Category Archives: Morning Eye Opener

An Americano Holiday

As I sit here a four day weekend 100 miles from my basement bar is staring me in the face. What to pack? Don’t want to over pack, don’t want to under pack and be at the mercy of host’s bar. Whatever you’re bringing needs to be versatile, mobile, and it must play well with others.

I’m headed to my Father’s house. Fortunately he will have plenty of gin and bourbon, as well as a variety of dusty liqueurs and a weathered bottle of Angostura bitters. I would venture to guess his stock is similar to what you’d find in many basement bars. Just with more gin and bourbon. That being said, certainly not everything you need for a four day weekend.

I’ll be poolside for much of the weekend, but night caps and eye openers will also be required. I could lug Cointreau, Absinthe, and Lillet down to go with the gin for my eye opening Corpse Reviver. Follow that with a series of Dark and Stormy talls, a case of Goslings ginger beer and rum later, how will I have room for the pre dinner Aviation makings and night cap Manhattans.

I’m a solutions oriented guy, so here’s the solution:

Campari, sweet vermouth, oranges, and Spanish Bitters? Yes. And here’s how it works.

Eye opener; 1 to 1 Campari to Dolin, adjust to fit your palate.

Poolside? Poolside on Independence Day? Why an Americano of course; 1 to 1 to 2 parts Campari, Dolin, club soda.

To garnish the first I’d do a swath of orange, for the second, an orange wheel or three. I like the Spanish Bitters in each. Heavier in the eye opener, just a couple dashes in the Americano.

What about the night capper? Well, remember that gin I mentioned? A classic Negroni; 1 to 1 to 1 of our three players. Spanish Bitters to finish. And if the fireworks aren’t delivering, flame the orange for a finale.

I chose the Spanish Bitters for this weekend because they work well in the above drinks, but also in a Gin & Tonic or martini in case those are called for and I want to add a twist for the drinker.

Additionally, by going this route I also ensure that after a sixxer of Bell’s Two Hearted tonight, when my dad wants to switch to Manhattans, I know the vermouth will be fresh, because I brought it.

But most importantly, you arrive with only two bottles, no hassle, no strange looks, no scene. Yet, you can make all the above cocktails, and many more.

More you say? Yes. Take for example the Esquire Cocktail a 1 to 1 to 1 to 3 part ration of Aperol, liqueur, lemon, base spirit. Now, you’ve packed Campari, so that’s going to pack a bigger punch than Aperol, but if some wisenheimer cousin or brother in law starts talking cocktails and you want to show who the family cocktologist really is, give it a spin. I’d suggest pairing Dad’s bourbon, that crusty bottle of Benedictine, some lemons you saved from drowning in sun tea, and the Campari, with a splash of the Angostura or Spanish Bitters. Shake it up, or if you’ve finely strained the juice, you could even try stirring this one. It may not be the smoothest sipper, but it’ll put any naysayer in their place.

If you aren’t looking to over rattle your cocktologist’s saber, try the Golden Ratio by Jamie Boudreau. 1.5 parts spirit, .75 parts vermouth or other modifier, .25 parts liqueur or amaro. This ratio produces many fine cocktails. Simply use the vermouth you brought, the gin or bourbon available, and a quarter ounce of one of those dusty liqueurs.

So there you have it. Toss a bottle of Campari, some bitters, and a not too complex sweet vermouth in your bag and you’ll be ready to enjoy this long weekend in true cocktologist fashion.

Tagged , , , , ,

A Revived Corpse Indeed

On most days a simple cup or eight of coffee will be enough to face the day, some days I need it bit more to brace myself for the coming onslaught, so coffee and a whiskey, then there are those other days…Like the day directly following Cinco de Drinko, I refuse to say Mayo, when the majority of revelers are reveling independence from France, and not an excuse to drink bottled margaritas, I’ll call it Cinco de Mayo. Anyway, today follows that nonsense, as well as Derby Day, something I do celebrate. Not only that, but for my StL brethren, today is Pigs and Pints at Civil Life Brewing Co.

As much as I’d love to be there, I have a higher calling this day, a baptism, and an opportunity to wear seersucker.

Still, after the numerous Juleps and the 750 ml of Imperial IPA I put down yesterday, I needed something strong and fortifying to get going this very morn.

When reviving a corpse, one has two options, Corpse Reviver No. 1 and Corpse Reviver No. 2, I like No. 2. Number 1 appears to be an after dinner or a boozer up fruity Manhattan.

Corpse Reviver No. 1
2.0 Applejack (Laird’s Bonded please)
.75 Sweet Vermouth
.75 Brandy

Stir in a mixing glass with ice, double strain, prepare to set hair on fire.

I drink, occasionally to excess, and if I started the morning with that blast of booze I’d end the evening with an arrest warrant. Therefore, I prefer the kinder, gentler, but buzz providing No. 2.

Corpse Reviver No. 2
.75 gin
.75 triple sec
.75 Lillet Blonde
.75 lemon juice
.25 Absinthe

Shake with ice, double strain, classically garnished with a lemon. I deviated here, I garnished with a grapefruit peel and added ten or so drops of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters.

Bittermens bitters are available at Boston Shaker where I get most of my shakers, specialty cups, and bitters. The Bittermens line is now available in the St. Louis market, you’ll see them proudly displayed at Taste, Blood & Sand, and Sanctuaria. They’ve got the full line, including shrubs, I’ve got the Tiki, Boston, and aforementioned bitters.

I also used Cointreau over triple sec, I just prefer it. Mandarine Napoleon or Grand Marnier have to heavy a brandy quotient and bog down the drink. As I prepared it, it’s tart, refreshing, and eye opening. Just the way it needs to be.

This drink also works well as an aperitif. It is the last cocktail I had on the last night of Monarch.

It did the job, getting me ready for a meal of five or so of there best appetizers. One should note, they didn’t double strain. Double straining is the dividing line between good and great. As I twitter tweeted Friday at @AmuseDouche11, if I wanted a snow cone, I’d order one. Of course that drink wasn’t even proportioned correctly and was horribly unbalanced, some that as simple as following the recipe for an Aviation would have corrected. The Monarch drink was perfect, other than the lack of tea strainer involvement. This versatile concoction can start a day, or start a dinner in style.

Harry Craddock noted, in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” that this drink should be “taken before 11 AM, or whenever steam and energy are needed.” I bet there are many of you out there, especially on this morning, needing a bit of both, so dust off the Lillet, pull your favorite local craft gin down, juice a lemon, and make Number 2 work for you.

In this shot No. 2 looks as angelic as I’m sure baby Kennedy will at her baptism later today. Good luck to proud papa and long time reader, Lance, and let’s hope for no impromptu No. 2s today.

Tagged , , , ,

Sunday Scramble

I started Sunday off a little foggy from a long Saturday. I knew I needed to be productive, so simply tossing back one of the usual suspects wouldn’t due. Part of Saturday night involved a trip to Taste to see Ted, Travis, and Mark. I noticed someone was drinking club soda and Angostura. This peaked my interest then and the next morning I thought that might do the trick. It was a smashing success. Normally I don’t keep club soda, but the wife had purchased a large bottle of Voss sparkling water for me a couple days earlier, I’d asked for regular Voss. Anyway, I quickly dumped a half ounce or so of Angostura in the bottle, and there I had it, the perfect eye opener for a busy day.

I probably could have had a heavier hand on the bitters, but didn’t want to over do it. It was only 10 AM and I was going to be walking through Home Depot with my libation. Hang over, or fogginess, lifted, I started about my day.

Saturday we’d purchased a few herb starters at Loca Harvest after having a delightful brunch at their cafe location just down Morganford from the grocer. Planting them was my first duty after getting some much needed supplies at the aforementioned HD. What to pair with gardening?

Friday I picked up my number one weekend need, some Bell’s Oberon, from the Rock Hill Wine and Cheese Place.

Oberon is the beer for a warm days work. No disrespect to Schlafly Helles or Boulevard Wheat, it’s just Oberon is the Plato’s form for warm weather beers.

