Cocktails, from the Mead, Uniquity

The Meursault

I broke down on New Year’s Day
and I mixed my drinks
and I lost my way
I walked past the houses
of every friend I’d ever known
and I set off on my own

Having promised a description of the Meursault (pronounced “mer-soo” or something like), I am striking while the proverbial iron is hot within my soul.  If you are not a gin drinker, then take heart and have patience; I promise I’ll get the Myers and Bulleit back out ere long.

This drink is the brainchild of my lovely friend the Mead, who once remarked to me:

we need to invent a cocktail called meursault (in honor, of course, of this band, this song in particular: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwCD8dWY6xk). it strikes me as gin-based, with not too sweet a flavoring — perhaps something along cran or other berry lines. a drink, in short, that could make you lose your way, sink you into melancholy over what you’d left behind, and yet somehow also brace you for continuing onward.

So, proceeding on that basis, I got out my gin.  Initially I had no cranberry anything around, but I did have a pomegranate, a lime, sugar, and grapefruit bitters, which were mixed as follows: a shot (1.5 oz) of Plymouth, a shot of squeezed* pomegranate juice, ½ oz lime juice, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 3 dashes of grapefruit bitters.  It was a good start, somewhat tart with an intriguing texture as well as some fun overtones from the bitters.

I added a bit more pomegranate juice and a touch more sugar the next time around, which edged it away from the tart end of the pH scale.  The third time around, we juiced some fresh cranberries (which yields a fairly bitter extract, beware!) and mixed a tablespoonful of it with a shot of gin, a shot of pom juice, ½ oz lemon juice, and a tablespoonful of sugar.

Cranberry juice on the left, pomegranate on the right. Check out how luscious it is.

The final iteration took what we’d learned from the first few rounds and fashioned it into something which, when partly prepared ahead of time, mixed up faster.  There was still a shot of gin, and still a generous shot of pomegranate juice (I carefully bottled about 7 pomegranates’ worth).  Having enjoyed both the lime flavor and the lemon flavor, I mixed and bottled equal amounts of both to use as the ½ ounce of citrus.  The sugar was necessary to offset the extreme bitterness of the juiced cranberries, but dissolving it required more shaking than I preferred, so I opted to mix it into yet another jar, this one full of cranberry juice.

The effect of all the bottling was that I could head to my boss’s house and mix up some cocktails for the office’s Christmas party with relatively little vexation.  Despite the last-minute substitution of Tanqueray for the less-piney Plymouth, even the people who “weren’t really gin drinkers” loved it.  Merry Christmas and happy New Year.**

And I hope that someone is praying for me
out there at home

*Once upon a time, one of my brothers bought a Jack LaLanne power juicer for to make himself healthy drinks.  He soon discovered that its purported “easy cleaning” was in fact rather complicated, tired of it rapidly, and handed it off to me.  I don’t use it that often, but I love juicing pomegranates with it.  POM Wonderful is one of the best pomegranate juices I’ve encountered, but it has nothing on the frothy fuchsia of freshly home-juiced pomegranate.
Which is sort of sad, I guess, for all the people who don’t have a juicer sitting about.

**But even those of us with juicers are doomed to suffer through Not Pomegranate Season, as I am right now, so POM is probably the best stopgap where I live.  If one wanted to be really low-key about it, one could mix some gin, some Ocean Spray or Northland cran-pomegranate blend, and dash in some citrus to perk it up.  Obviously it won’t give you the same texture, so be wary, as it might give you a touch more melancholy than intended.

Cocktails

The Union Club

Buckle in, folks, there be peculiar similes ahead.

I did some whinging about how Campari is just so bitter and I don’t know how to deal with that, whereupon Mr. Joseph Tkach suggested a Union Club.  Wanting to work my way through the Campari at a reasonable pace (and use up a nearly-empty bottle of Maker’s Mark), I figured now was the time.  So here we go:

The Union Club

2 oz bourbon
½ oz maraschino liqueur
½ oz Campari
1 ½ oz fresh orange juice

I could get as far as imagining the bourbon playing well with the orange juice, and the maraschino hanging about with the Campari.  But so far as I could see, they were on opposite sides of the playground – the bourbon and OJ playing rugby or football or something while the Campari wrote curiously obscure poetry and the maraschino tried not to look so tall.

Altogether, the maraschino was easiest to smell and the first thing I tasted.  Then came the slight punchiness of the bourbon, with whispers of orange accompanying it, before the swooping bitterness of the Campari – although I must grant you that it was the least unpleasant Campari’s been in my experience.  One could say that I was so focused on not focusing on the Campari that I hardly noticed anything else.  By the time I’d reached the bottom of the drink, the flavor of the bourbon had somehow – magically, even alchemically – melded with the Campari’s bitterness, which ameliorated it slightly.

Overall, it was miles ahead of the Campari Collins and about half a block ahead of the Carolingian Effort.  It doesn’t quite make me leap up, saying “Ahhh yes, that is what I need to drink right now!”

But it also does away with the idea that Campari should be a penalty foisted on those who lose bets.  I shall chalk it up as a success.

Uniquity

Yakimuddle; or, the Traverse City Smash

Oh, hello.  Yes, it’s been quiet around here for some time, hasn’t it?  You probably thought I’d become some manner of Teetotaling Poop.  I’m happy to report that’s not the case: I carried on mixing drinks but failed to carry on telling you about it.

But then the other night, La Roommate brought some cherries home, and it seemed a good plan to let you know what to mix with them should you find yourself having more cherries than you can eat.

The Yakimuddle/Traverse City Smash

Yakimuddle 2.0

At first I muddled about five of them (after removing the pit, and quartering them for easier muddlage), mixed that with 2 ounces of Plymouth gin, half an ounce of maraschino liqueur, half an ounce of lime juice, and some peach bitters.  It turned out translucent and tasting rather like fruit punch, with a very strong maraschino smell and flavor, reminiscent of an Aviation cocktail.  Not wanting the maraschino to dominate over the cherries or gin, which got a bit lost in the shuffle, I dialed it back and tried again.

So here's the thing: if they're Washington cherries, it's a Yakimuddle.  If they're Michigan cherries, it's a Traverse City Smash.

The second iteration employed twelve muddled cherries, another 2 ounces of Plymouth, ¼ ounce lime juice, ¼ ounce lemon juice, ¼ ounce maraschino, ¼ ounce Amaretto, and 3 dashes peach bitters.  This was more balanced, with a stronger cherry flavor and smell.  It was an opaque crimson and rich, the cherry pulp giving it a dense texture, almost like a flip.  The Amaretto’s nuttiness helped round out the flavors, and kept it sweet without being overkill.

The third iteration was quite similar, but I used a full 15 muddled cherries and 2 ounces of Tanqueray – partly to impart a stronger juniper flavor but also because I’d run out of Plymouth.  When LR and I tried it, she said “Mmm, bit like Christmas, isn’t it?  Kind of like a Meursault?” and I went “But the cherries, that’s like summer,” and we agreed that either way it was quite drinkable.  It was also rather homogenous, so we threw in a bit of lemon peel and a bit of lime peel to contribute some zesty goodness and a bit of contrast.

One bit of warning: if you use the full recommended amount of cherries, it will take some time – a good three minutes by my clock – to muddle them.  If I can bust out of my summer lethargy, I’ll try putting them through my juicer to see how that affects the texture.

Stay tuned for tales of the Meursault!