Here’s another drink from the brandy seminar I attended in 2007, presented by Chad Solomon and Christy Pope and sponsored by Hennessy Cognac. This one wasn’t part of the seminar, but one I came up with afterward.
After Chad and Christy’s presentation, the bartenders present were invited to go behind the fairly well-stocked bar and play; i.e., create! Marcos and Patrick and Damian and a bunch of other guys got back there and made some very tasty stuff, none of which I remember because I didn’t write any of it down. (D’oh.)
There was one guy who was into the whole “flair” thing, juggling bottles and glasses and shakers over his head and behind his back and, in the process, dribbling spirit and mixer all over the floor. I am really not into that kind of thing; some people find it entertaining to watch but it adds nothing to the flavor of the drink and arguably takes away from it because he is not using jiggers to measure his ingredients. I’m also opposed to freepouring in general, as in many recipes a difference of even 1/4 ounce being out of proportion can completely kill a drink. (It takes almost no time to use a jigger to measure, folks … use ‘em!) If my bartender is a talented juggler, fine — I’d rather see him juggle rubber balls or flaming bowling pins in between drinks than juggle my liquor. Also, a few of us noted that if we were his bar manager we’d be displeased with his cost control — he got just as much product onto the floor as he did into the mixing glass.
I got behind the bar after a while and knocked something off which wasn’t bad. I had never mixed brandy with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur before, and there was a nice big pretty bottle of it (so hush). I gave it a semi-classic proportion, upped the level of the St. Germain due to its being less sweet than most liqueurs, and tossed in a couple of dashes of fruit bitters to make it a bit more complex and interesting. Several people tasted it and thought it pretty good; my favorite reaction was from one of the bartenders I’d been talking to, who had recently switched careers and had only been bartending for three months. He took one sip and made a big puckery Mr. Yuck face. I cracked up. “Wow, that good, huh?!” He, as it turns out, prefers sweeter drinks (which I do not), and this was was to his palate a bit tart. (I was a little boggled that anyone could find a drink with only a half ounce of lime juice in it to be “too tart,” but to each his own, I guess.) I gave him a minute to recover and prepare, and had him taste it again. Still not to his own taste, but he did appreciate the flavors and balance.
I thought about naming it after Wesly, since he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t make it to the event, but I don’t think either of us are egomaniacal enough to name drinks after ourselves or each other. I thought of something somewhat close, though, and named it after one of my favorite character actresses whose name at least contains his in its first syllable. The tartness and pleasantly bitter edge of the cocktail suited her most famous character too, I think. (“Oh, do be quiet, Durwood.“)
The Moorehead Cocktail
2 ounces Hennessy VS Cognac.
3/4 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 dash peach bitters.
1 dash orange bitters.
Combine with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.
[UPDATE: I haven't revisited this one since the night after I first made it. Now that over two years have passed, I think it's time to try it again to see if it passes the test of time.]