Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
As if moved to do so by some subliminal suggestion from within my subconscious (perhaps the hedonistic, expensively-robed bastard with a cigarette holder who lives, repressed, in the decadent backdrop of my psyche), I was unable to counter the urge to stock up on some cool, late-summer spirits today; particularly of the foreign variety. Campari Italian liqueur sat almost glistening on the shelf, thanks to the recessed lighting of the liquor store (its luminescent quality was made stranger by the hail pounding the street outside, piling mounds of ice that fell so quickly they gave the impression of a strange, late summer snow). I knew I’d found my concoction.
In addition to its unique flavor served by itself (though the stinging bitterness of the herbs used in its creation tend to warrant ice, orange, or even soda water), Campari is a unique aperitif that doubles as (you might have guessed) a bitter for a variety of fine Italian cocktails. One such favorite is the Venetian Spritz.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Ahh, what better way to enjoy the summer than with a fizzy and fruity beverage? The Mimosa has its beginnings in the early 1920′s in either England or France, depending on who you listen to. In 1921, the Buck’s Fizz was invented in an English club by the same name, while in 1925, the Mimosa was invented in a Paris hotel. The drinks are nearly identical, but occasionally call for different measures and the inclusion of grenadine on the part of the Buck’s Fizz. Regardless, the Fizzy Mimosa (as it shall now be known in this article) has been a staple of hot weather and weddings ever since. Indeed, the first time that I tried one, I was on the sun deck of a cruise ship off the coast of Belize, about to get in a morning game of ping pong with one of my mates. I had only recently become a fan of Champagne, after largely ignoring it in favor of stiffer spirits, and I was eager to try out this beverage (it was on special during this hour. $3 per glass!). Lo’ and behold, I loved it, and have partaken in it many times since.
Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Although it is the most popular distilled spirit in Brazil, the majority of people here in the states know little about the strong South American beverage called Cachaça. In its native land, close to four million gallons of the stuff are consumed annually, with a minuscule one percent of its product shipped elsewhere in the world (mainly to Germany, of all places). Caipirinha, the most popular beverage containing Cachaça, also happens to be Brazil’s national cocktail, although Cachaça can be included in a variety of other excellent tropical cocktails. Therefore, as we ride out on the coattails of summer, I thought Culture of Spirits readers may enjoy learning about the most popular beverage that can be made using this most unique rum-like (and very potent) spirit.
Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Recently I was treated to a viewing of the new film Beer Ya’ll by Curt and Will Arledge. The film’s motto is “Beer. Rock & Roll. North Carolina” (trust me, this describes it very effectively) and details the July 2008 trip seven friends made across North Carolina to tour 27 microbreweries and brewpubs, ranging from the mountains to the coast in a seat-less cargo van. “Beer Y’all follows their nine days of hanging out with brewers, partying at rock shows, and drinking many, many beers as they celebrate friendship, music, and a Southern microbrewing explosion,” their website states. But fortunately for those interested in craft-brewing, there is quite a bit more “meat on the bone” with regard to the way this film portrays the cultural aspects of the fine art of brewing beer, and in addition to learning a lot, those who view this film stand to gain a bit of worldly perspective that has been growing in the mountains and foothills of NC for the last few decades.
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
The Richmond Cocktail; old ingredients with a new name, in honor of a historic landmark.
A terrible fire erupted in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the early hours of March 19, with the blaze that ensued managing to consume a historic landmark, the Richmond Hill Inn, near Asheville. Area news source the Asheville Citizen Times reported that “The months leading up to a devastating fire today at the Richmond Hill Inn were fraught with conflict as current and former owners battled over a $6.8 million debt. The historic inn building and surrounding complex were set to be sold April 16 on the courthouse steps because of an unpaid mortgage.”
Area officials suspect arson as the cause of the fire that consumed the landmark, and speculation abounds as to who, how or why it may have occurred.
Weather in the mountains was particularly dreary today, with the first spring thunderstorm arriving only hours too late to aid in quenching the smoke that still pours off Richmond Hill outside of town. As I drove North toward the township of Woodfin today on business, I could still see firefighters perched above the ruins, working to insure that no embers continued to burn within (I understand that thirtteen different firefighting crews were needed to assist in extinguishing the fire at its worst). After such melancholy news, I retired early this evening to continue working on excessive records and reciepts for the ever-nearing tax deadlines next month, and by around 8 PM this evening it became evident that a cocktail was in order.
Monday, March 2nd, 2009
Australian news sources are reporting a perceived decline in alcohol purchases, with experts now urging politicians to support the Australian federal Government’s “Alcopops tax”. This tax, part of a strategy which adds a 70 percent tax hike on ready-to-drink products, was intended to curb binge-drinking by young drinkers.
Bacardi Breezers, Tropical Lime and Ruby Red Grapefruit flavors, are considered "Alcopops"
After being implemented, the tax does appear to have caused pre-mixed drink sales to fall as much as 26 percent; but could the information be skewed?
Alcopop refers to bottled mixed-drink malt or wine beverages, and is a general term which describes a variety of brands and beverages. However, the spirits industry does not condone the use of the term, fearing that obvious associations between “alcohol” and “(soda) pop” may bring negative press for being attractive to individuals below the legal drinking age.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Some of the finest mixed drinks you could think of off the top of your head include wines as an ingredient, like Martinis or Manhattan cocktails, which both use vermouth, an aperitif wine. But what would you think of a drink that called for champagne… mixed with beer! As strange as it may sound to American audiences, the practice of mixing beer and ale with things like wine, champagne, brandy, and other spirits is not only a tradition; it is quite commonplace.
