How to make a White Russian. Um, I am compelled to note that she doesn’t measure her portions…. What kind of mixologist is she?
Oh… that kind!
How to make a White Russian. Um, I am compelled to note that she doesn’t measure her portions…. What kind of mixologist is she?
Oh… that kind!
While I have a cocktail shaking machine already, I never use it. It is nowhere near awesome enough to overcome the fact that using it is more work you save.
But this baby, I’d use. I’d have to build an extension to my back bar, but it would be totally worth it.
Incidentally, if you haven’t clicked the video, it is actually a lot better shaker than it looks. When you shake, just bouncing the shaker straight up and down doesn’t do a very good job and if you are doing it by hand makes you look like a colleague of Conan’s bear. On initial inspection, it looks like this shaker just goes up and down, but it is much more elegant and stylish than that.
All it needs is a quick-release and insertion mechanism and you could build a steampunk-themed classic cocktail bar around it. People would come.
It is Mixology Monday again, the sixty-fourth such extravaganza to take over the interwebz. I am hosting said blog carnival once again. It has been Tiki Month all month here at the Pegu Blog, and the theme for this month’s MxMo is…. Tiki!!!
Purely a coincidence.
Be sure to come back in about 24 hours or so to check out the round up of all the participants this time out. Now, let us move on to my own offering.
I’ve concentrated this month on drinks that have awesome names, but I’ve saved this one for MxMo. The name Missionary’s Downfall is almost perfectly evocative of all that is Tiki. It’s colorful. It’s kinda pagan. It’s a little dark and mysterious. And it is kinda suggestive of sex, though not of the Guilt-Free variety. It’s a name impossible to forget.
But while there are a number of Tiki drinks with memorable names, not all are great drinks. This one is fabulous, however. The exact proportions of this recipe are all over the map, depending on where you find it. This is how I make it, adapted from the Tiki+ app. (Interestingly, the Bum’s recipe that is in Grog Log, is significantly different, even though Tiki+ lists that book as the source.)
Combine in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a large cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of young mint, planted upright in the center.
Combine in a small sauce pan and bring just to a boil. Cool and bottle for future use.
Make more of this than you think need for just this drink. Honey mix is versatile stuff!
Most other Missionary’s Downfall recipes call for peach brandy. I use apricot because my apricot brandy is much higher quality than my peach, and because I prefer how it works in this cocktail.
You’ll notice that the Missionary’s Downfall is much lower in alcohol than many Tiki drinks. Interestingly, it doesn’t taste particularly mild. What it does taste like is delicious. The drink does extremely well what good Tiki does best—offer a wide array of soft and exotic flavors that don’t trample each other, letting each come to the fore sometime throughout each sip. (Bad Tiki, incidentally, does the opposite.)
But because this drink does such a good job of balancing the flavors and making each apparent, you really need to not shortcut any of them. Make sure your juices are fresh. Use good mint.
Most importantly, don’t substitute other sweeteners for the honey mix. Similarly, don’t try to just use pure honey and try to blend it in. It won’t cooperate. If you try, you will end up with a layer of sticky goo trapping some of your mint leaves on the bottom of your blender below the blades, and not enough honey flavor and texture in your cocktail.
Garbage in, garbage out with this drink. But good stuff in, ambrosia out, in my opinion. It is light, delicious, and goes down easy.
I’ll leave you with the following as background music for the rest of your Mixology Monday: Tiki reading pleasure. It’s a song called Missionary’s Downfall by a band called Planet Smashers. They are supposedly classified as a “Third Wave Ska” band, whatever that is. To me, they sound like an upbeat early 80′s New Wave outfit, singing about Tiki drinks. Here’s the lyrics. Here’s a link to the album, Mighty, on iTunes. and here’s the YouTube video, embedded for your listening pleasure:
Midcentury exotica didn’t just cater to suburban fantasies of work-free islands and guilt-free sex. There was also the call of adventure, epitomized by these classic “dangerous” drinks: if the sharks didn’t eat you, the cannibals would.
—Beachbum Berry Beachbum Berry Remixed, Pg. 86
There is quite a bit going on in that quote. Expect to see it several times this Tiki Month.
I want to kick off Tiki Month with a pleasant little cocktail with a scary name, the Sidewinder’s Fang. Berry’s words, and the Sidewinder’s characteristics bring to mind other scary things, like rollercoasters.
Everybody likes scary stuff, but while some of us like to really be scared, others just like the idea of being scared. As the Bum notes, the Tiki oeuvre is replete with scary names and images, designed to make you almost fear the drink. Some cocktails, like the Zombie and the Hurricane are as devastating as their monikers imply, others not so much.
The Sidewinder’s Fang is such a drink.
