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Archive for January, 2009

The Aviation Cocktail

Posted by Reese On January - 18 - 2009

The Aviation is a classic cocktail that now lives a life of relative web 2.0 anonymity.  A search on Wikipedia will link you directly to the general cocktail page, which doesn’t do anyone much good as the page doesn’t even list a recipe.  Thankfully my reference books had a few recipes and my fellow cocktail bloggers have done their experiments as well so I have a good starting point for the week.

Wright Flyer

The first recipe for the Aviation to see print was in Hugo Ensslin’s book Recipes for Mixed Drinks printed in 1916.  I, sadly, do not have a copy, but Erik came to the rescue by posting the recipe on his site.

Aviation Cocktail (Original Recipe)
1/3 Lemon Juice
2/3 El Bart Gin
2 Dashes Maraschino
2 Dashes Creme de Violette
Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain and serve.

Now, I’m guessing the first thing that popped in to your head is “What the hell is El Bart Gin?” I know it was certainly the first thing in mine.  From what I can best ascertain its a long gone brand of Dry Gin.  About all that can be found on the net these days about it is sales of new tin signs and news about the sale of a mint condition antique sign that went for $60,500 at auction.  I think its safe to assume though that El-Bart was one of Ensslin’s favorite gins as it is called for in some of his other recipes as well.  Following that my second question was in reference to just what exactly Creme de Violette is.  In doing a bit of reading in Vintage Cocktails and Spirits and online I had my answer.  Creme de Violette is the name given to a group of French liqueurs whos main source of flavoring and coloring is violets.

Creme de Violette is a touch hard to find in some areas in the US as there is only one importer (Haus Alpenz), and one brand being imported (Rothman & Winter).  I’ve checked one local liquor store, but no luck there.  I plan to do some more extensive searching tomorrow.  An interesting note is that due to the relative scarcity of this liqueur in the US most modern recipes you’ll find don’t list it as an ingredient at all.  For example below is Regan’s recipe from The Joy of Mixology.

Aviation (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

I’ve certainly got a full week ahead of me and I can honestly say I’m really looking forward to it.

Pimm’s Cup – English Summer in a Glass

Posted by Reese On January - 17 - 2009

This week’s cocktail was an interesting departure from the norm here at Cocktail Hacker.  The Pimm’s Cup is very low in alcohol and really quite refreshing.  I can certainly see why this is a summer favorite in the UK.  As I mentioned in my intro post I started the week with the recipe from The Joy of Mixology and I didn’t stray far from that base.  There was one key aspect though that seemed quite tweakable, the mixer.

The mixer listed in the recipe is fairly vague.  Once you’ve added your 2 oz of Pimm’s No. 1 it indicates that you should add 5-7 oz of lemon/lime soda, ginger ale or club soda.  Other recipes I found on the web said that lemonade should be used. Seemed like a perfectly hackable recipe, so I picked up Sprite, lemonade, San Pelegrino Limonata, and Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew.  With these and my homemade fizz water I was ready to rock.   The reviews listed below are in my order of preference (most to least preferred).

Pimm's Cup Mixer Tasting

Ginger Ale:  The ginger ale seemed to be the only one of the mixers that actually allowed the aroma of the Pimm’s to remain.   The earthy flavor of the ginger ale combined very well with the similar flavor of the Pimm’s.  My only complaint about the ginger ale was the lack of a sour component.  Adding about 1/4 oz of lemon juice corrected that problem perfectly.

Limonata:  The limonata is a sparkling lemonade with a nice level of sour.   I found that it worked very well with the flavor of the Pimm’s.  The only reason this isn’t my favorite is the sourness was a little too much in this one.

Sprite:   I wouldn’t suggest going with Sprite, or 7-up for that matter, in this cocktail.  Both of them simply don’t have enough flavor going for them to make a good pair with the Pimm’s.  If you’re going to go the lemon/lime soda route I’d look for something with a stronger flavor.

Lemonade:   The lemonade I used was very good, but its flavor was so strong that it covered the Pimm’s almost completely.  Also, I really missed the carbonation.   If you’re wanting to go with a lemonade I’d suggest looking for the limonata, or perhaps cutting lemonade with soda water.

Soda Water:   I really didn’t like combo at all.  The resulting cocktail was only exceedinly mildly sweet and the sharpness of the straight soda water (which I normally enjoy on its own) masked the flavor of the Pimm’s almost entirely.  I wouldn’t recommend this option at all.

The end result of this tasting?  Go with ginger ale, add a squeeze of lemon for some sourness and you’ll be a happy camper.  I now present to you the Cocktail Hacker preferred recipe for the Pimm’s Cup.

