Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rose's Lime Cordial, Remixed

In the wake of all the hate concerning Rose's Lime Cordial, I thought I'd deliver a few original drinks using the stuff that I've been making for the past year or so. I'm doing my part to even out the internet's love/hate balance for the cordial.

Rose's isn't the most versatile ingredient, but it's really damn interesting when paired with certain ingredients that compliment it. These are both Gimlet variations.


Gimlet & Tonic

1.5 oz London dry gin
.5 oz Rose's Lime Cordial
3 oz tonic water

Build in an old fashioned glass over ice. No garnish.

This is simply a Gimlet on the rocks with tonic to top.


1.5 oz London dry gin
.5 oz Rose's Lime Cordial
.25 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish.

This is simply a Gimlet with a few dashes of Chartreuse.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rewriting History

I'm not really a big fan of Pimm's No. 1, and I never have been. Because of this, I devised my own Pimm's replacement. It's much better than the original Pimm's, I assure you. Pimm's is an out-dated product, anyway. No one drinks it anymore, right?

Pimm's cup

1.5 oz London Dry gin
.25 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash triple sec
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash tonic water

Pour into a tall glass, fill with ice, and top with ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of lemon and/or piece of cucumber.

Now, a question: Did what I just write irritate you?

It should. Let us count the ways: (to clarify, what I wrote above is not my opinion)

1) What I made here isn't a Pimm's Cup. Why? Because regardless of the actual name of the drink, it specifically calls for Pimm's No. 1. My (perceived superior) approximation of Pimm's No. 1 is a different ingredient, and therefore the drink above is really only a variation.

2) My "homemade Pimm's" flavor deviates from the original more than your average brand-swapping of spirits in most drinks. The resulting flavor of my Pimm's Cup is very different than the original Pimm's Cup, and so both drinks should really not bear the same name.

3) My distaste for Pimm's No. 1 gives me no right to change the Pimm's Cup without changing its name, especially if I'm serving it at a commercial bar or issuing the recipe to readers. I owe it to my patrons/fans for my drink titles to accurately describe what they're getting, and I owe it to the annals of cocktail history to do my best to serve drinks as they were originally intended, and if I don't, then I should document/notate it as such.


If you agreed, then you should have no problem switching "Pimm's No. 1" with "Rose's Lime Cordial" and "Pimm's Cup" with "Gimlet" in what I wrote above. Replacing the Rose's with lime juice and sugar gives you a delicious drink, but you should not call it a Gimlet.

Just recently this discussion has flared up again when Michael Dietsch purposefully visited/flamebaited the subject and Doug Winship did it inadvertently.

Right now, a popular trend is to make your own lime cordial. However, pre-mixed lime juice and sugar in a bottle is not a cordial. (One of the more interesting lime cordial recipes is here, which uses agar to make the mix crystal clear. The clarification process changes the lime flavor into a more subdued note.)

Even if you do make your own lime cordial, still use caution in what you call a Gimlet. Regardless of how delicious you think your own cordial is, if it tastes nothing like Rose's, then perhaps your drink is a Gimlet variation. The Gimlet cocktail calls for Rose's Lime Cordial, not simply a lime cordial, just like how a Pimm's Cup calls for Pimm's No. 1, just simply a fruit cup.

If you find that Rose's has no place in your house or on your menu, then academically, it makes more sense to remove the Gimlet from your repertoire than to remove Rose's from your Gimlet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mixology Monday LXIV: the Main Brace

February's Mixology Monday is hosted again by Doug Winship of the Pegu Blog. His themes rarely disappoint, but this one is particularly ingenius, since it magically coincides with the theme for his blog this month (and every other February): tiki.

As Doug's submission roundup for this month will likely be a sea of citrus juice and rum(there are worse things in life), I've chosen to post one of the rarer tiki recipes that isn't very typical, like I did one year ago with the Flaming Coffee Grog.

The Main Brace may have one of the coolest names of any drink, but the drink itself might seem fairly mundane: you can either think of it as a tiki drink which replaces rum with red wine, or instead, a tiki take on sangria.

Why is the name so cool? Because it refers to a drinking ritual on seafaring vessels of old.

