I’ve been on this massive rum kick lately… not so much for mixing – mainly for just sippin’ on. Smith & Cross is my all-time heavy weight favorite rum – it’s funky, earthy taste is a nod to rums as they were made a few hundred years ago… but it’s damned hard to mix with. It’s so potent it tends to overpower all the other ingredients in the drink. I’ve had some success using it in a flip, and using it as a rinse, but I wanted to make something sorta classic tiki with it…
The Gentleman’s Companion
1.5 oz. Smith & Cross Rum
.75 oz. Orgeat Syrup
.5 oz. Lime Juice
Dash Orange Bitters
Dash Ango Bitters
2 Dash Elixir Vegetal
Allspice Dram Rinse
Combine the rum, orgeat, lime juice and bitters in a shaker, and give it a go. When you’re done shaking, pour about a teaspoon (maybe even less) of Allspice Dram into a rocks glass, and rinse the glass with it. Pour the contents of the shaker in, and dash a bit of EV onto the surface.
The result is an amazingly fragrant, complex cocktail. If you actually go thru the trouble of making this at home, after you dash on the Elixir Vegetal (if you use Chartreuse I won’t be mad,) give it a good whiff. The nose is amazing, and the bold flavors really complement each other. Is it audacious to name this drink after Charles H. Baker’s classic masterpiece? A bit… but I’m one audacious fuck.
I’ve been working on this one for a while and I’m pretty happy about it. Feeling like it could be a contender on the Spring menu. I may tweak the proportions, and I’ll certainly have a tasting panel, but this drink here… it’s a ruler. Stone cold.
The Hairy Fairy (working title)
.5 oz. Drambuie
.5 oz. Clementine Juice
.25 oz. Creme de Cacao
Shake & double strain. Garnish with the nutmeg.
I was working under the assumption that oranges and chocolate go well together, but I wanted something that would be suitable for Spring, so I went with gin as the base. The Drambuie brings both a touch of sweetness and smokiness to the party, and really makes the drink overall.
This post, written by the lovely and talented Todd Abrams, originally appeared on the Gourmet Underground Detroit site. Go there for all things good in and around the DTW.
Though dry vermouth is still prized as an aperitif in Europe, the
modern American is generally uninformed about this classic aromatized
wine. This is largely due to bartenders that allow opened bottles to
languish on a warm shelf and quickly oxidize. Many a drinker’s first
and only experience with dry vermouth comes in the form of a classic
martini that tastes like an alpine bunny took a dump in it. The truth
is, when stored in a refrigerator after opening and consumed with
purpose, vermouth can be both a quality aperitif and cocktail mixer.
Native to northwest Italy and southern France, vermouth is produced
using herbs and other botanicals and then lightly fortified with
unaged brandy. Though Antonio Benedetto Carpano was the first to
market the aromatized wine he produced in Turin back in 1786, vermouth
and its predecessors had been consumed for centuries before
that.Typical flavorings include cardamom, cinnamon, marjoram and
chamomile along with myriad other herbs, roots and barks. The
botanical most associated with vermouth is its namesake, wormwood,
otherwise known in Old High German as Wermud.
Both as an effort to find the most quality dry vermouth for our dear
readers, as well as an excuse to party, Gourmet Underground assembled
a faction of Detroit mixologists and habitual vermouth drinkers for a
blind tasting of six brands that are locally available. And because we
couldn’t leave it at that, we included two brands a bit more rare, one
coveted by cocktail geeks across the country, the other produced only
under a full harvest moon by naked virgins in a French alpine mountain
stream — or something like that.
Creative mixologist and owner of
Detroit Sugar House Bar, Dave Kwiatkowski is
relentlessly curious about booze. Though he’s burly enough to crush
your skull between his bicep and forearm he’d much rather hand feed
premium kibble to his two-and-a-half pound Yorkshire terrier.
