Oh, it feels so good to stretch out the ol’ typin’ fingers and get back into the blogosphere. It’s been a busy few months here at TraderTiki headquarters, with the new syrups line, Tiki Nights at Teardrop Lounge in Portland and Vessel in Seattle, and a new job at… well, we can talk about all that later. For now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty with a lovely bowl of punch.
Fred over at Cocktail Virgin Slut will be hosting this iteration of the long running Mixology Monday, with this iteration featuring Tea! Tea is an ingredient I’ve long… well, for a few years at least, been ballyhooing as a wonderful ingredient. I first had a tippler’s tea in Pequod Punch, a drink from Jeff Berry’s Intoxica. The drink was so well received by me that… well, I received perhaps a bit too much. The tea and rum combination, so smooth and subtle, inspired my Veilleés Punch, and a few other ephemeral cocktails.
While in New York last year, I was treated to a great delight in the form of a simple Arrack punch using sugar, lime, Batavia Arrack, water, and just a sprinkle of nutmeg. Arrack’s unique flavor punches through the combination of citrus and sugar, and even watered down it still packs quite the whallop of taste. I thought I’d take this as inspiration to make a simple Arrack and Tea punch I like to call VOC Batavia Punch, named for the cursed ship Batavia of the Dutch East India Company, which suffered a mutiny, shipwreck, and several murders on its maiden voyage. Was this punch to blame? Who can say, but take a sip and lets find out.
VOC Batavia Punch, for one
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- zest of 1/2 lemon
In a shaking tin, create an oleo saccharum by using a muddler to grind the sugar against the lemon, which should extract the oil. Muddle/Grind and leave for 2 minutes, to allow absorption.
In the same shaking tin, pour in
- 1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
- 3/4 oz Bols Genever
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 2 1/4 oz Strong Black Tea (cold)
Shake with plenty of cubed ice and pour into a 15oz glass. Garnish with a splash of nutmeg and lemon wheel, serve with straws.
For a punchbowl, use 1 Tbsp sugar per the zest of 1 lemon, 1 whole lemon zest per 2 drinks. Combine 2 parts Batavia Arrack, 1 parts Bols Genever, 1 part fresh lime juice, 3 parts Black tea, over a block of ice that is at least 1/2 the final volume of the the punch.
Like any good punch, this one goes down smooth and gets one stinkin’ real quick-like. The Arrack and Genever combo creates a striking flavor, something I can only describe as a rich funk. This is calmed by the smooth, oily tea, and balanced with the lime and sugar. Beware though, a cup full too many and you may find yourself shipwrecked, and like the poor botswain of the VOC Batavia, executed for “outrageous behavior”.
Bonjourno, folks, to another exciting Mixology Monday, this time hosted by the venerable Chuck Taggart of GumboPages.com. If you haven’t been to his site and tried a few of his recipes, you really ought to.
Chuck decided this round should be dedicated to the various Amari of Italy. Amaro, roughly translated, is Italian for “Bitter”, and Amari are often served as digestivs, straight or with a bit of tonic water. Bartenders and Imbibers alike have been going pretty crazy about these “interesting” liqueurs for awhile now. Any bartender worth his salt would do well to keep a bottle or two on their shelves these days. I tend to keep a bottle of Fernet Branca on the shelf, for any with the interest to try something different, and something a little more gentle, such as Averna or Aperol, for interesting mixing.
I went a bit of a different route this time, with the lovely and well balanced Amaro Nardini. It starts off lightly sweet, and ends up with a lovely blend of gentian, peppermint, and licorice. I first tried this mixed at Teardrop Lounge, in my buddy David’s AKA Burro Punsch, which blends this Amaro with a Reposado Tequila, Carpano Antica, and Batavia Arrack. The combination of ingredients sounds awful, but the drink is really, really good.
Here’s my original, celebrating a full map of Italian Amari, including the Nardini, some Averna to mellow it out, then some Fernet to pop it back out. I went through a few gins, and selected Bols Genever as the base, to make it a drink you could really chew on for a bit. The Pimento Dram… well, we’ve all got to have a signature somewhere.
Amici Cattivi (Bad Friends)
- 1 1/2 BOLS Genever
- 3/4 oz Amaro Nardini
- 3/4 oz Averna
- tsp Pimento Dram
- tsp Fernet Branca
- dash Angostura Bitters
Stir with cracked ice and strain into chilled glass. Take a slice of lemon peel and rim glass, then express the oils into the drink, and discard.
The drink comes out with a color about as exciting as a cold cup of coffee, but is packed to the gills with complexity. The Amari all smooth each other out in a rather interesting way. The herbs tend to blend a bit better than drinking them straight, nothing too edgy here. Go ahead and give it a shot, I dare you. See you next month!