Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oregon Bartenders Guild

I'm not going to say much yet, but look for more info soon on the newly formed Oregon Bartender's Guild. I'm lucky to be working on this project with some of the top mixologists in the state (and the country), and this should be a great thing for Oregon. Keep your eyes open for more info soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coconut Rum, Half Forgotten Bitters, Navan and Ice Cubes

I started a new project this evening, a toasted coconut rum. I hate Malibu and its sickly sweetness, so today when I was at 23rd Ave Liquors, I spotted a bottle of Appleton White Rum that just seemed to call to me. I toasted 8oz of shredded coconut in the oven tonight until I got a nice light toast on the coconut, put it in a pyrex bowl and covered it with the rum. Its now wrapped up and in the basement to do its magic. I'm not the biggest fan of the flavor of coconut, but I really felt like a drier rum with a coconut flavor might be nice for doing some tiki-inspired drinks next month. Now, I'm wondering if I should start a batch of coconut bitters. They sound like a perfect complement to tiki drinks. Perhaps I'll start a batch after Xmas.

Next up, I actually carmelized some sugar (3 tblsp sugar, 1 tblsp water) and added it to the grapefruit/ tomato bitters. I'll stir it 2x a day for a week to let the flavors get to know each other a bit and it'll be time to bottle it up next week. I'm happy to have that project in its final stages. I think I'm going to call these bitters my Half Forgotten Bitters.

Also, I picked up a bottle of Navan. I'll have a full product review up tomorrow, but let me just share my initial impression. Its delicious stuff. My mind is racing thinking about the possibilities. Currently I'm drinking 2oz of Navan, 3 dashes of Peychauds bitters, and equal parts 1/2 and 1/2 and soda water on the rocks. Its nice, but I think this is a bit of a work in progress, I need to punch it up just a little more.

Lastly, I got some new ice cube trays from Amazon today. More on ice cubes to come soon, but Daniel Shoemaker from the TearDrop Lounge has made an ice cube believer out of me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I love my Pulltaps

So I open a lot of bottles of wine in a given week, and in my 13 years behind the bar, I've probably opened in the tens of thousands of bottles. I've used just about every wine key to hit the market, and while at home I'm more likely to reach for one of my Laguiole wine keys, at work, I need the strength, reliability and ease of a Pulltaps. The things are damn near indestructable, forgiving to use (I can safely loan one to a green server and not expect to have to approach a table to save a cork in a bottle, and just plain fun. When it gets busy at the restaurant, sometimes I challenge myself to see just how quickly I can open a bottle with my Pulltaps. I'm in the 15 second range right now.

If they only came in bright orange, I would be a very happy man.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Half Forgotten Projects in the Basement and Lithuanian Cocktail Guides

While doing a load of laundry this morning, I noticed that I still have some half completed projects going in the basement. A quick list;

- Krambambuli- I made this for the Distillers Festival Competition but it was so godawful I didn't use it. Now, 6 months later, it seems to have really mellowed out into something Benedictine-ish. It'll need to go through a coffee filter to strain all the sediment out, but it just might be salvageable.

- Rose Liqueur- Started this one at the tail end of summer. I'm going to need a lot more roses, so I'll start this back up when the flowers at our house begin to bloom again.

- Grapefruit/ Tomato Bitters- Yep, they are still down there. The aroma is amazing, I really should just get around to finishing these off so that I can play with them. I think its going to be liquid summer in a bitters bottle.

- Ukrainian Plum Brandy- Not much to do with this really, except wait. Its dark, dense and syrupy sweet, but should make for a nice aperitif at Christmas. It should be ready at the end of the week.

I also received a little something from Ebay yesterday. I bid on, and won, a Lithuanian bartenders guide,published in 1973, "Kokteiliai". Definitely very Soviet era, the few pictures of cocktails inside seem rather grim and unappetizing, but I'm always curious what other cultures are pouring. I don't speak/read/understand Lithuanian, so translating this could be a challenge, but I'm sure I can rise to the occasion. Anyway, I'll leave you with a Lithuanian cocktail recipe from the book. I believe the numbers next to the ingredients are proportions and "iseiga" seems to mean total.

