In studying up my basic bartending (and seeking flavors that elevate my growing whiskey cabinet), one finds themselves contemplating the tiny, lonely shelves in the dimly lit corners of the local liquor store. Beyond the racks of poorly timed Chardonay and useless Sherry, nestled past the dusty, unused shelf of margarita mixes and pre-made buttershots, rests a delightful corner of vibrant curiosities and surprising pairings.
It was here I stumbled upon the endless enjoyment of the Wild Moon's offerings, and there, tucked quietly on stack of cardboard boxes, was a Whiskey Sour mix. Intrigued, and short on budget, I snagged it for experimentation.
This remains a SOLID purchase, with many more to follow.
Now, the purists out there would say to make your own mix, and leave the sour to your own mixology. I am learning, and while I do pretty well, there is something joyous about opening the fridge, and pouring out an ounce or two of something that I know will fit the palette.
It's basically juice, and sometimes that's exactly what we need.
So What IS A Whiskey Sour?
Part of a family of citrus-based cocktails, the Whiskey Sour is traditionally achieved by mixing a few ounces of harsh Bourbon with Lemon Juice and Simple Syrup. Layers of orange and cherry are sometimes added. If you're using the mix, like this dumb DM, just some Bourbon and a shot of the mix, and we're set.
One problem, though.
I don't like Bourbon.
So, in true Moonriver style, let's go DEEPER.
Variations On The Sour
Just like my study of the Moscow Mule, replacing and restructuring a Whiskey Sour ain't no thing, and the list can get pretty involved. And, just as when you make enough adjustments and replacements to achieve a distinct palette, so do you gradually destroy the spirit of the drink until is wholly something else entirely. So, instead, for one's clear edification, I'll give you the three common, and pretty simple, variations.
Still Bourbon, still Syrup, but add an Egg White froth to mitigate the bite of the whiskey. Who knew!
MAPLE RYE SOUR
Like I said, I don't enjoy Bourbon for more than a taste, and though the elevations in Rye and its full spectrum are growing on me, I am very curious how the Irish Mist will behave in this climate.
I propose the following for a taste test:
1 oz Irish Mist Honey Whiskey
1 oz Scotch Whiskey
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
2 oz Whiskey Sour mix (because I'm awesome, get over it)
I know this looks like A LOT of honey, but hear me out. It's the Syrup and the commonality of the maple that draw me toward that end of wheel. I know from experience that the Irish Mist isn't a strong flavor on its own, but it explodes when paired with a honey liqueur. The brightness of the Scotch should heighten the drink's finish while providing a minimal bite. I only hope that the mix doesn't drown them all out...
+ Sour syrup and honey is a curious thing to enjoy
+ Just like in previous tests, that honey liqueur is a stealthy lady, sneaking in at the end
+ The Scotch is sharper than I thought
+ Beautiful color
+ Warmth, subtle and smooth
Maybe not something I'll put on my menu, or something I reach for when other options are always available, but it is a fine illustration of a flavor set working together beautifully. The experience actually makes me wonder about the merits of a Sweet and Sour approach, or the heightened subtlety in only a splash of Simple and Lemon.
A set for another day. This weary tavern keep has pushups to do.
See you at the table.
While driving home during a recent blizzard, I found myself perusing my shelves mentally for a toxic cure to the melodrama I had recently suffered. A turgid tapestry of fine liqueurs etched in my mind with nerr' a home nor hearth, and have sat collecting dust.
Sure, there have been a few loves of the Wild Moon Birch - a splendid pairing for a cinnamon whiskey, or a good Scotch - but the others had not yet struck a chord with me. For now, the Lavender is far too powerful a consideration to cultivate; the Cucumber doesn't sit well enough at this venture; and so I ponder on the merits of the Rose liqueur.
The last time I considered this vibrant and verbose visage was in the Spriggan Sprite exploration (Moonriver #21), and it's due for a reclamation.
A Lucky Box
Back in July, I subscribed to Bespoke Post. I admit I was seduced by one of their better ad reels where someone spoke of the bartending kit they received custom-made for them, so I jumped on board...and proceeded to cancel every package they had procured for me until I got a decent bartending kit. After that I promptly unsubscribed to their BS.
