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Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar begins with a line in the sand and a threat of war. It pains me to make this threat because is is against those in the trade that cares for me most, the baristas. Baristas, I love you all but we need to get some shit straight right now before I start smashing mugs and bending demitasse spoons- the toddy, is our word and it means HOT. If you are lost on this rant, the recent popularity of cold brewed coffee has brought on the word, “toddy,” meaning a cup of cold brew. “Toddy,” is a brand name of a trademarked brewing system, just like kleenex or band-aid. The Toddy company, by their very name, has committed a trespass on my trade like those that would use the suffixes, “tini, ” or “rita.” All of that lot can fuck right off. That being said, MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Anyway, the Hot Toddy is what we are here to talk on today. This drink of unknown origin has been kicking around for 300 years, perhaps from Scotland, perhaps from India nobody really knows. I know it doesn’t seem like a very special drink, and in many ways it isn’t. But I’d like to offer 2 ways in which it can be special.
1. Often simple drinks such as the Hot Toddy are never fully executed because they are taken for granate. When we apply all of our skills to them, it’s an epiphany moment waiting to happen.
2. The Hot Toddy works with any aged spirit and can always be reinvented.
- 2 oz Aged Spirit - you pick, rye, scotch, bourbon, calvados, cognac, tequila, rum, applejack
- 1 oz honey -or agave syrup for tequila or demerara for rum , maple syrup for Canadian
- 4 oz boiling hot water
- 2 dashes Angostura - or any bitters you like
- garnish with a lemon - it is important to be able to add acidity if needed
and alway make sure to heat the cup first
Last week I made myself a,”Sad Bastard X-mas,” playlist, 12 very sad Christmas songs because that is how I like ‘em. I popped into work one evening after strolling through the frosty downtown listening to, “A Fairytale of New York,” by the Pogues. I asked for a Hot Toddy with a smoky Irish single malt called Connemara. It fit the tune in my head perfectly and let me enjoy a Hot Toddy for the first time all over again.
I’ll throw out the rest of my, “Sad Bastard X-mas,” playlist as the rest of the advent calendar plays out. For the record, this is not any sort of ironic playlist, I love sad music, I love Christmas music and I love sad Christmas music.
The Stinger is a cocktail that has been falling out of favor for about 60 years now. This is really a huge miss for bartenders looking for an easy out. But today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar will invite you to remember the simple joy of the Stinger. But today’s Stinger will actually be an Improved Stinger. It is called an Improved Stinger because it is not a Stinger and as we all know, when you change an ingredient of a classic YOU HAVE CHANGED IT INTO A NEW FUCKING COCKTAIL. And thusly, it needs a new name.
The minty aspect of our Improved Stinger will come from Branca Menta. If Fernet Branca is an arctic whirlwind of candy coated minty thorns, Branca Menta is a cool (angry) breeze. Some people would call it a Mirror Mirror Fernet some call it the devil. Though Branca Menta won’t be taking over for Fernet Branca anytime soon, it is a lovely replacement for creme de menthe which may have been good at some point in history, though I am unaware of it. The Stinger is actually quite a good cocktail, there isn’t really any reason for it to not come back.
The Improved Stinger
- 1.5 oz cognac
- .5 oz branca menta
- .25 oz simple syrup
The Improved Stinger is truly a great holiday time cocktail, one to wear a scarf with.
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is a victory lap for new Rob Roy bartender Zach. I heard He and Anu did 100 Spanish Coffees last Sunday, and that zach was making them 3 at time. This is not some Paul Bunyan story either, it was truth. Good work, devil dog. So this week Zach gets to be mellow and make a simple sour and Anu can catch up on paperwork/ old episodes of 30 Rock.
The Applejack Rabbit is today’s cocktail. Did you think that maple syrup is some new trendy ingredient? No, detail obsessed David Embury beat everyone to it like 50 years ago. Bourbon is fine and dandy but whiskey was born in Ireland, rum is from the America’s but less from America but applejack is the real deal american mongrel spirit. Applejack is America’s bastard brandy. Read more on it here. But please understand we’ll be using a beautiful bottle of bonded applejack, not the colonial swill. The Applejack Rabbit is only as good as you want to make it, use good applejack and use real maple syrup (which costs much more than actual alcohol).
The Applejack Rabbit
- 1 .5 oz applejack
- .25 oz fresh orange juice
- .25 oz fresh lemon juice
- .25 ounce maple syrup
I better not hear about anyone doing maple syrup shots at the bar.
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is a very special cocktail: the Tom & Jerry. It is a special cocktail because Anu’s bar, where I work, Rob Roy, is named for a cocktail, named for a musical, named for a Scottish folk hero, and the Tom & Jerry is a cocktail named for a play, based on a book. It goes to show, you really haven’t made it until you have a cocktail named for a spin off of something you’ve done. We won’t be making these any other day, these are fairly difficult/impossible to make one at a time. In case it’s not obvious: ONE NIGHT ONLY!
The Tom & Jerry is an eggnog spin-off, and its recipe is more akin to baking, than to bartending. My buddy Neil, over at Crumble & Flake, used to oversee me making cocktails like this as they have nothing to do with shaking or stirring something, rather, it’s all about measuring and following directions (baking). It needs to be taught like baking instead of loosely constructed like bartending.
One of the best things about the Tom & Jerry being part of today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is that we were beaten to the punch (bowl). My buddy Justin over at Vito’s in Seattle did a Thanksgiving Tom & Jerry, too. It seems they’ll be on the menu there through New Years. That there is competition on this cocktail is truly a good sign for cocktail culture.
As for a Tom & Jerry set, that is one of the best parts of this drink: specialized glassware. My fiance, editor & person who takes my nice socks (all the same person) has been picking up Tom & Jerry sets at the Goodwill and online for a while now. They are out there to be had, cheaper than old coffee mugs and really fun.
Tom & Jerry
- Egg whites
beat until stiff, then fold in
- Egg yolks
reserve on the side, in a mug add the following hot ingredients
- Dark Rum
- Hot water
mix in the eggy fluff and garnish with nutmeg
And now you have traveled trough time to the 1820′s where doing all of this work for a drink is how we gathered together for an X-mas tipple. Please come in for one of these amazing cocktails tonight. Bryn will have used great engineering to have our Tom & Jerry’s roll out with assembly line efficiency.
In the world of layered shots, the Angel’s Tit is the easiest to make and the only drink I know of that is named for a boob. The Cocktail Advent Calendar is serious about drinking but the phrase, “ANGEL TIT FRIDAY,” has been cracking us up all week. I can’t take any part of this seriously. We’ve been making a lot of jokes based on the following video from, That Mitchell & Webb Look called, Bawdy 1970’s Hospital.
And with that same level of maturity, I’ve asked my co-pilot for the evening, Nathan Webber to dress only in polyester and/or earth-tones as we bandy about Angel Tits all night. I think I debut an ascot. But you can help, too. Get involved by wearing your favorite Goodwill suit and a tie that is 6 inches wide and drop some of these lines to feed witty banter:
Q: I haven’t seen an Angel’s Tit in years!
A: You must not be on the Internet often.
Q: Can you hold the cherry my Angel’s Tit?
A: Sir, a gentleman buys a lady dinner first.
Q: Hello barkeep, I’ll have 1 Angel’s Tit please.
A: I’m sorry, we only sell them in pairs.
But seriously, for real this time: The sweet, dry, funky liqueur made from Croatian cherries called maraschino was absent from American bars for a long time. But when us barfolk got maraschino back we rightly spent more time on Last Words and Hemingway Daiquiris. It was important to conquer these classics, now let us loosen the necktie on that bottle of maraschino, let him relax and be in a silly shot.
The Angel’s Tit
- Layer the following
- .25 oz clear creme de cacao
- .75 oz maraschino liqueur
- Top with fresh whipped cream and a cherry
A toast for the Angel’s Tit:
To titillating, tasty, taboo, tipples one is ever allowed to order, to entendre, be it double and multiple (if you are lucky) and to the ladies (and everyone) who put up with us. Bottoms up?
