Monday, November 3, 2008

Granddaddy Howe

Through some apparent clerical error, I received an invitation to be part of a drink creation competition sponsored by Hiram Walker, and featuring their new Gingerbread Liqueur. I took them up on the offer, and soon thereafter found myself the proud owner of not only a bottle of Gingerbread Liqueur, but also of a bottle of Pumpkin Spice Liqueur.

At this point, I should interject about a very interesting phenomenon that has been occurring in my life, one known as "Amy." Amy was over one night a couple of months ago, regaling me with tales of how she plans to go to Argentina, and how miraculous an experience this surely will be. She asked, with great enthusiasm, if I knew any bartenders in Argentina.

I confessed, to my shame, that I did not. However, the following morning, I received a Facebook friend request from a well-connected bartender in Argentina.

A few weeks later, Amy was again over. She talked of how "dang delicious" she imagined a pumpkin liqueur would be, and wished such a thing existed. The following morning was when I received the invitation to be involved with Hiram Walker's project, though it was not until weeks later that I realized that would lead to the procurement of a bottle of pumpkin liqueur.

Amy's services, by the way, are available for hire. However, she reserves the right to wish for whatever she wants, and in no way guarantees this will meet with your needs or the needs of your business.

Anyway, back on track here...Gingerbread Liqueur. Upon sipping the liqueur, I was surprised. I imagined it would be a liqueur embodying the pronounced spices of gingerbread, such as...uhm...ginger I think, right? But this liqueur, while doing what I'd imagined, actually tastes like gingerbread. I haven't the faintest notion how they got the bread flavor in there, but they did. I'm thinking perhaps they macerated cookie dough and let it infuse in the base distillate, then infused the spices, but it's hard to say.

I immediately thought that this liqueur would be well-suited for some sort of Flip style drink, and reached for my eggs.

Incidentally, "Munat" means "eggs" in Finnish. The same Finnish term also is slang for "testicles." However, this is not the sense in which I meant the phrase "reached for my eggs." I need to point these things out, because we have some Finnish readers these days, and the Fins tend to have their minds in the gutter anyway. So for all you Fins and other sycophants out there, stop picturing me reaching for my eggs, and start picturing me handling some nice, smooth, brown eggs with the utmost of care, breathless with anticipation as I prepare to immerse them in...

Hey! You're thinking filthy thoughts again aren't you! Knock it off! This is supposed to be a post about Gingerbread and my grandfather...Jesus!

Ah fuck it. Here's my drink:

Granddaddy Howe

1 oz bourbon
2 oz ruby port wine
1/2 oz Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1 whole egg

combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
shake, without ice, for 15-20 seconds
add ice, shake until chilled
strain into a goblet
grate fresh nutmeg across the top

All you super-slick cocktail types will no doubt spot that this is a riff on the Coffee Cocktail, and we're not really riffing that hard. 1 oz of brandy in the Coffee Cocktail becomes 1 oz of bourbon here, and instead of using plain old sugar to sweeten it up, we're using the Gingerbread and Heering.

No word can better describe this drink than "Nummy!" Except perhaps, "Dangerous!" That's 4 ounces of booze in there, and not only does it not burn, it has a tendency to accidentally slip down your throat in one slurp. Amy drank hers before she could even say "Dang Delicious!"

The drink also works with a variety of replacements for the Heering. I tried it with White Creme De Cacao...Nummy. Tried it with Benedictine...Nummy. Tried it with Pastis...Nummy-Anise.

(If you couldn't handle the "reach for the eggs" imagery, do yourself a favor and don't even go there with the "Nummy-Anise")

And on that note: what's with the name of this drink?

Ed Howe was my granddaddy on my mother's side. When I told Mom Mixeur I was to be in a drink competition for a Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur, she told me (after first wiping away her tears of pride) that a) I don't know how to pronounce "Hiram" correctly, b) her father always had Hiram Walker products in his liquor cabinet, and c) don't get any smart ideas about how or why she knows so much about her father's liquor cabinet.

Ed Howe was a classic cocktail guy...two before dinner during the traditional hour only, thank you. For years, it was mostly Old Fashioneds, and I hear my Aunt Susie got to be quite skilled at making them. Later in life, he became a Martini man.

I wasn't old enough to join him in these cocktail hours before he died, but trips to his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin held their own beverage pleasures for me. In the guest bedroom, up on a loft overlooking the rest of the unit, there was a mini-fridge, the first of its kind I'd ever seen. This fridge was always stocked, in anticipation of our arrival, with cans of all types of sodas. Sodas were not a permissible drink in my day-to-day life, only for special occasions such as the yearly trips to Lake Geneva.

I'd sprint up the stairs once given permission, pick out some magical, icy cold can, bring it back downstairs, and begin the ceremony. First, there was the selection of a rocks glass, always with some sort of etching or other form or ornateness...far more elegant than any plastic tumbler I'd swill juice from at home. Then there was the pushing of the rocks glass against the ice cube dispenser on the freezer door – again the only of its kind I'd ever seen. It would drop out ice cubes with one arched side and one flat side, one at a time, until the glass was full.

Next was the cracking open of the can, the little wisp of mist, and the pour. Key to finishing this ceremony was to quickly, upon finishing the pour, take a sip of the drink while the fizz was still spraying up from the surface of the drink, breathing in its effervesence.

And when Granddaddy Howe died, he left behind a nifty little cocktail book, which Mom Mixeur had the good sense to hold onto, then pass along to me when my love of cocktails came into full bloom.

(And yes, C.Mixeur, we know they got the recipe to the White Lady wrong.)

I was his namesake and some would say a dead ringer for him as a child. And he was a good man, a kindly grandfather, and he sure seemed to adore me. And so it just seemed about time to name a drink in his honor. And while he was mostly an Old Fashioned and a Martini drinker, he did love his Irish Coffees and the occasional Egg Nog. So from this, I think it's safe to say he would have liked this one.

So mix one up, during traditional cocktail hours please, and say a toast to Granddaddy Howe.

(and leave out the testicle and “anise” jokes, for god's sake. Granddaddy would not have approved)


Anu Apte said...

I need to taste this cocktail. I'm sure it is "dang delicious".

It may even replace my favorite night cap - the Porto Flip. At least for this season, anyway.

T. Mixeur said...

I'm certain that can be arranged!

I guess the Benedictine version of numminess would most closely approximate your Porto Flip. Maybe we could make a version with the Chartreuse as well!

See, I can do cocktail geek-out when I want to!

JackiePB said...

I bought Volume II of the Guide to PInk Elephants at a second hand Catholic school benefit store. Always wanted to get the logo tattooed somewhere. I'll show you my volume when you come to the city.

T. Mixeur said...

wow jackie! I never dreamed there was a volume II. I'll be sure to bring volume I down with me for show and tell.