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Archive for March, 2009

Godparents and Godchildren

Posted by Reese On March - 29 - 2009

For a while now the Godfather has been on my cocktail todo list.  When I went looking for the recipe though I found that there are actually a whole family of Catholic themed cocktails that are all extremely similar.  So, as a result, I’m going to offer up a four-fer this week and cover them all.  It’s going to be interesting to sample them all and be able to compare and contrast them.  In addition I don’t have much experience with Amaretto other than shitty Amaretto Sours made with sour mix.  So these should really help to broaden my horizons.

2 oz Scotch
1 oz Amaretto
1) Shake and strain into an ice filled rocks glass

Sub vodka for the scotch and you get.

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Amaretto

Add cream to the above and you get.

2 oz Scotch
1 oz Amaretto
1 oz Light Cream
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Amaretto
1 oz Light Cream

Pisco Sour – Cold. Frothy. Delicious.

Posted by Reese On March - 29 - 2009

To use the parlance of the time I came in to the Pisco Sour as a total newb.  I’d never had one, never actually seen one in person and never even tasted Pisco.  But I was ready and willing to learn.  That willingness led me to what seemed like the logical beginning, learning about Pisco itself.  There is a ton out there to read, but I’ll give the brief high level view.

Pisco is a non wood-aged form of Brandy local to both Peru and Chile.  There are four basic types Puro, Aromatic, Mosto Verde and Acholado, of which you’ll primarily see Puro and Acholado in the US.  Pisco Puro is composed of a single variety of grape, usually the Quebranta and tends to be drier than Pisco Acholado.  Acholado is composed of a mixture of two or more grape varieties.  I was only able to track down two bottles of Pisco at my local liquor store, Don Cesar Pisco Puro and Montesierpe Pisco Acholado.  Both were very good but I found myself using the Acholado more as it had a more complex flavor and was a touch sweeter.

So, beyond the differing grape varietals the primary difference between Pisco and Brandy is that Pisco is typically not wood-aged.  Peruvian Pisco is aged for a short time (at least 3 months) in a non-reactive vessel (eg glass, steel, etc).  This results in a spirit that is much more about the grapes themselves than the wood the spirit is aged in.  As Matt echoed in his comment on my intro post, I can’t see myself sipping a glass of straight Pisco in the same way I would Brandy or Cognac.  Although, in a cocktail this spirit really is very tasty.

Pisco Sour

Speaking of cocktails, let’s talk Pisco Sour.  Like I did last week I’m going to discuss the components of the drink individually and then give my favorite recipe.


I’d suggest starting with an Acholado.  The increased breadth of grape flavor and slight additional sweetness both work very well in this drink.  However, if Pisco Puro is all you can find then certainly get that.  I enjoyed both this week.


You’ll find recipes for this drink calling for both lime juice and lemon juice.  It seems that the citrus used in Peru most closely resemble the flavor of a key lime, which, if you haven’t had one, is a flavor akin to a cross between lemon and lime juice.  I tried both lemon and lime juice (both fresh) this week and liked both, but I prefer lime juice.  It has a slightly more complex flavor and I think “feels” more South American to me for some reason.


Like the Whiskey Sour I profiled a few months back this drink is much better with the addition of an egg white.  However, unlike the Whiskey Sour, I think this drink requires an egg white to be correct.  Since the bitters are suspended on the top of the egg white foam rather than mixed in to the drink you simply can’t get that effect without them.  Use fresh eggs so as to avoid possible fridge smells and produce better foam.  Some recipes call for half an egg white.  I would think that’s all you really need but I’ve been using a full white as it’s easier to measure and produces a lot of nice foam.


The true bitters to use for this cocktail are Amargo bitters from Peru.  However, since I don’t have any and Peru is a bit of a long drive, I had to use bitters I have on hand.  Most modern recipes will call for the use of Angostura bitters as they’re very common and most home bars have a bottle lurking somewhere.  I don’t find the aroma of Angostura bitters to be hugely pleasing though.  It’s not that the aroma is bad, more that it isn’t very powerful.  So, I branched out.  I found that three drops each of Fee Brother’s Old Fashioned Bitters and Angostura Orange Bitters make for a nice orangy-cinnamon aroma that I find works very well in this application.


I’d say stick with standard simple syrup for this drink.  A couple recipes I found called for rich syrup, but I found that made a cocktail that was too sweet for my palate.


