Many bottles of liquor come to the NipJoint that will not be replaced. Some are redundant, others just aren’t quite good enough to make space for. None of the bottles are total junk, and some are pretty good. For example, there is no Bacardi, but there is Chivas Regal 18-year. These bottles must be used.
Above: The Dampier Cocktail garnished with half a finger lime on the rim.
During the Experimental Mixing Symposium this past Saturday, a good number of drinks were made by the students using some relatively-unusual citrus. The two species that made the biggest impression were Citrus junos (or, more accurately Citrus ichangensis x. Citrus reticulata), the yuzu (or Japanese citron); and Citrus australasica, the finger lime.
Everyone loved yuzu juice in drinks. It is about as sour as Eureka lemon juice, but with a very different flavor — a little delightfully funky and with hints of vanilla. I think that every drink made on Saturday using yuzu juice as the sour element was enjoyed by all. The season for ripe Yuzu fruit is from late November until about the middle of December. The Mud Creek Ranch people usually have some for sale at that time. During the rest of the year, bottle yuzu juice must be used. As long as you are willing to pay for first-pressing juice imported from Japan, the quality should be fine. For mixing in drinks, avoid any yuzu juice that is second pressing or features English words on the manufacturer’s label! Also avoid the little bottles that contain salt as a preservative! You want 100% pure, first-pressing, yuzu juice. Here is one to look for:
Bottled yuzu juice also lasts at good quality for much longer than lemon juice. The bottle we used on Saturday was opened eight months ago and was still absolutely delicious.
When I think of yuzu drinks, I first think of the great drink made last December in session six of the Standard Drinks Course by chef Tony DiSalvo, then a student. Thank you, Tony! For lack of a better name, I call it the Salvation Sour. The name Sushi Sour has also been suggested and this drink would surely go better with sushi than any sake served in any way! One student exclaimed, “Now I want sushi!” In addition to yuzu juice, you will want Hendrick’s gin and arraks punsch extrakt (with which you can compound your own superior Swedish punch liqueur by mixing it with an equal part of vodka):
Here is the recipe. Click on the image to enlarge it. If you get together the ingredients, I guarantee that you will love this drink — and that it will blow away anything made by some professional ‘bar creature’ with his infused arugula syrup and oily walnut bitters.
Now, from all of the rare citrus drinks made this last Saturday, two really stood out for me. The first one I call the Dampier Cocktail. I imagined it and, tasting it with my mind’s tongue, suggested it to the students. It is nothing more than a Gin Cocktail accented with the tart finger lime. We tried it with twice as much finger lime and it was good, but somehow the flavor of finger lime went from an interesting and unusual accent to a less interesting lime hammer. Imagine a vaguely finger lime version of the sour known as the Gimlet, and that’s about what it was. I preferred the true cocktail version. Here it is. Click on the image to read the naming logic in the note below the drink.
Another good drink was made by student Rachel Blum. It was the Yuzurinha — a Caipirinha with yuzu instead of lime. I expected that to be good, and it was. But, the drink that surprised me by being so delicious was the result of student Chris Hain’s inspiration to make the Oxford Milk Punch with yuzu instead of lemon. I suggested that Chris use honey mandarine (in season now and on hand on Saturday) instead of the orange juice in the Oxford Milk Punch. This drink was truly good. I call it the Cavendish Milk Punch for reasons legible in the notes below the recipe if the image is clicked on.
I have kept the Salvation Sour to my courses since December and really thought about not sharing any of these newer drinks with a wider audience. I don’t like it when hard-to-find ingredients become even harder to find! But, these drinks are just so damned good that I could not justify keeping them from anyone.
Those of you who bother to get the ingredients and make these drinks will discover why they must be shared.
I am routinely asked where one can get drinks like those made in Elemental Mixology Courses.
This might not answer that question exactly, but I have posted a list of bars (or restaurants with bars) where Elemental Mixology alumni or friends make drinks or manage.
If you are an alumni or friend of Elemental Mixology and I have neglected to include you in the list, send me an e-mail message making your case to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, I have been reminded of this stuff and am now desperate for more!
The first person who brings me two bottles of Savanna Lontan Rhum Traditionnel Grande Arôme will be given $395 in credit toward any Elemental Mixology Course. I used to get this stuff through the Whisky Exchange, but they haven’t had it for a few years, at least. This is a traditional, long-fermented, pot-still, molasses rum from the Savanna distillery on France’s Réunion Island. It is similar to Wray & Nephew Overproof White, but lower in proof, a bit different in fragrance, and more obvious in its copper pottedness. Who’s in France?
