Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Fire Bird for Sheriff Longmire

I've associated Autumn with short stories ever since I can remember reading Salinger's For Esmé—with Love and Squalor on the campus at UOP with Fall leaves all around.  I don't know if I was there during a Speech tournament or just visiting my Thea Maria who lived nearby, but when I think Short Stories I think Esmé and Esmé means Fall.

And now Craig Johnson's collection of stories, Wait for Signs, will be out this month - giving me another opportunity to associate another terrific selection of stories with this time of year.

Which leads us to this month's newsletter where I introduced the Fire Bird - named for one of the stories in Mr. Johnson's latest.  In it, Sheriff Longmire smells smoke - figuratively - and makes a startling conclusion - literally.

The genesis of the drink was the wonderfully quirky book, The Cocktail Lab - Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink by Tony Conigliaro.  Mr. Conigliaro is a boozy mad scientist, and in his book I found the recipe for making Gunpowder Tincture.  It's easy, really - you just have to vacuum seal 16 grams of Gunpowder Tea with 6 oz. of straight alcohol - hello, Everclear - and then cook it in a bain-marie at 140 degrees for 30 minutes.  Simple, right?

Still - that Gunpowder Tincture beguiled me, the idea of it like tinder, waiting for the right spark - and the Fire Bird was it.

Since the star lighting up Mr. Johnson's pages is a sheriff, I'd begin with that Gunpowder Tincture.  Nothing could be more obvious, right?  I needed a good bourbon to showcase the smokiness of the tincture, so I went with Breaking and Entering by my good friends at St. George Spirits.  Sheriff Longmire would approve of the bourbon, if not its name, but he wouldn't approve of the fact that the bourbon is no longer being made.  I managed to score a few bottles before they faded away, so I'm ok for a little bit - but not too long.

The Gunpowder Tincture adds a terrific smoky note to the bourbon - and where there's smoke, there's fire (like the title of our story) so I added a dash of Tabasco.  If you want to discover what all this smoke and fire tastes like, maybe head over to the bookstore on Monday, October 27th, when Mr. Johnson himself visits Alameda to talk about Wait for Signs.  I plan on mixing up a Fire Bird for him - so maybe one for you, too.

Fire Bird

2 oz. Breaking and Entering Bourbon  
.5 oz  Gunpowder Tincture
.25 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Tabasco

Combine all and stir with ice.  Strain into a chilled canning jar and garnish with an orange twist.

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