Pimm's Cup

Pimm's Cup (Cocktail Hacker Recipe)
2 oz Pimm's No. 1 Cup
6 oz Ginger Ale
1/4 - 1/2 Lemon Juice
Lemon, Orange, Cucumber for Garnish
1) Add ice to a pint glass with the garnishes.
2) Add the Pimm's and lemon juice.
3) Top with ginger ale.

I took some other cool pictures of the Pimm’s Cup, you can check them out in the Cocktail Hacker group on Flickr.

MxMo XXXV: I Don’t Drink Beer

Posted by Reese On January - 15 - 2009

MxMo LogoThis month Mixology Monday is being hosted by The Scribe of A Mixed Dram. The topic of this month’s gathering (virtual at least) is ‘New Horizons’. Summed up as “Try a new base spirit. Use a technique you’ve never used before. Try something new!” Well, this led to a considerable amount of pondering on my part. Should I try a class of cocktails I’ve not tried? Something with a whole raw egg perhaps. Or maybe I should try to do some wine research. I certainly enjoy wine, but don’t feel I truly appreciate it. No, neither of those were really out of the box enough. In talking to Sean, a coworker and fellow lover of libations, I was reminded that I don’t generally drink or like beer. Let me elaborate.

During all my years of drinking I’ve never liked beer much and, as a result, generally don’t ever drink it. In fact I’ve been pondering this over the last few days and I’ve come to the conclusion that, all told, I’ve consumed about 8-10 pints of beer in my life. Weird, no? Especially coming from a graduate of CU, which was voted the number 1 party school in the country a few years running. Based on this it was clear to me what my MxMo submission for this month had to be. I had to brave the beer world and truly expand my horizons.

I enlisted the help of Sean and Eric who are the most beer knowledgable people I know and began what turned in to a fairly epic journey. First, we decided we’d walk to the local liquor store (Liquor Mart) which is about a 1/2 mile from my house. After nearly slipping on the ice numerous times and taking a wrong turn down a dead end alley we finally reached our destination. What came next was both amazing and baffling to me. We spent the next hour selecting the beers that would be inlcuded in this tasting. My requests were fairly simple: 1) Let’s not do a bunch of beers from the same brewery, 2) Let’s pick a wide range of beers, 3) Let’s pick the best and 4) We should include a Pabst Blue Ribbon, cause well you know it’s PBR and all. We even enlisted the wisdom of Kyle at the store, getting him suggest some options and pull a couple special single bottles from the back.

Once paid and out of the store it became abundantly clear that walking was probably not the best choice. Problem one of the journey home came shortly after leaving the store with our boxes of beer. You see, one box wasn’t especially well balanced and about 30 feet from the doors to the store it saw a gap in Sean’s hands and decided to make a break for it. Little did the escapees know, glass and parking lots don’t mix well. We quickly picked up the glass and Sean went in to replenish the stocks. Liquor Mart, being the fantastic store they are, replaced both six packs for nothing. Granted one was PBR, but still incredibly cool on their part. Problem two came about 3/4 of the way home when my arms felt like they were going to fall off. Thankfully that was easily corrected with some strategic load shifting.

What are the results of this epic journey you ask? Behold…

Beers for the Tasting

We ended up with 15 individual beers spreading the spectrum of types, processes, gravities, flavor profiles, breweries and even countries. To help out with the truly hard part, tasting, I enlisted yet more friends. Sean and Eric offered to come back, Aaron (fellow hacker) was in once beer was mentioned, and my Dad signed on once he knew the beer and pizza for the evening were on me.  Conrey was disappointed he couldn’t be around for the tasting, but was kind enough to provide this review (in order pictured) pre-tasting “yes, no, yes, never had, never had, love it, never had, good, really good, good, never had, meh, yes, ok, yes.”  Thanks buddy!  Below you’ll find my notes from each beer and bit from the experts (my fellow tasters) on what it should really taste like. Hope you enjoy.

Pabst Blue Ribbon
Pale Lager – 4.7% ABV – Pabst Brewing Company
Pabst Blue Ribbon [Reese] Tastes like watered down real beer. Kind of a nasty after taste. I can certainly see why people like this. You could drink them all day and never know it.

[Experts] This is a classic macrobrew. It’s meant for drinking all day, like while you’re boating for example. Favorite in category by some, but certainly not a consensus.

Sapporo Premium
Japanese Rice Lager – 5.0% ABV – Sapporo
Sapporo [Reese] Sharper on the tongue, very little after taste. More flavor than the PBR, but still not strong by any means.

[Experts] Whew, all I can think of is sushi. More sourness than you get with an American lager. Not particularly bitter or hoppy.

Original Premium
Lager – 5.1% ABV – Weihenstephaner
Original Premium - Weihenstephaner [Reese] More of what I would define as the classic beer smell. Almost has a sweetness to it.

