Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pale Deacon

A day late, sure, but who cares - let's check out the Pale Deacon!
Pale Deacon
Taken once again from Esquire's fantastic online database of drinks, available here.

3 ounces London dry gin
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
4 1/2 ounces grapefruit juice

"Shake the gin, sugar, and grapefruit juice* well with cracked ice, then pour unstrained into a chilled Collins glass. Truth be told, we prefer ours with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters -- but we would, you see; we're professionals."

Alright, I played around with this one because of the ingredients I had on-hand, and the spirit (no pun intended) of the recipe.

First, I only had Ruby Red Grapefruit juice available at the Amateur Mixologist studios.  Because Ruby Red is so sweet compared to regular grapefruit juice, I decided that the drink didn't need any more sugar.  So, I didn't add the half-teaspoon.

Also, I used what gin I had on hand, as I ran out of London dry gin a little while back, and didn't have any in stock.  Use any gin you like for this one.  There's enough grapefruit juice used in this recipe to knock out the subtleties of good gin anyway.

Lastly, I went ahead and added the Angostura bitters to the drink, so that I could further cut against the sweetness of the Ruby Red.  I figure the experts from Esquire's drink catalogue know a thing or two about the best way to make the drink.

I can't say that they were wrong!

This was a fantastic drink, entirely refreshing, not too sweet (even using the Ruby Red), and highly drinkable. 

The Pale Deacon works for practically any occasion, save for perhaps the coldest of winter nights when all you want is a scotch and blanket.  And, it can be made in large quantities.  If you do make it in large quantities, know that you need to add the bitters just before serving.  If you add the bitters early, the flavors can expand and expand exponentially.  In other words, add the bitters at the end and control the flavor.

Big fan of the Pale Deacon - hope you love it as well.  Cheers!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What We're Drinking This Week

It's a brief What We're Drinking This Week due to a crushing work schedule...

We're going to bring back the Pale Deacon for tomorrow.  It was originally scheduled for last Friday, but, again, crushing workload and all. 

I'm hoping that on Thursday we can do the Amore Campari, a recipe I found from GQ's website.  As mentioned in previous posts, this is Campari's 150th birthday.  It is a classic liqueur, worth our time and attention.

I had a great weekend, and hope you did as well.  Friday, I went to Art v. Art, at The Vogue theater in Indianapolis.  It was fantastic.  I plan to write more about it this week.  Saturday, I watched my beloved Arsenal lose to West Brom (WEST BROM?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!).  Ugly match.  And, they lost at home no less.  Pitiful.

But, the Colts won on Sunday and things turned right again in the world.

Until tomorrow my friends - have an excellent Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pale Deacon (next week)

We will sadly have to try the Pale Deacon next week.  Today though, I'll be putting up some fresh quality drink links!  Check back in a bit...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gin Rickey

Last night, The Amateur Mixologist played in his weekly soccer match, pulling out a 5-5 draw against a good side filled mainly with quality Brits.  I spent 50% of the match taunting them for the latest snooker scandal in England.  Only kidding of course.  No one gives a shit about snooker, not even the Brits, and it's their sport.  A draw is a decent result, but, I was exhausted. 

The Gin Rickey turned out to be an excellent choice for me on a night after such hard work.

Gin Rickey
Taken from Esquire's fantastic online drink database, available here.

1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces London dry gin
club soda

Squeeze the lime juice into a Collins glass full of ice. Add the gin, throw in the lime half, and top up with bubbly water of choice. That's it. Don't let anybody convince you to put sugar in this. You can use other liquors, adjusting the name accordingly.

This Gin Rickey tastes like a bizarro-Sprite, and yet, is oddly refreshing.  The drink makes for a perfect nightcap after playing a soccer game.  It's not particularly alcohol heavy, it's served cold, hell, one could convince themselves that this would have been a sports drink 200 years ago. 

As Peggy said on last week's Mad Men, we need 3 ingredients for a cocktail, and this fits the bill, barely. [I believe she said that 2 ingredients is "an emergency", a line that I liked very much.  Unfortunately though for Peggy, the world of cocktails has taken a back seat to 2-drink choices in the last 2-3 decades - though we're fighting against it in recent years!!  Good on us.]

It's also worth pointing out that I cheated a bit on this cocktail.  I didn't use fresh lime juice.  The limes I had at the house had faded and faded fast.  See?

Not only that, I didn't use London dry gin.  I used Leopold's small batch gin made in Colorado.  Leopold's is excellent, and I highly recommend checking out their Blackberry Flavored Wishkey.  I know that it sounds a little strange, flavor-wise, but it is unique and very good.

Our Gin Rickey turned out nicely.  And, the Gin Rickey is a cocktail that provides plenty of room for error - so throw in that bottled lime juice and non-London dry gin if available - give this one a go!

See you on Friday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What We're Drinking This Week

Another stellar week ahead here at the Amateur Mixologist, your home to drink information, recipes, and extremely random book and music recommendations! 

