MEZCAL – Smoky Deliciousness

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 have written about mezcal before but i feel its time again, its such a nice and interesting spirit. 

The first time I tasted mezcal i knew it would have a smoky taste almost like a scotch, I also knew it was made form the agave plant – maguey and that it differs from how tequila is made in that the hearts of the agave plants are roasted in a underground owen and it´s that which gives the mezcal its smoky flavour. I wasn´t prepared though for the whole array of complex delisciousness that smooth like silk found its way to every part of my palate.

The whole process in making mezcal is very old, about 400 years and every step is time consuming as its made by hand and mezcal is a real slow-food product – this is how flavour is made. Its every step in the process from harvesting the heavy agave plants to roasting, fermenting and distilling.

There are many factors that affects the the final product –  altitude, water, air-microbes and finally the most important thing – time – that creates these amazing flavours – and the hand of the maker who adds their personal touch to their mezcal. An experienced mezcal taster can by the flavour of a mezcal tell in which single village it was made and by whom.

Mezcal (mes-kal) generally refers to all agave-based distilled liquors that are not tequila.Tequila is made only from the blue agave plant.Mezcals are made from 100% agave while tequilas must be produced from a minimum of 51% agave and there are several different varietes of agave used each producing a different flavor of mezcal. Espadín agave is used in the making of about 90% of the mezcal.

The word mezcal means “cooked maguey” and the word maguey is synonymous with agave which contrary to many beliefs isn´t a cactus but a relative to the Lily and Amaryllis.

There are several types of mezcal, and there is a broad range of quality in terms of smoothness, flavor nuances and smokiness. I have tried both good and bad mezcals and of those i`ve had the pleasure to enjoy I would recommend Del Maguey and Ilegal, their products are smooth and very tasty. Ilegal makes outstanding small batch handcrafted mezcal and Del Maguey makes equally outstanding mezcals from different tiny remote villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Each Del Maguey mezcal carries the name of the village where its produced.

What makes mezcal so special is that is so unique.There´s no other spirit that tastes anything like it and its also very regional. A well made mezcal doesn´t have a straight forward or offensive smokiness – rather its a light smokiness that lingers in the background and gently makes itself known backed up by a very complex orchestra of distinct earthy-spicy fruity and herbal flavours.

And then there´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient…

Its traditionally enjoyed neat but it also mixes very well –  especially in fresh fruit and spicy drinks. Mezcal has been suffering from the myth of the worm for a long time, but in the top shelf brands i`ve tried there´s no need for any worm in the bottle and you`ll not find any.

With this i have here four cocktails you can try:

 

 

MATATLAN OAX

mezcal-matatlan-oax

1 oz mezcal

1 oz passionfruit juice

1/4 oz grenadine

1/4 oz orgeat

sprinkle of fresh lime

Garnish with a sugar rim

Rim the glass, then add everything except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice and a few lime quarters. Add a splash of grenadine.

RAW & SWEET

cocoa-raw

1.5 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz Mozart Dry cocoa spirit or if you can`t find it, use coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. Garnish with lime and mint.

Oh how the Mozart Dry makes this one taste special! Its the taste of pure cocoa without being cloingly sweet and it pairs really well with the mezcal.

MAYAHUEL

mezcal-mayahuel

1 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

1 barspoon coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. For garnish i used a pineapple spear, zest of limequat and brandied cherry.

Btw did i mention that mezcal cocktails and spicy deep fried shrimps is a perfect match?

FIRE AND BRIMSTONE

fire-and-brimstone

1 oz mezcal

1 oz tequila reposado

0.25 oz homemade hibiscus grenadine

0.25 oz orgeat, homemade too – by Trader Tiki!

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.5 small red chili pepper to muddle, cut in 4 pieces

Gently muddle the chili pepper with lime juice and orgeat and then add everything else except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into a tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice. Add grenadine and garnish with pieces of red chili pepper on top of the crushed ice and fresh mint.

 

A DUST OF NUTMEG

tdn-tiki-poaha-punch1

An interesting fragrant spice and an old favorite tiki drink

The fragrance of nutmeg is very special, i cannot even really describe it – its spicy-woody and fresh, nutty and very satisfying.

