Fermented vs Non-Fermented Ginger Beer

This week I was asked to make a cocktail for an event for 20-30 people, where I was told that the person being honored at the event was not a drinker.

I didn’t have any help, so I wanted to do something really easy. No muddling, no shaking, no straining.

I decided to go with a version of the Dark & Stormy, which is a combination of Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, and sometimes Lime Juice.

Because I had the non-drinker, instead of making alcoholic ginger beer, I just made a Ginger Syrup, or Ginger Solution.

Place an equal part, by weight of roughly chopped ginger root, sugar, and water in the blender, and puree. Put through a cheese cloth or other fine strainer, and squeeze as much liquid out as you can (I use a sturdy potato ricer for this).

To make the non-alcoholic version, combine Ginger Solution, lime juice, to taste on ice. Stir to combine ad and dilute with soda water. Stir once more.

Dark & Stormy-ish

Dark & Stormy-ish

To make the alcoholic version, to that combination simply float* on an ounce and a half of dark rum**. Pampero Anniversario, from Venezuela, is a great choice.

The thing that interested me, however, about this was how different the character of the Ginger Solution was from yeast carbonated Ginger Beer.

If I combine the Ginger solution with soda water in roughly the same ratio as I did for the yeast carbonated ginger beer, the difference is striking.

First off, it is unpleasantly harsh and hot. Instead of the nifty floral notes of ginger, you get a bitter aftertaste.

I really enjoy drinking the yeast carbonated ginger beer, but the ginger solution is more like medicine.

I’ll drink it, with enough rum, lime, and soda, but I don’t crave it.

I would guess the yeast bouncing around with the ginger creates some flavor molecules that just don’t happen without fermentation.

It also seems to have a shorter shelf life than the fermented ginger beer.

Now, only a few days after, where the ginger beer is still delicious, the ginger solution is getting less ginger-ey and more unpleasant.

*Some bartenders will shake the non-carbonated portion of the drink, pour over ice, and top with soda or ginger beer. I think it looks cooler with the dark rum float. The only problem is all the rum is at the top of the drink, so it should really be served with a straw, preferably compostable.

**Some bartenders make a much more alcoholic version, basically shaking a Daiquiri, pouring over rocks, topping with ginger beer and more dark rum.

Angostura Fizz

In his book, “The Gentleman’s Companion,” Charles Baker includes a drink called an Angostura Fizz.

THE ANGOSTURA FIZZ, sometimes Called the Trinidad Fizz, Being a Receipt Gleaned from One of Our Friends Piloting the Big Brazilian Clipper from Here to Trinidad & Rio & on South to “B.A.”

This mild fizz is again like the initial olive sampling; either it suits or it doesn’t, and subsequent trials often show sudden shift to appreciation. It is a well-known stomachic along the humid shores of Trinidad, in British Guiana; wherever the climate is hot and the humidity high, and stomachs stage sit-down strikes and view all thought of food–present or future–with entire lack of enthusiasm. Further than this, the cinchona bark elixir in the Angostura, the other herbs and valuable simples, are a definite first line defense against malaria and other amoebic fevers–especially in warding off their after effect in later months when all actual peril is past.

Take 1 pony of Angostura Bitters, add 1 tsp of sugar or grenadine, the juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime, the white of 1 egg, and 1 tbsp of thick cream–or slightly less. Shake with cracked ice like a cocktail, turn into a goblet and fill to suit individual taste with club soda, seltzer, vichy, or whatever lures the mind. Vary the sweet also, to suit taste. It is a very original, cooling drink as well as a valuable tonic to those dwelling in hot countries. Garnish with sticks of ripe fresh pineapple, always.

Uh, right, Baker at his verbose best, how about this for some less romantic simplification:

Angostura Fizz

1 pony Angostura Bitters (Baker’s “Pony” is an ounce)
1 tsp sugar or Grenadine (to taste)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime
1 Egg White
1 tbsp thick Cream

Shake with cracked ice and pour into a goblet. Fill with club soda, seltzer, or vichy (to taste). Garnish with a pieces of pineapple.

A few years ago, an Italian Bartender named Valentino Bolognese won some cocktail competitions with an Angostura heavy Pisco Sour sweetened with Orgeat.

Trinidad Especial
1 oz Angostura Aromatic bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup
2/3 oz lime juice
1/3 oz Pisco Mistral
Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime zest twist.

Even more recently, Guiseppe Gonzalez came up with a variation on the Trinidad Especial for the New York Bar The Clover Club with, what else, Rye Whiskey instead of Pisco:

Trinidad Sour
1 oz Angostura Aromatic bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz rye
Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass.

Last night one of our regular guests came in, wanting something to drink but feeling like his previous drinks, and dinner, hadn’t agreed with him. He wanted “Something Fizzy”.

With all those drinks mashed together in my head, I figured I could make him an Angostura Fizz. And indeed, it seemed to fix him right up!

