Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy National Margarita Day

Since today is National Margarita Day, just wanted to post this quick recipe:

Agave Margarita
1.5oz Sauza Tequila Blanco
1oz Homemade Sweet and Sour
.5oz Agave Nectar
.5oz Triple Sec
Splash of Orange juice

Fill a glass with ice. Add the tequila, sweet and sour, agave nectar, triple sec and orange juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into the glass.

Enjoy!!!! I'll soon be putting together a series of posts based on what I tasted at 4th Annual Good Spirits cocktail party.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Haitian Libation

February 19, 1942 is arguably the lowest and darkest day in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was on this day that he signed Executive Order 9066 which laid the foundation for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But what does this have to do with cocktails? Well, aside from Frankin Delano Roosevelt? Nothing. But FDR does measure favorably in terms of cocktails.

Remember, FDR is the President who led the charge to have the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution (aka Prohibition) repealed with the 21st Amendment. Not only that, FDR was an avid drinker who loved his martinis and apparently came up with an oddly named cocktail called The Haitian Libation. Now according to the blogpost Presidential Cocktails: History of the White House Wet Bar the Haitian Libation is described as such:
His “Haitian Libation” was a mixture of dark rum, orange juice, brown sugar, and an egg white, shaken in a  tumbler. According to his son Elliott, this drink was best suited “for women companions, when he wanted them to feel frivolous.”
Apparently FDR liked to get his groove on with frivolous feeling ladies. Rock on!!!! In terms of the Haitian Libation, I have no idea on why it was called that or what the measurements are in terms of making the cocktail.

Perhaps FDR had it made with a Haitian rum such as Rhum Barbancourt? This would make sense since according to the Los Angeles Times article by Scott Kraft entitled In Haiti, a rum everyone can agree on  dated February 9, 2010:
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived here in 1934 to mark the end of America's occupation of Haiti, he insisted on toasting the hand-over with local Barbancourt rum.
Well, that kind of gives some validity to the theory I have on the name but it still leaves me with two issues. One is that I still don't know the measurements. Two is that I don't have any Rhum Barbancourt. Guess I'll have to just wing it. Here is what I came up with:

The Haitian Libation a-la SiscoVanilla
1.5oz Dark Rum (I Used Bacardi Select)
3oz Orange Juice
.5 teaspoon of Brown Sugar
1 egg white

Build in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (shake with no ice). Add ice to shaker and shake vigorously. Double strain into a glass.
Now mind you folks, this is my first attempt at making a cocktail with an egg white so I am really working in uncharted territory here. So how was it.

As you can see, the cocktail has a nice frothy head and that's due to the egg white. I have to say that this cocktail is light and rather refreshing. The orange flavor of the juice stands out and the rum hangs out sublimely in the background. I thought that adding the brown sugar would make this a supremely sweet cocktail. It doesn't. I actually like it very much. Definitely a nice spring/summer cocktail. Now I don't knowif  it it'll make me "frivolous".

Perhaps I should make a trip down to The Rum House and see if they make it with Rhum Barbancourt or would attempt to make it with some other rum. Sounds like another field trip for good old Sisco Vanilla.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What is Maotai Part I

