Crystal Head vodka, Dan Ackroyd’s side venture, is packaged in a, yes, crystal skull, meant to reference the mysterious crystal skulls of Mesoamerica. Now a very bored forensic sculptor has taken one of the decanters and reconstructed the face of the human behind it. Sure. Why not? It’s vodka; you’re supposed to go a little crazy, right?
The company says, “Forensic artist Nigel from Scotland shared these incredible images with us. Check it out how he’s using his empty CHV bottles!”
We are not natural enthusiasts of novelty beverages; indeed, we (the royal we) may be called puritanical by some, but we generally prefer cocktails that were invented long before we were born. Let’s face it, a Martini or a Sazerac just outrank a Redbull and Vodka. I once saw a group of girls tossed out of one of my favorite bars for asking for tequila shots. The bartender leaned over and hoarsely stage-whispered, “This is a grown up bar. We do whiskey, and we do beer. If you want tequila shooters and Redbull, you want the Blarney Stone down the street. Come here when you’ve learned to drink like grown-ups.” And out they went, buzz deflated, to party with teens from the outskirts.
But thanks in part to knowing Shawn Soole of Little Jumbo, also known as Liquid Revolution, we are broadening our horizons somewhat. I mean, the last time I saw the man make a Martini he used liquid nitrogen, and water that he’d distilled himself. This is the bartender who invented the Grilled Cheese Washed Rum and the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini, which got so much media coverage that now he refers to it as “that bloody cocktail.” So, he is a horizon-broadener of the first rank, because it’s impossible to resist the tasty if deranged things he mixes up.
In any case, our good friend Bart Calendar, he who lives a lifestyle which literally embodies the word “aspirational,” has introduced us to a cocktail so crazy, yet so dazzlingly tasty-sounding, that we simply must try this at home. It is called the Rum Steak, it has rum and steak in it, and it comes from Papa Doble in Montpellier, France.
The Rum Steak from Papa Doble
2oz aged rum
0.2 oz absinthe (yes, it’s a fiddly recipe and everything’s better in ml but I figured you’d want the ounces)
0.4 oz homemade vanilla & spice maple syrup
4 drops Peychaud’s bitters
0.2 oz acacia honey infusion
1 slice fresh beef, cooked according to instructions below.
Stir all the ingredients with ice in the mixing glass and strain into a chilled old fashioned. Garnish with a baked slice of beef marinated in homemade acacia honey infusion.
Now, here’s the backstory, ie how to make the spiced maple syrup and acacia honey infusion…
Vanilla and Spice Maple Syrup:
To prepare 17oz: in a saucepan with maple syrup 17 oz, cajun spice 3 bar spoons and separated (ie seeded) vanilla 2 pods. Leave to simmer and fine strain.
Acacia Honey Infusion Beef Slices:
Mix acacia honey 3,5 oz and angostura bitter 5 dashes. Spread homemade acacia honey infusion over a slice of fresh beef. Bake it in the oven for 4 hours at temperature of 60°C.
Yes, it does sound like hella work, but it also sounds absolutely amazing. I’m going to ask Bart for a debrief after he has one (or quite possibly more) of these on his next visit to Papa Doble. By the way, it retails for $17.
Yes, it’s a Milestone birthday for raincoaster today, and you know what that means: GUILT! You didn’t get me anything, did you? Oh well, it’s not too late to get me something I want. As a friend said, “You’re the easiest person in the world to shop for because given the funds, there is nothing you would not buy for yourself.” Here is the perfect example.
Silver Monkey Straw
This solid silver monkey highball straw would be a fine start to the birthday haul. Yes, it is solid sterling silver from Tiffany. Yes, it is utterly ridiculous. The latter is why I covet it.
This week I’ll be saying good-bye to the city and actually taking a vacation. Not just time off sick, an actual vacation. So I’m getting in all my citified activities, views, and cocktails now before I head to the land of “That Scotch, did you want it with Pepsi?”
The Diddlebock Cocktail was created during perhaps the greatest bar scene ever filmed, a ten minute scene in the deliriously wacky 1947 Harold Lloyd flick The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock (that sin was drunkeness, it goes without saying or would, if I weren’t paid by the word). You can read a review of it here. Poor, straightlaced Harold has lost his job and his love and his purpose in life, and he is being led by his new pal the racetrack tout to an underground bar to have his first sip of the sweet nectar. The bartender is a poet at heart, who is inspired to new heights of achievement by the special occasion. This man is an epicurean of everclear, a De Sade of spirits, a Byron of booze.
