Wednesday, September 26, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Our First Recipe Trial

Fourteen volunteers bravely responded to the first drink tasting at Pammy’s Pub, official drink lab of Happy Hour in the High Peaks. Representing a broad age range, from 21 to 70, equal numbers of male and female participants* were asked to rate five different samples of beverages for possible inclusion in our book.

More primate than lab rat, these subjects, when let out of their cages, exhibited animated enthusiasm rather than fear and complacency. Male respondents were observed to be less inclined to consume fruity or complicated beverages, while females participated in all trials. We’re not quite willing to share the formulas for each trial, but will try to convey the overall theme with a description of our intended impression.

Autumn in the Adirondacks can be as idyllic as a walk in the woods surrounded by bursts of brilliant foliage on a crisp clear day, or as frenzied and frustrating as driving through Warrensburg on Garage Sale weekend. Woe to the unsuspecting traveler who gets off the Northway at exit 23.

Introduced in 2011, the World’s Largest Garage Sale Punch was improved and perfected for the day’s testing. As the name implies, there’s a little bit of everything in this punch that features a distinct fall flavor. Fruits of the season – pears, clementines, cherries and apples – bob on the surface, besotted with a prolonged soaking in a blend of intoxicating spirits before adding a bubble bath of ginger ale.

World’s Largest Garage Sale Punch (Makes 32 4 oz. servings.)
2 large apples (we used Macs)
2 pears
2 oranges or 4 clementines (they’re less acidic)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 jar maraschino cherries (juice too)
2 c. (yes CUPS) pear vodka
2 c. apple liqueur (Travis Hasse’s apple pie liqueur is available locally)
1 c. cranberry vodka
1 c. Jack Daniels Honey Liqueur
1 c. triple sec (orange liqueur)
1 c. cranberry juice
ginger ale (to taste or however much it takes to top off your punch bowl – we used a gallon-sized bowl)

Cut the apples and pears into bite-sized wedges, slice the clementines, and place in a punch bowl with the cinnamon sticks. Add all the liquid ingredients except the ginger ale and refrigerate for several hours. Add the ginger ale just before serving.

The decided favorite among our test pool, comments on the WLGS punch were overwhelmingly positive. One participant offered, “Nicely spiced; a welcome alternative to the expected sweetness in punch.” Others stated, “This might be good warm.” “Holy Moly!” Most simply said, “Loved it!” This one is destined for the book.

The Tupper Upper, a shooter inspired by the Tic Tac we tasted at the Thirsty Moose in Childwold, was the least favored of the samples prepared for this event. Younger subjects seemed to find it more to their liking than the older ones, mostly because more “mature” participants either disliked, or distrusted, Red Bull. WARNING: Don’t let the wide-eyed side effect of Red Bull mislead you into thinking this shot is not potent, as demonstrated by this anonymous subject.

Tupper Upper
1 oz. Loopy vodka
1 oz. Red Bull
Both should be well chilled before pouring, but can be stirred together with ice, then strained, although the ice will water it down a bit.

Sagamore Sling
More sensual than its namesake the Singapore Sling, the Sagamore Sling is more an autumn than summer refreshment. Tangueray gin lends a decidedly piney base which mates nicely with the Jaegermeister that was substituted for Benedictine, an herbal liqueur, and gives this drink its earthy allure. In our pursuit of perfection, this one will undergo some adjustments and another trial before we release the recipe.

Barton Garnet Mine and APA Martini
Our final taste tests were the Barton Garnet Mine and the APA Martini. The Garnet Mine’s warm ruby color and well-balanced blend of gin, Chambord and cranberry juice evoked comments on its simplicity and mild demeanor. The APA Martini, a blueberry and gin mixture, was found to be quite strong but smooth. Unlike some of the trendy, frothy confections often served in a martini glass, the APA Martini was closer to the real thing.

For their time and effort, each participant was given a Happy Hour in the High Peaks magnet and entered into a drawing for one of our limited edition hats! One respondent, whose attempt at cheating in the hat drawing was thwarted by our independent panel of judges, wound up winning the drawing fair and square. Let that be a lesson, Jennifer.

*No participants were harmed in the testing of these cocktails, nor were they encouraged to consume more than a small sample of each. Drink responsibly! Don’t imbibe and drive.

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In 2013, sisters Kim and Pam Ladd self-published Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide and a companion Happy Hour Trail Passport. As they continue to market and distribute their current book, they are back on the trail doing research for their next project – a guide to breweries, wineries and distilleries in and around the Adirondack Park.

In 2014 they created their own drinking event, a bartender competition they call “BARRED!”, which they expect will become an annual event held in the early spring in collaboration with Basil & Wick’s in North Creek.

With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack "Drinking Authority," Kim and Pam report on drinking-related topics and events inside the Blue Line here at the Almanack and at their own blog. You can also visit their website, follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

The pair have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. She and her family live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer with a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her husband.

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