Archives for posts with tag: Gin

 

Happy spring! With its beautiful colors and come-out-and-play weather, spring awakens our awareness of sensual pleasures like no other season. For the Grog Dog, it’s time to run like the gate was left open and roll in the sweet new grass!

While drinking dogs generally limit themselves to basic hydration, Dog Drinking GIFpeople drink for many other reasons, and pure enjoyment is not the worst of them. Modern cocktails in particular offer an almost unlimited range of flavors and textures (thank you, molecular gastronomists!), and due to their intoxicating effect, are the perfect medium to deliver a sensational spring day… or evening.

The tongue and palate are the major organs of taste, naturally, and although they are highly sensitive, they can only “report” their data to the brain, which must catalog and record the information so you remember that warm hint of absinthe in your Inside Job, or the surprising spark of celery bitters in your Oxford Comma.

So next time you mix or order a cocktail, take a moment to really taste it. Taste the cocktail. First, inhale at the rim of the glass and notice its scent as you take in the first sip with just a bit of air. Let it roll over your tongue, slowly. Bathe your taste buds in viscous sips of deliciousness. (And then try to say that phrase three times fast.)

drinking martini-dailymailukAs you swallow, open your lips slightly to allow the alcohol vapors to rise into your palate. Breathe in slowly through your mouth and nose, and savor the flavor of each ingredient as it evaporates. Lick the remaining drops from your lips and warm to the final tingle on your tongue. Sigh, and sip again. Notice how the first sip is different from the next, and the next, and the last. Take in the astringency of the gin, or the heat of spicy bourbon, or the sweet complexity of the liqueurs.

That’s the physical process of drink-tasting. While the temperature, flavor, and texture are dancing down your throat, your brain still needs to keep a firm grip on its analytical faculties to learn and catalog those taste sensations – warm or cool; sweet, spicy, or fruity; thick, foamy, or frosty. Is it too tart? Too watery? Too cold, or not cold enough? What individual flavors do you detect? Give your brain time between tastes to record the flavors, the textures, temperatures of each sip.

It doesn’t matter whether there’s absinthe in your cocktail – if you taste anise, there must be some chemical cousin to it in your glass. That won’t be fun if you don’t like anise, but you’ll have learned to do a little more taste-testing to find out what exactly you do like about that particular drink. Make a different cocktail that includes – or excludes – the ingredient you’re not sure of. Compare and contrast. Have a tasting party, and try several varieties of the same base spirit to see how they affect the overall flavor of one of your favorite cocktails.AJ1180423

Spring is the perfect time to rejuvenate your palate with some fresh sensations. Drink up, slowly, and savor the season!

Image credits: reddit.com (dog drinking); dailymailuk.com (sipping); Eavisa.com (daffodil)
Advertisements

dog-drinking-water_safebeedotcom“Oh!” the Grog Dog’s companion exclaimed after taking a gulp and sputtering a bit, “I forgot we’re having cocktails; I thought we were having drinks!” I knew what he meant, but is it correct to make the distinction between a cocktail and a drink? Does it even matter?

Wikipedia tells us that, “Drinks, or beverages, are liquids intended for human consumption.” It helpfully adds that water is not generally considered a beverage; alcoholic beverages contain ethanol (though alcohol itself includes many other chemical compounds); and non-alcoholic beverages are made with (or are modified so as to contain) less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

So technically, we were having drinks – they were liquid and intended for human consumption. But we were consuming the top tier of the drink hierarchy, the cocktail, which deserves a more refined description.

The Wiki definition of a cocktail is, “[A] beverage that contains two or more ingredients if at least one of them contains alcohol.”

Even without a hangover, this explanation makes my head hurt, because it implies that a “non-alcoholic beverage” at 0.5 pct ABV can be the main ingredient in a cocktail as long as it’s mixed with a second ingredient – for example, a near-beer shandy. But no one – at least, no one I’ve ever met, heard of, or read about in the history of human civilization – really looks forward to kicking back with a concoction of cooked-down malt beverage with a splash of lemon-flavored high-fructose-corn-syrup that has zero capability to alter their mood or please their palate.

