Mixology Monday: Crass to Craft

After missing the last few Mixology Monday’s I am hoping to sneak this entry in under the wire. This months theme presented the perfect opportunity to enter. Here is the theme as written by Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain, Sip.
“The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey. From its humble beginning, to the “Dark Ages” of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald “Platinum Age” of the cocktail, master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available. But with all this focus on “craft” ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious. The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves. Some even go as far as to post “rules” that may alienate most potential imbibers. Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest. As such, this month’s MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft, will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less. There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves. So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin’!

My biweekly column on Serious Eats called Cocktail Overhaul goal is to take on dark age cocktails and re-imagine them. So for a change of pace I decided to go the ingredient route and dust off my old bottle of Midori to create a simple old fashioned.
Midorioldfashioned
Whats Old is New
2 oz Cognac VS
1/4 oz Midori
1tsp 2:1 Green Tea Simple Syrup
1 Dash of Aphrodite Bitters

Sweet Tea Sour

Sweet tea is a Southern institution. In the South it is more plentiful then water, however this was not always the case. In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s sweet tea was a luxury. Sweet tea was a way to demonstrate ones status and decadence. There were several reasons for this. During this time period, tea, ice, and sugar were expensive. Out of all these the biggest luxury item was ice which had to cut and shipped from frozen lakes often over great distances and then stored into the warm months.

The oldest known recipe for sweet ice tea was published in 1879 in a cookbook called the Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree. This original recipe bears a strong resemblance to the modern version including the long steeping time and massive amounts of sugar. The only glaring difference is the use of green tea. Prior to WWII green tea was plentiful in the US and most sweet tea during this time period was made from green tea. However because of WWII green tea was no longer imported from Japan and instead the US turned to India which was under British-control and produced black tea. After the War, America never looked back and now black tea, specifically Lipton is the hallmark of sweet tea.

While people from the North may balk at the sweetness of the tea it is a refreshing summertime staple. But sometimes you need a little extra kick in your tea. The following drink was created by Simon Gibson of the Brooklyn Star. I discovered this recipe in an article written on Complex.com

Sweet Tea Sour
2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz. sweet tea syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. egg white

Tea Syrup: Steep two large Lipton iced tea bags in three pints of boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove tea and add 1 quart of sugar while the water is still hot. Stir to dissolve and allow to cool.

Note:
For a Southern secret, try adding a touch of baking soda while the tea is boiling to help smooth some of the bitterness. The egg white adds a real nice texture to the drink. There is a a nice balance between the sweet and sour components but in homage to sweet tea on my second go round I dropped the lemon juice by a 1/4 to up the sweetness of the overall drink. I did not have have any Four Roses so I used Old Weller Antique.

Sweet Tea Sour

Interview With John Codd of 15 Romolo

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15 Romolo is a North Beach bar in San Francisco that has been open since 1998. They aim to provide great cocktails and delicious locally sourced food without the attitude. The Cocktail list is an ever rotating list of house … Continue reading

The Commodore Cocktail: A Pink Cocktail With Hidden Fangs

I discovered this recipe while skimming through the 75th Anniversary Edition of Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide. The recipe calls for 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, which I did not have on hand. The notes for the drink state that this particular bourbon has a higher than average content of rye. I decided to go with a rye whiskey (Redemption Rye), although Bulleit Bourbon would have been another excellent choice.

Commodore Cocktail
2 oz 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon Whiskey (Redemption Rye or Bulleit Bourbon)
.75 oz white crème de cacao
.5oz lemon juice
1 dash (tsp) of grenadine (hibiscus grenadine)
shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Some recipes call for equal parts of the first 3 ingredients and do not specify a high rye content bourbon. This will create an overall sweeter drink compared to the recipe I have listed. You should experiment to see which suits your palate best.

Notes:
While its pink color may lure you into thinking its a sweet drink with no bite, beware for the rye gives it its fangs. There is sweet chocolately goodness throughout the drink with the rye making its presence felt near the end.

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