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Archive for July, 2008

The Wunderlich Clan Martini

Posted by Reese On July - 15 - 2008

As a kid, whenever we went to any of my Mom’s family there was always a mysteriously frozen bottle of drinks in the freezer.  This bottle would come out in the evening and usually accompanied games of cribbage or talking in to the night.  I knew back then that these were the family recipe for Martinis but it never really sunk it at the time what that actually meant.  Shortly after I turned 21 I decided I would do some investigation myself about what the family Martini was all about.  At the time I remembered hearing that the recipe was 1:1:1 Gin:Vodka:Vermouth so I dutifully picked up the ingredients and mixed one up (warm, mind you).  Well, let’s just leave it at I missed some key points.  I quickly poured the drink out and vowed that my family was crazy and as such made horrid drinks.

Martini in the Sun

When we decided to cover the Martini this week the family Martini crept back into my mind.  I knew my family wasn’t totally crazy and further more know that they wouldn’t drink crappy cocktails.  So I asked my mom about the recipe.  This time I got the goods.  She had the recipe as dictated by my Uncle Jack, who is said to have originated this recipe, in our family at least.

Uncle Jack Wunderlich

Uncle Jack Wunderlich

Uncle Jack Wunderlich's Martini:
[Ingredients]
1 oz Gordon's London Dry Gin
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
Olives for Garnish
[Directions]
1) Mix Gin, Vodka, and Vermouth over ice in a mixing glass
2) Stir to combine and chill
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Garnish with olives

This drink blew my mind.  I made the Embury Martini De Luxe (pictured above) on Sunday with high quality Noilly Pratt Vermouth and excellent Plymouth Gin and garnished with Almond Stuffed Olives.  I even twisted a lemon over the surface of the cocktail.  Everything exactly as Embury dictated, and only felt the cocktail was so-so.  Can’t really put my finger on what I didn’t like, but suffice to say, it wasn’t my favorite.  My family’s recipe on the other hand seemed much more balanced to me and much tastier.

There are a few of reasons for this, I think.  First I used more olives, four in this case, two jalapeno stuffed, two citrus stuffed.  I got more of an enjoyable olive brine flavor coming through, though not so much as to call it a Dirty Martini.  Also, this recipe had more Vermouth in it.  Although most people would shudder at the thought of having more Vermouth, I rather enjoyed it.  Additionally the Vermouth I used was a cheaper and much more widely available brand, but yielded a cocktail I preferred. Interesting.  Finally, this recipe calls for one ounce of Vodka (in my case Monopolowa).  Vodka in cocktails dilutes the other spirits since it doesn’t have a flavor of its own.  So in this case it took a Martini with a 2:1 Gin:Vermouth ratio and cut the flavors by half.  For someone who generally loves Gin but tends not to drink it straight this was fantastic!

To test my theories I made another Martini tonight with a ratio of 2:1 Gin:Vermouth again using the Plymouth Gin and Noilly Pratt Vermouth.  It was better than the Embury recipe, but still wasn’t as good as my family’s recipe.  What I’d like anyone to take from this tale is that it’s all about experimentation.  Try different spirits, mixers, garnishes.  Drink what you like best.  In the end it doesn’t really matter what the classic recipe is if you don’t like it.

So in closing I toast my glass to all my family who has enjoyed this Martini recipe in the past.  I’m glad to be a part of the Wunderlich Clan.

The Martini

Posted by Reese On July - 12 - 2008

Surely everyone living in the age of James Bond movies, and books, has heard of James’ favorite cocktail, The Martini.  Now, at this point, I should mention that in the books James’ cocktail of choice is not, in fact, a Vodka Martini, Shaken, not Stirred, but a Vesper or one of a number of other cocktails.  However, since Smirnoff sponsored the filming of “Dr. No” in 1962 Bond has been drinking Vodka Martinis ever since.  Now, I’ll grant you that there is nothing wrong with a Vodka Martini and you can even shake it if you really want, but don’t confuse this drink with a Martini.

Cold Martini with Olives

Martini’s began their life in Califorinia near the turn of the 19th century.  Thought to be a derivative of the Martinez, the Martini as it was then is considerably different that what you’ll find today.  William Boothby’s recipe from his 1908 version of the book “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them” is one of the first known recipes for the Dry Martini.

Boothby's Dry Martini Cocktail
[Ingredients]
1/2 Jigger Gin
1/2 Jigger Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
[Directions]
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Stir well until thoroughly chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the top and serve with an olive

This recipe mixes the Vermouth and Gin half and half resulting in a very Vermouth heavy cocktail.  Once Embury’s book rolls around you’ll note that the Vermouth has been reduced drastically.  Embury lists a number of recipe variations for the Dry Martini in his book but lists the Martini De Luxe as his favorite which is much drier at a 7:1 ratio.

