Cocktail cherries, that you may no longer live like an animal.
One of the latest things which has taken the world by storm, or at least my corner of it, is taking the decidedly fanatically, dysfunctionally obsessive Joe-like approach to food and extrapolating it into the cocktail sphere.
The first guilty party to go up against the wall, in matters of food or beverage, is The Artificial Ingredient. So, in pondering the ideal Manhattan cocktail for Speakeasy Month, I was stymied by the fact the cocktail cherry is a concentrated repository of multisyllabic chemical evilosity. Of late, there have been some places where cherries not aswim in an ocean of something-hyde and something else-zoate are available, but at prices which betray their purveyors' wide-eyed innocence regarding purchasing power during The Great Recession.
This leaves me no alternative but to pursue the DIY approach, as I am simply not going to pony up $22.99 for a mere 8oz. Especially when I know the ingredients contained therein add up to a princely $3 at very most.
Before you start to bemoan the effort required to make your own cocktail cherries know this – setting aside the time required for cooling -- a batch takes but a mere 10 minutes.
There are, of course, eleventy gazillion different cocktail cherry recipes, but a good starter cherry recipe is this one:
6 lbs dark, sweet cherries
¾ c sugar
¼ c fresh, strained lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ c cherry brandy or liqueur. For this go-around we have Cherry Heering, but the next time it could be Kirchwasser. (You can use brandy, bourbon, pisco, rum, rye, grappa, vodka...etc.)
Put sugar, water, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice and cherries. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from burner, fish out the cinnamon sticks, and stir in the liqueur/liquor.
The smart thing to do is to pit the cherries, but I chose to keep the pits for a more complex flavor...and because I couldn't be bothered in my zeal. Next time, I will enlist someone whom I have offsprung to man the pitter. I also chose basic supermarket sweet (NOT SOUR) cherries.
These cherries are amazing.
You will need to make extra, because you will ingest half of them warm right from the stove. These will definitely migrate into your supply of vanilla ice cream, and banana splits will suddenly begin to materialize in your life. The ensuing cherry liqueur is also spectacular. Mind you, bereft of chemical escort, the cherries will eventually turn dark at +/-2 weeks, and they hit their peak of color/flavor excellentness at the 1 week mark.
Staying on the track of Doug's Tiki Month vibe, I bring you yet another tinkering.
Bora Bora Punch
¾ oz fresh lime juice 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz cinnamon syrup
½ oz 2:1 sugar syrup (Demerara sugar is a nice variation)
½ oz Demerara rum (El Dorado 5 or 8) 1½ oz aged Haitian rum (Barbancourt 8 or 15)
Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake furiously. Pour into a chimney glass, top with more crushed ice to fill.
[I'll tweak this later with links and pictures, but first I wanted to get this here, under the wire.]
For the MxMo swan song, and sort of riffing on Tiki Month, I give you:
St. Brendan the Navigator
1½ ounces Irish whiskey
½ ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
½ ounce Cointreau
½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ ounce orgeat
1 dash Angostura bitters
A lime twist for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or a coupe if you you are wired like Doug.
One thing I am notoriously a fan of, is a bargain. I'd rather have the 2nd best if it offered 95% of the quality of the very best for 5% of the price. I like things that punch WAY above their weight.
So -- and I'll be brief here -- I have two suggestions in the liquor cabinet department.
First, rumwise. One of the very trendiest things are the various types of rhum agricole from Martinique or Guadaloupe. These are French territory and get the coveted AOC designation. These rums' favor spectrum runs to, um, a funk. They are distilled from fresh cane juice and, therefore, are grassy and earthy. Sometimes oppressively so.
A FORMER French territory also produces such rums (but can't legally use the rhum agricole descriptor) and I speak of Haiti.
The blanc is an in-all-but-designation rhum agricole. It has that earthy/grassy/funky thing going on but not in an off-putting way as some of its separated Gallic brethren. Oh, and if you're unfortunate enough to have to pay full-on MSRP you're looking at ma-a-a-a-aybe $17. There is no better choice for a 'Ti Punch, period.
The other choice (borne of a Twitter exchange with the estimable Doug, whose Tiki Month is an interweb staple, and which is the genesis of this post) is my go-to bourbon when I have to get bourbonic with the masses. Say, if you're having a Derby party for 8392 of your beloved's closest friends and their enormous hats.
This steal, pals, is Old Forester.
Not any fancy-pants super-duper single-shotglass version. Plain old, Old F.
It goes for +/-$30...for -- get this -- a handle*. If you need to crank out a ton of bourbon based drinks for people with decent (but not exasperating) tastebuds, who will appreciate the good stuff but not necessarily the rarefied stuff...this is your choice.
