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Wanted: Poolside Martini Maker.

I’ve drafted an ad for the local job listings: “Wanted: Poolside Martini Maker. Applicants must be able to respond to nonverbal cues to produce an ice-cold, classic 3:1 gin martini with minimal variation within three minutes. Will train. Adequate shade and food will be provided. Upon successful trial, a permanent weekday position may be offered. James Bond martini recipe advocates need not apply.”

Tasting Notes Bourbon Edition: Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon.

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Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Gin Tasting Notes to bring you a special Bourbon Edition. I’ve finally gotten my hands on something I’ve long coveted, Jefferson’s Ocean, an extremely small batch bourbon aged four years out to sea in barrels over 10,000 miles. The regular movement of the ocean allows the bourbon constant contact with the barrel wood, while imparting a subtle brine from the salty air. I’ve some Bulleit’s bourbon for contrast, a decent drink for enjoying a good cigar. Verdict: Jefferson’s is absolute ambrosia on the nose, and that’s where you’ll pick up most hints of brine. It makes Bulleit’s smell like paint fumes in comparison, and you can bury your nose in the glass indefinitely with no risk of singeing your nose hairs. It’s rich and complicated on the palate, lingering in the mouth while constantly evolving. Certainly worth the steep price tag. But if any friends swing by and I let you try some, you’re putting out at the end of the night.

No, seriously. Just mentioning the price has me almost swallowing my tongue. Gotta recoup somehow.

Gin Tasting Notes: Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin.

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Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Gin Tasting Note. Today I found this intriguing bottle of gin waiting for a review: Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin, hailing from England, of course. Its label manages to sum up a couple centuries of colonialism, as does its description of spices of the former spice route, from India, Morocco, and Indonesia. It delivers on its peppery promise without overwhelming, both on the front and the aftertaste. Curiously they’ve managed to sweep the usual bite of gin under the rug, and this is even more pronounced in both dirty and dry martinis. With the usual bite of gin gone, your martini sipping will turn into martini gulping, so be warned. Verdict: the lack of bite might make a martini enthusiast frown, but it’s perfect if that same bite has kept you from enjoying a martini. And unlike many gins, this one holds up best by itself served neat, unadorned.

Martini Mod: The Alexandre.

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The Alexandre

If you know your martini lore, you know that circa 1906, a dash of orange bitters was part of the standard recipe of a classic 3:1 dry gin martini. I swapped the orange bitters today with a 1/4 ounce of Grand Marnier (French orange cognac liqueur) and it is fantastic. I call it the Alexandre, in honor of Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. No olives needed in this recipe, though in a few days I’ll be trying the castelvetrano olive flambé recipe I found.

Whiskey-Fried Bacon.

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Whiskey-Fried Bacon

This is a recipe I received from a dear friend in Scotland: bacon slow-fried in whiskey. The instructions were a little vague, so I filled in the blanks: the thickest bacon I could find, a quick marinade in good whiskey, then slowly fried over 40 minutes with continuous pourings of fresh whiskey every 5 minutes. I then drizzled the finished product in a whiskey reduction sauce.

I could say it came out okay, but that’s a lie. This is ambrosia of the gods. With the marinade and the sauce my house smells like the Willy Wonka factory of whiskey. Whiskey doesn’t smell this good in the bottle.

Quiche and Gratin.

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Quiche and Gratin.

My French kick continues with some lovely little smoked salmon and spinach crustless quiche and gratin aux fruits de mer (gratin of creamed salmon). I used gruyère in both and a fantastic French vermouth (Noilly Prat) in the gratin and it tastes amazing. The house smells amazing. Next up, a special bacon recipe, more homemade risotto and some gin cocktails.

Go French or Go Home.

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Coquilles St. Jacques a la Parisienne: scallops and mushrooms in white wine sauce and pan-seared wild Coho.

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Admittedly I’ve mostly been cooking Indian lately, but with some ingredients it’s go French or go home. I also had mushroom ravioli in homemade gorgonzola sauce (not French), but sue me.

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