Kokteilis "Geltonsnapis"

Degitine 20
Apelsiny likeris 40
Apelsiny sultys 40
Puse apelsino griezinelio 5
Ledo gabaliukas 25

Iseiga 130

Visus gerimus sumaisyti su ledo gabaliuku ir ipilti i taure, kurious krastai papuosti cukrumi. Po to i taure ideti puse apelsino griezinelo.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

House Spirits Booze Bazaar

I've just returned from House Spirits Booze Bazaar, and in spite my near state of inebriation, I'll attempt to post my experiences. Raena and I arrived just as Kevin Ludwig (currently of Clyde Common and soon to be opening Beaker & Flask) was departing. Kevin went back inside with us and we went straight for the booze. Kevin and I selected a Trident cocktail, made with Krogstad Aquavit, Cynar and Fino Sherry. The cocktail was interesting, the sherry seemed to really bring out the caraway notes in the aquavit, creating a very food friendly cocktail that I may have to experiment with soon.

Next, we spotted Siobhan Crosby, Soshanna Cohen and Karen Foley of my favorite magazine, Imbibe displaying their wares. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of Imbibe yet, just put this down, get in the car and race over to your nearest Barnes and Noble or Borders and buy and issue already. They've got a great blog going over at and then of course is their website, If this sounds like an ad for Imbibe, then good. It's my favorite magazine (supplanting Saveur), well written, cutting edge and they deserve your support. In the interest of being honest and open, I may have a byline appearing in the Jan/Feb issue as well, so don't just buy one copy, buy 3.

I then made it over to taste some really interesting products. Vitaly Paley of Paley's Place is making a wonderful energy bar. Get this, it actually tastes good rather than the usual energy bar/ roofing shingles that you usually find on the market. Their Strawberry and Peanut is a revelation. You can find them online at

I came kind of late, so I missed out on his chocolates, but the caramels that I tried from Xocolo de David were outstanding. On par with the caramels that I've had in Paris, his fleur de sel is a classic caramel, while the bacon caramel confirmed for me that everything goes better with bacon.

My friend Mike, over at Sub Rosa Spirits was tasting his Tarragon and Saffron vodkas. Always a revelation if you haven't tried them.

My favorite part of the night was when Matt Mount, one of the distillers at House Spirits shared with me their ouzo. Made from rye spirit and flavored only with anise, it was drier than most ouzo's, more similar to a good Lebanese arak, but delicious nonetheless. Definitely my favorite part of the night.

I'm off to see Spoon play at the Crystal Ballroom this evening, and I just might pop in and see Charlie Hodge pour some drinks at the Clyde Common before that.

One last thing. If I met you tonight, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from all of you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Experimentation and the Myrmidon Cocktail

So the tastebuds are still a bit off, but I'm starting to feel a little better thanks to my self prescribed regimine of Mexican antibiotics. Last night, I was running through Wild Oats after walking my dog, when I came across Dry Soda. I've had Dry Soda before, the lavender flavor was interesting but it didn't change my life or even inspire me to look for more Dry Soda. This time though, I spotted Kumquat soda (kumquats being one of my better half's preferred fruits) and so I picked up a 4 pack for a little experimentation.
I've still got a bottle of Absolut Mandarin in the house after buying it for the VitaminWater contest, and to be honest, I don't really care for flavored vodkas. I made a cocktail for my wife of 2 oz Absolut Mandarin, 4 oz Kumquat Soda, 4 dashes of Regans Orange Bitters and an orange twist. Somehow, I seemed to have created the liquid version of an orange tic tac. Yuck, it was cloyingly sweet, unbalanced and just plain one dimensional. My wife hated it, so I added a shot of Aperol and it made a terrible mistake somewhat palatable. I did notice she didn't ask for me for seconds.
When it was my turn to pour myself a drink, I turned to the liquor cabinet and grabbed my new bottle of Bluecoat Gin. I essentially made the same drink, substituting the Bluecoat for the Absolut Mandarin and what a difference it made. What had been cloying and sweet now had depth and some nice structure. Pushing the envelope a little more, I floated a little anis escharchado on top and I had my drink for the night. I'll call this one the Myrmidon.

