Measure & Stir

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


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Grapefruit, Vanilla, Rum, Cinnamon

I was mixing drinks at my friend James’ house last Sunday, and I suddenly had to improvise a drink for some ladies. I knew they did not want to drink turmeric and J. Wray, and I had already served them an aromatic drink of gin and plum wine, so the next round needed to be based on citrus. On this occasion, I had already stripped the peel from two grapefruits (a portent of drinks to come!), and I did not want to waste their juice.

Cinnamon and citrus is a match made in heaven, and lately I’ve been on a real cinnamon kick. I love the fragrance of it when its used as a garnish, and I love its spiciness and its depth. Cinnamon sticks are a must-have ingredient in your home bar; they are useful for infusions, garnishes, and syrups. In a pinch, you can use one to impale a citrus wheel, making an excellent addition to a tiki drink. It’s important to break the cinnamon apart before using it. Doing so releases its oil and its aroma.

Having settled on cinnamon and grapefruit (in Tiki terms, a blend called “Don’s Mix”), aged rum was an obvious choice. Honey syrup would have turned made this a sort of Rum Brown Derby, but James’ honey syrup had run out, so Monin vanilla took its place. Overall I was very pleased with this drink, and I think you will be, too. You don’t have to use Monin vanilla syrup. In fact, I encourage you to make your own:

Vanilla-Cinnamon Syrup
Two vanilla beans, split length-wise with a knife
Three Cinnamon sticks, preferably Canela
1.5 cups sugar
1.25 cups water

Simmer the syrup on the stove for fifteen minutes, and then allow to cool. Place the steeped spices in the vessel with the syrup, and add an ounce of vodka (or everclear) as a preservative.

Cinnamon Rum Derby
1.5 oz Aged Rum (Pusser’s)
1 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice,
.5 oz Vanilla Syrup (Monin)
2 Cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

If you make Cinnamon-Vanilla syrup, you can omit the cinnamon sticks in the shaker. I was surprised how excellent this was, in fact, as I usually don’t love grapefruit juice. Don the Beachcomber knew what he was doing.


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Mango Rum Punch

“Wait!” I hear you saying. What happened to the week of highball drinks? I confess, a punch is not exactly a high ball, but we just so happened to serve it in the style of a highball, so I must ask you to indulge me. My friend James and I had scheduled a beach party, or what passes for one in Washington, and we wanted to make sure the party popped, and the only way to do that was with a seasonally appropriate punch. I knew I wanted to use an oleo saccharum as the base, and I knew that I wanted to incorporate rum and wine, but I did not have an exact recipe. I googled around, and I considered this Philadelphia Fish House Punch from Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and this Chatham Artillery Punch from Doug, but I ended up just doing my own thing.

I did take some advice from Putney Farm regarding the ratio of spirits to wine, however, and chose to use three bottles of rum and three bottles of wine, but with a small twist. I wanted to infuse mangoes into the punch, so I did not want to use a sparkling wine, as the carbonation would all seep out over night. On the other hand, I wanted a touch of carbonation in the final product. James and I decided to compromise, using two bottles of Pinot Grigio for the infusion, and reserving a bottle of Prosecco to be used for topping off the punch at serving time. This worked very well, except we ran out of Prosecco about half way through the punch.

I conclude that we should have had two bottles of Prosecco. Alas.

Mango Rum Punch
1.5 Liters of Aged Rum (Mount Gay)
750 ml White Rum (Bacardi)
1.5 Liters Pinot Grigio
5 Large Mangoes, peeled cut into chunks
Peel from 10 Oranges
1.5 Cups Super-Fine Sugar

When Serving:
2 Cups Fresh Lime Juice
1.5 Liters Chilled Prosecco

Make oleo saccharum by saturating and muddling the orange peels with the sugar. Allow it to sit for two hours, stirring and muddling occasionally. Add the rum and the Pinot Grigio to the oleo saccharum, along with the mango chunks. Cover and allow to sit overnight.
At serving time, juice the limes into the punch. Fill cups with ice and add 1-2 oz of Prosecco, then fill with punch.

