Carlyle’s closing cocktail menu

I may have to make some changes as we run low on ingredients, but here’s the intended cocktail menu for our final two weeks, including three new additions. This will go into effect tomorrow:

Aquavit Hot Toddy – Krogstad aquavit, Swedish punsch, lemon, star anise $8

Antigua Old-Fashioned – English Harbour rum, coffee-orange bitters, sugar $8

Smoky Margarita – Herradura reposado tequila, Cointreau, lime, lapsang souchong syrup $8

Portland Stinger – Branca Menta, bourbon, brandy, lemon, grenadine $9

Thyme in a Bottle — Bombay Sapphire, Farigoule thyme liqueur, lemon, maraschino $9

Erica’s Impulse –Brandy, allspice liqueur, lemon, simple syrup, orange bitters $8

H’ronmeer’s Flame – Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Ramazzotti, flamed orange zest $9

Witty Flip – Brandy, J. Witty chamomile liqueur, lemon, orange bitters, egg, nutmeg $10

Horatio – Krogstad aquavit, Cointreau, Fernet-Branca, orange bitters $9

Curse of Scotland — Ardbeg 10 year single malt Scotch, Drambuie, maraschino, lemon $10

Queen Bee – Vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon, honey syrup, sparkling wine. $9

On a Whim – Trust your bartender to make you something good

Portland Stinger in the Oregonian

My love for Fernet-Branca is no secret to readers of this blog, but in cold winter months like this I often find myself turning to its lesser known minty cousin, Branca Menta. The bitter mint liqueur is a great cocktail ingredient for this time of year. Today’s Oregonian features some holiday cocktail recipes from around town and writer Grant Butler kindly included the Portland Stinger at Carlyle:

1 oz Branca Menta
.75 oz lemon
.5 oz bourbon
.5 oz brandy
.25 oz grenadine

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and serve with a brandied cherry.

The recipe is slightly changed from the one Neil Kopplin and I came up with a few months ago and that I offered at Carlyle’s Fernet night. It’s served up instead of on the rocks and places a little more emphasis on the bitter notes in the drink.

For one more Branca Menta drink, see the Menta e Cioccolato. I plan to have that on the menu as soon as I can source the right chocolate.

Fernet night at Carlyle: All the drinks

Last night’s Fernet-Branca event filled the Carlyle bar with curious cocktailians and long-time Fernet drinkers. While only a few industry types went for straight shots, the drinks using Fernet as an ingredient were a big hit.

The first two cocktails on our special menu have been covered here before. The Shift Drink was created in honor of bartenders’ favorite after work shot and combines rye, ginger liqueur, lemon, and Fernet. Next up was the Horatio, using Portland’s own Krogstad aquavit, Cointreau, Fernet, and orange bitters. This drink isn’t for everyone but it was a consistent favorite among last night’s crowd.

The third drink on the menu reads like it could have been created a century ago, but it’s actually a recent invention from Jim Meehan at PDT in New York. Here’s the recipe for the Newark as given by Chuck Taggart at Looka!:

2 ounces Laird’s bonded apple brandy.
1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur.
2 barspoons Fernet-Branca.

Combine with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

This is a brilliant classic-style cocktail, with the Fernet adding just a touch of bitterness to balance the other ingredients. Since I live under the regime of an archaic state liquor control board I had to settle for Laird’s lower proof applejack. This came out a little sweet in the recipe above so I adjusted the Carpano down to 3/4 ounces.

Our fourth drink took a break from Fernet to feature its minty cousin, Branca Menta. This is a cocktail my good friend Neil Kopplin and I came up with on the fly a few months ago, though most of the credit should really go to Neil. (Neil’s got a blog now, check it out here.) This Portland Stinger will definitely appear on our menu come the winter months:

1 oz Branca Menta
1 oz lemon juice
.75 oz grenadine
.5 oz bourbon
.5 oz cognac

Shake over ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.