I fired up the grill mid afternoon to do a bit of flank steak I picked up at Baumann’s Fine Meats. The day before I’d tossed the steak into a modified version of my Grandad’s marinade.

Grandad’s Marinade
1.0 Lemon juiced
.50 cup Soy Sauce
.25 cup dry red wine
3.0 tbs oil
2.0 tbs Worcester
1.0 large clove of garlic
1.0 bundle chopped scallions
1.0 tsp dry dill weed

I changed things up by substituting rice wine vinegar for the wine, no dill weed, but added red pepper flake, some fish sauce, a shot of bourbon, some housin sauce and a spot of hirin. I was going for an Asian marinade, and I was successful.

I grilled the steak a bit past medium and then sliced it against the grain. It was quite tender. I served the meat on top of some sautéd onions over rice and peas.

Rice and Peas
1.0 cup water
.50 cup chicken stock
.50 cup coconut milk
.50 tsp ginger
1.0 cup rice

I toasted the rice in some butter and then add the other ingredients and brought it all to a boil. Boil for 4-5 minutes then place a tea towel under the lid and let stand for 35 minutes. Or, follow your rice package’s instructions.

After the rice finished I added a quarter teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Both freshly grated.

I topped the dish with Sriracha garlic chili paste and some, or a, chiffonade of cinnamon basil that I’d purchased at Local Harvest.

I washed it down with a 50/50 Pernod and water over ice, perfectly refreshing. It was such a great night we even ate outside, something I generally loath. If you want to have a picnic, just invite a bunch of flies into your home and eat your meal on the floor. That being said, Sunday was the exception to the rule.

For dessert, a walk to Mr. Wizard’s Custard was in order, not bad. I had the turtle, the wife went with caramel and pecans. We were both sad to see they didn’t have butterscotch or pralines. But a walk to Ted Drew’s or Bobby’s wasn’t possible, so Mr. Wizard’s it was, and though it wasn’t the same as our favorites, we’ll be back.

Next time we may walk to the Kakao in Maplewood for ice-cream, but they close at 7 PM everyday but Sunday, when they close up at 5 PM. That doesn’t leave much of a chance for a walk over for dessert. Unfortunate.

So, now that the weather is warm, grab some warm weather beers, fire up the grill, and then treat yourself with a walk for some ice-cream. Take advantage of this weather, it’s the first “Spring” we’ve had in a decade, god bless you global warming.

Tagged ,

A once every four years treat.

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

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.

Tagged , ,

Bourbon Milk Breakfast

I was still in a Mardi Gras mood with Fat Tuesday coming earlier in the week and felt like a NOLA themed eye opener this morning.

For my one brunch at Brennan’s in the French Quarter I remember starting with a Harvey Walbanger, and working my way through the several course meal with white wine, then topping it all off with a Bourbon Milk Punch.

Bourbon Milk Punch
1.5 ounces bourbon
4.0 ounces fatty milk
2.0 tsp simple syrup
2.0 dashes vanilla extract

Shake the ingredients vigorously. I actually wrap a towel around the shaker so I can shake past the point of the contraption being too cold to hold. You want a lot if air and frothiness in the final product. I use heavy cream instead of milk, but thats because heavy cream makes everything better. Stay away from skim milk here, you want a decent fat content, for a compromise get yourself a gas station size bottle of red lid, that’ll be enough for two drinks. I also use my rich simple syrup for this, and most all, drinks. Anyway, once a nice cold frothiness has been achieved, double strain and top with freshly grated nutmeg. For a video of Robert Hess preparing one, click back where is says video.

Use a spicy bourbon here. Because the drink is so cold, you lose a lot of the baking spice flavors, the addition of the nutmeg on top to greet your nose helps, so does drinking it in a snifter. I may try this drink with a one ounce pour of bourbon and a half ounce of dark rum, and see if that elevated the flavor. It’s a good drink as is, but there’s always room for improvement.

I paired my punch with some of the wife’s chocolate cake.

After a meal of toast two ways,

one piece with butter and locally made raspberry jelly, the other under yard fresh eggs from Thole House topped with grilled onions, house peppers, thyme, and grated cheese.

