What are Shrubs in Cocktails?

What is a Shrub you might ask?  Well, a Shrub is a combination of sweet and savory flavors.

Vinegar and fruits, bitter aromatics and tart essences are what Shrubs are to a cocktail.

I see a Shrub and I think savory and complicated flavors.

Shrubs seem to be recreated aroma driven concentrated tastes.  Sitting in front of me right now is a very special Apple Shrub from Shrub and Co.

I created a liquid Mulligatawny  out of my Apple Shrub.

The Mulligatawny Cocktail is a curious creature indeed.   It is comprised of Orleans Apple Aperitif woven in a melange with Busted Barrel Rum from New Jersey.

A few tablespoons of the Apple Shrub is augmented by the sharp and potent flavors of Curry- as exemplified by Bill York’s Curry Bitters from Bitter End in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I see this cocktail as a potent reminder of the British Empire running a rail road train at high speed into an unchartered pass.  In the winter.  With no one coming in either direction for about a week.  This drink is perfect for the coming apple season and fall soon ahead.

The Shrub and Co. Apple Shrub can be taken by the teaspoon full over ice cream or spooned over shortbread and dashed with some bourbon oak aged dark rum or even an agricole!

I prefer it in a drink.

There are dozens of different Shrubs on the market.  Some are created from berries, others citrus and still others tree fruits.  Shrubs are to cocktails as a time-machine is to space travel.  A means to the end.  Channeling our forefathers through their liquid driven memories.

My thoughts on Shrubs are simple.  Use them when you require a bitter/sour element to your drinks.

They add a savory sweet/sour thickness to the finished product.

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

I’ll Be an Apple Perplexed Cocktail aka: The Mulligatawny Cocktail

Ingredients:

2 oz. Busted Barrel Rum

1 oz. Orleans Apple Aperitif

1 oz. Shrub & Co. Apple Shrub

Bitter End Curry Bitters

Large Ice Cubes

Preparation:

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled 1/4 with ice

Shake well until frosty

Strain over large ice cubes

Scrape some fresh nutmeg over the top (essential!)

Garnish with a sprig of fresh spearmint

cocktail recipe: At last a paltry decree…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cocktail Recipe: At Last A Paltry Decree

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererIt’s remarkable how fine spirits respond to freshly squeezed juices.  But imagine for a second that you don’t have a great source for perfectly ripened fruits.  I know that in New York City, we always can get something fresh and lush, even in the corner Bodega.  But just outside the city things are much more dicey on the freshly squeezed juice front.Fortunately I’m well versed with the gorgeous product named Fruitations.  While I was down in New Orleans during the recent Tales of the Cocktail, I was pleasantly surprised to see many bottles of Fruitations.  But that’s not why I love Fruitations, although it was great to see the product get international recognition.  What I like about this product is the unmistakable taste of freshly crushed fruit.

That means something to me. Read on!

While I was down in New Orleans, feeling the sweat pour down my back because I walked nearly everywhere in the 100 per cent humidity days, I had the honor to sit down with Jason Kosmas of the 86 Company.  I’m sure I looked like something that just came up out of the swamp for the first time, because I asked for a bar rag instead of a napkin to dry my brow.  They say in the South, that you don’t sweat- you glow.  Well my friends, I was not only sweating, every drop of my fiber was pooling around me and soaking my clothes.  It wasn’t as hot as past years, but the humidity more than made up for the lack of burning summer’s heat.

Jason re-introduced me to his line of highly expressive spirits.  He made note of the new label design, how it comes off easily and the reason for all those hatch marks in the bottle.   I always knew that the bottle with a long neck fits into my hand easily and won’t slip out.  This is important to anyone who is limited on time in a high volume cocktail bar.  The shape of the bottle is important too, easy to fit into a speed rack, with a narrow, rounded surface.  Very impressive are the measurements on the side of the bottle as well.  This allows the bartender to batch with relative ease.  But the most important thing about these products isn’t the pretty label, or the markings on the bottle, what is most important what is inside the bottle.

Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez  carefully  makes Caña Brava rum in Panama.  This Cuban-styled  rum is a rarity in the United States where most of the high volume products barely taste like rum at all.  Not to point fingers at any one producer, I’m less than impressed by rum that tastes like vodka, if I wanted to drink vodka, I would…  This is gorgeous rum that tastes like the rum I bought in Duty-Free in Rome last September.  Francisco made Cuban rum for 35 years and now he is making it for the 86 Company as he did in the old country with an antique copper and brass column still during the days of America’s Prohibition.  His rum is filtered, crystal clear in color and rambunctious in the mouthfeel.  Woven into cocktails, Caña Brava will most certainly fool you with its authenticity towards the very rare rum from Cuba… And as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, bringing back a few sample bottles is not frowned upon, yet one cannot just buy a bottle at their local package goods store.

