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Archive for March, 2010

Twelve Mile Limit

Posted by Reese On March - 14 - 2010

I’m exceedingly thankful that Prohibition was repealed.  Let me reiterate.  Thank you to the people who were level headed enough to get rid of this bit of legal weirdness.  We all know about the major details of the time but there are also some really interesting details that are rarely discussed.  For example, one nuance of the Volstead Act that I had no knowledge of was that it was perfectly legal during Prohibition to make up to 200 gallons of wine or cider per year in your home.  Beer, however, was still a no-no.  Or, how about this one.  The use of “intoxicating beverages” was, in fact, not prohibited by the amendment.  Thus, in the time between the passing of the act and when the law went in to effect you had a lot of people stocking up on liquor.  From a guy who has a collection of over 100 bottles when there isn’t a prohibition in effect I see no issue in stocking up.

So, what brought on all this reading about Prohibition?  The Twelve Mile Limit, this week’s cocktail.  This is another one I found in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.  The recipe looks really tasty, but what really got me interested was the back story.  Imagine you’re a rum runner during Prohibition.  You’re bringing a load of rum up from the islands.  How close can you get to the US coast before you have to start worrying about the revenuers?  Well, if it’s early in prohibition, you can get to about 3 miles out and you’re good to go.  Since it wasn’t illegal to own the hooch, only to sell it in the US, people could simply cruise out and pick up whatever they like for personal consumption.  Well, not surprisingly, those in power didn’t much like this.  So, they pushed the limit on territorial waters where Prohibition was concerned out to one hour’s “steaming distance”, generally 12 miles.   This, clearly, made it a lot more difficult for those without serious boats to get out to the liquor sellers.  As a result, the Twelve Mile Limit was concocted as a jab at the rule makers.

To add to the already good story, there is a bit more.  The Twelve Mile Limit is based on another cocktail, listed as the Three Miller cocktail or Three Miler depending on where you look.  There is definitely a link between the two though.  The Three Miler and Twelve Mile Limit include the exact same ingredients, with a minor addition of some rye to the latter.  While I’m going to focus on the Twelve Mile Limit this week, I am going to mix up the Three Miler just to taste the differences.  So, now that you have the unique back story, let’s get started with the tasty part of this week.

Twelve Mile Limit (Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)
1 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

And, it’s predecessor:

Three Miller (The Savoy Cocktail Book)
1 tsp Grenadine
1 Dash Lemon Juice
1/3 Bacardi Rum
2/3 Brandy

1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

*Note:  In case you’re wondering, the US territorial waters weren’t officially extended to 12 miles until long after the end of Prohibition.  In fact, it wasn’t internationally recognized until President Reagan made the claim in 1988.

Park Avenue – New York in the Tropics?

Posted by Reese On March - 13 - 2010

Ted Haigh questions the logic of naming this drink the Park Avenue in Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits. “Note, if you will, the tropical character, invoking Carmen Miranda strutting down a Palm Beach boulevard.  As I say, the names of this and the Palm Beach Special preceding it, were obviously switched at birth.”  Definitely on the mark.  Although this drink holds a Gothamesque name, its flavor definitely is more reminiscent of the tropics.  So, what is that flavor profile exactly?  Complex, but still light and fruity.  The pineapple is the dominant note in the aroma of the cocktail but isn’t as much the star in the flavor.  In the flavor you’re first going to notice the flavors of the vermouth and hints of the gin coming through at the forefront.  The pineapple and curacao round it all out really nicely.

Park Avenue

Gin is the base spirit in this drink, and it’s important to pick the right one.  I started, as I usually do, with Plymouth.  I found the resulting cocktail to be very smooth, but lacking the level of gin in the flavor that I’d like.  So, I decided to give a bolder gin a try next.  Wanting to try a gin that’s more main stream and, quite frankly, a little less expensive, I decided to mix the next one with Gordon’s.  Interestingly, I found that even with a bold gin the flavor didn’t come through as much as I expected.  And, regarding this gin choice specifically, I found it a little funky.  Not necessarily bad, but not quite what I’d like either.  I also wanted to try another recipe I had found in the Difford’s Guide so I decided to continue the gin experimentation (ginsperimentation?) with that.

Park Avenue (Difford's Guide #8)
2 oz Gin
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Curacao
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

I wanted to keep with the bold gin plan so I pulled Tanqueray off the shelf for the first mix.  Since the vermouth is decreased in this recipe, I expected it to be more of a background flavor.  It really isn’t at all, though.  You get the herbal notes and with the increased curacao you get a bit more orange flavor as well.  Through it all the Tanqueray stood up great.  This is definitely my favorite of the two recipes.

