There´s a fun contest going on..Dietsch over at “A dash of Bitters” and Samantha Harrigan over at Cocktailculture is having a “Don`t be Bitter” contest for cocktail bloggers. I wasn`t aware of it buried in work as i`ve been lately. But just the other night i discovered that Stevi over at “Two at the Most” had written about me! and while i started to read i said to myself oh my…what is going on here??
The contest is simple – give some link-love to a fellow blogger and write about an occasion when you was envious of their good luck, fortune, booze-collection – something you wish you had.
Hm…….the prize is a very sought after bottle of bitters…namely the Bitter Truth’s Beefeater 24 bitters, specially made for Beefeater 24. There was already a contest earlier over at Cocktailculture to win a bottle of these bitters but you had to be in the US and you had to be the first on a photo with a bottle of these precious bitters in hand taken at certain bars.
Now we who weren´t able to do that have now got a second chance and i sure wanna try! If i`m lucky to win i have promised to share half the content with Stevi.
So who is at the top of my list? First of all its all those people who are able to (more than say – once a year) meet fellow booze bloggers and cocktailians that they can share their passion with and then well..i have to say it has to be Rick over at Kaiserpenguin.
Man, that guy seems to have everything! He takes fantastic photos, has a real garden..and not just “a garden” its THE garden, complete with fishpond, awesome fireflys, beautiful plants and flowers and not one but two large great grills, and there is an abundance of fresh mint growing wild everywhere..so when you want a garnish you just go out there and pick some mint and a lily or a basil in bloom..
And that`s not all..he`s fortunate to live in a big house, has a great kitchen (he´s a great chef too) and a real icemaker..just press a button and you get either crushed ice, cubes or cold water. I actually made the ice to finish..
And what about the booze-collection? – no surprise its great and there´s a lot of stuff there i wish i had but cannot get like Laird´s bonded, Old Overholt, Sazerac, Vieux Carré..but ok, i do have access to all those demeraras so i think we are even there.
So i do get a bit envoius when i compare that to how i have it here with no garden, no grill, a very small and dark10 squaremeter sized room to live in and no ice maker – instead i go through one handcranked device after another.
And oh yeah, his blog is fantastic, one of the best, if you haven`t been there its time you go and read – i guarantee you will enjoy it.
Second on my list of envy has to be Jeffrey Morgenthaler because of all his travels…even though well-earned, and third got to be TraderTiki for his awesome home tikibar Reyonld`s Galley and the fourth is Jay at Oh Gosh! for living in London and having access to so many great bars, events and great spirit shops like Gerry`s and the Whiskey Exchange.
So there you have all my envies…but no…i`m not bitter;-)
The first thought that comes to mind when tasting this chocolate spirit is that of a very fine chocolate, in fact i`m transported back to childhood, to those x-mas dinners where the best chocolate was served and as soon as you opened the box the fragrance teased you with tempting promises.
Its that same fragrance hitting me now – its just that i`m not holding a chocolate-box in front of me but a bottle. The nose is exquisite.
Mozart Dry is made by Mozart Distillerie who has since the year 1954 produced Austrian spirits in Salzburg (where Mozart was born) and has specialized in chocolate spirits for the past 30 years. The products are made with cocoa macerate – made of two types of Forastero and Trinitario cocoa that is specially produced for the Mozart Distillerie.
This blend of fine cocoa beans is mixed with high-proof alcohol and then stored for 2 months in barrels and during this time the cocoa becomes completely sedimented and the end result is a clear cocoa-macerate which finally is skimmed.
There`s a different stage in the production of this spirit that is unlike any other i`ve ever heard of: The content of each bottle of Mozart spirit is soundmilled for 24 hours with Mozart’s music during the final storage before bottling..
This is because there´s a belief – and scientific research has actually been done by a Japanese scientist M. Emoto – that liquids are able to store information. And therefore special loudspeakers are actually fixed at the large stainless steel tanks so that the contents of the tanks is thoroughly exposed to the musical vibrations of Mozart´s music! – believe it or not, marketing thing or not, the end result is in any case fantastic.
If you want to read more in detail about the sound milling of this spirit you may continue here.
