Twilight Lounge, February 4, 2012
One advantage of hosting BYOB events occasionally at the Twilight Lounge is the beers that get left in my fridge (Thanks Tim!). So, when I was looking for an afternoon refresher yesterday while making the flatbread for last night’s NID dinner (Moroccan, which meant I got to wear my fez!) I decided to give the Old Rasputin a try.
A product of North Coast Brewing of Ft. Bragg, CA, this is a Russian Imperial Stout. It’s dark, black color and thick consistency packs a wallop at 9% ABV. And don’t be fooled (as I was) by the color – this is no Guinness! In fact, it’s smooth, nutty, mocha flavor gives way to a mildly bitter aftertaste, similar to an IPA to my mouth. This stout was good on its own and would be great with a thick, juicy burger. I definitely recommend it!
As for it’s namesake, Rasputin, well, let’s just say that he lived a more colorful life than the stout named for him. A mystic and clergyman who yielded great influence over Tsar Nicolas II. During the course of the Russian Revolution he managed to survive a first attempt on his live, but finally succumbed to a group of tsarist loyalists who poisoned, shot and then finally dumped his body in a river – in which he finally died of drowning!
Day 342, Cocktail 346
Ok, I admit it. Yesterday was about the laziest cocktail day I’ve had in past year. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon working on a braised beef brisket dinner, which wasn’t the original plan. The original plan was to BBQ the brisket in the smoker. But a late start Sunday morning (thanks to Jenny and NID) and a crappy weather forecast (it rained and hailed all day) forced me to plan B. Oh, yeah, I didn’t have a plan B!
A quick search on Recipebridge.com yielded a braised brisket with root vegetables recipe that looked good, although a bit winterish, considering it’s now April. But I wasn’t in any position to fight it, so that’s what I went with. Five hours later I had a terrific dinner for the family…and no cocktail!
Typically, with a dinner like this I would have just opened a hearty red wine and not worried about it. Then I remembered that I still had a bottle of Rex-Goliath Cabernet that would probably turn to vinegar before Gwen would drink it. We’ve had a bunch of value priced red wines over the years, but for some reason Gwen just didn’t like this one. So I pulled the Ultimate Bar Book off the shelf, found the wine section and viola, my cocktail of the day!
Red Wine Cooler
- 6 oz chilled red wine
- 4 oz lemon lime soda
Fill a collins glass with ice and add the wine. Top with the lemon lime soda and garnish with a lemon wedge or slice if desired.
Yes, I admit it, this is lame! But, I accomplished three objectives. First, I used up a bottle of wine that would have been undrunk otherwise. Second, I had my red wine with dinner. Third, I got in Sunday’s cocktail and the opportunity to share it with you fine folks. Not bad if I say so myself – a true triple threat!
Day 341, Cocktails 344 & 345
Saturday night and it was, yet again, another NID night. This month’s theme was Brazilian food, which meant cachaca was on the cocktail menu. I’ve never had cachaca before, so I lost my cachaca virginity last night, as did everyone else there!
Cachaca is known as Brazilian rum, although the similarity to the rums we are used to from the Caribbean ends with the fact that it is distilled sugarcane. It is generally distilled in pot stills and is not aged, leaving it fiery bite. In fact, when I tasted the 51 brand of cachaca I was reminded more of pisco than I was of rum. Extremely popular in Brazil, you can start to find cachaca in local liquor stores here in the US.
I was assigned the task of making two cocktails that used cachaca. Here they are:
- 4-5 lime wedges
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 oz cachaca
In the bottom of a rocks glass muddle the lime and sugar until the sugar has dissolved in the lime juice. Fill the glass with ice and then the cachaca. Stir and enjoy.
This cocktail has a definite bite that the sweetened lime juice doesn’t completely tone down. It has a fiery element, just like the dancing in the streets you’d see during Carnivale!
Batida de Coco
- 2 oz cachaca
- 1/2 oz bar syrup
- coconut milk
Combine the cachaca and bar syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake to mix and chill. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice cubes. Add the coconut milk and stir.
To my suprise, the coconut taste is mellowed out nicely by the cachaca and sweetness of the sugar (I am not a fan of coconut and this is the first recipe I’ve done with it). Sweet and creamy, this was a nice compliment to the bite of the Caipirnha, and went much faster among the diners.
These two cocktails, along with some great Brazilian food made for a fun evening…in fact I seem to remember Gwen and Jenny on the bar (again) before the night was over!
Day 319, Cocktail 322
Ok, so not everyone is into Nutty Irishmen or Car Bombs (or Guinness for the matter) for St. Patrick’s day. Some of us are looking for leprechaun’s and their pots of gold. Poor little buggers, working their fingers to the bone making shoes, only to have some blundering idiot steal their earnings!
Whew! Well, I had come across a cocktail called the Dancing Leprechaun in the Ultimate Bar Book while getting ready for last Saturday’s NID. It looked good, but a little to complicated to mess with at a dinner party, so I didn’t use that night. However, it was just the drink for Thursday night. So I mixed one up and hoped to find a leprechaun’s pot of gold…
- 1-1/2 oz irish whiskey
- 3/4 oz Drambuie
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- ginger ale
Combine the ingredients, except the ginger ale, in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to combine then strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a lemon twist or wedge.
This would make a very good mid day break from the Guinness on St. Patrick’s day. Light, refreshing with just a hint of whiskey and the honey sweetness of the Drambuie. There’s even a connection between the Scottish Drambuie and the Irish whiskey – both Ireland and Scotland have chafed under British rule, so it’s natural that they join forces, at least in a cocktail!
