Thursday, May 22, 2008

Capetown Collins


Capetown Collins

2 oz. Gin (Any straightforward London dry should do the trick)
½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
2 oz. Rooibos-rosemary syrup

Place all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, and strain into ice cube-filled Collins glass. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Rooibos-rosemary syrup

Simmer one cup water, sugar, and a rosemary sprig in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add 1½ teaspoons loose rooibos tea leaves and let steep for 1 hour. Strain through fine mesh strainer and bottle it.

Contrary to what many believe, not all my time, money and energy goes into playing with booze. I sometimes play with food too. Noting this, generous family members have given me subscriptions to several food magazines, among them Bon Appetit, from which I ganked the above recipe.

In the May ‘08 issue, someone had written to the magazine asking for the recipe for the Capetown Collins, which is served at a place called No. 9 Park. I figured if someone liked a drink enough to write to a magazine to find out the particulars, it’s probably worth a go. Plus, it contains gin…and as an avowed gin evangelist, I need to promote it’s use whenever possible.

Long story short: I really liked it. It’s a great warm-weather choice (the Bamboo Babe envisioned it as a fine option for occasions when you find yourself outdoors on a thick, humid night). The rooibos-rosemary syrup is a nice flavor combo and matches up with the gin and lemon perfectly. It’s nicely balanced too, although if you like your drinks more on the tart side (like me), just scale back the syrup until you get it where you like it.

Cold drink. Lawn chairs. Bare feet in grass. You get the idea.

A note about where to find rooibos tea: I got mine at the local food co-op (hippies always have the best tea selection), so you’re likely to find it at places like organic grocers, health food stores, and decent coffee/tea joints.

Monday, May 12, 2008

MxMo: Rum


Jamaica Mule

2 oz. White rum
1 oz. Dark rum
1 oz. Gold rum
1 oz. Falernum
1 oz. Lime juice
Ginger beer

Shake everything except ginger beer with ice and strain into a large tumbler (at least 12 ounces…preferably larger) over ice. Fill with ginger beer and garnish with pineapple chunks and crystallized ginger.

Adapted from 1001 Cocktails by Alex Barker


Sometimes I seriously consider renaming this blog “I drink crappy cocktails so you don’t have to.”

By and large, the majority of recipes I dredge up are perfectly fine. There’s only been a been a few where I only took a sip or two before making a cartoon face and dumping it. But recently I seem to be finding myself selecting recipes that look promising on paper, but reveal themselves to be significantly flawed upon tasting. However, these drinks aren’t bad enough to abandon altogether, so I end up trying to salvage them somehow. They look like they should work in principle, so I begin fiddling with proportions and swapping ingredients around.

Such is the case with the Jamaica Mule. In 1001 Cocktails it’s listed as a variation on the classic Moscow Mule, using rum as the base spirit rather than vodka. Since rum obviously plays well with both lime and ginger beer, I figured this was a sure bet.

The big snag wasn’t the concept of the drink, but rather what specific ingredients to use. The recipe only states white, gold and dark rums, but offers no hint as to what styles or brands might be good choices. I began rummaging through my liquor closet, pulling out various rums and looking for possible candidates. (At this point the Bamboo Babe began heaping good-natured abuse upon me as she feels I own far too much rum)

Anyway, I love to experiment and tinker with recipes. However, I hate to waste good booze. So I made a pact with myself that I would give this drink 3 attempts, and if I couldn’t find a configuration I was happy with by then, I’d consign it to my personal cocktail graveyard. Onward I stumbled…

First stab:

2 oz. Havana Club Anejo Blanco
1 oz. Myers’s
1 oz. Pyrat XO
1 oz. Falernum (Fee Bros.)
1 oz. Lime juice
Ginger beer to fill

My thinking here was that using a decent quality light rum would set up a good base for the rest of the drink, and the Pyrat’s strong orange character would complement the lime flavors. Unfortunately, I underestimated just how strong the orange in the Pyrat was, and it came to the top in every sip. Plus, the falernum was way too evident. The whole thing ended up with a harsh, abrasive texture and was really unbalanced.

