October 12, 2018
The other day, decided to browse around the drink library while watching Hammer House of Horror as one does, and was flipping through Jacques Staub’s simply-called classic Drinks from 1914 and came across an intriguing number called The Clifton. At the same time, I was trying to think of a drink to have with Gold Bar whiskey, a small bottle of which had just shown in the mail.
Gold Bar is a blended American whiskey made from three grains: corn, rye, and barley, aged in French oak, and, as they say, “matured by the sea” in San Francisco. I love a good ocean-going yarn! It’s also in one of the more amazing packages, a golden box with a brass Lady of Fortune (illustrated by an artist) coin pressed into the front for good luck. All of which would be only a good story if the whiskey didn’t taste good – luckily indeed it has a friendly taste as well as the shiny gleaming container. Very smooth, very approachable, with a little vanilla and spice and melon scents unfolding into more spice, apple, and vanilla on the tongue.
Its amiable nature made me think maybe it would be good in the Clifton, though that drink originally called for rye, with an equal part of dry vermouth. Along with a dash of Angostura and a dash of “brown” curaçao. I’ll admit, I’m not sure on the latter, and I wasn’t really happy about how the equality-of-vermouth was going to go. So, I went with Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao (the finest available in modern times), and just started playing around with the amounts of our main ingredients. And, voila, we took home the gold. And by that, I mean it all came together into a bright, light, drink, with herbal and botanical hints and a smooth whiskey hum underneath.
1-1/2 ounces Gold Bar blended whiskey
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
Dash Angostura bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, or a glass with an appropriate amount of gilding to match the whiskey. I went the latter route, as it seemed a better route. But you’ll make your own luck.
September 4, 2015
So, it’s September I suppose, and like the very earth itself I can sense the approaching Fall in my bones, and in my drinks too – though admittedly, I’m still leaning in those drinks towards summer-ish mixers. But the drinks know the weather is changing! And the drinks themselves are changing, with new ingredients showing up on my shelves (which are sturdy, I must say). A recent addition which I’d been pining for, and which is now almost in need of restocking, is Ancho Reyes. A lovely, perhaps the lovely, chile liqueur, made of course from Ancho chilies. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying it, I can hear you, in my mind, muttering to yourself about how most spice-ily flavored booze-y items are either just freaky hot or taste like chemical fire. Hold on to your chairs, though – Ancho Reyes is different. Full-bodied, rich, holding an underlying spice that isn’t bite-y, but flavorful, with cinnamon, chocolate, fruit, and herbs mingling with the chili, Ancho Reyes is to be savored, solo or in cocktails.
And savoring it is what we’ve been doing, here at the home bar, as the weather begins to think about changing. I’ve made a number of cocktails with it, but Summer Near Puebla, the cocktail below, is ideal for this time of year – still refreshing in a summer way, but with enough flavor and umph to fortify you for the following fall and winter-y months. And the taste! I am going to be a little obvious here (I mean, Ancho Reyes is made in Puebla, Mexico, from local chilies, in a handcrafted manner that’s rather swell, and award-winning Vida Mezcal, another key ingredient here, is from San Luis del Rio), but this drink goes awfully well with Mexican food. Or by itself, as you soak in some of that sunshine while you can.
Summer Near Puebla
2 ounces Vida Mezcal
1-1/2 ounces Ancho Reyes
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces chilled club soda
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker up halfway with ice cubes. Add the mezcal, Ancho Reyes, curaçao, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with cracked ice. Strain the mix into the glass.
3. Top it off with the club soda. Stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wedge.