I wanted to shake up something with falernum tonight (more on falernum another time), so I pulled up a recipe on Internet Cocktail Database called the Royal Bermuda Cocktail.  Ingredients are 1 3/4 oz Barbados rum, 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, 1/4 oz Cointreau, 1/4 oz falernum, and 1/4 tsp sugar.

I didn't have any limes on hand, so I substituted Rose's and left out the sugar.  I also didn't have any Barbados rum (about the only kind I don't have) (and so why am I making this cocktail? you're asking), so I substituted blue cane Rhum Agricole from Haiti. I did have real velvet falernum, and that's made in Barbados, so that makes up for the wrong-island rum.  If you're making a drink with falernum, buy the real stuff, not the cheap American-made version.  Shake all this on ice, strain, etc.

Verdict:  well, fresh lime juice would have been better, but fresh limes make anything taste better.  Falernum tends to be sweet, so you don't really need any other sweetness (though I tend not to like sweet drinks, so don't listen to me necessarily) (just read my blog).  Not a bad cocktail.  I'm low on various varieties of rum right now (I'd like to try it with 10 Cane, one of my favorites), but I'd like to try this cocktail with different ones.  It has potential.


I like Campari, so I decided to play around with a few variations on negronis.  Negronis, for those of you who haven't seen The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, is the classic Italian cocktail with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.  Some drinkers add soda to turn it into a quasi-Americano, but I never understand the point of watering down perfectly good liquor (unless it is to be able to drink more of it).

The negroni was invented in 1919 by an Italian count of that name.  For a while his family manufactured ready-to-drink versions (the Gatorade of the time). Orson Welles wrote to someone when he was working in Italy in the 1940s: "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."

As you may recall from my more regular ramblings a couple years ago, I'm not a big fan of sweet vermouth (it may be I just have never had really good sweet vermouth).  So for my first attempt, I used the usual gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but cut back on the vermouth to maybe 1/2 the amount of the other ingredients and used a little Mandarine Napoleon.

Not a bad drink.  It was sweeter than the usual negroni, but the orange cut the Campari's bitterness and made it a bit sweeter.  I'm not a big sweet cocktail fan, but I liked this.

Second was one made with Punt e Mes.  I wrote about this pumped up sweet vermouth a couple years ago.  PeM takes the place of the Campari in the drink, but making a negroni with a double shot of PeM in lieu of using the vermouth doesn't work well, as I found out back then. This year, the flavor just seemed rather blah to me.  Too much vermouth flavor and not enough bitters; I'd just as soon use Campari.

Next, I tried my own invention, a 'perfect' negroni using gin, half a measure of sweet vermouth, half a measure of dry vermouth, and Campari.  This was the best of the batch, I think:  the dry vermouth cut back on the sweet's obnoxiousness, and you still get the Campari kick.

Last, I was really adventurous:  a negroni made with Pimm's.  Why not?  Pimm's is just gin on steroids.  And the negroni tasted like a drink on steroids too.  Very strong flavors, and it really packed a punch.  I used an ounce of each ingredient, and towards the bottom of the glass I was feeling like I'd drunk some of the brandy punch I made a couple years ago that threw me for a loop.  (Admittedly I hadn't eaten much supper.)  I'm not sure this totally works, but with some tweaking you might be able to turn it into a pretty lethal cocktail.

Creme de violette Cocktails

I have a bottle of creme de violette, and I got to wondering what I could do with it. A lot of recipes call for it in layered drinks (pousse cafes), but I've never been able to get the layering right. I just wanted something I could shake and drink.

The first cocktail I tried is called Arsenic and Old Lace: 1 1/2 oz gin (I used Bombay dry), 1/2 pastis (I used Herbsaint), 1/2 creme de violette, and 1/2 dry vermouth.

This cocktail is pretty sweet, and the Herbsaint comes through more than any other flavor. (Off on a tangent, Herbsaint works well drizzled on corned beef if you're slow cooking it; I tried that last week and it was great.) You can't taste the creme de violette at all; its main contribution seems to be in making the color of the drink a dirty river green-brown. I wouldn't bother with this one again.

The second one from Internet Cocktail Database is called an Atty Cocktail: 2 oz gin, 1/2 dry vermouth, 2 dashes creme de violette.

This one is just a very wet gin martini that's also slightly purple. The botanicals in the gin and vermouth cover up any flavors from the creme de violette.

So, to sum up, I think I'll have my bottle of creme de violette gathering dust for some years to come.

Cocktails with Blue Curacao

I've tried a couple blue curacao cocktails the last few days.

The first one is called the Blue Barn Farm: 50% gin (I used Booth's), 30% blue curacao, 10% cointreau, and 10% maraschino.

I don't know why some recipes give ingredients in 10ths or 5ths; it's a pain to convert. For this one I used a 1 tablespoon measure as a tenth (so 50% gin would be 2 1/2 oz).

This is very blue, and very sweet, though the gin comes through. Too sweet for me though.

