Measure & Stir

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


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Libation Labs: India Pale Ale

Hello, everyone. It is the last day before our holiday hiatus, so we thought we’d end on a high note. As you probably know, this has been beer week, and we’re pleased to wrap up with what were, for me, the highlights of the week, which created when we couldn’t decide which direction to take an IPA-based libation.

east indies 1

My first intuition was to play off the bitter notes in the IPA with a bitter liqueur, and I selected Cynar for that role, because I thought that the bitterness of hops would be similar to the bitterness of the artichoke. And indeed, it was a pleasing combination. I also know that gin pairs well with Cynar, and further expected harmony between gin’s botanicals and the herbal qualities of India Pale Ale. We soured it with some lime, but then all the bitter and sour required balance.

I had intended to use simple syrup, but sometimes when drinks are flying left and right (metaphorically), and you realize you’re out of simple syrup, you let it overcook and it starts to caramelize. This is the second time I have accidentally done this since starting the blog; the first time was in production of our Banana Julep . In this case, we decided to go ahead and use the caramelized syrup anyway, and it worked even better than simple syrup would have, in my opinion.

Caramelized Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
bring to a rolling boil for ~ten minutes. Kill the heat, and fortify with 1 oz of 151 proof rum.

east indies 2

East Indies Highball
2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
.5 oz Caramelized Syrup (above)
.5 oz Cynar
2/3 oz Lime
2 oz IPA (Ninkasi Total Domination)
Shake all except beer and then double-strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a scored lime wedge.

This was an herbal drink, effervescent, bitter, with a counterpoint of caramelized sugar. My favorite of the week. I do not have an exact beer template for you, but my general approach is to formulate a drink that tastes good on its own, and that I think will taste good with a particular beer, and then top that drink with beer.

I am of the opinion that mixing wine, including aromatized wine, with beer, would be in poor taste. That means that the base of your beer drink should be sour or succulent, or maybe driven by liqueur. I have greatly enjoyed beer drinks that use viscous, jammy preparations of fruit, including purees as well as actual jams. Beer is already thick, so it works well to fortify that with something pulpy.

If I had to give you a formula, it would look like:

Beer Template
1.5 oz base spirit
1 oz Fresh juice or .75 oz Fruit Puree
.75 oz Liqueur or Syrup
Dash of Bitters
Shake and strain over ice, and top with 3 oz beer

But you’ll notice that maybe none of our drinks conform to that exact template. It’s all about taste and iteration, and balancing the individual flavors against each other. Beers are complex on their own, and getting them to taste right with other ingredients is nuanced. You cannot even rely on any one IPA to taste exactly like another; one might have more of a grapefruit flavor, and another might taste more like pine. That’s why you have to know your ingredients.

west indies

West Indies
1.5 oz Dark Rum (Doorly’s)
.75 oz Falernum
.25 oz Lime Juice
Dash of Orange Bitters (Scrappy’s Seville)
2 oz ipa (Ninkasi Total Domination)
Shake all but beer and double-strain into a goblet. Top with IPA.

For our second variation, and more on a lark than anything else, we wanted to try the IPA with rum and falernum. There was no deep thought behind this choice, but sometimes, the best drinks are extemporaneous. By now, I think we are all familiar with the combination of rum, falernum, and lime. It’s hard to screw that up. We kept the lime short and let the IPA do most of the balancing against the sweeter ingredients. It worked like a charm.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next year!


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Libation Laboratory: Smith and Cross, Pineapple, Acid Phosphate

Last week, we were sipping on some  Smith & Cross, discussing how we hadn’t made any great tasting cocktails with it yet, and decided to fix that. Joe had procured this particular bottle on his last trip to California, as Smith & Cross can’t be found in Washington (yet?). It has a great caramel flavor, with hints of mixed tropical fruits.

We both agreed that this rum would taste great with pineapple, but we were tired of mixing tiki drinks. We were also tired of mixing sours, yet we both wanted to add some kind of souring agent. We didn’t want to use lemon or lime juices, really, since we felt like either would interfere with the groovy combo of pineapple juice and Smith & Cross. So we turned to an old soda ingredient, acid phosphate, which tastes of nothing, but adds sourness to a drink

From there, our opinions differed, and so today we present to you two drinks; variations on the same theme.

La Cruz y Piña
1.5 oz Smith & Cross rum
.75 oz Pineapple juice
.25 oz Cointreau
.25 oz Acid phosphate
.25 oz Kraken rum (to float on top)

Shake, strain, float .25 Kraken rum on top, garnish with blood orange wedges impaled on a sugar cane spear.

James: The acid phosphate does a great job of adding a neutral sourness to the rum and pineapple, but I personally felt like it needed some sort of citrus note, so I settled on using Cointreau. Blood oranges not only look sexy, but their tart aroma and appearance help to emphasize the orange liqueur. Although I was trying not to go tiki, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the genre, especially given the ingredients, and so I floated some Kraken on top. It was totally worth it.

The Limeless Lime
1.5 oz Smith and Cross
1 oz Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Falernum (Velvet)
.5 oz Acid Phosphate
Shake over ice and garnish with a pineapple fan.

Joseph: I made a pineapple fan by selecting three fronds from a pineapple and pinning them together with a toothpick, if that’s not completely obvious. I think it probably is. To be honest, I have overdosed on tiki lately, but the falernum/pineapple/dark rum combo is assuredly a tropical one. What was interesting to me was the way that we are so accustomed to lime in tiki, that I could not help but think of lime, even though I knew there was none. When I first purchased Mr. O’Neil’s acid phosphate, I was not entirely sure what to do with it, because I am so used to sourness being conjoined with citrus. I think the real intrigue of acid phosphate is not what it adds to a drink, but what it makes possible to take away.

Using acid phosphate is interesting because you can subtract the lemon or lime from any sour drink this way, and simplify it, preserving its balance while emphasizing its aromatic qualities. The orange in James’ drink impressed me more than the falernum in mine; both drinks were satisfying, but on the night in question, my mood was more for the fresh flavor of orange rather than the warming and exotic spice of cloves.

Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you again on Monday!