August’s Mixology Monday has come and gone, and it’s time to take a look at all of the entries. Our theme for the event was “Come to Your Senses” and the goal was to create a drink that inspired a sense beyond just taste alone. Which sense – or how many of them – was up to each individual participant. The reasoning behind the theme was to gain some insight into what people find exciting about cocktails and to collect ideas on how any drink might be taken to another level.
As a former screenwriter, one of my favorite sentiments concerning that profession is that “the hardest part is coming up with synonyms for run.” In mixography, there are only so many times you can talk about how delicious a drink is, so I at least – but I hope I’m speaking for all those who participated – was more than pleased to break out some fresh adjectives. Without further ado, here’s the roundup (in order of submission):
Rather than just wait for everyone to submit their entries, I reached out to a few friends that have never participated in a MxMo before and bullied them into joining the party. My dear friend Deana over at LostPastRemembered outdid herself with the Fettiplace Citrus Julepp for 2 (pictured above), a proper julep that dates back to the 17th century. Deana tells us that her “inspiration comes in the unusual florals of the julep and the ice inspiration comes from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude… curious bedfellows to be sure but… well there you go!” Excellent stuff. The combination of barley water accented with floral and citrus notes sounds absolutely scrumptious.
Another fresh face is a good friend of mine, Mr. Jeremy Floyd. Not only does the Dutch Garden mark Jeremy’s first MxMo entry, it’s his debut cocktail – the first he’s ever released upon the world at large. Because Jeremy submitted his drink via email, I’m adding the recipe here:
3 Cucumber Slices
3-4 Basil Leaves
1/2 oz Mint Syrup
1/4 oz Vinegar
3 drops Absinthe
3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (substitute Orange Bitters to be in accordance with 12BB)
1 1/2 oz Genever
Muddle the Cucumber and Basil with the Mint Syrup and Vinegar in a mixing glass.
Add the Absinthe, Bitters and Genever.
Stir with Ice.
Double Strain mixture into a Collins Glass over alternating Ice Cubes and Cucumber Slices.
Top with Club Soda.
Garnish with Cucumber and/or Basil.
Here’s what he has to tell us about the drink: “The idea behind Dutch Garden was to be able to make a great refreshing drink that drags your tastebuds through the garden.” As much as we appreciate the man’s adherence to the 12BB tenets, the grapefruit bitters sound grand, and I’m looking forward to having one of these this coming Saturday night. In closing, Jeremy advised us “this evening when shadows start getting longer, mix up a Dutch Garden, go out on your patio and sip it while the sun works its way down the horizon.” If that isn’t evocative, I don’t know what is.
Keith over at theSpeakista reached into the pages of Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric’s book Speakeasy for his adaptation of the Provencal. If there’s a place on this Earth that smells wonderful, it’s probably Provence, and the Provencal captures the magical aromas – and flavors – of that corner of the world with lavender-infused gin, Herbs de Provence-infused vermouth, and Cointreau. “Beneath the subtle simplicity lies a mixture destined to awaken several senses” Keith writes. Upon first smelling the drink, he prepares us, “you almost drift off into a dream state you find yourself smelling, and then picturing, a walk in an orchard. When you taste the drink these feelings are magnified … calming, relaxing, and a feeling as if you have literally been taken someplace else … someplace outside, fresh and alive.” I’ve gotta try this drink.
Update: Tonight, I got a note from Tiare at A Mountain of Crushed Ice informing me that the Drinking in America submission used her photo without her permission. As that entry had no recipe, I have decided to remove it and add a link to Tiare’s original drink, Our Man in Havana (which contains tobacco!), in its place. If DIA would like their post re-added, please just send me an original photo.
After hosting the wonderful beer-themed MxMo last month, the always talented Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut proves to us that molecular mixology isn’t a new thing. From 1892’s The Flowing Bowl, Frederic serves up a tantalizing dollop of Arrack Foam garnished with borage, bee balm, and nasturtium flowers (BTW, Frederic, I can’t help thinking that “Borage, Beebalm, and Nasturtium’ might be Tinkerbell’s attorneys). Not only is the result stunning to the eye, but Frederic tells of its “beautiful floral notes”, “sweet cream flavor”, “funkiness”, as well as its “grassy, and herbal” tastes. Arrack isn’t a spirit that you run across too often, and we’ll hand it to Frederic for coming up with one of the most exciting ways to present it. A beautiful bit of work.
