Tag Archives: Angostura bitters

IFC 2014 Debrief: Stress, Hospitality, and Why I Fix People Drinks

Recently Linz and I engaged in a spot of friendly family rivalry: IFC 2014, the second annual Bacher-Murray clan cooking competition. For the uninitiated, “IFC” stands for “Iron Fucking Chef,” because the Bachers and the Murrays are just that badass and also because they do not shy away from a healthy dose of profanity.

Delicious food was cooked and eaten by all eight of us, but food isn’t what we concern ourselves with on this blog, is it?

1964846_10202626828406875_323227882_nLinz and I cooked a Mediterranean/Mexican fusion falafel salad, and to fit that theme I tested and carefully selected a few “featured” cocktails to go with the meal: the Lion’s Tail, which you’ve already read about on this blog, an as-yet unnamed beverage incorporating citrus and pomegranate, and a non-alcoholic version of the same (basically a pomegranate lemonade). I chose these flavors for their respective ties to both Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.

I do like cooking. Not as much as Linz, but maybe I’m getting there. Cocktails have been kind of a “gateway drug” to cooking — in recent weeks I’ve started looking forward to getting home from work, having a shower, fixing myself a nice drink and attempting whatever awesome-sounding recipe Linz has pulled out of the internets.

So of course I like fixing drinks for myself. But I have just as much (or more) fun fixing them for other people. After the hurricane of throwing together an appetizer, a full meal-sized salad, a dessert, and three different cocktail choices between eight people in an hour or less, I can say with some certainty I don’t think I’d like being a bartender. But they also say we sometimes learn best when under stress.

I had fixed both the Lion’s Tail and the Bourbon Pom before, so I knew they’d hold up well — especially since their flavors are pretty apparent just looking at the ingredients, so it was easy for folks to choose something they’d enjoy.

On the other hand, the pomegranate lemonade was a new one for me, in that I had never fixed it before the last five minutes of our allotted cooking time. I didn’t know whether it would be heavy on the sours of the citrus or the bitters of the pomegranate; whether it would be too sugary or too watery.

I went into it pretty much blind, and I was pretty nervous about the results. But it went over well, and I’m glad I thought to provide the non-alcoholic option; it meant our diners could enjoy the same flavors present in the Bourbon Pom without the booze. Even if only one person selects that beverage (as was the case), it’s still worth the effort and whatever stressing out I might’ve done about it at the time.

(Later that weekend I fixed one for myself, and it is pretty tasty.)

So yeah, I like drinking in general. But the low-cost, high-return of mixing cocktails for our friends and family has become a rewarding hobby, and like cooking, it’s a skill I can apply to a lot of different contexts.

Without further ado, Andrew and Lindsay’s IFC 2014 Cocktail Menu:

The Lion’s Tail

2oz Buffalo Trace bourbon

1/2oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

1/2oz lime juice

1tsp simple syrup

1-3 dashes Angostura bitters

lime wheel/wedge

Shake all ingredients over ice; serve straight up or on the rocks in your glass of choice (I recommend a double Old Fashioned) and garnish with the lime.

Most recipes will tell you to strain this drink, but fruit juices produce a nice frothing effect when shaken that separates in the glass almost like a freshly-poured Guinness. The greater the quantity of fruit juice, the greater the effect; pour it right away before the drink settles out in the shaker. The end result is a smooth, creamy head over a spicy, boozy bourbon drink. Delish.


Next up: the Bourbon Pom, so named for the brand of pomegranate juice I found in our grocery store.

pom2oz Buffalo Trace

1.5oz pomegranate juice

1Tbsp Il Tramonto Limoncello

1Tbsp lemon juice

lemon twist

Shake all ingredients over ice; strain or pour straight up/on the rocks.  Again, to get that nice foam on top of your drink just pop the top off your shaker (right away!) and pour straight into your glass. Crack that lemon peel over the top to release some more of those lovely citrus oils.

