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Rock & Rye

A Drink On The Rocks…..

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March 2011

Vintage Cocktails #56: The Jupiter Cocktail

Hailing first from Harry McElhone’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails (1923), this cocktail then appears in The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), The Official Mixer’s Manual (1934), and The How and When (1937). After this it seems to vanish into thin air, perhaps on account of its difficulty in preparing, as well as the inclusion of the potent Parfait Amour as one of its ingredients. This drink is one which much be measured precisely. Just a few drops out of proportion, and you will wonder what the fuss is all about. But, if mixed up just right, a perfectly balanced drink of marshmallows and bubblegum arises. I say give it a try. Otherwise you’ll never know what your missing out on. Cheers!

The Jupiter Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1 tsp Parfait Amour
1 tsp Orange Juice

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Beer of the Week: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Literally meaning “yeast wheat beer”, Hefeweizens are some of oldest and most traditional beers in the world. Here in the states it seems that every summer you can find a locally brewed hefe on tap. Sadly those beers are but a shadow of the great german wheat beers. Today we will take a look at a beer brewed by the Weihenstephaner brewery in Bavaria, who claim to be the oldest brewery in the world.

Although their origins can be traced back to the year 725 AD, when a group of Irish Benedictine monks founded a monastery on Nährberg Hill, Freising, it wasn’t until 1040 AD, that the town of Freising was granted the rights to brew. It is from this permission to brew that the brewery bases its claim as the oldest brewery in the world. The monastery was closed in 1815 and brewing operations were taken over by the Bavarian royal family, who ran the brewery until the end of the WWI, when the brewery passed to the state government. It is now officially known as the “Bayersiche Staatsbraurerei” or the Bavarian State Brewery. Although there are twelve beers currently being brewed at Weihenstephaner, The Hefeweissbier is the most widely available, and one of the best examples of a hefe in the world.

As you pour the hefeweissbier in to a glass, the first thing you notice is the massive carbonation level and huge long lasting head that follows. I mean this beer is almost champagne like in its effervescence. The head seems to grow for at least a minute after it has been poured, and the bubbles are so fine that it almost seems like the beer is on nitro. The aromas of this beer are just as you would expect, yeasty bread armoas, with hints of clove hiding behind the lemon, orange-peel and banana esters. Very minimal hop aromas, but they are there. Flavors are rich with honey, vanilla and some clove phenols balanced by the yeast and banana. Hop bitterness is just enough to balance out the sweetness and give an extra layer of depth. Some slight pepperiness on the aftertaste.

This is probably the most complex wheat beer I have ever tasted. The mouthfeel is much fuller than most wheat beers as well. If you can find this beer, it is a must try! Much more complex than any of the american wheat beers, this will help educate on how a hefeweizen should taste. Highly Recommended. Cheers!

Beer of the Week: Elysian Dragonstooth Stout

Elysian Brewing was founded in 1996, in Seattle, by Dick Cantwell, David Buhler, and Joe Bisacca.

Dragonstooth Stout is one of their many award winning beers. It was the winner of gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 1992 and 2004, as well as silver medals in 2002, 2006, and 2007.

According to brewer Dick Cantwell, Dragonstooth Stout is a traditional oatmeal stout, which is then ramped up in strength. It’s a blend of three dark-roasted barley malts, roasted barley and oats, fortified with Northern Brewer hops.

This beer pours black as night, with a thick, milk chocolate brown head. The aromas are very malty, with nuances of caramel, hops, and chocolate. The taste is full of sweet malts, with some roast flavors and chocolate. There are faint hints of dark cherries and a slight hoppy bitterness as well. It has a very clean refreshing finish for an imperial stout, and the abv is also lower than a lot of comparable imperials, which I really think adds to it’s strengths. An excellent stout which I highly recommend. Cheers!

Henry C. Ramos: A Gentleman Among Bartenders

Henry C.Ramos is most often remembered as the inventor of the Ramos Gin Fizz. Although this is a drink worth remembering, Henry Ramos’ real contribution to the world of bartending was his attitude. He was highly respected by his clientele, hated drunkenness, and ran his bar as he thought that it should be, regardless of financial gain or loss.

Below is an article that was reprinted in the New Orleans Tribune in 1928 following Ramos’ death. It pays tribute to Ramos as a man we all could learn from, and who I someday hope to emulate as a bar owner.

