Cocktail Party: Irish Coffee


So we’re onto our last cocktail of the night, and everybody who is still conscious has agreed that it will be much easier to just stay up. Besides, it’s only three hours until they can go and get pancakes for breakfast! Everyone’s getting sleepy though, so it’s time for some caffeine. Alcoholic caffeine.

Fact: Anything can be improved by adding copious amounts of alcohol and cream. For example – steak, pain medication, tax time.

Between 1939 and 1945 many Americans flew to Ireland in a Pan Am Flying Boat. This extraordinary sounding aircraft was actually just a seaplane that contained a hull. Why not make a few extra bucks by storing passengers there?

The planes would land in Foynes, Limerick after what I imagine would be a gruelling eighteen hour flight. After landing, the passengers would be shuttled by boat to the terminal. On cold days, the passengers would often be chilled and miserable after the ride. As such, they greatly appreciated a cup of hot coffee or tea upon arrival at the terminal.

The Irish have taken whiskey in their tea for many centuries and this gave the chef at the airport restaurant an idea. He thought he would provide the freezing passengers with a little Irish hospitality with an American twist. He knew of their partiality to coffee with cream, so he added some whisky to the cups. One of the pleasantly surprised passengers asked “Is this Brazilian coffee?”, “No” replied the chef, “That’s Irish coffee.” And thus the original Irish Coffee recipe, as well as another excuse to drink, was born.

Ten years later, the owner of a San Franciscan restaurant decided to recreate the alcohol laced coffee that a friend had tasted in Ireland.They thought it would be a simple process, but after many experiments using a variety of whiskey they weren’t satisfied. It didn’t taste the same and the cream always sank to the bottom.

Being persistent, the pair travelled to the Limerick to sample the original. When they returned, it was decided that only high quality Irish whiskey could provide the proper taste. Furthermore, the cream had to be slightly aged and lightly whipped. Voilà, Irish Coffee crosses the Atlantic and began to grow in popularity throughout the United States and the world.

Now, in case you have the uncontrollable urge to get boozed up over your morning/afternoon/evening coffee, here’s a recipe!

Ingredients:

40ml Irish Whiskey
80ml Hot Coffee
30ml Cream, whipped
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Method

Heat the coffee, whiskey and sugar on a medium heat. Do not boil. Pour into a glass and top with cream. Serve hot.

Now, I realise that I began this post by saying that this was the last cocktail of the night. However, I never said that we wouldn’t be indulging in one in the morning. I wonder what it will be?

Check back tomorrow to find out what delightful concoction we’ll be finishing our cocktail party with!

Cocktail Party: The Mint Julep


Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

Greetings! Welcome back to Delicious History. After a few minor technical setbacks I’m here to give you all the historical goss on the lovely and refreshing Mint Julep.

So, we’re onto cocktail number five. At this point of the evening the heavy weights are attempting to chat up a hottie/anyone in the corner so they don’t have to take the train home. Meanwhile, the light weights are lying outside on the grass crying down the phone to their mums, apologising for all the horrible things they have done in their lives. This is something I have seriously done – just replace ‘grass’ with ‘driveway’ and ‘phone’ with ‘parents standing on the front porch hanging their heads in shame’.

Tegan’s Tip – Never let a seventeen year work colleague serve you ten wines in an hour at a Christmas party. On a Monday night. In February.

I need these glasses in my life

The mint julep is predominantly famous for being the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. The popularity of the drink at the racetrack began in 1938 when it became the official cocktail of the Derby. Back in those days, the drink set the fans back a cool 75c. Today, a mint julep in a collectors glass starts at $1000.

Seventy five of these commemorative glasses were made earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Derby. Sixty Five were made from pewter and were hand engraved with a racing scene. They also came with a sterling silver drinking straw. You think that sounds impressive? Oh no, those were only the thousand dollar plebeian glasses that had been fashioned for the peasants.

Ten of the glasses were made entirely from sterling silver, plated in 24 karat gold and featured a diamond horseshoe with 43 diamonds totaling approximately one carat. Furthermore, a jeweler selected and set each diamond by hand.

Just, damn.

The origin of the Julep goes back much further than the Derby though. In fact, it doesn’t even begin in the USA. Centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab,  which was made with water and rose petals. The beverage had a delicate and refreshing scent that people thought would instantly enhance their quality of life. When the julab was introduced to the Mediterranean region, the native population replaced the rose petals with mint, a plant indigenous to the area.

The mint julep, as it was now called, grew in popularity throughout Europe, particularly in agriculture regions. This also happened when it was introduced to the USA. Americans also enjoyed juleps made with genever, an aged gin, during the nineteenth century. However bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed gin-based ones in recent years.

