Week 1: Stirred Cocktails
Welcome to week one of the Recipe Roundtable! This week, the roundtable explores the topic of Stirred Cocktails.
Since we have Martini on the board as a potential future selection, martini’s were off limits, but all other stirred cocktails were on the table.
First off, all four recipes were tasty but one missed the mark compared to the other three and because to be frank we’d rather have a Rob Roy in that situation (more on that below).
As you’ll also notice, two cocktails called for Cynar, which is a bitter Amaro made from 13 herbs and plants, one of which is artichoke. The name is inspired from the Latin Cynara Scolymus referring to the artichoke. Cynar is absolutely delicious, and we’ve documented several recipes on our Instagram feed. What was cool about the two recipes we tried here was that each cocktail started off on the palate basically the same, but ended up finishing wildly different.
Thirsty? So are we, so let’s get into the recipes!
Recipe 1: The Popinjay from blossom to stem (The Popinjay, a cocktail with Cynar, Cognac, and Punt e Mes - Blossom to Stem)
The blog tags this recipe as a “keeper” and notes that it is a richer plan on one of our favorite Negroni variations, the Boulevardier. In this case the recipe swaps Bourbon for Cognac and introduces Cynar in place of the traditional Campari. The sweet vermouth component is aptly represented by Punt e Mes which unfortunately is near impossible to find here, so we had to make a substitution on the first recipe of the season. The original recipe stands as follows (after scrolling forever on the page):
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Punt e Mes
Since we can’t get Punt e Mes, we swapped that out for a slightly bitter mix to roughly replicate it’s flavor. Here’s the recipe we rolled with:
1 oz Cognac (we used Courvoisier)
1 oz Cynar
¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
¼ oz Campari
All the ingredients were added to a mixing pitcher and stirred over ice.
The original recipe calls for it to be served up in a coupe, but we elected to serve in a double rocks glass over a large piece of crystal clear ice. This decision kept the drink well chilled with less dilution which we liked, but this drink could easily be served up and would still be delicious.
On the nose it was inviting, complex and shouted dried fruits. It didn’t come off as overly boozy, felt really light and supremely balanced. It feels natural to think that a recipe blog would give even a shit cocktail a pat on the back and label it as a keeper, but this one is legit.
We highly recommend mixing up a Popinjay which received a strong 4/4 thumbs up from the roundtable.
Recipe 2: Après Ski (sourced from Imbibe but credit to Lydia McLuen, Portland Oregon Après Ski, An Old Fashioned Variation - Imbibe Magazine)
This recipe has been on the mix list for a while because the ingredients sound tremendous in absolutely every way. The original recipe calls for:
1 ¼ oz Pecan-Infused Bourbon
½ oz Amaro Nonino
¼ oz Blended Scotch Whisky
¼ oz Rich Demerara Syrup
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
So we’re apparently really bad at breaking our guidelines for the Recipe Roundtable around substitutions because we’re 2/2 on subs. The pecan-infused bourbon sounds legit, but Shane decided to get opinionated for a second. His issue with infused spirits is two fold – they take forward planning and they’re an investment. The first hurdle with this recipe was we didn’t have a week to infuse the Bourbon properly. The investment part comes from the fact that when infusing, you’re probably on the hook for a half to a full bottle of spirit that now has limited use in other applications. The obvious solution to this is to infuse in smaller batches which makes sense for the home mixologist but still doesn’t give us a week to work with so we infused toasted pecans into the rich demerara syrup instead.
Our recipe ended up being:
1 ¼ oz Bourbon (we used a delicious limited edition Maker's Mark 101 proof)
½ oz Amaro Nonino
¼ oz Blended Scotch Whisky (we used Naked Grouse)
¼ oz Rich Pecan Infused Demerara Syrup
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
(Editors note: as we draft this post and review the recipe, there is an option to infuse using the sous vide method which only takes 2 hours. This would have been a totally viable option, so please forgive us for electing to infuse the syrup instead)
How many times can we say absolutely delicious on this post? This cocktail is a banger. It’s subtly sweet, sturdy, boozy and feels rich. The pecan shines through beautifully and we’re convinced that the richness would be ramped up with the sous vide infusion as well.
The Roundtable gave a resounding 4/4 thumbs up and to be honest, infusing a full bottle of bourbon with pecans so we can drink this all winter long sounds like a fantastic idea.
Recipe 3: Lion & Rose (ncotw/lion_and_rose - cocktails (reddit.com)
On paper, this cocktail came into the round as the strongest, booziest offering of the night. The original recipe calls for:
25 ml Lagavulin 16
25 ml Amaro Montenegro
25 ml Dolin dry vermouth
Since we’re already 2/2 on substitutions we elected to swap the Lagavulin 16 with Laphroaig Quarter Cask which still preserves the intense peatiness of the whisky.
There were a few things to note about this cocktail. The first is an exercise in perception. Picture yourself at a reputable cocktail bar, looking for something boozy, stirred and a bit edgy. You notice the Lion & Rose listed as Laphroaig + Amaro Montenegro + Dolin dry vermouth.
The cocktail sounds like it would absolutely hit the spot and was something we all agreed we’d order in that situation but after we mixed it, we had a hard time identifying how any of the components complimented the other. Each component felt really distinct in the glass and was not a sum of its parts type cocktail.
The other thing that immediately clouded our judgement was that if it really came down to it, we’d much rather be mixing a Rob Roy with our Laphroaig than this recipe. In the end, this cocktail was serviceable, but the entire panel agreed, it wouldn’t be one to star to mix again.
0/4 thumbs up.
Recipe 4: Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, not an Inevitability (ncotw/growing_old - cocktails (reddit.com)
This recipe gets four gold stars for the name right off the hop.
Our second Cynar entry of the roundtable, this cocktail showcased the magic a pinch of salt can do in a bitter cocktail. We were also excited because we didn’t have to make substitutions on this recipe, thank goodness (creditability restored).
The recipe calls for:
2 oz Cynar
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 pinch of salt
2 pc of lemon rind
The Cynar, rye and salt are first combined in a mixing pitcher and stirred to dissolve the salt. The lemon peels are expressed over the liquid, dropped into the glass and stirred over ice.
The glass is rinsed with Herbsaint and the cocktail is served up, garnished with a lemon peel.
As we noted at the start of the post, this entry was beautiful because flavor wise, it started very similar to the Popinjay but ended wildly different. The salt rounded off some of the bitterness and boosted the sweetness in the Cynar with fantastic results. Rittenhouse is 100 proof and packs a punch in this cocktail, but it still felt smooth and balanced.
Wrapping up the roundtable, the Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, not an Inevitability snagged the third 4/4 thumbs up rating.
We hope you enjoyed reading through our first instalment of the Recipe Roundtable.
Here's a recap of the scoring:
To replace the topic of stirred cocktails, Daiquiri was added to the list of random cocktails that will be randomly selected for next week’s edition of the Recipe Roundtable.
Since this content is new for us, we want to hear your thoughts. Have you had these cocktails or similar cocktails? Will you mix any of these up? Is this a stupid idea and no one will ever read this far? Let us know, because by knowing, we can grow.
Mix on friends.