No this isn’t a unknown member of my favorite punk band. And no this isn’t the creator of the Ramos Gin Fizz. Do you remember the old Ramones logo? Look what Billy VanDuyne at Cock Tees NY ingeniously did with it..
I have more booze shirts than I can count, but when I saw this shirt on Facebook, it was a must have item. And being a lover of The Ramones and The Ramos Gin Fizz I thought the play between was the most creative and imaginative shirt I ever saw.
The T shirt is soft, fits well, and is available for purchase for $25 plus shipping via Paypal through the link above ( I bought two!!)
This a a great Holiday gift for any cocktail geek or old punk like myself. Supplies are limited so don’t wait!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now; I love Autumn cocktails. This time of year puts some of my favorite-flavors in the forefront of celebrating. Apples, pears, and all the “holiday spices” make me smile as the weather transitions to the cool months of Fall.
For years now I have made it a policy not to publish recipes that were not my own, but Vikingford Vodka came up with one that I had to share. Vikingford is an award winning 5 time distilled potato based vodka from Norway that exclusively uses glacier water.
The recipe caught my eye because of two unique ingredients: Allspice Dram and Apple Bitters. YUM!
- 1 1/2 oz Vikingford Vodka
- 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Allspice Dram
- 1 1/2 oz Sparkling Apple Cider
- 1 dash BAked Apple Bitters
Combine all but the sparkling cider in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a Old Fashioned Glass filled with ice and top with apple cider. Garnish with an apple slice.
(This recipe also can work in bulk as a punch style)
There are ca couple of commercially made Allspice Drams (also called Pimento Dram) and one Baked Apple Bitters, both of which are easily searchable. What in intrigued me about this recipe is I had just made a homemade Allspice Dram, and make Apple Bitters at Secreto. The bitters take time so go ahead and buy them online at your favorite bitters supply place but let’s make the Dram…..
- 2 cups good dark rum
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (if you are REALLY daring use sucanat sugar)
- 1/2 cup whole allspice
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a very soft boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover the saucepan and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Strain, bottle and refrigerate.
Happy Season and Celebration!
There is no absence of malice when it comes to understanding absinthe (absinthe of malice….?). In fact I hear more wives’ tales, misconceptions, and some just flat-out propaganda that rivals the crap that almost got absinthe banned worldwide.
WORMWOOD AND THUJONE
Absinthe is an herbal liqueur that originated in Switzerland and is named from its primary herb Artemisia absinthium aka wormwood along withanise, fennel and many other herbs. Wormwood like many other plants contains a chemical called Thujone. Thujone is a Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) inhibitor meaning that it blocks GABA receptors in the brain and in extreme doses can cause convulsions. Other herbs that contain thujone are oregano and sage.
No absinthe in the history of the world has contained enough thujone to inhibit brain function! I mean it! But we will get back to this in a minute
STYLES OF ABSINTHE
There are three basic styles of absinthe:
Swiss is the original as I said, then there is French and Czech. Swiss is a milder balanced style where the anise flavors are not as prominent. French is typically more anise forward and colored green and tends to be a sweeter in flavor. Czech “absinth” is artificial and should be avoided as is it usually just high-proof booze with macerated wormwood only and not a distilled as traditional absinthe. It is more like bitters actually. Czech or Bohemian “absinth” even drops the “e” from its name. Whether that be a language thing or an omission to dodge European regulation try to stay away from any bottle of absinthe without an”e” on the end.
HOW TO DRINK
Again three ways to do this:
Absinthe lends itself to high-proof and is intended to be watered down, and some sweetened with sugar. Why add sugar to a liqueur? Well keep in mind in absinthe’s hay-day, the average palate preferred their drinks sweeter than we do today. Also wormwood like many other herbs and in turn bitters, liqueurs, and spirits were prescribed by pharmacologist and traditionally one would take their medicine with sugar and water (remember what Mary Poppins taught us?)
The absinthe “ritual” is the same between Swiss (Suisse) and French with one exception.
