Wednesday, August 15

Bermuda Highball

Bermuda Highball
  • 3/4 oz. dry gin
  • 3/4 oz. brandy
  • 3/4 oz. French (dry) vermouth
Build in an 8 oz. highball glass. Add an ice cube (or three) and top with Ginger Ale or Club Soda. Garnish with a lemon twist, if you wish.

Not sure why this one's named after Bermuda, though it is rather tasty. I chose to go with Ginger Ale, which, as I've said in the past, can cover a lot of a cocktail's sins, and it definitely made for a refreshing cocktail with a hint of sophistication. That's pretty much what you get when you add dry vermouth to something, though there's definitely a chance that I need to update my stock of vermouths; it's starting to taste a bit flat. That said, I do really enjoy any drink that calls for multiple base spirits, since it adds a lot more complexity than this drink would have with simply 1 1/2 oz. of either gin or brandy. This is definitely a good one.

Wednesday, August 8

Bermuda Bouquet

Bermuda Bouquet:
  • Juice of 1/4 orange
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 tsp. powdered Sugar (2 tsp. Simple Syrup)
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 tsp. Grenadine
  • 1/2 tsp Curacao
Shake and strain into 8 oz. Highball glass.

This one is interesting, and it once again brings to mind, just how much ice did people use in the Old Mr. Boston Cocktail Book days? The recipe calls for none in the glass, which I started with, and quickly noticed that we were left with about 5 oz. of liquid in an 8 oz. glass, which left a lot to be desired for presentation. I chose to drop in two large ice cubes, both to keep things cool and also to raise the liquid level. I chose large ice cubes (perfectly 1 in. square!) to minimize dilution and ice melt, which worked through the duration of the drink. It's so foreign to me to not just fill the glass in question with ice and strain the drink over the top. I think going forward, unless the recipe calls for something specific, I'm going to just put in a few large ice cubes. Agreed? Good.

Also assumed, mostly because it's getting annoying to have to continue to write out an oz. measurement, is that when something calls for 1/2 of a lime or some such thing, I'm just going to do that. I usually convert it to oz. and then add that much, which is good and precise, but I'm finding that sometimes it makes me over-think the drink. With this one in particular, I used my standard "1/2 of a fruit" measurement of 3/4 oz. of Lemon juice, and the drink came off too sweet. I made it a second time through, simply using half of a lemon, and it was perfectly balanced. So from here on out, for drinks from the Old Mr. Boston DeLuxe Official Bartender's Guide, I'm going to use medium sized Limes, large Lemons, normal sized Oranges, and so on. Basically, whatever seems to be the normative fruit size will be the one I use. It's not as precise, but I think it should suffice.

Anyway, on the actual drink, it's a nice mix of flavors, but as I said, using too little Lemon juice created a drink that was a bit too sweet. The Apricot Brandy was very forward, which may have contributed to the overall sweetness, but adding back in the correct amount of Lemon juice fixed that right up. Very nice and tropical, as the name would suggest. With the correct balance, this one is really quite delightful! Recommend.

Bennett Cocktail

Here we have a nice twist on a gin sour. Kind of like a Gimlet with some orange bitters.

Bennett Cocktail:
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime (about 3/4 oz.)
  • 1/2 tsp powdered sugar (1 tsp. simple syrup)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
Shake and (double) strain into 3 oz. Cocktail glass.
For this cocktail, I got to use a new vial of Bittermen's Orange Cream Citrate bitters. Somehow I've managed to keep myself to just two different kinds of Orange bitters, and these are a good one. They come with a dropper, which is boss, though I haven't decided how many drops is in a dash just yet. Maybe it's one. I put five or six drops in this one, approximating two dashes, and the flavor really came through. It was like drinking a dreamsicle.Which is, by the way, delicious.

I was struck by how few drinks up to this point had used sugar or simple syrup. Most of the drinks in this book (so far) use a liqueur, or a flavored syrup like grenadine or raspberry syrup, to get the sweetness to balance out, rather than overpower, the sour elements. Just one very, very different aspect, as compared to modern flavor palettes. 

As for the overall balance of the drink, I liked it. It's not to difficult to get a good drink when you use the time-honored combination of spirit, sour and sweet with a dash of bitters, and this one just tasted...right. It's like a Gimlet with a twist, which I can very much appreciate.

Tuesday, August 7

Belmont Cocktail

Well, time to get back on the wagon. What's first on the list? Something with Scotch? Maybe a new kind of bitters? A....a pink cocktail? Great.