In the pantheon of booze-related plants, hops are certainly among the most evocative. For his Hoptonic, Dennis at A Drink on the Rocks infuses gin with aromatic hops, makes a variation on the classic G&T, and adds an equally aromatic topping of fresh mint for good measure. The result is that “a good visual presentation yielded a drink that engages the eyes, the nose, and also tastes excellent” – you can’t ask for more than that. “As the summer heat picks up,” Dennis tells us, “it’s always nice to have a cool refreshing drink to sit on the back porch and chill out with.” We can’t argue with that – especially when it tastes, smells, and looks as good as the Hoptonic.
Gin and an aromatic herb are also central to MxMo founder Paul Clarke’s Gin Basil Smash. Paul’s been covering cocktails for a long time, and over at his Cocktail Chronicles, he laments that “transformative episodes of finding a rare spirit or tasting a paradigm-shifting cocktail are now fewer and much further between”. The moments that do break out of the pack, Paul tells us, are chiefly those which haunt the olfactory sense, and the Gin Basil Smash is no exception. “Intensely aromatic,” Paul describes the drink. “With a big bunch of fresh basil going into the mixing tin, the cocktail comes out alluringly green, but also enormously fragrant, impressing it all that much more on your memory the first time you tuck into one, while also making what would otherwise be a simple gin sour into a more three-dimensional drinking experience.” Because I happen to have a large basil plant dominating my kitchen table at the moment, I whipped one of these up while typing this, and I will simply say that Mr. Clarke tells no lies.
Since we’re talking gin, I’ll take a brief moment here to plug our own submission, the GT-5, a Gin & Tonic for 5 Senses (well, four). Our concept was to create a very fun, interactive drink which never betrayed the hallmarks of a good, classic cocktail. We had a lot of fun coming up with the drink, and if you’d like to read more about what we did, please see that post.
Marc at A Drinker’s Peace came up with a concept of which I’m really quite jealous: What if you could create one cocktail – something everybody knows and loves – and with a little user interaction, turn it into a completely different cocktail? Let me explain, because the idea is brilliant. Marc created, essentially, a Gin Martini and placed within it an ice cube injected with a bunch of additional ingredients. Upon melting or cracking, the ice would release its bounty, and the Gin Martini would become a Martinez. Marc even factored in the dilution from a stir, and despite his many apologies that he didn’t have time to perfect the drink, The Self Correcting Martin(i/ez), my hat goes off to him for some very exciting thinking. Well done, sir.
If pink tiki drinks set you aflutter, Dave at The Barman Cometh has just what you’re looking for, The Bitter Mai Tai. Who says that tropical drinks need to be sweet and funky? “In addition to the intense hue,” Dave writes, “it has a nice spicy citrus aroma and the large handful of mint garnish is always welcome. The flavor is definitely different – you can pick up the mai tai, but the bitter Campari is definitely playing equal billing. It adds a really nice lean complexity to a tropical drink.” We tend to get a lot of comments on vibrant pink drinks, so I think Dave has a winner with this submission.
Ed over at Wordsmithing Pantagruel not only made one of my favorite drinks, a New York Sour, he got to play with a toy that I covet, the PolyScience Smoking Gun. For all of the creativity submitted for this event, Ed was the only one who made a drink with a bong, so I think he gets a special award for that. Wisely choosing a drink that is inherently arresting to behold, Ed then proceeded to infuse everything in sight (including his house) with applewood. I barbeque a lot with apple wood, so I can already taste the Big Apple Sour – yum. And, boy, could I have fun with one of those guns.