It’s illegal to trade with Cuba!   Thankfully we have Caña Brava to take our minds off of Cuban Rum…

Send for a bottle from DrinkupNY, do it now!

Tenneyson Absinthe, just a drop really- added to the Caña Brava and the Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail syrup makes a fine cocktail even more alluring.  When I saw Graham Wasilition, the enthusiastic owner of Tenneyson down at Tales, I wanted to tell him about this cocktail- but time didn’t allow it.  Tenneyson is unique to the Absinthe market.  It comes clear, without dyes or other artificial ingredients, but when you add it to a cocktail or just dribble some cool water over the top, magic happens in your glass.  It makes me thirsty just to think about it!

As most of my cocktails contain bitters, the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters is a fine way of finishing this lush cocktail.

Cheers!

WB

At Last A Paltry Decree

Ingredients:
2 oz. Caña Brava Rum from the 86 Co.
.25 Tenneyson Absinthe
.50 Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
2 oz. Polar Sparkling Water
2-4 dashes of Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Preparation:
To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice:
Add the Caña Brava Rum
Add the Tenneyson Absinthe
Add the Fruitations Tangerine

Cap and shake hard for 10 seconds or so

Add ice to an Old Fashioned glass
Strain into the glass
Dot with the Lemon Bitters
Serve!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail!

The Urban Meditation Fizz. Thank you DrinkupNY!

THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014

Urban Meditation Fizz Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererWhen the weather starts getting really oppressive outside, getting bombed is the last thing on my mind.  Sure, it’s fun to get a little buzz on to keep the feeling of the humidity at bay.  I know this sense of relaxation is just the thing to keep the hounds of summer at bay.  Simplicity is the key to summer drinks.  There is nothing more revolting to me than an mélange of disparate, garbage pail quality ingredients, thrown together into a blender with stinky ice and much less than high quality spirits.  This kind of drink is just not going to be memorable and please let me assure you that the hangover that ensues will certainly be memorable!

(Calling Fernet Branca please! !)

High quality spirits such as Casa Noble are even more pleasurable when less it done to each sip.  Covering up (expensive) expressive spirits with candy flavored artificially flavored mixers IS NEVER OK!  So don’t do it.   LISTEN UP!

Casa Noble makes some of the most delightfully aromatic and potentTequila expressions that I’ve ever had the chance to enjoy.  Each sip is an countenance of passion for my thoughts.   And with the approach of the hottest weather of the year so far, I love to taste what I spend my money on.

That’s why after a week of shooting pictures in the studio for my third book up in Massachusetts, all that I want is simple, simple, simple!  Why?  It’s going to get really hot in a few days and sharing this refreshing thirst quencher is the way that it is done.

The Casa Noble Blanco is the perfect base for craft cocktails that don’t come off as being too crafty or  too complicated.  What do I mean about that?  Well, there are the ingredients.  As few of them as possible, that is for sure- but also the quality of the ingredients.  That is essential.  Casa Noble makes it easy for me to do great work because of the quality and simplicity of their ingredients.

Fruitations is a marvelous fresh fruit soda and cocktail syrup made with love up in New England.  Well, syrup is a misnomer, what Fruitations represents to me is condensed affection in a bottle.  There are three handcrafted flavors, Tangerine, Ruby Grapefruit and Cranberry.  The New England in me loves the Cranberry for rum cocktails, the Grapefruit is a burst of Florida, perfect for gin and the Tangerine is like a trip to Mexico, screaming out for Tequila…  Fruitations is exotic, bold and highly intriguing.  For this cocktail, I chose the perfectly adept, Tangerine flavor.

Each sip is like biting into a perfectly ripened citrus blast.

To give this drink a bit of lift I used Polar Seltzer.  The miniscule bubble that Polar encapsulates in each sip makes the Casa Noble Tequila and the Fruitations Syrup scream out for more, more…  And to the finish, may I suggest a few drops of the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters?  Why?  They just work to heal your body.

With hot weather you want to heal what ails ye, your head, your heart, whatever is bothering you.  What ails ye is what I printed in my best-selling 1st book, Apothecary Cocktails.   This is the phrase that means- drink something, drink anything with bitters and this becomes an elixir for good health of your belly.

Drinking this little gem is nice.  And drinking anything with the splendid liquid named Fruitations simply as a mocktail will make the steamy summer seem much further away.    And the healing?  Have a few and call me in the morning..