Most often i connect nutmeg with either christmas drinks or libations from the caribbean both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Nutmeg and carrot juice  is a common combo for instance among the non-alcoholic drinks. Nutmeg pairs well with drinks containing milk and cream, maybe that´s the reason its so common around christmas. Its also often use to top various punches.

The nutmeg spice itself is often ground – its a brown nut encased first by the red mace which is sweeter and then by a yellowish shell.

Nutmeg is one of the oldest spices known. It comes from an evergreen tree (myristica fragrans) native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, near Indonesia. This tree is bearing a nut with two separate flavors. Nutmeg is one flavor and the mace another, achieved by grinding the lacy outer covering surrounding the nutmeg.

It has a warm spicy flavor and as heat greatly diminishes its flavor its best added towards the end of cooking and should be grated fresh. Mace is often preferred in light-coloured dishes as it gives a saffron-like bright orange colour.

When i experimented with a drink for the Tiki TDN – the weekly thursday drink night by the Mixoloseum –  i wanted to play with my – oh so beloved – Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum. I found that this rum pairs well with aged agricole as well. I have kept talking about how well it pairs with demerara, especially El Dorado 12 yo and there is El Dorado rum in this drink too, the 15 yo.

For that drink i used one of my favorite agricoles which is Clèment VSOP – a smooth rum with good flavour.

The drink Po`aha Punch ( in Hawaiian Po`aha means Thursday) was dusted with nutmeg powder on top of crushed ice – a common way to crown many tiki (and other) drinks.

To my delight the Po`aha Punch also delighted the palate our beloved Bum! may it delight you too?

PO´AHA PUNCH

1oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum
1oz El Dorado 15yo
1 oz Clemènt VSOP, 0.5 oz fresh lime
¼ oz simple syrup
0.5 oz coffee liqueur
1t cream of coconut,
Fresh pineapple juice to top.

Run in blender until smooth with crushed ice. Pour in tall glass, top with fresh pineapple juice and more crushed ice to fill,dust nutmeg on top and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

HELP SAVE NEW ORLEANS MUSIC CLINIC

John Boutttè and Paul Sanchez – from the Threadhead party 2007. This is one of my favorite songs.

Yep, there`s no cocktails in this post, instead its full of music – and a very important message.

Tales of the Cocktail is around the corner and soon many of us go down there to enjoy everything that Nola has to offer including some of the best music in the world. But there´s something that we need to do something about – if we care about New Orleans and its unique musicians that we love, so read on:

What the NOMC are doing is helping the marginally paid working musicians of New Orleans to get affordable preventative healthcare, for themselves and their families. Now in just about three or so months 90% – yes you read it – 90% of the funding for the NOMC will be withdrawn by the federal governement in the name of “saving money”.

That is cutting the feet off the musicians.

The clinic needs help to keep operating for the good of the musicians and culture of New Orleans and you can help the NOMC by donating or by sharing the message that the Clinic needs help.

Do you care about New Orleans musicians? You can make a difference and you can help. And fortunately it’s easy.

Just tell your friends who love music and believe in justice about SaveTheClinic.org

If you’re able, donations are welcome of course, but simply helping spread the word is a huge help. The donations cannot be too small, every dollar counts – so please – do help!

This video is from the TV show Tréme, “Shame, Shame, Shame,” a song by Smiley Lewis, here sung in its own version by the unforgettable character Davies, played by Steve Zahn and backed up a bunch of talented folks – among them Tyrus Chapman, Kermit Ruffins and the Pfister Sisters.

Here are answers to the questions asked from the NOMC:

In 2005, engineering failures in the city’s levee system caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage to New Orleans homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Real dollar damage. Not Wall Street paper profits.

Contrary to news media reports, only a fraction of the money pledged by government and other sources has actually made it to the city.

In spite of this and against all odds, New Orleans is recovering and recovering strongly.

By all accounts, the city’s musicians have been and continue to be leaders in the recovery.

They were among the very first to come back and demonstrate their faith in New Orleans.

When times were darkest provided the bright light others needed to rekindle their hope.

Now, the federal government, which provided modest grants locally to institutions that focused on helping the uninsured, is pulling their support from these programs and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic is one of the groups effected.