A pretty good breakfast, no Brennan’s, but this one didn’t cost $240 for two.

Tagged , ,

Beer, it’s not just for breakfast.

We here at Amuse-Douche hosted a little get together last night, a little Mardi Gras celebrating. Went with crab cakes, red beans and rice, and king cake.

I was responsible for the crab cakes, recipe to follow, the wife had the king cake, and our friend Lauren of allez! gourmet handled the RB&G. I may have had the oil a bit hot on the cakes, so they were a touch closer to carbon black then the golden brown I was aiming for, but the side and dessert were spot on, and carried the day.

‘C’rab Cakes
1.0 lb picked crab meat (canned claw)
.25 cup mayo (Dukes)
2.0 tbsp chopped parsley
0.5 small onion chopped (or 3 scallions)
.25 tsp cayenne
.25 tsp sweet curry powder
0.5 tbsp dried lemon grass
0.5 tsp fresh ground pepper
.25 tsp kosher salt
.25 tsp worcestershire
.75 cup crushed Saltines
0.5 cup Panko bread crumbs
1.0 egg (beaten)

Combine all ingredients (accept for egg and Panko) by folding together 16 times. 16 is a magic stirring number. See for yourself and you’ll find it’s just enough to incorporate ingredients for any recipe. Anyway, combine, be careful to protect those lumps of meat. Don’t want to make a paste here.

Make your cakes, dip them in the egg and then the bread crumbs to coat, then place the raw cakes on a cookie sheet with a rack. Put the racked cakes in the fridge for an hour. This will help maintain structure.

To prepare, fry in a half inch of oil at medium high heat until golden brown.

Doubling the recipe gives you seven large cakes, about the size of the bottom of a 40 ouncer and an inch and a half thick. Singling the recipe will feed four. This also work for a great appetizer, but I’d make the cakes half the size for that purpose.

For the aioli, I combined mayo, lemon juice, sate seasoning, sweet curry powder, Maharajah curry powder, and more lemon grass. I did this to taste. I’d use some heat here, but I wasn’t preparing the sauce just for me. Whisk the Hell out of it to combine.

For the corn base I went with a less fresh version of Thomas Keller’s creamed summer corn, found on page #189 of ad hoc at home . It’s basically creamed corn with chives and lime zest. I toss in some pickled jalepenos for heat. Ad Hoc is Keller’s most approachable cook book and a must for any aspiring douche.

So why the beer? Well, after entertaining all night I was fortunate to wake up to one of my favorite things, the sudoku triples and the accompanying Post-Dispatch, and one of my least favorite, a dirty kitchen. No time to be swilling cocktails, some of our dishes date back to Lincoln’s time, and can’t be replaced. That being the case, I went with another great breakfast drink, coffee stout.

Mikkeller makes some great brews, and Beer Geek Breakfast is no exception. The title picture is of a bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout, a very tasty and chocholatey stout in deed. Young’s Double Chocholate would also do nicely, but I love coffee, so generally go coffee stout in the morning. I picked Mikkeller’s because it came in a bomber size, and I needed more than one beer.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Schlafly and Kaldis make a tasty coffee stout, and Goshen and 4Hands do as well with their Bona Fide Imperial Expresso Stout.

I’ve yet to try Bona Fide, but will on March 3rd at 4Hands’s Lupulin Carnival , a celebration of hops.

If you aren’t into the heavy coffeeness, try Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout.

It’s not available around here, but I’d part with a bottle for a ten spot. An interesting trade would be considered, if one were to be proposed, like say for two Hopslams by Bells.

So, if you’re needing to be productive, but also needing a bit of bottled courage to face your day, go for a coffee stout, they’re delicious, they’re nutritious, and when paired with an actual cup of coffee, you get both the buzzes necessary to tackle the kitchen that cleanliness forgot.

And yes, I finished the sudoku.


Tagged , , , ,

The Improved Ameretto Sour

After last week’s blog on the sour I had the opportunity to speak with a reader on dry shaking the egg. The reader thought I meant for some type of powdered egg white to be used. I wasn’t aware such a thing existed. I have since gone back and played with the punctuation to clarify, but I thought more was needed on the subject.

