Christmas in Barbados Flip

It’s been a long time since I last posted, and sadly I’m not a consistent writer (unless I started adding food recipes to this blog – then I might have something to say more often). But this recipe is so tasty to me that I needed to write it down.

Christmas In Barbados Flip

1.5 oz Plantation Barbados 5yr rum
0.5 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz sweetened ginger juice
2 dashes orange flower water
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
1 whole egg

Add all ingredients except ice and shake thoroughly, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a highball glass or martini glass.

I got the idea for this recipe from Measure And Stir‘s Thai Tea Rum Fizz, although strangely the outcome certainly isn’t that drink’s twin. Not even a fraternal twin, but maybe a cousin.

Plantation Barbados and Fernet Branca can go together because the Barbados’ maple-y, almost banana-brown-sugar notes complement Fernet’s sweet, cool aromatic ones delightfully. However, the two alone are far too powerful to make anything relaxing to drink. I wanted to give it a little acid with some sweetness, so I made some sweetened ginger juice: a quick-n-dirty equal mixture of ginger juice (you can buy it bottled by Ginger People) and confectioner’s sugar. I also added some orange flower water and orange bitters for aroma and rounding. Finally, I threw in a whole egg. Adding the whole egg instead of just the white gives it not only a silky, foamy texture but also a creamy egg-nog quality. Egg-nog, maple-y rum, cool plant aromas sweetened by ginger and oranges – I can’t think of a nicer way to enjoy a holiday and (wishfully) a vacation!

Ice Cubes…Uh huh

This is only marginally related…but I had to post it. Among the cocktail enthusiasts who obsess over the aesthetic perfection of their ice cubes, here’s a thumb to the nose with a basic recipe for freezer-tray ice cubes…because, as the posting member wrote, “I’m sure that there are other families who have members, who don’t know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty.”

Then the internet reacted. For the record, most people don’t think ice cubes are such a big deal, for better or worse. The recipe has become a viral meme of sorts, with readers posting sarcastic “reader responses.” Retorts include everything from the confused baker to the cocktail snob to the culinary snob to the back-woods folks…and oh, there are a few that are pretty silly =) You can read the full post here.

Make your Own Syrup

Ah, making one’s own syrups! I started to make my own simple syrup out of the need to have small batches rather than the large bottles that liquor stores carry, and also because to make it is not always, but often cheaper than to buy. Then I discovered that it was really kind of fun. I’ve made simple syrup, honey syrup, ginger syrup, and yesterday I made orgeat syrup. The orgeat syrup was quite a bit different than the other syrups in that it tastes a whole lot different than store-bought orgeat syrup.

For the orgeat syrup, I halved the recipe I found at Serious Eats. The recipe said that leaving the skins on the almonds rather than blanching them would yield a nuttier, fuller taste, and boy did it. I wonder if it would taste different if I’d been able to pulverize the almonds; my food processor of course turned out to be broken (since when?! Geez) so I chopped and chopped and chopped until the particles were about half pulverized and half finely-chopped (I got impatient). After letting it sit for about 6 hours, I tasted it before I added the orange flower water and vodka. It reminded me very much of maple syrup. Then I added the orange flower water and vodka – actually, I added Aviation Gin. It has a soft, floral flavor and was a much better option than the vodka I had, which was a whipped-cream-flavored variety that had been left at my apartment after New Years’ Eve. The finished product is well-balanced, nutty, and reminds me vaguely of…Trix cereal? Totally odd. However, I assume that it will be a very nice addition to drinks. I’d love to hear about others’ homemade orgeat syrup, however.

I found some great little oil-and-vinegar holders on-the-cheap at the Container store and they store the syrups very nicely. Photographed are the current two I have mixed up.

Que Onda Guey! @ 320 Main

This weekend I tried out “happy hour” at 320 Main. Okay, technically it was not Happy Hour; it was a Saturday and the drinks on the Secret Menu don’t really have discounts anyways, but since my buddy and I went in the late afternoon, I considered it to be that time anyhow.

I had been eyeing the secret menu that 320 Main, known for its excellent craft cocktails as well as its food (as well as its surprising location in Orange County – not typically a craft cocktail hotspot), had posted on Facebook. I really wanted to try the Que Onda Guey, made with Cynar, Aperol, Carpano Antica vermouth, Mezcal, Fernet, bitters, and grapefruit oils. And so try it I did.

For starters, I wondered how for goodness’ sake it could be balanced enough, considering the kitchen sink of bitter liqueurs. I also wondered how the Mezcal would work in the drink. Most of the (admittedly few) experiences I’ve had with it have involved it overwhelming the drink. And mezcal, in my opinion, tends to have a taste reminiscent of Band-Aids. My grandmother had a metal Band-Aid tin (with Band-Aids) in her bathroom when I was a child, and I was fairly certain that she hadn’t re-filled the canister since my mother moved out in the late 1970s. It had a unique, rubber-y smell that floods my memory every time I’ve ever had a drink with Mezcal.

Surprisingly, however, the Que Onda Guey was quite well-balanced, most likely because of the Aperol. I don’t know the exact proportions, but I do know that there was 0.5oz of Mezcal Vida, which is a more “well” grade mezcal; light but very smoky. Its smokiness but relative non-intensity suited the drink wonderfully, and it started the sip before the Aperol and Cynar took over. The Antica and Fernet served to round it out without being wildly apparent, and the bitters seemed warm and spicy…I didn’t ask what they were, but they must have been something similar to Jerry Thomas or some cinnamon-y Bitter Truth variety. The grapefruit peel on top was placed across the glass for garnish, so I twisted it a little, and then dropped it into my drink for a nice aroma.

My buddy, who normally sticks to gin, was suspicious of but intrigued by an absinthe drink, so I convinced him to order the Absinthe Frappe, also off the secret menu. The absinthe frappe is comprised of St. George Absinthe Vert and orgeat syrup, and I was sure it would be fantastic. My boyfriend had a bottle of St. George up until recently, and though it was unmercifully strong and viscous, I grew to like it in small doses (it has been a favorite of his to serve when he has guests). Also, I had been gearing up to make homemade orgeat syrup, so I was excited to have it in a drink as an idea. Unfortunately, my buddy wasn’t quite as taken with it as I was, and eventually switched to a Tom Collins. I, however, really liked the balance of the almond-y syrup with the absinthe; it was a nice change from the standard absinthe with sugar dripping, which has tended to knock me off my feet with its dominating anise flavor.

A lesson in preparation; a lesson in quality

Last weekend must have been kind of an off one for me. Saturday late afternoon I tried making not one, but two cocktails, both of which ended up in the drain. I would not post these failures, except that, as the proverb goes, “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from poor judgement.” So, readers, learn with me from my bad judgement and gain good judgement! then go out and make a few mixing mistakes of your own. I promise you, if you have any sense at all, you will be a fast learner.

The first mistake I made was in preparation. There is a reason why there are ratios for ingredients. Just as when you add too much milk to a custard pie and wind up with custard soup over soggy crust,  when you screw around mindlessly with ingredients you will wind up with a drink that sucks. I had the bright idea of making a Boulevardier-ish creation with rye, dry vermouth, Campari, and orange bitters, poured into a glass rinsed with Fernet, but that was an awful idea. There wasn’t any balancing sweetness, not even from the sub-par M&R dry vermouth (which was definitely past its prime; see below for the second lesson), so the drink was sourly bitter in a way that not even a bitter-cocktail-loving person like yours truly could stomach. Then I tried adding a smidge of Grenadine to sweeten it, but that did nothing or the very bitter base, and altogether I deemed it a colorful failure. Down it went into the sink (goodbye, rye that I didn’t want to waste).

The second mistake I made was in ingredients. I was determined to have a well-balanced drink, and something that I hadn’t tried, so I decided to use a recipe I’d found for a Jasmine, comprised of gin, Cointreau, Campari, and lemon juice (recipe here at Cocktalia). This could have been a fairly decent cocktail, but I had no Cointreau. What I did have, or rather, what my room mate had, was some generic triple sec. I knew it was a bad idea, I really did. But out of dumb desire to make something new, I used it anyway. The result was, not surprisingly, not tasty. The cleaning-fluid flavor of the cheap triple sec cut right through everything else. This may have been passable to a drunk someone at a Sharkee’s, but I certainly wasn’t going to pretend to enjoy it. Down the sink it went. After that, I ate a handful of chocolate chips and called it a day, in the kitchen at least. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, but if you fail repeatedly, you may want to give it a rain check and try some other time.

Old Fashioned

This evening I serenaded the end of my bourbon the way I thought it should be honored: in an old fashioned. I don’t need to tell you how to make this. If you read cocktail blogs then you already know how. If you don’t, however, and you are reading this because you’re a loved one of mine, I will tell you this: don’t use fruit! Don’t use fruit. Save your cherries for Shirley Temples. Oh, and don’t use soda water, either…that’s why there’s ice. That is all 🙂

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