By Eddy Colloton
As mentioned in Craig’s recent post revealing our origin story, Team Licence to Drink front-loaded a lot of the research for our cocktail series, which we compiled in a massive spreadsheet (our mutual appreciation for the CSV was an early sign that this project may get out of hand quickly).
We harnessed our google-fu to scrounge every detail we could find about the drinks Bond and his drinking partners consume, the locales they visit, and any other details from the franchise we thought might further our lofty goal of getting toasted in the nerdiest way possible. Fueled by the efforts of Bond nerds who came before us, and quite a few cocktails, we spent an evening on the balcony of Craig’s condo brainstorming booze options for each of the movies. An idea I immediately fell in love with was a Goldfinger cocktail that featured the spirit Kümmel.
I only learned of Kümmel through this archived website that Craig found, which lists all of the drinks 007 imbibes in both Fleming’s novels and the film franchise. Using all of the coordination and focus I could muster, I drunkenly punched the name of the liquor into my keyboard, bravely foraging ahead into the world of unknown search engine results. From the wikipedia entry, I learned that Kümmel was popular at UK golf clubs and believed to improve one’s swing (likely how Fleming, no stranger to a strong drink, learned of the spirit).
There’s a scene in Goldfinger where Bond, in his typical just-barely undercover fashion, leisurely interrogates the villain about smuggled gold and other criminal activities over a round of golf. The scene in the film has a, shall we say, “relaxed” pace, devoting an ungodly amount of screen time to a cheeky gambit by Goldfinger to cheat Bond by replacing his Slazenger 7 golf ball with another of the same type. The sequence stands out in my memory, for better or worse. So when I found a spirit that we could feature to pay homage to Guy Hamilton’s indulgent depiction of an already not very exciting sport, I jumped at it.
It wasn’t until much later that I found out we’re experiencing a bit of a Kümmel renaissance in the States, with several bartenders featuring the spirit in cocktails. I had a nice Kümmel cocktail just a few weeks ago at a bar in my new hometown of Washington DC, Room 11, which was delicious. They use the more commonly found Combier distillery variety of the caraway spirit. By chance, Craig and I happened to pick up distillery Golden Moon’s take on Kümmel, and we were all the better for it. One of Golden Moon’s distillers, Robbie Cunningham, used to work at the famed St. Andrew’s golf course. Inspired by his time in golf’s supposed birthplace, Cunningham’s take on Kümmel is a light and botanical version of this spirit oft enjoyed on the Scottish countryside.
We both really enjoyed the first bottle we got and we built our cocktail around it. It was only after we ran out of our first bottle of Golden Moon and could not easily find another that we learned that other Kümmels are often much more bitter and fortified than Golden Moon’s version. The difference between the different Kümmels we tried were so shocking that we were worried we would have to re-design the cocktail to compensate. Craig called around to just about every liquor store in Denver trying to find Golden Moon and almost gave up until we realized we were only a hop, skip, and a jump away from where Golden Moon is based in Golden, Colorado (hence the name).
The drink’s balance was likely so precarious because of our use of black tea. Since the drink was bound to be “golf themed,” I figured I’d go all in and see if I could squeeze it into a boozy Arnold Palmer-inspired beverage. Since golf originates in Scotland, Scotch Whisky seemed like the natural direction for the drink’s base spirit. Dialing all of those influences into a cocktail that didn’t taste like the result of a golf themed mad lib, however, was a bit challenging.
My first approach was essentially to just dump Bank Note Scotch (an aptly name Scotch to use when paying homage to Mr. Goldfinger) and Kümmel into a regular Arnold Palmer. This was, not surprisingly, an undelicious beverage. In general, working with iced tea in a cocktail was flipping hard! No one likes a watery drink. Given that iced tea is essentially just bitter flavored ice water, combining it with alcohol in a way that doesn’t taste like a diluted disappointment is challenging. Our solution was to essentially take a page out of our own book and repeat the success we had with The Stiff Ass Brit by infusing the Scotch with black tea. Steeping ½ tablespoon of Teakoe Iced Black Tea in 125 ml of Bank Note Scotch was like finding all of the corner pieces to the puzzle of the Strict Rules of Golf. The framework was set and we just had to work our way in from there.
Even with the infused Scotch, we wanted to get more tea flavor from the drink, so we experimented with different combinations of a tea simple syrup (basically just regular simple syrup, subbing out water for tea) and a double-strength brew of tea. The sweetness of lemon and sugar very quickly takes over a drink, which may have been why we had to battle back with so much black tea bitterness. The final result is a fairly smooth drinking, but still stiff, cocktail.
Final recipe below:
Recipe: Strict Rules of Golf
Steep ½ tablespoon Teakoe Iced Black tea in 125 ml of Bank Note Scotch for 30 minutes and strain (cheesecloth or coffee filter recommended). Brew concentrated tea for black tea simple syrup by bringing 16 oz of water to boil, remove from heat, steep 3 large tea bags of Teakoe Iced Black tea for 8 minutes, then stir in 16 oz cane sugar, resulting in a 1:1 syrup. Finally, brew double-strength tea using 2 cups of water per bag of the same tea.
¼ oz lemon
½ oz double-strength tea
½ oz tea simple syrup
½ oz Golden Moon Kümmel
1 ½ oz of Black tea-infused Bank Note Scotch