Category Archives: Recipes

Monastery Sour

Last Saturday we had a slow night at the bar. Todd, the owner, had finally given in and bought some Chartreuse after me bugging him about it for months. I was really hoping he’d snag some Fernet Branca to go with it, but as my friend John always says, never kick a gift horse in the mouth.

He’d also snagged a bottle of Benedectine, and I felt like playing around. I took a sip and realized it has a flavor profile not too dissimilar to Fernet Branca, but is considerably sweeter. I immediately thought of an industry sour.

So I started mixing. I began with equal parts Chartreuse, lime, and Benedictine, but with the simple syrup cut in half since Benedictine already has a good bit of sweetness to it. After shaking it still needed a little something, and looking around I immediately jumped to absinthe. I couldn’t tell you why exactly, it just felt right, like the night I met my ex-girlfriend. Or the night I broke up with the same ex-girlfriend. Sometimes you just know.

It still needed a little something, so I tossed in an egg-white which really rounded out the flavor. So here’s the final recipe.

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Monastery Sour

1 oz. Benedictine

1 oz. Chartreuse

1 oz. lime juice

0.5 oz. 1:1 simple syrup

.25 oz. absinthe

1 egg white

Dry shake all ingredients. Add ice, shake like crazy. Strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish.

Gold Rush (PDT)

This is part of my Weekend Classics series of recipes that use entirely classic cocktail ingredients/methodology.

I recently started making my own bitters, and as a result I needed some high-proof bourbon to extract a few ingredients. I found a bottle of Old Grand-Dad 100 bonded bourbon at my local liquor store. I’d had regular Old Grand-Dad and found it to be a decent well bourbon, though I think I prefer Four Roses Yellow a tad, but I’d never tried the 100. And my experience with bonded liquors has been pretty damn good, as Rittenhouse (unfortunately not carried in my state) and Laird’s Bonded are both wonderful, inexpensive options.

After using most of the bottle for extracting various spices, I decided to try taking a swig of it, and damn was it tasty. It’s got a deeper, slightly sweeter, spicier, oakier, and just generally more complex flavor than the Four Roses Yellow. (I don’t have a bottle of the lower proof Grand-Dad handy for comparison.)  After realizing it was my new favorite well bourbon (how the hell is that bottle only $17?) I read up a bit on it, and I think the flavor comes from a higher rye content in the mash bill and, of course, the higher proof.

I quickly decided I wanted to try it in some cocktails, so I busted out my trusty PDT Index (kudos to whoever made that thing, for you sir have saved me many hours of page flipping) and started sifting through. One caught my eye quickly, the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush is three ingredients, bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon. It’s a lot like a Penicillin, but without the ginger.

Jim Meehan says in the byline:

“I’ll never forget coming to Milk & Honey for the first time, in 2003, and being served this drink. It fundamentally changed the way I viewed cocktails.”

At first I didn’t get it. I mean, the drink isn’t that out of the ordinary is it? But then I realized it’s now 12 years later. Of course this drink wouldn’t be a revelation to me, since cocktails spent years improving before they got to me, thanks in large part to guys like Meehan. No matter how much I may love Led Zeppelin, and I do, I can only appreciate their influence academically. I wasn’t there when they dropped a bomb on that poppy British invasion crap and spawned the genre I so love.

And so maybe that’s what this cocktail is, it’s the Led Zeppelin of drinks. When viewed alongside all of the drinks that comes after it, it’s still damned good, but not out of the ordinary. Viewed chronologically in terms of the cocktail revival, its import might be greater than you’d otherwise realize.

But anyway, the fact remains, it’s damned good. And it’s simple. And it’s cheap. I think you can make it for like $1.50. And your customers wouldn’t be disappointed to pay $10 (or New York $15) for it. It uses three very common ingredients every bar has.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe from the PDT Cocktail Book, page 134.

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Gold Rush Recipe

2 oz. Bourbon

1 oz honey syrup

.75 oz lemon juice (about half a lemon)

Shake and double strain over one big ice cube in a rocks glass. No garnish.

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Notes: I think the over-proof bourbon really makes this drink, so try Old Grand-Dad 100. I also think rye is fantastic, but then I’m famous for using rye in place of everything.

I have some ideas for variants. I’m going to try the following the next time I have a grapefruit handy:

1.5 oz reposado

.5 oz mezcal (for a little smokiness)

1 oz. agave nectar

.75 oz grapefruit juice

Honey Syrup Recipe

2 parts by volume honey

1 part by volume water

Put in pot on stove over low heat, stir until dissolved, then chill. Put in squeeze bottle.

