Measure & Stir

I make drinks


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Strawberry Acapulco: Tequila, Rum, Grapefruit, Pineapple

I am sure at this point that anyone who is following me can tell that I have been raiding Kaiser Penguin’s archives. I was looking for ideas for cocktail garnishes and I found ten or twelve drinks that I really needed to make. Unfortunately, I made four of them in one night, and the next morning did not go all that well. All the drinks were really spectacular, though. To cap off the week I decided to share a small twist that I made on the Acapulco, a relatively classic drink from Difford’s Guide #5.

Tequila in Tiki? Yes, apparently, it can happen. On this particular evening, I had some strawberry syrup on hand, and as I am a great lover of the strawberry + tequila pairing, I substituted half of the simple syrup in this recipe with strawberry syrup. The result was a pleasant, subtle jamminess that pervaded the whole drink. In the picture there is a bit of a gradient, but I think that is due to the fact that the glass is thicker at the top than the bottom.

And let me tell you, there is a reason that blended strawberry margaritas are so popular in resorts and spring break type scenarios. Sure, those drinks suck, with their artificial flavorings and colorings, but there is still something about this flavor combination. I like it so much that I made some strawberry-infused tequila, but for this drink I wanted the smokiness of the reposado to really come through against the other flavors, and alas, my infusion is made with blanco tequila.

Strawberry Acapulco

1 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolón)
1 oz Barbados Rum (Doorly’s)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 1/2oz Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
.5 oz Strawberry Syrup
Shake over ice and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with pineapple, strawberries, and an orange wheel, since it’s for the blog.

My rum collection is growing lately (a good problem!) and I was very pleased that for once I actually had a rum from the origin specified in the drink recipe. It is frequently not so.  This drink went down a little too smoothly, but wow, what an excellent flavor! Why not drink it while listening to Martin Denny?


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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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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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Kingston Club

Via Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the Kingston Club is one of the best drinks I have tried in a long time. Seattle finally decided to get warm, so I’ve been drinking lots of highballs in an attempt to beat the heat. I’ve also been ordering highballs around the city, and I’m disappointed to tell you that even many craft bars will manage to screw up this format. The most common mistake I see is the failure to use enough ice. When you make a rocks drink, it is essential that you fill the glass completely with ice. If you don’t, it will melt too quickly, and you will be left with a watery highball, its flavor a mere specter of your intention.

For this reason, I don’t recommend ordering a highball when you are eating at a restaurant; even if the bartender was diligent, it may take your server a while to bring you the drink, and the ice will melt. I can’t remember where I heard this line, but I like to tell my guests to “drink it before the ice gets scared”.

I’d never owned a bottle of Drambuie before last week, and this was the drink that convinced me to make the purchase. I love its peppery, scotchy flavor, and I was intrigued by Morgenthaler’s use of this spirit as the base of a Tiki drink.

Kingston Club

1.5 oz Drambuie
1.5 oz Pineapple Juice
.75 oz Lime juice
1 tsp Fernet Branca
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Fill a Collins glass with ice and one ounce of soda water. Shake over ice and strain. Garnish with an orange peel.

If you followed the link above, you saw that his was a lot prettier than mine, but that’s OK, because mine was just as delicious. You would think that equal parts of liqueur and fresh pineapple juice would be too sweet, but the level of citrus in this drink was perfect, making it much dryer than I had anticipated. When I was planning to make this drink, I remembered it as having rather more Fernet than it actually does, but when I went to make it, I discovered it had only a teaspoon, which is exactly equivalent to 1/8 of one ounce.

Those who have been reading for a while will recall my love of Fernet and Pineapple, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to make this. As such, I apologize for the low amount of Fernet in this drink, and I will try to find one for you that has substantially more in the near future.


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Missionary’s Downfall: Blended Pineapple and Mint

For a cocktail party, I decided to get my Tiki on and make a ridiculously complicated drink. Usually, those two aims are at cross purposes, but I chose a blended drink, which allowed me to produce happiness in large batches. I did a little bit of research before attempting to make the Missionary’s Downfall, and I ended up using this recipe from Doug.

