MxMo CXI, September 19th, 2016: Drink Nerdy

With August’s crisp and refreshing theme of Vinegars in the books, and with school restarting, perhaps it’s time to get a bit geeky. Maybe check out the new sci-fi blockbuster movie, hunt some Pokemons, or buy the latest issues of comic books. Or perhaps appreciate that our next host runs a shrub company but wasn’t the one who proposed vinegars? Definitely introducing our host for MxMo this month, Rebecca of The Shrubbery blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for September 19th is one that will get you thinking about capturing all those nerdy thoughts and distilling them into a cocktail. Please read the Rebecca’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

The thing that unites everyone who participates in MxMo is our love of of cocktails. We love the history, the alchemy, the artistry, and of course the drinking. Loads of us go to conventions, collect memorabilia, read books about all manner of boozy subjects, and tour distilleries like they’re sacred places. One might say, we’re nerds. I say, what else are you nerdy for? For the purposes of this challenge I’m going to define a nerdy pursuit as: anything from or related to science, science fiction, fantasy, video games, role playing games/characters, or comics. Come up with a cocktail that celebrates or is inspired by a nerdy thing you love. A Cosmo variation for Neil deGrasse Tyson? The perfect sip for Sarah and her Goblin King to share? A beer based cocktail for that barbarian you played in your college D&D game? Star Trek? Anything you are enthusiastic about.

Time to dust off that Intellivision gaming system and stop using your Carcassonne tiles as drink coasters and consider your past and present obsessions in the realm of nerdy. Does math-rock bands count too? Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  • Find or concoct a recipe that captures one of your nerdy interests, 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 The Shrubbery sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  • Submit your link as a comment on the announcement post by the end of September 19th.

That gives us all about two weeks to catch all the drinks but only write about one or perhaps two of them. It will be cool to see what nerdy interests we all have in common other than obscure bitters, outdated bar tools, and dead mixologists.

MxMo CX, August 22, 2016: Vinegar

Mixology Monday took a little siesta after imbibing too much for the last 45 events since I took over in September 2012. But our hangover has departed along with our last apology text, so it’s time to get back to business. And perhaps we have some of our ideas preserved away whether in modern electronic ways or in old fashioned ways stored in our pantry. Hmm… maybe we should focus on the latter. Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Adam of the Mr. Muddle blog, might make this idea better understood.

This month’s theme slated for August 22nd is one that will get you thinking about preserving market fresh produce. No, not in ways that require freezing or refrigeration, but Colonial ones using vinegar! Please read Adam’s full announcement post, but here is a brief description:

My theme this month is vinegar.  Earlier this summer I went berry picking with the family, and we ended up with a quart of strawberries.  If you don’t know exactly how many berries are in a quart, let me assure you it’s a lot.  Obviously some of these were earmarked for cocktail usage, but I wanted to do more than garnishes and muddling.  Enter the shrub, also known as drinking vinegar.  The combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar has been around for centuries, particularly popular in Colonial America.  While these are delicious with a splash of soda on the rocks, they bring a fresh, bright flavor when combined with spirits… This got me thinking — how else are people incorporating vinegar into their drinks?  And why stop at shrubs?  For this month’s MxMo, let’s make the whole range of vinegary things fair game.  And I’m not just talking about throwing some olive juice into a Martini.  Making a balsamic glaze for your pork chops?  Save some for the bar.  Want to have a good time and treat your psoriasis?  Reach for that bottle of apple cider vinegar for your next cocktail.  Got some favorite pickles?  Use the juice as a component.

What ways to use vinegars? Perhaps looking into Michael Dietsch’s Shrubs book or similar texts or perhaps go old school and delve into the Colonial cookbooks archived on the web. Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  1. Find or create a recipe that is utilizes vinegar as an ingredient. 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 Mr. Muddle 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 a few ways by the end of August 22nd: First, leave a comment on this post or second, email him at mrmuddledrinks-at-gmail-dot-com with “Mixology Monday” in the subject line. If you want to go all social media, do it by tagging @mrmuddle on Instagram and @mister_muddle on Twitter with #mixologymonday.

That gives us all 2 weeks to prowl the farmers markets for produce (hint: a tutorial from Food52 on how to make shrubs) or having some drinking vinegars shipped to your house, and then come up with a drink recipe. I’m really curious to see what you come up with! And remember that citrus twist oils are really good at masking ascetic acid aromas…

MxMo CIX, May 23, 2016: Dry Cocktails

To take an about-face from the Swizzles and Spring Break drinks of some of the more recent Mixology Mondays, what about when you want something on the less sweetened side of things? How often besides the Martini have you thought about dryness? And when do dry cocktails work best — with food or before food, late at night, when partying with diabetics? Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, Nick of the Booze Baron blog, might make this idea better understood at least for this event.

This month’s theme slated for May 23rd is one that will get you thinking about those sugar-light libations that still refresh. Please read the Nick’s full announcement post (long story and all), but here is a brief description:

…There’s an entire section of the human sensory experience that enjoys things like dry wines, dry sherries, dry cider, crisp pilsners, dry lambics, gin with soda not tonic and neat spirits. Aperitifs are supposed to avoid sugar so as to not fatigue the taste buds but swanky restaurants seem to think an Old Fashioned or a Hurricane is good enough… maybe we as mixing maestros don’t actually consider the whole palate in our industry. Try to name a famous dry cocktail other than the Martini… We don’t make enough of them, nor write about them. With a world that’s slowly waking up to the fact that excess sugar is probably one of the worst things we put in our diet it’s something we all should probably take a look at. Your mission is to create an awesome dry cocktail that excites, entices and above all refreshes.

Nick went on to give three requirements for what he considers a dry drink (and note that 10% is a 1/4 oz in a 2 1/2 oz pre-diluted drink):

  1. A maximum 10% of the entire beverage can be as sweetener such as liqueur, sugar, syrups (including orgeat and honey you sneaky buggers) or juice.
  2. A further 10% is allowed for sweet vermouth and other sweet fortified wines (so 20% all up if no other sweeteners are involved).
  3. Your sweetened spirits and flavoured spirits (including sipping rums, spiced rums and honey whiskies) all count as a sweetener so once again no more than 10% of the drink.

This concept resonated this past weekend when I had a guest that requested a sugar-free Sazerac, and I was impressed at how well the guest knew his own palate that bonded rye spiced with bitters and absinthe and only mollified by ice melt during mixing was exactly what he wanted. But what resonates with you? A dry aperitif? Something to eat with oysters? A cleansing or restorative nightcap? Briefly, here’s how to participate:

  • Find, concoct, or adapt a recipe that matches Nick’s mathematical formula for dryness, 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 Booze Baron sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
  • Let Nick know about your post by Monday night right before 8pm May 23rd by posting a link to your post on his announcement post or Instagramming at him via @realboozebaron using #MXMO #MixologyMonday hashtags.

That gives us all 2 weeks to dust off those palomino-derived sherries, the sercial madeiras, the dry vermouths, and your David Embury tomes, and start thinking about drinks for drier palates. Quite curious as to the range of drinks and drink styles that this theme can conjure up!

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!