I made a metric buttload of syrup the other day – 4 lbs. of Zulka to 4 cups of water… (2:1 by weight) Then I batched it and made some flavor infusions… cardamom, coriander, cherry, honey, spearmint, cinnamon, and tamarind. Came up with a few pretty interesting drinks… these were the highlights:
Man in the High Castle
2 oz. Bourbon
.75 oz. Cynar
.75 oz. Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Cardamom Syrup
Dry shake and pour over cubes in a high ball glass. Top with soda. It’s light and refreshing, yet flavorful and complex.
Chocolate Cherry Old Fash
2 oz. Bourbon
1 tbsp. Cherry Syrup
Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
Stir with a few cubes of ice, top with a bit of soda. Be even radder.
Baron Von Kickass
2 oz. Bourbon
.75 oz. Averna
.75 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 tbsp. Coriander Syrup
Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
Stir, serve down. Easy on the lavender bitts, they’ll blow your shit up quick.
I was at TVH a few months back, and I had a drink they were calling the Zarzamora, which is Argentinian for Blackberry. So yes, there are blackberries in this drink, which is kinda rad. But what’s the Argentinian connection, you ask? Well, the national drink of Argentina is Fernet Branca and Coke. Which is weird because Fernet is an Italian drink, and pretty much tastes like your tongue getting raped by a sprig of mint and a tiny, tiny cougar. So the Zarzamora is their variation on that drink. And this is my variation on that. Still with me? I doubt it.
2 oz. Rye
.5 oz. Fernet Branca
.5 oz. Dem Syrup
4 Large Blackberries
Muddle the blackberries in the bottom of a highball glass, along with the syrup. Add the rye and Fernet, and give the whole mess a bit of a stir. Add a few cubes of ice, and top off with club soda and a mint garnish. Drink from the glass.
TVH’s version is pretty much the same (to the best of my ‘ccollection), but they use Coca Cola instead of soda, which I personally found a little too sweet. I think the club soda tames everything down a bit, and lends itself to a relaxed sipping cooler with plenty of great flavors, yet nothing overwhelming. The mint is a nice touch especially since you’ll be smashing on this ‘mo from the glass, lest you deal with a blackberry-clogged straw, which is never a good thing.
What’s that ole saying… “Strange bedfellows make great neighbors?” Well, in this case, it was never more truer… As many of you know, I’ve been smashing the heck out of Negroni’s lately, because I just recently found out I can get Carpano Antica in MI (rejoice). But, I ran out of gin the other morning, and was like, FMA, let’s go for it dude, let’s just P the fucking T. And so I did. And so it went. And jebus said to the angels, “let’s get crunk, my freaks.” And they did. And it was good. Friggin’ real good.
FMA Cocktail (tentative title)
2 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Carpano Antica
Build over a large chunk of ice, garnish with a large peel of lemon and orange.
Okay, let’s talk bourbon for a minute. Since there’s only 2 oz. in there, I like it strong. I was rocking the 107 Old Weller, but a 101 Wild Turkey or even a 101 Grandad would be suitable. Campari, duh. But Carpano – and don’t fuck me on this one – is important. If you wanted to use Punt E Mes, that would be okay, and if you had to use Vya, I could live with it… I mean, I wouldn’t be stoked about it, but I’d forgive and forget. Just don’t use Cinzano, or any crappy vermouth in this. Or in general. As a matter of fact, I forbid you from drinking cheap vermouth. Deal with that – it just happened. No go forth, and crunkify.
So, you’ll notice that I’ve added a new category, over there, on the right. The one called “The Classics.” I’ll be marking posts with this category when it’s a real-deal, old school recipe. I’ll also go back and tag posts that adhere to this criteria (Daquiri, Margarita, Sidecar, etc.). So, having said that, here’s the recipe for a Brooklyn, my absolute favoritest cocktail ever.
3 oz. Rye
.75 oz. Dry Vermouth
.5 oz. Averna Amaro
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
Stir over ice, strain, serve down, mist and garnish with orange peel (or lemon peel if you’re a coward like me).
Okay, so, after I said all that crap at the start of this post about “real deal” recipes, I’ve already waffled. You see, the traditional Brooklyn calls for Amer Picon. Amer Picon is basically an orange flavored French amaro that is no longer available in the states. However, I’m using Averna – a lovely Italian amaro that’s got a great orange flavor – which is IMEFO the closest commercially available substitute to the real dangle.
