The Return of Pernod Fils

Yesterday, this was brought to my front door between 9:30 & 10:00 a.m.:

RPF 001

Please do click on the image to enlarge it and really take it in.

An Elemental Mixology alumna is now brand ambassador for Pernod Absinthe.  When she first took that position, I told her that she should instruct Pernod-Ricard to restore the pre-ban formula Pernod Fils absinthe and drop their then-current ‘inspired by the original’ stuff.  In fact, the undesirable stuff is still current – in a sense.  I still see bottles of it waiting in vain on liquor store shelves.  My alumna told me that she had been told that that is exactly what they had planned.  That was a couple of years ago.

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Now here this is.  This was quite a complete promotional kit.  There is lots of information about the painstaking work to re-create the pre-ban distillery.  There are even samples of the botanical ingredients used in making this absinthe and a wood-encased thumb-drive full of information.  Some of that information can also be found at the Pernod Absinthe ‘back to the roots’ website.

But, enough about that.  My favorite absinthe since 2006 has been Jade Absinthe Edouard (now called Esprit Edouard).  There is really no way for me to judge the return of the legendary original recipe Pernod Fils, except by comparing it to Edouard.

In appearance, the Pernod is just a little paler green than the Edouard.

When I smelled it, Pernod promised me that the drinking would be just as memorable a moment as when I first tasted Edouard.

When I tasted it neat, I knew instantly that I liked it – a lot.  I just couldn’t be sure if I liked it as much as Edouard or not.  That, alone, meant that the new-old Pernod is a success.  I opened my Edouard and tasted it neat, also.  These two are rather different, but both are firmly within the range of flavor that I expect true absinthe to carry.  I think that I may actually like the returned Pernod Fils better than Edouard, but it will take some time and further drinking for me to be sure of that.

In the meantime, I can heartily recommend it.  Just be sure to avoid all those bottles of the previous incarnation of Pernod absinthe still found on liquor store shelves.  Make sure the words “original recipe” appear on the bottle before buying it!

Drink of the Day – The Resurgent Cocktail

As can be read in the notes under the following recipe (added to my book today), I wanted to make a drink that would present flavor similar to the Brown Derby Blossom – but that didn’t require finding heirloom varieties of grapefruit.  I also wanted to promote the whiskey to be the boss of the affair.  That meant a Sling, and specifically a true Cocktail – according to my preference.  I think some of you will like this one.

20131007 - Resurgent Cocktail

Drink of the Day – The Press Fizz

Today’s drink of the day might come as much needed variety to those who have made, or had, a few hundred New Orleans Fizzes (a.k.a. Ramos Gin Fizz), and not many others.  It is the Press Fizz.  An early recipe for it can be found in A. William Schmidt’s 1892 book, “The Flowing Bowl.”

Being accented by absinthe, containing grand bitters and based on rye whiskey, this should be a post-shift, reviving favorite of bar-tenders – if only they knew about it.

Make it.  Remember that Fizzes aren’t supposed to be long-sipping drinks.  Finish it within a few minutes.  Enjoy every bit of this very aromatic punch before it goes flat or warm.

P.S.  When the absinthe and bitters are left out, it becomes the Sitting Bull Fizz.  Some may prefer that one.

20131004 - Press Fizz

Decoding the Dazzling Divergence in Daisies

From the emergence of the true Daisy in the mid 1880’s, American mixology has cultivated a wide range of amounts for the liqueur used in this popular type of drink.

In some sources, like Harry Johnson’s 1888 book, “The New and Improved Bartenders’ Manual,”  the liqueur is a major sweetener of the sour juice, and so the amount of liqueur used was appropriate to that task.

In other sources, like A. William Schmidt’s 1892 book, “The Flowing Bowl,” the Daisy was made exactly as a regular, plain Sour, sugar and all – but with the addition of a liqueur.  In this type the liqueur is used more as an accent of flavor, and only a small amount was used while sugar (or sugar syrup) did the main job of sweetening.

The true Daisy appeared during a time when the amount of sour juice used in Sours was in flux.  Since the almost-negligable amount of sour juice used by Jerry Thomas in his Sours in 1862, the genreal trend had been to increase the sour juice amounts.  But, no major source indicates the use of more than a pony (1 fluid-ounce) of sour juice per jigger (2 fluid-ounces) of liquor.  That 2:1 relationship between the liquor and the sour juice also happens to match the old American proportions for Punch (2 parts sour, 1 part sweet, 4 parts strong, 3 parts weak).  Harry Johnson used about three-quarters of a pony of sour juice in his Daisies and Sours.  A. William Schmidt used about half of a pony.