But I had what I needed. A shaker of an appropriate size, a stainless steel jigger, a bar spoon, multiple strainers, and a gigantic ice tray. I was quite pleased, and as I set the box aside, something else rolled out.
A tiny bottle of deep blue and purple, its top a simple pipette dispenser. Along its side it reads, in tiny, beautiful script. Bittercube Slow Crafted Bitters, Blackstrap.
Comprised of a few simple ingredients, this mixture brings out notes of smoked cinnamon, kola nut, and nutmeg. It smells delightful, and I long to supplement it with something, perhaps as a sophisticated alternative to the standard Fireball. Plus, the incorporation of a dropper just made my life intrinsically easier. I've been splashing my bitters around from the bottle like an idiot for ages!
The Value Of A Simple Pairing
THE BLACKSTRAP Test
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz Drambuie
1 oz Stella Rosa Black
1/4 oz Fireball
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 draw Blackstrap Bitters
+ It isn't...bad, per se.
+ It's just confused.
+ Sweet notes from the Black
+ The Fireball and Blackstrap create a fruity burst that pushes the sweet over the mountain.
+ Saccarine, to the point of achieving only the flavor of sugar incarnate.
+ The Amaretto ruins it. Just...flattens it completely.
With that tasting scrapped, round 2 post-blizzard yielded two pleasant surprises, and I am forever humbled by the core truth of good ingredients.
There is no need to overcomplicate a mix with multiple additions where only two will do. Simple pairings consistently win over complicated monstrosities.
For our first venture, we don't need much. Dewer's Scotch Whiskey, Wild Moon Rose Liqueur, and that beautiful blue bottle of Blackstrap Bitters. We'll take 1 oz each of the Scotch and Rose, and one draw from the pipette in the Blackstrap. Add 2-3 cubes of ice and enjoy. I'll call it the Soothsayer for now.
+ Bite of the Scotch smoothed beautifully by the Rose
+ Rose notes feel hidden...
+ ...until a subtle entrance at the end.
+ The Blackstrap proves a great way to infuse a smokiness to the drink.
Verdict: I am developing a love of drinks that take their time. Not one to surge down his own drinks, I am growing to enjoy ones that I can sip gently through an evening's long rest. Feel the gentle warmth of the drink, and be pleasantly surprised to discover more flavors long after it disappears down my throat. This is a drink of patience and reward; presence and thought. The best personification I can think of for my father, a firm example of what I deem to be a good man of good heart and intelligence. Someday, I'd love to serve him this drink; I'd be very curious what he thought of it. :)
For another pass at this, I ventured a dash or two in the Rye.
I still struggle with Rye's strange effect on me. The flavorless numb that always seems to coat my tongue...people actually enjoy this? And yet, there's potential here. So I'll be careful as I approach what I've called the Witchdoctor.
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Wild Moon Birch liqueur
1/2 oz Orgeat
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 draw of Blackstrap Bitters
*Stir and pour over 3-4 ice cubes in any glass you want (I don't care, seriously, what does it EVER matter?)
+ The Birch is the star here, not the Rye
+ Rye creates the backburn
+ Orgeat was a great choice to smooth the burn
+ Might not need the Angostura Bitters...
+ ...that finish, though.
Verdict: I'll keep this one in my back pocket for my buddies who love their Rye, but I won't reach for it.
Roses, witches, and visions of the future. Huh. Usually we save that stuff for the Absinthe posts.
See you at the table.
A quickie to kick off the New Year.
Some rough days last year. I came home, still deep in my love of Irish Cream, and plopped a freshly-purchased Creme de Cacao on the table. I'd been trying a lot of recipes around that time (ammunition for this blog and for my own education), and I just wanted to make something tasty. But I was exhausted, and I opted out that time.
And many times to come.
Why? Because it isn't healthy to drink when you're sad, and no one wants to become dependent on drinking to function. ...That's the definition of alcoholism. And that's not, or will ever be, what this personal pursuit is.
