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Cocktail of the Day: Fallen Leaves

The reason Robert Hess is in town is for some huge Microsoft event (in case you didn’t know, that’s his day job). My friend Marcos Tello and his cohorts are doing the cocktails for one of the Microsoft events, and as Marcos knew Robert would be in attendance he headed up the evening’s cocktail menu with a drink that Robert first brought to most people’s attention (including mine). It’s a great drink too, perfect for the season, as summer turns into fall, the air becomes crisp and we start getting the jackets and sweaters out of the closet. (Well, except where I live, dammit, where it’s going to be 90 frakkin’ degrees today. Can we not have some seasons?! I ask you!)

Fallen Leaves
(Created by Charles Schumann)

3/4 ounce Calvados.
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce dry vermouth.
1 dash brandy.
Lemon peel.

Stir with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze the lemon oil from the peel onto the drink, and garnish with the peel.


For the love of God, Montresor!

My friend Damian Windsor, world-class bartender, is a finalist in Travel + Leisure magazine’s Beverage Arts Challenge ’08, in which mixologists from around the country compete for a Major Award.

Here’s Damian’s (hopefully) winning entry, which he’ll be pouring tonight at Bar Celona in Pasadena from 8pm on. You can also vote for Damian’s cocktail at the above link.

Montresor & Fortunato
(Created by Damian Windsor)

1-1/2 ounces Emilio Lustau Amontillado Sherry.
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier.
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth.
1 orange peel.
1 lemon peel.

Combine ingredients with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the orange and lemon peels over the top and discard. Garnish with three Spanish olives on a pick.

Sip and enjoy as you’re being bricked up while chained to a granite wall inside a catacomb, for the love of God!

Good luck, Damian!


Mixology Monday XXXII: “Guilty Pleasures”

Well, I didn’t get a chance to participate in this one. Wes and I were out of town visiting my sister and my adorable nephew Thomas and my adorable brand-new niece Molly, and I didn’t have access to my bar. I also complained about not really having any guilty pleasures, not in the way some of my fellow drinkers did. Wes and I put our heads together, and could only really come up with The Gimlet, which I don’t think anyone needs to feel guilty over (unless you make them with vodka, I guess!) and a couple of other things I didn’t feel sufficiently guilty about.

I probably would have written about a similar one as Paul did in the above link. He likes vodka Gimlets, but when I was in school my drink of choice was the Tequila Gimlet, which my good friend Matt Brown turned me on to. Same deal as with the gin or vodka versions … I usually make mine 4:1 these days, but I’ll add the 3:1 proportions too.

Tequila Gimlet

2 ounces (or 2-1/4 ounces for 3:1) good blanco tequila (I like Milagro, Herradura or Partida).
1/2 ounce (or 3/4 ounce for 3;1) Rose’s Lime Cordial.
Lime twist.

Combine with ice and stir like hell for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and optionally garnish with a lime twist.

Of course, back on those less enlightened days I made my Tequila Gimlets with Cuervo Gold, something I wouldn’t use today for anything other then possibly disinfecting wounds. (Horrid, godawful mixto mierda1) Use the blancos I recommended, especially the magnificent Partida. I haven’t had one of these in ages, but I think these days I’d take a cue from Paul’s recipe above and use this variation as he did:

Tequila Gimlet

2 ounces Partida, Herradura or Milagro blanco tequila.
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice.
1/4 ounce Rose’s Lime Cordial.

Stir & strain, etc.

The other drink of choice back in those Olden Days (although only briefly), was the one Doug Winship wrote up in his MxMo post … the dreaded, evil Kamikaze. Now, I suppose it’s not intrinsically evil, like the black lump at the end of Time Bandits. However, if I were to see one today, I’d shriek, “Don’t touch it! It’s evil!”

It’s my own stupid fault, of course.

I don’t know how I first came across the Kamikaze, but it was certainly inoffensive — citrusy and sweet (really sweet, given that you’re getting Rose’s and undoubtedly the cheapest well triple sec). Here’s how I made it at the time:

(Chuck’s 1986 version)

1-1/2 ounces vodka (cheap).
3/4 ounce triple sec (cheap).
3/4 ounce Rose’s Lime Juice (Cordial).

Shake and strain. Chilled cocktail glass? Guffaw! Any receptacle will do.

I hadn’t really given the drink’s name much thought, until one day I was with a bunch of friends at some bar, and they were taking our drink orders. When they got to me I shouted out, “Kamikaze!” resulting in a spit-take and a “WTF?!” reaction from our friend Hiroki, who was from Japan. The word had a somewhat different connotation for him. When I told him how it was made, he opined that the name sounded appropriate enough.

