Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Back of the Liquor Cabinet: Consuming the Shame
In an effort to broaden my alcoholic horizons, or at least clear some shelf space, over the next couple of weeks I'm going to revisit some of these spirits and see if they can contribute to respectable cocktails. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. But first, I'll provide a roll call of my ignominious libations.
On the left in the picture we have Whaler's Vanille rum. This was a college favorite (I graduated seven years ago) featuring two attractive qualities. First, it mixed well with cream soda for an easy cocktail. And second, it was (and I assume still is) cheap. Very cheap. A quick swig reveals the quality, which is low, and the sweetness, which is high.
Next we have celery bitters. It was a recent gift. I want to like it. I've read good things. But alas, everything I've tried it in ends up tasting like a Bloody Mary. I've tried it with a savory Pimm's concoction as well as a couple of other ruined drinks. I'm not giving up yet, though the early returns discourage.
Third is Ginja, which was everywhere in Portugal. Along with some port, I brought a bottle back when I visited a couple of years ago. It's super sweet, and is usually imbibed via shots. I've seen nary a word on the internets on how to employ Ginja for cocktails so my expectations are low, but at the very least my liquor cabinet will contain a nice reminder of my honeymoon.
Next is Amarula, "the Spirit of Africa", which I acquired from a former roommate. It taste like a banana crossed with a creamsicle. Pretty much every cocktail using Amarula that I've run across online looks more like a milkshake than a traditional cocktail. I tend to go more savory than sweet, so this could prove challenging.
The back row starts with some generic triple sec, which may date back to college , no doubt used for cosmos or some such tomfoolery. There is nothing wrong with triple sec per se, I'm just not sure why you would use it over orange curacao or Cointreau. It shouldn't be hard to use, just a slightly lower quality orrage liqueur than I typically go with.
Next is dark green creme de menthe. It taste much like mouthwash (and is probably similar in content). I used it in college to make what turned out to be a variant on the Grasshopper. I tend to avoid drinks like that now, but maybe I'm just getting snobby and should get over myself. Or not.
Finally, we have the Captain. Oh Captain. Partly due to its size and partly because it undermines the credibility of my respectable addiction, I have banished the Captain to my basement. My first thought now is shame. Next come rationalization - that I purchased it years ago for I think what turned out to be a sparsely attended party, but that my tastes have matured. Last is nostalgia. Captain evokes the days when booze was the vehicle to drunkenness, which in turn elicited adventure and debauchery. Although I still get tipsy from time to time, my friends and I are a more staid group now, for better or worse. For the most part, we have polite, if not intelligent, conversation over a few drinks and turn in before the clock strikes midnight. Captain returns me to a time when 1 AM was when the night started to get interesting. I'm not sure whether to be depressed or uplifted by this trend in my libations and nightlife. At any rate, I'm don't know if Captain Morgan can make for a high quality cocktail but I'll try working it into some tiki varietal no doubt.