Well, being a happy possessor of two antica formula red vermouths, a bottle of Campari and a bottle of gin, I’ve practically forgotten all other cocktails for the past three weeks at least. As a matter of fact, I had a similar flash sometimes in the past, for example with such awesome cocktails as Manhattan, Clover Club or Mai Tai. You might have felt something similar – you discover a cocktail and just realize that there is no reason to drink anything else. You are enjoining this libation day by day exploring a ton of ingredient combinations, comparing favorite brands and experimenting with proportions or serving or garnishes, whatever. But sooner or later you also just understand that you should move on. And here you need something bright, something especial for closing the chapter.
So, for ending this Negroni flash I picked out the Negroni Flip – a modern curious Negroni-themed concoction that, as I could find out, had been created in a Seattle based restaurant Delancey. The recipe had been shared on Food52.com about a year ago by, if I’m not mistaken, creators or just inspirators – Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit. Actually, I’m absolutely sure, it is an exciting idea to combine two [of my favorite] cocktail things – Negroni and flip. I was really curious how it would work together.
30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Campari
7 ml rich sugar syrup (1:2)
1 whole egg
Add all the ingredients in a shaker and shake very hard without ice, then add ice and chill the cocktail. Strain into a tumbler and garnish with an orange peel.
This Negroni Flip turned out (as expected! as expected!) to be absolutely great! Everything is right in this cocktail – whole egg, as in a real flip (it’s known, that yolk has its own taste which actively forms a taste, not only a foamy texture), and a spoon of rich sugar syrup, which helps to combine whole Negroni with a whole egg and, in fact, makes the cocktail.
Negroni Flip has a distinguished sweet-and-bitter-herbal-savory taste with a bright recognizable bitter note of Campari, velvety herbal richness of vermouth and gin. Also it acquires a wonderful super-smooth texture from a beaten egg. As а result we have a velvety-smooth, well-balanced, bitter-sweet cocktail. An excellent cocktail, undoubtedly, or, rather, an excellent flip 8)
Now, some words about ingredients. Negroni Flip was noted to need quite a powerful, potent gin (which can stand against a whole egg), and a similar vermouth. My ultimate choice in Negroni Flip is my new Cinzano 1757, which, thanks to its a magnificent bitter artemisia note, works here exceptionally well.
And finally I have to write something about raw eggs in cocktails. As I came to realize this is sort of a tradition to bring this kinda pep talk to readers about eggs in cocktails at the end of every such post :) So, let’s start: Don’t be afraid of them… eggs really can give us huge pleasure… but remember about salmonella (of course, of course…)… so… use only fresh organic eggs from a local farmer’s market … (you had better know the farmer for ages. What kind of stuff does he feed down to his chickens?)… or use pasteurized eggs… if you believe in pasteurization… or just rely on good luck… if you believe in good luck… or… read something much serious about that for example here 8)
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Tags: Campari · Gin · Vermouth sweet
Well, despite having quite a difficult time for cocktail blogging (my country is still under a villainous attack), I still continue my exploring of such a great phenomenon as the American Cocktail. However, today I am going to deal with two totally European (specifically Italian) things that had been a great part of an American Cocktail practically since the Golden Age. I am talking about red vermouth and one of the best cocktails which utilize it – Negroni Cocktail.
I have at least two big reasons to review my love for Negroni – one is getting an acquaintance with a pretty nice twist on a classic Negroni – the Contessa Cocktail and the other is a long-awaited testing of Carpano Antica Formula – one of the most celebrated sweet vermouths.
This post was started right before the New-Year’s Day while I was looking through my site stats (You see, WordPress.com sends a pretty cute yearly review every December). And I was really surprised that my last posts (I mean, posts that were written during the last few years) weren’t as popular as the earlier ones (about all kinds of stuff like Creme Brulee Martini, Long Island Iced Tea or Passion Cosmo :) Seemingly, my new, refined cocktail taste, which has been forming for years, does not satisfy an average reader… But similar things I notice also with my guests, when trying to share with them my latest favorite concoctions. Actually it does not bother me that much ;) , but sometimes I am thinking of, you know, popularizing of the cocktail culture, so I should be ready to offer my guests something more acceptable as an entry point in a wonderful world of True Cocktails.
There is usually no problem to offer such a drink to a newbie if we speak about highballs, sours or tikis. But if we speak about aromatic cocktails, it seems to be an issue. Especially it is difficult in case of Negroni – undoubtedly, one of the best aromatic cocktails in the world.
