Measure & Stir

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


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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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Rum, Turmeric Juice, Lemongrass

Hot on the heels of the Curry Derby, I wanted to really explore this concept of turmeric in drinks. To that end, I purchased a healthy knob of turmeric, and ran it through my juicer, along with a bit of young ginger. The resulting juice was light, with a depth of peppery curry flavor, and a slight burn on the finish from ginger. Turmeric is something we have all experienced in Indian curries, but I had never really tasted it on its own, except for sad, dried out turmeric powder. A word to the wise: putting dried spices in your food is depressing; they have the texture of sand and most of the flavor. It’s the difference between a grand piano and a casio recorder.

The spices gave the drink a bitter dimension, but it still needed high notes, so I chose J. Wray and Nephew as the base. Lately I have been trying to temper my enthusiasm for rums with hogo — there are so many styles out there, after all — but the beauty of hogo is that it pairs so well with herbal and vegetal flavors. I enjoy seeking out such flavors, of course, so J. Wray is always in my well.

J. Wray and Turmeric was a good base, but the flavor was incomplete. A proper mixed drink needs an abrasive quality to make it pop. The most common sources for this are fortified wine, which provides astringency from herbs, and citric acid from fresh lemon or lime. There are other options: the tannin in tea can also be bracing, as can the pungency of aromatic bitters. Originally I had tried muddling some lemon grass in some simple syrup, but the lemon grass that I had purchased that day was of inferior quality, and would not convey a strong enough flavor to the syrup. I ended up deciding that rum called for lime, with the end result being a kind of succulent turmeric daquiri.

Tim Curry
1.5 oz Traditional Rum (J. Wray and Nephew)
1 oz Turmeric Ginger juice
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup

Muddle lemongrass in simple syrup, then combine all in a shaker. Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of broken lemongrass.

Rum is a piratey drink, after all, and as such this drink is named after Tim Curry, mostly for his role in Pirates of the Plain, and because his name happens to fit the ingredients. Good. A couple of notes on working with turmeric: everything it touches will turn golden curry yellow. The tasteful 80s mauve of my juicer is now permanently stained golden. My finger nails, until they grow out. The place on the counter where some of the juice dripped. It’s positively Faustian. Definitely don’t spill it on your white shirt. Also, it oxidizes within about two hours, turning from glowing neon carrot to a more muted rust. Use it quickly if you want to extract maximum vibrancy.

Despite its appealing color, turmeric is not for the faint of heart. This drink was savory, halfway between a daquiri and a bloody mary, but not as thick. As the evening went on, we made this variation:

Señor Curry
1.5 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolón)
.75 oz Turmeric-Ginger Juice
.25 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Pimento Dram (Homemade)
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

This was not quite as good as the first version, but the reposado tequila hit some of the same notes as the J. Wray, and the allspice liqueur complimented both the juice and the tequila. Still, the recipe wasn’t perfect. I think I would have preferred chocolate instead of allspice, but I did not have any on hand.


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Strawberry Paloma

I made some strawberry-infused blanco tequila last May for the Alice In Wonderland #2, and since then I have been looking for other applications that suit it. Some readers may remember it from the Rafaela, a strawberry and chocolate variation on my favorite mezcal drink.  Last Saturday for a pregame, my homies and I decided to make a grapefruit juice version of a Paloma, the most popular tequila drink in mexico. Usually a simple combination of grapefruit soda and tequila, the Paloma can also be made with fresh grapefruit and lime juice, and that is exactly what I did.

I have never been crazy about grapefruit juice as a cocktail ingredient. Its flavor is too mild, too watery, and too subtle. I’m told that older grapefruits used to have a bitter flavor to them, but it has been bred out of modern commercial grapefruits in what I imagine was an attempt to sell more. The watery quality of juice from a fresh grapefruit from the supermarket is disappointing, and so is everything into which you mix it. Even so, the Strawberry Paloma:

Strawberry Paloma
1.5 oz Strawberry-infused Tequila (But stick to un-infused tequila, it’s better in this)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Honey Syrup

Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

On account of the above-mentioned difficulties with grapefruit juice, I could not find a balance of grapefruit juice to tequila in this drink that I loved. The idea to use honey syrup came from a similar pairing in the between grapefruit and honey in the Brown Derby. That worked pretty well, but the strawberry tequila kind of fell flat. Stick to un-infused agave spirits for this one, to really focus on the flavor of the base. The strawberry infusion produced an almost tart flavor in the tequila, and it might pair well with yoghurt or cream, but it did not work well with grapefruit.

