Cocktails, literary, Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails, Uniquity

These Drinks I Had on Crispin’s Day

This is the first drink I’m posting as part of the Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails series; in fact, Sts. Crispin and Crispian (or Crispianus, depending on whom you ask) were among the first saints to inspire said calendar.  Why?  As I wrote on my other blog last year, they’re remembered as much for being mentioned in Henry V as they are for their own sainted lives.

That was something of a guide as I crafted a drink for them.  One could commemorate Crispin and Crispian simply by drinking Crispin Hard Cider, but that seemed lazy.  I spent some time in discussion with my friend Emily to determine what would be appropriate for Crispin’s Feast:

Em: I’m thinking something with anguished cries of dying soldiers, the dirt of hallowed ground, and the dreaded sounds of war horses’ hoofbeats, with a hint of bitter irony
T: Hmmm.  So we’ve got…Fernet Branca…either gin or whiskey…not sure about the hoofbeats, but they may be “garnish with a nail”…and maybe some bitters on top.
Em: And of course you TELL people there’s honor in it, to make them think they taste it, when there’s actually no such honor in it.
T: Haha!  Okay, so I’m going to toss in a bit of grenadine for bloodcoloredness, and see how that all works.  If it’s too much to swallow, I may add some Drambuie.  …admittedly, I think we’re passing over Crispin and Crispian in favor of battles fought on their vigil feast, which is different.  Hmmm.  …
Em: Hmmmm.
T:  Whiskey, Fernet, bitters, grenadine, and a nail still sound legit for Crispin and Crispian, I think.

So with all that in mind, I went to work.  As I gathered my bottles, I remembered having sweet vermouth in the fridge, which seemed more appropriate than grenadine, so I added it with the Fernet Branca to three different spirits: cognac, Irish whiskey, and Scotch.  Unsurprisingly, the cognac melded best with the vermouth and the minty Fernet.  Should you find yourself without Fernet Branca, sub in Jägermeister.

[I mixed half an ounce of cognac with a teaspoon each of Fernet and vermouth, so as to not waste my spirits or get utterly sloshed whilst testing]

Having tested it, I then compared the nascent drink with other combinations: cognac/Fernet/vermouth with a dash of applejack, and cognac/Fernet/vermouth with Drambuie added.  The applejack wasn’t a distressing addition, but it wasn’t very helpful either; the Drambuie simply stomped over all the other flavors.

Having concluded that the mini-drink had the proper proportions, I set out to make a full-sized version.  I opted to add ice rather than shake, stir, or leave it neat, and added the promised nail by spearing some lemon slices.  Unfortunately, while this made for a neat visual, it destroyed both the aroma and the flavor of the original beverage: the lemon smell overpowered the other scents, and the ice melted alarmingly quickly so as to water the whole thing down.

So then came the final proof: a chilled glass meant for a smaller amount (4-5 oz) of liquid, with the following stirred with ice in a shaker then strained into it:

1.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.75 oz sweet vermouth

Just the thing for both sainted cobblers and soldiers at Agincourt.


Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

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Uniquity

The Little North Creek

Last autumn, I went hunting for the very first time.  My family owns land some hours north, with a cabin and plenty of trees and some number of deer.  We’ve paid taxes on it for years, so my mum felt it was a shame that neither my brothers nor I had gone and made use of it like we might have – and of course it was high time that we learn.

It’s been called The Rest Camp; the Mustache Club; and, in a story about my oldest brother at age 4 which my uncle loves repeating, The Greatest Place in the Whole World.

I was telling La Roomie about it while cutting up raw chicken in a feeble attempt to inure myself to the prospect of cutting up raw, still-warm meat.   We pondered the nature of the hunt; how Mustache hunting would be different from opening day, which I spent with a co-worker on his favorite hunting grounds; how awesome it would be if I were to bring back a freezer’s worth of venison; and the family camp in general.  For me, the most significant thing about the Mustache Hunting Club is that I was baptized there in the Little North Creek when I was about seven months old.  Obviously I don’t remember the event itself, but my father and brothers have seen fit to “put me in mind of my baptism” every time we went swimming (which is to say that they always took glee in dunking me three times.  I had a rather dim view of baptism in my youth).

And then we went back to discussing the hunt, and how all the men grow a mustache in November for it (dear No-Shave November, my family anticipated you decades in advance), and the film once made of the traditional “drink on the buck.”  In this home movie, my grandfather drives around to the homes of all my great-uncles and aunts with his prize buck tied to the hood.  Everyone takes a sip from a flask in a toast to the buck, and there is much made of the antlers and whatnot.  The motion’s a bit choppy (it can’t have been made earlier than the ’50’s), but I think the idea was that Grandpa got progressively drunker (or feigned it, anyway).

Bearing all that in mind, it was only a matter of time before La Roomie and I decided a new drink was in order, and it was also clear that Jägermeister (German for “hunt master,” if you are not a polyglot) had to be involved.  The name of the liqueur itself demands it, as does the stag-and-cross on the bottle, an allusion to the legends of St. Eustace and St. Hubertus.

Thing is, we weren’t sure what to mix the Jägermeister with.  I’ve eschewed Jägerbombs but have enjoyed a Starry Night (also called a Golden Elk), which is dark in color and tastes of cinnamon.  After some pondering, we elected to use gin, as its juniper flavor is reminiscent of the woods Up North; our thyme syrup, both because it needed to be used and because of its herbal nature; lime juice, probably because it was on hand at the time; and some manner of bitters.  Then, because it had been a while since we’d pulled out the blue curacao, we added some of that to the palette.  Before mixing the drink, we tried to figure out what amounts of Jagermeister and curacao would balance well by adding increasing amounts of each to an ounce or so of water.

It turned out a slightly murky yet somehow glowing drink.  Of course we dubbed it The Little North Creek.

1½ oz gin
½ oz thyme syrup
½ oz lime juice
½ oz Jägermeister
½ oz blue curaçao
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

When I went north, I took a few pictures of the creek (with and without flash) to see how they compared.  The real creek is mostly clear, really, but has enough vegetation in it to trick the eye.

next up: The Big North Sky

This is the hunter’s badge of glory,
That he protect and tend his quarry,
Hunt with honour, as is due,
And through the beast to God is true.