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17 Jan

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Paint the Town Red-1 oz. vodka, 3 oz blood orange juice, .5 oz Campari, egg white, dash Peychaud’s

14 Jan

Paint the Town Red:

1 oz. Vodka (Shaker’s Rye Vodka)
3 oz. orange juice (blood orange)
1/2 oz. Campari
1 egg white
Dash Peychaud’s bitters

Dry shake all ingredients. Add ice and shake all ingredients. Double-strain into chille cocktail glass. Garnish with bitters.

This cocktail is a slight variant of Gary Regan’s, On-the-Town cocktail, swapping traditional orange juice for blood orange juice. The cocktail nose is citrus and faintly anise , the sip smooth and light, yet rich with a bitter grapefruit, coriander-seed finish that’s slightly spicy on account of the rye in the vodka. Shaker’s Rye Vodka is a flavorful vodka with a great finish. The vodka nose is isopropyl alcohol, which is unfortunate considering the flavorful finish of cocoa, toasted almonds, and grains. Both Shaker’s products are great choices for those who like their vodkas to taste like something. We found Shaker’s Rye to be good for mixing, but we would probably not use in a vodka martini cocktail (Shaker’s other offering of a Wheat Vodka is a different matter and will be covered in future posts). The cocktail is only sweetened by the natural sugars present in the blood orange juice and the bittersweetness of the Campari. It is a good cocktail for citrus lovers, who like their drinks drier than sweet.

Yeyo Tequila and the Executive Sunrise

13 Jan

Executive Sunrise:

1.5 oz tequila (Yeyo)
4 oz orange juice (blood oranges)
2 tsp creme de cassis (Mathilde)

Almost fill collins glass with ice cubes. Add tequila and orange juice and stir well. Add cassis.

The number of new high quality tequilas currently available is simply amazing. One of the first new entrants to the field that we had the opportunity to experiment with was Yeyo Tequila imported from a 4th generation master distiller in Jalisco, (relatively) locally through Beaverton, OR. The styling and branding reminded us of something a young-executive would enjoy, hence the Executive Sunrise from Gary Regan’s Bartenders Bible. The recipe calls for regular orange juice, but all we had on hand was blood oranges (moros) so a darker sunrise (in true Portland fashion) was in order. The blood oranges have a bit more tartness than traditional oranges that went very well with the slightly sweet and tangy Mathilde Creme de Cassis. The tequila is very mixable, with a very smooth sip and pleasant briny peppery finish. Yeyo tequila is also quite drinkable neat, with little burn (especially for a silver) and full agave flavor.

Sweeten your cocktails with salt not sugar! Averna and Cynar salted.

13 Jan

Salt of the Earth:

1 oz. Averna
1 oz. Cynar
Scant pinch of Australian Murray River pink flake salt*
Orange zest

*(You may have to do some experimenting to get the right amount of salt, so start with smaller drinks so you don’t waste good booze. If it tastes salty, you used too much salt)

Stir with ice. Strain. Express oils from orange zest. Garnish with zest if desired.

This cocktail was the result of multiple bits of inspiration over the past 6 months. The idea of salting cocktails (beyond margarita rims), has been marinating for some time after reading the excellent, informative, and scientific article from Maks Pazuniak, of beta cocktails and The Counting Room. Essentially, salt mitigates the bitterness of flavors and heightens their perceived sweetness (please read the article for further explanation of the chemical reaction of salts effect on bitterness, as well as links to recipes for other salted cocktails) which has broad ranging implications within the cocktail realm, especially with the plethora of bitters and amari currently available.

Chefs have long practiced the use of salt to pull out sweetness in otherwise bitter herbs, spices, and dishes. This is noted in the second bit of inspiration for the drink, the book The Flavor Bible, which was mentioned by virtually every speaker in the Portland Cocktail Week seminars last year and recently came in the mail. It is a reference book that focuses on the philosophy of flavors, the pairing and grouping of flavors , and is very inspirational when creating new drinks or meals.

The final bit came from Ron Dollete of LushAngeles.com, who during TDN of Portland Cocktail week paired Averna with Cynar and Bittermens Mole Bitters for a memorable cocktail, though I don’t remember the exact proportions. We didn’t have Mole bitters on hand so we opted for a 1:1 ratio of Averna:Cynar. Have any salted cocktail recipes you’d like to share?

Coat of Armor- @bluecoatgin, Pelinkovac, lemon juice, Cherry Heering, egg white, @bittercube bitters, lemon zest

11 Jan

1.5 oz gin (Bluecoat)
.75 oz. Pelinkovac
.75 oz. Lemon juice
.5 oz. and a dash Cherry Heering
1 egg white
Lemon zest
Cherry bark vanilla bitters (Bittercube)

Shake all ingredients without ice to get fluffy egg-white foam. Shake all ingredients with ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with bitters and lemon zest.

