MxMo LV: Some Like It Hot!

This month’s Mixology Monday is being hosted by Nancy, aka The Backyard Bartender, and her chosen theme is: Some Like It Hot. Very simple, make anything you want, as long as it is hot. This could not have come at a more perfect time, as it has been below freezing this week, and I very much enjoyed experimenting with many variations of hot beverages.

Last week I was enjoying the Full Sail Black Gold, and I thought that with it’s rich chocolate/malt flavors that it would work well in a cocktail. So after thinking about how I was going to incorporate it, I decided to go the beer syrup route and made an imperial stout syrup. It turned out perfectly. Rich and thick with a lot of the chocolate notes I was looking for.

So now I had my sweetener, but what about the rest of the drink? Normally when crafting a drink I start with the base spirit, but since I really wanted to incorporate the beer it was a little more challenging. As I was thinking about flavor pairings, my original thoughts were apples and strawberries, but neither of those really fit with a hot beverage. However, orange would be perfect. Everybody loves those chocolate oranges, so throw some chocolate and orange together, add some rum, and you have got yourself a drink.

It was a good drink, but lacking somehow. Bitters of course, how could one forget bitters? They make everything taste better. Adding some orange and chocolate bitters really helped tame the sweetness and give a little dimension to the drink. So there you have it, a fine winter warmer for those cold chilly nights. Thanks to Nancy for hosting and Paul for organizing month after month. Be sure to head over to her site for the roundup in a few days. Cheers!

Imperial Stout Syrup
3/4 cup Black Gold Imperial Stout
1 cup Sugar
simmer on stove until sugar is completely dissolved.
Cool, and fine strain to remove the beer head.

Pirate’s Gold
1 1/2 oz Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Demerara Rum
3/4 oz Stout Syrup
1/4 oz Creole Shrub
5 dashes orange bitters
5 dashes chocolate bitters
2-3 oz Hot Water

Vintage Cocktails #51: The Chatham Hotel Special

Our next cocktail is the Chatham Hotel Special. One of the signature cocktails of this former hotel, this is a great after dinner/dessert drink. The brandy and port play together nicely, and the cream and hint of chocolate provided by the creme de cacao give this drink just a hint of sweetness. It’s not cloying at all, and is altogether an excellent cocktail. Cheers!

Chatham Hotel Special
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Ruby Port
1/2 oz Cream
1 dash Dark Creme de Cacao

Beer of the Week: Full Sail Black Gold Imperial Stout

Part of the fun I have with beverages is trying things that expand my palate. I never really used to be a fan of beer, but lately I have been noticing that I am starting to enjoy a wider variety of the fermented libations. Stout in particular was a class of beer that seemed to turn me off. I’m not sure if it was the color, or maybe I just never had any good stouts, but I am proud to say that I love stouts now. Recently, at the Copper Hog (one of my favorite Bellingham bars) I had the chance to try the Full Sail Black Gold Bourbon Imperial Stout. It is amazing!

This 11.4% abv Imperial Stout, is just one beer in a long line of brewmaster reserves released by Full Sail on 10 week rotation. It is essentially their Imperial Stout, which is then aged for a full year in bourbon casks, which adds some great vanilla, caramel, and oak flavors.

Like most imperial stouts, the Black Gold pours inky black with a reddish brown head that dissipates fairly quickly. This is a beer with some great aromas. There are the typical dark malts, some vanilla, and a fair amount of the caramel and bourbon oak aromas from the barrel aging. The Black Gold has thicker, more creamy mouthfeel than most other american stouts. A slightly drying finish with little hop aromas. The taste is very full. Dark chocolates, coffee, caramel malts are the predominant flavors, with some vanilla and hoppy bitterness rounding it out. All in all, I would have to say that this is probably one of the best stouts I have ever tasted. If you can get a bottle, don’t hesitate to try it out. Cheers!

Vintage Cocktails #50: The Hanky Panky

Here we are at number 50. Halfway through Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails in about a years time. Pretty decent, I suppose, considering the effort that some ingredients take to acquire. Well, on to the next one. This next cocktail at first glance seems basic and ordinary. Equal parts Gin and Sweet Vermouth, with a little bitters thrown in. But there is more here than meets the eye. The bittering agent used in this drink is Fernet Branca.

Fernet Branca is an amaro, a bitter, aromatic spirit, which some have described as tasting like licorice flavored listerine. I may concur. Created in the 1840′s by Bernardino Branca, this elixer is packed full with exotic spices. There are few in this world who know all of the ingredients to Fernet, and they aren’t telling. However, some of the herbs rumored to be infused into the grape base are: aloe, myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John’s wort, sage, peppermint oil, and a hearty offering of saffron, a key ingredient. Fernet Branca apparently accounts for upwards of 75% of the worlds saffron use, which is one of the most expensive food products in the world. Due to some of these ingredients, Fernet Branca has been billed as “medicinal”, and was in fact one of the only legal liquors available during prohibition. You can read a great article on Fernet Branca here. On to the drink.

This drink was invented at the Savoy Hotel in London. Not by the infamous Harry Craddock, author of The Savoy Cocktail Book, but by his predecessor, Ada Coleman. It was Ada who would make the bar at the Savoy famous, a feat all the more impressive considering she manned the stick during a time when bars were dominated by men. In fact, prior to prohibition, women were rarely even seen in bars. Leave it to those English to be so progressive. Anyways, give it a try, and if you are really bold, try a shot of Fernet as well. I did. Cheers!

The Hanky Panky
1 1/2 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Fernet Branca