Hot Buttered Chartreuse

Hot Buttered Chartreuse.

If Paula Deen opened a bartending school in the French mountains, the result might be something like this: Hot Buttered Chartreuse. Decadent? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

A few years ago my friend Lance Mayhew introduced me to Hot Buttered Rum, which is exactly what it sounds like. Take rum, add butter, sugar, and spices, mix it with hot water, and you have Hot Buttered Rum. Butter is not a typical cocktail ingredient but don’t be put off by it. Melting butter into a steaming hot drink makes it rich and delicious.

There are countless recipes for Hot Buttered Rum batter and you can buy it pre-mixed in stores, but it’s so easy to make at home that there is no reason to do that. Lance’s “World’s Best Hot Buttered Rum Recipe” lives up to the name and I’ve enjoyed it every year since moving to Portland. Go over to Lance’s site and make a batch.

Lance has made Hot Buttered Rum a Thanksgiving tradition for me, so last weekend I whipped some up at work. A few lines of advice from Lance’s post stood out to me:

DO-

- Use a quality rum. I like one with some age on it. I’ll be using Bacardi 8 this Thanksgiving, I don’t think there is a better rum for a Hot Buttered Rum.

DON’T-

- Use cheap rum. Cheap rum is going to taste even cheaper when you warm it up. You can’t hide poor quality ingredients in this drink.

If it’s important to use good spirits, why not go all out and use one of the best spirits in the world? Why not use Chartreuse? Though I’ve mixed Chartreuse in hot chocolate many times, I had no idea if this would be a hot mess or a mug of pure awesomeness. The concept was so tantalizing — Hot. Buttered. Chartreuse. — that I needed to try it out. And after a long shift, I did. Happily, the drink is every bit as good as it sounds.

Making Hot Buttered Chartreuse is simple. All you need is:

1 1/2 oz Chartreuse (green)
1 big dollop Hot Buttered Rum batter, to taste
hot water

Add the batter and some of the hot water to a mug, stirring to dissolve. Then add the Chartreuse and top off with more hot water, giving everything one final stir to combine.

Now, about that dollop. This is no time for moderation. You left moderation behind the moment you decided to drink butter and Chartreuse. Compensate later if you have to, but get the most of out of this experience and don’t hold back on the batter.

About the mug: Be sure to pre-heat it. The mug, the batter, and the spirit are going to lower the temperature of the water. The drink is Hot Buttered Chartreuse, not Tepid Buttered Chartreuse. A mug pre-heated with hot water will keep your drink warmer longer.

Sharing a couple mugs of this with someone you care about it is a great way to warm up on a cold winter night.

Smokejumper cocktail

smokejumper2

For Wendy, who includes a smokejumper clause in all her relationships.

2 oz London dry gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz lapsang souchong syrup*

Shake with ice, strain into ice-filled rocks glass.

* Equal parts brewed lapsang souchong tea and sugar. Or if you’re feeling spendy, substitute Qi black tea liqueur and a bit of sugar.

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.)

A Christmas cocktail: Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

amsterdan-hot-chocolate

It’s a bit late to go shopping for ingredients today, but this drink will serve you well all winter long. It was inspired by a comment on my first post about working for Lucas Bols. Alison from Gastrologia wrote, “one of the best drinks I ever had, A’dam or elsewhere, was a cup of rich hot chocolate with genever and orange liqueur from a street vendor on a cold night.” Genever and hot chocolate? Sounds weird, but the maltiness of the genever works here. All I did was add a splash of Chartreuse, because chocolate and Chartreuse is an awesome pairing. We served this with the final course of our holiday brunch cocktail event at Irving Street Kitchen:

3/4 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Chartreuse
5-6 oz rich hot chocolate

Build in a mug and top with whipped cream if you’re feeling decadent.

[Photo provided by Allison Jones from the Portland food blog Lemon Basil.]

Beer cocktails in MIX

beer_cocktails_lead

This month’s MIX magazine includes an article by John Foyston taking a look at the growing interest in beer cocktails:

Good beer, it can be pretty easily argued, is perfect and complete by itself. It’s complex and flavorful and doesn’t need anything else … except that a band of intrepid young mixologists see good beer as a starting point for something better — beer cocktails.

Straight-ahead beer fan that I am, I have to agree that beer cocktails open up a brave new world. I recently got to taste and talk about beer cocktails with some of Portland’s most ardent proponents: mixologist Jacob Grier, New School blogger Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Yetta Vorobik, owner of the Hop & Vine, where Grier and Johnson-Greenough held an event in the summer called Brewing Up Cocktails. They plan to repeat it this month, also at the Hop & Vine.

