Friday, 30 April 2010

The Clandestino (a.k.a. the Clandestine Caipirinha)

Originally created for the London Bar Show in 2007 by Darroch of Black Tie Bartending, the Clandestino (formerly known as the Clandestine Caipirinha) has long been one of my favourite absinthe cocktails. Other absinthe bloggers have enjoyed it too, with one calling it "my all-time favorite cocktail" and "my favorite source of vitamine C!"

We've looked at various recipes of this over the years since it was first made as a caipirinha with La Clandestine instead of cachaca. Many bartenders have their own way of making a caipirinha, and it's impossible to summarise all their different ways here. When making this cocktail for a larger group of people, we have recently started using this easy recipe:

1 measure of La Clandestine absinthe
1 measure of simple syrup
1 measure of fresh lime juice

Shaken with crushed ice, and strained into a rocks glass with crushed ice already in it.

How simple is that!

In fact the genesis of the Clandestino goes back to 2010 and then to 2007. In 2010 I was delighted when Marcelo, a Brazilian friend from the absinthe forums, decided to make his own more Brazilian version. Here is his recipe:

"For one cocktail glass:

- 3 key limes (key limes are "the right limes" for any caipirinha)
- 3 - 4 teaspoons of regular sugar (sugar cane)
- crushed ice, enough to fill at least 50% of the glass
- 1.5 oz of La Clandestine Absinthe (maybe around two-thirds the amount of cachaca used in a caipirinha)

Cut the limes in four parts each. Remove the seeds with the tip of your knife (crushed seeds are bitter). Using a muddler, crush down the limes with the sugar making a homogenous juice.

Mix the limes with sugar in a shaker and add ice and absinthe.... shake ... pour into a glass.

Drink slowly. Let the ice melt a little bit and the absinthe will be even better. In Brazil, a glass of caipirinha is not for individual use .... Share your glass .... take a sip and pass to your friend and wait for it to go around and come back to you."

Of course a Caipirinha is normally made with cachaça, so I thought we should change the original name since it might upset drinks purists (who wouldn't recognise the existence of a "vodka martini"). Apparently in Brazil you can drink a "Caipirinha de Vodka" (called a Caipiroska in São Paolo), so maybe this could have been a "Caipisinthe" or a "Caipistine." But I prefer the Clandestino.

Marcelo and I agree that this works very well with La Clandestine. I think a Caipirinha needs to be "clean" and "pure," so I suspect that this works especially well as it uses a blanche absinthe. A verte may not work as well. What do you think?

I have a few friends who are involved with cachaça. I wonder what they will think.

Now, enough writing. I must get myself organised for the Brazil World Cup and Olympics in 2014 and 2016. I suspect a Clandestino will taste even better in Rio and São Paolo!

Cheers! Saúde, Marcelo!

Update: September 2011

The Clandestino seems to be so popular that Pernod Absinthe featured it on their Facebook page. Click to make the image bigger.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it would have been nice if Pernod (whose first absinthe distillery was in Couvet, Switzerland, in the late 1790's) had been able to credit the creator of the Clandestino!

STOP PRESS: Summer 2012

Summer is aparently here, or around the corner, and here's an interesting take on the Clandestino for the summer:

The Clandestino popsicle. Or ice lolly. Or glace à l'eau. Depends where you come from.

1 measure of La Clandestine.
1 measure of simple syrup.
1 measure of lime juice.
3 measures of water.

Freeze and enjoy!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Absinthe, Ladies and Earthquakes

"Immodestly-clad ladies are reportedly responsible for earthquakes." According to Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi.

This story has been rumbling around Facebook and Twitter over the last few days, and now Jen McCreight, a student and feminist from Indiana, has responded by setting up the scientific experiment, Boobquake. Today, April 26 2010, women around the world are being urged to dress a little more immodestly than they might usually do to test the cleric's statement.

In case my readers think Boobquake seems an inappropriate way to respond, I want to quote Jen here: "I just want to apologize if this comes off as demeaning toward women ... I don't think the event is completely contrary to feminist ideals. I'm asking women to wear their most "immodest" outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment ... I also hate the ideal of "big boobs are always better!" The cleavage joke was just a result of me personally having cleavage, and that being my choice of immodesty. And I thought "boobquake" just sounded funny. Really, it's not supposed to be serious activism that is going to revolutionize women's rights, but just a bit of fun juvenile humor. I'm a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn't going to accomplish anything - sometimes light-hearted mockery is worthwhile."