Embury's Martini De Luxe
[Ingredients]
1 3/4 oz Gin
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Twist of Lemon
[Directions]
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Stir to combine and chill thoroughly
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass
4) Squeeze a twist of lemon over the drink to express the oils
5) Garnish with an olive (Embury recommends nut stuffed olives if available)

Some points to consider when making this drink.  When combining the ingredients you should stir the cocktail to make a Martini.  If you choose to shake instead you are actually making a Bradford.  Garnish a Martini with an olive, or to mix it up garnish with a pickled onion, but make sure to call this creation a Gibson.

After reading this far you’re probably wondering why most “Martinis” you get in a bar are made with Vodka rather than Gin.  The answer is fairly simple, Vodka has a less pronounced flavor which seems to appeal to people than Gin.  That said, please please please, do not call a Vodka Martini a Martini, it’s not.  And while I’m on a bit of a rant here let me request one more favor, just because you’re served (or serving) a cocktail in a cocktail (martini) glass, don’t feel the need to end it in -tini.  This just muddles the name of the Martini in people’s mind and they lose track of what a classic Dry Martini is all about.  Enough ranting, time for some drinking.

The ingredients you’ll want to snag for this week are below.

Ingredients:
  • Gin
  • Dry (French) Vermouth
  • Olives
    
  • Lemon

You’ll also need a few basic tools which if you’ve been following along with us you likely have already.

Tools:
  • Cocktail Shaker (Just the bottom half)
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail (Martini) Glass
  • Measuring Device (Jigger)
  • Bar Spoon (Or other stirring stick)

We’ll report back throughout the week on our investigations and on Friday we’ll summarize our findings and our favorite recipe(s).  Until then, enjoy your Martinis or the plentiful variants.

The Jack Rose – The Week That Could Have Been

Posted by Aaron On July - 11 - 2008

As I’m sure is obvious, by the dearth (that’s right, pulling out the 50-cent words) of posts on the subject this week, neither Reese nor myself were particularly moved by the Jack Rose. Though yielding of a beverage that is quite nice to look at (pink being my favorite color, after all), none of the recipes we tried were particularly memorable. (This was most likely due to the complete impossibility of finding any variety of Applejack in our poor neck of the woods, but I digress.)

In the end, the highlight of this week’s tasting was the substitution of Calvados for Applejack, in accordance with Difford’s Guide to Cocktails. This substitution resulted in a drink both Reese and I found to be more complex and, indeed, more refined:

[Ingredients]
2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
[Directions]
1) Shake well with ice
2) Strain in to a cocktail glass

As far as traditional recipes, however, Reese found the Esquire Drinks’ recipe to be quite enjoyable. Describing the resulting drink as “nicely balanced, with a crisp apple flavor”:

[Ingredients]
2 oz Applejack
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
[Directions]
1) Shake well with ice
2) Strain in to a cocktail glass

While I, on the other hand, preferred Embury’s recipe, finding the strong apple flavor to be quite appealing, and disagreeing with my associate’s assessment that “little apple flavor comes through” in the final cocktail:

[Ingredients]
2 oz Applejack
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine
[Directions]
1) Shake well with ice
2) Strain in to a cocktail glass

In the end, however, after all of the bickering and nights spent crying myself to sleep, I feel that Reese and I can both agree on one thing; the recipe listed on Wikipedia, with a 3:2:2 ratio of Applejack, lemon, and grenadine, sucks. And, really, that’s what’s important.

Ingredient – Grenadine

Posted by Reese On July - 8 - 2008

As I mentioned in this week’s intro post, the Grenadine you find in most grocery stores is actually just citric acid flavored sugar water.  We here at Cocktail Hacker hope to resolve that problem right now.  Grenadine can be made at home quite simply and quickly.  Plus, you get the added bonus that the homemade version tastes much better.

We started our studies and based our recipes on a great post from Paul at The Cocktail Chronicles.  Paul discusses two primary methods for the production of Grenadine.  The first being a cold method, which is very simple to make at home.

The Cocktail Chronicles Cold Method Grenadine:
[Ingredients]
1 cup Pomegranate Juice
1 cup Sugar
[Directions]
1) Combine sugar and juice in a closable jar
2) Shake jar until sugar is completely dissolved

The second method Paul discusses is a hot method, which is a little more involved and requires a bit more time.