Then I received my notification that Jeffrey Morganthaler updated his wondeful blog. How fortuitous, a sour blog, just off the heals of mine, and involving a drink worth saving, which also incorporated the dry shake technique.

In his blog Morganthaler states he makes the best Ameretto Sour in the world. Due to the incorporation of a new ingredient, the cask strength bourbon. I believe the more accurate statement would be to say, he’s made an Improved Ameretto Sour.

At the beginning of mixology a cocktail was; water, sugar, bitters, base spirit. Later, the cocktail was, fortunately, “improved” by adding a liqueur. At the time, this was mostly done with an orange Curacao or Maraschino liqueur. Here we are taking a drink with a liqueur base and taking the heat up a notch instead of changing the sweet, but improving it nonetheless with our change.

For a bit more on the difference between cocktail, fancy cocktail, and improved cocktail, see David Wondrich’s blog for Esquire. If you don’t own Wonderich’s book Imbibe, click here buy the book, and explore the rest of cocktailkingdom for any gear you need.

Improved Ameretto Sour
1.5 oz amaretto
.75 oz cask-proof bourbon
1.0 oz lemon juice
1.0 tsp. 2:1 (rich) simple syrup
.05 oz egg white, beaten

First, put your non-ice ingredients in your shaker. Make sure you have a good seal. Shake. Shake. Shake. You’re wanting to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients and whisk up that egg white. This is why you dry shake. Then add your ice and shake till your hand is so cold you can no longer grip the shaker. Pour over fresh ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon peal and a cherry.

For the egg white, I use an egg and an egg separator. I then fry the remainder and eat it or feed it to the dogs. The egg elevates the mouth feel and adds a velvety texture and some body. It also gives one a bit of protein.

Cocktail on left, egg separator on right.

For the bases I use Disaronno for the Ameretto and Booker’s for the bourbon. Booker’s come in at 127.4 proof and does nicely here. I like to use it to kick a drink up a notch, or I’ll sip it up. I hardly ever use it as my bourbon in a bourbon based cocktail. I don’t use Ameretto for much either, I’ve probably had this bottle for a decade. This recipe may change how much I use both.

For speed, or to not have to explain the safety of enjoying egg whites once covered in 127.4 proof alcohol and nearly frozen, you could leave out the egg. If you’re entertaining some young lass who’s been main lining neon versions at a wedding reception before retiring to your place, just leave it out and don’t waste the Booker’s either.

Tagged , ,

Coffee Brogue

It may be early February, but I’m listening to the Decembrists and planning for March, March 17th to be exact, so maybe I should switch to listening to Flogging Molly.

Today was a perfect example of that old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail. Just look at the above photo of a sad, wimpy, little Irishey coffee.

What happened? I free measured/poured, I didn’t have the ingredients I needed and had to substitute on the fly, and, well that’s it, but it doesn’t matter, those two failures will make a Saturday morning a bust every time.

Fortunately, I was left with a serviceable drink, but we here at A-D aim a little higher than serviceable.

My friend and fellow Morning After listener, Lance, emailed me a link on Irish coffees. Interestingly enough, it was in The Wall Street Journal, a paper I no longer subscribe to, but wouldn’t mind a subscription to.

The article suggested using apple brandy, one of my favorite base spirits. We keep a few here at the house

a real deal Calvados from Normandy, Clear Creek’s Eau-De-Vie de Pomme, and Laird’s Very Rare and Bonded. One thing you won’t see here at A-D is Laird’s Apple Jack, that thoroughly undrinkable mixture of apple brandy, apple flavoring, and neutral spirits does not meet the A-D guidelines for serveability.

Eau-De-Vie loosely translated means “water of life,” and what a life I have. Whiskey means roughly the same, as it’s derived from the Roman, vitae aquae. The Clear Creek EDVs are all wonderful, with the pear version being quite possibly the best tasting thing I own. The EDVs are basically fruit white lightenings and are much more complex then the sugary liqueurs Clear Creek produces. The Pomme is aged eight years in Limousine oak barrels and is a very nice dessert or night cap, don’t mix with it unless you’re charging $18 a cocktail.

