Autumn is a season where the Missus has jokingly accused me of hipsterism. I have not grown a beard, or a man bun. I have not turned lumbersexual. I have embraced the American tradition of the cocktail, however.
The roots of this interest reach back several years. I got an OXO cocktail shaker and some bar tools several years ago, perhaps as a house warming gift. I also picked up a copy of Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail: The Art Of Mixing Perfect Drinks in the clearance rack at the back of a higher end grocery store. I started making margaritas as soon as the first crop of lemons came in on the lemon tree in our back yard after we bought the house (and discovered a great recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, of all places.) I also made homemade limoncello. More recently, I saw several cocktail recipes on Serious Eats that looked tasty. I tried one. One became two, two became four, and well, here we are.
A couple factors have aided in this endeavor. First, a few friends on the Blue and White Social Network are also cocktail aficionados. So, it’s been nice to compare notes with some people. A nearby liquor store also closed a few weeks ago. The going out of business sale before the end meant that some drink ingredients became available at 40-60 percent off retail.
I’ve learned a couple things along the way. I’ve made a few whiskey-based cocktails and discovered that the most expensive stuff isn’t necessarily the stuff that mixes the best in a cocktail. That occasionally required a little re-tooling with the purchase of more inexpensive but still quite tasty blended Scotch and some medium price point bourbon.
The Gold Rush cocktail comes courtesy of Serious Eats. It’s a marvelous concoction of honey, bourbon, and lemon juice.
The Apple Elixir is another Serious Eats recipe that is like Autumn in a highball glass. With a spiced cider reduction, apple brandy, hard cider, and lemon juice, it’s not something to throw together on a whim, but I wish mulled cider always tasted more like this.
As a long time single malt drinker, I’d heard about Drambuie for years but never tried it. A Rusty Nail is a combination of blended Scotch, Drambuie, and bitters on the rocks. On the rocks is where you’ll find yourself if you drink too many of these. They hit and hit hard.
Lord Marbury : You know, there are some marvelous flu remedies known in the certain remote parts of the subcontinent. Licorice root, for instance, combined with bamboo sap and a strong shot of whiskey. Ginger root, also, mixed with, uh, citrus peel.
Bartlett : And a strong shot of whiskey?
Lord Marbury : Actually, you can leave everything out except the shot of whiskey.
The Penicillin Cocktail is a combination of honey, ginger root, blended Scotch, and Islay single malt. As such, it’s sort of the Gold Rush on steroids. It will cure what ails you.
The Manhattan is a cocktail I first read about around 2005-06 when my interest Single Malt Scotch expanded into an exploration of American rye whiskey. One version of the story of its creation is that it was whipped up for Winston Churchill’s mother by a Manhattan bartender. It’s a drink that’s evolved over the years, from rye to bourbon and sweet vermouth to dry. This is in line with the rye and sweet vermouth original, courtesy of Dale DeGroff.
The Pink Lady also comes courtesy of Dale DeGroff as an excellent drink to use with Hendrick’s Gin. DeGroff recommends making your own grenadine for this one. It was difficult to get the seeds from five pomegranates, though YouTube now tells me there is a much easier and cleaner way. The recipe calls for grenadine, gin, and heavy cream. I had no heavy cream on hand when I made this, so I used whole milk. It was still quite tasty.
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook margarita… an old reliable favorite. I’ve since learned that the juice mix created for the recipe out of lemon and lime juice, zest of the same fruits, and sugar makes a tasty general purpose sour mix. Added to a reposado tequila and some orange liqueur, it is a royal cocktail.
Finally, we come to a bit of possible necromancy. I made a Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail on Halloween night, as the blend of Littet, absinthe, gin, and orange liqueur seemed a sensible thing to try. I asked the author of the Necromancy Never Pays blog if this could be considered necromancy, since that never pays. Her response: “oh, I think you’ll pay all right.”
The absinthe is a new wave absinthe from California, and the first made in the United States since the ban on its import and manufacture collapsed. Checking reviews, it’s more herbal and less minty than old school absinthes made in the United States and Europe. The flavor is somewhat large… and perhaps not what the recipe calls for. Still, it was quite interesting. I just may need to dispense the absinthe with a medicine dropper.