New Orleans Item-Tribune
Sunday, September 23, 1928
How Late H. C. Ramos Made His World Famous Gin Fizz;
Intimate Glimpses of the Man

A tribute to one of New Orleans’ greatest treasures, the Original Ramos Gin Fizz, was written some years ago by Don Higgins of the Item-Tribune staff. Henry Charles Ramos, the creator of that famous drink, died last Tuesday, and Mr. Higgins’ story of the drink itself is a fitting epilogue to Mr. Ramos’ useful and genial life. The article is reprinted herewith.


Henry Charles Ramos
inventor of the Ramos Gin Fizz

Just the old fellows with a tender spot in their hearts and a longing in their stomachs for the ripe days of yore when mixed drinks were cool and smooth and stimulating, poignant and refreshing, expanding and enheartening, trouble erasing and joy bringing, plentiful and inexpensive-just the old fellows who were the good fellows are invited to read this column.Upstarts, turn to some other story. Ladies, bless you, this won’t interest you. Raw liquor drinkers, there’s nothing here for you either.

A Boon to the World

But you old boys who could and still can delight in the fragrant bouquet, the correct blend and the delicious taste of a mixed drink that may be described without hyperbole as an artistic creation, here’s to the point and right smartly:

That delightful old gentleman, Henry C. Ramos, whose palace de palate, coarsely called a bar, was known before July of 1919 to every real connoisseur of drinks in the civilized world, has consented to publish for the first time his formula for the “ONE AND ONLY ONE,” otherwise and more commonly named RAMOS’ ORIGINAL GIN FIZZ.

Before you read and carefully file this formula, pause a moment as you used to pause before you sipped one of those snow white, velvety fizzes so that you might add the great pleasure of anticipation to the greater one of consumption. Pause and consider in awe the fortune about to befall you-you who have not been wafted into a nepenthean revelry for more than six long years by the gentle potency of that inspired decoction.

Tragedy of Prohibition

Pause while you recall the leaden feeling you had when the venerable Mr. Ramos, law abiding to the core, closed the doors of his bar at 712 Gravier street the moment the gong rang the dry law into effect, took his prized formula with him and announced he would never dispense beauty and calm repose again in liquid form so long as the government said no.

Don’t you remember hearing from the lips of others who loved those smooth fizzes and cocktails and juleps that the Ramos bar should be exempt from the law on the ground it never dispensed intoxicating liquors?

“Nobody could get drunk in the Ramos bar,” was the word, “not only because old Henry wouldn’t let ‘em, but because drunkenness would take away their appreciation of the drinks. And whoever heard of a man weak enough to get drunk on Ramos’ gin fizzes, anyhow? Inspired? Yes. Happy? Yes, yes. But drunk? No, no, no!”

Secret of Revelation

Just one more little delay and then you may study the formula. You are probably wondering how it comes that Mr. Ramos now consents to make it public after these years of arid monotony, or punishment by bootleggers’ poison, as your case may be. Well, the surprising secret is that no one had the brass bound nerve to ask it of him before and he has been willing all along to give freely this boon to discriminating drinkers.

In his roomy, cool old Creole home at 726 North Rampart street, the old gentleman received the caller who had suffered palpitations of the heart a few moments before when he was told by telephone the formula would be given him.

You remember his ruddy face and genial blue eyes sparkling behind silver rimmed, ear bowed spectacles, his snowy hair, his pure white shirt with the diamond in its bosom, his short, stout frame? Ah, the artist that he was, and the meticulous care with which he supervised the making of those fizzes, the pains he took to build up those juleps that he alone could build, with their cool greenglades and limpid pools surmounted by a dazzling ice cap which sparkled in a hundred irridescences and sent forth the beautifully blended aroma of lemon, rosebuds, mint and cherry!

“Drink Freely,” Too

Answering the door himself, he gave cheery welcome and after a few commonplaces said impressively:

“Now I will give you the formula for the one and only one, the Ramos Original Gin Fizz. But in publishing it you must say that if success does not attend the first mixture, a second should be tried. And be sure to use an airtight shaker and to shake and shake and shake until there is not a bubble left but the drink is smooth and snowy white and of the consistency of good rich milk. The secret in success lies in the good care you take and in your patience, and be certain to use good material.”

With that Mr. Ramos handed over the following receipt.

“One and Only One
Ramos’ Original Gin Fizz

(1) One tablespoonful powdered sugar.
Three or four drops of Orange Flower Water.
One-half lime (Juice).
One-half lemon (Juice).
(1) One Jigger of Old Tom Gin. (Old Gordon may be used but a sweet gin is preferable).
The white of one egg.
One-half glass of crushed ice.
About (2) tablespoonsful of rich milk or cream.
A little Seltzer water (about an ounce) to make it pungent.