Of course, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Bartender and blogger extraordinaire Jacob Grier knows a thing or two about how to make customers cry “@$#!!” and leap out of their seats – he does it with big, shooting flames. Imagine being at a bar when the lights are suddenly dimmed, and the drink being made two chairs over suddenly ignites the sky. My first reaction would be, “I’m having one of those!” Of course, beyond the pyrotechnics, Grier’s Naval Traditions (read his post for more on exactly what those traditions are) is a compelling combination of rum, dark sugar, spices, bitters, and Scotch. And did I mention the bursting into flames bit? Too cool.
Now, you know something is a good idea when you start seeing it trend. Gin and basil – make a note of it. Keeping in line with Paul Clarke, Kevin at Cocktail Enthusiast serves up The Basil Gin Sour with Basil Foam. As there is no escaping the aromatic wonders of fresh basil, Kevin’s cocktail is a garden of “fresh basil goodness”. And not only is the bouquet something to behold, texturally, “the foamy top melds with the cold, refreshing drink for a nice balance of crisp and creamy.” Gin and basil – it’s the new black.
Not to be outdone on the foam front, Sunny&Rummy offers up the Tom Blossom. As this was another email submission, I’ll transcribe the recipe here:
2.5 oz orange zest and Kashmir chai-infused Old Tom Gin (Hayman’s)
0.5 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
2 tsp. Maraschino Liqueur
1 egg white
5 drops orange flower water
5 drops orange bitters
Shake gin for 2 minutes with the zest of one Valencia orange and ½ Tbsp loose Kashmir chai tea, strain through a wet coffee filter to remove solids.
Dry shake egg white, 1 tsp. Maraschino Liqueur and orange flower water.
Stir infused gin, vermouth, and 1 tsp. Maraschino Liqueur on ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Top with aromatic egg white froth and 5 drops orange bitters.
By shaking the gin with the zest and the chai, Sunny&Rummy alters the color of the base spirit, turning it a lovely shade of orange, and bringing out spicy, citrusy aromas. In a separate container, the egg white is shaken, allowing it to retain its color, which provides for a beautiful “50/50 Bar” presentation when the drink is assembled. Jim (Sunny&Rummy’s alter ego) tells us that the finished cocktail resembles a classic Ramos Gin Fizz in both texture and bouquet – far from a bad thing.
Our final submission pulls out all the stops. It’s got foam, acid phosphate, and dehydrated liqueur crystals. Over at The Spirit of Imbibing, Mackenzie Wheeler’s simply named Jasmine is a riff on a modern classic from the 1990s. Taking the basic ingredients of gin, Campari, Cointreau, and lemon, Mackenzie has deconstructed the standard shaken cocktail and transformed it into a multi-layered sensorial experience. Sure, at its base, it’s still gin-Campari-Cointreau, but from there, Mackenzie has replaced the lemon with Lemon Honey Foam and added the novel touch of rimming the glass with dehydrated Campari and Cointreau crystals. Not only is the effect visually stunning – three separate states of matter in one glass – Mackenzie’s touch in manipulating the drink has been very gentle. This drink really succeeds in reaching all five senses – it tastes wonderful, looks breathtaking, smells heavenly, and offers multiple textures to delight the palate. Wait, that’s only four. Mackenize advises that the drink is best enjoyed while listening to your favorite album, so I think we can give him the full 5 for 5.
And, there you have it: fire, smoke, foam, crystals, boba, aromatics, the Fortress of Solitude. Each one of our entries found different ways to bring more excitement to their drinks – some complicated, others quite easy. The lesson here (if we need one) is that there are endless possibilities to make drinks more exciting – both in the crafting process and in the enjoyment of them. None of these recipes needs to be followed specifically – if you find a technique you like, feel free to adapt it to your favorite concoction. The goal is to make the process fun and somewhat magical for everyone involved.
A million thanks and congratulations to all of this month’s wonderful submissions – as well as to Mr. Paul Clarke for creating Mixology Monday and for letting his guard down long enough to allow us to host. Beyond their MxMo submissions, please make an effort to visit each one of our participants’ sites; they’re all fascinating and entertaining – plus you might find your new favorite drink.
Note: I did not need to resort to the word delicious to describe how – well, delicious – any of the submissions were. An additional thanks to everybody for that.