Obviously the main challenge of aromatic cocktails is a combination of strength and bitterness. And we must admit it, not all people are ready to take it up 8) At any rate – from the first sip (but, probably, many of them would be ready for a second one, if only the first wasn’t SO bitter ;)
Thus, this challenging bitterness of Negroni, which is considered as its main merit by the connoisseurs, might be an insuperable difficulty for a newbie. Maybe it sounds grotesque to somebody, but it is a bitter truth in the case of Negroni 8) It contains a significant amount of Campari – a palatable bitter from Italy, which, by the way, wasn’t banned even during Prohibition as a result of its strong bitter taste. No joke!
That is why I guess it is so important to have some trick or some secret that will be able to make your favorite Negroni slightly more palatable (but not worsen it!) for your dear newbie but still so enjoyable for you 8) And, it seems, now I’ve found such a trick! 8)
As a matter of fact this is absolutely easy and obvious – just switch “the Great and Powerful» Campari to a thing, that sometimes is defined as baby-Campari, – the Aperol.
Campari and Aperol are pretty similar – both are classified as aperitif, both are based on some herbal stuffs – herbs, roots, citrus fruits etc. Finally they both have a bright red color! And they both have an unique rich bitter-sweet taste which encapsulates great Italian lifestyle feeling. So, even though they have different bitterness and alcohol content, they have similar style.
I tasted this switch in the Contessa cocktail, the recipe for which I had found on Serious Eats a long time ago. But it may be not an original idea – there are many bartenders who come up with this trick. So, this name is relatively nominal.
Aperol Negroni aka Contessa Cocktail
30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Aperol
Stir with ice and strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
I think, the best definition for Contessa Cocktail is a bland Negroni. As for me, it is still a good Negroni because it still is a rich, bitter-sweet, full of herbs, botanicals, species, velvety smooth aromatic drink. The only difference is an absence of a challenge 8) But if it is necessary, you can explore No Baloney Negroni – another Aperol Negroni version from Camper English ;)
As I could ascertain Contessa cocktail was an universal favourite with many people, who usually didn’t enjoy aromatic cocktails, especially women. So, this cocktail gave me an opportunity to share my love for Negroni with some people I love 8) Perfect!
And finally I want to say some words about a true classic Negroni, especially about the red vermouth in it.
Can you belive it, that in spite of being a huge fan of aromatic cocktails, especially Martinez, Negroni, Manhattan, I have never tasted such an exciting and famous rosso vermouth as Carpano Antica Formula? Actually this vermouth is absolutely unavailable on the Ukrainian market as well as in the duty-free shops that were visited by my wife 8) So, I always contented myself with available rosso vermouths – such as Martini & Rosso, Cinzano and Gancia and, I’m pretty sure, I always obtained good results [Certainly I avoid using cheap local vermouths or suspiciously cheap brands]. But, of course, I had been dreaming about Carpano Antica Formula for a long time.
The reason of this long-term dreaming was so obvious. A vast majority of American cocktail bloggers, bartenders, enthusiasts consider Carpano Antica Formula the best rosso vermouth in the world and the most authentic ingredient for many classic vermouth libations, especially Manhattan [even though it is vermouth alla vaniglia – a slightly different kind of vermouth than a regular rosso vermouth di Torino]. So, I could not slur the fact over and I must have made quite an effort to obtain this legendary vermouth and scrutinize it. I was extremely curious whether it could bring something new and unique to my beloved cocktails. I started with a Negroni Cocktail.
30 ml gin
30 ml sweet vermouth
30 ml Campari
Stir with ice and strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.
Before describing my impressions of a Negroni Cocktail with Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, let me point out some main Negroni characteristics which make a Negroni Negroni. Strong bitterness. Herbal richness. A powerful palate full of botanicals. A well balanced bitter-sweet drink. Theoretically, a difference between two good Negronis may be attributed to the peculiar properties of gin / rosso vermouth. Also, the sweetness of vermouth matters. Being a protagonist of an ancient cocktail feeling, or, in simpler terms, having a sweet tooth, I prefer cocktails balanced on the sweet side and, consequently, I love really sweet sweet vermouth in my cocktails 8) Thus, I’ve preferred Gancia Rosso in my Negronis for a long time.
