Measure & Stir

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


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Bad Girl Concoction

Long time readers will recall that I have used gastrique as an ingredient before. And indeed, there is only so much you can do with gastrique. It is a bold, full-spectrum flavor that easily overwhelms other ingredients. It needs very little modification to taste complete. I had a shrub-based drink at Canon in Seattle, and I’m not exactly sure how it was formulated, but it inspired me to revisit vinegar drinks. I used a similar gastrique recipe as before, but this time I used strawberry puree instead of smashed blueberries. I fortified the caramel, apple cider vinegar, and strawberry sauce with a little balsamic vinegar for complexity.

I tried mixing it as a sour, using lemon juice, but I found the flavor to be a little one-dimensional. As luck would have it, I had a bottle of cocchi americano that was just slightly past its prime. Vermouth acquires a bit of a vinegar tang when it has been open for too long, but since I was already using a vinegar ingredient, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. It turns out, slightly off vermouth goes very well with gastrique.

badgirlconcoction

Bad Girl Concoction
1.5 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
.75 oz Cocchi Americano
.5 oz Strawberry Balsamic Gastrique
Eye dropper of cardamom bitters*
Hard shake over ice and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with a smacked mint sprig.

Making bitters at home is pretty easy. If you have a bittering agent such as gentian or angelica root, you can steep 1 teaspoon of gentian root in a high-proof, neutral grain spirit for about 20 minutes to form a bitter base, which can then be infused at your leisure with other flavors.

Cardamom Bitters
4 oz Everclear 151
1 Tsp Gentian Root
1 Tbsp Crushed Cardamom
2 oz sugar
2 oz water
Peel of one large orange

  1. Wrap the reagents in a cheese cloth or other porous wrapper and steep them in the everclear for half an hour.
  2. Strain the reagents into 2 oz of water and simmer them in a small pot with the sugar, until the flavors are fully extracted and integrated.
  3. Combine the syrup with the infusion of everclear and dispense with an eyedropper.

This drink is named after a line from Busta Rhymes’ hymn to the female posterior, #Twerkit. The flavor of this drink leads with cardamom and strawberry, with a base note of bourbon and a finish from the vinegar and vermouth. I hope you find it to be refreshing.


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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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little white lie: ya pear, cocchi americano, benedictine

A trip to the Chinese market yielded up all kinds of treasures, not least among them a pair of Ya Pears, a pear cultivar grown in Northern China. Its peel is almost white, and it has a light, floral flavor on top of the more usual pear notes.

We juiced one towards the end of our most recent mixing session, and I did not have a strong idea of what to do with it. I remembered that pear goes well with white wine, so I haphazardly mixed up equal parts of the ya pear juice with cocchi americano. It was a surprisingly good ratio; the light flavor of the pear had room to breathe.

little white lie

Little White Lie
1.5 oz Finely Strained Ya Pear Juice
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano
.5 oz Benedictine
Shake over ice and double-strain into an old fashioned glass.
Cut a pear to fit perfectly in the old fashioned glass, and chill it in the freezer. Drop it into the glass.

The floral aroma from the Ya pear was surprisingly potent, giving the drink a much more fragrant nose than I had anticipated. It served to highlight the distinctiveness of this particular cultivar of a pear; an unexpected slam dunk.

In the recipe above, I wrote .5 oz of Benedictine, though when I made this drink at game-time we used .25 oz. I really liked the hint of cinnamon and brandy from the Benedictine, both of which go well with the pear, but they were too subtle, so I increased the amount for the final version.

Cheers!


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Pineapple Under the Sea: Gin, Kefir, Pineapple, and Blue Cheese

Throughout the week we’ve been using the power of science to pair together two ingredients which at first may sound unusual when combined, but are in fact delicious together. Today’s flavor combo is pineapple and blue cheese.

Pineapple Under the Sea
1.5 oz Gin
.75 oz Kefir
.75 oz Pineapple juice
.75 oz Cocchi Americano

Shake it over ice and strain it into a cocktail goblet. Garnish the drink with skewered blue cheese.

OK so admittedly the blue cheese is the garnish, but this drink simply would not be the same without it. Besides, c’mon. Drinking blue cheese is just nasty. Trust us, we tried it.

The amazing thing about this drink is that it comes as a two part experience. The garnish plays a crucial role as you discover while raising the glass to sip the drink, and your nose is filled with the aroma of blue cheese. As you sip, your mouth is greeted by mellowed pineapple, and the two sensations combine to create an intriguing taste, which is the first half of this drink.

Blue cheese and pineapple taste great together because they both contain a chemical called methyl hexanoate, which we detect using our mouth and nose, and which you would describe as “fruitiness”, “sweetness”, and “freshness”. Of course, blue cheese also has its own funk, but strangely, it fits in with the other flavors nicely. The kefir gives the drink a slightly higher-than-usual viscosity, and is slightly sour itself, which perhaps creates an artificial sensation of blue cheese in your mouth.

The second half is experienced as you set the glass down and swallow the drink. The absence of the blue cheese’s aroma allows room for your palate to appreciate the tangy yet sweet mellowness of the kefir and the pineapple. Gin always pairs nicely with pineapple. Cocchi Americano lends the drink its dryness, and its notes of gentian and cinchona give this mellow drink a slightly bitter edge. It is worth noting that white wine also contains methyl hexanoate, which is why we chose to use a white aperitif wine. Mainly you’ll be astonished by how different the drink is without the aroma of blue cheese.

Bottoms up!