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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Olympic Cocktail: is it a medal winner?

The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) continues to be a treasure trove of interesting cocktails, but who knew that The Savoy contained an Olympic Cocktail? Surfing the internet cocktail stream recently turned up a 2010 version of the Olympic by Drew Levinson that includes ingredients updated for the twenty-first century. Many of these ingredients are not available in Utah, so this post will present Harry Craddock’s original recipe using ingredients that you may have in your bar at home. You might want to give this cocktail a try while you're watching the USA/ Canada Gold Medal Hockey game this afternoon!

The original recipe has only three ingredients: orange juice, Brandy, and Curaçao. When Blue Curaçao is not specified, Orange Curaçao (clear in color, and not available in Utah) is usually intended. The Brandy is up to you, anything up to and including fine Cognac will work, but if you improve the Brandy you should replace the Blue Curaçao with a quality orange liqueur, perhaps Cointreau or better. Using Blue Curaçao will impart a peculiar aqua-marine color to the drink (it was hard to find a glass to make this one look good), but the taste will be closer to the original Savoy cocktail. If you can’t get past the color, though, switch to Cointreau, which is clear and will result in a cocktail that is about the color of pineapple juice. The orange juice is problematic: if you’re too lazy to squeeze your own (like some people), then the cocktail may be a little sweet. This is easily fixed with some bitters, in this case a dash of Regans’ Orange Bitters was added to balance the drink by toning down the sweetness and adding a little complexity.

Olympic Cocktail

1 oz Brandy

1 oz Curaçao (Blue if you live in Utah) or Cointreau

1 oz Orange Juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker 2/3 full of ice. Shake well while contemplating a fast luge run. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist or Olympic gold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The El Diablo – a hot cocktail the Devil himself might enjoy

A slow Thursday evening watching Olympic Hockey from Vancouver when @ThirstyInLA tweeted about sipping an El Diablo, an interesting sounding highball cocktail that counted Crème de Cassis and Ginger Beer among the ingredients. Since there was some Reed’s® Ginger Beer in the fridge for the occasional Dark and Stormy, it sounded like a cocktail that had to be sampled (everyone stocks Ginger Beer, right? In Salt Lake City you can usually find it at Target and World Market). Some quick research on the web located recipes that used Ginger Ale and any kind of Tequila, but ThirstyInLA’s combination of Plata and Ginger Beer sounded intriguing, and it was. The combination of Plata with the heat of the Ginger Beer was, well, diabolical.

El Diablo

1 ½ oz Plata (Silver) Tequila

½ oz Crème de Cassis

½ oz fresh lime juice

5-6 oz Ginger Beer

Add Tequila, Crème de Cassis, and freshly squeezed lime juice to a shaker half full of ice. Let it rest while you fill a highball glass half full of ice cubes. Shake that shaker like the devil himself is after you (for all you know, he is). Strain into the highball glass and fill it with Ginger Beer and more ice if needed. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve with a straw.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Fogcutter – a cocktail to clear your head

A disturbance in the Twitter feed… Someone had mentioned the Fogcutter cocktail (a.k.a. Fog Cutter), a name that evoked memories of the past. The name implies a clearing of the head, but imbibers can attest that while the first one may clear things up, the fog may roll back in with the second Fogcutter. Research led to Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails where you can find a short discussion of the history of the Fogcutter (it originated at a bar in Hollywood), and where the idea of the Kirsch float (in lieu of Sherry) came from. This Tiki drink is served in a Collins glass, and while some Tikis may be sweet; this one, while definitely on the dry side, “sure ain’t bad”. So if your head is a little foggy tonight, you may be in need of a Fogcutter… Two of them certainly made a difference in my evening. Haigh mentions that the Fogcutter was a type of diving knife. Experience shows that the first one cuts through the fog, while the second one cuts through any remaining coherence.

The Fogcutter is a strong drink. If you use this recipe, you should definitely limit your intake. You can also cut back a little on the alcohol, while retaining the 2-1-1 ratio. The gin adds an interesting edge to this Tiki cocktail; feel free to play around with the gin ratio to get the flavor you want. Some recipes call for as little as ½ oz gin, but experimentation shows that the exact quantity depends on the quality of the gin. You are encouraged to experiment with the Kirsch and Sherry floats, and report back by commenting on this post. You can enjoy a Fogcutter without either, but a float will add a certain je ne sais quoi to the cocktail.

The Fogcutter

1 oz gin

2 oz silver rum

1 oz Brandy

½ oz lemon juice

1 ½ oz orange juice

½ oz Orgeat syrup

½ oz Kirsch (cherry brandy, optional, or Cream Sherry)

Shake all ingredients except the Kirsch (or Sherry) with cracked ice and strain the contents into a Collins glass 2/3 full of ice cubes. Float Kirsch (or Cream Sherry) on top (optional). Garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Prepare yourself to see the light.

Glasses for Champagne

If you’re not a big Champagne drinker, or just getting ready to try Champagne for the first time, you might be wondering if you have enough of the right kind of glasses. (If you haven’t stocked up on Champagne or sparkling wine, and if you’re on a budget, check out these great sparkling wines for under $20 a bottle.) There are several glassware options when it comes to serving Champagnes or good domestic sparkling wines, and the good news is that you can enjoy your sparkling wine from all of them. So if money is a little tight after Christmas you can probably make do with what you have, but if you have a little spare cash (or credit) this post will help you select the right type of glass for you favorite sparkler.

The first (and in my opinion best) glass to use for sparkling wine is the Champagne Flute. There is only one case where there is a better glass to use (more on that later). Flutes slow down the formation of bubbles and therefore the loss of carbonation. Plus they have an elegant appearance that will not disappoint. Flutes tend to hold a little less wine and are therefore useful for controlling serving size and the speed of consumption.

The Champagne Coupe (or Saucer) is frequently used in movies to make certain that you know people are drinking Champagne. Champagne history tells us that the original Coupe was molded from the breasts of Marie Antoinette; an old wine book of mine has a photo of the originals (glasses, that is). While this story may or may not be true, it is hot enough to have survived over 200 years and has resulted in perhaps unforeseen uses of the glasses.

The last glass to be recommended here is the White Wine Glass. If you don’t have any Flutes or Coupes, an ordinary White Wine Glass will do. There is also one case where it is preferable to a Flute. If you are making champagne cocktails, the smaller size of a Flute may become an issue because the gin and lemon juice mixture in the French 75 (try it – you’ll love it) or similar cocktails may result in too strong of a cocktail for some tastes. You can either split the mix across two cocktails in Flutes or use a White Wine Glass so you have more room for your sparkling wine. The size difference will not matter for cocktails like the Cranberry Champagne Cocktail.

Don’t worry if the glasses you saw in the Pottery Barn catalog seemed pretty expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you can often find good deals on glassware at budget stores like T.J. Maxx or Tuesday Morning. Look for bargains at these store or watch for sales at Target, Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and even Pottery Barn. Here’s a slideshow on the different glasses that may be used for Champagne.