Urban Meditation Fizz

Ingredients:
2 oz. Casa Noble Blanco
1 oz. Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
4 oz. Polar Seltzer (Plain is fine- and preferred!)
2-4 shakes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Prep:
(It’s so easy to mix a simple drink; you really should try it sometime…)

To a tall Collins-type glass:
Fill with 3-4 ice cubes
Add the Casa Noble Tequila
Pour over with the Fruitations Tangerine
Top with the Polar Seltzer
Mix with a funky straw and serve with a few shakes of the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Easy!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail!

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Cocktail

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererAtxa Vermouth Tinto, Eden Orleans and Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin make for a Negroni of otherworldly flavors and textures.

But first of all, what is a Negroni?  Well, the historic reference for drinking them dates back to the mid-1970’s.  I was on yet another trip to Italy, along with my parents.  It was an upbringing that you cannot read in a book, nor watch on television.  Movies only offer snippets of recreated European travel, so the only way to really understand Europe is to go there and whatever you do, don’t take a tour-bus.  You might as well eat all your meals at Americanized fast food restaurants because to experience Europe you must eat and drink like a European.  Just my opinion.

My parents never begrudged me the occasional beer or glass of wine either with our meals.  I think they thought that I’d be less likely to abuse alcohol if it was around all the time.  Of all the things I disagree with, in regard to their style of child rearing, this was the only one that made perfect sense.

To this day I look at Day Drinking as the only time I really enjoy a cocktail.  I suppose it dates back to being in Europe as a boy and drinking every day!

The Negroni was not necessarily something that I would order in a restaurant, but I do remember vividly the first time I saw one.  We were in Rome, staying at the Hotel Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps.  Lining the steps were cafés, really no more than a couple of stand up tables with stand up guys and their girls sipping vivid red short cocktails.  After a couple of these potent drinks everyone becomes like actors in a Black and White Fellini movie.  That is what Rome represents to me, even to this day.  If you close your eyes when visiting Rome and open them on the Spanish Steps – well, you’ll see what I mean.  The light hasn’t changed although seeing the world in color is much different than in Black and White in the Fellini films.

Back to the Negroni. Count Negroni as legend has it was rather fond of the cocktail known as the Americano (Campari and Vermouth with soda water). Being a nobleman with either a stomach ache or a drinking problem – or both…, he asked his bartender to change the cocktail and remove the fizzy water in favor of a large dose of gin.

As it turns out to fans of the classics, and with history being my guide, this drink of Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Gin- to present day is still named the Negroni.

I’m certainly not calling my drink a Negroni, but what I will call it is the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan, named after a character in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  It’s a silly name for a very grown-up sense of humor, dispensed sip-by-sip.

In this case on ordering a Negroni, while walking up (or down) the Spanish Steps, your typical combination of Campari, Sweet Vermouth (often of a dubious origin) and gin (is that gin or rockgut?) is poured down the throats of thirsty tourists in bars that line the broad Spanish Steps in Rome.

May I propose something completely different in this case.  Being someone who is not a Nobleman, well this does create certain difficulties when working with venerable cocktails such as the Negroni.  Please hear me out on this; I think the finish is brilliant and very, very fresh.  And modern.  And fascicle.  Because life is meant to be all things, bitter, sweet and strange.

I’ve been drinking Spanish Vermouth as of late.  These are brilliant efforts are made with some of the most expressive base wines available from Spain- and only in miniscule quantities.  Spanish Vermouth is certainly a gourmet’s pleasure.

Atxa Vermouth Tinto is from the Basque Region of Spain.  It is a lovely sipping Vermouth, bursting with flavors of citrus and tobacco.  I love it in a Negroni, especially one of a different stripe like the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Negroni.

Next in this philosophically incorrect version of the classic Negroni I’ve included Orleans Bitter Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters, I know already that your ears have perked up and the word bitter may connote something else entirely.  Whatever your idea is about Campari, may I please suggest substituting the Orleans Bitter with red currant and bitter herbs instead? Thank you.

And now in a tip of the hat to the alchemists who discovered that saffron really is worth muchGabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin as the gin component to this cocktail.  Who can resist something as elegant as gin in a cocktail that is woven it seems from the finest grains and the best saffron that money can pluck from impossibly tiny flowers. Did you say add saffron to a Negroni?  I think so, rabbit.
more than gold I’m including

The gin element is unmistakable.  You cannot imagine what this drink was like without the deeply mysterious aromatics of exotic saffron coursing through each sip.  The combination of the Orleans Bitter and the Spanish Vermouth along with the saffron infused gin is otherworldly.

I finish this drink with a splash of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  My thoughts are simple.  Where there is gin, somewhere there should be juice.  Or bitters, or something.  I forget.  I’ll have another please.

