Mixology Monday: Inversion

Hopped Up Nui Nui -- traditional recipe + 1 oz IPA.

It’s a good thing Mixology Monday has been revived or I might not have posted a new cocktail at all this month. The theme for February is “Inverted.” Host Putney Farm explains:

A while ago, while researching Julia Child’s recipes, we noticed that she was well-known for enjoying “upside-down” or “inverted” Martini’s (God bless her). This is a version of the classic cocktail that swaps the ratios of gin and vermouth, turning the Martini into something of a “long drink”. And if you are cooking for hours at a time (or gardening with a cocktail- something we highly recommend), the Inverted Martini is a very tasty drink.

We wondered if we could apply the same “inverted” approach to Mixology Monday and, at first, didn’t think it would work. But then we asked ourselves, what does “inverted” really mean? Well, here is the definition:
-
To turn inside out or upside down
To reverse the position, order, or condition of
-

Hmm…it appears that the definition is pretty broad. It seems that “inverted” really just means something “flipped on its head”. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity. So we are going with the “inverted” theme. You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and “invert” whatever you want. Spirits, name, ingredients, proof, color, geography, garnish and glassware are all fair game. An apéritif made with Navy-Strength booze? Give it a try. A beer-based cocktail that tastes like champagne? Sure. A clear Manhattan? Worth a shot (and good luck with that). The only thing we expect is the unexpected. Have fun.

No ideas were springing to mind for this one, so I mentioned the prompt to my fellow bartender at Metrovino, Kj DeBoer. He came up with the solution in no time. Deschutes Brewery, he noted, makes a beer called Inversion IPA. Brilliant! I could “invert” a drink by adding Inversion IPA to it.

But which drink to choose? I thought immediately of tiki cocktails, which I view as prime candidates for the addition of beer. Tiki drinks are characterized by their use of rum, fruit, and big, spicy flavors. I like them, but I can usually only do about one per night before I’m ready to move on to drinks with more bitter elements. Hoppy beers are a great way to add bitterness to tiki drinks: They give the drinks backbone, hops play well with citrus, and shaking beer with the other ingredients makes for a frothy head, creating a velvety mouthfeel.

For this Mixology Monday, I decided to try adding Inversion IPA to the Nui Nui cocktail. This is one of the tiki drinks I gravitate to when it’s on the menu, offering bold, spicy flavors. Beachbum Berry credits it to Donn the Beachcomber’s Mandalay Bar at the Colonel’s Plantation Beefsteak House in Hawaii, circa 1958. My only addition is the beer, and I shake it rather than blend it.

2 oz amber rum
1 oz IPA
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz orange juice
1/4 oz cinnamon syrup
1/4 oz Donn’s Spices #2
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange peel or cherries.

You can make your own syrups, but I’m lazy and live in Portland so I use those commercially available from B. G. Reynolds. For the rum I used El Dorado eight year, which may be overkill and isn’t traditional, but it sure is good. Feel free to substitute other IPAs if not constrained by a Mixology Monday theme.

Bitter End

Bitter_End

After a couple of month’s hiatus, Mixology Monday returns today with a Tiki theme from Doug at the Pegu Blog:

The Tiki scene, like classic cocktails in general, is reviving nicely these days. The lush, decadent marriage of tropical flavors and exotic kitsch carries us away to a better, less dreary place. Please join in and add your words, images, and offerings to the Tiki Gods on the 20th. Since Tiki is more than just the drinks, feel free to post on whatever Tiki subject floats your outrigger canoe. I suspect most of you will want to offer up delectable drinks, but feel free to wax eloquent on aloha shirts, exotica music, decor, garnishes, food or whatever else moves you to enter the Tiki spirit!

The Bitter End is a cocktail I originally submitted to Portland Monthly for their Super Bowl drinks feature. Todd Steele, the owner of Metrovino, is a big 49ers fan, so this year’s football season came to a bitter end for him. In recognition of that we decided to make a cocktail with San Francisco’s favorite bitter liqueur, Fernet Branca. It just so happens to be a perfect fit for this month’s Tiki theme too:

1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz lime juice
1 oz B. G. Reynold’s orgeat

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a glass filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a cocktail umbrella and cherries for bonus tiki points. Alternatively, just gulp the whole thing down quickly.

As far as cocktail construction goes, this is as basic as it gets: Equal parts of stuff that’s really bitter, really tart, and really sweet. Yet it all works. If the one ounce of Fernet is intimidating, worry not. This is actually a pretty sweet drink. If you’re making this with a different orgeat, you may need to adjust the recipe to account for relative sweetness.

For fun I also tried making this drink with the new Fernet Leopold from Colorado. This is a very minty take on the spirit, a bit more so than I prefer for sipping (though some of my friends love it), so I’ve been wanting to try it mixed. If you’d like to sample a mintier version of the Bitter End, give it a shot.

Finally, here a few other loosely Tiki-themed drinks from the archives:

Transatlantic Mai Tai — An all-grain version of the Mai Tai substituting rye and genever for the usual rums.

Kooey Kooey Kooey Cocktail — Rum, coconut milk, coconut porter, allspice dram, and a few other ingredients combine in this Tiki-themed beer cocktail.

Lazy Bear — One of the best-selling drinks at Metrovino, featuring the fantastic Smith & Cross rum from Jamaica.

Seigle Sour — It’s a whiskey drink, but the plantain syrup arguably takes it into Tiki territory.