Monday, March 31, 2014

3 Howls Gin


Live at the Meet Your Maker event
at the old Rainier Brewery
Of all the local gins - this is the most floral forward.
So for your herbal based drinks - and anything with a flower essence in it,
this should be your gin of choice.  (Think recipes from the Drunken Botanist )

The Navy Strength they were pouring packs the promised punch.
(Fun trivia: Navy Strength - 114 proof or 57% alcohol - means that it wouldn't get Gun Powder "wet" in a way that would keep it from firing.  And anyone who has read Master & Commander - or any of the other Patrick O'Brian novels knows that victory at sea relies as much on a fairly content crew as it does dry powder and plenty of shot.)

Would I drink this in a regular gin Martini?  Unlikely.  The particular botanical bitterness that comes with the florals is too much for me.  But as a pair with Elderflower Liqueur, or with a floral amoro (those complex Italian digestifs that have bubbled up to the surface of cocktail consciousness of late) this is a sure bet.

For a lovely floral cocktail - break out the St. Germain, a beautiful Limoncello (I'm currently smitten by Letterpress Distillery's version - the honey undertones match well with the gin's florals) and your shaker.

Pour over ice into your shaker:

2 oz 3 Howls Gin
1 oz Limoncello (Letterpress if you can get it.)
.5 oz St. Germain (or other Elderflower liqueur)

Give it a good shake - and pour into a martini glass
add the juice from 1/8 of a lemon
add a lemon twist if you are feeling fancy.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Bitter Lemon at Home

So how happy was I when I ran across Seattle's own Tonic syrup/concentrate - and it turned out to be startlingly good?

Not as happy as I was a few seconds later when I realized, at last, I had, in my hands the missing ingredient for Bitter Lemon.  Why yes, thank you Bradley's Kina Tonic.  This is for you.

Bitter Lemon is a soft drink/mixer mainly available in the UK, and other ex-Empire outposts.

This is the form I first encountered:
Wee little cans on the plane or in the
International Lounge at Heathrow

I was hooked.  I'll drink the stuff straight - and as a buddy to gin, Well!
It needs to be the right gin though.  It will help your run-of-the-mill gin turn decent, and can have fun playing with a citrus leaning gin, making something special.

But the only form of Bitter Lemon I've gotten my hands on in the states (well, in my state, WA, anyway) is the Fever Tree brand.  

Which is actually quite good.  And a bit pricey.  And more than a bit of a pain to get my hands on.  

The mission was to use my newly acquired spoils to create a bitter lemon I could make at home.  And not have to freshly grind and brew precious elixirs all the time to do it.  Might as well run out and get some Fever Tree in that case.
(There are some "house made bitter lemon" recipes out there, but they depend on the bitterness of the pith - which is altogether different than what Quinine brings.)

What to make at home:

Fortified Lemon Juice
Simple Syrup
(Recipes Below - and don't worry... they keep for quite a long while)

What to buy:
Tonic concentrate (Bradley's Kina Tonic - or your local)
Sparkling Water
Good Gin - go with a citrus forward one to play nicely with this.

(Sound Spirits' Ebb & Flo bright citrus forward gin is my hands down favorite for this application.
Wishkah River Bulfinch 83 Gin - with it's almost oily citrus presence would be a good bet too.)

I won't bore you with the details - but there was trial and error involved.  
Let's just say - I have a large number of plastic tablespoons to play with.
This is handy since 1 Tbs = 0.5 oz

Fortified Lemon Juice
4 Lemons
Vegetable Peeler or a small Sharp Knife

Citrus Juicer/Reamer
Storage Container (tight sealing)

Carefully peel the yellow (zest) part of the peel from 2 of the lemons.  Place this in your container.
Juice the 4 lemons and add this to your peel.

Store until needed.

Simple Syrup
1C Sugar
1C Water
(actually just 1:1 sugar/water is what you need.  1C is a handy amount, some for now, some for later.  But you can make any amount you want to.)

Measuring cup
Sauce pan
Storage Container (tight sealing)

Heat the measured sugar and water until it dissolves and then boils for 2 minutes.  (Sanitizing measure - for storage.)

Combine these to make Lemon Syrup in a 2:1 ratio
2 parts Fortified Lemon Juice : 1 part Simple Syrup
This also keeps in the fridge a nice long time!

The Bitter Lemon - 1 serving

1 oz Lemon Syrup (2Tbs)
.5 oz Tonic Syrup  (1Tbs)
2.5 - 3 oz soda water (to taste)

While Gin & Bitter Lemon is a nice alternative/friend to Gin & Tonic, this takes things a step further.
Some kids who don't like super sweet stuff will enjoy this a s a special treat.  (e.g. my son)

Oranges & Lemons

1 serving The Bitter Lemon
1.5 oz Gin (citrus-y is best!)
0.5 oz Cointreau

Pour over ice - no garnish needed.  A lemon twist if you must.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Egg Epiphany - 11 Yr. Old Style

I present... the egg:
Yes this is a ridiculous close-up and self consciously
But I have a point...
Those dark spots at the top, and overall moon-like scape - not a healthy egg.

I live in a generally ecumenical household on the egg front.

When I had high school kids living behind me raising chickens and selling eggs - I was 1st in line (well maybe in the 1st 2 or 3), but it was Great!  The only down side, my then pre-school son had a hard time getting the dang things open.

And then they grew up and left for college.


Then a friend of mine got some chicks off Craig's List.  Less regular, but still - wow.  One of those egg whites made an embarrassment of bubbles.

And in between the "good" eggs we'd ping-pong back and forth between Organic and Cage Free.

Right now, it is the bitter end of Winter - the most fragile front of Spring, and around here, the backyard chickens are NOT laying.  Much.

So it has been store bought eggs time.