The ingredients include vodka, crushed ice, astrology, corn liquor, and a breathtaking alcoholic erudition. It would be the greatest of all possible birthday presents (other than Julian Assange with a bow around his neck) for someone to present me with one of these. Pour yourself the beverage of your choice and settle in for ten minutes of glory.
“It has always seemed to me that a cocktail should approach us on tiptoe, like a young girl whose first appeal is innocence.” Magic.
Apparently, as far as Google and I can find, nobody has ever attempted to reconstruct a Diddlebock Cocktail in real life.
Longtime readers of the blog (ie me, the Manolo, Mr Henry, and possibly the Liquor Locusts, plus all of my creditors) will know that of all the spirits in this world or the next, the one dearest to my heart — if not my liver — is gin. And today is the day on which the nation joins together to venerate this most sublime if most mercurial of libations. Raise an ice-cold Martini with me in honor of this glorious occasion.
Wait, what? You tell me they make Martinis with vodka nowadays? Well, yes, there has always been the Vodka Martini class, and what would we do without people like that, upon whom to look down?
One of gin’s greatest qualities is its infinite variety: floral, vegetal, crystalline, even spicy. No other form of alcohol has as large a range of natural flavors (of artificially flavored spirits we shall not speak, except in four-letter words).
My good friend and favorite bartender Jay Jones oversees a weekly celebration of gin at Gin & Sin nights at Killjoy in Vancouver’s fashionable Yaletown neighborhood, featuring special pricing and a different featured gin each week, although they always keep the largest selection in town on hand. A couple of weeks ago they started upping the Sin content by bringing in burlesque dancers to spice things up after 10; it’s useful to bring the entertainment on after the audience has gotten good and warmed up. A famous burlesque dancer once remarked that alcohol was essential to a good performance, “a little for you, a lot for the audience.”
Two weeks ago, the sponsor was the very fine Broker’s gin. Broker’s is, like Plymouth, a great example of the London Dry style, crystal clear, neither vegetal like Tanqueray nor floral like Hendrick’s. It’s versatile and smoother than others of the same type. You don’t have to feel guilty putting it in a G&T, nor cheap putting it in a Martini. It simply works either way. Lemon twist, olive or even lime in your Martini; it’s your choice, and all of them will succeed as flavor notes. In fact, this kind of gin is excellent for experimentation and creativity with the garnish, since they will not overpower the oils with their own orchestra of aromas.
The Martini of Yog Sothoth
If you like, here’s your excuse to get out the vermouth atomizer and the fancy oils and play. I call this one, a Dirty Martini with smoked Cerignola olives, the Martini of Yog Sothoth, which lets me find out at once who’s read their H. P. Lovecraft and who I don’t need to talk to at that particular party. Smoked smoked black Cerignola olives are my new favorite Martini garnish that brings out the masculine side of a well-balanced gin like Broker’s or Plymouth, yet also stands up to a serious knife-and-fork gin like The Botanist.
If you feel more chiffon and rosebuds than Savile Row and leather, switch to Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire and a spritz of rose water, plus a couple of organic rose petals (which you can buy in Indian neighborhoods, should your burb have such a thing, or you may grow them yourself).
UPDATED TO ADD: clearly until my regular photographer returns from her Eastern sojourn, I need to read my friend Kris Krug’s book on iPhone photography. Either that or I have to buy you all enough Martinis to give you gin goggles.
We’re big Bulleit fans around here, having met the patriarch of the clan at a bourbon dinner a couple of years ago at Clive’s. He’s a true Kentucky raconteur: if I recall aright he said that in Kentucky it is generally considered polite to ask if people are related, but not considered polite to ask just exactly how closely…you get the idea.
Not to mention, it’s an excellent sippin’ likker. Not too rich for seconds, not too light for a single, and not too sweet for your liver or palate, it is excellent by itself as well as mixed. But since we’re all about the ginger lately, we’re going to show you how to make an infused ginger bourbon cocktail today, the Magic Bulleit, which we stole from Whiskybros.com.