As you may recall from last week's "What We're Drinking This Week" post, I'm just now digging into John Franzen's new novel, Freedom.  The book has, in that brief time, been selected as the last book to be featured in Oprah's Book Club.  Oprah, as you know commands a massive audience, and her book club is responsible for moving thousands of copies as soon as a book is selected. 

In this instance though, Freedom was already being hailed as the Next Great American Novel, by numerous critics.  Read all of these various words of praise:

From the New York Times book review:  "Jonathan Franzen's new novel, "Freedom," like his previous one, "The Corrections," is a masterpiece of American fiction."

From another New York Times story: "an indelible portrait of our times."

From "Brilliant portrait of our times."

From the Dallas Morning News: "Jonathan Franzen does not publish often, and when he does, critics and readers of serious fiction look to him for large, carefully crafted, consequential statements about life in the American middle class."

And the comparatively tame: "Franzen has written two terrific novels in a single decade and that the new one is just as good as the last."

I'm starting to feel as though people like this novel. 

What's interesting is that I cannot recall this much buzz and pop culture attraction for such a critically acclaimed novel in my lifetime.  Sure, a sequel to Da Vinci Code kills at the bookstore, and would certainly sell millions of copies.  But no one take it seriously as a true literary work of art.  So what's changed this time around?  Why are people gravitating to a 600 page novel in a way that's usually reserved for a 300 page piece of beach-reading fluff? 

I don't have the answer, though I do think it's a hopeful sign.  One must at least give Oprah credit for selecting a quality book, as opposed to something as ridiculous as The Secret, which upon the mere thought of it, makes me mad with rage.  For as often as Oprah does a disservice to her audience - and there could be no greater disservice to her audience and culture at large than introducing them to the cockamamie bullshit that is The Secret - sometimes she pulls out a gem and exposes her audience to the same.  Freedom is one such gem.  It in no way would have lurked in the shadows.  It would have been a literary phenomenon with or without her book club.  But, still, she chose wisely, and for that she deserves some credit.

What We're Drinking This Week

Boy, after thinking of The Secret, I'm infuriated enough that I need a drink.  Like, immediately. 

Wednesday:  Gin Rickey - classic gin based cocktail that is sure to please.

Friday: Pale Deacon - another gin based cocktail with grapefruit juice.

See you on Wednesday!  And, if you just can't get enough of me, you can always follow us on Twitter, @IMakeDrinks


Friday, September 17, 2010

Honey Bee

Today we're drinking the Honey Bee, a cocktail that is quite similar to The Bee's Knees, though with rum instead of gin (and the addition of water).  Also, it's worth noting that this is another cocktail recipe taken from Esquire's fantastic online catalogue of drinks.  Tuesday's cocktail, the McCrory, was another Esquire find.  If you've never been to the site, I highly recommend checking it out (available here).

Honey Bee

1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon water
2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice

Put the honey and warm water in a cocktail shaker and stir it until the honey is thoroughly dissolved. Add the white rum* and lemon juice, then shake viciously with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If this is too dry, or if you're feeling charitable and generous of spirit, g'ahead and add a little more honey. Drink how ya like.

*According to Embury, this makes it a Honeysuckle; a Honey Bee requires dark, Jamaican-style rum. Esquire's 1949 Handbook for Hosts disagrees. We'll go with Esquire.

This is a nice drink, and is quite similar to other rum plus lemon juice cocktails we've tried in the past.  Lemon juice and gin is an easy, reliable flavor combination.

This drink is sweet, but not too sweet, and as the recipe indicates, you should use more or less honey to your preference.  With the summer winding down, this may be one of the few remaining cold drinks we can consume before the days become too cold for BBQs.  It is, however, ideal for such occasions (BBQs that is). 

I hope everyone has an excellent weekend; for my Hebrew readers, an easy fast; and here's hoping we have at least a couple weeks of stellar weather so we can play some golf.   Cheers!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I watched Sunday night's Mad Men episode, and am really excited about what's ahead for our man, Don Draper.  For those who haven't seen the episode, or the series, and want to be left in the dark, scroll down to the drink.

Draper is fun when he is in control of his life.  He made routinely bad choices as a husband, but, it was entertaining for us viewers because he controlled his life.  He was a self-made man in every respect.  This season though, until last episode, he was lost in the proverbial woods.  He was drinking too much, but that wasn't as tough to watch as the overall inability to control his surroundings.  The two go hand in hand of course, but the drinking was only a part of his issues. 

His wife left him, women generally found him less attractive, his work began to suffer, and his relationship with his children deteriorated.  Now, he seeks control.  He drinks, but drinks less.  He makes measured decisions (see not going home with the gorgeous co-worker Faye).  He works out.  He works out!!  I mean, we're talking about an era in which physical fitness was still unheard of for the modern working man. 

My favorite part of the episode was the initial scene.  Don diving into the pool, diving into water.  There is no greater archetype used in literature than water signaling a rebirth.  It was clear the direction the episode would take.  Don is back baby!  He's a new man.  He may not cavort with women the same way, but hopefully this new Don is as entertaining as the Don of seasons past.  For a fantastic comparison of last night's episode with "The Swimmer", a short story by the great John Cheever, read here.