Fast-forward a few months and I'm finishing up my latest Lore Drop and I've got a hankering for some chocolate mint goodness. So, while taking eyeball measurements, I try some Amaretto with Cacao and Menthe. It's magic, so I try it with Irish Cream. Suddenly, this is fun again, and I jam out the following:
Random Recipe - The Knight Cap
1 oz Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/4 oz Creme de Menthe
3 oz Irish Cream
3 oz Vanilla Almond Milk
**Stir well and serve over ice for a splendid night cap.
Now, revisiting a number of successes from last year calls forward another favorite that I'll put here for your enjoyment, as otherwise it has no home.
Homeless Recipe - Irish Goblin
1/2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Creme de Menthe
2 oz Irish Cream
Stay warm, snowdrops.
Recently I had another opportunity to fulfill a trust exercise.
Sometimes my friends and allies ask me to make them a drink or two. By now I've earned a decent mixologist's reputation, and have succeeded in the creation of enough drinks that many friends ask for them by name. And yet, with all of this training, there will come times where I feel no inspiration. No flavors come to mind, and I don't feel a modicum of motivation to try things out; like there are so many possibilities that I enter a choice paralysis.
To combat this "writer's block" of mixology, I wrote up a little exercise to jumpstart my creative process.
An Act Of Trust And Rapport
To place your libation fate in the hands of a person can be scary.
People often covet their liquor, and personal imbibing, after a certain degree or within a certain mood, personal exploration and surprise are avoided. But if you've built a measure of trust, empathy, and satisfaction among one another, one becomes much more adventurous, on both sides of the bar.
In truth, a good bartender isn't trying to make a buck. The act of serving another a drink made FOR them is an act of service and trust. If they enjoy it, there is no feeling like that satisfaction. If they don't, it becomes a personal mission to find the flavors that they will. We're always learning from each other, and that effort adds huge value to a relationship.
Rolling For Aberrant
I split my thoughts into three categories.
Roll a D6 to decide the Core liquor. Doesn't have to be the one with the most volume, but it is going to be the star of the mix.
Roll a D4 to decide the finish of the mix - the Dagger that you may or may not see coming.
Roll a D8 to decide the binding theme or agent to wrap the mix in; maybe it's a feeling, maybe it's a flavor, we'll see what you roll. It's a mystery! Like a...Cloak.
Roll a D6 (CORE)
1 - Tequila
2 - Rum
3 - Gin
4 - Whiskey
5 - Vodka
6 - Brandy
Roll a D4 (DAGGER)
1 - Sweet
2 - Sour
3 - Fruity
4 - Decadent
Roll a D8 (CLOAK)
1 - Holiday
2 - Cream
3 - Gold
4 - Nostalgia
5 - Horizon
6 - Juice
7 - Syrup
8 - Wine
Then, from this mixture of ideas, it is now my job to craft you something delicious. I WILL NOT throw a bunch of liquor into a shaker and send something random your way, your taste buds be damned. If anything, these randomizers act as a challenge to a theme; I get to augment and cultivate my skills by adapting to this challenge.
So of course I forced one of my friends to roll some dice without telling him what I was doing. :)
Aberrant I - Rolls: 5-3-6
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Midori
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Silver Rum
1.5 oz Vodka (Core)
1 oz Gin
3.5 oz Cranberry Juice (Cloak)
THE EFFECT: First and foremost, the Curacao/Midori/Triple Sec/Silver Rum (Dagger) bomb is THE bomb. Fruity, tasty, and sweet. We smooth it out with the Vodka and Gin, and the Cranberry Juice thins the mix in the best way, elevating every flavor and binding them together.
Aberrant II - Rolls: 1-2-3
3 oz Gold Tequila (Core)
1 oz Irish Honey Whiskey (Cloak)
1 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
4 dashes Orange Bitters
2 oz Sour Mix (Dagger)
THE EFFECT: As these are more than just a smattering of randomizers and are intended more as a writing prompt, once I had assembled the basic components, the remaining additions easily fell into place, like the words of a poem. Good golly this one was delicious. The tequila is easily complimented by the orange notes of the bitters and Grand Marnier, the sour mix wrapping it all into a lovely potion. The Honey Whiskey is just icing on the proverbial cake.
