Resplendent Island

New cocktail at Metrovino: Margarita flavored with Sri Lankan curry and honey, cumin-salt rim.

If I were making a parody of my own cocktail menus, a Sri Lankan Curry Margarita is exactly the kind of drink I’d put on it. Yet after a making a batch of this curry powder, I knew it had to put it into a drink. At our chef’s suggestion we’re pairing it with tequila in a Margarita variation on the latest Metrovino cocktail menu:

1 1/2 oz reposado tequila (Espolon)
3/4 oz Sri Lankan curry-honey syrup
3/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Royal Combier
salt and ground cumin, for garnish

Moisten half the rim of a rocks glass with lime juice and coat with the salt and cumin mixture, then fill with ice. Shake cocktail ingredients with ice and strain into the glass.

About that curry blend: It’s the roasted curry powder from Rice and Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking by Skiz Fernando, Jr., a very interesting cookbook a friend sent me recently. Rather than copy that recipe here, I’d rather encourage you to support the author by buying the book or purchasing his blend directly, which you can do here. It requires a few hard to find ingredients like curry leaves and a dozen spices, so buying the blend is the easier approach. I recommend the book though and have enjoyed the wonderfully flavored curries I’ve made from it.

Once you have your blend, here’s how to make the syrup:

2 tablespoons roasted curry powder
1 cup honey
1 cup water

Simmer all ingredients for a few minutes until flavorful, then add a pinch of salt. Cool, strain, and bottle. Or save yourself the trouble and come enjoy one at the bar.

Scandinavian Spring

scandinavian

This month’s Mixology Monday is about niche spirits. From Filip at Adventures in Cocktails:

June’s theme will be “favorite niche spirit”, so any cocktail where the base ingredient is not bourbon, gin, rum, rye, tequila, vodka etc would qualify. So whether you choose Mezcal or Armagnac get creative and showcase your favorite niche spirit.

You know what bottle I empty the most at my house? I mean aside from Bols Genever. It’s Krogstad Aquavit, made here in Portland by House Spirits. It’s a very anise-forward spirit flavored with star anise and caraway, and I absolutely love making cocktails with it.

This one, Scandinavian Spring, I’m adding to the menu at Metrovino this week:

1 1/2 oz Krogstad Aquavit
1/2 oz Maurin Quina
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey-lavender syrup

Shake, strain, and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Maurin Quina is a product I’ve been eager to get on the Oregon market and it finally arrived in stores this month. It’s a fortified white wine flavored with quinine, cherries, lemon, and cherry brandy. It’s delicious stuff, either chilled as an aperitif or as an ingredient in mixed drinks.

There’s a lot going on in this cocktail, but the flavors come together really nicely. To make the honey-lavender syrup, combine 1 cup hot water, 1/2 cup honey, and 1/4 cup lavender, let cool, and strain.

Previously:
Take your medicine: A guide to quinine in cocktails
Iron Bartender Krogstad Aquavit cocktails

MxMo Lazy Bear

Lazy Bear 008

Hey, wait, it’s Mixology Monday time again? Lucky for me, this month’s theme hosted by Spirited Remix requires no new work:

The theme is quite simple: your best. Give me the best drink recipe you’ve ever created.

No, I’m not really talking about that awesome drink that you made under pressure and on the fly for your friends one evening. I’m not talking about that kickass nightcap that you whipped up using the last bits from those few bottles that you needed to throw away.

I’m talking about that one drink that you’ve worked on for quite a while. The one that you’ve carefully tweaked over time until you found that perfect recipe. The one you’ve made tons of times: sometimes alone in contemplation, sometimes for a guest so that you could get their opinion.

It’s hard to choose just one. I find that my drinks are like children: Delightful when I first make them, but once they’re a couple years old I’m embarrassed to be seen with them. I mean, uh, I love them all equally and they’re all precious in their own way.

But if a measure of a good drink is that other people start making it too, then the one that stands out from this blog is the Lazy Bear. Created for my friends David and Jeanette’s wedding and named after David’s underground San Francisco restaurant, it was a hit at the reception. But more importantly, David and Jeanette have continued to make the cocktail, as have other friends, and it’s on the menu at Metrovino. It’s a simple, refreshing drink combining some of my favorite spirits:

3/4 oz Jamaican rum (preferably Smith and Cross)
3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Shake and serve on the rocks. It’s really easy and the funkiness of the rum balances with spicy whiskey, sweet honey, and tart lime.

This is also a good time to mention one update to the recipe. The Fee’s bitters are great, but I can’t always find them. A substitute we use at Metrovino is a 1:1 mix of Angostura bitters and St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. Three dashes of this mixture work nicely here, and I’ve been using these “spiced bitters” in some other drinks too.

The Lazy Bear Cocktail

Lazy Bear 008

Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to San Francisco for the wedding of my friends David and Jeanette. David’s behind the underground meals of Lazy Bear in SF, where he serves some amazing dishes. (Seriously, amazing. Go check out his blog if you haven’t before.) Rather than go with a traditional caterer, David and Jeanette wisely hired a high-quality taco truck to park outside the reception and provide us with all the tacos we pleased, a privilege I abused with gusto. I would love to see more weddings do this, especially if I can pose as a guest and score free tacos.

In this case I was earning my tacos with some drink making. David had asked if, as my wedding gift, I’d be willing to come up with a few cocktails and serve them for a while at the reception. I figured this would be a great way to meet women while doing something I’m good at (bartending) rather than something I’m terrible at (dancing), so of course I said yes. David also requested that one of the drinks be called a Lazy Bear. This suggested to me using honey syrup, and after some fun experimentation I came up with this for the wedding:

3/4 oz Jamaican rum (preferably Smith and Cross)
3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Optionally garnish with an edible flower, but it’s aromatic enough as is and lazy bears don’t have time for flower picking.

Lastly, congratulations to David and Jeanette! The “ceremony-ish thing” was beautiful, touching, and at times hilarious, and I’m happy for you both.

A summer mezcal cocktail

Last night I was tending bar with my friend Dave Shenaut and we had the pleasure of mixing drinks for the folks behind Ilegal Mezcal. It’s not every night one is asked to come up with a variety of mezcal cocktails on the spot, but it was a fun challenge. This was one of the crowd-pleasers and an ideal drink for summer:

1.25 oz Ilegal Joven Mezcal
.75 oz honey-lavender syrup*
.75 oz Cocchi Americano
.5 oz lemon

Shake and serve up in a cocktail glass.

*Recipe here.

Hot drinks for the holidays

About.com’s cocktail blogger Colleen Graham featured two hot whiskey drinks yesterday shared by Lance Mayhew. First up is Lance’s Hot Buttered Whiskey, then there’s my Chamomile Hot Toddy. The Toddy, made with bourbon, J. Witty chamomile liqueur, Meyer lemon, honey syrup, and lavender bitters, was by far the biggest seller at our J. Witty event at Carlyle earlier this month and has been popular ever since. Click here for the full recipe.