[Experts] Wow that is different. Smoother. More sweetness. You’re tasting the way the yeast and grain interact.

[Special Note] This is the world oldest brewery. Dating to 1040.

Easy Street Wheat
Wheat Beer – 4.6% ABV – Odell Brewing Co
Easy Street Wheat - Odell [Reese] More grain flavor. More malt flavor comes through. Not particularly bitter, sweet, sour, etc. This truly does go well with the pizza. Hard to admit it, but I’m enjoying this experience.

[Experts] That’s a classic American style wheat right there. Goes amazingly well with the pizza.

Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Pale Ale – 5.0% ABV – Deschutes Brewery
Mirror Pond Pale Ale - Deschutes [Reese] More of a hoppy smell and flavor. Quite a bitter after note, but not unpleasant.

[Experts] Can you taste where there’s more hops, more grains, more of everything? This is the top of the Pale Ales. The IPAs jump off from here. I don’t want to sip this, I want more!

Quest Tripel Blonde Ale
Gluten Free Tripel – 8.5% ABV – Green’s
Quest Trippel Blonde Ale - Green's [Reese] Kind of an odd smell. Doesn’t really taste like beer to me. Quite sweet, as beers go. There really is a Champagne flavor to this.

[Experts] What you’re smelling is the lack of grains. There is all sorts of citrus in that. More like a soda. Tastes kinda Champagne-y.

Peche Lambic
Fruit Lambic – 4.0% ABV – Lindemans
Peche Lambic - Lindemans [Reese] Tremendously sweet almost syrupy. Very peachy. Good, but certainly not beer. Tastes like Martinelli’s with alcohol.

[Experts] There’s a hint of peach to this beer *grin*…Oh my god! Is this peach syrup? Doesn’t taste bad, just doesn’t taste anything like beer.

Trappist Ale Tripel
Trappist Ale – 9.5% ABV – Westmalle
Trappist Ale Tripel - Westmalle [Reese] Very definitely beer. Much more bitter than some of the previous. Ummm…yeah…beer-tastic. I really don’t like this one.

[Experts] This is equivalent to Chimay. Dirt Tasting. Tastes harsh…I disagree. This is definitely a beer. Going from the lambic to this was quite a shock. But I don’t like Chimay’s either….GASP! I’m a big fan of the Belgians.

Fuller’s ESB
ESB – 5.9% ABV – Fuller’s
ESB - Fuller's [Reese] Definitely richer, more complex flavor. You can taste the nuttiness as Sean suggests.

[Experts] Now this is where Eric gets happy. We’re getting back in to beers now. No more of this froo froo stuff. Nutty! Do you get the nut in this? Mmmm…that’s a good beer. Dad – This is more beer than I’ve drunk in 10 years…at least.

Ellie’s Brown Ale
Brown Ale – 5.8% ABV – Avery Brewing
Ellie's Brown Ale - Avery [Reese] Smell is much more intense than previous beers. Definitely taste the coffee flavor. Richer flavor still. Bitter after taste…Not unpleasant, but certainly more present than previous.

[Experts] *Lip Smacking Sound* Mmm…some good coffee flavor. One of the best browns in the world. Who do you think’s better? Samuel Smith’s? Hell no!

Planet Porter
Porter – 5.5% ABV – Boulder Beer
Planet Porter - Boulder Beer [Reese] Beer is actually quite light despite the color. You can certainly taste the chocolate malt. A mellow beer with a fairly smooth flavor.

[Experts] Holy catfish! Look at that! This is a classic porter. When you read about porters in high school this is the one they’ll describe. This is the transition between the Mickey’s you had in middle school and the refined ale (PBR) you had in college. Porters are usually made with chocolate malt which is added during the steeping process. That’s where you get the dark color. This has the lightest body of the beers we’ve tasted but a stronger flavor.

Doppelbock – 6.7% ABV – Ayinger Brewery
Celebrator Doppelbock - Ayinger Brewery [Reese] Wow, the smell is intense on this one. The flavor is very, very different on this one. It’s a doppelbock! Clearly it’s got to be doppel what ever we had before. I expected a flavor similar to the porter and this is nothing like it. This has a really strong malt flavor.

[Experts] There’s all kinds of spice in this one.

[Special Note] This beer came with a tiny trinket. For those of us that have had less beer it is clearly a ram. Sean on the other hand believed it is in fact a minotaur. Or mee-no-tar as it was enunciated.

Old Rasputin
Russian Imperial Stout – 9.0% ABV – North Coast Brewing
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout [Reese] I came in to this expecting Guinness and I was told not to. I still get Guinness out of this, but I’ve maybe had two pints of Guinness in my life, all in car bombs. Definitely similar to the porter. I’m really losing my beer tolerance at this point. I can no longer get the taste of beer off my tongue.