If the friend on the receiving end was any indication, it was delicious.
Enjoy your randomizers, your writer's block, and here's to a new year. May it suck just a bit less than this one. Please. Thank you.
Merry holidays from the DM's Den and from behind this smoking, ashen bar.
2020 has been a doozy, and I'm not sure how many more apocalyptic memes I can circulate before the existential dilemma finally reaps my soul.
So instead, I turn to music and art.
Painting has been happening on a daily basis and I have to say, it is one of the few things that has kept me sane in this chaos. Like taking back the shreds of my being from the claws of a world on fire, and gently sewing them back together, one stroke at a time.
And when I publish an LP; a tiny Digital Album of music I made, inspired by deep campaigns and vibrant adventurers, I take back a few more strands.
And when I mix something and hand it to a friend (even if physically distanced), watch them take a sip, and see that smile creep across their face, I am elevated. To know that I made a difference, even just for a little while. A few more strands are pulled back to my heart.
I enjoy creating things. And though I struggle with the higher nuances in cooking food, the liquid chemistry of a good drink is endlessly energizing to me. There is something special about it.
It is an act of service to another.
To mix a drink for someone involves empathetic listening, mixing with care and intent, and being open to feedback. Shot for shot and sip for sip, every flavor and subtle shift is an opportunity to make someone a little happier. It's a good feeling to know you have someone in your corner that's going to make something special for you, because they give a damn.
So today, in this time of reflection, family, and gratitude, I offer you three "gifts." Drinks with a slight theme, but if the flavor serves it, I'll gladly abandon said theme. Confused? That's okay; imagine how a toddler in the cold desert born of a celestial retcon when dividing by 0 felt when three old guys triangulated his position on their shamanic GPS and decided to throw money, weed, and burial herbs at his feet.
Yeah. You heard me.
The Three Kings
The following drinks are presented as shots and I highly recommend that you imbibe them as such.
When a wound on a tree penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree secretes a resin. Myrrh gum, like frankincense, is such an artifact. It is yellow at first, but darkens with white streaks as it ages.
Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. Myrrh mixed with posca or wine was common across ancient cultures, for general pleasure and as an analgesic.
When consumed, though, it evokes a musty, smoky flavor and maintains a beautiful amber color. It is these notes that inspire this beautiful shot.
1/2 oz Stella Rosa Platinum Wine
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/4 oz Honey liqueur
1/4 oz Drambuie
+ Wary of Rye, but it makes the shot
+ Blends with honey notes, smoky without choking
+ Platinum is a smooth cloak
+ Really nice finish, smooth
Gold is gold. It's gold.
For this one I chose the complete aesthetic: flavor AND visual. It only took a short tasting to finalize this beauty. Bacardi Gold Rum, Honey Liqueur, and Drambuie form a sweet and savory and smooth potion. And though too much of this would ruin the total, a splash of Gold Tequila makes this something special.
The Gold Recipe
1/2 oz Gold Rum
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
1/2 oz Drambuie
Splash of Gold Tequila
Notes: Since this is equal parts, you can increase each equally and still get the same effect, though I recommend not exceeding 1/2 oz of the Gold Tequila.
Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It's supposed to have a woody, spicy smell, and people like to rub it all over themselves in ointments, or make tea with it, or even inhale the stuff.
My first exploration into this was exciting.
Pulling out all my weird nature liqueurs: Lavender, Birch, Rose, Elderflower, Honey.
Initial notes: Rose and Birch go really well together. Lavender is SUPER POWERED - just a 1/4 oz and it will overpower your palette in this mix. The Honey Liqueur is lovely...and has a tendency to be the main thing you taste in this mix, even with only a splash. At the end of it all, the Elderflower gets nearly lost.
So I did more research into the flavor palette when one tastes Frankincense.
A memory of pine.
Creamy and sweet.
I think I might know what to do this time. Prepare thyself.
1 oz Irish Cream
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
3 dashes Orange Bitters
Splash of Grand Marnier
+ Irish Cream and Honey are AMAZING
+ Seriously, best thing I've had for awhile.
