Friday, February 8, 2013

Mixing with Malört!

So, as I've begun to mess around with cocktails, I've found that my affinity for German beer and my general approach to brewing have influenced how I approach cocktails. I mention German beer because I've found I'm most interested in pre-prohibition cocktails, and like German beer, these cocktails tend to rely more on classic ingredients rather than exotic ones. And, like the manner in which I've approached brewing, I want to get a handle on how these classic ingredients work before I start messing around with exotic ingredients and recipes.

All that being said, I've found that there are a few basic formulas that most classic cocktails fall into, and you can mix and match base liquors, sweet ingredients, sour ingredients, etc., to come up with new recipes. Now I have a thing for Malört, but as a bitter "digestif apertif" it's not exactly something that falls into an often-used cocktail category. However, a friend recently gave me some Cynar and I found it to actually be more abrasive than Malört (possibly because I hate artichokes and Cynar is made from artichokes). Then I learned that Campari is similar to Cynar. So this opened up a whole world of cocktails where I could potentially use Malört.

Anyway, that preamble is way longer than necessary to get to the two Malört cocktails I came up with tonight. The first I'm calling the Spindle (after the Berwyn, IL sculpture that's pictured to the left) and it's based on the Little Italy cocktail, which is itself appears to be a variation on the Manhattan. I was actually shocked by how good it is; it has a slightly bitter finish that distinguishes itself from the sweet finish of the Manhattan. Here it is:

2 oz. bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. Malört
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a martini glass.

The next recipe I tried was inspired by the margarita, oddly enough. My preferred margarita recipe is 2.5 oz. tequila, 1.5 oz. orange liqueur, and 1 oz. lime juice. While Malört isn't exactly the same as lime juice, I thought the bitterness would work well with the orange flavor, so I came up with this, which I'm calling the Face-Eater (hat tip to Florida, which came to mind since when you think oranges you think Florida, and when you think Florida you think crazy guy eating somebody else's face):

2 oz. rye (I used Rittenhouse)
1 oz. Malört
1 oz. orange liqueur (I used O3)

Serve on the rocks.

It's a bit syrupy, and I find that O3 (which I decided to give a shot because it was on sale) is sweeter than most orange liqueurs so I'd dial it down to 3/4 oz., but overall I like the flavor combination. The orange with the Malört gives a pithy quality that I like.

So there you go. Two cocktails to make with Malört.

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