For those of you who live in states like New York or California or Denver, you are fortunate enough to be able to buy your booze in a “free market” environment. Michigan, unfortunately, is a “control state,” which means that all the liquor has to be sold by the manufacturer to the state, who then marks it up and sells it to the bars, party stores, etc. It’s some bullshit law that dates back to prohibition, and needless to say, inherently inhibits the spirits that are sold in the state, and increases their price point to boot. And it also means, as a licensee, we cannot sell spirits that are not sold thru the state (I think technically it’s considered bootlegging). So when you’re reading thru the bloggs about all the sexy new liquors and liqueurs that the kids are using (Bols Genever, Battavia Arrack, etc., etc.,), rest assured that they are beyond our reach, and that Michigan will therefore always reside in the dark taint of the mixology world.
So let me be the first to say how very “fucking jazzed up” I am that the Haus Alpenz wine based liqueur portfolio is now on sale here. It’s only stuff under 20% abv, but we’ll take it. With any luck, we’ll get the rest of the portfolio in the state next year, so we can really “run with the dick punchers,” as the kids say.
So yeah, we’re going heavy with that shit on my new menu. Can you blame us?
The Historic Brownfield Project
1.5 oz. Wild Turkey Rye
.5 oz. Cynar
.5 oz. Cardamaro
3 dash Root Beer Bitters
This bastard tastes like a bitter little dirt sandwich, in all the right ways. The root beer bitts really make the whole thing work, and if you squeeze a lemon peel over top, well, then you’re doing God’s work.
I’ve been thinking about a seasonal old fashioned for the menu… Spring is going to be gin, muddled grapefruit peel, a dash of grapefruit bitters & some simple. The Summer old fash is probably going to be the tequila / lemon peel / chocolate bitters deal. I had a loose idea that the autumn old fashioned should have warm spices like cinnamon and clove, and probably be whiskey based, but I definitely wanted it to be different from the standard version that will always be available. So last weekend, I’m at the bar getting my sweet assed drink on with a few homies who are in the business of making sausage, and the topic of apples comes up. I’ve never really been a big fan of chunks of apples (or any fruit) in my sausage, so John suggested maybe they try a cider reduction instead. And that’s when it hit me. What is more fall than apple cider? Nothing, you fuck, nothing. So I’ve been working on this one for a few days, and can confidently say it’s a stone cold ruler.
Autumn Old Fashioned
1 oz. Rye
1 oz. Cognac
1 tsp. Apple Cider Syrup
Pour syrup, ango and booze into glass, and mix briefly. Add large ice cubes, and stir for about twenty seconds. Add cinnamon stick, because you’re bad like that.
Cider Syrup (tentative recipe)
10 oz. Apple Cider (preferably from the Franklin Cider Mill)
2 oz. pure cane sugar
Add 8 oz. apple cider to a saucepan, and let reduce down to about 2 oz. It took me about 30 minutes, give or take. Add the sugar, and stir over low heat until fully dissolved. At this point, the syrup should be almost a caramel… really thick. Add the final 2 oz. of cider, and stir until a uniform consistency is achieved.
I’m sure there is an easier way to get the right consistency, but I just made a small batch, so I’ll update this if I figure out anything better.
Now on to winter…
If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending the 2010 GUD Summer Picnic, you lost out, majorly. It was such a boss event, I recommended we posthumously rename it the “SuperMeat: 2010.” The recommendatio (reh-co-men-daysh) was denied, but the spirit lives on.
2.5 L White Rum
.75 L Lemon Juice
2.5 L Club Soda
Bundle of Mint
Combine all ingredients (except for the soda) up to three days in advance. Allow the mint to soak in the punch for a few days, and strain it out before serving. Add soda just before serving, and stir. Serve over ice, garnish with mint. Makes about 60 cups.
1.75 L Brandy
.75 L Rye
.5 L Mint Syrup
Bundle of Mint
First, make simple syrup as you normally would. I made about a full bottle, and while it was still warm – not hot – added a large cleaned bunch of mint, and let it sit in there overnight. Strain the mint out, and bottle. Add the Cognac and rye to a large pitcher (I used Raynal and Jim Beam), and add mint syrup to taste. Ends up with about a gallon of the stuff, should make about 30 cups. Garnish with mint, and imbibulate with a shorty straw. If possible, this should be poured over crushed ice so it can get watered down a bit. It’s pretty much just straight booze.
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.
Yes, it’s a great name for a drink. And yes, it’s a great drink. And yes, you wish you thought of it. But you didn’t. So suck it. Sorry, I get aggressive sometimes, especially when I’ma drinkin’. Me likely the sauce, as the kids say.
