Mane to tail drinking with pimento dram

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When Haus Alpenz brought St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram into the US market a few years ago, it immediately became one of my favorite staples behind the bar. Allspice dram is one of those forgotten liqueurs that shows up in some vintage cocktail recipes and then largely disappeared. The spirit is made by infusing allspice (or “pimiento”) berries into Jamaican rum and then sweetening the mixture. It’s delicious and powerfully aromatic stuff, packed with winter spice notes like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Haus Alpenz wisely chose the more descriptive and appetizing “allspice dram” over the traditional “pimento dram,” the latter of which calls to mind those red things stuffed into bar cheap olives.

Now there’s a second allspice liqueur on the market. The Bitter Truth from Germany is using the classic name Pimento Dram for their offering. I received a sample a few weeks ago and I love it. It’s very rich and complex, with everything you’d want from an allspice liqueur. In price and proof it’s closely matched to the St. Elizabeth. I don’t have a strong preference between the two and am happy to recommend both of them.

This isn’t a spirit you’re likely to drink straight. It’s made for cocktails, so here are two to try. The first is the Lion’s Tail, brought back to prominence by cocktail historian Ted Haigh. It originally appeared in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, but I like Ted’s contemporary version from Imbibe magazine. This is a fantastic winter drink:

2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz allspice (or pimento!) dram
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Looking for a summery version of this drink, I came up with a variation called the Lion’s Mane using Novo Fogo’s Gold Cachaca, which is aged in oak for two years:

2 oz Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca
1/2 oz lapsang souchong syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz pimento dram
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. To make the syrup, brew lapsang souchong tea and combine it with an equal volume of sugar.

I also use pimento dram to make “spiced bitters,” an equal parts mix of the liqueur and Angostura bitters, that I keep in a dasher bottle at the bar. At Metrovino we pour through a lot of it making Lazy Bear cocktails. I haven’t tried Bitter Truth’s product this way, but I’m sure it would do well.

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Averna Stout Flip at Daily Candy

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Today’s Daily Candy has a great feature on beer cocktails, including an Averna Stout Flip from me:

2 oz Averna
1 oz stout
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 egg

Stir in the whole egg, shake vigorously with ice, and double-strain into a wine glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. For the beer, go for a stout with a smooth, rich mouthfeel. St. Peter’s cream stout is perfect here; Samuel Smith’s oatmeal stout is also good.

[Thanks to Lush Angeles for the photo, who also offers a non-flipped version of the drink.]

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Big Bottom debut

BBW

I was recently hired by Big Bottom, a new independent whiskey bottler and soon-to-be distiller based outside of Portland, Oregon, to come up with a few cocktails for their debut product. Their first is a nice 3-year old Indiana bourbon with a high percentage of rye in the mash bill. The second is a 2-year bourbon finished in tawny port casks, a unique whiskey that will be available soon.
For the cocktails we focused on classics like the Seelbach and Boulevardier, but I also came up with one spirit-forward original for them, named the Decatur in a nod to the spirit’s Indiana origins:

2 oz Big Bottom bourbon
.75 oz fino sherry
.5 oz Cynar
.25 oz Chartreuse
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash chocolate bitters

Stir with ice and serve up.

Check out the rest of the drinks here, and look for Big Bottom on the Oregon market soon. (The name, but the way, is not a reference to the Spinal Tap song. It’s in honor of the Big Bottom protected wilderness area near Mt. Hood.)

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Mixology Monday: Clubland Cocktail

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What, me make vodka drink? It’s rare when it happens willingly, but it does happen. One of these times is for this month’s Mixology Monday hosted by Dennis at Rock & Rye:

I am excited to be hosting the next round of Mixology Monday here at Rock & Rye. This month’s event will take place on Monday, November 22nd, and the theme will be: Forgotten Cocktails. There are many cocktail books out there, and even more that are no longer in print, filled with thousands of cocktails. Some are decent, some are crap, and some might be great.

The challenge this month is to bring to light a drink that you think deserves to be resurrected from the past, and placed back into the spotlight. It could be pre-prohibition, post-war, that horrible decade known as the 80′s, it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is somewhat obscure, post it up. If possible try to keep to ingredients that are somewhat readily available. While we all appreciate the discovery of an amazing cocktail, if we can’t make it, it’s no fun for anyone.

This is a good opportunity to write about one of the few vodka drinks I like, the Clubland:

1.5 oz vodka
1.5 oz white port
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir and serve up in a cocktail glass with an optional orange or lemon twist for garnish.

The drink originally appears in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, a 1937 publication of the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild. Compiled by William J. Tarling, the credit for this drink is given to “A. Mackintosh.” I was turned onto it by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who I think came across it at the Bar Convent Berlin and offered it on the Clyde Common cocktail menu for a while.

This is not a life-changing drink, unless one’s life has been extremely boring. But it works well, the Angostura brings a little complexity, and the port makes it a nice aperitif. Plus it’s always good to have a vodka cocktail in your pocket for those customers who won’t drink anything else. Dust off your bottle of vodka and give this one a try sometime.

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The Pegu, clarified

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It’s been just a bit longer than a year since Dave Arnold posted his method for clarifying lime juice with agar. This month’s Mixology Monday theme also happens to be lime. Further, my local grocery has good, juicy limes selling for a mere $.39 right now. Coincidence or synchronicity? Either way, it was clear what I must do for this month’s post.

Using agar clarification on juice is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. My first experiments with agar clarification of coffee didn’t work nearly as well as using the more time-intensive gel-freeze-thaw method, but I’ve been overdue to try it with citrus. Click here for detailed directions. The basic idea is to hydrate agar in boiling water, whisk a larger amount of fresh lime juice into this solution, let set, and then filter through cloth. Sounds easy, right?

Well, it is easy. Today was my first time using this method on citrus and I was able to get a yield of 170 grams clarified juice from 200 grams of fresh juice, 50 grams water, and .5 grams agar. The only complication is that I was out of muslin through which to strain it, so an ill-fitting, never-worn linen shirt found constructive use as a filter. I probably could have extracted even more juice using Dave’s “massaging the sack” technique, but I was raised conservative. The resulting juice (right) is substantially clearer than juice that’s only been fine strained (left).

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OK, neat, but who cares? That’s exactly what I thought as I was doing this today. But as soon as the first drops of clarified lime juice started dripping through the linen, I realized this was actually pretty cool. I could use this stuff in a traditional citrus cocktail, but I could probably stir it instead of shake it. The drink would look better and have better mouthfeel than it would with the air incorporated from shaking. As Dave says, “Clear drinks look more pleasing than cloudy ones, and have a better texture.” (The winning bartenders at this year’s 42 Below cocktail competition appears to have done something similar, as have a few others.)

This being a Mixology Monday hosted by none other than Doug from the Pegu Blog, the choice of cocktail was obvious: The Duck Fart. No, even better, the Pegu!

2 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
.75 oz clarified lime juice
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is a slightly different recipe than I use for a traditional Pegu, but it tastes great. The cocktail (above) is much clearer than the shaken version:

Pegu cocktail

The most interesting thing about this cocktail is that the flavor is so unexpected. You see a clean, transparent drink and think it’s all spirits, maybe vermouth, maybe some bitters. Then you taste it and surprise! There’s citrus all up in your face.

I also tried the clarified lime juice tonight in a Pendennis Club (meh) and a Last Word (nice, though I had to add a little extra lime). The technique isn’t practical enough that I’d use it all the time, but it’s definitely an idea that can be used to good effect in cocktails.

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