This month’s Mixology Monday cocktail challenge is an interesting one because, well, there is NO alcohol in the drinks. Scott of Shake, Strain, & Sip has themed this month “Temperance”, and you guessed it, it’s a Teetotaler’s delight around these parts.
With the warmer months approaching, I’ve been craving light, fruit-based drinks lately. And maybe the occasional spritz or two. With the baskets of berries pouring into the farmer’s markets (pretty much my favorite time of year), I decided to make the base of this drink with juicy, local strawberries.
Farmers markets here are pretty diverse. I’ve been introduced to multiple varieties of strawberries, and one of my favorites is the Seascape kind. Sweet, but not too much so; it’s my ideal strawberry flavor. That said, here you’ll need to taste for sweetness. There is some from the strawberries and tonic, and a sweet and savory note from the orgeat, but if you like your drinks even sweeter, then feel free to add a drop of simple syrup.
3 medium sized strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (or white grapefruit juice)
1/4 ounce orgeat
4 ounces Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
strawberry slice for garnish
In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle strawberries, juice and orgeat. Add ice 2/3 up the glass and top with tonic. Stir gently to combine and garnish glass with strawberry slice.
Uniquely both sweet and savory with lots of fruit forward bubbles. A straw in this case is optional as you might find the chunks of strawberries get caught up in it. The almond from the orgeat has a slight bitter edge that contrasts nicely with the sweet fruit flavors. It’s a needed element here to round out the drink.
Thanks to Scott for hosting this month and Fred for keeping this party going.
I was introduced to the many uses of beer by an old work colleague of mine several years ago. He was the type making cheese and beer in his apartment before you started hearing about everyone making their own cheese and beer. He introduced me to beer ice cream floats and beer mousse among other other recipes. The beer mousse here is made from scratch (unlike the first version I ever tried using a can of powder. It was gross; don’t do it.) and it’s super easy to whip up, although you’ll need 3 bowls. Sorry. Ask your significant other or roommate to be on dish duty with promises of fluffy chocolate mousse with hints of smoky beer. Watch how quickly they wash those bowls.
Also, a big thanks goes out to Jackie a.k.a. the Beeroness, who helped me with this beer and chocolate pairing. She has a chart; go check it out. The beer that worked the best here was Epic Brewing’s Smoked Porter. The smokiness is more aggressive than Stone’s Smoked Porter, so take that into consideration when making this. I tried a few chocolate stouts too, and found it a bit redundant to put into chocolate. The best part is that you don’t use too much beer in the dessert, so when it’s done you can “pair” the rest of the beer with the mousse. It works.
Couple of tips: don’t go too stiff on beating the egg whites or the cream. I did that on the first batch and sadly it did not incorporate well into the chocolate and looked weird. Tasted great so I ate it all, but, alas, not photogenic. You also don’t need a double boiler to melt chocolate. A sauce pan with about an inch of water simmering with a heat-proof bowl over it works great (and is my way). If that doesn’t work for you, very carefully try the microwave version. You just need to watch that and melt in small time increments since it will easily burn.
Adapted from Chow.com
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, callets, or chopped from a block, Kakao Berlin 64% Stuttgart used here
1/4 cup Epic Brewing Smoked Porter
3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
Fill a sauce pan about 2″ with water and place a heat-proof bowl over the top. When the water is simmering, add chocolate and beer. Start stirring to combine. You want the end result to look glossy. At that point remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.
In a separate bowl, beat the cold heavy cream until firm, but not stiff peaks form. A chilled bowl will help move this along. Fold the cream into the chocolate/beer mixture.
Lastly, beat the egg whites until firm, but not stiff, peaks form. Fold in half of the eggs, and then stir in the rest gently.
Chill mixture until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.
*If you’d like some homemade whipped cream for this, beat together 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar until you reach desired consistency.
Not too sweet and richly chocolate with hints of the smoked porter. The mousse firms up quite a bit in the refrigerator and gets a more ‘dense’ consistency to it the longer it sits. So, if you want a more delicate, light as air dessert, eat it out of the bowl.
Ah, but the cocktail. A grill pan in this case is best if you are just going to grill up a single mango. Seem like a lot of work for one cocktail? Grill up two and save the rest for later; you’ll want a second one of these.
The savory component here gets some earthy smokiness from ancho chile peppers. Ancho chile peppers are the dried form of a poblano pepper if you weren’t aware (it’s ok, I was schooled on this point too). I put ancho chiles and mangoes in my salsas so I thought I’d try them out as a cocktail.