Most of the other recipes I found called for whole pineapple instead of pineapple juice, which probably would have made the drink more viscous, but I enjoyed the icy purity of this variation. Part of me always feels a little dirty making a sweet, tropical blended drink, because I worry that it’s a slippery slope to the slippery nipple and other such sophomoric drivel.  It’s just so accessible, isn’t it? So convenient. Where is the whole egg? Where is the challenging quantity of Cynar?

Indeed, as I was pouring this my inner bar snob started swearing quietly in the back of my brain about amari and liqueurs with secret recipes known only by a handful of monks, but you can’t listen to the haters. Fresh pineapple and mint is delicious, and I even managed to sneak in some of my favorite rum, J. Wray and Nephew.

Missionary’s Downfall

.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz. Apricot Brandy (Rothman and Winter)
1 oz. Honey Syrup
1 oz. White Rum (J. Wray and Nephew)
1.5 oz Fresh Pineapple juice
10-20 Mint Leaves
6 oz. Small or Crushed Ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

For the honey syrup, check out the writeup I did on the Sleepy Bear. I couldn’t really taste the apricot in this, but the flavor was exotic and balanced, and the mint was not too overpowering. In fact, the drink was surprisingly dry, and the mint sprig, planted in the middle of the ice, looks like a tiny tree. It’s true, the mint sprig in my picture fell over, but it was my fault for cutting it too large; I was making these at a party, and speed won out over photography. Even so, I was pleased by the appearance of the drink, with tiny fragments of mint intermixed among the particles of ice.

One of the really excellent things about blended drinks is that you can make them five at a time, so they are well-suited for larger gatherings. When blending a drink, a higher ratio of ice to other ingredients will result in a fluffier texture, while slightly diluting the flavor. Less ice will make the drink a bit more soupy, which will cause it to melt faster, but the flavors will be more concentrated. In order to get the optimum texture while preserving the flavor, good blended drinks require more sugar, to intensify the flavor against the dilution.

That’s exactly what we see here, with an ounce of syrup, an ounce and a half of sweet juice, and half an ounce of liqueur to a relatively scarce ounce of rum and half ounce of lime. If you were to shake this drink instead, you would find it cloying.


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Pineapple and Fernet

Last Saturday was a great day. James had just purchased his first bottle of Fernet Branca, and the occasion merited a thorough exploration of the ingredient. Pineapple juice and Fernet is one of those few truly extraordinary flavor pairings, like chocolate and peanut butter, or foie gras and sauternes, and I wish it were better-known.

Moreover, fresh pineapples have a limited window of availability, and I like to get while the gettin’s good, so I juiced a whole pineapple, and separately, a few ginger roots, and took them to the party. For our first drink of the day, I mixed up a Bartender On Acid. I first learned of this drink through CVS, and I fell in love with it because it was a classed up version of a prole drink, like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

Bartender On Acid

1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
1 oz Traditional Rum (Wray and Nephew)

Shake over ice and double strain. Serve “Up”.

The Bartender on Acid is a highly improved version of that old college classic, the Surfer On Acid, a trainwreck of a shooter containing equal measures of canned pineapple juice, Jagermeister, and Malibu. Fernet Branca has the same dark, herbal, bitter personality that Jager does, but it has much more subtlety, and much more bitterness. It also has the alluring quality that frat boys don’t really drink it.

A traditional rum such as Wray and Nephew or Smith and Cross replaces the Malibu’s artificial coconut flavor with a hefty slug of “hogo“, the sulfurous, grassy, funky quality of rum which is distilled from molasses in a pot still, as in the traditional style. It’s rare to see an equal portions drink achieve such an excellent balance. A+, would drink again.