The Cocktail Chronicles Hot Method Grenadine:
[Ingredients]
2 cups Pomegranate Juice
1 cup Sugar
[Directions]
1) Add juice to a sauce pan
2) Simmer until reduced by half
3) Remove from heat
4) Add sugar and stir until dissolved

Both methods result in good products but the flavors are quite different.  The cold method keeps more of the fresh flavors of the juice where the hot method results in a much more intensely flavored product.  As such we decided to combine both recipes in an attempt to get both the freshness and intensity.

Simmering Grenadine

Cocktail Hacker Grenadine:
[Ingredients]
2 cups Pomegranate Juice
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Orange Flower Water [Optional]
[Directions]
1) Add one cup of juice to a sauce pan
2) Simmer until reduced by half
3) Remove from heat
4) Add remaining juice and sugar and stir until dissolved
5) If you like you can add 1/2 tsp of orange flower
water for a more floral taste

Aaron and I really liked the Grenadine that this recipe produced.  It’s much more intense than the cold method yet retains some of the bright freshness of the cold method.  The Orange Flower Water is completely optional.  Aaron preferred it with none and some of the commenters on The Cocktail Chronicles preferred much more.  Also our Grenadine isn’t as sweet as Rose’s and not as thick, so if that’s something you’re needing for the cocktail you’re making, consider adding a little more sugar until you get the sweetness and viscosity you like.

We tried the cold method first a couple weeks ago and found it to be very good, but was even sweeter than the Rose’s product.  So if you’re going that route you might try less sugar to start and add it a little at a time until you reach the level of sweetness you like.  Also, we couldn’t find fresh pomegranates for this post so we used POM juice.  I think the final product is very good, but since POM is made from concentrate I think fresh pomegranate juice would produce an even better end result.

A final note.  As with the simple syrups we discussed I add one oz of Everclear to these to keep them stable longer in my fridge.  Although I enjoy cocktails a great deal, I don’t drink nearly enough of them to go through this much Grenadine in a short amount of time.

The Jack Rose

Posted by Reese On July - 5 - 2008

A Beautiful Red Rose

This week at Cocktail Hacker headquarters we’re going to be focusing our energies on The Jack Rose.  A cocktail with nearly as many stories as to its name as it has recipe derivations.  One possible story as to the source of the name, and certainly the simplest, is that it is derived from the key ingredient, Applejack, and the resulting color, rose.  Although this story makes perfect sense and in my mind is likely the correct one as with other cocktails we’ve looked at there are more interesting stories.  The Jack Rose, it is said, may have gotten its name from the famous hitman of the same name.  Or the drink’s name may have been based on the pink Jacqueminot rose.  At this point I think its really anybody’s guess.

The Jack Rose is another sour and the third sour from Embury we’re going to discuss.  As a note to the readers this is the last Embury sour we’re going to look at, things branch out from here in the next few weeks.  It’s primary spirit is Applejack, which was traditionally produced by freeze distilling hard cider.  As far as I can tell from my research Laird & Company are the only remaining producers of Applejack and what they produce is not true to the historical spirit.  Their’s, although very good, is produced by evaporative distillation and is then blended with neutral spirits to produce the final product.  If any readers know of a source of freeze distilled Applejack please let us know.  We’d very much like to try the original.

Embury, not surprisingly takes his standard approach to sours with this cocktail.  Again using an 8:2:1 (Base:Sour:Sweet) ratio.  However, rather than simple syrup or Triple Sec, this cocktail uses grenadine as its sweetener.  There are a number of commercially available grenadines on the market to choose from.  I will caution you, however, that a lot of them are not really grenadine.  Grenadine is a syrup produced from pomegranate juice and sugar.  Most of what you’ll see on the grocery store shelves is corn syrup flavored with citric acid.  So, if you’re going to go for a store bought grenadine, check the ingredients and try to find one that uses real fruit juices.  Or, you can check back later in the week when we post our recipe(s) for grenadine and give our input on what is our favorite.

Until then here’s the Jack Rose recipe from Embury to get you rolling.

The Jack Rose
[Ingredients]
2 oz Applejack
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine
[Directions]
1) Shake well with ice
2) Strain in to a cocktail glass

The ingredients you’ll want to pick up for The Jack Rose are below.

Ingredients:
  • Applejack
  • Lemons
  • Grenadine

You’ll also need a few basic tools to make this drink.

Tools:
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail (Martini) Glass
  • Measuring Device (Jigger)
  • Juicer [Optional]

We’ll report back throughout the week on our investigations and on Friday we’ll summarize our findings and our favorite recipe(s).  Until then, enjoy your cocktails.