[Experts] Don’t think Guinness…it’s more like the porter than anything else. That’s so succinct! This is Old Rassie! It’s good. Kicks Guinness’ ass.

Twin Sisters Double IPA
Double IPA – 9.5% ABV – Left Hand Brewing
Twin Sisters Double IPA - Left Hand [Reese] I like this more than the others we’ve had. The bitterness is nice and there is a bit of sweetness in there. Still above and beyond the Reese beer limit, though. Very hoppy.

[Experts] Definitely not as bitter as I expected. One of my favorites. Too bad we’re having this at the end of the tasting.

90 Minute Imperial IPA
Imperial IPA – 9.0% ABV – Dogfish Head
90 Minute Imperial IPA - Dogfish Head [Reese] The smell is distinctly hoppy and bitter. This is uber bitter. It really is cleaner than the Twin Sisters though. This beer is a kick in the face for me. I am quite thankful we’ve reached the end of the tasting. So…much…beer. When I handed the remainder of my beer to Eric his only comment was “Thank you!”

[Experts] This is cleaner than the Twin Sisters…I would drink this over the Twin Sisters every day. This is awesome actually. It’s something I can’t drink more than one or two of. I’m so glad we finished on this one.

[Special Note] The 90 minute is in reference to the amount of time that the hops are infused in the beer. They also make a 120 minute if you’re wondering.

Wow! What an awesome night of beer consumption. I really had a fantastic time and I truly have a new appreciation for beer. This was an excellent introduction to the world of beers. There are so many varieties and each definitely has its own unique characteristics. Am I a total beer convert? Definitely not. As you can see from my tasting notes as we got towards the end of the night I reached my beer threshold. With all of that said though, each time I sample a beer from here on out I’ll have a better understanding of where it stands in the beer world. Thank you to Eric, Sean, Aaron and Dad for helping making this night such an amazing time. I leave you with a final pic from the tasting. The aftermath, as it were.

The Aftermath

Faux Pimm’s

Posted by Reese On January - 14 - 2009

Pimm’s is certainly a unique liquor and I can imagine a lot of you are not interested in rushing out to buy a bottle simply to make this cocktail.  Well fear not, there is a simple, and cheap solution; make up a batch of Faux Pimm’s.  I found this recipe while researching Pimm’s and decided to give it a go.  In the pictures below the real Pimm’s No. 1 is on the left.

Real Pimms vs Faux Pimms

Faux Pimm's
2 oz Gin (Juniper Green)
2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)

On first taste the Faux Pimm’s is good, but it’s not Pimm’s.  The faux is sweeter and has a more winey flavor from the vermouth.  The real stuff has a more earthy quality and the flavors are better blended.  I will say that this recipe is a reasonable approximation of Pimm’s No. 1 and will certainly give you an idea of what the real stuff is like.

Real Pimms vs Faux Pimms

Next I added some Reed’s Premium Ginger Beer and sampled again.  Neither of them were able to shine through against this ginger ale.  Simply too much going on there, more on that later.  Since that experiment didn’t go well I tried another mixer I’ve been playing with this week, San Pelegrino Limonata.  This was a better choice to show off the Pimm’s.  The faux Pimm’s still came through a bit on the sweet side for me.  Both were good in the this mixture.  If you decide to go with faux Pimm’s the best explanation I can give is that you’ll be losing the characteristic funkiness of this spirit.

Pimm’s Cup

Posted by Reese On January - 11 - 2009

In or around 1823 James Pimm, then owner of an oyster bar in London, created what would later become Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.  Pimm’s No. 1 is a blend of gin, fruit nectars, quinine and a secret blend of herbs.  The aroma of Pimm’s No. 1 is fruity and aromatic but the gin base comes through.  The flavor is also fruity, somewhat earthy and very warming.  Some time following the creation of Pimm’s No. 1 Pimm created what would become the spirit’s signature drink, the Pimm’s Cup.

Pimm's No 1 Cup

The Pimm’s Cup is a classic cocktail in the UK.  Difford’s sums it up nicely, “You’ve not properly experienced an English summer until you’ve drunk one of these whilst sheltering from the rain.”  Seeing as it’s the middle of winter here in Colorado it seems like a good analog for the British summer and, as such, a perfect time to give this cocktail a go.  The recipe is fairly simple, but there are a lot of variations.  I’ll be starting here, with Regan’s recipe.

Pimm's Cup
2 oz Pimm's No. 1 Cup
5-7 oz Ginger Ale, Lemon/Lime Soda, or Club Soda
1 Sliver of Cucumber Rind for Garnish
1) Build in a 16 oz mixing glass.
2) Add the garnish.