Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Montoursville Special

I've been thinking for a while that I wanted to start using ginger more with my cocktails, and the experiments I've made with Stone's ginger wine have been lacklustre at best. Instead, I decided to go right to the source with fresh (or candied) ginger.

I came up with something that struck me as quite tasty indeed:

The Montoursville Special

3oz rye whiskey
1/2oz Luxardo Maraschino
1/2oz dry vermouth
1/2oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
3-5 pieces chopped/torn ginger (fresh or candied)

Chop or tear the ginger into pieces large enough for your strainer to keep the bits out of the drink. Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously and strain carefully into a cocktail glass.

I loved the way the orange played off the spice of the ginger, while the rye/maraschino/vermouth corpus of the drink maintained each of the flavours distinctly.

I'm naming this The Montoursville Special after a guy who's pretty special to Yankees fans around the world: Mike Mussina. Sadly, The Moose decided to hang up his glove just 30 victories shy of 300, which may mean he won't make the Baseball Hall of Fame. But we'll always remember the great games, the classy sportsmanship, and the professionalism that Mike brought to The Cathedral of Baseball.

Godspeed, Mike. Here's to you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Five-Tool Player

Here's a little something I put together. The name comes from the principal five ingredients. In baseball, a Five-Tool Player is one who possesses, to a proportional degree, each of the five "tools" identified by scouts as the hallmarks of a talented player. It's made like this:

2oz Hitting for Power (Rye Whiskey)
1/2oz Hitting for Average (Dry Vermouth)
3/4oz Baserunning Speed (Luxardo Marachino)
1/3oz Throwing Ability (Creme de Menthe)
Tsp. Fielding Range (Absinthe/Pastis)

To this, add:

5 Dashes Sportsmanship & Team Spirit (Fee Bros. Orange Bitters)
2 Dashs Ability to Handle the Media (Angostura Bitters)
1 Dash Durability & Resistence to Injury (Lemon Juice)

Shake vigorously and serve in a cocktail glass with a twist of lemon.

Obviously, this has a lot of ingredients. As I mixed it up, I was constantly trying to ensure that I was balancing things. I've become very interested lately in the contrast that absinthe/pastis and mint provides. So I start with a rye whiskey base, but I even out the rough edge of the rye a bit with the dry vermouth. Add to that the mint/anise combo for the main flavours. To that I add the Luxardo Marachino for a bit of sweetness, and to even out the mint/anise, just in case one or the other dominates. But I counter the sweetness with some citrus, in the form of of the orange bitters and lemon juice. Top off with Angostura bitters for good measure.

I found the result to be complex and balanced. Each flavour seems to play off the others, so your tongue is not confronted with any pre-dominant taste. Rather, they chase each other on your tastebuds in the seconds after you swallow, giving you teasing hints as to what you're imbibing.