In my meanderings about the internet looking for information about Prohibition, territorial waters and the like I was directed to The Chemist’s War, a recent article on Slate.com. “The Chemist’s War” discusses some Prohibition history that was not only completely new to me, but also more than a little distressing. Not to give away the article (you really should read it, it’s quite good), I think we are all aware on some level that industrial alcohol is denatured. Denaturing alcohol, usually by adding methanol, makes it undrinkable. Nothing particularly new there. Though I bet you didn’t know that during Prohibition the US government forced producers to increase the additives thus making these products even more poisonous. Still not hugely scary. How about the fact that it caused over 1,000 deaths in New York alone? Got your attention? Read the article for the twisted but fascinating details.
Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Nearly a year ago I went in search of knowledge regarding the much loved Pegu cocktail. In my search I came across a man so filled with wisdom he can, nay must, be called the Yoda of Pegus. Naturally I’m talking about Doug Winship of The Pegu Blog.
For the second year in a row Doug is branching out this month. Where I do Tiki week from time to time, Doug sacrifices a whole month to the Tiki gods to all of our benefit. So, without further ado, take a stroll on over and enjoy Doug’s foray into the Tiki goodness.
As I explained last year, I’m not really a football fan. But, with the coming of Super Bowl XLIV I thought you might be looking for some suggestions on food and drinks. Last year I offered some advice to lead you in the right direction. Here are some quick links to last year’s posts to get you in the mood.
Of the options I’ve listed above my favorite drink choice is definitely the DIY Highball Bar. It gives your guests a lot of drink options and let’s each person customize the drink to their liking. As for food, I’d go for lasagna this year. It’s simple, super tasty and just sounds really good right now. Well, I hope this has given you some direction. Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!
I mentioned in the intro that this week’s cocktail, and more specifically its ingredients, are old school. In fact, very few are more old school than Benedictine. This year the herbal liqueur celebrates its 500th anniversary! The liqueur was first developed by monks in 1510. Their production of the herbal spirit progressed for over 250 years until the recipe was tragically thought lost in the 1791 during the French Revolution. As luck would have it, the recipe had been written down in a book that was then sold to a local art collector. The recipe remained lost, however, until it was rediscovered in 1863 by Alexandre Le Grand. Alexandre recognized the quality of the recipe and finally relaunched the liqueur as a commercial product in 1873. The company he created has been making the spirit ever since.
But, what is it? What’s it like? I had the very same questions until fairly recently. Like most people I’d heard about the liqueur or its namesake cocktail the B&B (Benedictine and Brandy, for which the company has released another product), but I’d never tried it. The flavor is likely unlike anything you’ve ever had before. Like the first time you taste Chartreuse, your first sip of Benedictine is an intriguing one as the flavors expand and develop. The aroma is like that of a really fresh herb garden. I pick up notes of sage, rosemary, juniper all very crisp and fresh. The liqueur is more viscous than I expected given it’s 40% ABV. You really don’t notice the high alcohol in the flavor though. It’s well covered by the sweetness and herbal qualities. The flavor of the herbs is more well blended in the flavor than I found in the aroma. I don’t get any one specific herb coming through stronger than any others. The flavor profile as a whole is really complex and fantastic. While I don’t think it’s something I’d drink straight (it’s quite sweet), in cocktails like the Chrysanthemum or the Monkey Gland it adds a depth of flavor that I don’t think can be achieved any other way.
If you’ve never tried Benedictine you really owe it to yourself to pick some up and mix up a drink. You’ll appreciate the results.
If you’re looking for some deeper background info check out these sites:
Wikipedia – Benedictine Liqueur (General background info)
Benedictine’s Website (More in depth history. Be sure to check out the palace as well)
As I was sifting through my RSS feeds this morning I stumbled upon these engineering drawings of cocktails. They’re very well done and quite geeky. Or, put more succinctly, awesome.
In reading through the comments on Nathan’s post, it seems that this was originally a full color poster. If anyone knows where I can purchase one, please let me know. I’d love to add it to my collection of cocktail ephemera.