Tag Archives: cocktail recipes

January Cocktail: Two Divas and a Play

We’ve reached Epiphany, in Finnish called ‘Loppiainen’, which traditionally ends the Christmas time and is a public holiday. In contemporary thought, by Loppiainen you should really have run through the Christmas leftovers, and started concentrating on those ‘new year, new life’ resolutions. We don’t make those. But we have had an excess of about everything during the holidays, so January’s cocktail recipe is based on what is reputed to have been the favorite digestif and cure-all of both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II.

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Recently Laura and I have been stocking our personal bar with fun stuff,  eau-de-vie de poire being among the lot. We’ve also been experimenting with Dubonnet, trying it out in the Bijou, the Negroni and such. We also tried the classic Dubonnet Cocktail, or Zaza, as it is also known. Although it was the favorite daily tonic for a few queens, and while gin does mix with anything, Zaza, in our humble opinion, leaves something to wish for. A Bentley, for example, when using good Calva works better.

Searching for more recipes for Dubonnet, I stumbled upon a rather strange version of the Diabola on the web page of a known Swedish vodka brand. This version had gin, Dubonnet and Pear eau-de-vie (see where this is going?). I call the Swedish version strange, because the Diabola, as it appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book calls for gin, Dubonnet and orgeat syrup. Now neither one of these sound like they have anything to do with the Devil. The latter, possibly originally made with Old Tom or Genever, is probably very sweet and perhaps more angelic than diabolic.

I was intrigued, however, by the idea of mixing Dubonnet and the pear brandy. I was also fixated on the name the creator had chosen for the drink. For the while I thought I was making a Diabola with a twist. I wanted to add something to the mix that would make it more devilish in taste.

So I went through our bitters and our spices, and thought of introducing chili in to the mix, but luckily decided against it. I also discarded bitters, since I didn’t really want to introduce more flavors or destroy the balance between the pear and dubonnet – I rather wanted to find something to tie them together. I was getting the feeling that I was looking for something specific – I could almost taste it, but couldn’t quite grasp what it was. That is, until I picked up an empty bag of allspice. I knew I wanted to use pepper. But black pepper would be too strong, white would not work either, and rosepepper would introduce too much flavor. At last I picked up a bag of green peppers, the one variety I have the least experience of. The aroma was rich but not overpowering, and the taste was rather fine, almost non-existent.

As I started making the drink, I realised I was not making a Diabola at all – losing the orgeat syrup kind of takes us back to Zaza. So, while making this seasoned Zaza, I started wondering about the name Zaza (I was having a very name oriented day!) and it’s possible origins. What I discovered was two American actresses and one play. The actresses were Mrs. Leslie Carter, known as the ‘Sarah Bernhardt of the US‘, and Claudette Colbert, once the highest paid actress in Hollywood and the leading lady of Paramount for two decades. And the play? Zaza, a story of a prostitute who becomes a music hall entertainer and the mistress of a married man. The play was written in 1890s by the French playwrights Pierre Berton and Jules Simon, and made in to an opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo two years later.

At this point I knew I was absolutely making a Zaza, in homage to the ladies Carter, Colbert and Zaza and the music halls and cabarets of Paris.

♦Pear’n’Pepper Zaza♦

1 part gin (Laura prefers Seagram’s)
2 parts Dubonnet Rouge
A generous dash of G.E. Massenez Poire Williams
Crushed green pepper pods

Place a few uncrushed pepper pods at the bottom of a chilled coupé glass. Stir the drink with ice and strain in to the glass.

Don’t bother double straining – the few crushed peppers that might end up in the glass just add to the taste. Also, don’t overdo the pepper – you want to create a strong spicy scent, but you don’t want the drink to become unpleasantly ‘hot’ or peppery.

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November Cocktail: Hindenburg cocktail, or Pauline’s cherry lips

Here is our cock-tale for November. Follow the links to the story, or if you’re impatient,  just skip to the recipe and pictures below.

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Not the Hindenburg actually, but Graf Zeppelin, hovering over our home city Helsinki in 1930, unable to land due to weather conditions.

