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Friday, October 29, 2010

Cocktails for Halloween and beyond the graveyard

Snow in the valley gave evidence to Salt Lake City residents that winter is on the way.  While it may warm up a little, you may be sure that colder nights are in store for us.  What better way to fortify yourself for a cold autumn (or winter) night than a Hot Rum Toddy?   Not really Halloween related, this hot cocktail is easy to make (the essential ingredient is some good dark rum), and a reliable standby to have in your cocktail repertoire, especially if Halloween is cold and rainy (or snowy).  Be sure to check out my Examiner slideshow for photos and recipe cards for these cocktails, or click through the links below for the full-length articles.  Now for the serious business of Halloween.

Vampires are all the rage these days, and everyone knows that the best way to put down a vampire is with a stake through the heart.  What, you are probably asking, is the best way to put down a Halloween cocktail?  
What should you do if you see a Halloween cocktail lurching toward you down a lonely road on a cold, dark, moonless night?  When, after you’ve run yourself to exhaustion and are leaning against a stone wall to catch your breath, you realize it’s the wall around the graveyard and scream…  and the cocktail continues to draw inexorably nearer and nearer…  What do you do?  Experience shows that the most effective action is to grasp it firmly by its scrawny neck and toss it down before it can attack.  And that, children (only if over 21), is the best way to handle an aggressive cocktail.

The first Halloween cocktail is a little tame, but may bring back childhood memories: the Bob for Apples.  What’s not to like about Rum, cinnamon, and apples?  Think of Mom’s homemade apple pie with a kick (and with a spider garnish).

Although it sounds horrid, the Spider’s Venom cocktail actually verges on the sweet.  The Spider Venom (a distant relative of the Piña Colada) should be drunk from a specially prepared cocktail glass as a charm to protect you from the venom. 

It pays to keep an eye out for the Bloodshot cocktail when walking past the graveyard at night.  Watch out, having been evicted from its own socket, this roguish cocktail’s roving eyeball may want to settle in one of yours.

If you should manage to escape the graveyard intact and alive (though just barely) and make it home, the best way to get your blood flowing again (but not too much, you don’t want to attract attention from the wrong sort of undead) is with a Corpse Reviver.  This beauty doesn’t look like a Halloween cocktail, but it’s sure to cure what ails you.  The medley of flavors in this cocktail is most enjoyable, so give it a try at your Halloween soirée. 

Last, and far from the least, is the Zombie, a cocktail that will knock you on your ass if you’re not careful or don’t show it the proper respect, a cocktail whose namesake must have had a Corpse Reviver poured into it, for there’s no other plausible explanation for its existence.  Don’t be seduced into having several, or think you’ll have “just one more,” or you may end up a zombie yourself.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A bitter lesson from Peychaud's

Last month Salt Lake City readers got an update about how Harmon’s groceries had begun selling Peychaud’s® Bitters ($5.99 in the beverage aisle) in place of Angostura® Bitters during the great Angostura shortage of 2010.  Last weekend the Utah Mixologist was discussing mixing cocktails with his friend Fred from the wilds of New Mexico when Fred mentioned that his local grocery store had stopped selling Angostura and started selling some other, terrible tasting bitters that didn’t go well in cocktails.  At first the mixologist was aghast that such a transgression had been perpetrated, then he though a minute and said “you don’t mean Peychaud’s, do you?”  Yes, sad to say it turned out that Peychaud’s was exactly what Fred meant, and the root cause of his problem was that he didn’t have any good recipes to use them.  A speedy email delivered links to the much needed recipes and solved Fred’s problem, and this article will help any Salt Lake City readers who find themselves in the same situation.  There are many really good cocktails that contain Peychaud's, and you should give some of them a try.

Peychaud’s is a key ingredient in one of the most famous New Orleans cocktails: the Sazerac (along with Rye whiskey and a hint of Absinthe), and those Utah cocktailians who have never had a Sazerac owe it to themselves to give one a try.  Let the good times roll!