Second stab:

2 oz. Cruzan light
1 oz. Lemon Hart Demerara
1 oz Appleton V/X
½ oz. Falernum
1 oz. Lime juice
Ginger beer to fill

For this attempt, I cut back on the falernum, but it was irrelevant. This combination of rums is awful (at least in these proportions), and the less said about it the better.

Third stab:

2 oz. Havana Club Anejo Blanco
1 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal
1 oz. Appleton’s V/X
½ oz. Falernum
1 oz. Lime juice
Ginger beer to fill

Third time’s a charm? I’ll tentatively call this one a success (How’s that for confidence?). This is definitely the smoothest of the three, and it’s the easiest on the tongue. There’s no burn…just some pleasant tingle on the finish from the ginger beer, which in this configuration settles in much better with the rums.

Also, this recipe is the only one of the three that seems to truly echo the Moscow Mule and tastes faithful to the original idea. It has the vibe that I believe the creator(s) intended.

One important note: This recipe needs a spicy, somewhat bitey ginger beer. The brand I used was Jamaica’s Finest, a zippy, not-too-sweet locally-made brand. Marleigh managed to find it in her neck of the woods, so it may be widely available. It’s really good…get it if you can.

And if you haven't done so already, head on over to Trader Tiki's and check out all the other glorious rum concoctions!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

For Medicinal Purposes Only


Jet Pilot

½ oz. Fresh lime juice
½ oz. Grapefruit juice
½ oz. Cinnamon-infused sugar syrup
½ oz. Falernum (Fee Bros.)
1 oz. Dark Jamaican rum (I used Myer’s)
¾ oz. Gold Puerto Rican rum (I subbed Cruzan)
¾ oz 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerera rum
Dash Angostura bitters
6 drops (1/8 teaspoon) Pernod
4 ounces crushed ice

Put everything in a blender, saving crushed ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into an old-fashioned glass.

Having spent a considerable chunk of April out of commission with pneumonia, I regrettably missed out on some drinking & posting I’d been meaning to do…including taking part in last month’s Mixology Monday. However, one advantage to this particular malady is that you always feel like you’ve had a couple of stiff drinks. It’s not the kind of buzz you can really enjoy though, because you’re constantly coughing and feeling like utter crap. But it does do wonders for your alcohol budget.

So right around the time my recuperation seemed imminent, a nice thing happened- I managed to acquire some Lemon Hart Demerara 151 rum (I’ll avoid the specific details as to how I finally got ahold of it because I don’t want the PLCB commandos parachuting into my backyard like that school scene from Red Dawn).

I also realized a batch of cinnamon-infused simple syrup in my fridge was nearing it’s expiration date, so the only reasonable course of action was to whip up a Jet Pilot. Plus, the vitamin C in the lime & grapefruit juice would certainly help with keeping me hale & hearty.

Did I mention I got to play with my ice crusher and mortar and pestle?

Anyway, The Jet Pilot appears in Jeff Berry’s excellent Sippin’ Safari, and it’s a keeper as far as I’m concerned. The conventional wisdom among tiki drink enthusiasts is that although many recipes feature a large number of ingredients (which presumably ratchets up the probability you‘ll screw something up), the end results can be strikingly balanced. The Jet Pilot is definitely one of those recipes. Rick and Robert thought so too.

As I mentioned, the balance of flavors is great. The cinnamon is front and center but doesn’t dominate. The rums blend beautifully, with the smoky burn of the 151 filtering through. The juices and falernum perk things up, and with only 6 drops (believe me, I measured this exactly) my old nemesis Pernod seemed in perfect proportion. This drink is now firmly entrenched on my list of “go-to” tropicals.

So will having a few Jet Pilots help you shake a stubborn illness? As the saying goes, “individual results may vary”. But while you’re behind the bar, make a few impassioned pleas to the tiki spirits- It could speed your recovery.