During a recent talk here in Portland at the Great American Distiller’s Festival, I shared a few stories and told of the time when Stephen Crane’s Luau coming into town began the “Big Showdown” of the Exotic restaurant chains. Stephen Crane’s Luau had been a big hit in Beverly Hills, and when he joined forces with the Sheraton to help them compete against Hilton and Trader Vic’s Outrigger chain, he found himself opening restaurants in Montreal, Chicago, and here in Portland.
With this chain, known as Kon-Tiki Ports, Stephen brought all his best bartenders and their recipes to help open each location. One of the drinks developed and served at the Luau was their own version of the famed Scorpion Bowl from Trader Vic’s. One of the first known communal tropical drinks, Vic had been slinging this “thing” since at least the early 1940s, having written about it in his Book of Food and Drink. Stephen Crane’s version takes a few liberties, changing Lemon to Lime and omitting one of the ingredients from Vic’s version, an ounce of white wine.
A single-serving Scorpion these days is a bit… okay, a lot like a lightly tamed FogCutter, with a bigger dollop of Orgeat and omitting the Sherry Float. This version from the Luau, circa 1958 is… well, one of the best. It was served at the recent Tiki Night at Teardrop Lounge, and I see little reason not to serve it again at the next one! The Volcano effect wasn’t on the original recipe but… hey, if Stephen Crane can embellish his restaurant with $1,240 door handles, I think I can embellish the drinks with a splash of 151.
- 1oz Lime juice
- 2oz Orange juice
- 2oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
- 2oz Gin
- 1oz Brandy
- 3/4oz Simple syrup
- 1oz Orgeat
- 8oz Crushed ice
Donate everything to a blender. Spin up like the devil for 3 seconds. Pour, unstrained, into a wisely sized bowl. Drink by yourself or with friends.
Yes, another Mandatory Monthly cocktail blog post. This time, made even mandatorier as it’s hosted by one of my favorite bearded behatted gents on the internets, Matt Robold of RumDood.com! Since I stole his subject earlier this year (all part of my grand scheme), he’s decided to go the spicy route and chose ginger!
Ginger Beer is a nice and spicy ingredient, of which there are about 3 choices in any regional market, for a total of about 50 billion or so. I’m sure you’ll see a few recipes out there even just in this wrap up. I was almost half-tempted just to make this post a redirect to Jeff Morgenthaler’s How to Make your own Ginger Beer. But, since I started using his recipe to make my own (others have… failed), I have come across a few changes I like to make in mine to make it my own. I haven’t gone back to buying Ginger Beer yet.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Blair’s Ginger Brew
- 1 part Ginger Juice
- 2 parts Lemon Juice
- 2 parts Simple Syrup
- 1 tsp Allspice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp yeast (brewing or champagne preferred, but anything will work) per liter
Juice your Ginger fresh in any convenient juicer. It takes awhile, and thanks to the fiber, your juicer will likely get jammed a few times. The effort is rough, but worth it. Stir all ingredients together in a large foodsafe plastic container, such as used in kitchen prep. Top with a lid and sit in a room temp, slightly dark area, such as on a shelf or under a counter, for 72 hours. Once your time is up, uncap, filter, and put in cold storage to inhibit the yeast growth. After a few hours in the fridge, you should hear a nice burp. EZ-cap bottles are definitely the bottle of choice. This creates a super spicy, super sharp ginger brew.
So, at this point you’ve either made that (recommended), or picked up some store bought. Well, if you don’t think 3 hours of effort, 3 days of waiting, and the cost of fresh ingredients is worth it, so be it. I’d recommend Ginger People, Cock and Bull, or Bundaberg. Now you’re hip for nay Dark and Stormies, Moscow Mules, Mamie Taylors and so on. But if you’re here and into Tiki, I think you know what may be coming next… you BASTARD.
One of my favorite Tiki Drinks, if only for the name (the flavors, if mixed wrong can be… off-putting) is the Suffering Bastard. We featured these drinks during last years Tiki Tuesday events, and the reception was warm for this slightly bitter strongly cooling drink. Thinking that was the end of its story, I then chanced upon Robert Simonson’s post on the Beachbum’s Visit to NYC. Here, he described the Dead Bastard, another drink by master mixologist Joe Scialom. This is the third of its cousins (the suffering and dying being the other), and I think it’s just… tops. As Robert Describes it, it’s a bit of a Tiki Long Island, featuring four types of booze, a few other knick-nacks, and finished off with a generous dallop of ginger beer.
- 1/2 oz Gin
- 1/2 oz Brandy
- 1/2 oz Bourbon
- 1/2 oz Rum
- 1/2 oz Rose’s lime juice
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 4 ounces of chilled ginger beer
Shake Gently with 1 cup Crushed Ice, pour into Goblet or other large vessel. Garnish with whatever the hell, it’s dead and doesn’t care. I used a whole lime. It’s a big drink.
Combined with the Ginger Beer above, this makes for a killer diller of a drink, like a feather that knocks you flat on your feet. If you’re questioning the Rose’s Lime, see Robert Simonson’s post above. Just about everything has its place, and in respect to the original recipe, I used Rose’s Lime Juice. If it makes you feel any better, I garnished with an entire freaking lime, so at least some fruit was destroyed for the sake of the drink. For some reason, I couldn’t find the Brandy today, so I reached for Brandy of the apple variety (Laird’s) instead, and oh what a wonderful difference, adding a bit more fruit to the drink.
