Almeria Cocktail

AlmeriaDMProposed By: David

Reviewed By: Jonathan

Almeria is a seaport in southern Spain on the Gulf of Amería, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea. Having offered that fact, I’ve expended all my background knowledge of this cocktail.

I tried to find more. Wikipedia had nothing, Google was, for once, a cipher, and, search as much as I had time to search, no clue appeared in my cocktail books or favorite sites. Oddly, multiple versions of the drink appeared everywhere, but why and how? Who knows? I did find something called an Almeria Cocktail Dress, but meditating on their colors and silhouettes yielded nothing. Of course, as a history and English teacher, I’m well-aware of the chief pitfall of research, which, roughly translated, is “You can’t always get what you wa-ant.”

So, by extension, in introducing this drink that is little more than named, I guess I have to hope for what I need.

What I need is a fictional backstory. Along with the name, this cocktail suggests its origin in its base spirit. The recipe is quite rum-based—there’s the rum, if course, but also Kahlua, which combines coffee, vanilla, and rum—and collectively they speak to some bartender looking to evoke a few days spent in Almeria. I’m guessing coffee is very good there. I’m guessing the afternoons are languorous, that after a morning spent talking at the square, gathering supplies from a market and a lunch in a local café, nothing will do but a siesta, and, after that, nothing will do to counteract grogginess but something substantial (the egg) and also something jolting, the coffee. The day can’t be half-over for my bartender, he or she has most of the day’s work ahead, and there’s this signature cocktail that might have arrived in the twilight of dreaming:

2 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Kahlua
1 Egg white

Take care of the whites first. Shake them well without ice, then add ice and the other ingredients. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Okay, so this fiction I’ve invented, I admit, may come from a week spent visiting my daughter who is studying in Dublin. So many gray days left me thinking of another Irish coffee, one rooted in a sunny clime perfect for cocktails instead of the misty rain and penetrating cold right only or Guinness or maybe Smithwicks. All the time I was there, my imaginary bartender was too, head in hand, staring out the window at yet another sun-drenched (not rain drenched) day.

Here’s Jonathan’s Review:

jbm.amerThe proposal for the Almeria noted, correctly and amusingly, that the eggs in this cocktail would be greeted with some queasiness. It’s not like the use of eggs in drinks is unknown or even rare. We have tried sours and flips that used them and classic cocktails make great use of whites, yolks or both. The problem is not the idea of salmonella either. It is just the idea of going full Rocky with raw whites in a drink.

There are lots of suggestions for how to deal with this issue. Some folks suggest that the alcohol, in high enough concentration, takes care of any problem. There are others who suggest the use of powdered egg whites, pasteurized whites in a carton, or pasteurized whole eggs. I went with the latter just to see how they worked. Besides, they have a nice little “P” marked on them to let me know they are special or perhaps that their use is prudent.

I do hope David has explained where the name came from but this could easily be the breakfast cocktail. The coffee liqueur, egg and their friend rum seems like a strange twist on classic breakfast all while acting like a nightcap. The dark rum enhances the coffee flavor and the egg does what it is supposed to do – it gives the drink body and that promised mouthfeel. It is a drink that could substitute most places where one would want a nice cup of joe. Maybe not breakfast though.

This is also let me showcase my increasing skills with a cocktail shaker. I made an initial, vigorous shake without ice then added ice for another round of shaking. I bet if anyone had seen me they would have been impressed. Heck, I saw my reflection in the window and I was impressed. That should be good enough.

Jonathan’s take: I love coffee and eggs. Never thought about mixing them with dark rum and drinking it but I should have.

David’s take: Egg cocktails, I know, are unpopular, but they give a drink gravitas.

Next drink (Proposed by Jonathan):

The weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful. Okay, the weather is beautiful and warm here and the fire is mostly for ambience, but it is Christmas time and the perfect occasion to go back to a warm or hot drink. We have tried a few and this proposal combines some of the basics of those. It is a Hot Cider Nog that acts like an eggnog yet brings in its friend apple cider just to be different. It also has eggs, of course, which gives me another use for those prudent ones I bought this week.

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Pisco Sour

20140726_173224_resized-1Proposed by: Jonathan

Reviewed by: David

What could there be to argue about with a cocktail? Invention, ingredients, proportions, neat or iced, glassware, and base spirit are probably only a fraction of the list in drinks we have tried so far. My proposal last week noted the beverage of the week is the national drink of both Peru and Chile but the differences cover most of that list.

