Thursday, 17 September 2009

Are they making absinthe at an Oxford College?

I have fond memories of Oxford. Tutorials in Lawrence of Arabia's old bedroom, climbing late night into college over the same gate Harold Wilson had climbed over, etc. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I was showing a friend the sights of Oxford, and found wormwood growing freely at the bottom of the staircase where I lived in my first year a decade or so ago ...

And not just any wormwood: this is Artemisia absinthium (Aa), or Grande Wormwood, the nec plus ultra of wormwoods, as used in Absinthe. Aa is one of the key ingredients in absinthe. Along with anise and fennel.

Of course, as a lover of Swiss absinthe, whose plants benefit from the terroir and micro-climate of the Alpine foothills, I am not wholly convinced that an absinthe made with British ingredients would work, but maybe the micro-climate and conditions of an Oxford quadrangle have something to offer.

In fact, Jesus College is famous as the Welsh college, so I might have expected to see leeks and daffodils. But Artemisia absinthium? Do the College staff know about this? Has the financial crisis forced them to seek alternative revenue streams? Will the College Absinthe flow freely at the Rugby Club dinners or, better still, at the re-union dinners I am sometimes invited to?

And in case my readers feel I may have been imbibing and that this was just an absinthe hallucination, please note that absinthe and wormwood do NOT cause hallucinations. Of course the photograph does seem to show that my friend that day was Peter Fuss who runs the biggest absinthe shop in the world, Grüner Engel, in Heidelberg. Now what was he doing in Oxford?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

100 cocktails to try before you die

A great list of cocktails and a great idea to promote a bar. 100 great cocktails served by the Anvil Bar and Refuge, Houston. Mostly classic, with a few modern ones.

This has just been covered in an excellent article in the Houston Press. Not much to add to the article except to comment that as many as ten of the cocktails feature absinthe, and I found just one with vodka! That's my kind of cocktail list!

Click on the list above to see it in higher resolution. Absinthe is featured in

1: Absinthe Drip
9: Blackthorn
17: Chrysanthemum
18: Cocktail a La Louisiane
22: Corpse Reviver # 2
27: Death in the Afternoon
32: Fourth Degree
57: Monkey Gland
59: Morning Glory
80: Sazerac

Robert from the Anvil also writes a great blog, and seems to like his absinthe. This

is his version of the Chrysanthemum (try saying that after a few cocktails!). Number 17 on the list.

My favourite cocktail from this list? It depends on the mood and circumstances. I always love a Death in the Afternoon (with real champagne, please!), and a Sazerac is hard to beat. What's your favourite?

Here's an easier to follow list of the 100:

1. Absinthe Drip – absinthe, water, sugar
2. Air Mail – rhum, lime, honey, champagne
3. Alexander – spirit, creme de cacao, cream
4. Algonquin – rye, french vermouth, pineapple
5. Americano – campari, italian vermouth, soda
6. Aperol Spritz – aperol, sparkling wine
7. Aviation – gin, lemon, maraschino, creme de violette
8. Bijou – gin, italian vermouth, green chartreuse, orange bitters
9. Blackthorn – irish whiskey, french vermouth, absinthe, angostura bitters
10. Blinker – rye, grapefruit, raspberry syrup
11. Blood & Sand – scotch, orange juice, italian vermouth, cherry heering
12. Bramble – gin, lemon, creme de mure
13. Brandy Crusta – cognac, cointreau, lemon, maraschino, peychaud’s bitters
14. Caipirinha – cachaca, sugar, lime
15. Champagne Cocktail – brut, sugar, angostura bitters
16. Champs Elysees – cognac, lemon, sugar, yellow chartreuse, angostura bitters
17. Chrysanthemum – french vermouth, absinthe, benedictine
18. Cocktail a la Louisiane – rye, benedictine, italian vermouth, absinthe, peychaud’s bitters
19. Coffee Cocktail – cognac, ruby port, egg
20. Collins – spirit, lemon, sugar, soda
21. Corn ‘N Oil – blackstrap rum, falernum, angostura bitters
22. Corpse Reviver #2 – gin, lemon, cointreau, lillet blanc, absinthe
23. Cuba Libre – rum, coca cola, lime
24. Daiquiri – rum, lime, sugar
25. Daisy – bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon, lime
26. the Darb – gin, french vermouth, lemon, apricot brandy
27. Death in the Afternoon – champagne, absinthe
28. Dulchin – pisco, apricot brandy, curacao, lime, grenadine
29. East India Cocktail – cognac, curacao, pineapple gomme, maraschino, angostura bitters
30. El Diablo – tequila, creme de cassis, lime, ginger beer
31. Fernet-Branca – it’s a shot of fernet-branca
32. Fourth Degree – gin, french & italian vermouth, absinthe
33. French 75 – gin, lemon, sugar, brut champagne
34. Gimlet – gin, lime, turbinado
35. Gin & Tonic – gin, tonic water, lime
36. Gin Gin Mule – gin, lime, ginger beer, mint
37. Gin Rickey – gin, lime, soda
38. Hemingway Daiquiri – rum, lime, grapefruit, maraschino
39. Hot Buttered Rum – rum, butter, sugar, water
40. Improved Cocktail – spirit, maraschino, peychaud’s & angostura bitters
41. Jack Rose – applejack, lemon, grenadine
42. Japanese – brandy, orgeat, angostura bitters
43. Jasmine – gin, cointreau, campari, lemon
44. Knickerbocker – rum, raspberry syrup, curacao, lime
45. Last Word – gin, lime, green chartreuse, maraschino
46. Mai Tai – rum, curacao, lime, orgeat
47. Maiden’s Prayer – gin, cointreau, orange, lemon
48. Manhattan – rye, italian vermouth, angostura
49. Maple Leaf – bourbon, lemon, maple syrup
50. Margarita – tequila, lime, cointreau
51. Martinez – italian vermouth, gin, maraschino, orange bitters
52. Martini – gin, french vermouth, orange bitters
53. Metropole – cognac, french vermouth, peychaud’s & angostura bitters
54. Milk Punch – spirit, sugar, milk
55. Mint Julep – bourbon, mint, sugar
56. Mojito – rum, lime, mint, turbinado, soda
57. Monkey Gland – gin, orange, grenadine, absinthe
58. Monte Carlo – rye, benedictine, angostura bitters
59. Morning Glory – scotch, lemon, egg white, absinthe
60. Navy Grog – rum, honey, lime
61. Negroni – gin, campari, italian vermouth
62. Old Fashioned – spirit, sugar, angostura bitters
63. Old Pal – rye, campari, french vermouth
64. Opera – gin, dubonnet, maraschino
65. Oriental – rye, italian vermouth, curacao, lime
66. Paradise – gin, apricot brady, orange, lemon
67. Pegu Club – gin, curacao, lime, angostura & orange bitters
68. Pimm’s Cup – pimm’s no. 1, gin, lemon, soda, cucumber
69. Pink Gin – gin, angostura bitters
70. Pink Lady – gin, applejack, lemon, grenadine, egg white
71. Pisco Punch – pisco, pineapple gomme, lemon
72. Pisco Sour – piso, lemon, egg white
73. Port Flip – ruby port, sugar, whole egg
74. Punch – jerry thomas’ special punch recipe
75. Ramos Gin Fizz – gin, cream, lemon, lime, egg white, soda, orange flower water
76. Red Hook – rye, punt e mes, maraschino, angostura & orange bitters
77. Rum Swizzle – rum, lime, falernum
78. Rusty Nail – scotch, drambuie
79. Satan’s Whiskers – gin, french vermouth, italian vermouth, curacao, orange, orange bitters
80. Sazerac – rye, absinthe, peychaud’s bitters
81. Scofflaw – rye, french vermouth, lemon, grenadine, orange bitters
82. Seelbach – bourbon, cointreau, champagne, bitters
83. Sherry Cobbler – sherry, sugar, fruit, soda
84. Sidecar – cognac, cointreau, lemon
85. Silver Fizz – spirit, lemon, sugar, egg white, soda
86. Singapore Sling – gin, cherry heering, lime, pineapple, cointreau, benedictine, grenadine, angostura bitters
87. Smash – spirits, sugar, water, mint
88. Stinger – cognac, creme de menthe
89. Suffering Bastard – bourbon, gin, lemon, ginger beer, angostura bitters
90. Tailspin – gin, italian vermouth, green chartreause, campari
91. ‘Ti Punch – rhum agricole, lime, sugar
92. Toddy – spirit, sugar, hot water
93. Tom & Jerry – rum, brandy, egg, nutmeg
94. Twentieth Century Cocktail – gin, lemon, creme de cacao, lillet blanc
95. Vesper – gin, vodka, lillet
96. Vieux Carre – cognac, rye, italian vermouth, benedictine, angostura & peychaud’s bitters
97. Whiskey Skin – scotch, lemon, hot water
98. White Lady – gin, cointreau, lemon
99. Widow’s Kiss – calvados, benedictine, yellow chartreause, angostura bitters
100. Zombie – jamaican rum, lime, lemon, pineapple, passion fruit syrup, brown sugar, angostura bitters