Daily Tipple – the Gin Puff

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The oldest extant reference to this nineteenth-century drink is in a Chicago newspaper from 1883, where it is mentioned by a bar-tender as being popular.
It has been a favorite drink in Elemental Mixology posset sessions for the past three or four years.
Recently, the puff, as a form of drink with a traditional family name, has been called the “lift” (by someone who clearly had no idea that they were ‘re-inventing the wheel’).

Go to the Elemental Mixology website for the recipe

A Good Drink that is Also Laughable

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I often chuckle while witnessing bar-tenders today mimicking advances in drink-making that were revolutionary in 1855 – and thinking them to be new.

One example is as using sugar syrup (instead of dry sugar) in true cocktails and stirring them cold through plenty of ice.

Today, bar-tenders imagine that applying the above methods to the Old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail improves it. They are right – but the improvement was already done within a few years of 1855. It was then that method for making the Whiskey Cocktail were changed to take advantage of pure water and ice suddenly becoming cheap and plentiful, allowing for simple syrup to be cheap and plenty of ice to be available for stirring with and straining from.

Modern bar-tenders, you’re almost there. All you have to do now to catch up with 1855 is to strain your Whiskey Cocktail just as you would a Manhattan Cocktail – and, for the same reasons.

Of course, if you don’t know the traditional meaning of the word cocktail, you probably are a little lost here. Come take my classes.

Suffice it to say that once the Whiskey Cocktail was made with sugar syrup and stirred with ice and strained into a goblet for a perfectly cold drink that would never get further diluted, the older, inferior way of making the Whiskey Cocktail produced the drink that after 1855 was called the Old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.

Yes, I am saying the the Old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail (probably just “Old Fashioned” to some benighted readers) is inferior to the Whiskey Cocktail. Between 1860 and 1900, the Whiskey Cocktail, made the modern way and strained and served without any ice, was one of the most commonly-served drink in American bars. It was served more commonly during those forty years than the Old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. What a shame that the inferior of the two is the only one that is easy to obtain in our own time.

Now modern bar-tenders are making the Whiskey Cocktail almost as good as it was in 1855 (if only they would stop serving it on ice) and imagining that this is something new and the product of sensitive consideration. It is laughable.

Likewise devoid of any traditional knowledge is the imagining that there is something new – down to giving it a new typological name – to the so-called Lift.

Truth be told, this type of drink goes at least as far back as 1883. An American bar-tender from then would look at the so-called Bourbon Lift and recognize it to be an especially-fancy reworking of the Bourbon Puff. If had I been the bar-tender that created it, I would have made clear through naming it that I understood American mixological tradition and history enough to call if a Puff – instead of making up a new name that suggests ignorance of tradition. I also would have understood it to be far too fancy to just call it the Bourbon Puff. I might have called it the Special Bourbon Puff or maybe the Bohemian Cowboy Puff. But a plain name for a fancy drink, combined with an obvious ignorance of American drink types (a consequence of the grasping overuse of ‘cocktail’), shrouds the publication of a very good drink in the mists of ignorance.

Policy Update

When I started Elemental Mixology in 2008, I did not have a posted policy about anything.

I assumed that anything that might come up could, and would, be resolved out in adult fashion.

By 2010, I realized that it might be good to post a policy to reassure people that if they missed a course session, they would have the opportunity to make up the session later at no additional cost.

I am happy to say that in the years since, virtually all issues that the policy might have addressed were taken care of in a genuinely friendly way to everyone’s satisfaction without needing to consult the published policy.

It saddens me this morning to realize (at substantial cost to myself) that I should have long ago amended the refund policy to cover personal conduct.

The Future Fix and the Future Punch

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About five years ago, Elemental Mixology alumnus and friend, Greg Bryson told me about a new drink he had created – the Future Fix. I called it a fix, since it is a short punch on the rocks. Greg’s nickname at the time was Future Greg – hence the Future Fix.

It is a truly delicious tipple for anyone who appreciates piquant accents in drinks. I have attendees make the Future Fix in virtually every class and course I teach. It is almost unanimously loved each time. I have even had requests for a batched punchbowl version for parties and entertaining. I include that recipe below.

Greg’s genius in creating this drink was to avoid the common impulse to base any drink with chile pepper in it on Oaxacan or Tequila mezcal. The spiciness of rye whiskey is a much better partner than the easily lost agave flavor in either type of mezcal. When Greg first told me about the drink, he used agave nectar as the sweetener in it. He now tends to make the drink with simple syrup, instead. I understand that, since agave flavor is so light. Agave, being fructose, is also probably more unhealthy than sucrose. However, I still do like the slight agave flavor this drink contains if a richer agave nectar is used. As to fructose being a little more unhealthy than sucrose I would remind that trying to make alcoholic drinks healthy is probably a lost cause, anyway.

For years I always made this drink with either Rittenhouse bonded rye whiskey or Bulleit straight rye whiskey. Rittenhouse, being bonded and at least four years old, often tastes a little more woody and tannic than I want. Bulleit is just too expensive here in Oregon – currently $26.95 per 750 ml.. I think that Wild Turkey 101º proof straight rye whiskey out-performs both of them. It is higher proof than either and it’s flavor is more straightforwardly rye-full and less woody. What is really fortunate is that the price for it in Oregon is only $27.95 per liter. Everywhere else it starts at about $40.00 per liter.

Everyone really should try this drink. I include both the original fix version for individual drinking and the punchbowl version for entertaining. If you happen to be able to, go into the Wallace in Culver City, California and have Greg, himself, make you one!

Enjoy!

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2016 Version of the Elemental Mixology Tool Kit

Here it is: the 2016 version of the Elemental Mixology Tool Kit.

I am pleased to announce that by getting lucky with finding some of the key items at much lower cost (but not at lower quality), I was able to cram more items into the current kit without having to raise the price. I don’t know how long all of the items will be available at the current prices though. If you want one, purchase it now!

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