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!

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Highway Robbery: Up, or on the Rocks?

Rob Roy_1820s_sc_262x325The Rob Roy is the black sheep of the illustrious martini family. It is simply a Manhattan made with scotch, instead of bourbon. However, unlike the Manhattan, it’s namesake can be traced back to a a single and specific entity. This drink is named after an 18th century Scottish outlaw.

Born into a family of bandits in 1671 Robert “Roy” MacGregor grew up cattle rustling. As he grew older he adopted the moniker “Roy” because it means “red” in Gaelic, and by all accounts he was a big ol’ ginger. In addition to overseeing several roving bands of cattle thieves, MacGregor operated a protection racket that would charge nearby farms 5% of their annual rent to guarantee that their cattle would not be stolen.

When a business deal with the Duke Montrose went sour, MacGregor absconded with some of the duke’s assets, and then proceeded to sneakily raid Montrose’s property over the next eight years. Eventually he settled down, and even received a full pardon from the king.

In honor of this scotch cocktail in honor of this Scottish highwayman, here are another pair scotch recipes.

Rusty Nail:

  • 1.0 oz. blended Scotch
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash absinthe
  • 1 dash pomegranate grenadine
  1. Stir all ingredients pour straight up into a coupe glass

 

Hair of the Wolf:

  • 1.5 oz. Scotch
  • 0.5 oz. Kahlua
  • 0.5 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 6.0 oz. stout
  1. Shake Scotch, Kahlua, and Grand Marnier and pour into empty rocks glass.
  2. Top with stout

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.