Sunday, December 18, 2016

Booze Ads From the December 19, 1985 New York Times

Hey there gals and guys. Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. I've been focusing on work, including a promotion to management at a new bookstore cafe location. So I've been very busy and trying to keep the mind clear. Which means no cocktails for the time being. But it doesn't mean that I am not looking out for booze related material to post on. 

With that in mind, I was looking through the December 19, 1975 issue of the New York Times and came across the following ads. While I thought that the ads would be much more festive than they were, I am surprised that there is some variety to the ads. They aren't all whisky/whiskey ads as I have come across in other issues of the New York Times. 

One ad that I find curious is the ad for the Carpano Punt e Mes. Italian Vermouth Rossos and Amaros have undergone a renaissance among cocktail circles in the last few years. No longer do you just see Martini Vermouth Rosso on the back bar as the standard. Now many a brand can be found including the classic Vermouth brand Carpano with their Punt e Mes being front and center. Punt e Mes is a bit different from your standard Vermouth Rosso which places it in the Amaro category.

According to the Carpano Punt e Mes website:
Punt e Mes has a golden orange color with topaz tones, herby aromas and dark red, black dahlia with vermilion shades. The initial taste is one of sweetness, characterised by an intriguing accent of orange. This is followed by the characteristically bitter taste of the quina and ends on a sweet note.
Aside from being used in such classic cocktails as the Manhattan and the Negroni, two other cocktails that are listed on the website for use of Punt e Mes are the MITO and the 70's Punt e Mes cocktails.

Now at times you'll see the terms Vermouth Rosso and Amaro bounced around when characterizing a product like Punt e Mes. How to tell the difference between the two? I found an article by Warren Bobrow entitled Amaro & Vermouth: The Bitter and the Sweet from the Williams and Sonoma Taste website from September 9, 2011. Here is what he had to say:
Italian Vermouth in many ways is similar to Amaro, but a bit less bitter on the tongue.  Some uniquely flavorful ones from Italy are Punt e Mes and the esoteric, salubrious Carpano Antica.  The Carpano is a rum raisin-filled mouthful of sweet vanilla cake, laced with Asian spices and caramelized dark stone fruits. Punt e Mes is lighter and nuttier, with caramelized pecans and hand-ground grits in the finish.

I’m sure the alcohol is low — all these products (Amaro included) are low in alcohol, making them perfect in a cocktail. Amaro can be enjoyed as a digestif, it acts to settle the stomach after a large meal because of the herbal ingredients.

But what does Amaro taste like? The flavors vary from sweet to bittersweet to herbal, featuring orange blossoms, caramel and nuts. Some taste like artichoke, others like mint, and still others like a sweetened root tea. They may be enjoyed in a cup of hot tea as an elixir, or dropped into a small cup of espresso to “correct” the sweet, thick coffee.
As you can see, Amaros run the gamut on the taste profile list. Regardless of which brand you come across, give them a try. Take a page from the Skittles handbook: taste the rainbow, feel the rainbow. Sorry, that was bad. On that note, I'm out. Peace and Happy Holidays.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 28, 2016 Part II

Moving along with the staycation marathon of cocktails, I wanted to highlight a trio of classic cocktails that I made. And here we go.

The tragic events in Nice, France during this past Bastille Day caused me to postpone my post on the French 75. But with the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Nazis occurring on August 25, it was time to bring back the French 75.

The mention of the French 75 reminds me of the scene in Casablanca where Yvonne (Madeleine Lebeau) arrives with a Nazi officer and orders a row of French 75's. She indirectly starts a fight between the German officer and a French policeman/officer, who while sitting at the bar takes exception to Yvonne and her companion.

This scene is followed by what I find to be one of the most emotional and powerful scenes in a movie. A group of Nazi German officers singing Die Wacht Am Rhein stirs the patrons of Rick's Cafe American, led by Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid), to stand and sing La Marseillaise. The scene gives me goosebumps every time. Fast forward to August 25, 1944 and the liberation of Paris. Can you imagine how La Marseillasie was echoing off the buildings in Paris on that day? Vive la France indeed. Back to the cocktail at hand.

While at first the Prosecco dominates the cocktail. The gin and lemon juice subtly come up to the surface. The cocktail is very light and enjoyable. I can see why someone told me they prefer to have these during brunch as opposed to standard Mimosas and Bellinis. This got me wondering what the cocktail would be like with a French Cognac substituting the Gin as is often done. That I will do in a future post. Here I go again letting the world what I think about the French 75 on my SiscoVanilla YouTube channel:

The next cocktail I made was in honor of National Whisky Sour Day, which incidentally was a Whisky Sour. Imagine that. LOL. For this cocktail, I decided to use Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. Here is the recipe:

This version of the Whisky Sour is interesting. Some people are very iffy when it comes to using egg whites in a cocktail. If you don't want to use the egg white, then don't. What you will have is a cocktail that has less head and isn't as silky as one with egg white. I can have it either way. But what you don't want is to have a Whisky Sour that has just whisky and sour mix off the speed gun that some bars insist is a Whisky Sour. 

You should never settle on such a cocktail that is simple to make. It takes a little effort to extract the egg whites but once you do, you'll have a cocktail that is smooth and has a nice head (as the picture indicates). The citrus and sugar melds very nicely with the whisky. It melded so nicely that I had two more sans egg whites. Definitely play around with different whiskies. A nice spicy rye might add a different layer of flavor to your Whisky Sour. Hmmm, that's actuallly not a bad idea. 

Here are my thoughts on the Whisky Sour from my SiscoVanilla YouTube channel:

Next on the classic cocktail highlight reel is the timeless classic: The Tom Collins. 

