Measure & Stir

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


3 Comments

Dirt and Diesel

Today I would like to present one of my all-time favorite cocktails, the Dirt and Diesel. This drink is reminiscent of the much more traditional Corn N’ Oil, a potion of blackstrap rum and falernum, a tiki ingredient that I promise I will make one of these days. The Dirt and Diesel was invented by a bartender at one of my favorite Seattle bars, Tavern Law, and it truly does have an industrial sort of flavor from Cynar and Fernet Branca.

Dirt and Diesel
(by Cale Green, Tavern Law and Needle & Thread, Seattle)

2 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum (Kraken)
.5 oz Fernet-Branca
.5 oz Demerara sugar syrup
.25 oz Cynar
.25 oz lime juice

Shake over ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

To be honest, the Cynar is not very prominent in this drink, hiding as it is behind double its volume of Fernet Branca, but it is there if you look for it. When I first tasted this drink at the bar, I went home that same night and tried to replicate it out of my own head. I came pretty close, but I mixed up the proportions of the half ounce and quarter ounce ingredients. It looked like this:

Poorly-Recreated Dirt and Diesel

1.5 oz Black Strap Rum (Kraken)
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz Cynar
.25 oz Fernet Branca
.25 oz Demerara sugar syrup

My version was too juicy, and not as balanced, so don’t make it, except switching the Fernet and Cynar is a fun variation. As for the real version of the drink, it is one of my all-time favorite mixed drinks, and an excellent way to enjoy that queen of spirits, Fernet Branca. If you do not have Fernet Branca in your home bar, what are you doing, son?

Also, a word on Demerara sugar syrup; Demerara sugar, or turbinado sugar, or “sugar in the raw”, for those of us who are ready, is not as sweet by volume as more refined sugars, and must be made in a ratio of 2:1 sugar:water in order to be adequately sweet. If you don’t have any Demerara sugar, or you are very lazy, I won’t be offended if you make brown sugar syrup instead, and probably no one will really know, but you’ll know, and that should be enough to move your conscience.

As with the Whiskey Fix, photo credit goes to my friends Michael Schmid, John Sim, and Matt Barraro.


4 Comments

arts district

Thank you, Chuck Taggart, for giving me so many excellent ideas! I am a sucker for Cynar, and a huge fan of rye and Benedictine, so this recipe drew me like a moth to a flame. It’s not the most daring or unusual drink, but if you like them brown, bitter, and stirred, then this is a drink for you.

Arts District

2 oz rye (RI1)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Benedictine
grapefruit peel (expressed)

To express the oil in a piece of citrus peel, simply squeeze it over the surface of the drink. A mist of citrus oil will spray out and float on top, providing a crisp, aromatic experience for both the imbiber and the bartender. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a drink with grapefruit oil before, and I found it to be a rewarding experience. The bitterness from the grapefruit made an intriguing contrast with the bitterness from the Cynar, because one is vegetal and the other is fruity.

The Arts District was a welcome study in bitter flavors, although the the rye whiskey was overshadowed by the strong herbal qualities of the liqueurs. That might have been my fault for using RI1, which is delicate for a rye. Even with that minor complaint, the drink is well put-together, with an excellent balance between the Cynar and the Benedictine, and a pleasing sweetness that spans the flavor ‘spectrum’.