MxMo August — Local Flavor

August 11th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

I met the wonderful Kevin at Tales of the Cocktail, though I’ve been reading Save the drinkers for quite a while now.  I wish I had more of a chance to chat, but Tales is a hard mistress. He’s hosting this Month’s MxMo — Local flavor. We’re neighbors: Kevin’s over in Idaho and I’m here in Oregon.

Summer means many things in Portland: Block Parties, River boating, Festivals. It also means Berries. Though not botanically berries1 , I will not let semantics get in the way of the berry orgy of summer. Blackberries, Boysenberries, Blueberries, Marionberries. Yum.

Now this is not virgin ground I tread on. The common love of summer berries is wide in portland and naturally many more have gone before me. Yes, great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.

Sauvie Island. It sits in the Willamette mere yards from Portland proper. It’s a destination for nude beach sun worshipers, niche landscapers and fans of produce. Kruger farms has a gorgeous u-pick farm that Heather and I frequent as much as possible each summer. They have bands every Thursday, BBQ on the weekends and rows and rows of delicious summer berries.

Heather and I recently went picking. I for this month’s MxMo, she for jam and pickles. We’ve been Jamming for about eleven years since we lived in Petaluma where our house had an out-of-control Himalaya blackberry  bush that over produced. We have to put up jars of jam each year to satisfy the yearly appetite of our family and friends.

vineberry blueberry flat

Strolling through the vineyards at Kruger on a temperate Saturday is a summer Portland Experience. I have to admit an occasional taste test as we picked – I hope that’s not too frowned apon. With the standard Blackberry, we also picked the long compact Kotataberry (a blackberry varietal), and the upward-growing thorn-free Waldoberry (another blackberry varietal). Blueberries are also a must after the success of our Blueberry-lime jam. I think there might be angry villagers with torches if we fail to get that out for Christmas presents.

So, what’s a mixologist to do with these gorgeous berries? I get crap all the time from some people for the rum-heavy nature of my posts. I’ve also done rum and blackberry before. I wouldn’t dare to think of hiding the delicate flavors of these berries with rum. Vodka would be far too insipid for mixing. Gin? Yes, gin. Aviation Gin2 to be precice. Aviation has a citrus body that I feel mixes well with berries.3

blueberries kotataberries waldoberries

I’ve always loved the illustration for the Julep in Jerry Thomas’s Bon Vivant’s Companion. The bouquet of mint and berries dusted with powdered sugar delights me. You can take the rum out of the Tiki mixologist, but you can’t take the garnish lover out of the … never mind. I get enough crap out of my Rum fixation, I don’t need to give any more ammunition for the simpering anti-garnishers so they can poo-poo as they clutch their pearls.4

Summer Berry Smash

So I present to you the Summer Berry Smash. Berries, vanilla, mint, lemon and Gin: A taste of Portland in the Summer. A taste of my Summer. Close your eyes and enjoy. It will soon be raining again.

Summer Berry Smash

Summer Berry Smash

¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz vanilla syrup
8-10 Oregon Blackberries (I used Waldoberries & Kotataberries)
10-12 Oregon Blueberries
10 mint Leaves
2 oz Aviation Gin
Charged water

Muddle mint softly with small shot of charged water in mixing glass. Add slice lemon and berries and muddle again. Add ice, Gin, Syrup, and Lemon juice and shake. Strain into pint glass filled with crushed ice and top with Charged water and stir. Garnish with bouquet of mint, lemon wheel, orange wheel and whole berries. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

  1. Don’t get me started: tecnhically, the cane berries we’re fond of are actually aggregate drupes. Blueberries are false berries, similar to the pepo of cucumbers and bananas. This is style of fruit, not genetic family []
  2. also a local product of House Spirits []
  3. others agree []
  4. Notice the pursed mouths and the attitudes the next time one of them goes on their rants, as is their wont []

MxMo July 2008 — New Orleans

July 28th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

I’ve been in a fog since returning from Tales of the Cocktail last Wednesday. Half my pictures are sitting on Blair‘s memory card at his house. The past days have been wonderful blurs of house guests, unpacking and a Teardrop Lounge anniversary party.1 It is taking all my effort to get my ass in gear to get out this Mixology Monday post.

I had a good number of drinks in New Orleans. From vieux carré to sazerac, from crap hurricane to french 75. Heck, I even mixed up Beachbum drinks with Rick and Blair a session. I ended up in the Tulane emergency room with Gout on account of the all the imbibing.2 However, I never did get around to ordering a Suissesse. Oh, I may have begged the odd taste from my drinking companions, but it just didn’t get together on a bartop for me.

