I enjoy Gin and Tonics like some people enjoy water, or cocaine. They go down pretty easily and are light enough that I can have them with the heaviest of meals. Occasionally though they get quite dull and an extra oomph of something is needed. I like to think that many cocktails are given birth with that thought process. Foul, rancid water? Hey, let’s add some beer to that! And so forth.
So a week or so ago we went over to BevMo and stocked up on some more items for the bar. On a recommendation we found and picked up a bottle of Aperol. Aperol is another of those Italian aperitifs… slightly bitter, slightly sweet. This one tastes of oranges.
The syrupy nature of this liqueror made me think that it needed a couple of ingredients to cut that down.. and so I thought of a gin and tonic. And the conclusion? So. freaking. tasty. I need to make a barrel of my own tonic water because I think this concoction might just become my new summer drink.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.