November 17, 2014

ToniCoffee Punch



Let me first admit, until I read the announcement post for this month’s MxMo, I had never heard about shim cocktails.

But I like the concept and the challenge.

Instead of my trying to explain, here is what Dinah of bibulo.us have to say on subject. And she is the expert, as she has coined the term:
This month’s topic is near and dear to our hearts as it is our favorite type of lower-proof cocktails: shims! These drinks contain no more than half an ounce of strong spirits (i.e. those containing 40% ABV or above).

Heavy-hitters are fun to drink, sure, but it’s way too easy to over-consume and under-enjoy when you’re playing hardball. Let’s stretch out our evenings and get to sample a bigger variety by lowering the proof without lowering our standards. Shims don’t require giving up on flavor, complexity, or—interestingly enough—even your favorite ingredients. Get a new understanding of your favorite high-proof spirit by using just a half or quarter ounce of it along with a milder leading player. Or take a low-proof character actor that usually supplements the main show and see if it can take the lead.
My ToniCoffee Punch is probably not for everyone. There are some pretty harsh flavors involved, but I love it and can’t wait for summer to return, so I can drink it on my patio.

The inspiration comes from several places. First, on a recent visit to New York - where I had the good fortune to stay in Brooklyn in stead of Manhattan and there for saw neighborhoods I had never thought to visit - on a morning constitutional along Smith Avenue, I passed a sign describing a Swedish Tonic. It was in front of an actually Swedish Bakery right there in Brooklyn.

I had a peek inside - and a sniff of their delightfully smelling cinnamon buns - but I was on my way to Momofuku Milk Bar and didn’t want to spoil my appetite. So I snapped a picture of the sign and went on my way, reminding myself that I could get to a bakery in Sweden from my home in an hour and a half.

And also reminding myself to learn more about a mixture of tonic water and espresso.

Since I have learned that it was first created in Helsingborg Sweden, at Koppi - a coffee shop one and a half hours travel from my front door, so I am planning a trip.

The people at Koffi may have been inspired by a Norwegian barista. (link in Swedish).

And that started my second line of thought. How Scandinavians have always loved their coffee and how integral to our cultures coffee have always been. (Add in Finland for the Nordic vibe and you will find all four countries on the top 10 list of coffee consuming countries).

A few years back I made myself a cocktail in honor of the old Danish tradition going back to the start of the 17th century of mixing coffee and aquavit - or snaps as we call it. Back then it was called Strong Coffee to set it apart from Coffee with out the aquavit and later on it gained names like “a small black” and coffee punch.

(The recipe for traditional coffee punch in Denmark goes like this: In the bottom of a cup place a small coin, add coffee until it is invisible, then add snaps until it visible again.)

So now I had an idea for a shim:

Start by making the coffee - I used this Cuban coffee method - if you use a regular espresso maker just stir in the sugar once you have pulled a shot.

In a tall glass - add the aquavit and some ice cubes then pour in the tonic and then the sweetened coffee on top. It looks cool when the coffee swirls in the tonic (probably more noticeable in a clear
tonic).

November 7, 2014

Genetic Polymorphism


I have loved the taste of violets since the first time my Dad brought home some lovely chocolates filled with violet creme from one of the oldest chocolatiers in Copenhagen.

Today one of my favorite teas is the black tea with violet from Kusmi.

And then sometimes in the late 1970s or early 1980s when stuff like hummus and coriander/cilantro hit these distant northern shores I fell in love with Coriandrum sativum and to this day it's my favorite herb.

But you can't love those to distinct tasts without encountering people who hate one or both.

I've learned it's no good arguing about it, people are genetically disposed for either love or hate. And to honor that fact I decided to mix with both:
  • 4,5 cl gin - I used Sipsmith VJOP which really stood firm against both C & V
  • 3 cl lime juice
  • 1,5 cl simple syrup
  • 0,75 cl Creme de Violette - I used Bitter Truth
  • bunch of fresh cilantro/coriander
In a shaker add the lime and syrup and muddle the cilantro/coriander for a bit. The measure in the gin, add ice and shake well.

Strain - or in case you find bits of herb in cocktails indelicate double strain - into glass. Pour the Creme de Violet gently in for a layered effect.

