MxMo LXXXVIII, August 28, 2014: Coconuts

July’s “The Smash” was a great drink style-themed event that reconnected us with a late 19th century style of drink and allowed us to put a more modern spin on things (as well as revisit the classics themselves). It was a good departure from June’s ingredient-driven pineapple theme, but perhaps it is time to visit another tropical ingredient as a theme for August. Maybe introducing our host for MxMo this month, JFL of the Rated R Cocktails blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for August 25th is one that will get you looking at our hard monkey-faced tropical fruit friends with a chisel and mallet or perhaps a can opener for the theme is “Coconuts.” Please read JFL’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

Ah the Coconut, so round, so firm, so fully packed… with flavor… Coconut is versatile, coconut is magical, not only is it edible but it can be made into scores of products. However, this month you need only concern yourself with the liquid variety as I unveil MxMo Coconut. Yes friends, it is my sincere belief the coconut does not get the love, nay the respect it so richly deserves. Because this easy going tropical seed had its heyday in the Tiki era, it’s happily associated with the same fun loving drinks… Despite all the great Tiki drinks coconut appear in most people are down on the humble seed because of the Piña Colada. Friends, this need not be so; I say we take this delicious ingredient and show it can yield a tasty, well balanced cocktail. It doesn’t have to be tropical necessarily. I’d really love to see some of my friends more classically minded come up with a cocktail more befitting a pre-Prohibition mindset.

While coconut cream is what often comes to mind especially with Tiki and blender drinks, much has been done with the lighter liquids including coconut milk and coconut water. I have also seen infusions and syrups made from toasted and untoasted coconut meat, and there are plenty of coconut-flavored products (including a coconut-flavored vodka I was sent by a PR firm or other). With that range, there is something for everyone to join in on the fun. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that somehow uses coconut whether as a cream, milk, water, syrup, infusion, or other, and then post the recipe, including a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum.
  2. Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Rated R Cocktail sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  3. Submit a link one of two ways by midnight on August 25th — either post a comment on the Rated R Cocktails’ announcement post or tweet JFL at @RatedRCocktails.

That gives us all 2 full weeks to figure out how to open up a coconut without hurting yourself. I have used everything from hammers and chisels to power drill bits. Although the power drill bit was to fill coconuts with rum and cachaça and age them for drinking later. Perhaps using a can opener for coconut cream and milk is an easier and safer solution. Or even safer is a screw cap on coconut water or coconut rum? I look forward to what tropical and not-very-tropical creations this crew of ours can concoct! Cheers and don’t forget the safety glasses depending on your opening method!

MxMo LXXXVII, July 26, 2014: The Smash

I am not sure that I am completely over June’s Mixology Monday theme of “Pineapple,” but luckily, it will not be necessary to eschew the welcoming fruit for July’s theme. It’s most certainly a fruit that a muddler could handle. Maybe introducing our host for MxMo this month, Stacy of the Stacy Markow blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for July 28rd is perfectly timed to surround Tales of the Cocktail with as little issue as possible and one that will get you in the perfect feel for warm weather drinks. Moreover, one that will allow you to tap into your classic 19th century alter ego or your modern 21st century self for the theme is “The Smash.” Please read Stacy’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

I’m proud to announce that July’s theme is all about the Smash, those ice-laden, refreshing concoctions designed to celebrate my favorite things about life: stiff drinks and warm weather. It’s no surprise that in 1862 Jerry Thomas was the first to declare that “the Smash is simply a julep on a small plan.” The drink originally gets its name from the way mint was smashed up in the shaking process. Fast forward twenty-five or so years later to 1888 and barman Harry Johnson addresses the Smash as a separate cocktail from the julep entirely and expands the components to include “fruits in season.” What little was originally written about the Smash can lead most to believe it wasn’t a terribly popular beverage, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to David Wondrich, the author of Imbibe!