The Clear Creek is available in 375 ml bottles at most high end liquor stores. The Laird’s options, other than Apple Jack, which isn’t an option, can be tougher to find. I found my Very Rare at Argonaut in Denver, but the Bonded is available locally at The Wine Merchant for about $23, a song, for what it can do for you in terms of elevating your home bar. Sanctuaria and Taste have sometimes cornered the local market on the Bonded, but the Merchant usually has it in stock.

But is this Irish? How does one make an Irish coffee without Irish whiskey? A good question. If it ain’t Brogue, don’t fix it, right? I’ve hammered a dozen or so Irish coffees at John D. McGurk’s in one sitting and regretted it the next day, so I know what I’m talking about. The McGurk’s version is lacking and I’m not a fan. Not only for the insane place it took me, but also for the dozen or so dollops of half melted vanilla ice cream they top it with and the weak ass drip coffee they used. I could have made an improved version of their’s, but Lance did send me that article, and it was in the Journal, and I love apple brandy, and thought this concoction may be a good second option for the lasses come Saturday March 17, 2012 at about 6 AM here at the house, so I best try it out first.

I don’t often drink Irish coffees, but when I do, I always request John Powers over Jameson.

Powers is my go to for the lower price point Irish whiskies for both sipping and mixing. Red Breast and Middleton are saved for the single-malt glasses and only the best of company. Why the Powers over Jamo? When in Ireland I notices most seasoned drinkers calling for Teachers, Paddy’s, and John Powers, and when I got back to the States, Powers was the only one I could find in the StL. That was ten years ago and no longer the case, but I tend to dance with the one who brought me and go with the devil I know.

So, what about a recipe, Brogue or otherwise;

Irish Coffee
2.0 ounces base spirit
7.0 ounces French pressed coffee
1.0 dollops fresh whipped cream
2.0 teaspoons Demura sugar
Garnish with an orange twist and grated cinnamon.

Heat the mug in the microwave, toss in sugar and spirits, add a bit if coffee, stir with bar spoon until dissolved, top with coffee, then add whippy and garnish. It should resemble a pint of Guinness with an orange peal swath on top.

You may also substitute a rich dark rum, such as El Dorado 12 year or Rhum Bartencourt 8 year for a less rich option, if you feel so inclined. Apple brandy is a nice change of pace, but Irish whiskey will always be tops in my book. As for the sugar, Demura sugar is basically sugar in the raw, it’s less processed and has more flavor. I use it to make my simple syrup over super refined sugar as well. Go with French pressed coffee over drip, as French pressed coffee is a denser base for the whippy to rest upon. In addition, French pressed coffee tends to get me a lot more buzzed up. French presses are also great for brewing lose teas. Whip your own whippy as well, no canned stuff here unless you want a little nitrous buzz as well. Controlling what goes into your food and beverage is the best part of doing it yourself. As for coffee brands I stick with Goshen’s Old School Tattoo Blend

mainly for the hot as nails gall above, but also because I’ve met the owner, Matt Herren, several times, and aside from his love of the San Francisco Giants, he’s a pretty cool guy. He roasts a great product. The fact that my favorite local chef, Amy Zupanci, speaks highly of him also helps. Matt used to own 222 Artisan something or other in Edwardsville. That place remains a must stop for coffee and a salami and cheddar croissant when we travel to Eville for the Goshen Farmer’s Market. The bread on their European styled sammies was so crusty it would make your gums bleed. They’ve Americanized their sammy options, no more bleeding gums and more crap in-between the bread, but it’s still great. Matt is now working with 4 Hands brewery for their Bona-Fide Stout, a coffee stout that I’m sure will kick Schlafly’s and Kaldi’s collaboration’s behind, not that I don’t love and serve Kaldi’s Coffee Stout here. I’ve seen that the Bona-Fide is getting a barrel aging as well, which I’m quite excited about.

In general, don’t sleep on the ILL-Side, StL Magazine just did a piece on how Eville is the up-and-coming place for foodies, check it out here.

