Friday, June 27, 2014

Bucks, Mules, and Friends With Frankie Teardrop

If I wrote a shrub FAQ, the question that would probably find itself at the top of the list would be "Now that I have made shrub, what the hell do I do with it?"

Well, my go to is to make a temperance style highball with an ounce or more of shrub with a nice club soda or tonic water, and if we're getting really wild, maybe a dash or two of bitters. 

That said, if one is in the mood for something a little more festive, one could take a page from our colonial ancestors, and take the party in a more bibulous direction. Since we just learned how to make a batch of Frankie Teardrop, we now luckily have a shrub that works in a great number of my favorite drinks from one particular offshoot of the highball family of cocktails: bucks and mules.

At first glance, the two appear nearly identical. Take a base spirit, add ginger beer or ginger ale, some citrus and that's pretty much it. Where most people make the distinction is in whether it is the sweeter, more mellow ginger ale, or the often spicier, drier ginger beer. There are some great drinks that follow this formula, and although our shrub is neither ginger ale nor ginger beer, I don't believe in turning down the opportunity to make a tasty beverage on a technicality.

Frankie Teardrop bears a great resemblance to some of my favorite ginger ales and beers, specifically Blenheim Ginger Ale, which comes in an Extra Spicy version with a red cap. In a buck or mule, these more muscular ginger drinks keep the drink from lapsing into a syrupy mess that ends up doing your base spirit a great disservice, and that is why I urge you to try your hand at adapting this ginger shrub into some of my favorite cocktails that would normally utilize a ginger soda.

To that end, it might be easiest to pre-make some "ginger beer" to add to your cocktail by combining the sparkling water to shrub by a ratio of 3 or 4:1, and then add it as you would normally add ginger beer. There is one exception, where I think it is easiest to just add the shrub to the drink and then add the soda, but I will point that out when we get there. 

For those who prefer white spirits, there is the much beloved classic, The Moscow Mule, a very simple combination of ginger beer, lime juice, and vodka. Traditionally served in copper novelty mugs, I suggest putting them into any clean receptacle that will get the drink into your face in a quick and efficient manner.

Moscow Mule:
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. lime juice
4 oz ginger beer

Fill copper mug or highball glass with ice, add lime juice and vodka.

Top with ginger beer, stir gently. Garnish with lime wedge.

If you tend to lean more toward brown spirits, the ubiquitous Whiskey Ginger is even simpler, and maintains the easy drinking nature of the Moscow Mule, nixing the citrus, but bumping up the flavor in the spirits department. While I personally like Irish Whiskey in these, feel free to use Jack Daniels or George Dickel and the like if those are your druthers.

Whiskey Ginger
1.5 oz whiskey(I'm a Bushmills man, myself)
3.5 oz ginger beer

Fill highball glass with ice. Top with ginger beer, stir gently. Garnish with lime wedge.

Where rum and ginger beer are concerned, the Dark n' Stormy is king. With all due respect to his majesty, I am going to instead share with you a rum and ginger beer cocktail that is nowhere near as well known as that Caribbean Classic, but in my opinion is an unsung hero of the highball world.

I first heard of this upgraded version of the drink via Murray Stenson, Top Gentleman of all Time and Barman Extraordinaire, which I believe came from spirits writer Paul Clarke a few years back. When you first see its spartan, ungarnished presentation it looks quite simple. Humble, even. But brother, it doesn't taste it.

Originally found in the early Twentieth cocktail tome, Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em, the Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle was a bit like a Dark n' Stormy with Cuban Rum, which while likely a fine drink in and of itself does little to stir the jaded palates of today's tipplers. Clarke, in a stroke of brilliance, steamlined the original long drink into a spicy, efficient rip-snorter.

By using a ginger beer concentrate with a deep aged rum in equal parts and the addition of warm Angostura bitters, the spice and vanilla barrel notes have been tied together and only lightly kissed with effervescence; whereas the original Guzzle is a Sunday driver, this model is built for speed, turbocharged and ready for trouble.

Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle
from Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em/Stanley Clisby Arthur(barely adapted from an adaptation by Paul Clarke)

1.5 oz ginger beer concentrate(for our purposes use straight ginger shrub)
1.5 oz aged rum(I personally dig Bacardi 8 in this)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz soda water

Combine concentrate, rum, and bitters in ice filled shaker. Shake briefly and vigorously.

Strain into chilled, empty rocks glass. No garnish.

As we churn deeper into the heart of summer, there is a definite call for this kind of bracing refreshment as the mercury climbs and mouths become thirsty for relief. While ginger beer is a good and standard way to beat said heat, if you've got a batch of Frankie Teardrop lying around, I urge you give it a whirl in these cocktails instead of the old standby, and as always, please let me know if you have some favorable results.


No comments: