July 29, 2013

El Ganso - MxMo LXXV

I admit it - I'm still processing the many impressions I got at Tales of the Cocktail, so thanks to Fred of Cocktail Virgin (and the keeper of the MxMo-flame) for planning this months MxMo so carefully around TOTC. Read the write-up here.

This month's theme is Flip-Flop - very appropriate for summer - or in other words - what happens to a cocktail if ingredients are flipped around or flopped to a sister-ingredient but measures are kept constant?

Well, actually Fred explains it better in his announcement post:

I thought of the theme for this month’s Mixology Monday shortly after making the Black Rene, an obscure drink from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The combination of brandy, amber rum, lemon, and Maraschino was tasty, but I felt that the recipe could be improved if I swapped in different ingredients. Taking a page from Max Toste of Deep Ellum who converted the Black Devil into the White Devil, I flipped around the ingredients to be pisco, white rum, lime, and Maraschino instead. With this combination that I called the White Rene, the drink really sang but it was still recognizable as being an alteration of the original recipe. Others have done similar swaps with grand effect including the Bluegrass Mai Tai that that changes the two rums to two whiskeys and swaps lime for lemon from the classic while holding everything else the same.

Since I seem to have accidentally brought a bit of the hot New Orleans weather back to Denmark with me, I quickly decided that I wanted to flip-flop a quenching highball.

I've chosen La Paloma - a Mexican stable of tequila, lime juice, salt and grapefruit juice.

And since the seminar on growing your own cocktail garden given by "the drunken botanist" Amy Stewart and designer Susan Morrison impressed me the most at TOTC I decided to flop towards something locally grown.

On top of that - one of the two books I brought is Katie M. Loeb's Shake, Stir,  Pour - Fresh Homegrown Cocktails.

However I have to admit, that the main homegrown element of my drink is not yet in my own garden but next year, next year I promise.

So let's get to flip-flopping a pigeon into a goose:
  • 6 cl Mezcal - I used Illegal Joven
  • 1,5 cl lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • gooseberry soda *
In a tall glass stir salt into mezcal and lime juice to dissolve. Fill glass with ice and top it with the gooseberry soda. Garnish with an edible stirring rod like a twig of lavender if you go for the unstrained gooseberry soda.

 * This is how I made mine:
  • 3 dl gooseberries
  • 3 dl water
  • 1,5 dl sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
Boil everything until berries turn to mush - only takes about 5 minutes - then either strain (if you don't like the look and mouthfeel of the seeds from within the berries and the skins) or completely liquify syrups with immersion blender. Add seltzer to taste and for the fizz.

July 24, 2013

Maid in Cuba

During my visit to Tales of the Cocktail I wrote home to a friend, that I hadn't tasted a single cocktail that made me go wauw! And that is still true. However now that I'm home there was one, I couldn't quite forget.

It was served during a very interesting seminar about the relationship between forbidden absinthe and the Savoy hotel in London.

Absinthe connoisseur Alan Moss has counted 108 recipes with absinthe in the Savoy Cocktailbook and he and Eric Lorincz and Tom Walker had some interesting insights into how the green fairy made it's way to London in spite of the ban.

And to demonstrate that the American Bar at the Savoy has an enduring love affair with absinthe we got a taste of Tom Walkers creation Maid in Cuba.

A cocktail inspired by both the Mojito, the Daiquiri and one of my all time favorite new classics Audrey Saunders' Old Cuban.

Since the weather is almost tropical here in Denmark, I figured it would make an excellent sundowner, not that the sun sets this early in the far north but it does disappear from my patio around 6 pm.

  • 6 cl white rum - I used Plantation 3 star
  • 3 cl lime juice
  • 1.5 cl simple syrup
  • Absinthe rinse
  • 3 slices cucumber - and 1 for garnish
  • leaves from a sprig of fresh mint
  • seltzers
In a shaker add cucumber, mint, rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake hard with ice but do not muddle cucumber and mint.

Give a chilled low ball glass an absinthe rinse and double strain cocktail into it. Top up with seltzers and garnish with the last cucumber slice.

This cocktail has a very endearing chlorophyll taste, very much a summer drink. However the next time I'll not add the water and I'll serve it up in a coupe.

First time at TOTC - first time in NOLA

New Orleans get under your skin, up you nose, into your ears and burns your eyeballs really fast.

I've never before been to a place that is felt in quite such a physical way.

Not all good, not all bad. And now that I have returned to the tranquility of my home, it has made me more aware of how this remote northeastern part of a tiny dot of an island in northern Europe tastes, smells, looks and is making itself heard.

My time was limited - only four nights connecting not quite five days. And the draw was TOTC and all the amazing events it dangled before me. But I did take time to do a few of the most touristy things in NOLA: Eating beignets at Cafe du Monde early one morning, riding the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, walking through both the French Quarter and the French Market.

And I stood and stared at the mighty Mississippi river whenever I got the chance, both on the actual bank in the blazing noonday sun like a mad dog or an Englishman and from the air-conditioned luxury of the Riverview Room at  the Hotel Monteleone - conference HQ and a truly amazing place.

Of course I drank but mostly I listened to the many wonderful tales told at the seminars I went to.

I heard about how ice changed the way we drink and without which civilization could not have moved forward with food safety and a steady supply of citrus to non-tropical areas of the world.

I saw a stunning breakdown of the cocktail bible and learned how The Savoy in London managed to serve absinthe cocktails even after the green fairy was banned.

I got an introduction to growing my own cocktail garden - vertically and indoors if that is what it takes. A very practical and informative seminar that impressed me greatly.

I heard three passionate gentlemen talk about the influence of terroir on spirits as diverse as cognac, tequila and rum. I had to nod in agreement, when Alexandre Gabriel of Pierre Ferrand Cognac coined the term terroir-ist about people, who get so hung up on one detail of something, that they diminish the whole to a fraction.

One of the best cocktail-tales is the one about the trademark wars surrounding Angostura Bitters - Amy Stewart served it perfectly and I walked away with a bottle of Abbott's Bitters.

Finally I learned that the Harvey Wallbanger is entirely made up. There is no wallbanging surfer-dude, just a clever marketing campaign that worked once, and may work again. I'll do my part wearing my HW cap and my HW sunglasses. Mr. Wondrich and Mr. Berry could have talked hours more about the dark ages of the cocktail in the 70's and 80's and the completely full Queen Anne Ballroom would gladly have stayed. But there were prizes to be given out and all good things most come to an end.

I did not go to the award show, I slowly walked back to my hotel and knew it was time to go home, when the sight of a youngish, apprehensive looking couple wearing matching, ill-fitting, fire-engine red Bourbon Street Trouble nr. 1 and Trouble nr. 2 t-shirts made me sad.
So here I sit savoring the clean salty taste and smell of fresh air blowing in from Kattegat. Enjoying the cool breeze on my skin and the occasional chirp from a bird.

Here I sit missing New Orleans and the superb event that is Tales of the Cocktail. I need a drink!