Friday, December 22, 2006

The St. Dominic's Preview

The Gumbo Pages is a site "dedicated to the preservation of new orleans culture." It's put together by Chuck Taggart, an ex-pat New Orleanian living in L.A. Not only is Chuck the man behind a great box set of New Orleans music, Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens,
he's also quite knowledgeable in the area of booze. Here's one of Chuck's originals, The St. Dominic's Preview. He based it on a cocktail called The Preview. The story, according to Chuck's source, is that The Preview was Peter Lawford's favorite drink. I have no idea whether this is true. Those Rat Packers sho'nuff did love the booze though so who knows. I haven't tried The Preview yet but Chuck's take on it is terrific.

St. Dominic's Preview

2 ounces Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
2 dashes orange bitters
Few dashes Herbsaint, Pernod or other pastis
Orange peel

Shake a few dashes of pastis into a rocks (Old Fashioned / whiskey) glass, then swirl around to coat. Pour most of it out, leaving a little puddle of it in the bottom of the glass. Combine the whiskey, liqueur and bitters in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice, stir for no less than 30 seconds and strain into the coated glass. Twist the peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.

There aren't many cocktails using Irish whiskey but this is a very fine example. I had the Tullamore Dew on hand so I used it but I'm sure the drink would be just as good with Jameson's, Bushmill's, Tullamore Dew or John Powers. I didn't have an orange, though, so a lemon twist had to do. Fortunately it made for a reasonable substitute.

Another substitution was made possible by my pal Desmond who provided a bottle of La Fée Bohemian Absinth* for us to experiment with. It worked exceptionally well in its role in the St. Dominic's Preview. I wouldn't say that it was a huge improvement over what my $17 bottle of Herbsaint would have provided in its place but used in this way it was excellent. It's amazing, really, just how little absinthe or pastis is needed to be noticeable.

So how is the La Fée on its own? Um, hmmm, I'm not sure. I tried it straight and with water and found it "interesting". I certainly didn't love it but I guess I can't do much more than damn it with faint praise. This particular style is glass cleaner-blue and 140 proof. The color is disconcerting but the high proof is probably the main reason for my difficulty. To my surprise I didn't find the alcohol to be too much but the flavors were very strong. Adding water really opened it up. It was simply too concentrated at 140. I'm very interested in trying other absinthes, particularly the absinthes made by Ted Breaux of Jade Liquors.

Here's the recipe for The Preview if you'd like to give it a try:
The Preview

1-1/2 ounces gin.
1 ounce Cointreau.
1/4 teaspoon of Ricard, Pernod or Herbsaint.

Pour the Ricard (or Pernod or Herbsaint) into a chilled cocktail glass and swirl to coat the inside of the glass; shake out the excess. Place the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice, shake and serve straight up in the coated glass, garnished with a long, curly twist of orange peel.

Merry Christmas everybody!

* There's no "e" in "absinthe" in the Czech Republic.

From the La Fée website:
La Fée Bohemian Absinth re-creates the traditional Bohemian drink that was produced in the 1920s, with subtle herbal undertones of fennel, mint and rather less aniseed than that absinthe produced in France at the end of the 19th Century. Bohemian tastes have always meant that less anise is used in the drink's production, and explains why Bohemian Absinth does not turn milky ('louche') when water is added.

Whereas the heavy aniseed flavour of La Fée Parisian Absinthe is often not suitable for use in cocktails, La Fée Bohemian Absinth has a refined subtlety, whose distinctive flavour is a mixologists dream.

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At December 30, 2006 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't found too many absinthe cocktails that I've enjoyed. Usually the Absinthe overwhelms the rest.

However, looking through "The Art of the Bar" for a drink I could make without first undertaking kitchen chores, I ran across "Le Demon Vert". 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz absinthe, 1/2 oz Falernum, 1/2 oz lime juice.

It's kind of like an Absinthe based Last Word. Quite pleasant.


At January 02, 2007 6:56 PM, Blogger Kurt said...

Hey, Erik, great to see you here. I have a bottle of the Taylor Velvet Falernum but I'm not a big fan of it. I found the Corn 'n' Oil to be a disgusting, sticky waste of rum. I vaguely recall having mixed up something else too but I didn't care for that either and the Falernum's been in my Cupboard of Misfit Booze ever since. I still have the absinthe, though, so maybe I'll give this one a shot. I do like the Last Word and I don't believe you've ever steered me wrong. Cheers!

At January 03, 2007 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers, Kurt, let me know what you think. You'll probably have to call it, "le demon bleu" in your case!

I don't have anything against falernum, vaguely clove and lime flavored sugar syrup. I have to admit, though, that I've never tried a corn and oil. Equal parts falernum and rum just seemed too sweet.

There's a version on Cocktail Chronicles that at least calls for some lime:


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