The Intoxicologist

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ultimate 10 Cane Mojito

Ultimate Mojito

10 – 12 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 oz Collins Bar Syrup
¾ oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
2 oz 10 Cane Rum
2 – 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Club Soda
Fresh Mint Leaves to Garnish

Place the 10 – 12 mint leaves, bar syrup and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Press leaves with a muddler for a generous portion of time. I usually allow 30 – 60 seconds to allow proper bruising of the mint leaves. Next, remove muddler from the cocktail shaker. Add the 10 Cane Rum, and bitters. Fill the shaker 1/3 full of cracked ice. Shake for 15 – 20 seconds. Fill a Collin’s glass 4/5 full of ice. Strain cocktail shaker contents into Collin’s glass. Top off with club soda. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.

This makes a perfect Mojito every time. An ultimate Mojito in fact. The taste is fresh, the flavors are layered. The bitters take just enough edge off the sweetness to allow the full effect of the mint to rum flavor shine through. Now, you could try this with other rums such as Bacardi, but it would not be the same. Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of Bacardi as well. It has it’s place. I’ve visited their distillery and was very intrigued with the entire story of the bat on the bottle, which I will share at some point with photos as well if it comes to that. But the story here is about the Mojito and 10 Cane.

It was only a few months ago that I was introduced to 10 Cane. Bottles catch my eye. It is ingenious how liquor companies know this about consumers. It isn’t just their product, but their bottle that will draw someone in. Some liquor companies have perfume bottlers design their liquor bottles to make them more, shall we say, consumer friendly. As if the liquor within them was not draw enough to the consumer. 10 Cane however, does not have this dilemma. Their rum is well within consumable range. It is spicy and aromatic with a hit of caramel beneath the first sip. It seems to flow over the tongue as if it were a melody. The bits of flavor flow harmoniously together to form a perfect blend of rum for that perfect drink you choose to create.

10 Cane rum is extraordinary in that it comes from Trinidad and is processed from virgin sugar cane grown for the purpose of rum. Most rum is made from molasses which is a by product of sugar cane not grown for the purpose of rum. This alone gives 10 Cane a taste of its own. Knowing as well that the makers of Moet Hennessey are the backers of 10 Cane only elevate it even more. This is a savoring sort of rum. It is great for sipping or adding to some of your well made cocktails or tall drinks. Check it out for yourself on the web at
www.10cane.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Raspberry Lemon Drop

We’ve had some very hot days this summer with the heat index climbing as high as 105 or higher. The kids may be selling lemonade at the corner stand, but a real thirst quencher for adults is a Lemon Drop with a twist. Lemon Drop cocktails have usually been too sweet and grainy for my taste, so I’ve strayed away from them in the past. But lately I’ve been playing around with them a bit. Mmmm….my mouth is watering already just thinking of making this drink.

If you order a Lemon Drop in a bar it is typically made as a shot or shooter with a sugared lemon wedge. It may be served as simply as a shot glass rimmed with granulated sugar, filled with citron vodka and a lemon wedge on the side or a lemon wedge dipped in granulated sugar as well. The patron licks the sugar, sucks the lemon and shoots the citron vodka. In my opinion, there is little fuss about it and also little to make it worth coming back for. So, instead of making a shot of it, let’s make a cocktail out of it and make it worth drinking. This one is so thirst quenching you may still be tempted to throw back a few, though.

Let me address the granulated sugar rather quickly. Working with granulated sugar in cocktails like the Lemon Drop which is shaken or a Mojito which is muddled, you will find that the sugar does not dissolve like expected. That makes for a gritty drink going down and residue left over in the bottom of the glass. Neither is very attractive. It takes a great amount of time and patience to finally get sugar to melt into other liquids. So, instead of using granulated sugar as some cocktail recipes call for, try either making your own simple sugar syrup or there is a great product on the market by Collins called Bar Syrup.

It is relatively easy to make your own sugar syrup. It is two parts sugar to one part water. Heat the water in a saucepan on the stove to a simmer. Gradually stir in the sugar. Continue stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from the stove and allow mixture to cool completely. The mixture must be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for two to three weeks. Since the homemade syrup does eventually go bad due to mold, the Collins Bar Syrup is an excellent product since it does not have to be refrigerated after being opened making storage very handy. You can find Collins Bar Syrup at your local liquor store or online.

