Archive for 2012

Join us for New Year's Eve

Joins us for a Roaring 20's themed soiree. Through the Liquor Glass will be tending bar on New Year's Eve at the Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, in Chicago's Wicker Park.

We've created two custom cocktails in the style of Pre-Prohibition, so it's more than worth the $50 ticket price - plus it goes to a great cause - supporting the local Wicker Park art scene.

Come toast the new year with us! But, if you can't make it, have a lovely and safe night.


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Hot Buttered Rum and Oatmeal

Here's a lovely cocktail to bring home for the holidays and something just for you the next morning.

Hot Apple Buttered Rum
4 parts hot water
1 part apple butter syrup*
1 part dark or spiced rum

*Make the syrup: Slice and core two or three apples. Add them to a pot with one cup water and one cup sugar. Add a cinnamon stick or two, a few cloves, star anise or any other baking spices you choose (sliced ginger, nutmeg, etc., just nothing that's hard to pick out after strained). Simmer on medium low for 15-20 minutes or when the apples start to get soft and translucent. Strain, reserve solids for the next morning. Add 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the still hot syrup.

Don't forget to double or triple the recipe depending on how many people you'll serving. Makes about 8-12 servings.

An afternoon of drinks with friends and family: put a kettle of water on low. Add the syrup (you should have about a cup) to an equal amount of rum. Fill a small mug with half the syrup/rum mixture and half hot water.

You can keep the kettle on throughout the day as people come and go, refilling with water as necessary. You can also free yourself up to enjoy the day, jut setting out the mugs and telling people  to serve themselves half and half mixture.

The next morning: cook some regular or steel cut oats on the stove with water, milk and a dash of salt. Add some of the reserved apples, removing the spices, at the end of cooking. Enjoy the morning.

Through the Liquor Glass wishes you a festive holiday season. Peace.

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Up for Bid

Up for bid at local Chicago auction house, Wright, is a vast collection of vintage and pristine cocktail shakers. As part of the bi-Annual Modern Design sale, they're easily overlooked - nestled in with the likes of Prouvé, Eames, Knoll and Wegner.  I've never seen anything like them - both cheeky and highbrow. I urge you to click through and take a look at the lot, or better yet see them in person (1440 W. Hubbard) at the preview from October 11-17. The auction is October 18 and estimates start at $1500 per shaker - making them a bit too valuable to use, and relegating these cocktail tools to art, not craft.

 Thanks to Franny for the tip!

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Lasts Gasps of Summer: Patio Drinking

Patio season doesn't officially end until November, but as the last full weekend of Summer approaches, we encourage you spend at least a few hours sipping cocktails outside. The forecast should be great, so forget all the things you are supposed to do. Grab some friends and go.

We always love Big Star (see above) in Wicker Park, but there's a lot of other great patios. 

To name a few with great cocktails: 
Matchbox, Aviary or Maude's Liquor Bar in River West/Fulton Market
the Whistler and Owen and Engine in Logan Square
Fountainhead in Lincoln Square
Rootstock in Humboldt Park
Terzo Piano in the Loop

We hope that helps. Let us know if we overlooked any good ones!

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Adiós Verano: The Veracruz

Goodbye summer. It was fun and hot and over too quickly. Thanks. Ok it's not really over, but soon!

For this cocktail we did something a little different and used the juicer to get the savory and sweet juice from the red bell pepper. We also threw in a couple of serrano peppers for heat.

1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Mezcal
1 oz Red Pepper Juice*
1/3 oz Lime Juice
1/3 oz Simple Syrup

Shake all ingredients on ice. Stain into rocks or coupe glass. Garnish with basil sprig.

*Remove the white and seeds of the red bell pepper and extract juice with a juicer. You should get 2-3 ounces per pepper.

Notes: Are you tired of us using the vodka/mezcal combo? We can't stop - it's cheaper and you get a more subtle smokiness than using all mezcal. But if you like the smoke and roll in dough, by all means up the mezcal and nix the vodka.

P.S. it's perfectly acceptable not to fill a glass all the way up. In fact, it's classy and should denote the special-ness of the drink.

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Let Me Take You Down

First rule of Sazerac-making is you don't f*ck with the Sazerac. It's one of the storied cocktails of New Orleans. For those who respect the sanctity of the Sazerac, here's what you do: put a sugar cube in a rocks glass. Add a quarter teaspoon of water. Muddle, then add a little ice, two ounces of rye, two dashes of Peychaud's (or a little more) and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass that's been rinsed with a little absinthe and enjoy.

