Monthly Archives: March 2012

Double Jack!

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I saw some tweets about Firestone’s Union Jack, so while I sat out and enjoyed this weather, I thought I’d treat myself to a bomber of the Double Jack on the porch.

To steal a line from The Urge, Damn this shit is goooooooood…

It’s better than Bell’s Hopslam, better than Founder’s Devil Dancer, better than damn near any hoppy beer I’ve consumed. Its tops for Imperial or double IPAs. Just the right amount of grapefruit and pine, with a good, creamy head, and plenty of body to carry the day.

With that in mind, while it’s still a bit cool at night, get your behind to the Wine Merchant and score a bottle. Then, next time we get a cool breeze with some night time spring showers, get your behind on your porch or deck and enjoy 22 ounces of some of the tastiest beer this douche has ever put lips to.

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An improved cocktail, for an improved day

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Improved Tequila Cocktail
2 oz Reposado Tequila
1 teaspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 dashes bitters

Stir ingredients in a stirring pitcher and then strain into a glass.

Garnish with a wist of lemon peel. I served mine in a rocks glass with a couple cubes. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, rub the rim of the glass, then drop it in as a garnish.

For more on improved cocktails, read Wonderich’s piece for Esquire. Basically, a cocktail is base, with bitters and simple syrup. A fancy cocktail is the same, with a lemon twist, an improved cocktail has Cointreau or Maraschino added in. I enjoy working with Maraschino, it adds a nutty dryness that I love.

For the bitters, I used Dr. Adams Dandelion & Burdock Bitters.

Occasionally I’ll purchase an odd bottling of bitters, such as this one from Dr. Adam. When I do this, I’ll research recipes for these bitters, and see what base spirits they work best with. The manufacture is often the best place to start.

Dr. Adam macerates, bottles, labels, and markets his own bitters out in Scotland. My kind of producer. The Dandelion & Burdock are wonderful with tequila. His Spanish Bitters are nice with rum or gin. Look for them at cocktailkingdom.

Often times I’ll see a new bitters at a bar and will ask the man or woman behind the stick how they incorporate the bitters. In St. Louis there’s been an influx of Bittermen’s Bitters. You’ll see the Tiki and Burlesque, which I have, as well as a chocolate bitters and several shrubs. They’re all damn good as well. Boston Bittahs in a G&T for one interesting usage.

I’ll use Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit bitters for a tasty twist on the improved tequila cocktail. Grapefruit has always paired well with tequila.

Look around and find a bottling to try for yourself. As I’ve said before, bitters are a wonderful way to change things up with your favorite cocktail. Enjoy.

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A Vacation to La Floridita

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After a rough day at the salt mine and construction between said mine and my house, I needed a vacation. After considering finances, work schedules, and other issues, I determined a vacation wasn’t feasible. Therefore, I decided to, in the immortal words of Jonathan Edwards, lay around the shanty, mama, and put a good buzz on.

How to acquire this buzz? Since I was thinking vacation, I thought Florida, personally I hate “beach” vacations, but my wife loves them, so naturally, we go on “beach” vacations, so naturally, I thought La Floridita.

La Floridita
2.0 ounces light rum
.75 ounces lime juice (half a lime)
.50 ounces simple syrup
.50 ounces Maraschino Liqueur

Shake the dickens out of this drink. Some serve it over crushed ice. I cannot bring myself to do this. I do give it a healthy shake, but double strain it and let the drink maintain it’s dignity, mingling simply with a homemade maraschino cherry, and not perverted or diluted by crushed ice or whatever TGI Nit Wit may put in their daiquiris. If you want a overly sweet snow cone, then go to a shaved ice stand.

Recipes differ, but most daiquiri recipes are variant of the 3-2-1 or 2-1-1 sour ratios. For a traditional daiquiri I prefer 2.5 rum, .75 lime juice, .5 simple syrup, but that’s my flavor profile.