A disheveled wine academic with a hedonistic philosophy, Detroit Wine
Truck principle Putnam Weekley is capable of eating tabbouleh with his bare hands while
sipping a vintage Burgundy out of a Dixie cup and explicating on the
soil type of a half hectare vineyard plot in the Pfalz.
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company’s green coffee buyer and blender
James Cadariu is as
fussy about booze as he is coffee beans. He might lavish you with fine
food and drink but no matter how good of a friend you are, if he
catches you with a cup of caramel drizzled mocha latte, he will cut
you with his contempt.
Gourmet Underground Detroit co-founder and talented webmaster Evan
Hansen is a bona fide cocktail obsessive (among other things) and
his home bar is the envy of all the neighborhood kids. On the surface,
he appears to be a gravely serious dude but it was only recently that
he stopped dying his hair purple.
Jarred Gild is wine
monger and all-purpose gourmet consul at Western Market in Ferndale.
Self-proclaimed “gentleman of leisure” he often drinks Cru Beaujolais
from a Ball jar and travels with raw, naturally-raised Michigan beef.
Do not be afraid if one day you find him frying something in your
kitchen, he is generally harmless.
The brands appear in the order that we tasted them though the actual
names were not revealed until all brands were tested. Samples were
presented slightly chilled, in wine glasses, and poured in portions of
approximately one ounce. The ambient humidity was perfect for tasting
at 52%. A variety of hand-picked tasting music was playing softly in
the background. I was wearing my favorite tasting socks — a sort of
bluish-gray dyed wool blend. Everything was in place.
Boissiere Extra Dry Vermouth,
Boissiere has been my house brand vermouth since it showed up on the
shelves at Holiday Market a few years ago. It’s versatile. I use it in
cocktails, for cooking, and occasionally as an aperitif. Dave
Kwiatkowski perceives it to have an initial wave of sweetness. It’s
light, citrusy and floral with hints of rose petal and orange flower
water. It has a mildly effervescent mouthfeel though it is not
carbonated and finishes with just a hint of roasted nuts. Putnam
Weekley guesses that it’s Noilly Prat.
Routin Vermouth, France,
A dark golden, Routin has an odd but compelling mix of flavors, cheese
rind and old nuts, fresh peaches and apricots but also older fruit or
fruit leather. It’s less herbal. James Cadariu mentions something
about a similarity to sake. It’s liked by all but there is some
question of how well it would work in cocktails given its intense
Jarred Gild finally shows up about 40 minutes late. Because of his
tardiness we were forced to buy the bottle of Noilly Prat that he was
charged to bring but we don’t give him too hard of a time, mainly
because he’s carrying a bunch of bottles of wine for post-tasting
drinking. A discussion about how to drink vermouth ensues. Jarred
admits that at one point he was drinking a couple bottles a week with
ice and a slice of lemon or orange. James cracks that the appropriate
vessel for Jarred would be a Ball jar or tiki cup. We find this funny
because it’s true.
Vya Extra Dry Vermouth,
Vya pours even darker than Routin. Evan Hansen makes the inevitable
visual comparison to a urine sample and the not-so-inevitable aroma
comparison to honeyed, ripe bananas with a plastic finish. There are
shouts of root beer syrup, sun-dried tomatoes, sage and molasses. Dave
Kwiatkowski admits that he always thought dry vermouth would taste
like this if you gulped it straight from a wine glass. It gets mixed
final opinions and later, when the brand is revealed we all agree that
we likely wouldn’t pay the higher price for this brand.
Dolin Dry Vermouth de
Chambery, France, $18/750ml (mail order)
The most disappointing of the grouping, Dolin gets called out for
boozy and perfume-like aromas. It’s clear that at this point in the
tasting it is the least favorite. It has more herbs and twigs on the
nose, a cleaner finish and less depth than the previous brands.
Jarred Gild feels that it has an aura of cleaning product about it and
then waxes poetical on the interconnectedness of Gourmet Underground
Detroit that somehow leads to a discussion about crushed velvet suits.
