COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 1 – Old Ancho Cocktail

old-ancho-cocktail

I`m going to start a new series – cocktails with mezcal. The reason for doing this is that i think mezcal deserves to be used much more in cocktail mixing, its such a nice spirit. Actually its used quite much now compared to before and that is a good thing, but i have never yet seen it in my country. And even though you really should experinece the full flavours of mezcal by sipping it (its very nice in clay cups) it makes nice mixed drinks.

So i`m going to post cocktails using mezcal, hoping that more will try to mix with it. Mezcal is a real handcrafted spirit distilled from fermented juice of the pineapple-shaped core, the piña – of the agave plant. These cores are roasted in earthen mounds as opposed to cooked as is the practice in tequila making, to simplify it. And the distinctive woody smokiness of the mezcal comes from this roasting.

The smokiness can maybe be a challenge to get used to but premium mezcals like Del Maguey and Ilegal has a light smokiness that is not offensive. And the smokiness adds a very interesting punch –  a little smoke and fire to a drink.

The herbal flavours of the agave and the earthy smoke from the roasting pairs really well with fruity flavours making sure you definetily won´t get a boring drink. If you have had bad mezcal as your first experience of this wonderful spirit, give it a new try – with a premium brand.

I have a tendency to use a lot of fresh fruit juices in my drinks so i`m not even sure this cocktail will do the mezcal enough justice. On the other hand –  it has a lot of smokiness that stands up well to most mixers. So here is the first cocktail with mezcal which i call Old Ancho.

To this cocktail i have made a ancho-chili syrup. The anco chili is really a dried poblano as they are referred to poblano when they are fresh. The ancho is dried, a reddish brown, flat and wrinkled chili and sweetest of the dried chilis originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The word ancho means “wide” in Spanish. Fresh poblanos are also sold under the name pasilla.

There´s another variety of dried poblano which is called mulato chile and which is darker in color,  sweeter and also softer in texture. Its heat rating is 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units. (compared to ancho which is 1000-1500) The mulato has been described as tasting somewhat like chocolate or licorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco. (mmm….)

The anco chile has a sweet slighly hot and earthy flavor. It is commonly used in Mexican cooking and is a staple in red chili and tamales.

The flavor in this syrup came out very nice, the palmsugar in it played well with the earhy flavor of the ancho, but to not have the palmsugar flavor overpowering the syrup i also used an equal part light raw sugar.To make this syrup you need 1:1 palmsugar and light raw sugar and i used a 2:1 ratio sugar to water. Then you need one large dried ancho chili. I only made a small batch this time.

ANCHO CHILI SYRUP

1 large dried ancho chili
1 dl light raw sugar (I used oxfam)
1 dl palmsugar
2 dl water

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I boiled this in my pan for about 10 minutes, then the chili seeds started to fall out. I let it boil a bit more and tasted. The flavor wasn´t very hot at all so i let it boil for another 3-4 minutes and tasted again. Now the seeds had given a bit of a hot flavor so i took it off and strained out the seeds. I also took out remaining seeds from the chili.

Then i put it all back again on the stove to simmer for another 4 miutes before i took it off to cool. The flavor was now a little bit hot but not too much, earthy, spicy and raw sugar sweet, just perfect.

The mezcal cocktail i made is a fruity and spicy twist on the mojito adding the ancho syrup instead of sugar and topped with Tonic water.

OLD ANCHO COCKTAIL

1.5 oz mezcal
1 lime, quartered
0.75 oz ancho chili syrup
5-6 mint leaves
Top with a good quality tonic

Muddle lime, mint and ancho syrup in shaker. Add mezcal and shake over ice. Strain into a cocktailglass with crushed ice. Top with tonic. Garnish mint and a speared ancho chili.

The mezcal and the acho syrup goes well together i think even though the mezcal somewhat overpowers the flavors of the syrup due to its smokiness. Nevertheless these two are friends. I find this cocktail quite refreshing. The ice also mellows the flavours a bit.

ancho-chile-syrup-making-21

 

Sugarcane bar

RON LOS VALIENTES – A Mexican Rum

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This is a Mexican rum, yes it is – and in fact its the first Mexican rum i try.

