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?