Portland bartenders Jabriel Donohue, Neil Kopplin, Christian Rouillier, and Kevin Ludwig also make appearances. Read the whole thing here.

The drink in the photo is the Quatro Blanco, made with a Farigoule rinse, Herradura reposado tequila, and a special keg of Upright Four wheat farmhouse ale aged in a Hungarian oak barrel with yarrow flowers and rose petals. It was probably my favorite drink from our Brewing Up Cocktails event, but since it was a one-off beer it will probably never be made again and you will never be able to try one.

There’s one other drink that went understandably unmentioned in the article, the notorious Furburger:

3/4 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/4 oz Chartreuse
approx. 5 oz Oak Aged Yeti Chocolate Imperial Stout from Great Divide

The name comes from the beer, because Yetis are furry, and from “bur” as in bourbon. So Furburger. See, nothing dirty about it. At least that’s what I thought when a friend jokingly suggested the name assuming I knew what I meant. I didn’t know what it meant and so passed the idea on to the owner of Hop and Vine. It wasn’t until two days later that I learned what it really referred to. We talked about finding a new name for the drink, but after that incident we couldn’t think of it as anything but a Furburger. The lesson? When coming up with new cocktail names, be sure to look them up on Urban Dictionary before submitting them to your prospective boss. Or not: The Furburger was one of our bestsellers of the day. And since the word has been approved for use in schools by a federal judge, why not for a beer cocktail menu too?

Two other cocktails from the event, the Dutch Devil and Brewer’s Bramble, we’re covered previously here. Brewing Up Cocktails II is in the works and we’ll announce the date soon; stay tuned here and at The New School Blog.

[Photo by Ross William Hamilton.]

MxMo Brown, bitter, and stirred

After a brief hiatus, Mixology Monday is back! This month my friend Lindsey Johnson takes charge and orders something brown, bitter, and stirred. From MxMo founder Paul Clarke:

While punches, sours and flips are essential parts of every cocktail fiend’s drinking diet, perhaps no other style of drink is as dear to our booze-loving hearts as those potent mixtures of aged spirits, amari, aromatized wines and liqueurs, sometimes (sometimes? Almost always!) doctored with a dash or four from the bitters shelf.

This seems like a good occasion to post another cocktail from my session with David Shenaut and the producers of Ilegal Mezcal. Here’s the Mexican Train:

2 oz Ilegal reposado mezcal
3/4 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/4 oz green Chartreuse
5 drops mole bitters

Stir, strain, and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass. This is a mezcal-driven variation on a Tipperary, tied together by one of my favorite pairings, Chartreuse and chocolate. The bitters are the housemade mole bitters from Beaker and Flask. Bittermen’s Xocolatl bitters would probably work nicely too, though without any mezcal on hand I can’t try out an exact recipe (hence the lack of photograph this month). Regardless, it’s an interesting drink to try out when a discerning brown, bitter, and stirred order comes across the bar.

What to drink on St. Patrick’s Day?

I recently received a marketing email saying that whatever one drinks on St. Patrick’s Day, “you better be sipping on something green.” It then went on to describe a cocktail made with tequila and Midori. Because nothing says Ireland like tequila and melon liqueur…

Personally I could care less about drinking green and am perfectly happy with good stout and Irish whiskey. For the latter, I’ve been fortunate over the last week to sample more than 20 Irish whiskeys as part of Lance Mayhew’s informal “tasting panel.” Lance provides a primer on Irish whiskey here and fellow taster Geoff Kleinman makes some great recommendations on his new blog, Drink Spirits.

If you’re in a cocktail mood, my favorite mixed drink with Irish whiskey is the Tipperary, made with Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Chartreuse. As a bonus Chartreuse does happen to be green, though the final drink won’t be.

Finally, there’s the elephant in the room, the extremely politically incorrect Irish Car Bomb. If you’re in a real Irish bar tonight you should not order one of these. Even so, I do have a soft spot for the drink, and judging by the number of search referrals this blog is getting for Irish Car Bombs today other people do too. Here’s photographic evidence that everybody loves an ICB. Or if you want to make this drink more sophisticated and stable, try the Defusion, a deconstructed version of the drink I served at Carlyle. Finally, if you really want to be adventurous, make it with Upright’s Oyster Stout. We tried it at Branch and it puts Guinness to shame.

