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Archive for November, 2008

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.

Text not available
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
1 Sugar Cube Soaked in Angostura Bitters
5 1/2 oz Chilled Champagne
Lemon Twist
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

The Imbiber’s 100

Posted by Reese On November - 16 - 2008

Darcy from Art of Drink came up with the Imbiber’s 100, a list of 100 drinks any good imbiber should try before they die.  This list is a fantastic spin off of the Omnivore’s 100 that I chimed in on a couple month’s ago.  So here is my offering.

I scored a 56/100 so it looks like I have some serious imbibing left to do in my lifetime.


1) Copy this list into your blog, with instructions.
2) Bold all the drinks you’ve imbibed.
3) Cross out any items that you won’t touch
4) Post a comment here and link to your results.


If you don’t have a blog, just count the ones you’ve tried and post the number in the comments section.

List of Drinks You Must Try Before You Expire

1. Manhattan Cocktail
2. Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee)
3. French / Swiss Absinthe
4. Rootbeer
5. Gin Martini
6. Sauternes
7. Whole Milk
8. Tequila (100% Agave)
9. XO Cognac
10. Espresso
11. Spring Water (directly from the spring)
12. Gin & Tonic
13. Mead
14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
15. Chateau d’Yquem
16. Budweiser
17. Maraschino Liqueur
18. Mojito
19. Orgeat
20. Grand Marnier
21. Mai Tai (original)
22. Ice Wine (Canadian)
23. Red Bull
24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
25. Bubble Tea
26. Tokaji
27. Chicory
28. Islay Scotch
29. Pusser’s Navy Rum
30. Fernet Branca
31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
32. Bourbon
33. Australian Shiraz
34. Buckley’s Cough Syrup
35. Orange Bitters
36. Margarita (classic recipe)
37. Molasses & Milk
38. Chimay Blue
39. Wine of Pines (Tepache)
40. Green Tea
41. Daiginjo Sake
42. Chai Tea
43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
44. Coca-Cola
45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)

46. Barley Wine
47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
48. Pisco Sour
49. Lemonade
50. Speyside Single Malt
51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
52. Champagne (Vintage)
53. Rosé (French)
54. Bellini
55. Caipirinha
56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
57. Coconut Water
58. Cerveza

59. Cafe au Lait
60. Ice Tea
61. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
62. Vintage Port
63. Hot Chocolate
64. German Riesling
65. Pina Colada

66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
67. Chartreuse
68. Greek Wine
69. Negroni
70. Jägermeister

71. Chicha
72. Guiness
73. Rhum Agricole

74. Palm Wine
75. Soju
76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
77. Belgian Lambic
78. Mongolian Airag
79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
80. Sugarcane Juice
81. Ramos Gin Fizz
82. Singapore Sling
83. Mint Julep
84. Old Fashioned
85. Perique
86. Jenever (Holland Gin)
87. Chocolate Milkshake
88. Traditional Italian Barolo
89. Pulque
90. Natural Sparkling Water
91. Cuban Rum
92. Asti Spumante
93. Irish Whiskey
94. Château Margaux
95. Two Buck Chuck
96. Screech
97. Akvavit
98. Rye Whisky

99. German Weissbier
100. Daiquiri (classic)