Lab Supplies. Check.

I have attended various events where someone hands me their cocktail blog business card.  I gladly accept these cards with great interest.  And whenever I visit a new bar, I try to pick up a card on the way out.  I knew that at some point I wanted to get business cards for this blog site.  Moreover, I knew that I wanted to use Pike Street Press.  I had read an article a year or so ago about Pike Street Press and their use of vintage letterpress work for printing.  I filed that information away, knowing that I would eventually visit this shop on the Pike Street Hill Climb.  Well folks, the time finally arrived.  I visited with owner Sean Brown, who helped me realize my design for the cards.  A couple weeks later, I was in visual and tactical nirvana, as I held one of my new Libation Laboratory cards in my little hand.  Now, we’re in business.


A New Day in the Laboratory – Make Some Bench Space for Sugar Sand Photography

There have been many famous duos and partnerships throughout history….Laverne and Shirley, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bonnie and Clyde, Captain and Tennille, Tarzan and Jane, Thelma and Louise, and the list goes on.  Today, a new partnership and dynamic duo joins this illustrious list of famous twosomes.  I am pleased to announce that Sugar Sand Photography is teaming with the Libation Laboratory to bring you not only tasty cocktail recipes, history, science and narrative, but also sparkly, shiny, mouth-watering pictures to photo document the adventure.  The Laboratory is lucky to have the expertise of Sugar Sand Photography; this is some serious professional photography, folks.  It’s safe to say, the Libation Laboratory has just kicked it up a notch.  Stay tuned, keep your hands in the car, and hang on; this is going to be fun.

>Mixing the Museum – The Barcardi Cocktail


We are through the ‘A’s’ in this empirical research exercise.  As we move on to the ‘B’s’ it’s clear to me that there is value in this research.   Next up in my MOTAC book is the Bacardi Cocktail.  The what?  I’ve never even heard of the Bacardi Cocktail.  I know Bacardi is a brand of Rum, so I’m pretty sure the Bacardi Cocktail is probably rum based.

Hello Wiki-Webtender friend, help me out.  Sources say this drink is “an IBA Official Cocktail.”  The IBA…that sounds important. [apparently, I have alot to learn before embarking on my alternative career].  The IBA is the International Bartenders Association, and the Bacardi Cocktail is “one of many cocktails selected by the IBA for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition in bartending.”

The Bacardi Cocktail has been around in some iteration or another since the early 1900’s.  In the late 1930’s a New York appellate court ruled that to be called the Bacardi cocktail required the use of only Bacardi brand rum.  Use something other than Bacardi, call your cocktail by another name.

The basic mix for the Bacardi is rum, lemon or lime juice and grenadine. 

Fun DrinkScience Fact (I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

Let’s take a moment to talk about Grenadine.  Grenadine was originally made with pomegranate juice and sugar.  In fact, grenadine is derived from the French word ‘grenade’ meaning pomegranate. Pomegranates have had an illustrious place in history and were mentioned during Homer’s waxing poetic about Aphrodite in the 7th Century BC.

In addition to being a necessary and tasty ingredient in many cocktails, Grenadine is good for you!  Pomegranates are absolutely brimming with antioxidants or polyphenols, such as tannins (drink more wine, people!) and catechins.

Chemical Structure of Catechin

Know Your Phenolics by Washington State Viticulture and Enology Group is a site that contains more information about antioxidants than you would ever want to know.  Basically, our bodies are in a constant battle with a nasty little type of molecule called a free radical.  You might think that a name containing “free” would be indicative of something positive, but not in this case.  Free radicals contain an unpaired electron making them highly reactive and thus cause damage to our DNA, proteins, and cells.  Research has shown that free radicals can cause both cancer and heart disease.  Antioxidants (drink more grenadine cocktails, people!) mitigate the damage caused by free radicals by donating an extra electron to the free radical.  No longer “free” the molecule is now harmless and cannot cause continuing cellular damage.  However, antioxidants are only good for one electron-donating-reaction.  Basically, antioxidants are single-use, which is why we are told to eat (and drink) a diet rich in antioxidants.  This concludes today’s nutrition lesson.  Back to Grenadine……

We’ve all seen that bottle of ACME red liquid next to the Angostura bitters on the shelf in the grocery store.  The ACME red liquid is high fructose corn syrup and disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalenesulfonate (affectionately known as FD&C 40).  I would suggest that you not buy this product.  Instead, make your own.

There are many recipes for house-grenadine.  I use the recipe from Imbibe with slight variations.

House Grenadine
8oz POM
1 c Turbinado Sugar
1 Stash Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea bag
Heat until sugar is melted. Let tea steep for ~30 min. Cool.
Add 2 tsp Orange Flower Water
1 oz Vodka
Bottle and refrigerate.  

