Tuesday, January 29, 2008

some stories behind some drinks

**reminder: on February 16th, 2008, 8pm...Munat Bros. and Le Mixeur Present Le Mixeur Trois!**

Les Originaux du Mixeur: A How What Who and Possibly a Why.

Le Mixeur will feature a growing number of original drink creations and a dwindling reliance on classic cocktails. The full process of creating the Fihimafihi has been detailed, ad nauseum perhaps, on this blog in the past. As for the new additions, we will offer the following explanations, which will certainly be a godsend for future generations of cocktail historians in the likely event they become classics...

William Holden -
this cocktail came to be just a week or so ago, after Le Mixeur managed to successfully pull off following a recipe for Belgian Ale liqueur created by Jamie at Vessel. Utilizing a previously non-existent ingredient provides a simple and straight forward path to creating a new cocktail.

The drink revolves around the unmistakable flavor of Campari, and while it contains a new ingredient it bears the gestalt of an old style cocktail. In doing some research, Le Mixeur discovered that old style William Holden fancied his Campari above and beyond all else, and whenever he dwelled at his Mount Kenya safari Club in Nanyuki, he made sure that cases were shipped in to provide for himself and fellow safarians. And besides, we at Le Mixeur think ol' Bill would have loved this one.

Hence, the William Holden: rye, campari, Belgian ale liqueur, lemon. Shake and strain and garnish with a wide strip of orange (yes, the orange strip seems a little foo-foo for Bill, but he did have a sensitive side - you'd be amazed by some of the tender scenes between he and Ernest Borgnine in the alternate director's platinum edition cut of "The Wild Bunch.')

Le Studio Rouge - this drink was chronicled by Le Mixeur in le post about December 31. As you know, December 31st is the celebration of Henri Matisse's birthday, and it was in the throes of this celebration that this drink came to be. Thus, in honor of Matisse,we name this drink Le Studio Rouge, and as we serve the already rouge hued cocktail, we will paint it with a barspoon of grenadine and make it ever more rouge before your very wide eyes.

Hop Skip and a Jump: Step one - Mix your new Framboise Lambic Liqueur with some kind of hard liquor, gin usually works. Step two - cut the syrupy liqueur with a little citrus, a little lime sounds nice with your raspberries. Step three - when in doubt, add St. Germain to anything...hmm that's pretty light and sippy. Step four - make it again but this time put some stank on it...few dashes of orange bitters and a glass rinsed with absinthe makes it done.

The name: Hop refers to the hops used to make the Framboise Lambic, the skip is represented by steps one through three above, and the jump is step four.

The Waste Land: All the young kids these days love the drinks with names that reference getting "wasted," so Le Mixeur's marketing team tells us, after we dusted them off. They also tell us the kids are howling for a drink made with "sarsparilla." Keep up the good work, boys.

In actuality, this drink was made on a whim with no real forethought my T. Mixeur on a night of no real distinction, and came out perfectly the first time, with a collective flavor that creates something not present when each ingredient is tasted separately. It is brandy, cherry heering, sherry, and aromatic bitters. Simple and effective, and as it turns out, featuring similar ingredients to another drink from Le Mixeur Trois...the Ulysses (just extract French Vermouth and use Sherry instead, and add the dash of bitters).

Within the context of Le Mixeur Trois on President's day weekend, the Ulysses cocktail refers to Ulysses S. Grant. In the context of this new cocktail, it refers to James Joyce's Ulysses. TS Eliot's epic poem, The Waste Land, was published in 1922, around the same time as Ulysses, both were aware of each other's works in progress, and both were aided by the editing of Ezra Pound, who famously warned Eliot not to overdo his defecation themes, as Joyce had already done defecation in Ulysses.

And on that note we will leave you on this note: when Joyce does defecation, defecation has been done.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Annonce! Le Mixeur Trois!

Take a moment to reflect on how enjoyable this three day weekend has been. Now project forward four weeks, delight in the realization that another three day weekend awaits you, then imagine, if your heart is strong enough, that the centerpiece of that "trois week-end de jour" will be Le Mixeur Trois. Yes, Le Mixeur Trois...

In the interest of clarity, we repeat:

Le Mixeur Trois
February 16, 2008
Cocktails will be Mixed and Served
Libations for Pachamama Appreciated

In the interest of clarity, we translate:

"In the name of the President of the Bar,
A Festival of Love
for the Former Presidents."

