Monday, January 25, 2010

Whiskey Fizz and a True Gin Sour

I like making cocktails at home, but it usually involves a lot of tasting or tinkering for me to get them right. The Cocktail Primer takes out the guesswork and offers an interesting way to categorize drink types. I received a review copy of this book and was happy to expand my cocktail knowledge while trying a few drinks along the way. Eben Klemm, master mixologist and head bartender of B.R. Guest Restaurants, organized this book by grouping descendants from master drinks. He offers six master drink classes, which are defined by style and technique, and the cocktails that belong to each group. For instance, from the martini comes the vesper and negroni. These drinks are not sweet or acidic, and they have a high alcohol content. They each have a primary and a secondary spirit but no fruit or sweet liqueurs. There is also a wealth of cocktail history sprinkled throughout the book. I learned that martinis weren’t always such strong drinks. Originally, they contained a more equal ratio of gin or vodka to vermouth and bitters. As the quality of gin and vodka has improved over the years, there became less need to mask the taste of the liquor, and the modern martini is now much more alcoholic. And, should you shake or stir? Klemm explains that as well. You should shake to aerate and slightly dilute a drink and stir for a more elegant, still result.

I found myself drawn to the chapter about simple sours. These drinks all include one type of liquor, some form of citrus for acidity, and a small amount of sweetness for balance. The fizz was particularly interesting because of the egg white foam that results on top. A fizz should be shaken to aerate the egg white and blend it with the liquor of choice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters. These can be made with gin, whiskey, or rum, and they are finished with a splash of both club soda and red wine. First, I tried a gin fizz, and Kurt and I were both unsure about the flavor and texture combination. Next, I made the same drink with whiskey instead, and we both preferred that version by far. The fizz is shown in the photo at the bottom of this post. Since the gin didn’t work for us in the first cocktail, I tried it again in a true sour. This time, rather than using plain simple syrup, I took Klemm’s advice about trying flavored syrups and made one infused with rosemary. The gin, lemon juice, and rosemary syrup were shaken with ice, and the mixture was strained over fresh ice in a glass. A dash of bitters was added along with a splash of soda, and it was garnished with a maraschino cherry. The true sour is shown in the photo above. It was fresh-tasting, and the lemon and rosemary combined well with gin.

This book does a great job of simplifying the world of cocktails and helping you understand them from the inside out. Once you master the basics and learn about variations on some general themes, you can start getting creative. In the final chapter, there are a few examples of complex sours that make use of more ingredients than the other cocktails in the book. I’m looking forward to trying the paradiso with white peach-white pepper foam that’s made with limoncello. Then, I might be ready to invent a signature cocktail or two of my own.





25 comments:

  1. Oh yum - you have me thirsty now, and its still a while before I can break for dinner. I love making flavored simple syrups, and rosemary is a favorite of mine. Thanks for the primer on sours. Bottoms Up!

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  2. Can a drink get any better than this? Oh my. I will be making this very soon. :D

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  3. Oooo...I just looked at the clock and just about happy hour right now. This is just what I need.

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  4. Until I read your post I was a pure traditional MARTIN gal. You have corrupted me...YAY!!
    Cheers
    SAUCY

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  5. Love the idea of the rosemary syrup. I bet that would be awesome in a lot of glam cocktails. And since I have a rosemary plant outside my door, I might just have to make a batch of that.

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  6. Lisa, You make both of these cocktails look very tempting! The photos are stunning!

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  7. Both cocktails look so very tempting!

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  8. I love it, the first looks "snowy" which is so appropriate right now. It also looks very grown up, cocktail party which I like.

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  9. You've put this together in a way that looks so simple, but so beautiful at the same time. Fabulous!
    *kisses* HH

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  10. Looks great--I have a ton of rosemary growing in the back yard. I also have a ton of gin "growing" in my bar. You should check out the floating (online) cocktail party Mixology Monday the next time you feel like testing those bar skills.

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  11. i don't really know the first thing about cocktails in general, much less whiskey or gin fizzes. in fact, the only time i ever think about such things is when i'm doing a crossword puzzle and the clue is *blank* gin fizz. the answer is always sloe.
    my point--thanks for the education! :)

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  12. A fabulous drink! Especially with the rosemary syrup, very nice!

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  13. My husband and I went through a cocktail phase a few years ago and worked our way through some. I think it's time to get that book, and start a new phase!

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  14. I looooove cocktails flavoured with rosemary... it's such a refreshing flavour. I haven't seen it used in a fizz before, but your version sounds absolutely delicious. Definitely going on my list of stuff to try. :)

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  15. What a tempting cocktails Lisa. I don't think I ever had drink with rosemary before. Must taste awesome.

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  16. Thank you so much for highlighting this book! I know my husband would enjoy it - he's the resident mixologist. At least a couple of times a week, he treats me to a whiskey sour or Pisco sour. I wonder if he'll create a new drink for me if I get him this? 8-)

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  17. I love the lemon and rosemary combination. Looking at the top picture makes my mouth water - literally - probably because I read the word sour right before I looked at it.

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  18. love the addition of the rosemary - your cocktails look amazing!

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  19. Mmmm yumm I love cocktails with eggwhites. Something about them softens the harshness of the alcohol so it makes it easy to put down 3 or 4 of these. I think I need to check this book out as I'm in the same boat as you with needing to taste and adjust.

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  20. I've never heard of a fizz! What an interesting drink! My dad used to always drink whiskey sours and would make me virgin whiskey sours (which I guess would just be called "sours" haha) to drink so this post made me smile.

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  21. Sounds delish. But the thing that stands out to me is that I haven't seen crescent-shaped, ice maker ice cubes in a very long time!

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  22. What a cool book, I'll have to check it out because we always make boring old gin and tonics!

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  23. A woman after my own heart! I know I would love that rosemary syrup, as I love Hendrick's gin and it has that sort rosemary/cucumber infusion. mmm!

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  24. I'm drawn to the drinks that have the word sour in the name. Some have sweet tooths. I have a sour tooth? Got it from my mom.

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