Take a fluted glass and on top of the glass place a slotted spoon (Absinthe spoons are remarkably similar to julep strainers……I did say medicinal!). Atop the spoon place a sugar cube, however depending on the sweetness of your chosen absinthe and your personal taste, sugar may not be necessary (the ones I have at home are 1/2 sized cubes for this very reason). But let’s go with the sugar for now. Pour one ounce of absinthe over the sugar cube into the glass. Now here is where we distinguish styles. For Swiss style you would now ignite the absinthe soaked sugar cube to caramelize the sugar. For French leave you lighter in your pocket. One is neither better or more proper other than maybe matching the style of drinking to the style of absinthe. Next is cold water. You can buy an Absinthe drip that regulates the speed of ice-cold water dripping over the sugar cube or you can do what I do at home and use an old pint bottle with a pour spout.
Now its time to watch. Your absinthe will begin to change, morphing from its clear, pale or green self into a rich milky goodness. This is called the Louche and mystically referred to as releasing of the Green Fairy. The louche is the release of the essential oils in the absinthe and will tell you many things about the quality and flavor of your absinthe. Depending on the proof of you absinthe anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces of cold water should do you.
The third style of absinthe prep, oddly comes from our Czech friends. And it is called “the Huff” or “Huffing Ritual’. Take a glass that you can fit your palm over. Pour absinthe into the glass and ignite the absinthe itself. Wait about 20 seconds the cover the glass with you hand tightly which will create a vacuum between your palm and the glass. Lift the glass o your mouth between your thumb and forefinger. Break the seal, huff the fumes, then drink the shot. You see a pattern forming here? This, like Czech absinth, is designed for a single purpose and that is not the appreciation of a spirit. Not saying I haven’t participated in the style of drinking before.
REAL ABSINTHE IN THE U.S.
Yes it is real. Remember the thujone thing earlier? Absinthe contains anywhere from 5 to 35 parts per million (ppm) of thujone. Even the stuff pre-prohibition was around this amount. In 2007 the U.S. began allowing absinthe to be imported that they consider “thujone free” which is 10 ppm or less. Some, however, would have you think that free means zero, and the more thujone the better the absinthe (wanna guess who…?). Again there is not enough thujone is any absinthe to set off your GABA receptors.
SO WHY DO I FEEL DIFFERENT DRINKING ABSINTHE THAN OTHER BOOZE?
Well specifically with absinthe it is probably the anise either green and especially star anise along with the other herbs that make up the flavor. remember herbs have medicinal qualities and between the distillation process and the louche enhancing the essential oils, we are taking in stuff that affects the body differently than other spirits.
There are other liqueurs that affect the body as well: Chartreuese, Ouzo, Sambucca, and Jagermeister to name a few.
ABSINTHE AND HALLUCINATIONS
Nope. Not at all. Again this is leftover propaganda from a hundred years ago where teetotalers and the temperance movement published “facts” stating that absinthe was more addictive and dangerous than opium. Add this to extreme examples of heavy alcoholism in people like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway, and you got yourself quite a smear campaign!
Later I shall share the story of the history of all these little myths, but for now sit back and enjoy a great absinthe cocktail.
For more info how absinthe please visit
Summer season is slowly coming to an end here in Santa FE, which means I might actually have time to get some work done. But I am not ready to give up on some sensational summer sippers. One of my favorites being the Gimlet.
Back in the 1867, Luchian Rose came up with a way to preserve lime juice without the use of alcohol. That same year the Merchant Shipping Act passed Parliament requiring all ships to carry a daily ration of lime for its sailors. Rose’s Lime Cordial was used because it was lighter easier and wouldn’t spoil. This is by the way why British sailors.
The Gimlet (meaning sharp or piercing) first popped up in the 1920′s, and as always the debate began of what a true gimlet was. But that’s another story for another day. We are here about the lime cordial
Though Rose’s is still pretty natural sans the high fructose corn syrup), I decided I wanted to come up with my own Sweetened preserved lime juice.