You really can't wrong with Gin, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup and Carbonated Water. And you would think that you really can't screw this cocktail up. But like I mention with the Whisky Sour, some bars will make you a "Tom Collins" by using Gin, Lemon Juice or Sour Mix and Sprite or 7-up. That's not a Tom Collins. That's just a Gin, Lemon/Sour Mix and Sprite/7-up. 

The Tom Collins is arguably one of the most refreshing cocktails ever invented and you should never have a half ass, bootleg version of the Tom Collins. Period. Have it made with fresh ingredients or go somewhere else that will make it fresh rather than off the gun. Here is my video thoughts of the Tom Collins:

I'll get off of my soapbox now. Part III will be a single cocktail post. For that one, I will make the Love Boat inspired cocktail named the Isaac Cocktail. Look out for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 28, 2016 Part I

Its been one long staycation that I took to end the month of August and during that time I made myself a few cocktails. Maybe a bit more than a few since I have to break this post into three parts. So without any further ado, here we go.

While I got to a slow start with the home cocktailing following the misadventures ending the week of August 7th, I picked up steam by making myself a tried and true favorite: The Dirty Martini. Now as you can see, I don't specify whether its a gin or vodka Martini. I believe that to do so would be redundant since a classic Martini is a Gin Martini. We can thank Ian Fleming and his iconic character James Bond who changed that with his ordering of a Vodka Martini, shaken no less in 1962's Dr. No. Even though in the past I have made what I call The Sisco Strength Dirty Hybrid Martini with a combination of Grey Goose Vodka and Bombay Sapphire Gin, this time I wanted to go straight up old school. Here is what I made:

Now I have to confess, at the last minute I decided to make it even filthier than the recipe card stated it would be. I added a whole ounce of the Bleu Cheese Olive brine which gave it that nice greenish color you see above. It was cold, briny and delicious. Here is my impressions of the cocktail from the video I recorded to my SiscoVanilla YouTube Channel:

Next came a riff on the classic cocktail known as the White Lady. Where the original recipe calls for it to be served with fresh lemon juice and straight up in a cocktail glass, I decided to make a frozen drink out of it. Why? It was hot and I was on vacation. What other reason did I need, right? Ok then. Here is what I made:

The drink was very light and definitely needed on the hot and humid day that we were having. Aside from the piece of ice that got lodged in my broken tooth causing a cold sensation along my nerves, it is something that I would definitely make again. On an aside, why did I use canned lemonade instead of fresh lemon juice. Very simply put, I didn't have any lemons and I kind of wanted that frozen, slushy lemonade feel to the cocktail. It worked. Here were my impressions of the Frozen White Lady recorded for the world on my YouTube channel:

So for the second part of my post, I highlight three classic cocktails. Keep your eyes peeled. The post soon to come. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ambassador Scotch Ad From the New York Times August 28, 1972

I was flipping through the August 28, 1972 issue of the New York Times and came across the following ad for Ambassador Scotch. I love how the ads from the 1970's portray their men as rugged and hirsute men aka the "Macho Man" look. Check out the stash on this gentleman right here.

Now to be honest, I haven't be able to find too much on the Ambassador Scotch brand. What I did find that it was a blended Scotch and was marketed as being the "Scotch at its Lightest" and "The World's Lightest Scotch". It was distilled in Glasgow, Scotland by the Taylor & Ferguson company. As per the listings for Ambassador Scotch on the Master of Malt website, it would seem that they sold an 8-year old blend, a 12-year old blend and a 25-year old blend.

This would have put them in direct competition with such brands as J&B, Dewars and Cutty Sark here in the United States. The peak period of popularity for Ambassador Scotch seems to have been during the 1960's and 1970's.

Here are a few more ads from the same era showing their manly Scotch drinking fellows in a variety of locations, engaging in a number of activities such as yachting, roughing it at a cabin in the woods, hobnobbing at a upscale black tie affair and even enjoying some Ambassador during the Christmas Holidays:

Recently Ambassador Scotch came up with an interesting new ad campaign with the tagline "Scotch from another era." It looks as if the dashing men and lovely ladies from the above ads have aged but perhaps, like their favorite scotch, their points of view haven't. Check them out.

Any thoughts or recollections on Ambassador Scotch? Hit me up and let me know. Leave a comment or email me here.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Liquor Ads From the August 25, 1954 Edition of the New York Times

I was doing some research for the passing of the Communist Control Act (for my HistorySisco Tumblr page) by looking through the August 25, 1954 issue of the New York Times and came across a few liquor ads. Now if you're followed my blog in the past, you'll know that I like to post old ads that I come across and the three that I will highlight today are of brands that I have never heard of. Here are the three ads that I found:

The first ad is interesting to me. Its for a Jamaican Rum brand called Dagger and it advertises the cocktail which is made with Dagger called Cloke & Dagger. I like how the Collins glass has eyes and daggers floating around.

Dagger Jamaica Rum was produced by J. Wray & Nephew Limited and came in four varieties: One Dagger (5-years), Two Dagger (6-years), the Dagger Punch (8-years) and Three Dagger (10-years) rums. The article Jamaica's Changing Rum Market by Richard Browne from the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper dated June 13, 2014 states that the rums went out in the 1950s.

The rum was found on the menu in such places as Mocambo Miami Beach from 1947 and as part of a Altman Plum Pudding Served With Hoemshel Hard Sauce And Flambeed In Three Dagger Rum from the Waldorf Astoria Christmas Tasting hosted by the Wine and Food Society of New York, Inc on December 8, 1947.

