Intrigued by this? This week I teamed up with Dine X Design to create a Fall cocktail to take us from these long, hot Summer days into the (finally!) cooler ones of Fall. Ready to experience the magic of apple cider ice cubes?! Click on over for the full recipe!
And then I had an answer: I chose balsamic vinegar. Yes! That liquid you pour on your salad! Actually, this has been on my ideas list for some time now, but the opportunity never really came up to make something with it. I’m distinguishing this from shrubs, which I have used, because in those cases I made the shrub and also because I haven’t used grape musts before, which is the base for the balsamic I am using. The one caveat here is that I am using a reduced balsamic, which is more of a syrupy consistency. I was initially going to reduce a balsamic vinegar for the recipe but I’m trying to be simple, and I love the flavor of the one I have on hand. So, there you go…one less step.
Balsamic vinegar by itself is a pretty powerful ingredient. Even in this condensed, sweeter form, Crema di Balsamico still sings back to its vinegary beginnings. So I had to find another powerful star for this drink, and for that I turned to mezcal. In fact, all of the components to this drink are stand outs, but together in the cocktail they somehow work to balance each other out. They all become team players here instead of divas.
So let’s crack into the Unknown and make a drink.
1-1/2 ounces mezcal, Montelobos used here
1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Crema di Balsamico
grapefruit peel for garnish
- In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine mezcal, grapefruit juice, Aperol and balsamic. Shake hard to mix well (that balsamic might need some help getting out of the jigger too) for about 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.
While the mezcal does provide a hefty backbone to this drink it doesn’t overpower the whole. Grapefruit gives a bit of sweetness and also a touch of bitterness while the crema di balsamico adds the essence of “tang” instead of “vinegar”. Aperol was a later addition to the drink and ended up connecting the dots of the cocktail, roundimg out the flavors and making them work well together.
I’ve had this recipe out there for so long on my “to make” list that I can’t even remember how I decided to come to develop a macadamia nut version of this almond-based syrup. All I can say is that regular orgeat is lighter in flavor, while the roasted macadamia nuts give a more hefty, robust nuttiness to the final product. It’s still quite sweet, as it should be – it’s a syrup. That said I don’t see this as a blanket replacement for regular almond orgeat. The macadamia nuts would do well to balance out some sweeter flavors like coconut or give dimension to some blander fruits like banana.
Now on to the recipe!
Adapted from Beach Bum Berry Remixed
Yields aproximately 1-1/2 liters
500 grams raw macadamia nuts
800 ml water
700 grams granulated sugar, organic
1 ounce vodka
2 teaspoons orange flower water (start here and gradually add more to taste)
- Start by roasting the macadamia nuts. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lay macadamia nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 15-17 minutes until golden in color. If your oven runs hot, start checking around 12 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Macadamia nuts are expensive and you don’t want to waste them.
- Cool the nuts and place them in a bowl. Fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer (I found this work much better than with a rolling pin and I didn’t feel like busting out the food processor).
- Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 800 ml of water to it. Let stand for two hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
- Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I recommend making chocolate bark because… chocolate). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air tight container.
P.S. if you happen to be in Los Angeles in October on either the 6th or the 27th, you can taste this wonderful orgeat at The Coconut Club in our signature drink. Just saying.
I was fairly certain that you could bottle juice in a cocktail, what would change over time would be the quality. So, I decided I should find out what that shelf life would be.
The cocktail I chose to test was the Corpse Reviver #2. Why? Because lately this had become Christopher’s drink of choice at home and he could give a fair assessment of the changes the bottled drinks would take on over time.
A couple notes here before we start:
- I am not a scientist, although I like to pretend to be in my head.
- The experiments were not done in a controlled lab situation but in a home kitchen, like the one you have, so that’s probably a better place to test these out if YOU are making them.
- Bottles were stored in a refrigerator to help keep them climate controlled. If you leave these in your pantry your results could be different.
And the results?
- Bottle #1: 24 hours later from start date. Sharp lemon flavor with strong anise notes. No compromise in quality.
- Bottle #2: 48 hours later from start date. Lemon less sharp. Mellower flavor. No noticeable compromise in quality.
- Bottle #3: 96 hours later from start date. Still no noticeable compromise in quality. Flavors still distinguishable but overall less sharp.
- Bottle #4: 10 days from start date. Drinkable but flavor is one note and muddied. Too mellow. Bland.
- Bottle #5: 15 days from start date. Not passable. Too bland. Still drank it in the name of science though.
If you’re having company or expecting people to drop by at any time, a small batch of these kept in the fridge for a week will be fine! But after that, the quality starts to drop and guests will think you mucked up the recipe. So…drink ‘em up.
Now, we’re not just going to add in cucumbers and call it a day. I’m not that lazy. Instead I tweak it just a little more with the introduction of Green Chartreuse. A little bit added here gives the whole cocktail a spicy punch: hints of licorice, some bitter citrus in there, and lots of other mysterious herbal flavors that make up the ridiculous amount of ingredients found in one bottle. Green Chartreuse balances everything out, taking a somewhat demure drink into very bold territory.
Yes, it might seem like suddenly frozen drinks are popping up on my Instagram feed like mushrooms in a forest, but trust me, this is all in the name of science (not really). I’m just here to make blended alcoholic drinks not suck. Again, as with the frozen peach daiquiri, chilling beforehand will give you a freezing cold base to start with, offering very little dilution when you add the ice. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to skip this step.
8 ounces white rum, such as Caña Brava
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes
1 1/2 ounces Green Chartreuse
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cups ice cubes
4 cucumber spears and lime zest for garnish
At least 1 day before you’d like to serve the cocktail, combine rum, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, and simple syrup in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for at least 8 hours. Pour pre-chilled base into blender with cucumber rounds and ice. Blend until even in texture. Pour into serving glasses, garnish each drink with a cucumber spear and lime zest, and serve.
And if you’re on board the frozen daiquiri train now, you can always go back and check out that peach one.
*This post was originally part of a longer article I wrote over on Serious Eats.
The best part about this cocktail is that you can batch the base days ahead of time if you want. Or not. Making the base and sticking it in the freezer the night before gives you a super chilled mix (it won’t freeze) that when you blend with ice cubes the next day, it prevents it from getting too watery and diluted. If you’re pressed for time, you can just blend it all up without freezing too. I’m not going to stand in the way of you and this drink.
White Pepper-Green Tea Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 green tea bags
2 tablespoons white peppercorns, whole
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep 5 minutes, then remove tea bags. Stir in peppercorns. Cover and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. Strain and bottle into an airtight container. Keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks.
Frozen Peach Daiquiri:
serves 3-4 cocktails
8 ounces white rum, such as Selvarey
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes
2 ripe peaches, roughly cubed (about 3 cups)
2 1/2 ounces White Pepper-Green Tea Syrup
4 cups ice
4 peach slices and lime zest for garnish
At least 1 day before you want to serve the drink, combine rum, lime juice, and White Pepper Green Tea Syrup in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, pour pre-chilled base into blender with peaches and ice. Blend until mixture is uniform in texture. Pour into serving glasses. Garnish with a peach slice and lime zest, and serve.
Juicy peach flavor that is not too sweet. Lovely earthiness from the white pepper and green tea while the lime and rum give it just enough zest.
Yes, I’m aware there’s been quite a number of round ups on the site this summer. But you know what? It’s SUMMER. Give me a break. To continue the trend of taking it easy as we head into Fall, I’m giving you yet another list of cocktails ideas. This time though I’m making sure they’re batched and sitting pretty in your fridge, waiting for you to break out a pitcher or blender to wizz them up at the touch of a button.
Pro tip: get someone else to make the bases for you.
Frozen Negroni Cocktails. In regular flavor and watermelon.
Salted Peanut Old Fashioneds. You should already have these made and in your fridge.
Hibiscus Lime Cooler. Because you should.
Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails. Cocktails you can eat are always a win.
Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria. I just love an excuse to make Sangria.
See? (Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria)
Lazy Cucumber Punch….
Happy long weekend everyone! Let me know what you’re drinking!
The base of this cocktail is the summer melon pictured above. I actually bought this little guy based solely on a photo I saw online. One great thing about living in a major city like Los Angeles is the sheer number of delivery services available to us. Did you guys see the Booze News where I mentioned you can get booze delivered by underwear models? Yeah, that’s a thing here. But not everything is pointless like that. We have so many farmer’s markets in all corners of the city that one would just assume that on every given day you could drive or bike or walk over to one of them, get your produce for the week and carry on. Somehow that just wasn’t working out for me. Work, unfortunately, was becoming a 7 day a week affair and breaking to get fresh, local produce was suddenly becoming a far away dream.
In the past, we’ve used a few of the CSA delivery services. Which, for the most part are awesome and ensures we get fresh, local produce thrown at us every week. The problem was: it wasn’t always what we wanted to work with, or quantities were just wrong. For example, how the hell does one lemon suffice for a whole week? Answer: it doesn’t.
About a month ago we tried out a new service that combined both CSA boxes, single produce items and dairy and pantry staples. Pretty much like a virtual farmer’s market. With free delivery. That melon sat on the page, looking delicious and so more appealing than a regular cantaloupe (even if it was just, well, a cantaloupe). So I impulse bought it. In fact, I impulsively added a whole bunch of stuff into my cart. And then I saw the price. And then I slowly decided what to put back. I mean, part of being able to pick exactly what you want is also so that you’re not wasting food; I absolutely hate throwing anything uneaten in the trash.
