Today I come to thee with three potions for your tasting pleasure; two from the books of old, and one from my strange brain. Let's get into it!
The Zipper is a curious recipe that I took a double take on, mainly for its use of milk and tequila. Yeah, I know.
1 oz Tequila
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Milk, Almond Milk, or Cream (I highly recommend the cream)
+ Orange Milk
+ Almond milk is a bit too thin, but still smooth over ice
+ Definitely weird...but pleasantly surprising
+ I highly recommend the cream version...
+ ...Or if you're a savage like me, use IRISH CREAM instead
***I'm actually very curious what my readers think of this one. Good luck!
1.5 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Cream
Shake and serve.
Still blanketing cream as a base layer, the Zoom seeks to pair Brandy and straight honey. New to Brandy, the pairing is quite delicious, which inspires me for the next exploration.
The Zap is a spin on the Zoom. The Zipper makes an appearance, but if you really want to zap your zoom with a zipper, you'll find yourself on the floor all zapped out.
1/2 oz Brandy
1/4 oz Honey Liqueur
1 oz Irish Cream
1/4 oz Dry Curacao
+ Very creamy
+ Always subtle, the honey notes continue to ebb and flow through the experience long after you swallow.
+ The Curacao is a great compliment to the Brandy. Slight bitter orange spun into the fruity base of the Brandy.
+ Irish Cream provides that lovely, silky mouth feel, with a bite at back...
+ ...sweetened with more honey!
+ Just lovely.
So whatever zap got your zipper stuck before your Zoom...make sure your camera's off. Have some decency, mortals!
In the distant lore of the weary Barkeep, there is a classification of shots and shooters intended to bring the imbibed to an ascendant state. In the leyman, these are "wake up shots."
Not necessarily pleasant, but certainly an experience, and one that you are intended to have ONCE, before journeying toward more palatable potions.
At my most recent Drinking and Dragons, I was honored to draft two new shots targeted by this intention. I'd like to them with you, complete with their building blocks, iterations, and evolution to the final, startling product.
The Volition Shot
There is a scenario type in my games called the Bar Of Fate. It is a custom character creation experience meant to be played over about 6 hours, and is split up into Acts, with a Prologue and an Epilogue. With each section, a themed shot is presented to both flavor the experience, and provide not only an interesting drink, but a feeling of progression.
The prologue brings the players to the table, and opens the door to a particularly unique experience involving questions of morality, luck, and character, so I want to obliterate whatever pregaming those idiots have coated their palettes with. The Volition - an act of willpower to bring you to this voluntary character creation - will DEFINITELY help you transcend, no matter where you came from before.
THE VOLITION SHOT
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Lady Bligh Spiced Rum
+ Gin blasts you in the face.
+ Numb tongue, for a second or two
+ Bourbon keeps you warm and ready for the next step.
+ Oddly, it's such a shock to your system it was actually invigorating.
+ ...but no need to go back for more.
One of my players shot this down and, with a yell, exclaimed: "Now THAT'S a wake up shot!" And thus my mind was opened.
Makes sense, really, considering the broad spectrum of intention behind imbibement. There are so many experiences you can seek and flavors to explore, of course there would a whole category of drinks that blast your mind and cleanse your palette, preparing you for whatever comes next. Like a bucket of ice water to your senses.
Always a fan of odd pairings, I was seeking the viability of Gin and Scotch, and came across an old classic called the Silver Bullet.
It was: 3/4 oz Gin + 3/4 oz of Scotch.
I tried it. It was...alarming.
Turns out, there are MANY versions of the Silver Bullet, and NONE of them are the same. Let me just share a few for you.
SILVER BULLET (what I found MOST of the time)
3/4 oz Gin
+ Back throat burn
+ Bite of scotch mingles with gin to create a new sensation
+ Sweeter than I thought
+ Oddly, the scotch mellows the gin
+ Still makes me cough, but just once. ;)
+ Notes of citrus spice at the back.
+ Lingering "gin-y" taste afterwards.
There's potential here, but something's missing for me.
SILVER BULLET? (shooter)
1.5 oz Gin
1 oz Herbal Liqueur (I'll use Jaegermeister)
Splash of Lemon Juice
+ Herbal notes immediately
+ Hard to avoid the tang of the lemon
+ Gin takes a backseat oddly
+ Burn is still present
+ Lingering sour (lemon)
+ Undoubtedly strong
1.5 oz Tequila
1/2 oz White Creme de Menthe
+ Initial paint thinner gives way too...
+ Liquid celery taste.
+ Tequila and mint isn't new, but there's something very jarring about this mixture.
+ ...and I desire no more.
In case you can't tell, I'm not really a big fan of any of these. But I've grown to love Gin, and I've discovered I'm quite the Scotch man, AND, I'm not one to give up easily on alchemy. For all the iterations, I'm more intrigued by the "?" version, and it has to do with the herbal approach.