Belmont Cocktail:
  • 2 oz. Gin
  • 1 tsp. Raspberry syrup
  • 3/4 oz. sweet cream
Shake and (double) strain into 4 oz Cocktail glass.

This is a pretty simple one, but it does call for Raspberry syrup. There was at least one other drink that I've come across in the book (the Albemarle Fizz) that called for the syrup, so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and make some. The process wasn't overly difficult, either, and I just kind of winged it, adapting one way that I've made Grenadine in the past. I took three cups of sugar and two cups of water, brought it to a boil, stirring it so that the syrup was clear. Then I added a 6 oz. package of Raspberries and lowered the heat so that it was simmering uncovered, like so:

I let that go for about half an hour, then double strained out the bits of fruit and let the whole thing continue to simmer to reduce it down to a syrup. I let it go for about 15 minutes, but you should be able to tell because it will start to get thick. Then I just cooled it, and voila. Raspberry syrup.

The whole thing took about an hour, which really isn't too bad. And the product we're left with is nice and raspberry-y.

And so then there's the drink. I'm not sure what is up with people from the turn of the century, but I can't get behind Gin + cream. Cream has such a weird texture/mouthfeel that doesn't jive well with the bitterness of the alcohol and botanicals that make up Gin, and I really can't understand why someone would do something like this to such a good spirit. On the other hand, I have had the Ramos Gin Fizz which was just sublime. Maybe this is just a bad cocktail? Can't get over it. Next.

Thursday, August 2

New Speaker, Old Cocktails

In the course of cycling through gear, some guy offered me a trade involving an Eminence Cannabis Rex, and I thought, sure! I'd been tentatively thinking about replacing the speakers in both of my amps, more so to see what kind of a difference it would make than anything else, and this was one of the "good" ones on the list for the Blues Jr., so I decided to go for it. So I opened that puppy up, made the swap (which was way easier than I'd been expecting, if not a little tedious) and also messed around with my reverb tank, while I was in there. The reverb tank repair didn't take, but the new speaker sure did...

I've been using my Blues Jr. a bit more than my Valve Jr. for when I've got my big-boy electric guitar rig going, mostly because I've found that some of the things that I do to add clarity and punch also add a little bit of harshness to the signal. The combination of my buffer, compressor and BBE Sonic Stomp all make for a crystal clear clean tone, despite the endless effects pedals around, but with all of that clarity, I had to start turning my brightness and sparkle controls all the way down to keep my ears from falling off. I haven't had a chance to run my new speaker through my big rig just yet, but in plugging it in to make sure things worked, this speaker definitely delivers. It's just mellowed things out a bit. Not detracting from the high end or anything like that, but everything just sounds so much more pleasing to the ear. The speaker has also been broken in, which is good, and it's got plenty of bass, which I always appreciate. I've got some more testing and tweaking to do, obviously, but I think it's fixed the issue, which is a great feeling!

I also recently got an e-mail from a prominent cocktail blogger saying very nice things about my site, which was awesome but at the same time made me realize it's been months since I've posted about anything non-guitar-related. Not that that's the end of the world, but things have been a bit one-sided. So to update that side of my personality, I've been drinking about as much as usual, but not really anything exciting or new. I see a huge upswing in the abilities of bars to accommodate the drink snob like me, but it's still probably going to be years, if ever, before we get back to the bar, circa 1957. Not that it's the bar's fault; that lies mostly in the hands and tastebuds of my peers, who would still rather have alcohol be a means to an end, rather than an experience for the palate. Call me old-fashioned, but if I'm going to have an adult drink, I'd prefer it didn't taste like something a kindergartener would enjoy.

But to that end, my time spent drinking out almost always gravitates towards the safe choices. It's impossible to mess up a Gin and Tonic, the old liquor on the rocks takes literally no thought on the bartender's part, and the varieties of craft beer available in the St. Louis area make me wonder if I could ever make it through every beer in existence. My opportunities to drink from the comforts of my own home bar have been more limited, too, though more due to my own laziness than anything else. My liquor collection is as impressive as ever, and I now have access to 7 different bitters, orange flower-water, Allspice Dram and Falernum, but have yet to really experiment with a lot of it. Part of it is, after a night of work, I just prefer the ease of a beer or a scotch, rather than rattling up the shaker. Part of it is that I'm less than satisfied with my ice-making capabilities. I think I'm getting old and crotchety. And still only 26!

Perhaps I'll get back to a place where I'm drinking something exciting more regularly. Everything is a cycle, as they say.