The King is dead. Long live the King!

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge

The spirit of Elvis was certainly alive last Friday at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, where a crowd gathered to celebrate what would have been the King’s 75th birthday.  Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas were playing on separate screens, peanut butter & banana sandwiches were the featured snack, and Elvis-themed cocktails were flowing.  Six members of The Antifogmatic League turned out to pay tribute to the King and toast him in grand style…repeatedly.  It was only fitting to start off the evening with one of the six featured Elvis cocktails, so we ordered a round of Blue Hawaiians.  FI’s version of the Blue Hawaiian was creamy and sweet with plenty of coconut and rum.

Blue Hawaiians for the King's 75th

Our intrepid members then sampled a cocktail as showy as the King himself, the Burning Love: a flaming drink made with two kinds of rum, lime, and homemade pomegranate grenadine.  Our fearless explorers then branched out on different paths, some continuing on the Elvis trail, while others sampled libations from FI’s extensive list of Tiki drinks.

Burning Love x 3

Other Elvis cocktails sampled included the “King Creole” which was really a Sazerac.  A rare misstep of the evening, The King Creole suffered from a heavy hand with the absinthe and we politely discussed our expectations for a Sazerac with our bartender, Paddy.  Paddy, I must say, was a perfect gentleman, and a wicked good bartender, and he took the drink back and delivered another that was spot-on.  Another AL member tried the “Girl Happy” which was Forbidden Island’s version of La Floridita Daiquiri.  Petite, but delicious, the Girl Happy was a classic combination of fresh lime juice, rum, and Maraschino Liqueur.  The Burning Love proved to be more than a flash in the pan, and Paddy was more pyromaniac than bartender at points in the evening as he lit fire after fire for the throng.

Paddy, our pyromaniac bartender

Drinks sampled from FI’s extensive menu included The Monkey Pod, an original cocktail featuring rum, lime, coconut and tamarind served with a sprig of fresh mint. Virgin Painkillers were the drink of choice for our AL member with the bun in the oven, and somehow that seemed so àpropos.  The Nui Nui didn’t disappoint either with its kickass combo of allspice, cinnamon, rum, and citrus.  Hail to Don the Beachcomber! (The creator of this drink, one of my favorites.)

Virgin Painkiller, Burning Love, Monkeypod

Nui Nui

Towards the witching hour, our stalwart AL members carried on, venturing off the beaten menu paths.  Dr. John sipped Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old rum, while your fearless leader tried the same on the rocks with falernum (kind of a Corn n’ Biodiesel, instead of a Corn n’ Oil).  Our ever accommodating bartender, Paddy, even whipped up an old-skool Aviation complete with a dash of Crème de Violette for one of our members, who was celebrating his last day at one job, before moving on to the next.

Aviation with Tiki-style garnish

A little after midnight, our crew decided to head for our respective little grass shacks. As we started to leave, a new wave of patrons started to trickle in. Will the Thrill grilled them as he had everyone who ventured in during the evening, “Are you over 21, and do you know who Elvis Presley is?”

“Yes, and of course we know who Elvis Preston is!” they replied indignantly. We took that as our cue to leave. I think Elvis would’ve headed for Graceland too.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel, Flickr: Nettsu

Ah… nothing like the Friday night at the start of a long weekend.  A twinkle in your eye, a spring in your step. Time to relax, unwind. What to make to kick off the weekend?  Why not make a cocktail that calls to mind exotic locales, extended vacations, and balmy breezes?  A Singapore Sling, I thought. That might fit the bill.  Having never had one before, I turned to my trusty books (I am a librarian after all).  I consulted Charles H. Baker, Jr., David A. Embury, Ted Haigh, and Dale DeGroff.  In 1948, Embury wrote, “Of all the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike.”  Right he was, because the 4 recipes these gentlemen put forth were all different (apparently, the original 1915 recipe is locked in a safe in its birthplace, so I assume there was a lot of guessing going on). I ultimately decided to go with Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail’s recipe for the Singapore Sling, although Mr. Baker claimed to have the bona fide recipe from the venerable Raffles Hotel.  Now, while I love Mr. Baker (LOVE him) sometimes I worry about his recipes.  He cracks me up, I mean, the man is laugh out loud funny, but I trust Dr. Cocktail to make a good drink, so I went with his Singapore Sling.  Regardless of the recipe used, I believed (after tasting the drink) what Mr. Baker wrote of this cocktail:

The Singapore Gin Sling is a delicious, slow-acting, insidious thing.

Or as my husband put it, “Wow. I could drink these all night. Wow.”