Well, getting back to the point, the Negroni Cocktail with Carpano Antica Formula vermouth was perfect! So rich. So flavorful. With a palate full of herbs, roots and, well, beans ;) With an extremely pleasant vanilla note. Great! But… You know… It wasn’t greater than my regular Negroni with a Gancia Rosso 8) Rather different, yes, great, but not better. And I don’t think that it is something bad ;)
As it often happens, life made my cocktail adventures even more interesting – as soon as I possessed the Carpano Antica Formula I suddenly ran into another fancy red vermouth product – Cinzano 1757, so I had a great opportunity to organize a real «Antica Formula» red vermouth contest 8) [As a matter of fact an Ukrainian label of Cinzano 1757 vermouth contains such a signature, also the Gancia Rosso Vermouth label has signatures «1850» and «Antica Ricetta», so, they match this contest too ;)]
Straight up, on the rocks or in the Negroni – neither could let me pick a winner. In fact, as such a cool vermouth adept as Martin Doudoroff notices, there isn’t a
champion platonic ideal :) At least all of these three «antica formula» vermouths are great products which give rich, deep, powerful, very aromatic cocktails. So cool. So distinguished. Just as I love 8)
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Tags: Aperol · Campari · Gin · Vermouth sweet
Sorry, but this post is not available in English.
Those people, who have been tracking my blog for a relatively long time, probably saw the logo, which is showing on the left right now. It is a logo of an on-line event for Russian-speaking blogger-imbibers, which has, also, such an eye-catching English name – S.I.P. – Shake! Imbibe! Post! These events, or on-line parties were pretty popular in the Russian segment of the World Wide Web (also called as Runet, means, ‘Russian Internet’) for the past few years until Russia committed the well-known egregious aggression against Ukraine, and generally speaking against all of the civilized world. Unfortunately most Russians (i mean here, the citizens of the Russian Federation. It isn’t a question of nationality – the truth is that I am an ethnic Russian), so, most Russians are giving warm encouragement to this aggression and, consequently, our companionship broke down completely. Namely for this reason our eighteenth S.I.P. is expected to be quite desolated 8)
The topic of S.I.P.#18 is Punch! As a matter of fact this topic runs contrary to our common rule with which we usually choose the exact cocktail for our collective exploring and sharing of opinions. This topic is an absolutely different case. It’s clear that punch is quite a wide thing, and it seems almost impossible to get an agreement in choices of even a couple of participants.
Trying to understand certain key specifics of punch in the modern world of mixing drinks, I could realize only this one – punch was a big cocktail :) I mean, punch is a sort of huge mixed drink. A sort of cocktail for a company. But then, in our individualistic world, there are no strong reasons in modern bar culture which can prevent client’s desire to get an individual serving of his punch of choice which should be paid for appropriately ;)
However, despite having some experience in individual punches like Gin Punch, Knickerbocker Punch, Pisco Punch, or Ti’ Punch, I decided to try something real. I decided to prepare something that I can really share with my friends. And that statement of question turned out a true challenge for me. You know, it is not so easy to mix up big punches not at the big party but in a quiet workroom. Certainly, it is no problem to prepare the drink, but utilizing it becomes a serious problem. In spite of having a hobby in cocktail mixing, I drink really not very much, my wife drinks far less, but if I invite an appropriate crowd of friends, I, perhaps, won’t be able to have enough time for photographing and describing. It take quite a different mood to throw a party or create a post. But even so I could find a solution!
For the S.I.P.#18 – Punch! I picked out an absolutely unique punch – very old [it is said to have been created by the famous English playwright of the Restoration Aphra Behn], noble [created in English high-society and printed, specifically, in the first cocktail chrestomathy – How to Mix Drinks, or Bon-Vivants Companion by Jerry Thomas], absolutely the weirdest [it contains milk but it is pretty clear, isn’t it weird?], and very popular in modern American cocktail geek circles, drink.
Going by, lets me say, a mixoshpere, it looks like this punch have been gathering popularity for last year or two. Esquire experts gave it a ‘Cocktail of the Year’ badge in 2014. It can really excite.
For making an acquaintance I used a recipe from the aforementioned Thomas’ first book. Obviously I had to make some unessential changes, for example, I converted the recipe to metric units and slightly scaled it.
English Milk Punch
120 ml lemon juice
the rind of one lemon
150 g sugar
1/3 pineapple, peeled, sliced
7 coriander seeds
1/3 small cinnamon stick
160 ml cognac
160 ml rum
*40 ml arrack
80 ml strong green tea
330 ml boiling water
330 ml whole milk
Peel a middle sized lemon trying to avoid white pith underneath. Put the lemon rind into an appropriate saucepan and add about 2/3 of the sugar, rub thoroughly with a muddler. Then add sliced pineapple, spices, and muddle. Add the other ingredients except milk. The boiled water should be added last. Briskly stir for dissolving of the sugar and close tight. Let the mix steep at least 6 hours in a cold place. After steeping, add hot milk and 40 ml of fresh pressed lemon juice. In this very moment milk must curl. Filter through filter paper / jelly-bag / cheesecloth or something like this. The drink must be quite clear, if you can’t filter, try to settle the punch. Strained punch must be refrigerated before serving. Serve straight up. This recipe is about for 1 liter of the punch.
Now, as usual, some words about the ingredients particularly about arrack. First of all you should know – it isn’t that arrack which is similar to ouzo :) It is an absolutely another beverage. It is a strong alcohol beverage made in some Asian countries like Indonesia or Sri Lanka and which usually is distilled from quite exotic raw stuff. In Indonesia arrack is distilled from molasses with an addition of fermented red rice cookies (Batavia Arrack), and in Sri Lanka it is distilled from fermented juice of coconut palm tree flowers. And yes, in fact, arrack is an essential component of many old punches. But here… There is certain strange asterisk in the original recipe, isn’t it? And what do we know about asterisks? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an asterisk is a symbol * that is used in printed text especially to tell someone to read a note that can be found at the bottom of a page. But the truth is that there isn’t a note at the bottom of a page [I have an e-copy of 1962 edt. digitized by Google]. What’s a pity… Oh, dear, it seems we will never find out the meaning … But I suppose, this asterisk means… omit this if you haven’t got it, isn’t it? Really, you must admit it, that it is the most believable speculation. So, I discarded arrack [I just haven’t got it in my liquor cabinet] with clear conscience 8)
As I decided to try this historical recipe of the English Punch I had to read some historical surveys (actually it was only Punch by D. Wondrich and the excellent post about this punch by Adam Elmegirab on the blog called The Jerry Thomas Project) for picking out the rest of the ingredients. As a result I decided to use a composition of Meukow VS Cognac [young, relatively pungent and lively spirit, 80 proof], Rhum J.M. V.S.O.P. [86 proof], Rum Mount Gay Black Barrel [86 proof] and a pungent, over-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum 151 proof as a base of the drink.
Certainly I have to say some words about execution. There are two troublesome points in preparation of English Milk Punch. The first is milk curdling and the second is separating of curdled milk from the drink. At the first sight it looks obvious and easy – you should add milk, milk should curdle and you should set curdled milk apart, but those things look easy only on paper…
The first trouble – with milk – pertains to modern food technology. I don’t now how it is in the USA, but here in Ukraine some sort of long-term storage milk in the carton is… Hmmm, how can I say this? It isn’t milk, actually. It is like an esculent colloidal solution. Proteins, particularly globulins, minerals, vitamins, supplements, additives, ultrapasteurized, normalized, enriched… Hell on wheels, really… I just don’t belive that it is able to curdle 8) So, newly drown whole milk from a local farmer’s market is the only and the best choice.
The second question is separating curdled milk from the drink. Most recommended ways are straining through some layers of cheesecloth [it works but not very well], sifting through a chinois or a jelly-bag [it works not so effectivly, proven!], and filtering with paper [I used filter paper, it worked exceptionally well. Some people say that paper towels can be employed, but I didn’t test it this way]. Actually, if you couldn’t clarify the punch by straining or sifting, you may allow the mix to settle. But, remember, the punch must be pretty clear before serving.
The first sip of the English Punch was a truly intriguing… Suspense… In truth, I had absolutely no idea how it could taste. I had never drunk such a thing before. And the English Milk Punch didn’t let me down! It was an absolutely amazing drink. The first sip really surprised me with an utterly distinguished texture and mouthfeel and a very pleasant and balanced palate. Gorgeous!
The English Milk punch has a balanced fruity (pineapple, citrus adorned with spices), sweet-and-sour taste with a powerful solid spirits note, I mean, not spirituous but derived from the liquors used. I think, namely that I can describe it as a lush palate. All components work very well in this drink but in my humble opinion the milk whey makes this drink. It brings exceptional softness, roundness in the palate and mouthfeel. When you drink the English Milk Punch your tongue, gums, all mouth organs feel like they contacting with cold glass, or silk, or some of the smoothest things in the world. It is an amazing feeling! It is worth preparing the drink for the whole day long!
Yet one more thing – some people suggest serving Milk Punch over ice. I see this point – ice keeps the drink cold and visually magnifies it, but, it seems, it has not the best affect on the mouthfeel. It makes punch diluted and this can spoil its unique texture. So, I insist, serve it straight up only!
Tags: Brandy · Rum · S.I.P.
Some days ago I posted about my first sips of a traditional American Christmas drink – Eggnog. In that entry I briefly mentioned that there were two ways to achieve proper texture of eggnog (you should realize, that these two ways give entirely different results). First – maturing – I tried with my first recipe of Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog by Dale DeGroffe (who, actually, as you can see in this video, mixes his famous Uncle Angelo’s Eggnogs in quite original way and without any ripening) and second – cooking I am going to describe here.