Just make a few and let me know how you enjoy it.
Cheers!

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan
Ingredients:
2 oz. Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin
1.5 oz. Orleans Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters
1.0 oz. Atxa Vermouth Tinto
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters
Lemon twist

Preparation:
To a cocktail mixing glass, fill ¾ with bar ice
Add the gin, then the cider, followed by the vermouth
Stir 30 times with a long cocktail spoon
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into two coupe glasses
Garnish with lemon twists and dot the top with the grapefruit bitters to finish

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Warren does “at home” mixology and is also able to work with food from his years as a chef.  He will work with your bartender or craft a perfect party drink- and make it too!
jockeyhollow@gmail.com

The Shock of Discovery Fizz (DrinkupNY)

The Shock of Discovery Fizz Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’m not known as a vodka drinker, but occasionally I’ve been known to sip small quantities of this often misunderstood, neutral grain spirit.  You’ll note that I said grain.  Most vodka is indeed distilled from grain.  That’s too bad, because the vodka that I drank growing up was made from potatoes, imported from either Sweden or Russia.

It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I finally discovered the difference between grain and potato vodka.    There is also vodka made from whey and another great favorite of mine, Barr Hill, made from fermented raw honey.  But I digress.  Truth is, there are very few vodkas on the market that I look for.  Or thirst for.  Until now.

Of course every one of my personal rules are meant to be broken, especially with a new brand to these shores from London, England.  UK 5, Organic Vodka has caught my eye.  Perhaps the ingredients, being USDA Certified Organic are important to me, this example is made from Organic German Rye.

Of course the price is very reasonable at DrinkupNY… It’s not priced like some of the boutique offerings from around the world.  This one is under thirty dollars per bottle and it’s well worth your hard earned money!

I’ve experimented with many different varieties of vodka and I find for cocktails, the ones made from rye are most forgiving for both the amateur mixologist and the behind the stick professionals.  Rye vodka has a spicy and zesty nose, a crisp finish and oodles of aromatics that fill your memories.

UK 5 is also Vegan, if you follow those trends…

UK 5 vodka tastes wonderful over a large cube of homemade ice or crafted into mixology level cocktails.  I prefer the latter because if you want to drink it straight up, you won’t need to do anything to it.  But if you want to learn how to mix it up a bit, keep reading- because I have a recipe that will stimulate your appetite and quench your thirst.

I’m a huge fan of Sorel, the next ingredient in my brilliant, summer refresher. Sorel is handmade by my friendJackie Summers in Brooklyn, NY.  It is chock-full of Caribbean islands flavors:  Cloves, Cassia, Ginger Hibiscus, Cane Sugar and organic New York grain alcohol for a bit of a buzz.The combination of Sorel and UK 5 vodka is the beginning of this pre-soda pop refresher, set firmly in the modern context.

Shrubs or what are known as drinking vinegars are quite delicious in the warm summer months because they provide refreshment without artificial ingredients.  Just like the UK 5 vodka is made with all organic ingredients, drinking vinegars are also made without preservatives or chemicals.  I suggest one that anyone can make, not just former cooks like myself.  This Shrub is as easy as opening a bottle of organic sour cherry preserves and adding a portion of robust, balsamic vinegar.  It only takes a couple of hours to set the flavors before using.  I’m thrilled to tell you that a “shrub in a hurry” is a great way of quenching your thirst when you are short on time or you’re really on Island Time.

The Cherry Shrub
Ingredients:
2 oz. Organic Sour Cherry Preserves
2 oz. Balsamic Vinegar

Prep:
Combine Organic Sour Cherry Preserves with the Balsamic Vinegar, stir together to combine in a non-reactive bowl
Let sit at room temp for a few hours, covered and then force through a sieve
The remaining liquid is your fast Shrub

The combination of UK 5 vodka, Sorel, the sour cherry preserves in a fast Shrub and a final application of Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters is a very refreshing drink that will keep you coming back for more.  With or without the alcohol, this drink says refreshment.

The Shock of Discovery Fizz
Ingredients:
2 oz. UK 5 Organic Vodka
1 oz. Sorel Liqueur
1 oz. Sour Cherry Shrub
2 oz. Seltzer Water (Unflavored)
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Twist of lemon zest

Prep:
Add a couple handmade cubes of ice to a large Burgundy wine glass
Rub the rim with your lemon zest and drop into the glass
Add the UK 5 vodka along with the Sorel and top with seltzer, stir
Dot across the top with the Bitter Truth Bitters for good digestion!

Serve!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail!

jockeyhollow@gmail.com
Warren does private mixology lessons and presentations, please ask!