Putnam Weekley guesses that it’s Noilly Prat.
Martini and Rossi Dry
Vermouth, Italy, ~$7/750ml
Congruent with a sweet vermouth tasting held years ago at the old
Cloverleaf in Southfield, this “benchmark” brand is universally
disliked. It is called astringent with aromas of ammonia and
turpentine and artificial peach. James Cadariu conjures sawdust,
asparagus pee and frozen green peas. Everyone is forced to rinse their
glass out with water after this sample.
Stock Extra Dry Vermouth,
Mixed reviews for Stock. Though there is a simple balance between
citrus and herbs it is quite shallow. Some just plainly do not like
it. Putnam Weekley calls it clear, fresh and corporate and then,
naturally, guesses that it’s Noilly Prat. At this point in the tasting
it is apparent that most people aren’t spitting.
Cinzano Dry Vermouth, Italy,
Cinzano is floral, medicinal, furry, not as tart as the majority that
we have tasted so far. There’s ginger ale on the nose and a slight
hint of wet dog behind it. No one loves it but we all find a pleasant
aroma of rosemary.
Dave Kwiatkowski thinks it smells like fish and then ponders the
validity of vermouth tasting and possible palate fatigue. “Would we
like this more if it were served first?” he asks. Ah, the mysteries of
the universe. Anyway, what good is a blog if we can’t pretend to be
Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth,
You can tell that the quality of vermouth has improved by the amount
of chatter that ensues upon our final sample. There is more intensity
here, more minerality. Though it smells slighty hot there is also
cinnamon and citrus pith. And this brand frankly just drinks easier
than the previous five. Putnam Weekley does not guess that it’s Noilly
For a final measure we mixed four of the vermouth brands into a
classic martini with Beefeater gin at a ratio of two parts gin to one
part vermouth. There was no negligible difference in quality when
these vermouths were mixed with the harder booze. Not surprisingly,
shitty vermouth is still shitty vermouth even with some gin added.
This leads us to presume that the folks who claim that Martini &
Rossi is THE vermouth to make a classic martini are, at the very
least, lacking both taste and imagination.
Boissiere, Routin and Noilly Prat were found to be the favorites of
most of the tasters, though it is expressed that any one may fair
better or worse when mixed into more complicated drinks. The only real
surprise came at the expense of Dolin. I can only assume that it is
because of its relative rarity, somewhat higher price, and the fact
that it is part of the well-regarded Haus Alpenz catalog, that it
shows up on the list of many cocktail cognoscenti.
Our recommendation for locally available dry vermouth is Noilly Prat
and Boissiere. They are quite different so try them both and find the
one that works best for your purposes. As always, keep an open mind
about these and any other drinks. As new brands come into the market
and old brands are reformulated, you never know what might surprise
I made some ice picks as X-mas gifts… here’s a few shots of them. I wanted each one to be a little different, so I used a variety of materials and styles.
All the points are ground down stainless steel bolts, and the handles are a combination of aluminum, brass, stainless steel, kingwood and rosewood.
Here’s a great one from Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks… classic Gin punch on a single plan.
3 oz. Gin
.75 oz. Raspberry Syrup
.75 oz. Lemon Juice
.25 oz. Maraschino
.25 oz. Orange Juice
.25 oz. Pineapple Juice
Combine all ingridients, shake over cracked ice, pour unstrained into a small bar glass (12 oz. ish), top with crushed ice and decorate with fruits in season. Imbibe with a bad as hells two part brass strainer straw that you made. Or not.
I modified this one a bit, but within reason. Original recipe calls for both raspberry syrup and sugar, which was too sweet and the raspberry got lost. Also, it read like a slice of orange and pineapple were supposed to be shaken, but it didn’t really work for me. Instead I added a dash of each juice pre-shake, and it works.
