I Still Need a Still…

img_6564Yesterday I saw this little gem in the 50% off cart at the bookstore. The opening chapter makes it seem like distilling one’s own spirits is a breeze!

While I most certainly am looking forward to creating liquor from scratch, that day lies waiting somewhere in the future. Coming up early next week, however, is a overview on the result of my first attempt at making 11 different varieties of Cocktail Blueberries!

The closing chapter of this book has a wide array of cocktail recipes that I believe would translate quite nicely into drinks made with whiskey, rum, and vodka infusions for anyone looking to jazz up their next holiday party!


Old Fashioneds: What’s Right & What’s Wrong?

Old Fashioned_Rege_James Oliver_433x325

Medley Drink Designs official Old Fashioned recipe:

  1. Add 1 tsp. of sugar into an empty bucket glass.
  2. Pour just enough Bitters to saturate the sugar + 1 more drop. If you tilt the glass back and forth at this point there should be 1 drop flowing freely around the bottom of the glass.
  3. Add a splash of water and muddle 1 Maraschino Cherry, then squeeze by hand 4 drops from an orange slice then drop said orange slice into the glass (if you LOVE pulp go ahead and muddle the orange slice with the cherry).
  4. Pour 3.0 ounces of RYE WHISKEY! Old Fashioneds are standardly “doubles” so they call for twice the 1.5 oz standard pour.
  5. Add Ice, then toss back and forth once, and enjoy!

Google “Old Fashioned Recipe” and you will find almost as many different instructions as there are people who drink them. In case you have ever wondered what the TRUE recipe for this timeless cocktail is: the answer is that there really is very little consensus, and any attempts to discuss the topic ends in heated arguments and un-friending.

So after many years of delicious research I have concluded that the above recipe is the best way to make an Old Fashioned. Please share any stories of heated arguments and unfriending to which this recipe leads!

How Sailors of Old Shaped Contemporary Drinking Habits

18th Century Sailors_Drinking_sc_579x325_bg_whiteWe tend to love stories about and insight into our drinks when we sit down to enjoy a few. In that vein, I’ve found some fun stories about how sailors in the olden days—both pirate and legitimate alike—have influenced the way in which drinks are enjoyed to this day.

SUGAR CANE was introduced to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus, from which rum ultimately came to be distilled.

SPICED RUM resulted from impatient sailors receiving rations of high-proof and unaged rum. Instead of choking down the rum equivalent of rum-moonshine, they opted to enliven it with spices.

RUM AND COKE: let’s face it, it’s rum with a pile of sugar and garnished with a lime. In 1740 British Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon for some reason decided that taking sailors into battle who had been issued rum-moonshine wouldn’t be as effective as if their rum-rations were diluted with water. To make this rum & water more palatable he suggested adding sugar and lime. This sweetened & lime flavored rum concoction took on his nickname and came to be called “Grog”.

JUNGLE JUICE is descended from grog that evolved into punch when sailors returned to Europe. In France they spiked it with brandy, in Holland and England it was gin, and back to rum again when the British navy took over the West Indies.

GIN AND TONIC actually originates in preventative medicine. Quinine is the ingredient in tonic water that makes it taste different from soda water. It also helped the British navy ward off malaria in the tropics. When you combine this with the limes that also helped them prevent scurvy—along with the fun of drinking gin—you get history’s first gin & tonic!

There you have it. Several cocktail staples ubiquitous in bars throughout the world today can trace their roots to the daily life of 18th century tall ship sailors.