Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bourbon Squash | 44 down 231 to go

When you’re getting ready to go out for the evening – you know, showering, primping, preening, running an iron (or a few squirts of wrinkle releaser) over your clothes, getting dressed – it always helps to have a cocktail in hand as you do it.  And while it was not my intention to make these the “hull entries” of the blog, only a page away from the Appetizer was the Bourbon Squash.  Deliciousness in a pint glass.

To be sure, one of the qualities that makes this such an all-around experience is the fact that it engages all the senses, but especially that of hearing in an unusual way.  Like some of its cousins, such as the Mint Julep, Mojito, Old Fashioned, the Squash is made directly in the glass.  The familiar, wet shlaaka- shlaaka- shlaaka of the shaker maraca is replaced by the sound of the ice shaver.  But even better, after packing the ice in the glass over the juice, syrup and hulls, you pour the bourbon over the ice.  As the liquor seeps through, the ice melts and settles making a sound that might best be described as the cocktail version of Snap, Crackle & Pop.  Yet it’s a wholly different sound.  Between the scent of the wafting citrus oils, the vibrant visuals of a divided glass with orange & yellow hulls in the lower half and the icy gravel in the upper half, then this subtle and unexpected music, this cocktail is a synesthesiac sensation.

As much as I disdain straws, definitely use one here, at least to start.  The layering makes for two distinct taste sensations with the sweet acids below and the smoky smoothness above.   The straw lets you mix the bourbon slushy into the liquid below.  As the ice melts and the flavors blend, this is one of those cocktails that’s different with every sip. If only we had discovered this one in the summer.  To June 2012!

Bourbon Squash
2 ½ oz. bourbon
1 oz. orange juice
½ oz. lemon juice
1 t. simple syrup
Squeeze the juices into a pint glass, dropping the hulls in too.  Pack glass with shaved ice.  Pour bourbon over the ice and stir.  Serve with cocktail straw.

UPDATE: Hands down, this was the favorite sipper of the summer.  We've turned many a friend on to this simple-yet-dramatic cocktail.  If you have not tried it yet, hurry, hurry, hurry.  Looking at the ingredients it seems rather wintery with the citrus & bourbon.  But it is summer through and through -- light on the palate, different with every sip, and served in a pint glass.  If you make this for friends, make it a surprise.  Don't tell them what you're making them and ask them to trust you.  The Wow! factor when served intrigues even the non-bourbon drinker.  Several friends have said to me, "I don't like bourbon, but I really like this!"  Such was the case this Labor Day weekend when we spent all Monday in S. & D.'s pool tossing back these bad boys.  D. is now a bourbon least in it's Squash form!  

Appetizer | 43 down 232 to go

This week has been a lesson in delayed gratification.  I’ve been craving a good Old Fashioned for about a week now and was looking forward to one or two kicking off the weekend.   But last night I was forced to drive back from Springfield when my train was delayed 2 ½ hours.  I couldn’t take it, so rented a car and made it back to Chi well before the Lincoln 304 out of St. Louis.  Another job well-done, Amtrak!  But by the time I got home, having missed our late dinner reservations at Vincent, all I could handle was a hot shower, a bottle of wine, and some pizza – all of which The Partner had waiting for me.

I still want that Old Fashioned.  But since I missed posting last night, I needed to get this in before the OF.  I have to admit to being intrigued by the Appetizer.  Between the name and the ingredients, I was thinking of this cocktail like a pint of Guinness – a meal all on its own.
Never underestimate the power of citrus hulls to fruitify one’s cocktail without the acidic sting.   The Appetizer is a surprisingly smooth cocktail with a bright, round, fresh sweetness.  I was nervous with the Peychaud's bitters, ready for The Partner to curl his nose and wince with an “Eeew, licorice!”  But instead, I was rewarded with an “Oh, that’s nice, dear….  That’s nice!”

On to the Old Fashioned...finally!

2 oz. rye
3 dashes Cointreau
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 lemon hull
1 orange hull

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon twist.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vesper | 42 down 233 to go

Little did I realize when I purchased my first bottle of Lillet that this tipple would bring me back to a boyhood and indulgent adult pleasure:  James Bond.  As H & M lay out in their history, Ian Flemming describes the recipe for the Vesper in Casino Royale.  It is named for the character, Vesper Lynd, the double agent who also steals Bond’s heart.  It’s the Vesper that started the whole “shaken, not stirred” thing and was initially known as the Vesper martini.

The key to this is the Lillet, a delightful wine based aperitif with citrus & herbal fortifications that bring out a crisp, enjoyable orange flavor.  On a separate note, I’m looking forward to using this to in my own experimenting, particularly come the summer time. 

The proportions here, I will say, are not the best.  It starts very ginny and finishes like a mouthful of Bactine.  But with a few more drops of the lovely Lillet (and perhaps an ice cube for chill and light dilution), this is a wonderful cocktail.  And yes, even The Partner went back for seconds.

2 oz. gin
1 oz. vodka
½ oz. Lillet blonde

Stir ingredients with cracked ice and serve in chilled cocktail glass; garnish with orange wheel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bianco | 41 down 234 to go

It was official this week.  We're done with warm in the Windy City.  We needed the heat on two days this week.  No matter what I did today, I was just cold.  So when it came time to start thinking about happy hour, something brown just seemed warm and comforting.  Honestly, a noggy Milk Punch was really calling my name.  But we need to push forward rather than run repeats, so the Bianco it was.

We'll file this one under Manhattan lite.  It hit the basic flavor notes, but the first few sips had that same kind of light, hollow quality you get when drinking an artificially sweetened diet beverage.  It's not a terribly rich cocktail and lacks the full mouthfeel of its more citified cousin.  I suppose this could be something one could offer a sipping partner who is dieting or generally concerned about caloric intake and spin it as a "low-cal" option.  Ha!  Which of course, it's not.  But it sure feels and tastes like one.  Gotta love that dry vermouth!

2 oz. bourbon
1 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake with cracked ice and decant into a chilled cocktail glass, garnishing with a lemon twist.