The general rule of thumb is that cocktails with egg whites should be shaken dry (no ice) first for about 10 seconds, then shaken normally for another 30-60 seconds.  This method works very well, but there is a drawback that I don’t like.  When you shake dry you’re increasing the temperature of the ingredients slightly due to friction.  When your shaker contents, specifically the gases, warm up they expand.  This expansion can cause your shaker to pop open and leave you with at best a sticky shaker.  Thus, I steer clear of this method if at all possible.  Instead I vigorously shake the drink with ice for at least 30 seconds, 60 if my arm can stand it.  This gives a very nice foam and doesn’t leave me or my kitchen sticky.


Finally your drink is ready to serve, but what vessel do you go with.  Gary Regan suggests a champagne flute and I agree with him.  The champagne flute concentrates the sprinkling of bitters into a smaller area directly under your nose.  That way you get the maximum effect of  the bitters with each sip.


Okay, so I’ve ranted for quite a while now, let me wrap this up with the recipe that I like the best.  It’s a modification of Stevi Deter’s recipe from her blog, Two at the Most.  The only changes I make are to decrease the simple syrup a bit and bump up the lime juice to make the drink a touch less sweet.

Cocktail Hacker Pisco Sour
2 oz Pisco
1 1/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
Garnish with Bitters (3 Drops each Fee's + Angostura Orange)
1) Combine Pisco, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup and Egg White
2) Shake with ice for 60 seconds
3) Strain into a champagne flute
4) Top with a few drops of bitters

Pisco Sour

Posted by Reese On March - 22 - 2009

This week I’m going to explore a cocktail that has been on my to-do list for quite some time, the Pisco Sour.  This cocktail has been gaining popularity for years in the US and is a favorite among some of my fellow cocktail bloggers.  One of the first print recipes for this cocktail can be found in Charles Baker’s The South American Gentleman’s Companion.  Where he highlights the drink’s signature touch, bitters dashed on top of the cocktail for aroma rather than flavor.

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

What makes this presentation possible is the use of an egg white in the recipe.  When shaken the egg white froths and adds a creamy foam layer to the top of the cocktail upon which the dashed bitters sit.  This allows the bitters to present as an aroma only as you sip the liquid cocktail from beneath.

I don’t have any experience with Pisco at all and I’m eager to pick some up and shake up some Pisco Sours.  Check back throughout the week to hear how things are going.

Pisco Sour (Joy of Mixology
2 oz Pisco Brandy
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White (Small Egg)
Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker.
2) Shake until chilled and foam has formed.
3) Strain into a chilled champagne flute.
4) Dash some bitters on top.

A Little Taste of the Emerald Isle

Posted by Reese On March - 22 - 2009

After reading my post about my dislike of coffee you may have come ot the conclusion that I also don’t like this week’s cocktail, Irish Coffee.  You would, however, be incorrect.  There are enough add-ons in this drink that the classic cup of coffee morphs to become something bigger and, I’d argue, better.

Irish Coffee

I’m going to take a slightly different approach to the wrap up this week.  I found in looking at recipes that they’re all basically the same when you get right down to it.  So, based on that knowledge, I stuck with the Joy of Mixology recipe all week and focused instead on each individual component.  I’ll get the ball rolling with the ingredient I know the least about.


This is the key component of the Irish Coffee and as such you want to choose a coffee you’re going to enjoy.  For the record I’ve been using Silver Canyon Grand Cafe Decaf this week and found it to be very good.  Although my experience with coffees is a bit limited.  I think the old adage that applies to cooking with wine, “Always cook with a wine you’d drink on its own”, could also apply here.  You should definitely pick a coffee you’d drink on its own, but I’d also suggest you splurge on a really nice roast for this drink.  The additional flavor is really going to make this drink shine.


As for the spirit the same general principle holds true.  Pick a whiskey that you know you enjoy.  However, I’d say don’t spend the extra money on an aged Irish whiskey.  The additional flavor components will be nearly wiped out by the coffee.  For me I’ve been using Jameson’s that was left over from when I made Irish Cream and found that it worked perfectly.


There are a ton of possible sweetening options for this drink, but I focused on the classic and most readily available, simple syrup and granular sugar.  Regan suggests using simple syrup as it mixes in much better.  I completely agree and were I mixing these up behind a bar that is certainly the option I’d choose as it brings the drink together much quicker.  However, what I don’t like about this option is that you’re choosing the level of sweetness for the imbiber.  My preferred method for mixing these at home is to serve sugar on the side and let the person consuming the drink add however much, or little, they prefer.

