Thursday, July 23, 2009

Joyeux Anniversaire Monsieur Stenson!

This coming Sunday, July 26th, in Seattle, WA, USA, many of the most wonderful cocktail souls of the Northwest will gather together to honor that immortal mentor to so many of us, Murray Stenson. Apparently the occasion is the anniversary of his birth, which our sources tell us occurred "a number of years ago."

Folks will come together at sensational Seattle dining spot Elemental for a multi-course meal, featuring apertif and digestif cocktails created by Portland's Evan Zimmerman of Laurelhurst Market and Dave Shenaut of Teardrop Lounge, along with wine pairings chosen by Elemental co-owner Phred Westfall, who happens to be a genius when it comes to this. In addition to the usual cast of characters from Seattle, we're looking forward to being joined by Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Daniel Shoemaker from Portland, and, god and border patrol willing, David Wolowidnyk of Vancouver, B.C.

Seating for the dinner is extremely limited. So limited, in fact, that there is none. However, all are free to join in after dinner, around 9pm, for post-meal cocktails and shameless fraternizing. This is, indeed, the portion of the evening yours truly will be present for, once the evil wheat-infested food has been safely cleared away. Give me a PB&J on spelt bread and a Red Stripe and I'm ready for Murray Birthday Cocktail Hour!

There is no guarantee, however, that Murray will stick around much after dinner. There's really only so much adulation the man can take in one evening, and considering the mind-boggling cast of butt-kissers that have been assembled for this dinner, he'll probably be pretty maxed out by 9pm. Sadly, Murray still clings to the illusion that free will exists, so he tends to come and go as he pleases. We once attempted to get him to stay longer than he wanted by super-gluing his trousers to his chair. We failed to recognize, however, that Murray is the sort who shan't hesitate to drop his pants in public, particularly when escape from the Munat Brothers is at stake.

My brother Charles is the orchestrator of this event, and deserves praise for putting it together, not to mention shock and awe for having gotten Murray to agree to this. Apparently, Murray's approval was only secured when it was agreed to make this event a fund raiser for the Washington State Bartenders Guild. So 34 people will fork over a cool chunk of change for dinner in the laps of the guild, plus whatever comes in for drinks later. Well done Murray! We can throw a Mixeur with all that money!

Speaking of which, why not mention and honor this event's fine and honorable sponsors? Yes, why not? They are William Grant and Sons, Makers Mark, and something called...Marteau?

For those of you unable to attend the dinner who would like to join in for cocktails, meet me at Oliver's Twist around 7pm. We'll have some cocktails there and engage in my favorite hobby, harassing Robert Detchon Rowland! I'll bring the spelt bread PB&J's.

Happy Birthday Murray!

photo from NY TImes used entirely without permission. Ha ha!

UPDATE: an anonymous tip just came in. Our analysts are still working it over, but it appears to be a...cocktail menu? Yes, a cocktail menu! We are now authorized to state with at least 85% certainty that this is the actual cocktail menu for the event!

N.S. Pimm's
Pimms, Cucumber Soda, Ginger Juice

The Pilar
Rum, Grapefruit, Lime, Creme de Violette

Blue Moon
Clear Creek Slivovitz, Zwack, Lime, Honey Syrup, Lavender Mescal

Jerez Collins

Hendrick's, Amontillado Sherry, Lemon, Sugar, Orange Bitters

AKA Burro Punsch
Milagro Reposado, Batavia Arrak, Carpano Antica Formula,
Amaro Nardini, Ginger Liqueur

The Double Windsor
Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Orgeat, Orange Juice, Campari,
Marteau Absinthe

Loretto Noir
Maker's Mark, Amaro Montenegro, Pimento Dram


Monday, July 6, 2009

Obligatory Blog Post Proudly Proclaiming The Author's Imminent Voyage To Tales

True debauchery is liberating because it creates no obligations. In it you possess only yourself; hence it remains the favorite pastime of the great lovers of their own person.

- Albert Camus

Hey, wait a minute. That sounds like a knock on debauchery. But never fear, dear ones, the great Albert also spoke thus:

Your successes and happiness are forgiven you only if you generously consent to share them.

And so, we all shall go to New Orleans, and we shall generously consent to share our debaucheries, and in so doing our happiness shall be forgiven, even by the notoriously grumpy Monsieur Camus.