Once again we will be featuring herbs and other sources of wellness the earth provides. Once again these will prominently include ginger, rosemary, schisandra, and various digestive bitters. New to the lexicon will be pomegranate, as T. Mixeur has procured pomegranate liqueur and made real pomegranate grenadine. We have also made several liqueurs from various ales, including Lambic Peche and Framboise. We will be brewing our own Rosemary Gin and Schisandra infused vodka, along with a Schisandra/Agave liqueur. There will be Mixeur-made ginger syrup, wine syrup, Satsuma peel liqueur, and possibly, just possibly, Mixeur-made Falernum and Orgeat. If these last two do not materialize, Fee's Brothers and Torani are just a Pike Place trip away. As always, juice used from lemons, limes, and oranges will be fresh squeezed the day of Le Mixeur.

Drink selections fall into three categories:

  • "By Popular Demand" (drinks that have been favorites at previous Mixeur events);
  • "Essential Drinks" (classic cocktails from years past and today's best that bear personal stamp of approval from Le Mixeur);
  • "In Honor of the Presidents" (cocktails that share names with former heads of state...all of which are existing drinks except for the Jimmy C, a creation of T. Mixeur and long overdue booze homage to the beloved Georgian man of peace who oversaw massive genocide in East Timor...precisely the sort of ironic contradiction Le Mixeur exists for).

Le menu (soumis de changer)...

le mixeur trois

Par demande populaire...

fihimafihi...rosemary gin, lemon, egg white, ginger syrup, wine syrup

lela...vodka, pernod, ginger syrup, pomegranate grenadine, lemon, soda

la Madère bleue...madeira, ommegang abbey ale liqueur, lime, peach bitters, blueberries

heart to heart...pisco, rosemary gin, falernum, lime, triple sec

ravissement par schisandra...Être annoncé!

le studio rouge...pisco, lillet, pama liqueur, lemon, peach bitters

Boissons essentielles...

fog cutter...rum, gin, brandy, oj, lemon, orgeat

william holden...bourbon, ommegang abbey ale liqueur, campari, lemon

corpse reviver no.2...gin, lillet, cointreau, lemon, pastis

jack rose...applejack, lemon, pomegranate grenadine

monkey gland...gin, oj, pomegranate grenadine, pastis

cardinal cocktail...rum, lime, triple sec, orgeat, pomegranate grenadine

Dans honneur des présidents...

Roosevelt...gin, rum, lemon, pomegranate grenadine

Ulysses...brandy, cheery heering, french vermouth

Hoover...rum, italian vermouth, orange curacao

Jimmy C...gin, peach lambic liqueur, lillet, lime, peach bitters

Jackson...gin, dubonnet, orange bitters

...demandez de nos spécialités de Satan!

Cette annonce a été présentée par:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

fête de l'amour pour saint basilic et après

January 1st. Feast day for Saint Basil the Great. 'Twas but a blur in the land of Le Mixeur. The holy souls of 84th Street were spared "guele de bois" (hangover) by the restrained pace with which we drank and the sage-like advice of a man with a mustache, who wrote the epic tome "Drink All You Want and Live Longer." Yet the day was a blissful blur of feasting, as in honor of the feast day for a saint who served the poor and the hungry, we indulged in extravagant drinks and mounds of shellfish. T. Mixeur was in "le zone" of drinkmaking wizardry. None of these drinks were quantified, measured, recorded, patented, or memorialized. They whisped into this mortal coil and back out without any trace of their existence here, spare for the wistful glimmer in the eyes of T. Mixeur, Fallen Star, and Le Nick, which remains to this day I'm certain and will one day enrapture our children as they lay in our laps, in that sacred state between consciousness and sleep, when the lights of the universe are at their most apparent. The drinks of that feast day will be known from this moment onward collectively as Peonies, in honor of the immortal Mary Oliver:

"Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?"

In the coming days, T. Mixeur and Fallen Star and C. Mixeur had wonderful experiences at Vessel and Zig Zag (where Murray took several moments to size up and contextualize the entrance of fallen star into the Zig Zag lexicon, before making her a life altering drink with some Mayan honey liqueur he had, followed by the sublime Corn and Oil ). We topped off that particular evening at my favorite neighborhood bar, Oliver's Twist. Here we had a spirited discussion with Robert, and assisted him in diagnosing the final adjustments needed to perfect his cocktail invention featuring gin, Creme de Peche, and other ingredients that will one day be revealed to any fortunate soul patronizing the little bar that could (few realize that Oliver's Twist was established at the foot of Phinney Ridge, but through sheer force of will and determination and familiar mantra, made it all the way to the top).

