Measure & Stir

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


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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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Malibooya! Rum Daisy in Coconut

Note: If you came here looking for Kanye’s “recipe” in his song, this is my take on it, and it bears only a vague resemblance to what he says in the song. If you want to make the recipe from song, I suggest the following proportion:
1.5 oz Grey Goose Vodka
.5 oz Malibu Coconut “Rum”
Combine all in a mixing glass with ice and stir 40 times. Stirring with ice dilutes the drink, in addition to making it colder, so that it will taste smoother. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass. This recipe tastes like shite, so I humbly suggest that you use also add one ounce of coconut water, from a brand such as Zico or Vita Coconut Water. If you really want to class it up, of course, read on:

In the words of the philosopher Kanye West:

Chick came up to me and said,
This the number to dial
If you wanna make your #1 your #2 now
Mix the Goose and Malibu, I call it Mali-BOOYA

As you probably know, we don’t believe in Vodka here at Measure and Stir, except for fortifying syrups and disinfecting minor cuts and scrapes. We also don’t believe in Malibu, which is probably the least appetizing thing in the world ever to be labelled rum. Indeed, on account of Mr. West, I now refer to any drink as Malibooya when its chief components are drawn from the following: (Flavored or not) Vodka, Malibu, Midori, Jager, Sour Apple Pucker, Peach Schnapps, low-proof fruit-flavored “liqueurs”, red bull, sprite, and pasteurized orange juice.

Even so, I sometimes hear the siren song of coconut rum, whose call I answer by pouring J. Wray and Nephew into a coconut. And yes, I did, in fact, put lime in the coconut, and then I proceeded to “drink it all up”. Though to be honest, even though I adore fresh coconut water, I’m not sold on it as an ingredient for a mixed drink; coconut milk and cream provide a much more rounded and robust coconut flavor, because they incorporate the qualities of the coconut meat, and the richness of its fat, into the drink. Coconut water is so thin that it almost makes this a grog.

(not my greatest photo, I know)

Malibooya #2

3 oz Fresh Young Coconut Water
2 oz Traditional Rum (Wray and Nephew)
.75 oz Curacao (Clement Creole Shrub)
.5 oz Lime Juice

Drain a fresh young coconut, and measure out just enough coconut water for your drink. Shake all ingredients over ice, then double strain and funnel back into the coconut. Drink it through a straw.

The more astute of you will have noticed that this is a rum daisy that has been diluted with fresh coconut water. I put my coconut in the freezer for half an hour before I drained them, so that the interior of the shell would be cold. A true bad-ass of tiki would, of course, lop off the top of the coconut with a machete, instead of just punching a hole in it with his ice pick, but my training is not yet complete, and I have yet to purchase a machete. (Incidentally, can anyone recommend a good one?)

If I had done that, I would have been able to fill the coconut with ice, and it would have been a much better drinking experience for this relatively low-proof drink. Drinking out of a coconut is a lot of fun, but I regretted my choice of Clement Creole Shrub in this drink. CCS (as we say in the biz) has a very robust orange flavor, and it stomped on the relatively light coconut flavor. You would be better off with Cointreau (or similar) for this one.


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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.