Speaking of grapefruits, the peel sank, looking pretty, but providing no aroma. A parable.


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Dusty Bottoms

Continuing with our week of highball drinks, this is a drink that some of my friends had at a bar in San Diego called Prohibition. It’s a popular name for a craft cocktail bar, it seems. In any case, they visited the bar, and then came to visit me and told me of this drink. I then tried to recreate it, based upon their description of the ingredients and the flavor. But before we go any further, this is the perfect time to mention some errata from my earlier post, How To Make Better Drinks I wouldn’t ordinarily bother, but the post in question is in my side bar, so I feel it’s important to keep the information in good repair. In the list of problems with the drink, I somehow neglected to mention:

11. The herbs are over-muddled. We’re not making pesto, and a muddler is not a mortar and pestle. All of the menthol in mint lives in little hair-like structures on the surface of the leaf. If you bruise the leaf of the mint, you are going to release bitter chlorophyll flavors into your drink, and it will taste grassy. I suppose that could be deliberate, but a discerning palate will perceive it as an error. The better way to handle mint is to place it on the palm of your hand and give it a few good, hard, smacks. In general, when muddling herbs or citrus peels, apply firm pressure but do not tear the flesh of the plant. Fruit, on the other hand, ought to be pulverized.

The drink that my friends described to me contained reposado tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, muddled sage, and ginger beer. I do not know the exact proportions of the drink as it was served at Prohibition, but by knowing a little bit about the construction of a highball, we can come pretty close. In most cases, we want to have a total of two ounces of hard liquor in the drink, and the very natural way to do this, in this case, is with one and a half ounces of the base spirit, tequila, and one half ounce of the modifier, yellow chartreuse.

I want the flavor of the yellow chartreuse to be balanced against the acidity and flavor of the lime juice, so in this case I also used a half ounce of lime juice. Depending who you listen to, you might end up with three quarters of an ounce of liqueur, for a sweeter drink, but I like them dryer, and I plan to add more sugar in the form of ginger beer. When topping a drink with soda, many people make the mistake of filling the glass. This makes it look pretty, but you will end up putting a highly variable amount of soda into the drink, depending on the glass you use. If you want to preserve the flavor of the other elements, it is best to measure. You can always add a little more, so I limited myself to one ounce of soda water.

We made this drink after my friend Julian had just finished moving into a new apartment, so the name was appropriate. Moreover, it was a hot summer day, so whereas I usually would have used ice cubes, I wanted this drink to be a bit lighter and more refreshing, so I used crushed ice instead of ice cubes. In either case, as we discussed yesterday, it is important to fill the glass completely full with ice, to slow the melting process as much as possible. The ice does not look especially crushed in this picture, but I assure you, it was. Julian’s cat, Mimosa, wanted in on the action.

Dusty Bottoms (via Prohibition, in San Diego, CA)
1.5 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolón)
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse (Strega)
4-5 Sage Leaves (Basil)
1 oz Ginger Beer (Bundaberg)

Lightly muddle the sage leaves in the yellow Chartreuse, and then combine all except the ginger beer in a shaker. Shake over ice, and then strain over fresh ice. Add the ginger beer and Garnish with a sage leaf.

I did not have any sage at this particular juncture, but I did have basil, fresh off the plant, and it was close enough on this occasion. I also substituted Strega for yellow Chartreuse, and you can see the bottle poking it’s head up in the background. I like to bring my own ice when I’m mixing at a remote location, because the quality of the ice is critical to the quality of the drink.


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Rojo Bianco: Reposado, Vermouth, Maraschino, Campari

When I first tasted Campari, I hated it. I was furious that I had just spent 30$ on this syrupy, neon-red swill. I poured my first Negroni down the sink, and gave the bottle of Campari to my friend Gualtiero. “Get this out of my sight!” I must have said. My, how my perspective has changed. If you truly want to experience Campari in all of it’s glowing, bitter glory, you should make a Negroni, or its cousin, the Boulevardier, but if you have already strolled down those avenues of flavor, then may I suggest one of my all-time favorites, the Rojo Bianco. 

Rojo Bianco
2 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolón)
.75 oz Bianco Vermouth (Dolin)
.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
.25 oz Campari
Dash of Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Stir over ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.

