Bob Levy in the NYT

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The smell of freedom

It’s not every Sunday morning that I wake up and make myself a cocktail — really, Mom, it’s not! — but with just one day to go before Mixology Monday I needed to get cracking. If only my college homework had been this fun…

The theme this month is Repeal Day. We’re now thankfully free to celebrate with a good drink, but our freedom to savor a pleasant smoke with it is increasingly under attack by smoking bans and excessive taxes. Thus I thought it fitting to try incorporating tobacco into a cocktail for my first MxMo entry. If we can’t light it, we might as well drink it.

Eww! Yeah, I know. Tobacco is meant to be smoked. But since that’s less and less of an option, bringing it into drink form is a worthy challenge. I tried out several different methods, including making a sample of vodka infused with Dunhill Early Morning pipe tobacco and a brown sugar simple syrup simmered with the same blend. Both of these concoctions picked up the aroma of the tobacco amazingly well. Unfortunately, they took on an exceedingly strong taste, too. Unless you like licking ash trays, not good.

Even so, using the syrup with whiskey or bourbon did seem to have potential, but I couldn’t get the balance quite right. Inspired by rock star barista Jay Caragay’s famous signature drink, I infused a couple of cigars into cream instead. Since Partagas Black is one of my go-to cigars, is bold and spicy, and available in convenient packs of six in its small Pronto size, it was a worthy choice for the experiment and after two nights of infusion the cream was a few shades off white and carryied the cigars’ flavor.

What to do with it? Scotch and cigars are a classic pairing, so the godson cocktail seemed like a natural choice. To give the tobacco-infused cream more of a starring role, I lightly whipped it to a runny texture so I could float it on top of the drink instead of mixing it into the shaker. Thus this recipe was born:

2 oz. scotch (I used Glenlivet)
1/2 oz. amaretto (I used Disaronno)
whipped tobacco cream

For the cream:
1 cup light whipping cream
2 Partagas Black Prontos, sliced and left to infuse for 24-48 hours

The scotch and amaretto are shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. The cream, strained and whipped, is then spooned on top. The final result looks like this:

Partagas cocktail

And the taste? It’s not ready for prime time, but it’s all right as a concept cocktail. The taste of the tobacco comes through subtly without creating the burn I got with the simple syrup. With a little tweaking it could be a winner. Perhaps the cream could also be used in a white Russian or with Patron XO Cafe, bringing it closer to Jay’s original coffee and a cigar idea. In the future I’d also like to try making tobacco bitters; this seems like it might be the best way to capture the aroma of tobacco and work it into a drink without the flavor becoming too dominant. [Disclaimer: If you try any of these things, as with smoked tobacco, it's probably best to do so in moderation.]

It’s safe to say I won’t be toasting the 5th with this drink. Since I’ll be celebrating Repeal Day in Virginia, I’ll be free to enjoy a real scotch and cigar instead. Ah, can’t wait!

Big thanks to Jeff for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday and doing so much to promote Repeal Day. I’ll post a link to all the MxMo entries as soon as his post up.

Update 12/4: Jeff’s MxMo roundup is here.

Update II: Jimmy completes the wrap-up. Thanks, Jimmy!

Repeal Day video

In anticipation of Repeal Day on December 5, my friends at Bureaucrash have put together a short video recapping all the things that are still prohibited. Watch it here.

In last year’s Repeal Day post, I wrote: “It’s too late for me to do anything this year, but mark my words: next year’s Repeal Day party is going to be awesome.” And awesome it’s going to be! We’ve reserved a great spot in Arlington to celebrate this year and all are welcome to join us. If you want details, let me know.