Tag Archives: cocktails

Metro Demonstration Course: Introduction to Classic Cocktails

The ingredients and equipment needed to make an interesting twist on the classic Blood and Sand cocktail.On Wednesday, July 18, 2017 I will be teaching a class for Metro Continuing Education called Introduction to Classic Cocktails.  Here’s the corny course description we wrote for the Metro catalogue:

The classic cocktail revival is in full swing in Edmonton. Catch the trend and learn about the history and ingredients of classic cocktails, as well as techniques for mixing like a pro. Develop an appreciation for what goes into a well-crafted libation, master old standbys like the sidecar and Manhattan and build a foundation for developing your own recipes and signature drinks. Demonstration course.

The plan is to spend roughly the first hour discussing the most important ingredients in classics cocktails, from the noble liquors like rye and cognac, to liqueurs and vermouth, to bitters, egg whites, and citrus.  Then we’ll delve into equipment and techniques.  Shaking or stirring a drink with ice seems ridiculously simple, but the nuances here are what really set professionally-made cocktails apart from their homemade counterparts.  Finally I want to talk about the powerful, simple ratios at the core of some of the most famous cocktails, and how you can use these ratios to develop your own unique repertoire.

So excited for this class!   You can register here!

Kona Breeze Cocktail

I could hear it coming, rustling softly through the coffee trees, stirring the monkeypods, and sighing through the sugar cane.

 

A Kona Breeze cocktail, with Koloa dark rum and Trader Vic's macadamia nut liqueur.For no reason besides my own creative enjoyment I am developing a set of Hawaiian-themed cocktails.

From the start I knew that one of my Hawaiian cocktails was going feature coffee, and it didn’t take long to settle on the other components, all classic Hawaiian flavours that pair well with java: dark rum, macadamia nut, and orange.

Kona is a city and region on the western, leeward side of the big island.  For many it has the perfect weather: warm days, cool nights, infrequent rains, and a nearly constant, gentle breeze.  There is a lengthy description of Kona’s balmy weather at the beginning of one of Jack London’s short stories, The Sheriff of Kona.  The characters talk specifically about that breeze: ‘”You see, the land radiates its heat quicker than the sea, and so, at night, the land breathes over the sea.  In the day the land becomes warmer than the sea, and the sea breathes over the land… Listen!  Here comes the land breath now, the mountain wind.'”

Kona is the oldest and largest coffee region of Hawaii, and the first place that macadamia nuts and Valencia oranges were planted on the archipelago, so Kona Breeze seemed like a natural name for this drink.

 

Kona Breeze

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Koloa Kauai dark rum (or other high quality dark rum)
  • 1 oz very strong coffee (recipe below)
  • 1/2 oz Trader Vic’s macadamia nut liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • orange blossom water (or substitute orange peel)

Procedure

  1. Dry build, adding rum, coffee, macadamia nut liqueur, and Cointreau to mixing glass.  Fill glass half full of ice.  Stir rapidly until drink is very cold, roughly 30 seconds.
  2. Fill double old-fashioned drinking glass with ice.  Pour chilled drink over top, straining through a julep strainer.
  3. Swab a very very small amount, roughly one drop, of orange blossom water around the rim of the glass.  Orange blossom water is very potent, and too much will easily overpower the aromas of the rum, coffee, and nut liqueur.  If you don’t have orange blossom water you could twist some orange peel over the drink.  This is agreeable, though nothing like the aroma of orange blossom.

 

Very Strong Coffee for Kona Breeze

My first instinct was to make this drink with Kona coffee, but for this drink I prefer “third wave” light roasts that are fruity and juicy, like those made by Stumptown, Bows and Arrows, and Timbertrain.  I have not encountered a roaster that does this type of treatment to a Kona-grown coffee.

Ingredients

  • 500 mL cold water
  • 45 g ground coffee

Procedure

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Weigh out coffee into a French press.
  3. Pour boiling water over coffee such that all the grounds are hydrated.
  4. After about 15 seconds all the grounds will have risen to the top to form a kind of raft.  Use a spoon to stir this raft back into the water.
  5. Put the lid on the French press and depress the plunge so that is it just, just below the liquid level.  Set a timer for 4 minutes.
  6. After 4 minutes, fully depress the plunger and pour off the coffee into a glass jar.  Leave uncovered in the fridge until chilled.  Close tightly with lid.

 

Then it came, the first feel of the mountain wind, faintly balmy, fragrant and spicy, and cool, deliciously cool, a silken coolness, a wine-like coolness – cool as only the mountain wind of Kona can be cool.

-from The Sheriff of Kona by Jack London

Swinging from a mango tree in Captain Cook,, Hawaii

Ouzo

Me drinking a glass of ouzo with water in Parikia.

Me drinking ouzo with water, and being a douche-bag.