For those who can break once or twice from the Church of New Orleans, here's a variation.

The Straw that Broke the Sazerac
2 oz Rye (like Bulleit)
1 Macerated Strawberry*
1/3 oz Macerated Strawberry-Absinthe Liquid
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Add all ingredients to a rocks glass. Add a large ice chunk/cube and stir for 15-30 seconds.

*Macerated Strawberries: Half four strawberries in a bowl. Add two teaspoons of sugar and 1/3 oz Absinthe (Pernod or Herbsaint will also work). Cover and let sit for at least an hour.
Strawberries become electric when macerated in Absinthe.

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Lichtenstein Fever

For the last couple of month, The Art Institute of Chicago has really pushed the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit. I was slow to see the show because, while I like comic books, I didn't feel there was much more to his work than that. I was very pleasantly surprised to be wrong. The comic book panel with thought bubble is only a part of this work. More than that, he is a master of form and composition. His subjects are witty without being corny and his design sense stands the test of time. Also, he too champions the humble lemon.

Do yourself a favor if you're in Chicago and see the show before is closes on September 3rd.

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Mango Chelada

Here's a refreshing twist on the Michelada/Chelada beer cocktail. As you may know, the Chelada is a popular drink in Mexico, consisting of lime, salt and beer. The Michelada, even more popular, adds in tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, Maggi*, Soy... sometimes clam juice or oranges. Every region in Mexico has its own version. When we traveled to Playa del Carmen last year, the Michelada there had only lime, salt and "pepper sauce".

Here's one variation using mango that adds a little sweetness and nutrition.

Mango Chelada
1-3 oz of Mango puree (strained)
1 oz lime juice (juice of one full lime)
12 oz Mexican light beer
2-3 dashes salsa picante (Mexican hot sauce)
2-3 dashes soy sauce
2-3 dashes Worcestershire

Build the chelada as you would a bloody mary - add the mango, lime, sauces, ice, beer and then stir or roll into a salt-rimmed pint or pilsner glass.

*Maggi, popular in Europe and Mexico is a sauce made from concentrated vegetables. It's in the bouillon family and can be subbed for soy sauce.

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Watermelon White Pepper Campari

We'll cut right to the chase for this post because we've got three refreshing drinks to share. The combo of watermelon, white pepper and Campari is the brain child of our friend Erik, so we got together to see what cocktails we could make. It turns out that you can use a plethora of spirits - rum, tequila, gin, vodka - with watermelon and pepper and you'll get something tasty. Just pay attention to the sweetness of the melon.

Erik froze some watermelon squares for our drinks - a nice touch that keeps your drink cold without diluting. It does thaw pretty quick though.

We pureed the melon (seeds and all) then strained out the pulp. If you don't have a juicer, this is a great alternative.

We tried two different methods for incorporating the the white pepper. Here we made a simple syrup by using 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup sugar (we use turbinado, hence the dark color of the syrup), and 1-2 tablespoons of crushed white peppercorns. Then we simmered the syrup until about a 1/2 cup of water dissolved. Finally we let it cool and strained out the pepper.

The second method was cubing the watermelon, peppering the cubes and then letting them sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. With a little torn basil and feta, this also makes a wonderful salad.

Watermelon Smash
1 oz Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz White Pepper Simple Syrup
1/4 quarter lime cut into two pieces
4 1-inch cubes of watermelon
2-3 torn basil leaves

In a pint glass muddle the simple syrup with the watermelon, lime and basil leaves. Fill glass with ice, add gin and Campari and roll (pour back and forth) into a collins glass. Top with soda or mineral water and garnish with a small basil leaf.

Campari and Soda with a twist
1 oz Campari
1/2 White Pepper Simple Syrup
1/2 Lime Juice

Add ingredients to an ice-filled collins glass. Top with 4 oz soda water and stir.

Melon Margarita
1 1/2 of Tequila (use blanco for more pepper flavor)
2 oz Watermelon Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz White Pepper Simple Syrup

Shake all on ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with salt and lime.

Notes: all of the above drinks are great for day drinking for their relatively low alcohol content. The maragarita, for instance subs watermelon juice for cointreau and soda water is used for the Campari and Soda and the Smash.

