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

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* 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

SMUGGLER’S COVE INTRODUCES EURYDICE RUM

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A new rum made in California..now i do get a bit curious as to how this rum may taste.

Here is the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA- Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco’s forthcoming destination for rum and exotic cocktails, proudly announces Eurydice, a new rum crafted exclusively for Smuggler’s Cove. Handcrafted by the artisan distillers of St. George Spirits in consultation with Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate, Eurydice (yur-id-ih-see) is a completely unique rum.

Eurydice starts with the fresh-pressed cane juice of 100% California-grown sugar cane. The cane, grown in Southern California, is harvested and crushed at St George Spirits’ Alameda facility where it is fermented with two strains of wine yeast designed to accent the fruit and floral notes of the cane.

Eurydice is then distilled in an alembic pot still and aged in two different barrels: a re-toasted French wine cask, followed by a used bourbon barrel to develop subtle vanilla, brown sugar, and butter notes. The final product marries these characteristics to the light, dry, floral qualities of an agricole-style rhum for a unique rum experience.

Eurydice is a 100% California grown and produced artisan product. The name derives from Zerene Eurydice, the California state butterfly. Eurydice was produced in extremely limited quantities and will be available exclusively at Smuggler’s Cove when it opens to the public this fall.

For more information, please visit http://www.smugglerscovesf.com/ and sign up on our mailing list to get all the latest news.

About Martin Cate:  http://www.martincate.com/

About St. George Spirits: http://www.stgeorgespirits.com/

Contact Martin Cate at info@smugglerscovesf.com

Sugarcane bar

MEZCAL – DEL MAGUEY

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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.

Its a long time i wanted to try out Del Maguey mezcals and at the Tales i got my chance during their session Agavepalooza. I also got my chance to finally bring home the samples which were laying about in the US with this beautifully handcrafted spirit from the villages in Oaxaca, Mexico using old traditional methods. I was amazed to learn that even airborne microbes at different levels in the air affects the flavour of the mezcal.

In this video Ron Cooper from Del Maguey explains the myths and the seven factors that affects the quality and flavor of the mezcal. You should really watch this video, its very interesting.

In short, those seven factors are the following:

Plant Species – there are about a dozen maguey plants that produces good mezcal, so the plant variety is important as each one gives different flavours.

Altitude – its here the airborne microbes plays their role and at every 300 feet up (100m) its different species of microbes. These airborne microbes affects the fermenting. In commercial tequila and mezcal production chemicals are used but in the production of Del Maguey they wait between 4-30 days to let the airborne microbes start the fermenting.

The soil – Different soils are used, and soil definetily adds a flavour component. Del Maguey uses a soil type that is called tierra amaria. Its a well drained granite-rich soil thus letting the water drain off fast which is very important as water from the soil is not good for the maguey as water through the roots and up in the plant makes it bitter. Instead the plants opens up its poores in the night and absorbs moisture.

Wood – the kind of wood that is used to heat the rocks that roast the hearts on gives off different flavours.

Water – the water of the village also has a flavour effect and the water is used after the hearts are ground and everything is placed in tanks or vats. Different village waters affects the flavours.

The hand of the maker – This is that magic personal touch that every producer of mezcal adds to the product and its possible to by blind tasting tell which village and which specific producer has made a certain mezcal.

Time – is one of the most important factors in a good mezcal – as mezcal is a real slow-food product – this is how flavour is made.

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DEL MAGUEY MEZCAL

Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is produced in different tiny remote villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico and each Del Maguey mezcal carries the name of the village where its produced. Only two ingredients are used – water and the heart of the maguey (agave) plant.The traditions used in the production are over 400 years old.

Over hot stones the hearts are roasted in a pit in the ground, covered with banana leaves, woven palm-fiber mats or other plant material and finally earth for 3-5 days absorbing flavors from the earth and wood smoke and oils on the rocks.

After roasting the pinas are removed from the pit and being rested covered by palm mats in the shade for a week – they begin to ferment naturally with the help of airborne microbes.

The roasted hearts are then ground by horse-power into a mash followed by a long natural fermentation period in wooden vats – its here the water of the village plays its role as well as its own yeasts and microbes. Then its slowly distilled twice – in wood-fired clay or copper stills.

