November 13, 2015

White Russian

It took me a while to wrap my mind around the theme for this month's Mixology Monday. Host Shaun and Christa of the BoozeNerds asks for a standoffish cocktail, in other words a cocktail that...hmmm which...oh, better let them explain. From their announcement post:
We’re looking for cocktails that use at least one non-garnish ingredient that is not stirred or shaken with the others. Rinses, floats, foams? Sure! Mists? Why not? We welcome whatever your creative geniuses can come up with.
Okay, I can do that. But whenever I tried to come up with something new I kept seeing a cocktail for my inner eye. A cocktail I had a few weeks ago at the wonderful Copenhagen bar Barking Dog. A cocktail that made my drinking companion and I feel like kids in a very grown up manner. A White Russian served with a cruncy layer og Coco Pops and a spoon.

I realized I couldn't come up with anything better, so here it is:

  • 6 cl vodka - I used the ultra local Den Klodsede Bjørn distilled less than a 2 kilometers away from the barking dog
  • 3 cl coffee liqueur - I used Toussaints
  • 9 cl ice cold organic whole milk - I had let a few Coco Pops steep in it for about 10 minutes
  • 1 dash coffee balsamic shrub - I used this recipe and it makes a wonderful ice coffee too
Add everything to a shaker, fill with ice and shake until well mixed and frothy. Strain into milk glass and garnish with a good layer of Coco Pops. Serve with a spoon for ease of eating the cereal either before drinking or after.

October 18, 2015

Lurking in the Deep Blue

The theme for this month’s MxMo is Spooky Sips. While I tried to think of something scary it dawned on me, that there must be a huge cultural factor in what scares us.

Denmark became a Lutheran country with the stroke of a pen the day before Halloween in 1536.

From that day the church stopped observing saints days - and the king grabbed all property and land from the roman-catholic church.

I’m sure the reformation did not stop common people from putting out lamps cut not from pumpkins but gourds since they were plentiful to fend off evil spirits, but the tradition slowly faded and did not return until about 10-15 years ago.

So if spirits from the dead does not hunt us, what does? Being surrounded on all sides except for 68 kilometer land border with Germany by water anything lurking in the sea will get our blood pumping.

Not that we have many dangerous sea creatures in the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. But the idea is scary.

Denmark send out the worlds first expedition with oceanographic tasks in 1761. And since then there have been several and several brilliant Lego Deep Sea Exploration Sets to inspire future oceanographers. (Yes I want a set)

The most famous expedition was the Galathea II expedition from 1950-1952. The scientists found life at the bottom of the Philippine Trench - at the time thought to be the deepest spot on earth.

So in response to the request from JFL of Rated R Cocktails for spooky sips, mine had to come from the bottom of the sea.

As an interesting Tiki aside - one of the regular sailors on the ship - Ole Reiman - brought home huge amounts of ethnographic and opened a bar called Galatheakroen in Copenhagen that has an amazing Tiki vibe but serves mainly beer and is famous for it’s Rijsttafel.

I don’t know if Reiman visited any tiki bars during Galathea’s circumnavigation - but according to the log the ships was in Honolulu for 3 days in March of 1952 and 10 days in April so it’s not impossible.

And now for the Lurking in the Deep Blue:
  • 6 cl white rum - I used Plantation 3 star
  • 0.75 cl creme de banana - I used Giffard
  • 0.75 cl blue curacao - I used homemade
  • Big dash of creme de menthe - I used Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Menthe 
  • 9 cl tonic water - I used Pellegrino
Stir the first four ingredients with ice, serve over ice in a highball glass with the tonic added at the end.

Or go crazy in a fish bowl with Titanic ice cubes, stones and sea shells (I boiled mine for 5 minutes), fish cut from orange peel and blood - I had some thick rhubarb shrub - grenadine would be good too. What ever scares you.
And now I am off to the beach - to quote John Masefield from his poem Sea Fever
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
I will leave you with a couple of nice videos

A 20 minute long film from the actual expedition - unfortunately this is in Danish only but around the 17 minute mark the net is brought up from the deep and life discovered.

A delightful portrait of the now 96 year old scientist who discovered life at the bottom of the Philippine Trench with English subtitles:

The Old Man and the Deep Sea from Natural History Museum Denmark on Vimeo.

October 5, 2015

Java & Brioche

Coffee and bread, you ask? Is this not a cocktail blog? Indeed it is - and todays cocktail is inspired by a late 1800’s early 1900's hangover cure from a cafe in Copenhagen involving coffee and bread.

Café Bernina was a popular hangout for young intellectuals from about 1880 until the 1920’s. At it’s height it was owned and run by two Swiss brothers named Tönjachen but always called Cognacsen (well it's funny in Danish).

Bernina's specialty was a punch called the devils punch made from 17 different types of booze. After a night of drinking the devils punch with people like the Norwegian Knut Hamsun or the Swedish August Strindberg you needed help to get you going the next morning. Bernina had a cure.

Some guests had ham and eggs on rye bread others had brioche and java - bread and coffee - which has always been the way most Danes eat breakfast.

One of the young intellectuals was the Danish author Gustav Wied. He once wrote a short story called Spader Es (sorry in Danish) meaning Ace of Spades -  set at Bernina.

In this story a man orders an Absinthe au Lait as if every cafe in Copenhagen would know that particular drink. And then he goes on to explain that absinthe mixed with milk makes him very mellow and friendly whereas absinthe neat or mixed with water makes him bitter and antagonistic.

So I looked it up - all of google has only references to this particular short story - Absinthe au Lait does not exist in the real world.

So I decided to make it exist - and to work in the brioche and java too (Ham and eggs would have been a step too far, don't you think)

It turns out that the Dutch (not to be confused with the Danish although our languages are equally difficult to understand) have a tradition for drinking warm milk with an anis tablets or blocks dissolved in it.

And back when Bernina existed and the intellectuals had ham and eggs or brioche and java for breakfast in the less affluent parts of Copenhagen workers started their day with a Milk Toddy - warm - or cold - milk and a shot of aquavit. (One such establishment can be seen in the picture at the end of the post)

So it all comes full circle with Java & Brioche:
  • 2 cl absinthe - I used Artemisia's Butterfly 65%
  • 2 dl milk - I used organic full milk
  • half a small brioche bun - I baked my own you can too
  • 1 teaspoon ground java
Start by steeping the brioche and java in the milk for at least a couple of hours in the fridge, then strain and strain and strain until all or most of the coffee and the bread is out of milk.

Pour the absinthe into the bottom of a glass capable of handling a bit of heat and then either steam the milk with an espresso milk frother or gently heat it in a sauce pan but do not bring it too close to boiling - it should only be hot.

Pour milk into absinthe and stir and then garnish with a coffee bean it your drink has a frothy head.

How does it taste you ask? Interesting is the polite word but it actually grew on me as I drank it and I could see it work for a late winter brunch with ham and eggs after a long walk on the beach.

September 20, 2015

Oaxaca Sour

As we enter into the next 100 rounds of Mixology Monday the theme of this months MxMo struck a cord. I haven't thought of it quite the way our host DJ Hawaiian Shirt of the Spirited Remix blog puts it, but I totally agree:

It really irritates me when people dismiss an ingredient.  Whether it’s too ordinary, or difficult, or inconsistent, or overpowering, I can’t help but feel such conclusions are lazy and defeatist.  Your theme this month is “Orange Juice,” an ingredient I too often see derided or ignored when it comes to thoughtful mixology.  Surely an assembly of such mixological brawn as MxMo can find or create a delicious way to mix OJ, right?
So what to do with the badly treated OJ? Since one of my favorit cocktails contains lots of orange juice it was an easy choice for me. I was going to take a good look at Trader Vic's Eastern Sour - a cocktail I found in Beachbum Berry's Total Tiki app a while back - it may even be in it's predecessor Tiki+.

As I understand it Trader Vic adapted his Eastern and Western Sours to any new restaurant he opened, which explains why the Munich Sour is an Eastern Sour made with brandy instead of Bourbon - or maybe not...

I decided to give two different spirits a spin with the recipe and then choose the best. I mixed one with mezcal and later on one with pisco. Both were very nice cocktails - the pisco one a displaced Munich Sour in fact, but after some deliberation I crowned the mezcal edition the winner.

Here is the Oaxaca Sour:

  • 7.5 cl orange juice - and yes it needs to be freshly squeezed
  • 2.25 cl lemon juice - yup fresh...
  • 0.75 cl orgeat - I used Giffard's but one of these days I will make it myself
  • 6 cl mezcal - I used Ilegal Joven
Add the ingredients to a shaker and fill it with ice, shake it hard and long to break up the ice and then pour unstrained into a low ball glass. Garnish with half a wheel of orange, couple og good cocktail cherries, sprig of mint and what ever else tiki stuff you have.