An ad from Life Magazine December 28, 1936 has the following description of the Dagger Rum brand:
YO HO!!!...make way for a robust drink-Jamaican Rum. Once the boast of buccaneers, now the toast of bon vivants. And the proudest name in rum is Dagger Rum, famed for 111 years for its aromatic fragrance, its softness and its flavour. 
Dagger Jamaican Rum is made by the oldest and largest Rum house in the British West Indies. It is popular wherever a truly fine rum is a liqueur, as a mixer, as an indispensable touch in holiday puddings, pies and desserts.
The post Dagger Rums: a former J.Wray & Nephew Rum Line by Bahama Bob has more information on the Dagger Jamaican Rum line.

The second ad is for Old Taylor 86 proof straight bourbon named after famed distiller Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Colonel Taylor was one of the biggest supporters of the federal Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which required distillers to state truthfully what was inside the bottle.

Old Taylor was one of the distilleries that were granted a permit to distill medicinal whiskey during Prohibition and is still being Old Taylor is still being produced. The bourbon brand has been owned by such distillers as National Distillers, Jim Beam/Beam Suntory and as of 2009 the Sazerac Company.

The Whiskey ID website has some interesting photos of the Old Taylor bottles throughout the years that you can see here. As of 2015, the original Old Taylor distillery was being renovated and is due to open at some point this year. The article Old Taylor Distillery's owners resurrecting its castle, gardens by Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald Leader dated June 14, 2014 describes the efforts of renovating the old distillery.

The third ad is for Ron Carioca. Carioca is a Puerto Rican Rum that came in White rum (86 proof), Gold Rum (86 proof) and Tropical Heavy Bodied Rums in 90 proof and 151 proof and was produced by La Compania Ron Carioa Destileria, Inc. What I find interesting is that the ad calls for Carioca and Tonic. I can't say that I ever made a rum and tonic, let alone drank a rum and tonic. Guess I'm going to have to pick up some tonic for a future post.

Apparently there was a lawsuit in the United States Court of Claims from 1958 where the Compania Ron Carioa Destileria, Inc. sued the United States in the entitled COMPANIA RON CARIOCA DESTILERIA, Inc. v. UNITED STATES 168 F.Supp. 546 (1958) for taxes paid to the United States deputy collector of internal revenue at San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1946 for spirits that had not been shipped yet. I'll leave it up to you to read up on the case. But at that point, the company was still Puerto Rican owned. This is where I get lost.

If you do a search for Ron Carioca, one of the first links you come across is from the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) that states that Ron Carioca is produced by United Distillers Canada Inc. and is made in Canada. The website DrinksOntario lists Diageo Canada Inc as being the producer of Ron Carioca. So my question is this: is the Ron Carioca brand made in Canada and Puerto Rico?

I'll keep trying to find out. Til I find out some more information, I leave you with this ad from 1960 for Ron Carioca and a recipe for a Carioca Voodoo.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 7, 2016 Part II

In my last post This Week in Home Cocktailing August 7, 2016 Part I, I described the preparation of the Watermelon Shrub portion of the Confederados cocktail, as well as, the Jean Harlow cocktail. For this post, I focus on the Confederados cocktail with a bonus Caipirinha mixed in while the 2016 Rio Olympics play in the background.

As I stated in the last post, the Confederados Cocktail recipe was found on the Imbibe Magazine website. The recipe comes courtesy of Julian Goglia of The Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur, Georgia. Allow me to inject a little historical background here courtesy of my alter-ego HistorySisco (Instagram @HistorySisco).

In Brazil, the Confederados are descendants of many a Southerner who as part of the Confederate States of America fled the country to Brazil when the Civil War was lost. The Confederados built up their community in unexplored land in Brazil based on land grants given to them by Emperor Dom Pedro II. For more information on the Confederados and their yearly celebration in Brazil, I recommend you read Meet Brazil's 'Confederados': They've forgotten how to speak English but the South American descendants of rebels who fled US after the Civil War still turn out by the thousands to celebrate their Dixie roots by the Associated Press from the UK Daily Mail website dated 27 April 2015.

Now I can't definitvely say that this is the reason why the Confederados cocktail is named the way it is. But the connection can be made between the name, the base spirit used (cachaça) and the location of the bar/restaurant where it was invented. Be that as it may, let's move on to the cocktail.

Cachaça is an interesting spirit to play with. Cachaça has a very interesting flavor profile to it. Some have described it as tasting "funky." From what I have read, this might be due to the fact that it is made using sugar cane juice instead of the traditional molasses that is used to make its cousin: Rum. Keeping that in mind, allow me to elaborate on the cocktail itself.

I had Momma-San give it a quick taste. She said that the cocktail went down "a little hot" but that overall it was pretty refreshing. I would say her description is accurate. This cocktail was hitting notes all over the palate. The "hotness" she felt was the balsamic vinegar part of the shrub which paired nicely with the sweetness found both in the shrub but also in the simple syrup. There was also a fresh tart taste from the muddled lime and a subtle fruitiness from the watermelon. The cachaça was definitely present, just swimming around the other ingredients. It was ironic that I used the terms swimming since I was watching the Olympic swimming on the boob tube. It was so refreshing that I put down three of them. Here is my YouTube video tasting the Confederados Cocktails.

But I wasn't done yet.

I would be remiss to do a post on Cachaça and not make the national drink of Brazil: The Caipirinha. In the past I've written a couple of posts on the Caipirinha:  Homemade Caipirinhas with Leblon Cachaça and Strawberry Caipirinhas so this isn't quite uncharted territory. This time I used the recipe found in the June 15, 2015 Esquire Magazine article How to Make a Caipirinha by David Wondrich.

