May 29, 2014

Nordic Daiquiri

Last night I visited one of the most interesting new bars in Copenhagen at the moment: 1656.

It is the kid brother of 1105 in the city center and the two share a love of working with seasonal ingredients.

Three of us had a very nice evening and tasted quite a few of their creations.

One of the cocktails that had us guessing and deconstructing was called a Nordic Daiquiri*. It involved rum, rhubarb compote, raw licorice and lime juice.

I was a bit surprised that it was not pink in any way - more greenish brown and my friend and I discussed that point at length.

Apparently I've been fortunate in that the rhubarbs my garden provides does not loose their color as they are cooked and perhaps the use more licorice that I did at 1656 because my compote was pink as I tried to recreate the cocktail today.

I started by cooking 280 grams of rhubarb with 120 grams of sugar, juice of one and a half lemon and 2 dl of water for 7-10 minutes. I the strained the cordial of and added a small teaspoon of licorice to the pulp. Both were put in the fridge to cool.
  • 6 cl rum - I used white - Plantation 3 Star - but golden rum would work too.
  • 3 cl lime juice
  • 2 cl rhubarb cordial
  • 2 tablespoonfuls rhubarb compote
Measure everything into a shaker and shake hard with ice. You need to break up the compote. Strain cocktail into coupe and garnish with a sprinkle of raw licorice and a piece of raw rhubarb.

* I personally would have given this cocktail a different name.While I understand why businesses are keen to jump on the new Nordic wave a drink containing rum, licorice and lime is stretching the brand a bit too far in my opinion.  

May 19, 2014

The Nut Job

I wonder how many entries to this month's MxMo will be called the nut job. Mixing over a theme of nuts is not nearly as easy as it sounded at first.

And I have been looking far and wide: At Marzipan Liqueur, at home made nut syrup Orgeat style and everywhere in between.

And then I have been quite envious of several peanut butter based cocktails - I've come across lately including this and this. And that would be perfectly in sync with what inspired our gracious host, Elana of Stir and Strain, who writes in her announcement post:
Nuts? Yes! A few months back I tried, and was wowed by, a peanut-y take on an Old Fashioned at a bar here in L.A. They had infused peanuts in bourbon and with a touch of honey had made magic. Nuts of all sorts make it into cocktails now. Some black walnut bitters here, the sweet almond flavor of orgeat there… circus peanuts. Your challenge is to utilize nuts (and since we’re NOT adhering to the strict rules of what are nuts, peanuts and walnuts both count) in any way you see fit to create a cocktail. Infusions, bitters, almond tinctures are all game. Amaretto, homemade nocino, Frangelico too. Go nuts!

At the end of the day - I ended up with the European answer to peanut butter: Hazelnut cocoa spread also know as Nutella.

For those who have never heard of Nutella - BBC has a nice overview. I have really never really liked the stuff - when I was a kid an alternative was to get a thin slice of dark chocolate on a slice of rye bread and I preferred that. But I prayed for an alchemical transformation when booze was introduced to the equation.
  • 4,5 cl bourbon - I used Bulleit
  • 0,5 cl Maraschino
  • 6 cl orange juice
  • Table spoon Nutella
  • orange bitters
I started by stirring the Nutella into the orange juice - unless it's heated I do not believe it is possible to liquefy it completely. The I strained the chocolately juice into a shaker with the bourbon, Maraschino and bitters and gave it a good strong shake and double strained into a glass.

I'm pleased that it didn't separate before I finished the drink, and I can see it served as a dessert cocktail. Sort of a cross between Drambuie and Baileys without the dairy.

But the chocolate completely overpowers the hazelnut that is somewhat present in a spoon full of Nutella by itself. So in the end I did not really succeed in making a good nutty cocktail. But I did have fun.

May 16, 2014

Lavender Negroni

Having followed Manhatten Cocktail Classic through blogs, mail and updates from a friend who participated I found myself attracted to the concept of a Lavender Negroni.

It certainly looks pretty and I find the idea of the very umami taste of a Negroni mixed with the very floral taste of lavender intriguing. And I'm not the only one.

So I looked for the recipe - and checked my bitters cabinet for lavender bitter. I have a lovely bottle of Scrappy's that I picked up at Tales of the Cocktail last year I believe.