As a male blogger and absinthe lover, I can't actively participate in the event today (did someone say Moobquake?), but I wanted to support Jen by a quick study of the role of immodestly-clad ladies in absinthe advertising and promotion and to assess whether there is any link between these and earthquakes. Have there been many earthquakes in Paris

or in Prague

since immodestly-clad ladies have been used in absinthe advertising or art? How about in London?

Apparently not.

Of course I may be on shakier ground (!) if I analyse the link between immodestly-clad ladies used to promote absinthe in Los Angeles and any seismic activity there ...

although there do not appear to have been any earthquakes as a result of this Swiss absinthe label.

Using the above examples, it seems safe to assume that there is no link between these ladies, however they are dressed, and earthquakes. But the Boobquake experiment seems to be more rigorous, so I await the results with interest. Yes, there was a small earthquake this morning in Taiwan, but that doesn't seem too unusual.

Of course, there IS a connection between absinthe and earthquakes, and that is Toulouse-Lautrec. He is credited with the invention of the Tremblement de Terre or Earthquake cocktail. Wikipedia states that this is half cognac, half absinthe (ice is optional), while the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book states that it uses equal portions of gin, whisky and absinthe (it is called an Earthquake "because if there should happen to be an earthquake on when you are drinking it, it won't matter"). Maybe I'll have one of each and try to report back later. Assuming the earth doesn't swallow us all up today ...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Complete an absinthe survey: get 20% off absinthe accessories!

UPDATE: Survey now closed.
In 2009, at least two online surveys were conducted into absinthe drinking in the USA: these included brand preferences, methods and location of drinking, etc. The results were very interesting (but I won't say too much here, so as not to influence prospective voters!).

Absinthe Devil, America's Absintheur Shop with probably the largest range of absinthe accessories in the USA, has just announced their 2010 survey on their blog (the survey has also been announced on the Wormwood Society). I had the opportunity to meet Brian Fernald, the owner of Absinthe Devil, on my recent visit to the USA, and he's passionate about helping Americans choose good absinthe. So much so that he's offering Americans who complete the survey 20% off all the accessories in his shop. Upon submitting your results, you will be presented with a 20% off coupon good for their entire inventory (the coupon only applies to in-stock items and cannot be used for back ordered or out-of-stock items, or against delivery charges).

If you love absinthe (and especially if you like good absinthe), then please help Brian to help others. Do the 2010 survey now, and get 20% off your choice of absinthe accessories! Results will be published on Absinthe Devil (and hopefully here) in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The return of Pernod Fils Absinthe!

Amazing news from France, discovered on Twitter this morning, announced on a French absinthe forum, and revealed in full on a new French absinthe website. The long-awaited re-launch of Pernod Fils absinthe!

For those who don't know all about absinthe: a short history. Many real absinthe lovers have expressed their disappointment with Pernod's 21st century absinthe. They were sad that Pernod-Ricard, a company that had its roots in real absinthe, initially in Couvet, the birthplace of absinthe, and then in Pontarlier with Pernod Fils Absinthe, chose to launch Pernod Aux Plantes d'Absinthe Supérieure

an absinthe with artificial colours and clearly nothing like the original Pernod Fils absinthe. An absinthe that was world-famous in the late 19th century, an absinthe whose pre-1915 ban bottles are sought by absinthe collectors globally even now.

To cut a long story short (and not wishing to translate the whole of the French webzine), an entrepreneur contacted Pernod-Ricard with a business plan to re-introduce Pernod Fils Absinthe. After many months' work, using the code name Colvert and in collaboration with Pernod-Ricard's master distiller, Eric Brochet, they are nearly ready to launch. And because of the massive economies of scale that Pernod-Ricard can make, they plan to launch at an amazing €30 for a liter bottle.

There are no pack shots available yet (these pictures are of an empty Pernod Fils bottle purchased this week on Ebay UK for £0.99), and no tasting notes are yet available.

Full story available in French here.

For a blogger like myself, this is a story as big as the Swiss re-legalisation of absinthe or the lifting of the ban in the USA. If not bigger. What do my readers think of this amazing story?

UPDATE: April 2, 2010

As far as I know, the original French story is a very elaborate April Fools' Day Joke. Sorry to disappoint everyone. Or maybe it isn't. Only time will tell, and for those who've waited 95 years to try newly-made Pernod Fils absinthe, what's a few more years?

Good to see that Pernod themselves have retained a sense of humour about this. Later on April 1, 2010, this tweet appeared:

Santé, PernodAbsinthe!