Personally I love bits of herb in drinks, so I did not double strain.

October 18, 2014

The Perfectly Perfect Chartreuse Swizzle

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday is perfect. Joel of the Southern Ash blog has challenged us to create perfect symmetry.

Or as he writes read in his announcement post
Perfect symmetry is your theme this month!  A “perfect” drink splits the liquor or liqueur evenly between two related ingredients.  The most common “perfect” drink is a Perfect Manhattan where the vermouth is split between sweet and dry to create an altogether different experience.  A perfect Old Fashioned splits the bourbon and rye are both used to create a singularly distinct experience. When done well, splitting the liquor lets each of the unique flavors and components of the shine through.  Because they share a background, they don’t war with each other but instead you get both the mellow sweetness of the bourbon with the spicy backbone of the rye in that Old Fashioned… Why make a choice when you can have it all?! Your challenge is to create a new cocktail or explore an existing cocktail that splits the liquor or liqueur evenly in a “perfect” manner…  Can you challenge yourself with gin and vodka in a light summer appropriate beverage?  Perhaps you’ll delve deep into splitting Sambuca and ouzo in an anise-flavored digestive? Getting bored with tequila, maybe a perfect margarita with the backbone of mezcal will reawaken your appreciation? Campari too assertive for you?  Maybe make a Perfect Negroni with Aperol lightening the weight. Let you imagination run wild!
Took me a while to wrap my head around that job, but I went looking for a cocktail that would allow me to split all the ingredients and finally I picked one of my favorites: The Chartreuse Swizzle. I have previously fiddled a bit with this cocktail and figured I would give it another go.

The original recipe is very straight forward:
  • 4 cl Green Chartreuse
  • 1,5 cl pineapple juice
  • 1 cl lime juice
  • 0.75 cl velvet Falernum
I decided to split the Chartreuse between Yellow and Green, and the Falernum between Velvet and Golden, the lime juice was split with lemon. Splitting the pinapple juice came down to what was freshly available at my local store, so I went for mango.

Let me tell you fresh pineapple and fresh mango from a Danish chain store in October does not a lot of juice yield.

Also since I still haven't got a real swizzle stick I went looking in the woodlands around my house and found a sprig of fir. Since it was still ozing sticky resin as I debarked it I suspect a bit of that ended up in my final drink.
  • 2 cl each Green and Yellow Chartreuse
  • 0.75 cl each fresh pineapple and mango juice
  • 0.5 cl each lemon and lime juice
  • 0.37 cl each Golden and Velvel Falernum
Add all of the ingredients to a tall glass of crushed ice, turning the swizzle stick between the palms of your hands give everything a good stir moving your hands up and down. Garnish with a bit of pineapple top and enjoy a cool, refreshing taste of nature at it's finest.  


September 22, 2014

The Unknown - Gimlet

Chris of the ABarAbove blog is this month's MxMo taskmaster and he has set us a really hard task: He wants us to try something we have never tried before. Or to quote from his announcement post:

Basically the idea is to try something new, an ingredient or technique that you’ve never had experience with before and create a cocktail around it… Use a spirit that you’ve never used before. It could be a base spirit, modifier or that Belgian Ale that rings in at 15% alcohol. Use an ingredient that has always captured your imagination in the supermarket. Maybe that weird looking fruit that you always walk by at Whole Foods, or that unusual looking vegetable that you can’t even pronounce. [or] Use a new technique that you’ve never tried, but have always wanted to. Have you been dying to make your own vermouth, amaro, or martini glass made completely out of flavored sugar.

I have chosen Rose's Lime cordial - an ingredient I have never mixed with, and I can't really say I have been daydreaming about it either.

However the lime cordial is part of the history of the Gimlet and so I secured a bottle of the light green stuff.

And then I chose Raymond Chandler to be my guide and use the ratio he heralds in The Long Goodbye: We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor's and drank gimlets. "They don't know how to make them here," he said. "What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow."

I believe many would suggest mixing with Plymouth Gin for the cocktails connection to the British Navy and the curative mix of lime and gin that kept the sailors from getting scurvy. I chose a Sipsmith VJOP in stead for the generous amount of both juniper and alcohol - thinking that might even be a more authentic gin taste from way back when the mix of lime and gin did not have a fancy name and was not written up in cocktail books.