Myrmidon Cocktail
2 oz (or more) Bluecoat Gin
4 oz Kumquat Dry Soda
4 dashes Regans Orange Bitters
1 orange twist
float anis escarchado

Build over the rocks in a bucket, add twist and get twisted.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Thursday Thoughts

I'm still suffering from this terrible cold, and my tastebuds are really out of whack right now. I never crave sweets, but right now the only thing that tastes ok is sweets. Everything else takes on this really funky flavor that leaves me slightly nauseous. Ughh. It may be a little while before I can actually put together something decent to post on here.

My favorite magazine, Imbibe, should have their January/February issue hitting newsstands at the end of the month. If you haven't read Imbibe, you really owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. Btw, if you check the byline in the Elements section of the Jan/Feb issue, you just might find a bit of a surprise.

I'm going to the Booze Bazaar at House Spirits this Sat if anyone wants to join me. Should be a ton of fun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Old Tom First Impressions and the Cold Medicine #8 Cocktail

I'll preface by saying that the old taste buds are a bit on the fritz with this cold, so I enlisted my partner in crime, Raena to help with the tasting. I first poured about a 1/2 oz into a wineglass to see it, smell the aroma, etc. The Old Tom seems to contain glycerine, as it coated the sides of the glass but didn't leave any legs. The aroma was pretty front and center alcohol with an undertone of juniper. As soon as we tasted it, it did have a perceptible sweetness and the juniper was a definite background note, almost an afterthought. My inital impression was more of a sweet vodka than an actual gin, with some definite burn and some rough edges. Next, it was time for a cocktail.

Since I'm only drinking for "medicinal" purposes right now, here is the Cold Medicine #8 Cocktail. If I remade it, I think Aviation would be a better match with its peppery undertones.

2 oz Old Tom Gin (Boords)
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Luxardo Abano Amaro

Build over a couple of ice cubes, stir to incorporate and enjoy.

Old Tom Gin and other finds

So I flew back in to a 34 degree night in Portland on Sunday, exhausted by my trip but with a bit of a spring in my step as I did find some interesting liquor to bring back with me. I managed to find and acquire 3 bottles of Boord's Old Tom Gin, the first time I've ever seen Old Tom in the States (although I do understand that they distill Old Tom in Jamaica, but only for local consumption). I've been a little under the weather, so I haven't cracked a bottle yet (and I promised 2 of the bottles to friends). I'll probably get into it tonight, if nothing else, just to compare it side by side with say, Aviation Gin and Tanqueray (two gins I know are residing in the old liquor cabinet). More to come on this subject soon.

I also picked up-

- Torani Amer
- Luxardo Amaro
- Amaro Cio Ciaro
- a Portugese anis, Pastis Escarchado which has crystallized sugar and anise in the bottle.
- Bluecoat Gin (a favorite thats unfortunately not available in OR)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ginger Beer and the DellaPenna Cocktail

I've guarded my Ginger Beer recipe rather jealously, but today I thought I'd put it up for any and all to make. To my mind, its the best ginger beer out there, spicy, complex and with just the right amount of kick. Combined with some Gosling's Black Seal Rum and a little lime it makes a wonderful Dark and Stormy, one of my all time favorite cocktails. Here is the recipe-

1 Ginger root
1 Lemon, zest only
2 oz Cream of tartar
1 1/2 lb Sugar
1 gallon boiling water
1 packet bakers yeast

1) Grate the ginger root (I use a box grater) and then place in a large stockpot.
2)Add all ingredients except the yeast
3) Stir until sugar and cream of
tartar is dissolved and then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
4)Add yeast which has been
dissolved in a little lukewarm water.
5) Cover tightly for at least 6 hours (I usually go overnight).
6) Filter (I use a chinois, but a coffee filter or cheesecloth would work too).
Bottle and cap tightly. Make sure to use screwcaps. Plugs will blow off. Place in dark, cool (basement?) place for one to two weeks. Chill fully before drinking.