Brace yourself, children. Tales Of The Cocktail is upon us.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I, Mixeur, Hath Infused

Before heading off to Tales and turning over the subject of this blog to all things related to that always epic event, I wanted to sneak in a report on my participation in a competition we the bloggers were invited to join. The challenge involved creating an infusion of Oval Vodka, parlaying the resultant infusion into a cocktail, and submitting recipes for both the infusion and cocktail, along with an actual 8 ounce sample of the infusion conjured. In exchange for participation, Oval provided us with a bottle of the vodka, a shipping label, and a jar salvaged form the Polaner All Fruit factory. The promised reward for the winner? Two nights stay at the Monteleone during Tales, plus the right to wear a glorious gold lamé sash saying "Oval Infusion Champ-ee-awn Suckas!"

I initially had grandiose ideas for this contest, involving the recruitment of herbal experts to act as consultants, and foraging expeditions into the local forest for wild berries. Wisely, I quickly abandoned these ideas, instead going to the food co-op and randomly picking a couple of things that smelled nice. In the end, I infused my vodka with Calendula (aka Marigold) and Rose Hips. Calendula has a very mild, mellow flavor, and probably impacts an infusion more texturally than in taste, as its oils release into the vodka and give it a velvety feel. If one were pressed to compare Calendula to something, Saffron might be fair. In fact, Calendula is frequently used as a culinary substitute for Saffron. The Rose Hips add a little tang and sharpness.

Should anyone care to know, Calendula is used medicinally, primarily in a topical fashion, and its greatest benefit is to the skin. It also is used to treat menstrual pain and yeast infections (Il fait une bonne douche! Excusez-moi, je suis désolé! Tee-hee-hee). Don't no one never tell me Le Mixeur does not care about the women of the world.

Rose Hips are high in vitamin C, as well as vitamins D and E. They have therefore been used as an immune system booster for centuries, particularly among indigenous peoples. There is actually a precedent for the use of Rose Hips in alcohol. Pálinka, a distillate produced from wild or farmed fruit growing in Hungary, is sometimes made in small batch variety from Rose Hips (to excellent effect, so I've read). Additionally, Zwack produces a Kosher Plum Palinka that is "aged on a bed of rose hips." Whatever you say there Zzzzwackk.

Realizing my esteemed colleagues Gabriel Szaszko of Cocktail Nerd and Rick Stutz of Kaiser Penguin would be judging these infusions, I decided to give them an early Christmas present, and so into the infusion I also placed approximately 400 micrograms of some of the purest L.S.D. you're likely to find these days. Enjoy boys! Drink mine first! Hopefully this explains why I also included a copy of The Joyous Cosmology in the box.

(editor's note: there is probably not any L.S.D. in the infusion)

T.Mixeur's Cosmological Oval Elixeur

1 bottle Oval Vodka
1 cup dried Calendula
4 tblsp dried rose hips
  • optional: copious quantities of a synthetic chemical derived from ergot alkaloids produced by the ergot fungus, which grows on rye.
combine in a jar and let sit for 24 hours
strain out calendula and rose hips

The cocktail I then made featured a fabulous combination of ingredients I had left over from the previous month's Mixeur Six.


1 ½ oz Calendula/Rose Hip infused vodka
½ oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
½ oz lime juice
¼ oz Saffron Syrup (recipe below)
dash angostura bitters

shake and strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with sprig of fresh thyme

Saffron Syrup a la Anu Apte

1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup rose water
generous 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
1 tablespoon water

Make a saffron extract by heating the tablespoon of water to near boil.
Crush the saffron strands between thumb and finger. Add the crushed saffron to hot water. Let it rest about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add water and sugar in a heavy bottom pan. Heat till all the sugar is dissolved. Let it come to a boil. Ideally, reach 220 ºF.
Add the Rose Water to the saffron extract, then add all to the sugar syrup.
Cook about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let it rest.
After it cools it may be stored in a jar or bottle. You may leave the saffron threads in the syrup or remove. (leave 'em in they pretty)

Something about this combo of ingredients caused this drink to be nice and frothy, almost as if one had added egg white. Possibly it was the toxic and deadly chemicals in calendula that should not ever be consumed internally by anyone, ever, under any circumstances. Possibly it was the LSD. Possibly the jar Oval sent me was previously used for dish soap and had not been properly washed. I'm sure you'll agree that all possibilities are quite appetizing! Make one now, and share with all your friends.

And there you have it. We now all await the results of the contest, which should come as soon as Gabriel regains the ability to form coherent words and Rick stops lying on the floor digging the trails his hand makes when he twirls it around.

Next up: Tales Galore...