Wit-ty Flip


Here’s one more preview of the cocktails Ezra Johnson-Greenough and I will be serving at our Brewing Up Cocktails Spirited Dinner at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we’re serving not one but two flips during our dinner. That means that if all 70 seats sell out, we’ll be shaking up 140 flips in the course of an evening in addition to 140 other drinks. Our arms will be feeling it the next day.

New Orleans in summer doesn’t exactly scream flips, but this one bucks the reputation flips have as heavy, wintertime indulgences. The four ounces of Belgian-style witbier used in this drink lightens and carbonates the cocktail, making it suitable for hotter weather. The orange peel and coriander often used in witbier also make a nice complement to the spice and herbal notes in Drambuie:

1 1/2 oz Drambuie
3/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes allspice dram
1 whole egg
4 oz witbier
nutmeg, for garnish

Pour the beer into a pilsner or wine glass. Shake all the other ingredients hard with ice. Fine strain back into the mixing glass and then pour into the beer. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. (Pouring the heavier flip mixture into the beer rather than the other way around ensures that it mixes thoroughly.)

If this drinks sound weird, you don’t have to take my word for its tastiness: A version of it took third place in the Drambuie Nail or Fail cocktail competition earlier this year.

Tickets for our Spirited Dinner, happening this Thursday, are on sale here. It’s at Emeril’s Delmonic Steakhouse and is sponsored by Drambuie and El Dorado rum.

[Photo via the Drambuie Facebook page.]


MxMo Retro Redemption guest post


We have one guest post for this Mixology Monday. This one’s from my friend Paul Willenberg, who gives the Kamikaze a new twist with aquavit and a healthy dose of orange bitters. Take it away Paul:

I’ve never participated in a Mixology Monday but this topic, along with the fact that my friend Jake is hosting, is too good to pass up. Now I’m no professional bartender, I just have a little bierstube.

Here are Jake’s Rules and here are mine. When revisiting a cocktail, you must honor one or more but not all or none of the following of the original:

1) base spirit
2) adjuncts
3) proportions
4) profile
5) intent

Now the original Kamikaze is equal parts vodka, triple sec, and lime juice, and the intent is a sweet drink that can be done as a shot to get chicks drunk. For my revival, I’ve chosen to honor #’s 5 and 4, and not flout 2 and 1. pSo I’ve replaced the vodka with a flavored vodka (aquavit) and the triple sec with a combo of (actually) orange things, and asked the lime to sit down a bit. The result is a very spice-forward and sippable, but also shot worthy drink.

2 oz Linie Aquavit
1/2 oz Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz lime juice

Shake all ingredients and garnish with peel.


Big Bottom debut


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.)


The Pegu, clarified

ClearPegu 089

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).

ClearPegu 100

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.


Climbing Jacob’s Ladder


I don’t plan on writing about every Bols cocktail around town but when a drink is named Jacob’s Ladder of course I’m going to post it. My friend Andrew at Branch Whiskey Bar came up with this one combining three of my favorite things: genever, Fernet-Branca, and single malt Scotch:

2 oz Bols genever
.25 oz Fernet-Branca
.25 oz simple syrup
A few drops of Talisker
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Stir with ice, strain, and serve up with an orange twist.

It’s an imposing list of ingredients but they come together nicely and the cocktail is very smooth. If you’re in Portland stop into Branch and give it a try.


A simple sparkling cocktail

Over at About.com Lance Mayhew has posted a simple brunch or aperitif cocktail we recently came up with featuring Quady Essensia, an Orange Muscat dessert wine. The wine is delicious on its own but we wanted to play with it in mixed drinks too. This one adds in mild Canadian whiskey, Prosecco, and orange bitters; head over to About for the recipe for the Viscusi cocktail.

Incidentally the drink is named after Vanderbilt economist Kip Viscusi, whose book Smoke-Filled Rooms happened to be out on my counter while Lance and I were experimenting with drinks. I don’t know if Viscusi is into cocktails, but I hope he’ll be glad to find his name on one if he ever comes across it.


Secrets of the Patty Mills

patty_mills 007

My friend David’s method for creating a new cocktail:

1. Come into Carlyle and pick a drink on the menu that includes lemon juice.

2. Order that drink without lemon juice.

3. If the drink is served up, order it on the rocks.

4. Name the new drink after a Blazer.

5. Enjoy.

This method isn’t foolproof. Sometimes the results are, as one fellow drinker put it, “horribly unbalanced.” But sometimes it works. And one of those times is perfect for this week’s Mixology Monday, which is all about tea and hosted by Cocktail Slut:

Tea has played a historical role in cocktails for centuries. Perhaps the best documented early example was its inclusion in punches as part of the spice role to round out the spirit, sugar, water, and citrus line up. Later, teas appear in many recipes such as Boston Grog, English Cobbler, and a variety of Hot Toddies. And present day mixologists are utilizing tea flavors with great success including Audrey Saunder’s Earl Grey MarTEAni and LUPEC Boston’s Flapper Jane. Now it’s our turn to honor this glorious cocktail ingredient!

For a while our menu at Carlyle included an updated version of one of the first cocktails I came up with, a Pegu Club variation made with Earl Grey tea-infused gin. Putting this through David’s drink algorithm produces the Patty Mills:

2 oz Earl Grey-infused Bombay gin
.75 oz Cointreau
1 dash Regan’s orange bitters

Serve on the rocks with an orange zest. It’s a secret off-the-menu drink at Carlyle. But would Patty Mills himself approve? Only time will tell.


