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Posts Tagged ‘angostura bitters’

*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

It’s easy to walk into a bar and order a call brand of gin with your martini or tonic, but how familiar are you with the gins you order and why you like them? If you’ve only ever tried the brand your dad liked, LUPEC implores you to branch out this summer.

There is art to all distillation, but when it comes to gin in particular, everything about the flavor of the end product depends on the distiller’s choice of botanicals and how they’re infused. In a sense, gin is the original flavored vodka. All gin begins as neutral spirit (typically distilled from cereal grains) which most producers purchase (though it’s usually distilled to their specifications and desired standards). The gin is then flavored by the master distiller using whatever botanicals his heart desires along with gin’s signature flavor, juniper berries.

To ensure that their product stands out in the marketplace, distillers go to great lengths to develop botanical blends that make their gins different from the rest. Common botanicals include all manner of citrus peels, coriander seed, Angelica root, cardamom, licorice, orris root powder, bitter almonds and much, much more. Once the list is finalized, the distiller must develop the gin recipe by testing it in many small batches until the perfect balance is achieved.

Another factor that directly impacts flavor is how the distiller gets those botanical essences into his high-proof neutral spirit. In one method, the botanical blend steeps with the spirit for a length of time before water’s added and the spirit is redistilled. Other distillers toss the botanical mixture into the still with the spirit and begin redistilling immediately. They may also opt to impart flavor by hanging the botanicals in a wire basket through which the spirit passes during the distillation process, picking up their essence.

With all of this in mind, we suggest you revisit your favorite gin brands and taste them side by side. There’s much more to these brands than just packaging, and we think you’ll be fascinated by the difference a brand makes. After you’ve tasted them on their own, try them in cocktails—a martini, a Pink Gin or a Pegu Club, perhaps—to see which gin is best for which occasion.

PEGU CLUB

1.75 oz gin

0.75 oz orange curaçao

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

dash angostura bitters

dash orange bitters

Shake in iced cocktail shaker; strain into a vintage cocktail glass.

CIN-CIN!

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

Women’s History Month is upon us! As much as the ladies of LUPEC love our cocktails, we also love our history. We spend a great deal of time on the finer points of cocktail history in this here column, and for the month of March, we’ll also be celebrating the great and often unsung forebroads who paved the way for us. We hope you’ll join us in raising a glass with a hearty “cin-cin!”

Monday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a holiday we first learned about from an ex-pat friend living in Italy. We don’t really celebrate it here in the US, but Women’s Day has been observed in countries around the globe for nearly a century. In Italy, men give women yellow mimosas (not bad, right?) and girlfriends gather for women-only dinners and parties (anyone who’s seen an episode of Sex and the City probably finds this commonplace, but in Italy, our friend reports, it’s kind of a big deal). In some countries, like Poland, Women’s Day is similar to America’s greeting card-infested Mother’s Day; in others, such as Pakistan, it’s a day to commemorate the struggle for women’s rights.

Women’s Day was created during the rapid industrialization of the early 20th century, which caused the rise of the labor movement. On March 8th, 1908, 15,000 women protested in New York, marching for voting rights, shorter hours and better pay. The Socialist Party of America declared February 28th the following year National Women’s Day.

In 1910, Women’s Day went global. The delegates to the second annual International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen unanimously approved an International Women’s Day, an occasion to lobby worldwide for women’s rights. The following year, on March 19th, more than a million people attended rallies around the globe, campaigning for women’s rights to vote, work and hold public office. The holiday was moved back to March 8th two years later, in 1913, and has been celebrated then ever since.

International Women’s Day has been reinvented many times since its inception. On the eve of the Great War, it was a day for peace rallies. In the 1960s, second-wave feminists revived it. In 1975, the holiday received official sanction from the UN and has been an officially sponsored holiday ever since.

LUPEC suggests celebrating your favorite ladies this Monday with—what else?—a Ladies cocktail.

Ladies’ Cocktail
Adapted from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock

1.75 oz bourbon
0.25 oz anisette
0.5 oz pastis
2 dashes angostura bitters
1 pineapple spear

Stir in a mixing glass with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail shaker.

CIN-CIN!

FOR MORE GREAT COCKTAILS AND WOMEN’S HISTORY, VISIT LUPECBOSTON.COM.

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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Our big fall fundraiser, the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash, is just a few weeks away, and LUPEC’s thinking Tiki! Last week we discussed the Mai Tai, that simple and delicious blend of dark rum, orgeat, lime, and curacao that was a cornerstone of the Tiki craze. Did Donn Beach invent this drink, or Trader Vic? Who knows. This week, we turn our attention to a considerably more complex concoction, the Zombie. We’re certain Donn Beach invented this one – and took the original recipe with him to the grave.

As the story goes, Donn Beach (née Ernest Beaumont-Gantt) invented the Zombie in the 1930s for an aviophobic friend taking a tipple at Don the Beachcomber’s before a flight to San Francisco…or was it a friend trying to overcome a hangover before an important business meeting? In any case, the guest had three of these high-test concoctions before (presumably) stumbling off for his flight/meeting/what have you. He returned a few days later to report: the drinks made him feel like the living dead for days thereafter. And the Zombie was born.

The Zombie became a signature cocktail at the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City and enjoyed great popularity there. The drink went on to become a staple of Tiki joints that sprang up across the US, such as Trader Vic’s and, of course, Don the Beachcomber’s, where a 2-drink maximum policy was instituted.

Donn Beach was notoriously secretive about his cocktail recipes, creating special mixes for his bartenders that boasted numbers rather than names, keeping even the staff in the dark about his signature drinks. Imitations emerged in other Tiki joints, and Donn himself very likely noodled with the original recipe over time to accommodate new products or lack of available ingredients in certain markets. Countless recipes now exist, making it virtually impossible to pin down an original with which to craft a true artifact version for home consumption.

Tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry appears to have come the closest in excavating an original recipe through interviews with former staff from Don the Beachcomber’s. Poring over personal notes kept by these waiters and bartenders from their days behind the stick, several are published in his book, Sippin’ Safari. A variation via Dale DeGroff is below.

THE ZOMBIE
Adapted from The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

1.5 oz medium-bodied Jamaican rum
.5 oz 151-proof Demerara rum
.25 oz Velvet Falernum
.5 oz Donn’s Mix #1
1.5 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
.75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6 drops Absinthe
Mint sprigs for garnish

Combine with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a chimney glass, topping with crushed ice to fill the glass. Garnish with mint.

DONN’S MIX #1

2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

1 part Cinnamon Syrup (below)

Combine the grapefruit juice with syrup and shake well. Use immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

CINNAMON SYRUP

5 cinnamon sticks, each about 2 inches long

20 oz. bottled or filtered water

1 quart sugar

Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces to create more surface area. Put the cinnamon, water, and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, and then reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then bottle; keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 2 cups.

Cin-cin!


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