But I'm not sure if it is the 1:1 ratio or the choice of gin that let's this particular drink down - it's just not a nice taste. The decidedly synthetic taste from the lime cordial catches on the strong juniper flavor of the gin and leaves you with a taste of cough syrup and unwashed underwear.

So I think it's safe to say - I've bought my first and my last bottle of Rose's Lime.



September 6, 2014

Green Tea Martini


Sometimes the internet will take you places you didn't know you wanted to go to. Like to a page where a Green Tea Martini is mentioned, and then that idea gets stuck in your brain and won't leave.

That is what happened to me today, and fortunately I had - or thought I had - the right ingredients for the cocktail.

A while ago I picked up a bottle of small batch vodka in a newly opened store in Copenhagen. The guy running the store had distilled it and he has chosen the name The Clumsy Bear for his vodka.

I thought this would be a good cocktail to test the vodka on.

The original recipe calls for a traditional japanese syrup called Kuromitsu made from black sugar. I have no access to that, but I figured instead I would use barley malt syrup for a flavorful sweetener. Also it ties in with the barley malt used in the vodka.

And then I was absolutely sure I had some small packets of powdered green tea - and sure enough at the back of my cupboard I found a stack of packets. Since I have no recollection of ever making green tea from them, I do not know if the powder have become too old and changed color or just are of a different kind than the type Takumi Watanabe uses.

In any event my Green Tea Martini was more of a bog swamp color than the bright green color in the pictured with the original recipe.

Taste wise I like it a lot - it has a dry quality to it which is a bit surprising with 3 cl creme de cacao in it. So maybe I should look for some bright green green tea powder and add it to my repertoire.
  • 6 cl vodka
  • 3 cl white creme de cacao - I used Bols
  • teaspoon powdered green tea
  • 1 cl barley malt syrup
I started by stirring the tea into the vodka and then added the other two ingredients, then filled my shaker with ice and gave it a good shake. Owing to the fact that the vodka bottle had a wax seal that had floated a few bits into the bottle I double strained the cocktail.

August 24, 2014

The Leaky Coconut

I know better than to name my contribution to this month's MxMo Coco Tai: I want to live a long and full life, shortened by neither the Tiki-Gods nor their followers. So I chose a better name....

I don't remember ever having to work as hard or thinks as long when it comes to a MxMo theme. But ever since JFL of the brilliant blog Rated R Cocktails published the theme of coconut I have been struggling.
His reasons for choosing the theme did not help me at all:
Ah the Coconut, so round, so firm, so fully packed… with flavor… Coconut is versatile, coconut is magical, not only is it edible but it can be made into scores of products. However, this month you need only concern yourself with the liquid variety as I unveil MxMo Coconut. Yes friends, it is my sincere belief the coconut does not get the love, nay the respect it so richly deserves. Because this easy going tropical seed had its heyday in the Tiki era, it’s happily associated with the same fun loving drinks… Despite all the great Tiki drinks coconut appear in most people are down on the humble seed because of the Piña Colada. Friends, this need not be so; I say we take this delicious ingredient and show it can yield a tasty, well balanced cocktail. It doesn’t have to be tropical necessarily. I’d really love to see some of my friends more classically minded come up with a cocktail more befitting a pre-Prohibition mindset.
Because you see - I don't like coconut - as in could live happily ever after, if I never tasted it again.

Consider this: I live in Denmark on the 55th parallel. What ever coconut I've come into contact with have been old, stale and in some instances rancid. Or on most other occasions....fake.

But I'm not one to turn my back on a challenge. So I persevered. I really did think long and hard how coconut could find it's place in a pre-prohibition gin cocktail but I could not come up with an answer.

Instead I kept returning to a trusted friend - the Mai Tai. And I thought what if I replace the orgeat with a coconut syrup made the same way? Switch lime juice with rose hip juice and the curaçao with limoncello?