And for me and my drinking buddy, therein lies the distinction.

vintage-cocktail-party_thirtysomewheredotcomDrinks (the alcoholic kind) are what you consume at parties, where social lubrication is more important than the flavor profile. Surely you wouldn’t criticize your host for using bottled juices or middle-shelf spirits when serving a crowd; the important thing is that they encourage guests to have a good time together.

Cocktails, in the Grog Dog’s lexicon, are beverages containing a balanced combination of two or more flavorful ingredients and enough alcohol (technically, ethanol) to make their consumption a physical and emotional pleasure – an experience to savor. Cocktails can and do enhance a gathering, a meal, and other activities, but they mostly are crafted for the sheer joy of the tastes, textures, and effect they deliver. The higher the quality of your ingredients, the better the drinking experience, whether you’re alone or with a group.

Whatever you call them, delicious cocktails can be as simple as the Salty Dog, a slightly savory mixture of gin (or vodka, 1.5 oz), grapefruit juice (5 oz), and kosher salt (1/4 tsp) stirred with ice. This is a variation of the even-simpler Greyhound, which eliminates Dogstar_paws4clawsdotcomthe salt.

Having taken the first swig of a craft cocktail as if it were a mere drink, my remorseful friend thereafter sipped, enjoyed, and relaxed… as the cocktail gods intended.

Image credits: safebee.com (drinking pup); thirtysomewhere.com (party); paws4claws.com (dogstar)

Spring has finally sprung and the GrogDog is enjoying the sunshine, daffodils, and traditional spring and Easter treats that have been used to celebrate the Earth’s renewal since humans discovered the miraculous egg.

Image credit: PetsLady.com

Image credit: PetsLady.com

While St. Patrick’s Day is all about the green, Easter and its companion non-Christian holidays clothe themselves in pastels – pink, yellow, blue, and green reflecting blooming botanicals. This year, enjoy a semi-sweet brunch cocktail that incorporates all the ingredients of a bright spring day full of promise: The Grand Royal Fizz.

Image credit: Cocktail101.org

Image credit: Cocktail101.org

The Grand Royal Fizz is ½ oz. orange juice, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 oz. gin, ¼ oz. maraschino liqueur, ½ oz. cream, and 1 fresh egg. Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake long and hard – you want to incorporate as much of the egg into the drink as possible, and enough air to give it a silky mouthfeel. Pour into a tall glass, top with club soda, and give it a light stir.

Note: I understand that people are wary of consuming raw eggs. There was a massive raw-egg scare a couple of decades ago and now every chain restaurant menu in the country warns against them. If you’re squeamish about drinking whole raw eggs, feel free to substitute 1 oz. of pasteurized egg white from a carton – but if you skip the egg altogether you’re changing the character of the cocktail substantially, and I can’t vouch for the result. In the interest of education, this article completely debunks the myth that consuming raw egg is a health hazard. (The egg-producing process is highly regulated and salmonella contamination rates, already pretty low except for the long-ago outbreaks that caused the seemingly unending hysteria, are hardly worth mentioning now.)

Making the SNAP Sour, image credit ArtintheAge.com

Making the SNAP Sour,
image credit ArtintheAge.com

For those who prefer a less spot-on Easter cocktail but want to enjoy a zingy taste of spring, I offer the Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour, a fresh, sweet/sour cocktail that features SNAP liqueur, “…a sophisticated organic spirit based on authentic folk history designed for people who know how to drink”.

This delicious ginger spirit was developed based on a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch gingersnap recipe by my drinking buddies at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction cooperative (conceived by Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum creator Steven Grasse). You can find SNAP, along with its equally delightful playmates ROOT, SAGE, and RHUBARB, at many well stocked liquor stores, and cocktail recipes in addition to this one on their web site.

Image credit: AWREdinburgh

Image credit: AWREdinburgh

The Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour is 1 oz. SNAP, 2 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3 oz. pineapple juice, and 5 mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the lemon juice, add SNAP and pineapple juice, stir, and top with club soda.

Happy Easter, happy gardening, happy spring from the Grog Dog!

If there’s one cocktail-related thing that does not get the GrogDog’s tail wagging, it’s the force-fit themed cocktail. As you may remember from my Valentine’s Day post, putting colored sweet stuff into a glass just to fit a particular holiday is not my idea of celebratory drinking. (I promise a really good post on how to create your own everyday themed celebration with cocktails is coming soon!)

Classic green goodness

Classic green goodness

But this week is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, when for some inexplicable reason Americans want to be “a little Irish” and celebrate the saint’s day as they imagine the Irish do (or more accurately, as they don’t care that the Irish don’t).

If you really want to celebrate like the Irish do, indulge in a good-quality Irish whiskey or a Guinness on tap. (And if you don’t want to be pegged as a “weekend Irish“, do not ask the bartender to draw a shammy on it…)

For those of you looking for a way to tip your glass to the beauty of the Emerald Isle without bacchanalean over-indulgence in (shudder) green beer, I offer the Gimlet and its variations.

The basic Gimlet is 3-4 parts London dry gin and 1 part sweetened lime juice (aka lime cordial). Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a thin lime wheel or twist.

A classic variation is the Gimblet (note the “b”), which uses straight-up fresh-squeezed lime juice instead of the sweetened version, and lightens up the astringent cocktail with a splash of club soda. (Stir gin and juice in a short glass with ice; top with soda.)

For the continental drinker, I offer the French Gimlet: 2 oz London dry gin, 1 oz St-Germain, and 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.

If you’d rather be drinking on the beach, there’s the Jamaican Gimlet (a GrogDog creation), which marries lime and ginger flavors into a more mellow drinking experience: 2 oz London dry gin, 1/2 oz lime cordial, 1/2 oz ginger syrup, 1 oz fresh lime juice.

Image credit: Dogtipper.com

Image credit: Dogtipper.com

These cocktails look light and refreshing, but beware! They’ll sneak up on you like the banished snakes of Erin.

The GrogDog leaves you to celebrate the greenest of spring holidays with this wish:

May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck,
Brightened by a song in your heart,
And warmed by the smiles of the people you love.

Slainte!

The GrogDog believes in the healing power of alcohol – after all, it kills germs when applied topically, so why not from the inside? Earlier this winter I posted a recipe for a bourbon toddy that has several cold-busting elements: lemon juice (vitamin C), honey (soothes the throat), warming hot water (it’s important to hydrate!), and of course alcohol to induce rest and beat that cold into submission.

Another cold-fighting super-ingredient is ginger. Though it has been used for millennia as an all-purpose tonic, ginger is hot again (pun intended), for its spicy flavor and versatility as much as its medicinal properties.

Ginger is also a popular base for liqueurs and cocktail ingredient, and while it makes many delicious drinks, I consider its best use a cold-fighting toddy booster. Its flavor marries well with bourbon, rye, gin, or rum, so you can choose your base according to taste.

To double or triple the ginger mojo, layer in a slice or two of fresh ginger and/or sweeten your toddy with ginger syrup.

Image credit: TummyRumble.Hultberg.org

Image credit: TummyRumble.Hultberg.org

Ginger Toddy

2 oz bourbon, rum, rye, or gin

1 oz ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton or other brand)

1 oz ginger syrup* (substitute honey if you’re too exhausted to make syrup, or you have a sore throat)

1 oz fresh lemon juice (if using rum, try fresh lime juice instead)

Fresh ginger slice (optional)

Boiling water

Stir all ingredients in a sturdy mug. Sip slowly while bundled up in warm pajamas and wooly socks.

Image credit: Imgur

Image credit: Imgur

*Ginger syrup: Boil 1 cup each sugar and water with a handful of slices of fresh peeled ginger. Stir to dissolve sugar; remove from heat, cover and let steep until completely cool. Strain into a clean jar; store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Note: Bundled-up dog image is for illustrative purposes only. Please do not give your dog a toddy, or any alcohol, any time, for any reason.