And then this happened - Pi Day (March 14th to the rest of us... and people get all gooey over 1:59 on March 14, because 3.14159....)

My son hates does not care for fruit pies (texture thing).  But he LOVES sour.
"How about a Lime Meringue Pie?"
"Sure!  What's that?"

Yes, he loves sour so much he'll jump at the word lime, and ask questions later.

Well, one must separate eggs for a Meringue Pie (Lemon or Lime; between the starch custard filling - egg yolks & the meringue - egg whites, there is no escaping the egg separation.)

Now - there was no reason to worry about this.  The boy had been well schooled in egg separation.  He LOVES crème brulée (texture thing - used to hate it, now loves it, I don't get it).

And for that he bravely ventured in to the cold, wet, gooey world of egg separation.  (I believe the word "snot" was used more than once.)

The point is - sure there were a few casualties, to be scrambled eggs/omelets the next day, but it was doable - 3 eggs were always done in 5, often 4, sometimes 3.
The 3 Bowl Method

Break into 1.  Pour the white in the "white bowl"
dump the yolk in the "yolk bowl"
Mistakes stay in the "breaking bowl"

So when we pulled the "Cage Free" eggs out of the fridge.  There were 7.

First he noticed how rough the shells were.
Backyard eggs are the smoothest.  They may have an odd nob, but they are very smooth, thick shelled and hard to break.
Organic eggs are still pretty smooth, and have pretty tough shells.  You still need to strike with purpose.
These cage free eggs - well even my tentative egg cracker was holding back.

And, "What are those dark spots on the egg Mom?"  Oh. Oooo. Um.  Yeah-mmm these are pretty thin eggs.

The 3 bowl method turned into the 5 and 6 bowl method.

"Why do the shells keep crumbling?"
"How are these yolks popping so easy [sic]?"
"Do we have another egg?"

And thus I was scolded.  "Only organic eggs mom.  But I like the backyard chicken eggs better."

I've found egg religion.

Thanks kiddo.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tonic & Gin & Cassis

When you make Gin & Tonic, even if you add that something else - it seems to still need lime.

I'm having fun with the new flavors - thought breaking out the lovely tart Cassis liqueur from Sidetrack Distillery might create something nice.

It did.  Just a straight forward G&T with a splash of Cassis.  As a fan of bitter - I loved the way the tannins in the liqueur bounced off the toasty bitterness of my Kina Tonic.  And then the sour of the lime and the black currant, well, it was worth savoring.

The only off note - it wasn't quite the right gin.  I think one with a little more citrus Punch! is called for here.  I'm suspecting Sound Spirits Ebb & Flow may be the ticket, but Spy Hop's Navy Strength might do it too.

Shall have to find out... eventually.

Oh - and if all you have is Your gin, Regular tonic & a lime, still try adding the splash of Cassis.  On a chilly but clear early spring evening, you'll feel like summer can't be that far away.

I was having fun - frozen blackberries
as some of the ice cubes
And the Cassis layered prettily -
before I stirred it all up!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Messing with Tradition - French 75's

An excellent drink - the French 75.

And with the handed down champagne coupe glasses - it is one classy cocktail.  
(Yes, I need to class up the photography here).
Highlighted for Valentine's Day on the Tom Douglas Co. blog, it was a truly lovely drink.  Gin & Champagne!  Seriously few things could be finer in my cocktail world.

But after my visit to Meet Your Maker here in Seattle on March 3, I made some new friends!

First - 3 Howls Gin.  An incredibly floral local gin.  Juniper takes a backseat to the flowery nose and lemony flavor at the center.  This is begging to be mixed with other floral and tart fruity liqueurs.  These are distillers having fun with the range of gin flavors and finding the place they want to be.

Second - Letterpress Distilliling's Limoncello.  Honestly like no other Limoncello I've tasted (I'm not claiming to have tasted them all, but...) A distinct lemon flavor rounded and smoothed - with a delicious honey aftertaste.  Oh, and Skip Tognetti was fun to talk to at the event.  He is passionate about what he's doing - and is happy to share.

It seemed like the two needed to meet.

The Original French 75 (and nothing to sneeze at) calls for
2 oz. dry gin, 1/2 oz. lemon juice and 1/4 oz. simple syrup - shake it up, pour into a glass, and top it off with dry sparkling wine.

By changing it it up -

2 oz. 3 Howls gin, 1/2 oz.* Letter Press Limoncello and 1/2 oz. lemon juice -

and then finishing the same way created a drink with depth while still retaining the lightness of the original.

Playing in the local pool of spirits...

Lots of fun!

*Just for your information - 1/2 oz. = 1Tbs if you are fumbling about in the kitchen.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I love gin.  I just do.

Back in the bad ol' days I ran across Bombay Sapphire and had never thought I had or would have anything better.  I was half right.

Then Tanqueray came out with Rangpur Lime - the best Gin & Tonic gin ever... SO FAR... it turned out.

Then the Craft Liquor explosion happened.  I've found the good, the better, and the even better. And a few oddballs.  There have only been a few TOTAL losers.  Oh yeah... and there's the old school genevers - that is the old school Grappa of Gin - medicinal fuel.

But as I was going along I began to realize that so many gins mean different gins clearly have different jobs.  There are gin & tonic gins, there are martini gins, Gibson gins, dirty Martini gins, French 75 gins,  cocktail gins.  Then there are these barrel aged gins which are approaching sipping gins!?!  I'm still unsure how I feel about that.

So... interspersed with all this talk of local and other cooking will be some love notes to the local Pacific NorthWest gin scene.  But I'll not be parochial.  I'll drink outside my time zone and biome.  And as I've come to realize there are some damn fine liquors that make Damn-Finer cocktails.

And Tonic, Mixers & Bitters

Buckle up - and let's ride.