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May 2016

Warm Weather Drinking -- The Cool Summer Breeze #1 and #2

Warm weather calls for refreshing drinks.  This original creation incorporates fresh peaches, a classic summer fruit, with strong liquor and sweet honey to cool you down and take the edge off.  The difference between the Cool Summer Breezes lies only in the base spirit -- the #1 uses vodka, and the #2 uses bourbon.

Cool Summer Breeze2 ounces vodka or bourbon
3 teaspoons peach puree (roughly 1/2 peach)
1 ounce honey syrup

Combine in a shaker, shake with the force of a very stiff breeze, and strain into a chilled glass.

Peach puree sounds fancy, but it really isn't. To make it, remove the skin and pit from the peach, and then run the fruit through the blender. Blend the hell out of it.  The honey syrup is the same stuff that you use in A Thief In The Night.  Heat equal parts honey and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until the honey dissolves, and cool to room temperature. 

A Cool Summer Breeze goes with all sorts of music.  It depends on your mood.  Classical?  Vivaldi or pretty much anything from the Baroque period.  Classic rock?  Allman Brothers.  Hard rock that goes with the theme?  "Summer Nights" by Sammy Hagar era Van Halen.  Hard rock that uses the word peach (not in the context of the fruit)?  "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard or "Walk On Water" by Aerosmith.  Regardless of your musical tastes, a Cool Summer Breeze is just what you want on a warm day. So sit back and enjoy the Breeze!

Stealthy And Unexpected -- A Thief In The Night

Steal some fun! Commit larceny on your liver!  A Thief In The Night does both.  It has nothing to do with the Bible passage from which the phrase "a thief in the night" comes.  Instead, the A Thief In The Night is a creation from the people at Larceny Bourbon, who also created the Inside Job. Thanks to my bourbon aficionado friend Chuck for mentioning it to me.  I slightly adapted the recipe.

A Thief In The Night2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Averna
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces honey syrup (see below)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the intensity of a burglar's pounding heartbeat, and strain into a chilled glass.

Averna is an excellent Sicilian amaro.  It is becoming easier to get in the United States.  I think it's quite good on its own, and it's a key component of cocktails such as the Lupara, the Amaro Amore, and the Lupo Voodoo.  As a practical matter, the A Thief In The Night essentially is a Midnight Train with honey syrup instead of super simple syrup.

So how do you make the honey syrup?  It's so easy even I can do it.  Heat equal parts water and honey in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until the honey dissolves (the mixture will retain the color), remove from the heat source, and then let the syrup cool to room temperature (wait at least one hour).

After you have A Thief In The Night, some of your liver cells and brain cells will be missing.  Better put their pictures on a milk carton.

Devil In the Details -- The El Diablo

Is it Mexench?  Frexican?  Mexifrenchican?  As the El Diablo combines Mexican tequila with French creme de cassis, these are good questions.  The first mention of the El Diablo occurred in 1946, when it was listed in a Trader Vic's book (Trader Vic's is better known for tiki cocktails).  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Imbibe magazine.

El Diablo2 ounces resposado tequila (I like Herradura)
2/3 ounce creme de cassis (use one made in France)
Juice from 1/2 lime
2-3 ounces ginger beer (non alcoholic)

Combine all of the ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker, shake as if you're possessed by you know who, strain into a chilled glass, and top with the ginger beer.

The details of the El Diablo are important.  Using reposado tequila, which is aged between two months and one year, gives you a subtly robust counterpoint to the slightly sweet creme de cassis.  You'll find creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, in other cocktails such as the Bourbon Renaissance.  The lime juice and ginger beer add a little spicy punch. You can drink the El Diablo while reading Dante's Inferno (a powerful book), listening to Sympathy For the Devil by the Rolling Stones or Devil With A Blue Dress On by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (both are great songs), and/or watching the Duke University Blue Devils (I am one).

If you believe in the afterlife, when the time comes I will have a seat on the express train to hell.  Find me in the bar car.

Old School Colonial Style -- The St. Augustine

The Bridge of Lions at sunrise, St. Augustine, Florida.
The Bridge of Lions at sunrise, St. Augustine, Florida.

When I say old school, I mean really old school.  As in 1565.  That is the year in which St. Augustine became a settlement, and the small Florida city has the distinction of being the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.  As I learned during a recent vacation, the city is home to a couple of fine cocktail bars and a good distillery.  Thanks to the SheKnows website for introducing me to this drink, the proportions of which I slightly adapted.

2 ounces rum (see below)
.5 ounces Cointreau
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit

A colorful citizen of the Fountain of Youth.
A colorful citizen of the Fountain of Youth park.

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the determination of the Spanish admiral who established the city (it wasn't the British who founded it) or the early Christian theologian for whom it is named, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon peel garnish optional.

The original St. Augustine calls for light rum, which gives it a pleasant and vaguely tart taste. For a more robust flavor use dark rum.  If you want a sweeter libation, cut back on the grapefruit juice and/or add more Cointreau.

Indulge in some relaxation and history, and have a St. Augustine!