Lately I’ve been wanting to put a ban on having electronic devices on at certain times at home. But with both myself and Christopher working out of the house, attempts to do this have been eagerly thwarted. If your office is in the same structure that you sleep in, then you can pretty much count on a 7 day work week. Unless you have the amazing ability to do such a thing as limit screen time. You, then, are an enigma to me.
Regardless, there are always a few minutes in the day when neither one of us is holding on to a device. The best times are when we’re holding on to a cocktail glass and talking about not work things. Occasionally things get so busy around these parts that, to make things easy on ourselves, I batch up a cocktail and keep it in the fridge. It might be a Manhattan for later in the day (and yes, I might have made it at 9 that morning) or the base to something that can get perked up later on with something sparkling.
This drink is a little something like that.
I had originally written this for Serious Eats as a more Valentine’s Day centered recipe, but I think the sentiment of taking a break from the internet to enjoy another real person’s company is even more fitting for the everyday.
For the Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 chamomile tea bags
Zest of 2 tangerines, white pith removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags, tangerine juice, and zests. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard tea bags. Cover and let stand an additional 30 minutes. Strain zest and keep syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
For the Base:
4 ounces Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup
3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
4 ounces London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray
Combine syrup, white balsamic, and gin in a swing-top bottle. Gently swirl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Base will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.
For Each Cocktail:
5 ounces chilled dry sparkling wine, such as Cava
Measure out 2 3/4 ounces of the base into a Champagne flute or cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.
So yes, I ventured out into the land of floral ingredients here with the chamomile, but it’s subtle and mild. For a sweet note, I used the in-season tangerines, and combining their tangy juice and zest with a good dose of chamomile flowers gives a fragrant sweetness without being too perfume-y. It’s a fresh, tangy base with very subtle floral flavors in the background. To make it more zippy in flavor, white balsamic adds some needed acidity while a London Dry style gin adds another herbal layer with just a touch of juniper in the finish. While this base is tasty on its own, it really comes together when you top it off with some sparkling wine. I tried a few varieties and a dry cava brut is best to offset the syrupy base.
Alas, there is nothing more straightforward than an Old Fashioned. Liquor, bitters, sugar, it’s all wrapped up neat for you and tastes good without all the extra foo-foo. Ok, so maybe a bartender is throwing on a flamed orange peel, or adding in a brandied cherry, or doing just a little bit of foo-foo-ness. But instead of adding on more, I thought I’d take a look at the base ingredients.
The Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned was just the start of delving into looking at the Old Fashioned and seeing what new flavor combinations I could make work. This all stemmed, by the way, from another scribbled note for ideas that read “cleaned up old fashioneds with interesting bitters”. I mean, you could build 100 drinks off of that comment. And I just might do that. But for now I’m just giving you two.
And this one has a DIY project! Yay!
First, I realized that you all were going to get bored real quick if the only thing I was doing was changing up the bitters. Hell, I got bored with that idea after 2 minutes and moved on to the idea of homemade sugar cubes. So easy, right?! Wrong. Well, it’s going to be easy now because I spent the better part of a month trying out techniques and perfecting this. For you guys.
Things to know about making your own sugar cubes:
You must use superfine sugar, granulated sugar does not make for a solid cube.
Don’t try and speed this up by microwaving. All these recipe how-to’s I read on making sugar cubes all reference the microwave and I think they are ALL LYING. All the microwave did was melt my sugar, even on low power.
These smoked sugar cubes taste amazing with sour cherry. Instead of doing that blasphemous thing where you muddle some neon cherries in a glass and call it and Old Fashioned, here I’ve combined sour cherry bitters from Miracle Mile with some tasty bourbon to compliment the heady smoked flavor of the cubes.
Smoked Sugar Cubes
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons smoke tincture
2 tablespoons water
Combine sugar, smoke tincture and water in a bowl. Mix until well combined, similar to the texture of wet sand. Pack sugar into a mini ice cube tray, tamping down each hole. Alternatively, you can spread mixture out in a 1/4 size sheet pan (you might want to double the recipe amount) pressing down hard. Let mixture sit out to dry overnight. When sugar has hardened, pop cubes out of the molds, or cut cubes to size. Store in an airtight container.
Smoked Sugar and Sour Cherry Old Fashioned
2-3 mini smoked sugar cubes
2 dashes Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 ounces bourbon, W.L. Weller used here
optional, blood orange peel for garnish
In a mixing glass, add sugar cubes then dash in bitters. Muddle to combine. Add ice 1/2 way up glass and pour in whiskey. Stir to combine about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with a single large ice cube or 2 smaller cubes. Express orange over the glass and add in peel.
The smoke lingers in the back but adds a strong backbone to the drink. Sour cherry bitters add just a touch of bitterness and some sweetness to the rich bourbon. I chose the blood orange for just a hint of citrus and mainly for aesthetics due to the lovely red speckling all over the orange peel.
…Because nothing says I love you more than beating a brightly colored donkey until booze falls out of it.
Are you having that oh crap moment where you just remembered you need to buy some meaningless gift for someone by Saturday? Well, if you miss the date, make up for it with something so amazing they’ll totally forget they might dump you come Tuesday. A sexy bottle of Absinthe perhaps? What about a slightly sexualized cocktail shaker? And if you get to smooching, coat your lips in some Old Fashioned-flavored lip balm. If all else fails, gather up your friends and spend your hard earned cash on a gilded mid-century ice bucket. You deserve it.
Anyway, you guys have 12 ways to win a bottle of this delicious cacao-infused rum. Enter below, but remember: You MUST BE 21 and OLDER to WIN. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST February 11th, 2015. Please see terms and conditions below (some states unfortunately are excluded from shipping liquor to). For more information on SelvaRey Rum, please visit them at selvarey.com.Good Luck!