The first part of this drink may be the area of the most concord (that’s a grape pun in case you missed it). Pisco is a clear or lightly colored spirit that is considered a brandy since it is made from grapes. In particular it is a pomace brandy due to it being fermented from the must (juice, skins, seeds and stems) with the solid parts of that must being the pomace. Although Pisco is aged, it is done in neutral vessels so there is no added taste from that part of the process.

There are different types of Pisco (besides the differences between Peruvian and Chilean Pisco) that are related to the type of grape, whether it is made from a single grape, and how much residual sugar is left after fermentation. For purposes of this drink, I used acholado Pisco which is a blend of grape types.

The name Pisco probably originated from a geographic area of Peru and that has added to the dispute. Peru considers the designation limited to spirits from that region only similar to the wines of Bordeaux. Chile produces Pisco and uses the name as a designation of a liquor created from the fermentation of grape must. In the United States, the products of Peru and Chile are both sold under the appellation of Pisco.

The Peruvian Pisco Sour was first created in the 1920’s. It was the invention of Victor Morris in a bar he operated in Lima. The drink evolved until it eventually included Peruvian Pisco, lime juice, sweetener, egg white and bitters. The Chilean version, with its own story of invention, does not include the egg white or bitters and uses a Pisco made in Chile. I used a recipe from the Brad Thomas Parson’s book Bitters that is clearly in keeping with Morris’ recipe so my Pisco is from Peru:

2 ounce Pisco
1 ounce lime or lemon juice (I used lime)
.5 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
Angostura bitters

Dry shake the Pisco, lime, simple syrup and egg white. Add ice to the shaker, shake again and strain into a coupe. Drip or dropper 4 drops of Angostura on top and create your own design by spreading it.

The end result looks familiar but has a unique taste. The Pisco has an earthiness, maybe it is the marc/pomace, but otherwise I see how it can be described as similar to tequila. It still seems odd to add a raw egg white to drink, but the body that it imparts is noticeable. In fact, one of the cautions I would add is the lift provided by the egg is so great that you need to be careful that the top of the shaker doesn’t dislodge and spray drink. Not that I did that (again) as far as anyone knows.

PeescoHere’s David’s Review:

After nearly a year of cocktails, I’ve begun to connect one to another. Some cocktail has a similar color, or complexity, or flavor profile to one we’ve tried before. Another is very like fill-in-the-blank except….

This cocktail reminded me a bit of the version of the Caipirnhia (the Caipirnhia de Uva) that we tried last October. As Pisco (whatever its origination or appellation) is a grape-based spirit, this drink brought the same taste forward along with the organic freshness of cachaça. Of course Pisco isn’t cachaça, and I don’t want to sound like I’m lumping all of South America together in its cocktail preferences. My appreciation for South America, though I’ve never been there, is far more nuanced, I assure you. It’s just that, with the simple syrup—I made a particularly viscous, almost butterscotch-y batch for this recipe—this drink had the same rich sweetness, the same direct, highly spirituous approach.

For my version of the Pico Sour I went Peruvian all the way, with a Peruvian Pisco and a Peruvian formulation of the recipe. My liquor doyenne at the store where I shop explained in great detail how the two nations formulate and regulate their versions of Pisco separately.

“Which do you like better?” I asked.

“This one,” she said, which was Pisco Portón, a highly refined and potent version of the drink… and one of the more beautiful spirit bottles I’ve encountered.

When I went home I looked at descriptions online because I’m a better reader than listener, and, for a few moments suffered buyer’s remorse. The Chilean version seems more raw, more immediate. I quickly got over that, however, when I tasted the Pisco I’d purchased. Yes, it’s strong. It’s also smooth and complex.

This cocktail was wonderful, and, in praising it, I have two important observations to offer. First, egg-whites add so much substance and refinement to cocktails. I don’t know why any one would malign including them. Second, not to be a snob or anything, but please don’t buy sour mix. The addition of fresh-squeezed lime (or lemon) does so much more for a cocktail than any saccharine bottled who-knows-what. Certainly there are times to cut corners and seek ease over sophistication, but cocktail hour should never be one of those times.

Jonathan’s take: I won’t argue, disagree or dispute. Nice, simple, tasty drink.

David’s take: The grape-sweet and citrus mixture seemed excellent, particularly with the substance of egg-white.

Next Week (proposed by David):

Next weekend, my family and I are going to be in San Antonio and participating in a “Gourmet Club” at our sister’s house. The theme is Indian cuisine, and I looked for something appropriately sub-continent for the evening. What I found is called The Bengali Gimlet. It includes curry spices associated with Indian cooking. I have no idea what to expect—other than some elaborate preparations—but feel confident this cocktail will be something new and different. And gourmet, of course.