The Mozart Distillerie has before this latest clear liqueur also made Mozart Black, White, Gold and Amadé ChocOrange.
Mozart clear chocolate spirit is made by all natural ingredients and is as the name says quite on the dry side, very pleasant with a hint of bitterness. Its strongly chocolate flavoured – but it`s not the common milk-chocolate, this is raw bitter dark real cocoa.
There are basically three different types of chocolate liqueurs:
1. Original chocolate liqueurs – these are produced with genuine chocolate. 2. Chocolate flavoured cream liqueurs – using natural or artificial aromas that are added to cream liqueurs. 3. Cocoa extract liqueurs – These are traditionally produced in France and are called “Crème de Cacao” even though they do not contain any cream.The word ”Créme” in this case only signifies a high sugar content.
What Mozart distillerie is actually doing is distilling chocolate..and thus its not a liqueur but a chocolate spirit.
In the recipe book i received there´s a drink that picked my interest, it’s a take on the Negroni, one of my favorite cocktails and of course i had to try it.
TABULA RASA (Created by Klaus St Rainer – Schumann`s bar)
30 ml Mozart Dry
20 ml Campari
20 ml Carpano Antica Formula
Build in glass and garnish with an orange zest.
As i don`t have the Antica Formula it`s of course not sold here, i had to use my Martini Rosso instead. Not the same thing but as the Rosso is commonly used in negronis its my best bet.
After trying this chocolate Negroni all i can say is that its bloody tasty and i strongly believe that a great part of why its so tasty is that this spirit is dry and just a bit bittersweet and made with this real high quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.
This is more like a xocolatl Negroni – think dark, raw, bitter, dry and crisp with just a hint of sweetness and well, i could easily imbibe more than one. Dipping the nose into the glass when its finished is even that a pleasure, the aromas of orange peel, exquisite dark chocolate and campari is making me dizzy.
Mozart Dry is a win. Not sure about the price though, with these kind of high quality real ingredients and made the way its made with music and all it cannot be that cheap. One thing for sure, this one is staying in my bar as a staple.
Vermouth is the topic of this Mixology Monday – a topic that to me brings back many sweet memories from my early travels in my teens, especially it means Italy to me, not only was i introduced to Campari there but also to Vermouth namely Cinzano and Martini.
We used to drink them neat with ice, maybe a sprinkle of lemon in the lazy hot afternoon. When i drink a sweet vermouth with ice i`m immediately transported to those memories and can mentally almost feel the warm sunny floor on the terrace of a small apartment in Napoli. It was not until many years later i learnt to use Vermouth as a component in cocktails.
Cocktailians are the host for this MxMo and i`m happy for this topic, thanks Vidiot for hosting!
The drink i got in my mind to make already before i had thought so very much about what to mix was the much beloved Negroni, it pairs 3 ingredients i really like. But i didn`t want to make the common Negroni this time so i decided to experiment with another of my favorite spirits – mezcal – instead of gin.
Really if i could have chosen i would have wanted to try Carpano Antica Formula in this drink but its not sold here so instead i had the choice between Martini Rosso or Punt e Mes. Need i say that i would love to see Carpano sold here? its really a shame it isnt.
I chosed the Martini because i find it better for this drink, a bit more neutral than Punt e Mes. And like Carpano and Punt e Mes Martini Rosso its strong enough to stand up against both Campari and the smoky mezcal (i used Ilegal joven which is an excellent mezcal)
And because it was mezcal in this i also added a small sprinkle of fresh lime, i feel that`s what this drink wanted and instead of an orange peel garnish a lime wedge went into the glass. It turned out to be a good drink, i cannot say its better than the classic Negroni but its an interesting twist.
I wish Vermouth could be stored longer than it can, even in the fridge it starts loosing its flavour after some time and therefore i usually buy small bottles because despite that i really do like vermouth i don`t use it often enough and really i should use more of it. Its a lucky thing that they are not so pricey. When the flavour isn´t so fresh anymore i usually use up the rest in cooking, its good in different pasta sauces.