Caipirinha Ingredients
1/2 lime(s)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces cachaca
old-fashioned glass
Slice the lime into 1/2-inch rounds, cube them, and muddle them in an Old-Fashioned glass or small tumbler with the sugar. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in the cachaça. Serve with a stirring rod.  
I found the Caipirinha to be a bit tart for my taste. I added an extra 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar to the drink and found it to be balanced. Truly a nice, refreshing way to end the evening's Olympic festivities. Here is the video for the Caipirinha:

With this week's work schedule being altered due to vacations, I'm not quite sure what I will do in terms of home cocktailing. I have a few ideas, hopefully time will let me execute them.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 7, 2016 Part I

This week's cocktails had a bit of a different flavor palate though the base spirits used are somewhat similar. I used white rum for the cocktail named after 1930's blonde bombshell Jean Harlow while I used Cachaça in the Confederados and the Brazilian national cocktail The Caipirinha. The Confederados cocktail also marked the first time I've ever used a shrub in a cocktail so this one took a little extra prep time to make. Now that I've laid the groundwork, let's get to drinking.

I came across the recipe for the Confederados Cocktail from the Imbibe Magazine website. The recipe comes courtesy of Julian Goglia of The Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur, Georgia. Before I go into the recipe for the cocktail, I wanted to shed some light on one of the ingredients: The Watermelon Shrub.

Up to now, I've yet to make a cocktail with a shrub. The only experience I've ever had with drinking a cocktail with a shrub was way back during April 2013 when I had a cocktail named The Maiden's Mayhem which was served to me at the Library at the Public with a Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub. In that post, I described what shrubs were and since its been a while since that last post, I think it would serve to inform those unfamiliar with what shrub are if I reposted what I came across.

According to the May 26, 2012 article What's shaking in the cocktail scene? Shrubs by Jessica Gelt from the Los Angeles Times website, she describes shrubs as being:
Tart, acidic and weirdly, wonderfully refreshing, drinking vinegars known as "shrubs" are finding a savory home on a growing number of Los Angeles drink menus. Sometimes they're added to soda water as an alternative to mainstream sodas, and sometimes they're mixed with booze as a mouth-pleasing alternative to predictable acids such as lemons and limes. 
In terms of their origins:
Shrubs, which are generally one part juice or fruit macerated with sugar and boiled with vinegar, were mixed with water in 18th century America for refreshment. Vinegar was also used as a preservative and for its supposed medicinal benefits. It was only a matter of time before alcohol made the grade, but shrub cocktails never achieved a full liftoff.
Based on that description, here is the recipe for the Watermelon Shrub portion of the Confederados cocktail:
Watermelon Shrub: Combine 1 cup fresh watermelon purée, 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar in a large glass jar. Cover and shake to combine. Let sit overnight, then fine-strain. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
So I did that, with the exception of using granulated Splenda. While that sat blending its flavors together, I decided to work on the Jean Harlow cocktail.

I came across the recipe for this cocktail on page 61 of the book Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick.

The cocktail was named after famed actress of the 1930's Jean Harlowe, and it is said that it was one of her favorite cocktails. It really is a simple cocktail to make being equal parts of white rum and Vermouth Rosso. It intrigued me since I don't believe that I have ever made a cocktail with white rum and Vermouth Rosso. Here it is:

I found the cocktail to be very interesting. While the Vermouth Rosso seemed to dominate the cocktail, you could taste the Real McCoy 3-year rum just chilling around in the background. The color to this cocktail is amazing. Two things stood out to me a few days after having the Jean Harlow.

First, I think I need to remake this with a fresher bottle of Vermouth Rosso. Its been a while since I had a new bottle. I don't think that it was bad, but to get a proper tasting of the cocktail, I should have a Vermouth Rosso in optimal condition. Secondly, I think a rum with a stronger flavor profile like a black strap or an aged rum might give a different taste to this cocktail. I'll get back to the drawing board once I get a new bottle of Vermouth Rosso. For now, here is the video I recorded for the Jean Harlow cocktail:

That's it for Part I of this post folks. The second part will contain the finished Watermelon Shrub and the Confederados cocktail and a bonus Caipirinha which I made while watching the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Week in Home Cocktailing July 24, 2016 Part I

The week ending July 24, 2016 saw a flurry of cocktail activity with a literary flair. The birthdays of authors Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Chandler were on July 21st and July 23rd respectively. I would be negligent to let the birthdays of these two bon-vivants pass without having a celebratory cocktail in their honor. Without further ado, let's see what I came up.

On July 3rd I celebrated the passing of Ernest Hemingway by making the Hemingway Daiquiri. In keeping with the daiquiri theme, for his birthday I decided to make what is known as the Papa Doble. This cocktail is made as a frozen drink and is a powerhouse of a cocktail.

Though I found this cocktail to be really strong, it was very refreshing. I can see why Hemingway would have five or six of these in a sitting while at La Floridita in Havana. Like him, I had multiple drinks. The difference being is that I decided to experiment with different rums. 

As the image above shows, I used the Real McCoy 3-year rum for the first cocktail. For the second cocktail I used the 1.5oz Real McCoy in conjunction with an 1.5oz of Cruzan® Black Strap Rum. I really like the addition of the Black Strap to the cocktail. The molasses flavor gives the cocktail an added level of flavor. I highly recommend it, using equal proportion of light and dark rum. 

For the third drink, I decided to use 3oz of Ron Abuelo Añejo rum. I was really expecting something exciting from the use of an añejo in the frozen drink. I was highly disapointed. I found the cocktail to be somewhat sour and really lacking. It was unappetizing to say the least.  