“From it’s first appearance in the mid 1840′s until after the Civil War, the Smash was just about the most popular thing going. In the 1850′s, at the height of the Smash’s popularity, all the “pert young men, ” the Broadway dandies, San Francisco swells, and junior New Orleans grandissimes, seemed to spend the warm months of the year with a Smash glued to one hand and a “segar” to the other. In fact, the Smash rather became an icon of dissipation”

Johnson’s smashes truly resemble many modern interpretations. With that said, the basic elements of the drink have remained the same over the years: they always include a spirit base, ice, fresh herbs (most popular is mint), sugar, seasonal fruit, and a little bit of water. Let’s get ultra creative, smash things, and then drown them in alcohol and ice. Allow your creativity take flight and concoct sweet and/or savory combos to remember using any fruit or herbs you can get your hands on.

Want to play it conservative with lemon wedges, mint, and spirit or go adventurous with kumquats, saffron, and amaro? Perfect for the range on this one is wide. Remake a Midori-laden drink with real melon muddled into the mix? Sounds grand. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  • Find or create a recipe for a Smash, then post the recipe, and include a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum on the thread Stacy created for the event.
  • Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Stacy Markow sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  • Let the Stacy know about your post before midnight on Monday night, July 28th by posting a link to your post in the comment section on her announcement post.

That gives us all two weeks to pick up our muddlers and thinking caps and get to work. Perhaps a stroll or two through a garden or the farmers’ market for inspiration is in order. Even if you are going to Tales of the Cocktail, the timing for this event has been planned for your convenience. Feel free to have one of the wizards in New Orleans at The Cure, Bellocq, or similar assist you in making your post if need be. I am definitely curious to see what refreshing libations you and your produce sources can come up with!

MxMo LXXXVI, June 23, 2014: Pineapple

May’s Mixology Monday theme of “Aw, Nuts!” got me thinking of orgeat syrup and all things tropical (although it did not need to be that way). Likewise, this month sounds like it will be the same (although it does not need to be that way either). Maybe introducing our host for MxMo this month, Thiago of the BartendingNotes blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for June 23rd is one that will get you looking at our spiky tropical fruit friends with either a sharp knife or a can opener for the theme is “Pineapple.” Please read Thiago’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

Let’s bring the king of fruits back! After being canned, mixed with all sorts of sugary liquids and blended into… some 80s dreadful cocktails, the pineapple needs more respect! Once a symbol of hospitality, the King of Fruits might be know misunderstood. One of the greatest non-citrus souring agents, used for crazy garnish ideas, infusions, old gum syrup flavoring, the pineapple is a fruit to be reckoned. Be in a tiki cocktails, an old school classic like the Algonquin, a crazy flavor pairing or just mixed in a delicious Verdita, get creative and make a cocktail using any part of this delicious, juicy fruit or share you favorite pineapple cocktail with us!

Actually, thinking about the pineapple and how we use it at work, we have one Tiki number, a house original called A Boy and His Dog, one classic, the whiskey and dry vermouth Algonquin, and the neo-mixological herbal liqueur-driven wonder, Stephen Cole’s Broken Shoe Shiner. That is a pretty big expanse of styles right there located on a single restaurant’s cocktail menu! With that range, there is something for everyone to join in on the fun. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that somehow uses pineapple whether as a juice, syrup, infusion, or other, and then post the recipe, including a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on this thread on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum.
  2. Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and BartendingNotes sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  3. Submit a link one of three ways by midnight on June 23rd: (1) with a comment to the announcement post on BartendingNotes, (2) by a tweet @bartendingnotes (include hashtag #mxmo), or (3) with an email to ducktailsbh (at) gmail (dot) com with Mixology Monday in the subject.

That gives us all 2 full weeks to figure out how to use pineapple leaves as garnish and why that center core of the pineapple makes your tongue feel all rough and raw. Well, that is perhaps side work to the real task at hand, but 19th century style drinks from the Pineapple Julep to 21st century wacky creations (including your own) are all fair game! I am eagerly looking forward to what this herd of cats can conjure up!

MxMo LXXXV, May 19, 2014: Aw, Nuts!

After a rough few weeks including a dry spell for Mixology Monday “Temperance,” it’s time to get off the wagon and pour ourselves a stiff drink. But what sort of libation? Perhaps our host this month, Elana of the Stir and Strain blog, could give us some guidance.

