Water on fire

Just for the hell of it, at the last minute I added the Combustible Edison to the menu for last Saturday’s cocktail party. Ever since I read about it I thought it’d be fun to make, but I’d never gotten around to makign one. I’m still not a huge Campari fan (although I’m working on developing more of a taste for it), but I thought that maybe someone else might be adventurous and order one. Sure enough, when our friends Gregg and Mike mentioned that they were both Campari fans, I suggested this drink, and their eyes lit up. Pretty soon, the counter where I was mixing the drinks lit up too.

The story behind the drink is at the Drinkboy link above, and I reproduce the recipe for you here.

The Combustible Edison

2 ounces brandy (we like a good Cognac like Hennessy V.S.O.P.)
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

Add the Campari and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Heat the brandy on the stove or in a chafing dish. If the heating vessel doesn’t have a pouring spout, put the brandy into something that does.

Lower the lights, carefully ignite the brandy, and pour it into a flaming stream into the cocktail glass. Aim well. If you’re a klutz, have a friend standing by with a fire extinguisher. (I’m a klutz, but I managed to do this perfectly last Saturday.)

If the brandy is shaken with the ice instead of being set aflame, the drink is called an Edisonian.

It’s even more fun when you make two of them at the same time.

Cocktail of the day: Batida Paulista

More interesting correspondence, this time with Chris Viljoen (who offered the Preview cocktail a while back). We’ve been talking Caipirinhas, and variations thereof.

Thanks to Chris, I’ve learned that Caipirinhas made here aren’t quite the same as the ones made in Brazil, even using Brazilian cachaça; they don’t taste quite the same. Some of his Brazilian friends told him that to get it perfect, you must use Brazilian sugar, which has more of a molasses content than our white granulated sugar. I asked him if turbinado (“sugar in the raw”) would work, and he said it’s not quite the same either — perhaps an equal mixture of white and turbinado might be closer. In any case, I’ll be looking for Brazilian sugar at El Camaguey Market, or the Palms Latino market (thanks again for that one, Greg!) on Motor. They also use a specific type of Brazilian lime called taiti, which are obviously going to be much more difficult to get here. (I guess I’m just going to have to go to Brazil and get a real one.)

Apparently they also make versions of the Caipirinha using other fruits besides limes, including strawberries and the cashew nut fruit, caju. I first tried cashew nut fruit juice at a terrific little Brazilian restaurant in West Hollywood called Itana Bahía. It’s absolutely luscious. You can find it frozen in Latin or Brazilian markets, and you muddle some of that along with about half the amount of lime.

Here’s an interesting looking variation on the Caipirinha, which has a little froth from the addition of egg whites.

Batida Paulista
(from the city of São Paulo)

2 teaspoons egg white.
2 tablespoons superfine sugar (Brazilian if possible).
2 ounces cachaça.
1 ounce fresh lime juice.
3-4 ice cubes.

Combine the egg white, sugar, lime juice, ice and cachaça in a shaker. Shake vigorously about 15 times. Strain into a chilled Old-Fashioned glass and garnish with a thin slice of lime.

Cocktail of the day: Crusta

My friend Sheldon writes, “No more cocktail porn! Although the infused vodka looks interesting…”

No no, Shel … cocktail porn is good. :-)

Here’s another one I’ve seen in the old books and was nudged into trying by the bartenders at Petrossian in Las Vegas. It was supposedly invented at a New Orleans joint called Santina’s Saloon in the mid-1800s, although I’d never really heard of it growing up in New Orleans (then again, there’s a whole lot of stuff out there that I don’t know).

The traditional spirit for this drink is brandy or Cognac, but Bourbon has been known to be substituted (the Petrossian version specifically called for brandy, though). After studying both the Petrossian version and the somewhat different version I found in Herbst & Herbst’s The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide, I’ve arrived at a mélange of both that I find appealing, although I have no idea which is closest to the original. In fact, I’ll include all three. (To confuse matters further, DrinkBoy has one that calls for Bourbon.)