Drink Up NY…

An Ardent Dreamer Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI’m thrilled when a bartender knows what I’m talking about when I ask for Aperol.  Usually I receive a blank stare or worse- a nod towards Campari or some other red colored aperitif.

Not that Campari is bad, far from- it’s just much different than Aperol.

First of all, Aperol has less alcohol than Campari, making it the perfect summer quaff at about 12% by volume for Aperol, instead of the 25% of Campari.

Campari is more assertively flavored- making Aperol a lighter approach to the term bitter aperitif.  You see, bitter is a good thing.  Aperol is made up of licorice, fennel, aniseed, popular buds, bitter clover, wormwood, valerian, gentian, bitter orange, cinchona bark and rhubarb.

The ingredients in Campari are similar- but secret and this article is not about Campari, but it is about Aperol!   Made by the same company as Campari, Aperol is altogether different.  First of all there is more sugar in Aperol, although the drinker may not recognize the sweetness in the drink, because the bitter herbs balance the sweetness.  I am a huge fan of Aperol and I use it often in my refreshing summer cocktails.

Greenhook Ginsmiths is located in Greenpoint, NY. I love what they have achieved in the gin world by the quality of their ingredients.  Brothers, Stephen and Philip DeAngelo have revolutionized the old fashioned technique of making gin.  They use a low temperature vacuum to remove all the excess air from the distillation process allowing for a more gentle approach to the finished product.

I’m not a scientist, but I will say that the vacuum distillation makes a softer gin- less harsh and definitely not cloying.  I remember meeting the brothers a couple years ago at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and I immediately became an ardent supporter of their craft.

Freshly squeezed juices are a necessity in my cocktails and in my day-to-day drinking pleasure.  There really is no excuse to use concentrated fruit juices or powdered juices in cocktails.  My drinks NEVER call for bottled orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime.  It’s just not done!  You should always make every attempt at using the very best ingredients that you can find for your drinks- after all it’s your money!  Why cover up great liquor with artificial ingredients?  Even the 900-pound gorilla, Tropicana juice is pasteurized, giving your cocktail a flat, listless experience.  You may not notice- and that’s ok… BUT, when you are making something that speaks of quality, why use juices that may have been extracted months in advance of your enjoyment, then?

Beats me.  That’s why the fresh juice movement in craft cocktails is so essential to the overall approach to making fresh drinks with the best ingredients you can get.

I always ask if a cocktail lounge is using fresh juices and if they don’t- I usually don’t stay- or I order something plain.  It’s just that simple, there are no excuses to use less than stellar ingredients.  I’d gladly pay more; just give me the chance to do so!

An Ardent Dreamer
Ingredients:
2 oz. Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin
1 oz. Aperol
½ oz. freshly squeezed orange
½ oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit
¼ oz. freshly squeezed lemon
¼ oz. freshly squeezed lime
Splash of seltzer
Old Fashioned glass
Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Preparation:
Add the juices and the Greenhook Gin with the Aperol to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
Shake hard for 15 seconds or so
Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a couple cubes of hand cut or hand made ice (silicone tray with double boiled spring water, overnight)
Top with the seltzer and a couple drops of the Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters for a flourish!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail!

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Cocktail

 My first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award for the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail!

 

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererAtxa Vermouth Tinto, Eden Orleans and Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin make for a Negroni of otherworldly flavors and textures.But first of all, what is a Negroni?  Well, the historic reference for drinking them dates back to the mid-1970’s.  I was on yet another trip to Italy, along with my parents.  It was an upbringing that you cannot read in a book, nor watch on television.  Movies only offer snippets of recreated European travel, so the only way to really understand Europe is to go there and whatever you do, don’t take a tour-bus.  You might as well eat all your meals at Americanized fast food restaurants because to experience Europe you must eat and drink like a European.  Just my opinion.My parents never begrudged me the occasional beer or glass of wine either with our meals.  I think they thought that I’d be less likely to abuse alcohol if it was around all the time.  Of all the things I disagree with, in regard to their style of child rearing, this was the only one that made perfect sense.To this day I look at Day Drinking as the only time I really enjoy a cocktail.  I suppose it dates back to being in Europe as a boy and drinking every day!The Negroni was not necessarily something that I would order in a restaurant, but I do remember vividly the first time I saw one.  We were in Rome, staying at the Hotel Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps.  Lining the steps were cafés, really no more than a couple of stand up tables with stand up guys and their girls sipping vivid red short cocktails.  After a couple of these potent drinks everyone becomes like actors in a Black and White Fellini movie.  That is what Rome represents to me, even to this day.  If you close your eyes when visiting Rome and open them on the Spanish Steps – well, you’ll see what I mean.  The light hasn’t changed although seeing the world in color is much different than in Black and White in the Fellini films.