This rum is produced by the Villanueva family who since three generations back has hand produced fine spirits in the town of Cordoba in the province of Veracruz in eastern Mexico. This province has for 500 years now been famous for their sugarcane.

Rum was in the 16th century actually one of the most popular beverages consumed in Mexico, but the Spanish during their dominion made sure rum was prohibited. But luckily for us today there was a few still that secretly continued producing rum –  and the name ‘Los Valientes’ (it means the Valiant Ones) is in honour of the brave fighters of the Mexican Revolution. I had no idea about this, so interesting to learn!

This rum is a rare cat…they use not only the molasses in this small batched rum but also the sugarcane juice – which is  fermented with natural yeasts and then double distilled in pot-stills followed by charcoal filtering. I`ve not heard of a rum using both molasses and sugarcane juice before.

The molasess is distilled in column stills and its the heart of this distillation together with the sugarcane juice – in a ratio of 70:30 juice to molasses – that goes into this rum.The rum is aged in used American white oak barrels producing a light and refined flavour to the finsihed product.

This is a very interesting rum indeed! The 10 and 15 year rums are made at 40% abv while the 20 is 43% abv.

When you know the history of a rum and where it comes from it`s even more interesting to sample it, to try to pick up all the flavours in the nose and mouth and get a picture of the whole. It cannot compare of course with visiting the distillery but knowing a rums history and how its made takes your experience to a higher level, making it more complete.Rum tasting is an ever-learning experience and an art in itself which can only be perfected by training. Gaining experience and training your palate is a long process that takes time and i`m only at the beginning of what i consider a long pleasant journey.

So here we go with these three very intriguing rums – and indeed these are good rums:

Ron Los Valientes 10 year Old

In the nose i find a hint of plums, then oak and sugarcane.The flavour has a slight balanced fire and its molasses, dried tropical fruits, a slight hint of the sugarcane juice but not grassy and herbal – actually i expected more of that but its very light and balanced. And its definetily flavours from the oak there and is there a slight hint of dark chocolate? yes it is.

Its not a heavy rum, its rather light in character and it goes down very easily. 

Ron Los Valientes 15 year Old

The first thought that crossed my mind when sampling the nose of this 15 year rum was “old pirate times”, i could almost mentally see the ships… Note i said the “feeling” because that´s what the aroma gives you as well – a feel. The aroma itself is to me molasses, sugarcane and old oak followed by burnt caramel. Its heavier on the nose than the 10 year old and the taste is more spicy and has more woody depth while the 10 year has more caramel.

Ron Los Valientes 20 year Old

rlv-rums

The oldest of the three brave rums. The nose is so pleasant…with caramel notes. Nice notes of oak paired with dried fruits and molasses. It has the most depth of the three and some fire too as it should. The 20 year old rums are numbered and hand signed. I like the 20 year the most, i find it to be the most complete of them.Then very closely comes the 10 year old, it has a great flavor, is smooth and then there´s something more in its flavour..

Its followed by the 15 year old with its spicier and oaky flavour – a “happy” rum.They are available in the UK but i don´t know about the US.

Do we need a cocktail here as well? – yeah i think we do..a little rum old fashioned.

TRINITY RUM OLD FASHIONED

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1 oz Ron Los Valientes 10 year Old
0.5 oz Ron Los Valientes 15 year Old
0.5 oz Ron Los Valientes 20 year Old
1 tsp raw cane sugar syrup
2 dashes Adam`s Boker´s bitters or Angostura

Add syrup and bitters to a small Old Fashioned glass. Add ice and stir. Add the rums and stir again. Drop a piece of lime and a good quality cocktail cherry in the glass.

You could use an orange peel here and spray some oil over the surface of the drink, but i preferred to simply drop a lime today.

Enjoy!

For full disclosure picture courtesy and samples of Ron Los Valientes was provided by Wine and Spirit International Ltd – http://www.ronlosvalientes.com/

Picture courtesy also of IPBartenders London.