(Petrossian version)

1-1/2 ounces Raynal VSOP brandy
1/2 ounce Maraschino
1-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 ounces sugar syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

(Herbst version)

2 ounces brandy
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Cointreau
1 teaspoon Maraschino

(2001 adaptation)

2 ounces brandy or Bourbon
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Maraschino
2 teaspoons Cointreau
1 teaspoon sugar syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

For any of the above recipes, moisten the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon wedge, then dip the rim into superfine granulated sugar. Shake all ingredients with cracked ice, then strain into the glass. Drape a very long spiral of either orange or lemon peel into and hanging out of the glass by about two inches, then serve.

Cocktail of the day: Clover Club

This one’s another old classic that I’d never thought to try until relatively recently. My becoming a born-again gin drinker has helped, along with my fascination with cocktails that contain eggs. The final push was having it pointed out to Wes and me by Michael and Arturo, the two bartenders-from-Heaven at the Petrossian Bar, who like cocktails from 75-100 years ago as we do.

I’ve started using a pasteurized egg white product from the refrigerated section of the supermarket instead of fresh egg white, and it works just as well, plus no worries of pesky salmonella. You can’t get pasteurized yolks, so if I’m going to be making any flips or golden fizzes we’ll just have to take the leap. The “classic” recipe calls for grenadine, but this ingredient is so ubiquitous (and usually such poor quality, mostly artificially-flavored) that I took a cue from the Bellagio bartenders and used raspberry syrup instead. This drink is a deep pink with a thick frothy head, and is delicious.

Clover Club

1-1/2 ounces gin.
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
2 teaspoons raspberry syrup.
1 egg white.

Place all ingredients into a tall cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. This one’s pretty enough not to require a garnish.

UPDATE: Clover Club correction! Almost had some nice alliteration going there … kinda did anyway, but no “cl” sound to start the third word. Anyway, I digress.

In flipping through Stanley Clisby Arthur I saw his recipe for the Clover Club, which I like much better than the old traditional one. It’s almost exactly the same, but with a New Orleans touch that I love. Here’s his version with some of his comments excerpted.

Clover Club
(New Orleans version)

1-1/2 ounces dry gin.
Juice of 1/2 lime.
1 pony (1 ounce) raspberry syrup.
1 egg white.
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters.

Pour the ingredients into the shaker over ice in order given. Set yourself for a good shaking, for this is a cocktail that must be well frappéd. To give chic to the final result, decorate your cocktail glasses with sprigs of mint after straining into them the delightful liquid from your shaker.

We have always admired the added ummph the dash of Peychaud bitters gives this deservedly popular concoction.

So have I, Mr. Arthur, so have I.

A whole ounce of raspberry syrup’s a bit much for me, so I’d recommend the former recipe, but with the addition of that dash of Peychaud’s. The magic of bitters is not to be discounted.


REAL “apple martinis”

The guys who are participating in CocktailDB so far have shared some nice looking recipes. One of them, who declared that he would never use that artifical “toxic” green apple Pucker schnapps to make the apple martinis his customers requested, sought and found a superior product. I’d been using Calvados, a touch of Stoli and apple juice for my versions so far, but I’d seen a product at The Wine House that I’d been curious about: Berentzen Apfel Korn Schnapps, a German product made from fresh apples. I haven’t tried it yet, but these guys said it’s quite good, and offered the following recipes:

Apple Martini

1-1/2 ounces vodka.
3/4 ounce Berentzen apple schanpps.
Splash of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider.

Add the first two ingredients with ice to a cocktail shaker; shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a splash of Martinelli’s, and garnish with a fresh apple slice.

Here’s another nice looking one that I’ll try tonight, but I might have to add at least a dash of bitters to it if it’s going to have “Manhattan” in the name:

Big Apple Manhattan
(Created by Dale DeGroff and Audrey Saunders)

2 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon.
1/2 ounce Berentzen Apple Schnapps.
Slice of fresh apple.

Stir well with ice; strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the slice of apple. Don’t omit the apple slice; it’s really important. (Thanks to Martin Doudoroff for the recipe.)

UPDATE: Because I can’t help messing with things … either of these would be excellent with a dash of Fee’s Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters, too.

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