I've procured a number of neat little "wood and flower" liqueurs over the many months, and I enjoy muddling drinks that normally punch you in the face with a sweet oak or birch as a finish. Like a surprising spring breeze with warm sun at your back. If we stick with our usual fantasy themes, then I can think of no other warm yet surprisingly playful fey as the Summer Lady - Verenestra. It is this idea and its formative fancy that informs this next recipe.
1/4 oz Gin
1/2 oz Scotch
1/2 oz Wild Moon Birch Liqueur
1/4 oz Wild Moon Rose Liqueur
+ Birch is sweet and smooth
+ Birch elevates the Scotch bite
+ Find the Gin on the back end after a touch of Rose
+ Sweeter than expected
+ Less punchy
+ Goes down smooth, with a slight bite of licorice (the birch does that)
In game, our Prologue began with the Volition, to prepare the players for the transformative experience. The Verenestra was the gatekeeper to a capstone ability - try this transcendent shot to unlock your superpower, the earlier the better (both for buzz and ability). We'll just say that the players didn't waste any time. They were ALERT. ...for about ten minutes, then the gin hit them. Good times had by all, always.
Imbibe responsibly and safely, for the Fates are watching.
For anyone that can have a simple shot one night and feel nothing, and a similar shot another and fall prone to life, the universe, and everything...knows my pain.
True, there are many factors at play during absorption. This is why you don't drink on an empty stomach; you need carbs and content to both absorb and slow down the effects of putting alcohol in your system.
But as I mix more drinks - some touted as "strong", only to experience them as disappointingly as weak, with others spoken simply only to knock me sideways - I have developed a dread fascination with the math and science of Proof.
The Basic Formula
To quantify the strength of a beverage, the circulated formula is:
Alcohol content (in percentage) x liquor volume / total drink volume
then multiply that mess by 100
What they fail to mention here, for those of us that really need to do this right, is that that first part - Content x Volume - needs to be completed for EACH liquor in the drink, THEN add them together and divide by the drink volume. Now, a discerning individual can probably infer that idea, but with so many mixed drinks and variations, I want to be as clear as possible how I'm getting these numbers.
If I use, say, a Scotch and Soda as an example.
I've got 1 oz of Scotch, and 3 oz of Coca-Cola.
The Dewer's Scotch clocks in at 40% alcohol, so we factor it all into the formula:
(.4 x 1) / 4 oz = .1 x 100 = 10%. Which makes sense - a Scotch and Soda is WEAK.
But if we take a more complicated drink, like the Singapore Sling (again, two weeks back), which was touted as "strong", but I felt nothing (I blame the juice), I wonder how that measures up.
First off, we have a lot to work with. 7.5 oz of liquid with a dash of bitters. I'll factor out each liquor component, then add them together before I divide.
Singapore Sling Breakdown
Gin: .47 x 1.5 = .705
Cherry Heering: .5 x .5 = .25
Grand Marnier: .4 x .25 = .1
Benedictine: .4 x .25 = .1
Add that together: 1.155
Then: 1.155 / 7.5 = .154, or 15.4% Alcohol, or around 30 Proof.
So. Hot Take. The fabled Singapore Sling is WEAK SAUCE.
I Made A Yummy Thing
While messing around with a B-52 shot, I decided to omit the Grand Marnier in the layering process for Amaretto...and fell head first into a new favorite.
To mix this lovely thing, just pour equal parts into a shot glass in this order: Kahlua, Irish Cream, and Amaretto. So, if you're mathing right, that's 1/2 oz each.
After six shots of this delicious mess, I'm finally feeling something, and I want to know WHY. So we're using my "Zeppelin" concoction for our measurements today.
Let's get to know our components.
Amaretto - 21% alcohol content = 42 Proof
Irish Cream - 17% alcohol = 34 Proof
Kahlua - 20% = 40 Proof
Amaretto: .21 x .5 = 0.105
Irish Cream: .17 x .5 = 0.085
Kahlua: .2 x .5 = 0.1
0.29 / 1.5 = about .19, or 19%, or 38 Proof.
So what is "strong" in comparison to most cocktails? Because everyone's tolerance is different, so I'm sure there's a gradient of some kind...
I guess I'll use one of "strongest" drinks we know, The Long Island Iced Tea, as a gauge?
1/2 oz each of the following, and they're all the same strength:
Vodka = .4 x .5 = 0.2, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Cointreau = 1 in total
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 oz Cola
1 / 5 = 20% or 40 Proof
Huh. And here I was expecting more like a 50, but I guess that makes sense. Maybe it's more like this:
Strong: 20 - 30%
Stupid: 50% or more
I'll go with that rating system for now, until I learn more. :)
See you at the Bar.