Finally, since this drink has strong tropical flavors I decided to try a gin that has more of a citrus forward flavor profile while maintaining the juniper as well.  The clear choice to me was Beefeater.  It’s a nice mix of juniper and citrus and works great in this recipe.  While not as bold as Tanqueray this gin is still stands up great to the other strong flavors.  Through all the tastings this week, Beefeater rose to the top as my gin of choice for this drink.

The Park Avenue, while a bit oddly named, is quite tasty.  It has topical flavors but uses vermouth and gin.  Definitely not a combination you’d immediately think would work well, but it definitely does.  If you’re a gin lover and looking for something a bit different give it a go.  Or, if you have a gin hater, this might be a fun place to get them started.  Use a bit lighter gin and the other flavors will carry the weight.

Park Avenue Cocktail

Posted by Reese On March - 7 - 2010

I know you’ll find this deeply surprising but, I’m going with another gin cocktail this week.  I’m picking another tasty looking tipple from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the Park Avenue Cocktail.  Since the Negroni and the Americano I can’t think of any other combination of sweet vermouth and gin that I’ve undertaken.  Although the sample size is small I think we can take the lead from these and say immediately that this drink won’t suck.   So, get your ingredients together and we’ll venture to the glamor of 1940s New York.

Park Avenue Cocktail
2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/3 oz Orange Curacao
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

The Brooklyn – Manhattanesque, but Unique

Posted by Reese On March - 7 - 2010

Looking at the recipe for the Brooklyn the first thing you’re going to notice is that it’s like a Manhattan, but…different.  Once you go the next step and mix one up you’re going to find that that logic holds quite true.  This drink really is like a Manhattan, yet different in really subtle, good ways.  The flavor profile is extremely pleasant and really very unique.  The amer and maraschino fill the spot where the bitters reside in a Manhattan.  They add bitterness and a complexity of flavor which is essential.  Though, if you’ve ever had a Manhattan with too much bitters, you definitely know they can be overpowering.  In the case of the Brooklyn the bitters are replaced with other flavorful, if a bit less strong, ingredients.  This allows you to better taste the other ingredients.

Brooklyn

I started my week mixing with a high rye bourbon, namely Bulleit and though I tried other spirits I found myself coming back to this choice as my favorite.  With a straight rye (Michter’s in my case) the drink is much spicier as you would expect.  Though, while this is a good recipe I found myself preferring the Bulleit.  Straight rye made this drink a little too sharp for my liking.  I think that’s mostly because this recipe doesn’t have as much sweetness as my Manhattan recipe and, as such, doesn’t stand up to the rye’s boldness as well.

Mixing up the Brooklyn with a wheated bourbon (Eagle Rare in my case) results in a drink that is tremendously smooth and hugely pleasant.  Though as I found with the straight rye, this was not my favorite of the options.  Specifically, I really missed the light spiciness of the Bulleit.  It’s all about the balance and for me that was found in the form of high rye bourbon.

So, now that we’ve discussed the base spirit let’s take a quick look at one of the other ingredients that really caught my eye.  As I said in the intro this week I’ve had a bottle of Torani Amer in my collection since Tales of the Cocktail last year.  I had no experience with amers of any kind, so I had no idea what to do with this ingredient.  So, as a result of my ignorance, it languished unopened until this week.  Having tasted it and used it in a recipe I feel can shed a bit of light on it now.  Torani Amer falls in to the category of bitter herbal liqueur or, were it Italian, an Amaro.  Others in this category that you might be more familiar with are Fernet Branca and Campari.  However, I offer those only as notables of the category; Torani Amer tastes nothing like either.

Having tasted it and tried to nail down it’s flavor, I find it much easier to compare it to other products than to explain it on its own right.  Torani Amer is very lightly sweet, nothing like you’d find in other liqueurs like creme de cassis, triple sec, or even it’s partner in crime in this drink maraschino.  The aroma is complex and very hard for me to pin down.  Though you do get strong herbal notes coming through.  In the flavor I find it equally hard to discern specific flavors that really outshine the others.  Rather, like other great herbal liqueurs, noteably Benedictine and Chartreuse, the flavor is harmonious.  There is certainly a bitter note present as you’d expect but it’s not nearly as strong as you’d find  in Campari.  So, having danced around the actual flavor of this product I can say one thing with certainty.  Torani Amer is quite tasty and really adds some wonderful complexity to the Brooklyn that would be sorely lacking without it.