Combine all but soda water with ice and shake. Pour unstrained into scariest looking vessel you have. Top with soda water to taste and stir. Garnish as the Tiki gods inspire you.
In a glass, this guy looks pretty much like a washed-out Screwdriver. The taste, assuming you use good juice and syrups, is surprisingly complex and bright. As you can see, it isn’t all that scary, if you know the ingredients. But for a culture built around the deceptive power of the Zombie… And the Sidewinder’s Fang tastes like it might be one of those roll of quarters in a sock-type drinks.
You may think, since it is so relatively weak already, you can omit the soda water. Don’t. Without the soda, the juices totally overwhelm the drink and none of the rum comes through. Undiluted, it tastes too sweet, and you might just as well use have used cheap well rum instead of the interesting stuff. That said, I think 3 parts of soda water may be too much, so use your own judgement as you mix.
Regardless, this drink is an easy and delicious mix to serve to guests as an evening extender. It maintains an existing buzz without advancing it too much. And if you use big ice cubes (which you should, if available) it is a drink you can drink fairly slowly without it losing its appeal.
And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2012 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!
Forget bottled water. To survive Irene, you are going to need Passionfruit Syrup!
Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour into the eponymous glass. Add more ice to top. Serves one.
Enjoy before the power goes out and the ice all melts.
There are a host of things I love about cocktails, but there are two that pertain to this post. First, you can sometimes make the tiniest change to a recipe and have a whole new drink with a different character. And second, after the fun of creating something new, you can have a lot more fun coming up with a name for said creation.
Last night, I was perusing my copy of Paul Harrington’s Cocktail, looking for any likely looking drinks therein that I had not yet tried. The Nikki Finn caught my eye: a mix of cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, with a splash of Absinthe to give the right element of danger to a drink with a name reminiscent of a far more dangerous tipple. I liked the name, and the drink seemed promising. But I was not in the mood for absinthe, and my wife never is.
So I cast around a bit, and my eyes fell upon the bottle of Tobasco that I keep on the bar for my ongoing Bloody Mary experimentations. After a bit of tweaking, here’s what I came up with:
Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a long twist of lemon.
It’s really good. While spicy, the heat is nice, not overwhelming. It cleanses the palate but doesn’t hang around to burn. There is just enough sweet to make it appetizing, and while you can make out the cognac fairly well, the spiciness just about eliminates any alcoholic burn entirely.
Overall, I’m very pleased with it.
Now, if it’s a good enough drink to make again (and again), it needs a good name. I believe that an enduring drink name should be fun, lyrical, and evocative of its flavor profile. And some of the most famous are named after famous people or characters. The absinthe gives the Nikki Finn the appropriately poisonous vibe, but this drink, while still possessing the dangerous vibe, is much more friendly and spicy….
For me the name came easy: The Nikki Heat. Who’s she? Here:
Spicy enough for you, but not dangerous? How about this?
That is Stana Katic, who plays police detective Nikki Heat on the TV show Castle. Well, actually she plays police detective Kate Beckett on Castle. Character Detective Beckett is the inspiration for character Rick Castle (a novelist)’s new lead character in his mystery novels, named Nikki Heat. The show is the most Meta thing ever produced for network TV. It is so meta that the novels mentioned in the show actually exist. You can buy Heat Wave and Naked Heat on Amazon. They are actually damn good books, by the way.
You can even see both “Nikki Heat” and Kate Beckett in the same promo for the show here:
And also, as you see, a good name for this little drink.
It think it’d be a great drink for Castle to feature at the bar he just bought, the Old Haunt in Manhattan. In fact I think he was soliciting cocktail ideas on Twitter a while back. Yes, Rick Castle has a real Twitter feed. Not Jameson Rook, the fake character in the real books who is based on Rick Castle himself, but the real Rick Castle who is a fake character on the real TV show. My guess is that they drink a lot in the writers’ room on this show.
If they did make mention of the Nikki Heat, they ought to serve it using this cognac:
How’s that for a bottle?
It is Landy Désir. I just bought a bottle in Texas because I buy every bottle of liquor that comes with a little hat. And even if it didn’t have the hat, I’d have bought it for my wife since she’s a seamstress and a bottle that is an actual dress form (the dress can come off, and the are even others so you can change the clothes apparently) is an obvious gift.
I haven’t opened it yet, and judging from the fact that there are no actual reviews of it anywhere on the web, I’m guessing most people just think it is too darn gorgeous to open. Rumor it is is quite good, so I’ll open mine soon and perhaps be the first to report.
Although my focus on September 19th this year will be on renaming it International Drink Like a Pirate Day, for most folks it will be about the talking thing. And even for us pirate drinkers, it is important to get the voice down just so. So my post today is intended to get you all ready to, well, talk like a pirate.