As a bartender, I would never want to be in the situation in which Max Schulze found himself during the maiden voyage of the Zeppelin Hindenburg – you see, his bar ran out of Gin. While Max was most probably cursing the American passengers who seemed never to have heard of “rationing”, Pauline Charteris came up, true to the fashion of American alc… cocktail aficionados, with an alternate solution. She’d tasted some Kirschwasser on her trip to Germany, and found it somewhat more agreeable than the cheap American gins of the Prohibition*. “Why not substitute Kirsch for Gin”, said Pauline to her hubby. To which his husband replied, “Really now, darling? That’s as absurd as The Saint going to appear in moving pictures.”

The original recipe of Pauline’s Kirschwasser cocktail is now lost to history, along with many of the other recipes from the Hindenburg. As a given, the concoction, designed specifically to replace dry martini on board, probably had Kirschwasser and Vermouth in it. The rest is up to imagination. The German opus “Der Mixologist” by Carl A. Seutter gives a recipe for the Imperial Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, maraschino) with no gin, but with a few dashes of absinthe included. The Imperial Cocktail has no Kirsch in it, though, and there’s no saying if Schultze was actually familiar with Seutters’ book.

At first, we intended to do a serious historical study, but in the end we discarded this idea – for a better one. Airships.net has made a very reasonable version of Charteris’ drink, calling for only kirsch, vermouth and a dash of grenadine for sweetness. On board the aircraft, with a limited supply, the drink might have been quite as simple as that. But maybe, just maybe, after the voyage Max Schultze went home, and decided there’s more to be had from Pauline’s suggestion**. Maybe he mixed the idea of a Kirsch Martini with a recipe he remembered reading a decade back in a German cocktail book? And maybe while sipping this new cocktail he reminisced on a brief brushing together of lips one night at the Hindenburg’s bar…

And that is where we stop with counterfactual history and get back to the present day. Some time ago, not quite happy with any of the commercially produced orange bitters,  Jere made a batch of his own ***, and of course, the difference is like night and day. We wanted to create a recipe to which we could incorporate the self-made bitters, and as we’d been playing around with the idea of the Hindenburg drink, we decided to combine the two. We completely discarded the “dry martini” approach, and tried to find out what would really go well together with the Kirsch. Here’s what we came up with; enjoy.

P.s. For this recipe and many other things, we’d like to thank Dan Grossman, an American aviation specialist – check out his wonderful site about the Hindenburg and Zeppelins in general. Thanks Dan, you’re super and we hope you get to read this!

♦Pauline’s Cherry Lips♦

A jigger (50 ml) of Kirschwasser
A barspoon of dry Vermouth
2 barspoons each of Absinthe and Maraschino liqueur
A dash of orange bitters
Two dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Maraschino cherry or lemon peel for garnish

Stir and strain in to a cocktail glass.

There are a few things to consider with this drink:
1.) There is a great difference between using lemon peel or cherry for garnish. Both are to be placed in the glass, and the maraschino cherry must not be rinsed.
2.) You could substitute the Maraschino liqueur for Maraschino syrup, in which case definitely use lemon peel for garnish and only one spoonful of maraschino syrup.
3.) If using a less aromatic type of orange bitters, consider two to three dashes. The two dashes of Peychaud’s highlight the absinthe, but also give the drink a beautiful cherry hue.

*In fact, by 1936 many brands had already opened distilleries in the US.

**After about a month of making the drink for the first time, and a few days from writing this post I found out about the Tuxedo Cocktail No.2, featured in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Ironically, the Tuxedo No.2 is very much like Pauline, but instead of Kirsch it has Gin (and no Peychaud’s). There is also the Turf Club Cocktail in the Savoy book, and the difference is that Tuxedo uses London dry gin, whereas the Turf Club calls for Plymouth gin and a few dashes more of absinthe and maraschino. It’s possible that Schulze knew either of these recipes, and made use of them with the Kirschwasser cocktail.

***There is no exact recipe for the orange bitters I made. The most notable features are, that counter to common practice I used no gentian root or extract but there’s some dried sage in it, there’s the peel of about one lemon to three of oranges, and the base spirit is not clear grain alcohol but overproof rum. The choice of spices makes it more an amalgam of aromatic and orange bitters, with a pronounced “bottom”, due to use of rum, a bit of cinnamon and the sage. During the holidays I’ll make another batch and fine tune the recipe. -Jere

(back to text)

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September Cocktail: Cynara!