On closer inspection: I've not used it before - the bottle was unopened, but tasting it in a glass of water to figure out what else it could be used for I fell in love with the taste. It really does taste like sitting on my patio on a summer evening with the smell of lavender on the air, as cats and the wind agitates the plants.

And after cutting onions or handling smoked fish nothing is more effective than running your clean hands through the plants.

A little more research on Scrappy's let me to Bartender Journey - a treasure trove of great podcasts - where founder Miles Thomas talked about his bitters and bitters in general.

(If you have the time you should also listen to the interview with Jörg Meyer - the proprietor of my favorite bar in the world Le Lion and another bar in Hamburg.)

Meyer has some very interesting points about hiring bartenders for their kindness and social skill - and of course absolutely expect them to mix excellent cocktails. His point is, that you can train a smart person to make excellent cocktails but you can't train a person to be kind or socially skilled.

That approach to bar management is what sets Le Lion apart for me. And why I can't wait to make a second visit.

So I had the bitters, vermouth and Campari was chilling in the fridge. Now for the gin. Recently I bought a new British gin, distilled in Cornwall: Tarquin's Gin made by Southwestern Distillery. It's leaning towards the floral spectrum of gins without loosing the basic juniper taste that is the key to a good Negroni. Tarquin's taste like a labour of love, and judging by this little film it is.

So off to mix....
  • 5 cl gin - I used Tarquin's
  • 5 cl red vermouth - I used Martini Rosso
  • 5 cl Campari
  • Lavender Bitter - I used Scrappy's
Measure the first three ingredients into a stirring glass, add plenty of ice and stir until very cold. Usind a spray bottle - I picked up a really cheap perfume spray bottle at the dollar store - spray lavender bitter into an Old Fashioned glass or another low glass, add a huge ice cube and strain cocktail over it.

Spray a little bitter across the top of the drink too and garnish with a sprig of lavender.

As my lavender is not yet in bloom (remember I live on the 56th parallel) I used the only little purple flower I could find: A sprig of chives cheerfully blooming between my neglected patio stones. My garden seems to run on this principle: Whatever I plant dies, whatever plants itself thrives.

But since I'm happy to report, that this is a winner, I'm sure I'll get to garnish a Lavender Negroni with lavender at a later date. Can't wait and I'll make it with Tarquin's again it works very well.

May 9, 2014

Tøppe aka the ESC

Tomorrow Denmark hosts the Eurovision Song Contest. One of those cultural events that makes the rest of the world feel as much out of the loop as Superbowl does most Europeans.

Basically it's just a huge music show where viewers from all the participating countries - more than 25 - root for their favorites and national juries award points that will determine the final winner.  A process that opens hostility between many other wise closely related countries.

The competition is more than 50 years old and the most watched show in Europe every year. Some call the show Gay Christmas - and this year one of the favorites and a contestant Putin would hate to see win is a drag with a full beard.

Concita Wurst have drawn some ugly comments from other contestants - but this is a song contest and sing is what she does.

One of my coworkers is the Danish commentator for the show, his name is Ole Tøpholm otherwise know as Tøbbe.

He has had some voice problems the last couple of days - so I figure a cocktail will help him to be fit for the job tomorrow.

I've taken a huge cue from one of my own favorites - the Mai Tai - and another favorite rhubarb.
  • 6 cl golden rum - I used Mount Gay XO
  • 3 cl banana liqueur - Giffard Banane du Bresil
  • 1,5 cl orgreat
  • 3 cl lime juice
  • rhubarb cordial
Put the first four ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Put one half of the spent lime in a tall glass with ice and strain the content of the shaker over it, top off with the rhubarb cordial. For the party vibe it needs a straw and a cocktail stick.

May 5, 2014


Yes it is Cinco de Mayo - a day to remember a Mexican victory over a far larger French army in 1862.

A day commemorated by lots of Mexican food and drink - judging from food and drinks blogs in my newsfeed.

However in my home country May 5th is also a pretty special day.

69 years ago today Denmarks saw it's first day in liberty after the German occupation from 1940-45.

May 4th the German Army surrendered to General Montgomery.

A song written not long after May 5th 1945 describes that first morning in freedom, as a morning like many others and not like any morning in a 1.000 years.

The German occupation is the only time Denmark has ever been occupied by a foreign power.