Luckily, I picked up a hard copy of Stanley Clisby Arthur’s New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘em while in the crescent city. It’s a little volume I’ve loved for a while now in soft copy. Low and behold, therein lay a Suissesse recipe.

Suissesse before pouring

While some may poo-poo creme de menthe and/or standard maraschino cherries, I refrain from shirking. The very idea of pairing these ingredients with absinthe filled me with petulant glee. I even chose green over white. I quite enjoyed the outcome. Much like New Orleans: a mixture of the sacred and profane.

Suissesse

Suissesse
1 tsp Sugar
1 oz French vermouth3
2 oz absinthe
1 egg white
½ oz creme de menthe
2 oz charged water

Mix sugar, charged water, vermouth, absinthe, & egg white with hand egg beater (a la Jamie Boudreau). Fill shaker with cracked ice and shake until you want to cry. Strain into champagne4 glass in which there is a cherry with the creme de menthe poured over it.

Be on the lookout for wrap-up posts and further diatribes once I’ve had a few more Suissesses to clear the fog out.

  1. congratulations, Daniel & Ted []
  2. The fat and shellfish may have helped []
  3. I used Lillet Blanc []
  4. saucer please []

MxMo June 2008 — Bourbon

June 16th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Ah, Bourbon.

Summer means bourbon in our household. When I’m not making a home-made version of Southern Comfort (recipe courtesy of Martin Cate) or Stone Fences (courtesy David Wondrich), I’m drinking it straight, in Manhattans, as an improved cocktail, or as my current favorite featured in this very MxMo.

The Live Journaling mastermind(s) at Scofflaw’s Den are hosting this round of MxMo. It’s the last MxMo before the big bash in the big easy. I can’t wait.

Now, Trader Vic had a great recipe for the Honi Honi that you can find at my good friend Blair’s site. Apricot Brandy, Lemon and Rum mixes together as a gorgeous double Kiss (honi honi is kiss kiss in Hawaiian). However, as time went on, the Honi Honi that Trader Vic served in his restaurants changed recipes to be become a Mai Tai with bourbon.

Don’t let that seemingly lazy change fool you: this concoction is a masterpiece. This is far more than a bourbon Mai Tai. I thought this a perfect occasion to open my bottle of Trader Tiki’s Vanilla Cane Orgeat and it really shines. You see, when I make my domestic SoCo, I use vanilla syrup instead of Martin’s suggested Honey. The wife has a fondness for Vanilla (and bourbon), and I thought the Orange-vanilla aspect would suit the round sweet undertones of a decent sour mash. And it does. Oh, does it. I wanted to repeat that success in this Honi Honi with Trader Tiki’s specialty Orgeat and the Orange of the Clement Creole Shrub. I personally add Regan’s Orange bitters to round out the drink. Delicious.

Honi Honi

Honi Honi

2 oz Bourbon
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orgeat (Trader Tiki’s Vanilla Cane Orgeat)
½ oz Orange Curaçao (Clement Creole Shrub)
dash Regan’s Bitters

shake with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a double rocks glass.

MxMo May 2008 — Rum

May 12th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Mixology Monday - RumRumbullion. Kyl Devyl. Screech. It’s the fire water dear to me and mine: Rum, Glorious Rum.

I keep reading that Rum is making a comeback; rum is getting respectable. Heck, the (embarrassing) marketing for 10 cane rum purports to be its redemption. Poppycock. The Kill-Devil will never be redeemed, for it hasn’t the need for it. Redemption! Preposterous.

Rum isn’t on the way back. It never left. The faithless left it, but Rum was always there in the oak casks, waiting faithfully. So instead of welcoming back rum to the liquorati, instead I say: “Welcome back to rum.

MxMo May 2008: Rum

This Month sees a new year and new logo for Mixology Monday. We also have a new host. I have been privileged to know him and call him my closest of friends for nigh on a decade now: Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds who holds the stick behind Reynoles Galley. Wish the old feller a happy birthday while you’re there, it was yesterday.

Bumbo Book


On to the Rum! I have previously lightly jabbered about the beginnings of Rum in the Caribbean and the growth of the grog-based rum, gum, and lime lines of cocktail development. This time, I will take the other path. While grog was the drink of the British Navy, there were other sailors who dwelt in the waters who didn’t need to pack down for months at sea. Yes, I speak of the currently popular Pirates. Their drink of choice was Bumbo (also Bumboo, Bumpo). They flavored their rum with cane syrup, nutmeg, allspice and any other local plentiful island spice. With easy access to a better balanced diet than their ocean-crossing targets, there was no need to add lime.

