Sunday, June 15, 2014

A drink a dad could get behind

Ah, Father's Day.  A day of brunch, relaxation and celebration of half our parentage.  And the father of your kids if you happen to have kids.  A masculine drink is called for, but I do like to mix it up and go for offbeat riffs on the classics.  So, the Rumblefashioned was born.  I may not be the first to make it, but I would love to take credit for the name!  It sounds like an old timey gang fight, and what could be more masculine than that?!?!?

Credit Balcones Rumble, a curious distilled liquid from the folks at Balcones Distillery in Waco TX who also bring you in very limited amounts, a single malt to beat the peat of the commonwealth.  The Rumble is a truly Texas creation, with turbinado, honey and fig in the mix.

I played along with the darker sugar tastes, and muddled some turbinado, Angostura Bitters, and orange slice, then added 2 oz of Balcones Rumble and garnished with a Luxardo Marasca Cherry.  Heaven.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Old fashioned fun

Well, it's been awhile.  Basically I've spent the last several months perfecting the Negroni and ignoring the remaining contents of my liquor cabinet.  We go through Campari here like it is, well, if I say water that makes us sound like we have a problem, now doesn't it?
Anyways, my loyalty to the Negroni intact, but turning my attention towards bourbon season (Kentucky Derby and all), I have become once again enchanted with the old fashioned.  A simple cocktail, yet so easy to get wrong, and somewhat difficult to get right, at least in my experience.  A good old fashioned is sublime, with the bourbon shining but the other aspects mellowing the burn. The use of granulated sugar or sugar cube can enhance the mouthfeel when sipped through a straw, though syrup can enhance the sweetness that tempers the bourbon fire.
Here are two riffs on the old fashioned I've fashioned in the past few days.

Chocolate old fashioned:

1 tsp or less of turbinado (demarera) sugar
3-5 dashes of peychauds bitters
3-5 dashes of Aztec chocolate bitters
1.5 oz Prichards double chocolate bourbon

Chill an old fashioned glass, discard ice
Muddle the sugar and bitters
Place fresh ice in the glass (I prefer a large single ice cube)
Pour bourbon over and stir
Garnish with a luxardo maraschino cherry, flame an orange peel over

Chocolate Coffee Old Fashioned

As above but substitute coffee syrup for the turbinado

Friday, September 27, 2013

The best part of Texas summer: Fall

While everyone else in the country is pulling out their windbreakers and scarves, waxing rhapsodic about changing leaves and crisp air, hallelujah-ing about the return of the pumpkin spiced whatever you want, we in south central Texas are just now finding it acceptable to go outside and spend more than the time it takes to go from your house to your car.  It is finally summer, instead of the inferno that makes up June-July-August.
So, refreshing drinks are still acceptable after the equinox in these parts, and we won't be switching to the warming toddies and spiced rums until about the solstice I'd say.
So, without further ado.....the whippet.  It is my riff on a greyhound, and I am sure neither the combination nor the name is original, though I did not consult anyone about it save for my other drink loving friend Danielle.  And being a vet,  I had to keep the name in the sight hound group!

Deep eddy ruby red vodka, ruby red grapefruit juice and topo Chico in the ratio you best prefer.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

exploring Rum and a continued interest in Campari

Of all the base spirits (Gin, Vodka, Whisky, Tequila, Rum) I have much experience with Rum in one iteration....the Pina Colada.  Now, I am not knocking the Pina Colada, but in most cases, it lacks some sophistication.  I love a good Pina Colada, but after hitting my stride with bourbon, rye and gin, I figured it was high time to start exploring some other good old fashioned Rum drinks.  
I have also become a big fan of Campari in the past few months.  I know, based on previous posts, this is ironic, as my first experience was not enjoyable.  But, it is an acquired taste, I guess.  I have definitely acquired it!  

So, in my first foray with new Rum drinks....I made something called Crimson Slippers, recipe found here.  I used equal parts Campari and Rum, and given I did not have homemade triple sec I used Controy.  I also left out the bitters, for no particular reason.  Technically Campari is a bitter, so I guess that is why.  And then I added a squirt of lemon.  This was delicious.  Sweeter than a Negroni, with a fair bit of body.  The Rum and the Campari were nice foils for one another.  Definitely going in the rotation!  

The next Rum drink of the weekend is a classic called the Dark and Stormy.  It is a riff on the Moscow Mule, only Rum rather than Vodka.  I used spiced rum, Kraken, and ginger beer with a half a lime.  Wow, what a refreshing drink.  Perfect for summer!  

Rum cocktails abound, so more to come in the next few warm months!  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Panama (the country, not the song....)

I had the good fortune to visit Panama last week.  I had spent some time in my 20s living in Costa Rica, and loved it.  I expected Panama would be similar to Costa Rica, being that they share a border and are both part of central america.  I was somewhat surprised to find a city whose skyline was more Hong Kong than San Jose.  I had hoped for some earthy black beans and rice with every meal, but was met with a New York Bagel shop and italian eateries.  It seems that a shared border does not mean a shared cuisine!
In addition to the howler monkeys, sloth, humpback whales and seeing my family, a great discovery was Cerveza Atlas, one of the national beers of Panama.  I am partial, as my son's name is Atlas.  I can't say the beer is anything to import, but there is something special about finding a beer with the same name as your kid!  At least if you like booze as I do.....

So, here ya go, a photo of Atlas (the beer, not the kid):


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Locally sourced cocktail makings? Mais bien sur. This *is* Austin dontchaknow?

