Hooray! It's Mixology Monday!
Well, as we write this it's Monday in Iceland already, anyhow, and that's good enough for us. Great drinks are already coming in so chill those glasses and get ready to enjoy a couple more rounds than usual!
As we said in our invitation this time:
This month’s topic is near and dear to our hearts as it is our favorite type of lower-proof cocktails: shims! These drinks contain no more than half an ounce of strong spirits (i.e. those containing 40% ABV or above).
Heavy-hitters are fun to drink, sure, but it’s way too easy to over-consume and under-enjoy when you’re playing hardball. Let’s stretch out our evenings and get to sample a bigger variety by lowering the proof without lowering our standards. Shims don’t require giving up on flavor, complexity, or—interestingly enough—even your favorite ingredients. Get a new understanding of your favorite high-proof spirit by using just a half or quarter ounce of it along with a milder leading player. Or take a low-proof character actor that usually supplements the main show and see if it can take the lead.
This is a chance to get back in touch with the full spectrum of drink strength which defined mixed drinks in their first century or so. There’s a reason the Sherry Cobbler was insanely popular, dear friends. Or you can take this opportunity to invent new drinks in the latest style. Low-alcohol cocktails, particularly in restaurants, are still beginning their popularity climb this century. By their nature, lower alcohol drinks, especially those using wine-based main ingredients, are great choices for food pairings. If you’ve got the perfect accompaniment for your chosen cocktail, please share that with us too!
One last tip, while we’re on the topic of eating: when it comes to drinking at those big holiday gatherings through the rest of the year, keep this month’s MxMo results bookmarked as your secret to harmonious parties. We can’t guarantee that no one will knock heads in political arguments or revive old feuds, but we can say that just a little less booze could make for a lot less drama.
Everyone has risen to the challenge and deliciousness is the result. Here's what we've got so far...
First in the door was one of those wonderful shims that defies expectations. It is not in any way a delicate blushing flower, fit only for maiden aunts. Unless, perhaps, your aunt is a hockey goalie, in which case, this should keep her happy. Chris and Julia of A Bar Above bring us The Black Pear Shim, featuring the mighty Riga Balsam.
Next we get two for one from Christa and Shaun, the Booze Nerds. They created one for a chilly winter evening, the perfectly named Chalet, and another that wouldn't be out of place at a summer garden party, the Golden Bough. Very tasty sounding pair of drinks and demonstrated in beautiful glassware!
Next up, the Griotte Shim from Brenda Sharpe of 4:00 DCT (Delicious Cocktail Time). This is a simple but fantastic-looking drink which, if you can find some sour cherry juice before the rest of us cocktail nerds clean out your local middle eastern grocery store, will make holiday hosting a breeze.
Stacy Markow has the Noilly Cassis Shim for us, along with a few notes on a TEXSOM session on vermouths and aromatized wines. We firmly agree, Stacy; vermouth is also seriously delicious all by itself.
Speaking of the pleasures of vermouth, Swizzzlestick brings the literary history to the party with the Vermouth Panaché, a satisfying drink described by none other than Ernest Hemingway.
In another perfect thematic transition, from one tropical treasure to another, here's Doc Elliott's Apothecary with his Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim. That'll cure what ails us, for sure, Doc!
Getting back to the roots of MxMo and cocktails in a single post, cocktail virgin slut bring us the pure delight of the Vermouth Cocktail. Especially nice tasting notes on this one. Here's to many more drinks together, friends!
And now, with our contribution of the Pedro's Picnic, we're all caught up.
Much more to come tomorrow, as MxMo XCI continues!
Karen from Ginhound is here to help rouse us with her ToniCoffee Punch. If the espresso doesn't wake you up, the aquavit will. ;)
Now we're warming up. Here's Amanda at Mandible with a great holiday pleaser, the Spiced Apple Shim. Ginger and cinnamon plus apples equals yummy.
The Escarpment Spritzer from Whitney at Tipicular Fixin's is a great reminder of how incredibly well-suited low-proof drinks are for anyone exploring delicate flavors. Dialing down the alcohol a little is a great fit for showing off garden to glass skills. Thank you, Whitney, for the reminder to tune into terroir, wherever you are.
