At the end of May I caught a tweet from the NY Times food section that completely changed my mind about what a Sangria should be. Lavender? Sake? What were these crazy components I’d never dreamed of adding to what I considered to be a drink of wine and fruit thrown in for good measure. You can read the whole article through this link, just come back here when you’re done.
That Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria I did? Little did I know what path I would start going down next. Suddenly that article made me want to try it with all kinds of wine. White Sangria I am still working on, but Rosé? I think I have something pretty special here. (Oh, and I got Sherry waiting in line too, FYI).
In developing this recipe, I made the Rosé tell me where to go. By that I mean I bought a relatively cheap bottle in case this was a bomb (Hello Trader Joe’s!) and tasted it, and from there went with what I thought would enhance the flavor profile of the wine and compliment it on several levels. Apples, plums, basil. It’s all in there along with some not so well known ingredients: Cardamaro (a complex wine-based Amaro). And unexpected: Rum.
For me, I want Sangria to be complex, like a cocktail, but on the obvious larger scale in size.The only downfall here is the wait time. Sorry folks, this needs to sit for 2 days, it’s just better that way. Trust me.
5-6 basil leaves
2 plums, sliced
1-1/2 green apples, sliced
1/2 large pear, sliced
1 oz. Cardamaro
4 oz. El Dorado 15 year Rum
1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir Rosé (pick a Rosé that is light, dry and subtly sweet with hints of berries)
Lightly crush the basil in the bottom of your pitcher. Add fruit. Pour liquids over the fruit and stir to combine. Refrigerate for two days. To serve, pour over ice filled double rocks glasses.
The Rosé, regardless of what else is added here, is still the dominant flavor, but now there is a wonderfully warm, light syrupy taste from the liquors. Apples our among the fruit with this particular ratio, however it’s a nice crisp addition. Plum is more of a subtle flavor in the background while the basil adds a slight earthiness that compliments this Rosé. Some people disagree with adding fruit during the resting period because it can become soggy. I am not one of those people. The fruit I stick in there I want infused into the drink. They are not merely a garnish. In fact, I might not even eat them.
If you can wait for this, it’s a light, crisp, refreshing and seriously easy to drink Sangria.
Virgin Slut blog, seemed straight forward enough. Take a recipe, exchange two or more ingredients while keeping the proportions the same. And there you go, new recipe.
The great thing behind these monthly challenges is that sometimes they really take you out of your comfort zone in the bar area. I am sitting here at the very end of the day, finally getting something down because I have spent a solid week of try and try agains. I feel like I’m in school.
Alas, something clicked. Lately I’ve been trying to familiarize myself more with the world of Rum and picked up a bottle of Rhum J.M Gold. I’m not 100% if I am including all of the correct information when stating its name. I DO know it is Rhum Agricole, which is made from sugarcane, as opposed to regular Rum which is mostly molasses produced. And that’s where my knowledge stops. The Ministry of Rum is a good place to go for more info. Anyway, so I have this bottle of golden rum with a nice spicy nose and paired it up with Pimms for a Manhattan variation. And it worked.
2 oz. Rhum J.M. Gold
1 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Luxardo Cherry for garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add the Rhum, Pimm’s and bitters. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Drop a cherry in for garnish.
This drink is STRONG. And it’s not afraid to let you know. You can taste the strength of the Rhum, at 50% ABV. But, you will also taste some mild fruity spice as well. All 3 (well, even 4 if you count the cherry’s syrup) ingredients have varying degrees of spiciness to them contributing to an overall warmth. Maybe not so much a summer drink here, but I wouldn’t turn it down today.
Oh, and the name. The name is the volcano where this particular Rhum is produced. Don’t you feel smart now today?
Thanks again to Frederic for hosting this month, I’ve definitely upped my knowledge of spirits that work well together this week.