Regan also suggests using demerara syrup to increase the depth of flavor of the drink.  I tried both white sugar and demerara in both granular and syrup forms and can say he’s definitely right.  Although the added flavor is subtle it is definitely present and really compliments the whiskey flavors.  If you don’t have demerara sugar you could also try turbinado.  That said, special sugar is definitely not an absolute requirement.  Your drink will turn out great with just plain white sugar as well.


It’s very tempting to simply buy a can of whipped cream and use that, but I don’t think it gives the result you’re looking for.  Canned whipped cream introduces too much air and as a result it’s much more difficult to mix in to the finished drink.  Instead I’d suggest getting a pint of heavy cream and lightly whipping it until it’s the consistency of shampoo (bad analogy, I know, but I couldn’t think of a better one).  Basically you want the cream thickened to the point where it hasn’t reached soft peaks yet and still flow when you tip the container.  I’d also suggest adding a small amount of sweetener to the cream as you whip it.  That way you can add a little more cream than you would think is necessary and your guest can leave a bit on top to enjoy while sipping the drink.

So there you have it.  I’ve really enjoyed the Irish Coffee this week.  The flavor of the whiskey is still present although it’s playing a supporting role to the coffee.  The cream and sugar tame the strong flavor of the coffee somewhat which made it much more palatable for me.  The result is a drink that is truly more than the sum of its parts.  And, overall, I will definitely be drinking this cocktail again.  I think it would be perfect for a cold winter afternoon.  Although, it’s been in the 70s here all week and the drink was still damn good.

A Cup of Joe

Posted by Reese On March - 19 - 2009

Since I’m covering a coffee based cocktail this week it seems only fitting that I should fill you in on my love of coffee, or lack thereof.  I don’t drink coffee, at least not unadulterated and even then, rarely.  I enjoy coffee’s smell a great deal and love coffee flavor in other things.  I even enjoy Frappucinos, Vietnamese style coffee, and other sweetened creamy coffee knock offs.  So imagine my Dad’s surprise when I called him Tuesday morning and let him know that I had just sat down with a steaming mug of what I’ve been known to refer to as “fecal squeezings.”  To say the least he was a bit taken aback.

Press Pot Coffee

I felt to truly approach this cocktail from the ground up drinking coffee soloh was something I had to do.  There must be a reason why people like this fragrant brown brew and I was hoping to get to the bottom of it.  So, before I start in on my thoughts let’s take a brief look at my process.

Reese's Cup of Coffee
9 oz Water
3 Tbsp Freshly Ground Coffee
1) Add coffee to press pot.
2) Boil water in microwave on high for 2 minutes.
3) Allow water to cool slightly to bring temp down to ~200F.
4) Pour water over coffee grounds and steep for 3 min.
5) Gently press to strain.
6) Pour.
7) Enjoy?

Now, many of you may be thinking why does a guy who doesn’t like coffee have a coffee grinder and press pot?  I direct you to the coffee lover indicated above, namely my Dad.  He had a couple spares and I figure it’s always good to have them on hand in case a guest would like a cup.  However, having these tools is not the same as knowing how to use them.  Monday night I looked around on the web to find directions on how to use my press pot as I had never made a cup of coffee before.

My first sips of this brew were straight up.  The aroma struck me first and was absolutely wonderful.  I was getting ready for a tasty cup of coffee.  The flavor was very lightly bitter but not in an at all unpleasant way.  There was the coffee flavor I like so much in other things, like delicious tiramisu.  But, although the flavor wasn’t too bad and the aroma was great, I still didn’t like it.  As I confessed in my Hot Drunken Cider post, I don’t really like hot drinks and I think that dislike may be at work here.  There were other points though.  I didn’t like that the coffee flavor stuck in my mouth for what seemed like eons and I really didn’t like the coffee flavor solo.

At this point, having consumed about 1/3 of my cup straight up, I decided to add some condiments.  I added about 1 1/2 tsp of heavy cream and 2-3 tsp of simple syrup.  Now fully adulterated my cup of coffee was easier  and more pleasant to consume.  First, it was cooler, which was nice.  Second the added sweetness really increased the drinkability for me and the cream just rounded it all out.

I think I could really get to like fully adulterated coffee and I think it could eventually lead to deeper, darker things.  Specifically straight up coffee.  I’d call this version a gateway coffee.  But, despite all of those things I still felt like I was cheating.  I was drinking a cup of decaff coffee that had a not insignificant amount of sugar and cream added to it.  Oh well, maybe I’m just destined to not be a coffee lover.  Now, you Irish up that coffee and we’re talking a whole different story.