I’ve been reading Kazuo Uyeda’s book “Cocktail Techniques” lately. It’s a pretty interesting take on cocktails. He argues that the customer decides how the cocktail will taste as soon as he walks into the bar; the decor of the establishment, the method of preparation, and the presentation of the drink are all as important as the taste. I don’t entirely disagree with him – if you’ve ever been to Milk & Honey you know that the anticipation of the drink is half the fun. However, he talks about making cocktails that will look a certain way – trying to achieve a color balance and letting that guide the flavors. I decided I’d make a cocktail of my own in his style and see how it turned out. Guess what? Nailed it.
Cocktail a la Uyeda
1.5 oz. Gin
.75 oz. Midori
.75 oz. Lime
.25 oz. Cointreau
Shake over ice, pour into “coral rimmed” glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
It’s a great drink, considering I hate Midori. It looks fantastic, and the coral rim allows the drinker to increase or decrease the sweetness depending on where he drinks it.
To make the coral rim, dip the glass (a good inch or so) in grenadine, Midori or blue curacao – or any other intensely colored syrup. Keep holding the glass upside down so the coloring agent doesn’t drip down the glass, and lightly shake off any drops. Next, dunk the rim in a separate glass full of sugar, up to the height of the existing coloring agent. Leave it there for a moment, gently remove, and lightly tap the glass to get rid of loose sugar. Wipe away the sugar from the inside of the glass, and you’re done. A total pain in the ass? To be sure. Worth every minute? Probably not.
One of the french benefits of having your own motorcycle shop is being able to make all sorts of cool shit for the purpose of the drinky. Today’s endeavor is all about making a few of those bad ass Japanese ice ball machines. But mine are gonna be much more betterer. Sorry for the shitty cell phone pick. Updates as we go.
What up my freaks? Surprised to see yet another new post? Well that makes three of us. But, I’ve been drinking lots of mezcal lately and was inspired to get off my fat and lazy ass and actually make a post for yous alls.
Mezcal Old Fashioned
2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
.5 oz. Cucumber Syrup
Build in glass, add ice, stir.
If you’re not down with the mezcal yet, I suggest you leave work early, head straight to the local liquor store, buy a bottle and drink it your car in the parking lot. But please friends, don’t drive drunk. No, instead, just sit there, drinking in your car for a few hours, and then pass out, and then wake up at 11:15pm and wonder where the hell you are, and then look at your phone and you’ve got all these angry text messages from your wife and you’re like shit dude, not again… not again.
Anyways, mezcal is to tequila as Islay scotch is to corn whiskey. Smokey, peppery, delish. I recently used it instead of Laphroaig in a tequila variation on the Penicillin with much success. And Vida is the cheapest kind from Del Maguey. I think it retails for around $45.00, as opposed to Chichicapa or some of the other ones that are $65.00+.
In your Champion juicer that your mom got you for Christ day, juice one half of an English style cucumber (skin and all). To this, add just a tiny squeeze of lemon juice – maybe 1/4 of an ounce – and go about 3:2 juice to sugar ratio. Pour the sugar and juice into a large bottle and do the cold shake method… you don’t want to heat up the cucumber juice, it gets rather shitty.
A little over a year ago, I was living in Chicago, and trading options on the CBOE (which is hard to even get my head around). One of my best friends, Bryan, was getting married, and my other best friend Lowell flew into town from LA with his girlfriend. We hadn’t all been together since my wedding, so the plan was to meet up at the Whistler. However, there was a line out the door, so we went to Debbie’s Two Way, a dive bar right across the street. There were six of us. I went up to the bar and ordered “six shots of whiskey.” The bartendress promptly placed six shot glasses in front of me, filled them each half way with A1 steak sauce, and then topped them off with whiskey. Assuming it was some sort of house specialty along the lines of a pickleback, we grinned and shot them.
“So, can I have my six shots of whiskey now?” I asked.
That’s what I gave you, she shouted over the music “steak sauce and whiskey.”