After making that cherry syrup I found that I had a bag of sugary, smooshed cherries that needed some love. So I decided now was the time to start tinkering with cobblers. I’m marking this post as a good starting place, but already I’ve thought of some ways to improve upon it. Here’s a big tip: don’t go too fine with the ice. It melts too quick and you find all your cherries and liquid will start quickly plopping over the side of your dish. For presentation’s sake I made this in a shallow dish, thinking that I could mound the cherries on top, however, they all sank due to my ice crusher’s overzealous attempts to pulverize the ice and thus resulting in quickly melting ice. You would be better off to pile the ice in a collins glass and stick the fruit on top. Also, go easy with the ice! Too much and it waters your drink down too quickly.
If you follow those guidelines you’ll be on your way to enjoying this summery, refreshing cocktail. So, grab a spoon and a straw and let’s get started.
2 oz. Willet, Straight Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Spiced Cherry Syrup (recipe found here)
1/4 cup Cherries from the syrup batch (can sub out with Luxardo cherries if you’ve ditched/eaten the cherries from the syrup batch)
1 cup Crushed Ice (not too fine)
Sprig of Mint
In a shallow dish, place the cherries in the bottom (if using a Collins glass, reserve for the end). Mix whiskey and syrup with half of the crushed ice gently to combine. Pour into dish. Pack more ice on top. Slap your mint to release the oil and garnish the drink. Grate fresh cinnamon on top.
Now, here’s the fun thing about the cobbler: do you eat the fruit first? Or do you stick your straw in (go to the very bottom where the syrup, juice and whiskey have collected) and drink up? Your choice. You can even alternate if you’re not a weirdo like me and need to choose one or the other (I was that kid who only ate one food group at a time off their plate and never combined anything, occasionally this annoying trait finds its way back into my life once in a blue moon).
Enjoying this cocktail is like having a more subtle version of an icee, with alcohol. The ice tones down the heat of the whiskey and it mixes with the cherries for a sweet and lightly spiced flavor combo. This is not your convenience store cherry flavor mind you. Don’t go in thinking it’s like that or you’ll be disappointed. It’s a fresh cherry flavor, and in a way more muted. This has been enjoyed with the extreme heat we’ve been having this summer, and this has helped cool me down, sans the uber-sugary fake flavor you’d find elsewhere. Next time though I think I’ll pre-make a snowball with a hole in it to keep the ice-melting at bay.
So definitely for sure I can promise a recipe coming at you this week.
I don’t know how to make this super easy for you to click a link and it makes Instagram pop up in your phone. Just type out stirandstrain and you’re there.
Also, if you want more fun things to look at check out EVERYONE ELSE WHO WRITES A COCKTAIL BLOG attending Tales of the Cocktail right now. I’m trying to keep up with them at home, but if I keep at it I won’t make it into work tomorrow. For everyone there, be safe, have fun, hydrate. You lucky SOBs.
The first ingredient I sought to improve upon was the cherry syrup, or rather, the dredges from the kool-aid colored cherries. Cherries are in season right now, why not make a super-tasty syrup from them? It barely takes any effort other than pitting them. But that’s what a cherry pitter is for. Bam, done in two minutes.
Fresh Cherry Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup pitted cherries
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
1/2 oz. grenadine (home made is best!)
Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for two hours. Strain solids from liquids and add next three ingredients to mix. Stir to combine. If not using immediately, add 1/2 ounce of vodka to mix, or leave out vodka if using within 2 weeks.
The syrup produces a fresh cherry flavor with light syrup. It’s more juicy than syrupy. The citrus and grenadine balances the syrup out from being too subtle in flavor. They act almost like bitters in that it rounds it out to a fuller flavor. And on a side note, I could totally pour this all over some pancakes. Just FYI.
And then there was the drink.
2 oz. St. George Botanivore Gin
2 oz. freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. home made cherry syrup (recipe above)
2 drops of Miracle Mile Chocolate Chile Bitters
3 Luxardo cherries for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, shake and pour unstrained into a Collins glass. Garnish with Luxardo Cherries.