Tonight, I'm flying down to Sacramento to spend one last visit with one of my dearest friends and a great bartender, Richard DellaPenna. Richard taught me a lot about the craft, and about life in general. If you get a chance, make yourself one of these and pay tribute to old friends. I'll never forget Richard, he is truly one of the finest people I've ever known. This one is in his honor;

The DellaPenna Cocktail
2 oz Pisco
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
3 oz Ginger Beer

Build over ice, mix to combine, and toast to a good friend, then savor.

I'm off for the weekend.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Repeal Day!

Today is Repeal Day. My good friend and original Repeal Day organizer Jeff Morgenthaler has some pics up on his blog of his NYC Repeal Day activities ( Closer to home, my friends and brilliant mixologists Daniel and Ted at the TearDrop Lounge are doing some great Pre-Prohibition cocktails in honor of Repeal Day. Stop by around 5pm there and you might catch yours truly there.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cranberry-Ginger Shrub

I've been trying to come up with my beverage selections for this years Thanksgiving celebration. I like to have a few different cocktails available intially, move into wine with dinner, and then finish off with a nice vintage port. This year, the wine selection was easy, since its all family this year I'm going to break out my favorite wine, Green Truck Cellars Pinot Noir. I haven't decided whether to serve the 04 or 05, the 04 is a little more austere, while the 05 is a luscious fruit bomb. I'll make that decision when I finalize the menu. As for port, I'm sitting on several bottles of the 80 vintage, which should be showing nicely at this point.
That brings me to cocktails. I love rum drinks at Thanksgiving, as the early settlers of our fine country wouldn't have been slugging bourbon at the earliest Thanksgivings. I'm thinking a Dark and Stormy, while not classically American, makes for an interesting drink, especially if made with my own recipe for ginger beer. In addition, this year I've decided to recreate a Colonial era drink called a shrub. Shrub (from the arabice, shrab, meaning drink) are cocktails made with fruit in a vinegar base. I know, you don't really see drinks with a vinegar base in current times, but when you start breaking cocktails down, vinegar is just essentially an acid, the same thing that we use lemon juice or lime juice for in modern times. I['d read about shrubs for some time, most recently in Eric Felten's new book, and decided to try my hand at making a shrub appropriate for both a modern Thanksgiving and Colonial times. I settled on cranberry ginger, two flavors appropriate for both venues.

Here is the cocktail- Cranberry-Ginger Shrub
2 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz Cranberry Ginger Shrub
Reeds Ginger Ale to fill

Build over ice in a rocks glass, stir to incorporate and serve

Cranberry-Ginger Syrup

2 pints Cranberries
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, sliced thin
1 c water
1 c sugar
2 c white wine vinegar

1) Bring sugar and water to a boil in a med saucepan, reduce heat slightly, add cranberries and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
2) addd vinegar, return to a boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat and strain through a chinois into a container.
Keep shrub syrup refrigerated until use.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Amaro Serafino Recipe Pt 2

2 bottles of red wine
8 dried apricots
4 sticks cinnamon
8 black peppercorns, crushed
8 cloves crushed
1/2 c brandy

Add all ingredients except brandy in a stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and add brandy. Cover and let ingredients marry for 3 days. After 3 days, combine liquid with other amaro base, stir to combine and bottle.

