TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 3 – Mai Tai – A Paternity Test & Vanilla Vanilla baby!

MAI TAI – A PATERNITY TEST


This seminar was led by Jeff Beachbum Berry, Ian Burell and Steve Remsberg – a trio guaranteed to both enlighten and amuse.

Since the Mai Taii is my favorite cocktail this also was a must seminar. The contoversy of the who made the Mai Tai has been going on for so long but after this seminar the whole thing is a bit clearer at least to me.

I have always been of the opinion that the Mai Tai is Vic´s but how it became his has been a bit blurry, was it a copy of the QB Cooler or not? well now i know – it was a drink in it´s own right inspired by the QB Cooler which by the way we also were served during this seminar. I will never cease to be amazed at how alike they taste – the Mai Tai and the QB Cooler despite the different ingredients.

The seminar took us through the history of the great Tiki bars and then the Mai Tai controversy which now is pretty much cleared up. It`s amazing how a topic can keep being discussed year after year after year and still manage to fascinate people all over the world, that says something about the power of the Mai Tai..

Despite it´s appeal, the Mai Tai wasn´t an immediate success like the Zombie was which also is the very first Tiki drink. It wasn´t until in the year 1954 with the Matson Line that the Mai Tai became famous and the Mai Tai did for Vic what the Zombie did for Don.

So Trader Vic´s Mai Tai is a drink in it´s own right folks! and is one of these drinks that has a perfect balance and flavor.

The 1937 QB Cooler

Remsberg`s oh do cool portable blender.


Ian did bring along a big antique style shaker which he used to ROCK and SWING the drink instead of shaking it…i told ya these guys are amusing!

We also tasted the Florida daiquiri #2 which is very alike the Mai Tai, only a few ingredients differ.

It was a very interesting and also amusing session with a solid trio in the tiki drink and rum world.

VANILLA VANILLA BABY!


This seminar was another not to miss session since i love vanilla and find the vanilla to be one of the most interesting plants and spice on earth.

The session was held by Philip Duff and he took us through how vanilla is made, it´s history and chemical components – this orchid is iamazing. Since i´ve been growing orchids for over a decade and have vanilla as my favorite spice i`m very familiar with it but there´s always something more to learn when it comes to this exotic spice.

Is there any more exotic and sweet smelling mellow spice on this planet? i don´t think so and Philip did a great job presenting it with both knowledge and humour. Of course we were served some  good cocktails as well as tasting samples of vanilla extract, Cariel vanilla vodka, Licor 43 and Stoli Vanil who were the sponsors of this seminar.

One of the cocktails had fresh passionfruit in it and a half shell for garnish and i have never tasted such yummy, fresh and s´crsip passionfruits before, those we get in sweden does not have that same great flavor, these were amazing!

Those who knows me and/or read my blog knows that i use a lot of vanilla in my cocktails and to make syrup and extract. Vanilla is so versatile and my favorite is the Tahitian bean which is fatter, thicker and more floral.

Beautiful, intriguing, sweet smelling, expensive, sexy and irresistible – that is vanilla…and in combo with passionfruit as in this cocktail we got it´s a killer! maybe it´s time to try to dream up a vanilla and passionfruit cocktail?

 

CHOCOLATE JULEP

chocolate-julep-close

Love me some Juleps…

It´s julep time and i`m not going to pass the opportunity to post a mint julep on Derby Day! few things are bettter than sipping slowly on a cold mint julep..especially if i s a hot day.

Since i did post a classical julep last year i`m gonna mix up a variation this year using my favorite chocolate spirit Mozart Dry which i can just feel will be very tasty in a julep. I`m into a chocolate craze for the moment and cannot have enough of Mozart Dry and chocolate mint combined.

I did a chocolate Mai Tai a while ago and now i s a chocolate Julep, not sure what comes next if anything but that will show.

This isn´t going to be a long post since i wrote about the history of the julep and the original recipe etc before and you can read it here and besides there´s tons of info out there about the mint julep and the Kentucky derby day which takes place every first saturday in may.

What interest me the most since i`ve never been to any derby and i`ve never been into horse racing either is of course the julep! that is something i can relate to – and i think its a very fine tradition.

CHOCOLATE JULEP

chocolate-julep

2.5 oz Bourbon (Using Maker´s Mark)

0.5 oz sugar syrup

0.25 oz Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit

Plenty of mint leaves, or a handful – i used chocolate mint to pair with the chocolate flavor in this julep.

Lightly muddle mint and sugar syrup together in a julep cup, don´t muddle too hard since that will bring out bitterness from the leaves. When done muddling add Bourbon. Add shaved or crushed ice and stir drink gently until a frost forms on the outside of the cup. Ah…this is lovely!

Then top off with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.