While working with Pelinkovac in previous cocktails, we thought it would make a good flavor pairing with cherry, hence the inspiration for this drink. The juniper heavy, American-made Bluecoat Gin seemed a worthy candidate to stand aside the bold bitter. Usually the farther from London you are, the less pronounced the juniper, but this Philadelphia company doesn’t tame things down for the American palate, though this isn’t to say that it’s harsh (especially considering it’s 94 proof) or single note, as there are rich citrus and herbal tones, gentian and citrus zest are most predominant with hints of cardamom and other botanicals.

In our first attempt, we omitted the egg white, but the Pelinkovac was a bit astringent and dry on the finish, probably aided a bit by the high proof gin. The egg white proved to soften and round out the flavors for what we considered a more successful cocktail. There was a citrus cherry sweetness on the nose, juniper forward sip, a tart citrus and herbal wormwood/angelica/gentian bitterness on the swallow, with the extra dash of Cherry Heering keeping the bitterness from overpowering the drink. Bitter drink-lovers may choose to keep the Cherry Heering at a 1/2 oz. The citrus makes this cocktail lighter than other bitter (but delicious) drinks like the Negroni, making the Coat of Armor a good intro to Pelinkovac.

Wave Goodbye- 2 oz @VermontSpirits, 1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Dash @UrbanMoonshine Maple Bitters, Tangerine zest

10 Jan

2 oz. Vodka (Vermont Spirits Gold)
1 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
Dash maple bitters (Urban Moonshine)
Tangerine zest

In a recent article from the LA Times Magazine, Camper English declared that the martini does not exist. More accurately, that the perception and creation of the drink has morphed with time and trends until utterly unrecognizable. This morphology is disconcerting to those averse to change, but we welcome variations so long as the values of quality ingredients, form, and technique remain true to what originally placed their predecessors in the annals of mixology. The tangerine zest adds a really bright citrus nose. The drink has a smooth botanical forward and is mildly sweet.

The Vermont Spirits Gold vodka has an earthen vanilla forward and a cocoa, mildly spicy rye-like finish on account of the maple saps spicy attributes. The vodka is distilled from the sugars of maple sap, and not a flavored vodka. This is not to say that there are not hints of maple flavor in the vodka, as Vermont Spirits only lightly filters the Gold after a triple distillation, but it is not obviously maple (the addition of Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters, a fellow Vermont producer of bitters and tinctures, serves to amplify its flavor). Amazingly, it takes all of the sap from one tree to create one bottle of Vermont Gold, which only flows for less than six weeks a year truly making this vodka a small-batch craft-product by necessity. At around $40 a 750ml, its standard to high priced for a luxury vodka, which may prevent non-vodka drinkers from purchasing, but there is also a 350ml available for around $20, and an excellent option for the curious and adventurous. F. Paul Pacult of The Spirit Journal, writes that it’s “worth every bloody cent”. Current availability is limited to New England States and Metro New York City but we hope to see it served in more bars and cocktails in the near future. What’s your idea of the perfect martini?

Magave Anejo Tequila

7 Jan

Though we try to focus mainly on spirit use in cocktails, there are times when a bottle comes our way that would almost be a shame to add anything to it. Of course, we will try at some point in time, but wanted to make sure that anyone who has the ability to work with this product, seizes the opportunity (and please come back to let us know what cocktails you create). Magave is available in CA retail stores and restaurants, and also available from online distributors here. Retailing for around $40, it is comparable price wise to many high end tequilas, but with a flavor profile to rival mezcal, a relative bargain. Mezcal lovers will appreciate Magave Anejo for it’s prominent vegetal, mildly smoky, oily richness. However, it has a bit of sweetness to it, that will make it more accessible for tamer folks looking to explore the realm of aged tequilas and expand their palate, but aren’t yet ready for the full briny plunge that is mezcal love.

The first thing that is different about the tequila is the bottle, which is one the most interesting and beautiful we’ve come across. World Bottles, the subsidiary of Magave, are the only producers of etched and painted glass spirits bottles. The etching also helps to provide a better grip when serving. Sometimes fancy bottles can turn spirit lovers into skeptics, with the belief that a hefty marketing budget and good design are a cover up for a sub-par product. Upon first taste all skepticism will be vanquished. I am not alone in my opinion of its quality, as the Anejo won Best of Show Double Gold for Best Anejo at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 94 points from the Beverage Tasting Institute for 2010 (see their tasting notes here).

Honey, fig, vanilla, black pepper, and bourbon nose, perfectly represent the charred oak casks the tequila is rested in, without overtaking the pungent agave flavors with too much wood. Anejo means that the tequila was rested in small oak barrels for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 3. The Magave portfolio also includes an Blanco (aged less than 2 months) and a Reposado (aged a minimum of two months and a maximum of one year). We did not sample the Blanco or Reposado, so cannot comment on them, but look forward to seeing them in the near future as tequila takes it place as “the new vodka”, as proclaimed by Boozehound Jason Wilson in the Washington Post, we are confident that time is not too far off.