During that summer of 1985 I got the great idea to throw a Kamikaze Party. Two of my friends, Bob and Shawn, thought it was a great idea too, and contributed their apartment for the debacle occasion. This was a bit surprising, as we’d already had a fairly raucous gathering there the night before — more on that later. I was put in charge of the “mixology,” or what passed for it when I was 23. I procured two 2.5-gallon jugs of drinking water (the kind that look like this), cut holes in the top, dumped out the water, and batched each of them with two-and-a-half gallons of premixed Kamikaze. Not understanding proper mixological principles at the time, I didn’t take into account the fact that the shaking or stirring of a cocktail makes the final result about 20-25% water, which is absolutely necessary for flavor, texture and to take the burning edge off the alcohol. Lacking the water made the drink even stronger, of course (but strong was what it was all about in those days, wasn’t it?). Once mixed, each container went into the fridge, giving us five gallons of Kamikaze. The jugs had a spigot, and next to the fridge were piles of little 3-ounce Dixie cups. All you had to do was grab a cup, open the fridge, dispense some chilled Kamikaze from the jug, and shoot it back.

That party had almost no survivors. Also, the Kamikaze is the only cocktail that resulted in my passing out next to the toilet (with photographs, of course).

This tends to take the “pleasure” part out of the phrase “guilty pleasure.” I haven’t touched a Kamikaze in 23 years, 3 months, 26 days and approximately 13 hours.

And this was after the party of the night before. Zoinks.

Cocktail of the Day: Demeanor

Still exploring our new bottles of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, and enjoying every drop. Killer Martinezes, lovely Tom Collinses, although we have yet to try it in a Ramos Fizz. (I keep forgetting to get eggs and cream at the store … next week for sure.) Tonight for inspiration I delved into CocktailDB, and came up with this one. The original recipes called for an ounce each of Old Tom and sweet vermouth, plus a half-ounce of Crème de Violette, with a dash of orange bitters. To my taste (in fact, probably to most contemporary tastes) this seems horribly sweet, but a possibly intriguing flavor combination with the right balance. I decided to increase the gin and vermouth to 1-1/2 ounces each, and reduce the violette to a teaspoon. Then I realized that this basically makes a Martinez with violette swapped out for the maraschino. That sounded interesting.

Rothman & Winter make the most readily available Crème de Violette.

The Demeanor Cocktail

The Demeanor Cocktail
(Chuck’s variation)

1-1/2 ounces Old Tom gin.
1-1/2 ounces sweet vermouth.
1 teaspoon Crème de Violette.
1 dash orange bitters.

Combine with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Garnish with a lemon twist.

It was … well, certainly interesting. Wes found it “viscous,” even though the only difference between this and the Martinezes he’s been loving recently is the 1 tsp. of violette instead of 1 tsp. of maraschino. We use Maraska maraschino most of the time, which we find to be a bit drier than the Luxardo (which is still excellent), and perhaps he was reacting just to the level of sweetness of the violette combined with the sweet vermouth and the sweetened gin. He thought it was too sweet; “I wouldn’t order it again.” I think this has promise, although I think it needs more tweaking. I’d try to get a little more vitterness going by using Punt E Mes for the vermouth, and I might even try a London dry gin too. Yay, tinkering is fun!

Have any of y’all tried this one? What do you think?


No Corn, No Oil

No, it’s not farming subsidies or drill-baby-drill. It’s Cocktail of the Day.

Here’s the one we had the other night, a signature drink of the island nation of Barbados, whence falernum originated. I understand that this drink was originally made with Barbados rum (which makes perfect sense), but a few years ago Murray Stenson of the Zig Zag in Seattle suggested to Paul Clarke that this drink be made with one particular type of rum, which looks like something you’d pour in your crankcase and seems as if it would pack a powerful wallop … but makes a stunningly beautiful drink.

Cruzan Black Strap Rum is made not just from regular molasses, as is most rum, but from blackstrap molasses, which comes from the third boiling of sugar syrup in the sugar making process. Oddly enough, although it has the calories of sugar it’s quite good for you, containing vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. (Here’s hoping that at least a bit of that carries through to the hooch.) If you’re a lover of molasses, particularly sorghum molasses for all you Midwesterners, you’ll love this rum. Having watched Wes drizzle Kansas sorghum on his biscuits (which is a bit much even for me), I knew he’d love this stuff too.

I’ve seen a number of slight variations — amount of falernum, bitters or not, lime juice or not — but the drink does seem to gain some wonderful brighness from the addition of fresh lime, and although the bitters have a tendency to be stomped on by this rum you can add a few dashes if you like, enough for the spice to peek through the heavy molasses flavor.

If you’re using the homemade Falernum No. 10 posted earlier, a half-ounce works well. With John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, the consensus seems to be to cut that back to 1/4 ounce, and I agree.

Although the drink might look as if it’s made with 10W-40, it contains neither oil nor corn.

Corn ‘n Oil

2 ounces Cruzan Black Strap Rum.
1/2 ounce Falernum No. 10.
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters (optional).
2 lime wedges, about 1/4 lime.

Build over ice in an Old Fashioned glass, and you may leave the squeezed lime wedges in the drink. Stir for at least a quarter-minute before serving.

In looking at the Cruzan Rum website, I’ve learned something new. I’ve always heard the brand pronounced like “CREW-ZAN,” equal stress on the syllables, and pronounced it that way myself. The website features an introduction by the guy who makes the stuff, and he says “CRU-zhin.” I had no idea.