Day 314, Cocktails 318 & 319
So just where did this whole thing about the Irish being drunkards come from anyway? I spent some today trying to find out and … I really didn’t find anything conclusive. The best explanation is a combination of what does seem to be an above average per capita consumption of alcohol (although not as high as the Russians) along with a cultural bias against the Irish, particularly as they were emigrating to America in the early 19th century. Painting the Irish as drunks and brawlers made it easier for other groups competing with the new immigrants for jobs to demonize the Irish as a group.
So, enough of the history. Back to last Saturday’s NID, where I was doing my best to fulfill the Irish stereotype. I had started the night off with a couple of convential cocktails. By the time I got to cocktail number three I was ready to wing it a bit.
Bombed Nutty Irishmen
- 1-1/2 oz Baileys Irish Cream
- 1-1/2 oz Frangelico
- 1 oz Irish whiskey
Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to combine and chill. Pour into a rocks glass with additional ice to fill the glass.
A much more potent version of the Nutty Irishmen, yet still very, very drinkable. The whiskey gives it a bit of a bite, but not so much that I would call this a boozy cocktail. More like dangerous…as in tasty yet potent.
By now the creative juices were really starting to flow. So for my next and final number I did a take on the Irish Car Bomb.
- 1-1/2 oz Irish whiskey
- 1-1/2 oz Baileys Irish Cream
- 4 oz stout
Combine the whiskey and Baileys in a shaker with ice and shake to chill and mix. Pour into a collins glass, add a bit more ice and top with stout. Gently stir to mix and enjoy!
This is the Car Bomb on steriods. What I’ve always found interesting about this combination is how it ends up so smooth and chocolatey! In fact, this may be just a little too smooth as again the flavor masks just how much booze you get in this drink.
Day 314, Cocktails 316 & 317
I know, I know…corned beef is not Irish. At least not Ireland Irish. It was the Irish immigrants living next to their Jewish neighbors in New York that picked up the corned beef that we now all eat on St. Patrick’s Day (yet another holiday the native country knows nothing about while we all get slightly inebriated). Not that corned beef is a bad thing – personally I love it. The fact that I get to have some Irish whiskey or beer with it just makes it all the better!
So just where the hell is this going? Well, last Saturday was another installment of the Newcomers International Dining group and the theme was…Irish food. Despite my protests that it wasn’t Irish, corned beef was on the menu, along with several other authentic Irish dishes. Kudos to Gwen for an Irish bread pudding that required 10 days of fermentation time with half a liter of Irish whiskey in it! This also proved to be an ideal opportunity to try out Irish drinks and get them published before St. Patrick’s day. As it turned out, I put together a total of four Irish cocktails. Thus, a two part night for the blog. I started the night with two standard recipes and then adapted them with two off the cuff drinks. This post will cover the standard recipes and I’ll fill you in on the off the cuff drinks in the next post.
- 1-1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 1-1/2 oz Frangelico
Combine in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to combine and chill. Strain into a rocks glass with ice.
It doesn’t get much simpler than this classic. A nice, creamy, slightly chocolately and distinctively hazelnut flavor greats your palate as you sip this. While more appropriate as an after dinner drink, I actually started the night of with this cocktail.
- 1 oz Irish whiskey
- 1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
Combine in mixing glass with ice. Stir to combine and chill. Strain into a shooter straight up.
We’re not talking about retirement here. Named for the old Irish Republican Army, which those readers of a certain age will remember, this is a cousin of the Irish Car Bomb. (Bonus drink – use 1/2 oz each of the Baileys and whiskey in a shot glass, then drop the shot glass into a rocks glass filled with Guiness for the Irish Car Bomb.) The Bailey’s tones down the whiskey considerably (I was using Clontarf, a serviceable 80 proof whiskey) but this still packs a punch. We ended up sipping on this since tossing it back would have led to drinking three more which then leads to table top dancing. That’s never a good idea (unless your name is Andrea).
With the IRA we also wrapped up the appetizer and soup courses. Next, I’ll get into the dinner and after dinner drinks.
Day 223, Cocktail 221
This is the post wherein I attempt to make our friend Andrea very sad for having left beautiful Milwaukee for Boston…
Saturday night was our annual NID Holiday cocktail party. Definately another occasion to come up with an orginal Christmas cocktail — and one that I could make up by the pitcher full! Now, the first time I did this several years ago Andrea got wrecked on my creation, causing us to change the name from the Sleigh Ride to the Sleigh Wreck. Even though she swore off of them, I’m pretty sure they were the cause of her dancing on the bar at our annual holiday party that year. Andrea, if you’re reading this, set me straight if I’ve missed anything.
Anyway, back to Saturday night. I tinkered around for a bit and came up with this.
- 1-1/2 oz vodka
- 1 oz pomegranate juice
- 1/2 oz triple sec
- 1/2 bar spoon peppermint schnapps
Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a mint leaf or green striped candy cane.
Both Gwen and I, as well as several of our friends enjoyed this one. The pomegranate juice keeps it fruity without being sweet and the peppermint schnapps give it just a whiff of mint flavor. Definately a crowd pleaser for those holiday parties!
Now, if you do want to mix it up by the pitcher full, just work the scale up. I used 3 cups vodka, 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1 cup triple sec and just 1 oz of peppermint schnapps. I also added about 3/4 cup of ice to the pitcher and let it melt in. This is really important to remember when mixing large batches. When you mix a cocktail one at a time, you’re getting about 20% water into the drink from the ice melting. Thus, adding ice or water to your large batch mixes still gives you the proportion. Otherwise, you risk having your guests dancing on top of your bar by 10pm instead of 1am!