Measure & Stir

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


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Measure and Stir X Boozed And Infused

We were gone for a while, but though we stopped blogging, we did not stop making and enjoying drinks. One of my favorite tipples of my sabbatical came from the excellent blog Boozed and Infused, wherein Alicia did make Gingerbread Liqueur. I have a weakness for all things ginger-flavored, and the idea of this liqueur spoke to me greatly. Only a few days after seeing it, I rushed out to buy some molasses and infuse up a double batch.

I followed the recipe more or less to the letter, and I was very pleased with the result. The molasses turn the liqueur an inky black, blacker than fernet, blacker even than black strap rum. As I thought of what drink I wanted most to make with this spirit, I found that I wanted most to pair it with oranges.

cant catch me

As I sat down with a glass of gingerbread liqueur, I was moved by the holiday spirit to read back through the entire Boozed and Infused archive, and I have saved my favorite posts in their history to share with you.

I was most intrigued by the idea of a Maple Mushroom Martini, for I am ever in search of novel flavors and combinations. I can imagine the velvety umami flavor of a mushroom mixed with maple, and I think it must be similar to the combination of maple bacon.

My thirst was further whetted by this beautiful-looking Chili-Agave Liqueur, a link which is worth following for the photo alone, which depicts Lemon peels, cinnamon, peppercorn, and a variety of chili peppers in tequila. If I were to use it in a drink, I would want to capture their colors in the garnish.

cant catch me 2

Can’t Catch Me
1.5 oz Gingerbread Infusion
.125 oz Allspice Dram
2 Dash Orange Bitters (Scrappy’s Seville Orange)
Stir over ice and garnish with an orange zest tied around a gingerbread cookie.

As I was building the menu for my birthday party and I had all of this gingerbread liqueur sitting around, I opted to serve it in the format of an old fashioned, with a small amount of pimento dram to deepen the spice, and my new bottle of seville orange bitters to add a little bit of brightness. The long orange peel gives it a beautiful nose. Moreover, the spicy gingerbread cookie was truly delicious once it became saturated in the drink. The recipe I used produced a very crisp, biscuit-like cookie, which was able to soak up quite a bit of the underlying drink without falling apart.

I think this liqueur would also do very well in a sour, which is an experiment I shall be trying soon, but probably not photographing. The recipe should be pretty obvious, something like:

Gingerbread Sour
1.5 oz Gingerbread Liqueur
1 Egg white
.75 oz Lemon Juice
Dash of simple syrup
Dry shake, then shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with spicy aromatic bitters in the foam.

Some things you know will be great without even trying them. Big thanks to Booze and Infused. Alicia and Eileen, please keep up the good work.


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Old Fashioned Fernet Cocktail with Pineapple Foam

Last week’s foam adventure left me unsatisfied; though the foam itself was excellent, the total drink was lacking. And in the aftermath of my failure, I knew there was a reliable way to redeem myself. I brought back our old friend, that time-tested combination, pineapple and fernet. I have already spoken at some length about this combination; we all know it’s a winner. What I wanted to do with this drink was to showcase the foam with a simple drink that would support it. In my earlier experiment, I tried to unify two wholly disparate parts into a single drink, with predictable results.

Here, rather than putting two drinks in one glass and watching them fight, I envisioned a single drink, and split half of its components into a foam, and the other half into a cocktail. The marriage was perfect; I placed a simple foam on top of a simple drink, and it needed nothing.

I admit, I had my reservations about the foam recipe itself. To make a good foam, one needs to a balance the ratio of sugar to acid, not merely for flavor, but also for the structural integrity of the foam. Pineapple juice has a pH of about 3.0, whereas lemon juice hovers between 1.8 and 2.2. I used pineapple juice as the base of this foam, so I knew I needed to use significantly less citrus than in the whiskey sour foam from before, but I wasn’t sure how much less. I ended up taking a stab in the dark, and getting lucky. Pineapple juice also has a high sugar content, so one wonders if it might not be fine on its own.

Pineapple Foam
6 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice, strained.
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice, strained.
1 oz Simple Syrup
2 oz water
4 egg whites
Combine all in an iSi whipped cream dispenser and discharge two nitrogen cartridges. Allow the canister to rest in the refrigerator for ten minutes before use.


Old Fashioned Fernet Cocktail, Pineapple Foam
1.5 oz Fernet Branca
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Stir over ice and strain into a rocks glass with a single large ice cube. Top with a generous amount of pineapple foam.

This drink needed nothing. Perhaps instead of an old fashioned, it should be called a new fangled, in reference to the molecular mixology technique here employed. Regardless, this was one of my finest original creations to date. The water mellowed out the flavor of the foam, balancing it against the Fernet, allowing the whole drink to breathe. A big danger with foam drinks is that the foam can overwhelm the drink underneath, and dilution of the foam is the secret to keeping the flavors in balance.


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Angostura 1919 Rum and Clement Creole Shrub Review

I had the good fortune to pick up a bottle of Angostura 1919 rum and a bottle of Clement Creole Shrub from the new Total Wine that opened up in Bellevue. The 20% + 3.77/liter surcharge on hard liquor in WA state is probably worth it considering that we now have Total Wine and soon, Bevmo. It does raise the price on the bottle of Angostura rum from thirty-six dollars to forty-eight, and that burns, but it’s better than not being able to buy Angostura rum at all. There’s still nowhere to buy Smith and Cross, except maybe the obscenely overpriced Wine and Spirits World in Wallingford.

