Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MxMo XLVI - Absinthe Abundance - Part II

Before the rest of the drink submissions (part I is here), I wanted to mention one comment we received from Myriam at the Detours blog. She is a writer living in Sydney, and just visited an absinthe salon in Sydney, and wrote about her absinthe explorations. No cocktails here, but some great photos, and a place to put on your must-visit list for Sydney.

Without further ado, the rest of the cocktails!

Easy Does It
Many people wrote about recipes calling for a barspoon or absinthe or less. This group has enough absinthe for it to be noticed in a meaningful way, but less than those drinks listed above.

Chris at Urbane, not Cosmopolitan uses his local absinthe in a reworking of the Foggy Day, resulting in his
Foggy Day in Kingston Cocktail. Using gin, limoncello, and Jamaican bitters, it sounds delicious.

Last month's MxMo host, Frederic over at Cocktail Virgin Slut, introduces us to the
Lusitania, which was printed before the ship became infamous. Primarily a vermouth-based cocktail, it sounds like a wonderful aperitif.

Paul & Steve from Cocktail Buzz write about the
Old Mule, with dark rum, ginger beer, bitters and some absinthe. Sounds like a nice change of pace.

Hobson describes a cocktail created by Joaquin Simo at Death & Co. in NYC, the
Latin Quarter over on Hobson's Choice. In this riff on the Sazerac, he uses aged rum rather than whiskey.

Rocky was put on the spot to name a new drink he was
working on, so he dubbed it the Rye-se and Shine. Using his local absinthe, Rocky combines rye with cognac, sweet vermouth and bitters. Read about it over on NW Vivant.

Kevin at Cocktail Enthusiast writes about the
Chrysanthemum, a great classic. His version has different ingredient proportions than the other version posted - there seem to be several variations on this one. A lovely drink all around.

In another use of sloe gin, Filip at Adventures in Cocktails wanted to tone down the absinthe and used rye, sloe gin, lemon and simple along with his 1/2 bars
poon of absinthe in the Sloe Envy. Sounds and looks great.

On Liquidity Preference, Jacob admits he's not a big absinthe drinker, so he went searching. He found a good one - the
Atty Cocktail, with gin, dry vermouth, and some creme de violette. Yum.

Over on Wordsmithing Pantagruel, our guide Pantagruel posted a very fun video with his balancier, and also introduces an original cockt
ail, the Elegance. He uses gin, sake, orange liqueur and bitters.

Maria, the Bubbly Girl, admits she only likes her absinthe i
n small quantities. She gives us Killing Me Softly, which incorporates elderflower liqueur, sugar and sparkling wine.

Bluewolf Pete, a member of the Wormwood Society, contributed the Garden Party, with gin, elderflower liqueur, bitters and a bit of absinthe.

From the folks in Toronto,
we received these two with absinthe accents:
  • Nishan created the Snowbird, with ginger liqueur, Czech-style absinthe, lime and orgeat. Sounds like a tiki-style drink in the making, perhaps!
  • Scott used a spirit I've not yet seen or heard of - "Zoladkowa Gurzka bitter vodka" - along with blueberry jam and rosemary to create his The Purp. And it's topped with absinthe foam. Hmm. Wonder what that one tastes like? How bitter is that vodka?

Barkeep at Drink of the Week wrote about a well-known absinthe cocktail, the Monkey Gland. With it's use of gin, orange juice and grenadine, as well as it's history (that name!), it's certainly memorable. I also mentioned the similar Dixie Cocktail. It has more absinthe, and some dry vermouth, but a similar style. Both are fun drinks to share with people who don't know absinthe at all.

Over on eGullet, we got some great ideas that have absinthe as an accent:
  • Haresfur suggested the Martha, inspired by a cocktail he saw on cocktaildb - it features a float of absinthe. Martha is my mother's name, so I'm going to have make this one for her next time she's here. Unfortunately, since she's not much of a drinker, I'm going to have to drink it too, but that's OK.
  • Eric took inspiration from the Tuxedo Cocktail No. 2 in the Savoy, and created the Tailcoat, using genever, sweet vermouth, maraschino and bitters. Sounds delicious.