Anyway, back to the moral of this story, my failing to plan. I didn’t measure on the coffee and it turned out weak and I didn’t have heavy cream, only half and half, so no whippy. Still a tasty drink, but presentation was way off an I believe that had the coffee been stronger, the mouth feel and flavor would have been elevated to that of a great drink. Thankfully these mistakes were made today and not forty-two days from now.

In the end, it is clear, with not much more than what I keep at the house on a regular basis, I can put together an Irish coffee that, even prepared with the imperfect methodology as the one I’m drinking now was, rivals anything you’d get eating or drinking out.

And if you don’t get the title, look up Brogue and harken back to the days when Mike Myers was funny.

Tagged , , ,

Breakfast Burritos

Mexican is my favorite non-eggs Benedict breakfast. Chorizo and eggs, huevos rancheros, and today’s breakfast burrito are all wonderful options to start the day.

Theres no reason you have to do your breakfast burrito pre-frozen and then nuked or risk the drive-through version, its easy to do at home, and the at home version comes with tequila. In addition, left over meat and beans can be combined and refrigerated to be used in lunch time quesadillas for the work week.

To make, take a pound of beef, browned with an onion in your cast iron skillet. Then add a healthy portion of my house taco seasoning, I’ll do a blog on various seasonings once I measure what I actually use. One could use a store bought, but then make sure and use salt free stock, otherwise you’ll have cotton mouth and sausage fingers before lunch. Its always better to control what you put in your spice mixes, rubs and marinades. After I stir in the seasoning I pour in chicken stock until meat is half covered. Let that simmer together for a few minutes.

While the meat is cooking I put a can of refried beans in a heavy bottomed sauce pot with some diced house made jalepenos, more on those during canning season. I then pour in chicken stock until it’s a rich and smooth consistency.

Just as the meat finishes absorbing the stock and seasoning I throw in another diced onion. This one will add more bite and texture.

As all of this comes together I put a pad of butter in a small non-non-stick frying pan and fry an egg, leave the yolk a bit runny. And that finishes the preparation.

To assemble, place a smear of salsa verde in the center of your burrito wrapper, add meat mixture and beans. Then top with cheese then your fried egg. Wrap your wrapper into a square. Then place the burrito flaps side down in a hot cast iron skillet, this is why you should own at least two. Let it stay till smoke appears then flip till the same smoke point is reached, then remove and plate.

For breakfast I serve the burrito with some orange wedges, strong coffee, and a shot of tequila, preferably Espalón Reposado.

Price fluctuates on Espalón, but I wouldn’t pay $23 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it for $16. It is a 100% agave tequila and in that price range can’t be beat. I’d drink it over a Patron offering, even if Espalón was as ridiculously overpriced as Patron. It’s almost too damn smooth to work as a morning eye opener.

Typing of smooth, as I prepared this meal I listened to Ray Charles’s “Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul” on vinyl. A great Sunday morning album and other than Ottis Redding’s “Live in Europe” and John Lee Hooker’s “Never Get Out of These Blues Alive,” the closest thing to Spanish Fly that I’ve got on vinyl.

As for last nights Burns Night Dinner, pretty good Haggis. It’s like a meat loaf made of barley, sheep’s lungs, and other offal cooked in a stomach. Not bad and certainly something I’d eat to survive a cold winter. The scotch was good, and the bottle of Glenmorangie I took home as a door prize helped to offset the sticker shock of $130 for a dinner for two. Even with that high price point it was still a great night of bag pipers, revelry, poetry, conversation, and dance.

Tagged ,

Lucien Gaudin in the Mornin’

Bright flavors are the way to go with any morning eye-opener. When I think bright and boozey, I think gin, more importantly, for our purposes, gin and citrus. The Lucien Gaudin is an excellent example of how these components can work wonderfully together and really open your eyes on a Saturday morning.

Lucien Gaudin himself was a French fencer who took gold in the 1928 Olympics in two events and later killed himself in 1934. I wonder if he and his famous foil could have made a difference on the Maginot Line had he lived to see the 1940s. I’m not sure as to why he had a gin drink named after him, but that hardly matters.

