Measure & Stir

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


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In His House in R’lyeh

…he related startling fragments of nocturnal imaginery whose burden was always some terrible Cyclopean vista of dark and dripping stone, with a subterrene voice or intelligence shouting monotonously in enigmatical sense-impacts uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds frequently repeated are those rendered by the letters “Cthulhu” and “R’lyeh.”
The Call of Cthulhu, by H. P. Lovecraft

Friends, let’s talk about squid ink. Ever since the early days of Measure and Stir, I have wanted to try to make a squid ink cocktail. It’s rare to be able to make a drink which is so jet black, blacker than blackstrap rum, blacker than coffee, blacker even than kurogoma. I don’t normally select drink ingredients based upon their color, but in this instance I was hoping to capitalize on the briny, oceany flavor of the squid ink.

I had never tasted squid ink on its own, and it turns out that while it smells very fishy, it tastes primarily of salt, and only subtly of that. The amount of squid ink needed to color a drink is much smaller than the amount needed to flavor it. A pinch of salt would work about as well.

Integrating the squid ink into the drink was a small challenge. It is very solid, and although it can be dispersed, it will not do so willingly. A vigorous thrashing with my barspoon is not enough to break it up; I had to use my immersion blender, which I also use for making egg white foams. For the base of this drink, I selected a rum sidecar, hoping for synergy between its citrus and any oceany flavors which might manifest.

Moreover, I used Kraken rum as my base, both for its thematic content and because I have greatly enjoyed rum sidecars made with kraken in the past.

Image

In His House In R’lyeh

1.5 oz Kraken Rum
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Cointreau
1 tsp squid ink
Combine all ingredients mixing tin and integrate using an immersion blender. Once the squid ink is dispersed, shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with many tentacular strips of orange rind, and a dash of evil.

I’ll flatter myself and say that the briney flavor of the squid ink created an intriguing impression of fresh seafood that blended harmoniously with the flavors of citrus and spiced rum. To be honest, I wasn’t totally sold on the spices, but they did add something that would have been missing with an unspiced rum. I have a bit of a one-track mind when it comes to these things, but an unspiced rum and a dash of mezcal might have been an improvement.

I won’t say this was an immensely delicious drink, but I could see it as an acquired taste, and I enjoyed the novelty of the flavor, if nothing else. I tried making a second squid ink cocktail, but it looked exactly the same, sans theatrical garnish. Thereupon I grew tired of such monotonous aesthetics, and made drinks of other colors. My recommendation is that you only make one squid ink cocktail per session.


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Painkiller: Orange, Pineapple, Coconut, Rum

This has been an exhilarating week here at Measure & Stir; yesterday, I passed my ten thousandth pageview. It was a small personal milestone. To celebrate, let’s cap off the week with the last of a series of tiki drinks that I made two weeks ago. Observant readers will note that this was the last drink that I made that night, and although my mixology stayed viable, my skill with the camera had, by this time, degraded. The entire affair was inspired by a late night romp through Kaiser Penguin‘s archives, and they were so strong that it became a bit of an unwitting bender.

The sacrifices I make for you, my fine readers!

A Painkiller tastes like a Piña Colada with bit of orange, though with one critical distinction. The most interesting thing about this drink, in my opinion, is the blending technique, which is to blend on high for about three seconds. Such a process does not yield the homogeneous, fluffy-yet-creamy texture of a smoothie, but rather a slushy, icy texture halfway between smoothie and crushed ice. It’s an intriguing haptic sensation that distinguishes it from run of the mill blended drinks, and from its more common cousin.

I hope it goes without saying, by now, that if you aren’t going to use fresh Pineapple juice, you should not bother to make this drink. If you are at a bar and you suspect that they are not going to use fresh pineapple juice, similarly, I suggest ordering another drink.

