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The Irish coffee will be treated differently than the other drinks on the Cocktail Advent Calendar. Almost every other cocktail that we’ve worked with this month we’ve dressed up. We’ve taken a classic not very good cocktail, substituted good ingredients, added a bit of care, and voilà – a much better cocktail. This is not the case for the Irish coffee, this classic will be made exactly the way it’s supposed to be made, because it’s a perfect cocktail.
The original Irish coffee had no Bailey’s, it had no brown sugar, and it had no whipped cream topped with green crème de menthe. The best way to enjoy this cocktail is perfectly as it is written on paper. The only thing to keep in mind that is not written on the original recipe is that when you’re making coffee cocktails it very much helps to make the coffee extra strong and pre-heating the vessel that the cocktail will be poured into is essential. Last month I was in San Francisco at the Gold Dust in Union Square. The legendary $3.50 Irish coffees are served there. People have told me throughout the years that they just want to go there and drink them all day. I never understood why until I had one at 10 in the morning. Being in a dark bar when it’s bright outside, where people are selling rude stories and nude cherubic women are painted on the ceiling is the perfect place to enjoy an Irish coffee.
- 1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
- 4 ounces very strong black coffee
- 2 ounces lightly sweetened whipped cream
There’s a certain type of “drunk in a bar when you’re not supposed to be” aspect to the Irish coffee that I think lends itself to listening to the rat pack. Auld lang syne, by Frank Sinatra I think is the perfect listening choice for drinking an old-style cocktail made just right.
Hope you wait til the end for the good joke
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is a real simple one, the Bourbon Furnace. I like to imagine this was a cocktail that originated as: bourbon, “instead of a,” furnace because this warms you up without changing your heating bill. Long story, but to keep it short, I didn’t have heat one year in college, I drank pan warmed Jack Daniels and decaf Earl Grey tea to get to sleep at night. Tucking into to a bourbon in the cold really warms you up.
The Bourbon Furnace
- 1.5 oz Bourbon
- 5 oz Apple cider
- .5 oz Allspice dram
Pretty easy to pull off, but the house spiced cider at Rob Roy is not to be missed. This warm glass of bourbon love makes me think about having one out in the cold. It is rough time of year for anybody that has to be outside a lot and having a furnace seems an amazing luxury to have on the cheap. Feeling the cold mix with the cheer and again sadness, of the season, this cocktail makes me think of the Roy Orbison tune “Pretty Paper,” a tear in your toddy holiday song about being out in the cold.
Not every garnish tonight is going to be a flaming apple, but every cocktail will still be made with love.
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.
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.
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is another one of those, “you have to look it up every time some one orders it” cocktails. I’ve only made the French Connection at a few different points in my bartending career that seem like they’re shots from B movies. Like, two people walking up to the bar seem to be arguing, something about missing diamonds, then walk up to me and say,
“Boujour, French Connection sil vous plait.”
Then they wander back into some noir haze. The French connection is another one of those great cocktails from the 70s that’s just a two-fer. Though we added Angostura to make it into a three-fer so you think we we’re working. And, if by any chance you missed the amaretto of Monday you get another shot at amaretto again – right now. But, unfortunately, this is the last amaretto on the entire Cocktail Advent Calendar menu.
To really bring home the feeling of this cocktail coming – from a bar wrapped in Naugahyde, red lights and slow jam music – we will be serving it at room temperature with hot water on the side. It will be gentle enough to sip that way, or could be warmed up to improve the aroma, either way you can spend the entire evening doing your best ladies man impression.
The French Connection
- 1.5 oz Cognac
- .5oz Amaretto
- 2 dash Angostura
Serve with an old fashioned glass of warm water and some Bill Withers tunes on the side
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.
Last Friday the Cocktail Advent Calendar gave us Vin Brule, a warm wine based drink, a potent tipple to share with your kin. This Tuesday is a cannon blast of Grog, a hot rum blooded gulper to get lit up punch a police horse in his big ol’ teeth. Our Grog is less pirate minded, it has civility; it is a “Privateer’s” drink. Because as Wayne Curtis would point out in, “And a bottle of Rum,” Grog was invented after the days of all the best pirates. The British Navy would give us rum to make drinking water potable, with the addition of lime sugar and spices, Grog became a, “proto-West Indian Cocktail.”
In times of backbreaking work, sickness and complete lack of women, Grog was the best possible respite. In a modern world filled with all the hassle of TPS reports, office politics and non-dairy creamer you deserve respite from your masters, too. But, because your work life has improved over that of an 18th century sailor, your grog has followed suit. Seems that “Jack Nastyface” was a common nickname for the Grog dispenser on a ship, today at Rob Roy you’ll have the charming Bryn instead. And to replace kill-devil, stagnant water and “other(s)” you’ll have a fine blend of rums and spices.
- Appleton V/X
- Fresh Lime
- Demerara Syrup
- And a good time to experiment with a few dashes of some type of bitters.
Hopefully you’ll taste our Grog and remember that “a fine blend of rums and spices” is why humans traveled across the globe in the first place.
Because of today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar, let December 4th forever be known as the Day of International Spanish Coffee. DISC = December 4th. I’m not a stupid bartender, I know that it is a total rookie move to prepare just *one* Spanish Coffee, make *one* and you’ll be making them all night. To admit you can make *one* is a commitment to keep going until you run out of coffee. One time this ass-face said, “Can’t you go out and get more coffee?”
I squinted at that fucker with my best Eastwood, and after I let my pupils sear his flesh for a second, I said,
But not today. Today, it’s Spanish Coffee Amnesty Day — all day. Hooray! The drink that is an under-appreciated pain in the ass will have its day of glory. Anu and Zach, with ear to ear smiles, shall craft you one of the most labor intensive, on fire, smoothing and luxurious cocktails one could ever hope to quaff. Rather than explain this cocktail, I would like to explain what will be special about ours.
- Stumptown Hairbender Coffee – Great fresh roasted coffee beans brewed to perfection.
- Fresh Whipped Cream – Much like chicken soup, with whipped cream, you can’t get love from a can.
- Lemon Hart 151 Rum – Ed Hamilton might be proud, or angry, but no bullshit lighter fluid rum to toast our Spanish Coffee, only the finest demerara put to great use.
- FIRE! – Like Homer (Simpson, not the guy who wrote the Odyssey) said, “Fire makes it good.”
- Fresh Ground Spices – Not from the 128 spice rack we got on sale at Target.
- Caramel Rim – We’re not afraid of spending all day cleaning glassware, we’re going to give you a honest to goodness ring of sugar fused to the glass using the Maillard reaction.
Shooting over to Ed’s site reminded me of the 7 daily toasts the British Royal Navy. They are a hit or miss blend of misogynistic what nots, but Sunday’s is good. It’s a toast to “Absent Friends.” A solid toast for gathering with your friends over a Spanish Coffee or two. But only if you really need two, have a cellar-temp Porter, or finish up your crossword puzzle while you wait.
- .5oz Lemon Hart 151 lit aflame inside
- 1 sugar rimmed glass
- A few sparkly sprinkles of cinnamon
- .5oz Kahlua
- .25 oz Cointreau
- Top with Fresh Whipping Cream, (because it’s better)
- Garnish with Nutmeg and an Oranger Zest
“to absent friends
to those we have met
to those we have yet to meet
to those who have left us for a while
and to those who have left us forever
let us lift our glasses
and drink a toast
that they may abide in our hearts
to absent friends”
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.
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.