(I need to weigh honey so I can convert this recipe to mass rather than volume, but this is as taken from PDT.)

Toasted Corn Husk Bourbon and Orange and Craft Beer Shrub Old Fashioned

For this weekend’s classic cocktail, I thought I’d post a take on perhaps the most classic of of classics, the Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned is, of course, any cocktail that contains liquor, bitters, sugar, and a diluent (generally water or seltzer).

Those who know me know that I have a fascination with shrubs. I started researching them about a year ago, and was debating opening a shrub company, something I still haven’t ruled out. I began honing my recipes. My problem with most shrubs on the market is that they pretty much all use apple cider vinegar, with the occasional balsamic tossed in. Not that I have anything against ACV, but there’s just no way it’s the ideal vinegar pairing for every fruit. In fact after testing, I’m not sure it’s the ideal vinegar pairing for any fruit.

So I began playing around with different methods (cold press, for instance, seems to beat hot methods every time) and fruit/vinegar combinations and ratios. My favorite recipe so far is the Orange and Craft Beer Vinegar Shrub. (While vinegar made from beer strikes people as weird at first, when you point out to them that they’ve mainly been exposed to malt vinegar, and that beer is fermented malt, they realize they’ve been using it all their lives.)

In recent years, muddling oranges and cherries into an Old Fashioned has become popular. Cocktail purists of course scoff at the idea, but let’s be honest, when done right it’s damned tasty. That gave me the idea of using a little orange shrub, since it’s both a sweetener and an acidulant, which I think is the real reason the orange works so well in the Old Fashioned.

Another thing I thought I had invented (but it turned out Ideas in Food beat me to it) was toasted corn husk bourbon. A bar/restaurant I used to frequent wanted some members to contribute infusions to their menu. It was around the end of the summer when they first proposed it to me, and I’d probably been grilling corn in the husk. Anyone who has ever done that will tell you that there’s a sweetness to the smell (there must be sugar in the husk) that seemed like it would pair well with bourbon.

So I went down to the produce store and asked if I could have the husks people had shucked from the corn into a little bin. I expected them to think I was crazy for asking for what they viewed as garbage, but apparently people do this all the time to feed their goats. Who knew? They were happy to oblige, especially once I told them it was for beverage purposes.

With that I made roasted corn husk-infused bourbon. It has a small but beautiful sweetness to it that you almost can’t tell is there until you taste it with regular bourbon side-by-side. I thought it would be perfect for a drink like an Old Fashioned or a Perfect Manhattan. (A regular Manhattan would be too sweet.)

So, last week, I made the Toasted Corn Husk Bourbon and Orange and Craft Beer Shrub Old Fashioned. Yes, I know, that name is like 5 words too long. I’ll work on it. But for those interested, here’s the recipe, in 3 parts.

Orange and Craft Beer Vinegar Shrub

Ingredients

Oranges (you’ll end up with a volume of shrub equal to about 2x the volume of orange juice)

Sugar

Craft Beer Vinegar

Instructions

1. Peel the oranges, being careful to avoid the pith. (I use Pectinex Ultra-SPL enzymatic peeling for maximum removal and minimum effort.)

Here’s an image from Dave Arnold of the result:

(I don’t bother with the supremes since I’m juicing the orange, just the peels.)

2. Juice the oranges, double strain, and put in the refrigerator.

3. In a non-reactive bowl, cover the peels in a volume of sugar equal to the volume of juice you reserved. Stir, cover in plastic wrap, and let sit on your counter overnight. You’ll wake up to a beautiful syrup called oleo saccharum.

4. Mix the olea saccharum with the orange juice, then add an equal volume of Craft Beer Vinegar. I use Tavern Vinegar because they’re local and easily the best vinegar I’ve ever had, but your local food scene might have something comparable. If not, your local homebrew store probably sells mother of vinegar, and you could easily make your own by buying (or brewing) a nice Belgian Wit and then converting it to vinegar.

5. Let sit in your refrigerator for a couple months in a sterile bottle or mason jar. (You can sterilize it the way homebrewers do, but running it through your dishwasher with no soap or Jet Dry.) The flavors will meld into something indescribably beautiful.

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Toasted Corn Husk Bourbon

Ingredients

Corn Husks (use the soft inner peels, like you would for a tamale, not the rough outer ones)

Bourbon (I like Four Roses Yellow for infusions, since it’s cheap and tasty, but your well bourbon of preference will do.)

