Category - Recipes

1
Negroni Week is Half Over! What Are You Waiting For?
2
New Tiki Drink: The Tiki Tree Viper by Rated-R Cocktails
3
National Margarita Day in Tiki Month: The Margarita Atoll
4
Mixology Monday LXXXII: Sours — The Regal Daiquiri

Negroni Week is Half Over! What Are You Waiting For?

Negroni Week: A Drink for Your Cause
Negroni Week is half over already. Have you had your Negroni today?

Sponsored by Campari, Negroni Week is one of the better organized and widespread bartend-for-charity events I’ve seen so far. Participating bars will donate one dollar for every Negroni (or Negroni variant) you drink this week to the charity of that bar’s choice. For a listing of bars near you, and the charities each is supporting, visit Negroni Week’s list of nearly 1,300 worldwide. Don’t worry, there’s a geographical filter. I’m proud to say that Central Ohio has almost twenty places to get your Negroni on for charity.

A good many people, including a lot of fairly avid cocktail drinkers, don’t really know just what the hell a Negroni is. In fact, the bar world seems to be split into two distinct camps, What the Heck is a Negroni? and How Can You Not Know the Negroni? Let’s see if I can flip a few of you, dear readers, from Column A to B.

The Negroni is one of the big magilla early Twentieth Century cocktails. Invented at the request of Italian Count Camillo Negroni by Fosco Scarselli, it is a classic three-ingredient drink, and it is as easy to make as it is challenging to drink. Here’s the recipe:
Classic Negroni

NEGRONI

  • 1 part London Dry Gin (Choose a classic, juniper-forward brand)
  • 1 part Italian Vermouth
  • 1 part Campari

Combine ingredients (typically one ounce per serving) in a mixing glass with ice and stir well until completely chilled. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with large, fresh ice. Garnish with your most elegant orange peel presentation.

I say the Negroni is challenging to drink because it is when you are not used to it. Some of the bittering agents in Campari are unique, at least to my palate, and I find it a difficult ingredient to work with, as opposed to many other amari. Plenty of other people just love Camapri to death, so your mileage will vary. In the past, I found the classic recipe above to be hard to enjoy.

Bitter and stirred types, please be aware that Doug is a Bitter Wimp!

I am not a bitter wimp! Um… but I do tend to prefer drinks where the bittering is there to enhance the other flavors, rather than being the dominant player. In the Negroni, the Campari is the primary spirit, with the gin and vermouth as modifiers.

Curio Negroni Week Kickoff Party
But do not give up on the Negroni, fellow not-bitter wimps. The great value of Negroni Week for me has been how it has opened up my eyes to the world of Negroni variants. I started off with a visit to Columbus’s premier craft bar, Curio, for a pre-Negroni Week kickoff. There they debuted their Negroni Week menu of five Negronis.

I will mention two of them in particular; both of which were delicious, and both of which would make a fine entry point into the Negroni arena.
Beet Negroni, inspired by the mad scientists at Curio at Harvest
The first is a Beet Negroni, with fresh beet-infused vermouth. I found, after first experimenting with them as a joke in other concoctions, that beets are really a pretty interesting cocktail ingredient. In the case of this cocktail, the earthiness mellows out the impact of the bitterness nicely, but it also damps down the clarity of the gin a bit.
Sparkling Negroni, from the wizards at Curio at Harvest
The second one that I particularly liked (I tried them all), was the Sparkling Negroni, which is merely the classic recipe with an added 2/3 part sparkling wine, served in a champagne flute rather than over the rocks. This is an excellent drink all by itself, and an excellent way to temper your palate in preparation for the classic Negroni. It sweetens the profile of the drink without tipping it over, yet still leaves the rest of the flavors clear and distinct and in their original harmony.

The rest of this week is a great time for you to visit your nearby serious cocktail joint discover the Negroni. Many have their own variants for you to try if you feel a little hesitant about diving into the big, bold, bitter original. But make sure you try at least on of the original before your experiments are done. I’ve found the classic version of the Negroni to be a heckuva lot of fun. With the right gin, and a good sweet vermouth like Antica, it is a marvelously balanced, refreshingly bright aperitif. It is still bitter as hell, but with only a little acclimation of your taste buds it becomes readily apparent why this is one of The Classics.