Here is the video I posted to YouTube on my initial take on the Papá Doble Frozen Cocktail:

For Raymond Chandler, I decided to make the cocktail that he describes in his novel The Long Goodbye. In the exchange between his protagonists Philip Marlowe and Terry Lennox at Victor's Bar in Los Angeles, Lennox describes why he likes Gimlets. Here is how the cocktail is described:
We sat in the corner bar at Victor’s and drank gimlets. “They don’t know how to make them here,” he said. “What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”
Now I already knew that this cocktail would be very tart. I had a brief conversation with Joel P., who told me that he had the Chandler version of the cocktail and that some much Rose's Lime Juice gave the cocktail a somewhat artificial feel to it. That he prefers his Gimlets with fresh lime juice and a splash of Rose's Lime Juice. For the sake of research, I decided to make it as Chandler described in his book.

As I already surmised the cocktail was very tart and I can see what Joel meant about it being artificial. Its not unappetizing in the least if you like tart cocktails. Hey it was Chandler's birthday, who am I to argue with his way of making Gimlets. Right?

Here is the video I posted to YouTube after I tasted the Gimlet from Raymond Chandler's the Long Goodbye:

For Part II of the week in home cocktailing ending July 24th, I'll be profiling an infusion I made with La Certeza Tequila Reposado in preparation for National Tequila Day, which was celebrated on July 24th. I initially was going to prepare one cocktail and ended up making two different drinks. Come back to see what I made.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing July 17, 2016

I was planning to do make a French 75 in honor of Bastille Day on July 14th, but the tragic events in Nice, France put those plans on hold. While I'll make the French 75 cocktail at a later date, I did make a return to the combination of Vodka and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur when I added Espresso to the mix.

As you can see in the following video, on July 8th I added a handful of Espresso beans to about five ounces of Tito's Vodka, shook it and put it away for a few days. Check it out:

Fast forward to July 17th and I opened the jar with the infusion and took in a marvelous whiff of Espresso. The infusion tasted divine and had a very dark, almost inky black color to it.

Here is the recipe card with the cocktail that I made with the Espresso Infused Tito's Vodka and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur:

Sorry for the attempt at a fancy name. I make enough Java and Mocha named drinks at the cafe that the names stick with you. But for the cocktail, I deviated from the recipe card by adding half an ounce of half and half for some added creaminess. The addition of the half and half made the difference. I like the combination of the espresso and chocolate flavors. And that's saying something. I am not a fan of the flavor that cold coffee has.

People at work look at me weird when I tell them that I don't like iced coffee or any of the coffee flavored blended drinks. As hot as NYC is now, if I want to drink coffee, it has to be hot. But the combination in this cocktail works. The next attempt will be with using coffee ice cubes as the "rocks" in a cocktail. Here is the video I posted upon tasting the cocktail for the first time.

For my next post, I'll be honoring two of my favorite authors whose birthdays land in the same week. In addition, I'll be putting together a quick infusion to celebrate National Tequila Day.

Well, that's it for now. I'm looking forward to seeing what cocktails this upcoming week has in store.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Week in Home Cocktailing July 10, 2016

This was a pretty busy week for me in terms of home cocktailing. Its been a while since I've done three cocktails and an infusion in a week. So without further delay, here we go.

July 7th was National Chocolate Day and to celebrate the occasion, I decided to make a Godiva Chocolate Martini. Here is the recipe I used:

While I was going for lines of chocolate syrup inside of the glass, the syrup refused to cooperate. But having the chocolate syrup lining the entire interior of the glass worked out. It gave the cocktail an extra rich layer of chocolate that accompanied the cocktail.

It left me wondering how the cocktail would be with an added layer of coffee and a thicker consistency. On that note, I decided to make a small Espresso Vodka Infusion using Tito's Vodka. Here is the video of my putting together the infusion.

To no surprise, two days later the infusion looks like this:

The infusion is dark like straight espresso and has an amazing coffee aroma. I'll keep it in the cabinet for a few more days.

On July 8th I came up with the idea to make a Chai Alexander in the same manner that you would make the classic Brandy Alexander. Instead of using Creme de Cacao, I would substitute it using the Tazo Chai Tea Latte concentrate that we sell in the cafe. Here is what I came up with:

I used ground cinnamon as the topping since I didn't have any ground allspice. I found the cocktail to be bland using the listed proportions and decided to bump it up to 2 parts Half and Half, 2 Parts Tazo Chai Tea Latte and the 1 Part Brandy. I still found the cocktail to be missing that spicy kick that I like from my chai. 

I later thought that perhaps the chai releases its spices and aroma when exposed to heat while the flavors are muted somewhat when exposed to the cold. I'll have to keep working on this. Perhaps when the weather changes from Summer to Fall. 

The last cocktail that I worked on was in celebration of National Piña Colada Day on July 10th. For this recipe, I decided to use the legendary David Wondrich's recipe from Esquire Magazine. Can't go against someone who recommends using Brugal Añejo. So here is what I came up with:

It had been so long since I had Piña Colada that I had forgotten how refreshing they are. The first one didn't last very long. 

I made a second Piña Colada, this time using a mixture of Brugal Añejo, The Real McCoy 3-year white rum and Cruzan Black Strap Rum. I also enjoyed this one. I like the added level of flavor that the Black Strap Rum gives the Piña Colada. 

Since I still had some Coconut Cream left, I decided to make a third Piña Colada, this time using Abuelo Añejo Panamanian Rum. For some reason, I found that the Abuelo Añejo didn't blend well with the pineapple and coconut flavors. I'll keep this rum for something else. 

Well, that's it for now. I'm looking forward to seeing what cocktails this upcoming week has in store. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Hemingway Daiquiri

With yesterday being the 55th anniversary of the passing of legendary writer, author, journalist and bon-vivant Ernest "Papa" Hemingway, I wanted to celebrate his legacy by having one of his signature cocktails: the Hemingway Daiquiri. 