Together well shaken and strained (drink freely).

To those who may have forgotten, a “jigger” is a stemmed sherry glass holding a little more than one ounce.

Having the formula, old fellows, if you are as good M.D. professors as Mr. Ramos-or the mixologists who used to be with him-Paul Alpaute, Eddie Champon, and his brother, W. O. Ramos-and if you have the ingredients, you can magically erase the past six years with a few shakes and you will believe yourselves standing once more with a foot on the rail amid a group of choice drinkers in front of the mahogany at 712 Gravier street. Note well the last words of the formula: “(Drink freely).”

——————

But as Mr. Higgins might have added, “drink freely” was an invitation only to gentleman drinkers. “Drink wisely” was his word to any others who, by sad mischance, found themselves usurping a place at the bar.

No Booze for Boozer

For Mr. Ramos was no mere vendor of drinks. With the pride of an artist, he demanded a properly appreciative clientele. He scorned the money of those who desecrated his liquid masterpieces by getting noisy on them.

Portly and jovial he presided simultaneously over the work of his 15 or 20 helpers and pleasure of his guests. Their pleasure was his pleasure, but that pleasure must be measured. Did someone laugh two notes too high over a jolly quip from a friend? Mr. Ramos laughed with him, but below the bar his forefingers [sic] was pointing to the offender and his thumb was pointing straight at the floor. On the next round of drinks, the loud-voiced one was forgotten by the bartender.

Temperance was a fundamental precept at the Ramos establishment. A Drunkard horrified him, and if gossip reported that some customer was hitting too hard a pace-even though he came sober always to the Ramos bar-Mr. Ramos would call him aside some evening and suggest that he stay out of the Ramos bar until he had mended his ways.

It used to be said, mournfully, that if all the saloon-keepers had been like Mr. Ramos, prohibition would never have come to pass. More than that, it probably would never have been thought of. And why should it have been thought of?

No Drunks There

For no man ever got drunk at the Ramos bar, and no man could eat the lotus leaves there while an anxious wife burned a lamp in the window or sent a child to call his attention to the clock in the steeple, then striking 1 o’clock.

Promptly at 8 o’clock every evening the doors of the Ramos bar were closed, and no one remained within. Mr. Ramos was firm about that, as about everything else, and the tinkle of cash registers in the saloons which roared on into the night, or into the dawn, could not lure him to sell a single Gin Fizz or Sherry Flip after the hour which he had set, without the law’s suggestion, as a decent closing hour.

So, too, on Sundays. While other saloons enjoyed a rushing trade, Mr. Ramos’ establishment presented a Sabbath mien to the world. At the almost tearful insistence of his regular patrons, who could not endure a full day without a drink and would drink nowhere else, he was prevailed upon to open his doors for an hour in the morning, 11 to 12, and for an hour in the evening, from 4:30 to 5:30. But he did not approve of this, and opened his doors with an air of resignation. It was against his principles, and if his customers had given him peace he would have kept the doors shut all day Sunday, Sunday-closing-law or no Sunday-closing-law.

No one can guess the amount of money Mr. Ramos scorned by his rigid observance of his own principles. But he gained, at least, something he prized more highly than money-the respect of all his community. His customers were gentlemen, and he offered them gentlemanly entertainment.

Gentlemen, of course, would not violate the law. Mr. Ramos would want no traffic with the kind of men who would drink when the law forbade it. So when prohibition laid its heavy hand on the land, in 1919, Mr. Ramos promptly shut his doors.

“I’ve sold my last Gin Fizz,” he announced at the stroke of midnight. Prohibition had come to the Ramos bar. But not temperance. Temperance had always been there.

Spirits Review: Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

A couple of years ago, when I was first starting to get into cocktails, one of my observations was that a awful lot of classic drinks called for rye whiskey as a base. Well, here in WA state, the rye selection was abysmal at best. In my particular area the only option was Old Overholt. Not a bad whiskey by any means, but all those bourbon lovers had their selection, why couldn’t the rye lovers have theirs. Well times have changed and we have an ever expanding selection to choose from. I myself have more ryes than any other variety of whiskey, and that is an exciting thing.

On March 1st, Bulleit released their latest product, a 90 proof rye whiskey with a grain bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, aged between 4 and 7 years. The product is said to be distilled at Lawrenceburg Distillers, the same distillery that produces Templeton Rye. So how does it stack up? Lets take a look.