Yields approximately 5 750 mL bottles.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ironically enough

Tonight is the finals of the Vitaminwater Energy Drink Cocktail contest. I didn't make it, but my good friend David Shenault from the TearDrop (and Meriwethers) did. He's up against bartenders from Bartini (huh?), Mint/820 (yawn), and Rontoms (all I can say is wow). If skill, imagination and hard work have anything to do with it, David should be $2007 richer by the end of the evening.

The ironic thing is that I just read a news article headlined, "Mixing Vodka and Red Bull can be Deadly Experts Say". To quote this expert, "its like mixing cocaine with heroin". Yeah right.

Who knew? Good luck tonight David and try not to kill anyone with your energy drink concoction.

If you want to check the competition out, its tonight at 8pm at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison here in Portland.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cocktail Du Jour

So its happy hour in the Mayhew household, and apparently my day has been a little longer than usual. Anyway, I attempted to make one of my preferred libations, but I wasn't paying attention and ended up with something else instead. I felt like that old Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ad, "You spilled your peanut butter in my chocolate!/ You spilled your chocolate in my peanut butter!". Sometimes, it takes a random event (or a complete lack of attention) to find out that some flavors work together. You might call it kismet..

The Kismet Cocktail
2 oz Aperol
1 oz John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1 oz Aviation Gin

Build over the rocks in a double rocks glass.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Amaro Serafino recipe pt 1

I adore amaro, the versatile bitter liqueurs from Italy that are so versatile in cocktails. I was recently gifted a large quantity of good wine that, unfortunately for me, had already been opened. Rather than attempt to consume more alcohol than my usual prodigious consumption of cocktails, I decided to take a crack at making some amaro. One of the things I find so enjoyable about amaros is that each one has its own personality, no two amaros are the same. Sure, all amaro's need to be bitter, and contain a wine base, but from there the possibilities are endless. This is the first part of the recipe. I'll post the second part and pics in the next day or so. Suffice to say, I'm exceptionally pleased with the end results. Delicious!

3 bottles good quality Zinfandel

.1 oz hyssop
.25 oz cherry bark
1 bay leaf
.2 oz gentian root
.8 oz dried orange peel
fresh anise (6 fresh flowers, and 7 leaves, shredded)
.4 oz tonka beans
.2 oz fresh artichoke leaves, chopped
1 oz dried oregano
4 star anise, crushed
6 juniper berries
.2 oz fresh thyme
.5 oz fresh sage
.3 oz fresh rosemary
.1 oz chamomile flowers
.8 oz cassia bark
.5 oz quassia bark
.15 oz lemon verbena
.5 oz wormwood
1.15 oz sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot, add two bottles of Zin, and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. remove from heat, allow to cool, cover and let steep for 12-24 hours. Add 3rd bottle of Zinfandel, 1 1/2 cups good brandy, stir to incorporate, and strain through a chinois. Cover and keep in a cool dry place until part 2 is complete.

SOON TO COME- PART 2 of the Serafino Amaro Recipe

Quick Update

Ok, I know I've been a little lax with this recently. I've got quite a few irons in the fire right now and very little free time. As for my Vitaminwater Energy Drink contest entry, I went with Valhalla and submitted it Monday. I should hear something this week if I'm "selected" to compete in the finals this Monday. I don't much care either way. A few quick updates (more to come tonight)

1) My amaro is finished. I should have the recipe and pics up pretty quickly here

2) I'm obsessed with the "Joy of Pickling" right now. I know its not cocktail related, but damn its a great book. I've got a batch of sauerkraut ready to be canned right now and just finished a nice Curried Green Tomato Pickle that I hope to serve at Thanksgiving.

3) I'm finally going to finish off my grapefruit tomato bitters tonight. Pics should be up soon

4) I'm hoping to have a fig brandy in the works asap.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Name my cocktail entry

And we have a winner...