This little bastard is all about the root beer bitters I just finished. They don’t stand up to Michael’s at TVH, but they’re dang, dang close.
3 oz. Rye
.5 oz. Benedictine
A few dash Root Beer Bitters
Stir, serve up. Be a better man because of it. Even if you’re not.
Earlier today I stumbled across a place called the River House, and was fucking tickled to find they served Chatham Artillery Punch, which is exceptionally ass kicking, since it was created in Savannah, GA probably around 200 years ago, as the house punch of the Chatham County Artillery of Savannah, Georgia, formed May 1st, 1786.
“When you visit the town of Savannah
Enlist ‘neath the temperance banneh,
For if you should lunch,
On artillery punch,
It will treat you in sorrowful manneh.”
- Old Klingon Proverb.
Chatham Artillery Punch
1 ½ gal. Catawba Wine
½ gal. Rum (probably Jamaican)
1 qt. Gin
1 qt. Brandy
½ pt. Benedictine
2 qt. Maraschino Cherries
1 ½ qt. Rye Whiskey
1 ½ gal. Strong Tea (probably black)
2 ½ lbs. brown sugar
1 ½ qts. Orange juice
1 ½ qts. Lemon Juice
Mix from thrity-six to forty-eight hours before serving. Add one case of champagne when ready to serve.
The owner says this will make 5 gallons, and trying to reduce this amount ends is disaster. They, however, make their batches 20 gallons at a clip. Well played, sir.
The CA Punch is a like an American version of Sangria – but the good stuff – not the stuff that tastes like rotting fruit. It’s definitely one of the more substantial and boozy punches I’ve had, and the topping of Champagne makes it a bit lighter and fizzier. Umm, apparently four was too many.
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.
My life is made up of a few simple rules. For example, don’t eat sushi in Detroit. Always opt for a layover in Tulsa. Never see a movie on Wednesday, unless it’s the first Wednesday of the month. Okay, they’re not actually simple. And there are more than just a few. In reality, they amount to a voluminous tome of bizarre superstitions and fear-based myths. But arguably the most important rule is #246: when fortunate enough to find a bottle of Thomas Handy Sazerac, buy it.
Thomas Handy Sazerac rye whiskey is, in my expert fucking opinion, the best rye ever made. There’s a whole story about who Thomas Handy is, and why he has a rye named after him, but I’m not going to bore you with that crap. After all, that’s not why you’re here, and that’s not why I am here. I will say that Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye is part of the “Antique Collection,” made by the venerable Buffalo Trace distillery (maker of the more commercially available Sazerac Rye – 6 and 18 years). The Thomas Handy is the same distillation as the 18 year Sazerac rye, but it’s bottled at barrel strength – the way they did it before prohibition, thus the name “antique” – and only a few thousand bottles are released per year. That means it hasn’t been diluted with life killing water, and it usually ends up between 125* – 130*. The two bottles I happened to stumble across were bottled in 2008, the third release, and ended up at 127.5*.
The highly anticipated and widely discussed (by me) shipment of Torani Amer arrived from California this afternoon. Torani Amer is based on the recipe of Amer Picon, and rather than explain what Amer Picon is, I’ll just quote Cocktail DB:
“[Amer Picon is a] Proprietary French bitter-sweet spirit-based aperitif beverage bitters with slight orange character. Notable in the Basque drink, Picon Punch, which is considered one of the finest examples of a highball beverage. Unfortunately, from the 1970s to present, the House of Picon has lowered the proof of their product repeatedly, creating a situation where traditional recipes calling for it (such as the Picon Punch which was created with the original 78 proof product in mind) did not taste the same. Picon’s current iteration has an alcohol content of less than half of the original product.”
Torani Amer has a nose of citrus, molasses and a hint of mint. The first taste is bitter and herbaceous, along the lines of Fernet Branca, but tamed down quite a bit. It follows with a citrus fragrance and a slightly sweet finish with a bit of burn from the high proof (78*). TA would go great with mint, citrus and herbal flavors, which would all enhance it’s characteristics. I think a variation on a Pimm’s Cup would be great with this stuff. However, my favorite cocktail that let’s TA really show off is the Liberal.
The Liberal Cocktail
3 oz. Overholt Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Torani Amer
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
A few dashes orange bitters
Build in an old fashioned glass over a block of ice. Garnish with a boss-sized orange peel.
I’ve gone 3:1:1 on this, to let the supporting players show off a bit. I figure if get a bottle of booze mailed to you, you should at least make sure you can taste it. Also, I am throwing in an orange peel, as it enhances the flavor of the TA. Fuck yes it is.