  • 1 oz Jamaican Rum - I used Appelton V/X
  • 1 oz Demerera Rum - I used El Dorado 8 yo
  • 1 oz rose hip juice (I cooked about 15 ripe rose hips with seeds and all in 2 dl of water for about 2 minutes and strained it)
  • 1/2 oz of coconut syrup (I used this recipe for orgeat - substitution organic coconut flakes for almonds, coconut sugar for the regular sugar, coconut water for regular water and added rose tincture at the end)
  • 1/4 oz limoncello

Shake all ingredients with crushed ice, pour into hollowed out coconut, garnish with a piece of fresh coconut and a rose hip.

And the name....guess who's coconut leaked......?

August 10, 2014

Flutterby Lassi

Recently a journalist asked me to explain, what makes a cocktail a classic.

The best comparison I could come up with was literature. A book becomes a classic when it newer leave the curriculum of everyday readers - when it stands the test of time. Same with a cocktail - if people keeps drinking it, it's a classic.

I do not however have any idea over what period of time this is measured - not with books, not with cocktails.

But we do talk about modern or almost instant classics like Audrey Saunder's Old Cuban and Sam Ross' Penicillin - Tom Walker's Maid in Cuba an absinthe/cucumber cocktail in it's own right have been described as a modern classic too.

Perhaps the Flutterby Lassi from the bar of one of London's smartest Indian Restaurants - Gymkhana - will become a classic.

If not I find it fits nicely the other two dairy based cocktails I have mixed this year: The Snowball and the Buttermilk Margarita. The later being much better than the first.

For the Flutterby I followed this recipe from the Guardian pretty close:
  • 2 cm of cucumber
  • 3 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 3,5 cl of Absinthe - I used Blanche de Fougerolles 74
  • 5 cl of yogurt - not the firm Greek style yogurt but a more runny kind
  • 2 cl of gomme syrup
  • 2 cl of lime juice - which is twice the amount of the recipe, but it tasted too sweet with just 1 cl
Start by cutting the peel of the cucumber - you need it for the garnish so using a peeler cut one long peel around the stump of cucumber.

Muddle the cucumber with 2 sprigs of dill, the lime juice and the gomme - this was where I decided to up the lime juice. Add absinthe and yogurt to shaker and shake well with ice.

Double strain into glass and then roll the last sprig of dill inside the cucumber peel and use that as a garnish.


July 22, 2014

Lemon Cherry Cachaca Smash

Leaving New Orleans was not easy this year. Even after one whole day of rain that city grows on you and Tales of The Cocktails is an amazing reason to visit.

Not even a long and bothersome journey home involving not one but two reroutings and a seven hour wait in Amsterdam could wipe smile off my face.

I even managed a friendly grimace while queuing to report my luggage missing. It still haven't turned up and it contains quite a few treasures and most of my summer wardrobe.

But I still have my little black note book with ideas, stories, interesting facts and overall impressions from four brilliant days of seminars, tastings and networking.

At the same time I came home to the Danish weather is outdoing itself with high temperatures and lots of sun.

While this place will never be the tropics tonight it is time for a tropical drink and as we are less than a week from Mixology Monday and the theme of The Smash I figured I would put a theory to the test that I developed on Friday in a ballroom at the Royal Sonesta Hotel while listening to Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller talking about the journey from garden, field and forrest to bottle and glass.

The two of them were advising against adding sugar to a bottle of booze with fruit when you want to make a liqueur. The reson being that natures aim for osmotic balance would push the sugar from outside into the fruit instead of drawing the sugar from the fruit into the booze.

In other words by disregarding their advice you can make sour fruits sweet.

So today about an hour before mixing my drink I peeled an lemon and broke it into bits in a bowl and the covered it with a lavender simple syrup.

Then I took the cue from a drink mixed by the guys from Duck and Cover Bar in Copenhagen they call Frederiksdal Fizz where a cachaca aged in cherry wood is mixed with cherry liqueur and seltzers and married it with my idea of sweet lemons:
  • 6 cl of cachaca aged in brazilian cherry wood - I used Germana's Caetano's cacha
  • 2 and a half slices of lavender syrup infused fresh lemon
  • 2 cl cherry liqueur - I used Frederiksdal New Nordic
  • Lemon soda - I used Pellegrino Lemonata
  • sprig of lavender 
  • Maraschino cherries - I used my own.
Muddle the lemon, the lavender flower petals and the cachaca in a shaker tin. Fill a tall glass halfway with crushed ice and add the content of the shaker, add more ice and the as much lemon soda as you want, top drink off with yet more ice and drizzle the cherry liqueur on top. (Boozy sno ball anyone?)