Instructions

Lay corn husks flat on baking sheet. You’ll probably need to place a cooling rack over top of them to keep them flat, as they’ll want to curl.

Toast in your oven at 350 until they brown and emit a sweet smell.

Put into a mason jar and cover completely with bourbon. I infused for about two weeks before I felt like it was done, but taste as you go along. It doesn’t hurt to have a reference bottle of bourbon beside it so you can detect the flavor change.

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The Old Fashioned

Ingredients

3 oz. toasted corn husk infused Bourbon

2 tsp. orange and craft beer shrub

1 tsp. demerara simple syrup (2:1)

2 dashes angostura bitters

1 dash orange bitters

2 drops saline solution

Brandied cherries for garnish

Instructions

Put a 2” cube of ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Top with all of the liquid ingredients and stir to combine. Garnish with cherries.

 

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The Gimlet

For my New Year’s Eve party, I had juiced about a bag of limes. Then everyone ended up drinking French 75’s and 95’s all night, so while the bag of lemons got used up, the limes were basically untouched.

Rather than pitching them the next day, I decided to make some lime cordial. Lime cordial is, like most cocktail syrups, incredibly easy to make. You merely mix equal parts lime juice, and sugar, zest in the peel from the limes you used, and heat to a boil. Let simmer for a couple minutes, cool, and then toss in the fridge. The next day strain out the peels and you have a beautiful cordial.

My first thought to use it was the gimlet because, well, I don’t know if I’ve ever had any other cocktail that uses lime cordial, and that I’ve probably only ever had with that god awful Rose’s crap you’d get from a supermarket. (The ingredients of Rose’s are high fructose corn syrup, lime juice concentrate, sodium metabisulfite, natural flavors, and Blue 1. I couldn’t serve that to anyone I cared about.) So the gimlet deserved a do-over.

I used Jim Meehan’s recipe from the PDT Cocktail Book, still my favorite source for classic cocktail recipes. The recipe was:

2 oz. Plymouth Gin

.75 oz. lime cordial

.75 oz fresh lime juice

Shake and strain into a coupe, and garnish with a lime wheel.

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Tell me that ain’t beautiful! (I know the wash line is too low, my coupes are too large. I ended up increasing the recipe by 25% after that first one.)

The result was fantastic. It’s basically a gin daiquiri. In fact, I’m going to play around with rum and see if I can’t make a baller daiquiri out of it, because fuck Hemingway. (Ok, he’s one of my favorite writers, but the drink named after him sucks.) It would also go well with tequila I think in some version of a margarita.

Anyway, while the snow is falling this weekend crank the heat up to 80, put your board shorts on, pretend you’re in Aruba, and drink the gimlet.

Clarified Gin and Juice

This is part of my series of recipes from Liquid Intelligence. I’m going to make all of them, which you can see here.

One of Dave Arnold’s recipes I’ve been making for awhile is the Gin and Juice. I was able to find videos of it on the web, and piece together the process from his podcast. But there’s a recipe for it in Liquid Intelligence so I thought I’d make it for my family Christmas party. Apologies in advance for my worse-than-usual photography, but I was batching two cocktails and getting ready for a party.

This recipe isn’t particularly difficult, and is a great introduction to clarification. You can do it a few ways. If you don’t care about yield and just want a fast, easy product, you can use Pectinex/Chitosan/Keiselsol clarification (more on that later) and just wait a few hours for the solids to separate. Your yield is relatively low though without a centrifuge, on the order of 50-75%.

If you don’t mind waiting a bit longer, agar clarification is the way to go. That’s what Dave recommends, so for this post that’s what I did. It’s not that much more labor than the Pectinex/fining I mentioned, and the yield is much higher. I think I got over 90%. You’ll see my picture of the solids raft left at the end, that was all that didn’t make it, and some of that was agar.

Here’s the process:

Step 1: Juice the grapefruit.

I can’t remember how many I used, but it was most of a bag from Sam’s Club. (Sorry, I’m in Akron, we don’t have Costco yet.) I ended up with about a liter and a half.

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Step 2: Hydrate the agar

Divide the grapefruit, 75% in one batch (assuming it’s room temperature) that you’ll set aside, and 25% in another, that you’ll put into a pan. In my case,  I set 1.1 liters aside, and put 400 liters in the pan.

Measure out agar to 2g per liter, so in this case I used 3g. (I use Telephone brand packets. I ran out of this packet and had to go to the Asian market, all for 0.4 grams!)

