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In ancient Norse mythology the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, were reflections off the spectacular armor of the Valkyries, the warrior women who escorted the dead across the northern skies to the legendary Valhalla.  For the Romans, Aurora was the goddess of the dawn.  Each day to rejuvenate herself she flew across the northern sky to announce the coming of the sun.  And Finnish folklore tells of mythical foxes that spark fires in the sky with their tales.  You may be wondering what this mythology has to do with cocktails…

Comfortably seated at Craigie’s crowded bar (this is one popular place!), Holly and I enjoyed a Northern Lights while we waited for Maura to join us.  This drink is SO good!  With scotch, St. Germain, lemon and tiki bitters this cocktail has a wonderful range of flavors, like the beautiful spectrum of colors of the meteorological phenomenon of the same name.  The smoky, sweet, and tart flavors are enhanced with house-made tiki bitters which feature ginger, orange essence and baking spices.  One of the things that Holly and I liked best about this drink was the subtly of the St. Germain.  Now, I totally love the elderflower liqueur, but it often takes over a drink.  Here, however, the scotch holds it at bay and the St. Germain just adds a delicate bright sweetness.  A drink that stands up to the legends of ancient mythology– complex, magical, and pleasing.

Maura soon joined us and we moved onto the Cocktail Whim.  This was my 3rd adventure in this cocktail tasting and I love the concept more and more each time.  Once again, Carrie served up four great drinks– three of which featured Benedictine, one of my favorite liqueurs.  We started with a Belle du Jour—brandy, Benedictine, house-made grenadine topped with Champagne.

Maura, Holly and I enjoying our Belle du Jour-- Look at that gorgeous color!

Our second drink was a classic daiquiri— rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.  Deliciously simple. Simply delicious.  Next, we sipped on a Vieux Carre—rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura and Peychaud’s.  The rich, complexity of this drink paired nicely with our delicious burgers.  Our final drink, a Colleen Bawn—a flip made with brandy, Benedictine and yellow Chartreuse (and an egg, of course)– was a nice herbally ending to our tasting.  Then as an extra treat, Carrie let us sample a drink she’s working on for next Sunday’s event at Green Street.  All I’ll say is that it’s heavy on the smoky mezcal and leave the rest for next Sunday.

Cheers!

Karaugh and I got together after work at Deep Ellum to discuss Sleep No More—an amazingly powerful A.R.T. production which I saw Sunday night.  Discussing incredible theater needed to be matched with equally high quality drinks.

Karaugh's Germination and my Hemingway Daiquiri

For our second round, I handed my list of 100 must-have cocktails to Jen and asked for a suggestion.  She chose the Hemingway Daiquiri.  I hesitated for a moment because until recently, my vision of a daiquiri was one-sided—I could only think of the frothy, strawberry variety that are perfect to enjoy poolside on a hot summer day.  Before those frozen, fruity versions gained popularity (due in part to the invention of the home blender), the daiquiri, developed in the late 19th century in Cuba, had been enjoyed as a simple concoction of rum, lime juice, and sugar.  In the early 1930s Ernest Hemingway went to Cuba.  After a long day of writing and fishing, he would enjoy a cocktail (or two).  Hemingway especially enjoyed those mixed by Constantino Ribalaigua at La Floridita Bar.  Cocktail legend tells us that one version of the daiquiri, with grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur added to the rum and lime, was Hemingway’s favorite.  Whether that story is true or not, what Jen mixed up for me was delicious—sweet and tart at the same time.

Ernest Hemingway enjoying a cocktail

While I sipped my daiquiri, Karaugh chose the Germination off the menu.  She’s a big fan of St. Germain, so was immediately drawn to this drink.  And it did not disappoint.  Does anything with the deliciously sweet elderflower liqueur ever disappoint???  I look forward to making this one at home soon, and I suggest if you like St. Germain to try this.   Here’s the recipe:

Germination (from Deep Ellum)

2 oz gin

¾ oz St. Germain

½ oz lemon juice

2 dashes orange bitters

Shake over ice. Strain.

Cheers!

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