The Bacardi Cocktail
45ml Bacardi Rum
25ml lime juice
15ml simple syrup
7.5ml grenadine
Shake, strain into cocktail glass.  Drink, enjoy, be healthy!

>Mixing the Museum – A Triumvirate to Start

>I’m certainly glad I didn’t commit to 100 drinks in 100 days.  After more than two weeks of mulling things over and numerous delays, we are finally kicking off the “Mixing the Museum” project we described in our last post.   The book, the Museum of the American Cocktail Pocket Recipe Guide (MOTAC) compiled and edited by superstar cocktail aficionados Robert Hess and Anistatia Miller, is a brilliant little tome that everyone must have in their cocktail libary.  There are 100 cocktail recipes that we will be working our way through in the days to come.

KB’s visit was a perfect opportunity to dive into the MOTAC project.  Two super-tasters in the house!…right on!…let’s try to get through a few of these cocktails.  First up…The Algonquin.

A swank hotel that opened in the early 1900’s in New York City, the Algonquin was known for being one of the first hotels to accept single women travelers.  Notably, the early literary feminists Gertrude Stein and Simone de Beauvoir were known to frequent the Algonquin Hotel.  While it is intriguing to think about the conversations these women would have engaged in over a cocktail, their talk would not have been loosened by liquor as prohibition was in full force during much of the time that Gertrude and Simone might have crossed paths in New York City.  Let’s sip an Algonquin in their honor and imagine sharing the bar with these avant-garde women.  

The Algonquin

The Algonquin
2oz. rye (Old Overholt)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. fresh pineapple juice

Shake with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

I wanted to like this cocktail.  Rye, vermouth, pineapple juice…what’s not to like?  But the flavor combination just didn’t knock me off my feet.  No complaints from KB and CR.  What’s next?

Turn the page….The Americano.…..  Queue the singing gondolier…

This cocktail dates to the mid 1800’s and was created by Gaspare Campari, and was first served in his bar Caffe Campari in Milan, Italy.  As you probably guessed, Gaspare created the aperitif herbal liqueur Campari.  With a tip of the hat to the ingredient’s brand geography, it was originally known as the Milano-Torino.  Apparently, in the early 1900’s there were such great numbers of Americans in Italy enjoying the Milano-Torino, the people of Italy chose to show their appreciation and affection by renaming the cocktail, the Americano. 

Fun DrinkScience Fact (I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

The red color of Campari used to come from these little guys:

Dactylopius coccus

The little red beetle makes this stuff:

Carminic Acid = Red Dye

The red dye is also known as carmine.  The cochineal beetles are such impressive carmine factories that the dye actually occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects.  Besides, Campari, carmine is also used to color a number of other products, such as yogurt and ice cream as well as cosmetics. 

Apparently in the mid-2000’s Campari stopped using crushed Dactylopius coccus as a source of red carmine, and instead began to use “artificial color” to achieve the brilliant red of it’s famous liqueur.  I checked my bottle and sure enough the label reads ‘artificially colored.’

Regardless of whether my red Campari has insect based carmine or FD&C Red 40, let’s mix the Americano.  (I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never tried the Americano).

The Americano

The Americano
1oz. Campari
1oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
Soda Water

Build in a highball with ice.  Stir.  Top with soda water.  One more gentle stir.  Garnish with lemon twist. 

Bitter, sweet, tasty.  This is a cocktail that CR and I will enjoy sitting in the steamers looking out at the water next summer.  Or the next time we are in Milan.  Cin Cin!

The last in our triumvirate of cocktails from the MOTAC kick-off party is the Arnaud.  According to Sir Hess and Dame Miller, the Arnaud was “Invented in the 1920’s as part of a promotional campaign in which Booth’s Gin asked famous British stage and screen stars to select their favorite libations.  This particular drink was selected by and named after the French actress Yvonne Arnaud…” 

Yvonne Arnaud

Yvonne Arnaud’s singing and stage career singer spanned from the early 1900’s to 1958.  As a cocktail enthusiast, I have to say I find it impressive in a trading-card-cocktail-geek kind of way that Yvonne has a cocktail named in her honor.  I think one’s prominence in history should be measured by the fact that a classic cocktail bears their name.  Why not?  Sure, all the other stuff that they did to ensure their name is still recognized today carries a lot of weight too.  But a cocktail?  That’s cool.  And a tasty cocktail…even better. 

The Arnaud

The Arnaud
1oz. gin (Plymouth)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. creme de cassis (Clear Creek Cassis Liqueur)

Stir with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
I didn’t garnish, though some recipe variations call for a blackberry garnish.
This was the favorite of the night for KB and CR, and I also enjoyed this cocktail.  We’ll mix it again.  This recipe makes the cocktail notebook for future use.