Back to the Negroni. Count Negroni as legend has it was rather fond of the cocktail known as the Americano (Campari and Vermouth with soda water). Being a nobleman with either a stomach ache or a drinking problem – or both…, he asked his bartender to change the cocktail and remove the fizzy water in favor of a large dose of gin.

As it turns out to fans of the classics, and with history being my guide, this drink of Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Gin- to present day is still named the Negroni.

I’m certainly not calling my drink a Negroni, but what I will call it is the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan, named after a character in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  It’s a silly name for a very grown-up sense of humor, dispensed sip-by-sip.

In this case on ordering a Negroni, while walking up (or down) the Spanish Steps, your typical combination of Campari, Sweet Vermouth (often of a dubious origin) and gin (is that gin or rockgut?) is poured down the throats of thirsty tourists in bars that line the broad Spanish Steps in Rome.

May I propose something completely different in this case.  Being someone who is not a Nobleman, well this does create certain difficulties when working with venerable cocktails such as the Negroni.  Please hear me out on this; I think the finish is brilliant and very, very fresh.  And modern.  And fascicle.  Because life is meant to be all things, bitter, sweet and strange.

I’ve been drinking Spanish Vermouth as of late.  These are brilliant efforts are made with some of the most expressive base wines available from Spain- and only in miniscule quantities.  Spanish Vermouth is certainly a gourmet’s pleasure.

Atxa Vermouth Tinto is from the Basque Region of Spain.  It is a lovely sipping Vermouth, bursting with flavors of citrus and tobacco.  I love it in a Negroni, especially one of a different stripe like the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Negroni.

Next in this philosophically incorrect version of the classic Negroni I’ve included Orleans Bitter Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters, I know already that your ears have perked up and the word bitter may connote something else entirely.  Whatever your idea is about Campari, may I please suggest substituting the Orleans Bitter with red currant and bitter herbs instead? Thank you.

And now in a tip of the hat to the alchemists who discovered that saffron really is worth muchGabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin as the gin component to this cocktail.  Who can resist something as elegant as gin in a cocktail that is woven it seems from the finest grains and the best saffron that money can pluck from impossibly tiny flowers. Did you say add saffron to a Negroni?  I think so, rabbit.
more than gold I’m including

The gin element is unmistakable.  You cannot imagine what this drink was like without the deeply mysterious aromatics of exotic saffron coursing through each sip.  The combination of the Orleans Bitter and the Spanish Vermouth along with the saffron infused gin is otherworldly.

I finish this drink with a splash of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  My thoughts are simple.  Where there is gin, somewhere there should be juice.  Or bitters, or something.  I forget.  I’ll have another please.

Just make a few and let me know how you enjoy it.
Cheers!

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan
Ingredients:
2 oz. Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin
1.5 oz. Orleans Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters
1.0 oz. Atxa Vermouth Tinto
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters
Lemon twist

Preparation:
To a cocktail mixing glass, fill ¾ with bar ice
Add the gin, then the cider, followed by the vermouth
Stir 30 times with a long cocktail spoon
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into two coupe glasses
Garnish with lemon twists and dot the top with the grapefruit bitters to finish

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

 

 

Mother’s Day Cocktail: Beekman 1802 and Klaus the Soused Gnome

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Is your mom sweet like honey?  Warm and comforting like a cup of tea?  Or even a little spicey?  Klaus has never met his own mother, but that doesn’t stop him from celebrating all the moms in his life.

So he’s concocted a cocktail for all moms–no matter what shape or form they come in.

Springtime brings flavor into the equation because after the long winter we had, all Klaus wants is simplicity and flavor.

So what does Klaus want?

Fabulous Rio Red Grapefruit syrup, grenadine, Barr Hill Gin, Tenneyson Absinthe and Bitter End Thai Bitters???

Bitter End Bitters out in Santa Fe, New Mexico makes Thai Bitters that are like delving into a bowl of Thai Chilies. There is that heat element that is for certain…But then there are the flavors that open up, drop-by-concentrated-drop in a cocktail. I’ve tasted dozens of bitters and there really is nothing on the market that has the character of the Bitter End. Don’t get me wrong, I love bitters and could wax poetic for hours using them in my drinks. Bitters are just about the best thing for a hangover, according to Klaus. He knows.

Fruitations from Massachusetts are a most gorgeously concentrated, pure fruit syrups that are just exceptional in any kind of cocktail or mocktail. I just go gaga over the grapefruit syrup because it is like tucking into a juicy, ripe grapefruit. Less is more with this high quality syrup. You don’t have to use much, it’s that good!