1 oz Mezcal
1 oz Martini Rosso
1 oz Campari
Small sprinkle of fresh lime
Stir with ice, serve in old fashioned glass, garnish with a piece of lime.
In New Orleans during the Tales, one of my my Brazilian friends handed me a very interesting brand of cachaca I`ve never tried before – Rainha Das Gerais. This is an artisanal cachaca distilled in alembic copper stills and aged in oak barrels for 5 years.
When I open the bottle the nose that reaches me is sweet with a hint of sugarcane and vanilla. The flavour really surprised me, its deep and rich with a sweet buttery aftertaste that is just lovely. I have only detected this kind of buttery flavour in two other spirits before – El Dorado 3 year old cask aged white rum and in Elements Eight white rum.
The texture is like velvet in your mouth. The finish is medium with sugarcane, and a hint of earth and oak. A sip of this floods you with pleasant flavours. Its balanced and delicate but with a little bit of fiery kick.
The more cachacas I try the more surprised I get as to how varied they are. So then to think that there´s about 5000 brands or more in Brazil its kinda mind boggling. I really would like to see more of them being exported. I`m especially interested in the artisanal cachacas, and I think artisanal is the way to go.
Artisanal cachacas are made with the traditional natural farming techinques without chemical spraying and buning of the sugarcane fields as well as using the natural yeasts growing on the sugar cane.
From what I hear, it seems that most part of the very good handcrafted cachacas isn’t exported outside of Brazil. This cachaca here is a small batched (only 5000 bottles a year) and its an amazingly tasty product. I wish more of these would find their way out to the world.
Rainhas das Gerais is handcrafted at a small farm and distillery in Minas Gerais. Raimundo – a chemical engineer by trade started to work producing cachaca in 2008. When Raimundo retired he decided to produce cachaca at the farm he already had as a way to keep in contact with his academic field and work as a chemical engineer.
Also having the new challenge of creating a high quality cachaca could be something that brings new ideas and more thoughts on a new rage of work. Having fun was also a big part on the project, this was the start of Rainha das Gerais.
It was first introduced to the public at the Feira cachaca (Cachaca Fair) in Belo Horizonte. Since then all the bottles carry the following sayings: ”Na terra de Grande Sertão Veredas reina a Rainha das Gerais” (in the land of Grande Sertão veredas reigns Rainha das Gerais)
This phrase make reference to the famous book “Grande sertão: Veredas” by one of the most amazing Brazilian writers, Guimarães Rosa. A good part of the book happens in the region of Brazil called Sertão (backcountry) that embraces areas including the north of Minas.
The Canavial (cane field) after the harvest.The left over ”leaves” called palha after the cut are left in the field to retain the moisture of the coming rains, prevent the growth of weed and also acts as a natural fertilizer. At the right pic is the ”Carro de boi” on the way to pick up the recently cut cane.
The sugar cane is hand selected and hand harvested. The fermentation occurs without any chemical additives and the product is distilled in a copper pot alambique The intense artisanal hand labor help creating job opportunities on the countryside. It´s a natural process of production, sustainable and ecologically correct.
The aging in oak barrels and the Mineiro (Mineiro means from Minas Gerais) style of making cachaca are the two main ingredients that give this cachaca, produced in the Sertão (backcountry) of Minas Gerais, it´s unique personality.
It´s fundamental that the cane comes from our own farm Raimundo says. Only by growing our on cane we can assure the proper care during cultivation, the harvest techniques and to ensure the perfect timing between the harvest and the pressing of the juice.
The terroir is also very important for our cachaca. The region where our farm is located has a very well defined dry season and the temperature range between days and nights during this season is quite large. This results in a sugar cane ideal for the production of a quality cachaca.
The preparation of the yeast used in the fermentation takes 7 days and goes according to the tradition of the alambiques Mineiros (old distillers from Minas). No chemical yeast or additives are used and the yeast is natural from the farms environment, meaning that it uses wild yeast for the fermentation. The fermentation of each batch takes between 24 to 36 ours, occurring the formation of secondary compounds that help to give Rainha da Gerais it´s distinct flavor.
Alambique copper pot still
The distillation using a copper pot still is a slow process, that helps in the oxidation of unwanted compounds enhancing the bouquet of the distillate.
