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Weekend Cocktail Blogging

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First, Happy New Year and all that. Wishing everyone a very successful, non-sober 2010.

The last day of fairly  longish (and very relaxing) holiday weekend, along with the balmy, mid-70s and sunny weather we are experiencing here, calls for some refreshing outdoor drink.

So I cooked up this variation of the ultimate outdoor drink,  the Mojito, with basil leaves in place of mint (try this with other drinks such as Juleps that call for mint as well, IMO basil has a nicer aroma), plus adding a bit of the Brazilian rum, Cachaca, and some orange liqueur to the mix.

Can’t come up with any interesting names right now, but how ’bout the ‘Finest City Mid-winter Sling‘ ?

Here’s the recipe:

1.5 part White Rum

1.5 part Cachaca

0.5 part Cointreau/Triple Sec

Dash of Blue Curacao

3-4 large basil leaves

Juice of half a lime

1-2 tsp sugar (demerara sugar is preferred, but I used Stevia)

Sparkling water/Soda (optional)

To enjoy:

Step 1: Add the lime juice, sugar and basil leaves into a shaker; using a long bar spoon, mix the sugar and lime juice while smashing the basil leaves (do this gently without bruising the leaves). Add the rum, cachaca and Triple Sec  with some ice, shake and pour into a tall Collins glass. Add the dash of Blue Curacao. Top up with soda or sparkling water if you want (I didn’t have either, so I used some tonic water, wasn’t too bad). Serve with a straw.

Step 2: Find a nice, sunny patio – preferably one with a hammock – and an engrossing book. Lie on the hammock, take a sip for every page read. When finished with the drink, go to Step 1. Repeat till the sun gets close to the horizon, making it bloody cold all of sudden.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Food, Fun, Martinis, Personal

FCB: Gourmet 50’s Cocktails – Frangipani

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Not sure if it is related to their upcoming demise, but Gourmet magazine online is doing a feature where they publish their 20 favorite cocktails of each decade, starting from the ’40s. They are upto the 90s now.

Simply gazing at the wonderful photos are probably worth the time by itself, but it is wonderful stuff for any cocktail connoisseur and additionally, a good lesson for aspiring mixologists.

Being Gourmet magazine, they also obviously get their preparations right:  Martini is  to be stirred (not shaken), the vermouth is ‘to taste’ (and they stress this fact) with nary a mention of vodka. We can but only appreciate.

All the other cocktails similarly exude class and style  – no tropical forests hanging out of brightly colored, over-sweetened drinks calling for 10 different liquors!

So suitably inspired, I have got it into my head now, of trying out all the cocktail recipes posted on the site and then blogging about it!. Of course, given my record in such matters, ‘all’ might be rather stretching it. But this is alcohol we are talking about – so I will give it a fair go.

I wanted to start with a drink I’ve never had before and settled upon this rum-based recipe from the 50s: Frangipani. A combination of being intrigued by the name and the fact that it used gold rum, which I have rarely tried before, and Maraschino liqueur, which I wanted to try out for a while, made me go this one.

Image from Gourment

Image from Gourment

I had this theory that there might be some sort of  Sanskrit roots to the word Frangipani (pani = water and all that), but as far as I can find out, Frangipani refers to a tropical flower (and a few other stuff). How that relates to the cocktail, I have no idea and the web is sparse on details.  The only other mention of it as a cocktail has a very different recipe. As Gourmet put it, the drink  is a variation of the Hemmingway daiquiri:

A cynical cocktailian might look at this as a dumbed-down Hemingway Daiquiri (or Papa Doble, as it’s sometimes called), but substituting more grapefruit juice for the lime and the sugar actually results in a very different drink. Look for Luxardo’s maraschino liqueur.

This is how I made it, based off the Gourment recipe :

  • 1 part Golden Rum (I used the Dominican brand Ron Matusalem)
  • 1 part Pineapple Juice
  • 3 dashes Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo, as suggested in the recipe, I was lucky enough to find it at BevMo)

Give it a few nice hard shakes jig in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass.  The toughest part of making this drink was getting the Maraschino Liqueur right: three dashes mean dashes – pour a bit too much and the drink is overwhelmed by the honey-almond taste of the liqueur.

In terms of taste, it is indeed a very different drink from the Hemmingway Daiquiri – and much sweeter as expected with the pineapple juice. I also  thought that the juice and the Maraschino liqueur hid the taste of the rum (but then perhaps I need to get myself a better quality or a  more aged rum).  Overall, even though I don’t like my alcohol too sweet,  I can picture myself drinking this while relaxing outdoors on a weekend afternoon. The drink could be a a nice after-dinner cleanser as well.

As such, I also made my own version of the drink by increasing the portion of run to 1.5 parts and then adding a dash of lime juice (in the form of clarified Key lime) to have a bit of balance.

Not looking as tempting as the image from the magazine; Photography skills still need work :Pp

Not looking quite as tempting as the image from the magazine; Photography skills still needs work 🙂

Not a bad start really. Cheers.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

FCB: Givin’ Martini a Bad Name…

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A sincere request to lovers of alcohol everywhere…to stop appending the name ‘Martini’ at the end of any random fruity, colorful liquor concoction.