The Vieux Carré is another classic cocktail that utilizes Peychaud’s.  It was invented in the French Quarter of New Orleans at the Hotel Monteleone.  The Vieux Carré is a cocktail with six ingredients, so it might seem like a lot of work, but two of the ingredients are bitters, so there’s not that much measurement.  The Vieux Carré calls for equal amounts of Rye, Cognac, and sweet Vermouth, with some Benedictine and a dash each of Peychaud’s® and Angostura® bitters added.  Try one and you will agree it’s well worth the extra effort.

The Rimshot, while not a classic (it’s only about a year old and was developed by the Utah Mixologist), is a close relative of a true classic: the Manhattan.  The Rimshot has everything a good comedy routine needs: wry humor, bitterness, pratfalls, a little sweet and a little sour, and some of those contribute to a good cocktail.  So if you like Rye whiskey or the Manhattan cocktail, give the Rimshot a try.

The venerable Bourbon Old Fashioned is usually made with Angostura® Bitters, but as my article on the Old Fashioned tells you, you can make an Old Fashioned with just about any good liquor you have.  Rye whiskey and Brandy present great opportunities to use Peychaud’s in an Old Fashioned.  Some eschew the cherry and orange wheel, but this mixologist likes to chew them at the end for dessert (caution: don’t over muddle, you want just a hint of orange peel oils).

So if you’ve been a little disappointed in that bottle of Peychaud’s you bought, you probably haven’t been using it right.  Try one or two of these suggestions and I'm sure you will soon be putting that bottle of Peychaud's to excellent use.  For a better look at these cocktails, check out my Examiner slide show.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – October 2010

There are a couple of interesting items on clearance this month in the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores.  The first is 1 liter bottles of Cointreau Liqueur (CS# 064779) for $23.22 (it’s normally $38).  This bargain is hard to find, some stores are already out of stock, so be sure to call ahead to check for availability on this item and the other items mentioned in this article.  Another clearance item is Mount Gay Silver Rum (CS# 042790) for $9.72.  This rum looks like it wasn’t marked down much for a clearance item (the shelf says the regular price was $13), but it was $18 a couple of months ago, and Google shows a list price of around $17 around the country.  It looks like the UDABC reduced the price for a couple of months before discontinuing it.  There are also some wines on clearance, so check your store’s end cap displays.

For you fans of Don Draper on AMC TV’s Mad Men, Canadian Club (CS# 010626) is on special price adjustment this month at $9, marked down from $13.  Speaking of Whiskey, another SPA item this month is Dewars Special Reserve 12 Year Scotch (CS# 004876) at $30 (regularly $33).  I wouldn’t use it in cocktails, but if you like a nice, blended Scotch to sip on every now and then, this is a good one.  There are several other good Scotches on SPA this month, including a selection of Glenlivets, so if you’re a Scotch lover, check out the Scotch section while you’re in the store.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hanky Panky Cocktail could get you into trouble

A couple of weeks ago, the Utah Mixolgist picked up a bottle of Fernet Branca ™ (CS# 905790) at the Utah State Liquor Store, and decided to see if anyone on Twitter had some good ideas on how to use it.  He soon had a Tweet from The Intoxicologist: try the Hanky Panky.  The Hanky Panky is another classic cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930).  The Savoy has always been a good source of cocktail inspiration.  Recently, the Mixologist wrote about Erik Ellestad’s blog and his project to recreate every cocktail recipe in the Savoy.  Well, Erik is going through the Savoy in alphabetical order, and is now up to the T’s, so finding the post on the Hanky Panky that he wrote almost two years ago was easy.  I was pleased to see that he recommended using my favorite sweet Vermouth (Quady Vya™, available in Utah (CS# 910764), keep it in the fridge once it’s open) and (this is key) using a “gin with some spine” to stand up to the fifty-fifty blend with Vermouth.  Enjoy the interaction of the Fernet with the Gin.

Hanky Panky Cocktail

2 dashes Fernet Branca.
1 ½  oz Quady Vya Sweet Vermouth
1 ½  oz (London) Dry Gin. (Tanqueray works well)

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass half full of cracked ice.  Stir briskly until your wife yells at you to stop, and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Twist a piece of orange peel over the glass, rub it lightly around the rim, and drop it in (or throw it away if you are a purist).  Enjoy while it’s icy cold.