And a few folks who submitted more than one drink have some in this category as well:
  • The folks at 1022 South give us the HR 1022, where they pair bourbon, maraschino, dry vermouth, and interestingly, a lapsang souchong syrup. Hmmm... I think I have to try making that one.
  • Alan from Real Absinthe suggests the Green Devil, with a tequila-lemoncello-absinthe combination, and The Sun Also Rises, with rye, sloe gin, lemon and more. Both recipes were developed by his mixologist friends in Colorado.
  • In addition to the Green Fairy Sour, Marshall at Scofflaw's Den also mentions the Cocktail a la Louisiane, another great one.

Just a Rinse, Please
Four folks wrote about rinsing their glass with absinthe.

Jessamyn over at Food on the Brain loves anise, pastis and absinthe. However, they've been playing with Cynar lately, and have given us the Gin & Sip, with gin, Cynar and absinthe. Sounds very interesting indeed.

Daniel at Gin not Vodka mentions a carbonated Corpse Reviver No. 2, which sounds darned interesting. He also discussed the Long Line, with a base of brandy, accented by sweet vermouth, absinthe and two types of bitters.

In his drink with tequila as the base, Anthony at Abelha Cachaca writes about the Tequila Sazerac, using agave nectar for the sweetener and a touch of lime rather than lemon.

And the most flamboyant rinse award goes to Gavin in Toronto, with his GF Twizzler. He use 30 ml of absinthe, and "brulees" the glass. This is our first instance of fire in this MxMo, used with a Czech-style absinthe. Has to be a heckuva show, but sounds dangerous!

(Edit) The award for most absinthe rinses in a month goes to Erik over at Underhill Lounge, who has been doing a complete set of Sazerac experiments this month using a variety of spirits and combinations. (Apologies to Erik for omitting this the first time I hit publish - I had meant to mention it.)

Only a Dash (or Two), No More
The last (but certainly not least) group used only one or two dashes of absinthe in their recipes. Nothing wrong at all with using absinthe in these quantities, but in these cases it is truly an accent in the drink, and nothing more.

In this group, we have two great mixologists/bartenders from Chicago (welcome to MxMo, gentlemen!) -
  • Billy from the Whistler (a great cocktail & live music venue) gives us the Fleming, which includes Scotch, sloe gin, honey and absinthe (and he uses my favorite absinthe, too - I'm only slightly biased on that account).
  • James from Gioco (a great Italian restaurant with a nice cocktail menu too) emailed me his favorite absinthe drink - a twist on the Sazerac. His Ghost of Tom Joad contains 2 oz Ransom Old Tom, 1 oz Cointreau, Squeeze of 1 lemon wedge, dash of Angostura, dash of absinthe. Chill a cocktail glass, coat with absinthe. Stir remaining ingredients with ice; strain into glass. Garnish with orange twist.
Stevi over at Two at the Most is a woman after my own heart. Her blog name, her love for absinthe in the traditional drip, and the fact that she's always looks for new things. She found a new (to her) cocktail, the Atlantic. With gin, white rum, Cointreau and just a two dashes of absinthe, she found a new drink that demonstrates what a little absinthe can do.

James over at Alcoholiday gives us the only drink using Mezcal as the base, in the
Smoking Saints Cocktail. Mezcal, St. Germain, lime, simple and absinthe - what's not to love?

And last on this list, but first in my book for starting this whole MxMo thing, is Paul Clarke over at The Cocktail Chronicles. Paul remembers that when MxMo started back in 2006, we couldn't have absinthe as our theme - look how far we've come. With the
Modern Cocktail, Paul revisits a recipe from Hugo Ensslin using Scotch, lemon, and a bit of rum and bitters.

