One of the latest things which has taken the world by storm, or at least my corner of it, is taking the decidedly fanatically,
obsessive Joe-like approach to food and extrapolating it into the cocktail sphere.
The first guilty party to go up against the wall, in matters of food or beverage, is The Artificial Ingredient. So, in pondering the ideal Manhattan cocktail for Speakeasy Month, I was stymied by the fact the cocktail cherry is a concentrated repository of multisyllabic chemical evilosity. Of late, there have been some places where cherries not aswim in an ocean of something-hyde and something else-zoate are available, but at prices which betray their purveyors' wide-eyed innocence regarding purchasing power during The Great Recession.
This leaves me no alternative but to pursue the DIY approach, as I am simply not going to pony up $22.99 for a mere 8oz. Especially when I know the ingredients contained therein add up to a princely $3 at very most.
Before you start to bemoan the effort required to make your own cocktail cherries know this – setting aside the time required for cooling -- a batch takes but a mere 10 minutes.
There are, of course, eleventy gazillion different cocktail cherry recipes, but a good starter cherry recipe is this one:
6 lbs dark, sweet cherries
¾ c sugar
¼ c fresh, strained lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ c cherry brandy or liqueur. For this go-around we have Cherry Heering, but the next time it could be Kirchwasser. (You can use brandy, bourbon, pisco, rum, rye, grappa, vodka...etc.)
Put sugar, water, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice and cherries. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from burner, fish out the cinnamon sticks, and stir in the liqueur/liquor.
The smart thing to do is to pit the cherries, but I chose to keep the pits for a more complex flavor...and because I couldn't be bothered in my zeal. Next time, I will enlist someone whom I have offsprung to man the pitter. I also chose basic supermarket sweet (NOT SOUR) cherries.
These cherries are amazing.
You will need to make extra, because you will ingest half of them warm right from the stove. These will definitely migrate into your supply of vanilla ice cream, and banana splits will suddenly begin to materialize in your life. The ensuing cherry liqueur is also spectacular. Mind you, bereft of chemical escort, the cherries will eventually turn dark at +/-2 weeks, and they hit their peak of color/flavor excellentness at the 1 week mark.
Try this, I totally exhort you.
Posted by JMG at 4:30 PM
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Bora Bora Punch
Staying on the track of Doug's Tiki Month vibe, I bring you yet another tinkering.
Bora Bora Punch
¾ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz cinnamon syrup
½ oz 2:1 sugar syrup (Demerara sugar is a nice variation)
½ oz Demerara rum (El Dorado 5 or 8)
1½ oz aged Haitian rum (Barbancourt 8 or 15)
Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake furiously. Pour into a chimney glass, top with more crushed ice to fill.
Posted by JMG at 4:35 PM
Monday, February 20, 2017
[I'll tweak this later with links and pictures, but first I wanted to get this here, under the wire.]
For the MxMo swan song, and sort of riffing on Tiki Month, I give you:
St. Brendan the Navigator
1½ ounces Irish whiskey
½ ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
½ ounce Cointreau
½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ ounce orgeat
1 dash Angostura bitters
A lime twist for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or a coupe if you you are wired like Doug.
Posted by JMG at 11:57 PM
Friday, February 17, 2017
One thing I am notoriously a fan of, is a bargain. I'd rather have the 2nd best if it offered 95% of the quality of the very best for 5% of the price. I like things that punch WAY above their weight.
So -- and I'll be brief here -- I have two suggestions in the liquor cabinet department.
First, rumwise. One of the very trendiest things are the various types of rhum agricole from Martinique or Guadaloupe. These are French territory and get the coveted AOC designation. These rums' favor spectrum runs to, um, a funk. They are distilled from fresh cane juice and, therefore, are grassy and earthy. Sometimes oppressively so.
A FORMER French territory also produces such rums (but can't legally use the rhum agricole descriptor) and I speak of Haiti.
The blanc is an in-all-but-designation rhum agricole. It has that earthy/grassy/funky thing going on but not in an off-putting way as some of its separated Gallic brethren. Oh, and if you're unfortunate enough to have to pay full-on MSRP you're looking at ma-a-a-a-aybe $17. There is no better choice for a 'Ti Punch, period.
The other choice (borne of a Twitter exchange with the estimable Doug, whose Tiki Month is an interweb staple, and which is the genesis of this post) is my go-to bourbon when I have to get bourbonic with the masses. Say, if you're having a Derby party for 8392 of your beloved's closest friends and their enormous hats.
This steal, pals, is Old Forester.
Not any fancy-pants super-duper single-shotglass version. Plain old, Old F.
It goes for +/-$30...for -- get this -- a handle*. If you need to crank out a ton of bourbon based drinks for people with decent (but not exasperating) tastebuds, who will appreciate the good stuff but not necessarily the rarefied stuff...this is your choice.
*1.75L to you civilians.
Posted by JMG at 9:59 AM
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
...my travel guide to Philadelphia.
Posted by JMG at 11:30 PM