 

 

The Tom and Jerry

photo-55Proposed by: David

Reviewed by: Jonathan

Batter. It’s a big word in Tom and Jerry recipes, used unapologetically and/or innocently. Like someone saying “Shut up,” when my parents trained me to avoid the expression, I don’t hear batter so innocently. Who drinks batter?

Still, every person I’ve met from Wisconsin talks enthusiastically about holiday parties accompanied by giant bowls of Tom and Jerry and all the hijinks that ensued. So I had to try. Besides, Eggnog is cliché and Tom and Jerry exotic… in a Midwestern way… if that’s not a contradiction in terms.

The history of the Tom and Jerry also intrigued me. You may think it comes from the cartoon, but no. And it isn’t from “Professor” Jerry Thomas, who wrote a famous bar guide, How to Mix Drinks in 1862. Its history goes all the way back to 1821 when it appeared in Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom. Quite a title.

How Jerry Esquire and Corinthian Tom traveled from London to the American Midwest is mysterious, but the Tom and Jerry is so popular here that you can find Tom and Jerry punch sets in secondhand stores and, in Wisconsin at least, purchase the mix in bottles. I’ve read that you have to have truly frigid conditions to enjoy a Tom and Jerry properly, that it’s a warmer-upper and a lips-loosener for stiff Midwesterners. The stories I’ve heard about Tom and Jerry parties confirm that. One involved a shattered toilet.

I only shared the drink with my family, and I have to report that we were no more raucous than usual, though, if you look closely at the photograph of the drink above, you’ll see my daughter was prematurely ebullient.

Though I worried about this batter stuff, I recognized that creating it was key to the drink and that, without it, you’d have no Tom or Jerry:

The Recipe (for Four):

3 eggs, separated into whites and yolks

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

4 oz. Brandy or Cognac

4 oz. Dark Rum

Nutmeg to garnish

Whip the egg whites until just barely (and maybe not quite) stiff. Mix the yolks, the sugar, and the spices in a separate bowl and then fold them into the egg whites with a spatula. This mixture is the Tom and Jerry “batter.”

In each cup or mug, add 2 tablespoons of batter, the alcohol, and then fill the rest with hot milk. My wife mentioned that the steamed milk from an espresso machine might be ideal here, but alas, we don’t own such fancy stuff.

The drink should be served with a dusting of nutmeg and hoisted to celebrate the season.

Here’s Jonathan’s Review:

jtop2The initial thought that comes to mind when reading “Tom and Jerry” is of a house cat and the rodent who outsmarts him. This cocktail, as has been explained, has nothing to do with that. That said, however, I know a lot more about that eternal chase and frustration than this drink. I had never even heard of it nor had I ever tried to mix a cocktail that required the basic makings of eggnog.

There is something about concocting a cocktail that makes it both fun and rewarding, and this one requires quite a bit of concocting. I actually had an assistant in my youngest son who helped with ingredients, preparation and some slight criticism of my not quite hard peak whipped egg whites (who knew the skills that are required for serious bartending). The challenge to this cocktail was in that making of an eggnog. Whipped egg whites mixed with blended yolks and spices and finally topped with hot milk. And don’t forget the brandy and rum before it’s all done.

The end result was good but lacked something to make it memorable. It probably didn’t help that Charlotte is having record warm weather instead of the hard cold of Wisconsin and Minnesota where the drink is popular. This is a drink that yelled out to be the warmer that drives out bone chilling cold not the follow up to sweating over whipped eggs in front of an open kitchen window in December.

Jonathan’s take: Loved the pictures that accompanied the recipes, but this one just left me ready for a long winter’s nap.

David’s Take: When I was younger and a less metabolically challenged person, I relished the quarts of eggnog that appeared in our refrigerator and enjoyed them even without alcohol, but something must have changed. These thick Christmas drinks seem a lot.

Next week (proposed by Jonathan):

You would think that almost six months in, I would be running out of ideas but it seems the opposite. New Year’s Eve will follow soon after next weekend’s drink so the proposal will be celebration appropriate. In addition, it’s a great time to talk about toasts. I hope someone besides me and David read this and that folks will use it as an excuse to offer their favorite toast as a comment.