I consider the Maraschino a sweet component, even though it’s a dry sweetness, and did .25 ounces for this recipe. The recipe calls for more, but I tweaked it to fit my pallet. Booze wise its not too far off from my preferred classic daiquiri.

Dr. Cocktail, Ted Haigh, author of “Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits” uses equal parts, a teaspoon of each sweetener with half a lime and two ounces of rum. This should work out to about 2-1-1. His book is a must own for anyone interested in cocktails.

Daiquiris and variations on the classic rum libation are a main stay as the temperature rises. If you don’t already have a few rums, get some, along with a handful of limes, so you can go on your own vacations. A spoiled lime every now and then is a small price to pay to remain twenty seconds of shaking from a Floridita vacation.

When life gives you limes, make Daiquiris.

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A Goodbye to My Winter Browns

I think the saying goes something like, “think globally, eat locally,” and I try to. Eating locally often creates a situation where you’re eating seasonally as well, and that’s a good thing.

A summer meal:

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A winter meal:

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During the spring and summer months we often eat lighter, and along with that, we drink lighter. Guinness and Cabernet go well with nearly everything, especially beefy winter dishes, but when eating lighter fair, I tend to go with a crisp white wine or a refreshing lager or pilsner, or better yet, Bell’s Oberon. The same goes for my cocktails. The bourbon and Amaro driven drinks take the warmer months off and are replaced by gin drinks with a smattering of Rum and Tequila, most likely in the form of the El Diablo or Dark and Stormy, especially when day drinking is involved. Being the dork that I am, I even switch my bitters out.

Gin is my favorite summer, and possibly, all year base spirit. Rye and Rum are close, but Gin seems to be my number two gal, and for this reason, I can’t wait to start stirring up pitchers of Aviation Gin Aviations to enjoy on the porch.

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As readers, you will see my menus and ingredients start originating from my Wednesday afternoon strolls to the Maplewood Farmer’s Market held at the Schlafly Bottleworks. It may be called the Schlafly Farmer’s Market now.

I feel Schlafly/Maplewood is the best local farmer’s market as Tower Grove’s is over priced and Soulard’s doesn’t seem to have the local producers like Yellow Tree Farms or Missouri Grass Fed Beef. Goshen Farmer’s Market is by far the best for selection and price. They have some annoying craft venders, but I just ignore them. A trip to Edwardsville to the Goshen version on Saturday mornings is a must if I’m doing any canning. Maplewood’s works for individual dinners, but if I need veggies and peppers to can, in bulk, I’ll drive over, even with gas at the price it’s at, it’s worth it. In addition I get to enjoy some Goshen coffee at 222 along with one of their amazing salami an cheddar croissants.

Its nice to know exactly where your food comes from. For instance, the jalepenos I buy and process are grown on a sunny hill a couple miles from my in-laws and can be had for a song compared to the pricing at the west side of the river markets. Its the small local guys that generally have the best prices. They’ll often be quite a bit lower than Biver Farms on your regular market fair, but places like Yellow Tree and Biver are great for unique items.

Chad Rensing holds court at the Goshen market and sells some damn good meat, check his web page here, I usually meat up with him around Christmas to buy my parents gifts in the form of his 2 plus inch thick pork chops. Fond, which was across the street from where the market took place, used his products. Mill’s is a great vendor as well, they also sell baked treats in case the 222 Bakery item didn’t fill me up. Wether you go to Goshen or Maplewood you’ll likely see some of the area’s best chefs checking out what’s fresh. I’ve seen Gerard Craft or the Niche empire in Maplewood on several occasions, even during the sporadic winter markets. If guys like Gerard are shopping there, why shouldn’t you.

That being said, and the weather being what it is, I thought I’d treat myself to one last wintery mix/meal before I start switching up my proteins and put the stouts, porters, and brown ales away.

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So, I cooked a steak, from Baumann’s, as always, on the cast iron, roasted some potatoes, and had a nice salad,

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and dessert.

