October 25, 2013


I love when I casually cross path with a great cocktail. A couple of weeks ago I never knew there were such a creation as the Roffignac cocktail named after and in honor of the first mayor of New Orleans who gave that fine city it's first street lights.

Today I mixed it with a raspberry shrub made from the next to the last harvest of berries from my own garden and it was a revelation.

I haven't mixed much with cognac but I will in the future. I am amazed at how well it holds up against both the sweetness and the vinegar and how it brings out the glory of unprocessed raspberry juice. Not sure my beloved gin could accomplish that.

I made the shrub over three days - that's how long I let equal measures of fresh raspberries and organic sugar sit in a covered bowl on my cool kitchen counter.

After three days the berries had shrunk and looked borderline bad, but the bowl was filled with lovely smelling viscous mix of juice and sugar.

I strained the berries out and threw them away - they probably could have made a nice filling in muffins or a cake - and shook the juice-sugar mixture pretty hard to dissolve the crystals.

Next I gently added white vinegar in small increments until I found the balance between the sweet and the sour.  I didn't measure so I do not know how much I added - but if measurements are important to you this guy has a recipe.

After that mixing the highball was really easy:
  • 6 cl cognac
  • 4 cl raspberry shrub
  • Seltzers
Just pour the cognac and shrub over ice in a highball glass and add seltzers to taste and. Garnish with some Maraschino cherries.

And for me an extra bonus of this cocktail was both it's history part 1 and part 2 and the fact that Chris Hannah of Arnauld's French 75 was instrumental in it's rediscovery.

I count as one of the high points of my visit to New Orleans and TOTC this past summer my visit with a good friend and cocktail expert to that fine establishment - and realize I've never written that visit up.

October 20, 2013

Emperor Penguin Flip

I made two decisions the moment I saw the theme for this months MxMo: I was not going to shop and add booze from hitherto unexplored continents and I wanted to have a go at all the continents.

But let Stewart of Putney Farm - this month's gracious host - present the intercontinental theme himself:

Everywhere we travel these days we see cocktails on the menu. And not just here in the USA, but all around the world. And that’s not only the drinks, but the ingredients as well… So let’s celebrate the global reach of cocktails with an “Intercontinental” Mixology Monday challenge. Create a cocktail with “ingredients” from at least 3, but preferably 4,5 or 6 continents. And if you can include Antarctica, then you get a Gold Star. And remember, sometimes the tools used, glassware, names or back stories of cocktails are important “ingredients.” Creativity and a bit of narrative exploration are encouraged. So if you have been waiting on buying that bottle of Japanese Scotch, Bundaberg rum from Australia, Pisco or Cachaca from South America or Madagascar vanilla, now may be the time to try them out….except for the Bundy…trust us on that. Have fun.

Like most participants in this months MxMo I had the greatest trouble finding a way to incorporate the continent of Antarctica into a drink. 

As far as I know the only two life forms actually calling that barren, icy desert home are penguins and lichen. Neither of which are readily available for purchase.

However should you ever come across a fresh egg from an Emperor Penguin this is the drink to mix: Emperor Penguin Flip.

It even has a subtitle - the Cherry-Garrad Flip.

You see my most cherished book is not a bar book, it's not even a book about the Titanic. It's a book about three mens quest to secure enough emperor penguin eggs to test a theory that penguins were the missing link between reptiles and birds.

In 1911 they went on a 60 mile sled trek from the winter quarters at Cape Evans of Robert Falcon Scott's British Antarctic Expedition to Cape Crozier.

This was at the height of the Antarctic Winter, so they made the trip in total darkness and in temperatures as low a -60 C. They suffered greatly and nearly died during a blizzard that blew their tent away - but they found five eggs and brought them back to base camp.

This trip has been described in a book by the only survivor of the three Apsley Cherry-Garrad, his two companions Dr. Wilson and Birdie Bowers died with Scott on the return trek after they were beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen.

Cherry-Gerrads book The Worst Journey in the World is my most cherished book. 