Even otherwise erudite bloggers are at it, tweeting about something called Mango Martini ! As far as I can see, it is just a variation of the SATC-popularized cocktail Cosmopolitan, with mango juice replacing the cranberry. Nothing against anyone liking it (although, personally I think it is a bit of  a waste of Triple-sec trying to pair its sweet-orange taste to the mango juice, the latter is just awesome on its own). But a ‘martini’, it ain’t, so someone should at least come up with an alternative name.

Nitin also RTs someone suggesting another abomination, The Espresso Martini, as a drink that ‘rejuvinates…like nothing else’.   The drink is  pretty much a shot of espresso added to a slight variation of the  White Russian theme, so yeah – stop calling it a martini !!!   As for the drink itself, I guess to each his own – but mixing coffee and alcohol is usually not my cup of tea (I do, however, on occasion don’t mind a well made Irish Coffee); you are sitting on the precipice of starting to drink the nightclub-sustaining Vodka/Redbull mixes. Besides, why add coffee when the recipe already calls for substantial coffee liqueur  (1.5 parts Kahlua) ? I’d rather go with a simple Black/White Russian. Finally, coffee flavor-based cocktails are supposed to be desert drinks, so not sure of the rejuvenating aspect either. I would suggest going for a Mint Julep, Caipirinha, or a Collins if you are going for ‘refreshing’, and pretty much a shot of any strong liquor – perhaps a bourbon/whiskey – if rejuvenation of the soul is required.

(Semi-regular posting of cocktail recipes for FCB will happen sometime in the future – or not. Life is logistically pretty messy now, and it is much easier here  in the US to step out on a Friday evening and enjoy cheap but well-made cocktails! And in  great company 🙂 )

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

September 4, 2009 at 9:06 am

Friday Cocktail Blogging: The Manhattan

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I blogged about the Manhattan before, but lately I have developed a renewed affection for this drink.  (Also, in that earlier blog, the drink was more of an after-thought – wanted to expand on it a bit).

This renewal of affection came about  possibly during the trip to Boston earlier this year, when fellow connoisseur BH led me to this wonderful watering-hole in a Cambridge alleyway. Over the stretch of a Friday evening, the extremely sympathetic barman treated us [1] to an array of Manhattan variations, the names of which I fail to recollect, but various other New York city subdivisions were involved.The variations mostly involved using different kinds of whiskey, bitters and vermouth (well duh!).

The other reason is the discovery of Gentleman Jack, a double charcoal filtered, extremely mellow Tennesee whiskey that seems ideally suited for this drink .

Note that the kind of Manhattan you prefer, like Martinis, is a personal choice: the type of whiskey, on the rocks or straight up, dry or sweet and cherry or not. etc are some of the options one is faced with.  Couple of ground rules though. First, the obvious – never use expensive whiskey like single barrel bournbons, or single malt scotch. Second,  even if you partake a cherry – don’t add the syrup – the drink will be too sweet. For the rest, go by your own taste.

The Manhattan hasn’t yet replaced the dry Martini as the pre-dinner drink of choice, but it is running close. This is the way I prefer it now, especially on summer evening after work:

  • 2 parts Gentleman Jack
  • 1/2 part Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 part Lillet
  • Dash of Blood Orange Bitters (or Angostura)

Shake in a cocktail mixer with lots of ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Optional cherry garnishing (best way to do this: add the cherry – sans the syrup – to the bottom of the glass and pour the drink over it).

As you can see, I prefer straight up. Unlike the Martini, where on the rocks is a definite no, a Manhattan is okay over ice. However, I recommend that you use ice a bit more fine than usual for this.

Cheers.

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[1]: No, we paid for the drink, but the barman possessed that ideal quality so severely lacking in many of the profession: anticipating our next drink -both in terms of when we needed one next, and what we would enjoy. In a Friday-evening crowd, that is a fine

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 14, 2009 at 7:25 pm

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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…actually no, it isn’t (but I do love the Alvin and the Chipmunks version of the song).

Warm (~30Celcius) weather and long summer days does not put one into the same type of holiday mood as does a good covering of white fluffy snow on the ground. Add to that a curious lack of carols and songs on the radio, malls and cafeteria here in Oz. Not even much of Christmas-like decorations in our neighborhood. So all in all, not the usual x-mas mood I have been used for the eight odd years in the US.

But hey, if it something the Aussies do well – it is taking holidays, partying, and fun-stuff like drinking.

Speaking of drinking, Christmas in summer  means that the usual egg-nog (with a good amount of brandy) is not such a good option. Hence , to enjoy the holidays, I made up this sweeter derivative of the classic Mint Julep:

A Festive Julep

A Festive Julep

A Festive Julep

Muddle 1-2 teaspoon of sugar with 5-6 mints leaves and a dash of water. Add crushed ice (it is important to add crushed ice to this drink instead of cubes) and pour 2 oz (60ml)  Kentucky Bourbon (or Jack Daniels) and 2oz  (60ml) Southern Comfort mix lightly and top off with sparkling water. Finally, drop in a maraschino cherry (add a bit of the syrup too if you want it even sweeter).