Finding the best basic forms for the Daisy includes keeping track of moving parts, so to speak.  If more sour juice is used, more liqueur and/or sugar should be used.  If less sour juice is used, less liqueur and/or sugar should be used.  In addition to that, considering whether to use the liqueur as a major flavor in the drink or just an accent will also usually affect the amount of sour juice (and perhaps, sugar,) that should be used.

Considering the Daisy dilemma, I can quickly think of six appropriate basic forms.  I would suggest that anyone not finding any of the following acceptable just doesn’t like punch.  Please send me an e-mail if you have a strong preference – or an additional formula for Daisies that you think is tasty!

Daisy 2-1-8 accented

Daisy 2-1-6 accented

Daisy 2-1-4 accented

Daisy 2-1-8 3-to-1

Daisy 2-1-6 2-to-1

Daisy 2-1-4 1-to-1

Drink of the Day – The Rofignac Cocktail

Today’s drink of the day is the Rofignac Cocktail.  It is found in 1914’s “Beverages de Luxe,” edited by George Washburne and Stanley Bronner.  It is presented there as a featured drink at the Breslin Hotel in New York.  Use Maurin Quina or the red bottling of Cocchi China (Italian for quina) Americano.  The best, and most historically-accurate, choice would be Dubonnet Quina from France.  Whatever you do, don’t use American-made Dubonnet.  Enjoy!

20131001 - Rofignac Cocktail

Death to the Coupe!

There was a time when cocktail goblets looked like this:

Libbey 3770 (33)This one (Libbey #3770) has the capacity of 4-1/2 fluid-ounces.  That is just about perfect for holding a true cocktail – 2 fluid-ounces of liquor, about a fluid-scruple of bitters (~ 2 dashes), about 1/4 fluid-ounce of sugar syrup, and the water added to the drink while stirring it through ice before straining.

Libbey 8454 (33)After its introduction during the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative arts in 1925, the conical version of the cocktail goblet went on to become the very symbol of all mixed drinks for many people.  Of course, this had something to do with the prohibition-era fad of calling all drinks ‘cocktails.’  It is unfortunate that so many drinks other than cocktails have been served in the conical cocktail goblet over the decades.  It allows the drink a very wide surface area.  That means that the drink will not stay cold very long.  What’s worse is that the shallow slopes of the inside of the vessel hold a larger percentage of the drink closer to the surface than does the more traditionally-shaped cocktail goblet.  At least the one shown here (Libbey #8454) retains the capacity of 4-1/2 fluid-ounces, preventing it’s miss-use for lots of other types of drinks.  It is also acceptable for true cocktails in the sense that the release of the aroma of the bitters to the olfactory nerves is a crucial part of the performace of true cocktails – to remove most of the sensation of the harshness of ethanol.  Aside from the fact that the conical shape has been so over-used for so long that it has become culturally compromised, the use of this goblet can still be defended on mixological principals.  It is acceptable if you use it to drink a true cocktail, and at a quick enough rate that the drink will not become critically warm.

The Sidecar is an excellent example of a sour forced into cocktail drag.  But, being that sours have more volume than cocktails do (assuming the then-standard practice of using a total of 2 fluid-ounces of liquor in mixed drinks) because they contain more sugar or sugar-syrup and plenty of sour juice, the Sidecar would not have fit into a cocktail goblet at the time of the birth of the drink.  Perhaps the real reason the drink was called ‘Sidecar’ was that the overflow was served in a separate short tumbler to the side of the goblet.  If bartenders were to persist in calling the Sidecar a ‘cocktail’ and serve it in a cocktail goblet, one of two things were required.  Either the the jigger (2 fluid-ounces, at the time) could be abandoned as the total liquor in any drink, or larger versions of the cocktail goblet could be manufactured.  As an early example of the abandonment of the jigger, the Sidecar recipe in Robert Vermeire’s 1922 book, Cocktails and How to Mix Them, calls for 1/6 of a gill (the gill being 4 fluid-ounces) of each; the brandy, the liqueur and the sour juice.  1/6 of a gill is 1/3 of a jigger (or 2/3 of a fluid-ounce), and so the total of all three ingredients before dilution, including the lemon juice, is 2 fluid-ounces – the same main volume of a pre-dilution true cocktail.  It would fit the goblet and would no longer require the ‘side-car.’  In addition to de-jiggering drinks (and replacing mixology in bartenders’ minds with the sort of crap-shoot experimentation and recipe-memorization that persists to this day) larger versions of the conical cocktail goblet began being produced.  The first ones were modestly larger, but now they can be had in sizes larger than a pint.

