Cocktail Hacker

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Archive for October, 2008

Cocktail Hacker Guilty Pleasure: The Squeeze Lime

Posted by Reese On October - 13 - 2008

Mixology Monday XXXII is being hosted by Stevi of Two at the Most.  The topic of the month is Guilty Pleasures and although I have quite a number the only cocktail related one that comes to mind is my love of the squeeze lime.  I’m sure you all know the delicious faux-fruit of which I speak.  Now being a nose in the air cocktail purist most of the time I have to admit, there is something comforting about mixing up a quick Gin and Tonic, squeezing in a bit of “lime” juice and enjoying.  Very little thought is required and nearly no preparation.  It makes for a great drink on a hot day after a long day at work.  Sure, it’s not the purist move, but I’m ok with that.  I don’t drink cocktails to be a purist, I drink them to enjoy.  And that I do.

So, without further ado I present to you my ode to the squeeze lime.

Squeeze Lime

A long, hot day comes to an end
A drink must be prepared
So tired, so lazy
The gin calls to me
The tonic sings its siren song
Gin and Tonic. Of course!
But what of the lime?
The pantry lacking, the store too far
Then an idea, like a green light in my brain
The Squeeze Lime
Green like a fruit of dreams
Textured plastic hints at the citrusy contents within
Top flips open to reveal the nozzle
Invert the vessel and squeeze
Cocktail contentment ensues
Sit back, sip and enjoy
Thank you, Squeeze Lime
Thank you

Bourbon Cocktails Revisited

Posted by Reese On October - 12 - 2008

I’ll be spending next weekend in Louisville, KY visiting my friend Jennifer.  In that spirit we’ve decided to spend this week not focusing on a specific cocktail, but discussing a spirit in general.  Aaron and I wanted to revisit a couple Bourbon cocktails we’ve discussed in previous weeks so we’re going to have some interesting tid bits to share with you there.  In addition I want to document what makes Bourbon Bourbon, so to speak.  Finally, Jennifer, being the awesome friend that she is, has agreed to play in to my cocktail habit by going on a couple distillery tours in Kentucky with me while I’m there, so I’ll have write ups from those later in the week.

Curtains for the Blood and Sand

Posted by Reese On October - 11 - 2008

My week with the Blood and Sand was somewhat underwhelming.  The results of the classic recipe, 3/4 oz each of Scotch, Orange Juice, Sweet Vermouth and Cherry Brandy, is a very tasty cocktail, although not something I’ll be craving.  The drink is, not surprisingly, quite sweet; a result of the sweetness of three of the four ingredients.  The drink is also very drinkable, almost too much so, not that that is a bad thing.  The flavors of the Scotch didn’t come through as much as I would have liked.  I think the reason behind this is two fold, one the amount of Scotch used and two my choice of Scotch, namely Famous Grouse 12 yo.

The Famous Grouse is a very good blended Scotch in my opinion and a very good product for the money.  However, its flavors are not as strong as a single malt.  With all of that said, the lack of strong Scotch flavor is not at all a problem with the cocktail, just my personal preference and I did find a way to make the cocktail fit my tastes.  I found the second recipe in the Difford’s guide aligned this cocktail much more to what I was looking for.

Blood and Sand - Difford's #2
1 1/2 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy
3/4 oz Orange Juice

This version is less sweet than the original which I prefer.  Additionally, the Scotch comes through much more.  When I first mixed up this recipe I used 3/4 oz of Famous Grouse and 3/4 oz of Macallan 12yo.  The Macallan was lost in the other flavors of the cocktail and was not worth it.  Some other quick ingredient notes.  I went with Heering as the cherry brandy at the suggestion of Gary Regan and others on the internet.  This is a very good cherry brandy, but very sweet.  I think the cocktail would be fundamentally changed were you to use a dry cherry brandy such as Kirsch.  Could be an interesting expermint though.  As for orange juice, I was a bit on the lazy side and bought a bottle of Simply Orange.  Simply Orange is fantastic orange juice if you’ve never had it but it lacks tartness.  In the future I’ll opt for a tarter/sourer orange juice as I think it will balance the drink better.

The final up rendition of this cocktail I tried was the recipe profferred by Ted Haigh (AKA Dr. Cocktail) in his book Vintage Cocktails and Spirits.  Ted’s recipe is pretty straight forward varying the original only by increasing the Scotch and orange juice to 1 oz each.  This recipe produces a much smoother cocktail which is also less sweet.  Both of these aspects are definite plusses.  The Heering in this recipe is still present but not as forward which is nice.  My chosen recipe is a blend of Ted’s recipe and Difford’s #2.  I keep the increased Scotch amount from Difford’s and up the orange juice as in Ted’s recipe.  This gives me the best of both worlds.  I get the increased Scotch flavor and the decreased sweetness, just right.

Cocktail Hacker Blood and Sand
1 1/2 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy
1 oz Orange Juice

Another suggestion that I found in “The Joy of Mixology” by Gary Regan was to increase the orange juice considerably and transform this cocktail into a brunch libation.  I gave this a try and really enjoyed it a great deal.  In fact, when I make B&Ss in the future I’ll be making this recipe in conjunction with a nice brunch.  I decreased the Scotch back down to 3/4 oz so one could have a couple with brunch and not noticed ill effects.

Cocktail Hacker Blood and Sand - Brunch Recipe
3/4 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy
4 oz Orange Juice

Blood and Sand

Posted by Reese On October - 5 - 2008

I have two navel oranges sitting on my counter right now.  They’ve been there for a couple days and as I was debating what cocktail to feature this week they popped in to my view.  Orange juice is such a wonderful ingredient yet none of the cocktails we’ve covered so far have included it.  So I went searching.  The cocktail that first popped in to my head was the Blood and Sand, which upon further research I decided is exactly what I’m looking for.  For the past several weeks I’ve been wanting to feature a cocktail with Scotch at its base.  The Blood and Sand is perfect!  It fulfills my desires for both a Scotch based cocktail and one that features orange juice.