The main brace(or mainbrace) is the largest/thickest/heaviest rigged rope on a sailing ship, be it a common sailboat or a 3-mast Man-of-War. The braces of a ship were the ropes which helped turn the angle of the ship's sails, thereby steering the vessel. When armed ships engaged in battle, clever commanders knew that targeting a ship's steering apparatus with cannons, the main brace especially, was a much better way to disable an vessel than trying to sink it.

When main braces broke, only the strongest and most skilled of seamen could splice it(thereby mending it),
especially in the heat of battle. Those that succeeded on this herculean task were usually rewarded with extra rum that day. The rum reward for splicing the main brace became so customary and traditional that the term "splicing the main brace" was soon used as a euphemism for drinking on a ship, especially after a job well done. This term was said to be used as such in the British Royal Navy until well into the era of engine-powered ships, where braces were no longer even used. (I labored to avoid nautical terminology in this explanation. If you can handle the jargon, you can read more about it here.)

So, why does the Main Brace drink use wine instead of rum? No clue. That's part of the mystery. The Main Brace is one of those drinks that tastes way better than your imagination may guess when looking at the ingredient list. The recipe calls for a wine from Burgundy, but I tend to suggest that a very capable substitute is a dry red wine that has a full body, enough to stand up to the juices.

Main Brace

3 oz Burgundy (or red wine)
.75 oz orange juice
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz sugar syrup
.25 oz triple sec
.25 oz lime juice

Shake with ice cubes, and pour into a tall glass.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tiki Month 2012: The Grogalizer

Tiki Month 2012 has begun! If you're unaware, Tiki Month is one of the many curious creations of Doug Winship, the proprietor of the Pegu Blog. Instead of giving you a drink to kick off the month, I'll tell you about a tool that helps facilitate that which is tiki.

Each time I bring up the subject of tiki, especially when I "celebrate" February as Tiki Month, I usually decry the drink style as a barely-worthwhile laborious undertaking which may represent mixology's most dark and decadent corridors.

Imagine this frustrating scenario: it's Friday night, and you've just gotten home from work. You don your tropical shirt (or is that only me?), and you want to mix up a tiki beverage to take away the week's furrows from your worn, worn brow. You look toward your rums, your liqueurs... you notice that your fruit bowl is full of bright citrus varieties... you think toward all the bottles of juice and syrups that you have in your refrigerator or elsewhere...

But you know that it will still take a good while to flip through all your tiki drink books in order to find a drink that you'll actually have all the ingredients to make. I TOLD YOU TIKI WAS HARD!

Luckily for you, there's a interwebs solution to your problem: the Grogalizer, created by a dedicated tiki fan nicknamed Swanky.

The Grogalizer is a thing that could only have been made by someone familiar with the hardships of tiki: it's a sophisticated database which will simply tell you which classic tiki drinks you're able to make, once you've told it all the tiki ingredients that you currently have on hand. Specifically, the drink list it draws from are in the books of Jeff Berry.

Whether you only have handful of ingredients or a spread that rivals a craft cocktail bar, the Grogalizer can easily pinpoint which recipes suit your arsenal. To add to that, the Grogalizer can even tell you the drinks that you can almost make, should you feel a bit sacrilegious and attempt to make an ingredient substitution. As I always say: I'd prefer that you make a substitution and drink than not drink at all.

There are two catches, however:

1) You have to have an account in order to use the site, but it's free. I bet that the simple registration is required because the Grogalizer offers the ability to execute fairly complex database queries, technically speaking. Your search's results come from the cross-referencing of up to hundreds of variables, and since the Grogalizer is a small operation, I imagine that Swanky's modest hardware or software wouldn't be able to handle the load of random and casual visitors running intensive searches.

2) Your search results will not give you the recipes for the drinks that fit your criteria. Instead, they will give you the name of the drink, and the page number of the book in which it can be found. This was done deliberately, I imagine, to not break copyright.

Luckily, site registration takes seconds, and Jeff Berry's latest and most comprehensive tiki drink book is cheap.

Your excuses for not making tiki drinks (other than the seven I outline here, as well as those I offer above) grow few! Soon you too will be asking "Why is all the rum gone?" Viva Tiki Month!