And what would Don drink if given the chance?  Maybe the McCrory, a light cocktail with whisky.  Everyone on Mad Men loves whisky.

Taken from Esquire's fantastic online drink database, here.

1 ounce rye whisky
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/4 teaspoon superfine sugar
club soda
Stir in a Collins glass with 2 to 3 ice cubes, then fill to taste with club soda or seltzer; serve with a straw.

This is a decent drink, something you can throw together when you're low on supplies and don't want to get too tipsy.  It's low on alcohol, but thankfully rye whiskey provides enough flavor and punch that the club soda won't drown out its great qualities. 

One piece of advice - definitely put in a small amount of club soda, taste, and repeat until it's the right mix.  I probably put in a little too much club soda, as you can see from the photo.  My drink tastes just fine, but I probably could have used less club soda and been even happier.

This is a solid cocktail to drink before dinner.  A dinner out with the guys in the works?  Perfect, throw some of these together before heading out.

Enjoy the McCrory, we'll see you on Friday with the Honey Bee!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What We're Drinking This Week

After some time away, we're back this week with a couple new drinks!  Fall is coming quickly, as the temperatures drop, and the leaves change color.  This time of year often leaves one sentimental.  But, you can be sentimental with or without a drink, so why not make it with.

First though, we have a Book of the Week to discuss:

Daniel Silva, The Kill Artist.  This is beach-reading, popcorn thriller stuff, but it's good.  I'm usually not one to read or recommend such novels, but I liked this book.  It won't reveal greater truths, and it won't make you think critically at any point, but, if you need something to fill a couple weeks between other books - this is your ticket.  That's the situation I faced recently, I was between a couple books, and The Kill Artist was a solid choice.  I was waiting on Lords of Finance to arrive, the Pulitzer Prize winning book about bankers before and during the Depression.  Lords of Finance arrived, but, now it is behind Franzen's Freedom in the reading pecking-order. 

Anyway, back to The Kill Artist...

The Kill Artist is the first in a series of novels about an Israeli special agent named Gabriel Allon.  He is an art restorer by day, and secret agent by night.  He'd been out of the agent game for many years, but is pulled back into the fold by his old boss after a strike on an Israeli ambassador.  These novels have proven to be quite the success, as Allon as been featured in numerous novels since The Kill Artist, the first in which he appears.

Now that you've got a new book to read, what should you drink while reading it?

What We're Drinking This Week:

Tuesday: McCrory - rye whiskey based cocktail - should be tasty.

Friday: Honey Bee - white rum drink, with honey of course, and a couple other ingredients.  It's very similar to the Bee's Knees, a drink we've tried on here before, though the rum takes the place of the gin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Next week!

Drinkers!  The Amateur Mixologist will return next week, with all new recipes, and even more witty banter than you can remember.  Wait, what's that?  You don't remember any witty banter?  Errr, well, this sure is uncomfortable.  Ehh, I meant to say, "now, with witty banter!"

Yes, we're returning next week after a much needed week away.  See you all on Monday!  Naptowners - hit up one of the many festivals taking place in our fair city...I'm partial to the Penrod Arts Fair, taking place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, from 9am-5pm.  See you out there!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ginger White Peach Smash

Summer is fading fast, too fast.  I woke up this morning to work out at the gym.  Even when I left the place after my workout, daylight had still not emerged.  It was a bit cloudy this morning, I'll grant you, but even with no clouds, I know that our days will grow shorter and shorter until December.

But with some daylight, and summer days remaining, we're going to try the Ginger White Peach Smash. 

Ginger White Peach Smash

Created by Debbi Peek, and served at The Bristol in Chicago.  Recipe originally found at The Stew blog at the Chicago Tribune, available here.

1/2 fresh white peach, diced
8 to 10 mint leaves
3/4 ounce fresh ginger puree, see recipe
2 ounces Makers Mark bourbon
2 ounces fresh lemon sour, see recipe
Mint blossoms

In a mixing glass, muddle the peach, mint leaves and ginger puree. Add Makers Mark, lemon sour and ice. Shake; strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with mint blossoms.

Ginger puree: Mix equal parts fresh ginger, sugar and water. Puree in blender until smooth. Do not strain.

Lemon sour: Mix equal parts fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup.

Simple syrup: Bring equal parts sugar and water to boil, then cool completely and store in the fridge.

This cocktail is quite tasty.  The bourbon is a rather prominent flavor, despite what seems like a lot of drink components.  And despite all of the sugary additions, with the simple syrup and muddled ginger puree mixture, it isn't a particularly sweet cocktail.  It's nicely balanced.

But, this drink is a lot of work!  Most frustrating about this cocktail is the straining.  I found it very difficult to strain the liquid in a normal cocktail shaker, and when I used an actual straining device, I didn't find it any easier.   It's a fun cocktail, to be sure, and it drinks nicely, but know what you're getting into before proceeding head.  Making just one of these is labor intensive.

Hope you all have an excellent holiday weekend!  We'll be back on Tuesday with some fresh drinks!
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