I often write a little bit buzzed but I just got back from a super novacaine dentist vist, so this blog will have the brevity of pain and the typos of a before noon scotch.
I pretty much have no interest in creating new cocktails. The only exceptions to that are new ingredients on the market and combining ingredients that never could have met. This is my bartender’s version of wondering who would win in a fight between samurai and viking or some other shitty Discovery Chanel show.
This cocktail expertly balances mixology’s 2 trendiest ingredients. Curbside Cider not only blends a bitter Italian digestivo (Fernet Branca) with Northern Europe’s bright seasonal offering of elderflower liqueur (Pur Likor Blossom). Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar puts together 2 ancient liqueur that hadn’t likely ever met before 2008. Jeff Grdinich is the creator of this one. I’ve always known him as the most organized guy at Tale of the Cocktail. A true gentleman that has helped me at great length with chainsaws in the New Orleans miasma. I want to say more about him but my numb mouth is causing me to drool, I must make haste.
The flavor profile of the Curbside Cider will include the flavors of cinnamon, clove, pear, lychee and mint; though the cocktail is bereft of all of those ingredients. And again, we’d like to thank mom for giving us a crock-pot. Without one, how would we ever serve hot punch?
- 1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce Pur elderflower liqueur
- 1/4 ounce Fernet-Branca
- 4 ounces hot apple cider
I am going, I am going any which way the wind may be blowing, I am going, I am going where streams of whisky are flowing.
Sorry, listening to the Pogues too, and I thought you should know.
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is the first original recipe of the month. I can’t believe I was the first one to come up with using “Crimson & Clover” as a cocktail name, if someone else did it first I’d like to hear about it. The cocktail is inspired by the Tommy James & the Shondells hit of the same name but crossed with the classic Clover Club cocktail. As I am a big fan of talk-singing (Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Bill Shatner) this song was always a winner to me.
Bryn, the bar manager at Rob Roy is clearly drawing inspiration from the chef in placing this drink one day after the Vin Brule. Yesterday’s Vin Brule will be reduced into a rich mulled wine syrup for an ingredient in today’s cocktail. Otherwise the rest of the recipe is pretty simple, it’s just a Clover Club cocktail. You know that bullshit drink you that drink make for people that are all like,
“I don’t know, I want vodka, but not too sweet, but I don’t want to taste the booze, but make it strong, kind of like a drink that Louis XIV would drink but not too opulent, maybe something with an Amish modesty that still has pizazz.”
And, then, they are all like,
“Oooh, can you make me a spicy drink? I love spicy drinks too.”
The Crimson & Clover covers all of those contradictions in one little package.
The Crimson & Clover
- 1.5 oz Dry Gin (or fuck it, use some weird new world gin, why not)
- 1 oz Mulled Wine Syrup*
- .5 oz Lemon Juice
- .75 oz Egg White
- Bring mulled wine to a boil (perhaps just a bottle of Glogg from Ikea)
- Reduce slightly and add in an equal part sugar by volume
- Stir until disolved
- Remove from heat
I’m keeping cats in bags but tomorrow’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is going to be really special. Sunday’s cocktail will also be a trial by fire (hint) for Rob Roy’s new bartender to be, Zach. It will be so difficult for him that the lady herself, Anu Apte, will be backing him up as he undergoes the toughest shift a tender little bartender could ever try. And if they both pull it off, they’ll be bragging about it for years.
Anglo Saxons know it as Mulled Wine, Ikea fans are familiar with Glogg but over in Italy they have Vin Brule. The cocktail advent calendar for day 2 at Rob Roy will be a Vin Brule kept at bay by our own devil dog: Chef Zach. You may not call him Chef Zach (I earned it), but on the weekends he presides over our grilled cheese and tends our trademark goldfish crackers. He’ll be using our Italian table wine which is mostly used for our stately Kalimotxo cocktails and heating it with meyer lemon & orange peel, clove, cardamom, star anise, all spice, cinnamon and demerara sugar. We’ll be feeding this stew all night and serving up warm portions that are then spiked with a hit of brandy.