Chris’ Lime Cordial
- 8 limes
- 6 oz sugar
- 12 oz water
- 1 teaspoon Citric Acid
- 1 teaspoon Tartaric Acid
Peel all eight limes, then juice the enough limes for 1/2 cup of juice. Next combine sugar and the acids. Pour water into a medium saucepan and add sugar mixture. Over medium high heat completely melt the sugar then bring to a soft boil. Add lime peels and lime juice. return to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. The time doesn’t have to be exact ( I usually go smoke a cigarette during the simmer). Remove from heat and let stand for 12 hours. Bottle label and refrigerate.
Couple tidbits here…
Lime Cordial and fresh lime juice are in NO WAY interchangeable so you have to use Lime Cordial in your Gimlet. Using fresh juice and sugar are just not the same.
The original Cosmopolitan recipe used Lime Cordial and was simply a Kamikaze using citrus vodka and a tiny splash off cranberry.
Though some debate that the Gimlet includes soda, I have to disagree by etymology of the name alone as adding soda diminishes the “sharp” or ‘piercing” qualities of the drink.
What is the right proportion? There is no way to tell, early recipes were equal parts gin and lime where others were 4:1. The International Bartender’s Association has no official recipe for this one ( yet some they have sanctioned…..yikes)
So, like always play with it til you find what works best for you palate. Happy Sipping
One of the things I see that lacks in the bar and restaurant business ( and many other professions) is passage rites: a public recognition by peers mentors and students of status, change and position This is changing with programs like the USBG Master’s Accreditation Program, but let’s say you have a barback that is a dedicated worker who is promoted and is completing their basic spirits and mixology training. They should get some kind of recognition by their trainer, mentor, manager etc and not just handed next weeks schedule.
This is the kind of program that I am developing for my bar as well as the parent company in which I work. And my good friends at BarProducts.com are helping me out with this.
The idea is to award the newly trained bartender with something they can be proud of and hold as their own. I personally carry all my own bar tools and I am a firm believer that any serious professional bartender should do the same. So why not take your novice bartender and give them a starter kit of tool to get them shaking.
BarProducts.com carries one of the largest selections of bar tools and equipment in the U.S. including a “Master Mixology” page of good professional gear.
But our trainee isn’t quite there yet…… So let’s start them with a basic tool kit like the 13 Piece Bar Well Kit that includes a shaker, cheater cup, strainer, pour spouts, bar blade and a wine key. It’s simple and affordable!
Add to this an all in one plastic jigger with measurements from 1/4oz -3 oz for ease of service.
And finally a citrus press, optional at one time but now a requirement behind almost any bar. Your new bartender is set and ready to go on their first shift with confidence and a collection of tools given to them by their boss all at under $60. That’s a small investment that will pay itself off in no time as you have done more than give them a gift. You have given something to be proud of.
The year is 1888 in the Vibrant Southern town of New Orleans in a place called the Imperial Cabinet Saloon. Henry Ramos began mixing one of the city’s many iconic drinks originally called the New Orleans Fizz.
Now the Gin Fizz had been around for a while and today is frequently confused with the Tom Collins tell that story another time). But Ramos upped the ante with his creation so much so that its production time was anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes done right and employed up to 32 shaker boys to make happen. Even then the team had a hard time keep up with the demand for this creamy glass of heaven.
Growing up in the South myself, I’d heard of this drink but never had one while I was there. When I got serious about serious drinks (this being a seriously serious drink), I began to dig around on the recipe. And like so many recipes, there were variation after variation and trying to distinguish the ‘original” was a fun challenge. I am not claiming to have the original but I will say that the most controversial parts of the recipe I do have an opinion on.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 1 1/2 oz Gin (Old Tom if you can)
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- 1 oz heavy cream
- 5 drops vanilla
- 7 drops orange flower water
- Soda water
Combine all ingredients except orange water and soda in a shaker without ice and shake until your arms are about to fall off. Pass to the next person and have them do the same thing Traditionally this drink shaken dry for twelve minutes. Afterwards add ice and shake again! to chill. Strain into a Collins glass with out ice top with soda,give it a little stir and op with orange flower water.
