Happy Hour Quickie #4: Moscow Mule

This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour

This week’s Happy Hour Quickie© abides by 2 of our strict HHQ™ rules — it comes together quickly and is impossible to screw up.

But the third rule — that it require only easily available ingredients — is a slight stretch. You may have to visit a decent grocery or package store to provision one key ingredient.

A Measured Spirit cocktail recipe blog Craig Stoltz
To make a proper Measured Spirit Moscow Mule, you must use Fever Tree ginger beer. You must not use a large copper mug.

Happy Hour Quickie recipe: Moscow Mule

  • 2 oz vodka [1.5 oz for the more sessionable version — which is to say a drink of which you can have more than two without having to summon Lyft]
    • As with nearly all vodka drinks, brand just doesn’t matter. But Smirnoff’s is the original. Don’t use any of those high-priced Gray-vedere-roc-whatever brands. Total waste. 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
    • Most recipes call only for a lime wedge garnish.  I like the addition of citrus juice.  Eliminate it if you wish.
  • 4 oz [measured] Fever Tree Ginger Beer
    • Use only this product, which has a high-spice, make-your-lips-tingle buzz. Most easily available ginger beers [Barrett’s] are too wan to carry the drink.  

Squeeze the lime juice into an Collins glass, a double Old Fashioned, or a small copper mug. Add the vodka. Fill the vessel with cracked ice. Top with the Fever Tree.

Garnish with a slice of lime. Feeling rakish? Just toss the spent lime shell on top. Continue reading “Happy Hour Quickie #4: Moscow Mule”

Happy Hour Quickie #3: Daiquiri

This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour

This week’s Happy Hour Quickie — in addition to meeting the strict HHQ rules that the drink must be made from easily available ingredients, come together quickly, and be impossible to screw up — is a seasonal classic.

Happy Hour Quickie Daiquiri recipe

DaiquiriThis week I offer my favorite version, an evolved/stolen/tweaked Daiquiri that meets my preference for tart over sweet:

  • 1.5 oz white rum
    • Mid-shelf, ol-dependable, easy-on-the-wallet Bacardi works just fine
  • 1 oz lime juice
    • Fresh-squoze only — you knew that
  • .75 simple syrup
    • 1 oz for the more common, sweeter, arguably more balanced version

Shake and strain into a Martini glass or coupe [stronger], or over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass or, with cubes, into a Collins glass [more “sessionable“].

The drink can go naked or wear a lime wheel on the rim. Continue reading “Happy Hour Quickie #3: Daiquiri”

Happy Hour Quickie #2: Margarita

This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour.

I’d say “everybody loves a Margarita,” but first, it’s demonstrably untrue. And there are at least 4,000 instances of that exact phrase in digital circulation, per Google. So instead I’ll say it’s a popular, cheerful drink — a bright and balanced classic of the “sour” type, and endlessly riffable.

More to the point, it also meets our immutable Happy Hour Quickie criteria: Easily gettable ingredients, fast assembly, and hard to screw up.

Classic Margarita recipe

  • 2 oz. silver Tequila
  • .75 oz lime juice
  • .75 Cointreau

Garnish: Salted rim, if you want. Float a lime wheel for some visual interest.

Margarita: Essential details

  • Always 2 oz. Tequila. This is ideally a boozy drink, and you want the tequila to push forward.
  • Absolutely, positively, fresh, squoze-on-the-spot lime juice only. No pre-mix permitted. But you knew that.
  • Use Cointreau for the orange liqueur. Triple sec, especially the cheap stuff, just doesn’t have the clean zip.
  • Don’t use one of those Margarita glasses with the well at the bottom. They look cheap and silly. I have no idea why this glass exists. Can either of the regular A Measured Spirit readers explain?