A hit of Tenneyson Absinthe Royale is necessary. Try it and you’ll know why. It’s a secret otherwise!

Klaus’s Mother’s Day cocktail

(for two)

FIRST,  make a pot of Beekman 1802 Mercantile Blend tea – please serve it steaming hot to warm you deeply before, cooling yourself with this spring cocktail.

Ingredients:

4 oz. Barr Hill Gin, made from Raw Honey and grain with juniper berries

½ oz. Tenneyson Absinthe Royale

2 oz. Grenadine

6 oz. Fruitations Rio Red Grapefruit Cocktail and Soda Syrup

Preparation:

Pour yourself a cup of Beekman 1802 tea and while you enjoy the smoky demeanor of this very elegant tea

In a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with bar ice

Pour over the Barr Hill Gin

Add the Grenadine

Add the Fruitations Rio Red Grapefruit cocktail and soda syrup

Cap and shake hard for 15 seconds

Pour into a Collins Glass with several hand cut ice cubes

Drip four drops of the Bitter End Thai bitters over the top. If this is too spicy, cut back to two drops

CHEERS TO WHATEVER PERSON IN YOUR LIFE YOU CALL ‘MOM’!

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable- DrinkupNY

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable 

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I was poking around in the liquor cabinet the other day finding some nearly forgotten gems like the American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial that was lurking in the periphery.  I hadn’t worked with this fabulous, flavor packed product in some time and upon discovering the slender bottle hiding behind some Rhum Agricole– it brought an immediate smile to my face.  I smiled because the tart, sumptuous flavors encapsulated in the bottle would be “just what the doctor ordered” for the combination of sweet to the savory in my glass.

Usually I serve the Sour Cherry Cordial over crushed ice with a mint simple syrup and seltzer but today I’ve discovered something altogether unexpected.  Today is different because of the product named Aquavit.

What is Aquavit?  Aside from the literal translation of Aqua Vit or water of life, Aquavit is distilled from either grain or potatoes and the predominant flavor is that of caraway seeds along with lemon peel, fennel cardamom, cumin, anise and other fruit oils depending on the region and style desired.  Some Aquavit is aged in the barrel but most Aquavit is bottled after blending down to 40% ABV.

It is still a very potent slurp.

I chose Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit because it is from Iceland.  Icelandic water is one of the purest sources of water on the planet.  Martin Miller Gin is also made with this soft, lightly mineral water source.

I think that the spirits that use Icelandic water are absolutely smashing and you should taste them just as soon as you are able.
When you mix this grain and potato based Aquavit with Sour Cherry Cordial everything tastes better around you.  Especially if you are eating foods like pickled herring or smoked salmon, Aquavit is just a natural with the sugar, salt and spicy flavors from the northern part of Europe.

You see, foods from the Scandinavian countries are just perfectly pared with Aquavit and strangely enough with American Sour Cherry Cordial.

This combination of flavors reminds me of a visit to Amsterdam about twenty years ago.  I was just mesmerized by Belgian beer; especially the tart varieties of Cherry infused Lambic Ales.  I’ve grown to crave the warm aromatics of aged cherries in my glass and on the plate.  There is nothing more alluring than a roasted pork loin cooked with sour cherries or a medallion of Brook Trout enrobed in brown butter, hazelnuts and finished with Lambic-soaked cherry flavored Ale.

Mixing Sour Cherries and Aquavit is perhaps the most interesting recipe in my current toolkit of cocktail whisperer inspired recipes.  Aquavit was certainly used as a curative in the early apothecary so it becomes an essential ingredient in the struggle to determine the fine line of good health over intoxication!

I say drink what you like and all will be well.

The American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial makes for a perfect “Day Drink” because you can decide exactly how mind numbing you want this cocktail to be. If you want to numb your entire body, use more Aquavit.  If you want a perfectly lovely day drink, use more Sour Cherry Cordial and some more mint simple syrup.  Whichever way you choose to make it, I offer the stronger of the two ways for your perusal and hopefully your whole-hearted approval.

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable
You can make this strong like an Icelandic warrior.
This is the way that I think you should have it.

Ingredients:
2 oz.  Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit
½ oz. American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial
1 oz. Mint Simple Syrup
1 oz. seltzer water
Lemon Bitters from Bitter Truth
Hand cut ice (essential!)