Let us know if you try the cocktails.

P.S.  The simple syrup turnout out delicious... not too spicy, just some nice heat on the finish. Try it in lemonade - you will not be disappointed.

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Happy 4th: Stay Cool!

Bruce and John Mellencamp want to wish you a great and safe 4th of July! Gifs courtesy of VH1.

Here's a refreshing, day drinking cocktail for this scorching Independence Day. It's also a nice use of your good vermouth - which only lasts 2-3weeks in the refrigerator after opening (it's just like wine in that way except it lasts a little longer because it's fortified).

Mother of Pearl (I've been listening to Roxy Music)
2-3oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
4-8oz Mineral or Soda Water

Add both to an ice-filled glass. Garnish with mint and frozen grapes (I used the sweet Muscat grape).

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Drinking in Philly

Philadelphia is hot in the Summer. Hotter than Chicago. Too hot to be productive. Better to wile the time away with a cocktail. Below are a few places we visited on a recent trip.

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. in Rittenhouse Square: in the basement of an office building. Cozy but with enough booze, tinctures, bitters and syrups to make anything. We were a little bummed that cocktails are $12-15 a piece when they're more like $9-12 in Chicago, but liquor in general is more expensive in Philly.

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in Old City: a curio shop with an herbal liqueur line. I really enjoy the ethos - they seem to limit what they offer only based on what they like - cocktails, clothing, art, books... They also had a wall dedicated to the history of Philadelphia and William Penn (Philly's Daniel Burnham - ok, Penn was wayyy earlier).

The Farmer's Cabinet in Washington Square West: an extensive cocktail menu broken down by drink style. Most are complicated and fruit/fresh herb centric. It reminds me of our style of cocktail making - a little too complicated and rough with raw ingredients - no surprise that the cocktail maven is a lady. We're thinkers.

We enjoyed the From the Garden/Herb/Basil cocktail: Lemongrass Infused Pisco Torontel, Fernet Branca, Chamomile Simple Syrup, Basil, Thyme, Lemon, Egg White, Basil Leaf Garnish. P.S. It's a relief to me that there's a story behind the bar's name that also explains the complexity of ingredients.

In honor of Fishtown (where we stayed*), the scorching heat, and simplicity, we give you the classic Philly Fish House Punch.

Fish House Punch by David Wondrich**

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 quarts water 
1 quart  lemon juice
2 quarts dark rum
1 quart cognac
4 ounces peach brandy

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and only enough water to dissolve. Then incorporate the lemon juice. Next, add the spirits and the rest of the water -- or as much as you wish to contribute (less in summer, to allow for meltage). Slip in as large a block of ice as you can procure. (Use your imagination -- if worse comes to worst, a mixing bowl full of water that's been frozen overnight will do the trick; run a little hot water on the outside of the bowl to unmold.) Let stand in a cool place for an hour or so before serving. Do not garnish with fruit, herb, vegetable, or paper umbrella.

For individual portions:
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 ounces spring water 1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
1 ounce cognac
1/8 ounce peach brandy

*Thanks to Franny and Willie!

**Sometimes we feel like a mere conduit for David Wondrich's recipes and espouses on cocktails, but we can't help ourselves - he's so dammed good at what he does.

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Fit for a Room: Take 4

Fourth post in the series where we take a room and then we pair a drink with the room. Why? Because it's a fun exercise. Because we like interiors and art and culture and this gives us the opportunity to see how cocktail culture fits in.

Often people ask us to explain our blog. First and foremost it's a cocktail blog, but it's also a culture blog, a learning blog, an exploring blog. We try to be well-rounded people. We want to mix in lively libations with interesting people, and the ideas and notions that make life exciting.

Above and below is the work of Gregory Crewdson who produces beautiful, lonesome and mystical photos of suburban life. For the kitchen/garden photo above, we're pairing the classic Rusty Nail cocktail. Can you see the husband standing there, just out of the frame, watching his expressionless wife, drink in hand? Is he contemplating how well the earthiness of the scotch and the honey and botanicals of the Drambuie mirror his wife's state of being? Probably not.

Rusty Nail
3 parts Scotch
1 part Drambuie

Build in an ice-filled rocks glass and stir.