As usual Mozart Dry doesn´t disappoint, it adds a subtle hint of very fine chocolate which in no way overpowers the drink, instead it blends well with sugarcane syrup and bourbon and stays in the bacground, it`s simply awesome.

I`m not sure i can stick with just one here. This is a wonderful way to start a saturday! of course i had to make me another later on but that one i made in a glass since i also like the color of the spirit, syrup and ice in a julep, it looks so tasty.

Also i added 0.25 oz of Navan vanilla liqueur to go with the chocolate and took down the sugarcane syrup from 0.5 to 0.25 oz. So 0.25 oz each of sugarcane syrup, Mozart Dry chocolate spirit and Navan.

chocolate-and-vanilla-julep

Chocolate and Vanilla Julep

Not a big difference, the vanilla added some very slight softening notes to the chocolate and as chocolate and vanilla goes hand in hand it was good. Now the Mozart Dry actually does contain some vanilla as well but the result of adding a little Navan didn´t make it overpowering in any way.

I have no doubt that that is because the Mozart Dry is a very high quality chocolate spirit that is dry and crisp with a very fine chocolate flavor which makes me think about very dark chocolate – and it´s  not so sweet and also Navan is a very fine liqueur made with natural vanilla beans from Madagascar.

Then also there wasn`t much added – only 0.25 oz of each. Overall the chocolate and vanilla flavors in these two mint juleps were subtle and didn´t change the “julep flavor” which is what i wanted.

‎”Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like old Bourbon whiskey”

The whole recitation that is a part of the very special way the Mint julep is made by Chris Mac Millan can be read and seen on video here.

Now sit back, sip slowly and relax..

VANILLA SMASH to beat the cold

vanilla-smash-close1

The fragrance of the lightly bruised mint that blends so well with the fresh lemon and warm vanilla scent is heavenly..

A mix of lemon, rye whiskey and vanilla syrup topped off with fragrant mint, is a sure good drink to beat the cold of the winter.

Its friggin`minus 11 degrees F (-24C) here now, or at least it was yesterday in the morning and i am not a winter person at all, i freeze under 60 and prefer temps in the 90s so i sure need something to keep me warm and the Vanilla Smash is a good drink. Its just my take on the Whiskey Smash, adding some warm fragrant and soothing vanilla in the mix.

Many recipes uses Bourbon but i found one in Jerry Thomas 1862 “How to Mix Drinks” that uses rye instead. This drink is very close to the Mint Julep and if you add some passionfruit syrup and grenadine you get the PortLight.

The Whiskey Smash from Jerry Thomas book is as follows:

WHISKEY SMASH

2 oz rye

2 tbslp simple syrup

1-2 dashes orange bitters

6 mint sprigs

3 lemon wedges

How to mix is the same as with the Vanilla Smash.

Usually i mostly drink rum but i also like whiskey…and in any case i like spirits that`s got natural flavor and personality.

The vanilla i´m using here is a homemade vanilla syrup made with Tahitian beans which i think are the best. I would also warmly recommend Trader Tiki`s vanilla syrup which is outstanding and would do the job just as well.

VANILLA SMASH

vanilla-smash

2 oz rye whiskey

2 lemon wedges

6-8 large mint leaves

0.5 oz vanilla syrup (mine is made with Tahitian beans and light muscovado sugar)

1 vanilla bean for garnish

In a shaker, muddle the lemon wedges to get the essential oils into the drink along with the fresh juice, then add the mint and lightly bruise the leaves but not too hard to avoid bitterness. Add rye and vanilla syrup  Shake vigoriosly  with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice chunks. Garnish with a vanilla bean.

There´s something i particularly like with this cocktail..the fragrance of the lightly bruised mint that blends so well with the fresh lemon and warm vanilla scent is heavenly..

The flavor is ridiculously tasty, i think i have a winner here! one of those that i will keep in rotation.

Try it! Enjoy!

vanilla-syrup-with-muscovado

Freshly made vanilla syrup with light muscovado sugar.

MxMo XLVII: Punch

mxmologo

I have a feeling of slipping in on a banana peel here, i forgot it was monday yesterday..

The topic is punch. There are many different kinds of punch and the host Hobson`s Choice states that “There aren’t really any specific limitations on this month’s subject”  and “Keep in mind that we are at that time of year when there are some wonderful citrus varieties available at the market. And in the warmer climates, we are already seeing the first of the Spring berries.”

There`s along tradition of punches and it would have been interesting to go more into it but i feel i don´t have time now as i need to whip up a cocktail pronto so i`ll keep it simple and mix up another type of punch that belongs to warm tropical days and nights.

I´ll go for lime and i`ll make a punch inspired by the Ti Punch – but not a traditional Ti Punch. The traditional Ti Punch is a simple as its delicate and so well suited for the tropical climate in where it was born.