I was recently reading an article entitled How Mrs Thatcher Lost Hong Kong: Ten years ago, fired up by her triumph in the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher flew to Peking for a last-ditch attempt to keep Hong Kong under British rule - only to meet her match in Deng Xiaoping. Two years later she signed the agreement handing the territory to China by Robert Cottrell which was published in The Independent dated August 30, 1992. In the article, Cottrell describe parts of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's visit to Beijing (then known as Peking) and how she essentially lost the British colony of Hong Kong to the Communist Chinese. One thing in particular caught my eye from not the historian's perspective but from the bartender's perspective. The article makes a brief mention of a spirit called Maotai. Here is how it is described in the article:
Between toasts in maotai - the Chinese sorghum liquor, of which Clive James, also in the press party, observed: 'It has the same effect as inserting your head in a cupboard and asking a large male friend to slam the door'
Well, based on that description, how could I not want to research what Maotai was. Before I go into Maotai, I needed to look into what Sorghum is. In the article What is Sorghum from the Wisegeek website, Sorghum is described as:
Sorghum is one of the top cereal crops in the world, along with wheat, oats, corn, rice, and barley...Sorghum is favored by the gluten intolerant and is often cooked as a porridge to be eaten alongside other foods. The grain is fairly neutral in flavor, and sometimes slightly sweet. This makes it well adapted to a variety of dishes, because, like tofu, sorghum absorbs flavors well. It can also be eaten plain...The grain is also used around the world to brew beers
According to the listing for Maotai on the Confucius Institute Online:
 It is produced in a town called Maotai, in the city of Renhuai , under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Zunyi, in the Guizhou province of southwestern China. It is believed that the town of Maotai possesses a unique climate and vegetation that contributes to the taste of the drink. Maotai, which is classified as "sauce-fragranced" (jiangxiang) because it offers an exceptionally pure, mild, and mellow soy sauce-like fragrance that lingers after it is consumed, is distilled from fermented sorghum and now comes in different versions ranging in alcohol content from the standard 53% by volume down to 35%.
In additon, here is how it is described in terms of Historical relevance in China:
Maotai is named after the town with the same name near Zunyi in Renhuai, Guizhou Province, where winemaking has a very long history. The Maotai of today originated during the Qing Dynasty and first won international fame when winning a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. In addition, Maotai was also named a national liquor in 1951, two years after the founding of People's Republic of China. Maotai also claimed two gold medals separately at the Paris International Exposition in 1985 and 1986. Maotai has won 14 international awards and 20 domestic awards since the Chinese Revolution...During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Maotai became the first Chinese liquor to be produced in large-scale production with an annual output of 170 tons.In 2007, more than 6,800 tons of Maotai were sold. Maotai current sells over 200 tons of Maotai to over 100 countries and regions across the world.
Lauren Hilgers of Newsweek in an article entitled How Maotai Became the World’s Only Socialist Luxury Brand dated March 4, 2012 describes Maotai as such:
Maotai was once the preferred drink of China’s revolutionaries; today it is the country’s most expensive domestic spirit. There is no brand more entangled in China’s political history or more representative of the country’s modern contradictions. It graces the tables of China’s elites. Older bottles are so sought after that they sell for millions of yuan at auctions. Maotai is perhaps the world’s only socialist luxury brand.
Apparently the Chinese revolutionaries during the 1930's would use Maotai to disinfect and sterilize wounds and to cure a number of different ailments. Also, journalist Dan Rather upon tasting some Maotai described it as if he was drinking "liquid razor blades". LOL. Zhao Chen who is an author of several books on Maotai (is quoted in the Hilgers article as describing Maotai) “It’s not just a drink; it’s a piece of Chinese culture.”

Apparently Zhao has also come up with the proper way to consume Maotai. Here is how it is described in the Hilgers article:
The taste can take getting used to, so he thinks one should always start with three small shots in quick succession. (Zhao is more charitable than Dan Rather in his characterization of Maotai’s taste. He calls it “spicy.”) “You can’t sip Maotai,” he explains. “You need to feel that ‘glug’ in the back of your throat. Then you know you’re drinking it correctly.” Under his arm, Zhao carries a bottle. Written diagonally on the label is a number, 53 percent, or about 106 proof. “Some of these go up to 60 percent,” Zhao says.
Three small shots in quick succession of 106 proof liquor? Man, that is some potent stuff to be shooting in that manner. I can see why Clive James described Maotai as having the effect of sticking your head in a cupboard and having a large friend slam the door on your head. LOL.

