The inaugural Mixology Monday turned out better than I’d expected. Eight bloggers, ranging from Portland to Madrid, participated in today’s event, posting notes about their experiences with the French anise-flavored liqueur, along with drink recipes, cultural info and a few reasons why the whole flavor of pastis just gives them the willies.
Massive thanks to everyone who participated, or who read the posts and vicariously enjoyed our drinking. I’ve put together summaries of each post below, with links to each of the sites. Did I miss anyone? If so, let me know in the comments and I’ll take care of it.
- First out of the gate (or in my in-box, anyway), was Rick at Kaiser Penguin. Rick falls into the “I used to hate anise, but now it’s kinda grown on me” category, due mainly to an intense effort on his part to cozy up to the once-loathesome flavor. Rick shares the recipe for the Calcutta (listed as the Balloon Cocktail in Baker’s Gentleman’s Companion), a mix of equal parts rye, pastis and sweet vermouth, with a little orange bitters to make it interesting and some egg white to give it body. Check out Rick’s experience in his Mixology Monday post.
- Coming up next is Slakethirst, a Portland-based cocktail enthusiast who found little worth getting enthusiastic about with his chosen drink, the Bunny Hug. As with Rick, Slakethirst shares a recent revulsion for all things anise, which has only been overcome thanks to the mystical properties of Sazeracs. Taking the principles of Iron Chef as his guidance, Slakethirst searches for a cocktail in which the full presence of pastis is evident–much to his regret. Ignoring the wisdom of Harry Craddock, Slakethirst presents the Bunny Hug, composed of equal parts gin, whiskey and pastis, and named for a slow-grind ragtime dance. Check out his experience–along with much more fascinating info–in his Bunny Hug post. (Bunny Hug image borrowed from Slakethirst)
- Did I say Sazeracs? Of course, the Sazerac is possibly the greatest anise-containing cocktail ever made, and thankfully Jimmy Patrick over at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour dedicated his Mixology Monday post to this venerable New Orleans concoction. Jimmy–another reformed anise-hater–explains why rye just works better than bourbon in a Sazerac, and prefers his made with just Peychaud’s, no Angostura. Check out the details in Jimmy’s Sazerac post.
- As promised, Darcy explored the flavor of the premium Pastis Henri Bardouin over at The Art of Drink. After a brief history and description of pastis (with the helpful pointer that, despite its pronounced flavor, pastis is about so much more than simply anise), Darcy suggests two drinks from pastis’ native region, the South of France, which present ways to explore and enjoy the liqueur: the Perroquet (or “parakeet”), with pastis, creme de menthe and mineral water; and the Momisette (“tiny mummy”), with pastis, orgeat and sparkling water. Check out Darcy’s full pastis post for all the details. (Bottle image borrowed from Art of Drink)
- While Darcy explored a fine French pastis, Michael Dietsch tried an exceptional pastis called Charbay, from California’s Napa Valley. Experimenting with a new pastis–especially one from a different geographic region than the one ordinarily associated with that drink–can sometimes be dicey, but Michael was guided by the expert hand of LeNell Smothers, a renowned spirits expert and merchant in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Using Charbay, Michael and his wife, Jen, try three drinks: La Tomate, with pastis, grenadine and water; La Feuille Morte, adding mint syrup to la tomate; and the Dempsey, with pastis, gin, Calvados and grenadine. Read Michael’s full experiences in his Mixology Monday post.
- Taking things in a different direction, Dave Currie reports from Madrid on the daily drinking life of the Spanish working class. Beginning with a strong coffee in the morning mixed with a shot of orujo, and continuing through the lunchtime vino con Casera and the afternoon cubata, alcoholic drinks are a part of the worker’s daily existence (and, as Dave points out, sometimes work even gets done). For Mixology Monday, Dave presents the Sol y Sombra, a mixture of brandy (preferably Spanish sherry brandy) and anis–a warming, fortifying midday drink meant to prepare you for a day of outdoor labor. Dave’s got a great post; be sure to read it in full.
- Continuing the international theme, Chris over at Boston Cocktails tries a drink with the Greek anise-flavored spirit, ouzo. Chris admits he’s still acquiring the taste for anise–plenty of company here–and offers his recipe for an Anise Rickey. Check out Chris’ post for the details.
- Finally, there was my post about adventurer/writer/drunkard William Seabrook, who was treated for alcoholism in a mental hospital in 1933, then embarked on a short-lived spell of sobriety marked by his publication of the tell-all book, Asylum, and contribution of a drink recipe for the Asylum Cocktail to a 1935 novelty bartending guide called So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon.
Thanks again to everyone who participated. Next up: Mixology Monday II on May 8, hosted by The Art of Drink, where the subject will be: Coffee.
See you there–