Its rhum agricole, lime and sugar or cane syrup, maybe an ice cube or two, stirred in a rocks glass.

I`m using rhum agricole too – both aged and white, together with fresh lime juice and palmsugar and raw sugar, Trader Tiki`s exquisite vanilla syrup and then topped with a little Ting ( my faithful companion).

PALMSUGAR PUNCH

palmsugar-punch

1 oz rhum agricole vieux

1 oz rhum agricole blanc

1 tsp palmsugar

1/4 tsp golden raw sugar

1/4  oz Trader Tiki`s vanilla syrup

Lime and mint for garnish

Add ingredients in mixing glass and stir together well with ice, then strain into a punch glass and top with Ting. Garnish with lime and mint. You may adjust the levels of syrup and sugar to your own taste, this drink is forgiving.

This is a drink that talks about summer, well – its not summer yet but i pretend all year that it´s summer.

Happy Monday! (well-tuesday)

NAVAN – NATURAL VANILLA LIQUEUR

navan-vanilla-liqueur1

As a real vanilla geek i was happy to receive this vanilla liqueur – now i got a perfect excuse to indulge myself and everybody in vanilla flavored cocktails..

Navan is made by Grand Marnier and is made with natural ingredients and as we know vanilla isn`t the cheapest spice. The quality of  Navan is good and the bottle is handsdown gorgeous, the flavour is very embracing, warm and aromatic. Sweet yes but still less sweet than you may expect due to its cognac base. Picture an exotic climbing vanilla orchid in bloom embracing you..then sending you whiffs of aromatic sweet vanilla fragrance – that´s its nose, until you dip your nose deep into the bottle, then the cognac heaviness takes over but with a sweet overtone.

The vanilla beans used to make this product is the bourbon vanilla beans from Madagascar. The process in pollinating and curing vanilla is a long complicated and burdensome affair and thus the price is high. The vanilla orchid flowers does only bloom for a few hours in the morning once a year and thus needs to be hand-pollinted very quickly.

After the green beans has grown ready to be picked they need to be treated for several months in order to become the fragrant oily dark brown vanilla pods as we know them from the shops.

The aroma of vanilla is pure pleasure..its warm, fragrant and embraces you with its lingering scent and the flavour is sweet and aromatic. Its well known that a bit of vanilla liqueur serves very well as component that ties things together in many cocktails and especially in Tiki drinks.

In the year of 1827 the first liqueur was created for the house of Grand Marnier and at a time when were expensive and hard to find. Now some 200 years later this cognac based liqueur is made with vanilla. Its not brand-new, its been here for a while but its the first time i get a chance to try it. There´s a village on the northeast coast of Madagascar called Navana and the name comes from it and its also from here the beans in the liqueur is from.

The beans are shipped to France and then they are macerated in neutral spirit for a few weeks to extract all the flavour. After that the vanilla beans are combined with aged French cognac using the same procedure as is used in the creation of Grand Marnier.

This is a nice vanilla liqueur and if you like vanilla then i recommend you try to get your hands on a bottle of Navan.

SCENT OF AN ORCHID

scent-of-an-orchid

2 oz tequila reposado
1/4 oz raw sugar syrup
0.5 oz Navan
0.75 oz fresh lime
Club Soda

Shake over ice, (not the Club Soda) strain into a glass with ice, top with a little Club Soda. Garnish with vanilla bean.

MADAGASCAR

madagascar

1.5 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz Navan
0.5 oz passionfruit syrup
juice of ½ lime
1t hibiscus grenadine
1 oz passionfruit juice

Shake everything except grenadine over ice and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Add grenadine and more ice to fill. Garnish with 2 vanilla beans.

MYSTIQUE

mystique

2 oz rhum agricole blanc
1 oz fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz Navan
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
1/4 oz cinnamon syrup

Mix things together in a shaker with ice, strain into a glass with crushed ice and garnish with a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.

LET´S MAKE SOME LOVELY TAHITIAN VANILLA BEAN SYRUP

vanilla

Have anyone who knows me missed that i love vanilla? I use it all the time and i even grow 4 varietes of vanilla orchids but not to try to get any beans of course, i just find those climbing plants lovely and exotic also without flowers.

Vanilla is apart from a flavour and aroma booster both a beautiful and fun garnish, i mean really.. just look at this.

I have more than once received the question how to make a good vanilla syrup, and so i decided to write about it, its really simple. First – there are different vanillas and they taste differently.The most common is the bourbon or Madagascar vanilla.It’s a nice vanilla – with that lingering warm – inviting and exotic flavor typical for the vanilla bean after its cured.