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ILEGAL MEZCAL

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The nose of the mezcal reaches me, its earhty…and smoky…but not overwelmingly so – in a pleasant way it invites you to take a sip.

I wrote this on my post on mezcal at theMixoloseum blog and its how i feel about mezcal.I wrote a little about how mezcal is made as well in that post so i`m not writing about the process in making it now – even though that´s a very interesting topic but what i´m going to write about is Ilegal mezcal which is a handcrafted small batch product and one of the best mezcals out there (of those i have tried)

Its a very smooth and pleasant mezcal which keeps the smokiness lingering in the background and not upfront – instead it grows upon you as it should if well made. At least that`s what i think.

I`ve tried two of Ilegal mezcals – the joven (young/unaged) which i graciously received here just before i left for the US and then the anejo which was brought to the Mixoloseum house in New Orleans courtesy Ilegal mezcal and which i was lucky to sample there. Both are very good, these mezcals are very smooth and they belong to the top shelf mezcals.

I have also tried a few bad mezcals and all i can say is that there´s a huge difference between a good one and a not so good.

The joven is a young mezcal, double and triple distilled made from espadin agave.The anejo is aged one year in medium charred new oak barrels.They also make a reposado which i haven´t tried. Its aged 4-5 months in the same type of barrels as the anejo.The bottle labels are also very nice and the paper has a special feel to it.

Try to find mezcal here in this country…just the thought of it is almost ridiculous, on the shelf i can count on one hand the brands of tequila that i can pick, so what does it take to get something like mezcal to be sold here? few people even knows what it is. Well, i`m happy i do because its deliscious, good to sip neat and good to mix with as well.

I had a few nice tequila and mezcal cocktails at Mayahuel in NYC and i specifically remember one called “Slight Detour” with  joven and reposado mezcals, agave and Xocoatl mole bitters and a trio of jalapeno tequila – and peppers is something i think goes really well with these spirits.

I`m currently experimenting with mezcal cocktails and infusions and there will definetily be more of it here.The fun thing with infusing mezcal is that you have its rich flavour profile and smokiness that challenges you. You can infuse it with many things but not all will end up with a good result.

For instance i have a green tomato infusion that have been sitting for a week now and the tomatos hasn´t yet imparted any much to the infusion because they are to light in flavour. I wanted to use tomatillos but they are only occasionally available here, say once a year or so. There´s no mexican food store here either and that is very unfortunate i think.

The pineapple infusion on the other hand turned out really good, the mexcal has just a hint of pineapple and its just the way i like it. I made a chorizo infusion as well and made it to be subtle too (1-2 days – you gotta taste your way) and i think it turned out well. When i make my infusion experiments i always make very small jars, just enough for about 2 drinks because i don´t want to waste the spirit. Two other infusions that works well with mezcal is habanero and jalapeno peppers.

I like to combine mezcal and tequila with freshly muddled herbs and spices combined with fresh juices and simple, flavoured or agave syrups – it`s a nice thing for the palate.

Here´s another cocktail i made using one of my favorite bitters – Bitter Truth´s celery bitters and my pineapple infused joven mezcal with fresh lime, raw sugar cane and aperol garnished with a mezcal soaked cherry from my backyard.

MELLOW

mellow1

2 oz pineapple infused Ilegal mezcal joven
1 oz Aperol
0.5 oz fresh lime
0.5 oz raw sugar syrup
3 dashes BT celery bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.Garnish with a mezcal soaked cherry and a thin celery stick.

This cocktail turned out really fresh and nice tasting with the slightly pineapple flavoured mezcal playing nicely with both the aperol and celery bitters. But the big win was at the end – to eat the mezcal soaked cherry.That was nom nom.

To make mezcal soaked cherries:

Add fresh cherries to a jar filled with joven mezcal and soak for at least a week before use. I actually used this cherry a bit too early, only after a few days.They get even better with time but it was very flavourful already. Last year i soaked all my cherries in Luxardo maraschino, i had a supply that lasted the whole winter.This fall i`m gonna soak more cherries in mezcal and then make a jar with Luxardo and a jar with tequila.That should take me through the coming winter.