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The salad was dressed with a cider vinegar, honey, and mustard vinaigrette. Washed everything down with a Manhattan 2:1 and a heavy IPA. Dessert, in the form of Dad’s Scotch Cookies, was paired with Laird’s 7.5 year Apple Brandy, something I would usually reserve for a fireplace chat. It was a damn fine meal to say goodbye to Old Man Winter.

That was a great meal, but now that it’s gin time, as seen by all the green bellow,

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let’s start enjoying more of the best base there is.

I’ll likely be drinking a few more Martinezes before it gets to be Aviation hot, but gin is in wants it hits 70 degrees, kind of like how sear sucker is in wants the Cardinals start playing games that count, you have to embrace the opportunity to make you’re own rules in this world whenever you can. So as a rule, I’m going to make a new gin drink each week as long as it hits 70 degrees.

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Fish Fry Season

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The wife and I are big fans of Fish Fry Season, a/k/a Lent. The River Front Times has a Fish Fry Frenzey blog where visitors can follow along with one of their journalists as they try various local options. The first week was a church doing falafel and hummus and such, a not your grandparents fish fry. Then came a Webster Groves gluten free barbecue or something. In the past they’ve also covered Mexican meatless events. We prefer old school fried fish. Give me jack salmon and a cornmeal crust, and she’ll take the fried cod.

On a trip to Farmhaus for lunch I noticed the Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church hosted a fish fry on Fridays. Catholic churches, VFW posts, and gun clubs usually have the best fish, so, I thought we’d try it.

The fry was held in a championship banner draped gymnasium next to their bowling alley, which was featured as 2006’s best bowling alley in the RFT. A great atmosphere for fish.

The meal was a la carte, and featured some tasty vinegar slaw, fruit cocktail, generic deserts, spaghetti and mac ‘n cheese, both looked straight out of a bag, green beans, triangular cod patties, fried shrimp, a great jack salmon, looked hand breaded, and they were out of catfish. Three of us ate for $18, so, though it wasn’t perfect, it was cost effective.

My plate:

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Wife’s plate:

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She wasn’t feeling very well.

The jack salmon was excellent, but the sides, outside of the slaw, were awful. No hush puppies or fries, no bakes beans. That mac ‘n cheese looked terrible and about as flavorless as the spaghetti. You can score beer and wine, which is nice. I’d go for that jack salmon with a Bud, but I’d have to go alone.

We’ll try a different church this week on our mission to find the perfect Fish Fry Season spot. I will suggest to those in the mood for Friday fish, go early, these things shut down by 7 PM and often times they run out of the good stuff. Hopefully we’ll find one as perfect as the Highland VFW or Edwardsville Gun Club, now that we’re on this side of the river. Until then, happy hunting.

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A once every four years treat.

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This little beauty is the Leap Year Cocktail. Harry Cradock of the Savoy created this drink early in the last century, so there probably haven’t been more than a couple dozen opportunities to enjoy it.

Leap Year Cocktail
2.0 oz Hendrick’s GIn
.50 oz Grand Marnier
.50 oz sweet vermouth
.12 oz lemon juice

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That’ll mix one Hell of an eye opener, Jackie.

Instead of measuring out the lemon juice, try just a dash or small bar spoon of juice. I haven’t tried it yet, but in 2016 I plan to sub in lemon bitters for the juice, maybe try Fee Brothers in one version and Bitter Truth in another. Who knows, with the bitters explosion and the explosion in popularity of this very blog, maybe I’ll use the latest bitters from some craft cocktail company that’s throwing money at me to push their product…maybe. With it just being a dash of juice, and certainly if you go the bitters route, stir the drink. I would fine-mesh strain the juice before incorporating it with the liquors.

Robert Hess shakes the drink on this video, for The Cocktail Spirit series, but if you properly strain the juice before adding it, I think stirring is the way to go. The lemon juice is only there to add a touch of brightness. Aperol and lemon bitters may do the same thing, if you’d like the drink a touch boozier. I guess that’ll depend on what kind of day you’re having at the end of February, 2016.

