Mixology Monday: Pelée Sunset Cocktail

Pelee Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
mxmologo

I hate to admit it, but this month’s Mixology Monday almost had me stumped. Wrongly I assumed I had a great flipped recipe; until I tried it and was horribly mistaken. This month’s theme, Flip Flop!, hosted by Frederic from the Cocktail 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.

pelee sunset cherries

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.

Bake It: Angostura Bitters & Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Sometimes we do this thing at my house where we’ve decided we want to be healthier and get rid of all the ‘unhealthy’ snacks in the house. So suddenly there is no more processed goodies about. We’re left with a container of unsweetened cocoa powder and a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips shoved in the back of the fridge. All you bakers out there are rolling your eyes and saying ‘yeah, and?‘ right about now. What I’m left with is two main ingredients to make a whole bunch of desserts and unhealthy foods. The challenge though, is to actually make something from scratch.

I love to bake, but I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. Now I’m mainly focused on cocktails. Then I decided to marry the two.

When I realized there was nothing to snack on at the house I went in search for a quick and easy recipe I could throw together with not much effort but be satisfied with the end result. I remembered I’d seen on Shutterbean a pretty straightforward brownie recipe that would accomplish both goals. But I wanted to put my own spin on it. Also, I wanted something my husband would want to eat and that meant throwing some kind of fruit into it and getting the walnuts out (otherwise I’d be staring the pan down with no regrets). Lately he’d been on a cherry kick and as an afterthought, I figured I would stick a couple cherries on top. Then I spotted the bottle of Angostura bitters and I had an idea. My first batch had a 1/2 ounce, but I found I wanted the bitters to be stronger throughout the brownies. Then I threw in a whole ounce and it was magic.

(recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-¼ cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 oz. Angostura bitters
1 cup luxardo cherries (syrup drained off as much as possible)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 8″ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment.

Mix flour, salt, cocoa powder & baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir frequently, until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted.

Whisk in sugar until smooth. Add bitters and stir to combine. Whisk in eggs. Fold in cherries. Gently whisk in flour mixture until smooth (do not overmix).

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (they should form a ball when rolled between your fingers), 50 – 55 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Use parchment paper to lift from pan; peel off and discard. Cut into squares (this is much easier to do with these brownies if you stick them in the freezer after they have cooled slightly for about 20 minutes).

I found that adding the bitters and the cherries made the batter a bit thicker and took more time to bake thoroughly. I would start checking on them at about the 50 minute mark and test every 5 minutes after. The end result is a fudgy brownie that has some super spicy notes from the bitters, and with the cherries, are reminiscent of chocolate covered cherry cordials. I decided to split the chocolate between semisweet and bittersweet to cut a bit back on the richness and try to highlight more of the spice. They really make a great holiday brownie too (I’ve now made this enough times over the past two weeks that I have the recipe memorized and could make them in my sleep).

The Aquavit Solution

I’m starting to amass a collection a liqueurs that I don’t know what to do with. Part of the problem is that for months now I’ve wanted nothing more to drink than champagne and Manhattan’s night after night. That tends to leave bottles of things like Aquavit lying around looking sad. But today I couldn’t take that sad little Scandinavian face any longer and decided to try it. Hey, I’m half Scandinavian myself and caraway and I go way back.

A bit stumped I looked at all the other bottles hanging out with it and decided just to think about flavors and smells. There’s a lot going on in the flavor department with Aquavit, but at the same time I thought it could use a little sweet and citrus. So I grabbed Aperol. And rounded out the spice with Angostura.

When using any kind of bitter aperitif like Aperol, a little goes along way. But I like that smack of bitterness you get, so I use more. If you’re not a huge lover, just add less. You should enjoy what you’re drinking after all.

1-1/2 oz Aquavit
1 oz Aperol
2 dashes Angostura bitters

In a mixing glass filled with ice combine all of the ingredients. Stir to chill and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Even though this is a cold drink, there is something very warming about all the spiciness you get from it. Underneath the Aperol, the Aquavit provides layers of fennel and caraway.

I think that I might just go through all the weirdo random bottles I have accumulated in the past two years. Half a bottle of Ouzo? Check. Goldschläger? Really? Check. Be prepared folks.

How ‘Bout An Old Fashioned?

It occurred to me today I’ve never made an Old Fashioned. Drank many of them, but never actually made any. And with the arrival of a GIANT bottle of Angostura bitters in the house (do they make a small bottle even?) now is the time for making one. Apparently there is a lot of hub-bub on how to properly make one. In my opinion, the less you mess with a classic the better it is.

1 sugar cube (La Perruche is in the house)
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2-3 drops of water
2-1/2oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
1 lemon peel

Drop the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. On top of that sugar cube drop the water and the bitters, muddle together. Add the bourbon and stir together to mix. Add 2 ice cubes. If you can successfully ignite a lemon peel (or orange peel- I would have chosen the orange but alas, none in the house), spark it and drop into the glass. If you’re like me, and have been shown by the bartender at Bigfoot West about 30 times now how to do this, but immediately forget once home- maybe consider muddling the peel with the sugar, or just giving it a good twist and dropping it in the glass. Tip back.

No notes. Just enjoyed some bourbon with aromatics.

Try 30- still not a success.