Add straws and garnish with a couple of marashino cherries.
 

July 6, 2014

Red Lady

I don't much like woodlands much - I live on the edge og a couple but always choose the open area with a horizon and a low landscape of heather between them.

It may be a childhood trauma - I was lost one evening in a pretty big and dark pine forest. Probably for at least 15 minutes. Enough to put me off pine trees for good.

So it's a testament to my love of gin that I walked into a pretty thick overgrown piece of pine woodland today in search of juniper mapped out in the center of the woodland.

I found exactly one tablespoonfull of ripe juniper berries. It took me at least 20 minutes and the puncture of every one of fingers to secure them Need I add that I did all this at noon on a very warm day? One saying needs to be altered: Only mad dogs and gin crazy women stay out in the noon day sun.

The whole area has the delightful name; Russia.  It's protected and in the center is a museum in honor of a quite famous Danish artist named Rudolph Tegner. Dotted around the landscape are some of his sculptures. All in all a quite magical places.

Especially when I came across two wild cherry trees with quite a few ripe berries on them - all begging to be picked.

Once home the junipers were smashed a bit and set to steep in vodka (yes I'm making gin tasting vodka) and the cherries were pitted and turned into cherry shrub - well actually just cooked with a bit of sugar, lemon juice and cherry vinegar until I was satisfied with the taste. Until I get Michael Dietsch's book on shrubs I don't know if I'm doing it right, as I never make huge batches meant to be preserved for any lenght of time.

I decided to look to the White Lady for a red version - and the only fitting name was Red Lady as the cherries were picked in Russia:
  • 3 cl cherry chrub
  • 3 cl Marashino
  • 5 cl gin - I used Tarquin's
  • egg white 
Add all ingredients to shaker and shake for 15 seconds without ice, then add ice and shake for another 15 seconds. Strain into cocktail coupe. 

I am pretty sure that most of my expert readers can tell from the picture I did not use enough egg white. The drink should have a strong, even white head. On top I intended to garnish with a tiny amount of black, Icelandic, carbon salt. But because I used too little (the rest was necessary for dinner and I only had one egg left) it sank to the bottom of the cocktail.

July 3, 2014

Buttermilk Margarita - and a cheeseball

Frankly I thought I had mixed my last cocktail with fresh milk back in April, when the Snow Ball seperated in front of my eyes and left me with a glass of violet colored minty curds. But then last night a gentleman I hold in high esteem blogged about a buttermilk margarita and I was hooked again.

Jörg Meyer owns the best bar I have ever had the pleasure of visiting: Le Lion in Hamburg. When my friend and I visited a couple of years ago we fell madly in admiration of bartender Mario Kappes. And it seems that Mr. Meyer have found another amazing bartender in Bettina Kupsa who is the creator of the Buttermilk Margarita.

This cocktail is everything the Snow Ball was not: Well balanced, pretty, surprising and a wholly new way to appreciate both tequila and the mighty Margarita.

The first sip reminded me of my first sip of a milk punch: Milk adds something to the taste of a drink that is so right yet so unidentifiable. And the sour note of the buttermilk picks up the lemon and lime perfectly in this cocktail. Well done.

I much followed the recipe as written except I only had silver tequila:
  • 6 cl tequila - I used Patron Silver
  • 3 cl buttermilk - I used organic non-homogenized and it did not split at any point
  • 2 cl lemon juice
  • 1 cl lime juice
  • 2 cl agave syrup (I probably used a good deal less mine was very thick)
  • 1 bar spoon quince jelly
All ingredients measured into a shaker and shaken with ice. Strain into a coupe.

And as a snack I made a pineapple cheeseball. A while ago I noticed a picture from Elena of Stir and Strain on Pinterest - it was a full sized pineapple molded out of cream cheese. I never know something like a cheese ball even existed so I explored further and found a large edition of the one I made today.

I used fresh cheese and goats cheese and probably ended up with a cheese ball not solid enough as the fresh pineapple I used added liquid too, but it turned out ok and would make a fun party snack.