For round two, I was feeling inspired by this post at the Tiki Speakeasy, so I decided to put that pineapple juice to good use with a couple of original creations. Ginger and pineapple is another great pairing, and so is ginger and fernet, so I had it in my mind to combine the three of them into a highball.

Piña Branca

1.5 oz Pineapple Juice
1.5 oz Pusser’s Rum
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Fernet Branca
3 barspoons Fresh Ginger Juice
1 oz Ginger Beer

Combine all except ginger beer in a shaker, shake over ice and double strain over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a pineapple slice and a lime wheel.

Double-down on your garnishes when you’re making a tiki drink. It has to look exotic, and we accomplish that with more cut fruit. I added a few spoonfuls of fresh ginger juice to this drink to add a ginger spice, and relied on the ginger beer to contribute the necessary sugar.

It was very refreshing, but without any simple syrup, the whole drink was very dry, perhaps too dry for some palates. Such a drink is to my taste., but we also had some orgeat hanging around from the Trinidad Sour, and James wanted to see how the orgeat would fit into this drink.

Marzipiña

1.5 oz Pineapple Juice
1.5 oz Pusser’s Rum
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Fernet Branca
3 barspoons Fresh Ginger Juice
.75 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 oz Ginger Beer

Combine all except ginger beer in a shaker, shake over ice and double strain over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a pineapple slice and a lime wheel. Cut the pineapple so that it’s eating the lime wedge, like Pac Man.

I tasted this drink with only .5 oz of the orgeat, and it didn’t really have the almond sweetness that I was looking for. The addition of orgeat covered up the fernet, and I didn’t want to add any more lest I upset the balance between the other flavors. The addition of sugar to the drink made it much more approachable, and I think that a mint leaf might help bring the fernet back into focus.

This variation will probably suit most peoples’ tastes more than the Piña Branca, and I’m fine with that, as long as it keeps them off of the Malibu.


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Pisco Apricot Tropical

Another one from CVS, The Pisco Apricot Tropical has a bit of a tiki quality. I was mostly drawn to this recipe on account of the apricot liqueur, which  I only recently acquired for the first time, and I have been looking for different recipes to showcase it. The fresh pineapple juice was a bonus, but I always enjoy it immensely. For this reason, I try to always keep a pineapple on hand, just in case I need fresh pineapple juice. Admittedly, there are a couple of cans tucked away in my fridge, because you never know when you’ll need to make an Algonquin or a Kentucky at a moment’s notice.

Once you start using a juicer, you will never go back. Pasteurizing juice is just a hair away from murdering it — the texture goes all gummy, and all of the bright flavors depart, ne’er to return. In fact, one of the major components of the recent cocktail revival is that bartenders have stopped using pre-made sour mixes and turned instead to fresh juices, which are superior in every way. If you have ever had a drink made with sour mix, you know just how awful it is, and how far we have come.

Pisco Apricot Tropical

2 oz Pisco (Santiago Queirolo)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman and Winter)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake over ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass.

Despite the sweet-sounding recipe, this drink was very dry and stimulating to the appetite. Pisco has a clean, crisp grape flavor, and it was a surprising match to the other fruit flavors in this recipe. They all blended together, and the end result tasted like  a dry white gummy bear. The key word here is dry; there was none of the sweetness of candy. This was among the best sours I’ve had all year, but I would definitely drink it as an aperitif, and not for dessert.


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Pina Colada, Pineapple Vessel

Happy Monday!

Doug from the Pegu Blog taught me the idea of turning a pineapple upside down and cutting the leaves to make a stem, such that the upside-down pineapple becomes a goblet for a drink. The recipe he gives there is deliciously rummy, but I wanted to get my blend on, so I got some coconut milk from the local asian market, and blended it with lime juice and dark rum. I saved some nice-looking leaves from the pineapple base and skewered them on a toothpick for a quick and dirty garnish. A longer bamboo skewer would have looked a lot better, but as it is it reminded me of a little sailboat, taking me to some exotic tropical destination.

