Underneath Bell’s Crossing

Tools of the trade for a classic old fashion cocktail.

I was playing around with flavors the other day and coffee seemed to resonate more clearly than ever. Maybe it was the recent cold snap, or perhaps it was my palate calling out for deeper (read: more intense) flavors. That’s where Death Wish Coffee comes into play. They say that it’s the world’s strongest coffee and I tend to agree with them, as long as I control the brewing method. You see, I’m pretty picky when it comes to strong. I like to do coffee in either a French press or as a pour-over. Never do I use an automatic machine.

It’s pretty hard to mess up coffee when it is well roasted and Death Wish seems to have their roasting expertise down to a minute science.

Instead of the pricey Arabica beans, they have chosen the rougher- and more caffeinated Robusta beans. OK, before you get your underwear all in a bunch, it just happens to be that Robusta coffee is excellent in craft cocktails. Especially when they are treated to a long, cold infusion.

For this is why I do what I do. I love to play around with flavors and Death Wish Coffee makes it easy on me.

I’m pretty well known for simplicity in my craft cocktails. This one is no different with only three ingredients plus bitters. That should satisfy even the most hard pressed for time bartender/mixologist. Because if you are ten deep at the bar on any given Saturday night, let me tell you from my own experience that fewer ingredients make a happier bartender!

This cocktail, a take on the classic Manhattan involves a rum that is near and dear to my heart. I use Mezan XO because of the anything but sweet- funky, slightly smoky (bourbon oak cask aged) demeanor. The XO is a combination of rums from four different Jamaican distilleries. The part of the story that speaks most clearly to me involves the rum from Long Pond. Its distinctive flavor stands out as authentic, untouched rum. No caramel, no added sugar, no glycerin, no chill-filtering. Ah, the good stuff.

So I took a healthy portion of the Jamaica XO and added it to a 24-hour infusion of the Death Wish Coffee (It’s usually called cold brewed, I call it slightly insane) and added to a bit of my favorite for a Manhattan of this demeanor, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth. There is a smoky unctuous quality about Carpano. Perhaps it is the historic recipes that dates back to the 1700’s. I’m not sure- but they did say that Vermouth was originally invented against head lice and stomach worms so it couldn’t hurt you if you use it with rum and coffee.

Underneath Bell’s Crossing

Ingredients:

2 oz. Mezan XO Rum
2 oz. Cold Brewed Death Wish Coffee
2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 cocktail cherry – better be home cured
3to 5 shakes Chocolate Mole Bitters
Prep:

Pre-chill double old fashioned glass with ice and water
To a cocktail mixing glass filled ¼ with ice
Add the Mezan XO Rum
Add the Death Wish Coffee- cold brewed
Add the Carpano Antica
Add the Chocolate Mole’ Bitters
Stir 30-40 times
Taste with a straw discreetly; add more bitters as necessary
Strain into pre-chilled glass over fresh ice.
Add cherry
Serve!
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Underneath Bell’s Crossing

Underneath Bell's CrossingI was playing around with flavors the other day and coffee seemed to resonate more clearly than ever.  Maybe it was the recent cold snap, or perhaps it was my palate calling out for deeper, read- more intense flavors.  That’s where Death Wish Coffee comes into play.  They say that it’s the world’s strongest coffee and I tend to agree with them- as long as I control the brewing method.  You see, I’m pretty picky when it comes to strong.  I like to do coffee in either a French Press or as a pour-over.  Never do I use an automatic machine.

It’s pretty hard to mess up coffee when it is well roasted and Death Wish seems to have their roasting expertise down to a minute science.

Instead of the pricey Arabica beans, they have chosen the rougher- and more caffeinated Robusta beans.  OK, before you get your underwear all in a bunch, it just happens to be that Robusta coffee is excellent in craft cocktails.  Especially when they are treated to a long, cold infusion.

