MxMo CVIII, April 18, 2016: Swizzles

With the hangover from overproof March subsiding, it’s time to look ahead to April as the weather is getting warmer and the drinks are getting more refreshing. Crushed ice and mint sprig garnishes are beginning to appear, and all the forms that use them from local to tropical are options. Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Frederic of the CocktailVirgin blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for April 18th is one that will get you thinking about crushed ice and interesting ways to mix it. No, not all ways but one tropical way: the Swizzle! Please read Fred’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

So what is a Swizzle? And what is a swizzle stick? The literary references to Swizzles seem to begin around the mid-18th century with the written definition growing in the early parts of the 20th century. Swizzles began as a Caribbean style of mixing drinks perhaps stemming in Barbados — mostly cold although there are certainly hot swizzles out there. Unlike say the Martini which is chilled in a mixing glass by gently stirring cubed ice with a spoon and straining into a cocktail glass, most cold Swizzles are built in the glass, topped with crushed ice, and agitated with a rapidly spinning natural swizzle stick (or facsimile) to mix and chill… The Swizzle has had a resurgence starting around 2008 or 2009 as various cocktail supply stores have procured Caribbean sources for these Bois Lélé mixing instruments… Plenty of recipes for these drinks reside in mid-century Trader Vic books and other Tiki-leaning tomes; moreover, modern drinks books have begun to embrace the style as well including the Death & Co. Cocktail Book where their house Swizzle formula was exposed to me a few years before via the Company Swizzle.

What styles work well with Swizzles? Anything from Caribbean to Tiki and classics to classics modified to work as citrussy gems. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that is prepared by swizzling. Next, 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.
  2. Include either the MxMo logo (either the classic or the special Swizzle one Fred created) in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and CocktailVirgin 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 the end of April 18th: leave a comment on Frederic’s announcement post or send an email to yarm-at-verizon.net with the word “MxMo” somewhere in the subject line.

That gives us all 2 weeks to get out the Lewis bag and mallet, figure out what proper or improvised tool will be best for swizzling away, and selecting a recipe to use or modify. I look forward to all the photos of frosted over glasses containing what your imagination and interests hone in on!

MxMo CVII, March 21, 2016: Burden of Proof

Even if MxMo Spring Break in February got our minds off the weather for a moment, the March winds coming in like a lion might still make us yearn for some warmth from some strong ardent spirits. But what is strong or strong enough? Taxation and spirit-specific legislation say one thing, but I would be more afraid of being the purser on a ship trying to dole out anything too weak to a bunch of pent up sailors. Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Dagreb of the Nihil Utopia blog, might make this idea better understood at least for this event.

This month’s theme slated for March 21st is one that will get you thinking about those overproof bottles on your shelf that make the end of winter more bearable, your inverse cocktails more punchy, or your Tiki drinks en fuego. Please read the Dagreb’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

My theme this time is overproof. Or rather how you utilize overproofs.  Do you sub them into your standards? Save them for accents in particular recipes? Pour them into ceramic volcanoes and set them on fire? Reserve them only for making liqueurs? Whatever it be I’m looking for your recipes that use overproofs as a base or as modifier in a noticeable -WAIT- “What’s an overproof,” you ask? “Well, uh, yeah…” First let’s decide what is proof. It’s my party so I say 50% abv is proof. Above that is overproof. You disagree? Host your own party! (No really host a MxMo, it’ll be fun.) So BIB [100 proof Barreled in Bond] liquors are exempt this month but lots of bottles are fair game! Whether it boldly proclaims its strength on the label or nonchalantly lets you discover its strength for yourself use that bottle that packs a punch in a drink this month.
Coming off of February’s Tiki month paired with February’s MxMo event, some of the uses of overproof are rather tropical in feel indeed. But what about some of the nightcaps in the Death & Co. Cocktail Book? Or perhaps reach for one of the many navy strength (114 proof) spirits that have recently come out (or returned) to punch up something light and refreshing into something serious and contemplative? Briefly, here’s how to participate:
  • Find, concoct, or adapt a recipe that utilizes at least one overproof spirit (101 proof or higher), 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.
  • Include the MxMo logo in your post plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Nihil Utopia sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  • Let Dagreb know about your post by Monday night right before the stroke of midnight, March 21st by posting a link to your post on his announcement post or Tweeting at him via @dagreb.

That gives us all 2 weeks to scan our shelves to see what 101 proof or stronger boozes are available or to run out and make some purchases. Fighting Cock 103 Bourbon, Green Chartreuse at 110 proof, or Smith & Cross at Navy Strength (114 proof) are all game. Or perhaps turn it up with 142 proof Stagg’s Bourbon and Lemon Hart 151 Rum. Please take caution with any strong spirits set on fire and with anything approaching grain alcohol strength (ow, 190 proof hurts… going down and the whole next day). Quite curious to see whether it will be a repeat of Tiki themes, a collection of end of the nighter Old Fashioneds, or other!

MxMo CVI, February 22, 2016: Spring Break

Now that January’s theme of Brace Yourself (Winter is Coming) has come to fruition, both in the drink recap and in the fact that I can hear people shoveling snow as I am writing this, it is time to move on to February. It’s hard to escape the realities of bringing your work shoes with you to change out of your snow boots and scraping ice off your car windows, but perhaps there is a way to flee? Something college kids have been doing for years without any drink elegance, but there is a way we can change that. Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Joel DiPippa of the Southern Ash blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for February 22nd is one that will get you thinking about ways of breaking out of your igloo and your winter drink ruts. No, it’s time to put down the vintage Tom & Jerry set for a moment, and look to warmer weather libations. Please read Joel’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

As we look past the frost in the air for the arrival of spring, I wanted to challenge you with the theme of Spring Break!..  The best part of Spring Break is that it means so many things to so many different people, so I have some high expectations this month.  Yes, tiki-heads, I am looking at you. I want all of you to dig deep, steeled by last month’s MxMO, and find your spring break drink! What sort of drinks do you enjoy when you start to break out of your winter shell? Do you crave a return to gin and tonics? Is there a drink that calls to you as the weather warms and the sun creeps through the sky longer and longer?  Perhaps there is a drink that you fondly recall from your days of being a callow youth on Spring Break that led you down this primrose cocktail path?.. This is the month to to share those warm weather finds!