For the test run with the pisco, it substituted the mezcal with 6 cl Waquar for a damn fine drink that lost only after long deliberation. 


August 25, 2015

Clover Clubs

It was a dark and stormy night - well Copenhagen nights are never completely dark in the middle of June and the storm was more of a slight drizzle.

But that was the night five years ago I discovered classic cocktails on a tour of Copenhagen bars. One of them impressed me so much that it to this day is my all time favourite gin cocktail.

So when Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut asked us to channel our inner Paul Clarke for the 100th Mixology Monday my choice was easy.

Clarke, who started MxMo, has a post about the Clover Club. This was one of the text I read the day after my epiphany to figure out how this amazingly soft, pretty and strong drink was made.

I’ve made it many times since, and I’ve even twisted it a bit. Rhubarb Club is a very fine homage to this classic and today I give you the classic and another fine twist.

I encountered my first Clover Club in the downstairs bar at Ruby’s in Copenhagen. On a busy Friday night with a lot of alpha males roaming the room asking for attention, appreciation, respect, loans and other completely irrelevant stuff in a bar.

In the midst of all that the bartender took time out to mix a Clover Club for my friend and I, and he told us the story of how this cocktail was the signature cocktail in a gentlemans club in Philadelphia at the start of the 20th century. We chuckled at the thought of all these doctors, lawyers, politicians and captains of industry sitting around with their pink, frothy cocktails.

The bartender made our Clover Clubs with raspberries and frankly I have always made it that way - except for the occasional Rhubarb Club - but many recipes call for grenadine instead. My first choice will always be raspberries, they are my favourite berry and about the only thing thriving in my small, sandy garden.

Clover Club

  • 6 cl gin - I used Tanqueray
  • 1,5 cl fresh strained lemon juice
  • 1 table spoon homemade raspberry syrup (I bring about 2 dl of berries to the boil with 0,5 cl sugar and 0,5 cl water. When the mixture is cooled of I strain, pressing as much liquid from the berries as possible and use the solids for pastry)
  • 1 egg white

Add everything to a shaker. Shake hard without ice for a good minute, then add ice and shake again for at least 30 seconds. Strain into cocktail coupe and garnish with fresh raspberries - i threaded them unto a sprig of lavender.

Currant Club

  • 6 cl gin - I used Hernö Juniper Cask gin
  • 1,5 cl fresh strained red grapefruit juice
  • 1 table spoon homemade red currant syrup made the same way ans the raspberry syrup
  • 1 egg white.

As with the classic Clover Club start with a dry shake and then add ice. I strained it into an old fashioned glass and garnished with a since slice of grape floating on the foam of the drink with a small cluster of currants using it as a surf board.

June 15, 2015

The Beach

Ten minutes from my front door is a lovely beach - high dunes overgrown with rugosa roses and wild rye. The only way to get there is on foot or bicycle so it is never crowded not even at the height of summer.

I love walking there and swimming there and most of all I love the smells and the views. I wish I could bottle both, but have instead mixed a cocktail.

With this month's theme for Mixology Monday being local hooch, there was never any doubt I was going to make an aquavit cocktail.

Our host, Stuart of Putney Farm, made it very clear in his announcement post:
Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.
Only aquavit is hometown hooch in Denmark, not that people are not trying to make decent gin, rum and whiskey, but aquavit is what we have made since the 1600's.

The one used for this cocktail is distilled 32 kilometers as the crow flies - or as the google car drives - from my front door. It's a clean, straight forward dill aquavit of the highest quality.

Dill loves cucumber and I wanted both the roses and a bit of the ocean in the mix too, so here is my contribution:

  • 6 cl dill aquavit - I used D Argentum from Den Ny Spritfabrik
  • a third of a young cucumber - should yield about 3 cl of liquid
  • 0.75 rose tincture
  • Nori dust - cut about a quarter of a nori sheet for a maki roll and turn it into dust in a mortar or between you fingers
Cut all of the cucumber into chunks except for a slice for garnish, put them in a shaker with the rose tincture and crush them with a muddler to get all the juice flowing. Then add the aquavit and the nori dust and plenty of ice.