First of all, infuse your bourbon. Well, duh; you have to do this several days beforehand. They recommend three days, but I’d give it up to a week, myself. They recommend an inch of peeled, sliced ginger per 8 ounces of bourbon, meaning about three inches for a regular bottle. Slice it no thicker than a quarter inch, please, but don’t dice it. We’re not making stir-fry here. Just pop the ginger in the bottle (if you have to pour some out to get the ginger in, I’m trusting you’ll know what to do with it, yes?) put the top back on, stick it in the fridge, and wait. I, personally, think sticking it in the fridge is counter-productive, but then I don’t want to poison any of you, so use your own judgement.
Now what? Pour out the booze and put it in a different bottle. Or get all the ginger out of that bottle somehow, if you’re contrarian. The idea is, you have to separate them after their time together is up; it’s like summer romance. Toxic if it goes on too long.
Then you have what it takes to make a whole party’s worth of cockails: to make each, build the following in a glass over ice.
Whistleblower Cocktail created by Jay Jones, photographed by Cathy Browne
Cheers! We’ve a spotty track records when it comes to regular weekly features, but who can’t get behind this: A cocktail for Friday! This is the Whistleblower Cocktail, which was created to celebrate the 40th birthday of My Future Boyfriend, Julian Assange. It was created by Jay Jones at Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri La hotel in Vangroover, and it is every bit as tasty as the man himself. Which man? Well, that would be telling.
Judge for yourself.
In related news, when did I start fancying facial hair? News to me.
And here’s the recipe for the cocktail. For the recipes for the two men I’ve shamelessly objectified above, I refer you to their respective parents.
1.5 oz Imperia (Russian Premium Vodka, made from Winter Wheat)
.25 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil (French liqueur, made by maceration of Brazilian bananas)
.5 oz Renegade Rum Company, Limited Edition Panama Rum 1995
-distilled in Panama (in honour of Julian’s escape to Ecuadorian sanctuary, if only in the embassy; there wasn’t any Ecuadorian rum at the bar)
-aged 13 years in Bourbon casks
-enhanced in Chateau Margaux casks
-bottled at Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland in 2008
-limited release of 1080 bottles
4 dashes Fee Brothers Gin-Barrel Aged Orange Bitters
-classic orange bitters aged in cask which had formerly aged Old Tom Gin (well, who wouldn’t be bitter after all he’s gone through, eh?)
1 Fresh Lime Peel Zest
-stir, strain, add the zest – serve it all in a beautiful coupe.
This is a lovely, citrusy cocktail that is smoothed out by the rum in approximately the way your favorite diva is mellowed by sitting next to a stoner and absorbing herbs by osmosis.
Coupe glasses are my new favorite thing. They may not be the greatest for Champagne, but they are lovely for cocktails that are not Martinis, and there are some beautiful shapes in amazing crystal available now. Here’s a selection.
My favorite is this Orrefors Crystal Divine Coupe. Doesn’t as far as I know come with the wedding rings, alas. It has beautiful lines, and will concentrate the scent of an aromatic cocktail like this at least somewhat thanks to the inward curve. Mostly aesthetic, though. If you want glasses engineered for optimal drinking, you want the Difference line.
I’m quite fond of the Chef & Sommelier Cabernet Coupe but possibly that’s just because I’m so used to seeing it everywhere. It IS ubiquitous, but it is nonetheless lovely, with its modern, angular dash.
Oh, Karl. Karl, Karl, Karl, what will we ever do with you? This is the Orrefors By Karl Lagerfeld Coupe and, god help us, it apparently comes in different COLOURS. Let me repeat: COLOURS. I can only think that Uncle Karl is trying to see what the public will swallow at $150 a stem. Whatever they’re drinking, it’s pretty strong, because I have candleholders from China that look exactly like this and cost me about $5 for four.
In any case, enjoy your Whistleblower cocktail. Now go out and leak something. Paris Hilton, put your underwear back on: we were not talking to you!
Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Mr. Manolo Blahnik. This website is not affiliated in any way with Mr. Manolo Blahnik, any products bearing the federally registered trademarks MANOLO®, BLAHNIK® or MANOLO BLAHNIK®, or any licensee of said federally registered trademarks. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the author.