You may have noticed I used Mandarine Napoleon for this cocktail. It is true, I’m out of Grand Marnier, call the papers. But, at the end of the day, especially the 29th of February, does it matter? Yes, because the flavor will be a touch different, and no, because the two products are made in much the same way, only with different types of the same fruit. Technically, Mandarine Napoleon is closer to Cointreau as much of the base seems to be alcohol and sugar with macerated orange peels of various origin. Mandarine Napoleon does use cognac in their production, which takes them closer to Grand Marnier. I did not have the opportunity to do a side by side comparison, as I had no Grand Marnier, again, maybe in 2016 I’ll have saved up for a bottle.

I also used an American craft distilled gin. I didn’t want to break out the Cap Rock, so I went local, Pinckney Bend. Not bad.

The drink itself was okay. I will tinker with it come 2016, and, hopefully, come up with an orange liqueur, bitters/juice, gin, and less herbal vermouth, combination, that will make 2/29/16 a day that will live up to it’s once every four year status, or at least my morning cocktail will.

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Don Q and My 501s

Swung by Sanctuaria for my Wednesday Cocktail Club cocktail. I had two, my limit, bought a bottle of their single barrel Elijah Craig 12 year, and talked a little Don Q Cocktail Competition.

Single Barrel Elijah Craig? Yes, Sanctuaria has their very own barrel they chose and had bottles for their own use in whiskey drinks as well as to sell to their more discerning customers. At $23 a bottle it’s pretty reasonable for a single barrel whiskey.

On the Don Q front, Sunday from 2-5 pm at Blood & Sand the St. Louis chapter of the United Stated Bartenders Guild in association with Don Q Rum, are having a Don Q Rum cocktail competition. From what I hear, there will be a lot of Añejo Grand being poured. For a measly $25, visitors can taste batches of the competitor’s libations, which is pretty cool. I believe snacks will be provided as well, not sure if they’ll be sophisticated Chris Bork fair, or something a bit less fancy. A portion of the $25 goes towards an animal charity like stray and rescue, I believe. All are welcome to attend, no need to be a USBG or Blood & Sand member. It should be a nice opportunity to check out Blood & Sand’s great space and sip some drinks from your favorite men and ladies behind the sticks of Taste,Blood & Sand, Sanctuaria, Eclipse, Franco. This douche will be there.

So, the drinks, I started with the 501 as I was feeling tequila after sipping a dram of my own barrel aged Añejo at the house. I normally wouldn’t have imbibed pre-Sanctuaria, but I’d met a friend earlier at 33 Wine and he’d given me a pouch of dried cactus to try with my next tequila, which meant my next tequila would be as soon as I got home to let the dogs out.

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And for the tequila cocktail recipe,

501
1.50 ounces blanco tequila
0.75 ounces Canton Ginger Liqueur
0.50 ounces Lemon juice
0.25 ounces Aperol

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some of my favorite ingredients.

Shake this drink, and garnish with an orange swath. It is quite nice, and as with many Aperol drinks, would do quite well as a morning bracer.

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I had a few sips before snapping this shot.

My second drink was a Ward 47,

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a red and minty take on the Ward 8, a classic, but reddened and mintied from hibiscus liqueur and mint. It was a bit much. I’ll stick with the original.

Ward 8
2.0 ounces rye
.75 ounces orange juice
.75 ounces lemon juice
1.0 tsp grenadine

Shake this and garnish with a lemon peal. The Ward 8 was featured in Esquire’s drink section and Wonderich does a nice job explaining some of the issues with this particular cocktail.

Tim was behind the stick at Sanctuaria last night, now that the usual Wednesday barman has gone on to a position as bar manager at Franco. Best of luck to her. While talking shop with Tim, I happened to check my Facebook account and found a status update by Tales of the Cocktail with an article he was featured in. How fortuitous. Check the article out here. It’s always nice to get local pub.

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