New Tiki Drink: The Tiki Tree Viper by Rated-R Cocktails

Tiki Tree Viper Cocktail from Rated-R Cocktails
The Tiki Tree Viper is one of those newly-invented cocktails you get to see all the time when you read cocktail blogs. Usually, they stick in your mind because of a gorgeous picture, or funky name, or maybe an ingredient that you just haven’t done much with. Most of the time the drink, should you find the time to make one yourself, ends up being fairly “eh”. But sometimes, it ends up being a real find.

JFL, of Rated-R Cocktails, invented the TTV, and posted it just days before Tiki Month began. I had been looking for recipes to blog about, and this one was well-timed. It is a riff on the popular Chartreuse Swizzle, as Tiki/Classic Crossover a cocktail as you will find.

Here is my recipe for it. The brands are a bit altered from the original, and I make one critical change in amount, all of which I detail below.

TIKI TREE VIPER

  • 1 1/2 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Hart 151
  • 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • 1/4 oz. Bols Blue Curaçao
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat

Combine ingredients with cracked or small ice and shake to combine. Serve in appropriate Tiki vessel and garnish with dry ice and lavish produce.

The biggest change I make is to back the Chartreuse back from three-quarters in JFL’s to half an ounce. At the full three-quarters, I think the Chartreuse starts to bully the other ingredients. At a half, you still by God know it is in the drink, but is stays part of the larger ensemble. I think the suggested mint as garnish is also a bit over the top, too. (And I garnish everything with mint in February.) The cocktail doesn’t need more competing herbal notes.
Tiki Tree Viper by Rated-R Cocktails
Finally, a sliver of dry ice in the bottom gives it the appropriate atmospherics. This is a very mysterious, darkest New Guinea kind of Tiki drink. I have also saved it for the homestretch of Tiki Month because it has been so very popular with my friends. Incidentally, they all independently drop the work “Tiki” from the name, just asking for a Tree Viper. When I ask, they mostly say they don’t know what a “Tiki Tree” is. The glasses have, with the exception of one guy whose evening was ending and hadn’t expected the potency, come back uniformly empty. I use Tiki Month get togethers as an opportunity to use my guests as lab rats for new drinks, and the Tree Viper has had this year’s best results in both attracting orders, and in well-received results.

National Margarita Day in Tiki Month: The Margarita Atoll

Margarita Atoll-A Tiki Margarita
Today is National Margarita Day.


Since just about every day is National {Put name of liquor/cocktail/food/something else that hires PR people here} Day, I usually ignore these momentous occasions on the blog. But every once in a while, circumstances come together to demand a post. This is that point in the current while.

I have been happily perusing the results of this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted at Ginhound. The theme is Sours, and like yours truly, many of the participants chose to set their offerings in the very Sour-friendly arena of Tiki drinks. Another entrant is Bartending Notes’ simple and elegant post on the Margarita (the Gospel of Tequila). Despite a kind shout-out to this humble repository, the Margarita Ceccotti presents is a fairly straightforward, if a touch sweet for my preference, version. Not a Tiki drink, really.

But then you look at the picture used:

marg
It’s BLUE.

Two things here:

  1. I don’t know how this azure concoction arose from the recipe in the post
  2. Doug’s Rule of Tiki #4 is: If it is blue and has citrus in it, but mostly just if it is blue, it is a Tiki drink.

So today’s Tiki Month project was to construct a truly Tiki Margarita.

The right recipe was pretty easily obtained. I simply used my standard Margarita recipe, substituted Bols Blue Curaçao for half the Cointreau to obtain the wanted color of Tahitian coral shallows, then backed off the tequila slightly and added a whisper of honey syrup for the sweeter, more undefined Tiki flavor profile.

MARGARITA ATOLL

  • 1 1/4 oz. good silver tequila
  • strong 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz. Bols Blue Curaçao
  • 1/4 oz honey mix

Combine in shaker with ice and agitate until frigid. Strain into a cocktail coupe rimmed as below.

Since I’m trying to emphasize the Tiki-ness of this drink, I wanted a garnish somewhat beyond a simple lime wedge, even a nicely tattooed one. I also do not like to rim my Margaritas with salt. If you use good tequila, I’ve always maintained that the salt rim just wipes out the character of the spirit. But others continue to be wrong disagree. So I chose to split the difference by caving on the second problem to solve the first here.