Just lately for the equal parts TDN i decided to use this mezcal in a drink that i called “Bitter Smoke”. I think this mezcal goes pretty well with Campari, and the Fevertree tonic is just what is needed to give it a fresh sparkle. Now this drink was made after the TDN rules of equal parts that night, so just a bit more tonic would be even nicer i believe. And add just a small a sprinkle of fresh lime as well.

BITTER SMOKE

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  • 1 oz Mezcal
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Fevertree tonic water

Build over big chunks of ice.

But the best way to take full advantage of and enjoy all the complex flavours of a good mezcal is to sip it neat.

There´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient… and it transports you.

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15 000 PEOPLE ATTENDED THE TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2009

talesmug

With the numbers now in front of me in my mailbox it seems that i`ve been to the biggest cocktail event in the world, 15000 people in a fairly small area and very much centered to mostly one hotel. No wonder the Monteleone lobby often was so crowded (but oh…the aircon that met me when getting in there after a 20 min walk was heaven)  It never took over 5 min before you met at least someone that you knew when entering there.

Everyone i spoke to who was there for the second time or more told me the same thing, the first time you get to the Tales you`ll be completely overwhelmed. And that´s true, you do – its no way you can really prepare yourself for the whirlwind of activites and awesomeness that is the Tales and that also is New Orleans – the heat of july included.

A good thing is – you can choose yourself how much of these activites you´ll attend to – but – your plans will most likely be changed more than once.

And here are some facts and the numbers from the press release that was sent out:

12,000 POUNDS OF KOLD-DRAFT ICE, 13, 884 MINT LEAVES, 11,250 LIMES AND 640 COCKTAIL RECIPES
TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2009 BY THE NUMBERS


NEW ORLEANS – (August 2009) – Tales of the Cocktail, the internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held its annual event in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 8 to July 12, 2009. The event brings together the best and brightest of the cocktail community—award-winning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs and designers—for a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of making drinks. Each year offers a spirited series of dinners, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours and parties all perfectly paired with some of the best cocktails ever made.

In its seventh year, Tales of the Cocktail hosted thousands of sippers, used 12,000 thousand pounds of Kold Draft ice, garnishes and more in the five days…Tales of the Cocktail 2009 by the numbers is below:

·     12,000 pounds of Kold Draft Ice
·     15,000 attendees
·     100,000 5-ounce Tales of Cocktail acrylic cups
·     13,884 mint leaves
·     14,000 lemons
·     11,250 limes
·     192 pounds of sugar
·     1,824 Driscoll’s Blackberries and Driscoll’s Blueberries
·     12,000 bottles of Fiji Water
·     74 Gallons Lime Juice
·     82 Gallons Lemon Juice
·     45 Gallons Grapefruit Juice
·     21 Gallons Pineapple Juice
·     25 Gallons Tomato Juice
·     75 Gallons Simple Syrup
·     10 Gallons Rich Simple Syrup
·     5 Gallons Honey Syrup
·     1400 Tropicana Orange twists
·     1200 Lemon Twists
·     1250 Lime Wheels
·     940 Lemon Wheels
·     950 Luxardo Cherries
·     450 Cucumber Wheels
·     400 Lemon Wedges
·     430 Lime Wedges
·     350 Stalks of Celery
·     48,921 items in the Swag Speakeasy
·     640 Cocktail Recipes in the Stir Your Soul Edition of the Tales of the Cocktail Recipe Book
·     25 Spirited Dinners at New Orleans Restaurants
·     10 partner hotel properties

About Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktail is an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event brings together the best and brightest of the cocktail community—award-winning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs and designers—for a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of making drinks. Each year offers a spirited series of dinners, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours and parties all perfectly paired with some of the best cocktails ever made.

About the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society

The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the unique culture of dining and drinking in New Orleans and the storied bars and restaurants that have contributed to the city’s world-wide culinary acclaim. This organization supports members of the hospitality industry through education and the production of events like Tales of the Cocktail and, most recently, Trails of the Cocktail, a scholarship program for emerging talent in the New Orleans cocktail industry.

