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: