Question of the day: What in God’s name is making these men smile?
Pictured is a bunch of men pouring out huge bottles of bootleg spirits into the gutter in 1931. Awful as bathtub gin was during Prohibition, the glee at so much hooch going down the drain seems… strange.
They are smiling so much because they already poured the gin into another tank. I’m guessing this is water they are pouring out.
That makes a certain amount of sense. Even today, you can’t capture smells in a picture.
Shake for 45 seconds…!
Muddled cucumber…? “No vermouth necessary.”?!?!
Tangential. At. Best.
Yes, I’m talkin’ to you, Bob. It might be a fine drink, whatever it is, but show some respect in the future. I don’t want to hear you taking the name of the Gospel of Gin in vain again.
(Thanks to @Teekeemon for his alertly twigging me to this cultural travesty.)
It’s pronounced “ka-roon“. Caorunn is a new gin from that hot bed of white liquor production… Scotland? Produced at the Balmenach whisky distillery in the Speyside region, Caorunn is a small-batch gin with a uniquely Scottish character, a gorgeous bottle, and fascinating flavors. Given the nature of this blog and my own significantly Scot heritage, I am compelled at this point to ask Mike Myers for his opinion on Scottish gin:
Caorunn does not distill its base grain neutral spirit at Balmenach, since pot-distilled barley is not exactly a great base for gin. The Scot element comes from the water (of course) and the unique blend of botanicals, including five unusual ones which they identify as “Celtic botanicals“. Heather, Dandelion, and Bog Myrtle all are sharply evocative of Highland landscapes. Coul Blush Apples are an early 19th century hybrid, recently rediscovered. The final element is Rowan Berry, which the maker describes as “the very soul of Caorunn.” Rowan berries are traditionally used in a variety of Celtic herbal medicines, and seen as a powerful source of mystical good fortune. Also, they are popular eating and commonly used to make or flavor brandies, though I’ve never seen such here in the US.
The traditional botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica, cassia, and lemon and orange peels.
The infusion of the alcohol into gin is what is performed at Balmenach and is performed in the above pictured 1920′s made copper berry chamber. The botanicals are spread out on the wide trays you see, then the chamber is filled with the alcohol vapor over a long period to infuse them into the gin. This contraption was originally designed for extracting essential oils used in the manufacture of perfume. It is a pretty uncommon device for distilling gin.
The spirit resulting from these unique as the processes and ingredients is pretty special in its own right. Caorunn is bright and very clean in flavor, and has for me the rather odd effect of smelling lightly sweet while tasting fairly dry. The apple in particular seems evident in the nose and less so in the mouth. It is certainly no Tanqueray, but I think it is closer in character to a London Dry than it is to the hard to define “New American” gins.
I like this gin. A lot. But it is not a gin you can deploy indiscriminately in all cocktails. Its real strength is in combination with other herbal flavors. To that end it is a simply magnificent Martini gin. It is difficult to describe why this gin goes so very, very well with vermouth, but it does. I don’t go with the whole olive thing, so I cannot attest to how things will go if you like to dirty up the waters. On their extensive and beautifully illustrated recipe page, they recommend garnishing a martini with a slice of apple, which I have not tried, but will next time I get my hands on some really good ones.
I’m into my second bottle of Caorunn, largely because it’s about the only thing I’m making Martinis with any more. When I find a particular brand that seems perfect in a particular drink I make regularly, I tend to just dedicate it to that particular purpose. But of course, as with all gins I had to try Caorunn in the Greatest Cocktail Ever Mixed™. I actually tried this first, and it almost made me give up on Caorunn from the start. I think the product has a Kryptonite, and it is indeed green: The Lime. There is some chemical interaction happening between the two that triggers a very slight but notable acridity in the mix. If you peruse the brand’s recipe page, you won’t see lime listed at all in the excellent Search by Ingredient feature.
So, no Pegus, no Rickeys, no lime with your Caorunn. It seems to go quite nicely with other citruses, however, and some whose taste I trust say it works particularly well with grapefruit. Rather than get frustrated with this weirdness, I just chalk it up to the marvelous opportunity for experimentation cocktails offer.
Caorunn is not yet available all over the US, so I am happy indeed that Ohio is among the first states where it is distributed. I’m guessing that it will be appearing in lots more markets before too long, so if it isn’t in your local store right now, keep looking. In the meantime, it is available from several online retailers such as DrinkupNY.
This one is an absolute classic Tiki drink. It has an awesome name, which was stolen by Trader Vic for a variant on his Mai Tai. It has all sorts of varients, such as the Dying Bastard and the Dead Bastard. It is not in fact a rum drink, which makes it stand out. It has a very distinctive, unusual, and exotic taste. And it is one of those drinks that is once again accessible to normal drink mixers because of the sudden plethora of good ginger beers that you see in mainstream grocery markets these days.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. Rose’s Lime
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
4 oz. ginger beer
Shake all except the ginger beer with large ice. Add the ginger beer and pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass, or better yet, a Suffering Bastard Tiki mug. Garnish with orange and mint.