Angostura Fizz
1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz White Demerara Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (or to taste)
1/2 oz Egg White
Soda Water

Shake Bitters, Rum, Lime, Simple Syrup, and Egg White together vigorously without ice. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a Fizz Glass and top with chilled soda water.

“Hawaiian Punch”

“Could you make me something tall, refreshing and non-boozy?”

“No problem…”

Minutes later, “Ha, I think I have inadvertently discovered the secret formula for ‘Hawaiian Punch’!”

“Hawaiian Punch”

2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine

Shake and strain over ice cubes in a 14-16 oz glass. Top with chilled soda water.

Tequila Daisy

Tequila Daisy

2 oz Tequila Ocho Blanco*
Juice 1 Lime
1/2 oz Bols Dry Orange Curacao
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup
Soda Water

Peel a lime as for an apple, and place in a cocktail glass. Shake other ingredients thoroughly on cracked ice and strain over fresh crushed ice in the glass. Garnish with fresh fruit, in season, Mint Sprig, and fill with soda water.

One of the many theories about the name of the Margarita is that it is the Spanish word for “Daisy”. That the Margarita is exactly that, a Tequila Daisy.

It’s an OK theory, I suppose, holds about as much water as any of the other ones. The main problem being, every Daisy recipe I’ve read calls for Soda Water and I’ve never, ever, seen a Margarita recipe which calls for Soda.

Delicious, though the Tequila Daisy is, if you’re going to go in the drink family direction, I think you’re better off sticking with the Tequila Sidecar.

But, to wrap it up, what exactly is a Daisy?

A Daisy should have a generous pour of a base spirit, citrus, sweetener and fizz. Many examples include elaborate garnishes.

As far as preparation goes, it seems like most of the early recipes for Daisies are shaken and strained into a glass, NOT served on ice. Personally, like Hugo Ensslin, I usually serve them on cracked ice, just to differentiate them from the Fizz category.

After that, the sky’s the limit. Pretty much any sweetener, any citrus, and any spirit seem to be allowed in the category. Heck, I see no reason not to mess with the fizz aspect.

Experiment and tell me what you get.

*I received the Tequila Ocho Blanco from a firm promoting the brand.

Santa Cruz Rum Daisy

Santa Cruz Rum Daisy

Use small bar glass.
3 or 4 Dashes Gomme Syrup. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
2 or 3 Dashes Maraschino or Curacao. (1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur)
The Juice of 1/2 Small Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon, Juice 1/2 Small Lime)
1 Wineglass Santa Cruz Rum. (2 oz Cruzan Single Barrel Rum)

Fill glass 1/3 full of shaved ice. Shake thoroughly, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Appollinaris or Selzer Water.

Figured I should use Rum which was actually from Saint Croix for the Santa Cruz Rum Daisy.

As usual, I find Cruzan Single Barrel to be fairly non-descript in this cocktail.

It’s a very fine Rum, but it doesn’t have enough “oomph” to stand up to this amount of ice, citrus, and sweetener.

Now, an Agricole or Navy Rum Daisy would be something to write home about…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Moonlight Cooler

Moonlight Cooler
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (Rich Simple Syrup to taste)
The Juice of 1 Lemon. (Juice 1 Lime)
1 Glass Calvados. (2 oz Calvados Montreuil)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Fill with soda water and decorate with slices of fruit in season.

You may recognize this formulation from the Harvard Cooler, from which it differs only in the recommendation to “decorate with slices of fruit in season” and the fact that it specifically calls for Calvados, not “Calvados or Applejack”.

Not that I’m complaining, I really like this drink. It’s really fun to tweak the balance of tart, sour, and dilution so it falls just about where hard cider would fall.

If you get it just right, I think a lot of people, especially if you’re making it with Calvados, would have a hard time telling it from the real thing.

And if you’re a Apple fan, like myself, that is a very good thing.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Manhattan Cooler

Manhattan Cooler
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime. (Juice 1/2 Lemon)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (dash Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Wineglass Claret. (2 oz Smith and Woodehouse Late Bottled Vintage Port)
3 Dashes Rum. (1 teaspoon Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum)
Shake well and strain into medium size glass. Decorate with fruit in season.

Didn’t have any French Wine in the house, so substituted Port and reduced the sweetener. Figured I should use a Rum with some spine, as it was in such a small amount. Just built it over a cube of ice, since the port was already chilled and added a splash of soda. Fresh out of fruit at the moment.

Then I thought to check Hugo Ensslin, for his take on the Manhattan Cooler…

Manhattan Cooler

Juice of 1 Lime
1/2 spoonful of Powdered Sugar
1 wine glass of Claret
3 dashes of St. Croix Rum

Stir well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, pour into a stem glass, decorate with fruit and serve with straws.