I want to start with the basics of pirate talk, The Five A’s. This first video is from the leaders of the ITLaPD movement, Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, the Pirate Guys.
These five words, Ahoy!, Avast!, Aye!, Aye-aye!, and Arrrr!, must include the exclamation point when written, in case you were wondering.
For a more advanced and modern method of learning pirate, the good folks at Rosetta Stone are working on a new product, but I’m afraid it may not yet be available commercially. Perhaps the Navy has bought all available copies for use in the Indian Ocean. At any rate, take a good look:
TalkLikeaPirate.com has much more advanced information for your piratin’ usage, including Pirate Pickup Lines (“Have ye ever met a man with a real yardarm?”), German, Swedish, and Mandarin pirate talk, and even a link to Internet Pirate Chat Acronyms (WWLJSPD-What would Long John Silver’s parrot do?).
In the interests of trying to add something original to the ITLaPD phenomenon, I here offer several lists of suggested pirate talk while pirate drinking.
For pirates in bars:
For pirate lassies in bars:
And finally, for the tavern keeper, or his serving wenches:
There’s much more video assistance with general pirate talk, but in the interests of not slowing down my main page load, I’ll jam it under the fold. Otherwise, be sure to be steerin’ yer way back to these waters on September 19th its own self. There’ll be lots of recipes to whet yer pirate whistle!
While I’m on my iPhone kick, I have one more cocktail app that deserves a featured mention, Cocktails Made Easy. It has nestled in my iPhone beside Flip ‘N Drink and 101 Cocktails. Together they make up the three essential cocktail apps for me. Each app performs a slightly different function, and each is the top of the field in their respective specialty. Flip ‘N Drink is the current overall best large drink database. (My review of it is here.) And 101 Cocktails is a very useful swift access to recipes for the most select group of drinks that there are to be made. (My review of it is here.) Flip ‘N Drink will give you a recipe for most drinks worth making. 101 Cocktails will give you a recipe for the drinks most worth making. Cocktails Made Easy will give you recipes for drinks you can make… right now. (My review of it is what you are reading.) Each of these apps has its own set of features, including the killer one that defines it as best in its bunch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you about my about-to-end contest asking readers for the best currently unavailable feature they’d like to see in an iPhone cocktail app. Click over and put in your two cents!
The function which defines Cocktails made easy is located on the following page within the app, the Cabinet:
This little picture of an idealized bar shelf (my three cabinets are a bit more crowded, for instance) shows 14 important spirits, as well as a somewhat out of place button for
non-alcoholic drinks. It’s function is somewhat different from the others. The idea is to highlight each ingredient that your bar currently sports. The app then filters the main database, which currently sports 530 cocktails, into a second data set (My Bar) which shows only those drinks you could make with the spirits you have on hand. It’s simple, elegant, and attractive.
The app has some limitations, like all do, but it is very good at what it does.
The 530 drinks in the database are a good sampling, but like any compromise on size it will be big enough to make going slow for some, and will omit drinks important to others. For instance, there is no Pegu in this app!
Wow! No Pegu, and you
still keep it on your phone?
It’s a serious functional limitation, I agree.
The bigger issue with the Cabinet is this: Any cocktailian, especially a serious cocktailian, will have nearly every spirit on the shelf in stock. If you give the app your true inventory, you’ll just have an app with a far smaller database than Flip ‘N Drink. The casual, entry level, or very focused drinker will not have this problem. This is less of a problem than I make out, however. Changing what’s in the Cabinet is easy. Just select only the ingredients that interest you at the time, and you’ll get a manageable, useful list of things to give a go. The non-alcoholic button on the cabinet should only be highlighted by itself, as it does not identify the fact that you have non-alcoholic ingredients available. If you list non-alcoholic in your cabinet, it just adds the 27 virgin cocktails to your custom data set. Some kind of toggle function with this button would be helpful.
What would be more helpful is a second cabinet (fridge?) page detailing the big daddies of non-spiritous ingredients. There is a gorgeous listing of these ingredients already in the app, but they are non-interactive pages in the documentation tab. I hope that this means Fizz, the developer, had this in mind, and just ran out of time or money to get it in the first version. Time will tell. For the serious drink mixer, filtering by whether you have fresh grapefruit juice, or cinnamon syrup, or egg whites on hand would be more valuable than knowing if you have vodka, gin, whiskey, or rum.
The photos in Cocktails Made Easy are gorgeous (as seems to be becoming the norm with the better apps), but a little sterile. There must be a vast armada of cocktail photographers out there all of a sudden to be producing so many drink pix.