The mezcal has both social, ceremonial and medical uses among the villagers and is very highly esteemed.

I received four samples of Del Maguey mezcals and i`ll try to describe them as good as i can:

CHICHICAPA

Made in the village of Chichicapa south of Oaxaca, this mezcal has a lightly earthy nose. It has a earthy flavour too with a hint of smoke and which stays long with you. Its also a bit sweet, a very nice mezcal indeed. Its like a premium all-round mezcal good for both sipping and mixing.

CREMA DE MEZCAL

This one is my favorite, it`s hands down outstanding with a full creamy flavour and a hint of smoke lingering in the background and which slowly grows on you. I spent the entire last night in New York sitting on a rooftop terrace under the stars sharing a bottle of this awesome mezcal with a good friend and so I have fond memories linked with it as well. Its so easy to sip it…. According to Del Maguey this mezcal is made “for women only – and a few strong men”.

Its made in Oaxaca and is a combination of Miel de Maguey (unfermented syrup of the roast agave) and Mezcal San Luis del Rio. I cannot enough recommend this one.

SAN LUIS DEL RIO

Omg..this one is NICE! no wonder Crema de Mezcal is so tasty if it has this one in it. Its earthy, its deep, its spicy and a bit of smoke. Its citrusy too in the nose, so pleasant and my second favorite of these four awesome mezcals.

San Luis del Rio is appr 8000 feet above sea level and south of Oaxaca.

SANTO DOMINGO ALBARRADAS

This mezcal is pretty light and also fruity with a hint of the typical smoke. Its as smooth as the others, very nice and flavourful. If I were to mix with this one I would be careful to not use too much other flavours but rather mix with few ingredients.

Santo Domingo Albarradas is located at high altitude in the high Mixe (Mee-Hay) region south of Oaxaca.

OVERAL IMPRESSION

Well what can i say? Del Maguey is the top notch of mezcals. Of course I haven`t tried all mezcals but Del Maguey is good. In New Orleans I also tried the Tobala which is made from wild Maguey that grows in the shade of oak trees at high altitude. The Tobala is sweet and fruity as well as spicy.

Another interesting mezcal I tried was the Pechuga – triple distilled – which is made with wild mountain apples and plums and is only made by the end of the year when these are in season. Other things they add is pineapples, red plantains, figs, almonds, hazelnuts and uncooked white rice.

Furthermore – and this is interesting – a whole chicken breast with skin removed is suspended by strings hanging over the still for 24 hrs and this is the final 3rd distillation.The vapor passes over the chicken breast and condenses it to a clear liquid and only the bones remain. My memory of tasting it is that it was good – no surprise – and spicy, smoky and nope – I didn`t detect any chicken flavour in it but maybe others do.

I like the colorful labels on the bottles too, a bit childlike, very happy and gets me to think about sunshine.

The only final conclusion I can make is that I must try to get more Del Maguey mezcals and never be out of the Crema.

Mezcal is traditionally sipped, and a good mezcal is indeed a wonderful sipper but is also more and more used in cocktail mixing – and that`s part of the reason why i write about cocktails with mezcal as I think it deserves to be used much more. It`s also a very interesting spirit to work with and adds an interesting flavour and may also be floated, rimmed etc.

I recently made a batch of the hibiscus tisane that is called jamaica and I wanted to try it with mezcal, lime and agave syrup. Its a very simple cocktail with only natural ingredients where the mezcal adds some fire and smoke to the tangy lime and jamaica.

SMOKY CLOUD

jamaica-cloud-cocktail

The name comes from that the mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, which is the historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples – mixtec meaning “place of the cloud-people”.

2 oz Del Maguey mezcal chichicapa
¼ oz agave syrup
¼  oz bitter seville orange syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
Top with Jamaica

Shake over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a speared orange wedge and a lime twist.

This cocktail turned out to be very light, fruity and refreshing with a punch of smoke from the mezcal. You may also use just agave or simple syrup if you dont want to make your own bitter seville orang syrup which is very simply made by making a simple syrup with 1:1 (or 2.1 if you prefer) light raw cane sugar and water, then adding 5-6 tblsp of bitter seville orange marmalade. Then cook it for a while , cool and strain.