Cheers everyone, thanks for all the great posts and all the inspiration. I am going to incorporate more Scotch, Calvados, maraschino, and sloe gin into my absinthe drinks - those seemed to pop up in several entries. Now where's that mixing glass and bar spoon...

MxMo XLVI Roundup - Absinthe Abundance - Part I

Wow! By my count, there were 39 entries, and more than 50 recipes, submitted for Mixology Monday this month on our topic of absinthe. We have some new participants, including a couple of great bartenders from my hometown, a few entries from the fine folks at the Wormwood Society, some fun ideas from eGullet, and entries from cocktail writers and fans around the globe.

A few themes and trends - most folks used classical French/Swiss style absinthes (and a couple used substitutes). We had a few blanches and many vertes in use, but no rouges. Most of our recipe
s from friends to the north in Toronto used Czech-style absinthe. A wide variety of base spirits, liqueurs, fruits and herbs were used in these cocktails - really showing the breadth of absinthe's use in cocktails. So many great drinks to try!

In the interest of readability, I have roughly sorted the entries by intensity of absinthe. As many noted
, it's a bit polarizing - some of us love it, and are happy to have a lot of it, but others prefer it only as an accent.

This post has all the cocktails where absinthe is a dominant or prominent ingredient. The next one will have those where it is a small or large accent.

My Absinthe
These folks
love their absinthe, and their drinks reflect it.

Jenn over at Nightcapped had her first experience with the traditional absinthe drip, and she loved it. She has some fun history and absinthe artwork in her post too.

Nabokov used an ingredient that I used in my drink too - passion fruit - in his Tea of Samurai. He writes about how absinthe is "magic, glamorous, dangerous," and includes a great Russian proverb, too.

Tiare at a Mountain of Crushed Ice made the Chocolate Suissesse, which looks and sounds decadent and delicious. Unfortunately, I'm not sure we can get one of the key ingredients here in the US, but I plan to try.

The fine folks 1022 South submitted two recipes, and one of them is heavy on the absinthe. Their Devil's Handshake, with equal parts Fernet Branca, absinthe and ginger syrup, is intended as a shot. And an intense one, at that!

Andy over at Sybaritic Wanderings gives us a great story about being in an earthquake, and writes about the Earthquake Cocktail. Luckily, there was no damage done to Andy or his home, by the actual earthquake, at least. Sounds like a good (stiff) drink of gin, whiskey and absinthe.

Rob from Toronto used a Czech-style absinthe as the dominant ingredient in his Ghostface Killah cocktail, described by Gavin over at Intelligent Bartender. He also used Macadamia nut syrup, cream, egg white and more. Sounds intriguing!

Marshall over at Scofflaw's Den gives us two drinks, one of them heavy on the absinthe - the Green Fairy Sour, taken from the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail book. Sounds delicious, and uses some common (and easily found) ingredients for an absinthe drink - citrus, egg white, and plain simple syrup. Just look at the beautiful foam on that drink!

Chris over at eGullet gives us the Mud in Your Eye, which sounds intensely flavorful and interesting. 2 full ounces of absinthe, with some Branca Menta and gum syrup for good measure. Wow!

And last but not least in the "heavy on the absinthe" category, is my Passion Fairy. Don't love the name (and am open to suggestions), but really liked the drink. Absinthe, passion fruit, brandy, and some citrus.

Like my Absinthe
This group of folks has absinthe as a prominent ingredient in their drink, but not the
most dominant ingredient or flavor, as best I can tell.

Chris over at Cocktail Welten recommends the Ante Cocktail, with a blend of Calvados, Cointreau and absinthe. I have never put absinthe with Calvados, but hope to soon. Unfortunately my German is poor, but Google Translate tells me that Chris wrote "The ante is simply a cocktail told to kneel down! Maybe it'll help the absinthe get the attention he deserves. Sante!"

Scomorokh over at Science of Drink wrote about two similar cocktails, the Chrysanthemum, and the Duchess - the key difference is the first has Benedictine, the second has Sweet Vermouth in it's place. I haven't yet had the Duchess, but expect the absinthe will be more prominent in that one - sounds delicious. Большое спасибо.