Hemingway spent many an day traveling between Florida and Cuba, spending time at one of his favorite watering holes: El Floridita which is located el la Vieja Habana. Hemingway spent so much time there that a statue has been erected at the spot in the bar where Hemingway used to occupy. According to the article Hemingway vuelve a tomar daiquiris en su bar favorito de Cuba from the El Floridita bar website (translated by Google Translate and me):
From now on every day (the statue) will be served a Hemingway daiquiri, say the waiters of the establishment.
Courtesy of El Floridita
The bronze statue was made by the Cuban sculptor Jose Villa Soberon based on portraits and photos of Hemingway, who lived long periods in Cuba for more than two decades until the year before his suicide in 1961 at his home in Idaho.
El Floridita is one of the places of forced pilgrimage for many fans of Hemingway, along with the Finca Vigia, home on the outskirts of Havana where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea" and where friends such as Ava Gardner and Gary Cooper stayed.
When he was in Havana, Hemingway often went to the Floridita to sip his favorite cocktail, the daiquiri (rum-based , lemon , maraschino and sugar) and the mojito, another famous Cuban drink with mint, nearby at the Bodeguita del Medio.
Now what I find interesting that they would mention Hemingway having his Daiquiri with sugar. It was well known that Hemingway was a diabetic, so he tried his best to avoid any extra sugar, especially in his cocktails. Also it was believed that Hemingway felt that you'd get sick if you drank too much sugar in your drinks. Regardless of what the reasons were, what I have read is that Hemingway didn't drink his daiquiris as the standard recipe states: white rum, lime juice and sugar blended with ice.

Hemingway liked his daiquiris, which the lore states El Floridita barman Constantino Ribaliagua invented the drink for him using the standard white rum and lime juice but adding grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur. Recipes that I have come across vary from having two-to-one grapefruit to lime to the opposite ratio of two times lime to one time grapefruit. For the basis of this cocktail, I used the following recipe based on the recipe listed in Carey Jones' (Twitter @CareyJones) book Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits:
Hemingway Daiquiri
2oz/60ml The Real McCoy 3-year Rum (hers called for 3oz)
.75oz/20ml Fresh Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice (hers called for 1.5oz)
.50oz/15ml Fresh Lime Juice (hers called for .75oz)
.25oz/10ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (hers called for .5oz)
Jones called for the cocktail to be built over ice and blended. I don't have a functioning blender so shaken over ice would do. Given that the ratios were similar, this is what I found about the cocktail I made.

The citrus just exploded in my mouth though I think the ratio of grapefruit to lime made it somewhat bitter to my palate. I could taste feel the sweetness from the Maraschino Liqueur. On my second try, I made the cocktail with the same ratio of .5oz of both grapefruit and lime juices.

The second cocktail was a more balanced cocktail to me. Very smooth and refreshing. I can see why Hemingway could put down a half dozen of these whether straight up or blended. That Hemingway was a beast of a drinker. En Paz Descanse Papa.

So I guess I'm going to have to go visit Carey Jones in Brooklyn to have one of the Papa Hemingway Daiquiris from her book. Add another mission to the mission book.

Here is the quick one minute video I posted to both Instagram (@SiscoVanilla) and YouTube (SiscoVanilla)

Until Then Happy Drinking,

For Further Reading:

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Maltese Falcon Booze in the Book and Movie

On May 30th over at my Tumblr page devoted to Booze in Movies, I posted a series of images from John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (1941) showing the drinking that occurs in the movie. I recently finished reading Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and decided to see how the book and movie compares with its alcohol references.

Now keep in mind that Huston's version of the movie is very faithful to the source material. It was hard to not visualize the characters from the movie while reading the book. Obviously, there were certain things that were omitted from the movie that were in the book due to the Hays Codes regulations of the time which regulated what content could be seen in movies. But it is one of the most faithful adaptations to a book that I have ever watched.

The first instance where someone has a drink, is when Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, comes back home after visiting the crime scene where his partner in the detective agency has been killed. In the movie, he sits down and pours himself a drink, though we can't see what exactly he is drinking. The book is more specific on what he drinks. In the book, Spade pours himself a wine glass full of Bacardí and is drinking a few of them straight up when police detectives Dundy and Polhaus arrive.

Now I don't know about you, but I can't drink Bacardí Superior straight, let alone at room temperature. At the very least, chill the rum before sipping on it. Keep in mind that I am assuming that Spade is drinking Bacardí Superior over Bacardí Gold. Why? I would think that Superior would be easier to find during Prohibition than the Gold rum. The book was written during 1929, with Prohibition being four years away from being abolished. Who know, maybe Spade has had that bottle squirreled away. But considering that he puts down at least five glasses in this scene plus the two he serves his guests, its a safe bet that a bottle of booze won't last long in the possession of Sam Spade. But I digress.

Bacardí Superior is the flagship rum for Bacardí, being the first rum put on the market by master blender Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in 1862. I am going to drink Bacardí Superior, its going to be in a classic like a Cuba Libre, a Daiquirí or a Piña Colada. If I am going sip anything Bacardí makes, its going to be the Bacardí Ocho, which is barrel aged for a minimum of eight years. On to the next reference.