For this is why I do what I do.  I love to play around with flavors and Death Wish Coffee makes it easy on me.

I’m pretty well known for simplicity in my craft cocktails.  This one is no different with only three ingredients plus bitters.  That should satisfy even the most hard pressed for time bartender/mixologist.  Because if you are ten deep at the bar on any given Saturday night, let me tell you from my own experience that fewer ingredients make a happier bartender!

This cocktail, a take on the classic Manhattan involves a rum that is near and dear to my heart.  I use Mezan XO because of the anything but sweet- funky, slightly smoky (bourbon oak cask aged) demeanor.  The XO is a combination of rums from four different Jamaican distilleries.  The part of the story that speaks most clearly to me involves the rum from Long Pond.  Its distinctive flavor stands out as authentic, untouched rum.  No caramel, no added sugar, no glycerin, no chill-filtering.  Ah, the good stuff.

So I took a healthy portion of the Jamaica XO and added it to a 24-hour infusion of the Death Wish Coffee (It’s usually called cold brewed- I call it slightly insane) and added to a bit of my favorite for a Manhattan of this demeanor, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth.  There is a smoky unctuous quality about Carpano.  Perhaps it is the historic recipes that dates back to the 1700’s.  I’m not sure- but they did say that Vermouth was originally invented against head lice and stomach worms so it couldn’t hurt you if you use it with rum and coffee.

Underneath Bell’s Crossing

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Mezan XO Rum
  • 2 oz. Cold Brewed Death Wish Coffee
  • 2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 cocktail cherry – better be home cured
  • 3-5 shakes Chocolate Mole’ Bitters

Prep:

  • Pre-chill double old fashioned glass with ice and water
  • To a cocktail mixing glass filled ¼ with ice
  • Add the Mezan XO Rum
  • Add the Death Wish Coffee- cold brewed
  • Add the Carpano Antica
  • Add the Chocolate Mole’ Bitters
  • Stir 30-40 times
  • Taste with a straw discretely!
  • Adjust seasoning adding more bitters as necessary
  • Strain into pre-chilled glass
  • Add cherry
  • Serve!

Wild Ginger Brewing Company – Hard Soda Indeed!

The Wild Ginger Brewing Company approached me through their PR wanting me to review their new line of alcoholic craft soda.  It’s not my usual topic, I try to stick to craft spirits, the craft soda business is much different.  It’s more akin to craft beer.  I don’t write about beer at all.  It’s just another language!

wild

Imagine my surprise and delight when four ‘hard’ sodas of various alcohol by volume from 4 – 5% arrived at my door.  I love craft soda, the kind without alcohol… it used to be one of my topics a while back.  Anyhow this lineup of colorfully cartooned cans were waiting to be tasted.  With the craft beer boom, top quality beers are being canned in colorful, artist attended vessels.  These are no exception with a funky sense about them.

The first one that I opened was the Wild Root Original.  Smacking of herbs and good old fashioned Root Beer goodness, this is as close to what I remember from my boyhood, when my father would put some of his Haig and Haig in my root beer to keep me quiet.  It was a good representation of the buzz anyhow.  I remember it all these years later in a sip.  And what a delicious sip it is.  The Wild Root is chock full of spice as well.  It’s brilliant with large ice and fine bourbon whiskey- like the Barrell Bourbon #010 version that should be out any day now.  It’s that good.

 

The Wild Sit Russ Original.. with a snarling dog on that brightly festooned label was my least likely to enjoy, yet one of the ones that tastes the most true to form.  The label reads alcoholic citrus soda, there’s that snarling dog and all I can think about is Mezan XO Rum.  Smacking of herbs, spices, an element of tonic from the citrus oils- this wild soda is screaming for funky, dunder laden rum that only can come from Jamaica.  No other place in the world makes rum like this and no other soda should taste quite the same.  I don’t always recommend mixers with this rum, but the Wild Sit Russ Original (who was Wild Sit Russ I wonder, oh, no matter) it’s good soda.  Great with Mezan Rum.