The second one is called the Ribonade, which, according to Webster's, is just an old name for ribbon. A blue ribbon perhaps.

The recipe called for 2/5 gin (Booth's again), 2/5 clear curacao (my De Kuyper's was actually orange), and 1/5 curacao. For my fifth measurement, I used the 3/4 side of a jigger, so I ended up with close to 4 oz total.

Since I didn't have clear curacao, I ended up with sort of blue-green color. Actually it looks better than blue for a cocktail. The drink tastes like curacao with a little bit of gin peeking through. Too blah for me, though, almost like just slugging curacao from a bottle.

Is my tongue blue now?

Rendezvous Cocktail

This afternoon I tried a recipe from the Internet Cocktail Database called the Rendezvous cocktail: 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz kirsch, and 1/4 oz Campari. I like gin, I like Campari; so this sounded like a good drink for me.

I used Booth's for my gin in this. I had a bottle of maraschino liqueur out from the other day, so I substituted it for the kirsch (one cherry should taste pretty much like another, right?) for the first shaker full.

Results: not too bad, although pink, slightly sweet, and the Campari cut through the cherry (which wasn't overwhelming) and the botanicals.

For the second drink, I used a French kirsch. Results: not nearly as good. I like tart drinks, and most things tart, in general, but this was a bit too much for me. No sweetness from the kirsch, and the campari came through more strongly. Just a surprisingly almost unpleasant cocktail.

Make it with the maraschino, though, and it's not bad for a rendezvous.

The Three Bears' Hot Buttered Rum

I wanted to try some rum drinks, and I figured hot buttered rum is about the easiest and quickest. With temperatures getting up into the 60s here, we're not really having hot buttered rum weather, but better now than in August.

Hot buttered rum is just a pad or slab of butter, an ounce and a half or so ('to taste') of rum in a 12 oz mug, topped with boiling or very hot water. I give mine a stir. You can also add spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc.

The first rum I used was El Dorado 12 year Demerara rum. This is made in Guyana from demerara/turbinado sugar. Kind of fancy for hot buttered rum, but I had it on hand. I liked this one best (and for what it cost I should). Nice sweetness to it.

Next up was Rhum Barbancourt, which is made in Haiti. This is made directly from sugar cane juice (like rhum agricole and cacha├ža) instead of from molasses. This one was less sweet and gave a bit of a kick to the back of the throat. It wasn't earth-shattering.

Last, for Baby Bear, was hot buttered rum made with Rhum agricole distilled from blue cane juice in Martinique. This one was a little sweeter than the Barbancourt, gave a little kick, but also had a more distinctive flavor. After 3 drinks, my taste buds may have been perkier too.

Rye and Grenadine Cocktails

Today I decided to try a couple cocktails that call for rye and grenadine. No reason, just seemed like an interesting combination. I used Russell Rye, which is good stuff.

The first cocktail has several names on Internet Cocktail Database: Old Pal, Oppenheim, Opening. It's pretty simple whatever it's called: 1 1/2 oz rye, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (I use Noilly Pratt), and 1/2 oz grenadine. Shake on ice and strain.

This cocktail seemed bland on first sip. As I kept sipping, it grew on me and the sweetness of the grenadine came through. I'm not a big maraschino cherry fan, but this almost cries out for one. Maybe soak it in bourbon first.

The second cocktail is the Creole Lady: 1 1/4 oz rye, 1 1/4 oz Madeira (I used Sandman), and 1/4 oz grenadine. Shake on ice and strain.

Great flavors working together. If you substituted sweet vermouth for the grenadine and a few dashes of bitters, you'd have an interesting Manhattan variant. And that damn cherry again.

Bourbon and Campari Drinks

So I got on the wagon for 2-3 weeks and didn't drink much. That is a bad habit that I must break.

Tonight I made 2 cocktails that combine bourbon with Campari, both recipes from Internet Cocktail Database.

The first, a "Belle of Camille," calls for 1 1/2 oz bourbon, I used Russell Reserve, and 1 oz Campari, shaken over ice and strained.

Not a bad cocktail; I liked it, but, then, I like cocktails that are a little sharp. You get the Campari kick in the back of your throat. One more ingredient in this - don't ask me what - and it would be a great drink.

The second was a "Special Manhattan" made with 1 3/4 oz bourbon (also Russell), 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (using Noilly Pratt), and 1/4 oz Campari. My little magnetic 1 tablespoon measuring cup that I keep on the fridge really comes in handy for directions like this.

This cocktail was smoother, a little too much sweet vermouth for me, but a hint of the Campari still came through. Not half bad either. I wouldn't have thought that Campari would play so well with bourbon.

Russell Reserve and campari 1 1/2 to 1
you get the sharpness of the campari in the back of ur throat
kind of pinkish
I think I like it; maybe could use one more ingredient to make it great

2nd one: vermouth comes through strongly, just a hint of campari in the background