Prep:
To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the Aquavit, the Sour Cherry Cordial and the mint simple syrup

Shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour over the hand cut ice into a tall Collins glass
Add a splash of seltzer water and 2-3 drops of the lemon bitters
Garnish with a sour cherry pierced by a long straw

Mint Simple Syrup:
(Crush 1-cup spearmint and add to 1 cup Demerara Sugar and 1 cup spring water, bring to a simmer in a non reactive saucepan for at least 20 minutes and reduce to desired thickness, strain out the mint with a cheesecloth. Reduce some more for extra good luck in battle)

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Heart of Darkness Swizzle

TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI remember vividly the first time that I tasted the unmistakable flavor of Thai food.  It just was electrifying.  The flavors were intensely spicy and they crackled over my tongue in a way that Americanized Chinese food was incapable of doing.

I was living out in California in Venice Beach and seemingly overnight a new wave of brightly flavored and textured cooking erupted on the scene.  The usually gloppy, overly sweetened and excessively oily pan-Asian style foods were suddenly replaced by crisp, aromatic and intensely spicy flavors that I’d never experienced prior.  This occurred around 1980 so the phrase “California Cuisine” had not been invented yet.  But Thai food had just arrived on the West Coast and it blew open my palate like nothing ever had prior.

What I enjoy most about Thai food is the depth of the spice, the clarity of the heat and the intense simplicity of the spices and herbs used in the cooking.

One strikingly potent ingredient is called the Kaffir Lime leaf.  This leaf, used in Thai and Laotian curry pastes gives foods an sour, astringent and bitter flavor that works perfectly against the sweeter elements of palm sugar and the heat of the spices.

I love Kaffir Lime leaf in my food and my drink.  Sometimes I cut a Kaffir Lime leaf in half and drop it into a glass of seltzer water.  It’s drinking a trip to Thailand without the expensive plane ticket.

This would stand to reason from my passion for spicy Thai food, that I would enjoy Kaffir Lime leaf in my vodka as well.   Not an insipidly sweet chemical plant, processed liqueur, but a richly flavored, lush and intensely elegant vodka that is remarkably restrained and aromatic.  Hanger 1 is producing something so unusual that I would say safely that I’ve tasted nothing so mesmeric in my life- other than Thai curry.  And I’ve just learned that the Kaffir Lime leaf when sprayed on a bug makes an excellent insecticide.  But I don’t recommend rooting out bugs infestations with such rare and lovely vodka.

What I recommend doing with it is mixing with it!

Recently I received a gorgeous bottle of vermouth from Italy by way of a friend in NYC.  Carpano Bianco is
the name of the vermouth.  If you love the traditionally red Carpano Antica Formula and couldn’t imagine using anything else in a Negroni, please indulge my sense of balance in a cocktail.  You should try the new Bianco (white) version.  Carpano Bianco is opulent across the tongue, velvety and packed full of aromatic herbs, secret spices and roots.  In a tip of the hat to the Negroni cocktail, I would suggest using the Bianco, instead of the deeply red colored Antica for a lighter, change of pace.  To describe the opulence of Carpano you must first throw out those bottle of vermouth that are over a few years old.  You haven’t been refrigerating them?  Shame! Do you store them in a cool cellar? No???

If you have been stashing your vermouth on top of the fridge or in a hot closet- throw your bottles out immediately!  Vermouth needs care- not too much care, but it should be treated like Port or Sherry.  (Both fortified wines)  Eventually vermouth will turn vinegary and will fail to please you- and that’s the rub because most people are still drinking the less expensive brands that start off sour or vinegary, like Martini and Rossi or Cinzano.  These are industrial brands with venerable, historic names- that’s about it.  So if vermouth has injected a bad taste in your cocktail- it is not necessarily the quality that is bringing your drink down, it’s because your vermouth has soured!

As with all great things in life, the quality of a product is not necessarily dictated by the price, but I do think an artisanal product such as Carpano is not going to come inexpensively.  That is a fact of life in a consumer driven society.  Where there is high demand and limited supply comes price and Carpano Bianco is not inexpensive.  But what you have of it is truly gorgeous and you need to buy a bottle from DrinkupNY and try it with the Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf vodka.

To make this cocktail really sing, I stumbled across a bottle of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  To me, the addition of the unrestrainedly bitter oils of the grapefruit zest encapsulated in the bitters, added to this craft cocktail with both Carpano Bianco and Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf just says the heart of darkness.

Mysterious, beguiling and very sensual is just the beginning of this drink that I call, the Heart of Darkness Swizzle.

(You do have a Swizzle Stick, right?)

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

Ingredients:
2 oz. Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf Vodka
½ oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
1 oz. Seltzer Water
Fresh mint

Prep:
Add all ingredients except for your seltzer- to a tall Collins glass with crushed ice
Insert the Swizzle Stick and move it between your palms and with an up and down motion- like a Mixmaster Blender!

Add the seltzer and the bitters with a bit more ice and garnish with the mint…

YUM and simple!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.