My Singapore Sling

The Singapore Sling

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Cherry Heering (or other cherry-flavored brandy)
  • 2 tsp Benedictine
  • 2 tsp Cointreau
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes real pomegranate grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Soda water

Combine all except soda in an iced shaker.  Shake and strain into a collins or highball glass with a few lumps of ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with a cherry, a pineapple slice, and an orange wheel.

Recipe from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Puppies, Kitties, and Cocktails, Oh My!

Flickr: Bogdan Suditu

Do you like animals?  Do you like a well-crafted cocktail?  Of course you do!  Then head on over to Heaven’s Dog this Tuesday to support the San Francisco SPCA. From the Heaven’s Dog website:

On Tuesday, January 19th from 6pm – 8pm, Heaven’s Dog and the Soma Grand are inviting neighbors, pet owners and pet lovers from around the city to raise their glasses high in order to create awareness for the plight of animals in need of care and homes in San Francisco.  In addition, Heaven’s Dog is donating 50% of all beverage sales during that time period to the San Francisco SPCA.

WHERE: Heaven’s Dog Restaurant at Soma Grand: 1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Feeling Punchy?

Photo from Flickr: Lupo Lupo

Then join me at Omnivore Books on Saturday, January 30 at 4:00pm!  They are having a punch contest (of all the wacky and wonderful things).  Having just acquired my mother-in-law’s “Stars & Pinwheels” punch bowl, I have decided to enter.  This will be a first, as I’ve never entered any sort of food or drink competition before. I don’t know how big it will be, but it sounds like a good time.  Trying different punches while gazing at books for $5?  Yessir!  Plus, you know I love my cookbooks, and I’ve been meaning to check out this place since a friend told me about it. Omnivore Books features “new, antiquarian, and collectible books on food and drink.” Sounds right up my alley.  As for the punch contest, here is their description:

Are you an amateur mixologist just itching to show off your skills? Or a professional bartender with a lazy Saturday afternoon? Make up a bowl of your favorite punch (alcoholic or non), and bring it to our punch contest! Free to punch entrants; drinkers-only pay $5 at the door, then judge their favorite punch, and the winner splits the door money with us. It’s a win-win here, folks, so come on by and wow us with your mixing skills. Or you drinking aptitude.

My only problem now is what punch to make?  I’m split between making a version of a rum Ti Punch (kind of like the Rhum Agricole Punch in my last post), or representing my home state and county with an Applejack (aka Jersey Lightning) punch.  If you’d like to weigh in one way or the other, please post a comment with your vote!

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Rhum Agricole Punch

Rhum Agricole Punch

Back in the summer (ah, summer…where did you go?), I had a long lunch with a friend at Heaven’s Dog.  It was my first time there and I had picked our luncheon spot specifically because of the great things I had heard about their cocktails.  What did we eat?  I don’t recall, except that there was pork belly involved.  But the cocktails? Yes, things of beauty.  After the food was consumed, we moved to the beautiful cypress wood bar and sampled a couple more of their wonderful drinks. At one point I ordered something on their menu called “Freedom from Choice”.  Basically, you tell the bartender if you want a citrus-driven or spirituous cocktail and give him an idea of what liquor you might like.  I said, “Citrus and rum.”  What I got was a Rhum Agricole Punch.  I loved it, and was told that it was on the menu at The Slanted Door (the two places are owned by Charles Phan).  I asked what was in it and was graciously given the ingredients.  It wasn’t until recently that I had the proper rum to make it with.  I decided to mix one up and see if it was as good as I remembered.  When I looked at the note in my trusty iPhone I realized that I had gotten the ingredients, but not the proportions.  I tried to recreate it as well as I could, and I was very happy with the results.  I hope you will be too. It’s one worth trying…

Heaven’s Dog Rhum Agricole Punch

Shake first 5 ingredients with ice and strain into a glass over crushed ice.  Grate nutmeg over the drink and serve.  Note: The proportions are my own, but the ingredients were given to me by the bartender. It tasted like I remembered, so I think it’s pretty close.

Rhum Agricole Punch @ Heaven's Dog (on left)

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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Hot Toddy Day

Old Barney Toddy

Who knew? Apparently, January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day!  I turned to The Gentlemen’s Companion by Charles H. Baker, Jr. for inspiration.  In the section on hot drinks, he writes of a “hot helper” based on Applejack called The Jersey Lighthouse.

We met the Jersey Lighthouse sitting in the back room of a small New Jersey inn one horrid winter night, with William Faulkner, Tony Sarg’s puppet maker Bil Baird, and Eric Devine, our sailing mate on the MARMION. … Into a tumbler place 2 lumps of sugar, a dash or 2 of Angostura, 3 or 4 cloves, a spiral of lemon peel.  Onto this pour 2 jiggers of ancient applejack, fill with boiling water, float on 1 tbsp applejack at the last and serve blazing merrily.   Those who read Bill Faulkner’s Light in August renamed the drink Light in February.