As with about half the drinks I make, I first learned this one on CVS. It tastes just like you think: the Reposado is smokey and vegetal, the liqueurs are bitter, sweet, and pungent, and the vermouth fills in the middle of the flavor spectrum. I really enjoy this one, but perhaps the construction is more interesting even than the flavor. This drink comes close to the 6:3:1 template that I’ve talked about before, but it uses a bit less vermouth, and a bit more liqueur. Moreover, it splits the liqueur down the middle, and you can imagine that if this drink had only Maraschino or Campari, it would be unremarkable.

I have found that when you are following this kind of template for an aromatic drink, you can usually get away with splitting any one of the ingredients. Two base spirits, two fortified wines, or two liqueurs all provide the opportunity for creative exploration, but don’t split more than one element in the template. Two base spirits and two liqueurs? Madness lies down that road, my friend.


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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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How to Make Chocolate Liqueur

In Seattle we have a local chocolatier called Theo, and their chocolate is always popping up in local ice creams, coffee shops, and on the dessert menus of various Seattle restaurants. I wanted to get in on this Theo Chocolate band wagon, so I infused roughly five ounces of nibs in 750 ml of a 150 proof neutral grain spirit. When the goal is to create a pure extraction of a flavoring agent, you always want to use the highest proof spirit that you can. I would have used 190 proof, but it is illegal to sell in Washington, and I didn’t feel like driving to Idaho or Oregon. (Can you buy 190 proof spirit in Oregon?) Here is a picture of the nibs, getting good and sauced in a mason jar, day one:

I allowed this mixture to infuse for two weeks, agitating daily. After two weeks, it had taken on a rich chocolate brown color, and a strong, but incomplete flavor of the cacao. The secret to making an excellent liqueur in this style is to realize that only some of the flavor compounds in the chocolate are alcohol-soluble, whereas others are water-soluble. To create the fullest, roundest, most accurate chocolate flavor, you have to have both a water and an alcohol extraction. Moreover, a liqueur is supposed to be sweet, so it is necessary to add sugar.

I took another four ounces of Theo chocolate nibs and simmered them in a pot with water and sugar in a ratio of 1:1 for half an hour, until I had a dark, sweet chocolate syrup. The syrup did thicken from the sugar, but it retained the viscosity of simple syrup, because there was no melted chocolate. I knew I wanted a final spirit with a proof of 100 (50% abv), so I added 375 ml of the syrup to 750 ml of the infused spirit. This is a fun little algebra problem, which is trivial to solve using the numbers in this case, but if I had wanted a different target proof, the problem becomes slightly more fun. I leave it as an exercise for the reader, because math is almost as fun as drinking, and I would not want to deprive you.

Prior to this I had never mixed anything with chocolate liqueur, so to test the waters I made this chocolate aperitif, with the help of my friend James:

Chocolate Aperitif

.5 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur (Homemade, Theo chocolate)

Stir over ice and strain. Express the oils of a lemon peel over the top and then drop it in. Drink in front of some leather-bound books.

Under-appreciated drinking fact: leather-bound books add 50% to the classiness of any drink. The slight bitterness from the sweet vermouth softens the sugar and the alcohol in the chocolate, while lemon oil adds a complexity and a bright tone that would otherwise be lacking. Even so, this drink is on the sweet side, which is why I kept it small.

Moving on, one of my all time favorite cocktails is called the Rodriguez, which I was fortunate enough to order at the Teardrop Lounge when I visited Portland last March. The Rodriguez uses blanco tequila cut with mezcal and Benedictine to great effect, and it tastes like a walk in the desert, when the sun is just barely starting to rise, and the air is still cool. Truly, it is perfect, and yet, humans cannot resist the urge to meddle with perfection, so I created a variation by swapping out the Benedictine for my chocolate liqueur, and using strawberry-infused blanco tequila. The result was probably more appropriate for Valentine’s day, which is long-past, but the mezcal helped it retain its Mexican flavor. The result was strikingly similar to the original, while still capturing the flavors of chocolate and strawberry.

Rafaela

1.5 oz Strawberry-Infused Blanco Tequila (Camarena)
.25 oz Mezcal (Del Maguey Mezcal de Vida)
.75 oz Chocolate Liqueur (Homemade, Theo Chocolate)
.5 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
Dash of Chocolate Bitters (Fee’s)
Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

The character of this drink was feminized by the addition of fruit and chocolate, so we decided to call it Rafaela, after a beautiful girl that James used to know when he lived in Mexico.


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Libretto

Another one from Cocktail Virgin Slut, as soon as I saw this drink, I knew I had to make it. I love the combination of elderflower and Cynar, and I have been very happy in the past with Tequila and elderflower as well, so I really wanted to see how they all played together. Surprisingly, the whole drink had a coffee flavor, even though it contained no coffee.