Also, I am going to take a moment to endorse Wild Turkey 101 rye. I’ve mentioned it a few times in this blog, but I want to point out that it is both a fantastic tasting overproof rye, and is extremely reasonably priced. It’s under $20 in Michigan, and is pretty much the best bet if you’re in the rye market. Which I am, frequently.
I’ve been buying all these Amari lately… pretty much anything I can get my hands on. Some stores have old shit on the shelves that you’re not likely to come by anymore. When in doubt, I buy. And whilst I do like some better than others, all in all they’re a pretty wild bunch.
Medium caramel color. Smells strongly of mint, botanicals, anger. Immediately bitter, medicinal taste. Aftertaste is minty, bitter, hatey.
Del Capo (Calabria)
Light caramel color. Smells like baby aspirin. Sweet, citrusy, minty. Slightly bitter. Really nice, actually.
Punch Abruzzo (Sambuceto)
Dark caramel color. Smells like store bought egg nog. Tastes like circus peanuts, baby asprin, egg nog, citrus and mint. In that order. Not bad. This one also says it’s a cane neutral spirit and has caffeine. A little weird, yes. I suspect it’s no longer imported to the US. It was also about $50 (!)
Dark caramel color. Subtle nose. Sweet, earthy, hints of citrus and mint – and maybe mushrooms? – or not. Delicious.
Medium caramel color. Heavy botanical nose. Sweet, coffee, earth. Shit’s delish, bro. D-fucking-lish.
It’s a safe bet that one could add 1/2 oz. to either a Manhattan or Negroni, and not ruffle too many feathers, with the exception of the Fernet, which will pretty much shit on the cake and piss in the punch, as they say. Use sparingly, unless you’ve got really big ones.
If you’ve never tried Ransom Old Tom gin, then perhaps it’s time for you and me to see other people. I’m not saying we can’t be friends, but I just don’t feel like this is working out. Listen, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m just… at a difficult place in my life. I need to spend some time alone, getting to know me. Anyways, the point is, Ransom gin. Yes, it’s delicious. Yes, it’s good for you. Yes, it does temporarily grant you the powers of flight. Well, okay, but two out of three ain’t bad.
2 oz. Ranson Old Tom Gin
.75 oz. Punt e Mes (sweet vermouth)
.75 oz. Campari
.75 oz. Averna Amaro
If you’ve never gotten down with the Negroni, you’ll want to give it a run. It’s a petty straight forward cocktail and normally consists of Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, at a ratio around 3:1:1. I’ve added some Averna because I’m kinda a big deal. What I mean is, I have a lot of leather-bound books, and my office smells of rich, rich mahogany. Wait, can I start over? I want to be on you. I want to be on you.
Okay, this is a weird one. I’m stocking up on the sauce earlier; grabbed on some gin, a nice peaty scotch, maybe a bottle of tawny port, throw in some rye for Gary and the boys, a classic recipe french vermouth for good measure, and I was hoping to find a nice Amaro. Maybe an Averna or even an Amaro Nonino… I dunno – the day was young and I was drunk with anticipation – and the seven beers I had at lunch – but, the important thing here is that when I told the woman behind the counter I was looking for an Amaro, and she replied with a confused and somewhat “stabby” look, I explained it was a fortified Italian liqueur – a digestif – typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, bark, flowers, citrus and syrups in liquors and allowing the mixture to age in fine oak casks. At which point she shrugged, pointed to a dusty bottle located just between the lemon Puckers and Midori, took up her cigarette and promptly resumed her post near the television, at for where she best could look on her stories. I hesitated, examined the aged bottle, and decided to take a plunge into the great and wild unknown… for it is said that “God hates a coward.” Indeed, I am most certainly doing The Lord’s work.
Strega Brooklyn Varitation
3 oz. Rye
.75 oz. Dry Vermouth
.5 oz. Strega
Dash Luxardo Maraschino
Combine all ingredients in a bar glass, add ice, and stir. Serve down in a rocks glass, with a spray of lemon oil.
I like this one better with a lower proof rye… an Overholt would do nicely, but I’m using the Sazerac brand. This cocktail is really similar to a Brooklyn, hence the name, with the obvious swap of the Strega instead of the Amer Picon which in my mind is like swapping out the orange flavor for the lemon. Also, be careful not to overdo the Maraschino – it’ll ruin that shit with the quickness. I also like throwing in the Peychaud’s as the herbaceousness of the bitters enhances the Strega, which is strangely sweet and has notes of juniper, mint and saffron. Saffron? Fucks yeah, bro dog. Fucks yeah.
More on this topic tomorrow. ish.