Raspberry Lemon Drop

2 oz Ciroc Vodka
Juice of One Freshly Squeezed Lemon
½ oz Collins Bar Syrup
¼ oz – ½ oz Mathilde Liqueur Framboise (Chambord may be substituted)
1 Lemon Wheel (remove seeds)

In a cocktail shaker combine Ciroc Vodka, lemon juice, and Collins Bar Syrup. Fill shaker 1/3 full with ice. Shake 15 – 20 seconds. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Gently float the lemon wheel on top of the cocktail drink mixture. Very carefully pour the Mathilde Liqueur Framboise onto the lemon wheel only. Some of course will filter through, but be careful not to stir it into the drink to allow for a nice layering effect. Enjoy!

This makes a beautiful drink. The raspberry liqueur continually sinks to the bottom of the glass giving the illusion of a rather plump looking raspberry at the bottom. You could even garnish this drink with a skewer of fresh raspberries if you would like. The last third of the drink is where the lemon wheel and raspberry liqueur start working together for an extra burst of flavor. Again, my mouth is watering. I think I’ll have to go make one now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bloody Mary Sunday

Sundays usually bring to mind family time, relaxation, and tradition. For me, no matter where I am, Sunday mornings remind me of my oldest brother. He’s a bachelor living in this great two bedroom house that he fixed up with the best wooden floors and this fabulous front porch meant for drinking coffee and working on crossword puzzles, which is exactly what he does on Sunday mornings until the coffee pot runs dry. When the coffee pot is empty he announces that it is Bloody Mary time. It isn’t just any Bloody Mary. No. It is my brother’s Bloody Mary. It is an event. It is a meal to be savored and enjoyed.

The Bloody Mary had never been among my favorite drinks or even top twenty or hundred for that matter, until I tried one that my brother made. I liked tomato juice. I liked V8 juice. I like vodka. I like spicy. So I couldn’t figure out how combining all of those things never worked out in a drink. It didn’t make sense to me. This was a drink I tried over and over again, because I really wanted to like it. It seemed pretty basic with a shot of vodka, some pepper, Tabasco, celery salt and Bloody Mary mix. Basic was all wrong. Sometimes basic is just getting by. Just getting by is rarely ever fun.

The recipe I am sharing today is a blend of a vodka infusion I learned, my brother’s recipe, and some tweaks I added along the way.

Bloody Mary Vodka Infusion

For the vodka infusion you will need a jar with lid large enough to hold the contents of the following:

1 Bottle of Tito’s Vodka (or vodka of your choice)
1 Fresh Red Bell Pepper (seeded and sliced)
1 Fresh Jalapeño Pepper (seeded and sliced)
Whole Peeled Garlic Cloves (approximately 5 per liter of vodka)
Whole Black Peppercorns (1-2 per liter of vodka)
Funnel and cheesecloth for later use

Combine all of the above ingredients in a jar. Seal and place in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours. Ingredients may be left longer if desired, but this is not necessary. I recommend keeping the original liquor bottle for returning the infused vodka to later. After 48 hours, remove the infusion from the refrigerator. Double up cheesecloth over the funnel and place funnel inside the Tito’s vodka bottle. Strain infusion into the original bottle, throwing out the peppers, garlic and such. Place infused vodka in the refrigerator or freezer for storage. Do not keep infused vodka at room temperature as it may mold.

Bloody Mary Recipe

2 oz Tito’s Bloody Mary Infused Vodka
½ Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
6-8 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
4-6 Dashes Tabasco Sauce

2-3 Dashes Peychaud's Bitters
3 Dashes Celery Salt
2 Dashes White Pepper
2 Dashes Garlic Powder
2 Dashes Onion Powder
Clamato Juice

Coarse salt for rimming

Begin with a large Collins glass. Slide half of the fresh lime around the rim of the Collins glass. Dip the limed rim into a saucer of coarse salt. Fill the glass 2/3 with ice. Season the ice with the peppers, salts and powders first, the Worcestershire,Tabasco and Peychaud's next, and then the squeeze of lime. Shake the bottle of infused vodka before using as it has a tendency to settle at the bottom. Lastly, top off your drink with Clamato juice. Clamato is thinner in consistency than either tomato or V8, making for a smoother textured drink.

Garnishing is the key and there is so much more than the mere celery stick. I like to use a skewer of queen sized jalapeño stuffed olives in addition to the celery stick to stir with. A pickle spear does quite nicely as well. A few cocktail shrimps speared and dunked go rather nicely with this drink. Go wild! As I said, the Bloody Mary is not just a drink. It is an event, a meal even. If you can find a spicy course salt for the rim garnish that would give this drink extra punch as well.