Libretto

1.5 oz Anejo Tequila (El Jimador)
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
.5 oz Elderflower Liqueur (Pur Likor)
.5 oz Cynar
Chocolate bitters (Fee’s)

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass.

This cocktail is certainly intriguing, but not so great that I will rush to make it again. If you are hunting for novelty, as I often am, it’s worth a stop, but it’s a little too complicated to put it on my A-list. The flavors are all there if you look for them, and the dark translucency of the drink is visually appealing. The Libretto is unimpeachable from a technical perspective, just not my favorite.

To be sure, the flavor illusion of coffee is noteworthy, and I will keep a record of the drink in case there is some perfect occasion for it in the future. The art of drinking well surely includes a sense of timeliness, and you never know what occasion might warrant this exact drink.


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Bloody Mary Workshop

In Seattle, there is no such thing as summer — there is only a faint impression of summer, a flickering shadow on the wall of a cave. We are in thrall to a sad facsimile and yet! there are heirloom tomatoes. When life gives you lemons… make a whiskey sour. When life gives you tomatoes, however… you are placed in the unfortunate spot of having to make Bloody Maries.

I have never enjoyed a Bloody Mary; on the few occasions that I have ordered one, or had one ordered for me, I have found no pleasure whatsoever in drinking, essentially, campbell’s soup mixed with vodka and, if one is fortunate, fresh lemon juice. Let us be perfectly honest. This drink sucks.

In an attempt to make it better, many bartenders adopt a kitchen sink approach, in which they add every savory ingredient they can get their hands on. Pickles, bell peppers, carrots, celery, shrimp, onion, a boiled egg — all of these elements improve the drink only in the sense that they distract the imbiber from the ugly, ugly truth, which I will reiterate: you are drinking boiled tomato puree mixed with vodka.

And yet, in my heart I knew that the idea had potential, and I wanted to reclaim this drink by starting with its most fundamental component: the tomato juice itself. The texture of a Bloody Mary is wholly unappealing. Even when it is smooth, as with v8, it has a viscosity that can only come from treatment with heat.

Indeed, I do not know whether the flavor or the texture is more objectionable, but they both had to go. My friends and I started by juicing organic heirloom tomatoes, and then straining the juices through a fine-mesh strainer. We separated them by color, so at the end of the process we had three different varieties of tomato juice, in order from sweetest to tartest:

  • a deep purple, made from cherokee purple tomatoes
  • a ruby red, made from brandywine tomatoes
  • an orange-yellow, made from yellow valencia tomatoes, I think

In addition to tomato juice, we also produced (and finely-strained) juices from cucumbers, lemons, and jalapeños. The straining was very important, because one of my objectives for this workshop was to produce a drink with a velvety, elegant texture, and in so doing elevate the Bloody Mary above it’s decidedly blue collar milieu.

And speaking of elevation, the vodka simply had to go. In truth I ended up using some vodka, but I also sought the richer flavors of gin, tequila, caol ila scotch whiskey, mezcal, and amaro (not pictured). With all of our reagents prepped, we set forth to impart a touch of class to the bloody mary.

#1: Bloody Mary Queen of Scot

1 oz finely strained yellow valencia tomato juice
1 oz vodka
.5 oz Caol Ila 12 year scotch whiskey
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz cucumber juice
1 dash jalapeño juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
pinch of salt

Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thai chili and a fresh grind of black pepper.

The sourness from the yellow tomatoes made this a very bright, tangy short punch with just enough spice from the jalapeño and smokey bacony notes from the Caol Ila. Tomato juice is very rich, even strained like this, and the imbiber quickly fatigues of it, so we did not have time to iterate each of these recipes to perfection. If I attempt this recipe again, I will use slightly less lemon, and change the proportion to .75 oz of vodka and .75 oz of Caol Ila. I might also consider Laphroaig.

This was nothing like a traditional Bloody Mary, and that was a good thing. All of the flavors were evident in the experience of the drink, with bright flavors evident on the sip and savory scotch and tomato on the swallow, and a pleasing capsaicin burn on the finish. I tried to garnish it with a cucumber slice, but it sank to the bottom, ignominiously.

#2: Bloody Maria

1 oz finely strained brandywine tomato juice
1 oz platinum tequila
.5 oz mezcal
.75 oz cucumber juice
dash of jalapeño juice
dash of angostura bitters
pinch of salt
Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thai chili and a fresh grind of black pepper.

