This is a young sommelier's adventure through wine, liquor and the world. You will find no ratings here. You will find somethings that are sometimes geeky, sometimes irreverent, and always presented in my own unique (and dyslexic) way. Hopefully, the content inspires exploration, a sense of adventure, a good icebreaker for conversation, and even a good sense of humor about the magical juice we call wine, the insane elixirs of ting the world of liquor, and the culture surrounding all of it. .

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sipping the Germs away

So, as the title of the post might suggest…I’m sick. No one likes being sick and as much fun as the Nyquil and EmergenC are, figuring out how to cure what ails you with more “homeopathic” methods can make being sick at least slightly more amusing.

I know saying that alcohol can assist in healing will upset some people. They will more than likely state that alcohol actually weakens the immune system and makes sickness last even longer. To that, I make two cases. My first is to point out that a lot of the modern medications out there actually include small amounts of alcohol. Secondly, I am speaking about this from two perspectives: the assumption of moderation and the historical use of alcohol for healing. So, with that little argument set aside, lets talk a little about the history of healing with alcohol.

Evidence of early liqueurs date as far back as the 10th century, where herb and fruit elixirs were used as medicines by ancient civilizations.  This tradition was carried through many centuries later into some of the most well known cocktail ingredients of today. Two such ingredients were Benedictine and Green Chartreuse. Both of these were made by monks and thought to have medicinal applications long before they became ingredients in modern cocktails. The next thing to examine is bitters. Most bitters are made from an alcohol base (Fee Brothers is the most well known non alcoholic bitter). For years, they were sold at pharmacies as cures for everything from stomach sickness to headaches. Bartenders to this day believe in the power of bitters for hangovers and stomach ailments. To put an even more modern perspective on the healing powers of alcohol, we examine the history of rum. Until 1970, the Royal Navy gave out high proof rum rations as a way to combat disease, though over the years the rations decreased because of the adverse effects of alcohol on the performance of the sailors. This just goes to show that the tradition of using alcohol for medicinal purposes has been a common one for centuries and I figured, why not try some things to help me kick my cold.
For this, I decided to make a few cocktails using some of these classic “healing agents” and show you a few that might help you feel a little better while all bundled up.
The Hot Toddy
This classic winter drink is great for keeping you warm. There are a few ways of making this drink. The instructions are below:
 1 ½ oz of Irish whiskey (Greenore is my favorite), Bourbon (like Makers 46 of Bookers) or Rum (Cruzan Black Strap is my favorite)
¼ lemon
¼ oz honey
1 tea bag or fresh baking spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice
3 oz hot water

In a mug or Irish coffee mug, pour the honey, lemon juice, and liquor of choice in the bottom. In hot water, either steap the tea bag of the spices (or both for more intense flavor) for 3 minutes. When it is ready, pour of the mixture in the mug and stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and either a lemon wedge or twist. Sit back and sip.

The Cartesian Sure

Named for the monks who gave us Green Chartreuse, this cocktail is an instant feel better. This is one of those magical cocktails that I’m convinced would heal a broken leg if you poured it on it.

1 oz Irish Whiskey (again, for this I use Greenore)
1 oz sweet vermouth of choice
1 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine these ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on low heat, until steam starts to appear. You don’t want to heat too much or the alcohol will burn off. Once warm, pour into a glass that is safe for you to grip when warm.  Then sit back, relax, and let the healing powers take over.

Ginger Toddy

This combines the healing power of ginger and bourbon. Can’t really go wrong with this combination.

1 oz favorite bourbon (I used Bakers for this)
½ oz ginger beer
¼ oz honey
Squeeze of lemon
Hot water

Combine ingredients in mug Irish Coffee mug. The ginger beer measurements can be altered depending on how much of the ginger spice you want in your drink. The kind of ginger beer also matters to for the taste. Some are more sugar based and others carry more of the spicy nature of ginger. Garnish with candied ginger or orange twist.

Hopefully these give you some ideas on how to feel a little better as the weather gets colder and the germs start to roll through the office. Stay healthy, drink smart, and happy sipping as always! Cheers.