This next one is exclusive to the book. After we're introduced to the character Joel Cairo, who is played by Peter Lorre in the movie, Spade sits down at his office desk and takes out a bottle of Manhattan Cocktail and pours himself a paper cup two-thirds filled with the cocktail. As you can see from the image to the right, the Heublein company not only made one such bottled Manhattan Cocktail but they bottled many different cocktails. But who or what was the Heublein company. According to Jeffrey Pogash in his post The Legacy of Heublein dated May 31, 2014 from the Beverage Media wesbite:
Jerry Thomas’s classic How To Mix Drinks, published in 1862, cites the utility of pre-mixed drinks for various outings, such as “fishing and other sporting parties.” His first recipe listed under the heading “Cocktail and Crusta” is Bottle Cocktail, using brandy, water, bitters, gum syrup and Curaçao. Thomas even refers to the flexibility of such portable potables, noting that whiskey or gin could be substituted for brandy.
It was another three decades before bottled cocktails took their first great leap to market, courtesy of Gilbert and Louis Heublein, who would go on to impact the wine and spirits industry in multiple ways. Their father created the Heublein Hotel in Hartford in 1859, and it became so famous that it was known affectionately as “Heubs,” and it served as a dining mecca for businessmen, visiting celebrities, actors, politicians and Trinity College intellectuals. It is almost certain that Samuel Longhorn Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, a Hartford resident from 1871-1891, held court there regularly.
The Heublein brothers, who were born in Germany but practically raised at the hotel, grew into the business in legendary fashion. With “Heubs” known for its “continental atmosphere” and selection of fine beers, wine and spirits, it was only natural that when Hartford’s prestigious First Company Governor’s Foot Guard was preparing its annual summer picnic and military display in 1892, the brothers were asked to supply gallon jugs of pre-mixed cocktails for the thirsty revelers. Gilbert and Louis chose the Martini and the Manhattan as the featured drinks. 
As we all know, we make plans and mother nature laughs. The party was rained out and the jugs were put away until the party was rescheduled. Again, the event was rained out causing the jugs of cocktails to remain stored away. Inspiration does come in the darnedest of ways.

Right when the jugs were going to be emptied and the cocktails disposed of, a bartender took a sip and realized that the aged cocktails were still good. And voilà, the “Club Cocktails” line was born. The peak era for Heublein's Club Cocktails were the 1950's to the 1970's with many a celebrity advertising for Heublein.

A series of Heublin Club Cocktail Ads from the 1930's-1950's
Onward we go. Spade and the femme fatale of the story, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, played by Mary Astor, sit down in Spade's apartment where Spade tries to get her to elaborate on what exactly is going on. As she talks about the elusive Black Bird that the book and movie is named after, Spade serves himself and O'Shaughnessy a coffee and brandy. When he notices that she isn't being forthright with him in terms of all the details, he tells her "We've got all night before us. I'll put some more brandy in some more coffee and we'll try again." Lo and behold its not coffee and brandy that Spade and O'Shaugnessy spend the rest of their nightime hours doing. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Later on when Spade meets the main antagonist in both the book and movie, the fat man named Gutman, played by Sydney Greenstreet, Spade is at Gutman's suite at the Alexandria Hotel. Gutman offers Spade some Johnnie Walker whisky and a Coronas del Ritz cigar. I would think that a man of style like Gutman is, he would have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black label at the ready.

Personally I can't say that I have ever had a good experience with Johnnie Walker Red label. I find it way too harsh. The two extra years in aging between the red and the black makes a world of difference. Black has a much smoother blend of whiskys. What I wanted to find out is how old is the Johnnie Walker brand. For a more detailed and nuanced review of both Johnnie Walker Red and Black labels, check out my friend Josh Feldman aka the Coopered Tot's post from March 5, 2012 entitled Back to basics: Johnnie Walker Black and Red compared head to head.

According to the Whiskey Exchange's timeline for Johnnie Walker, the roots for the Johnnie Walker brand lie as far back as 1820 as The Old Highland Whisky brand. In 1909, the brand was officially changed from The Old Highland Whisky to Johnnie Walker and its offerings includes the Red Label 10 year old, the Black Label 12 year old, along with the short-lived White Label 6 year old. By 1918 the White label is discontinued.

For the sake of the post, Gutman would have either the Red or the Black since the Blue Label wouldn't be introduced until 1992, the Gold Label in 1995, the formerly discontinued Green Label 15 year old in 1997, the Double Black Label in 2010, the Platinum Label 18 year old whisky in 2011 and the Gold Label Reserve in 2012. (The Green Label is being reintroduced to the public after being eliminated in 2012. For more on that read JOHNNIE WALKER GREEN LABEL RETURNS by Richard Woodard from the website dated 18 February 2016.)

Later on when Gutman and Spade meet up at the Alexandria, Spade is given mixed whisky and carbonated water along with a little doozy of a knockout which puts Spade out after we are given the backstory to the Falcon. And that's pretty much it. The drinking is pretty mild compared to Hammett's other detective stories, especially the Nick and Nora stories.

I've just started reading Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye and when I am done with it, I'll give it a comparison with the Robert Altman directed The Long Goodbye (1973) starring Elliot Gould.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ty-Ku Soju

I recently came across the article Distilling the mysteries of ‘shōchū’ by Melinda Joe from the Japan Times dated June 10, 2016 and wondered if I had any shōchū in my liquor box. After sifting through the little sample bottles that I have, I found a bottle of Ty-Ku Soju. Now to be honest, I'm not sure when I found it but I put it into the freezer to get nice and cold. While I did that, I decided to do a little research on Soju.

Generally, I found out from the SO-JU: Korean Rice Liquor 소주 listing from the TriFood: Celebrating Korean Food website
Soju is the best known liquor from Korea.  It is distilled, vodka-like, rice liquor with high potency and often flavored similarly. It is smooth and clean in taste, which makes it easy to drink in combination with various Korean dishes. The main ingredient of soju is rice, almost always in combination with other ingredients such as wheat, barley, or sweet potatoes. Soju is clear-colored and typically varies in alcohol content from 10% to 25% proof. It was first known to have been distilled around 1300 A.D.
Soju is the Korean equivalent of the Japanese sake. That said, Jinro is known to be the largest manufacturer of soju which recorded a sale of 70 million cases in 2004. And during that year, more than 3 billion bottles were consumed alone in South Korea!

