A Dash of Bitters in Imbibe

Just a quick pimpin’ here. The Gin Fizz picture I posted yesterday is the result of the arduous and laborious research forced upon me by the taskmasters at Imbibe, who wanted a paragraph about, and a recipe using, orange flower water. The pain I suffer for this site…I tell ya.

My bit appears in the Q&A feature of the July/August issue, which hits newsstands and mailboxes this week. Get yerself a copy! You should be reading Imbibe anyway, so you have no excuses!


Soixante Seize

I don’t know how many variants there are on the French 75, but they all seem to take a name that involves fiddling with the number: French 75, French 74, French 76, et cetera. This weekend’s drink is no exception.

I started with the beautiful bottle of St-Germain elderflower liqueur that Jen bought me on Friday. Because we commemorate our Friday wedding every week with a tradition we call Fizzy Friday, I wanted a drink with champagne. Luckily, a French 77 was among the drinks listed in the cute little booklet that hangs from the neck of the St-Germain bottle.

French 77? 78?Created by Simon Difford, brand consultant for St-Germain and well-known drinks scribbler, the French 77 calls for a shot of St-Germain and a quarter shot of lemon juice poured into a chilled glass and topped with champagne. (Image at right by Jennifer Hess.)

This wasn’t quite what I had in mind, though, mainly because I wanted some gin. I also didn’t want to chill the glassware. Although I’ve no problem chucking cocktail glasses into the freezer, my champagne flutes are a little fragile and I’m more than a little clumsy. Filling glasses with ice water never quite gets them cold enough for my tastes.

So I decided to shake everything but the champagne. Had I just won the Super Bowl or the Mega Millions jackpot, I’d have been happy to shake the fizzy and spray it around the backyard, but such was not the case. After shaking the gin, lemon juice, and St-Germain, I lifted a sample out with a bar spoon and realized two things:

  1. This would be a tasty drink on its own.
  2. And, oh yeah, it already is a tasty drink on its own.

(Even having read Anita and Cameron’s post earlier Friday, I didn’t connect the dots until sampling the pre-fizzy form of our drink.)

Soixante Seize

  • 2 oz. gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ oz. St-Germain liqueur

Technique: Shake over cracked ice and fine-strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.

In this formulation, the St-Germain is perhaps too subtle. I mixed again with a bit more of the liqueur but didn’t take note of the proportions. Equal amounts of lemon and liqueur would work best for this, I think, especially since the lemon and elderflower meld so well.

Be sure to read Anita and Cameron’s post on Le Bourget to see their thoughts on the lemon/elderflower marriage. Also, if you’ve not seen the lovely St-Germain bottle, check their photoset for this drink.

MxMo: Not really

I really wanted to participate in this month’s Mixology Monday, but sometimes life just gets in the way of your plans, y’know?

We have a couple of stray cats who frequent our backyard. A few months ago, one of them done got herself knocked up. She delivered her babies at the end of April, and after eight weeks, they started moving to solid food. This was the ideal time to adopt them out.

Homeless kittens in Bushwick, Brooklyn, is just one of those great human-interest stories that no one can pass up, and so, to our surprise, we found shout-outs on New York magazine’s Intelligencer blog and Gothamist.

So that was my weekend. I might have, otherwise, sourced recipes, histories, and ingredients for Mixology Monday, but instead I rescued kittens from a neighbor’s yard (with the neighbor’s permission) and helped the babies get into new families.

They’re all adopted now, and we’re working on getting the mama cat into a safe home. The full story, with photos, is on my wife’s Flickr stream, if you’re interested.

For actual cocktail goodness, however, click over to Morsels & Musings for this month’s MxMo. I promise my next post will have fewer kittens and more cocktails.

Gin, bathtub not included

As promised, Jen and I tasted a sampling of seven gins, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Parker. These were remnants of bottles bought and mostly drunk over the last several months, so there was no real logic to what gins we were sampling. In alphabetical order, we tasted

  • Aviation
  • Bombay
  • Bulldog
  • Hendricks
  • Junipero
  • Plymouth
  • Tanqueray

Gin tastingThe gin was served neat, at room temperature, in identical glassware. It was a blind tasting for Jen, but not for me since I poured the gins and kept them in an order where I’d be able to identify them later. We took rough notes and in tasting the gins, we came to realize some of the shortcomings of the methodology I used.

First, I don’t think serving the gins neat was the right choice. The Hendricks, for example, was tighter at room temp than it was, later, with a slight chill. With the chill, it released the rose and cucumber nuances for which it is well known. None of those came out at room temperature. For this reason, I’m a little reluctant to write up our tasting notes. I’m just not sure how faithful they are to each gin’s character.

When the New York Times held a gin tasting, back in early May, the tasters chose to sample gins in martini form, and this seems to me a wise choice.

Also, I wonder whether seven gins were too many to taste at one time. I think comparing three or four at one time might help fight palate fatigue.

I am eager to start doing regular taste tests for various spirits. I feel like I learn more about the characteristics of spirits in comparison than I do when sipping an Aviation or an Old Fashioned. So we’ll revisit this soon and taste-test various martinis.

I like to have a martini

Tonight, apparently, the Dorothy Parker Society is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Parker. Newyorkology reports there will be free gin and a reading of her works.

I’ve got a bunch of gin remnants in various bottles cluttering my liquor shelves, so this anniversary provides a great excuse for a gin tasting. But as it turns out, the date of her death is actually June 7, so we’re holding off on the tasting until then. I’ll be sure to post, but depending on how much we enjoy each gin, it might not be right away.