A Manhattan/Melbourne Trip

Hi there. It's been a long time and lot has happened since the last post on this blog, namely a very extended trip to Melbourne (I'm still there.... I mean here). But while Through the Liquor Glass may seem all but dead, there's still a bit of life there. And what better way to re-engage, than with a spin on a very classic cocktail.

That classic is the Manhattan. For this iteration, the base of the recipe is intact - rye, Italian vermouth and bitters. Then it's been mashed with an Old Fashioned - a little sugar and citrus (zest in this case). Then it's been separated in to two parts - chilled spirits and a dehydrated tablet of sugar, bitters and zest.

The idea is to reconstruct the components in order to make the drink an interactive experience. As the makers, we simply chill (and slightly dilute) the vermouth and whiskey and then the imbiber adds the tablet of sugar and stirs until they have their right level of sweetness. Fun, no?

Manhattan Trip

2 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz sweet Italian vermouth
1 bitter sugar tablet

Stir the rye and vermouth on ice. Strain into a small picardie-esque style glass. Add a demitasse spoon and sugar tablet. Stir and sip.

To make the tablets:

Use about one cup of sugar, 1-2 tablespoons of water, and several vigorous shakes of Angostura bitters. Stir to combine. What you're looking for is the consistency and color of light pink sand. Once you have this, add the zest of 2-3 limes and stir again. Then put into silicone candy molds (you could also flatten the "sand" between two layers of parchment and then cut out small rounds, being careful not to crack the cut-outs) and dehydrate over night (an oven on the lowest setting would also work) until the water has dissipated. From the above picture you can see that once the water's gone, they're pretty stable.

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Short and Sweet and Vegetal

It's been a very long time since my last post and I feel bad about it. Time flies, but there's more to it than that. I've had a bit of an existential crisis, lengthened by procrastination. While I've filled my time working and drinking undocumented cocktails, I've also been thinking about cocktail culture in general. Right now, every bar has a cocktail menu. Every bartender is crafting their own recipes and many making in-house bitters and infusions. And while I've stewed over my cocktails, I've been wondering if this blog contributes more to the noise or does it add to the conversation.

This blog is dedicated to the home cocktail-makers. The people who like to sit at the bar and watch the bartender make their drink. The crafters who like to try new things and aren't afraid of a little math. We like fresh ingredients, and maybe to do things that are too labor intensive, messy or perishable for bar menus.

And when we feel up to it, we pull out the juicer, see what it's the fridge and make a cocktail.

Innocent Smith
2 oz North Shore Aquavit*
2 oz celery juice**
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup

Combine all in a shaker with ice. Shake and stain into a coupe (or jar, as the case may be).

*Aquavit (or akvavit) is not dissimilar to gin in that it is a neutral base spirit distilled with botanicals. While gin has the distinctive juniper berry, aquavit's main flavor component is caraway. North Shore Aquavit, local to Chicago(!), is barrel-aged, giving it a darker color, with extremely pleasant herbal flavors - easy to drink on it's on.
**The best way to juice celery, and only way I've tried, is with a juicer. Juice a few stalks and use it right away, as it darkens and separates faster than most juiced vegetables and fruits I've seen.


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Greenbar Distillery

This week I attended the International Wine, Spirits, and Beer portion of the Chicago-based National Restaurant Show. Now, conventions can be a cheesy thing, but there are always a few diamond in the rough brands to make the experience worthwhile. Spirit-makers that come from far away or have small marketing budgets, can get in front of the right people.

While I enjoyed the Korean and Bulgarian wines, Greenbar Distillery from Los Angeles, was the standout. You may not be familiar with their spirits, but the Bar Keep line of bitters, you've probably seen. Not only does the distillery have a focus on sustainability, but they source local and keep it organic.

I particularly enjoyed the tequila-based cocktail they served  at the show - made with their Grand Poppy Organic Aperitive (the poppy being the state flower of California), agave, and lemon. The Grand Poppy is sweet without being cloying, and the flower's bitter notes harmonizes extremely well with the added citrus.

If you can find it, I urge you to try it. Unfortunately, it's not currently available in Chicago (unless you have a wholesale account with Tenzing).

Below is some of their promo materials and here is what I believe to be the cocktail recipe:

The Grand Poppy Margarita
1 3/4 oz Iza Tequila
1 oz Grand Poppy Aperitive
1/2 oz lemon
1/4 oz Agave (if you sub simple syrup, use 1/2 oz)

Shake and strain up or into a salt-rimmed, ice-filled rocks glass.

On a side note: as we head to margarita season, experiment with the standard recipe by subbing out all or some of the Cointreau for sweet liqueurs like St. Germain, Maraschino, Chartreuse or Clement Shrubb. Also  considering adding a little rose or orange water and fresh herbs like rosemary and cilantro.

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An event to get you in the mood

"Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions."

Joins us this Saturday, February 2 from 11-7PM at Eskell, 1509 N. Milwaukee for a Valentine's party. They'll be food (überlegit) and drinks and a great selection of jewelry (with custom engraving!) and ladies wear.

We just got back from California and drank a lot of interesting cocktail there - lots of ideas for new drinks. My dear friend Boris in San Fran has been working with roasted white chocolate and I'm going to try to weave that into a drink for Saturday. Come by to see if I've got it working! Otherwise, we'll have something spicy, red and tingly.

Above is my little Carmel, CA/Rumours/Vday collage. The theme for the party is... Fleetwood Mac. Yes.

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