Continuing the drinks from cocktailians outside the US, Elan from Toronto developed the Two in the Pink using Alize red, amaretto, cranberry and egg white.

Two real absinthe aficionados weighed in with cocktails this time around - First, we have Brian from Rantings of a DC Gourmand (and also Review Editor and Advisory Board Member over at the Wormwood Society) giving us the Purring Schubie, named for a friend's cat. This drink is intended to be "tasty, complex and still refreshing, " a fitting description.

Second, we have Alan from the
Real Absinthe Blog and La Clandestine Absinthe weighing in with three cocktails from mixologist friends around the world, one of which contains a meaningful amount of absinthe. The Bramble Ramble from a friend in Malaysia sounds delicious, with fresh berries, vodka, grapefruit and vanilla.

Jake over at Liquor is Quicker (Drink Snob) gives us the More Improved Scotch Cocktail, and writes about something that happens to many of us now and then - we work on a cocktail for awhile, only to realize that someone else already came up with something darn close. Nonetheless, his drink sounds intriguing, with two different types of Scotch.

The fine folks over at eGullet give us three drinks that contain a moderate amount of absinthe. Three unique takes, and interesting ways to use the spirit.
  • Chris introduces us to the Wax, which he says is mildly reminiscent of these
  • BMDaniel gives us the Green Hour Rum Punch, a variation on the classic milk punch.
  • Katie goes with the Absinthe Martini, which she says is a good way to introduce absinthe into your cocktail repertoire.
Inspired by strange dreams about Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, Nat at Alphacook developed An Untimely Death. In addition to the absinthe, he uses Cherry Heering, lemon and sparkling wine. (unfortunately technical problems prevented Nat from sharing a photo this time around, but I'm sure it looks delicious)

And last but not least in this category, Wes in Toronto gives us the Pour la Premiere Fois, with Calvados, pomegranate liqueur, and dry vermouth. Another absinthe & calvados cocktail - I have to give that a try.

Whew, this is a bigger job than I realized. Stay tuned for the next post, with the rest of the great cocktails!

Monday, February 22, 2010

MxMo XLVI - All About Absinthe

The posts have started rolling in for this month's Mixology Monday. In what might be my earliest post ever (usually I'm posting around 11 pm or so on the Monday), here's my contribution to this month's online cocktail party.

Adoring Absinthe
I love the stuff. It always amazes me to see how different one brand is from another - the first sip might be very similar, but after that they are totally different. Usually I just add some water, and maybe some sugar (depends on the brand). If I want a frappe, some crushed ice too. From time to time, I'll go for a classic cocktail - there are some great ones out there.

One of my favorites recently is the Dixie Cocktail. I probably found it here originally, and some friends have mentioned it before. It's an herbaceous, delicious drink if you like absinthe. My version includes the orange juice & grenadine from the Cocktail DB version, with slightly different proportions. It's also nice without them, mind you, but this is my favorite of the variations.

Dixie Cocktail
(my version)
¾ oz Gin (Distiller's Gin No. 6)
½ oz Absinthe (Sirène Absinthe Verte)
½ oz Dry Vermouth (Vya)
2 dashes real Grenadine
1 oz fresh Orange Juice
Shake all ingredients well with ice, strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

And a New One Too

And for fun, and to get me out of my rut, I came up with a new drink. I am really happy with how this came out, after working on it for several days. It's definitely an absinthe lovers drink (no mistaking it), but with an interesting blend of fruit, spice and deeper flavor tones.

Of course, I used our absinthe for this one too - I know, it's shocking.

Passion Fairy
2 oz Absinthe (used Sirène Absinthe Verte)
2 oz Passion Fruit Puree (Funkin)
1 oz Brandy (Paul Masson Grande Amber)
3/4 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)
Two dashes Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a long orange twist.

Cheers and happy MxMo! Stay tuned for the recap, hopefully here sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reminder - MxMo on February 22!