Every summer spirits from around the world descend on America’s most soulful city. Next summer will be no different as Tales of the Cocktail returns. Join us for a spirited schedule of cocktails, cuisine and culture that will stir even the most idle of souls.

Save the date for next year’s Tales of the Cocktail, July 21-25, 2010


For more information, go to www.TalesoftheCocktail.com

tales-collage

EVER HEARD ABOUT STAN JONES?

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In 1977 a book was written by a man named Stan Jones.

He was a bar manager in California (he lived in the San Fernando Valley) with a great experience from both the restaurant and beverage industry. What sets him apart is that he wrote the first book for professional bartenders in some 30 years and that he did during a time that is likened to the dark ages of cocktail mixology as the art of mixing drinks was almost lost and replaced with a phletora of crappy drinks made from canned juices, cloingly-sweet liqueurs, instant powder-mixers and cheap vodka.

It was a time when real crafted cocktails was more or less forgotten and most people didn´t like the flavour of the spirits because their palates wasn´t used to it and preferred drinks where the taste of alcohol was either non-existant or thoroughly masked by a curtain of bad mixers.

And from there we have gone quite a long way until where we are now.

The book is called Jones’ Complete Bar Guide and contains no less than 4000 cocktail recipes plus in-depth history of cocktails including detailed notes on all the major and also many minor spirits categories. According to what i`ve heard Jones’ source for classic recipes was some edition of Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Mixer’s Manual and the 4th update of Mr Boston among others but i can`t confirm that.

Of course with that amount of recipes – all can´t be good and isn`t but you`ll definetily have a hefty treasure chest to dig into. You`ll also find many variations of the same drinks which can be quite interesting.

Anyway, the point is – he is much responsible for where we are today when we see a new renaissance of the classic cocktails. Important to note is that the CocktailDB uses recipes from his book and at the beginning of the cocktail renaissance that website was (and is) important and that has had an impact as well.

Today Jones’ book is a collector’s item and i think we owe this man a great deal of respect and honor. At the CSOWG Stan has been adopted our patron saint for the Mixoloseum and his stern look is always there to make  sure we don´t screw up our cocktails.

The awesome drawing of Stan for Mixoloseum was made by Dr Bamboo.

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Dr Bamboo wrote: “Waving a giant banner bearing Stan Jones likeness, they invaded a fairly sedate stretch of Rampart street and set up a base of operations from which both cocktails and cocktail knowledge would issue forth.”

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Pictures of Stan in the year 1976 and the book courtesy of Greg Boehm at Mud Puddle Books.

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Cachaca – Abelha Silver

 

From Bahia it hails – Abelha organic cachaca. I can easily say that this is the best cachaca i`ve had so far, its insanely good – so flavourful and tasty! I was actually surprised it was so good even though I expected it to be good. Up in Bahia is a farmers collective where they grow 100% organic sugar and that`s where Abelha starts its life. Its distilled in small batches in traditional copper stills.

Abelha is a small batch organic cachaca which means that no chemical products are used and the fermentation yeasts that are used are also cultured from the natural yeasts which grow on green sugar cane. Moreover the sugar cane isn´t burnt because for a cane to qualify as organic it must not be burnt prior to harvest. This is a very good thing as the air pollution from burning sugar cane fields is a huge problem.

Abelha produces two cachacas – Abelha Cachaca Silver which is the one i have tried and its a premium hand-crafted white, or rested (descansada) cachaca, with a clean flavour.

The other is the Abelha Gold which is s aged for 3 years in small 250L garapeira wooden barrels – the wood imparting a beautiful mellow tone to the cachaca resulting in a typical for the aging process a- full-flavoured, well-balanced cachaca. This one I haven´t tried yet but I bet its just as nice.

Abelha cachaca is certified by the IBD in Brasil, and the UK import is certified organic by the Organic Farmers and Growers.

So what about the flavour? as I said I tried the white cachaca and its really really nice  – with a hint of honey,  sugarcane and grass. A hint of the typical earthy flavour is there as well to remind you that this is cachaca. I can safely say this is the best I have tasted as far as cachacas go.

