Saturday, January 24, 2015

cocktail review no. 78 - Aberfoyle

One of the things I picked up from my parents' house before I came down to Vegas was my old box of booze. During the first six months of 2008, when I lived in my folks' basement in Wyoming after graduating college and fruitlessly scoured cyberspace for journalism work, I took an interest in cocktails. My folks were wont to have a martini every night before dinner. Their liquor selection consisted solely of a fifth of Bombay Sapphire and some Martini & Rossi. After thumbing through The Bartender's Bible by Gary Regan (which to this day is my go-to guide on mixology), I found my parents' stocks to be inadequate. So over the course of six months I laded their liquor cabinet with rum (light and dark), tequila, vodka, bourbon, Scotch, rye, and every liqueur or cordial you could name. My folks, having no use for this stuff after I moved out, boxed it all up. I retrieved it from their new house in Sacramento last week and drove it, rattling and clinking, down Highway 95 to Las Vegas. The gin, tequila, and whiskies were long gone; only two bottles of hard liquor remain to my name, some Ugly Dog Vodka and Ugly Dog Rum. (My parents acquired it thanks to my grandparents, who had recently moved to Chelsea, Michigan, the home of the Ugly Dog Distillery.)

So here I am. It's the second Saturday I've been home. I had a few beers with my dad in San Francisco and some Kraken Black Spiced Rum at a dinner party with an old friend in Las Vegas proper...that's it. No cocktails. I was dying for a good belt of something. So I reached for The Bartender's Bible, flipped to the section on vodka, and what's the first drink I see?

This one:

  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Drambuie

Pour both ingredients into a rocks glass half-filled with ice cubes. Stir well. 

Let's get one thing straight: Drambuie. It's honeyed Scotch liqueur, in case you haven't read any of my other cocktail reviews. And I love it. It's one of my favorite liqueurs in the world...or it was, before some wingnut decided to change the recipe. The bottle now looks like this: 

In the good old days, though, it looked like this

Culturally South Korea is a little behind the U.S., and matters booze-related are no exception. As the bottles of Drambuie made to the old recipe vanished from American shelves, a few holdouts remained on South Korean ones, and that's where I found mine. I think the new Drambuie tastes like cough syrup. I even did a video taste-test to that effect. I don't know where it's gone, otherwise I'd post it for your edification. 

Anyway, if you're going to make the Aberfoyle or any other Drambuie highball, make sure you've got the old recipe in the old bottle, not the new one. Yuck. The original recipe is (always) better.

What does the Aberfoyle taste like? Shockingly good. Vodka being a necklace of negatives, it absorbs and accentuates flavors, and with Drambuie there's plenty to accentuate: malt whisky, honey, herbs, and spices. One of my other favorite highballs is the rusty nail, wherein the Scotch and Drambuie really play off of each other; but with the Aberfoyle, the vodka sits back and lets the Drambuie shine. Consider the Aberfoyle a milder version of the rusty nail, but be warned: it packs a punch. There are no mitigating factors here. This drink has only two ingredients, and both are alcoholic...and the highball itself goes down smooth as butter. Mind you don't overdo it. 

Until next time... 

a day in San Francisco

In case you didn't know, I'm back. Back in the U.S.A. Cue the music. 

I flew from Seoul (Incheon) to San Francisco on Wednesday, January 7. My flight departed at 8:15 in the morning, and arrived at 9:30 AM. Ain't that International Date Line wonderful?

My parents met me at the airport and we made a day of it in San Francisco. I didn't get too many pictures (blame the reverse culture shock), but we had lunch at the Old Clam House (est. 1861), saw the Golden Gate Bridge, rode the cable cars, checked out Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, and ate some lip-smackin' seafood. 

The sheaves (pronounced "shivs") upon which the cables were strung.

Alcatraz, as if you didn't know.

The view from the Chinatown Hilton at dawn. 
I spent a couple of days at my parents' place near Sacramento, and then I packed everything into my old Jeep and drove 589 miles south to Henderson, Nevada (just southeast of Las Vegas). Miss H and I were reunited after four long months, and to celebrate we went and cleaned out Wal-Mart's do-it-yourself furniture aisle. I've been job-hunting, assembling bookcases, job-hunting, making random runs to Target and Bed, Bath, & Beyond, job-hunting, eyeing all the marvelous BOOZE and BEER at Total Wine & More, job-hunting, learning how to drive again, job-hunting, going to the gym, job-hunting, writing, job-hunting, reading, and basically trying to stay productive and sane. And job-hunting. 

And mixing cocktails. Which leads me to my next post...