J. Witty chamomile liqueur event at Carlyle


Tomorrow at Carlyle we’re hosting our next spirits-in-focus event featuring J. Witty chamomile liqueur. This organic liqueur is made right here in Portland and just came out a few months ago; it has winter spice notes that make it a really nice ingredient in cocktails this time of year, as in the flip pictured above:

1.5 oz grape brandy
.75 oz J. Witty chamomile liqueur
.5 oz lemon
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1 egg

Shake all but the nutmeg hard over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass; grate fresh nutmeg on top.

We’ll be offering this and other winter cocktails made with the liqueur tomorrow from 5-7. Founder Jill Witty will be there too to talk about the product, so come on by to warm up with some good drinks (yes, there’ll be a hot toddy on the menu too).


I’ve been borscht’ed!

Today I’m helping kick off guest blogger month at one of Portland’s best and most esoteric blogs, the one and only Iced Borscht. When I was first invited to contribute I said I’d only do it for my usual honorarium of $700, a case of Fernet, and a Scotch egg, but then he named me “one of the top political minds in town” and I lowered my fee to just the egg.

Click over to Iced Borscht for my post about one of Carlyle’s favorite seasonal cocktails, the Erica’s Impulse, a tasty fall drink featuring brandy and allspice dram.


MxMo, special stimulus edition

Horatio cocktail

Back in the fall, cocktail blogger Matthew Rowley suggested that a good Mixology Monday theme would be “hard drinks for hard times.” Paul Clarke says he had doubts about the idea. The next available MxMo slot wasn’t available until February and by then the economic hard times might be over, right? Hahahahahahaha. But that’s all right, Paul was just worried about planning a blog event. It’s not like he quit his job and decided to move to the West Coast with no particular plan in mind and has been massively underemployed for six months. *Ahem*

Yes, well, moving on. Matthew, unfortunately, has been laid off, and we’re all feeling the pinch from the recession. Well, not all of us. If you’re connected to the federal government, there’s $787 billion up for grabs. Why shouldn’t bartenders get a slice of the pie? Last week I sent my representatives in Congress, Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer, a letter making the case for allocating some of that stimulus package to my proposal for a lame vodka bar:

Dear [Congressman],

It is my understanding that Congress has set aside $800 billion to help stimulate the economy and is looking for ways to spend it. There are many “shovel-ready” projects like bridges and hospitals competing to receive these funds. These are all great ideas — you can never have enough bridges and hospitals — but they take a long time to get going. I have my own project in mind and I’d like to propose spending some of the stimulus money on it.

I am a bartender and moved to Portland about four months ago, before the economy tanked completely. I’m only working one night a week. I have a lot of experience and creativity though and I’m confident that I could start up a really awesome bar. I have some great locations picked out and am ready to start anytime. The only obstacle is obtaining funding. Since banks are more interested in getting a return on investment than making sacrifices to stimulate the economy, I figure we should work together on this. There are several reasons why opening a bar would be excellent stimulus for the economy.

Bartenders have a big multiplier effect: For stimulus to be effective, we have to be sure that the money is re-injected into the economy and not socked away in savings. Nobody spends money like bartenders. If we work together to open a bar, you can be sure that my employees will spend 100% (or more) of their earnings. Most of that money will be given directly to other bartenders, or maybe strippers, who will also spend it right away, continuing the cycle. I’m confident that my staff would multiply spending far more than people in more responsible professions.

Production is fast: Spirits like whiskey can take years, even decades, to age. My bar will focus entirely on vodka and flavored vodka, which is ready to sell almost immediately after distillation. Our vodka purchases will encourage producers to increase production, buying grains from our nation’s farmers and equipment from our manufacturers. And we’ll be sure to only serve American vodkas, not those from Russia or, even worse, France. (I’m willing to make this a condition of receiving stimulus funds.)

We spill a lot: My bartenders will specialize in flair, juggling bottles in an amazing display of alcoholic dexterity. This requires hours of training and we’re sure to spill a lot vodka and shatter a lot of bottles while we’re practicing, forcing us to buy much more liquor than other bars. This will stimulate the economy even further.

We create positive externalities: Keynes argued that “animal spirits” are an important factor in macroeconomic behavior. By inebriating and entertaining our customers, we will excite their animal spirits and dull their judgment so that they are once again eager to invest. (Obviously my bar alone won’t save the economy, but similar bars could be opened throughout the country. Maybe we could franchise?)

We’ll name a drink after you: Everyone remembers great leaders like General Manhattan, Captain James Daiquiri, and Colonel Sazerac thanks to the cocktails that bear their names. In honor of your leadership during this economic crisis, I would gladly name a drink on our menu after you.

I realize this is an unorthodox proposal, but extreme times call for novel thinking. My bar is shovel-ready. As a sign of my commitment, I’ll even buy the shovel. I look forward to working with you to save the American economy.


Jacob Grier

Sadly, not one of the congressmen has responded yet. I was ready to stimulate the shit out of this economy, but instead I have to mix drinks at home. You fail, legislators.

This is a cocktail I’ve been playing with a lot recently, and it uses only ingredients I had on hand — nothing new purchased for this MxMo. I call it the Horatio:

2 oz Krogstad aquavit
.75 oz Cointreau
1 barspoon Fernet Branca*
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a round of orange peel expressed over the drink. I don’t always include brand names in a recipe, but in this case each bottling is distinctive. That’s not to say you can’t make substitutions, just know what you’re dealing with.

The name references aquavit’s Scandinavian heritage. Aquavit is the primary ingredient, but with the powerful Fernet Branca hailing from Italy, you might say this cocktail is more an antique Roman than a Dane.

If you don’t have aquavit and Fernet on hand, fear not. A bottle of Jack and a couple of ice cubes will serve you just fine.

*Update 3/9/09: I’ve tinkered with this recipe a bit since originally posting it, cutting down slightly on the Fernet Branca. This gives it a less syrupy mouthfeel.