As a final note on Torani Amer and more specifically why Dr. Cocktail suggests it over the classic Amer Picon, I’ll let his words from the notes on Picon Punch in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails do the talking.

“The House of Picon has had its problems, at least with distribution in the States, but extending back further in France to when, inexplicably, they changed the proof (and thereby the flavor) of Amer Picon from about 35 percent to about 12 percent alcohol.  Fortunately, while I feel so wrong saying so, there is a better, though more obscure product on the market.  Its matches the Amer Picon proof from days of yore, and its flavor is more in keeping with the traditional Picon Punch.  This product, Torani Amer, is made in the United States … Still, I hope Picon straightens out its formula and distribution.  It might otherwise foretell the sad end to a historic product.”

Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh

There you have it.  In summary, if you can find a bottle of Torani Amer, it’s definitely the choice for this cocktail and the Picon Punch which I’ll be featuring at a later date.  It’s made in California so I’m sure you can easily source it on the west coast.  If you can’t find it locally a quick Google search will point you to a few online sources.

As for the Brooklyn, mix it up some night when you’re wanting a Manhattan.  I think you’ll really enjoy this variant.  It’s quirky, but delightful in its own ways.  Enjoy.

Spice & Ice – Blood Orange – Jalapeno Margarita

Posted by Reese On March - 2 - 2010

Last week I got an invite to a virtual cocktail party being hosted Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice, a cookbook centered on spicy cocktails, and the Spice & Ice Blog.  You may remember Kara’s name from my post about the article in Chile Pepper Magazine.  Turns out this virtual cocktail party shares the spicy cocktail theme.  Naturally I had to be a part of that!

Kara sent over a list of cocktails to choose from and I picked the Blood Orange – Jalapeno Margarita.  The flavor combination sounded really interesting and I love mixing with blood oranges.  Their color is just so fantastic.  Take a look at the photo below and I think you’ll agree.

Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita

Okay, now on to the more salient points about the flavor of the cocktail.  Let’s start with the recipe.

Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita
2 oz Jalapeno-Infused Silver Tequila
1 1/2 oz Blood Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Cointreau
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Jalapeno-Infused Silver Tequila
8 oz (1 cup) Silver Tequila
1 Jalapeno, Sliced
1) Add the sliced jalapeno to the tequila
2) Cover and steep for 2 hours, 3 if you want extra spice

The first step in the creation of this drink is making the infusion.  I picked out a regular sized jalapeno, maybe 3″ in length, and sliced it very thin, about 1/16th inch, and left the seeds and membrane intact.  Slicing the jalapeno this thin meant I would get more surface area and thus more spice.  Seeing as I really like my spice I opted for a full three hours of steeping in Milagro Silver.  My patience was rewarded with a tequila that has a serious late burn to it.  Tasty stuff, when used properly that is.

One more ingredient note about the blood oranges.  I lucked out on this one since blood oranges are in season right now and available at my local grocery store.  If you aren’t so lucky Kara offers a great alternative.  Simply use 1 1/4 oz of orange juice and add 1/4 oz of pomegranate juice for color.  The flavor of a blood orange really isn’t much different from a standard orange so I this will work out great.

Now that I had all my ducks in a row, I mixed up the drink and prepared for searing cocktail goodness.  The resulting drink was seriously fiery.  After the initial shock of the spiciness the sweetness of the orange juice and the Cointreau balanced it all out very nicely.  In fact, when I was mixing the drink up I was a little concerned that the sweetness would be too much.  It really turned out not to be the case at all.  Subsequent sips found a reduction in the shock of the jalapeno and a nice balance overall.  Even with the jalapeno heat you still taste the blood orange, the tequila and the cointreau.

Sourness was the only thing I found a little lacking in this drink.  I think that is mostly due to my blood oranges being really sweet and not bringing any sourness of their own to the party.  To remedy this I simply added about 1/4 oz more lime juice and all was well in the world.

Finally, if I were serving this drink to friends I would definitely do two things differently next time.  I’d cut the jalapenos a bit chunkier and I’d steep them for a shorter time.  For me, however, this was a perfect level of heat.

To summarize, the Blood Orange – Jalapeno Margarita is damn good.  You can tailor it to fit your heat tolerance and I think it would pair really well with a nice salty snack or some good southwestern food.  Well done, Kara.  This is definitely a recipe I’ll be mixing up again.