MixMo LXXIII: Witches’ Garden – Southside

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May is a month when vegetal world starts to flourish. So this month’s Mixology Monday event has been awarded with an appropriate spring-related theme. It was cleverly called «Witches’ Garden» by Mark Holmes who hosts the event at his Cardiff Cocktails tumblr.
Here is an excerpt from explanations that Mark gave in his announcement post:

 

As far back as we can look, the use of fresh herbs have been prevalent in the world of mixed drinks. From the early days of the julep, through Williams Terrington’s 19th century Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, to Don the Beachcomber’s ahead of their time Tiki drinks, fresh herbs have always been at the forefront of mixology. So lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing.

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MxMo LXI: Local Color – Russian Apple Sour

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Mixology Monday monthly online cocktail party is going on and it’s great!

The current event starts on Sunday thanks to Lindsay who hosts it at her Alcohol Alchemy blog.

This time MixMo is about local spirits and Lindsay wants to know what local craft spirits we have here and why we love it:

…pull out your favourite «local» craft spirit (for those of you not in US, what hidden gem from your neck of the woods do you want to give some cocktail press?)…

Well, in the Russian woods we have the only spirit and you are all know it as vodka. Actually samogon (and not vodka) is Russian craft spirit (follow the link and look for «Russia» section). Unfortunately home distilling as well as hand-craft distilleries were illegal in Russia for a long time so now we have only vodka industry alive and growing. I’m aware that cocktail enthusiasts do not love vodka so I opt for vodka infusion.

Various hand-crafted and commercial vodka and samogon infusions are widely spread in Russia.

Making infusions in autumn, I’m used to taking Antonovka apples that are in season in late September. Antonovka apple tree is an ancient cultivar that came from Central Russia and probably it appeared as a crossbreed of unknown apple cultivar and wild apple tree. Antonovka apples are very sour at first and bring wonderful and strong nose so it’s used in homemade preserves and traditional culinary. Later the stored apples become a bit sweeter and suitable for eating – usually in December and later.

I’m sure that typical Russian apple flavour will underline local peculiarities of my Antonovka vodka infusion.

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Screwdriver

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Summer comes, and people are going for drinking more refreshing cocktails. Even die-hard Martini lover like me starts to think about Tom Collins when buying another bottle of gin.

For a long time I was neglecting long drinks. Usually I would prefer to shake orange juice with gin and serve it straight instead of building orange juice with vodka over ice in a highball. Sometimes I was trying to avoid ice-cold drinks and not to catch cold, sometimes I just wanted straight and strong drink in the end of another hard day.

This time I have an intention to break my prejudice. The first long drink in the series will be Screwdriver, a mixture of vodka and orange juice.

I have no idea how matters stand in America but in Russia Screwdriver has a bad reputation thanks to ignorant bartenders who mix cheap vodka with surrogate juice.

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Thyme Cocktail

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It’s summer now, and everything around are in blossom. I have my wish for consuming fresh vegetables strengthened so for me greengrocery has became very popular place for shopping at least until next month when we expect to gather first vegetables at our countryside house’s garden.

Recently I’ve enjoyed black tea with thyme and lemongrass. It was quite tasty, and once I think about using thyme in cocktails. I wasn’t pondering long over future cocktail’s formula: neutral alcohol to underscore thyme aroma, syrup as sweetener and lemon juice to add more sharpness.

After a week of unhurried experiments I’ve got eventually my new cocktail with simple formula and simple name – Thyme Cocktail.

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MxMo LVI: Your Best – A Herbalist’s Coffee

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This post is for the next Mixology Monday round – MxMo LVI: Your Best.

This time Chris from Spirited Remix hosts the party and expects original drinks created by participants.

I love the idea because creating new drink is my hobby so I have a nice cocktail to contribute.

That’s based on the combination of coffee and Fernet Branca (and also Fernet Branca and cherry brandy). It’s a bit unusual but I believe this cocktail would win over many coffee lovers. By the way, it’s called «A Herbalist’s Coffee».

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Discovering vodka. Part II

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My second Russian vodka review is also about the premium vodka (or just something like it) retailing at Moscow supermarkets.

In the first review I explained my reasons and tasting conditions. All they are personal and maybe controversial especially Vodka Martini cocktail as one of the criteria.

I hope it would be useful for foreign imbibers because I know that many of reviewed vodkas are exported to Europe and US.

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White Wagtail Cocktail

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Another cocktail with Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka I’ve created after unsuccessful efforts to discover original cocktails with this hard-to-find vodka. I was trying to produce a berry-flavoured light cocktail with strong herbal background. Hope I succeeded in my attempt.

Surprisingly the hardest thing was not to achieve the best taste but to get acceptable appearance. Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka has wonderful lilac color but lose it completely after mixing with citrus juices. Happily, Parfait Amour liqueur helped me to keep the original violet color with steel-blue tint.

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Discovering vodka. Part I

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This article is mostly about Russian vodka so I think it will be not too interesting for foreigners who usually deal with vodkas of European or American brands.

Also I see some misunderstanding and underestimating from people across Europe concerning vodka. That’s not a problem because Russian vodka is a local spirit which should be consumed in proper conditions and accordingly to national traditions.

Traditionally, Russian hand-crafted vodkas were based on distilled rye spirit. Now wheat is cheaper as well as a rectification process substituted for distillation so the base for modern vodkas is rectified wheat spirit. Rye, potato, barley, grape are all an exception to the rule.

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Rain Forest Martini

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After New Year I felt I need a break in my long season of whisky and gin consumption. For me, the best way to forget about single malts or gin-based cocktails is to create new and unusual cocktail using exotic components.

This time I’ve took Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka for my next exercise.

When I bought this spirit, I’ve visited Van Gogh Vodka website and get disappointed with it. Recipe I saw there were too dull and trite. So since that time I started to make my own cocktails with Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka.

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S.I.P.#2: Sidecar

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We’re continuing our Russian online cocktail party. The 26th of November  is the date of the second event, and Sidecar is the theme for it.

Sidecar, a cocktail legend. Its roots are in the beginning of last century. I have no intention to seek for stories about the men who invented Sidecar. I’m going to learn how vintage recipe will work now and find my own perfect recipe.

I have had my first Sidecar experience when I was newbie in cocktail culture (I mean «more newbie than now»). I’ve red a nice article about Sidecar then took equal parts of awful Russian brandy, Cointreau and lemon juice and eventually got teeth-damaging acid liquid  impossible for drinking.

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