I fiddled around with it a bit and came up with an Applejack toddy I’m calling The Old Barney Toddy.  Growing up near the Jersey shore, the lighthouse that I was most familiar with was the Barnegat Lighthouse, otherwise known as “Old Barney”.

Old Barney Toddy

  • 2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
  • 3/4 oz. spiced simple syrup (or to taste, I like it a little on the sweet side)
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Bitters
  • 1 tbs Applejack to float

Mix first 4 ingredients in a mug and fill with boiling water. Float 1 tbs Applejack on top and set ablaze.  Garnish with clove studded lemon peel.  A perfect drink for a frosty San Francisco winter night. Well, chilly at least.

Old Barney (Flickr: thisisbossi)

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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Raise Your Glass to the King!

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Happy Birthday, Elvis!  I will be celebrating what would have been the King’s 75th birthday tonight at Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA.  They will be featuring Elvis-themed cocktails, Elvis movies on their big “indoor drive-in” screen, Elvis music, and the King’s favorite snack: Peanut Butter & Banana sandwiches.  What better way to celebrate Elvis’ 75th than Tiki style?

This will be the first official outing of The Antifogmatic League.  Check back for a full report.

Until then, Hau’oli lā hānau, Elvis!

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Yay! And… Awwww, Man.

My dad will be so proud that I am finally taking an interest in science!

I was reading the recent issue of Imbibe Magazine and saw an upcoming event listed called Science of Cocktails.  When I followed the link it brought me to the Exploratorium of all places.  Here’s the description from their website:

“There are many cocktail parties in the Bay Area, but the Exploratorium is holding one like no other. Science of Cocktails will present the artistry of master mixologists melded with the science behind the craft. We’ll take an in-depth, hands-on look at the physics, chemistry, and biology of cocktails, engaging guests in an exploration of their favorite libations.”

The event takes place on Jan. 20, 2010 and they are going to have guest bartenders from some of my favorite places like The Alembic and Heaven’s Dog. I was all psyched to buy a ticket and then I saw that it was SOLD OUT.  Awwwwww, man!

For all us poor saps who don’t get to go they are promising to post information, recipes, and experiments from the event after it takes place.  I guess I’ll have to check back in late January.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Benz

Zirbenz, Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps

Today I denuded the Christmas tree, a pretty little thing that cheered our hearts and scented our home for the holiday season.  I thought it fitting that I used the last drop of Zirbenz, Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps, as I completed this bittersweet task.  In a roundabout way, Zirbenz is responsible for The Antifogmatic League.  I was one of the lucky few to get a golden ticket to the first sneak peek opening of Smuggler’s Cove on Dec. 4, 2009.  One of the drinks I sampled that night was the Calibogus, a “blend of Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur, spruce tincture, molasses, seltzer and Smuggler’s Cove Private Reserve rum with a dash of lime”.  I was curious about the name, Calibogus, and while I was googling it, I stumbled upon the term antifogmatic, which of course, I fell in love with.  Anyway, I was intrigued enough with the Calibogus that when I chanced upon a bottle of Zirbenz at Blackwell’s I snatched it up.  I’ve been experimenting with it for the last few weeks and liking most of the results.  My favorite of the Zirbenz cocktails was created by accident this past week during our Tahoe vacation.  I was in the middle of mixing up some Montreal Gin Sours from Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks when I ran out of gin.  I substituted Zirbenz for half the gin and the result was enthusiastically received by all.  And so, dear reader, I give you the Zirbenz Gin Sour, otherwise known as …

The Benz

The Benz

  • 1 part Simple Syrup
  • 2 parts Lemon Juice
  • 4 parts Gin
  • 4 parts Zirbenz
  • 1 Egg White to each 2 drinks

Embury uses proportions rather than measurements, so you can adjust accordingly.  If you let 1 part equal an ounce and use 2 egg whites this will make 4 cocktails.  Add the egg white, simple syrup, and lemon juice first and shake with ice to get the egg frothing.  Then add the gin and shake again. Finally add the Zirbenz and shake one last time. Strain into chilled glasses.

Don’t let the “pretty in pink” color fool you.  This is a nice, fairly dry cocktail.  Yes, my pictures stink, but if you click on this pic you can see the color better.

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

This was one of my Christmas presents this year, and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. In fact, I’m going to go back to the couch and read some more!  I’ll report back later.

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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