Warning - stream of consciousness post here:

The past month provided some experiences that have led to this post.  Specifically, a coffee old fashioned inspired by the drink at Lamberts called the Stumptown Fashioned.  But before we get to that, some background.

In June, we had the good fortune to visit Seattle, WA.  I went for a conference and stayed for the weather and food.  And cocktails.  We had a great time seeing old friends, checking out the darling corner markets and yes, sampling the coffee.  Now, we are no coffee newbies.  We brew and bring our own to brunch on weekends because we can't find restaurants that brew it strong enough.  So, maybe coffee snobs?  I wouldn't say that you were wrong if you called me that.  We buy our beans from Texas Coffee Traders in town, and the story behind our loyalty to that shop is a long one that starts in 1993.  More later.

In Seattle, we did see a lot of coffee purveyors proudly claiming they served Stumptown Coffee.  I felt like I had heard of this brand before, and was curious, because several barista types even made the comment "it's the Stumptown" when I paid a compliment to their cappuccino.  I have a feeling they were being modest.  But, when I delved into the Stumptown backstory, it seems as though it is a company going through some change.  Born in Portland, fair trade and fair wage coffee houses with artful baristas wearing skinny jeans, pork pie hats, waxing their handlebar moustaches daily before reporting to's a video to give you the idea

Anyways, apparently Stumptown has gone corporate, and is now owned by a company that also has owned spic n span, vitamin water, etc.  There was an outcry in the coffee world that things would change with Stumptown and what it seemed to stand for.  But the folks in Seattle sure liked it.  Me, I thought it was just fine, but was I willing to spend a bunch o bucks to import this Pac NW bean into my kitchen?  Nah.  I haven't found a bean or roaster I like better than RC and crew at Texas Coffee Traders.

Back in 1993 I did a semester abroad in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica.  It was a formative experience in many ways.  Probably the most lasting ways are:  love of lizards and appreciation for Coop Santa Elena Monteverde Cloud Forest Coffee.  I bought tons when I was there and filled suitcases to bring back as gifts.  My dad loved it so much he tracked down the only importer of the stuff, Montana Coffee Roasters.  He had been ordering it all this time, until another roaster opened in Austin, TX called Texas Coffee Traders.  When I moved to Austin in 2006, the first place we went when he visited was on an expedition to find their warehouse.  I've been buying beans directly ever since.  They never disappoint.  Ever.  And anytime I venture out to try a new bean, even local beans, I always go back to Monteverde Dark Roast.

So, you can see where this is going, non?

We had dinner at Lamberts a few weeks ago, and my better half ordered the Stumptown Fashioned, as he loves a good old fashioned.  It was quite unique and delicious.  I made a mental note to look up how to make a coffee simple syrup and filed it away for when I had some free time.  This weekend was it.

I found the instructions I based my syrup on at Third Coast Cocktails blog.  Photo of my fixins here:

I used a dark roast Bolivian coffee because those were the beans in the grinder.  I used madagascar vanilla bean because that is what I had.  I omitted the cacao nibs recipe called for because I had none and I wasn't going to go get any today....

Syrup is dead easy to make.  Tasty on its own too, could use on ice cream or something.

Anyways, I just subbed the coffee syrup for the simple syrup in a standard Rye Old Fashioned

2 dashes Angostura
2 Dashes Peychauds
1/4-1/2 oz of coffee syrup
one drop of orange oil
1-2 oz Rittenhouse Rye

Stir with ice, strain over a large ice cube, garnish with orange zest/peel (mine was clementine because that is what I had on hand).  Enjoy!  Two vices in one!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bubbles bubbles everywhere

I have a thing for bubbles.  I love carbonated water, carbonated wine, carbonated beer, etc etc.  We were spending mucho dinero on topo chico, the most delicious mexican fizzy water you've ever tasted.  But buying and drinking fizzy water by the case gets pricey and also leaves a lot of empty glass bottles to be recycled.  Enter the sodastream.  I've known about them for years, but the price tag was a turn off.  Recently they've come out with tons of models that are less expensive, certainly still pricey, but less than half the $200 they once were. So, off to bed bath and beyond with my 20% off coupon and now I am a proud owner of a sodastream.  It is awesome.  Aside from the actual satisfaction of carbonating something, it tastes great, especially with a wedge of lime squeezed in, and it is so darn easy!  I don't know when the break even point will be but overall I am very pleased.  I only wish I could carbonate other things, such as cocktails with it.  But that would void the warranty and possibly break my new beloved gadget!  Soooooooo, enter the iSi soda siphon!
I splurged and bought one of those specifically to try to carbonate cocktails.  There is a system made for that purpose, called the Perlini.  As $250 a pop, plus CO2 cartridges, I figured I would try the less expensive approach first to see if I even liked a carbonated cocktail.
My first attempt was a carbonated Negroni.  I put the empty siphon bottle in the freezer overnight, then put in 1:1:1 ratio of gin, sweet vermouth and campari to fill probably half the bottle.  I shook it, put in one cartridge intially and tested.  It came out super fizzy but the fizz waned quickly.  It tasted basically like a Negroni.  I added another cartridge and tried again, still, the same thing.  I then placed it in the freezer for some time, and then the fridge.  Always the drink came out super fizzy but then lost its fizz quickly.  Good news is it kept for almost 2 weeks in the fridge, bad news is I haven't dialed in the carbonation quite right.  But a still Negroni is better than no Negroni!

Next stop is carbonated aviation station....I have filled the iSi siphon with gin, lemon, violette and Luxardo.....we shall see if the bubbles work better this time around.....