Careful with your measurements on this drink — the first time I fixed it, I put in an OUNCE of limoncello instead of a tablespoon, and the result was waaay too sweet. Like, lemon-drop candy sweet.

And last but not least, the non-alcoholic pomegranate lemonade.

3/4 – 1 cup cold water

1/2 cup pomegranate juice

1.5Tbsp lemon juice

1.5Tbsp simple syrup

lemon wheel/wedge

Combine in a tall glass, throw in a few ice cubes, and stir — carefully! Your average pint glass is full to the brim with these quantities, so either scale it down or be sure to put it in something a little more spacious. Again, garnish with your slice of citrus.

Lion’s Tail/Batman #28

batman28_cvrMmmm… That new-comic smell.

And it was a good comic, too! I’ve been less-than-thrilled with the Zero Year stuff I’ve been getting in the mail lately, so this one was a most welcome change.

But first things first: the Lion’s Tail.

This is a drink my lady friend spotted on apracticalwedding.com. The spirit is bourbon, jazzed up with a little allspice dram, lime juice, simple syrup, and a dash of Angostura bitters. The bourbon comes on strong in the nose while the lime juice and allspice take over mid-to-late in the sip, with a sweet, spicy aftertaste. As Practical Wedding suggests, it’s a great winter cocktail but I think it would go nicely with Mexican or Caribbean dishes, too.

And what’s allspice dram you ask? It’s a liqueur of the allspice berry, of course! Fragrant, cinnamony and sweet, it pairs well with both bourbon and brandy. It can be used as a rinse for your glass if you’re looking to add something with aroma but not so much sweetness. Could be intriguing in a baking context, too — perhaps in place of vanilla or added to your favorite batch of cookies.

Added bonus: you don’t ever need much more than 1/4 or 1/2oz of this stuff because it’s so potent, so it’ll be a long-term resident of your cabinet.


2oz Maker’s Mark bourbon

1/2oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

1/2oz lime juice

1tsp simple syrup

1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all in a cocktail shaker (or a mason jar!) with ice and shake. Serve straight up or on the rocks with a wheel of lime.

Now, on to Batman Vol. 2 #28: “Gotham Eternal.” Spoilers!

So DC is working up to this big event called Batman Eternal in which Gotham City is apparently in ruins and stuck under martial law; issue 28 is our sneak peek. Batman has decided to rack up yet another count of endangering a minor, as he and his brand new sidekick Bluebird crash the “only nightclub left in New Gotham.”

The comic is a real clipper of a story — I loved every second and it was over way too soon (hopefully a good sign of things to come). Scott Snyder has been a terrific Bat-writer thus far, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Dustin Nguyen in the past, too (the “Heart of Hush” storyline in particular).

Now I promise I didn’t peek ahead and choose my cocktail accordingly, but… Catwoman is our antagonist du jour, and boy is she a sight for sore eyes after Zero Year’s entanglements with Doctor Death and (strong pull of your boozy beverage here) the fucking Riddler.

batman 28Bat vs. Cat in both verbal and actual sparring is a treat as usual. Catwoman’s all like “Bitch, you did NOT just bust up my ancient Egypt-themed nightclub palace” and Batman’s all like “PEOPLE ARE DYING.”

(The reader should always and without fail imagine Batman’s voice in the Christian Bale fashion.)

And then Catwoman’s all like “For serious, you fucked up my goon squad and you could’ve broken one of my priceless Egyptian cat-god statues,” and Batman’s like “PEOPLE ARE DYING. GIVE ME THE MACGUFFIN,” to which the perpetually-classy Selina Kyle quips, “You could’ve just asked nicely.”

OK, so this is a teensy bit of a misrepresentation of the actual dialogue. I won’t spoil what (or who?) this issue’s MacGuffin is, but I was underwhelmed compared to the other 20-odd pages of the comic.

Overall, Batman #28 was spicy and refreshing (gasp!) just like the lion’s tail. Bourbon has been a great place to get started in bartending; it’s versatile and doesn’t require much investment in other liquors to get you going — but sometimes it’s worth it. Case in point: allspice dram.