Bols genever and the Van Houten cocktail

Bols Genever

On Monday Carlyle hosted the Oregon launch event for Bols genever. Genever, the predecessor to the old tom, London dry, and Plymouth styles of gin that eventually took hold in the United States, has until recently been extremely hard to find here despite its continued popularity in parts of Europe. Mixologists seeking to replicate 19th century cocktail recipes have had to resort to desperate measures like blending Irish whiskey, Plymouth, and simple syrup to approximate its flavor in cocktails. Needless to say, having a real genever in wide distribution is a welcome development.

The juniper flavor in genever is much less aggressive than in London dry. Malt notes from the grain instead take center stage. It mixes differently than junipery gins, which can be a challenge if you try to treat it like one (though it does make a nice Collins). David Embury, for example, didn’t know what to do with it. “Holland gin does not blend well with other flavors and, while dozens of recipes have been written for Holland-gin cocktails, they are generally regarded (and properly so) as pretty much worthless,” he wrote in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

This is more a failure of imagination than of the spirit. Treating it more like a whiskey than a gin can lead to some great results. One of my favorite drinks we served was a simple genever Old-Fashioned, made with Bols, superfine sugar, Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters, and a slice of lemon peel. It’s delicious. Other bartenders at the event tried substituting it for rye in variations on the Vieux Carré and Remember the Maine, both of which showed promise. There’s a lot of unexplored territory here and I expect we’ll be seeing innovative genever cocktails showing up on many local cocktail menus soon.

As part of the event I was given the opportunity to feature one of my own creations. I realized early on that chocolate bitters could play well off the malt flavors of the genever, though bridging the two together with other ingredients required some experimentation. Ron at PDXplate and Tim at The Goodist tried out many variations and offered suggestions. I like what we eventually hit on with the Van Houten cocktail:

1.25 oz Bols genever
.75 oz Lillet
.75 oz Cointreau
.33 oz lemon juice
.5 tsp Chartreuse
2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. The bitters tie this drink together, offering lots of flavor affinities: chocolate and malt, chocolate and orange, chocolate and Chartreuse. I’ll be adding it to the menu at Carlyle later this week.

The name, by the way, isn’t a reference to Milhouse Van Houten. Bonus points if you know who it is a reference too, especially if you can name him without Googling.

[Photo courtesy of PDXplate.]

Back behind the stick

Carlyle Bar

This post has been a much longer time coming than I anticipated when I quit my previous job in July, but now I can finally say it: I am employed! Well, partially. I’m only working one night a week. But given the state of Portland’s restaurant scene right now and the fact that Oregon has the nation’s 6th highest unemployment rate, I’ll take what I can get.

Luckily, what I get is a pretty sweet bar. Starting next week I’ll be covering every Tuesday at the Carlyle, an upscale bar and restaurant in the northwest part of town. As bar manager Neil Kopplin described it to me when I first met him a few months ago, working here is like having a huge toybox at your disposal and the freedom to do whatever you want with it. He wasn’t kidding. Pictured above is our giant wall of whiskey and spirits, which doesn’t include the two shelves below it, the well, or the big cabinet full of bottles behind the bar.* Notice also that there’s no ladder, so reaching the high shelves requires a bit of monkey-like climbing. If you ever want to tick me off at work come in and keep changing your mind about which top shelf liquor you’d like after I get them down.

Neil has put together an excellent cocktail list with an emphasis on quality spirits and fresh ingredients. Below is my current favorite on the menu, the Envy:

Carlyle -- Envy

.5 oz Marteau absinthe
.75 oz green Chartreuse
1 oz Meyer lemon juice
.25 oz lavender syrup
.25 oz honey syrup

Shake over ice and strain into a Martini glass, topping with a bit of soda. Even though it has just a little over an ounce of spirits in it, they’re overproof, flavorful, and strong enough to stand up to the citrus. The Marteau is an excellent new absinthe distilled right here in Portland; it’s wonderful on its own and contributes pure herbal deliciousness to this cocktail.

I’ll be behind the bar Tuesdays from 4:00 to close, which is generally between 9:30 and 10. Happy hour prices on the bar menu run until 6:30. I’m having a great time mixing drinks professionally again, so come in sometime to say hi and enjoy a tasty beverage.

*Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the left-most column is actually a reflection, not a shelf. But that’s still a lot of spirits!

The last word in mixology

Last Word cocktail

When you see green in a mixed drink, that’s often a sign that the bartender is getting carried away with sour apple pucker and it’s time for you to find another bar. Not so if the color comes from Chartreuse liqueur. My post today at Crispy on the Outside takes a look at the delightful Last Word cocktail.