Smokejumper cocktail

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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.

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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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Carlyle’s Smoky Margarita

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By request, here’s the one recipe that was missing from my closing cocktail menu at Carlyle. (Yes, someone actually wrote in to request the recipe. I was surprised too!)

I came up with this drink for a tequila dinner hosted by Herradura a few weeks ago. They enjoyed a seven course tasting menu from our chef and along with it they requested cocktails made with each of the tequilas in their primary line: blanco, reposado, and anejo. A shot of each was paired with the cocktails, so as you can imagine it was a fun time for all. This was the reposado drink for the evening:

1.75 oz Herradura reposado tequila
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz lapsang souchong syrup

Shake over ice and serve on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass.

Lapsang souchong is a delicious Chinese black tea dried over burning pine wood. This distinctive process gives it a strong smoky aroma that lends itself well to use in cocktails. To make the syrup, simply brew hot lapsang souchong and mix with an equal volume of sugar. This is the same syrup I use to make extra smoky Swedish punsch; here it stands by itself to lend an extra flavor element to the traditional Margarita.

In the few days this has been on our menu it’s been competing with our token vodka drink to be our best-seller, a useful reminder that simple twists on popular cocktails can be a great way to generate interest in a bar program.

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