Tito’s is a handmade vodka crafted in an old fashioned pot still by Texas’ first and oldest distillery. It is distilled six times, making for an incredibly clean finish. If you would like more information about Tito’s vodka go to
www.titos-vodka.com

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Simply Perfect Margarita

Last night I went to a favorite Mexican restaurant for one of my favorite meals and decided on one of their classic top shelf margaritas to go with it. The margarita was a watered down, bitter disappointment. If it had tequila in it, it was a surprise to me. If it had the Cointreau in it, it was a surprise to me. Mostly it had watery ice inside and drippy green salt around the edges getting everywhere. This goes to show that just because a restaurant can make fabulous food, they cannot always make fabulous drinks. My conclusion was to go there to order the food and be sated, but the margaritas, not so much. Which is why I’m going to share what I think is a simple, yet fabulous margarita. This isn’t my recipe by the way, so I cannot take credit. It was shared with me by a friend, but the originator is unknown to me, so I cannot give credit either. For that I apologize.

Patron happens to be my favorite tequila for making margaritas. It is on the pricier side, but well worth the expense. Something distinctive about Patron is the bottle. Each bottle is handmade and individually numbered making it collectible. Patron is not for slamming back shots. It is for savoring. For a margarita I prefer to use Patron Reposado at 80 proof. It is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of six months and has a bit more flavor and spice to it than the Patron Silver. Patron is also 100% agave. That is extremely important to look for when searching for a premium tequila. Of course, you will have your tequila of preference when making a margarita, but always be sure it is 100% agave. Accept no substitutions.

The next important thing to look for that may be more difficult to find is agave nectar. Agave nectar is pressed from the heart of the agave plant. It is then reduced or heated to create a syrup. The agave nectar is thick such as honey only much sweeter. The advantage of using the agave for margaritas is it is of the same agave plant as the tequila so it marries to the tequila within the drink making for a well rounded drink. I have found this product locally at my Whole Foods retailer. If you don’t have one near you, try Google. There are many sites that carry it. Just make sure you purchase the light agave nectar instead of the darker agave nectar.

Fresh limes, ice and salt are all you need to complete the margarita. Sounds like we’re missing Gran Marnier or Cointreau doesn’t it? Not in this simple recipe.

Simply Perfect Margarita

2 oz Patron Reposado Tequila
1 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
½ oz Agave Nectar
Lime Wedge
Margarita Salt

Cut lime in half. Juice one half of lime into cocktail shaker. Cut other half into wedges. Slide a lime wedge around the outside rim of the margarita glass. Dip the glass rim into a saucer of margarita salt making sure the salt remains on the outside of the glass only. Set aside. Measure the Patron and agave nectar into the cocktail shaker with the lime juice. Shake to thoroughly combine ingredients. Place ice into salt rimmed margarita glass. Strain contents of shaker into margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy!

For more information about Patron, have a look at their website at
www.patronspirits.com

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pomegranate Possibilities

Pomegranate has increasingly become one of the more trendy cocktail flavors going as of late. It seems every other bar on the corner has a pomegranate cocktail, “martini” or margarita on their specialty menu. It used to be that lemon and orange were the only flavored vodkas on the market. Now there are cherry, raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate and just the other day I saw a kiwi. This opens the door to so many possibilities when it comes to wonderful concoctions in cocktails.

With such emphasis on pomegranate I began playing around with PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur to come up with a twist on an old favorite. Pairing with the PAMA liqueur, I have used Three Olives Vodkas. Three Olives has a rather nice selection of flavored vodkas; twelve in fact. Although I have not tried them all, I have tried a few and the flavors stand up well with the vodka. Three Olives Vodkas are quadruple-distilled and quadruple-filtered making for a very smooth finish on this English import. To find out more about Three Olives, look them up on the web at www.threeolives.com.

So, what can we do with a twist on an old favorite? How about the ever popular Cosmopolitan? It made a come back during the 90’s with Sex in the City. But that isn’t where it had its start. Its history is somewhat unclear with credit being taken by a bartender from South Florida in the middle 80’s who claimed to create the Cosmo for those drinkers who wanted to look cool holding a martini glass while drinking, but didn’t care for the martini drink. Next in line for taking credit is a bartender out of Manhattan who shook things up a bit in the cocktail shaker in the later 80’s which is something closer to what the Cosmo is today. A slightly different version to this shortened tale is that the Cosmo actually had its birth in 1975 by an entirely different hand behind the bar in Minneapolis. That’s what happens with some cocktails. There are so many twists to the tale that the history becomes a bit muddled.