I learned to blend before I learned to mix drinks, and I love to make a good smoothie, even without booze.

I don’t make frozen drinks very often, but since we’re on the subject, I thought I would share here some tips on creating the optimal blend. Unfortunately, when I blend I go by feel, so I don’t have an exact ratio to give you.

Pina Colada

Fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

Unsweetened Coconut milk (use the kind that comes in a can like this)

Fresh lime juice

Simple syrup

Dark Rum

Ice

Blend first without ice, to gauge the flavor, and then again with ice.

There’s no magic to making a good pina colada, but rather you must exercise your good taste, and strive for a balance of flavors which captures the essence of the pina colada. In a perfect preparation, there will be about 2.5 times as much ice by volume as pineapple chunks, and the coconut milk will add the necessary aqueous element to allow the blades of the blender to turn smoothly. Even with my ridiculously powerful vitamix, if the drink is too dry, the blades will form a little vaccuum around themselves at the bottom the blender, and turn without turning the drink.

Blending all of the ice into a slushy texture dramatically increases the dilution of the drink, and makes it very cold, so it becomes necessary to add a small quantity of simple syrup. Otherwise, the ice will numb the tongue, and the drink will be bland.

I suggest blending the fruit and juice before introducing the other ingredients, so that you can establish a good baseline of flavor before committing to ice. You probably want a ratio of about 2/3 blended pineapple to 1/3 coconut milk, and about 1/2 oz of simple syrup for every five ounces of fruit, but I just made those numbers up. Keep the lime in parity with the simple syrup, and constantly taste it.

Is the coconut fully expressed in combination with the pineapple? if not, add a bit more. Is the total drink sweet enough? Before it is iced, it should be just slightly sweeter than you want the final product. Once you have perfected your smoothie, add about 3 oz of rum per person, and then blend with ice. Hollowing out a pineapple is kind of a pain, but it’s worth it once in a while to beat the heat.


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Pineapple Gewurtztraminer Sangria

Happy Washington state liquor independence day! Starting today, liquor sales are privatized in the state of Washington, and I will fight anyone who thinks this is a bad thing.

It was a very summery weekend and my friend John had invited me to a bbq in the park. I have found that sangria is perfect for a picnic, and I wanted to try something a little different from my standard rioja, orange, peach, brandy routine, so I picked up some Gewurtztraminer, carved up a pineapple and set it out to infuse. Sangria is best if you allow it to infuse over night, but if you don’t drink it all the next day, it’s not worth hanging onto. For this sangria I wanted to follow a tropical theme, so I added kiwis and orange supremes, the former of which contributed much more to the presentation than they did to the end flavor.

I knew that going in, but the romance and the drama of a drink can contribute as much to its success as its flavor. At the end of the day, you are drinking sugared ethanol,  so don’t settle for function without form. Perfect every tiny detail of the drink, in order to elevate the whole experience.

Image

Tropical Sangria

One whole pineapple, carved into chunks

8 kiwis, sliced and peeled

6 Oranges, juice

4 Oranges, cut into supremes

2 cups of traditional white rum (Wray and Nephew)

1 cup of triple sec (Patron Citronge)

6 bottles (4.5 Liters) of Gewurtztraminer (Fetzer)

Allow the whole mixture to sit overnight. Chill before serving.

Since we drank this at a picnic, I ended up pouring it over crushed ice, which I chipped from a block of ice using my new ice pick. The funky flavor of the Wray and Nephew complimented the pineapple very well, but the kiwi was completely lost, as I had predicted. It might have contributed to the overall flavor, as it has a lot in common with the rum in this drink, but I doubt I would have missed it.

At first tasting, the rum was too strong, but after mellowing for a night, the flavors really came together, and the end result was crisp, dry, and fruity. Those with a sweet tooth might consider adding simple syrup to sweeten it up, but I would do this very slowly, in 1/4 cup increments. A little bit of sweetness could bring out the fruit, but too much would crush the delicate notes in the wine.