The drink is named after the 1922 Rudolph Valentino movie by the same name, which was in turned named after the 1909 novel.  Not having seen the movie(s) or read the book, I can’t tell you why the name is appropriate.  My guess is that it’s because of the cocktail’s muted red color.  Where the sand comes in to play I leave up to your imagination.  The cocktail was first published in the 1930 version of the Savoy Cocktail Book.  I’ll use this classic recipe as my jumping off point for the week.

Blood and Sand - Savoy Cocktail Book
3/4 oz Scotch Whisky
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy
3/4 oz Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
1) Combine all ingredients in a shaker
2) Shake with ice until chilled
3) Strain into a cocktail glass

Adios Margarita!

Posted by Reese On October - 4 - 2008

I can officially say I am a changed man with regard to Mexico’s most well known spirit.  This week has really been the epitome of what this site is about.  I took a liquor I knew nothing about and for the most part disliked.  Learned what I wanted about it, experimented with one of its classic incarnations, and grew from the experience.  So, what all did I learn this week?

Let’s start with the cocktail recipes.  I started the week with the recipe recommended, a ratio of 3 parts Tequila, 2 parts Cointreau and 1 part Lime Juice, or 3:2:1 (I’ll use this notation in this post when comparing recipes as it makes the discussion flow better.  Note though that with these proportions you should aim for 4-5 ounces of final mixed drink, adjust accordingly).  Roberts recipe is very well balanced and a very good drink, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.  The tequila seemed to be covered too much by the Cointreau and the resulting drink was a bit too sweet for me.

So I tried the recipe I found in my 1974 copy of Mr Boston’s next, namely a 3:1:2 ratio.  This is more what I picture a Margarita to be, more lime flavor and not quite as sweet.  Problem is this one is a bit overpowered by the lime.  Still not exactly what I’m after.  Soooo….I mixed up a recipe in one of the books my Aunt Ronnie sent me, Cocktails by Jeremey Harwood [Referer Link].  Jeremy’s recipe calls for a ratio of 3:1:1, which seemed like just what I was looking for.  So I mixed one up.  It’s at this point I should tell you a bit about my testing methodology.  Rather than drinking 6 or 7 cocktails in one sitting I mix mini drinks.  In this case I was using teaspoons as my parts.  Also, I was using the ingredients at room temperature and not using ice.  Which when making cocktails is never the right answer.  So when I mixed up the mini, room temp version of this recipe I thought I had truly found my winner.  The tequila shined through nicely and the other ingredients still played their part.  Once all my testing was done I mixed up a full size version using ice and the proper technique and what I found was most interesting.  The drink was completely different.  The lime and sweetness were very muted and drink was no longer my favorite.

Back to the drawing board.  I turned to the recipe in the Difford’s Guide, 2:1:1.  This, my friends, was the answer I was looking for.  The tequila was strong enough to shine through wonderfully but the lime and Cointreau balanced out the flavors.  I’d strongly suggest this as a starting point for anyone looking to experiment with the Margarita.  There is one tweak I’d suggest you make though, the Tequila.

Hess and other recipes suggest using a blanco or silver Tequila when mixing Margaritas.  On that advice I picked up a bottle of Hornitos Plata.  This Tequila is amazingly smooth and works very well to introduce someone to Tequila.  The reason it’s such a good introduction though is also part of its down fall in this cocktail.  It’s too smooth, the Tequila flavors don’t shine through like I wanted them to.  Sean, my resident Tequila master, suggested I try a reposado instead.  So at his suggestion I next picked up a bottle of Milagro Reposado.  We mixed this up in the same recipe and that solved the over smoothness problem.  The cocktail is still very smooth, but the Tequila flavors are more pronounced.  So my suggested tweak is to try a reposado in this cocktail.

Next came the question of salt or no salt.  I personally prefer no salt, doesn’t really add much for me.  But there are a lot of people that really like the additional salt.  So, my recommendation is, if possible, ask the drink’s intended recipient before mixing.  Or if you’re mixing a tray load for a party try Hess’ suggestion and salt half the glass’ rim.  This will let those who like salt have some and others can easily avoid it.  One final tip that I picked up from Hess’ video is that when salting a glass run the lime around the outside edge of the glass only.  Then when you apply the salt you won’t get any inside the cocktail prematurely.

So I’ve rambled for quite a while in this post, but I have a couple more items to add.  I’ve been reading “The Joy of Mixology” by Gary Regan for the past couple weeks.  In the section about champagne cocktails Regan suggests topping some classic cocktails with a bit of champagne to add an interesting twist and mentions that it works particularly well with the Margarita.  Indeed it does.  I enjoyed mixing up my chosen 2:1:1 Margarita and adding about one to one and a half ounces of champagne on top.  The resulting cocktail has a wonderful effervecense and the flavors stay true to the Margarita.  Certainly give it a try.  I was able to find some very small bottles of champagne that work great in this application.

One last interesting tweak.  Sean, as I mentioned earlier, is my resident Tequila master.  As such, he likes his Tequila straight up.  So we went looking for a Margarita recipe that captured both the spirit of the cocktail and allowed the enjoyer to appreciate the flavors of the Tequila as well.  Using a 6:1:1 ratio we were able to include the lime and Cointreau flavors in the background while bringing the Tequila flavor to the forefront.  This recipe truly is all about the Tequila and along with that you should use an appropriately excellent Tequila.  For our experiment we used Patron Anejo which worked wonderfully.

Enjoy your Margaritas.  I look forward to more experiments like this week.  As I said I’m a changed man.