, I've had to abandon my booze collection, so I haven't actually MADE these yet. I think the ideas are interesting, though, and shouldn't be thrown away immediately.

I: Manna from Heaven

Manna was the miraculous food source provided to the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. As you may or may not know (depending on your level of free time and interest), manna had the appearance of white coriander seeds and tasted like honey.

1.5 oz Aalbord Akvavit. Spring for the gold stuff, don't be cheap and by the white stuff, since it's pretty harsh. Akkavit is a Scandinavian spirit; it's name means "Water of Life." This brand specifically is from Denmark. It's basically a neutral spirit flavored with various herbs, in this case, dill and coriander.

.5 oz Barenjager honey liqueur

.5 oz Heavy Cream

Shake well with ice, strain and serve straight up, with an orange garnish. The orange isn't Biblical, just tasty.

II: Milk and Honey

Ok, I know this is a really common theme in cocktails. But, I want to take it in a different, more historical direction. In its Biblical context, Honey likely referred to a date syrup, which would be thick and likely sweet.

1.5 oz Rye whiskey

.5 oz date syrup, sweetened with honey or Barenjager

.5 oz heavy cream

Shake this drink pretty hard with big ice. Pour into a collins glass filled with ice, top with sparkling water

III: The Bitter Herb

A bitter herb is found on a Seder plate, which is the meal eaten at passover. The bitter herb is usually something like horseradish; its bitterness symbolizes the bitterness of slavery.

1 oz Campari
.5 oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth
.5 oz Cynar (or Akvavit?)

Stir with ice, garnish with flamed grapefruit.

Again, haven't made these. If someone is brave enough, let me know how it goes.

Two Awesome Experiments

Noelle bought some lilikoi (passionfruit) this afternoon, and had the brilliant idea of turning our useless, crappy tequila into a useful, delicious infusion. I used the lilikoi-quila to make a sour:

Lilikoiquila Sour

1.5 oz infused tequila

.75 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

Shake well with ice, garnish with lemon peel and angostura.

(No picture of this one - Noelle's mom drank it too fast...)

Another excellent drink was inspired by Mrs. Chun's love of both sours and fruit. "What about preserves? Could you use...let's see, we have.. apricot preserves.."

Well, I don't know Mrs. Chun... you tell me:

The Squirrelly Bird

1.5 oz Wild Turkey Rye

.25 oz apricot preserves

.75 oz simple

.75 oz lemon juice

Shake really, really well. Garnish with lemon peel and Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Laphroaig Project

Oh my goodness. Well, while I have been negligent in producing posts (which are just itching to come out), Owen Westman of Bourbon and Branch has been busy being awesome. While I have mixed feelings about Bourbon and Branch, the Prohibition-styled SF speakeasy, this new drink called the Laphroaig Project looks amazing. As the article notes, it's hard to find recipes incorporating Scotch besides, say, a Blood and Sand. For ourselves, whenever we have Laphroaig on hand, we are too busy celebrating its deliciously smooth and smokey peatiness to bring ourselves to adulterate the spirit with any cocktail antics. But Mr. Westman looks like he's onto something.

Here's the recipe (and picture), jacked with gratitude from this fine article.

The Laphroaig Project
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz lemon juice
½ oz Laphroaig Quarter Cask
½ oz maraschino
¼ oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain in to an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon zest twist

Looks like a twist on a Last Word! Which is one of my very favorite drinks.

Hope you find this recipe as inspiring as I do. As for me, I've been tinkering more with my Pho-inspired cocktail. Success looks dubious, but if I find any, I will definitely report back.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Heaven's Dog

With only two weeks left in San Francisco, Noelle and I decided to check out one more bartender on Don Lee's list: "Erik at Slanted Door." Some time ago, we went to the Slanted Door, only to find that Erik had left, and was now doing the cocktail program at Heaven's Dog. We were told the Dog was in Oakland, which neither Noelle nor I were particularly excited about. As we explored other bars in the city and talked to other bartenders about places to go, the Dog was always mentioned. Last week, when Noelle had the bright idea to actually check where it was, we were pleasantly (kind of?) surprised to see that was actually in SOMA, right smack in the middle of the city! So last night, we decided to go.

To be frank, we weren't expecting much, as we've realized most of the people on Don's list are now in management, and thus no longer mixing drinks. The Dog was pretty crowded, but we headed down to the end of the bar, where servers usually congregate and drinks get trayed and shipped off to tables. Usually this bit of real estate is jealously guarded by the wait staff, so when a giant man walked up to us, looking not unlike a bouncer, I got a bit worried. Don't judge a book, I guess; he turned out to be one of nicest guys we've ever met, let alone met at a bar. He asked us what we wanted, gave us some suggestions, and handed our order off to one of the bartenders. We both got items off the menu at first. Both drinks were highly spiritous. That's usually an early indicator of a pretty damn good cocktail program; the higher the proof, the better the recipe.

I went for a Remember the Maine: Rye Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Brandy, Absinthe, Bitters. This drink comes from Charles H Baker's The Gentleman's Companion, and was excellently crafted, apart from being a just bit too heavy on the absinthe for my taste.


Noelle opted for a Bittered Sling: Armangac, sugar, water, bitters and nutmeg. I'm not sure the origins of this drink, but it is very, very tasty. It warms you all the way down, that's for sure. The nutmeg was a really great addition, though I think nutmeg bitters would be a better addition, since that may be preferable granules of nutmeg in the drink. Otherwise, it was an excellent way to put the armangac through its paces.


In case you're wondering, yes, that's one giant chunk of ice. It's quite clear, even if it doesn't come through in the picture. They use a rather ingenious method of making the ice clear, but it's top secret!

When we got the drinks, the man who took our order came back to ask how they were. After hearing that Noelle - who is all of 90 pounds and, as an tiny Asian girl, probably shouldn't be drinking so much liquor in such a concentrated amount - liked her drink, he admitted that he was a bit worried about recommending such a strong drink to such a small girl. We laughed about it, then we chatted about how cocktail culture is really spreading, and 21 year olds today are drinking much better than he drank at that age. He told us that when he started getting into the scene, there were only a handful of places to go. "I would go to New York and hit a couple of bars, and when I would tell my friends, they had no idea what I was talking about." He gave his card, and o the joy! his name was Erik.

Although he didn't mix for us last night, we asked if we could come back to see him. So, be ready for another post on Monday!

One more note: I absolutely cannot say enough about the customer service at Heaven's Dog. Each bartender had every aspect of their craft down to a T. Gary Regan could have written The Joy of Mixology from watching these guys. They're all pros, they're incredibly nice, and they won't be there too much longer, so GO! Go now!