Like I said, I took the rum out, and the flavor profile completely changed. That sweetness and spice from the rum took a backseat in the cherry syrup, and a more botanical, herbaceous flavor moved to the front. The bitters tone down the sweet just enough. Citrus flavors are complimented by the bright, herbaceous gin. I specifically used this gin from St. George spirits to create a more interesting layer with the fruits and in the end, a refreshing summer drink that moves away from the realm of Tiki.
This past weekend I was asked “what makes a drink tiki?”, and admittedly, I was stumped to have a concrete answer. Is it a drink with rum? Well, no. There are drinks in the Grog Log with vodka, whiskey and gin. Is it the tropical flavors? Again, not necessarily. And at that point I realized I couldn’t give a concrete answer. Maybe it’s all in the garnish, the presentation…the state of mind! Regardless, here, by switching out the gold rum with a gin, and having some softer fruit flavors, the cocktail no longer is a tropical drink and more in line with just something for summer. Thoughts are always welcome on this subject….
1-1/2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
3/4 oz. Campari
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
For garnish: pineapple wheel, spent lime shell (with pulp removed), sugar cube, 151 rum
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake well to combine and pour, strained, into a chilled coupe. Garnish with pineapple wheel with flaming sugar cube on top (either way above will work). Try not to burn eyebrows.
This cocktail blends in a very interesting way flavors you associate with tropical, but with a more savory base from the Mezcal. Very dry, slightly sweet with an added molasses depth that I’m finding hard to explain HOW AWESOME IT TASTES. Fruit flavors are subtle with a balance of smoke from the Mezcal.
In the first variation of this, I left out the Cruzan Black Strap rum and the drink definitely had a much stronger punch of smoke. However, when it was added to the cocktail, it balanced everything out in a way I wasn’t prepared for since I was expecting more sweet.
In Other News…
I was interviewed! Listen to the webcast on Break Thru Radio here! (Click the blue play button at the top next to the DJ to listen)
Check out the Death to Sour Mix site for the post on MY SITE. It was badgers, not weasels. FYI.
And if you like music, you should follow my twitter feed, as I’m doing a song a day for the next year. Committed, that’s me.
Here’s the back story for my submission this month…
I’ve had this bottle of Sake taking up room in my fridge for months. Possibly more than five. Looking for an excuse for using it up, I thought I would try something a little lighter in the ABV, as this bottle clocks in at around 15-16%. Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai is a dry-ish sake that has a light melon/pear taste, but not much body. I figured it could use some bulking up via a cocktail.
My herb of choice for this drink was Rosemary. I have so much growing around my house that I filled up two green bins when just ‘trimming’ it last month. If you ask me for some, I will gladly hand over a shopping bag filled to the brim to you, which you will silently curse me for, wondering how in the hell you will use all of it. So, any time I can stick it in a drink, I will. Rosemary gets closeted into winter-time drinks much too much. It’s woodsy profile though pairs really well with citrus, and, as I have discovered this week, passion fruit.
So I married those two with a hint of grapefruit and came up with this low-alcohol cocktail. The final ingredient is tonic. The drink had the right flavors when I first tried it, but fell flat in my mouth. The tonic perked the whole thing up, giving it a much needed lightness and fizz.
3 oz Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai Sake
1/2 oz Passion Fruit syrup (recipe here)
1 sprig of rosemary, about 5″ long
3 dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters
2 oz Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
sprig of rosemary and grapefruit slice for garnish
In a mixing glass, place the sprig of rosemary in the bottom, add syrup and muddle gently, just enough to release the oils. Do not crush or tear the herb (5-7 presses with a muddler should do). Add ice 2/3 of the way up the glass, then pour in sake and bitters. Stir to combine. Fill a highball glass with ice and strain liquids over the ice. Top with Tonic water. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with rosemary sprig and grapefruit slice. A straw is also a welcome addition.