Well, here’s to hoping you go through the heck of a process to make Ginger Beer (or Brew, whatever), to see what the fuss is all about. Worth it in my opinion, but, even better if you can get someone else to make it for you. Cheers!
Hard times are all around us right now. The job market is slumping, real estate values are dropping, there’s a global economic crisis looming on the horizon. What better time for a drink? Come rain or shine, they ain’t called “spirits” for nothing, and I’ve got a real dandy drink made on the cheap for this Mixology Monday, Hard Times, hosted by my good friend Matt Rowley over at Rowley’s Whiskey Forge.
The cocktail that hit my mind instantly was the Chauncey Cocktail, a favorite of mine, as introduced to me at Teardrop Lounge. In my research, the furthest back I’ve seen this referenced was in the book The Catering Industry Employee, Official Journal of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees’ International Alliance and Bartenders’ International League of America, published 1934. I didn’t quite find this in time, and used the proportions from the CocktailDB entry, which is quite good. This is an all-boozer; time is money and I haven’t the time to waste on mixers when spirits are in need of lifting. As well, the booze involved can be found pretty cheaply, as it is all base spirits. No flight of fancy liqueurs or rarities here, this one’s a mix Gin, Rye, Brandy, and Sweet Vermouth. A damned good mix as well, I must say.
- 3/4 oz Rye
- 3/4 oz Gin
- 1/2 oz Brandy
- 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
- dash Orange Bitters
Stir in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I took a special note here to use the cheapest ingredients I could get my mitts on, and rounded up the cost for you. Without counting ice, barware and glassware, this drunk will run you a kingly sum of $1.05, American. I suppose the nickel over the greenback makes this a bit fancy of a cocktail (though not a “fancy” cocktail), and I could have gone a touch cheaper, but you’ve got to treat yourself every once in awhile. Despite the low cost, this is a delicious drink that makes even the cheap stuff taste like heaven (well, bootlegger’s heaven). If you do happen to find yourself back in dough, try it with the fancy stuff. It gets even better.
Muchos Mahalos to Rowley for hosting this MxMo, and we’ll see you next round!
As read in Imbibe! by David Wondrich, in 1860, diplomats from Japan made a few weeks stay in New York City. While there, they stayed at the Metropolitan hotel, about a block away from Jerry Thomas’ Palace bar. The likelihood of the legation stopping in was about 100%, given their penchant for cocktails, and The Professor’s renown.
Created to commemorate this occasion was the Japanese Cocktail. A tender and delicious little concoction of Orgeat, Brandy, and Bitters.
Somehow, years later in Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual (1934 edition), the recipe changed dramatically. This version adds a good dallop of shaved ice and Maraschino Liqueur, and replaces the Brandy with Eau Celeste (Himmels Wasser), which in searches shows as a sort of plant fungicide.
Seeing as I don’t appear to have a ready supply of large quantities of Copper Sulfate, Ammonia, and whatever the heck Sal Soda is to make the eau celeste, I think we’re going to have to go with the original good Professor’s recipe, adapted by David Wondrich, with some further adaptation of technique.
- 1 Tbsp Orgeat
- 1/2 tsp Bogart’s Bitters (sub Fees or homemade Boker’s)
- 2 oz of Brandy
Stir with Ice, strain into champagne saucer. Garnish with 1 or 2 twists of Lemon Peel.
It’s a delightful and creamy little bite of a drink. The large amount of Bitters adds a lot of flavor, making a sort of mulled Brandy, while the Orgeat balances out the harsher notes in the bitters and any burn in the brandy. Daniel at Teardrop Lounge made a lovely variation with Filbert Orgeat and Barsol Pisco, garnished with shredded chocolate.
I can’t recommend this drink enough. It’s easy to concoct, and extremely pleasing to just about any palate. Drink and enjoy!
MxMo round… twelve hundred at this point? No, just 26. This time hosted by Anna at Morsels and Musings, an Australia-based Cuisine blog. The theme this go-round is Fruit Liqueurs, which opens a helluva lot of doors and makes the cocktailians mind boggle with possibilities.
A lot of options are available with this round, and I chose to go a path I’m both ecstatic and not so pleased with. I am ecstatic because I get to cover a favorite topic of mine, mainly, old-timey drinks. I am not so pleased because, well, I feel I cheated a bit on the liqueur portion of it, seeing as Calvados isn’t technically a liqueur. Well, I put my conscience at ease by exchanging the lemon juice for house-made Limoncello, which makes for one hell of a kick.
Daisies are one of those old-timey drink categories we don’t see much of on modern cocktail menus (though if you do, please let me know). Imbibe! has a great description of the drink, even categorizing it into old-school (orange cordial) and new-school (grenadine). Trader Vic’s early-edition bartender’s guide seems to streamline the daisy, from the early 1900s half-lime, half-lemon, powdered sugar and grenadine, to just the lemon juice and grenadine, which makes for a very tart drink. I tried a bit of an experiment using Bundaberg Ginger Beer, and it worked fine and dandy for a damned delicious Daisy.
Star-Eyed Daisy (adapted from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide)
- 2 oz. Calvados
- 1 tsp. Grenadine
- 1/2 oz. Limoncello
Shake with cracked ice and strain into double-cocktail glass or old-fashioned. Top with Ginger Beer or tonic water and serve.
A bit tart, a bit sweet, and entirely refreshing. My wife describe it as spicy apple-juice. I think you’ll describe it as a great summer drink.
Next MxMo is going to be hosted right here! The topic is… RUM! I’ll put more details into a future post. See you then!