Fallen Star and I returned home and realized the opportunity for in-depth discussion of sorrows, hopes, dreams, and other sentiments was upon us. Capturing the last gasps of Saint Basilic before he gracefully shuttered out of our plane for the duration of this year, I improvised a drink to sip during this talk. With the Peonies nothing forever, I preserved this concoction to memory, and titled it simply, "Heart to Heart."

2 oz rosemary gin
1 oz pisco
1/2 falernum
1/4 oz triple sec
1/4 oz lime
shake and strain into cocktail glass

This drink was imbued with honeyed heaviness and lush trembling. We went to sleep that evening cherishing our humble and silky lives. Merci, Saint Basilic, pour le fête de l'amour.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Monsieur Mixeur's Holiday...Part Deux

With the birthday of Mithras out of the way, attention was turned to December 31st, the day Henri Matisse would have been 139 had only he taken better care of himself. Many parties, overpriced music shows, and fireworks displays were slated for this evening, I imagine in honor of Matisse, as is the custom of our people. Adding to the excitement was the impending arrival of close friend and kindred Mixer of spirits Paula Fallen Star Nicole Jenkins from the tiny hamlet of San Francisco, California. I began compiling lists of cocktails to share that would make her trip less a simple visit and more a sacred pilgrimage. Robert Hughes has likened the work of Matisse to the world described by Baudelaire in his poem, "L'invitation Al Voyage." In honor of Matisse and in honor of Fallen Star, I decided our December 31 cocktails should embody this same spirit:

"Furniture gleaming with the sheen of years would grace our bedroom; the rarest flowers, mingling their odours with vague whiffs of amber, the painted ceilings, the fathomless mirrors, the splendour of the East ... all of that would speak, in secret, to our souls, in its gentle language. There, everything is order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure."

It's fun when a cocktail does all that.

There were two events for us on that evening, one was hosting some old friends of Fallen Star's from yonder Seatac, the other was stepping into guest mode for a party at friend Misha's house on the east slope of Capitol Hill. Each presented challenges...

As host, what cocktails to make the Seatac, shots-of-tarantula crowd that would bring them painted ceilings and fathomless mirrors? As phoned word came that they were on their way, the answer appeared to me as if in a dream: champagne drinks. Everyone likes champagne, it's from France and it's Matisse's birthday, and they are easy to make.

I created the bases for several drinks. Some Creme de Cassis in the bottom of a flute requires only a topping of champagne to become a Kir Royale (though technically you put the Cassis in after...don't tell the Seatacians - pronounced "c-tay-shuns"). Campari and Italian vermouth, shaken and strained into a saucer, anxiously awaited it's champagne bath to become a Champino. Muddled mint, simple syrup, and lime met rum and bitters, then got shaken and strained into a cocktail glass, and realized that when it begins to rain champagne they will be an Old Cuban. The gin and lemons were jealous of the rum and lime, so they too got shaken with syrup and strained to await the bubbly monsoon and blossom into a French 75. There was some concern that the French and the Cuban would bicker, as the French tend to look down their noses at Cubans and Cubans tend to see French as preening prima donnas. However, they were able to set aside their differences when I assured them they would both have ample opportunity to engage in their favorite pastime: fucking with American's heads. Lastly, for myself, a wee spot of absinthe, which with champagne makes Death in the Afternoon, which might have been drunk by Matisse himself at one time. At the very least, he probably looked on disdainfully from his table as Picasso and Hemingway downed a few, then continued his knitting.

As the road-weary guests arrived, I greeted them with a popping cork, quickly topped the row of glasses, placed them all on a silver platter and passed them around. And the gleaming sheens of years did grace that room. Everyone was happy except for me, as my death in the afternoon caused me to once again brood over Francisco Franco's 1940 victory over the Republicans, and I demanded that the Old Cubans return Finca Vigia to me.

