frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
So, I don't really know bitters, but [personal profile] springheel_jack was talking about trying different kinds, and my curiosity got sparked. I had bought Karlovskaya Becherovka in a garage sale, and it's fine, but not particularly remarkable.

So I bought Unicum. It's Hungarian. It means 'unique'.

Man. It's pretty intense. I don't want to say it's nasty, but I'm not enjoying it, and it would be quite an acquired taste. It did remind me of something... Eventually, I realized that it tastes like chinotto without the sweetness and the fizz. I actually happened to have chinotto in the fridge so I had some to compare, and damn if they're not really similar.

I looked for cocktails around a bit, and the responses were in the range of "the drink you can't make cocktails with", although you can obviously dilute it in soda. I diluted it in flat chinotto, while I was at it...

I managed to get in the Toronto Temperance Society again. Damn that place is amazing, and it's a great place to bring friends from out of town.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Since I have become a serious scotch and heavy spirit fiend, I have been dabbling in classical cocktails a fair bit, both at home and when drinking out. One of my favourite things to do is to ask seemingly inexperienced wait/bar staff which scotches they carry. When I was in Québec City over the holidays, I asked three different barmaids in one bar what scotches they had, and I got three different answers. (To the bar's credit, all three options were great, and I even discovered a new scotch, St. Leger [pronounced "Saint-Léger" in French of course].)

In the more professional establishments, the scotch selection will be great, and they will know how to make many of the classical cocktails very nicely. One great touch that I have found from places such as Sidecar is the use of very large ice cubes in stirred drinks, so that the ice keeps your drink cold without it melting and diluting the drink too much. Determined to replicate the experience at home, I went scouring the web for large ice cube trays. Eventually, I found some forum threads where people were discussing how to make large ice cubes. (It seems that the pros have ice-making machines that make the large cubes. Can't do this at home...) Williams-Sonoma sells some nice 2" icne cube trays, and a company named Tovolo also makes these guys. I've learned that one trick to make clear ice is to boil my water and letting it cool down before freezing. Ideally, I should be doing this with distilled water, but I'm not a rich booze hound, I'm on the DIY side of things.

I'm a little lazy and I generally dislike giving money to these bloated W-S people, so I went around my kitchen looking for what I could use to make large ice cubes. I rapidly found quite a few viable options. None of them make ice cubes per se, but apparently round shapes are even better than cubes:

1) Tapered mini mason jar (4" high, 2" wide). This one is actually one of my best options, the only problem being that I only have one of these jars. I can't make ice fast enough with this yet )

2) Popsicle molds. The ice you make out of this is just double the size of a regular ice cube, whereas I'm aiming for an 8x coefficient, but it works in a pinch, since they're also meant to be frozen molds.

3) Finally, my best option. I'm simply making my ice in tall tapered glasses. Once the ice is formed, I bring the glasses out of the freezer, turn them upside down, and wait until the ice melts a bit and comes out. Them I put the cubes back in the freezer.

My next trial will involve freezing water in my whisky glasses, so I'll have to let the ice melt some more if I don't want it to push my drink out of the glass when I put it back in.


frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

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