The rest of the information on each drink’s page is well laid-out and has some neat functionality. There is an email button that lets you send a text version of the recipe. The ingredient list has a checkbox option I use to keep track of which ingredients I’ve added as I go. Anytime you make a drink with several fruits to squeeze, and your child is tapping your hip demanding a Shirley Temple, you run the risk of adding the gin twice and ending the evening early! There is also a comments field with text that is user editable. This, to put it bluntly, rocks.
There are two other quibbles I have with this nifty little app. The search is not a live search, not does the number of drinks in the narrowed list change as you add or remove ingredients from your Cabinet. This slows down use. And cocktails starting with the word
The are alphabetized as starting with T. This makes my English Major teeth itch uncontrollably.
All in all, Cocktails Made Easy is a very useful drink app. If you are only going to buy one app, you should consider it. Depending on what you want to do, it may well be your choice. If you are going to buy several to play with, it should definitely be part of your final list.
Update: Welcome Village Voice readers! While you are here, please take a look around at my other offerings, or you can check out my other iPhone cocktail posts below.
Here’s a list of the other posts here about Apple iPhone software:
A while back, I reviewed Artisanal Cocktails, by Scott Beattie, with photographer Sara Remington. Not everyone liked the book as much as I did, but I have yet to read anyone who was less than in love with the Sara’s cocktail photography. As a result, I’ve communicated with her a bit, and pestered her with a bunch of questions about photographing drinks, and she has been more than generous with her time in responding to my questions.
Since this is Tiki Month, and one of the cool things about Tiki drinks are how elaborate they look, I thought this would be a good time to share her thoughts about how to photograph cocktails. Hopefully, if you like taking pictures of your drinks, or anything else for that matter, you can find some useful words here.
If you want to find out more about Sara, or see more pictures than those I’ve borrowed to illustrate this piece, you can visit her professional website. You can also see some other work on her blog. Besides Artisanal Cocktails, you can also see her work in the chocolate chapter of Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. Two books forthcoming this year are Rustic Fruit Desserts and The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook.
It’s a long article, so I’ll tuck the Q&A under the fold. (more…)
Life, on occasion, sucks. And when fate revs up the Hoover, a drink has been known to ease the situation, or at least the recovery. But what is the best choice in a cocktail to help you get over your
friend Dudley giving your date a ride home? And what prescription is best after leaving your big presentation, only to discover a giant booger, slowly drying prominently on your tie?
These are the sorts of questions asked by Kerry Colburn (author of the doubtless dry and scholarly text, The U.S. of EH?: How Canada Secretly Controls the United States), in her new book, Good Drinks for Bad Days.
Good Drinks for Bad Days is a collection of 56 of the crappiest little deals life flings at people. And 56 cocktail remedies, each chosen to thematically soothe its matching wound. The problems are mostly tailored for the young, single professional, so many of them will not connect for a guy like me. Depending on the problem, this left me alternately nostalgic and relieved.
Good Drinks for Bad Days is a pocket-sized hardcover, just the right size to fit in the drawer of a small bar at home. The design is gray and white, with spartan text and red graphics representing the type of cocktail being advised. Among the criteria I personally consider when considering a cocktail book, it has some hits and misses. First, there are no sumptuous photographs of the cocktails, which in this book is not a serious failing. I also look for snappy quotes as sidebars that help illustrate the point being discussed and give me grist to appear wittier in conversation than I really am. These would have really have added something to this volume. And there is no Pegu recipe! Grrr. Of course, the magnificent Pegu is a cure-all, and the book would have been a bit of a bore had every problem had the same prescription…..
The recipes are virtually all standards. A I’ll get into below, this is one of this books virtues, but for the middle-aged cocktail fanatic with 30 books already on the bar shelf, Good Drinks for Bad Days is a light read, not a need.
But I still recommend a purchase, either to the twenty-something it is written for, or the old fart (like me) to buy as a gift. The strongest reason, beyond Good Drinks for Bad Days’s basic readability, is those recipes. Read them, and the cocktailian will soon see that Ms. Colburn (or perhaps her husband) knows their way around a real cocktail. A merciful few use Vodka, and the book comletely eschews such red flag shortcuts as sour mix or even Rose’s. There are lots of calls for fresh lemon and lime juices. In short, the book’s premise is fun, but its mixology is serious.
With a genuinely useful index, convenient size, and real cocktail recipes (the Red Bull and Vodka excepted), this is a very nice little starter recipe book that will stay useful to the budding cocktailian long after he or she finishes reading it for the ha ha. And if you, the old, hopeful mentor, have a young friend or relative who needs saving from the viscous cycle of beer and wine (and Jager Bombs), this is a good gift to get them pointed in the right direction.