 

The Wild Docta’ Original Rock and Rye is way too sweet for me, but with that said I mixed some really amazing barrel aged Rum from Barrell Whiskey with a splash of this ‘rock and rye’ type soda.  It dried out the sweetness immediately.  It’s more of a millennials drink than I’d like to admit.  They’d love it to no end. With that Barrell Rum, it’s so far over the top that I’m heading for a Hemmingway Daiquiri right now.   I’m not a big sugar in drinks fan.. Mark my words on that.

 

The Wild Ginger Original Ginger Beer – Alcoholic, like the other three soda pops is a thing of rare beauty.  There is an underlying element of spice that swirls around my tongue.  It’s a bit sharp, but the bubble spins in an undulation that is gratifying and bold in every spin around my mouth.  There is alcohol in there, you cannot miss it.  This element warms as quickly as it pours down my throat.  I’m charmed immediately and my palate calls out for something to deepen the spice element of the slurp.  I chose a bottle of the Mezan Guyana Rum.  This rum, distilled at the Diamond Distillery is a thing of rare beauty.  The Ginger Beer mimics the funky elements of the Guyana Rum, the smoke and char from the barrels and the sweetness from long aging in hot climes.  To mix this rum would normally be a sacrilege, but I have good feelings about this alcoholic soda.  Try it.  Let me know.

 

In conclusion, all good stuff, probably too good for the marketplace.  The funky can art is creative.  It’s a Millennial product.  Flashy.  Bold.  The soda is pretty darned good; I’d like to say that they will be used as a mixer.  A fine mixer at that.  Best of luck to them!  Cheers!

 

The Wild Ginger Company is doing a fine job.

 

Summer Rum Punch!!

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Welcome to rum, the libation understood by Buccaneers, Pirates, Sailors and “Armchair Sailors” the world over, throughout history.

Follow the Rhumb line on your sailing chart and let it take you around the globe.Here also is an intoxicating liquid in your hand.This liquid is as ancient as the early sailors who plied the relentless seas. It is called Rum.

Rum is usually available in almost every port where sailors gather after a long voyage or before embarking upon a longer one.

Rum has always been served as an inexpensive and potent form of relaxation for sailors and landlubbers alike.As a panacea against fear, rum always calmed a sailor’s beleaguered nerves while far out at sea, unable to tie up to the yacht club dock.Rum would take the edge off of weeks without even a tickle of wind, or in the face of the fiercest weather. Rum is the complete drink of sailors who took this tipple to sea as a cure-all against all known infirmities from being a sailor in the early days.And let me tell you from working for weeks aboard a modern boat, it’s really hard work!

The ocean has always held an allure for me.It’s unlike any other place that I’ve ever experienced.I’ve done more than just a bit of sailing.Mostly my sailing took place on a yacht belonging to my family.I can picture her now, about sixty feet in length, displacing 65 or so tons.She had all the modern conveniences of home along with a water maker- to turn seawater to a dense, brackish substance seemingly only good for washing dishes.But it also made decent, not clear: ice- but extremely helpful to the brain, when all about you is sticky: hot, humid and mosquito beleaguered. Being out at sea and having an iced rum cocktail housed in a clean glass is one of life’s simple pleasures. It connects you with every sailor who has ever sailed upon the ocean, even if they didn’t have your milky colored ice to cool their fevered brow.

The sea at night (and even in the daytime) can be a very scary place in a storm.As anyone who has been in a yacht away from the relative safety of the yacht club dock knows, the ocean is much larger than you are.Ships are not meant to be docked.They are meant to explore the globe. And to do this they need to go to sea.The waves will tower over your tiny vessel, threatening to smash you and your hard earned dollars into piles of shredded (read expensive) sailcloth, toothpicks of your fine teak decks and miles of razor sharp fiberglass where the bow decided to split open for no reason at all, exposing the interior of the vessel to the bottom of the sea in mere seconds.