Traditionally a drink associated with southern USA, especially the Kentucky Derby, this is quite a refreshing  cocktail.  Santa would appreciate at the end of the gift runs !

Merry Christmas, happy holidays etc !

Me, I am off to Melbourne tomorrow (sadly not in attendance at the MCG for Boxing Day though), with a drive along the Great Ocean Road, and checking out the vineyards of the Barossa and McLaran Vales in store.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 24, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Australia, Food, Martinis, Travel

Khoya Khoya Chand

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Kyun ………….Khoye Khoye Chand Ki Firak Mein Talash Mein Udas Hai Dil

Kyun………..Anpne Aap Se Khafa Khafa, Zara Zara Sa Naraaz Hai Dil

(full lyrics)

….asks the Man [1] in a moment of nirvanic clarity that (to my drunken mind) could possibly be achievable only under the influence of (1) one dry sapphire martini, stirred not shaken with olives (pitted please – thank you), (2) several glasses of the finest New Zealand Pinot and Barossa Shiraz-Viognier and finally (3) couple of Oban 14-years old (the only one made available by Diageo), diluted not with ice, but only a few drops of water (all of course, paid out of someone else’s pocket). Or any combination thereof.

But who knows…..Swanand Kirkire probably did not need all that as an inspiration. And…… lyrics such as these……..touch the heart, even without the lubricating effect of alcohol ?

But this post is not about alcoholic debauchery (no matter how tempting that sounds); it is about the soundtrack for the film, Khoya Khoya Chand.

Yes I know, for those of you who are into these things, the music is about an year old. Even the film has been released, done and dusted.

But, but……Good music, like Good Wine and Scotch, finds me a bit aged (the music, wine and scotch, not me), and certainly fruitful in its enjoyment.

Shantanu Moitra recreates the lilting music of the 50/60s in the soundtrack for Khoya Khoya Chand…. – a soundtrack that will draw inevitable comparisons to his period pieces in Parineeta ; the latter perhaps comes off slightly better, but only marginally so.

Don’t expect a full-fledged review, but In Brief:

Yeh Nigahen‘ is an ‘inspired’, but well done reworking of ‘Jingle Bell Rocks‘, ‘Khusboo Saa‘ is a jazzy throwback to the seductive blurriness in-between the vamp and heroine essayed by Tanuja in ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ (Jewel Thief), ‘Chale Aayo Sainya‘ is an enjoyable thumri sung with confidence by Shreya Ghosal, and for some reason, it is the title song ‘Khoya Khoya Chand‘ (discussed above) – best enjoyed if you imagine the singer lovelorn and lost in unrequited love, and under the influence of a few pegs – that I have (possibly unreasonably) taken to heart.

The highlights however are the two slow numbers: Sonu Nigam’s ‘Oh re Paakhi‘  wrenches the soft heart, but it is Shreya Ghosal and Pranav Biswas’ rendition of ‘Sakhi Priya‘ – a song about love and longing – that really the captures the imagination and causes you to succumb to the entire soundtrack.

Sakhi Piya Jo Mein Na Dekhun
Tu Kaise Kate Aandheri Ratiyan-

Simple lyrics, yet so touchingly composed and essayed.

Follow the last link to enjoy.

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[1] Not me right now, but what male hasn’t faced such soulful listlessness, in general ?

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

May 15, 2008 at 11:49 am

Of British Culinary History….

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…and whether it is an oxymoron. The incomparable Mr Pai, takes time off from heady matters of the Indian state and global politics to comment:

 In recorded history (Jaffrey, S. Tandoori Nights. BBC) Britain’s culinary tradition goes way back to circa 1960 CE, with the South Asian conquest. But archaeological studies and radio-carbon dating suggest that Britain had some from of a cuisine even before that, mainly involving roasted root vegetables (eg potato) and meat (eg beef). Anthropological studies, mainly from the spread of people from the British Isles to Australia suggest that deep fried pieces of fish and oblong pieces of potato might have been invented in Britain. There is some confusion though—perhaps another older European conspiracy—because the deep fried pieces of potato are called “French” fries in North America.

But British culinary tradition also involves liquid foods. Here the British influence is more discernable. Ancient British mystics invented nutritious drinks that included malt, hops and barley as ingredients, and involved an elaborate process of brewing. Other British mystics invented a more nutritious brew involving molasses, wheat, oak barrels and distillation. Scholars speculate that India’s national drink, Scotch Whiskey, actually originated in Britain. They point to circumstantial evidence—a particular musical instrument on the label of a famous brand—that suggests British origins. But other scholars reject the British Invasion theory by pointing to the turban, beard, colour of skin and other adornments on the same label and argue that the drink is purely Indian. Similarly, they argue Beer was introduced to Britain by Dr Mallya during the second wave of the South Asian Conquest of Britain (circa 1998 CE).

In conclusion, we can safely say that Britain’s culinary tradition is rich, long and has had a wider influence than is generally acknowledged.  (link to the original post)

And I always thought French Fries originated in Belgium.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Food, Fun