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I've been experimenting with reasons to drink Irish Whiskey.
To be honest, though my palette is refining and I tend to lean hard toward whiskey nowadays, some versions lack a certain sense of depth.
Now, a lot of that comes down to the overall quality of a mash. The process through which a liquor is cultivated DOES make a difference; something I am beginning to alight myself with. Whereas before I would just pull a spiced something from the rack and pair it with soda, my inner alchemist has been seeking to fill in the gaps of knowledge left barren by years of self-imposed sobriety; a strict avoidance of the ever-expanding world of imbibement.
To be clear, I was never a drinking snob. Anyone that has been reading this for awhile understands my plight; I lack a gall bladder and I have GERD. Controlled by medication and mitigated by consistent exercise and weight training, I have to be careful about what I put in my body. So beer? That's six hours of pain and discomfort for a pretty low payoff. For a long time, I would avoid all alcohol, believing that to be my life, and the few instances where I was pushed toward (what I now understood to be) Bourbon, didn't help. The burn became everything I associated hard liquor with, which was also wrong.
So, when I hit up Irish Whiskey, there is a strange memory lapse.
First, there's a short circuit in my brain. It smells like a weaker bourbon.
Second, the taste hits like water with a numbing agent. The spice is light; not what I expected.
Third, and this might just be me, ...there isn't a lot of flavor. It takes like water and burning.
And it is this process that I think reveals the quality of the mash. There MUST be subtle nuances barrel to barrel and bottle to bottle, otherwise, why would anyone drink this dirty water?
This is about the time when the comment section explodes, so I'll give you a little more context to my thought process.
A Shot In The Dark With A Sexton
I don't have a lot of experience.
For all of my skill in pairing and mixing, I'm still pretty green. And factoring in my above statements of avoiding liquor like the plague, this is all COMPLETELY new to me...and wholly fascinating. My questions and thoughts here come from a place of genuine curiosity as I stumble into literally NEW experiences.
As I curate the necessary ingredients for an authentic Singapore Sling (see the previous week), I am always struck dumb in awe at the stacked shelves of beautiful bottles and shades of amber. Liquor is quite a business, and tons of people pour their lives into its creation and sale. It is a study of love and care and flavor, and I am so thankful for the past two years that have ignited my passion for it.
There is so much more to learn.
And I learn best through experimentation!
I have made it a habit during my supply runs to pick up something curious for myself. Might be a long-neglected, dusty bottle or that coveted 100-proof monstrosity, but this time my eye was drawn to a small, dapper glass barrel.
Aha! Who is this dapper skeleton man in fine gentlemen's wear and a prestigious top hat? Some dread carriage driver from beyond, summoned by the necromancy of necessity, to serve the shadow lords and ladies resting at the edges of civilization? Or am I the poor seduced schmuck lulled into thine carriage by nifty bronze lettering and a stellar presentation?
Spoiler alert. It's the latter.
This is the barrel that prompted the questions above. A quarter shot and a sip was...not pleasant.
Now, I don't tend to drink any liquor straight. Maybe I should start, a la Skyrim, to gain the working knowledge of the subtleties elevated in the malt alone. But it's hard to escape the disconnect of smelling rubbing alcohol, and then drinking it without dilution.
The first thing that hits is a burn on my tongue. The spice is IMMEDIATE, and unfortunately, there isn't much else happening. I've had Irish Mist before, and even that has a bit more earth to it after the burn. Maybe this is why I prefer a honey additive to this kind of whiskey, at least for now. Still, I am thankful for the information; it's all feedback.
A Whiskey For Mixing
Now. I paid for this bottle, and I'm not some savage that'll dump it out. If I can't enjoy it straight, it goes in the "for mixing" pile.
So what goes well with Irish Whiskey?
Short answer: most things that go well with any whiskey.
If you are mixing whiskey, you are seeking to both elevate and muddle the gentle bite and varying levels of burning associated with the striated liquor. This will bring me to a recipe I had earlier abandoned because of my distaste for Bourbon early on in this career.
1.5 oz Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Orgeat
4 Dashes Angostura Bitters
3 oz Ginger Ale
Pour into a glass with ice and swirl with a bar spoon.
Old Fashioneds tend toward using sugar cubes, and variations swing with club soda. Wanting to swing toward sweet and interesting pulls me toward the Orgeat and Ginger to do both.
+ Earthy with a sweet finish.
+ Tingle pulses through.
+ Burn at the front, but muddled
+ Sweetness at the end prepares another sip.
It's that last note that sells this for me. When I uncork the Sexton and smell it, there's an earthiness to it that got lost when I drank it straight. Even agitating it with ice begins to coax those notes out, and this mix, though sweeter than what others will be used to, continues to cultivate that overall idea.
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