Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


Rob Roy in Seattle

It took us a long time to get around to reviewing Rob Roy, but it’s one of my favorite bars in Seattle, both for the ambiance and the quality of drinks. These are people who take their ice very seriously; a good sign. If you order an old fashioned, they carve a big piece of clear, beautiful ice using big knives and kevlar gloves. The spectacle alone makes the order worth it.

They have a subset of their menu online, but here are some pictures, anyway:

As you can see, they have a creative and thoughtful menu. Any time I see a menu with a turmeric syrup drink, or a vinegar drink, I know I am in the right place. David Wondrich rated Rob Roy as one of the best bars in America in 2012, and the article has a great shot of the interior. The large copper still by the bar perfectly conveys Rob Roy’s values.

On the evening of my most recent visit, I ordered the Saffron Sandalwood Sour, below:

sandalwood sour

I was impressed with this drink. It is not often that one has the opportunity to enjoy potable sandalwood. The sherbet gave the drink an appealing, slushy texture. I had assumed that they used sandalwood oil, but now that I look at the drink, I think they simply grated some on top. I promise that was not nutmeg. If I heard that someone grated wood on top of my drink, I might be a bit skeptical, but the texture was not impacted in negative way.

My friend Dave visited Rob Roy with me, and he ordered the Gunpowder Punch:

The gunpowder punch is primarily a gin and lemon-grapefruit affair, a flavor which comes from oleo saccharum. It has a spicy, slightly acrid finish from the gunpowder. One does not want to consume very much gunpowder, I imagine, but I honestly would not mind if the flavor were stronger.

Despite their supreme excellence, I feel like Seattlites don’t regard Rob Roy as highly as some of the newer craft bars, and that’s a real shame. They sit in Belltown, quietly brilliant, thoroughly excellent. If you’re in the neighborhood, give them a shot.


That’s no Moon!

Quick note: Don’t forget, this Monday, the 19th, is the roundup for MxMo LXVII: Garnish Grandiloquence. Please get have your submission ready by this Sunday night.

Today’s gastrophysics pairing is twofold; first, honey and cooked Parmesan, and second, strawberry and Parmesan. As with the Pineapple Under the Sea, the cheese here is entirely in the garnish, and the idea is that the aroma of the cheese should interact with the flavors in the drink. Parmesan is not quite as fragrant as blue cheese, unfortunately, so the effect was not as high-impact.

This drink may have been too ambitious. The name comes from the fact that the Parmesan wafer is intended to look like a full moon. Unfortunately, the wafer broke as we were extracting it from the vessel in which we made it. It is very easy to burn your Parmesan wafer, and it took us several tries in the oven before we got it mostly right. It is very important that you use parchment paper instead of wax paper when making these. Our process was to grate the Parmesan onto a sheet of parchment paper in a glass casserole dish and bake it in the oven at 350 for around 7 – 10 minutes. If you take it out when its golden brown, there is a high chance that you burned it slightly.

But Joseph, isn’t the garnish here golden brown? Hush, my child. In an earlier iteration of this drink, we had tried dizzling the wafer with balsamic vinegar, but (predictably), the aroma of the vinegar completely overpowered the cheese and ruined the aromatic effect of the garnish. As for the drink itself, it’s tasty enough, but a little one-dimensional. I wanted to make sure that the honey and strawberry were at the forefront of the drink, in order to emphasize the unusual flavor combination.

I was trying out a new sweet vermouth, the offering from Dolin, for this drink, and it just does not have the punch that I am used to in Carpano Antica or Punt e Mes. The unchallenging combination of strawberry, honey, and Brandy cries out for a very robust vermouth, whereas the Dolin is on the lighter side. For the honey flavor, we used Bärenjäger , which despite the copy of the Wikipedia entry, is surprisingly bitter for a honey liqueur. I enjoy this bitterness, and I would like it if someone would make a substantially more bitter version.

That’s No Moon!
1 oz Brandy (Cognac Salignac)
1 oz Fresh Strawberry Juice
.75 oz Honey Liqueur (Bärenjäger)
.25 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Parmesan wafer, drizzled in honey.

The quality of Parmesan that matches honey and strawberry is its nuttiness. It almost reminded me of honey nut cheerios. I suggest rimming half of the glass with a little honey to serve as “glue”, and then using it to fix the Parmesan wafer to the glass. That way, the imbiber can drink while smelling the cheese without the risk of the garnish falling off. We did this, and it worked very well. As usual, aromatic bitters are the salt of the cocktail world, greatly needed to impart depth and completeness to the drink.

I swear, soon we’ll make some drinks that are normal… but not too normal.