Specifically to the Ty-Ku Soju, I went to the website for Ty-Ku Soju and found the following passage about Soju:
With 1/2 the calories and twice the taste of vodka, Soju (also known as Shochu) is the #1 distilled spirit in the world. TY KU Soju updates this ancient spirit by producing an unbelievably smooth beverage that is lower in calories and more versatile than vodka. Its superiority is the result of expert small batch distillation & cold filtration, utilizing 100% premium barley. TY KU Soju is crafted from the finest all natural ingredients with no additives, preservatives or sweeteners.
TY KU Soju has a smooth taste from start to finish, unlike Vodka which demands extra flavors & sugars to mask its harsh taste. TY KU Soju is best sipped chilled and is specially crafted to be a flavor catalyst so it absorbs the flavor of fruits & mixers. Create your favorite vodka cocktails with half the calories & double the flavor.

BARLEY: The highest quality in the world, hand selected in Oita, Japan.
SPRING WATER: Naturally filtered by the cedar forests of the Kyushu Mountains.
KOJI: Handmade white koji evokes and enhances flavor and aroma.
40 Proof | Alcohol/Vol: 20% | Calories: 60 
 It seems as if this particular spirit is best suited to those people who do not want to drink something that is either too strong or for those who are looking for "skinny cocktails".

For the sake of the post, I am having the Soju neat. What do I think about it?

I found it to be somewhat dry with a slight fruity note on both the nose and the palate. I do find that the description on the Ty-Ku is somewhat accurate. Where Vodka can be harsh, this Soju is not as harsh as the vodka, though you do get a little of that ethanol flavor. I feel that it would definitely be good in a mixer or a cocktail. I would experiment with it and the Bombay Sapphire East Asia Gin in a variation to a Martini with the Soju replacing the Vermouth.

I think that I would also need to try some other Sojus to see how they differ in terms of both body, flavor and aromatics. I'll keep my eye out for some other soju varieties and give them a taste.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Vin Mariani: The Foundation for Coca-Cola

In my recent post on the creation of Coca-Cola from my HistorySisco Tumblr page, which occurred on May 8, 1886, I was introduced to a concoction known as Vin Mariani. How does this drink fit in with Coca-Cola? Well, let me tell you how.

In the 1860's, chemist Angelo Mariani came up with a tonic that combined Bordeaux wine and coca leaves, naming it Vin Mariani. The post The history behind the wine from the Vin Mariani vineyard website describes what happened next:
Vin Mariani (French: Mariani's wine) was a tonic created circa 1863 by Angelo Mariani, a chemist who became intrigued with coca and its economic potential after reading Paolo Mantegazza’s paper on coca's effects. In 1863 Mariani started marketing a wine called Vin Mariani which was made from Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves. The ethanol in the wine acted as a solvent and extracted the coca from the coca leaves, altering the drink’s effect. It originally contained 6 mg of coca per fluid ounce of wine, but Vin Mariani which was to be exported contained 7.2 mg per ounce in order to compete with the higher coca content of similar drinks in the United States.
When coca is administered on its own it yields two key active compounds, benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester. When combined with alcohol, as in Vin Mariani, the mixture forms a powerful psychoactive: cocaethylene (which is both more euphorigenic and has higher cardiovascular toxicity than coca by itself). 
 Pope Leo XIII purportedly carried a hipflask of Vin Mariani with him, and awarded a Vatican gold medal to Angelo Mariani. Vin Mariani was very popular in its day, even among royalty such as Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland. Pope Leo XIII and later Pope Saint Pius X were both Vin Mariani drinkers. Pope Leo awarded a Vatican gold medal to the wine, and also appeared on a poster endorsing it.
Following Mariani's success with his tonic, in comes John Pemberton of Atlanta, Georgia.

Pemberton was Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. He found that after he was injured in battle, he developed an addition to the morphine that was administered to ease battlefield injuries. Pemberton sought to find another way to ease the pain without having the morphine addiction.

Similar to the popular Vin Mariani, Pemberton created his own concoction with the name of  “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” The post John Stith Pemberton from the American Civil War Story website describes what made Pemberton's medicinal wine different from Mariani's:
At this time there was a hugely popular French medicinal drink called Vin Mariani. This drink was essentially a wine infused with the coca leaf (the source of cocaine). Pemberton eventually launched his own version of this medicinal wine, but his wine was infused with the kola nut (for caffeine) and damiana (reputedly a powerful aphrodisiac) in addition to the coca leaves. He called his drink, “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.”
John Pemberton’s new drink became so popular in Atlanta that it was soon sold in almost all the drug stores in the city. This “French Wine Coca” was said to be an,“invigorator of the brain,” and Pemberton recommended it to aid in overcoming morphine addictions.
When asked to describe his popular drink, Pemberton said, “It is composed of an extract from the leaf of Peruvian Coca, the purest wine, and the Kola nut. It is the most excellent of all tonics, assisting digestion, imparting energy to the organs of respiration, and strengthening the muscular and nervous systems.”
Prohibition of alcohol in Atlanta went into effect in 1886, causing Pemberton to change his tonic. He eliminated the wine. In its place he added to the coca and kola a sugar syrup as the base. The final piece of the puzzle was the addition of carbonated water and voila: Coca-Cola was born.

You can still get the Vin Mariani tonic through the Vin Mariani Winery, which is based in Peru. You can visit their website here: Vin Mariani Winery.

So next time you hear someone order a Kalimotxo, or you order one yourself think back to Vin Mariani and Pemberton's French Wine Coca. What's a Kalimotxo? Very simple, its equal parts red wine and coca-cola. You really had to ask? ;)

Until Then Happy Drinking,