Now the controversy:
- Old Tom Gin was the gin in use in 1888. London Dry style was coming around but wasn’t the standard call as it is today. Old Tom is available in available in some markets, but those who are stuck without can use another style but it just doesn’t work the same
- No bar these days has time to do the original shake time on this drink. And if they did the drink’s cost would be astronomical. The solution, do the best you can with the staff you have (we make a game of it at Secreto Lounge), or use an emulsion blender either hand-held or counter top.
- Vanilla… Some recipes omit other say it is an option. I say it is an integral part of the drink adding the depth and dimension. It is the music of this drink!
- Orange Flower Water: if you don’t have it, don’t try to make this drink. PERIOD! There is no substituting here. Not Curacao, not triple Sec, not even orange juice. Just don’t
When is the best time to enjoy a Ramos? Brunch or for a hangover is most common, I think the Ramos is good anytime of the day.
If spirits are the notes of a cocktail then bitters is what makes the music. Until recently the only mainstream bitters known was the one with the yellow top and the over sized label. Previous flavors were gone with the wind and the art of making one’s own bitters (as before the industrial revolution and mass production) was lost in time like many aspects of great mixology.
Nowadays there is a plethora of bitters flavors ranging from Pre-Prohibition recipes, aromatic, barrel-aged, fruit, veggie and even chiles, each adding its own style to a cocktail. Change the bitters and you change the drink.
It is always great to experiment with the different flavors and even more fun to make your own. There are several ways to do so; it comes down to simply macerating and combining flavors to find your own “cocktail music style”.
A note on flavor extraction:
“Infusion” typically involves heating ingredients to quickly extract flavor whereas “maceration” does not involve heat. If you choose to use an infusion method, make sure you take notes of times and especially temperatures. Infusion gives a different flavor profile and is faster than maceration as infusion involves heat, but it is riskier and not recommended when first starting out.
Step One: Gather your Instruments
Small mason jars
High proof neutral grain spirit (over 100 proof)
Syringes or each jar that measure to the milliliter (so not to cross contaminate your flavors
Fruit peels, spices, herbs, roots, barks, chiles, sugars and/or bittering agents (gentian, wormwood, osha root, etc.). The possibilities are endless and the more the merrier!
Tape or labels, a note pad and pen
Step Two: Begin the Extraction
Fill each jar with the individual ingredient, cover with the high proof booze and label the jar. Next taste each one daily until you are satisfied with the flavor strength of its contents. Make notes as to how long each jar takes. Once happy, strain the jar and dispose of the flavoring agent reserving the now flavored liquid.
Step Three: Compose your Notes
Now that you have all of your flavor extracts, take a clean empty jar and with the syringe (also labeled with the flavor to which it belongs) begin to combine the flavors, taking note of exactly how much of each extract you add. I prefer to start with the main flavor I want say orange, then add various seasonings to it like cinnamon, or clove, and sugar, saving the bittering agents to last.
Step Four: Start the Music
Once satisfied with the results, write the full recipe down so you can recreate these bitters again.
Step Five: Sing Loud Sing Proud
Try them in your favorite cocktail!
Some things to remember along the way:
If your bitters are too strong, add a little water to bring down the potency.
Thought they are called “bitters” many contain sugar of some sort, which will also help enhance the flavors especially if you are creating a citrus bitters.
Don’t get discouraged if the first few times your don’t like your results. Like anything, this takes practice.
Not every combination will be a success, but that is the fun of experimentation and creation. This is the art of mixology. The craft is being able to do it again and again, hence your well-taken notes.
Now, there is a riskier way to do this, which is IF you have a defined idea and know that your combination of flavors will work, you can macerate all the flavors in one jar at the same time. You can always add flavors this way; however, it is next to impossible to subtract a flavor once in the jar. Another downside is if one flavor begins to overpower the others, the only thing to do is stop the entire process, which ends in a lot of frustration and waste.
Bitters is what brings a drink together, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. It is the soul of a cocktail and the essence of its beauty. And creating your own bitters, even if used in a classic cocktail, makes that cocktail truly your own.