Cocktail of the Week – Polar Vortex

Another ginger beer treat this week (last one – I promise). The funny thing is, I practically never used ginger beer until a few years ago, when I got into some authentical Dark and Stormies, decided to make them at home, and discovered the superiority of small batch ginger beer (Maine Root) and “home-made” (Pickett’s and soda water). When I saw how good ginger beer could be, well, I just couldn’t keep my hands off of it. Can’t recall where I originally ran across this, but its a regular at Casa Dean.

As with the Dark and Stormy, there are a couple of ways to go at this – ginger beer out of the bottle, and make-your-own ginger beer.

This beverage as seen from space (Thanks NASA!)

3 oz. rye whiskey (can’t go wrong with Bulleit or Rittenhouse )
1 teaspoon Amaretto, maybe a little less (honestly, I don’t have a brand preference here)
1/3 oz lemon juice
6 oz. ginger beer (see the Dark and Stormy linked above for your options)

I use rye for just about any whiskey-based cocktail, even if the recipe calls for bourbon or similar. I just like the way it mixes, it seems a little smoother and a better neighbor for the other ingredients. The short teaspoon of Amaretto doesn’t seem like enough to make a difference, but it adds a nutty sweetness that is right at home with the ginger beer. The lemon juice kind of opens and brightens up the drink (yes, I have unintentionally made this without lemon juice or Amaretto, so I know whereof I speak). I’ve tried it with lime juice, and it just doesn’t work as well – for some reason, lime juice works with tequila or rum based ginger beer cocktails, but not this one.

Anyhoo, this is a highball, so grab a big enough glass, pour the ingredients over ice, and you’re done.

Pictured: the only calvado image that this site could afford

During our discussion of sippin’ likker, KSuellington recommended Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy) in the comments. Holy crap, is that good stuff. I grabbed a bottle of Busnel Vieille Reserve VSOP and have been working it ever since. Good cognac is very nice, but its not on my short rotation (partly, admittedly, due to cost), but I find cognac to be a little thin and “hot” unless you spend truly impressive amounts on an XO. This Calvados stuff, though – nice body, just the right alcohol heat, and a deep complicated apple/pear thing going on. If I lived in Normandy, my liver probably would have exploded by now.

Which raises another issue: glassware.

Generally, I am fairly indifferent to the glass used for a particular drink. As long as its pretty much the right size, I’m good. I do have Scotch glasses (umm, actually, three different kinds, but two were gifts, OK?), and I do think Scotch is better out of purpose-built glasses than a plain rocks glass. I actually use a Scotch glass for most anything I drink neat. But brandy (and this proved to be true with Calvados) is notably better out of a proper snifter. Can’t explain it – when I tried the Calvados the first time, I used one of my Scotch glasses – very nice. Next time, I used the brandy snifter, and it just opened up and became a very close friend. Plus, for the true plutocrat fashion statement, nothing pairs with a tophat and monocle better than a brandy snifter.

Spot the Not: Sonia Sotomayor

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden escort Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the East Room of the White House where the President will introduce her as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David, May 26, 2009. Vice President Joe Biden looks on at left. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)<br /> This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor

1. Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging

2. The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.

3. I have a very close relationship with my sister. My sister is a precious jewel.

4. I had no need to apologize that the look-wider, search-more affirmative action that Princeton and Yale practiced had opened doors for me.

5. My diabetes is such a central part of my life… it did teach me discipline… it also taught me about moderation.

6. I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am Puerto Rican, born and raised in the south Bronx. My test scores were not comparable to my colleagues at Princeton and Yale.