The julep was originally a morning drink – a spirited equivalent to coffee. Apparently,  one sip enabled farmers and workmen alike to face the day. I must say that I adore how many of cocktails have been used for medicinal purposes or as an excuse to drink in the morning. It would be great to walk into work and buy a $4 cocktail off my coffee guy. “Hmm one Julep and a croissant thanks, Emilio. No, I’ll definitely go the large. It’s feeling like a double shot day.”

With that steady slide into alcoholism, let’s get to the recipe!

Ingredients

90ml Bourbon Whisky
4 – 6 sprigs Mint Leaves
Granulated Sugar, to taste

Method

Place mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon into the bottom of a mixing glass. Gently muddle and then let it stand for a couple of minutes to allow the mint flavour to be released. Strain and pour into a julep cup (A glass with a pewter base. Or silver if you’re a rich bastard), rotating to coat the sides. Fill with ice and then add the remaining whisky. Garnish with a small mint sprig.

Fun Fact – Mint juleps are traditionally served in pewter based glasses and held by the handle or rim in order to maintain optimum frost.

Tomorrow – A Dessert Cocktail!

The Tale of the Oldest Surviving Whiskey


Happy Monday everybody!

I thought it would be quite fun to kick off the week with some alcohol! Isn’t that how everybody starts their Monday mornings? I kid, I kid. I am of course referring to an alcohol related topic and definitely not the hip flask I keep in my office desk.

Today we’re delving into the discovery of the oldest surviving whiskey to date. It’s really quite fascinating and I expect it will hold the interest of all of you booze hounds who are only here because of the ‘whiskey’ subject tag.

Our tale starts in 1907 with the Nimrod expedition to Antarctica by well renowned and respected explorer Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was a principal figure in what is quite grandly referred to as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He was considered to be a hero by his contemporaries and was appointed as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by King Edward VII. On a darker note, he also became increasingly well known for his alcoholism, particularly during World War I.

Shackleton clearly qualifies for the Historical Hotties list I run on Twitter and Pinterest

This was not Shackleton’s first time to the Antarctic. He was an experienced explorer and as such, knew the important provisions that were needed. Some of these included pickled herrings, mulligatawny soup, gooseberry jam, and marmalade. My mother always told me never to travel without a spare change of underwear and a large jar of gooseberry jam.

We have missed one provision though. Most importantly of all, Shackleton and his men required an impressive 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whiskey for those cold and lonely nights in the Antarctic. Furthermore, he ordered them with commemorative labels that were custom made for his expedition. Shackleton clearly knew how to party.

The exploration team spent two years in the Antarctic and managed to get as close to the south pole as any explorer had up until that point in time. However, despite this great feat, it seems that the men were absolute light weights because they left five crates of alcohol behind. For shame!

Shackleton’s whisky was forgotten until 2006, when conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Foundation found the five lost crates beneath Shackleton’s hut. Conservators spent a gruelling three years chipping away at a century of ice before they successfully rescued three of the crates.

The whiskey was subjected to a wide array of tests by chemists at Whyte & Mackay’s Invergordon distillery, with input from analysts at the Scotch Whiskey Research Institute in Edinburgh. Under sterile conditions, a sampling needle was passed through the cork of each bottle to remove a 100ml sample. Analysis revealed, amongst many other things, that the whisky was incredibly well-preserved and that the alcohol content stood at 47.3% – high enough to stop it from freezing. Another fascinating revelation was that the whisky was made with water from Loch Ness and peat from the Orkney Isles.

One of Shackleton’s original bottles – Only a select few have tasted the 116 year old whiskey, all in the name of science. And probably for the bragging rights.

I hope you didn’t think that was the end of the tale, because the plot thickens! Whyte and Mackay had an ulterior motive for having the whisky tested. Not only were they interested in the history of whisky making, they had every intention of attempting to remake the whisky for the modern-day market!

From the test results, master distiller, Richard Paterson managed to blend a number of concoctions similar to Shackleton’s whiskey. The final blend was then subjected to the same analysis as the original whiskey to check for authenticity.

The successful remake is now available in stores under the name ‘Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whiskey.’ If you were thinking of tracking down some of these bad boys you will want to have a delicate palate and a healthy bank account because it’s going to set you back AU$199.99. Per bottle.

As a final note of interest – The bottles that travelled to Scotland for analysis will soon be returned to Shackleton’s hut for conservation purposes. For those who were paying close attention, you may have noticed that I only mentioned three of the five crates being recused from the Antarctic ice. Fortunately for us, the other two weren’t damaged or lost, they are still buried beneath in the ice. The label on these crates state that they are brandy, and they are yet to be analysed. Watch this space for further updates.