Ouzo is a strong, clear, anise-flavoured spirit made in Greece.  The taste may remind you of liquorice candy, or other anise spirits like sambuca, pastis, and Pernod.  The term is a protected regional designation within the EU, meaning that if it’s not made in Greece, it can’t be called ouzo.  It is usually about 40% ABV.

Ouzo is made by infusing a relatively neutral spirit with anise and other botanicals.  The neutral spirit is a grape pommace distillate, just like Italian grappa or French marc.  In most of Greece this grape pommace distillate is called tsipouro, though the Turkish word raki is also common, especially on the islands of Crete and Cyprus.  Tsipouro has been made for centuries, and over time many distillers, notably monks, started flavouring tsipouro with herbs and spices.  Ouzo is simply an anise-flavoured tsipouro.  Unflavoured tsipouro and raki are still very common in Greece.  In fact most meals that I ate on Crete ended with a complimentary glass of raki.  There is at least one brand of tsipouro available here in Alberta: Avaton, made by the Greek winery and distillery Tsantali.

I think of ouzo the same way I think about gin: a neutral spirit infused with botanicals.  For gin the featured botanical is juniper, but there are usually several other ingredients, maybe lemon peel or grains of paradise or seaberry.  In ouzo the featured botanical is anise, but there are often other ingredients like coriander or cardamom.  For both spirits it is the unique blend of botanicals that sets the different brands apart.

Unlike gin, ouzo has not gone through a renaissance at the hands of small craft distillers around the world.  While the shelves of boutique liquor stores abound with the likes of Aviator, The Botanist, and Monkey 47, there are not many ouzo options for us here in Alberta.  I think the reasons are pretty obvious.  The extremely strong anise flavour is quite polarizing to North Americans, and very much an acquired taste.  Plus ouzo is not used in classic cocktails.  Plus you can’t call it ouzo unless it’s made in Greece.

The only three brands of ouzo currently available in Alberta: Ouzo 12, Cambias, and Olympic Ouzo by Tsantali.Anyways, according to Liquor Connect, there are in fact only three brands of ouzo currently available in Alberta: Ouzo 12, Cambas, and Olympic Ouzo by Tsantali.

The most common brand here as in the rest of the world is Ouzo 12, which was first developed in the 1880s and has been owned by the Campari Group since 1999.[1]  It has a strong and pure anise flavour.  Cambas is a great counterpoint to Ouzo 12, showing how different houses flavour their spirits.  While still smelling and tasting of anise, Cambas has a very distinctive toasted coriander aroma. I find the Tsantali Olympic to be the most neutral and least interesting of the group.  I also find the Greek column packaging super tacky, but that’s par for the course in Greek exports.

How to Serve.  The most traditional way to drink ouzo is mixed with water and served on ice.  You will notice that the liquid changes from clear to milky and opaque.  This is because the main flavour compound in anise is readily soluble in alcohol, but not in water.  When you add water these compounds start to come out of solution and diffract light, making the drink cloudy.

Ouzo with water (<<ouzo me nero>>) is a common aperitif in Greece.  It can be found at a taverna, or an ouzo bar called an ouzeria.  Both of these establishments usually offer small plates of mezethes, Greek appetizers.

Ouzo Cocktails.  Ouzo is emphatically not a part of the classic cocktail bar, but if you appreciate the fresh taste of anise, it can make some brilliant mixed drinks.  I’ve developed two of which I am quite fond.

 

An icy-cold Dryos sour.Dryos Sour
A while ago I wrote a short post about a perfect moment I had drinking ouzo and water in a lime orchard in a town called Dryos.  Much later I decided to make a simple sour combining the flavours of ouzo and lime.  I love the icy white colour of this drink.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Ouzo 12
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime
  • 1/2 large egg white

Procedure

  1. Dry build: Combine the ouzo, syrup, lime, and egg white in the glass of a Boston shaker.  Secure the tin and shake a few times to start the egg white emulsion.
  2. Open up the shaker and fill 3/4 full with ice.  Secure the tin and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a chilled glass.

 

A Greek variation on the classic Sidecar cocktail.Greek Sidecar
This is basically a classic Sidecar, only using Greek brandy, and substituting a small part of the brandy with ouzo.  So where the Dryos Sour smacks you in the mouth with anise, the Greek Sidecar merely suggests it.  Metaxa brandy is sweetened with a small amount of muscat wine after distillation and aging.  For this reason I have dialed back the Grand Marnier from the classic 1 oz.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Metaxa ‘7 Star’ Brandy
  • 0.5 oz Cambas Ouzo
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Grand Marnier

Procedure

  1. Combine all ingredients in the glass of a Boston shaker.
  2. Fill the glass 3/4 full of ice.  Secure the tin and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a chilled glass.

 

Sources

1. All these facts – most popular brand worldwide, developed in 1880s, and bought by Campari in 1999 – are from this page on the Campari website.