Bumbo was not only a pirate drink; it became very popular in the new colonies. Founding father George Washington himself used gallons of the stuff to buy off votes for his Virginia House of Burgesses campaigns (a contemporary popular ploy). Note the side illustration from a one-shilling London 1738 leaflet of “A letter from Captain Flip to Major Bumbo.” I have a feeling James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo was also familiar with the stuff.


Demerara sugar Nutmeg and rhubarb Allspice Rhubarb and Demerara

Spring in Portland means fresh Rhubarb. I’ve been meaning to make a rhubarb syrup — the languid tartness of rhubarb is a perfect counterpoint flavor to exploit. So to 750ml of Cockspur Barbados rum (Barbados is the home of rum), I added Demerara sugar, allspice and nutmeg. I candidly think the roots of both falernum and pimento dram grow in the soil of Bumbo. I let mine sit for a week (and increased the spices accordingly for the short infusion time). With a more restrained spice, you can (and should) let your bumbo rest for months.Using this lovely spiced spirit, I thought I’d see how it fared with a classic, Jerry Thomas style straight Cocktail treatment. As it so happens, it fares quite well. Liquor, red vermouth, bitters, stirred. The slow sour of the rhubarb and the bitter of the Punt e Mes contrast with the spice and spirit. The Orange oil adds to the nose and brings cohesiveness to the overall character of the drink.

MxMo May 2008: Bumbo Cocktail

Rhubarb Bumbo Cocktail
1 oz Punt e Mes
2 oz Rhubarb Bumbo
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Stir all with fresh cracked ice and strain into rounded small cocktail glass. Express oil from orange rind. I add mine to the drink for drama but it has already done its mixological job.

Mixology Monday April 2008 — Fruit Liqueurs

April 14th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

mxmo-fruit.jpgSometimes moving has its benefits. Discovering a three-year-old jar of brandied blackberries in time for this month’s Mixology Monday may not be wholly offset carting my entire household from one end of Portland to another, but it certainly sweetened the deal. 2005′s harvest was a particularly brambly year. Rich and woody, the jeweled mixture was just the perfect ingredient for Anna’s theme ingredient of fruit Liqueurs.

Brandied Blackberries topBrandied Blackberries

I strained the blackberries first through a metal sieve and then through cheesecloth to produce a smooth and gorgeous base. I added house-made vanilla syrup and added some additional calvados to finish a bright, flavorful blackberry brandy that I fear will not last long. Luckily, I have a few more jars put up for future use.

On recommendation from Trader Tiki, I used as a base the Roffignac from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix em. The Roffignac paralells the Sazerac as a symbolic New Orleans cocktail, though it has not seen the contemporary success of Peychaud’s credited tipple.

Here I use the Brambleberry Brandy in place of the raspberry sirop in the original recipe. I pair the shiny flavor with the spice and grass notes of rye whiskey. I also add a dash of flavorful Herbsaint to bring the specific notes of each spirit to the fore.

Mixology Monday: Fruit Liqeuer, April 2008

Brambleberry Roffignac
1½ oz Blackberry Brandy
2 oz Rye
6 drops Herbsaint
splash Soda

Stir spirits with 5 oz crushed ice and pour into double rocks glass. Splash soda, stir and serve.

Mixology Monday March 2008 — Limit One (per customer)

March 17th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Limit one Is it Monday again so soon? With the upheaval and changes going on with this Monkey’s household and work schedules, I just barely squeaked out an entry for this Month’s MxMo. My workstation may still be unconnected and in a box, but the Liquor has been unpacked. Priorities, people.

Kaiser Penguin hosts this month and the topic is fantastic: Limit one per customer. The theme implies a drink so full of booze it warrants the management to limit the purchase. There is another aspect, however. Making a strong drink is easy. Making a balanced and tasty strong drink is more difficult. However, creating a concoction so delicious as to drive a drinker to order successive rounds (and being denied on the face of the menu)? Pure genius.