Salvatore’s Gift- Bourbon, Averna, citrus juices, @Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters, vanilla bean soda

2 Jan

1.5 oz. Bourbon (Michter’s US *1 Small Batch)
1 oz. Averna
1/3 oz. Blood orange juice
1/3 oz. lemon juice
2 dash cherry bark vanilla bitters (Bittercube)
1/4 inch vanilla bean
Top with vanilla bean soda (opt.) (Dry Soda)
lemon oils

Shake all ingredients except soda (if using) over ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with soda. Express lemon oils with zest over cocktail. Discard zest.

This cocktail was created with vanilla as the star ingredient. Bourbon and Averna have a natural affinity and herbaceous richness, and Michter’s US*1 Small Batch Bourbon is a top choice and excellent candidate for this drink. Blood orange juice was used for color and flavor, but any orange juice can be substituted. We had to play with the ratios a bit, the first version was made without lemon juice, but the following attempt included lemon juice which helped to brighten the flavors and pull out cherry and cocoa notes and a lively tartness not quite achieved with the blood orange juice alone.

Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters further complement the Averna, and add floral, fruit, and spice complexity as well as further evoking the chocolate notes in the Averna with its own hint of cocoa . For a lighter cocktail, try topping it off with Dry Sodas Vanilla Bean one example from Dry Soda’s portfolio that showcase how natural ingredients, lightly sweetend with pure sugar, and champagne-style small-bubble carbonation can yield fantastic and exciting results with endless pairing options.

Bols Cardoon- 1.5 oz @BolsGenever, 1 oz Cardamaro, .75 oz lemon juice, .25 oz @CointreauUSA

28 Dec

1.5 oz Bols Genever
1 oz. Cardamaro
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz. orange liqueur (Cointreau)
lemon oils

Shake over ice. Double strain. Express lemon oils and discard zest

The nose is malt and citrus forward, interesting, as many genever cocktails have a bit of malt on the nose, but wait to reveal their full expression of maltiness on the finish. This is still present, yet now coupled with the richness of Cardamaro, a Bosca estate wine-based amaro flavored with Cardoon, a relative of the artichoke, and Blessed Thistle, along with a blend of other secret botanicals, before resting in oak for a minimum of six months resulting in a less bitter predecessor to modern amaris. It has a smoky, incense-like richness, with notes of copal and frankincense. Cardamaro can be a bit tricky to find in stores in the US, but can be special ordered for around $20 a bottle.

We have been in citrus heaven this season, with a large variety of unique heirloom varietals. The first iteration of this cocktail was made with sweet lime juice, which look like lemons and taste like candy with very little acidity. The resulting cocktail did not have the requisite acidity to help the other flavors adequately “pop”, and we yielded a much better cocktail by selecting a classic lemon for our citrus.

While we missed the Campo de Encanto Pisco Post-Holiday punch party at Teardrop Lounge, we got one great recipe that also includes Cardamaro from Portland’s Dave Shenaut.

2 oz. Cocoa infused Encanto Pisco
1 oz. Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth
.5 oz. Cardamaro
2 dashes Dandelion bitters
lemon zest

Aquinas 209- 1.5 oz gin, .5 oz lemon juice, dash Peychaud’s bitters, top with @Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock @209wendi

28 Dec

1.5 oz. Gin (No. 209)
.5 oz. Lemon juice
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Top with Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock Soda

Shake all ingredients less soda over ice. Strain into old fashioned glass with fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with lemon slice.

This drink was somewhat reminiscent of a Pimms Cup less the physical fruit. This is largely due to fruitiness of Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock soda, which could serve as an interesting substitute for plain soda in a Pimms Cup. We’ve got a long wait in Portland until it’s Pimm’s season, but will mentally note the potential.

Dandelion and Burdock has been a traditional British soft drink since around 1265.  This cocktail gets it’s name from St. Thomas Aquinas, who when walking in the countryside “trusting God to provide”, concocted a beverage with the first plants he encountered, which aided his concentration for formulating his theological arguments for Summa Theologica. The flavor of the soda is probably something that you will really like or really dislike with few opinions in between. The drink is particularly popular in the United Kingdom where a slew of imitators using artificial flavors have poorly attempted recreation, while Fentiman’s is the only beverage maker offering an accurate recreation of the classic beverage, complete with natural fermentation.

The cocktails nose is citrus and wintergreen. No. 209 gin is a remarkably smooth gin and an a joy to mix with as the botanicals are prominant without dominance. It is a must-have for any gin lovers collection. Juniper and wintergreen follow on the swallow making for an interesting and refreshing flavor combination. The addition of Peychaud’s is to further bring out the aniseed flavors from the Fentimans soda. Have any of your ideas about using Dandelion and Burdock in cocktails? Please share in the comments!