Notes: David Wondrich says it best on his Esquire write-up of the Rusty Nail: " Once the Rusty Nail found its identity, it found its home. With its combo of swank ingredients (Drambuie ain't cheap), homey comfort (the liqueur and ice blunt any edge the liquor might have), and foolproof construction (there's really no way to fuck this one up -- if it's too sweet, just add more Scotch), the Rusty Nail is to the classic suburban rec room as coffee is to the church basement."

I found a noteworthy recipe for making Drambuie on shaving forum?!? Badger and Blade:

1 bottle Blended Scotch
Peel of 1/2 a lemon
Peel of 1/2 an orange
1 cinnamon stick
10 cloves
A good bit of Angostura
5oz honey

Let it sit for a week or two, shake until it's all dissolved and strain.

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Glossary: Lemon

While doing the post on surrealist Eden Las Pozas, I had a thought, and then a vision, and then a turn with Photoshop. Here's the full story...

Not long ago, we attended a Captain Morgan Spiced Black event (a pretty palatable new dark rum). Taking us through the cocktails was mixologist Toby Maloney, of Violet Hour fame. He had some nice asides as he was mixing each drink, but the one that struck us the most was on lemon juice. Before he added the juice to what I recall was a rum sidecar, he held up a lemon and pronounced "this is a lemon." Ha ha we said. But the valid point was that you must start with a whole lemon, chop it and then press out the juice - anything else is not lemon juice.

Many craft bartenders take the fresh adage one step further: if you're batching drinks or setting up drink service you need to squeeze the citrus within fours hours of service. There's not a lot of scientific evidence surrounding this rule, but with experienced bartenders it's a distinct matter of taste (and stated as matter of fact in the PDT Cocktail book).

To us, using fresh squeezed juice seemed like a no-brainer. The taste is clean, limes and lemons keep great in the refrigerator and if you go to the right places (like Mexican groceries) they're cheap.

So why doesn't everyone use fresh lemons, particularly all places that serve cocktails? Because it's a pain in the ass, time-consuming and seemingly more expensive. Well, that's fine, order a beer or Maker's with bitters and save the nice cocktails for craft places or for home.

So why is it really important? Because there's a delicate balance in a cocktail. Specifically, sugar should compliment the sour citrus. When the juice gets old it gets strong and pungent, and if taken from a bottle, chalky. Hence you'll need more sugar to even out the ratio (or cover up the taste). But you don't want to do this! It screws up the whole drink. By adding more sugar, you might get the drink to taste ok, but you'll mask the taste of the spirits and you'll sugar bomb your guests ensuring that they will stop after just one drink.

So take the time, put in the extra effort, be an artisan and make Lewis Black proud.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Artisanal Foods
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I found a fun little store in Silver Lake during my trip to sunny Los Angeles this past week.  A little boutique called Barkeeper selling all things related to the cocktail including vintage bar paraphernalia and craft spirits.  Now, if only they served drinks in the back...

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We're in the Jungle

I couldn't resist. We're not really in the jungle, but with the persistent rain we've had, it's an easy slip of the mind. Personally, I love the rain. For me it conjures mystery, romance and slowness... a feeling magnified in the jungle. The air is cool and humid. The light is diffused. Noises rustle leaves nearby. Rain hits the canopy while the trees protect the creatures below. Magic.

For this I am glad Las Posas exists. Edward James, an English Surrealist, commissioned the sprawling sculpture gardens in Xilitla, Mexico during the 1940's through to his death in 1982. What a strange and beautiful artistic haven.

A Surrealist performance on one of the Las Posas sculptures in the 1970's.

In sudo-inspiration of Las Posas (and because we like tequila) we give you two easy riffs on classic cocktails - one on the Tequila Sunrise and one the Margarita.

Empire of Light
1 3/4 oz Tequila
1/4 oz Maraschino
1/4 oz Campari
3 oz orange juice
1/3 oz lime juice

Shake all but the Campari on ice. Strain into an ice filled glass. Pour the Campari on top.

This is not a Margarita
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Maraschino
3/4 oz lime

Add to a shaker. Shake and strain and serve on ice with or without salt.

Notes: We used Reposoda tequila and/or mescal for both drinks. We often like to use part mescal and part tequila to get some smoky notes from the mescal and forego the exorbitant cost of using all mescal. Also, you'll notice that we used Maraschino in both drinks. Why you may ask? Because it amazingly delicious in a multitude of cocktails. Try it.

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