I'm lacking a name for my entry into the VitaminWater Energy Drink Contest, I can't say that this is my finest creation, nor even something that I am particularly proud of, but it tastes like a good nightclub energy drink based cocktail should. I've got until the 29th to come up with an idea for the name, and it could take me a while (I hate naming drinks). Without further ado, here is my entry;

1 oz Stoli Vanil Vodka
1 oz Amaretto Di Saronno
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz VitaminWater Dragonfruit Energy Drink

Build over ice in a double rocks glass, garnish with a slice of starfruit on the rim.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vitaminwater energy drink contest

So for the chance to win $2007 dollars cash, apparently I'll whore myself out to anyone. I've entered this contest (seemingly directed towards the nightclub scene, we won't be carrying this at Meriwethers), simply because I've probably never needed 2k like I do right now. Not that you can ever count on winning money in a contest. Life just doesn't work that way, and these things are so subjective. "Phil", apparently my local Vitaminwater Energy drink rep, dropped off a mixed case of this stuff at my job so that I could experiment with it a little bit. I got 4 cans each of Tropical Citrus (the yellow can), Dragonfruit (the red can) and Fruit Punch (the purple can). I've had this stuff before, as a straight energy drink, and I don't think its particularly memorable, but it does the trick. Its only slightly carbonated, and apparently contains a ton of sugar (50g of sugar in the Fruit Punch, JESUS CHRIST!). Well, I attempted two cocktails right off the bat with less than stellar results. I don't really make sweet drinks, and this stuff is sweet AND thin, so it kind of disappears in a cocktail. So far, its a complete bitch trying to balance these damn things out. Here are the first two losers;

The Rum Booty-
2 oz Bacardi light
1/2 oz John D. Taylors Velvet Falernum (big mistake)
3 dashes orange bitters
3 oz Dragonfruit Vitaminwater energy drink
3 oz Tropical Citrus Vitaminwater energy drink

Build over rocks in a bucket.

The Tijuana Puta
2 Cazadores Reposado Tequila
3 dashes grapefruit bitters
3 oz Dragonfruit Vitaminwater energy drink
3 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice

Back to the drawing board. Maybe I'll just foam this crap. I'm open to any and all ideas right now, if you help me to achieve victory, I'll kick you $7 in prize money.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekend update

Well, my dinner party expanded by two on Friday night, so instead of the '91 Sterling, I chose to pop a couple of bottles of '87 Lyeth Meritage. Chip Lyeth died in an aviation accident in 1988, and Lyeth's quality has suffered considerably since then, but since these bottles had been produced under Chip Lyeth's reign, I had high hopes.
All that I can say is that my hopes were exceeded by the quality of this wine. I've consumed a lot of vintage Bordeaux, and the Lyeth was comparable to the better Bordeaux's that I've had. Bright cherry, tobacco, and herbal notes on the palate matched with our food tremendously. The wine's tannins had mellowed considerably (I've got a lot of experience with Lyeth and usually find their Meritage unapproachably tannic when released) and the wine opened up very quickly once uncorked and threw almost no sediment in 20 years. I was happily surprised that it turned out so well.

I'm thinking about making a sweet vermouth. I'm not sure where to get a recipe, but I should be able to at least find a starting place soon. I'm thinking about using Zinfandel as a base, as I like its structure and ability to match well with so many flavors.

At 1pm today, I'm attending Galaxy Wines big tasting. Its great, they are actually having it at the office building where I work my day job. Nothing like finishing the day off after a little wine tasting. I'm also supposed to hit the Glenlivet dinner at Ten-0-One, but scheduling issues may prevent that. I'll just have to see.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday musings and other random thoughts

I'm drinking a 1991 Sterling Merlot with dinner tonight. I'm not the biggest merlot fan, in fact, I hardly touch it, but 91 was such a good year that my mouth is watering at the thought.

The first case of Aperol entered Oregon yesterday. Britt over at Hillsdale Liquor out in Beaverton called me yesterday to tell me that she's sitting on a case. At $25 a bottle, its a little more than I pay in CA, but I'm not complaining. Btw, one of my favorite cocktails in the world is simply equal parts Aperol and Aviation gin on the rocks. I may have to pour myself one of those tonight to celebrate.

