Measure & Stir

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


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Matcha Grandmother’s Toddy

If the name is confusing, say it out loud, like “Not ya Grandmother’s Toddy”. The joke isn’t funny if you explain it. I know. The hour is late so I’m going to make this a quick one.

matchatoddy2

James had the idea to have a small tea party, in which all of our drinks would contain tea. I was greatly enthused by the idea, and we set about brainstorming some different ideas. In the brainstorming phase I thought, “this ingredient is going to be a snap!” But it turns out that tea is very subtle, and there are many opportunities for the drink to go horribly wrong.

For our first drink we wanted to get some green tea in a glass with some hogo. The problem is that brewed tea has a very light flavor, and a tea syrup made in the usual way has a similarly light flavor. There was no way it was going to stand up to a high proof spirit! So the first thing I tried was brewing six cups of green tea, and then reducing it to roughly 2 cups. Making the reduction caused the tea to oxidize, and it lost both its green color and its grassy flavor.

In fact, it started to taste like a black tea, but not like a good one. So we dumped that. Fortunately, I had some matcha powder in my cabinet, and we were able to find a solution that was both flavorful and colorful.

If you want to get the flavor of green tea in a drink, matcha is your best friend. A brief green tea infusion in vodka, pisco, or gin is another way, but I think matcha delivers the boldest and truest flavor of green tea. It is very bitter, however, and not in a delicious fernet kind of way.

matchatoddy1

Matcha Grandmother’s Toddy
1.5 oz Cachaça (Pitú)
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano
3 oz boiling water
1/4 tsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp white sugar
In a mixing glass, combine matcha, sugar, and boiling water. Stir vigorously. Add spirits and pour into a warmed irish coffee mug. Top with a matcha whipped cream*, lime twist, grated lime zest, and skewered blueberries.

We ended up using cachaça instead of J. Wray, for it has a similar flavor, but it is not quite so pungent and overpowering. This is one of my favorite drinks to date, both in taste and appearance. I loved the sulfurous, vegetal funk of the cachaça against the grassy, floral tea, along with the bitter notes from the cocchi on the backend.

The presentation was inspired by this Orange Pisco Hot Chocolate from Serious Eats. By the way, here’s how to make matcha whipped cream:

Matcha Whipped Cream
.5 L Heavy Cream
1 tsp matcha powder
sugar to taste
Combine all in an iSi whipped cream dispenser, pressurize, and shake.

Bottoms up!


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Blue Beetle #2

I haven’t made this drink in a long time, and at the time, I was still learning a lot about mixing drinks. Indeed, it was nearly two years ago that I first tried this muddled blueberry drink named after a DC Comics character. And astute readers will notice a serious error in the production of this drink, and also that I used a cocktail glass as a mixing glass. Those were primitive times.

The Blue Beetle is a perfect drink for a Saturday afternoon, or even a Sunday morning. It is light, fruity, floral, and sweet. The botanical flavor of gin complements and the earthy sweetness of fresh blueberries make an excellent combination. I used Tanqueray 10 here, but in retrospect I think the added sweetness from an Old Tom gin would probably be excellent.

I started with .75 oz. of fresh lemon juice. Always remember, your drink is no better than the worst thing that you mix into it. If you use a cheap, pasteurized sour mix, you are the Taco Bell of bartending. As a matter of fact, nothing will work for a proper drink except for freshly squeezed lemon juice. The flavor of lemon juice immediately begins to degrade once it has been squeezed, and within a few hours it will have lost all of its delicate floral tones.

I highly suggest a citrus squeezer if you intend to juice limes or lemons in any quantity. I haven’t actually tried the Chef’n one that I linked to, but the company that made them was in the same building as my old office, and the attachable filter looks very convenient. Cleaning the standard kind, such as the one depicted above, can be a bit of a nuisance.

What gives this drink it’s distinct quality is that it starts with a blueberry cordial. Anyone can make a blueberry cordial, it takes nothing more than simple syrup and blueberries. I smashed about 18 blueberries in half an ounce of simple syrup with a muddler, but you could pulverize them in the syrup any way you like. After you have made the mixture, strain it through a fine mesh strainer. You wouldn’t want any big pieces of blueberry pulp in your drink.

I have made this drink a couple of times since, and I have found that the flavor of blueberries can vary substantially, even among ripe blueberries. Some blueberries can be quite a bit sweeter, and some can be more on the tart side. That’s why it’s important to taste your cordial before you integrate it into the drink, and after you incorporate it with the lemon juice. If you don’t find the right balance between sweet and sour, you will need to make adjustments in the amount of syrup vs. lemon. Add ingredients a dash at a time, and try not to change the overall ratio of spirits : modifiers.

This tea-strainer was not perfect, but it worked. Agitating the mixture with a barspoon will help you work it through the strainer.

Ah, the indiscretions of youth! I failed to double-strain this drink, meaning I surely left small pieces of ice floating in the drink. This is always undesirable, and the sign of a lazy (or very busy) bartender. They don’t completely ruin the drink, but they produce a distracting texture, and should be avoided. Similarly, drinks which contain fresh citrus may have some pulp in them, which is delicious in the morning, but it detracts from the elegance of a pre- or post-prandial libation.

Drop a few blueberries in for a garnish. The color of this drink was spectacular.

Blue Beetle

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz lemon juice

.5 oz simple syrup

handful of muddled blueberries.

Make the blueberry cordial by smashing the blueberries in the simple syrup, and strain. Shake all of the ingredients over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.

Looking back I found the original recipe that I followed, and it turns out I didn’t even do it right. At The Pegu Blog he made the drink with less lemon and with two dashes of grapefruit bitters. I think grapefruit bitters sound excellent in this drink, and I will make sure to try it that way in the future. I’m not sold that it’s necessary, as bitters can often muddy the flavor of citrus, even when they are citrus bitters.