+ Many notes of subtle flavor as it flows (nothing on blast)
+ Honey subtle at the finish
+ ...Still finding notes long after.
In my fantasy restaurant, you'd order this as a sequence of three shots. Myrrh, Gold, Frankincense. With time between to enjoy them. Don't muddy these as full drinks.
See you at the table.
I don't often take requests for tasting. Not because I'm some eldritch snob who couldn't be bothered by the inquiries of his minions and seeks only to watch his endeavors execute - a diatribe of burning villages and rising tides, fallen to the wayward eclipse of many an errant and shattered heart!
...I just don't get very many.
So when a random patron brought up a singular reference, in a singular moment, I was peaked to do a little digging. What transpired was a short rabbit hole ending in a curious drink. Curious only in the sense that I had never heard of it.
The Chestnut Cup
An odd duck popularized in a little restaurant in Santa Monica. Learning of its apparent popularity, I dug up its recipe and tried it on for size.
It did not go well.
The Chestnut Cup is garbage (so I fixed it)
ORIGINAL RECIPE - The Chestnut Cup
1 oz Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
+ Oh, isn't that a nice fruity...
+ What IS that finish?? It's a sour cling to the back of my mouth, throat, and nose?
+ Still waiting for it to get better.
+ Tastes like rotting grapefruit.
+ Not fermented, like in the good way, just rotten.
+ Second sip: in fact, the whole drink tastes...wrong. Like there's one note that's being played as loud as possible out of tune.
So what happened?
Campari happened. No joke. Super expensive, rotten liqueur. Just to be sure, I sipped it on its own...and spat it out. The first liqueur I've ever done that with. Not kidding. Even Black Sambuca, and Uzu of all things, I swallowed to measure the finish. THIS STUFF was unbearable. And it spoiled the whole drink!
So I removed it.
Let's class this up a bit.
Yes, yes, Campari supposed to be this high class liqueur that only the snobs drink. Is this one of those real-life examples of when rich people down literal rotten food and call if caviar? Cuz that's what it feels like. Congratulations, you've arrived at my first truly CONTROVERSIAL blog post about booze. Woot.
Instead, let's consider flavor pairings.
Gin is a Vodka derivative with a citrus quality. This is why Tequila blends so well in its company. With this knowledge, I swap out the disgusting Campari for Grand Marnier (orange liqueur). The compliment is a match made in noble blood. Lemon juice and Orgeat already do a great job elevating the Gin, so I only adjusted their levels. The end result...is actually enjoyable to the mouth and does not assault the senses. Classy.
MOONRIVER VARIATION - The Chestnut Chalice
1 oz Gin
1 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
4 Dashes Orange Bitters
+ Ah, what a nice citrus front!
+ Bright finish, and sweet.
+ I scaled back the Lemon, and the Gin and Grand Marnier compensate well.
+ Orgeat makes the drink feel bigger and thicker, allowing the flavors to mingle in the syrup
+ An easy sip.
Some Lore Drop and Context
Sailing through the Ionian Shadowfell, the young adults recently encountered a curious lady.
Whilst staying at the Grendal's Spindle in the machinist city of Kennrock, the captain of the group looked for a local to hang out with. As luck would have it, she came across a well-dressed woman face down on a table and surrounded by partially empty tankards. The woman, though, sprung to drunken life as the captain sat to join her.
Dressed in a fine coat of gold and crimson, she rocks a belted corset over a white silk shirt, the open collar revealing the thin mithril chain underneath. Two "gunslinger" belts cross around her hips, accenting the hip-hugging leathers below, the brand of a barbed whip just barely visible before it disappears up under the corset. Her hair is a deep magenta-red that fades to black, and her pale skin only further draws the eyes to her own; rings of topaz and black, that seem to spiral and telescope depending on her level of interest in the conversation. As she smiles, it is a tentative action; nervous, but playful, as if she is gauging how others may react. Fair, considering the not-so-subtle fangs on one side of her face...
