Introducing the Melonka Mary

Posted by johngl

I was poring over a cooking magazine the other day and noticed a recipe for Watermelon Soup that gave me the idea for what I’ll call the Melonka Mary (in honor of all my Russian friends).

Ingredients for the Melonka Mary

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Melonka is watermelon and vodka. The Mary part is just there for the spicy aspects of the drink.

The real reason I came up with this is so that I could actually use xanthan gum in something. Why not a drink?

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The Loquat ‘Rita

Posted by johngl

Way back in 2004, I worked on a remodeling project that indirectly yielded a lot of plant material. My client lived on a small Tarrytown (an Austin neighborhood) acreage replete with a grove of loquat trees. There were a number of fresh 6″ sprouts that erupted that summer and I harvested a few, transplanting them to my front yard.


And here we are, eight years later: the trees are over 12′ tall, about 4″ in diameter, and bearing their first fruit in a rather abundant manner. Over the past several weeks, they’ve been ripening nicely.

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Classic Cocktail: The Tipperary

Posted by johngl

Skipping down the Irish road to Tipperary would certainly be a bit more interesting with a couple of these in you!

The Tipperary

Starting out with Irish whiskey, adding in a little Chartreuse (courtesy of France’s Carthusian monks), and popping in a splash of white vermouth, and you’ll be well on your way to falling flat on your face.

It’s a long road to Tipperary, so enjoy the trip.

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Classic Cocktail: Pimm’s Number 19

Posted by johngl

Here’s another oldie, with some variants: The Pimm’s Number 19.

Reminiscent of an original concoction of Pimm’s Number 1 and English lemonade (clear and bubbly), my version of the “19” uses Maine Root Ginger Brew instead of the lemonade. But allow me to step back for just a minute.

Americans may not be all that familiar with Pimm’s. It is a liqueur made by the English from gin (what else?), fruit juices, a little sugar, and spices. Created in 1859 by an English oyster bar owner James Pimm, the Pimm’s company has changed hands a number of times, but the recipe for Number 1 is still a secret that only six people are privy to. I am not one of them. All that I know is that it tastes citrusy with a little bit of spice.

Pimm's Number 19 ingredients

Another ingredient of the 19 is Galliano, or Liquore Galliano L’Autentico, if you’re feeling particularly snooty. It contains anise, juniper, musk yarrow, ginger, lavender and peppermint along with vanilla and cinnamon.  The herbs and spices (less the vanilla) are crushed and mixed with Vodka and allowed to steep. This mixture is distilled and vanilla is added. In the final stage, it’s cut with water, and sugar is added.  The end result is 30% alcohol by volume and has a licorice/vanilla, almost candy-ish, flavor.

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Classic Cocktail: Sazerac

Posted by johngl

According to The Ultimate Guide to Spirits & Cocktails, the Sazerac dates back to 1859 and was first served at the grand opening of the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans.  Apparently, the Sazerac derived it’s name from the Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac that was its earliest prime ingredient.

In 2008, after months of wrangling, the Sazerac was named the official cocktail of New Orleans. It took so long because the legislators were all testing different recipes.

Sazerac Ingredients

I made my first one with Bourbon, Absenthe, a few drops of bitters, and some table sugar.

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Classic Cocktail: The Deauville

Posted by johngl

Continuing with my “it’s too hot to cook, let’s drink instead” philosophy, I explored the interwebs for classic cocktails I’ve never tried.  For shame!  There are lots of them.  I’d never even heard of the Deauville Cocktail, let alone actually consumed one.

It sounded good, so here we are.

Attempting to find the history of this cocktail has been a little cumbersome as there isn’t much about it other than lots of references to New Orleans in the 1930’s.  Okay, so branching out a little farther, I noticed there is a Deauville, France.  Deauville is in the northern area of France where the apple brandy called Calvados originates. The Deauville Cocktail contains Calvados.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So, my guess is that a well-heeled French guy from Deauville went to New Orleans in the 1930s only to find out that liquor was illegal in the US due to the idiocy called Prohibition. In his satchel he carried three wonderful products from his homeland: Cognac, Calvados, and Cointreau.

Funny how that works…

Deauville Fixins: Cointreau, Calvados, and Cognac

Add the juice of a lemon, an voila, the Deauville Cocktail was born!

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

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Classic Cocktail: Planter’s Punch

Posted by johngl

The history of classic cocktails is always a bit fuzzy and numerous people and places lay claim to the original Planter’s Punch.  They are all wrong.

The published history of Planter’s Punch dates all the way back to the late 1800’s in the West Indies. In case your history is a bit fuzzy as well, the West Indies are that collection of islands in the Caribbean that our buddy Chris Columbus landed upon in 1492 — and where he subsequently subjugated the entire native population.  In his infinite wisdom, he thought he’d landed just west of India.  He was wrong, too (in oh, so many ways).

The truth is, nobody knows the history and it doesn’t really matter anyway.  It could have come from sugar plantations where the cane was distilled into rum and citrus juices were added.  Or, it could have come from the grave diggers who planted the dead planters and celebrated the death with a concoction of rum, citrus, and pineapple juice.

You know, just use what grows around you.

Planter's Punch Ingredients

I found some of these items growing on my liquor cart and the rest were growing in my fridge.

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Classic Cocktails: Kamikaze!

Potted by johngl

As with many alcoholic beverages, the history surrounding the creation of the Kamikaze is pretty hazy, but many say the drink’s name originated with some American GIs going into the officer’s club at the post-war Yokusuba military base.  Apparently, these soldiers drank copious amounts of beer without ill effect, but the combination of vodka, triple-sec, and lemon juice dropped them to their knees in prayer: a divine experience of crash and burn at the feet of the porcelain goddess.

Culturally, I find the moniker itself a bit insulting. The word Kamikaze extends from a hurricane (or typhoon if you wanna get picky) that saved Japan from an invasion lead by Kublai Khan back on August 15, 1281.  This “divine wind” wiped out the invading Mongol hoard and probably saved the Samurai from extinction. In WWII this name was applied to suicidal Japanese pilots who used their airplanes as weapons of mass destruction.  From this point of view, I wonder how Americans would react to calling a drink the 9-11?

I really don’t have to wonder.

In spite of the cultural challenges and the political incorrectness of the beverage’s ill-conceived name, it’s still pretty tasty.

Cointreau, Hangar 1, and citrus

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The Sidecar

Posted by johngl

In another of my enthusiastic explorations into classic cocktails, I discovered that the Sidecar has a bit of an identity crisis.

It may have been invented during World War 1. It may have been created by Pat MacGarry from Buck’s Club in London. It also may have been created by Harry MacElhone. Or even some unknown Army captain in Paris.

I like the air of mystery surrounding the whole thing. It’s all very noir.

Sidecar ingredients

In any case, the basic ingredients are the same: Cognac, Cointreau (or other orange liqueur) and the juice of fresh lemon.

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Cherry Margarita

Posted by johngl

It’s cherry season in the great State of Washington and the most glorious spousal unit and I picked up about three pounds of them earlier this afternoon while wandering the aisles at Costco. Somehow,  eight bottles of wine worked their way into our cart as well. I’m not quite sure how that happens.

Anyway, back to the cherries. When you buy this many at once, you kind of put yourself in the position of figuring out what to do with them. I decided that a cherry flavored margarita wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Margarita's Cherry

And I wasn’t wrong.

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