Measure & Stir

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


2 Comments

Apple Cider Syrup and Hot Toddy

The weather in Seattle is a hateful old beast, and even in summer, there will be days of gloom and cold. When Seattle decides to spit on me, I take it in stride, and I use the opportunity to make one of these delicately portioned hot toddies. You can make almost any drink a hot one by swapping the usual 1 to 1.5 ounces of cold water from shaking or stirring with 2-3 ounces of boiling hot water, instead.

Just don’t try it with egg drinks, (unless you like drinking scrambled eggs!) and be sure to warm the glass before hand by filling it with hot water. Just as you don’t want to shock your cold drink by pouring it into a warm glass, you don’t want to shock your warm drink by pouring it into a cold vessel.

Of course, some drink recipes make much better toddies than others, but on the whole you will be surprised how many drinks lend themselves to the hot toddy format. For this variation I made a spiced apple syrup by simmering a cup of trader joe’s unfiltered apple juice with a cup of sugar, and I placed several cassia cinnamon sticks in the pot, and half an ounce of cloves. I allowed the whole mixture to simmer for fifteen minutes, to let the flavor of the spices steep into the syrup.

Spiced Apple Syrup

1 Part Unfiltered Apple Juice
1 Part White Sugar
Cinnamon Sticks and Cloves

Simmer all in a sauce pot until the spice flavors are extracted into the syrup and all of the sugar has dissolved. (~15 minutes)

I made a hot toddy out of spiced apple syrup, rye whiskey, and bitters. Lemon juice is a common ingredient in a hot toddy, and a classic recipe would almost certainly have called for lemon, but it is far from necessary.

I also enjoy a variation where, instead of simply boiling water, hot tea is added to the other ingredients. Black tea and bourbon is a very enjoyable combination, and just as you would not skimp on the bourbon, one ought not to skimp on the tea. What would possess you to pour over-steeped Lipton tea into quality bourbon? Next you’ll be telling me you want to add Sprite.

If you decide to go the tea route, always use a high-quality loose leaf tea, and consult this excellent chart to discover the appropriate temperature and duration for steeping.

Apple Hot Toddy

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Rye 100, Bottled in Bond)
.25 oz  Spiced Apple Syrup
Dash of Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Combine all ingredients in a teacup and top with 2 oz hot water. Give it a quick stir, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For those of you who live in hotter parts of the country, I don’t imagine this drink has much appeal at the moment, but just wait. For all two of you reading this from Australia, it might be just the thing!


Leave a comment

Correcting Coffee

Boozy Saturday was winding down, and for our final round we decided to correct some coffee. James had some Stumptown Gajah Aceh beans that were pushing the end of their useful lifetime, and we really wanted to try correcting some coffee with Fernet Branca. I don’t have any advice about brewing coffee, but James’ steampunk grinder looks really cool, so here is a picture of it.

We tried a few different concepts, but none of them were surprisingly excellent. Fernet and coffee on its own is just missing something. The bitterness from fernet is very different from the bitterness in coffee, but the interplay is not intriguing; both flavors are merely present. Rye and fernet is delicious, and rye and coffee is very reasonable also, but rye and fernet and coffee somehow blended to create the flavor of a rotting vegetable.

I apologize for the unappealing description, but it was truly awful, and I want to make sure that you don’t try to make a drink like this. A quarter ounce of simple syrup took away the worst of it, but it was still not a drink I would serve to anyone whose friendship I valued.

Still chasing the tropical flavor from earlier in the day, I added rum and maraschino, and came away with something much more drinkable, but I still wouldn’t endorse it highly.

Sloppy Hemingway Coffee

4 oz of Chemex-brewed coffee (Stumptown Gajah Aceh beans)
1 oz Dark Rum (Pusser’s)
.5 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)

Add spirits to hot coffee and stir.

It’s probable that there is some perfect marriage of coffee and rum out there, but it probably has Benedictine or allspice dram, not maraschino. Maybe it doesn’t contain a liqueur at all, but a bit of simple syrup. A tragic truth: the world is full of coffees and and rums, and you’ll never be able to try all of them with all of them.

And of course, our old pal, orgeat, was still hanging around, so we tried once more, and this was the best of the three, but still not quite where I wanted.

Mai Tai Coffee

4 oz of Chemex-brewed coffee (Stumptown Gajah Aceh beans)
.5 oz Dark Rum (Pusser’s)
.5 oz Orgeat Syrup

Add spirits to hot coffee and stir.

The almond latte is a very common drink, so adding rum to coffee was a very natural extension. I think the concept with this variation is sound, but the specific rum and coffee that we used were ill-suited to each other. A grate of lime zest might be a welcome addition, also. Fortunately, we can brew more coffee.


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’.


Leave a comment

Diamondback

Another one I found via Looka, the Diamondback is a drink to be reckoned with. I looked up this drink on the internet, and I found that most people say to stir it. That is certainly what intuition would suggest, as the drink contains only spirits, but the instructions at that particular blog said to shake it. I was intrigued by the idea, because it goes against the norm, and I was actually very glad I did. The aeration and texture of the drink were a pleasant change of pace for an aromatic cocktail, and it helped to tame the burn of rye+brandy+green chartreuse, which is a very high proof mixture.

Diamondback

1.5 oz rye (Old Overholt)

.75 oz apple brandy (Laird’s bonded)

.75 oz green Chartreuse

Shake and double-strain.

The Diamondback is probably not for the faint of heart, but I always find green Chartreuse has a cinnamon flavor hiding in all of those herbs, and with the spice from the rye and the apple, I felt like I was drinking an apple pie. The blend of flavors was exquisite, and elegant. Chuck Taggart mentioned that he had this drink at the Zig Zag Cafe, and after I made it, I realized that so had I, but I didn’t remember. It’s hard to know for certain, but I think I had it shaken there, too.

The general rule is that you should only shake a drink if it contains fresh juices or thickening agents such as cream or egg, and otherwise it should be stirred or swizzled, or occasionally built. Once in a while, it’s good to break the rules.

The lack of bitters in this drink is intriguing, as most aromatic cocktails benefit from the bassline flavors of a cocktail bitter. In fact, a drink is not properly labelled a cocktail if it contains no bitters, so the Diamondback is not a cocktail in the David Embury sense of the the word; rather it is an ensemble, which is a mixed drink made exclusively of spirits, often sweet enough to be served as dessert.