The last cocktail on the menu stirred up a lot of interest on Twitter: A Fernet ice cream float. Yes, really. One of the great things about working with an expert chef is that I can approach him with crazy ideas and he can make them happen. In this case, when I asked him if we could make a Fernet ice cream he already knew of a recipe. Fergus Henderson, inspired by his favorite curative cocktail, includes a “miracle in the form of ice cream” made with Fernet-Branca and crème de menthe in Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omniverous Recipes for the Curious Cook. (This sounds much better than the Fernet and garlic ice cream described in this book, don’t you think?)

Our first batch came out with very strong flavors. I loved it, as did many of the customers who tried it, though others found it a little overwhelming. Our batch for last night’s event was much milder. I have no idea why the two varied so much and I preferred the first, but the second still performed well in our Fernet Float:

1.5 oz bourbon
.75 oz Fernet-Branca
3/4 bottle of Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola (chilled)
scoop of Fernet-Branca and crème de menthe ice cream

Combine the first three ingredients in a tall glass and stir. Add the ice cream and serve with a straw and spoon.

We finished the night with another dessert item, this one a straight up sorbet. Fernet-Branca’s high alcohol content makes it a tough ingredient to work with when freezing. Our first batch tasted fantastic but was too alcoholic to solidify. This recipe works much better, but it will eventually separate so it doesn’t have a long shelf-life. What it lacks in convenience it makes up for in deliciousness:

30 oz orange juice
4 oz lemon juice
5 oz Fernet-Branca
1.5 oz ginger juice
14 oz superfine sugar

Whisk or blend everything together, spin in an ice cream maker, and freeze over night. (To make the ginger juice, chop ginger, add a little water, blend, and strain.) The sorbet is tasty and complex, with the Fernet and ginger spicing it up nicely. By cutting the alcohol a bit more I think one could possibly freeze this into popsicles too, which would surely be a hit at any bartenders’ picnic.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night for this event. I had a great time putting it together, and it will hopefully be the first of many evenings putting a favorite spirit in the spotlight.

MxMo Amaro: Menta e Cioccolato

Menta e Cioccolato

If I’m drinking at home alone on Sunday afternoon, it’s a good bet that the next day is Mixology Monday. And so it is! From Chuck Taggart:

The topic for this month is Amaro, which refers to the bitter liqueurs usually drunk as an after-meal digestive, either alone (neat or on the rocks) or in some kind of mixed drink or cocktail. They tend to all share certain characteristics — drinking bitters are generally made of alcohol with any number of herbs, plus sugar and some kind of coloring. The word “amaro” means bitter in Italian, and although the more famous drinking bitters tend to come from Italy our amaro theme this month is most certainly not limited to that country. Amaro, amer, amargo, what have you. Italy, Spain, France, America, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland … wherever somebody drinks a bitter liqueur, that’s a source for your drink this month.

As a Pacific Northwest bartender it’s in my union contract that I must love Fernet-Branca, but for this MxMo I’m featuring Branca Menta, Fernet’s minty cousin. It’s sweeter than Fernet, but with the same intense medicinal taste and a sharp mint flavor and aroma.

This month’s cocktail, a simple mix of amaro and hot chocolate, is not at all seasonal for a day when even Portland is 80 degrees and sunny. So forget seasonality and make it anyway, save the recipe for next winter, or consider this a special post dedicated to readers in the southern hemisphere (Hi, Ellie!). Here’s what you need for Menta e Cioccolato:

1-1.5 oz Branca Menta
8 oz hot chocolate

Choose a quality chocolate that’s not too sweet. Heat with milk and pour into a warm mug with Branca Menta to taste. I usually make it just like that at home, but adorn with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate as in the photo above for extra credit.

The idea for this drink came from enjoying hot chocolate with green Chartreuse, a delicious combination Lance Mayhew introduced me to during Portland’s great snow storm of ’08. That got me thinking about what other liqueurs would go well with hot chocolate. Branca Menta fit the bill perfectly and these two drinks were in frequent rotation at my apartment during the cold winter months.

Previously: Fernet-Branca appeared in my February MxMo cocktail, the Horatio.