As I stated earlier, the rosemary and passion fruit are a great combo, earthy and tart. The grapefruit bitters offer a citrus nose and a sweet and bitter layer to the drink. The sake itself is pretty mild tasting, and I found it a nice canvas to play off of here. Overall clean and refreshing.
So before we get to the drinks, lets get to making the syrup. If you don’t raise your hand to the question Who’s going to use this syrup up in a month? Then you can either add a 1/2 oz of vodka to the mix to prolong it up to 3 months, or make a large batch and freeze up containers to use when passion fruit is not in season.
Although a basic recipe, credit goes to Tiare from the Mountain of Crushed Ice blog for some of the tips to making this syrup.
Passion Fruit Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Just under 1/2 cup of Passion Fruit seeds/juice (about 7 smallish fruit)
2 passion fruit
Combine first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, cut the heat and remove from the stove. Add the juice and seeds from the last two passion fruit to the mixture, stir to combine and cover. Let this sit for two hours, then strain and bottle.
Let’s ease into the Tiki now with the Hurricane cocktail. With just 3 simple ingredients this is where quality really counts. And perhaps your garnishes too.
I always associated the Hurricane with a red/pink color, in fact, I assumed that passion fruit were this color too (I seriously had no idea). So to my surprise, this Hurricane really is the color of a passion fruit, yellow-orange. Dealing with the fresh passion fruit also has taught me what I smell in a lot of Tiki drinks I’ve had out of the house. The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to be serious with drinks, or food even, get to know the fresh stuff, not just what comes in a can at a grocery store, you’ll very quickly start to favor the fresh ingredients. I’ll probably be heading back to the market to buy a couple pounds of passion fruit this week just so I can make enough syrup to freeze a sizable stash. God, I just hope they’re not out of season by Tuesday.
Hurricane Cocktail (adapted from the Grog Log)
4 oz dark rum (I chose Goslings Black Seal Rum)
2 oz freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 oz passion fruit syrup
large sprig of mint and pineapple cubes for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add first 3 ingredients and shake well. Fill a hurricane glass or large tiki mug with about 20 ounces of crushed ice. Strain drink over the ice and add more crushed ice if desired. Garnish with mint (give it a good slap between your hands to release some of the oils from the herb) and 3 pineapple cubes on a cocktail spear.
Don’t forget that mint! The mint adds an aromatic nose that is a perfect compliment for this sweet-tart drink. The Goslings was chosen because it gives a nice deep spice layer, while the Meyer lemon balances out the passion fruit tartness. Overall this was not what I remember a Hurricane tasting like, and that’s probably a good thing. Enjoy!
It was listed as a possible ice bucket on Etsy, but I don’t think standing water would be so great in the brass. For now I’ll just let it hang out with the liquor bottles.
I love the flavor of pineapples but they always get the rap of being put into a tropical drink. While I have no problem with that whatsoever, I really wanted to try a pinapple drink that wasn’t tiki.
This drink is a good base. It’s not pow-bam terrific but it’s getting there. The first incarnation came straight from the Joy of Mixology. And immediately I knew this was not really great. It tasted… weird? So I tried to think up what it was missing and came up with the recipe below.
The name, The Parker Misfire, is based off of the original recipe name, The Algonquin. I associate that with the name of the hotel where the Algonquin Round Table was housed. While many notable names sat there, I remember it fondly for Ms. Dorothy Parker, whose acerbic wit I strive for in my daily life. While this drink has some bite, it doesn’t deliver quite the zing it needs. Suggestions, as always, are welcome.
1-1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice, unsweetened
1/4 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
2 dashes of Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters
Combine all ingredients except for bitters in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add two dashes of Yuzu bitters on top.
Sweet and savory with a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel. The apricot balances the sweetness and cuts through the dry vermouth to prevent it from becoming ‘too savory’, which I found to be a real problem with the first version of the drink. The Yuzu adds a subtle bite of acid while providing a clean citrus nose to the drink. The rye is not a powerful flavor here as the pineapple covers up a lot of its bite.