So in honor of both these occasions I have mixed a cocktail taking it's name from the Roman Goddess in charge of red skies in the morning.
  • 5 cl Mezcal - I used Ilegal Joven
  • 1,5 cl pineapple syrup (recipe here)
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 10 blueberries
  • Bitter Lemon
Muddle two of the sage leaves with the blueberries in the syrup in a tall glass add the Mezcal and a couple of large ice cubes and stir until very cold, top off with the Bitter Lemon and garish with the last sage leaf. 

May 4, 2014

Bananarac - books and bananas

I am looking at my cocktail book library with new eyes - and ears. That might lead to a new post on cocktail books - my old one still gets a surprising amount of traffic.

For mind numbingly boring garden/house maintenance work this morning, I revisited The Hour - a cocktail manifesto by Bernard DeVoto.

That is, I plucked stinging needle out of the ground, and washed garden furniture to my audiobook of that particular text. As it only runs about an hour and 50 minutes, that seemed like a doable trade off between menial labour and pleasure.

I do wish it was actually Bernard himself reading his text, but the gentleman who does the honors have a nice voice and a calming tempo.

However the words of the manifesto itself are so loaded, that it's impossible to know, just from listening to then, if Bernard was a twat or the greatest satirical write of his time.

I suspect the truth is not so black and withe and chuckle at faith.

Bernard DeVoto did not like cookbooks. He especially disliked the Beverage section of cookbooks:

As I have shown, the basic idea was to see how many ingredients you could put into a drink, especially a cocktail, and still survive. Year by year, that mania of our national adolescence killed more Americans than smallpox, the Colt revolver, or the Indian. Yet publishers go on endorsing the same toxins to more than a million women a year.

Bernard DeVoto is in some circles today only know as the husband of Avis DeVoto, who helped Julia Child and her two French co-developers get their Mastering the Art of French Cooking - the ultimate cookbook - published. And Avis DeVoto then went on to become the greatest cookbook scout of all times, after Bernard's early death.

He would have loved it, I suspect.

And so to honor him, I decided to mix a drink, that he would have hated. The Bananarac.

A twist on the Sazerac which is a twist on the Old Fashioned, and since he abhorred sweet drinks and just barely tolerated The Old Fashioned adding banana liqueur would have enraged him.

But I'm just too happy that I have finally found a decent banana liqueur that is neither glow in the dark yellow or smells nauseously artificial, to let that stop me.

Giffard Banane du Bresil is the real stuff: Macerated bananas and cognac.

  • 3 cl rye whiskey - I used Old Overholt
  • 3 cl cognac - I used Pierre Ferrand 1840
  • 1,5 cl banana liqueur - I used Giffard Banane du Bresil
  • 0,5 barspoon simple syrup
  • Dash Angostura
  • Absinthe

Stir the first five ingredients in a mixing glass or tin with ice until very cold, spray absinthe in a rocks glass, pour cocktail over big ice cube.  

May 3, 2014

Pineapple Julep

Derby Day is largely ignored in Denmark.

We do have a race course but the interest in horse racing is not very big, so I can't tell you when it's Derby Day in Klampenborg.

I can however tell you when it's Derby Day in Kentucky: That is when all the cocktail websites over flow with recipes for Mint - and other - Juleps.

This year my tastbuds took notice when a bourbon based Pineapple served at Julie Rainer's Clover Club Bar in Brooklyn was mentioned.

But I have not been able to find a recipe - just the telegram-style description on the cocktail menu, and that is not a lot to go on.

Since I had a whole pineapple to play with I figured I would make pineapple sirup two different ways.

Half the fruit was chopped into chunks and placed in a covered bowl with 2 dl white suger. 24 hours later I could pour off about 2 cl liquid. It was fresh, sweet, still tangy and very pinapply but with a tiny crunch of undissolved sugar.

The other half I blended and then pressed all juice out of the pulp, added an equal measure sugar to the juice and brought it to a boil. This was very sweet and dessert-like.

The first option is my faborit and what I used for my final drink:

  • 6 cl bourbon - I used the work horse Bulleit
  • 1,5 cl pineapple sirup
  • bunch of mint (my garden mint is not at full grow yet so I couldn't pick as much as I wanted)
  • Crushed ice
Add most of the mint and sirup to a julep cup. Muddle gently and then add bourbon and fill the cup about half way with ice. Stir until cup is very cold and then pack ice to a dome about the rind of the cup. Garnish with mint and some pineapple leafs.