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.

Merry Fizzness!

The Ramos Gin Fizz

What does Santa’s Little Helper drink Christmas morning when all the presents are unwrapped and it’s finally time to kick back and relax?  A Ramos Gin Fizz, that’s what!  I’d never had one until a few weeks ago.  I was flipping through my copy of Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur and the recipe caught my eye.  I have a marked-up, liquid-stained 1941 copy, and I enjoy looking at the previous owner’s notes.   In May of 1943 it had been marked as a keeper, and after mixing one up for myself, I agreed.  A few weeks later I found myself having brunch at the Presidio Social Club and saw it on their list of “Restoratives”.  The bartender pulled out a mini stick blender, and went to town frothing it up.  A restorative indeed!  He told me that once the drink started getting more popular at PSC he was shaking his arms off and had to switch to the immersion blender.  I could well imagine since it’s a drink that does require energetic and sustained shaking.  In his book, Arthur writes of the Fizz, “…the saloons of Henry C. Ramos were famous for the gin fizzes shaken up by a bevy of busy shaker boys.  Visitors, not to mention home folk, flocked in droves to the Ramos dispensary to down the frothy draft that Ramos alone knew how to make to perfection. One poetical sipper eulogized it thus: “It’s like drinking a flower!”  Well, flower or not, the Ramos Gin Fizz made a lovely lazy Christmas morning drink…or two.

Click on the picture below and you can read the recipe for this froth-o-licious drink.

What's that funny thing in the corner? Well, Mr. Playmobil Elk was kind enough to hold the book open while I mixed this up.

The Antifogmatic League

Antifogmatic: a nineteenth century term for an alcoholic drink.  Source: Vintage Vocabulary.

Straus Family Creamery Egg Nog & Bourbon

After enjoying good friends and good cocktails at our Christmas party this weekend I was inspired to start a little something I’m calling The Antifogmatic League. What is it? Well, basically an excuse for some like-minded friends to get together and go out for a finely crafted cocktail!  Sounds much more official if we have a society, huh? “Hey honey, I have a meeting with The Antifogmatic League tonight. Can you get home from work to watch the kid?” Also, ever since I attended Jeff Hollinger & Neyah White’s “House-made Ingredients” cocktail class at Absinthe during San Francisco Cocktail Week, I’ve been hooked on learning more about this fascinating and delicious subject.  Why the blog? Well, instead of boring people on Facebook with pictures of fancy cocktails I can bore people here, and at least they’ll know what they’re getting into.  So here you have it folks, The Antifogmatic League: Classic Cocktail & Tiki Drink Appreciation Society!  Merry Christmas!