This is Miriam Windrunner. The players know her to be the niece of one of the Vampire Lords directly connected to another Player-Character, but only the captain knows that information at the time of writing this (a lot can change in a week, though). Miriam is my play on a Fell Dhampir - a progeny born from the union of a vampire and another being, a creature always wrestling with monstrous lineage and making their own way. The "Fell" part of this complicates things; as creatures born in the Shadowfell are blessed or cursed with more mysterious abilities that only get more complicated and interesting as you get older.
To help with this, Miriam carries with her an adamantine blade. Like a cross between a longsword and a straight katana, it vibrates at a strange frequency when drawn, seeming to focus the wielder's attacks in battle somehow. Yet, Miriam rarely draws the weapon. She carries it for the little perk it offers instead; companionship.
You see, the pommel of the blade is a sculpted, ashen skull...named Bob. Bob is sentient, his eyes lighting up with blue fire and jaw unhinging to speak whenever Miriam calls his name. She quiets him by gently stroking the skull's head with her thumb. Bob serves and protects Miriam unconditionally, even if he offers unwanted advice often. Manifesting sometimes as an adorable, magenta skeleton spirit with a sword and shield, or a druidic staff, he serves both as the Dhampir's Spiritual Weapon and Healing Spirit, depending on what is required, and he would never leave her side. Beyond this accord, though, it remains a mystery on the what the depth of their relationship is, and that is a story for another day.
Influences and Theming
Anyone that knows my affinity for Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files can clearly see where I'm pulling Bob from, but the narrative device of a spiritual companion is one that's been explored fifty times over in fantasy. And in the dark and dangerous Shadowfell, it felt right to introduce such a thing for a creature that, at least at one time, would have been very lost.
Miriam Windrunner is, now, a capable young woman. Not a loner by any means, she will protect those she finds connections with, even at great risk to herself. Yet, once they are safe, she finds little need to follow; she is currently a creature of instances - wayward, strong, but directionless and mysterious. When I ponder her, it is an image of drifting fog, like smoke on the water; yet, when you meet her, she is immediately intriguing.
So I wanted to explore that idea with flavors.
Now, I'm not some nuanced scholar of mixology, I just wanted to make something with a certain aesthetic that tastes nice. If it evokes a few subtle feelings, even better.
Hanging on to that image of smoke on the water, I am drawn to one of my silver liquors. Silver Rum ain't my jam at the moment, so I pull out the Tequila. It also doubles as a distinct, vibrant flavor. A splash of lime will bring out the hints of sour. But now we just have a "mostly water" with a rusty green from the lime.
I've been experimenting with syrups lately, so let's bring out the Orgeat, a hazelnut syrup popular in rum drinks, and mix that in. Yes. After a quick stir, the thicker marzipan syrup "muddies the waters" if you will. And, after a sip, smooths that Tequila right away without sacrificing it.
The first flavor that came to mind when considering Miriam, however, was the underrated Stella Rosa Pink. Bright, silky flavors without being overpowering, I thought it aligned beautifully with her personality. And following my success in blending Pink and cinnamon, I am overconfident this will work out.
2 oz Silver Tequila
1 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3 oz Stella Rosa Pink Wine
+ A lovely drink
+ Tequila is a flavor you don't hide, so the Pink and Orgeat only smooths its finish
+ A great vehicle to accent the Orgeat without overpowering other flavors
+ Pleasant and smooth and bright
+ I could drink this easily and quickly...be careful
Adding on that the wine brings a silky pink chamise to the visual is just icing on the cake, as it reminds me of her crimson coat, which is awesome.
See you in the shadows.
The White Russian
My first experience with a White Russian was at a corner bar, a tiny subset of the local Wood & Tap. The restaurant proper would later give me food poisoning, but the bar was a splendid experience.
While rocking my masters and for some time after I was one of the musicians in fantastic music ensemble called the Symphonic Capitol Winds. While in it, I was happy to know and bond with several awesome musicians, many whom I remain friends with to this day, and have enjoyed extensive conversations with. We would discuss philosophy, teaching pedagogy, relationships, music, and our place in the universe.
So it was in this bar where I waited patiently for my friends to arrive where I met a great bartender. We chatted about flavors and I told him to "surprise me." A few minutes later he returned with a tall glass filled with vanilla ice cream, fudge swirls, Kahlua, and probably heaps of vodka. It was a great presentation, topped with housemade whipped cream and marachino drizzle.