I first saw the drink on the member’s list at Sanctuaria and later ran across it at a Vintage Cocktails class with Jason Main of the The Wine Merchant.

I assume the Sanctuaria version is the same as those listed below. Jason, on the other hand, leaves out the Cointreau on his recipe sheet. I can’t remember if he did so when making the drinks. He also garnished with a lemon. His version would make for a much brighter drink and possibly more appropriate for AM imbibing. Either way this is a drink that can and should be made at home, as any home bar should have the ingredients and no special technique is required.

Two of my cocktail guides listed the drink, Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and Robert Hess’s The Essential Bartender’s Guide . Note when I do links to books I use Amazon, please look for the books on Albris. It’s not as user friendly as Amazon, but its great for used and harder to find copies. As for the two books, both are great reference guides. Ted Kilgore of Taste and Last Word Cocktails gave me a copy of Hess’s book when I took a one-on-one class with him, a must and great birthday present. I picked up Haigh’s, or Dr. Cocktail’s, book when I started seeing it at every bar I drank at. Water Street in Maplewood is working through the book as they build their cocktail list.

The Lucien Gaudin, as seen in Haigh’s book.

For a video of Hess making the drink click on the small screen network. Small Screen is a great place to get recipes and see how exactly a pro brings the ingredients together, a top notch resource.

Lucien Gaudin
1.0 Gin
0.5 Cointreau
0.5 Dry Vermouth (or Lillet)
0.5 Campari

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass, I favor the Yarai, stir twenty or so times, strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a swath of orange peel. I did not note the size of measurement on this recipe in case you wanted to make a pitcher of them for brunch. One ounce as the 1.0 component and then half ounces work for a single serving.

You may notice in the picture of all ingredients above that I used Lillet and not a traditional dry vermouth such as Noilly Prat. I thought Lillet would work well in this recipe as it has some chinchana bark which is loaded with quinine that adds a bitterness. This is why I used that same bark in my bitters recipes. Lillet also has some liqueurs in it which were made by macerating orange peels of various types in neutral spirits. With the Lucien Gaudin, being a citrus forward drink, I thought that the inclusion of Lillet would make those flavors even more prominent and make it more of an eye opener with the citrus and quinine additions.

You may recognize Lillet from the James Bond movies or books. The Vesper as he names it is that incorrectly shaken part gin, part vodka, part Lillet martini like concoction he orders up in Casino Royal. For an excellent piece on the Vesper read David Wonderich’s article here in Esquire.

I further tinkered with the drink by going with an American, locally produced, gin over Hayman’s Old Tom or the traditional English or London style Plymouth.

I like the idea of switching up gins to suit my recipes. I don’t want to use a full on juniper bomb when making a citrus cocktail. I also don’t want to use a weaker less flavor-forward gin in my martinis. Rounded out luscious Old Tom’s are best used when the recipe appears to be something that would also work with a bourbon or rye as the base spirit. An Old Pal made with Old Tom gin, instead of rye, would showcase this nicely.

My go to gins for drinks like the Last Word and Aviation tend to be American, Aviation Gin is my favorite, and I wanted to try an American here. Old Tom would be to smooth and the mouth feel would be off and Plymouth or even Hendricks would likely over power the subtler flavor notes I was seeking to pull out with my use of Lillet. Many times American gins have more citrus, cardamom, and coriander notes and Pickney Bend made locally in New Haven, MO works well here. I think Colorado’s Cap Rock would be the best gin to use, but good luck finding it locally, outside of my basement.

I keep a ready supply of various gins, probably a dozen or so on hand at the house, if a reader ever wanted to stop by and taste a few. I even have a bottle of Seagram’s bumpy. Ideally a home bar would include Hayman’s Old Tom, Plymouth, Hendricks and an American option. The inclusion of Old Raj and Bols Genever would make said bar on par with Taste or any other high-end cocktail bar.

Remember to keep your Lillet or dry vermouth in the refrigerator after opening. I use Noilly Prat for my traditional dry offering and Vya, a vermouth made in the Napa Valley, when I want to feel especially patriotic or want to show off.

Tagged , ,