Do dooo de do do, do do de do, do dooo de do do, de do do…

Recently, I received samples for review of House Spirits Distillery‘s Aviation Gin and Krogstad Aquavit. I’ve bought several bottles of Aviation over the last couple of years. I like it, even though it’s considered a “New Western”-style gin–meaning it de-emphasizes juniper to focus on other botanicals. Now, I like a juniper-forward gin. I always have a 1.75L bottle of Beefeater to keep on hand and threaten the cats with, and to my mind there’s no better martini than one made 3 parts Beefeater to 1 part vermouth. But I also like tripping through other styles of gin, and Aviation’s no exception.

The Krogstad, though, is new to me, and to be honest, so is aquavit as a spirits category. I can’t really judge the Krogstad except on its own merits, since I’ve never sampled its competitors. I really like it, though. It carries notes of anise and caraway right at the front, and it’s very tasty. I’m looking forward to what some might consider an unconventional use for it. I have a recipe for home-cured salmon, and where this recipe calls for Pernod, I’m planning to use Krogstad in its place. Yummy, yeah?

Mah Nà Mah Nà

UPDATED with photo by Jennifer Hess

But I’m not here today to review the products or speak of charcuterie. I’m here for cocktails, and I have a doozy that I whipped up to showcase these spirits. I call this the Mah Nà Mah Nà. If you want to know why, you’ll have to buy me a drink and I’ll tell you. This quaff, though, is a botanical bomb, all the more reason to love it.

Mah Nà Mah Nà

  • 1 oz. Aviation gin
  • 3/4 oz. Krogstad aquavit
  • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Shake it over ice like Animal, strain it into Miss Piggy’s slipper, and enjoy.


Flipping the bird

About a month ago, Gary Regan devoted his SF Chron column to examining the intersection of food and beverage. I’m not talking about pairings, but instead food as an ingredient in cocktails. The technique of fat washing is an example of what I mean: you take some bacon, for example, and steep it in bourbon for a while. Remove it, fine strain out the solids, and then freeze the bourbon. The spirit itself won’t freeze, but the fat that’s suspended within it will rise to the top, which makes it easy to remove and discard–or reuse, I suppose, if you’d like some bourbon-flavored lard for any reason. Think about chilling a chicken stock after you’ve made it; same thing happens with stock that happens with bourbon.

Canary FlipNow, Gary went on to describe something that isn’t really much like fat washing at all; in fact, it was such an abrupt segue that I think it didn’t really belong in that particular column. What he described was a drink called the Canary Flip, a drink created by a Brisbane bartender. A flip, if you don’t know, is a drink made by shaking up your drink ingredients with a whole egg. Flips were common in colonial times, but today, only cocktail geeks like me seem to make them anymore.

Shame, that. I mixed up the Canary Flip recently, and Jen and I loved it. It was a good use for Fernet Branca, a bitter Italian aperitif that many drink straight. I can’t really stand it on its own, but it’s good in cocktails, when it’s in balance with the other flavors. It’s absolutely perfect in the Canary Flip. In this drink, it’s mixed up with Chartreuse, cognac, simple syrup, and the aforementioned egg. The result is a delightfully complex drink, herbal, rich, and creamy. It’s not at all cloying and it has a wonderful mouthfeel. This one’s a keeper!

Canary Flip

Makes 1 drink

Adapted from a recipe by Nicholas Edwards, the Lark, Brisbane, Australia.

  • 1 ounce yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 ounce Courvoisier V.S. Cognac
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Fernet Branca
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon twist, as garnish

Instructions: Fill a cocktail shaker with yellow Chartreuse, Cognac, simple syrup, Fernet Branca and egg. Shake without ice for 10 seconds to emulsify the egg. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled sherry glass. Add the lemon twist garnish.

Declare the pennies on your eyes

It’s not quite midnight anywhere in the States, folks. Are your taxes in? We had an accountant prepare ours this year, for the first time, and boy was that a load off!

In honor, I decided to prepare a special cocktail tonight … but not the one you’re thinking of. You’re probably expecting the Income Tax, of gin, two vermouths, orange juice, and bitters. Careful readers will remember that Jen’s allergic to orange juice, so that’s right out.

Next best? What else but the Scoff Law. I used CocktailDB’s ingredients, but Gary Regan’s proportions (his adaptation calls for grenadine, which I don’t currently have):

Scoff Law

  • 2 oz. bourbon or rye (I used Wild Turkey Bourbon 101; for some reason, I can’t find Rittenhouse rye anywhere right now)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse

Technique: Shake, strain, turn yourself about, etc.

On a personal note, I know I missed Mixology Monday this month. I feel rather stupid about it, and I apologize to hostess Anna. The fact is, I completely forgot. I have good reasons–we lost a much-beloved pet a couple of weeks ago, and we’re moving to Providence, R.I., next week. That aside, I enjoy MxMo, I haven’t missed many, and it gets me posting at least monthly.

I’ll probably be pretty quiet for a bit after the move, but I’m looking forward to exploring the liquor stores in the Providence area and possibly even reporting back on my finds. It may even give this blog a needed kick in the ass to get me posting regularly again.

MxMo: Limit One

For this month’s Mixology Monday, I decided to highlight a cocktail called the Diamondback, which I first saw in the September/October 2007 issue of Imbibe magazine.