What means Spring to you? Is it the return of fresh garden herbs? Lots of crushed ice? Blender drinks? Patio drinking? Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that helps you escape on Spring Break. Next, 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.
  2. Include either the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Southern Ash 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 the end of February 22nd: leave a comment on Joel’s announcement post or tweet him at @southernashblog with hashtag #MxMo.

That gives us all 2 weeks to book our tickets for this drink vacation and come back writing about it! I look forward to all of the crazy proto-Summer recipes and photos. Just remember to add a fine straining step to remove any and all beach sand!

MxMo CV, January 25, 2016: Brace Yourself

With December’s theme of Forgiving Cocktails, perhaps instead of asking for mercy, we should toughen up! Well, that wasn’t really what December’s theme was actually about, but January’s weather can often torture many of us in the Northern hemisphere past the Mason-Dixon line. Even those in the South might not feel at ease in skimpy swimsuits given the weather. Those in Brazil and the rest of the Southern hemisphere do get a bye on the idea, but hopefully their imaginations are in action! Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, the good Doctor of the Doc Elliot’s Mixology blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for January 25th is one that will get you thinking about drinks to make the Winter months more bearable. Please read the Doc’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

Now that the holidays are behind us, we get to deal with the rest of winter… that magnificent season of grey skies, blustery winds, freezing sleet and blowing snow.  January is Mixology Monday CV and we’re definitely talking cocktails. Winter usually evokes scenes of roaring fires with glasses or mugs filled with warming liquid fortifying us against the cold and damp. Winter provides the shared universal experience that spans language, geography and the centuries – that moment just before you step out into the cold; to walk to the bus stop, hit the ski slope, shovel the snow or feed the livestock. So what adult beverages can best prepare the body and steel the will for that moment when we  go forth into Winter?

What a great idea given the ice patches that make walking and driving a headache as well as the shoveling that makes for a good backache. True, it does span language and the centuries, but geographies where it is warm will have to either use their imagination and memories or mock us with tropical libations. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  • Find or concoct a recipe that gives you the resolve to head out into the cold, 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.
  • Include the MxMo logo in your post plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Doc Elliot’s Mixology 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 Doctor know about your post by Monday night, January 25th by posting a link to your post on his announcement post or Tweeting at him via @docscocktails with a #MxMo hashtag.

That gives us all two weeks to fire up the tea kettles, mull spices into spirits, and double shake eggs into frothy delights. Want to think Caribbean or Tiki but keep it seasonal, what about a Hot Swizzle or a Hot Zombie? Or perhaps go out shopping for a few vintage Tom & Jerry mugs to break in for this event. Coffee cocktails? Wassails? Double Old Fashioneds filled with 3 fingers of whiskey?I am rather curious to see what your collective genius minds can concoct!

MxMo CIV, December 21, 2015: Forgiving Cocktails

November’s theme got us thinking about precise techniques to get ingredients incorporated including floats, sinks, paints, foams, and rinses. But what about less precise techniques, like the ones that make you declare “Sorrey” like a proper Canadian as you serve it? Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Dagreb of the Nihil Utopia blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for December 21st is one that will get you thinking about ways of making drink recipes that are less than optimal. Please read Dagreb’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

It could be the antithesis of a drink so delicately structured that even 1/8 oz too much or too little of an ingredient causes a train-wreck. I’m not suggesting all out free-pouring but perhaps you’ve come across a recipe that can roll with the punches of an over/under pour now and again. Perhaps you’re at a ballroom or a hotel and the unenthusiastic and/or fresh-faced (bar) staff doesn’t inspire confidence. They may not know Campari from calamari but If you want a cocktail what do you do?  Order something that can’t go too wrong. A Manhattan? Perhaps a Negroni?… This idea of forgiving cocktails first began for me when one night I swapped the “bottom shelf” for the “top middle shelf” and was delighted by the results. It wasn’t exactly the same but it was delicious none the less! The idea continued with other drinks that welcomed whichever brand I was pouring… Perhaps you’ve made a stinger with Spanish brandy and been pleased with the results? Whatever it may be find or invent a drink you feel is a forgiving cocktail and share the results.
So I wasn’t too far off with the “sorrey” comment, but perhaps it ought to be “sorrey not sorrey (for it is still delicious!).” I know that I have been there at receptions with hourly wage slave bartenders with no or poor sets of tools (rarely a jigger in sight) and questionable skill sets. However, I have scored victory by politely teaching an eager one a new drink like an Algonquin or a Negroni. And I frequently use Spanish brandy at home and at work in Cognac recipes for a fuller flavor, so I think that’s almost too easy of an option. Briefly, here’s how to participate:
  1. Find or create a recipe that fits your concept of a forgiving cocktail. Next, 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.
  2. Include either the MxMo logo in your post, plus links back to the Mixology Monday and Nihil Utopia 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 the end of December 21st: leave a comment on Dagreb’s announcement post or tweet him at @dagreb with hashtag #MxMo.

That gives us all two weeks to figure out what we ought to be forgiven for. And if you want to be forgiven by both Dagreb and Santa, try to get your entries in early, on time, or not too late for Dagreb wants to get the round up post up before Christmas eve.