I proceeded to have three. Then my friends arrived, and I was SO HAPPY to see them. I also could not stand correctly.
This drink, I was informed by that cool bartender, was a White Russian, and I immediately sought this drink out wherever I could after this. It was always excellent there, so that became the industry standard which all other drinks would now be compared to.
Turns out, though, that the addition of ice cream and fudge is the more decadent variation on the original recipe, which involves adding heavy cream to about 2 ounces of Vodka and about 1 ounce of Kahlua (the original sans cream being the Black Russian). Some schmucks even go light on the cream and fill the rest up with crushed ice! They did that on our honeymoon cruise and I was LIVID.
So if you're going to make this classic, I suggest you start with the Black Russian base:
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
Then fold in either heavy cream, or 1-2 scoops vanilla ice cream, and top with fudge syrup and whipped cream. Because CLEARLY that's the ONLY way to do this drink. ;)
Since the White Russian is just a variation on the Black Russian and every new path in this liquor's journey is a new variation on a theme, let's do the Moonriver proud and BREAK SOME RUSSIANS!
...That came out weird...
Green and Black
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
2 scoops Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream
Blend and serve!
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
2 oz Root Beer Liqueur
Blend and serve, ya drunks!
The Rising Wight
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
2 scoops coffee ice cream
1 oz Irish Cream
Blend and serve, with a straw and good company.
All three of these variations have been knockouts at my bar, so I can pledge their effectiveness. Besides, the ice cream lines the stomach so the alcohol isn't absorbed as quickly...right?
The Dude abides...for he is a lich.
Beware the Dude.
In my deep studies and dives into mixology, I am often delighted at the affirmations of my insights and gambles. It seems, most of the time, I have a decent idea of what I am doing, and there is no other feeling quite like setting aside the chemistry of a drink's draft before research and celebrating your apparent genius after. And though this practice fosters a keen and sharp wit and confidence in the subject, it can also drive the hooks of hubris deep before wrenching you to the floor.
There is much still to learn, grasshopper.
The chemistry of liquor could be argued toward an exact science. Parts and ratios, surgical measurements, yet loose enough to garner such phrases as "a dash" of this or a "splash" of that. There appears to be some arcanum in play as well, at least among the most pure. There are garnishes, and smokes; matches and incantations; so much that one believes flailing an orange over a glass gives it just the right "touch" of citrus.
And when I'm not casting spells to make things delicious, I am ruminating on the curious cavalcade of cutthroats and pinchpurses that just cannot seem to get along, no matter how many times I force them onto the same boat.
Let's consider what I call "Morgan's Fleet." No liquor is created equal, which is why offshoots like Lady Bligh (sweeter and mild) exist alongside Admiral Nelson (bright and sharp), with Captain Morgan the original reference point of rum. Kraken leans between Morgan and Nelson, and the ever-surprising Oakheart lends a slightly earthy tone between Morgan and Bligh. The CLEARLY Bligh clone of Blackheart Rum leans heavily beyond Bligh, too smooth for her own good.
Each of these rums on their own serve well in simple pairings, and can be quite tasty in these realms, elevating them to a mansion of high class. ...Put them in the same room, however, and they draw swords and kill each other, leaving behind essentially dirty water.
What I mean is, in my first attempt at crafting what I professed to be "my strongest drink" (a feat I believe has already been achieved in the form of the Incubus, go figure), I thought it would somehow be a good idea to blend all my favorite rums together.
So I took some Bligh, some Morgan, some Kraken, a little Oakheart, and a splash of Blackheart.
...It was devoid of all flavor. It left my tongue NUMB in boredom. So I tried again. Morgan, Bligh, Kraken.
Nothing. All flavors nullified.
Morgan and Bligh only? There's flavor, but it has no heart.
Frustrated, I put the concept away. I had a campaign to run and plenty of other drinks to write about, so no worries.