That is why sailors kept rum on board their ship.Because that mug of rum somehow makes it easier to forget that such a horrible demise may await you with every uncontrollable gust of wind or steep wave that knocks you to the wooden deck. You’ll know it when it happens.

Rum is hand-held courage for the sailor.f1d5f6018cc91b03bdff752c52eff6f141a4d855

Maybe the thrill of being a sailor out at sea continues to make rum so beguiling to all kinds of drinkers, even today. After all, this allure and call to the sea is what took this drink through history.

A daily tot of rum punch might have been made with a preserved fruit shrub.Shrubs were made up of vinegar along with citrus fruit and molasses or raw honey.They were mixed with water for purification and also with rum in a rudimentary punch.The early shrubs were no more than citrus fruit, mixed with vinegar and sugar against decay.

Drinking what little water taken on board a ship could be fatal because the water was potentially deadly without purification systems like on modern vessels. The feeling of being soaked to the skin in cold weather with a steaming mug of grog filling your belly makes the going so much easier.Just like cooling punch made with rum and tropical fruit juices gave scurvy ravaged sailors deep relief.The modern day product, Rose’s Lime Juice, a potent curative in its own right dates back to the Colonial era when drinking lime and rum was not just a casual drink, it was a curative in your mug of more than good cheer.

Rum traditionally found its way around the world because it was easy to transport from place to place.And rum is sturdy stuff.It doesn’t sour like wine or beer in the motion of the ship or the heat of the hold.

There are many names for rum that flows clear from the still with a hiccup or bubbles forth with a belly laugh. Times are changing and this has made rum universally respected.

Rum is cheap to make, easy to store, it lasts nearly forever and it gets better over time when resting within a cask.It’s a win/win for the distiller and the casual drinker alike.

A Summer Rum Punch should always be made with freshly crushed juices. I cannot imagine making something that I may be serving to others with anything but the very best.After all, aren’t you worth it?

In my travels I always come across individuals who say that when they are entertaining, they use less than satisfactory ingredients because their guests won’t know any better.That’s a shame- because it doesn’t cost much more to ensure a unique experience.When you take short cuts- well, the overall understanding is cheap.I don’t know from cheap.That’s why my drinks are memorable.They evoke history, one sip at a time.

The Sea Cook
(the cook is the most important person aboard your ship, don’t ever forget that)

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Mezan XO Rum (no chill filtering, nor glycerin, nor added sugar, nor caramel coloring added)
  • 2 oz. juice: Take 2 pineapples- cut into rings, placed on a silicone tray, with Angostura Bitters (for good gastric health) and roasted for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until caramelized.Cool and set aside
  • 2 oz. juice in each cocktail-
    Do the same with a couple splashes of Angostura Bitters upon 2 large grapefruits- cut in half, also sprinkled with Demerara Sugar and broiled until bubbly.Cool and set aside
  • ½ oz. Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 oz. White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Fresh Nutmeg and scraper
  • 1 oz. Oloroso Sherry (dark in color, rich and smoky in taste)
  • Lime chunk garnish
  • Fresh ice- not stinking of last month’s garlic pasta

    Prep:

  1. Take the pineapples, skin them well, no bitter crust allowed! Roast them with the Angostura Bitters.
  2. Juice them and add 2 oz. of this juice to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
  3. Do the same with the broiled grapefruits- no pith (it’s bitter!) just juice them and add 2 oz. of this broiled grapefruit juice to the Boston Shaker
  4. Add the Mezan XO Rum and the vinegar
  5. Finally, add the Orange juice and the Lemon juice
  6. Cap and Shake hard for 15 seconds
  7. Pour into two Collins Glasses filled with ice
  8. Float the Oloroso Sherry over the top
  9. Scrape some nutmeg over the top to finish
  10. Garnish with a lime chunk and serve

 

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