Pro tip: use a Hawthorne strainer for this. Oh what a mess this made the first time around with first the shaker strainer, then the julep strainer; the holes were not big enough and there was a mango backup that resulted in half a drink lost. I took one for you guys so you won’t have this problem. The Hawthorne excels at separating the mango pulp from the juice. You will still get pieces of pulp, but you will also get all your booze out of the mixing glass too.
For the ancho chile pepper syrup:
2 ancho chile peppers (or 1 tsp ancho chile powder)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine chile peppers (or powder), sugar and water in a medium sized sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the temperature to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Strain into an airtight container.
For the cocktail:
1 ounce Ancho Chile Pepper Syrup (see recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
1-1/2 ounce of mezcal, Del Maguey Vida used here
Take your mango half, with skin still on, and score the flesh lengthwise and widthwise, careful not to cut through the skin. Next, using a grill pan, or outdoor grill, oil the grates with a neutral oil (like vegetable oil). Over medium-high heat, place mangoes flesh side down for 5 minutes. If you would like criss-cross grill marks, use a spatula to turn the mangoes 45 degrees halfway through cook time. Remove from grill and let cool. Once cool, turn flesh inside out and using a paring knife, cut cubes away from the skin.
Next, in the bottom of a shaker, combine mangoes and syrup. Muddle until puree-like consistency. Add ice, lime, and mezcal. Shake for 20 seconds and using a Hawthorne strainer, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
Mezcal is a very assertive liquor that can sometimes overpower the other ingredients in a drink. But, here, mangoes, chile peppers and lime all work well in combination because they also have strong flavors. The mango’s rich sweetness, enhanced by the smoky undertone of the ancho syrup, makes for a great partner to the Mezcal, accentuating its vegetal aspects and softening its domineering palate.
Springtime! A reason for garden parties and gathering outdoors (both of which I need MORE of in my life). Where cocktails flow from giant bowls and ladles, all laced with bits of fruit and maybe a flower or two… Excuse my fanciful daydreaming for a moment. I’ve been nose-deep in another Jeeves and Wooster novel this week and the English Countryside is calling my name. It’s also calling for the procurement of another punch bowl set in my house.
These punch bowls have caught my eye recently and perhaps they’ll pique your interest too. What’s a home bar without at least ONE fanciful punch bowl? Undignified; that’s what. Ok, maybe not that but take a look.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe to start. Cranberry juice is almost never making an appearance in my fridge, so instead I subbed in my homemade grenadine. Same goes with Peach Schnapps. Instead, a fresh peach puree was used in place. A few minor changes took this recipe from meh to ahhh, resulting in a great start to the dinner.
So now I’m sharing the recipe with you all. It’s a taste of the summer to come.
Note: you don’t need to have these sailboats on hand. Any popsicle mold will suffice, but just won’t be as fun.
1/2 ounce grenadine (homemade is always best)
1 ounce peach puree
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce vodka, Aylesbury Duck from the 86 Co. used here
1/4 ounce G.E. Massenez Creme de Cassis
In the bottom of your popsicle mold, pour grenadine in. Freeze to semi-frozen, about 45 minutes.
Mix together peach puree, orange juice and vodka. Pour on top of grenadine. Freeze to semi-frozen, about an hour and a half.
Drizzle creme de cassis on top of peach/O.J./vodka mixture. Add popsicle stick at this point and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours but overnight is best.
To un-mold, squeeze mold to release sides of the popsicle. This should enable you to wiggle the popsicle out. If not, run under warm, NOT hot, water for 5 seconds to help un-mold.
Why not WAY more alcohol? Because then they wouldn’t freeze well. I tried this with one ounce of vodka in the center and it never fully froze to a stable consistency. That said, you can still taste that these have some booze in them because clearly, that’s the point. They do have a nice fruity punch to them with the grenadine working well in contrast with the peach/orange combo. Depending on the creme de cassis you have, this can be left out (some flavors work better than others). Try one with and one without to see for yourself. I tried this with Chambord too but the flavor just didn’t work well here, somehow it became almost medicinal. Also, if you can get a giant seashell filled with ice to display your pops in, you win.
6 sprigs 5” long rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed tangelo juice from approximately 3 and a half medium sized tangelos
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Combine rosemary sprigs and sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 8 hours or overnight.
Add juice to the bowl and stir to help start to dissolve sugar. Let sit, covered, overnight, occasionally stirring sugar every few hours. Fine strain mixture into a bottle or airtight container. Add apple cider vinegar and shake well to combine. Seal and store in fridge. After 3 days, start tasting for desired flavor. After 6 days, shrub should be ready to use.
Use within 1 year for optimal flavor.
The rosemary-tangelo shrub works well on its own with some sparkling water, or with an ounce of gin too over some ice. The strong flavors do more favorably with less ingredients added to them.