This month’s theme slated for May 19th is a rich one for it is “Aw, Nuts!” No, not kitchen and bartop screw ups, but a whole lot of protein-loaded goodness. Please read Elana’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

Nuts? Yes! A few months back I tried, and was wowed by, a peanut-y take on an Old Fashioned at a bar here in L.A. They had infused peanuts in bourbon and with a touch of honey had made magic. Nuts of all sorts make it into cocktails now. Some black walnut bitters here, the sweet almond flavor of orgeat there… circus peanuts. Your challenge is to utilize nuts (and since we’re NOT adhering to the strict rules of what are nuts, peanuts and walnuts both count) in any way you see fit to create a cocktail. Infusions, bitters, almond tinctures are all game. Amaretto, homemade nocino, Frangelico too. Go nuts!

Want to go all Tiki with some orgeat? Get all 70s with some Frangelico and Amareto? Go deep and bitter with Nux Alpina? Or shake up something with a teaspoon or two of peanut butter? Nice. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  • Find or create a recipe that somehow use a nutty ingredient, then post the recipe (both of the drink and the preserved item), and include a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum. Elana made it easy by starting a thread there already!
  • Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Stir and Strain sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  • Let the Elana know about your post before midnight on Monday night, May 19th by posting a link to your post in the comment section on her announcement post, by tweeting @stirandstrain with the hashtag #mxmo, or by shooting her an email at elana(at)stirandstrain(dot)com with Mixology Monday as the subject.

That gives us all two full weeks to get those nut crackers in motion and sorting out whether that bottle on your shelf is Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup or an interesting nut cordial. I’m definitely curious to see what you guys can come up with. And if you fear anaphylactic shock from using nuts, circus peanuts or other symbolic gestures will work in a pinch!

MxMo LXXXIV, April 21, 2014: Temperance

March’s theme of “Preserves” came in like a fresh lion and out like a pickled lamb. Speaking of pickled, perhaps not everything should be pickled all the time, including your friend the liver. Wait, isn’t this Mixology Monday after all? Maybe introducing our host for MxMo this month, Scott of the Shake, Strain, & Sip blog, might help to clear things up.

This month’s theme slated for April 21st is one that will get that will get you thinking given the theme of “Temperance.” Please read Scott’s full announcement post with some back history on the “Noble Experiment” and soda shoppes, but here is a brief description:

While many of us today think of overly sweet and unimaginative uses of fruit juice combinations when we hear of nonalcoholic beverages, there is a growing resurgence and movement of creating real craft “mocktails” in cocktail bars around the world… As such, this month’s theme challenges you to create unique craft “mocktails” only limited by your imagination.  Perhaps you have an abundance of that homemade lavender syrup sitting in your fridge?  Maybe you’ve been thinking about creating a non-alcoholic version of your favorite cocktail.  Or maybe you just wanted an excuse to mix up an Angostura Phosphate you saw in Imbibe.  Oh yes, non-potable bitters are fair game here since they are legally classified as nonalcoholic in the states.  However, if the Teetotalist inside of you won’t allow it, you can go without them.  Cheers!

Have a soda recipe you’ve been reeling to try? Or a cool syrup that would satisfy all even without the booze kick? How about some frozen dairy or whipped up egg libation? Nice. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that somehow fits the definition of a Temperance drink (devoid of spirits, liqueurs, and potable bitters) and then post the recipe, including a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum.
  2. Include the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Shake, Strain, & Sip sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  3. Submit a link to the announcement post on Shake, Strain, & Sip, or send an email to sjdiaz21 (at) gmail (dot) com with Mixology Monday in the subject. Do all this before midnight, Monday night the 21st of April.

That gives everyone about two weeks to start looking around. Perhaps dig up a PDF or reprint of Bertha E. Stockbridge’s seminal work, What to Drink: The Blue Book of Beverages; Recipes and Directions for Making and Serving Non-alcoholic Drinks for all Occasions, or look to the mocktail section of the Food & Wine: Cocktail book series for some recipes. Remember, there is nothing to mock about mocktails. There are times that many of us are the designated driver, on medication, knocked up, or taking a breather for one reason or another. Indeed, I can’t wait to see what your creativity or resourceful research will bring up! And I wouldn’t mind if one of you pays tribute to Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers while we’re at it…