Bulleit Rye pours a light amber color indicative of a much younger whiskey. It has aromas of dry spice, some cherry, tobacco, and a kind of yeasty ester that I can’t quite place. The taste is superb. Very crisp taste with a punch of peppery spiciness. The muted smokiness that is present in Bulleit’s bourbon is absent here, which is a little disappointing as it is something that I was expecting. A little caramelized toffee with some vanilla and oak flavors. The finish is long, with no sweetness whatsoever. I felt as if the mouthfeel was a little thin somehow, but all in all, an excellent rye whiskey at $32 here in WA. Cheers!

[rating:4/5]

A little bit of Irish

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I thought I would share some interesting tidbits about a few things Irish.

Saint Patrick, was actually not Irish, but British Roman. When he was about 16, he was taken as a slave to Ireland, by Celtic pirates, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to Britain. He joined the catholic church, and eventually returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop, to bring Christianity to the tribes that he had come to know and love. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Although Ireland is arguably the birthplace of whiskey, currently there are only 5 operating distilleries in Ireland: Middleton Distillery, Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, and Clontarf Distillery. Of these 5 distilleries, only Cooley Distillery is Irish owned. These distilleries produce over 70 different brands/varieties of Irish Whiskey.

Corned Beef & Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. In fact, while corned beef has been around in Ireland for centuries, it wasn’t until immigrating to North America that the dish became more well known. Even today, it is not a meal that is often consumed in Ireland, except by tourists.

Ireland has only been a self-governed country since 1922 (as the Irish Free State) and more recently as the independent Republic of Ireland, created in 1937. In 1949, Ireland seceded from the British Commonwealth, and was was officially recognised by Britain through the Ireland Act 1949.

Although Ireland’s most famous beer is Guinness, over 60% of the beer sold in the country is actually lager. In a similar fashion to it’s distilleries, at the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country, 55 of them in Dublin alone. During the latter half of the 19th century the number of breweries fell to about 50, and today there only about 12, although craft brewing is beginning to emerge again. Also of interest is the fact that hops did not come into widespread use in Ireland until late in the 18th century, far after they were being used in most countries in the world.

Hurling is the national sport of Ireland. Similar to lacrosse, this intense field game is considered one of the fastest paced games in the world. And if you thought that Friday night football in Texas was a big deal, you ain’t seen nothing!

So there are your fun facts for the day. Sláinte!

Beer of the Week: Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit

Three Skulls Ales in Seattle, WA is an offshoot of Baron Brewing LLC. Three Skulls was created to brew beers other than the traditional german style beers regularly brewed at Baron Brewing. Both my wife and I are fans of Witbiers so we thought that we would give the Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit a shot.

This beer pours an uber cloudy, straw yellow with a very minimal head. The typical wit aromas of citrus, coriander, and yeast are present, with a little bit of peppery spice as well. As far as flavors go, there are the expected flavors of soft grainy wheat, coriander, light spices, and just a hint of acidic orange. The blood orange flavors are actually very suppressed, and if it didn’t say so on the bottle, I’m not sure I would even notice them. The wit is heavily carbed, but overall has a fairly thin mouthfeel. While this is not a beer to write home about in the least, It would make a good thirst quencher on a hot summer afternoon. Cheers!

Vintage Cocktails #55: The Vieux Carré

This last Monday, at Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, I attended several sessions, one of which was: Famous New Orleans Cocktails. Our next cocktail is one of these classic New Orleans treasures. Originally the signature drink of the Hotel Monteleone, this is yet another drink that for some reason or another faded off the map. There is reason to celebrate however, as it is once again being served at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.

The Vieux Carré
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 tsp Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychauds Bitters

Vintage Cocktails #54: The Soother

In 1935, A.S. Crockett, historian of the Waldorf-Astoria, put to paper The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. This book provided the recipes for over five hundred cocktails served prior to prohibition at the world’s most famous bar, as well as over a hundred recipes for drinks originating during, or slightly after prohibition. Presumably Crockett’s goal was to provide direction for the lost art of tending the rail, however, his book is a little challenging in that a large portion is essentially variations of the classic martini. Alternating ratios of vermouth, both sweet and dry, as well as different brands of gin and bitters, make finding a great cocktail in this book somewhat difficult. However, Ted Haigh has done the hard work for us, and unearthed a true gem.

The Soother
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp Apple Juice
1/2 tsp Simple Syrup (or Agave Nectar)

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