Painkiller (Grog Log, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry)

4oz Pineapple Juice
1oz Orange Juice
1oz Coconut Cream (Unsweetened)
.25 oz Simple Syrup
4oz Pusser’s Rum (or 2 1/2oz gold – used Matusalem Clasico 10; 2oz Dark Spiced– used Kraken)
8oz crushed ice
Blend at the speed of light for no more than three seconds, and pour into an enormous and daunting glass. Grate some nutmeg and cinnamon on top. Or don’t. (Or a strawberry and an orange peel rose)

You can make an orange peel rose by cutting the longest fat orange peel that you can, and then rolling it around itself so that it resembles a rose. I just dropped it on top of the blended ice — delicious! Be sure to express some of the oil of the orange before rolling it.

Instead of Coco Lopez, I used canned coconut cream from the local Japanese market, though I think the coconut cream itself is a product of the Philipines. Coconut milk/cream is one of the very few non-fresh ingredients that is reasonable to use. Making your own coconut milk or cream is a laborious process, and would easily cost twenty dollars worth of coconuts to make the quantity that you can buy in a single can for a single dollar. Coconut cream, in particular, is mostly fat, and therefore degrades very little when preserved with heat, as in canning.

Coco Lopez is also extremely sweet, which is why I added a quarter ounce of simple syrup, to compensate for using unsweetened coconut cream. If you want to approximate the flavor of the drink with unsweetened coconut cream, you probably want half an ounce of Simple Syrup, or even three quarters. Personally I find it cloying, which is why I buy the unsweetened stuff and then add sugar according to my taste.

Have a good weekend!


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Mixology Monday: Equal Parts

Mixology MondayIt’s been a while, Mixology Monday. I was always a little disappointed that this fine cocktail blog tradition became suspended just as I was getting started. This month it’s hosted by Fred of Cocktail Virgin Slut, which was one of the main resources I have used to learn about the world of fine drinks. Before I started this blog, easily ninety percent of the drinks I made came from CVS, and I still use them every time I am exploring a new ingredient. Their site is easily the best cocktail database on the web.

Anyway, as I was digging around in various blog archives, looking for inspiration, I came upon this comparison of Zombie recipes by Kaiser penguin, and I noticed that the recipe they selected as their favorite was equal parts. That version is the Dr. Cocktail version from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. I will confess that this recipe takes a bit of license with the theme; Fred said that dashes of bitters were OK, but this recipe also called for 1tsp of brown sugar. We’ll call that a couple of dashes.

Sadly, I did not have any powdered sugar to sprinkle on top of the pineapple and lime, but I made up for it with a parasol on the straw. I also served it over cubed ice, and I think crushed might have been a bit more in the spirit of the drink, but even so, it was utterly delicious. I was serving several rounds of tiki drinks on this occasion, so I ended up serving half of this recipe to each of my guests, and finishing it with a float of Kraken in equal measure to the other ingredients. That was actually an accident, intended for my second round, but it made the drink beautifully aromatic, and I would do it exactly the same way again.

Zombie

1oz Lime Juice
1oz Lemon Juice
1oz Pineapple juice (Must be fresh!)
1oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1oz gold Puerto Rican rum (151 Cruzan)
1oz 151 proof Demerara rum (El Dorado 12)
1oz light Puerto Rican rum (Ron Matusalem)
1oz Spiced Black Rum, Floated (Kraken)
1tsp brown sugar
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake over ice and strain over fresh ice. Garnish as outrageously as possible.

Astute readers will notice that I switched the rums up a bit, out of necessity. I am not so fortunate as to have a bottle of Lemonheart, so I ended up using an 80 proof demerara rum and a 151 proof gold rum. So the demerara and 151 proof requirements were satisfied, but not quite as per usual. By far the most difficult ingredient in this recipe was the passion fruit syrup. Passion fruits are costly, but I was not about to use a commercial product. It’s probably pretty obvious how to make a passion fruit syrup, but just in case:

Passion Fruit Syrup
1 cup water
1.5 cups sugar
pulp from 7 passion fruits
Dissolve the sugar in the water on the stove top, and then add all of the passion fruit pulp. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth and fortify with an ounce of vodka or everclear. (I prefer everclear)

A huge thanks to Fred for hosting MxMo, and Cheers to all the other participants. Full round-up is here.


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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.