The Booze Blog Portal - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

02 September 2014

The IBA Project: Quick Intro, Between the Sheets

For a (lengthy) background of this project: check out  this post from back in 2013 <shy>. If you read or watch movies, this is akin to the Julie & Julia project. Except instead of French food, I'm learning to make cocktails, my name is not Julie and and I'm not following recipes created by Julia, and I have no plans to create a book .... or a movie. So .... wait, actually... it's actually.... NOTHING like the Julie & Julia project, hehe.

TLDR:  I'm on a quest to re-create a bunch of cocktail recipes.

I've been wanting to do this for ages but never really gotten around to doing it because of 1) the amount of research I have to do 2) the effort it takes to experiment with the different variations tfor each cocktail and finding one that I personally liked 3) just getting the ingredients for the whole list of 77 cocktails is a huge obstacle in terms of cost and - Eg: recipe calls for rum? what brand? what age? dark or light? where do I buy it? Can die right?

<cue: this is where you, my kind and generous good Samaritans, come in offering to donate me some bottles for a good cause!>

But enough of excuses. I'm gonna embark on this right now. A journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step. So here is the single step:

Between the Sheets

Been around since the 1930s - so it's classified as a Prohibition cocktail. It's a variation of the Sidecar (a cocktail of brandy, lime juice and triple sec) with an additional shot of light rum. Maybe someone back then had loads of rum to get rid of, maybe they had a particularly nasty batch of brandy and needed something to mask the yuckiness. So many maybes, all interesting stories.

Super strong - chest hair growth IS possible. We're talking about a mixture of TWO main spirits of full shots each! I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't familiar to drinking (ie, isn't a complete drunk like you or me) or is particularly sensitive to the taste of spirits. I cannot stress how potent this drink is. One drink and you are out (or at least, I am).

Measure it!
Shake it!
IBA standard recipe & method: 
3 cl White Rum
3 cl Cognac
3 cl Triple Sec
2 cl Fresh lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes, short hard shake, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

  • If you don't like your glass to look bare, you could garnish it with a lemon or orange peel - since the former complements the lemon juice and latter, triple sec. 
  • Add syrup to make it more "patalable" - if you're not a purist at heart. 
  • Switch light rum for dark - it changes the entire character of the drink and adds more flavour - again purely for the non-purists.
  • Some articles have mentioned that you should use cointreau and not any other "triple sec". I tried using the cointreau and it did taste better than the triple sec I've used pictured. Want to bring it to yet another level? Try replacing it with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur (don't know personally, haven't tried - but if don't bother if you're gonna be a purist, heh). 
  • One could cut down on the lemon juice amount. Lots of other recipes calls for only 1.5cl. However, there are some recipes which suggest equal measures of everything. This is because, Your Mileage May Vary.

Personal Observations:
  • Don't use strong-tasting, dry, light rum with too much character, like the one I used (Havana Club Anejo 3 years old, I ran out of the cheaper version and this was the only light rum I have at the moment, sigh)  -  where the rum is supposed to be the star of the show, not as a side act. Why? Firstly, it sticks out like a sore thumb and secondly, enhances the dryness of the drink (brandy is already dry), thirdly, it's NOT CHEAP. I think it needs a "wetter", softer rum which complements the cognac, perhaps like the original Anejo Blanco - which was created for mixing cocktails anyway.
  • Secondly, I wouldn't use a VSOP in this, it would be a waste the OP bit. I'll probably stick to the VS. At the end of the day, it'll be shaken up with 3 other strong flavours anyway, I wouldn't want one flavour to particularly stand out. I'd want it all to blend together in a nice harmony. But I'll still stick to a decently branded cognac.
  • A short, hard shake will do - otherwise it turns out to be a dilute mess of a dry, forgettable drink with a bitter finish. 
  • Since it's such an old drink, it IS meant to be rough, spirit-y & strong, so it's definitely NOT for the weak palate, or hearted.. or someone who likes cocktails with a tiny umbrella.
Even I can't read my handwriting

My Preference <updated on 8 Sep 2014>: 
I'm not a hardcore drinker. I can't really accept too much of the spirit-y taste, and I like my drinks more balanced. So more tart and sweetness is what I want, hence a little more lemon juice and triple sec in my version.

My preferred recipe:
3 cl white rum (Havana Club Blanco used)
3 cl cognac (courvoisier VS used)
3 cl fresh lemon juice
3.5 cl Cointreau

<edit: this goes wonderfully well with super spicy sambal. I know this as a fact because I'm having it right now>

For more (I like articles with personal opinions and background stories):

Click me for the list of drinks that's been covered in the IBA Project