During the last TDN which was called “Beat The Heat” I made a drink with Abelha which I really enjoyed and to my joy others also liked it and it won that TDN gracing me with one of Trader Tiki´s awesome syrups! his stuff is really special and so goood! and here is the recipe for the drink:

Bahia Rose (Rosa da Bahia)


2 oz Abelha Cachaca
1 oz Aperol
1 oz fresh ruby grapefruit
0.5 oz fresh lime
0.5 oz simple syrup.

Shake and pour in saucer type of glass filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with a grapefruit rose and add two straws.

Finally I have to say a word about the bottle labels, they are really nice! very rustic, colorful and crafty, made by Holly Wales and Anthony Sheret. The label actually reminds me of my fellow bloggers awesome garden.

Abelha is as far as I know only sold in London – a link is here: http://www.abelha.co.uk/where-to-buy-cachaca-abelha-in-london/

I don´t know when or if it will be sold elsewhere, I myself wouldn´t mind seeing it in sold in Sweden which is the same as hoping for Astor to fly from New York and settle in Stockholm. If you can get your hands on this cachaca you should´t hesitate to try it.

MxMo XLI: VODKA IS YOUR FRIEND

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And so its time again for the next Mixology Monday!

The one in July never happened..and good was that, i think many agree. For myself, i did completely forget about that one – wound up in the after-waves of the Tales and i don`t think i was the only one.

So what`s on the topic for this one? well…its actually vodka and our host Amelia at Felicia’s Speakeasy says:

The theme of August 10th’s Mixology Monday is “Vodka is Your Friend.” The recent high profile bashings of vodka interspersed with a few weak “yeah, buts…” left me wondering, is vodka the axis of evil, our most dangerous enemy? While it may not be the life of the party, experts agree: Vodka’s obituary does not have to be written just yet.

Thanks for hosting! this should be fun.

So there we go…let´s see now what to do with this spirit said to be the best selling spirit of all in many places. I`m not usually a vodka drinker despite growing up in a vodka country but i do for the moment have a bottle of Uluvka and then a 176 proof Balkan in my bar which so far has been used for infusions. I`m of the opinion that there´s not that much flavour in vodka but i do know that there are vodkas out there with flavour.

Its true though that becuase its quite flavourless its like an empty canvas for you to spread about your fresh local fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. That´s the good thing. On the other hand i think its more fun to pair my mixers with various types of flavourful spirits..

When i was in New Orleans we went to a great place called Attiki and they served the best Bloody Mary i ever had (but it was made with gin.) Ever since i had that one its been in the back of my head to try to make a variation of it at home. And so now with vodka as a topic in this MxMo i  find a perfect opportunity to make a New Orleans style Bloody Mary.

I made some research on the net for various Nola style Mary`s and found a few recipes and then made my own variation.

NOLA STYLE BLOODY MARY

bloody-mary

* 2.5 oz tomato juice (i made from fresh very ripe tomatoes and added a tbsp tomato paste as well plus the bajou blast)
*2  oz vodka (Uluvka)
* 0.25 oz overproof vodka (Balkan)
* 0.5 tsp  fresh lemon juice
* 0.5 tsp  fresh lime juice
* 0.5 tsp prepared horseradish
* Worcestershire sauce to taste
* Louisiana hot sauce to taste
* pinch freshly ground black pepper
* pinch  Bayou Blast
* dash Peychaud´s
* 1 tbsp of the juice from okra jar
* Pickled okra, for garnish
* Green olives for garnish
* Black olive coarse sea salt to rim the glass

For tomato juice: Blend a couple of ripe tomatoes in a blender and strain. I also mixed in the Bajou blast here.

Prepared horseradish: Take a very small piece of horseradish and add 0.5  tsp cider vinegar and water and puree in mortar until smooth.

Bayou Blast: For one drink take a pinch ea of these things and mix them well: paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder,dried oregano,dried thyme, black pepper, cayenne. All dried spices.

Rim a tall glass with black olive coarse sea salt and set aside. Shake well over ice and double strain. Garnish with a pickled okra and 1-2 olives.

Sugarcane bar