For those among the assembled who have not read my other drivel in other corners of the internet (currently being consolidated here) you should know about my pal Doug Winship and his Annual Tiki Month revels. Now, since Doug is one of Nature's Aristocracy, I like to help out and get into the spirit of the thing. This year, I wanted to tackle a Tiki drink the various, er, variations of which I've enjoyed but never, y'know, quite loved. The Navy Grog (Trader Vic's and Don the Beachcomber's) and the let's-not-call-it-Navy Yeoman's Grog from the Mai Kai, plus other places' variants (generally going around and doing business under the the guise of Admiral's Grog, Captain's Grog, Sailor's Grog, Chief Petty Officer's Grog, Ensign's Grog or similar nomenclatural shenanigans).
It has been said the big improvement in the evolution from Don to Vic was the latter's addition of allspice/pimento dram. Here, alas, I must sharply diverge with the fashionable trends in modern mixological circles. My problem is that the moment so much as a molecular trace of allspice/pimento dram enters the equation, that's all I taste. While the Mai-Kai version features this development, it also includes vanilla syrup and since, to my palate, both this and grapefruit juice play nicely with cinnamon syrup, I went with the latter instead of the allspice/pimento dram. (I fully realize that many people have had their hair set aflame by this preceding statement.)
While I was at it, I tweaked the garnish (house made cocktail cherries) and the ice (Don used the famous ice cone; Vic, crushed ice).
Because it'd be not the done thing to stick with the original name, I changed it slightly. I give you...
The Commodore's Grog
¾ oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
¾ oz fresh-squeezed (preferable) white grapefruit juice
oz Demerara rum (I suggest El Dorado 5 or El Dorado 8),
1 oz dark Jamaican rum (anything from Kohala Bay, Smith & Cross, to Coruba to even Myer's will work)
1 oz white rum (I like Bacardi 1919, but I use Cruzan when quenching a horde)
Unrelated to this image, those who stayed loyal to my blog while I was, Prodigal Son-like, dissipatin' my writing talent away on FB, will be pleased to note I have generated more bloggy goodness this month than I did in all of 2016.
Today we inaugurate (stop it...grow up) a little something I'm trying out. As I alluded previously, the film L.A. Story stated all of the great truths can be encapsulated in TV and movie lines; and I want to illustrate such truths (not all of these truths are particularly momentous, but there ya go) via some clips and explanations.
Let's start by you clicking on this:
Here's the thing.
One of the most important things I've discovered is to learn to make it easy (or easier) for people to accept you. Not everyone will, and we're not talking about this in the Grand Important Sense, so don't go there. But many times you will be in a situation where well-developed Zelig-ability comes in very, very handy.
Not just for practical reasons (you sell widgets and want a "hook" with the guy who could buy eleventy squillion of 'em), but also because you can get insight into how and why people think the way they do, and this can lead to a better understanding between you. You may still disagree on hot-buttons issues but getting a heightened sense of the hows-and-whys of someone else's brain pattern is a crucial first step in more meaningfully relating to someone else.
To give a brief analogy to explain why I'm significantly curtailing my FB and Twitter time:
Think of a park. It's your favorite park. You feel relaxed and at ease there, you see things pleasing to the eye.
One day, you go to the park and you see it is full of people. They are carrying signs. Many are dear friends. While you agree (strongly or mildly) with some of the signs, disagree (strongly or mildly) with other signs, you generally like all of the sign-carriers whom you recognize.
Anyway, you walk around for a while, drinking in this scene and, not really being able to do at the park those things for which you go to the park, you head home.
Same thing happens the next day. And the one after that. That doesn't mean that what people are expressing shouldn't be expressed, or that they are terrible people for expressing these things, or even that they shouldn't be at this park expressing them.
But you realize the park you used to enjoy visiting is no longer an enjoyable place for you. And so, on one fine day you simply stop going.
P.S. There may be some periods of clutter as I consolidate various things into this one blog. Don't panic.
As some of you may have learned from the so-called "news media" I'll be taking a sabbatical from FB and Twitter. No, it won't be absolute; I'll still pop by every once in a while, but it'll be rather thorough, this hiatus.
The very short reason is that it's not fun anymore.
I don't want to restrict anyone's expression of viewpoints, but in my case the volume (and, as it were, temperature) of such expressions reached a saturation point for me. For me -- and you are at absolute liberty to have a divergent perspective -- that's not the purpose of social media.
If I wanted to revel in discord and acrimony I'd be paying attention to real life. But since I don't, I don't.
However, I must give voice (or print) to whatever thought trespasses on my brain's airspace, so this will be the spot. I'll merge all of my other things HERE (eventually) so feel free to rummage around.
Until I regain my sea legs this will be my shtick: I'll post a video that brings up an interesting point, and then I'll discuss it from a perspective you've likely not encountered anywhere.