First up on our list of English beer cocktails is the Black Velvet, a hefty combination of champagne and stout (usually Guiness). I remember first stumbling across this beverage when it was ordered by James Bond at lunch during one of the early chapters of Diamonds Are Forever. According to English tradition, the stout is supposed to represent the lowly “common man”, whereas the champagne is indicative of “nobility”. Celebrated homebrewer Marty Nachel calls this comparison “a tired old stereotype” in his Beer For Dummies, but whatever the case may be, the legend persists. Along these same lines, a Brown Velvet is stout mixed with port wine (probably not as exciting as the crisp-carbonated Black Velvet, honestly). In Germany the recipe differs in that the beer used is schwarzbier, a dark lager, and an alternative name is used for the drink itself: “The Bismarck,” named after 19th century Minister-President of Prussia Otto von Bismarck.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Yesterday the New York Times featured a recipe for a cleverly-named cocktail, which they call “The Market Crash”. As much as alcohol and its particular relation to the present economic situation the world-over is discussed on this Web site, I felt that this one must be added to the cavalcade of crash-cocktails we’ll no doubt continue to enjoy for the next several months (at least). That being said, do you have a recession-themed beverage that you would like to recommend to Culture of Spirits? If so, email it to us by clicking here.
And now, on to that recipe…
Sunday, February 1st, 2009
When asked to give the best example of a great American mixed-drink, no doubt many a spirit-purist would cite the Old Fashioned as the definitive classic cocktail. According to frontier legend, the first use of the name “Old Fashioned” was with a kind of Bourbon whiskey cocktail served at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky, back in the 1880s. The recipe, supposedly invented by a bartender at the Pendennis, was also popularized by Colonel James E. Pepper, a regular there at the club who is later was said to have brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City. On the other hand, historians would argue that the term “Old Fashioned” was already in use around the same time Pendennis Club was established (Editor’s Note: Indeed it was, and according to mixologist Robert Hess, the beverage is actually a traditional “Whiskey Cocktail, served old fashioned” and was likely stated as such, hence the origin of its popular name today. This title dates back to at least a year prior to the opening of the Pendennis). But all theories regarding its origin put aside, the heart of the debate that rages over the Old Fashioned today has the most to do with what goes in the damned thing.
The basic ingredients in the recipe appear to have been immortalized in print three-quarters of a century earlier than beverages were served at the Pendennis, in response to a letter asking to define the word “cocktail” in the May 6, 1806 issue of the New York Balance and Columbia Repository. The May 13 issue that would follow featured a note from the editor, who described it as a potent concoction of “spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.”
With all due respect to the years lapsing between, at this point we’ll fast forward to 1948, and the release of David A. Embury’s seminal testament on the art of crafting classy mixed beverages The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. The reason for this was perhaps best summed up in the author’s views regarding the creation of any good cocktail beverage, which stated that the ideal mixed drink “should be made from good-quality, high-proof liquors”, and “should whet rather than dull the appetite. Thus, it should never be sweet or syrupy, or contain too much fruit juice, egg or cream.” Following Embury’s guidelines goes directly against practices maintained during the prohibition period, which involved heavy use of sugars, syrups, and fruits to hide the flavor of poor-quality liquors. This being said, we’ll skip straight to Embury’s notion that the over-use of sugar or fruity elements (both of which are called for in most Old Fashioned recipes) will need to be something to avoid when mixing this concoction correctly.
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
It’s that time again… we’re less than four days away from Super Bowl 2009. For most people, this date marks the annual gathering of sports enthusiasts for the biggest sporting event celebrated all year long, although some folks would admit to only going to Super Bowl parties for the snacks, if not solely for the alcohol served!
Among the kinds of snacks likely to garnish dens and living rooms across the country, one can expect to find an endless number of dips, ranging from cheese-based to chunky fruit-filled delights like the Latin American traditional favorite, avacado-based guacamole.
Each year, an estimated 25,000 tons of avacados are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday in guacamole dip. However, this year you can really impress your friends with your creative use of the world’s most protein-packed green fruit, by simply leaving them in the blender just a bit longer! In her book The Flavours of Vietnam, chef Meera Freeman shares that “One of the most intriguing things for anyone observing Vietnamese restaurant patrons is the consumption of mysterious colored drinks, many of which include a vibrant green layer…these drinks are known as chè in Vietnamese (Sinh To Bo here in the states), and are a cross between a drink and a dessert.” According to Freeman, a chè shake can be made by mixing coconut milk, sugar syrup , crushed ice and avacado in a blender (with a bit of chocolate syrup to-taste). The thick, creamy result was recently described by The Chicago Tribune as “sweet, rich, (and) satisfying… instant comfort food once you overcome the initial oddity.”
Of course, Culture of Spirits readers with adventurous appetites might consider making this specialized beverage a little more interesting with the inclusion of a bit of lite rum. Below you will find our official Superbowl 2009 “Jacked Up Sinh To Bo” recipe, sure to startle, amaze, and sicken your friends on the day of this year’s “Big Game”: