The Yale Special

Recently a copy of The Savoy Cocktail book arrived in the mail. It was a belated Valentine’s Day gift from my husband. Belated not because of him, but because Amazon couldn’t decide if they wanted to ship it to us or not. Emails kept popping up in the inbox saying things like, click this link if you’re really certain you want us to send this to you whenever it comes in stock; the outlook was grim that this would ever arrive. But then it did.

I’ve been trying to find drink recipes to use up the bitters I bought and I thought the earlier cocktail recipe books could help in that category since they were dropping them in to all sorts of drinks back then. Scanning the book I came across the Yale Cocktail. However, I realized that I would immediately have to make a couple changes as I have still not bought any Angostura bitters (I know… I know…). Also, the recipes are coming directly from the original book and the measurements are kind of all over the place. Sometimes there are just fractions and other times it just says to put in a wine glass full of something or in this recipe, a glass of Gin. Now, my idea of a glass of gin and Harry Craddock’s idea could be on opposite sides of the room. I’m sure out there somewhere someone has compiled the measurement translations… but why make it easy on myself?

Well, all I had in the house was Hendrick’s and for this cocktail, it just wasn’t working. So then I remembered that I had a 2oz bottle of Finlandia Tangerine Fusion (it came with a much larger bottle of regular Finlandia) and thought maybe that I would use it here. It worked! I had to up the amount of orange bitters to really give it the extra flavor I was looking for, and I went with 1/2 the juice of a tangelo instead of a squeeze of lemon. The end result: spicy and then fruity, which was the right combination for me. Next I need to work on proportioning glasses to the drinks.. I always seem to come up with too much room in the glass.

2 oz Finlandia Tangerine Fusion
6-8 dashes of Fee Brother’s West Indian Orange Bitters (original recipe called for 3 but the flavor was just not there)
2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1/2 juice of a tangelo
club soda to top

In a mixing glass with ice combine all the ingredients except for the club soda. Stir to combine, and strain into a small chilled cocktail glass. Top with club soda.

Make It: Limoncello Part Two

It’s been two weeks and it’s time for part two of making Limoncello.

First, take out that bag of lemon juice that’s been in the freezer. This was from the 4 lemons you zested two weeks ago… What? You forgot and threw them away? Fine, go squeeze 4 lemons and come back here.

Next thing you need to do is strain out the lemon zest that you’ve been shaking around everyday. You’ve been doing that, right? Good.

Depending on which way you went, you may have to strain twice. Since I used a combination of fine zest and strips of lemon peel, I had to do it twice. First strain went into a large pyrex measuring glass using a fine mesh strainer. I pushed down a bit on the zest to try and release as much liquid as possible. Then I decided to switch jars I was using, mainly because I could use this giant jar for another project (coming soon!). The second strain I used an extra-fine mesh strainer to make sure I got most of the floaty bits. While you’re doing this you should go ahead and start making the simple syrup.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine water and sugar in a sauce pan and put over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. You might want to gently swish the pan around at first just to help with the dissolving. Then take the pan off the heat and allow to cool completely. Once cool, combine the simple syrup and lemon juice and pour into the vodka mixture. Now cover it tightly and let it sit for 6 weeks in a cool, dark place. In 6 weeks come back here for the exciting conclusion!

No wait! Come back all the time for drink recipes!

Yet another creation that looks like a big jar of pee...

We Forgot About the Italians!! The Negroni

We all know a certain “holiday” is tomorrow, however I grew up in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood (I even speak Italian, albeit I’m pretty rusty now, but I did study it for 7 years and can basically read it still) and two days before after St. Patrick’s day is St. Joseph’s Day. Now, as I have been without religion going on almost 20 years, I really don’t know (remember) much about the man, or what the holiday is about, not unlike St. Patrick as well (snakes and stuff, right?), but since I know that the 19th was another “holiday” or saint’s day or… there’s a lot of specific information that is becoming increasingly apparent to myself, and to you, that I am oblivious of… anyways, let’s make a drink to commemorate the oft-overlooked saint with a classic “Italian” (I’m sure this is disputed somewhere) drink, the Negroni. Hey, this means TWO celebratory reasons to drink this week. You’re welcome.

1 oz Campari
1 oz Gin
1 oz Sweet Vermouth

orange slice for garnish

In a rocks glass with ice combine all 3 ingredients. Garnish with the orange slice. Salute!

The Basil Simple

Here’s a little something green for this week. Just one of the handful of basil liqueur recipes I’ve been trying out lately. It’s pretty simple, but super flavorful. Do I need to add another sentence to make this look like a whole paragraph? Apparently so.

2 oz basil liqueur (recipe HERE)
1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice, keep the limes handy
2 dashes of mint bitters

In a rocks glass with 3 large ice cubes, add the basil liqueur, lime juice and mint bitters. Add the spent limes as well. Stir together, squishing the limes into the mix with a bar spoon. Sip and slurp.

The mint bitters accent the subtle mint flavor of the basil liqueur and heighten them so they’re a bit more loud. Oh, so this also means I’ve gotten around to tasting the mint bitters. Boy are they strong. Just a tiny bit goes a long way. One thing that I hate though is that they have dye in them. I need to put making mint bitters on the to do list, but not for awhile. I’ve bought the bottle and I’m committed to using it.

Make It: Basil Liqueur

Apologies if I am incorrectly naming this delicious bottled beverage. Not sure what to call it once you add the simple sugar to the … tincture? Eh, someone someday will correct me on this.

This recipe comes from my friend John the moonlighting landscapist. It was a Christmas gift for me and my husband. Booze. Can’t give me a more enjoyable gift. Well, there may be a couple items that top higher, but we don’t need to go into those right now.

If the idea of drinking BASIL puts you off, you shouldn’t worry. The taste is not basil smacking you upside the head. It’s gentle and sweet and you can almost taste some citrus in the back there. It’s great on its own straight out of the freezer, or as you will see THIS WEEK, it is also tasty in mixed drinks. Here’s how to make it:

750 ml everclear (this was made from some bathtub hooch that John got up in Montana- a family recipe I believe. I suggest a very high proof vodka or if you can get it straight grain alcohol.)
basil leaves (enough to pack the bottle)

Pack the everclear with as much of the basil leaves that will fit in there and recap the bottle. Let them sit together in a cool, dark place for 4 days, shaking the bottle every day. Strain the liquid through a double layer of cheese cloth into a clean container for storing. You can toss out the basil leaves… I can’t think of anything you could do with them. If you do, let me know!

Next you need to make a half strength simple syrup. To do this, take 750 ml of water, combine with 350 grams of sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat, stir the mixture to dissolve any remaining sugar crystals and leave to cool to room temperature. Combine the simple sugar mixture to the basil liquid, cap it and stick it in the freezer.

One Tart Squirrel

The first time we had to stock up for a Tiki Party I was introduced to a whole new world of liqueurs and flavorings that I’d never heard of. One of the those items was Creme de Noyaux. It’s an almond “flavored” liqueur (as far as I know, no actually almonds are used, just pits from apricots) that pops up in a variety of drinks in the tiki world. After we actually started experimenting with it my husband became enamored with it and now we own two large bottles of the stuff. So… I’m trying to think up drinks that will use it up and make some space for other bottles. No need to crowd the shelves with TWO of these guys when a bottle of Stranahans could easily take its place.

Joining my ever growing collection of citrus at the house this week is a bag of tangelos we harvested out of our own backyard. Long thought of as a dead plant that needed to be removed, all the crazy rains Los Angeles received recently ignited the spark of life back into this thing and we have now got a tree heavy with fruit. I’d never tried a tangelo before, so being the cautious type.. I gave a bag of them to a friend as a ‘gift’ and told them to get back to me quickly on how they tasted. The most important thing was that they came back alive the next day and I had not produced a big ol’ tree of poison. The verdict was that they were really sour but very juicy, perfect they told me for marmalade. Well, sour is fantastic for drinks, not on my toast, and then I decided to try and marry this flavor with the Creme de Noyaux.

When I cut my tangelo open the first thing I realized was that my idea of sour and my friend’s idea of sour lived in two separate worlds. These were slightly sweet and slightly sour, and crazy juicy. Cutting one open just poured liquid out. Trying to formulate a drink recipe out of this took a couple turns, and I think that I might even candy some jalapeños next time and add to this, just because I think it could use some heat. But anyways, I think that I was able to make a combination of flavors that was light, refreshing, and used up some Creme de Noyaux (albeit not nearly enough).

2-1/2 oz of light rum
1/2 oz of Creme de Noyaux
4 tangelo slices (cut about 1/4″ thick)
1 tsp of honey (I used some local orange blossom honey)
2 dashes of bitters
1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice

one tangelo wheel for garnish

Muddle together the tangelo slices and the honey. On top of the muddled mixture, fill mixing glass 2/3 way with ice and add rum, Creme de Noyaux, bitters and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run a lighter over both sides of the tangelo wheel and drop into the glass.

I know, RUM. Again! These are all mixed drinks though, not straight rum. I think I need to take one of the Rum education classes at the Cana Rum bar here in L.A. to really get to know and appreciate rum. And why the Squirrel name? Creme de Noyaux drinks I learned are referred to as pink squirrel drinks. I don’t necessarily know if this fits the category, but I like the name so I’ll stick with it.

Cherry Black-Stripe

This is now the third version of this post (although this is new to you all out there). I couldn’t get it right. For background, I had just finished the history chapter of the Joy of Mixology (I have already penciled-up the margins and written down a list of some interesting sounding cocktails). One in particular I thought I’d like to try, possible hot. Then it got really nice and spring-like around here and I put that to bed for a week.

Then I decided I should just try it as is. What struck me initially was the drink’s simplicity. Rum and molasses. I love molasses. One of my favorite things to eat as a child (and occasionally now) was cream of wheat and molasses. No. I did not grow up on the prairie. My mother didn’t allow us many sweets or processed foods. For the longest time starfruit and kiwis were considered top shelf sweets around the house. Until I hit grade school and was introduced to the peanut butter cup.

However there was no recipe for this. The drink, the Black-Stripe, was mentioned in passing as something that was drunk around the 1700s. And out of this loose basis for a cocktail recipe I thought I’d put something together.

The trick to this drink was balance. And then when I still couldn’t get that right, Luxardo cherry syrup. See what I’m doing here? If you’ve bought any of these items then you can reuse them in other drinks. The only molasses I had around the house was unsweetened black strap molasses. It’s a bittersweet flavor at best, very robust and rich but the problem was that along with the rum it wasn’t making the best tasting drink. That’s when I introduced the cherry syrup. That isn’t overwhelmingly sweet either but it added enough to give the drink some kick and flavor.

I had decided ahead of time that I wanted to layer this drink. Also, I thought it best to keep it on the small side. You can use a cordial glass or over-sized shot glass to make this.

1/2 Tbsp black strap molasses
1 oz 10 Cane Rum
2 tsp Luxardo cherry syrup

Slowly pour into the bottom of a cordial glass the molasses, then the rum. Over the back of a bar spoon slowly pour the syrup down the middle of the glass. The syrup should settle on top of the molasses creating a dark black to blood red stripe in the glass.

Now, as is, you might want to quickly shoot the cocktail to get it all down in one gulp, as the molasses quickly settles to the bottom of the glass and stays there. Otherwise, after you’ve admired the stripe you just created, use a stir stick to quickly mix all the ingredients in the glass together. This is not a light drink. It’s rich and flavorful, and for some might be too flavorful. Proceed with caution.

Springtime Gin Fizz

Admit it. You love smelling your fingers after you’ve gone and picked some herbs.

Ok, well I do. Last year we finally got around to redoing our front ‘yard’ that was admittedly turning into an eyesore for the neighborhood. One tree was dead. There was a bush that was trying to kill itself from lack of water. And tall phallic things were shooting out of some leafy succulents. It was scary looking. With the help of a friend of mine who moonlights doing landscape design, we finally got our shit together. Now the front of our house looks presentable, and is flanked by two lavender bushes and rosemary crawling all over the bottom half of it. It smells lovely walking by it.

We use rosemary a lot since we’ve put those in. And as soon as we planted it last year I went out and made a rosemary gin fizz that was made from the simple syrup in this recipe. At least two of my friends have received this syrup as part of a gift over the last year. And now I’ve come full circle and I’m not about to give the same rosemary syrup as a gift. And as spring approaches I thought I’d add some floral notes to this syrup and then combine it with some bright citrus to tide me over until the weather stops doing things like have the sun out shining for the first couple hours of the day and then have temperatures PLUNGE and clouds come rushing in. Sigh. And I want to move to Portland… Hrmm.

So I tinkered with the rosemary and lavender outside and made them into a simple syrup. Found here. And then decided on making a Springtime Gin Fizz.

2-1/2 oz Gin (I used Hendrick’s to add a touch more floral note to the drink)
1 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
1 oz Rosemary Lavender Simple Syrup
Club Soda

Spring of rosemary for garnish (optional- you may find this too overpowering in your glass. If so, toss it and enjoy the drink as is.)

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Pour gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in. Mix with a bar spoon and top off with club soda. Garnish if you like.

Keep in mind that the simple syrup here is not a typical ratio and will not produce very sweet results. The meyer lemon juice here makes up for that. However, if you are using regular lemons, you will need to taste and adjust according to your desire of sugar. And the lavender? Very subtle. Don’t worry, it’s not going to smell like your Grandmother’s purse. The lavender creates some soft floral nose that I feel works well with the Hendricks. Fizzy springtime in a cup.

 

Make It: Rosemary Lavender Simple Syrup

Rosemary Lavender Simple Syrup for use in the Springtime Gin Fizz.

2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar (I used organic golden sugarcane, but ehhhh… you can use white, it’s just what I had on hand)
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 teaspoon of lavender buds

Wash and dry your herbs. In a saucepan that seems much too large to hold such little liquid, throw in the water, sugar and herbs. Swish to combine. It’s not necessary to thoroughly dissolve the sugar. That will happen soon enough. Bring the mixture to a soft boil (not rolling), then turn down to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fine strain your mixture into a glass container. I prefer one with a spout (I usually just pour into a pyrex measuring glass) since I will transfer this into a couple different jars. One for a present, and then one bottle with a pour spout for drinks.

Note: There is so much debate over simple syrups (Cocktail Culture has a nicely compiled list of several arguments), and since I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this I am just using the same recipe I was following for the original recipe. It tastes good and worked for me with no problems. The original recipe says it will last up to one week in the fridge, but again, as with other syrups, I find that the boiling process does some kind of scientific mojo that lets it sit perfectly fine in my fridge for at least a month. However, this mix is going straight into the next drink recipe…here.

Squeeze Those Lemons

For a couple weeks now I have been racking my brain trying to come up with ideas on how to use all these lemons I have. And keep getting. Then the other night while I was cutting open a lemon to use for a drink and having to dirty up a knife, and a cutting board, and my fingers… I thought how much simpler this would be to just have a large amount of the freshly squeezed stuff on hand. Duh.

Bar professional after bar professional keeps stressing how important it is to have fresh squeezed juices on hand for drinks. But really, citrus season lasts only so long. And I do not have a food service truck arriving at my back door daily with crates of produce to use. So for those of us who are more than likely at our house mixing drinks, when it is that time of the year for citrus, squeeze the crap out of those lemons, and limes, and if you want to then some oranges too. Measure them out, pour into ziplock bags and freeze them. Bam. Juice when you need it. Now, I am still for using the alive lemon when on hand. But I like the idea of having a nice big stash on hand too.

I just finished zesting some lemons for the limoncello recipe and was annoyed at the fact that the recipe I had on hand said to wait a couple weeks and use new lemons. Why? Go ahead and juice the lemons you just used, label the bag and stick it in the freezer. Then you just need to defrost the bag maybe the night before you know you will need to use the juice. No waste. I hate wasting food and you should too. 

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