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Archive for the ‘simple syrup’ Category

tarragone_p2Chartreuse is an enchanting liqueur if there ever was one. As we covered in this week’s Dig, the Chartreuse we drink today is based on a recipe for an “Elixir of Long Life” that was handed down to the Order of Carthusian monks in the 17th century. Reputed since their founding in 1084 as the Catholic Church’s strictest order, the monks “dedicate themselves entirely to the service of God and to spiritual life, in permanent silence.” Sales of chartreuse liqueur, which is most commonly found in green (its original form) and yellow, support the contemplative order.

Though the Carthusian monks were handed the manuscript for the “Elixir of Long Life” in 1605, it took over a century for them to decode it into something drinkable, the Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse which was first distilled in 1737. 130 different botanicals and plant extracts are used as ingredients, and the drink takes is signature color from the chlorophyll therein.frenchmusthavechartreuse-9-1-19041 The original stuff was a 71% alcohol, 147 proof, but recognizing the popularity of chartreuse as more than just a medicine, the monks created a more palatable 55% alcohol, 110 proof version which is what we know and love as green chartreuse today. In 1838 the Carthusians introduced the even milder, sweeter yellow chartreuse, which weighs in at 40% alcohol, 80 proof. A kinder, gentler version of the stuff and where you might want to start if you’re new to drinking/mixing with it. White chartreuse was also produced once upon a time (1860-1900), as was a special V.E.P. in the (1960s.)

The complexity of the recipe is part of what has kept it secret for centuries. When the Carthusians were expelled from the France (along with members of all other religious orders) the recipe was nearly lost. According to the lore, the monk entrusted with the original manuscript was arrested and jailed during this time. He managed to smuggle it out of prison to another Carthusian who was also on the lam, but the recipient could make no sense of the recipe. Befuddled by the complicated instructions and believing the Chartreuse Order shuttered forever, he sold the manuscript to a Grenoblois pharmacist named Monsieur Liotard, who also didn’t “get it”. 120291702He was unable to do anything with the recipe, and his heirs returned it to the Carthusian monks after his death in 1816.
Similarly, the French government was unable reproduce the stuff after they “nationalized” the chartreuse distillery in 1903 causing the monks to flee to Tarragona, Spain. The government’s, Chartreuse-branded product failed in the marketplace within a decade (see right.)

Who wouldn’t want to sip on a liqueur that’s…

1. Made by an order of contemplative monks in the French Alps?
2. Based on an ancient recipe for an Elixir of Long Life?
3. Such a highly guarded secret that only two monks are entrusted with the recipe, and never known to any one person at a time?
4. Made from 130 different herbs and botanicals, secretly processed and mixed?
5. Has its own color scheme named after it?
6. So deliciously complex that its behavior in cocktails can be a total surprise?

Mix up any one of these and you’ll know what we mean:

GYPSY
Adapted by Contessa from a recipe she originally sampled at Bourbon & Branch
2 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz lime
3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz St-Germain
Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

CLOISTER
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz Yellow chartreuse
.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
.25 oz lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup
Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cin-cin!

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by Pink Lady

While putting together this week’s Weekly Dig column on syrups I became intrigued about the origins of grenadine. This delicious pomegranate syrup is a key ingredient in both my namesake cocktail AND my favorite kiddie cocktail (the Shirley Temple). But when, exactly, did this delicious syrup become a fashionable mixer?

While writing about the Daisy in Imbibe, David Wondrich refers to the cocktail circa the 1870s as “something of a dude’s drink, a little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine.” Maybe it started then-ish?

Who knows. The I could find little data on who innovated the use of grenadine in cocktails, but a few of the following, totally unrelated facts popped up repeatedly as I searched:

  • There is a chain of Islands located in the Caribbean that share the same name as the delicious syrup. Nary a pomegranate grows on these islands, though. Nor to they grow on the adjacent island of Grenada.
  • The French word for pomegranate? La grenade. The Spanish word? La Granada. There is some speculation that these islands got their name from early settlers who thought the island’s shape resembled that of the fruit. I mean, maybe that happened…
  • There is an odd/fascinating legal situation a-brew wherein Grenada and/or the Grenadine islands are looking to claim rights to the name of the ruby red syrup, thus profiting from the sales of Grenadine with a capital “G”. Read more about it here.

Irrelevant facts aside, some more recipes for the stuff can be found at the end of this post.

I also learned that “Simple Syrup” is pretty much anything but, thanks to an illuminating article chemist-turned-mixologist Darcy O’Neil contributed to the first edition of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail.

The task at hand will always involve dissolving sugar in water, of course. But the method by which you do so — over heat, or hot process, vs. cold process — will have a dramatic effect on the flavor & consistency of your syrup. Heated syrup will be thinner, due to a higher presence of fructose, whereas syrup dissolved at room temperature will be nice and thick, and 100% sucrose. Rather than butchering Mr. O’Neil’s eloquent explanation, I suggest you purchase a copy of the book and check out his excellent blog. In the interim, here are simple syrup recipes for you to play around with.

As with all things cocktail, make a few batches, try ‘em in a few cocktails, and use whichever suits you best.

Simple Syrup:

A cold-process shakey-shakey method from King Cocktail, Dale Degroff
from the Craft of the Cocktail

Fill a cork bottle halfway with superfine sugar, the other half with water. Shake vigorously until most of the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. It will remain cloudy for 5 minutes; after it clears, shake again briefly and it is ready to use. Stored in the refrigerator between uses, Simple Syrup will last for several weeks.

Darcy O’Neil’s Simple Syrup
from Mixologist: the Journal of the American Cocktail

Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 2 cups water, 1/4- cup corn syrup, 1000 ML bottle (with milliliters marks on the side)

Add 2 – cups of water to a pan and bring it to a simmer, 122 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or ’til it’s just slightly too hot to put your finger in for more than a few seconds. Add 2 cups of table sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup and leave on heat for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, stir until all is dissolved. Let solution cool then add to a bottle. Fill the bottle up to 1000 ML and shake.

NOTE: To try this recipe cold process, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a 1000 ML bottle and shake ’til all is dissolved. Top off with water.

Grenadine:

A cold process shakey-shakey method from David Wondrich’s Killer Cocktails
borrowed from Paul Clarke’s Cocktail Chronicles

Take one cup of pomegranate juice, and place it in a jar with one cup of granulated sugar. Seal tightly and shake like hell until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add another ounce or two of sugar and repeat.

Clarke suggests: Adding an ounce of high-proof vodka or grain alcohol as a preservative, and storing in a plastic container in the freezer: “the high volume of sugar keeps it from freezing, and you can just tip out a little frigid syrup each time you need it.” Thanks, Paul!

Cin-cin!

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