First, I do think it’s kind of funny that the only actual “Wine Cooler” in this section is named the “Manhattan Cooler”, what with New Yorkers’ near obsessive insistence on overproof spirits and ridiculously large and potent drinks.

The use of St. Croix Rum is a bit interesting. As you may recall, Martin Cate had once told me he felt using a Spiced Rum where St. Croix Rum is called for provides more interest than actual St. Croix Rum.

However, I have yet to meet a spiced rum I particularly care for. But, wait, isn’t Allspice Dram, well, spiced rum?

2 oz Bordeaux Wine
1/2 Tablespoon Allspice Dram
1 Tablespoon Rich Simple Syrup
Juice 1 Lime

Shake and strain into a tall-ish glass, uh, wait, there’s no soda in this Cooler nor is it served in a tall glass!

Well, I did add a splash of soda to my adaption and to be honest, kind of enjoyed it. Not that I think it would fly in the Manhattan of today.

About the only way I could see them drinking this there would be if you reversed the proportions, maybe 4 oz of navy strength rum, swizzled, with lime and a float of wine.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Harvard Cooler

Harvard Cooler
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime. (Juice 1/2 very large Meyer Lemon)
1/2 Tablespoonful Sugar. (Generous TBSP Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Glass Applejack or Calvados. (2 oz Montreuil Calvados Reserve)
(2 Dashes Miracle Mile Gingerbread Bitters)
Shake well, strain into long tumbler and fill with soda water.

Again, Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, “1 pony Sugar Syrup; Juice of ½ Lemon or 1 Lime; 1 jigger Applejack. Made and served same as Apricot Cooler.”

Boy, I really like this!

It’s a little weird, at first, to get your head around a mixed drink which ends up about the same strength as beer or hard cider, but once you get past that, it’s really refreshing, especially with all the hot weather we’ve been having lately.

OK, fine, it’s a lemonade with a dash of Calvados, but what’s wrong with that? I’ve been making them all week, much to the dismay of the level on the side of the bottle. The bitters were a bit of a modification, but you’ll see them in quite a few of the upcoming Coolers, along with other weird and unpredictable items.

Speaking of Coolers, as far as I can tell the only real “category” delimitations regarding Coolers are that they should be served in a tall glass, say a 14 ounce Collins Glass, and that they should be sparkling. Some have citrus, some don’t. Some have bitters, some don’t. Some have a lump or two of ice, and some don’t. One even uses Ginger Ale instead of Soda Water. As far as I can tell, as long as it is fizzy and in a tall glass, it can be called a Cooler.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Apricot Cooler


Apricot Cooler
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime. (Juice of 1/2 Lemon and 1/2 Lime)
2 Dashes Grenadine. (1 teaspoon Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1 Liqueur Glass Apricot Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Brizard Apry Apricot Liqueur)
Shake well, strain into long tumbler and fill with soda water.

My dependence on Hugo Ensslin continues into the next section. The Apricot Cooler appears to come from his influential 1916 cocktail book, “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”. In it, he gives the recipe as:

Juice of ½ Lemon; Juice of ½ Lime; 2 dashes Grenadine Syrup; ½ Drink Apricot Brandy. Shake in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain into a Collins glass, add a cube of ice and fill up with Club Soda.

And as with most of the Fizzes, while the Savoy Cocktail book calls for, “Juice of 1/2 Lemon OR 1 Lime”, Ensslin calls for “Juice of 1/2 Lemon AND 1/2 Lime”.

In the case of the Apricot Cooler, the additional citrus doesn’t do much to moderate the rather soda-pop-esque nature of the Apricot Cooler. The way this tastes, the Apricot Cooler would not be at all out of place on the shelf with the various Bartles & Jaymes flavored beverages.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

South Side Fizz

First, just a reminder that Sunday, August 28, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

South Side Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon, Juice 1/2 Lime)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1-ish Tablespoon Rich Simple Syrup, or to taste)
1 Glass Gin. (2 oz Anchor Junipero Gin)

Shake well strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.  Add fresh mint leaves.

As I noted a couple years ago, The South Side, even though it is often now served without soda, has its roots in a Fizz. That is, a Gin Fizz with mint and sprigs of mint for garnish.

The recipe for the South Side Fizz is a little oblique as far as instructions go.

My advice as far as METHOD goes:

Combine Gin, Citrus, Syrup, and a few Mint Leaves in a shaker tin. Shake well and fine strain into an 8 oz Juice or Fizz Glass. Top with Soda Water and garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.

Any drink with leaves of fresh herbs in the shaker tin should always be fine strained. Little green specks of mint look no good in anyone’s teeth, especially when they’re trying to impress their date.

The South Side is another classic cocktail, which really only became possible to make properly with the advent of the modern bar and the return of fresh mint and citrus to the bar set up. It is truly one of the GREAT drinks and a crowd pleaser, tunable for almost any guest, even those that think they don’t like Gin. Also one of my wife’s favorites, give it a try on yours.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.