In a way, it is a philosophical issue – To cook or not to cook [eggnogs]: that is the question! And I see at least two reasons that make people cook their nogs. First – a lot of people are afraid of consuming raw eggs, they are frightened by salmonella, stomach bug and other indigestions. But another reason seems the most important – cooked eggnog is absolutely delicious! Besides, cooking of eggnog allows achieving of a really thick, rich and textural eggnog.
Cooked eggnog consists of the same ingredients as, let’s say, a plain one. Eggs, milk, cream, spices and bourbon, but its preparation is an absolutely culinary journey. I.e. you really need to cook it :) And this may frighten many that are much stronger than mythical salmonella :) What is it you say? You gonna put poached eggs in my nog, are you nuts, bro? 8)
Really, no, there won’t be any poached eggs in your eggnog, bro, if you are attentive enough and cook your eggnog in the right way 8)
Classic Cooked Egg Nog (Классический заварной Эгг Ног)
2 big chicken eggs
75 g sugar
250 ml milk
75 ml cream
a pinch of salt
grated nutmeg (to taste)
grated cinnamon (to taste)
some cloves (to taste, optional)
vanilla extract (to taste)
80 ml bourbon
1. In an appropriate sized saucepan pour milk, cream (if you use half and half), add pinch of salt, fresh grounded nutmeg, cinnamon, some whole cloves or another spices and heat the mix till it is steaming (but do not boil! As we all know, boiled milk isn’t that tasty :) Leave warm milk mixture to steep. Before using I prefer to strain the mix through a tea strainer.
2. Separate eggs. Put egg whites in an appropriate airtight container and refrigerate or (if you are going to keep your eggnog relatively long) freeze.
3. Beat yolks in a large bowl until pale than add about three-fourth of the sugar and beat until they become almost white.
4. Pour warm spicy mixture to beaten yolks very slowly. Stir up constantly while you are pouring the milk.
5. Set the mixture on medium (or low) heat and cook it about 10-15 min at 160°F until certain thickening. Don’t let the mix boil! It is very important, because if the mix get boiled, yolks will curdle and the drink will be completely spoiled.
6. If you don’t have a thermometer, you may use a spoon-test for determining of an end point of cooking. Simple dip a metal spoon into the mix and look at – the mix should coat the spoon with a thin smooth film if ready.
7. After cooking let eggnog cool a little and add cream, vanilla extract and bourbon.
8. Chill eggnog in a fridge for several hours or overnight.
9. Right before serving beat egg whites (you should thaw they before, of course, and warm up they to room temperature) until soft peaks, add rest of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks.
10. In an appropriate punch bowl mix together chilled eggnog and beaten egg whites, stir gently with a whisk until completely smooth.
11. Grate some nutmeg on top of the eggnog if you use a punch bowl, otherwise grate nutmeg on top of each drink. Serve in beautiful punch cups or short tumblers.
All ingredients are traditional for eggnog and, consequently, may vary. Notice, if you decided to cook your eggnog because you are afraid of salmonella, I recommend using pasteurized eggs or egg whites for serving. The texture of eggnog is quite affected by how fat your dairy is, but you health is too :) Also you can change the amount of sugar if you prefer a not so sweet eggnog, but I am a real sweet tooth. Traditional species for eggnogs are nutmeg (absolutely essential), cinnamon (strongly recommended), cloves (if you want them, I usually do), cardamom (for the eccentric, I want to try it) and vanilla (strictly recommended too).
Even though I only specify bourbon in the recipe, rum (specifically dark or spiced) and brandy (cognac) or their mixes are also used. This season I made my cooked eggnogs only with bourbon, specifically Wild Turkey 101, and I was totally satisfied with the results.
If you succeed in following these directions, you will obtain an absolutely perfect eggnog – thick, fluffy, rich and smooth. And such eggnog has a distinguished smell and taste. A sweet, spicy, creamy, a little boozy, and ultimately a desert drink. Posh and lush desert drink 8) To be honest, this season, it is cooked eggnog that wins my heart (but, in fact, I did not the eggnog aged for three weeks yet, perhaps, something much more interesting is awaiting me next Christmas season. Well, I will have to just wait, a reminder (on next Thanksgiving) has already been set up! :)
P.S. I forget again and again to mention that eggnog can be non-alcoholic :) For this purpose just omit the liquor as you prepare cooked eggnog (actually, you can add booze directly in your glass later, bro ;)
Tags: Bourbon · Brandy · Rum