Well, I guess I have a scavenger hunt ahead of me. Now where do I find some Maotai here in NYC. Any suggestions true believers? Hmmm, the quest begins.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blood Orange Gin Lime Rickey

I've been looking for a number of cocktail recipes that incorporate Blood Oranges ever since Momma-San got be that bag of Blood Oranges last week. One such recipe that I found intriguing was one for a Blood Orange Gin Lime Rickey from website. In their post they made a batch large enouh for a pitcher. So I decided to scale it down to a single serving with a slight variation. Here is their recipe:
Blood Orange Gin Lime Rickey
1 1/4 C fresh blood orange juice, plus a few slices for garnish
1/4 C fresh lime juice, plus a few slices for garnish
1 C Gin
1 C Soda water

1) Juice oranges (until you have a cup and 1/4 of juice... probably about 8-10 oranges).
2) Pour the juice, along with 1/4 C of lime juice into a pitcher. Then pour in the gin and top off with the soda. Add a few slices of limes and blood oranges.
3) Fill a glass with ice and pour the drink in.

(makes about 4 drinks)
Scaling down the ingredients, and making the cocktail I found that it was very light and refreshing but I found that it was somewhat tart. It was missing a small portion of sweetness. So here is how I tweaked their recipe:

Blood Orange Gin Lime Rickey
2oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
3oz Freshly Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
.5oz of Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
.25oz of Simple Syrup
Seltzer Water

Pour juices, gin and simple syrup into a glass, add ice and top off with the seltzer water.
I have to say that I love the color that the blood orange juice gives this cocktail. Its gives it a very distinctive reddish color. Adding the simple syrup made the cocktail a bit more balanced. The simple syrup adds that little portion of sweetness that I felt the cocktail was missing. I think that a this cocktail might have another added layer of flavor is a gin such as Hendricks were to be used instead of the Bombay Sapphire. Maybe a little level of spice would also augment the cocktail with perhaps using a gin like the Bombay Sapphire East Asia.

I'll keep working on this one. Make sure to check out the website. Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Fraternal Twin Shot

Myron and I were on the hunt for a few Mardi Grad cocktails this past Fat Tuesday and sadly we were quite unsuccesful. We were slated to meet at Sugarfreak in Astoria but Myron walked in right before Midnight only to be told that they were closing for the evening. Quite the disappointment. So we ended up at Broadway Station instead.

We were just chilling out having a few different beers when the bartended suggested we try out The Black Velvet Toasted Caramel. If you remember, I wrote a few posts on Black Velvet Whiskey which is from Canada a few months ago. After smelling the Toasted Caramel, we decided to each have one with a few rocks. How can I describe it? One word: DECADENT!!!!!!!

You couldn't even tell that this was a whiskey. The taste of caramel was amazing but not overly sweet. Naturally as my name sake states, I decided to have a shot mixed up with some Vanilla Vodka and the Black Velvet Toasted Caramel. Here is the Recipe:

The Fraternal Twin
Equal Parts of Vanilla Vodka (Absolut Vanilla) and Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey.

Build over ice and shake. Pour into shot glasses.
As Myron described the shot: it felt as if you were hit by two waves of flavor. First the Vanilla then the Caramel. It was a indeed a tasty shot. As you can see from the picture, we were certainly happy to try it. But where did the name come from.

Myron wanted to call it a Twix shot but it didn't have any chocolate flavoring. So I say how about calling it a Twin Shot and Myron said "why not call it a fraternal twin shot since you had equal parts of Vanilla Vodka and Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey". Works for me.

Though we didn't find the Mardi Gras cocktails we set out to find, the night was still a Laisse le bon temps rouler kind of night. Good times indeed. But I still need to find me a Sazerac.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Stupid Cupid

Many of you know that I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. But for the sake of cocktails, its a good day to make a specialty cocktail. For this one I wanted to make something pink with a hint of berries and chocolate. Once it was made I asked these two lovely ladies what it should be called. They decided on the Stupid Cupid. Here goes the recipe:

The Stupid Cupid
1.5oz Vodka (I used Stolichnaya)
1oz White Cream de Cacao
.5oz Cream de Cassis
.5oz Half and Half
Splash of Chambord

Build over ice, shake vigorously and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I found this cocktail to be sweet but as the ladies who named it described it as being a cross between a milkshake and a dessert. I believe that it is the kind of cocktails that the ladies would love on a festive day like Valentine's Day. Personally, what I think the cocktail needed was some shaved white and/or milk chocolate over the top.