This is just a gripe. I always tell my students that in the phrase “single-malt” the word malt is the word with the most legal consequence in Scottish law. Those who understand Scottish whisky law will understand why I would much rather have from Scotland a blended malt whisky than a single grain whisky. I am really tired of seeing the above product shelved or listed as if it where a ‘whisky-flavored vodka’ (my pet term) like Dewar’s or Chivas Regal. It offends me that no one at all in any liquor store that I have ever seen stock this product, or any other blended (a.k.a. vatted) malt whisky, has seemed to understand that it does not belong with those whisky-flavored vodka products that only contain a small amount of true, malt whisky. This is 100% malt whisky — meaning 100% barley whisky, pot-distilled. Though it contains the products of more than one malting, it contains no neutral grain spirit. It has more in common with single-malt whiskies than it does the ‘normal’ whisky-flavored-vodka-type Famous Grouse product. It should not even be stocked in the same vicinity. It deserves to be understood by the people who sell it — and the people who buy it. This sort of confusion led to the mis-handling by all of Johnny Walker Green Label — the only true malt whisky Johnny Walker had in their line-up. Ignorance killed that product. Don’t be part of whisky-killing ignorance!
Today’s drink of the day is the Hemingway Collins.
Next month, on the 18th of July, will be the 78th anniversary of the start of that great twentieth-century inspiration and sadness known as the Spanish Civil War. That conflict may well have been the last major war fought less for tribal, ethnic or corporate advantage than it was for ideals — and over conflicting views of how society should be organized. As much as any war can be romantic, this one was. It attracted volunteers from all over the world to go to Spain to defend the democratic, left-leaning, Spanish Republic against Francisco Franco’s fascist-leaning, military coup. The 1995 Ken Loach film, “Land and Freedom,” dramatically portrays such volunteers — and is worthy of watching. Writer Ernest Hemingway went to Spain to report on the conflict in a way friendly to the Spanish Republic. The Spanish Republic was eventually overcome in 1939 — not least due to the arms and soldiers sent by Hitler and Mussolini to support Franco. Franco then went on to become Europe’s longest-lasting, right-wing, fascist dictator — until his death in 1975. One very small consolation is the fact that Hemingway wrote his great novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls, based on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
Above: Ernest Hemingway poses with some of the rag-tag soldiers of the doomed fight to defend democracy in Spain against the better-equipped, Nazi-supported, Spanish Nationalists.
The source for this drink, Charles Baker, states that it was made the night in 1937 that he and his party saw writer Ernest Hemingway and bullfighter Sidney Franklin off for Spain. Baker called it the “Farewell to Hemingway” and described it as a Collins (which it is, mixologically speaking), so I just call it the Hemingway Collins. He indicates it was inspired by the muggy weather (in Cuba, probably), and by the fact that Hemingway favored the dry cherry brandy known as kirschwasser (not to be confused with cherry-flavored brandy liqueur or maraschino liqueur). There is a real chance that Hemingway had kirschwasser in mind years later some night as he described a variant of the Daiquiri that he wanted, but Cuban bar-tender Constante confused it with maraschino liqueur. Or, maybe La Florida (in Cuba) just didn’t have kirschwasser that night. Perhaps Constante made it with kirschwasser for ‘Papa’ but then made it for everyone else with maraschino so that it wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly sour. But, I have a hunch that the so-called ‘Hemingway Daiquiri’ should be tried with kirschwasser instead of maraschino — much more sensible for a diabetic trying to avoid sugar — if one wants to be true to what I think Hemingway himself had in mind. But, back to the older Hemingway Collins — Charles Baker’s book containing this drink, The Gentleman’s Companion, was published in 1939. It is available as a re-print under the tittle, “Jigger, Beaker & Glass.”
Be sure to get some Citrus aurantiifolia (‘Key’) limes and make yourself a Hemingway Collins this Summer. As you drink it, listen to the Clash song “Spanish Bombs.” Read the lyrics and let ghosts take hold of your imagination — those of martyred poet Federico Garcia Lorca, the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion (who violated U.S. law to fight against fascism before the second world war made it legal to do so), La Pasionaria, the International Brigades, George Orwell (who went to Spain not to write against the fascists, but to fight against them them personally — which he did), the Durutti Column (namesake of the later British musical group), Guernica and the countless Spanish peasants who fought and died in hope of winning the right to be taught to read.
There is a lot of history in many of the things we drink. Not all of it is happy history — rum’s history is intimately connected to slavery and the decimation of indigenous Caribbeans, for example. But, sensitive consideration of history — and where we as humanity have been, have come, and hope to be — can strengthen the palate enough to find intimations of human beauty — even in the drinks and spirits that have been touched by the darker corners of human nature. Haven’t they all?
Here is the recipe (click on the image to enlarge it):