The entries have started arriving, and you've got a few days left to get your entry in for Mixology Monday this month! Can't wait to see what absinthe drinks you come up with! All the details for participating are here.

I'll get the recap up sometime on Tuesday, hopefully. Cheers!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Small-batch Cocktail Supplies

There are some great little companies making quality cocktail ingredients and supplies these days. You can use them to make better drinks, without going to all the effort of making these things yourself (and potentially not making them as well as these folks). Unfortunately, very few of these products are making it to Chicago (yet). Luckily, you can order them online.

Here are my favorite sources for the more esoteric ingredients, as well as a couple of new discoveries:
  • Small Hand Foods - San Francisco-area bartender Jennifer Colliau started this company to provide local bartenders with great ingredients for classic cocktails. I first found out about her company when I was in SF last spring, and I have since had an opportunity to use the grenadine and pineapple gum syrup. The syrups are great, as good as you'd want them to be if you were making them, without having to go to the effort (and have less than stellar results). The website lists a Chicago-area distributor, but I haven't seen these anywhere yet. Hopefully they'll start showing up soon.
  • Trader Tiki - Portland area cocktail enthusiast and bartender extraordinaire Blair Reynolds (aka Trader Tiki) started this company to provide great ingredients for quality Tiki cocktails and other libations. He got started late last year, and I am anxiously awaiting my first order of
    cinnamon syrup, Don's mix, and orgeat. I see some great Tiki drinks in my future, which I need after my last tiki bar trip. Blair is one of the first people I met at my first Tales of the Cocktail, at which time he gave me a small bottle of his house-made bitters (which are great). I always knew we'd be friends after that! And besides, who can resist this description: "A brilliant combination of Barbados grapefruit and Asian cinnamon creating a newfound flavor which is best tasted to be believed. Best used in the Donga Punch, this recipe applies perfectly to a Zombie and creates a wonderful punch with just rum, lime, and ice!"
  • Scrappy's Bitters - I just found these at Provenance in Logan Square, and picked up the grapefruit bitters. Unfortunately, that was all they had in stock at the time - apparently the chocolate bitters and some of the others have been popular with a couple of local mixologists. I really like these bitters so far, although I have just started working with them. I can't tell from the website who is behind these, but Joe at Provenance said they're coming from Seattle.
  • Cocktail Kingdom - I haven't ordered from these folks yet, but they have a great array of bitters, syrups, books, and tools on their website. You can order most of the above products at once from them, and more, if you wanted. I've got my eye on a couple of things on there, and my birthday is coming, so..... fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cheers to Chicago Mixologists

I have been remiss in writing about the achievements of our local mixologists lately, even though some great things have been happening. Here are some highlights:

National Sherry Cocktail Competition
Charles Joly from the Drawing Room won the
4th annual Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition in December, beating out prominent mixologists from around the country in the finals. He won a trip to tour the Jerez region, along with a scholarship to the BAR Masters program. Congrats Charles!

Bread & Wine, by Charles Joly
(Photo courtesy of Iñaki Vinaixa via the Sherry Council of America)
1 oz Lustau “Don Nuño” Dry Oloroso
1½ oz Balvenie Scotch Doublewood 12 year

5 dashes Absinthe (preferably Sirene Absinthe - thanks Charles!)
½ oz fresh lemon juice ¼-1/3 oz maple syrup (depending on
tartness of lemons)

Fill Old Fashioned glass with ice, dash with absinthe and set aside
to season.
Combine Sherry, Balvenie, lemon juice and maple
syrup in mixing glass. Add ice and shake well. Empty Old
Fashioned glass, coating sides with absinthe. Add Kold Draft or
large pieces of ice. Strain cocktail into glass. Cut a strip of orange
zest using a vegetable peeler. Mist top of glass with orange oil,
rub rim and place decoratively in glass. No straws please.