And for this month’s genius, I turn again to Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry. I’m a lover of the short hoist: a 4oz or less cocktail to be taken as a pick-me-up or before-meal refresher or in-between-meal constitutional. I’ve long been in love with the Von Tiki, The bum’s own original creation at the end of the Grog Log. I also continually sub- and consciously refer to it as the “Baron von Tiki.” I’m sure it’s because of the German honey liqueur Bärenjäger1 . Austria helps out this aristocratic drink with Stroh 80, a 160-proof rum. This is widely used in Austrian and German baking. I like it daintily sipped with a Coke Chaser2. The Barbados rum is there because at the heart, this is a modified Daiquiri. Rum, Gum, and Lime strikes again.

I change the recipe a bit for my own taste: I triple the Stroh and add Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters to balance. I’ve tried replacing the Lime for lemon, but it ends up tasting more like a cough-drop. Lime is perfect for the base, with a lemon hint to match the honey.

With great respect to the Bum, I present:

(baron) Von Tiki – limit one per customer, please
(Baron) Von Tiki

1 oz Bärenjäger
½ oz Stroh 80 160-proof Austrian Rum
1 oz Barbados Rum (I use Cockspur)
¾ oz fresh lime juice
3 dashes Fee Brothers lemon bitters

Shake with crushed ice and strain into 4-oz cocktail glass.

  1. A linguistic aside: Bear comes from the Germanic Beor or Beorn. This translates to Bee-Wolf, a kenning that in Old English translates as Beowulf. The kenning here relates to the bear’s love of honey. He is a bee wolf. A lovely self referential name for a honey liquor: the Bee-Wolf-Hunter []
  2. Cane Sugar only, not High-Fructose Corn Syrup, please []

Mixology Monday Feb 2008 — Variations: Rum, Gum & Lime (+Mint)

February 11th, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Mixology Monday February 2008 — VariationsAfter missing last month’s MxMo due to the Death Flu, I’m damned determined to get back in the saddle and on the horse and other metaphors as well. This month is “Variations” hosted by the indefatigable Jimmy Patrick over at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour. Thanks for hosting, Jimmy!

The Caribbean Rim & trade area presents a great puzzle to armchair historians, specifically those who tipple. I’ve been fascinated not only with the classic Tiki Cocktails, but their common history in Rum production and dispersion. For this Mixology Monday, I present variations on Rum, Gum & Lime (+Mint).
Mixology Monday Feb 2008: Variations
From left to right: Grog, Caipirinha(fore), Daiquiri(back), Julep, and Mojito.

Limes came to the Caribbean (florida) in the 1500s. Rum (and aguardiente) production soon followed in the middle of the 1500s. In 1655, William Penn took Jamaica for the British. Rum soon replaced beer for British ships due to their newly opened Jamaican market.

Ships would carry beer and water for their long voyages. First they used the beer until it turned sour – at that point the men would turn to the water: stale and slimy from algae. The leftover beer would be used make the water a bit more palatable. Limes were also sometimes used to de-dankify the water supply. After 1655, however, rum replaced beer. by the 1750s, The entire British navy ran on rum. They watered down to 1:4 ratio, with lime juice added for better taste. Admiral Vernon is the man behind the order here, called “old Grog.” The popular history involves him and his cape creating the name for the beverage. Nonsense. Grog predates him in literature for at least a few decades. His title of “old Grog,” is after his use of the drink, not the other-way-round. My version is 1:2 – I guess you’re the Captain here.

Grog (1700s: Caribbean Seas)
1 oz Rum
2 oz Water
1 oz Lime
½ oz Simple Syrup

Mix all together without ice and serve in a copper cup.

The Portuguese came to what would become Brazil in the 1500s and brought their distilling skills with them. By 1650, they shipped their aguardiente for trade to Africa, used as ballast. We now know this rum-like product as the Brazilian Cachaça: Fiery, smoky, delicious. Slaves and peasants alike throughout the region were taking their rum, gum, and lime: Cane juice served as the sweetener. It may have been the 90′s that brought the Caipirinha to our shores, but it’s been around for a few centuries.

Caipirinha (1700s, Brazil)
1 lime, cut into eight wedges
1 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
3 oz Cachaça

Muddle the lime and sugar in a double rocks glass until the sugar has dissolved. Fill the glass with crushed ice, pour the Cachaça and stir.

Leave it to us humans to take something that already exists, re-brand it and pretend it a novel invention. Cubans had been drinking rum, gum & lime for a few hundred years before the War for Cuban independence brought the U.S. into Cuba. The war won the U.S. a source for natural resources. When Admiral Lucius W. Johnson brought back mine engineer Jennings Cox‘s version, named after the nearby port of Daiquiri, Grog got fancy. When Prohibition hit, It’s no wonder Cuba became a popular travel destination.

Daiquiri (1905, Cuba)
2 oz light rum
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz simple syrup

Shake with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

The first mention of Julep is in a 1803 travel book by John Davis as a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” Eleven years later in 1814, William Wirt quotes a 25-year-old book in The Old Batchelor “… A man in this line rises about six o’clock; ” He then drinks a Julip, made of rum, water and sugar.” Note the lack of mint.

Julep comes from the Arabic Julab, a sweet drink to which medicine is added. One history has it spreading through Europe in the 1700s, then to the colonies. Others have it coming from Spanish refugees traveling to Louisiana in the late 1700s. Both used Rum. European and Caribbean ships unloaded their ships and men at the Virginian port of Jamestown as well as New Orleans. They also unloaded their rum and recipes.

Julep (1803, Virgina/New Orleans)
8 Mint leaves
1 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
3 oz light rum

Muddle sugar into mint leaves in mixing glass until you have a nice slurry. Add crushed ice to lip of glass. Add rum and swizzle mixture until glass frosts. Garnish with mint sprig.

Legend has it that in the late 1500s, Richard Drake, first cousin of Sir Francis Drake invented a drink called “The Draque.” It consisted of aguardiente, sugar, lime and mint. What a load of rubbish. Never mind the Aguardiente of the area started shipping in the 1650s, and that Richard Drake died in 1603. It’s a nice marketing story. I’ve read that some Cubans claim Ernest Hemingway invented the drink in the 1930s as a Caribbean Julep. Further primary research is needed, but I’m guessing the locals have been drinking their rum, gum and lime with mint since the 1800s.

Mojito (1800s/1930s, Cuba)
8 Mint leaves
1 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
1 lime, cut into eight wedges
2 oz light rum
1 oz charged water

Muddle lime, mint and sugar until you’re sick of muddling. Add 6 oz of crushed ice and rum. Shake and pour into Collins glass, top with charged water and stir to combine. Garnish with mint sprig.

Mojito & Julep with Cachaca in the background

I’ll come back to these and other drinks, such as bumboo, corn & oil, Rum & coke in later posts and as research allows. I might even have a flowchart.

Cheers!

-=C

p.s. Great thanks to Tikimama for her photography skills and to Trader Tiki for the on-location use of Reynoles’ Galley.

I’m Alive!

January 22nd, 2008 by Colonel Tiki

Well, that was an adventure! I still live!

About two weeks ago I went to Seattle with Tikimama. It was her semesterly residence at U-Dub and my excuse to go to Zig Zag. We’d been to Seattle for the Jet City Junket II in December of last year, but I was thwarted at any chance of getting some time at Zig Zag, so I jumped on this opportunity.

The next few entries will be about that wonderful trip – I hit up Zig Zag a few times, was blown away at Vessel, had a great time at Sun Liquor and was pampered at Licorous. It was outstanding, and I paid for it:

When I got home I was hit with the worst flu in nearly a decade. I lost nearly a week’s time in delirium, completely sleeping through Mixology Monday. I’m still coughing and weak. I did manage to spread the love with my friends and family, though. You’re Welcome.

What has kept me in spirits, so to speak? My current regular from Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari: Three Dots and a Dash. You do have Sippin’ Safari, right? P1010019

Three Dots and a Dash (…- V)

½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce fresh orange juice
½ ounce honey mix
1½ ounces amber Martinique rum
½ ounce demerara rum
¼ ounce falernum
¼ ounce pimento dram
6 ounces crushed ice

P1010030This morse-code lovely is credited to Donn at the Las Vegas Beachcomber restaurant during WWII (V for victory). I assemble this fellow following my new method picked up from the Navy Grog. I add all ingredients to a mixing pitcher and stir to combine. I crush the ice finely, add to the glass and pour the mixture in. I hand-swizzle and aerate the drink with a bar spoon until the glass frosts and add the garnish.

Moving up in favor as a regular is the Honi Honi. Remind me to wax rhapsodical about that in a future post, won’t you? These libations have kept me human in my few weeks of viral stupor. I suppose I could have counted on a Corpse Reviver (#2) to pop me on my feet, but even I can’t be that clever-clever. I’m glad to be back and 200 proof.

Cheers!
-=C

Mixology Monday December 2007 — Repeal Day

December 3rd, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

Mixology Monday - ProhibitionDecember 5, 1933: The twenty-first amendment is ratified and the failed experiment of Prohibition of Alcohol in the United States of America ends. Jeffery Morgenthaler has been trumpeting the recognition of Repeal Day as a damn fine Domestic holiday for years.

This Mixology Monday’s theme is Prohibition hosted by the man himself. My submission is below, based on the prohibition-contemporary cocktail “Everybody’s Irish.” Irish expatriates who brought their knowledge of distillery with them to the Americas soon were making their own Whisk(e)y. When Prohibition hit, domestic distillers of American Rye and Bourbon stopped (officially) producing whiskey. However, Canada was still producing. Though the Canadian Whisky is Scottish in origin, we’ll just ignore that bit (since Scots are Irish anyway who moved to the north of the English Island, displacing the Picts). I thought a fun change of the “Everybody’s Irish” cocktail would be to honor their ingenuity with domestic sources and use a likelier ingredient of prohibition: Canadian Whisk(e)y.

I’ve loved Chartreuse since first tasting it when my friend David from Oak Hall, Virginia brought a bottle when he visited us in the early 00′s. It wasn’t until earlier this year when I had a Last Word at Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle that I considered it for mixing. I’d loved the idea of the Irish cocktails in Classic Cocktails of the Prohibition Era but until Mur the blur poured that Last Word, I’d not braved it. I’ve since made up for it.

The drink is delicious and would likely work with any Whisk(e)y you have about. I’ve tried Rye & Canadian so far. The olive (while questionable at first) is a nice contrast to help you taste the contribution of the Creme de Menthe and the Chartreuse. Also, the Green and Red of the drink and olive remind you December is Christmastime. Enjoy!

Everybodys Irish American

Everybody’s Irish American

1 tablespoon Green Chartreuse
1 tablespoon Green Creme de Menthe
2 oz. Canadian Whisky

Stir with ice and strain into 3 oz cocktail glass. Garnish with olive speared on a cocktail pick.

-=C

Mixology Monday – Gin

November 12th, 2007 by Colonel Tiki

mixMo12112007This is my first entry for a Mixology Monday. Jay Hepburn over at Oh Gosh! is this month’s host and the theme is gin.

I adore gin. I am not overly fond of delicate gins, however. You can keep your Bombay Saphires and your Tanqueray Tens. I like my gin strong, botanical, and — dare I say it — harsh. I have a secret. I’m a sucker for good bad gin. I don’t mean bottom shelf dive bar well gins mind you: I’m talking about Seagram’s, Gordon’s, Gilbey’s. I do love Aviation and Boodles and Plymouth, but lately the wallet dictates a more modest investment. An aside: Notice how premium gins seem to drop the apostrophe before their final ‘s’? “Apostrophe s? How common.”

So, what’s a mixologist to do? Luckily a good hearty gin is a perfect component of vintage gin cocktails. It’s the harsh nature of the spirit (legal and illegal) that likely led to the numerous gin cocktails in the first place. At least that’s the common folk history I hear bandied about.

Here’s my lowbrow highbrow cocktail, The Madagascar Gin Sour. You could also call it a Vanilla Lemon Gimlet, which would be more descriptive. The lovely wife likes the combination of lemon and vanilla and I happened to have a bunch of vanilla syrup about for Tiki Drinks. I thought I’d try it as the sweet component of a sour mix for a gimlet-like cocktail. I didn’t expect it to balance so well on the first try. It’s gorgeous (if I do say so myself, and I do):

Madagascar Gin Sour low light - photo by Heather 'Tikimama' Gregg

Madgascar Gin Sour

2 oz Good Bad Gin
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Vanilla Syrup*
2 dashes Fees Brothers Lemon Bitters

Lemon peel garnish

Dissolve syrup in lemon juice in a mixing glass. Add 3 oz ice, gin, bitters and stir to mix. Pour into small cocktail glass, express lemon oil on drink and drop peel in the glass.

Be sure to hit up Oh Gosh! to see everyone else’s submission and make yourself a nice cocktail when you get home from work on Monday. Goodness knows you deserve it.

-=C

Vanilla Syrup*Vanilla Syrup

We keep vanilla sugar for baking. It’s easy – just drop a few spent vanilla pods into a container and fill with sugar. In two weeks time, the sugar will be infused with vanilla. You can replace the vanilla extract in your favourite baking recipe with the vanilla sugar. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Whenever you remove some sugar, add the same about of regular sugar to the container and you can keep it going for up to 2 years or so.

Make simple syrup out of this vanilla sugar (I do 2:1 sugar:water, bring softly and slowly to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the mixture clears — be careful as the sugar will caramelize quickly) and viola: vanilla syrup.