Shake hard and double strain into the kind of drinking vessel you would take to the beach. Garnish with the cucumber slice by cutting it in half and making a slit for the rim of your drinking vessel.

May 17, 2015


I made a rookie mistake with my contribution to this month's MxMo: I didn't do my homework.

Our host Fred of Cocktail Virgin Slut  - they guy who singlehandedly keeps MxMo together - even pointed us in the right direction in his announcement post:
Turning to David Wondrich's Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic's creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, "The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails." In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again.
So no sugar in a Manhattan and in this Esquire article Wondrich is adamant that a Manhattan on ice is not a Manhattan.

Therefor my offering has an appropriate low brow New York name: The Gowanus - named for a neighbourhood in Brooklyn thru which one of the most polluted canals in the US runs. It's said to be 90 procent guns and the rest is industrial waste.

My cocktail tastes a whole lot better than that, so prepare to be pleasantly surprised:

  • 6 cl rye whisky - I used Rittenhouse 100 proof
  • 0.75 cl Aperol
  • 0.75 cl Zucca
  • 1.5 cl rhubarb-sriracha-syrup (I cooked fresh rhubarb juice with half the amount of sugar and a dollop of the chili sauce for 1 minute and left it to cool off)
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice and stir. If you want to present this non-Manhattan drink, as a Manhattan - serve it up in a coup - or be a rookie like me and serve it in an old fashioned glass over ice with a garnish of a piece of fresh rhubarb gently poached in the rhubarb-sriracha-syrup.

Should you want to mix a more true riff on a Manhattan, take a look at some of the other contributions in Freds wrap-up.

May 3, 2015

Rhubarb Rosmary Julep

I am always late to the Kentucky Derby Party - but I guess I have the best excuse: I am 4387.94 miles as the internet flies from Churchill Downs. How could anyone be expected to accurately time a drive like that?

This year however I was awake during the actual race - not that I was following it, I was working.

But as an after party I mixed myself a spring julep.  Where the Kentucky Derby may be definite proof spring has arrived in parts of the US, here - in Denmark - rhubarb is that incontrovertible marker.

So I started by cooking a good bunch of rhubarb cut into chunks with 5 cl sugar and 1 dl water for about 10 minutes - I added two sprigs of rosemary and a bit of fresh lemon peel as it came to a quiet boil.

Strain and cool the cordial - if you are lucky it will be a bright delicious pink - if not it will be just as good. Then I was ready to mix:

  • 6 cl bourbon - I used Bulleit
  • 6 cl rhubarb cordial
  • 1 barspoon Fernet Branca (If you choose to cook the rhubarb with mint for a more authentic Mint Julep you could use Fernet Menta instead)
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • Extra cordial
Fill a nice glass or Julep cup half up with crushed ice - add the bourbon, rhubarb cordial and Fernet Branca and give it a few stirs. Fill with crushed ice - stir again and if any of the ice is above the drink drizzle it pink with a little extra crodial. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a straw.

April 19, 2015

Pink Cadillac

My shameful cocktail secret hails from the longest running cocktailbar in Copenhagen outside of hotel bars. All you need to know to see the interior in your minds eye is the bar’s name: MexiBar.

Normally I would never admit, that I have partaken and even enjoyed a drink from the Dark Ages of Mixology, but Whitney of Tipicular Fixin’s leaves me with no choice with her MxMo theme: Drink of Shame:
So, you’re a certified, mixologist, craft-tender, bar chef, or fine spirit enthusiast…now. But, there was a time when you only ordered Long Island Iced Tea. Or, maybe you always made the Jello shots for your frat? Perhaps you’re the reason that your local had an Island Oasis machine for so long? Rye & Ginger? Vodka Seven? Someone was ordering these things. Your street cred would be ruined if you ordered or (gasp) served one now, but don’t you miss it, just a little? Wouldn’t you love to have one more Jolly Rancher? A chance to drink a mudslide without shame? We all made questionable drink choices in our past, the popular drinks from 1970 to the year 2000 were a cheap, sugary mess. Now is the time to resurrect your favourite drink from the time before modern Mixology. Give a new life to the drink… maybe you need to use fresh ingredients, or you can try elevating the spirits. Make everything from scratch or remove an offending ingredient. Do whatever you can to bring back and legitimize a drink you used to love. 
So let me introduce you to MexiBar: It opened sometime in the early 1990’s, it’s still running and must be be very close to it’s 25th anniversary.

