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Locavore Vesper

Posted by Reese On February - 5 - 2015

Last week, while chatting about cocktails, a coworker reminded me of the classic Vesper.  Loved by James Bond, enjoyed, but not truly loved, by me the last time I mixed it up and reintroduced to the world during Casino Royale this is a cocktail I should love.  Strong measure of gin, some bitterness and a bit of vodka to round it all out.

“A dry martini,” [Bond] said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Oui, monsieur.”
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
“Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter.
Bond laughed. “When I’m…er…concentrating,” he explained, “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.”
Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Chapter 7, “Rouge et Noir’

Sounds about right, but the last time I had issues with the Lillet.  The original recipe calls for a Kina Lillet, which is no longer made.  Lillet Blanc, while very tasty, doesn’t have the quinine bitterness (the kina) found in Kina Lillet.  Thankfully, Cocchi Americano has made its way into the American market.  Cocchi (pronounced COKE-ey) Americano brings back the cinchona quinine bitterness and makes the Vesper awesome again.

Having so many great spirits options close by, I decided to co-opt the locavore trend and go with a local gin and vodka.  The gin is one I’ve talked about here before, namely Roundhouse.  And, the vodka I chose, Sno, comes from J&L distilling, the makers of my also deeply loved Fyr liqueur.  Typically, I reach for a vodka that is completely pure and free of any flavor.  That’s generally what it’s there for anyhow.  In this version of the Vesper, I wanted something with a little more character.  Sno fills that need perfectly.  Distilled from sugarcane, Sno has a character similar to some white rums, but its mouth feel is where it really shines.  Adding a silky quality both on it’s own and in the cocktails you mix it into, Sno definitely isn’t just a filler vodka. *

Locavore Vesper

This time, the Vesper has really stepped up.  As you’d expect, the gin is the star.  But the vodka adds a wonderful fullness to the flavor and a velvety texture.  It’s hard to put into words, but absolutely distinct.  The Cocchi Americano adds exactly the bitterness that I looking for the last time.  In fact, my added orange bitters weren’t needed here.  This is one of those truly pure cocktails that have been moving more and more to the fore on my list.  And, like any martini, the Vesper is highly configurable simply by swapping out the gin and vodka for your favorites.  If you haven’t mixed up a Vesper, you need to.  In advance, you’re welcome.

Locavore Vesper
1 1/2 oz Roundhouse Gin
1/2 oz Sno Vodka
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
Lemon Twist for Garnish
1) Combine gin, vodka and Cocchi in a mixing glass
2) Add ice and stir until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Garnish with a lemon twist

PS – I went back to stirring.  When you gin and vodka taste so damn good, it’s better not to over-chill them.

* I may be partial to this particular bottle because I helped bottle it. But other bottles of Sno are equally great.

NPR: Distillery Cats

Posted by Reese On September - 13 - 2014

This story made me smile and think about my two “mousers”*.  I love the idea of a distillery cat…but the thought of a constant flow of dead mice is a little off-putting.

*We have to use the quotes since they haven’t caught a mouse, but I’m certain that’d they’d very much like to try.  Although, I have to admit, the mouse might scare Pepper away.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/09/347093135/behind-every-good-whisky-is-a-trusty-distillery-cat

Pepper and Saffron Stalking a Baby Bunny

Pepper and Saffron Stalking a Baby Bunny

Homeopathic Cocktails

Posted by Reese On April - 1 - 2011

I’m not one who usually believes in the power of homeopathy.  However, after Jacob Grier’s scientific and meticulous examination of a homeopathic Negroni, I might just be a convert.  Amazing the power of dilution!

And, in case you need more proof of the power, watch this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0[/youtube]

Whiskey at Mount Vernon

Posted by Reese On February - 22 - 2011

I’m a day late in getting this one posted, but I think it’s still really fascinating.  Everyone knows (or at least should know) that George Washington was the first President of the United States.  As one of our founding fathers, a truly amazing military leader and successful businessman, there are lots of things to be impressed with in Washington’s history.  All those things aside, did you know he was also a prolific distiller and made some great rye whiskey?  I had heard the stories told, but had never really paid much attention.  At the time nearly everyone with a farm distilled.  It was a simple way to use extra grain, get some liquor for your personal consumption and maybe make some extra money on the side.  Washington took it to the next level, though.  He had a huge distillery and produced a massive amount of whiskey.

I got an email last week from Reason.tv pointing me to a video they’d produced about the historically accurate and operational distillery at Mount Vernon.  I’ll let their words and video speak for themselves, but I’d highly suggest checking it out.  It is pretty amazing the process they went through and the quantity they were able to produce.

Many know George Washington as a general and statesman, but few think of America’s first president as a preeminent entrepreneur, operating the most successful whiskey distillery in the late 18th century. At its height, Washington’s distillery produced over 11,000 gallons of liquor a year, supplying the surrounding area and becoming one of his most lucrative business ventures.

At Washington’s former plantation, Mount Vernon, a group of historic interpreters are looking to bring this story to a wider audience. Thanks to a fully functioning replica of Washington’s distillery (and special dispensation from the Virginia General Assembly), George Washington’s rye whiskey is once again being made and sold to the public.

In November, Reason.tv followed the entire process as Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller and former Vice President of Operations for Maker’s Mark, and Steve Bashore, Mount Vernon Distillery Manager, oversaw a two week production run while adhering as strictly as possible to 18th century means and methods. The result is an 80-proof reminder of the nation’s first president and the entrepreneurial ideals of colonial America.

White Russian

Posted by Reese On August - 9 - 2009

If you’re a fan of The Big Lebowski you’re already familiar with this week’s cocktail.  And, well, if not let’s do some familiarization.  This week I’m going to be mixing up White Russians.  The source of this drink seems a bit shaky.  Wikipedia references both an insert to the November 21st, 1965 edition of the Oakland Tribune and that the drink was created shortly after WWI.  No matter where it came from it looks tasty, so let’s get started.

White Russian (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Cream
1 oz Kahlua
1) Combine ingredients with ice in shaker
2) Shake and strain into an ice filled glass