As the days grow short and the nights grow cold, thoughts turn inwards and backwards. This is the time for silent contemplation rather than rowdy merrymaking – and an excellent time for reading poetry. Our cocktail of the month is a warm, spicy blend of Mediterranean delicacies, perfect for those quiet evenings and secret tête-à-têtes. It is inspired by our song Cynara! which is inspired by Ernest Dowson’s poem “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae”, which in turn borrows its title from Horace’s Odes.

In other words, here’s a healthy dose of intertextual merriment in a glass! If you’re looking for something to impress the ladies with, look no further. If you’re a real Casanova, you memorise the final stanza of Dowson’s poem and deliver it with suitable panache. We guarantee that the night is thine.

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Cynara! ♦

4  parts Samos Nectar*
1  part Brandy
5 parts Hot water
4 Cloves
Orange peel, freshly grated/cut
Grated nutmeg  

Heat the wine and the brandy with the water, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cloves and the orange peel to a wine glass. Pour on the heated wine mixture and the and grate a little nutmeg on top. Summon all the memories of your lost loves. Read the letter you never sent. Cry for madder music, for you have stronger wine.

*(You can use any white dessert wine, such as Sauternes or Tokaji. We tend to stick to Samos Nectar for the sheer joy of quoting Lord Byron as we toast: “Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!” is a line that simply cannot be yelled too often.)

I stumbled upon an excellent introduction to Dowson’s original poem in the Guardian, explaining the connection between Horace’s line and Dowson’s ode to lovesickness. Do read it, and the poem below it, as you’re waiting for your ingredients to heat. Then listen to our song here:

There are many similarities and direct Dowson quotes in Cynara!, but the woman answering the “faithful” lover is not the pale, lost lily the poet remembers. Dowson seems to suggest that Cynara has died an early death, but I pictured a Cynara more advanced in years, contemplating the wound that has bound the poet and the muse together in spite of time and distance.

Cynara!

Do not resort to stronger wine, my love
Under my reign superbly you shall bloom
You may well refuse,
But should you refuse
Then what is it you’re proving, and to whom?

The orbits do their dance, and here we are
The music stops, the dawn is gray again
Insufferably close
Insufferably far
I never was so hungry for the pain.

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

Are you and I as worthless as before,
All charm, and talk, and pride, and sleight of hand?
Our new loves are faint
All sweet, mild restraint
But ours has fetters neither can withstand.

So marry and make merry as you please
Be faithful in your fashion, your design
But when lamps expire,
Oh, when lamps expire,
This prickly thistle sings, the night is mine!

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

– Laura

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March Cocktail Recipe: Stepping on Roses

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Well, technically it’s not March anymore, we know. The reason for our tardiness is that originally we wanted to do something quite different for March, but couldn’t find a single bottle of Kirchwasser in all of Helsinki. Perhaps we’ll get some on our tour, and can supply you with some unaccurate historical reproductions in May!

Stepping on Roses is a variation of both the Mimosa and the Bellini. Drinks like these are often served at weddings, or as hair-of-the-dog drinks at other daytime parties. For us, it’s a staple welcome cocktail and a salvage for less agreeable sparkling wines. The rose fragrance is luxurious, and if you can find jam with petals, it gets even better.

♦ Stepping on Roses ♦

2 parts Rose petal jam
1 part Fresh orange juice
6 parts Dry sparkling wine

Place the rose jam and orange juice in a tall champagne flute. Stir well to mix the two. Pour in the sparkling wine, and stir very gently, not to lose the effervesence of the sparkling wine. Take your shoes off. Have a ball.

The name comes from our song The Mascot Moth, of course:

Why don’t you

Stop dangling from the chandelier, don’t go

Stepping on roses if your feet are bare, silly bear

Make no mistake, I am the hunter and you are the deer

Here’s the deal: If you sink to despair, search for me.