The best thing about punch is that it allows you to fill the cups of all your guests without sacrificing your ability to interact with them socially. Normally I am very adamant about avoiding ambiguity when “topping” a drink with something sparkling, but it was a beach day, and it wasn’t worth stressing over. Ideally, you want just enough to add a bit of effervescence. The punch weighs more than the Prosecco, so you should pour it into the cup before the punch, in order to facilitate good mixing.

The oleo saccharum lends a fragrant, unctuous richness to the entire drink, similar to the oils in a cup of well-made French pressed coffee. Usually the fruit that is used for infusing completely gives up the ghost, and there is no reason to eat it, but in this case, due to the short infusing time, and possibly the density of the mango, we all found the pieces of punch-soaked fruit to be delicious. When you serve the punch, consider ladling one or two pieces of the fruit into each cup. Even the orange peels didn’t taste bad, but they weren’t great, either.


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Angostura 1919 Rum and Clement Creole Shrub Review

I had the good fortune to pick up a bottle of Angostura 1919 rum and a bottle of Clement Creole Shrub from the new Total Wine that opened up in Bellevue. The 20% + 3.77/liter surcharge on hard liquor in WA state is probably worth it considering that we now have Total Wine and soon, Bevmo. It does raise the price on the bottle of Angostura rum from thirty-six dollars to forty-eight, and that burns, but it’s better than not being able to buy Angostura rum at all. There’s still nowhere to buy Smith and Cross, except maybe the obscenely overpriced Wine and Spirits World in Wallingford.

No one outside of Seattle really cares about that, though. On to the reviews!

Angostura 1919 Rum

According to the manufacturer, this rum is blended from rums that are aged a minimum of eight years in bourbon casks. I definitely could notice a bourbon quality in the nose, which is full of vanilla, and as I take a sip, I am greeted immediately by honey, which then gives way to tobacco. The strongest flavor in this rum, by far, is the flavor of fresh tobacco, which permeates the swallow and lingers on the finish. It’s very smooth, and distinctively flavored. It might be a bit simple for some palates, but I greatly enjoy when an aged spirit captures one or two flavors very well, as I think you would agree this rum does with the flavor of tobacco.

I do not smoke cigars, but if I did, I think this rum would be a perfect accompaniment. If you can get it for thirty-six dollars, it’s a pretty fair price, but fifty is a little much. Angostura 1919 is not the first rum I’d buy for my bar, and it’s not the second, but it very well might be the third. (After Smith and Cross or Wray and Nephew, and Zacapa 23) It’s great on ice or in an old fashioned cocktail, but as with most high-end rums, mixing it into a more complicated drink is probably a waste. If you want to go the aromatic route, I suggest mixing it with dry Amontillado sherry and a dash of Angostura bitters, of course.

Clement Creole Shrubb

 This orange liqueur received extremely good reviews, and I was very eager to try it. Clement Creole Shrubb is the only curaçao liqueur I know that uses Rhum Agricole as the base, as opposed to brandy or a neutral spirit. It’s very similar to Gran Marnier, and it’s probably not worth keeping both in your bar unless you are a very serious curaçao enthusiast, but it’s certainly worth keeping one or the other. I think this liqueur is extremely suited to tiki drinks or any rum-based concoction, because it already has a lot of rum notes from its base spirit. If you sip it neat, it greets you with a very bright orange oil flavor with a sugarcane backend and a little bit of pepper. I like it perhaps a bit more than Gran Marnier for mixing, but not quite as much for sipping neat. It makes a killer Sidecar,  Mai Tai, or Daisy, that’s for sure. High quality Curaçao is a must have for your home bar, and this is light years ahead of Gran Gala, which is only fit for removing grease stains from my driveway.

Fancy Old-Fashioned Rum Cocktail
1.5 oz Aged Rum (Angostura 1919)
.25 oz Curaçao
1 Dash Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Stir over gently over ice and pour over one large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel.

I wanted to experience both of these spirits simultaneously, and of course, they were highly complementary to each other, so I made a fancy Old Fashioned. When using a liqueur such as Maraschino or Curaçao in place of simple syrup it becomes “fancy”, and it should be called as such. When making this substitution in drinks with a large volume of syrup (more than .5 oz), it is generally better to use .5 oz of the liqueur, and simple syrup for the rest, lest you overpower the other flavors in the drink.