Libbey 7518 (33)Here is one example of an over-sized, conical cocktail goblet (Libbey #7518) – shown in exactly the same scale as the other goblets in this post.  It’s capacity is 10 fluid-ounces.  A simple, but traditional, Whiskey Cocktail would get almost lost in the bottom of this one.

The silly over-sizing of cocktail goblets, and their universal over-use, have finally caused large parts of the drinking public, and the business that serves them, to reject the conical cocktail goblet altogether.  Ah, finally!  Someone is choosing glassware that makes sense according to both older tradition and the sensitive understanding of the mixological effects of shapes and sizes of glassware upon the quality of drinks…  No, that’s not what happened at all, sadly.

Libbey 3055 (33)Here’s what did happen.  Bartenders and customers who have rejected the conical cocktail goblet have proven to have done so out of the worst sort of empty hipsterism.  They have all rushed, in lock-step, to embrace and use (and extol the glory of) the Champagne coupe goblet.  In terms of physics, this glassware is only good for toasting with sparkling wine (fluted goblets are delicate…) and for making the spectacle of filling a pyramid of coupes, while pouring only into the one at the peak.  Just look at this goblet (Libbey #3055) that Libbey has featured in their latest catalog as being for “retro cocktails.”  It has the same sort of surface-area, and therefore drink-warming performance, as the conical cocktail goblet.  What’s worse is that it is even more shallow.  Equally shallow will be the hipster’s defense of using coupes.  If they really want to sound thoughtful, they may talk about the release of aroma.  But, that was already possible with either the traditional cocktail goblet, or, for extra release, the conical cocktail goblet.  Next reason, please…?  “It just looks so cool and retro,” is one response I have heard.  This is all image and no substance.

So, what glassware would better suit non-cocktails that was also actually used in traditional American mixology?

Arcoroc Napoli Flute 17The now-rare sour goblet (a.k.a. Delmonico, or star goblet) was once widespread.  It looks a little bit like a fluted Champagne goblet, but with a shorter stem, and without any fluted, inward-taper at the top.  Sour goblets had capacities of up to 6-1/2 fluid-ounces, with something between 5 fluid-ounces and 6 fluid-ounces being most common before they began to disappear in the 1960’s.

Fostoria 6092 Wine GlassFor other drinks, such as blossoms and flips, that may have more noticeably aromatic garniture or ingredients than sours did (yes, bitters in sours is a new thing – a good thing, often, but new), the standard wine goblet (or claret goblet) was often used.  This was the traditional shape of wine goblets a century ago.  The claret goblet usually had a capacity of 5 or 6 fluid-ounces.

So, given the fact that the Champagne coupe goblet is just as worthy of ridicule as the conical cocktail goblet it has been replaced with by hipsters, and that the more traditional glassware is no longer really available – what is a thoughtful mixer to strain his-or-her mixed drinks (that are not true cocktails) into?

Libbey 8054 (33)Libbey, the giver of so many silly things, has also in their recent catalog offered what they think of as a “Georgian Irish Coffee” goblet (Libbey #8054).  It has the capacity of 6 fluid-ounces.  It offers a surface area similar to the old-fashined claret goblet for the advantageous release of aroma, but without over-doing it – and while giving the drink plenty of heat-avoiding depth.  Furthermore, while not being as perfect for sours (like the Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, etc.) as is the sour goblet, it is a infinitely better for them than the Champagne coupe.

I recommend everyone get off the coupe bandwagon – it only leads to pretense and warm drinks.  Snap up a case or two of Libbey #8054.  It surely won’t last once its features are understood by those in the know.  I doubt Libbey did a massive run of something they think of as nothing more than a Georgian patterned Irish Coffee goblet.

Now, enjoy a drink without feeling rushed by heat exchange.