I do hope my drink is not the worst journey around the world but here are the ingredients and their continents:
  • 5 cl golden rum - I used Diplomatico from Venezuela and South America
  • 2 cl New Nordic Cherry Liqueur - Europe
  • 1 egg - Europe (or Antarctica if it's from an Emperor Penguin)
  • 1 cl coffee and wasabi syrup - bring equal amounts of Ethiopian Coffee, Sugar to a boil - as it cools of add a dab of wasabi for fire and balance - Africa and Asia
  • Grated macadamia nut - Australia
  • Cherry Bitters - North America
Place rum, cherry liqueur, egg and syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into pretty stemware and garnish by drawing feather in foam with a couple of dashes of cherry bitters and grate macadamia nut on top.

And the eggs from the emperor penguins? Only three were intact at the end of the worst journey in the world. Cherry-Garrad brought them to the Museum of Natural History in London but had a bit of difficulty convincing anyone they were important. They weren't actually examined until 1934 and by then the theory of penguins being missing links were already disproven. Good things as the embryos did not look any different than other bird embryos.

And should you ever get a hold of a fresh emperor egg for this cocktail you need to multiply all other ingredients by 11 as an emperor penguin egg has a volume of about 500 ml as opposed to a medium chicken egg with a volume of about 43 ml. Also the taste and appearance of the egg might surprise you.

October 11, 2013

Looking at tractors in Berlin

Bottles of booze forcing their way into the light through peaty ground, rocking chairs on cool verandas and icy cold copper mugs.

Even when some of the worlds largest sellers of booze target their most knowledgeable costumers - cocktail bartenders - it involves quiet a bit of theater.

Marketing gurus will call it storytelling - but it's clichés and stagecraft.

Not that it is not enjoyable wandering around and ogling bottles of Campari frozen into a giant ice ball or mixing your own Lynchburg Lemonade in a mason jar with a handle.

But what really worked for me at the Bar Convent Berlin was meeting producers and tasting their products - evaluating a taste against what the producer wants to accomplish.

And perhaps strangely - or maybe not - at a European bar show American craft distillers did this best. I tasted Aviation Gin and gin from St. George Spirits and loved both of them.

And I got to taste both the creme de menthe and the creme de cacao from Tempus Fugit that I hadn't imagined would be there. The creme de menthe is amazing and now commences the quest to buy a bottle.

The big brands so often got lost in their own gimmicks and/or the use of starlets.

Imagine that: Even i 2013 women are hired solely for their looks. I mean how hard would it be to train them to be able to answer the simple question of: What am I tasting? Apparently their pretty little heads couldn't contain complex answers like: Russian Vodka.

So was it boring or a waste of time? Not at all - at each of the three seminars I attended I picked up interesting facts, but they were not of the same quality as the seminars at Tales of the Cocktail or at Copenhagen Spirits and Cocktails.

It seams that in New Orleans and Copenhagen you start with choosing interesting subjects and then find sponsors, where as it's done the other way around in Berlin.

Thats why the seminar on the perfect Martini - sponsored by a vodka company - was a sales presentation for that particular product and nothing more. And why the tasting tray did not contain even a badly mixed gin based Martini for comparison - which would seem essential to such a seminar.

Will I be back? Absolutely - if nothing else to check out the tableaus the big brands come up with for 2014.

October 6, 2013

Sour Cherry

Last weekend I went on a lovely autumn trip with good people to the winery that makes Frederiksdal Cherry Wine.

We visited after the harvest but there were still quite a few, lovely, almost black and very ripe cherries on the trees. And we had time to pick some before tasting the wines and picnicking on the grounds.

So last Sunday I made some Maraschino Cocktail Cherries adapting this recipe with a bit of bourbon.

Today the cherries we ready to meet a cocktail and I started setting up for a rye based sour with a cherry wine float that I envisioned would be great.

I got a glass of the cherries from the fridge and put it on my kitchen counter and next time I picked it up to twist of the cap the bottom fell out of the glass and the lovely boozy syrup poured down my cupboard.

I suppose I should be grateful it didn't happen in the fridge but it's annoying in a first world kind of way.

On the other hand now I get to eat the cherries as I don't have any syrup to cover them with, and they turned out great with a real deep and lovely taste.

And why not put three of these rare cherries on a single drink:

  • 6 cl rye - I used Old Overholt
  • 3 cl honey syrup
  • 3 cl fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cl cherry wine
 Shake the first three ingredients with plenty of ice, strain into a rocks glass over ice and float cherry wine on top - garnish with Maraschino cherries.

Here's hoping the rest of the glasses won't break too.