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I like cold beverages

by on July 17, 2011

I cannot lie,  I like my cocktails.  A strong spirit and a tasty mixer, and I’m a happy girl.  The current martini trend and I are besties.  I also enjoy a solo spirit – vodka or tequila on the rocks, both preferably with a little lime.  Limoncello over ice sipped slowly = happiness.  This summer has been noteworthy for two extraordinary cocktail experiences.

Before we begin, may I recommend a little musical accompaniment to your reading enjoyment (open in a new window).

The first was a visit to the oh-so-cool Manifesto cocktail bar, a speakeasy ensconced in The Rieger Hotel, a 95-year old hotel in Kansas City’s Crossroads Art District.  The hotel now operates as a restaurant and features an interesting menu I’m eager to sample.  But, on this visit, we didn’t even darken the restaurant’s front door.  No, we wandered around back to the dimly lit alley, climbed up on the loading dock and knocked on the sign-less door.  We were admitted and directed down a narrow black staircase to an underground den.  We found seats at one of a dozen small tables and were greeted by a perfectly styled cocktail waitress who explained the joint:  there’s a small menu of about 30 “liberated” cocktails, organized by spirit and labeled as shaken or stirred.  No beer or wine are served.  If they’ll make other cocktails, they don’t advertise it.  The menu features intriguing names like “Winter in Buenos Aires”, “Jackson Co. Democratic Club Cocktail”, “Jalisco Spice Trade” and many others.  It’s fascinating to peruse the menu and wonder aloud about the various merits of Bonded Applejack Brandy, St-Germain Elderflower, Lemon, Housemade Grenadine and Absinthe combined into a cocktail.  This notable delight was dubbed the Springsville and it was remarkable.

I don’t normally enjoy Absinthe, nor licorice-flavor of any kind, but this was revelatory.  The flavor of the drink was slightly sweet, mostly sour, deliciously icy and at the end, seemingly long after the initial flavors had faded away, the gentle spiciness of the Absinthe perfumed my mouth and opened my eyes.  I took sip after sip and this wasn’t even my drink.

Another drink of Brian’s that I happily stole sips from was the Smokin’ Choke, an exciting twist on the classic Manhattan:  Applewood Smoked Four Roses Whiskey, Cynar, Maple Syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters.  The flavor was intense, but what really struck me about this drink in particular and Manifesto in general, was the ice.  Yes, the ice.  And not just the ice in this drink, but the ice used in all the cocktails.  The perfectly chipped ice in the Springsville.  The single block ice cube crafted to fit the shape and size of the double old-fashioned glass in which the Smokin’ Choke was served.

I’m big on ice.   I like a lot of it in any beverage.  And the ratio of ice to drink is crucial:  too little ice and you’re looking at a cocktail that will deteriorate by the minute into watered down spirits and tepid mediocrity.  Too much ice and well, really, there’s really no such thing in my book.  Just so long as the glass is big enough.  Their truly masterful use of ice and fascinating flavor combinations put Manifesto over the top for me.

The second cocktail experience of note in the summer of 2011 was the Candied Bacon Martini, crafted (but not created) by yours truly in honor of Shelly’s Biggest Bacon Birthday.

The candied bacon was a huge hit.  I made several (very small) test batches in the week leading up to the party, since I thought that with something as crucial and potentially life-changing as candied bacon being served at a event thusly named, it would be worth my while to perfect the recipe.  I tried different kinds of sugar, different flavors of bacon, varying oven temperatures and baking times and found the best combination to achieve ultimate candied bacon satisfaction.  The cocktail was vodka, Applejack brandy, amaretto and maple syrup, combined in a 3:2:1:1 ratio.  A thin slice of green apple on the rim and the candied bacon draped unceremoniously across the top.  The combination of flavors and textures rocked my socks.  Sweet.  Icy.  Salt.  Bacon.  Caramel.  Maple.  Chewy.  Crunchy.  Bacon.  Apple.  Bacon.  Bacon.  Bacon.  (Silently mouths) Bacon.

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