Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Repeal Day 2018: If You Can't Drink the One You Want, Drink the One You're With

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution repealing Prohibition was passed.  Eighty some-odd years later, the anniversary of this momentous occasion inspired the three gents behind A&T to actually post some thoughts. On this particular occasion, it's not about making the perfect drink but rather making do with what you've got at hand.

Hello beloved readers. Yes, it's been a while since we posted here. That doesn't mean we haven't been putting things out in the world. Don't forget to follow our Instagram and Facebook pages for more regular updates. That said, in honor of this most hallowed of days, we thought we'd grace the interwebs with some of our long form thoughts on what we've been drinking, specifically how to make do when the great thirst grips you but supplies at hand might be lacking. And here.we.go.

Behind the bar.
John: Somehow, despite our best efforts, December 5 snuck up on us again this year. As I write this, I'm sitting in a mosquito-netted bed in a homely hotel in Iringa, Tanzania. I befriended the resident bartender, Albert, but his expertise is mostly limited to opening up bottles of Safari and Kilimanjaro beers. With a little cajoling, I got him to let me behind the bar.

Albert testing a first
trial of the Iringa 75.
The pickings were slim. Very slim. Speaking frankly, it was mostly bottles of forgettable South African wine, generic whisk(e)ys and gin, a few "malt" beverages, and Konyagi, a Tanzanian cane sugar liquor. Albert was enthusiastic, however, and was willing to help pull together the fixings for some fresh lime juice, brown sugar simple syrup, and Savanna Cider (also from South Africa). He even donated some fresh mint - apparently a former guest was known to enjoy mojitos. With Albert's help I got to work, much to the amusement of a group of Peace Corps Volunteers who had just arrived at the hotel. 

Ultimately, I came up with what I'm calling the Iringa 75, a play on the city of origin (Iringa) and the beverage of inspiration (French 75). It is very Charles H. Baker-esque. Albert seemed to like it. This was very much a beverage of the moment and one that might be tough to re-create (if you wanted to), but it will get you where you need to go. 

The Recipe:
A rose in a fisted glove,
Eagles flying with doves, etc.
Fill a Collins Glass (or equivalent) with ice and add:
Konyagi: 2-3 second pour
Lime Juice: 1-2 second pour
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup: 1 second pour
Savanna Cider: Fill to the top of the glass (3-4 second pour)

Slap a few mint leaves, drop into the glass, and stir with abandon. Take a sprig of mint, give that another slap, and set it gently at the top of the drink. Consume quickly.

David: "Snuck up on us again" as in "John reminded us in October and then we all forgot until two days ago."

I've been focused more on wine than cocktails recently, with the result that my wine selection rocks, but my bar is a little low. Some things I can't go without - good gin, for instance - but everything else has atrophied somewhat. Yes, for the record, I AM ashamed of that. 

With that in mind, I went looking through what I HAVE got - which, like any of you, is more than you might think if you're willing to get a bit creative - and came up with this, which I'm calling An Apple A Day. 

I had some Laird's applejack left, which is good solid stuff. Because it's apple-derived, I made an apple simple syrup. I have some fennel bitters that I put together recently, and apple pairs beautifully with the green, vegetal, slightly anise flavor of that. One of the few things those bitters WILL pair really well with, which of course means I need to go pick up more applejack. 

John, in his present location, will confirm my understanding of the phrase "first world problems." 

Making flavored simple syrup is way easier than you might think... simple syrup itself is only 1 part sugar, 1 part water, mix them together in a pot on the stove, then heat it and stir it until the sugar dissolves. That's it. Seriously. I had an apple on hand, so I peeled it, chucked the peels in as it heated, and let them cool in the syrup. Presto, apple simple syrup. Duplicate that with anything you happen to have around... lemon? Add lemon peel. Ginger? Black pepper? Knock yourself out, simple syrup's a totally blank canvas. 

Lemon lifts the drink, the acid meshing with and helping to integrate the rest of the flavors - really ties the drink together, you might say. I was trying to think of something to add a bit more interest, then remembered I had a smoker and - weirdly enough - some applewood chips to put in it, which is the kind of synchronicity that rarely happens. SO, understanding that the Gods were obviously behind me in my time of tribulation... 

The Recipe:
2.5 oz Laird's applejack. I'd say "or whatever apple brandy you have on hand," except that it's probably Laird's, so there you go. 
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz apple simple syrup
about half of a quarter oz of fennel bitters. 

I am sadly out of Oola gin, which I'd picked up in Seattle last year
If you don't have a smoker, no worries - the drink turned out great without it, but it's a nice touch. If you DO have a smoker, what I did is wet the inside of the glass with a touch of the applejack to hold the smoke, then upended the glass and stuck the smoker nozzle under it. If you don't have fennel bitters, no worries, be creative. Basic aromatic will work fine, but orange? Pairs great with apple and as a bonus, you can groove on the irony while you sip. Black walnut? Ditto, reinforces a nice earthy touch - minus the irony, of course. 

Since the drink's got fruit juice and syrup, I shook it rather than stirring it. An extra apple peel made a nice garnish, but I did it again (quality control, don't y'know) with some fennel pollen along the rim of the glass, and that was awesome. I also made it (quality - hic - control, don'y'know) with a brandy that I picked up in Kosovo recently, and it was great with that too. 

Pablo: For the record, I'm also ashamed of David.

That's only because I suffer from the opposite problem. Whereas John finds himself in locales that may not have what we'd consider a well-stocked bar and David has a healthy wine collection but limited spirits, I don't travel as often these days and I have a well-stocked liquor cabinet; it's not necessary to divulge actual figures since my wife will read this but there is an overflow problem...depending on who you ask. It's not about quantity but storage. Though I am under strict orders not to buy any more bottles until we go through some of what we've got. There was nothing said about others buying me bottles. 'Tis the season, after all. 

In order to free up space I pulled every bottle out to reorganize and set aside those which were down to a few ounces and in the spirit of making do with what I had set aside I stirred together a little something. My options included: Vitae Modern Gin, Vitae Golden Rum, Laird's Applejack, Dalmore 12, and Punt e Mes. The only trouble with this approach is that I only had one shot, almost literally, to make something work and lo and behold I came up with something tasty and fitting for these fall days: Tempting Eve, an easy equal parts cocktail. 
Tempting Eve and Christmas cheer

The Recipe:
1 oz Vitae Golden Rum
1 oz Laird's Applejack
1 oz Punt e Mes
flamed orange zest for garnish

This came together better than I hoped and works perfectly for this chilly fall weather we're in. 

Part of why we do this, aside from the obvious, is the creativity creating cocktails affords us, whether you're in a far flung place with only a half dozen "ingredients" behind the bar or at home with too many bottles for your own good and imposing your own limitations. Or at David's house.  


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