This post is in no way sponsored by this delivery service, which if you’re interested you can check out Good Eggs yourself. They have no idea how much time and effort they are saving me. I’m just admitting to you all how sometimes in life I like to throw money at my problems to try and make them go away. Eating local and seasonal seems like a reasonable cause to throw money at. That cilantro up there also came from them.
OK, so let’s get to the cocktail.
There are a few components to this that are make ahead. You know how I love my projects! It’s probably why I can’t make it out to the farmer’s market. The first is that the melon gets steeped in gin for a few days; it’s so worth it. Next, cilantro gets chopped up and mixed into a simple syrup. Then everything is combined with some Dolin Blanc, lime juice and cayenne pepper. This whole concoction was really based on the fruit cart vendors I see all over Los Angeles. Another food item I used to impulsively buy until I learned just how simple it was to make at home.
For the Melon-Infused Gin:
1 cup London Dry gin, such as Ford’s
1 cup chopped skinned and seeded cantaloupe (about 1/2 melon)
Combine gin and cantaloupe in an airtight container; cantaloupe should be completely covered with gin. Let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Strain into a clean bottle. Refrigerate up to 6 months.
For the Cilantro Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro leaves and stems
Combine water with sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add cilantro and let stand for 1 hour. Strain out cilantro. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For the Cocktail:
2 ounces Melon-Infused Gin
3/4 ounce Cilantro Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish
Melon slice, for garnish
Combine melon-infused gin, cilantro simple syrup, lime, vermouth, and pinch cayenne pepper in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a melon slice sprinkled with additional cayenne and serve immediately.
A strong juniper palate, along with the herbal and citrus hints found in a London Dry gin style work really well to balance the sweetness of a melon like cantaloupe. Adding the element of grassy cilantro into the mix here gives the whole drink a touch more savoriness. A generous squeeze of lime juice and a big pinch of cayenne transforms the base into a juicy, fruity, spicy cocktail.
This recipe came about in my search to find a light, refreshing cocktail that wasn’t weighed down by the usual culprit of coconut cream. However, I still found myself wanting to mimic the cream and I remembered awhile back that Todd over at Honestly Yum, did a pear foam last year that had similar structure for what I was looking for: light as air foam that still had a dense appearance. So here coconut water becomes a coconut foam. Adding the cardamom to the foam also meant getting the lovely aroma in there, but not effecting the taste profile I wanted for the cocktail under the foam. This is one of those times where I was looking to transform the drink from first sniff to last sip.
Again, as for many posts, you will need a piece of special equipment. An ISI whipped cream canister makes this fast and gives you a stable foam. I suppose you could whip this up in a stand mixer and then spoon it on your cocktail, but, well, I like an excuse to bring out the toys. All of this is available online and I’ll provide links below.
There was a possibility that this drink was going to make it on to the supper club menu, but we decided to go another direction. Also, I’d hate to ruin the surprise at the dinner when you get one!
Part 1: Make the Coconut Cardamom Foam
adapted from Honestly Yum
7 ounces coconut water
2-1/2 ounces egg whites
2 ounces simple syrup
3-4 drops cardamom tincture (recipe here)
Add all ingredients to a whipped cream canister. Close the canister, shake hard, charge it with a whipped cream charger and refrigerate at least one hour until ready to use. Will keep fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Part 2: Make the Cocktail
2 ounces white rum, such as Selvarey*
2 ounces coconut water
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
cardamom pod for garnish
In a cocktail shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine rum, coconut water, lime juice and passion fruit. Shake to combine about 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Using the whipped cream canister pointed straight down over the drink, add foam in a circular motion until the top of the drink is covered, about a 1/2″. Add a cardamom on top for a garnish.
Strong cardamom aroma with a hint of coconut. The cocktail itself is very light and dry. Coconut flavor sits in the back while more of the fruit notes move forward from the passionfruit and this particular rum’s flavor profile. Quite delightful.
Where do I get the equipment from?
*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
This tincture is pretty easy to assemble, it just takes a few days to brew.
1/2 cup grain alcohol
1/3 cup green cardamom pods, slightly cracked
In an airtight container (mason jars with lids work great) combine alcohol and cardamom pods. Swirl to combine and leave in a cool, dark place for 6 days. After 6 days, strain out solids using a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Store in a airtight jar. Flavor will last up to a year.
The aroma the tincture imparts is an intense cardamom smell that has sweet, floral notes. Looking for a recipe to go along with this? Stay tuned! One coming up this week.