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Archive for 2008

Egg Nog – A Cup O’ Creamy Deliciousness

Posted by Reese On December - 1 - 2008

So, as promised, I made homemade Egg Nog over the Thanksgiving holiday.  To give a brief summary for those of you with ADD, it is totally worth the effort.  I went with the standard (non-cooked) Good Eats Egg Nog recipe and used Eagle Rare bourbon as my spirit of choice.  The whole process took less than 30 minutes and would have been faster had it not been my first time making said concoction.  The process was quite easy but there is onne comment I’ll add to Alton’s recipe.  Make sure you use an enormous bowl, larger than you think you’ll need, to make the custard mixture.  The bowls I used were perfect for mixing the custard base and whipping the egg whites, however were only just barely large enough when it came time to combine the two.

In the future I’ll be using a very large bowl to mix the custard in, and whipping the egg whites in a smaller bowl, that way when it comes time to combine there will be no worry of overflow.  Another option which I considered and think would work very well is to execute the recipe as suggested but combine the whipped egg whites and custard in a large, sealable plastic pitcher then shake to combine.  This method should better combine the foamy whites and custard.  However, it may deflate your egg whites more than the whisking method.  When I combined the two in the bowl there was a noticeable foam layer and a liquid layer below that, so when serving I had to make sure I got some of both.

And, how was it?  Fantastic!  The fresh grated nutmeg came through with flying colors and the bourbon added a huge amount of flavor without making the drink overly boozy.  This recipe produces an Egg Nog that is likely going to be thinner that what you’re used to getting from the store.  This didn’t bother me but Alton suggests trying the cooked recipe if you’re looking for a thicker product.  I’d guess that the Egg Nog would last in the fridge for a couple of weeks at least assuming you started with fresh ingredients, but I can’t really say for sure as it only lasted about a day and a half in our fridge. :)

So, to wrap things homemade Egg Nog is well worth the effort and I’d highly suggest you give it a try some time.  Matt had an interesting comment that I’d like to investigate before Nog season passes up by, so I’ll keep you updated on my thoughts on spirit selection when mixing with store bought Nog.

Egg Nog

Posted by Reese On November - 23 - 2008

I’m going to take a bit of a break from the rigors of cocktail hacking this week.  But I won’t be stopping my work entirely.  This week I’m going to make homemade Egg Nog.  I’ve not made it before so it should be quite an adventure.  There are zillions of recipes on the net for nog.  I read through the thread on eGullet and there are certainly some great starting points there.  But, being a huge fan of Good Eats and Alton Brown in general I’m going to use his recipe this time around.  If you’re interested in watching the show it’s season 9 episode 13.  I’m a giant nerd and have all the episodes of Good Eats on my AppleTV, but if you’re not quite that hardcore, then you can watch the episode here.

I’ll drop an update next weekend on how the nog turned out, until then I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoy some wonderful cocktails.

Champagne Cocktail – Ummm… Yeah

Posted by Reese On November - 23 - 2008

Ok, so I really tried to like the Champagne Cocktail and I can’t say that I didn’t, but it certainly wasn’t great.  I found that no matter what bitters you use I simply couldn’t get enough of their flavor to shine through to make it worth using decent Champagne.  I also changed up the method to see if that would help.  I found little to no difference between Gary Regan’s method (bitters soaked sugar cube then champagne) and Robert Hess’ method (champagne then bitters soaked sugar cube).  Although if I have to choose I’d say fill the glass with champagne first then drop in the cube.  This way the cocktail foams much less and therefore you lose less of the evervescence.

The picture above illustrates one issue that I found with the cocktail.  No matter which method you use after a short time (45-60 seconds) you’ll find that you have a layer of white sugar at the very bottom with a layer of bitters syrup immediately on top.  As a result you end up with very little of the bitters combining with the cocktail and, as I mentioned above, little of the bitters’ flavors come through.  I did find a solution to this issue though.  Champagne is generally served in flutes these days, but there is another glass that is traditional, the Champagne saucer or coupe.  These glasses are basically a shallow bowl on a stem.  I don’t have any Champagne coupes in my glassware collection right now, although I’m certainly going to have to look for some, so I tried serving the cocktail in a cocktail glass.

This actually helped bring the flavor of the bitters out a bit more in the finished product.  My somewhat educated guess as to why this is the case is that the champagne circulates more in a wider, more open glass.  This in turn better circulates the bitters and sugar and leads to better mixing over all.  Although this method was definitely a vast improvement it was still very lacking.  So, I next tried a method inspired by Jerry Thomas’ original recipe.

In his recipe Jerry calls for shaking the Champagne, bitters and sugar with ice before serving.  Although this would most certainly cause your shaker to explode if you used a full glass of wine it would also mix the bitters and sugar very very well.  So I came up with a hybrid method.  In your shaker combine an ounce of Champagne (give or take), a teaspoon of simple syrup and three dashes of Angostura bitters.  Shake for a bit and add to your cocktail glass.  Be careful when opening the shaker, even with this small amount of Champagne mine popped open quite violently.  Top your shaken mixture with Champagne to fill you glass.

This method definitely integrates the bitters and sugar much better.  What I found was a bit surprising though, the cocktail was still not that great.  For you analytical types on a scale of one to meh I’d rate it about a 7.3.  So, what’s the solution you ask?  I think it’s quite simple.  If you have some crappy Champagne leftover by all means mix up a Champagne cocktail, you won’t be displeased, you just won’t be wowed.  And use a cocktail glass to get better bitters and sugar mixing.  On the other hand, if you have some mid-grade to excellent Champagne left over do yourself a favor and just drink the bubbly as-is.  It’s wonderful stuff and generally doesn’t need to be fooled around with.

A Bitter Start to the Holidays…

Posted by Reese On November - 20 - 2008

And yet at the same time a very good start. :)  I just received an order of bitters from KegWorks and I’m looking forward to trying them all in the weeks to come.  I think I may even be able to leverage some of these in this week’s cocktail.

Champagne Cocktail

Posted by Reese On November - 16 - 2008

The Champagne cocktail is quite possibly one of the simplest cocktails you’ll find, but there is still a considerable amount of variability available.  And it’s on that variability that I’ll be playing this week.  In the Joy of Mixology Gary Regan mentions that the first mention of this cocktail is in Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks, but comments on the strange method.

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How to Mix Drinks Or, The Bon-vivant’s Companion, Containing … Directions for Mixing All the Beverages Used in the United States, Together with the Most Popular British, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish Recipes By Jerry Thomas, Christian Schultz

Certainly this method is beyond strange.  Why on earth would you add Champagne to a shaker with ice and shake?  You’d lose much of the effervescence that the Champagne would bring and as Gary mentions “the shaker would explode when opened.”  In light of that I’m going to use that method, but I am going to stick with the Joy of Mixology for my starting recipe which remains nearly identical to the recipe Thomas lists.

Champagne Cocktail
[Ingredients]
1 Sugar Cube Soaked in Angostura Bitters
5 1/2 oz Chilled Champagne
Lemon Twist
[Directions]
1) Soak the sugar cube in bitters
2) Add the sugar to the Champagne flute
3) Top with Champagne
4) Garnish with the lemon twist