The aging in Oak casks during 5 years develops in soft flavours and provides it´s golden color. After the aging process Raimundo samples the cachaca from every cask, and blends them to achieve and maintain the specific organoleptic properties of his cachacas prior to bottling.
To produce Rainha das Gerais. Raimundo has only 3 full time employees at the farm, during the harvest period 5 more temporary workers are hired. This results in a small production of only 5000 liters per year.
Finally the AMPAQ quality seal is attached. Ampaq stands for ”Associação Mineira de produtores de cachaça de qualidade” or Association of quality cachaça producers from Minas Gerais.
Something to be on the look for…
I love the buttery flavour and sipping it is all i`ve done with it since i opened it. But I got to find out how it mixes in a fairly simple cocktail allowing the flavour of the cachaca to dominate.
Rainha on the Rise
2 oz Cachaca
0.5 oz honey and passionfruit syrup
Small squeeze of fresh lime
Small float of Ting (Jamaican grapefruit beverage) to top
Garnish with pineapple and lime
Dissolve the honey in passionfruit syrup by heating it up a little, then cool. Shake all ingredients except Ting, strain and serve with crushed ice. Top up with just a little bit of Ting and garnish with a pineapple leaf and slice of lime.
Cachaca and fresh fruits are really made for each other…and what Ting isn`t made for please tell me!
My impression with Rainha das Gerais is that its one of the best cachacas i´ve had so far, I love its sturdy yet smooth buttery flavour and that`s the key – it has so much flavour!
The cocktail turned out nice and fresh, perfect for a hot summer day.
Many thanks to Raimundo and Mauricio for letting me and many others sample this lovely cachaca, providing pictures and help with translation without which this post wouldn´t have been possible.
Its happening fast now, the fall is really storming in with sudden temp drops, strong winds, lots of cold rain mixed with sun, and a sudden color change on the leaves…which did inspire me to make these two fall cocktails.
I`m lucky to have a very beautiful walkway to my work along the shores with trees bending over the water and everytime i walk that way i get inspired by the beauty of the nature which now is changing its colors. That´s indeed a good start of a working day!
And even though i`m a summer person and hate cold temps i do like the fall colors that goes from yellow, orange and red – through all shades of brown and down to deepest purple. And when we now go towards colder temps (at least here) its nice to creap up in the sofa with a cosy blanket and put a touch of awesome to a dark rainy evening with a nice drink.
So here are the cocktails, these will keep you warm. They were submitted in the Bourbon TDN – happy weekend!
3 oz Bourbon
1t fig and bayleaf marmalade
0.5 oz honey
0.5 oz lemon juice
1-2t hibiscus grenadine to brighten up the boozy flavours.
Shake with ice, strain. Serve in a wide glass with large ice cubes and fig garnish.
WINDS OF FALL
2 oz Bourbon
0.5oz lemon juice
0.5oz maple syrup
1 oz fresh organic apple juice
1 oz passionfruit juice
¼ oz campari
Shake and strain. Serve in rocks glass with large ice cubes. Garnish speared apple-slices.
Beija cachaca is a hand crafted blend of artisanal cachacas from the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. Many cachacas are today multi-distilled to become a purer product but at the same time the distillations strips away much of the flavour and characteristic earthiness that makes cachaca so lovable. Beija is made only from the first press of sugarcanes and is distilled within ten hours of pressing and then distilled only once.
The nose is very light, sweet sugarcane paired with a herbal and fruity aromatic aromas and there´s maybe even a slight smokiness here. The flavour is “light grassy” and fresh. This cachaca immediately reminds me very strongly of a good quality rhum agricole blanc and fresh cut sugarcane but with its own personlity and flavour. I think light and fresh are the best words to describe Beija. (Bey`Zha=kiss) i find it different from other cachacas i`ve tried in the terms of fresh sugarcane flavour.
Beija was founded by Kevin Beardsley and Stephen Diforio and they have managed to get a product into the market which is both versatile and mixable. The bottle design also stands up nicely against the rest. An interesting detail on the bottle is the text at the bottom “Virgin Cane Rum” i have never seen that on a cachaca bottle before. A cachaca with a “virgin cane rum” statement on the bottle? i found that fascinating.