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Whisk it vigorously into the small portion of juice. Place the pan on the stove, turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil, whisking frequently.

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When it boils, put a lid on the pan, drop the heat, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Step 3: Temper the juice and set.

Pour the room temperature juice into the hot stuff, stirring vigorously. You want to avoid the mix gelling at all, which might happen if you did it the other way around, or didn’t boil enough of the juice.

Pour into a bowl and set over an ice bath to chill. Don’t agitate it at all. No stirring. Just wait for it to gel all the way through.

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Step 4: Freeze

Place the bowl into the freezer, and let sit overnight.

Step 5: Thaw

Place the frozen brick of agar in a strainer and let the liquid drip through. It starts off like this:

 

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and ends like this:

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Step 6: Filter

I ran what was left of the juice through a Chemex to suck up a little bit of particulate matter that got through.

Step 7: Mix ingredients and chill

I mixed up enough of Dave’s recipe to make about 1.65 liters, since I was carbonating in a 2 liter bottle. That worked out to a batch of ten. The recipe is:

590ml gin

800ml agar-clarified grapefruit juice

220ml water

40ml simple syrup

20 drops saline solution

I funneled them all into a 2 liter bottle, and put the bottle in the freezer. I shook it every 15 minutes or so, so it would chill evenly, and had to be careful to pull it out before it froze (the ABV is low enough that I think it would).

When it was ice cold, I carbonated with my homebrew rig.

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Step 8: Play Snoop Dogg on radio and pour into champagne flute

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Make sure to have your mind on your money, and your money on your mind.

New Year’s Friday Classic: The French 75

For New Year’s Eve I threw a party for about 20 friends. I thought it’d be fitting to do a champagne-based cocktail, and wanted something easy since I spend enough of my time bartending. I also wanted a crowd-pleaser, something that even casual drinkers love. What could be better than the French 75?

This classic drink came to America via soldiers returning from WWI. Found in Paris, the troops said it had so much kick it felt like being shelled by the powerful French 75mm machine gun. (For bonus points, the French 95 is a variant that merely substitutes bourbon for gin.)

French 75

1 oz. Plymouth Gin

.5 oz. lemon juice

.5 oz. simple syrup

1 oz. Champagne

Lemon Twist

Shake and strain first three ingredients into champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with lemon twist.

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Christmas Cocktail: Cranberry Vodka Justino “Martini”

Those who know me know I’m not a vodka guy. I love liquor, so the idea of drinking something scientifically designed to taste as little like liquor as possible is just silly. But the entire world is not yet enlightened, and so vodka persists as the most popular base spirit in America. (Whiskey is closing the gap though.)

I’m throwing a family Christmas party, like I do every year, and I wanted to make a crowd pleaser for the people who won’t drink a Manhattan. So I decided to tech it out a little. I was in a grocery store and saw a bunch of fresh cranberries, and thought surely there’s a cocktail there somewhere.

So step number 1 was making cranberry vodka. I used Dave Arnold’s Justino method. I blended 750 ml of Sobieski (my vodka of choice, because it’s very cheap and very flavorless) with 250g of cranberries and 2 grams of Pectinex Ultra-SPL. I let that sit for a few days until it separated.

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The cranberry puree actually floated mostly to the top, so I couldn’t rack it off like I could with the banana rum or pumpkin rye. I decided to just pour it through a coffee filter and hope the particles were large enough to not pass through.

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Boom, it worked.

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Next  up, what to do with it. The cranberry vodka that came out was very tart. (Not surprising if you’ve ever eaten a raw cranberry.) Since I had made it for my family, many of whom are the sort to ask for a “martini” and mean something sweet, colorful, and probably with vodka served out of a martini glass, I wanted to come up with something they’d enjoy that wouldn’t make me hate myself for serving.

If there’s one liqueur that’s sort of sweet and acts like bartender ketchup, it’s St. Germain. So I constructed a cocktail.

2 oz cranberry vodka

1 oz. St Germain

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. 1:1 simple syrup

3 drops saline solution

1/2 dropper (roughly 1.5 dashes) orange bitters

I shook and strained into a chilled martini glass, and garnished with a lemon twist. I meant to snap up a picture, but I had a family Christmas party underway.

The guests seemed to love it. It looked pretty and didn’t taste like liquor. It wasn’t the sort of drink I’d generally make for myself, but it wasn’t bad. If I were making it for me I might dial back the simple to 1/4 oz, as I tend to like things a bit less sweet than your average “martini” drinker. But really it wasn’t cloying even like that.