Flash forward a few months to the second week of teaching in the odd-as-hell Hybrid Model as a music teacher and I'm conceptualizing the conflicting flavors in a dose of my FIREWATER, a drink idea that's been rolling around for some time. It starts simple - a double shot of Fireball (makes sense, but if I don't like it, I've got After Shock to help out), then about a 1/2 oz of Lime Juice for some citrusy bite. Adapting from an old idea, I call in an ounce of Vodka (hmm), a quarter ounce of 151 Rum (HMM), and an ounce of...Captain Morgan.
The initial sip is a blastoise cannon of Lime, all semblance of rum or vodka GONE from the mixture. A hint of Fireball lingers in the wings, and the warmth is there (one of the targets of the draft), but after a second sip ALL I TASTE IS LIME. Where'd my pirate go? What the hell happened?
It is my understanding that if Spiced Rum is one of the core liquors in your drink, that you use only ONE RUM. The second test craves that citrus, but without the Lime, so I have some swapping to do. I propose the following changes:
Switch out the Vodka for Gin, and omit the Lime juice completely.
X out the 151, and keep the Captain on standby for a splash or two if needed
Fold in 1 oz of Jamaican Silver Rum
Add in 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
The Gin is precisely what this drink needed. The subtle citrus quality makes the Fireball a bright, shining, cinnamon sun. Bitters bind the Silver Rum into the fold, so no need for the Captain...but something's still missing. Alas, this one is far from done.
Though I've been pretty lucky so far, not every drink is a knock-out, and there are splendid lessons to be found in our hilarious "mistakes."
While dumping out the poor wasted liquor of the first test, a quick sniff of the glass elevated that sense of fire, like I had "rinsed" it with Fireball. I was looking for something light and easy to cleanse my palette and I reached for my Stella Rosa Pink (carbonated, light, sweet wine). Pouring just a touch into the glass, the smell (and resulting taste) was transcendent without carry; light, but satisfying. So I ventured further.
I don't want to sacrifice what the Pink brings to the table, so just a half ounce of Fireball in a whiskey glass, and fill it up with Stella Rosa Pink. It is lovely and bright; warm at the back and sweet at the front. Both for its color and profile, I name her my Ladefyre, and she is lovely.
Taste and toast well to what you are thankful for in this crazy world.
See you at the Bar.
There is a doctrine that persists from the Old Times; hissed from the corners of the amaranth and amalgamate souls trapped forever in the ether...
"You don't mess with a good Scotch."
To hell with that!
As I've begun to cultivate a new love of Scotch whiskey, I undoubtedly have fallen down the rabbit hole reserved for so many previous palette discoveries to satiate an aching question: What goes well with Scotch?
Though I was never one to throw a punch in a bucket and see what sticks, drowning out any semblance of flavor with an excess of Gin and Vodka (sighs in college), the urge to blend new loves with old ones still calls to me. What are those old loves, you may ask?
Well, Disaronno (fine amaretto), Drambuie, Fireball, and Angostura Aromatic Bitters.
And, after a little research, turns out those old loves already had their honeymoon pairings in two separate homes. You might recognize the classics: The Rusty Nail and The Godfather.
THE RUSTY NAIL
1.5 oz Scotch whiskey
3/4 oz Drambuie
Pour over ice and enjoy
1.5 oz Scotch whiskey
1/2 oz amaretto liqueur
Pour over ice and enjoy
...Or be a heathen and some Coca-Cola and enjoy anyway!
Upon learning this, I was bolstered by my past cultivation and skillset and set to work making my own "gentleman's drink".
The Den Master
This one's all mine.
Take a nice whiskey glass and put 3 ice cubes in it. Then, pour the following over the ice in this order.
1) 1/2 oz Drambuie
2) 1/2 oz Wild Moon Birch Liqueur
3) 1 oz Disaronno
4) 1/2 oz Fireball
5) 2 oz Dewer's Scotch
6) 4-6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Swirl the glass and sip away. No soda needed.
I like the bright bite of the Dewer's Scotch, mitigated by the syrupy sensations of the Drambuie mixed with the subtle Birch. Fireball, Disaronno, and Bitters are a match made in Elysium.
So if you're down for a cloak, a dagger, and a gentleman's talk, come join me at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
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