I hauled out my black Hawaiian salt (a great origin for a Tiki drink, yes?). You have to crush this further, since the gravel size it usually comes it is to big and heavy to rim with. I just use a muddler on a plate, but if you have a mortar and pestle you are better off. You don’t want to powder the salt, just break it down a little so it can stick.
Black Hawaiian Salt
I then, both to allow an anti-salt guy like me a way to not taste the salt and for garnish purposes, rubbed the outside of the rim with a lime wedge, but only in patches, before rolling the outside of the glass in the crushed black salt. The result is a nifty look, reminiscent of the ring of volcanic islands of a south Pacific Atoll, surrounding the light blue waters of the sunken caldera.
Margarita-Atoll-Rim
The drink’s not half bad either.

Mixology Monday LXXXII: Sours — The Regal Daiquiri

The Regal Daiquiri, a Tiki drink for MxMmo: Sours
It is time for Mixology Monday, the eighty-second edition! This month’s theme, hosted by Andrea at the Ginhound Blog, is Sours. She’s allowing Daisies and Fizzes too, but come on—The Sour is perhaps the single greatest, most versatile class of cocktails to be created to date. If I, whose entire blogging raison d’etre is centered on a certain lone, magnificent, gin Sour, were unable to summon a worthy example and resorted to a Daisy or Fizz, I’d just close the site.

I think we are all obligated to give our take on just what a Sour is, so here is mine: At it’s root, a Sour is a spirit-forward cocktail, enhanced by lesser amounts of citrus juice and sugar. It can be made with almost any class of liquor as the base, though there are specific brands from almost every kind of spirit that lend themselves better or worse to making a Sour. There are multitudinous ways to enhance the basic formula, with alternates for both the citrus as acidifier, and the sugar as a sweetener. Further, Sours are inclusive beasts, that welcome all manner of additional modifiers to the basic three ingredient party. If you are a home bartender, the Sour should be your first and best area of experimentation to begin creating your own original cocktails.

MxMo-Tiki-ThumbTo focus my task further, it is Tiki Month around here, so I had a good road map to use for my sour, and an obvious spirit to base it on: Rum.

Now, if you are making a bedrock rum Sour, and you use lime as your citrus, you have a Daiquiri. I call the Daiquiri the Gospel of Rum because it is the essential rum cocktail. If you have so much as a bottle of Bacardi, you need to know how to make a basic Daiquiri. And then you need to learn how to riff off of it.

I went searching for Tiki Daiquiris, and found a number. One I had not tried was Donn Beach’s Royal Daiquiri. Dating back to the 1950’s, it is a basic Daiquiri, with most of the sugar replaced with parfait d’amour. I don’t have any parfait d’amour, but I do have a bottle of Creme Yvette that I’ve been struggling to find a good use for. I am really motivated to manage this, as one of my best buds in the industry is a brand ambassador for CY. With a simple substitution, here was my first pass:

DON’S ROYAL DAIQUIRI

  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette (parfait d’amour in the original)
  • 1/4 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz. silver rum
  • 4 oz. small ice

Combine in a blender and flash blend for 5+ seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass.

More on the preparation in a moment. The resulting drink is beautiful and tasty, but a little too sweet for our preferences around this house. It is very accessible, almost too accessible really for my tastes. You could serve this in any mainstream restaurant and the Cosmo drinkers would slug them down like, um, Cosmos. I wanted something a little more Tiki, more complex in flavors. Also, something a little less sweet.

I got rid of the sugar entirely, as the Creme Yvette is plenty sweet. It is also very powerful in flavor. I did not want to reduce the amount, since I loved the color so much, so I cast about for one more exotic multiplier. I settled on OYO Honey Vanilla Vodka, which I’ve had success with in prior Tiki Months. This is, in my opinion, the best product Middle West Spirits produces, and I treat it more as a fine liqueur than an infused vodka. This pops up the proof of the drink, and adds some sweet flavors while actually dropping the overall average sweetness just a hair.

The result is something I’m quite happy with.

REGAL DAIQUIRI

  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Creme Yvette
  • 1/2 oz. OYO Honey Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. silver rum
  • 4 oz. small ice

Combine in a blender and flash blend for 5-7 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime and perhaps a preserved hyacinth flower.

This preparation was new to me, and I like it… a lot. You get the benefits of a blender drink, excellent dilution, chill, and meshing of ingredients, but without the slurry of fine chipped ice that makes the drink loud to sip at first, and quickly diluted thereafter.

I know the OYO is not readily available everywhere (the Creme Yvette for that matter), but it is in distribution to some mail order joints, so look around. It is good stuff.

So there you have it, a simple, easy to make cocktail with a Tiki flair. and one that demonstrated the power and flexibility of the Sour. Enjoy.

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