As for the jamaica just follow the recipe here. If you cannot find hibiscus flowers to make your own jamaica you could use just orange juice or maybe something different like cranberry or pomegranate?

JAMAICA

2 cups water to 2 handful of dried hibiscus flowers
3 oz agave syrup
Boil for 5 minutes
Cool for 2 hrs

When cool, strain and bottle.

If you get a chance to try Del Maguey just do it.

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

TESTING THE NEW BOKER´S BITTERS

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Few cocktail folks can possibly have missed the Boker´s Bitters project by Adam Elmegirab – Evo-lution Bar Consultancy – but if you have read on.

In aiming to recreate the drinks recipes by Jerry Thomas 1862 “Bartender´s Guide – How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivants Companion” Adam discovered he needed to have Boker`s bitters which are a key ingredient in many classic cocktails like the Japanese Cocktail, Crusta, Martinez and Improved Holland Gin Cocktail. The problem was that Boker´s was defunkt since long ago and a recreation was needed based on a recipe from the late 1800`s.

Adam used a recipe printed in 1883 by Robert Haldayne´s “Workshop receipts” and Scientific American Cyclopedia of Receipts, Notes & Queries 1898), as well as reading tasting notes from those fortunate enough to have tried original Boker’s. After a lot of research, experiments etc the bottles are now sent out around the globe to countries and various places such as  San Francisco, Arizona, Georgia, London, Plymouth, New York, Belfast, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Rovaniemi, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sweden, Los Angeles, Munich..to name a few. These new Boker´s Bitters are now a world citizen – already used in many bars.

Some of the botanicals used in these bitters are quassia bark, areca catechu, calamus root sub, dried orange peel and cardamom. He started out by macerating the botaniclas together in one container, but found out that to make a difference to the final product and monitor what was happening he had to separate the botanicals into individual containers and try each botanical daily.

Once everything is filtered and combined they are coloured with mallow flowers and then diluted and finally a secret ingredient is added that brings everything together. Its much more to it than this brief description and some can be read about at the Chanticleer Society which is a “Worldwide Organization of Cocktail Enthusiasts” run by Robert Hess –  an organization designed by cocktailians, for cocktailians.

It was in the Chanticleer´s forums i first read about the Boker`s bitters project that was going to take place. I was very fascinated by the whole thing and how its hand-made at “home-level” and now finally when the bottles are released its with great pleasure i now try and test them. It strikes me how passionate cocktail folks are about what they are doing whether its making bitters, tinctures, cocktails, blogging, consulting, bartending, books whatever – its a set of truly passionate people doing their things stirred by the love for the art of the cocktail.

At first sight i found the label created by Christian Bell quite stunning with beautiful printing and colours.The next thing i did was to open the bottle and feel the smell and immediately i said to myself “wow” this smells good!

Adding a few dashes on my hand i proceeded to taste the bitters and yes, they are nice. The flavours i did detect was dark chocolate, coffee and cardamom but there`s more that i can´t really say what it is.

So now the next question was, in which cocktail do i try these first? KP suggested i make the Japanese cocktail. Its a yummy and strongly flavoured little cocktail, i think the orgeat really does a good job here to balace out the brandy and bitters.

And these bitters does very well here . Try it!

japanese-cocktail

Japanese Cocktail

  • 1 Tbsp Orgeat
  • 1/2 tsp homemade Boker’s
  • 2 oz of Brandy

Stir with Ice, strain into champagne saucer. Garnish with 1 or 2 twists of Lemon Peel.

Reading Jerry’s book there´s  a reference for Bogart’s bitters, but that is a typo.

So that`s my first drink with Adam`s Boker´s bitters and i like it – more will follow. I did cut down at bit on the orgeat though to 1/5  tbsp. It looks to me that this first bitters-project has been successful and i`m sure there will be more to come. The production of these Boker’s starts and finishes in the kitchen in his own home and the labels are self-printed , hand signed and then stuck to each bottle before sealing for further distribution.

The bitters come in 100ml dasher bottles with an approx ABV of 30%. The price at the moment is £12.00 per 100ml (plus postage & packaging.

Wanna get the bitters? contact Adam at adamelmegirab@aol.co.uk Mob – +44 (0) 7796 620617

They go fast!

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