Measure & Stir

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


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Fourth of July Cocktail: Make America Flow Again

This is just a quick, four-day-late post to talk about my 4th of July drink. This one was shot gonzo-style (i.e., on my phone), served to a large crowd, and primarily about image. So basically, it was just like politics. Independence day is all about the red, white, and blue, so I decided to bring back that old resort classic, the Lava Flow, and garnish it with an attention-grabbing comb-over of blue sanding sugar.

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And honestly, that’s all there is to it. We had initially tried rimming the glass with blue sugar, but with this style of glass, that did not provide the density that I desired for maximum visual impact. Sprinkling blue sugar on top proved to be both more striking and simpler to execute.

For the puree, I blended a cup of raspberries, a cup of strawberries, and ~6 oz of raspberry jam, and stored the puree in a squeeze bottle. This produced both a richness of flavor and a thick viscosity, ideal for coating the outside of clear plastic party cups.

for the smoothie, we used compressed pineapple, made in my friend Johan’s chamber vac. It didn’t affect the final drink in any noticeable way, but it signaled our molecularly gastronomic values. The plating was the most interesting part of this drink, I am sure you will agree.

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Make America Flow Again
3/4 Cup of compressed pineapple
8 oz light rum (Bacardi)
4 oz Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream
3 oz lime juice
2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
2 Cups of ice
Blend it up, and pour it into a clear glass with red stripes of berry puree. Top with blue sanding sugar.

All of the above measurements are approximations, except the rum/lime/sugar. Perhaps ironically, I never measure my smoothies.

The most frustrating thing about this drink is that it tastes better if you swirl it all together, and that completely ruins the aesthetics. Personally I’d rather preserve its beauty, but most guests opted for the stir. Populism vs. elitism, I guess.

Happy (belated) fourth.


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Angry Bear: Raspberries, Tequila, Allspice

I wanted to mix another Sleepy Bear but I did not have any blackberries. Raspberries were an acceptable substitute, but when I tasted the raspberry honey blend, I found myself craving tequila instead of rum. There was something in the blackberry that wanted to blend with the smokey vegetal flavors of reposado tequila, so I followed my instinct. The oaky, sugar cane flavor of my go-to aged rum is much fuller than the flavor of my go-to reposado, and to fill in the gap, I thought a dash of allspice dram would be perfect. It was.

Angry Bear

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolon)
.5 oz Honey Syrup
6 – 8 raspberries
.5 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Allspice Liqueur (homemade)

Muddle the raspberries in the honey syrup until you have a fresh raw jam. Shake all ingredients over ice and double-strain into a wine glass. Cut a large, thin orange slice and place it in the glass, and cut a raspberry so it sits on the rim.

The orange slice is really just for looks, though it add some orange oil to the aroma. All the flavors of the different ingredients were perceptible, which is the mark of a successful mix, although I admit this isn’t the manliest concoction I’ve poured lately. Even with two ounces of tequila, there is no escaping that scintillant pink color. If you want to drink raspberries, it’s the price you must pay.


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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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Raspberry Caipirinha

Raspberries are in season, just begging us to make use of their sunny, jammy flavors. Moreover, I just purchased a new bottle of Cachaça, because every once in a while I get that Caipirinha itch. Let’s see if we can play matchmaker with those.

Cachaça is mostly produced in Brazil, where 390 million gallons are consumed annually, compared with 4 million gallons outside the country. I don’t know about you, but I am doing my part to beat the Brazilians and put the US on the map for Cachaça consumption. USA! USA! USA! And of course, the Caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil, but to be honest, I find the combo of lime, sugar, and (essentially) very funky rum to be a little one-note and boring, so I like to add in one other fruit, which varies according to my mood.

Unfortunately, such a drink is technically called a Capifruta, but sometimes the technically correct is also the hopelessly ugly, and “Capifruta” sounds really grating to my American ears, whereas Caipirinha does not. Unlike economics or physics, this is an instance where judicious use of language can actually shape reality, so I will refrain from calling this drink by its “correct” name.

I never add more than one fruit besides lime, because we’re making a mixed drink, not a big bowl of mashed up fruit. Sometimes I use kumquats, and then I omit the lime altogether.

Raspberry Caipirinha

2 oz Cachaça (Pitú)
3 – 4 lime wedges (aim for .5 oz of juice)
4 – 5 raspberries
.5 oz simple syrup

Place raspberries and limes in a mixing glass and muddle thoroughly. Shake over ice and then pour the entire contents of the shaker into an old-fashioned glass. The smashed up lime wedges are the garnish.

The process I described here is the traditional way, as far as I know, and it is the one I followed for this photograph, but I did not enjoy the little pieces of ice floating on top of the drink, and I don’t think anyone else would, either, so I suggest finely straining this over fresh cracked ice and then garnishing it with a fresh lime wedge.

It won’t quite have the rustic feeling if you do it that way, but it will produce a more polished drinking experience. Rough up the garnish limes a little if you really need to.

Much like the old fashioned, you could use caster sugar instead of simple syrup, and the granules of sugar would macerate the lime peel a little more effectively than simple muddling, releasing more lime oil. As with the old fashioned, I will mention that the ROI on this procedure is very small, but you can do it if you feel exceptionally fancy. You will really want to use caster sugar, though, so as to avoid undissolved sugar granules in the final drink, which you will agree is much worse than slightly less lime oil.

Cheers.


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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.