Listen to the song here:

 

Mimosas and Bellinis are usually served without garnishes but they are a festive detail. The function of the garnish in a coctail is not purely visual – with Stepping on Roses you might try decorating the drink with either rose petals or strips of orange peel, and see how the different garnishes affect the senses.

Ah, and we have just the cocktail in mind for April: The beautiful  Maja with all the grace of a Polish belle! Be back soon!

– Laura & Jere

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February Cocktail Recipe: Strawberry Gin

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Ah, it was Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, here’s the recipe for Strawberry Gin from our new cocktail booklet. This one is named after one of our songs, which came about as we were modelling for a portrait painting course last Winter. We were sitting motionless for over a week, Jere posing with his guitar, so we had plenty of practice and time on our hands – and no cocktail in sight!

The resulting lamentation can be heard here:


Since the cocktail plays such a prominent part in the song, it simply had to become reality. I think Strawberry Gin was the reason we thought of making a cocktail booklet in the first place: The word combination was simply too scrumptuous to let pass. So here’s what our heartbroken heroine is ordering:

Strawberry Gin

3 parts Gin
1 part Cointreau
1 part Fresh lemon juice
1 part Strawberry juice or purée

Shake the ingredients and strain into a cocktail glass. If you wish to make an impresion on a certain someone, dry marascino cherries in the oven on a low temperature, crush them into powder and decorate the rim with it.
Sip for Byronesque heartache.

Strawberry and gin is a suprisingly smooth combination, and this is a potentially perilous drink. The savviest cocktail concocters will notice that it is a variation of the classic White Lady, which in turn is a Sidecar made with gin instead of brandy. You may have to adjust the recipe slightly depending on your strawberry ingredient: We’ve been using slightly sweetened juice, but Bar Suola’s version with strawberry purée was equally delicious.

Strawberry Gin has a solid fan base after it was served in our album release party. Drink a solitary glass for Valentine’s blues or order a couple to share with your sweetheart!

Strawberry Gin at our album release party.

Two Strawberry Gins at our album release party.

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Digital download and novelties

Great news! You can now listen to the entire album on Bandcamp. Enjoy!

The digital download is now available at the same place, and you can order both the physical copy and our beautiful cocktail booklet and postcards to accompany it. They make a nice gift set too!

The cocktail booklet is here! That's One Man's Sweetheart and Another Man's Whore on the cover. Birds of a feather!

The cocktail booklet is here! That’s One Man’s Sweetheart and Another Man’s Whore on the cover. Birds of a feather!

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January Cocktail Recipe: Café de Abejas

Our very own namesake cocktail, Café de Abejas.

Our very own namesake cocktail. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Our cocktail booklet is only missing a couple of recipes, and it is time for us to share the first one with you! As you can see, Café de Abejas has just what the name promises, coffee and honey. But wait, there is more: Strong, apple-scented Calvados, supple chocolate liqueur and a dash of spicy bitters. This is a tasty, decadent Fashion Martini with some of our favorite ingredients. Ask your bartender to make it for you if you don’t have the equipment at home.

Café de Abejas ♦

2 parts Calvados
2 parts dark Crème de Cacao
2 parts strong coffee sweetened with honey
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients like your life depends on it and strain in to a cocktail glass. Decorate with a few roasted coffee beans. Sip while listening to Mascot Moth and trying to decide whether to be a hopeless romantic or a hardened cynic today.

While Laura claims she prefers her “calva” young and cheap, you should take into account that she is writing lyrics about French sailors. Generally, the more mature the Calvados, the better the taste. It takes a vigorous shake to dissolve the honey into the drink, and while Jere managed to do it with a piece of honeycomb, it is much easier to stir the honey into the coffee while it is hot. We use quite a lot of honey, but we are the Abejas.

Preparing the set.

Preparing the set.

The best part – enjoying the drinks after the shoot!

The best part – enjoying the drinks after the shoot!

More cocktail recipes and musings to come in the following months! We are also thinking of keeping track of our literary influences here, and due to the album release we’ll be busy as bees all Spring. Enjoy the cocktail, tell us what you think and come to see us next Wednesday in Helmi if you’re in Helsinki!

– Laura & Jere

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