Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bent Wings and Hot Cockles

When you say “Corsair” to me, I say back to you “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Go ahead and try me and watch it happen. “Baa Baa Black Sheep” was a 70s TV show about a rag tag band of Naval misfits, headed by Robert Conrad and also featuring TV legend Dirk Blocker (a name which seems to leave Dirk Diggler of “Boogie Nights” bereft of any sass whatsoever), scorching the bloody skies of World War II planet earth with their unbelievably awesome Corsairs. The fearsome Corsairs reputedly had an 11:1 kill ratio. That's awesome. Even more awesome: their wings were bent. Why? Because that's awesome.

A corsair is also a pirate, or a pirate ship, or a series of craft distilled spirits made in small batches in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Golly the English language sure is funny ain't it?

Corsair distilleries is currently cranking out a wide variety of drinkable commodities and attempting to get them into the hands of good people who will appreciate them, and no where are you more likely to find them than right here in little ol' Washington state. The current line includes a gin made in a hand hammered pot still using sustainably harvested botanicals, a “red absinthe,” (a riff on traditional absinthes that incorporates citrus, tarragon, and hibiscus to the usual anise/wormwood lexicon of botanicals), and a “Pumpkin Spice Moonshine.” The Pumpkin Spice is an un-aged malt whiskey (AKA White Dog) that is then distilled a second time with ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and pumpkin in the pot still's vapor basket.

As was previously reported on Jessica Voelkner's “Sauced” blog, old foggie Munat brother Charles helped arrange for several of Seattle's top bartenders to 23 skiddoo some drinks one afternoon at Rob Roy using many of the Corsair products. Jamie Boudreau, Andrew Bohrer, Paul Clarke, Zane Harris and Phillip Trickey of Rob Roy, and Jay Kuehner of Sambar all did what they could with a box of Corsair bottles and a truly bizarre collection of complementary ingredients the clearly senile Charles brought with him. The results were predictably brilliant and delicious (so I'm told, I wasn't actually there for the tastings, some of us actually work for a living).

Bearing the old adage “anything a bartender can do I can do better" in mind, I finally got my own turn to play around with the Corsair products. We'd proven that geniuses can make drinks with it. Now it was time to see how it fared in the hands of an imbecile. I of course had a notable advantage on the geniuses in not having to use peanut butter or mung beans (Charles, if you're reading, there are easier ways to clean out our fridge before a move to Argentina).

With the Pumpkin Spice moonshine, inspiration struck quickly, and on the very first try, I came up with something I liked. I was inspired not only by the booze itself, but by a scintillating exchange the night before with the legendary Autumn Waddell of The Zig Zag Cafe, in which we envisioned a drink that would warm the cockles of the heart to such an extent as to make it almost uncomfortable, and perhaps requiring oven mitts, while at the same time begging the question, “what the fuck is a cockle?”

The Hot Cockles

1 ½ ounce Corsair Pumpkin Spice Moonshine
¾ ounce Lillet Blanc
½ ounce Canton Ginger Liqueur
2 dashes peach bitters
5 drops Thai Chili Tincture

stir all ingredients over ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass
twist a broad peel of orange over the drink to express the oils, and garnish with the peel

The orange peel is important here. The Thai Chili Tincture was introduced to me by both Jon Santer and Erik Adkins of Heaven's Dog in San Francisco. Both of them contributed drinks to Left Coast Libations using this tincture, Jon in the Dragon Variation and Erik in Carter Beats the Devil. To make it, simply break the stems off of Thai chilies and fill a jar with them, then pour Wray and Nephew overproof rum until the jar's filled for reals. Let it sit for two weeks and then strain it out. And for the love of god wear gloves when making it and clearly label any bottle housing this tincture. It is very sad when someone tastes a drop of Chili Tincture thinking it's some sort of bitters.

The Hot Cockles, by the way, has an 11:1 kill ratio. That's awesome.

Next I began ominously circling the bottle of Red Absinthe. It began to shiver with fear, knowing it's time was up. Now, I want to clarify that I am not on the payroll for Canton Ginger Liqueur, but I ended up using it again. As the brokest mo-fo in the whole damn cocktail industry, my liquor cabinet typically hosts 3-4 bottles at any given time, and so the ingredients of drinks can become very familiar. This of course fuels my creativity, not to mention my disaffected and resentful attitude about modern civilization and my distrust and loathing for capitalism, or as I prefer to call it, “The Global Cancer System.”

Anywho, here's a yummy drink!!!

Global Cancer System, AKA The Dirk Blocker

2 ounces Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1 ounce Cinzano Rosso
½ ounce Canton Ginger Liqueur
¼ ounce Corsair Red Absinthe
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

stir all ingredients over ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass
methinks an orange peel garnish, though I reserve the right to reverse field on this
then ya drink it down!
That's mean!

This is a sweet drink. So shoot me. I'm not afraid of sweet drinks, for the same reason why I'm not afraid to let my car shift itself.

Finally, there was the matter of the wee little gin. For this, I went with something decidedly simple and lending promotion of one of my favorite Seattle-based cocktail products, Scrappy's Bitters.

Something Decidedly Simple with Scrappy's Bitters, AKA The Robert Conrad

2 ounces Corsair Gin
1 ounce Dolin Blanc
2 dashes Scrappy's Lavender Bitters.

stir all ingredients over ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass
twist a lemon peel over the drink to express the oils, and garnish the drink with the peel

And there you have a whirlwind of mixological wizardry from me on the bent wings of the Corsair. For a peep at the full list of Corsair products (they also have an un-aged rye, a spiced rum, and a vanilla bean vodka) and for a full list of places you might be able to find Corsair, go to their web site. Then go to that place that has that Corsair, have a delicious Dirk Blocker, and feast on a platter of Hot Cockles.

Yes, Seattle is a perverse and glorious town. Revel in it.