I know that cachaca must be imported as “rum” or “Brazilian rum” in the US but i have never seen the cathegory “virgin cane rum” and “cachaca” both written on the same bottle. It turns out after some research that this cachaca has been placed into an entirely new category from the US govt for “virgin cane rum” and its the only product in this cathegory. There are attempts to have cachaca classified as cachaca in the US, let´s see what happens.
And as i just wrote – this is mixable! and very much so. I wonder when we will see this tasty cachaca in Europe?
BEIJA – HIBISCO
2 oz Beija cachaca
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbslp raw sugar syrup
splash hibiscus grenadine
3-4 drops hibiscus tincture
Shake everything except the hibiscus grenadine and serve over crushed ice, add a splash hibiscus grenadine for color and tropical zing. Add a few drops hibiscus tincture on top. This last thing is a beautiful way to garnish an exotic cocktail and this i`ve learnt from here.
The word Beija means kiss in portugese and the word Hibisco means Hibiscus and Beija Hibisco means Hibiscus kiss or kiss the Hibiscus – referring to the hummingbirds which look like they almost kiss the flowers when they collect their nectar. The word Beija-Flor means hummingbird in portugese but the word flor by itself means flower.
I thought the name was fitting as the nectar is the Beija and the Hibiscus flowers in the form of tincture and grenadine is present and the hummingbirds are we the drinkers!
When making ginger syrup there`s but one little problem – to get that fresh bity ginger flavour to stay. When i make the syrup the usual way aka the hot method where you make a simple syrup and add sliced ginger and boil it, then cool it – the syrup looses its fresh flavour quite quickly.
When it was ginger MxMo – Rick over at Kaiserpenguintook up this topic and his solution is to make it fresh everytime by muddling ginger with simple syrup which is a very good solution giving you this fresh zingy biting ginger flavour in your cocktails.
However if you want to also have the depth that real syrup making gives there´s a way too which is a slight variation of this method. But how long the shelf life is i cannot say bec i`m making very small batches that goes fast.
GINGER SYRUP – With both hot & cold methods
To make a ginger syrup that has both depth of flavor and a rich roundness as well as the typical sharp zing or bite of the ginger its necessary to use both the hot and cold methods in syrup making, or at least that`s what my own experience is telling me.
First you use the hot method and boil, simmer and cool the syrup before adding additional fresh ginger – muddling it and then leaving it to steep until you have got the desired flavor and zing. Doing it this way you`ll get a lovely ginger syrup, rich and sharp.
Make it in small amounts as ginger flavor decreases rapidly. Don´t ask me why it does but it does, i first discovered how short lived fresh ginger really is when making ginger beer. Now ginger syrup isn`t the same as ginger beer but also the syrup looses its fresh flavour quite fast.
Here´s how to make the syrup:
Take 2 parts sugar of choice (i use a light raw sugar – Oxfam brand plus a pinch of light muscovado) to 1 part water.Then grate a piece of fresh ginger and boil for 2 mins.Then lower the heat and simmer for another 5 mins. Cool.
Add some more fresh ginger, muddle it a bit to squeeze out the flavours and leave to steep until you find the flavor is good.
Easy to make and very useful.
Its that sharp citrusy bite actually that makes ginger so special so let´s do all we can to preserve it and further it into our drinks, so if anyone has more ideas of how to do that in ginger-syrup making i would like to hear it.
Maybe someone knows why fresh ginger flavour is so shortlived?
Here is a drink with some bite from the ginger and the slightly bitter orangey flavour from Aperol to accompany the wonderful round herbal flavours of the lovely gin from Martin Miller.
* 2 oz Gin (Martin Miller`s)
* 2-3 pineapple chunks
* 1/2 oz ginger syrup
* sprinkle of fresh lime
* 1 oz Aperol
* Tonic, to top
Muddle the pineapple, and ginger syrup. Add gin and aperol, shake with ice. Double-strain into a glass with crushed ice and fill up with more crushed ice if needed. Top with tonic.