In the Clinic’s case, this represents 90% of their funding.

=== Questions and Answers

Q: Why is the government doing this?

A: Why does this government do anything it does?

No doubt they believe they are “saving money.” It sure seems like a strange way to “save money” to me. Maybe to you too.

===

Q: Who should we write a letter to in the government to express our concern?

A: It probably wouldn’t hurt to write a letter to the President, but realistically – and the point of this campaign – is to help the Clinic become as independent as possible from the whims of government officials.

The key is for people like us who care to get together and do something about it.

===

Q: Is the New Orleans Musicians Clinic well run? Will the money I donate be spent prudently?

A: Yes and yes .The Clinic’s program uses its resources so wisely that it’s able to provide over $3 of medical care for every $1 it spends.

Musicians, tradition bearers and other artists in the city who use the Clinic are not only enthusiastic about the services it provides, they also comment over and over on the caring they experience as clients.

Perhaps most important, in addition to the normal range of medical services it offers, the Clinic has an orientation towards prevention that makes it unique in the nation.

It’s a health care model that works for people, something the whole country can learn from.

===

Q: Won’t health care reform in the US solve the problem?

A: Absolutely not.

First, the new health care program does not take effect until 2014.

Second, health care reform will not cover the kind of comprehensive and preventative programs the New Orleans Musicians Clinic offers musicians, tradition bearers, and their families now.

==

Q: What will happen if the New Orleans Musicians Clinic does not get the funding it needs to continue?

A: Sadly, you can see what will happen by taking a look at the cuts the Clinic has already been forced to make:

* Psychological counseling services – so important after a catastrophe like the levee failures – have been eliminated entirely:
* The mobile health clinic and Wednesday night walk-in clinic service has been cut to the bone
* Dental care allocations have been cut 50%
* Lab work is no longer provided
* Outreach and office hours have been reduced
* The “Gig Fund” which pays musicians to perform at local nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and community events has already been radically cut.

And this is just the beginning…if we do not succeed in getting the word out. If you can, give and give as generously as you can. If it’s not possible for you at this time, please spread the word.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.performing ‘Backatown’ at Louisiana Music Factory – april 2010.

These videos are only a few examples of the living spirit of  New Orleans Music – so help to save the music clinic!

MIXING THROUGH GROG LOG 8 – Boo Loo

boo-loo

When a classic cocktail is made right, it’s a marvel of balance of good flavours and it’s the same with tiki drinks. Everybody who has held a tall tiki mug or glass with a well crafted drink in it knows what I mean.

If there’s one thing I would want to repeat over and again whether its classic or tiki or other drinks it’s the use of fresh and good quality ingredients, it cannot be said enough many times. It starts right there.

Another aspect i like with the tikidrink mixing is that they allow such bountyful garnish – and here you really can play – and sometimes i like to make crazy garnishes too and with these drinks its perfect. Not that every tikidrink must or should be crowned with endless amounts of tropical garnish but the point is – with these drinks you can.

Also to serve the drink in a fruit or coconut thus making the vessel a garnish in itself is such a nice way to enjoy them. As they are tropical and everything tropical is colourful it just comes so natural with lush garnish too.

I`m going to serve this Boo Loo in a pineapple.

BOO LOO

A few small chunks of fresh pineapple

2.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

1.5 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz honey

1.5 oz club soda

1.5 oz gold Puerto Rican Rum

0.75 oz dark Jamaican Rum

0.75 oz 151 demerara rum

1.5 oz Demerara rum

Heat honey until liquid and mix with juices and fruit in a blender. Stir in rums and soda. Pour into 36 ounce snifter filled with crushed ice, or serve in a hollowed out pineapple.

To prepare the pineapple you may use a pineapple corer which is a plastic device, quite handy. Or you cut off the top and hollow out the pineapple center with a knife. Then fill up with crushed ice and pour in the drink.

The top can be replaced if you wish, just put a long straw in and sip slowly.

Now as for these rums, i don`t have any gold PR rum and instead i use other golden rum such as Appleton VX. Demerara 151 is hard to find unless you have either an old bottle of Lemon Hart 151 left or can buy demeraras sold from Europe which are very expensive but also very good.