I really need to make another batch of ginger beer.

Ever try equal parts of Cynar and Aviation gin? That one is an amazing cocktail too. Very food friendly.

Taking stock of the wines stashed under my desk right now reveals the following;

a 2002 Seidel-Dudenhoffer Dornfelder (not for me, blech)

a 1972 Ch. Peymartin Bordeaux (past its prime, '72 was an awful year, and I've had this vintage of this producer before)

2 bottles of 1989 Whitehall Lane Merlot

a magnum of Mystal Vineyards Merlot from 1996

a 1986 Whitehall Lane Merlot

a 1997 Van Asperen Zinfandel

and 3 bottles of 1980 Rebello Valente Vintage Port

And yes, you read that right, this is whats stashed under my desk at my day job.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

With apologies to Mary Decker...

So my friend Daniel Shoemaker, bartender extraordinaire and owner of the best cocktail bar in Portland, the TearDrop lounge, makes this wonderful rum drink with tepache. Tepache is basically flat beer, pineapple rinds and mexican sugar left to ferment for a few days until it becomes a mildly alcoholic beverage. Daniel's is amazing, far better than the stuff I've actually consumed in Mexico, and I really think it makes an interesting base for rum drinks. Wanting to experiment with fermenting a pineapple based beverage, I started doing some research and came across a recipe for South African Pineapple Beer. Since it was going to be my first attempt at making this, I followed the recipe exactly as written (well, mostly). If I was to attempt this again, I'd add some cream of tartar for a little more carbonation. The pineapple beer does have some carbonation, but to my taste, its just a bit flat. It works fine as is as a base for a cocktail, but if I was to consume it straight it would need more carbonation.

Pineapple Beer (yields approximately 7 750mL bottles)

1 whole pineapple, chopped into 1/8 wedges about 1/2 inch thick
7L mildly warm water
500g dark brown sugar
75g rasins
1 packet dry yeast

1) Wash the pineapple well and chop into wedges
2) Mix pineapple, water, sugar, and raisins together in a large container
3) sprinkle yeast over the mixture and let stand 30 minutes
4) cover loosely and let stand in a cool, dry place for 24 hrs
5) Strain through a chinois and bottle
6) Beer is ready after 2 days in the bottle

I wouldn't serve this to your kids, its very mildly alcoholic, but it would be hell to catch a buzz off of this stuff.

So now onto the good stuff. Creating my first cocktail with the pineapple beer as a base. A quick perusal of the liquor cabinet here at the house gave me two options for rum. Bacardi Silver and Gosling's Black Seal. I'm a big fan of Gosling's, a Dark and Stormy just doesn't taste right without Black Seal and I use just a bit of it to round out the different types of bitters that I make. Some decisions just make themselves. Next, I'm a big believer that almost all cocktails benefit from the addition of some sort of bitters. I pondered using my own grapefruit bitters or Peychauds bitters, but then decided on Regan's Orange Bitters. Regan's is a nice bitters, and reliably safe. After tasting the results of the final cocktail, I think the Regan's ended up being the best possible choice. It added some nice background notes, some depth and really balanced things out. I debated adding some falernum to the drink, but as I play around with the pineapple beer, I'll definitely do something with pineapple beer and falernum. With no further ado, here is the recipe for tonights cocktail, the Zola (named after Zola Budd, the South African long distance runner).

Zola Cocktail
2 oz Gosling's Black Seal Rum
3 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
4 oz South African Pineapple Beer

Build in a double rocks glass over ice, garnish (if desired) with a pineapple wedge and an orange twist.

A Complete Waste of Time

So I was relatively excited to score a bar guide from Australia. If nothing else, I thought I might be able to add a few new cocktails to the old repetoire and see what people down under are pouring. Apparently every drink poured in Australia features loads of Midori and not much else. Oh well, you win some, you lose some right?