 

The Rum Maple Flip

rmflipProposed by: David

Reviewed by: Jonathan

First, confession: I’ve really no right to call this drink a “flip” because technically it isn’t. A flip includes spirits, sugar, no milk or cream (which would make it egg nog) and, most importantly, an entire egg. I’m only using the white, meaning this cocktail might be called a “fizz.”

However, I’ll keep the name because the modern flip is nothing like the original flip that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, first appears in print in 1685. That flip had no eggs and included rum, and sugar, and beer. It required submerging a red hot poker in the cup. So, technically, no flip is a true flip. Mine is no less true than any other. So there.

I could use a whole egg. I’ve seen Rocky, so I shouldn’t be afraid. But the essential element of an egg white cocktail is breaking up their proteins by shaking them until they accommodate moisture and air. In less scientific, more gastronomical terms, the white adds a little body and airiness. The fat in a yolk adds gravity, weight, making a drink rich and smooth. That may sound good, but people get squeamish enough about an egg white, and, well, I have seen Rocky.

Some sites split flips into royals (using the entire egg), goldens (yolk only), and silvers (egg whites), so I suppose I could call this cocktail a “Silver Rum Maple Flip,” but that’s too long and my artistic side doesn’t like the clashing colors.

Flips were revived from historical obscurity by Jerry Thomas’ 1862 work, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion. He was first to add egg, suggest a flip could be cold, and create variation with different spirits. In recent years, flips have appeared all over the web and, were you to ask for one in a bar, the bar tender might not look at you strangely… just ask you if you’re sure. You might expect some beer, however, as many flips are beer cocktails.

My version of the flip eschews beer but adds a couple of crucial secondary ingredients, sherry to echo the aged rum, and maple syrup as the sweetener. I hoped to create something not quite holiday-y and yet wintery. I hoped to convince my wife egg whites are okay and add something interesting and important.

The recipe:

maplerunflip2 oz. aged rum

1 oz. medium dry sherry

.5 oz. maple syrup

1 egg white

nutmeg for garnish

Separate the egg white, discard the yolk. Shake the egg white by itself until frothy (30-60 seconds), then add ice and all the other ingredients except nutmeg, shake again. Then strain the drink into a martini or coupe glass and dust very lightly with nutmeg. Serve.

Cocktail history is fun. Forbearers and legacies, early incarnations and current renovations lend each drink distinctive character but, whatever they’re called, you hope they taste good.

Jonathan’s Review:

The week began with an internet search on how to use raw eggs safely in drinks. Even with the realization that a large part of this blog is our desire to try new things, it was still a little disconcerting to use them in a cocktail. The information that is available, though, not only made it seem reasonable but added to the intrigue and interest in the proposed drink.
This is not our first drink to use rum, or a variation, in a cocktail which left white rum, dark rum, British/Naval rum or cachaca as choices already available in my expanding bar. That in mind the recipe called for aged rum so I used that as an excuse to add to the collection when I picked up the medium dry sherry. It seems fairly subtle but that choice really made a difference.

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One of the challenges of using raw eggs is the multiple steps to building a cocktail. First there is a dry shake with just the egg, or in some recipes the egg and all other ingredients. This recipe called for the former, then a shake with all liquids, and finally with ice before straining into the glass. That was all well and good for the first one I made, but with the second the freshly washed shaker decided to fly out of my hands just as I was finishing. The result was a kitchen sprayed with cocktail that my wife was nice enough to clean as I not so happily prepared another.

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The final product was well worth all of that tribulation. The complex mix of the aged rum, sherry and maple was completely unique among the cocktails that we have tried. During my research on using raw eggs I had read that some mixologists eschew using eggs as being lazy in building a drink with body, but I don’t know how else you could create that combination of a drink being thick yet light. The final touch that really added to the drink was the slight spice of the grated nutmeg. It worked as much for the initial aroma as it did a taste element.

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Jonathan’s take: Body, taste and spice all worked to provide a cocktail unlike any other I have ever tried. It didn’t seem possible while building it, but this one is more than worth the effort required.

David’s take: If no one said, “Hey, there’s an uncooked egg white in this drink.” I might not know or worry. Sometimes we just have say, “What? Me worry?”

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Next week (proposed by Jonathan):

Not to sound too much like Martha Stewart (a cocktail aficionado in her own right), but this week’s proposal could have the added benefit of being options for homemade Christmas gifts if they work. The idea is to create three infused vodkas to drink alone or as part of a cocktail. I’ve suggested to David that we both try three combinations: vanilla bean/cardamom, chipotle/orange and a wild card for each of us to choose. The final part of this proposal is that we each need to create a cocktail using one of our vodkas.