The Tahitian vanilla bean is a different variety and is highly prized among chefs for its unique lovely floral character, probably developed over many years in the rich volcanic soil in the Tahitian islands. Its believed that the Tahitian vanilla – vanilla tahitensis has evolved from the original vanilla planifolia and developed into its own species with its own flavor and character.

The beans are fatter, shorter, more plump and oily than other vanilla varietes and the fragrance and flavor is really special.This is the vanilla of choice also for me.

Its usually not cheap, not if grown on Tahaa also known as the vanilla island in French Polynesia. But the species vanilla tahitensis as its called is also grown on Papua New Guinea and those grown there are less costly but they are also very flavorful with the typical character of the Tahitian vanilla bean. Still these cannot exactly compare to those from Tahaa even though very good. The difference isn´t that big though but its the soil creating a slight difference and nuance in aroma and its also about the feel.

It was a while ago that i had beans straight from French Polynesia, after that i`ve had those from Papua but these are certainly not bad at all.

So when i make my vanilla syrups i use the Tahitian vanilla bean almost all the time, but why not mix the two sometimes? Or even adding a third, the Mexican bean? Which is also regarded in flavor to be close to the bourbon vanilla.

I always let my syrups boil for about 2 mins and then simmer for a while before finally being taken off to cool. I prefer the boiled syrup for two reasons – one is that the 2 minute boiling helps to prevent molding, and second -–a boiled syrup has a thicker more viscous and rich mouthfeel than syrup made with the cold method (shaking the sugar and water in a jar until it disolves) At least that`s my own experience.

To make the vanilla syrup here`s what to do:

vanilla-syrup

Take 2-3 beans and split them lengthwise and scrape out all those wonderful tiny little black dots – the seeds. Add to a pan 2.1 or 1.1 sugar to water and add the beans and seeds. Choose a good sugar, like a finely textured light or dark raw cane sugar. Heat up and boil for 2 mins, then let simmer on low heat for about 10 mins and stir sometimes.

A little trick i`m frequently using for a tasty syrup when using a light sugar is to add a pinch of light muscovado – that is nom nom.

Take off the heat and cool. The longer you leave it to cool and steep the more vanilla flavor you`ll get. Then strain and pour in clean bottles. I sometimes leave the beans in the bottles as well.

So what are you waiting for? Get working on the stove and before you know it you`ll have a wonderful vanilla syrup  – vanilla syrup really enchances the flavor in many cocktails.

Trinidad Especial and Fragrant Vanilla Bean

WELCOME TO MY WORLD!

In this blog i`m going to write about tiki drinks, cocktails, rums and other spirits and occassionally throw in a food recipe in the “pages”. Its going to involve quite a bit of rum and tikidrinks…but also the making of syrups, bitters and infusions…and whatever else i may come up with.

I do this for fun and i hope you`ll have fun too!

Its something special about vanilla..maybe its the warm sensual fragrance and flavor of this beautiful exotic tropical climbing orchid…or the beauty of the flowers which only are open for a few hours in the morning. Maybe its the rich fragrant and oily darkness of the cured beans which at first are green. Vanilla flowers once a year in a period of about two months.

I love vanilla and i always have my favorite beans at home which are the Tahitian beans, from vanilla tahitensis. They have a very special floral aroma and flavor.

I`ve made my jar of vanilla sugar with these beans since about 10 years now. I mix 1 pack each of Tate&Lyles – or Billingtons dark and light Muscovado sugars with 3-4 Tahitian beans which i split on the length and scrape out all those lovely tiny black seeds which i mix with the sugars.

The longer they stay in the sugar the more flavor the sugar takes on from the beans. When the sugar is finished i just add some more and it goes on and on..

I also make my vanilla syrups using 1:1 ratio sugar and water and add a couple of split beans to the pan, let it simmer and then cool before i discard the beans (rinsing them and moving them to the sugar jar that is) and bottle my syrup.

A friend to me did mention that the Trinidad Especial cocktail, made by Valentino Bolognese who also won the European Angostura Cocktail Competition 2008 with this unusual cocktail – which indeed is a very special cocktail – using no less than 30 ml of Angostura bitters – is nice poured over vanilla ice cream..

Such a brilliant idea is one i cannot resist trying out. So i made both the cocktail and the vanilla ice cream with some of the cocktail poured over it..sounds a bit crazy but that´s how it was supposed to be done…and indeed this cocktail tastes good!

It wasn`t that bitter as i first expected but rather aromatic and spicy with a heavy dose of clove flavor. On the ice cream it was a treat.

TRINIDAD ESPECIAL

10 ml. Pisco Mistral
20 ml. fresh lime juice
30 ml. barley syrup
30 ml Angostura Aromatic Bitters.
Shake hard and long, and strain in a Martini glass.