Now for my twist on the Cosmo…

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

2 oz Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka
1 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
½ oz Cointreau
Juice from ½ of a fresh lime
Lime twist for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker 1/3 full of ice. Add vodka, liqueurs, and lime juice. Shake until well chilled. This takes approximately ten to fifteen seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime twist.

If you are interested in sugared rimmers, Stirrings makes a variety of flavorful rimmers for your favorite cocktails. At last count they had twenty-one different flavors, two of which are pomegranate and cosmopolitan, either of which would go great with the above cocktail. Check them out at www.stirrings.com.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Measuring the White Russian

Stepping into an unknown bar to order a drink is a little like playing Russian roulette. Each bartender is as different as the bar they work in. Each bottle of liquor is as individual as the label. No two vodkas are the same. No two liqueurs are the same. Each double old fashioned glass gets filled to a different level with ice each time. Some bartenders free pour, some don’t. Some jiggers measure in an ounce, some measure in an ounce and a quarter. That being said, it stands to reason that it would be pretty difficult to order a drink at one bar and then go to another and expect to order the same drink and get the exact same taste. Or is it?

When I first started bartending I was taught that faster is better. One of the first things my boss told me was where the liquor pour line was on all of the glasses. He said we didn’t use a jigger, because it took too much time. He was only right in that it takes a few seconds longer to use a jigger, but faster is not always better. Faster does not make a better drink. Faster usually means an out of balance drink that can never be duplicated from one glass to the next no matter how hard a bartender tries. That isn’t to say it cannot be done. There are professionals out there that can do it from one drink to the next, but it is rare.

Part of bartending is an exact science and some is not. A martini for example may vary ever so slightly in how much vermouth is shaken out of the iced martini glass. The size of the olive, onion or lemon twist can change the outcome of the martini in the tiniest of increments depending on its size and how much juice has still remained on it before it is put into the martini. Those are the variables of bartending.

The mechanics of bartending is basic measurement.

I do a lot of experimenting with old style cocktail recipes, homemade mixes, and fresh squeezed juices. When I go out to a bar, I am usually disappointed with the run of the mill bottled mixes and the same old “martini” style cocktail choices on the menus. So, I usually end up ordering a drink I think no bartender can possibly mess up, because it is simple measurement; the White Russian.

The White Russian is a simple drink consisting of equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur, and half and half built in a double old fashioned glass. This drink has been served to me in a collins glass filled with 2% milk, in a rocks glass with 2% milk, in a rocks glass half full of ice topped off with unmeasured half and half, in a rocks glass with heavy cream, and once I swear with gin instead of vodka. What really gets me is the not measuring of the half and half (and the incorrect ingredients of course.) I see liquor being measured carfully in some cases and then bartenders winging it when it comes to topping off drinks with the amenities whether it be the half and half, grenadine, or juices. All of those things need to be measured. In the case of the White Russian, if the glass is only half filled with ice and the vodka and coffee liqueur are measured, that still leaves room for almost two measures of half and half in the glass if a bartender chooses to free pour. That makes for a watered down drink. It makes me an unhappy camper and will make your customers or guests dissatisfied if they know what a well made White Russian is supposed to taste like as well. This goes for any drink. Measure it correctly and you will get the same perfectly made drink every time.

Now for the ease of making the White Russian…

White Russian

1.25 oz Smirnoff Vodka
1.25 oz Kahlua Especial
1.25 oz Half & Half

Fill a double old fashioned glass within a half inch of the rim with cracked ice. Measure each ingredient into the glass in the order in which given. Stir with a cocktail stirrer and enjoy. Some choose to garnish with a maraschino cherry. My preference is to go without.

If you are a Kahlua user, try the Kahlua Especial at 70 proof at only a couple of dollars more than the original Kahlua at 53 proof. The Kahlua Especial has a deeper, richer coffee flavor to it than the original. All vodkas are not created equal nor should the same vodka be used for every kind of drink. For this particular drink, Smirnoff is my vodka of choice. It has a smooth, clean taste that stands up to the Kahlua without getting lost.

Now a really great twist to this particular drink is to change up the liquors and try something really fabulous. If you are a tequila drinker this is really great stuff. The spice of the Patron adds some real dimension to this drink.

1.25 oz Patron Reposado (80 proof)
1.25 oz Patron XO Café (70 proof)
1.25 oz Half & Half

Fill a double old fashioned glass within a half inch of the rim with cracked ice. Measure each ingredient into the glass in the order in which given. Stir with a cocktail stirrer and enjoy. Definitely no maraschino cherry garnish on this one.