Let me know what you gals and guys think. Suggestions?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Lion's Tail

I had posted a few weeks ago that I had gotten a travel pack of Bitters and a few bottles of some liqueurs and drams in the mail from Germany courtesy of The Bitter Truth. For this cocktail, I was recommended by Google+ user Pontus Rååd to make a Lion's Tail using the Pimento Dram that I received. Since I had never heard of a Lion's Tail, I decided to research it.

After checking out a few websites, one name seems to come up when it comes to the Lion's Tail. That name is Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail who is the author of the book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie... Now in his book, Haigh states that the cocktail was first found listed in Café Royal Cocktail Book by William J. Tarling which was published in London in 1937. Haigh describes the name of the cocktail as so:
Since "the twisting of the lion's tail" was American slang for character distinctly British, we might assume that the author of the Lion's Tail was a Prohibition refugee from the States.
Here is the recipe that is listed in Ted Haigh's book:
The Lion's Tail
2oz (1/2 gill, 6cl) of Bourbon
3/4oz (1/6 gill, 2cl) of Pimento Dram
1/2oz (1/8 gill, 1.5 cl)of Fresh Lime Juice
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
1/2 (7ml) tablespoon of Simple Syrup.

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a 5-ounce (1-1/4 gills, 15cl) cocktail glass.
Now looking at this cocktail, let's compare the one that I got from Pontus Rååd:
The Lion's Tale
6 cl (2oz) of Bourbon
1.5 cl (1/2oz) Pimento Dram
1.5 cl (1/2oz) Fresh Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1/2-1 tsp. of simple syrup (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve without a garnish.

Since I'm not fond of too sweet drinks I don't use any syrup in it.

Now herein lies the rub. Since I originally made the recipe that Rååd recommended (as compared to the one in Haigh's book), you can see that it is somewhat a different recipe. Just at quick glance, Rååd's cocktail looks like it will be something not as sweet as the original recipe. I'm not sure if the difference in measurement of the simple syrup (1/2-1 tsp in Rååd's to 1/2 tablespoon in Haigh's) was a typo but I figured that since Rååd's cocktail recipe would appeal to someone who is not fond of sweet drinks that the lower simple syrup measurement was accurate.

Now mind you, it isn't a bad cocktail in the least. It is a tart cocktail that Momma-San would scrunch her face to. LOL. I actually like the way the spiciness of the Pimento Dram plays with the tartness of the lime juice and the bitterness of the Angostura bitter. The Bourbon (I used Jim Beam) added another layer of spiciness to the cocktail. Perhaps a sweeter Bourbon such as Maker's Mark might change the profile of this cocktail somewhat. On to making the original recipe.

There really is a difference between Rååd's Lion's Tail and the one described in the Haigh book. The cocktail based on the original measurements was one that seemed to be much more balanced. The added Pimento Dram and extra simple syrup give the cocktail a spicy sweetness that seems to drown out some of the tartness that I found with the first cocktail I made. Though I am not particularly fond of sweet cocktails, I have to say that this is a cocktail that I wouldn't mind having again with another Bourbon. Perhaps Bulleit or Jefferson's Bourbon.

Any of you out there ever had a Lion's Tail? If so, what do you think. Let me know.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

I came across this blogpost: Classic Cocktail of The Month: The Lion's Tail from the Spirit of Imbibing blogpage. In Mackenzie Wheeler's post, a recipe for not only making your own Pimento Dram is listed, but also how to make you're own version of Highland Bitters and a variation of the Lion's Tail called the Dragon's Den. Enjoy.