Tagged: art in the age

Bootlegging: Import Taxes and the Fresh from Chicago

I have lovely, lovely friends. Sometimes, these friends go places, and sometimes, they ask if I want them to pick me up anything while they’re away. This is how my cousin wound up making her way through customs with half a suitcase full of liquor last weekend.

Let me backtrack a bit, and tell you of my two-year-long hunt for Art in the Age’s RHUBARB Tea spirit. I started expanding my collection a few years back, and I had come across RHUBY (as it was called at the time) in a few recipes that sounded absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, not only can we not get it in Canada, but it was making itself scarce on the west coast in general (at least when I looked – multiple times – in Seattle, or when my lovely parents tried hunting it down in California for me). So when M asked if I wanted her to check for anything in Chicago while she was at a conference, you can guess what was first on my list. She went on her own (extensive) hunt, and lo, it was found, and it was bought, and now I have it. Bliss! I also got her to bring me back some local stuff to play with, along with a bottle of Ransom Old Tom Gin (because, again, Canada).

While I had oodles of plans for the RHUBARB Tea, it was one of the locals – an herbal liqueur called hum – that got pulled first. It’s a ‘botanical spirit’, a blend of hibiscus, ginger, cardamom and kaffir lime that clocks in at 70 proof, and it’s just…interesting. And tasty. This past Sunday, we helped M move, and I took delivery of the precious cargo (and let’s not talk about duty and BC liquor taxes, k?). As we all wound down at the end of the day, I achieved the level of mild-buzz where I’m prone to experiment*. This is what came from it, and damn…you should try it too – tis easy, breezy, and beautifully bittersweet:

freshfromchicagoFresh from Chicago

  • 2 oz Tanqueray Rangpur Lime (or any citrus-y gin)
  • 1 oz hum liqueur
  • 2 oz Whistler Kalamansi Lime Cordial (or make your own lime syrup – I like the cold-pressed method here)
  • 1 dropper-full of The Bitter End Moroccan Bitters (swap as you like, with a nose to the Hum notes)
  • soda

Add all ingredients (except soda) in a glass with ice. Stir to combine, and top with soda.


* Call it performance anxiety, but I’m too chicken to go off script when I’m stone-cold sober. All of my ‘from scratch’ recipes come from a place of just-tipsy-enough-to-be-brave. I’m sure I’ll outgrow that…

The Great Ginger Fail

I had this idea.

You really have no idea how many times that sentence has ended in relative disaster for me.

My idea was born of an anniversary gift from Alex, a bottle of Snap that I had been too guilty to splurge on yet. I have a little big ginormous thing for ginger in general, so you can imagine my glee. There may have been some petting of the bottle. Anyways, I started off by doing a quick mix-up of one of the ‘suggested cocktails’ in the little attached booklet…and it was absolutely disgusting. It tasted like sipping paint thinner.

Alright, no worries – how about I use this opportunity to take some baby steps away from my recipe dependance? Surely that’s a better idea than picking any of the dozen recipes I collected specifically for that spirit! I’m sure, going with the title, you can imagine how this ends.

It was a fairly conservative idea – start with a basic bourbon sour, make it gingery. Split the mix from straight bourbon into half and half with the Snap. Add lemon, then some honey syrup? Yeaaaah, not so much. It’s what I like to call ‘lopsided’ – a drink with a pronounced limp on the palate.

Maybe if I made it more gingery (Erin’s solution to any number of problems)? Skewed the spirit ratio, used some Morris Ginger Syrup instead. Nope. Nope nope nope, totally flat. Somehow tasted LESS gingery. Maybe if I add a couple drops of Shanghai Rhubarb Bitters (I like ginger and rhubarb elsewhere)? Yeaaahh, no, this thing is just not going to happen this evening.

It was a sad moment, made sadder by the empty space in the bottles. Waste of Snap, waste of a very, very tasty bourbon. I’m determined to try again after a bit, to not let it haunt me as long as my failed egg white experiments. I know you can’t learn what works until you’ve had an intimate acquaintance with what certainly doesn’t, so we’ll see when I can muster my courage once more.