Previous month:
May 2015
Next month:
July 2015

June 2015

James Bond's ABC

As in Alcoholic Body Count.  Thanks to an infographic from Food & Wine, you can just see how much 007 drinks in every film (23 and counting).  Click here to read it.  You might learn some interesting things, e.g. Daniel Craig drinks more than his counterparts.  Thanks to my wife for finding this for me.

Readers of the Den know I'm a big James Bond fan.  If you want to see Sir Roger Moore's version of 007 cocktail's here, or for a cocktail tribute to my favorite Bond girl click here.

If you want to learn about what Bond drinks in the movies (as opposed to how much), I recommend 007 On the Rocks by Stephan Kurr.  The book is a quick and informative read.

So (cue the theme music), we'll have to see how much Bond drinks when SPECTRE comes to the silver screen later this year.


Like Scotch (but not in the Facebook way) -- The Affinity

When it comes to dark liquors I'm a bourbon and rye man. My wife loves Scotch, so the Affinity is for her and all of the other Scotch lovers out there (she also loves bourbon and rye). The Affinity came out of New York City in 1907.  It was the epicenter of a financial crisis in the United States when an unsuccessful attempt to corner the copper market led to overextended banks, which then led to a run on the banks.

As you can see, my wife has an affinity for Scotch.
As you can see, my wife has an affinity for Scotch.

So what about the name?  In 1907 "My Affinity" was a common phrase in pop culture, so the word worked its way into the cocktail world.  If you have an affinity for Scotch or someone who does:

1.5 ounces blended Scotch
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.75 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with your clear affinity for cocktails, and strain into a chilled glass.

Most recipes for the Affinity use equal proportions of the three liquors.  I used a less traditional version in order to emphasize the Scotch.  If you use a more assertive blended (not single malt) Scotch you may want to use the  traditional proportions. Sharp eyed readers of the Den will notice this cocktail is similar to a Perfect Manhattan except it uses Scotch instead of bourbon or rye.

To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, to Affinity and beyond!

Dominican Style Drinking -- Mamajuana

Powerful serenity, thy name is mamajuana.
Powerful serenity, your Dominican name is mamajuana.

Mama what?  Yes, you read the word correctly.  No, it has nothing to do with the drug that's legal in some parts of the United States and the rest of the world.  And no, it has nothing to do with the great Genesis song "Mama."

So what the hell is mamajuana?  It is a libation indigenous to the Dominican Republic.  You infuse dark rum with a combination of herbs, roots, and bark, and then you mix in some red wine and honey.  I'm a big believer in trying the local libation(s) wherever I travel, so I must thank the Sanctuary Cap Cana resort for introducing me to mamajuana. It is very tasty and very potent. 

There are many types of mamajuana, each with its own slightly different recipe. You can get some mass produced brands that are pretty good (look online), but not as good as the stuff I had in the Dominican Republic.  If you're in that country, stick with the stuff at resorts.  My friend Sonia, who has traveled extensively in the Dominican, advised that homemade mamajuana can contain all sorts of impurities and be very dangerous.  Don't be concerned about mamajuana served at resorts.  After all, killing and sickening customers is a bad business model.

American Exceptionalism -- Bourbon

Neat, with a little water, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.   Today is National Bourbon Day, so it's time to celebrate with your favorite bourbon(s)!

Raise a glass!
Raise a glass!

Contrary to popular belief, this classic American spirit does not have to be made in Kentucky. A lot of great bourbon comes out of Kentucky (Willett Pot Still is my favorite), and I've had great bourbon that does not come from Kentucky, e.g. Garrison Brothers in Texas or A. Smith Bowman in Virginia.

I'll distill (pun intended) bourbon's legal and technical requirements down to this -- it has to be made in the United States, contain at least 51% corn, and age in new charred oak barrels for at least two years.  Distillers in other countries frequently take used bourbon barrels to age spirits like scotch and sherry.  So in a way, other countries are getting Americans' sloppy seconds.

Not sure which bourbon based cocktail to have?  For ideas, click the "Bourbon" category on the right.  Consider going with a cocktail that is classic, e.g. a Manhattan or a Boulevardier, related to some excellent movies, e.g. a Pussycat  or an Inside Job, or a mix of old school and modern, e.g. a Black Hat or a Whiskey Crusta.  Just have some good old American bourbon fun.


For Kings And Queens -- The Royalist

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a true example of royal magnificence.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is an example of royal magnificence.

As an American, the concept of royalty is foreign (literally and metaphorically) to me.  There have been great kings and queens throughout history, and there are some with us today.  My personal favorites are the longest reigning king and queen on the planet -- King Bhumibol (pronounced pumepon) of Thailand and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Both have reigned for more than 60 years, and I've had the honor of seeing (and in one case entering) their palaces.  To honor the king or queen in your life, make this:

1.5 ounces bourbon (Willett Pot Still is great)
.75 ounces dry vermouth (bonjour Noilly Prat)
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
2 dashes peach bitters from Bittered Sling

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the pageantry of the changing of the guard at the Grand Palace or Buckingham Palace, and strain into a chilled glass.

A great depiction of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, London.
A great depiction of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London.

Like a rebellious colonist, I am proud to say that I committed liquid treason against this particular crown.  The original cocktail, which dates to 1937, uses more dry vermouth than bourbon (to make it switch the proportions in my recipe).  I like bourbon more than dry vermouth, and using bourbon as the base spirit puts an American spin on the cocktail. You'll see the Royalist bears a very faint resemblance to the Manhattan. To put things in modern historical perspective, this cocktail predates the reign of King Bhumibol (who was born in the United States when his father attended Harvard) by nine years and the reign of Queen Elizabeth II by 15 years.

Long live the King!  Long live the Queen!  Long live your liver!  

Liquid Refuge -- The Sanctuary

Relax with a soothing and strong cocktail.
Relax with a soothing and strong cocktail at the Castle pool at Sanctuary Cap Cana.

Sometimes you just want a drink that brings you to a state of inner peace.  Think Zen like calm without meditation (and with a little collateral liver damage).  The Sanctuary is adapted from a cocktail at the wonderful Sanctuary Cap Cana resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Want some refuge from the trials and tribulations of life? Of course you do.

2 ounces light rum
1 ounce Cointreau
Juice from 1/4 a lime
2 dashes grapefruit and hops bitters from Bittered Sling

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake like a palm tree swaying in a stiff breeze coming off the ocean, and strain into a chilled glass.

The main pool at Sanctuary Cap Cana.  Yes, it really is that beautiful.
The main pool at Sanctuary Cap Cana. Yes, the place really is that beautiful.

This cocktail is perfect for warm weather ...... or when you're dreaming of warm weather.  The grapefruit and hops bitters really bring the Sanctuary together.  If you can't get them, use two dashes of Bittered Sling's orange and juniper bitters or orange bitters.  

Sanctuary Cap Cana introduced me to Barcelo Imperial, a great Dominican rum.  During a recent trip I extensively sampled many Barcelo rums.  It reinforced the belief that I mentioned in connection with the In The Dominican -- Brugal is good, Barcelo is better. My wife and I can say that the name of the resort is very appropriate. Many thanks to Carlos and Emilio at the Castle rooftop bar, as well as the other nice people there who tolerated my attempts to speak Spanish. 

Go have a Sanctuary, and enter your personal sanctuary.