No one outside of Seattle really cares about that, though. On to the reviews!

Angostura 1919 Rum

According to the manufacturer, this rum is blended from rums that are aged a minimum of eight years in bourbon casks. I definitely could notice a bourbon quality in the nose, which is full of vanilla, and as I take a sip, I am greeted immediately by honey, which then gives way to tobacco. The strongest flavor in this rum, by far, is the flavor of fresh tobacco, which permeates the swallow and lingers on the finish. It’s very smooth, and distinctively flavored. It might be a bit simple for some palates, but I greatly enjoy when an aged spirit captures one or two flavors very well, as I think you would agree this rum does with the flavor of tobacco.

I do not smoke cigars, but if I did, I think this rum would be a perfect accompaniment. If you can get it for thirty-six dollars, it’s a pretty fair price, but fifty is a little much. Angostura 1919 is not the first rum I’d buy for my bar, and it’s not the second, but it very well might be the third. (After Smith and Cross or Wray and Nephew, and Zacapa 23) It’s great on ice or in an old fashioned cocktail, but as with most high-end rums, mixing it into a more complicated drink is probably a waste. If you want to go the aromatic route, I suggest mixing it with dry Amontillado sherry and a dash of Angostura bitters, of course.

Clement Creole Shrubb

 This orange liqueur received extremely good reviews, and I was very eager to try it. Clement Creole Shrubb is the only curaçao liqueur I know that uses Rhum Agricole as the base, as opposed to brandy or a neutral spirit. It’s very similar to Gran Marnier, and it’s probably not worth keeping both in your bar unless you are a very serious curaçao enthusiast, but it’s certainly worth keeping one or the other. I think this liqueur is extremely suited to tiki drinks or any rum-based concoction, because it already has a lot of rum notes from its base spirit. If you sip it neat, it greets you with a very bright orange oil flavor with a sugarcane backend and a little bit of pepper. I like it perhaps a bit more than Gran Marnier for mixing, but not quite as much for sipping neat. It makes a killer Sidecar,  Mai Tai, or Daisy, that’s for sure. High quality Curaçao is a must have for your home bar, and this is light years ahead of Gran Gala, which is only fit for removing grease stains from my driveway.

Fancy Old-Fashioned Rum Cocktail
1.5 oz Aged Rum (Angostura 1919)
.25 oz Curaçao
1 Dash Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Stir over gently over ice and pour over one large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel.

I wanted to experience both of these spirits simultaneously, and of course, they were highly complementary to each other, so I made a fancy Old Fashioned. When using a liqueur such as Maraschino or Curaçao in place of simple syrup it becomes “fancy”, and it should be called as such. When making this substitution in drinks with a large volume of syrup (more than .5 oz), it is generally better to use .5 oz of the liqueur, and simple syrup for the rest, lest you overpower the other flavors in the drink.


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Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

So much has been said about the old fashioned that I will not embarrass myself by trying to describe its history, but I will describe my ideal of how to make one. I often make variants by employing a different base spirit or a flavored syrup. The old fashioned cocktail is a template as much as it is a particular drink, and yet, made with rye, simple syrup, and angostura bitters, it is the perfect platonic ideal of a what a cocktail ought to be. The very first cocktails were little more than bitters and sugar added to a base spirit, and all evolution of modern cocktails has flowed out of such a marriage of flavors.

Somehow in the dark ages of drinking, the 60s to the late 90s, the old fashioned was twisted and perverted into a drink with a pulverized fake maraschino cherry, and a smashed up orange and sometimes, god forbid, a drink topped with club soda or–almost unthinkable–sprite. But this marvel has returned to us, probably in large part because of the show Mad Men. You’ll never be Don Draper, but even so, holding an old fashioned will add 25% to the classiness of any outfit.

2 oz base spirit (Buffalo Trace Bourbon)

1 barspoon (1/8 oz) simple syrup

dash of bitters

orange peel

Cut a fat piece of orange peel, and then trim it with a knife into a perfect rectangle. Make sure not to leave any pith on the peel. Place it in the bottom of the glass, and pour the simple syrup on top. Using a muddler, carefully smash the orange peel, just enough to squeeze out its oils. Add the bitters and the whiskey, and then pour the drink into a tumbler filled with ice. Stir, and then pour the drink back into the old fashioned glass, over ice.

To make the drink look perfect, a single large ice cube is best. You can make your own at home with this tovolo ice cube tray.

There are those who will build the old fashioned in the glass, but neglect to stir it. This results in an inferior drink, because it will not reach the necessary temperature, nor will it reach the appropriate dilution. A counter-intuitive aspect of making excellent drinks: slightly more dilution can result in a more intense flavor, as an overly strong alcohol burn can numb and overpower the palate.

Some will make this drink with a sugar cube instead of simple syrup, and they will use the bitters to break down the cube. Such a method is more laborious, and its only advantage over syrup is slight; the granulated sugar will help to macerate the orange peel, and will produce a superior experience of orange oil. I confess I do not usually trouble myself with this, but I appreciate the ritual.

Coming soon: old fashioned cocktail variants.