The next stage entailed our venture to Capitol Hill, and what to pack in my little ole' kit bag for me and my three traveling companions (Fallen Star, her sister Rachel, and the mysterious one they call "Nick") to imbibe while out in the wiles. For this, I referred to the blog of the venerable Jamie Boudreau, for a drink called Incan Gold

1 oz pisco
2 oz sauvignon blanc
1/2 oz Pama liqueur
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes peach bitters
shake and strain over ice

I decided I would multiply the recipe by 6, shake and strain into a pour and store container, and then pour over ice once at the party. Unfortunately I had neglected to have sauvignon blanc or any white wine in the house, so I decided to use Lillet. In honor of Matisse once again, let's unofficially call this new version "the red studio."

I undertook this same process with the classic drink, The Fog Cutter...

1 1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz brandy
1/4 oz gin
1 1/2 oz OJ
1/2 oz lemon
1/2 oz Orgeat

Multiplied this by 4, shook and strained, packed it into my kit bag along with the red studio and a bag of ice, and off in an orange cab we went.

We arrived at this splendour of the east to warm greetings and a quaint little delicacy the hosts were engaging in, which I was later informed is known as "tequila shots." Misha soon thereafter provided us each with lovely coffee mugs, which I filled with ice and red studios. We enjoyed this drink very much, and the fog cutters after it (though there was no sherry to float...I thought for a moment I remembered reading somewhere that Cuervo Silver could be substituted for Sherry in some recipes, and considered floating this, but thought better of it). I would describe these drinks, just off the top of my head, as rarest flowers, mingling their odours with vague whiffs of amber. In a sea of Coronas and shotglasses, we were a picture of pizazz (and comparative sobriety).

We later returned to my home, discovered a cousin Maggi and some friends raring to go at 4am, and the Mixing continued on into the wee hours of the morning, and regarding this portion of the night, I digress...suffice to say, everything was order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure.

(to be continued)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Holidays that Were with Le Mixeur...Part Un

Le Mixeur has been out of the blog loop for some time now, and so many things have Mixed since last we spoke.

In the days leading up to December 25th, AKA the birthday of the Persian Sun God Mithras, I was inspired to buy a bottle of Marie Brizard Parfait Amour, in all its jellybean marshmallow glory. I tinkered around with this and made a Jupiter cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, oj, parfait) and a Mood Indigo (cognac, gin, egg white, parfait). But the most fun I ever did have with Parfait Amour was in creating a variation on the the vintage cocktail, "The Bourbon."

The Bourbon is this:

3/4 oz bourbon
1 1/2 oz benedictine
3/4 oz lemon juice
dash orange curacao
dash angostura bitters
shake all and strain into a cocktail glass

I changed that a little bit. Why? I don't remember...It was quite a while ago. Since we are Le Mixeur, we shall call this drink, Le Bourbon.

Le Bourbon

3/4 oz bourbon
1 1/2 oz benedictine
3/4 oz lemon juice
barspoon Parfait Amour
2 dashes aromatic bitters
shake all and strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with thin strip of lime

Mithras was pleased indeed.

When the day of the 25th came I packed up a little old kit bag and headed over to Bainbridge Island for a family soirée. In my bag was this:

bottle of Galliano
bottle of homemade spiced syrup (sugar water cloves allspice cinnamon)
bowl of Tom and Jerry batter
li'l baggie of whole nutmegs
1/2 pint of heavy cream
But why, T. Mixeur? Pourquoi?

Galliano and cream, when combined in equal parts along with Grand Marnier (a pre-existing fixture in Mom Mixeur's special cabinet) and shaken and strained, makes a tasty little drink Nick Mautone calls The Grand Galliano . Float an orange peel on top and it looks pretty as a picture. Tweak the proportions a bit and add Apricot Brandy and you have yourself an Aruba Trade Wind

The Tom and Jerry batter was for, uh, Tom and Jerrys. This was my first crack at them and it came out well, cherished and praised by all. Sensing momentum was on my side, I created some Brandied Egg Nogs which also were good, but even better when I added a spoonful of my spiced syrup. Both the T and J and the Egg Nog were dusted with the nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg is something to behold. Ironic that nearly 20 years after escaping from the Nutmeg State, I would just now develop an appreciation for it. Fortunately, in addition to Connecticut, it's also available for sale in states that don't totally suck.

I sauntered out of the Mixeur family soirée sober and pleasantly satisfied by the gluten free vegan lasagna I had made for myself, leaving behind a roomful of rosy cheeked, tipsy relatives with smoked ham and dinner rolls expanding in their bellies. I retreated to the confines of my housesitting gig and fiendishly plotted where T. Mixeur would strike next...

(to be continued)