Plenty of folks in the non-Tiki Cocktailosphere have covered this one before me. Matt Hamlin notes its similarity to but greater complexity than the more widely known counterpart, The Dark ‘n Stormy. Interestingly, while the Dark ‘n Stormy is in fact made with rum, it’s not generally thought of as a Tiki drink! Both, of course, are Bucks….
The Dead and Dying variations are billed as hangover cures, and SeanMike, back in his LiveJournal days, offered his own caffine-laden version, the Wake Up and Suffer, You Bastard.
Among the awesomeness that surrounds this drink is the array of Suffering Bastard-themed Tiki mugs out there. The iconic one is Trader Vic’s, even though these would not have been served containing a real Suffering Bastard. These are quite collectible, selling for over $100 on eBay in the last few months.
My favorite of the bunch is MunkTiki’s Wannabe Bastard offering. This little guy almost makes a hangover sound fun. Almost.
It, like most of the really cook Bastard mugs out there, is also expensive, which is why you see a snifter used in my own photograph above.
For a completely sober and serious take on the nature and construction of the Suffering Bastard, I leave you with the classic first episode (that’s worth a damn) of TikiBarTV:
Today is the 14th of Tiki Month, I mean February, so I thought I’d look for a Valentine’s Tiki drink to give a whirl. Over at my new February lurking grounds, Tiki Central, I ran across this little offering, The Pink Wink.
THE PINK WINK
3 parts London Dry gin
1 part dry vermouth
1 part Cointreau
1 part coconut rum
Grenadine should be approximately 1 tsp per ounce in a part. Stir lovingly with ice until well chilled. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with pomegranate arils at the bottom of the glass, and drizzle more grenadine into the drink to settle among the arils.
I took a few liberties with WoofMutt’s recipe. First, I replaced his cherry garnish with the pomegranate arils because I think they are more Tiki-like, and more importantly so that whomever you offer them to will be yours forever!
Second, I guess the grenadine used in the original is the artificially colored stuff, because my natural grenadine made no impact on the color of this drink in the called for amount. I doubled it, and also drizzled a bit more to settle into the bottom of the glass among the pomegranate arils.
The result is an odd duck, but exotic. Contrary to the poster’s original comments, I don’t see this one wining over any gin-o-phobes. And and the frou-frou drink crowd won’t get it either. But if you are looking for a Tikified Martini, with some pleasant Valentine’s Day symbolism, the Pink Wink may be your destination.
Just a quick note for all my readers outside of the State of Ohio. Gin from Watershed Distillery, which I had previously reviewed in glowing terms here, is now available via mail-order. I’ve gone through a lot of this stuff since my first bottle, and if you like New American style gins, the very light, citrusy Gin from Watershed (not to be confused with Watershed Gin) is worth a try.
One of my Twitter buddies, Aaron, who blogs at The Gin is In (@TheGinIsIn) has done a couple of posts in the last day or so on the Pegu. His first post is part of his Cocktails by Consensus series, where he looks at older cocktails whose recipes have become… scattered with time as different people tweak them. He looks at Pegu recipes from various sources, including such world-famous cocktail writers as Dave Wondrich and, um, me.
Come on, player….
I didn’t say I was very world famous. Or world-respected. Or even regionally respected…
And those aren’t your recipes. The main one is Paul Harrington’s, and the egg white version is how Peter Dorelli made it for you.
Or even respected on my own blog, apparently.
Anyway, Aaron brings up some salient points that are good to keep in mind when working on your Pegus. The most important is that it is very important not to overdo the orange liqueur, whether it be Curaçao, Cointreau, or (shudder) triple sec. Read his post for a full rundown of where different “experts” are on the drink, and how their positions alter the flavor. His post also reminds me that I need to update the main recipe page here to discuss the use of orange bitters.
The second Pegu post, done as a followup, is a tasting of the drink with Oxley Dry Gin. I haven’t tried that one myself, but it has an old-school, juniper-forward formulation. Aaron is (obviously) a gin guy to begin with, and he enjoys the shading the Oxley gives. He also discusses various orange bitters possibilities, and provides the video I embedded above. As always, read the post for yourself. It is short and on point.
I haven’t done much with heavy juniper gins, at least in Pegus, for a while, but I’ll hearken back to my post on another rather on the nose gin, Broker’s. When I wrote that, my own love for gin was still in its infancy, and I didn’t particularly like what Broker’s did in a Pegu. I like it rather more now. That’s not important, but what we can learn from it is. Pegus are lovely cocktails with both juniper-forward London Drys, and more citrusy New Americans, but while the basic flavor remains largely the same with either type of gin, the character changes dramatically. A big, old-school London Dry style of gin makes for a much more assertive, manly drink. It’s bracing and stimulative. Lighter gin Pegus are a bit gentler.
I have long contended that Pegus, along with Aviations, are great cocktails to use when worming gin into the repertoire of the avowed non-gin drinker. In the case of both drinks, though, it is well to keep in mind that you should stick with the lighter products when you are ginvangelizing.