LH 151 is really hard to replace..and its a shame its not marketed anymore, really, its tragic. If you can`t get any of the fullproof demeraras from Europe i guess your best bet is to mix El Dorado 15 with El Dorado highproof or something similar.

If anyone has any good ideas here, please you are welcome to comment.

Now Boo Looo needs a twist and i love turtles so this one is called Honu Honu – the word Honu is Hawaiian for “turtle” and is most often applied to the green sea turtle.

HONU HONU

A few small chunks of fresh pineapple, muddled so it gets juicy too

1 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz honey

0.5 oz vanilla orgeat (mix equal parts vanilla syrup and orgeat or make orgeat with vanilla from scratch or add vailla beans to orgeat and heat and steep)

1  oz rhum agricole vieux

1 oz rhum agricole blanc

Top with Club Soda

Float JWray

Heat honey until liquid and mix with orgeat, juices and fruit in a blender. Stir in rums  except JWray and top with soda. Pour into a tall glass filled with crushed ice, or serve in a hollowed out pineapple and a decent float JWray.

The JWray float is what gives this drink its “kick”.

KAMEHAMEHA RUM PUNCH

kamehameha-rum-punch-717x1024

Today it is the Kamehameha Day in Hawaii and so to celebrate – here`s a favorite again, Kamehameha Rum Punch.

This interesting drink recipe is from Sippin`Safari and originates from the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii, as the origin of the drink around 1960. The reason i post it again is that today its the memorail day of Kamehameha the Great in Hawaii and that`s worth celebrating.

So who was King Kamehameha you might ask?  Kamehameha – also known as Kamehameha the Great was the head of a dynasty ruling the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means “the one set apart.” He conquered the Hawaiian islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1810.

This drink is actually named after the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii who took the name after the great Hawaiian King – Kamehameha.

Every year on Kamehameha Day (June 11, a state holiday in Hawai’i), National Statuary Hall is the scene of a ceremony in honor of the king and the statue of Kamehameha the Great is draped with lovely leis of fragrant flowers from Hawai’i. The Festival continues to pay tribute to Kamehameha and acts to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.

I wish i could have a fragrant lei around my neck but will have to do with an ice cold drink..which isn´t bad at all.

RECIPE

1 oz Light Rum
2 oz Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Blackberry Brandy (i used Creme de Cassis)
1 tsp Grenadine (i used my homemade hibiscus grenadine, which adds a fresh tropical floral aroma)
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
1 oz Dark Rum

Shake everything but the dark rum with ice and strain into a tall or rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Float dark rum on top, and garnish with a pineapple chunk speared to a cherry.

Aloha and okole maluna!

CELEBRATING THE MINT DAY WITH FIREFLY SWEET TEA BOURBON

firefly-sweet-tea-bourbon

Today its the mint day! if you wonder what the mint day is – you can read about it here.

As it happens the BoozeFairy did time it well and came with Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon just when i got the first of this years fragrant Moroccan mint from the market.

So then tht is perfect for making a Sweet Tea Julep – i know i just posted about the Mint Julep – but the way i see it – you cannot have too many!

But first i`m gonna tell you about Firefly`s latest addition, the Sweet Tea Bourbon.

Its made with straight bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery and the bourbon is infused with South Carolina sweet tea and cane sugar from Louisiana. The result is a sweet bourbon with a hint of tea flavor – Interesting.

As this bourbon is so sweet already there`s no need to sweeten the drink with any other sugar or syrup, and i actually used only 1 oz of this and 2 oz of another bourbon to tone down the sweetness.

I see this bourbon more as a drink ingredient than a base spirit because of its sweetness, you can only use a little.

And here`s the drink:

SWEET TEA JULEP

sweet-tea-julep

1 oz Firefly Sweet tea Bourbon

2 oz Bourbon of choice ( i used Wild Turkey 101)

8-10 mint leaves

Crushed or shaved ice

Put mint and a small amount of crushed or shaved ice into the bottom of a julep cup or tall glass. (Optional: Muddle the mint and bourbon, then let stand for a bit to allow the broken leaves to release their flavor.)

Add the two bourbons, top off with crushed or shaved ice, and stir well to mix and chill the mixture. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Now, this makes for a pretty tasty Julep!