Our taskmaster, Rick, demands we tax our livers with drinks that “contain at least 3oz of 80-proof spirit or have less than 1/2oz of non-spiritness.” No Rick! Don’t throw me in the briar patch! Anything but the briar patch!

The recipe in Imbibe credited the Diamondback as Murray Stenson’s variant of a recipe that first appeared in the book Bottom’s Up, by Ted Saucier. Saucier’s volume calls the drink the Diamondback Lounge and credits it to the Lord Baltimore Hotel, in Baltimore, Md. The hotel itself is still around, but I see nothing about the Diamondback Lounge.

Saucier’s original calls for rye, applejack, and yellow Chartreuse. Stenson’s says rye, applejack, and green Chartreuse. (Don’t worry; I’ll list both recipes at the end.) You might see where I’m going with this. I chose bonded rye (100 proof), bonded applejack (100 proof), and green Chartreuse (110 proof).

That’s a lotta proof.

When I first mixed this drink, I realized immediately that it had a strong bite and so I understandably assumed that both the drink and the lounge were named after this charming critter:

Turns out, I was probably wrong.

As I was researching this post, I learned that an animal called the diamondback terrapin is the state reptile of Maryland. Sports fans should recognize the terrapin as the mascot of the University of Maryland, and college-journo geeks (I know you’re out there) will remember that the U of M student publication is the Diamondback. So, the real culprit for my achin’ head? This beast:

Man, I thought it was a snake fucking me up. Turns out it was a freakin’ turtle. I’m so embarrassed.

Diamondback Lounge, Bottom’s Up

  • 1 jigger rye whiskey (I used Rittenhouse bonded)
  • 1/2 jigger applejack (Laird’s bonded)
  • 1/2 jigger yellow chartreuse
  • Ice

Technique: Shake well. Serve over ice in old-fashioned glass. Decorate with sprig of fresh mint.

This is okay, although it’s a little mild, and I don’t think the mint adds anything.

Diamondback, from Imbibe

  • 1-1/2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. applejack
  • 3/4 oz. green Chartreuse
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: Cherry

Technique: Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish.


photo by Jennifer Hess

You’ll note from the photo above that I forgot the garnish. A cherry makes more sense to me here than mint does, anyway. This is a better drink than the version with yellow Chartreuse, since the green has more backbone and brings more botanical notes to the drink. Still, I think equal parts applejack and Chartreuse result in a drink that’s a tad too sweet for my tastes.

Hence, if you’ll forgive me…

Diamondback Terrapin

  • 1-1/2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. applejack
  • 1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

Build in an old-fashioned glass over ice. Stir until chilled. Garnish with your own best wishes or deepest fears.

MxMo 23: Brandy

Twenty-freakin’-three? Holy crap, we’re just shy of the two-year mark! Many, many thanks to Marleigh for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday!

Brandy MxMo is a challenge. With so many fruit brandies out there, how do you choose? Aside from apple brandies, I haven’t quaffed much from the many barrels of non-grape brandies that are available. So I played it safe and chose cognac. I looked through a lot of recipes–some familiar, others new–trying to find something that excited me. I thought briefly of the Between the Sheets, since I love the rum/cognac marriage, but I figured, if I’m going familiar on the spirit, I should at least take a chance on an unfamiliar recipe.

I finally clicked over to the drinks database at Esquire magazine, selected Brandy as my main spirit, and paged through the recipes. The Brandy Daisy caught my eye. As reimagined by Dave Wondrich, it’s not quite the Daisy of yore.

Traditionally, the daisy mixes a spirit with lemon juice and some sort of sweetener. The Brandy Daisy usually calls for both grenadine and sugar, apparently, and then it’s poured over crushed ice, topped with seltzer, and decorated with fruit. Wondrich prefers the recipe of the Englishman Edward Spencer, who uses yellow Chartreuse to provide the drink’s sweet tones.


Brandy Daisy

  • 1-1/2 oz. brandy (I used cognac)
  • 3/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice

Technique: Stir well with cracked ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and top with a splash of chilled club soda or seltzer. Wondrich notes: “To bring this more in line with Daisy orthodoxy, half-fill a silver julep mug or stemmed wine goblet with cracked ice, pour in the ingredients, top…with a couple ounces of seltzer or club soda, and stir until the glass frosts. Decorate with sprig of mint and wheels of orange and lemon and harpoon with a straw.”

I pared it down even farther and then, to further piss off the drink gods, used a different glass! I omitted the fizz and the fruit and served it up, in a cocktail glass. Wondrich would tell me, rightly, that I made a Sidecar variant, with the Chartreuse replacing the orange liqueur.

So be it.

Lip-smacking good. Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter than its green counterpart and not quite as complex on the palate, so it’s probably the best choice for mixing with cognac. Although yellow Chartreuse can overwhelm a drink with its sweetness, I still love its undertones of honey. This drink really plays to that. The lemon cuts through the sweetness while still allowing some notes of honey to play off the herbal tones and the cognac. Mixed to spec, this is a very well-balanced drink.

Dave also mentions a version by his hero Jerry Thomas, which uses curacao and just a weeeeeee bit of rum. That sounds delightful as well. And, just for shits and giggles, let’s say you replaced the fizzy water with, oh, I dunno? A fizzy wine? I don’t know what ol’ Longbeard would say, but you could invite me over for that!