Of the four, this was by far the least delicious variation. It was missing something, and no one could really say what. We tried modifying it with a barspoon of simple syrup — to no avail, and with a barspoon of lemon juice, and the end result was even worse. Still, it was a learning experience, and there were several takeaways: Mezcal and tomato juice is a delicious combination. The pepper and the cucumber and the tomato gave this a real flavor of a garden salad, much more than with the previous drink, where the less familiar flavor of yellow valencia tomatoes was less evocative of other dishes.

I realized later that this would have been great in a highball, over ice cubes or even cracked ice. If nothing else, it had a very appealing color, and probably resembled a traditional bloody mary more than any of the other variations. I’m still learning to consider the dynamics of pouring a drink over ice vs. serving it neat. Being colder and more dilute would have made the flavor lighter and the drink more refreshing, which would have made it more appropriate for summer. I also think it would have highlighted the cucumber element.

#3: Pale Mary (like “Hail Mary”)

2 oz yellow valencia tomato water*
1.5 oz vodka
.25 oz platinum tequila
.25 oz cucumber juice
1 barspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

Stir over cracked ice and strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Of all the drinks in the workshop, this one was our most anticipated. After straining the orange tomato juice through a fine mesh strainer, we poured five ounces or so through a chemex filter, and it slowly dripped down into a glass, yielding a fragrant, orange-tinted water. Despite its clarity, the tomato water had a noteworthy viscosity, though its flavor was as light as its color. Not wanting to overwhelm it with powerful flavors, I initially stuck with the basics of vodka and lemon. That was a little too plain for me, so I added the vegetal hues of tequila and cucumber to round out the flavor.

Stirring  the Pale Mary provided us with an elegant texture, but alas, drinking so much tomato, no matter how processed, proved to be very taxing. If this had been my first drink, I would have enjoyed it much more. I’m not sure if the end result was worth the time it took, but this was the most interesting drink, and it is assuredly worthy of your breakfast.

My only wish for improvement: a basil leaf garnish, smacked.

*Note: to make tomato water, first prepare a chemex filter as you would for coffee, by saturating it with boiling water. Pour the juice into the filter and allow it to fall through. I got about 1.5 oz per hour.

#4: Mary, Truffle Hunter

1.5 oz finely strained purple cherokee tomato juice
1 oz + 1 dash amaro al tartufo
pinch of salt

Shake over ice, garnish with a razor thin slice of truffle. (I did not do this part)

After three very savory drinks, I had two goals: something digestive, to calm the stomach and something sweet, to serve as dessert. The purple cherokee tomatoes produced the sweetest juice of the different cultivars we tried. I did not want to completely depart from the theme, however, and I still needed to complement the bold umami flavors of heirloom tomato.

Fortunately, my friend Gualtiero brought me a bottle of this truffle-flavored amaro the last time he was in Italy. Amaro al Tartufo is sweet and only slightly bitter. Fruity on the sip, it lingers after the swallow with an earthy truffle vapor . I was very pleased that the truffle came through in this mix, and the change of pace from the previous drinks made it the unexpected favorite.

I will probably not make a Bloody Mary again for a while, but when I do, I will explore bacon fat-infused bourbon and one or two savory bitters. Special thanks to my friends James and Julian for helping with the prep work and for putting up with these ridiculous drinks, and also to Julian for naming #3 and #4.


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Lot No. 3

Last night I visited Lot No. 3, easily the best bar on the Eastside. Their drink menu is probably too large, but the drinks are well-executed. Their original creations can be a little hit or miss, but I give them full points for effort, and I commend them highly on the name “Stregasaurus” for a mixture of Cocchi Americano, strega, fernet branca, lime, and sugar. I ordered this drink with with a little extra Fernet, and they were happy to oblige me.

The Stregasaurus was not my choice last night, however; I was drawn instead to a the Sayulita, which in retrospect was a bit over-wrought. I feel no pressing desire to replicate this drink, but this is my guess:

Sayulita?

2 oz Reposado Tequila (El Jimador)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica)
1/4 oz Strega
1/4 oz Aperol
Dash of Cinnamon tincture
Dash of Grapefruit bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

I wanted to like this, and it was very drinkable, but the tequila flavor was utterly lost, and all I could really taste was Strega. I was intrigued by this drink because it resembled one of my all-time favorites, the Rojo Bianco, but it was not a comparable variation. My intuition says that dry vermouth would have been a much better choice.