National Benedictine Competition
Lynn House from graham elliot took second in another huge national competition sponsored by the fine folks at Benedictine with her drink The Grail, finishing ahead of a number of prominent mixologists around the country. She was featured in Esquire in January, and has been mentioned in a number of other major publications recently. Go Lynn!

The Grail, by Lynn House
2 oz Benedictine Liqueur
1/4 oz Esprit Orange Liqueur
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz Fevertree tonic water
3 dashes of Fee brothers orange bitters

Local Competitions
Debbi Peek,
the portfolio mixologist extraordinaire for Bacardi USA, won the local Best Bartender contest sponsored by Domaine de Canton in November, and she won a trip to St. Martin to compete in the nationals. Congrats Debbi! Hope that trip is coming up soon, it's cold around here!

There have been a few other local competitions recently as well, with more to come. Daniel de Oliveira of Crimson Lounge and Double A won the latest, sponsored by Absolut, and Todd Appel of Crimson Lounge made to the finals of a recent late-night tv show on mixologists (also sponsored by Absolut).

Best Cocktail Lounge is in Chicago!
And last but not least, The Drawing Room was named the
Best Cocktail Lounge in the US for 2010 by Nightclub & Bar Magazine. If you haven't been there yet, you're missing out!

Congrats all! Great things are happening in our cocktail scene, with more to come.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You Fibber McGee, You

A few years ago, we found a recipe on CocktailDB for a drink called a Fibber McGee, and we tried it. We liked it, so we've been making it every now and then for awhile now. It's a variation on a sweet Martini, with a bit of grapefruit juice. Few people know it, so it seems to be a fairly obscure drink. I'm not sure when it was developed or how it came about - it may have something to do with a certain radio show, but I haven't been able to determine it's origins.

It appears in print in only one book I've found so far, and it was a recent one - 2005. It was also mentioned in a NY Times article back in 1990, and one other blogger friend wrote about it a few years back.

Well, we made it again recently, so I wanted to suggest it to others - it's a nice drink. Herbal, complex and a tad sweet. Especially so if you use a red grapefruit instead of a white grapefruit. Cheers!

Fibber McGee
1½ oz Gin (I use Distiller's Gin No. 11 of course, but any traditional London dry should work well)
½ oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpana Antica)
½ oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake ingredients with ice, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mixology Monday XLVI - All About Absinthe!

This month, I have the privilege and pleasure of hosting Mixology Monday. The amazing Paul Clarke started MxMo in April 2006, and it's been going strong ever since. Each month, cocktail bloggers and writers from around the globe chime in on that month's topic, all on the designated Monday. This month, it's Monday, February 22nd.

The topic for February is Absinthe. That much maligned, misunderstood, mistreated spirit, suddenly plentiful again in the US and other parts of the world. Absinthe played a role, whether large or small, in a variety of great cocktails from the 1800's and early 1900's - the Sazerac, Absinthe Suissesse, Corpse Reviver No. 2... I'm getting thirsty.

So let's celebrate absinthe's history, and it's future, with all manner of cocktails using absinthe.

Here's how to participate:
  • Find or concoct a recipe using absinthe as an ingredient.
  • Make the drink and write about it. Include the recipe, ideally a photo, and something about how you liked (or didn't like, or tweaked, or...) the drink. If you don't have a blog, you can submit your recipe on the eGullet Spirits and Cocktails forum.
  • Include in your post the MxMo logo and a link back to both Mixology Monday and Thinking of Drinking. And once the round-up is posted, a link to that summary post would be most appreciated (thanks for that idea, Frederic).
  • Post a link to your submission in the comment section here, or send an email to sonjakassebaum (at) gmail (dot) com.
The due date is Monday, February 22nd, which I will interpret as whatever gets submitted before I get to the office on Tuesday the 23rd to start workin' on my wrap up (for those procrastinators in the bunch, I usually show up at 10 am CST). I'll take entries late too, if it gets in before I finish the wrap up. But I might give you a rough time for being late.

And if you want to learn more about the history of absinthe, here are some links.

Cheers and see you on the 22nd!