The bar serves a few old classics made with great speed but no real love and many, many drinks of the 80’s variety with lot’s of vodka, cream, garishly coloured “fruit” juice and the garnish is often umbrellas and hanging monkeys.

For a few years that was the choice you had in Copenhagen if you didn’t want to go to a hotel bar to get a cocktail.

So we chose Mexibar. And regardless of how often I tried to make “good” choice when ordering at some point during the evening I started to drink Pink Cadillacs.

According to the bar menu it’s a mix of gin, vodka, Malibu, cream, grenadine, pineapple and orange juice topped off with bitter lemon.

So that’s what I had to work with.

Since I refuse to buy Malibu on the grounds of being a snob I left a good amount of fresh coconut squares steep in Plantation 3 Star white rum for 10 days.

I also decided to get a little more taste into the drink by using a good, clean dill aquavit instead of vodka. Homemade Grenadine, check, a decent bitter lemon, check, and of cause fresh juice. And to add to my overwhelming snobbery: Organic Cream.

Time to mix:
  • 3 cl gin - I used Tanqueray
  • 3 cl dill aquavit - I used D Argentum from Den Ny Spritfabrik - you could use vodka instead
  • 1,5 cl coconut rum - if using Malibu I would say up the amount of gin to 4,5 cl
  • 3 cl fresh pineapple juice
  • 3 cl fresh orange juice
  • 2 cl grenadine - I bring fresh pomegranate juice to a boil with half the amount of sugar, strain and cool it.
  • 3 cl heavy cream
  • 5-6 cl of bitter lemon
Measure everything but the bitter lemon into a shaker, shake hard with plenty of ice, strain into a hurricane glass and top off with bitter lemon.

Garnish with orange slice and pineapple tops and every piece of 80’s drinks paraphernalia you can lay your hands on.

The taste? Sweet like candy although the bitter lemon saves it from being undrinkable to my superior and evolved taste buds. But dang we had fun at MexiBar.

April 14, 2015

Improved Whiskey Cocktail in a hip flask

If a couple of weeks ago someone had asked me to tell them what pictures the words hip flask put in my mind, I would have given them two scenarios: An elderly uncle too alcoholic to be more than a back pocket away from booze or Barty Crouch Jr. polyjuiced into Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter, constantly swigging the potion for fear he becomes himself again.

In other words more flask than hip

But then I was directed to the webpage of the Swig flask and a completely different picture materialised: Me on the beach, the sun setting in the distance, a small snack, good company and a strong, good cocktail in the flask and perhaps a couple of nice glasses.

Suddenly I could totally see the need for a hip flask in my home bar. Hip in the hip way.

And now that one of these flasks have landed on my desk - full disclosure as a gift from the Swig Company for me to review - I’m going to test drive my latter association well in advance of warm weather and good company.

First job: To figure out which cocktails would be good out of a hip flask. Even in a spring as cool as this, I still think anything like a Martini or an Aviation would be too warm by the time I made the 10 minute bicycle ride to the beach.

So I’m thinking more along the lines of an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan or even a Negroni. I could perhaps mix them ahead of time and stick the flask in my freezer for an hour before setting of?

The downside to the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan is the sugar, will it be hard to clean from the flask?

Well as it is made from steel I do not see, why I couldn’t pour boiling water into it and swirl any leftover sugar out.

And I’ve had this idea for An Improved Whiskey Cocktail forever, so I mixed it in my mixing glass, poured it into my flask, and gathered the stuff for a cold sundowner on the beach in April.

  • 6 cl Rittenhouse 100
  • 1 bar spoon homemade pineapple syrup(bring fresh pineapple juice with slightly less than an equal amount of sugar to the boil, strain and cool)
  • 1.75 cl Maraschino liqueur
  • Dash of Eucalyptus bitter
  • Dash of Absinthe

So here are my impressions:
  • You need to take the pouch off - if you don’t go for the naked Swig flask- in order for it to stand securely while you fill it.
  • You need either the original Swig funnel or another small funnel to fill it.
  • The screw top while certainly beautiful can be a little hard to get a grib on when your hands are cold, and you need to keep track of it, it’s easily lost.
  • It kept my cocktail fairly cold during the approximately 20 minutes from being filled until I took the first swig
  • I can't wait for warmer weather and cocktails on the beach.