One other drink style note about the Escarpment Spritzer; when serving, you can use familiar shims as a bridge to newer creations. For example, many guests have at some point tried the Bellini, which uses peach puree and sparkling wine. When they know they've had something they liked that is in the same family as the unfamiliar drink you're offering, it can make them more ready to make the leap.
Who's that at the door? Why it's Dagreb from Nihil Utopia, and what's that we're being offered? A Trocadero? Why don't mind if we do! As we enjoy another classic vermouth cocktail, the point may begin to come home to you that those folks a century ago and more were extremely fond of vermouth cocktails. Yes, it's very like others we've discussed but it is not the same; any more than a Fourth Regiment is just a Manhattan with some extra kinds of bitters.
Lining himself up with the biggest challenge, Michael of DrinksBurgh set out to make a tiki shim. My friend, you're right; there are virtually no low-proof exotics. The one in The Art of the Shim—the Snow White—was found only through the purest luck, in a promo recipe booklet from 1965 that showed up tucked in a book we bought on eBay. Even the great Martin Cate couldn't come up with another for me, so Michael, fellow windmill tilter, I salute you! Your drink, the Ruby Yacht, is a fine shipshape vessel. (Depending on the peach brandy, this could end up just a hair on the robust side of the strictest of shims, but when it comes to tiki, this counts as a very low-proof drink indeed.)
After reading Joel of Southern Ash's contribution to the festivities, I'm feeling very appetized. Some Sangria and spicy shredded pork tacos? ¡Si! Good illustration with your quarter ounce each of Cointreau and gin of how you can make shims and still bring in those high-proof ingredient flavors.
Here's Alexander from Feel Like Making Shrub with the perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner, The Owl Creek. It's exactly what one wants in a shim, "a festive, ruby colored kick in the trousers; just assertive enough to goose you a touch, but not enough to knock you onto the rumpus room floor".
Standing ovation to Laura of Sass & Gin for putting her MxMo concoction together in a hotel room. That is dedication, people! Laura, we raise our glasses to you! And how frustrating it is not to be able to have you fill our glasses with your Beg, Borrow & Steal. Great idea having that half ounce of tequila offset the fruit flavors and provide a little backbone for the drink.
We end the night with Arcane Potions, courtesy of Marius. His Shim of Floral Nimbus wins best garnish and carries us away on a scented cloud of fruit and flowers. Sweet dreams, everyone!
Miss out on Monday? Not to worry. We'll be posting late arrivals in the morning (Pacific Time), Tuesday November 18th, and again on November 23rd and 30th.
But wait! At 11:59pm, overcoming technical hurdles, Tartines to Tikis is in on time with a little historical research and two variations on Craig Lane's Rhum Dandy Shim, the Rye Dandy Shim and the Rye Dandy Shim II. These just shot to the top of my (Dinah's) 'try next' cocktail list; the II, with its quinquina, is especially likely to become a favorite.
The II is just over the line from a shim, with the Cointreau bringing in an extra quarter ounce of high-proof, but still comfortably in the realm of low alcohol cocktails. I'd classify it as fitting with the 'inverted' category, still lower in proof than the 'fifty-fifty' category which for me loosely defines the bottom of the regular proof realm. It occurs to me that I may not have written about these before, so let me note my groupings here:
- Regular proof and above cocktails: contain over 1.25 oz of 40%+ ABV ingredient(s)
- 'Inverted' cocktails (low proof): contain .75-1.25 oz of 40%+ ABV ingredient(s)
- 'Shim' cocktails (low proof): contain .5 oz or less of 40%+ ABV ingredient(s)
- 'All Low' cocktails (a subcategory of shims; low proof): contain no 40%+ ABV ingredient(s)
- 'Mocktails' (no proof): contain no alcohol.
(I also think there is a 'High Proof' category above regular, but haven't decided where to draw that line. 3.5 oz or more of 40%+ ABV? In other words, more than twice a regular drink?)
Here's one more shim, in the works from soon after the announcement and now, true to its source, fine-tuned for our enjoyment, from Rejiggered it's the Orion's Fizz. Pairing blood orange and port to dramatic effect, that's a very pretty drink!