In the continuing effort to create my own amaro/bitters/digestive (in the style of Fernet or Campari or Gin or Angostura Bitters) I've been infusing various herbs in alcohol to help me decide which to add to my master mixture.
I bottled a few 2 weeks ago and tried them yesterday and today.
|Color||Lovely chartreuse color||Beautiful deep green color, nearly teal when concentrated||Deep green color||Pale straw color almost unappealingly brown when concentrated|
|Aroma||Flowery aroma with only a hint of Rosemary||Pleasant vaguely sweet aroma, Not recognizably tarragon||Strong thyme smell||Very clean aroma almost like a pleasant household cleaner or shoe polish. It could make a good cologne or scent for shampoo|
Adding water clouded it like absinthe
Water brings out Rosemary taste
Alcohol harshness replaced with slight camphor astringency
Harshness slightly mellowed
Very nice infusion could stand alone
Should be a dominant ingredient
Very mild taste
No effect on harsh alcohol flavor
Could be good as a compliment to other herbs
|Mild taste not much flavor but harshness of alcohol mellowed|
The tarragon was very nice and could be a very good infusion just on its own. It will have a dominant place in the mixture, just as juniper has a dominant place in most gin recipes. The Laurel added good aroma but mostly was notable for how it mellowed the harshness of the alcohol, a quality that most of the herbs didn't have. The thyme didn't really offer anything but the smell of thyme. The rosemary leeched a lot of proteins into the infusion, making it cloudy. The color and aroma it added were not good enough to overcome the cloudiness. So tarragon 'yes', laurel 'probably', and the other two 'probably not'.
If I were to make a bunch now I would use 3 parts tarragon, 2 parts coriander, and 1 part laurel.
Sage, nutmeg, and ginger will be the next to try.
The WSJ has an article about Fernet, an amaro, or herbal liqueur.
"As a cocktail ingredient, Fernet-Branca is piratical, commandeering most any drink that allows it aboard. In the 1930 "Savoy Cocktail Book," there is a drink called a Hanky-Panky made with equal parts gin and sweet vermouth with a scant dash or two of Fernet-Branca. But the book also includes a cocktail made of two parts gin to one part each sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca. An indication of just how quick the bitter liquor is to bully other flavors, that drink is called a Fernet-Branca Cocktail."
To me it tastes like a shot of Listerine with a splash of cola in it.
It seems to be more popular in San Francisco than anywhere else in the States.
Branca is the most popular brand in the States but there are many others.
One of the good things (the one good thing?) about spending time in Delaware is that Dogfish Head is the local beer.
The greater Philadelphia area in general is great for craft beer, with lots of small brewers starting all the time, and established high-quality breweries such as Victory and Tröegs close by.
My new favorite beer is Dogfish's Burton Baton a 10% abv oak-aged imperial IPA
From the site: "For Burton Baton we first brew two 'threads' or batches of beer: an English-style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA. After fementating the separate beers in our stainless tanks, the two are transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month."
As Mike says, it's an "ender" in that after a glass of Burton you're pretty much set drink-wise for a while - it ain't no session ale.
I remember when New York City experienced a shortage of bitters when there was a sudden spike in popularity of drinks such as the Old Fashioned or the Manhattan (possibly dues to the prevalence of those drinks on the show, Mad Men)
(The classic Angostura bitters are easy to get in Delaware. It's sold in most grocery stores I've seen)
The A. B. Smeby Bittering Company came up with the brilliant (and in hindsight, obvious) idea to make local bitters.
Their flavors vary rather far from the Angostura bitters that I'm used to, which smell and taste of something like cloves and nutmeg:
Apple Cinnamon with Molasses
Black and White (as in the cookie)
They don't seem to make a gentian root flavor, which is what the angostura bitters are made from. Gentian grows in Tobago and not in the Brooklyn area, and they claim that "Flavor ingredients are sourced from within New York State"
I'm not sure a Manhattan made with "Cherry Vanilla" bitters would even count. Still, a fun idea.
Magic Hat is one of my preferred breweries (others are Victory, Stone and of course, Dogfish Head) partly because they're in one of my favorite small cities (Burlington, Vermont) but also because they experiment so much with different recipes.
Their new winter seasonal is called Howl and is a "black lager". If you drink craft beer, you'll know how rare lagers are, since it's a lot easier for beginners to make ales. One exception is Victory's Prima Pils, which is my favorite pilsner-style.
Howl is not very high in alcohol, but has a heavier taste than, for example, Guiness, but without the shapness that stouts can have.
I don't have a name for this (I think you need to do something twice before it's worthy of a name).
What I like about this drink is that the spiced rum and orange juice work together in such a way that the resultant flavors are not identifiable. You would not say it's a fruity drink or a creamy drink. You just can't put your finger on it.
1pt Orange Juice
2pt Spiced Rum
3pt SOUR MIX:
Mix the above in a cocktail shaker with ice. This froths the juices slightly giving a fuller texture in the mouth.
Pour into 2 glasses (or one big one) and add seltzer/club soda to taste. Using about twice as much seltzer as everything else (so about 12 parts in this case) seemed to work well.
Orange Juice: The juice here is a flavor, not a base, similar to how you would use something like Grand Marnier, or vermouth in an American-style martini - The martinis I had in France had more vermouth than vodka
Rum: I used Captain Morgan-brand spiced rum - the spices complimented the orange juice very well
Sour Mix: Sour mix is really just equal parts simple syrup and lemon juice (or other acidic flavor). You will have lots of sour mix left over. Just keep it in the fridge. It tastes better than what you buy in the store and has no HFCS.
Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water. You may want to heat it in order to guarantee that the sugar dissolves, but that isn't necessary.
Sugar: I used less-refined cane sugar from a co-op food store, which gave the resultant syrup a light brown color. Brown sugar could be interesting
Another way to make it, without making the sour mix separately is:
1 jigger sugar (use agave syrup or confectioner's sugar, otherwise it may not dissolve entirely)
1 jigger lemon juice
1 jigger orange juice
2 jiggers rum
(the water was omitted, but we can make up for that by using a little more seltzer)
One 12oz can of club soda
When we were in Iowa we heard stories of Templeton Rye, a whiskey made in illegal stills during Prohibition that was supposedly one of Al Capone's favorites. It was kept in 1-gallon metal cans and smuggled 400+ miles due east to Chicago. The bootleggers sometimes buried the cans at drop points along the way, and my grandfather, as a little boy, would dig up the cans and sell them for 50¢
We visited the distillery, but on July 3rd and 4th pretty much everything in the state was closed. We looked around for where we might buy some, but it seemed to be sold out everywhere.
So we were happy when we were visiting Chicago and discovered that
Lush West Lakeview Liquors, a local liquor store (with a very good selection of beer, even some of the more obscure Dogfish Head ones) had several bottles. We got two.
My Uncle Tom said that back in the day the stills were actually in Dedham, Iowa - one town over. The moonshiners called it Templeton Rye to confuse the federals.