When making mulled wine remember to use whole fresh spices and just lightly crack them with a mortar and pestle. Ground spices are too powerful and they are stale. The winter gives us amazing citrus, use it. Meyer lemons are seductive, and amazing, and liven up any cocktail this time of year. Remember that heat makes alcohol more volatile, perhaps it is better to say, “heat makes things taste more boozy.” I like to leave the brandy out of mulled wine until it is served, it is easier on the nose that way and it assures that you won’t lose any brandy during boiling.
Lastly mulled wine, just like every other drink we’ll be serving is best consumed in light to moderate excess. The normal warm and fuzzy booze buzz is so much more cozy from a hot punch.
The Vin Brule
- 1 bottle Red Wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 star anise pods
- 8 cloves
- 6 cardamom pods
- 10 all spice peppers corns
- 1 cup of demerara sugar
- the peels from 2 whole meyer lemons and oranges
bring all ingredients except sugar to a boil, mix in and dissolve sugar, reduce to a simmer
add 1oz brandy to each cup when serving
My tree is up and my shopping is done. I only have to write and drink all month. But before we get down to drink no#1 there are new developments in the Cocktail Advent Calendar. If you travel down to the Rob Roy you can acquire your very own list of the cocktails that will be featured. If you dare to purchase 12 of the 24 cocktails, the Rob Roy will reward you with a $50 gift certificate, if you indulge in all 24, then $100 of Rob Roy bucks are coming your way.
Drink #1 The Walnut Old Fashioned
The Walnut Old Fashioned is one I’ve been hoisting up the flagpole for a few years but it only works in the winter months. The secret ingredient to this cocktail is Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, a boozy green walnut infused Austrian delight. Whereas most Old Fashioned are on some sort of whiskey base the Walnut Old Fashioned is on a base of Calvados. Calvados is an apple and pear brandy from France mostly distilled from foul, awful little apples, the kind that are for throwing at ones little brother rather than eating. But given a few yeas in oak, their spirit blossoms into something profound. The cocktail is finished with demerara sugar to balance the bitterness of the walnut liqueur and Angostura Bitters which is just a little dasher bottle of Christmas flavors.
The Walnut Old Fashioned
- 2oz Boulard Calvados V.S.
- .25oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
- .25oz Demerara Syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
There will be a Cocktail Advent Calendar at Rob Roy starting on Dec 1st but first I want to tell you a meandering story, because, that is my way…
Last month I was driving through Canada for drinky bartender work stuff. Though it is indeed a beautiful country, it can be, at times, a mother fucker. What that means specifically: for the three weeks I was there it got below freezing everyday, the elk are aggressive enough to shake you down for money and the internet is a bit on the slow side.
Two weeks into my trip of working with the north-landers, I saw that their ways were bereft of subtlety. They loved Chamboard, Drambuie, Frangelico and whipped cream with everything. While I was there I also ate a lot of fondue and slept a lot. There isn’t really anything wrong with any of this. But other than Caesars, I drank of the sweet drinks, I bundled up in the cold, and it was good.
After I finished a huge hike I went back to my hotel room and thought a great deal about the Canadian’s skill to drink Bailey’s and coffee with Bailey’s whipped cream topped with reduced caramel Bailey’s. I came to the conclusion: “GodDamnIt, I should give people an excuse to drink like this, I should crack open a fresh Bailey’s.”
The Cocktail Advent Calender at the Rob Roy is a gift to you, the guest. It will enable you to enjoy the holiday drinks classics that have become taboo for so many reasons; because they are never made well, because you are embarrassed to order them, and because it is morally wrong to order a Spanish Coffee. Rob Roy’s bartenders will make a new, likely sweet, libation for each day in December up until X-mas eve. X-mas eve will be Blue Blazer acrobatics. I’ll post each day’s new holiday cocktail and its recipe on this blog as we count down to the 25th of December. Hope to see you here on the blog tomorrow, or at Rob Roy for the start of our Cocktail Advent Calender.
But on the 25th, ship it off to Liberty for sushi and whiskey because I’m taking that day off.