Friday, November 18, 2011

Welcome to the jungle

Born in the 1970s, I look back fondly at the '80s in many respects as they were some of the glory days of my from Guns n Roses, Van Halen, and Metallica, the rise of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, 'Da Coach' and the last (tears still flow) Bears Super Bowl championship in '85, and the simple, relatively carefree days of being a kid and teenager.  At the same time, reflecting on this decade in terms of its contributions to the world of mixology makes me...well, sad.  At my young age, I clearly didn't spend time pondering the cocktails of the time, but now that I have, I'm glad to say I feel I missed very little, if anything.  Nevertheless, enter this month's Mixology Monday theme of Retro Redemption by Jacob Grier over at  Liquidity Preference, and I was forced to dance with the devil.  As described by Jacob: 

Contemporary cocktail enthusiasts take pride in resurrecting forgotten cocktails of the past — unless “the past” refers to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. We sometimes refer to these decades as the Dark Ages of Mixology, eras not yet recovered from the violence Prohibition and a World War inflicted on American cocktail culture. The classic Martini, a flavorful blend of gin and vermouth, had morphed into a glass of cold, diluted vodka. Other drinks were just too sweet, too fruity, too big, too silly.  But still, it wasn’t all bad. People ordered these drinks for a reason. Despite the now annual “burial” of a disfavored drink at Tales of the Cocktail, not all of them deserve to die. Perhaps, as they said of the Six Million Dollar Man, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. So the theme of this month’s Mixology Monday is Retro Redemption! Your task is to revive a drink from mixology’s lost decades. Perhaps you feel one of these drinks has a bad rap; tell us why it deserves another shot. Or maybe the original concoction just needs a little help from contemporary ingredients and techniques to make it in the big leagues. If so, tell us how to update it... 

With so many terrible cocktails to choose from, I contemplated for quite some time before settling on a wildly popular '80s drink consumed by mass quantities and even bulk produced by TGI Friday's (just add ice and blend!?!)...the Mudslide.  This sickly sweet, viscous concoction often blended with or served over ice is reminiscent of many other crappy one dimensional drinks of the decade, and in pre-mixed-bottom-shelf-booze-bottled form is nothing short of an abomination.  The original (from scratch, that is) recipe for the Mudslide consists of equal parts vodka, coffee flavored liqueur, Irish cream liqueur, and sometimes an additional splash of cream.  Where is the balance here?  That is certainly rhetorical, as it is non-existent...and I have a hard time even characterizing it as a true cocktail. This was then, the perfect challenge.  

I started with the coffee liqueur component, and while I really, really wished I had something other than Kahlua, which in my opinion has too much added preference being perhaps Coffee Heering, Kona Gold, was all I had on my shelf.  Next, I thought an amaro would add a nice bitter layer and might help cut thru the richness of the sugar and dairy.  I went with Averna, a Sicilian amaro which in and of itself has a slight caramel sweetness, but subtle bite as well.  Next, while I considered making my own Irish cream, I wanted to avoid tying the whiskey component directly to the dairy, thus giving me more flexibility to mess around with the relative proportions here.  The classic, original Bushmills Irish whiskey was then the way to go.  A touch of cream, egg white for consistency, a finish with Bittermen's Xocolatl mole bitters, and this was the result...

The Filthy Irish

2 oz Bushmills Irish whiskey
1 oz Averna amaro  
1/2 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1/4 oz cream 
1 egg white 
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

Dry shake egg white alone (and I do mean some serious shaking needs to be done here as the fat in the cream will actually quash some of the airiness of the frothy whites), a good 1-2 minutes is best.  Add remaining ingredients and shake another 45 to 60 seconds with ice to chill.  Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and forget TGI Friday's. 

The Filthy Irish

In my opinion, this was indeed a rather decent cocktail.  Its flavor profile was reminiscent of its retro '80s relative, but it was much lighter with the Irish whiskey at the forefront, more complex with the addition of Averna and bitters, and overall, certainly more balanced than the aforementioned Mudslide.  Ideally, I'd love to give this a go with the other coffee liqueurs I mentioned above, perhaps stepping up the proportion by 1/4 oz or so to lend a bit more coffee flavor to the drink, but in a pinch, the toned down ratio of Kahlua cut down on the sweetness and worked pretty well.  And with that, a wrap on this month's Mixology Monday, thanks again to Jacob over at Liquidity Preference for the great theme and hosting...take a look at the MxMo Retro Redemption Roundup for all the great cocktail contributions this month. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice Mudslide remix! I'll have to give this one a try once I get my hands on some coffee liqueur.

    Speaking of which, Imbibe ran a recipe for homemade coffee cordial last month...I'll post it here once I dig it up. Might make a nice alternative to the Kahlua. I would have made some if I'd re-done the B-52 for MxMo.

    - Ian