Quickie happy tweaks

  • Agave Margarita
    • Replace the Cointreau with agave syrup.
    • You’ll lose the orange-y notes, but gain a sort of earthy, vegetal authenticity. Agave is made of the same plant as Tequila.
    • You’ll want to back off on the agave a bit — it’s sweeter, drop for drop, than Cointreau. Start with .25 oz and taste your way up into the zone.
    • Agave also dials down the alcohol content of the glass without sacrificing the tequila vibe, since you’re replacing a liqueur bottled at 40% alcohol by volume with a virgin sweet.
  • Ginger Margarita
    • Replace the Cointreau with Domain de Canton ginger liqueur.
    • My favorite of the many “[WTF]-rita” variations.
    • Elegant, slightly exotic — without messing with the classic profile. Cut a piece of ginger root and run it around the rim to create a slight ginger lip tingle. Go ahead, I dare you.
  • A Measured Spirit’s Margarita Oscuro ™:
    • Swap in reposado tequila [a lightly golden version, barrel aged for less than a year] and Grand Marnier [an orange liqueur whose brandy base produces more of a “bottom” than Cointreau, at least in my humble estimation].
    • Oscuro roughly translates to “dusky.”
    • This transforms a bright and happy party drink into a darker, richer sipper. Perfect for a solo cocktail hour contemplating a summer sunset.

Hey, introverts need a happy hour too.

Happy Hour Quickie #1: Negroni

This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour.

Negroni_served_in_Vancouver_BC
The Negroni: A classic that’s easy to provision, fun to modify, and hard to screw up. Courtesy wikimedia.

This was my gateway cocktail, a classic. Equal parts of three ubiquitous ingredients, so it’s easy to gather the booze and assemble fast, with zero risk of screwing up.

  • .75 oz gin
    • Any London dry is fine
  • .75 oz Campari
    • One of the bitterest of the at-any-county-liquor-store aperitifs
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
    • aka Italian or red vermouth

Fast build: Add all ingredients over ice in Old Fashioned glass. Stir gently. Orange peel garnish. Lemon will work in a pinch.

You can also stir the ingredients in a mixing glass and strain over fresh ice. I find there’s virtually no difference in outcome.

If this makes me a vulgarian, I accept the title.

Quickie happy tweaks

Note: Each of the following at least slightly unsettles a classically balanced drink, but provides a different profile.

  • Use a flavor-rich American small-batch gin. My favorite of this type, D.C.’s Green Hat, can stand up to the other two ingredients.
    • Some people make this with Hendrick’s gin. For me, its subtle, eccentric [cucumber!], soft notes are completely wasted here. But Hendricks’ own “Unusual Negroni” recipe splits the Campari with Aperol [see below]. I haven’t tried this. Who knows?
  • Try Carpano Antica vermouth. Dark, herbal, a bit dense. Adds big body to the drink. Expensive, sadly.
    • Feeling frisky? Go way off script and do equal parts gin and Punt e Mes, a dark, bitter, brown vermouth that acts as both the sweet and the bitter in one swoop. Some try 3 equal parts and replace the sweet vermouth with Punt e Mes. But that slides the drink toward a bitterness I can’t abide.  Add a bit of regular sweet vermouth as needed.
  • Campari too bitter for you? Swap in Aperol, a sweeter apertif, with less of that woolen tongue thing you get with a potent bitter.
    • Aperol edges the drink’s color from ruby toward orange.
    • Aperol also has lower alcohol by volume [11%], yielding an in-the-glass ABV of around 30.
  • Dial down the buzz even more: Cut the gin, top with soda. This devolves the drink into an “Americano.”
    • Frisky fact: The Americano was the first drink ordered by Bond, James Bond in Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale.
  • A more elegant look: Stir and serve up, in a coupe.

Impress your happy hour friends with these fun facts

The widely circulated story is that the Italian Count Negroni ordered the first one in Florence in 1919. A boozehound, he asked for gin to be added to his Americano. The rest is history.

Or myth. Most cocktail Creation Stories carry a strong whiff of bullshit at the nose. For what it’s worth, here is a rollicking takedown of the story, from a culinary perspective, by Food Republic.

Freaky fact-ish thing: Whether he invented the Negroni or not, the good Count developed a preference for strong liquor when he was an American rodeo clown. That is what at the Washington Post we used to call a story “too good to check.”