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Focus … Focus

In my recent review of several fine Dolin vermouths I made a passing comment relating to changing the focus of this blog.  Actually this isn’t all together correct — I am not going to change the overall focus of the blog (the focus being to learn as much as I can, through active participation, about spirits and mixology related endeavors) but rather to focus some content towards a particular sub-set of spirits and mixology efforts related to this sub-set of spirits.  I am in my mixology heart, a lover of whiskies … bourbons, ryes, American whiskies, Irish and Japanese whiskies and of course, my beloved scotch.  So why did I come to the decision that a change was needed or at least to devote more attention to this broad category of spirits? For several reasons:

Focus: there is a lot out there.  That is quite an understatement when it comes to this field and in terms of spirits and cocktail mixology it is definitely the case.  Gins; rums; whiskies; tequilas and the list goes on.  It has been a downright blast to try, in a small way, to get to know each of these but it has dawned on me that in doing so I have spread myself a little thin. In trying to narrow the field somewhat, I am wondering if I not only gain a greater appreciation for my new focus group but also for these other categories.

The Big or Little Fish Debate: in thinking through the “focus” rationale I was hit by the classic question … “is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a big lake?”  Please don’t get me wrong – I have no misconceptions about becoming a “big fish” in any context but there is something, I think, to be said for being a source of specific knowledge on a topic versus a general purveyor of information.  For example when I’m looking to catch up on broad mixology/spirits related topics I turn without a thought to resources such as Paul’s, Frederic’s, Stevi’s, Darcy’s, Erik’s or Gabe’s (write more Gabe) site.  When I’m looking for rum related inspiration it goes without saying that I would click on Matt’s, Tiare’s or Rick’s site … and so on down the spirit line up.  Thus, maybe by shifting the emphasis a bit I can provide greater depth into the topics being discussed versus a cursory swipe.

Inspiration: herein lies a biggie … not much to add to this other than I’m constantly in need of this.  Maybe the new focus will help me to look at things in a new light, guide me to better quality work etc. Who knows?

Okay, so after just spending some time telling you about a planned change of focus for the content of this site, either big or small, I’m not sure yet how big a turn this will actually end up being.  So why highlight it? Well, whether it turns out to be a big shift or simply a small one I felt like I needed to give some context to the few folks that do read my site.  As planned, the next several posts will all be whisky-theme related and as such it seemed like a good time to come forth. However, this should not be taken to mean that theSpeakista is now a one trick pony; rather your humble correspondent remains fully enamored of the vast sphere of spirit types and mixology efforts. theSpeakista continues to be a born-again lover of rums; can’t get enough of that smoky beauty that is mezcal and put a gin martini in front of me and I will consume it with unbridled passion.  I will lean heavily on these other areas to provide not only inspiration but also for what I am sure will be moments of much needed rest from my deeper exploration into whiskies.

So what lies ahead on the content front?

Review related posts: several new bottles of whiskies have been purchased, are in the process of being sampled and mixed up into drinks with the express purpose of providing write-ups.  Reviews being considered include two bourbons, three scotch whiskies and an Irish whiskey.

Several new projects: ideas are a foot for several new projects to highlight whiskies including one aimed at testing my favorite drink, the Manhattan in several different settings as well as throwing my hat into the drink competition ring.

It would not be a post, or at least a fun one without a write up of a drink or drinking experience and so we present one here for your enjoyment.  This will be a bit of a tease on my forthcoming review of the Oak Cross scotch from Compass Box and I opted to riff a drink that typically uses cognac to highlight this lovely whisky.

Mikado Cocktail Variation (theSpeakista’s version)
Recipe adapted from Jamie Boudreau’s Spirits and Cocktails (itself adapted from the Bishop and Babcock Co.’s Mixed Drinks and How to Make Them, published in 1900)

•    2 1/2 oz scotch (Compass Box Oak Cross)
•    1 1/2 barspoons orgeat (Trader Tiki brand)
•    2 dashes Angostura bitters
•    2 wide pieces of lemon peel
Garnish: lemon twist
Glass: champagne coupe
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, julep strainer and a y-peeler for cutting the garnish

Assembly: Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass including the wide pieces of lemon peel, add cracked ice and stir for 20 seconds until well chilled. Double-strain the mixture into the serving glass and garnish.

The verdict: In a word … wonderful.  I was looking back over a series of posts and drink related notes reviewing some of the fun of the last several months and I recalled making this drink originally as part of our little Orgeat in 8 project.  Having already made several drinks to test the Oak Cross and settling on one I thought that I was done until once again this recipe crossed my eyes.   In an odd way it seemed like this drink might be a nice backdrop with which to show case the fine properties of this scotch – so off we went to assemble.  What a fantastically simple recipe and yet it yielded so much.  Slight citrus notes hit you in the aroma as well as upon first sipping the drink.  This flavor gives way to the full character of the whisky, with its nice toasted grain and some what salty oak notes lying nicely on the palate.  I debated keeping the orgeat in this mix, knowing it is used with scotch in the Cameron’s Kick, but decided that it would offer a couple of interesting features to the mix — there is a nice soft mouth feel from its silky texture; the cordial provides a more subtle sweetness than you might find from other sweetening agents and the orgeat really seems to bind the mixture nicely leveling out both the scotch and citrus essential oils.  Nice, just flat out nice.  I am so glad that gave this a go and switched my original choice.

theSpeakista’s Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

theSpeakista asks:

1. As always welcome your thoughts on how we are doing? Your thoughts on our new, albeit small, additions to our content focus?

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • DJ HawaiianShirt October 8, 2010, 11:38 am

    I approve of this “specialization”. I myself have experienced the “identity crisis” of booze blogging… there’s just so much (good stuff) out there already. I actually just got featured on TeachStreet.com, and so I had to think up of a mission statement for my blog which separates it from others, and this is what I came up with: http://www.teachstreet.com/articles/spirited-remix/bl-420ns73yc

    I also look forward to the whiskey reviews. While I adore bourbon, I find myself a novice in it, and so I look forward to perhaps educating myself a bit on tasting the stuff.

    Also, PLEASE keep posting more scotch cocktails… they’re severely underrepresented in the cocktail world. Now that my crappy throat has been healing… I’ll be trying the Mikado tonight. :)

  • KeithP October 8, 2010, 6:31 pm

    Thank you. We’ll see how far it goes … but it seems only natural. I read the article and I really liked what you said … damn it, wish I could have thought of your comments for this post.

    Please try my take on the drink … I think it worked nicely (humbly saying this of course).

  • DJ HawaiianShirt October 8, 2010, 8:03 pm

    Keith, I just tried the drink. Unfortunately, it didn’t come out as nearly as good as I’d hoped. I think it was my choice of scotch. I chose a blended one, and a fairly cheap one at that, so it really just has your average blended scotch taste. I have a feeling if I had chosen a single malt with a distinctive character, it would have turned out a lot different…

  • KeithP October 9, 2010, 8:22 am

    Sorry about that … the Oak Cross is a nice scotch and given its properties I thought it would work nicely as a sub for cognac. True, in my tasting the scotch was still the clear star of the drink I felt like the citrus and the orgeat balanced it out a bit. Thank you for giving it a try.

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