Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.
Well guys, it’s been two years since I’ve done one of these, so here’s your 2016 cocktail roundup for all your Moms. Drink up!
Back in January I attended the second annual Golden State of Cocktails here in Los Angeles. Three days filled with seminars, demonstrations, booze, tacos, science, more booze, some bar crawls, educational booths, and so much more booze. While there were some fantastic seminars attended, the talk on the history of pisco stood out the most for me. It made me… really excited about pisco. I can’t say for certain what it was exactly that made this particular talk so great: the enthusiastic speakers? The bottled punch? The sample after sample of pisco? Whatever it was, I knew I was hooked on the spirit and had to start using it more. Hey, the title of the seminar was “The World’s Most Mixable Spirit”. (And if you’d like a little more history on it, I touched on a couple points in my Serious Eats post you can read.)
So obviously I needed to start mixing with it. Consider this your gateway cocktail into the world of pisco (that is if you are still on the fence about drinking a Pisco Sour due to the egg white. OH, hey. I made a vegan version of that you should try). Here I’ve paired the pisco with the very much in season grapefruits that I had accumulated over the last several weeks from the farmer’s market. Yes, sometimes my seasonal cocktails are just a reason to get rid of some fruit I’ve over-bought. Then I spiked it with a little thyme and a splash of lime.
For the Grapefruit Syrup:
Zest from one medium grapefruit
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice from 2 to 3 grapefruits (see note above)
1 cup granulated sugar
- Combine grapefruit zest, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into an air-tight container. Refrigerate until ready to use or up to 1 week.
For the Bottled Cocktails:
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from 3 limes
9 ounces pisco, such as Encanto
4 1/2 ounces Grapefruit Syrup
6 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish
- In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together thyme and salt. Add lime juice and stir. Fine-strain into a 24-ounce carafe or swing-top bottle and then pour in grapefruit syrup and pisco. Cap and gently shake to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
- For each cocktail, add one large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in 2-3/4 ounces of the bottled cocktail. Gently stir and garnish with a sprig of thyme.
It’s a bright, delicious cocktail that you can easily have along whatever brunch-y dishes you might be cooking up. But still palatable for a pre-dinner drink too if that’s more your thing.
Another nice fact about pitcher drinks: they can mostly be assembled beforehand and topped off before the party starts. Less stress this summer; you are welcome.
Note: my pitcher is on the small side, serving about 6. If yours is much larger this can easily be doubled (or hell, tripled). And be careful with the hibiscus! This little flower goes from tangy to bitter super fast so don’t walk away and forget about it when you’re steeping.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 dried hibiscus flowers
zest from one lime
2 ounces lime juice from 2-3 limes
Over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to just under a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus and lime zest. Stir, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, let cool and add lime juice.
For the drinks:
1 lime, sliced thin
1 cup hibiscus-lime syrup (recipe above)
1 cup tequila, Herradura Tequila Silver used here
2 cups tonic water, chilled
For the drink: In a pitcher, add lime slices, syrup and tequila. If not using right away, store in refrigerator. Otherwise, add tonic water and stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime wedges.
Tart and tangy, the hibiscus-lime mixture provides a lift to the vegetal nature of the tequila. The tonic gives a hint of bitter and sweetness to the final drink, along with a nice effervescence. If tonic is too overpowering for you, club soda can be substituted.
I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Drinks site.
Update: it has come to light that some precautions must be taken with making your own tonic at home using cinchona bark. Remember to TRIPLE filter until no solids are left. Please read this article if you are new to making tonics at home.
It feels so good to check something off my “To Make” list. And thanks to Mixology Monday, I got to do that today. Some time ago I happened upon an article about making your own tonic syrup. I forget where now, but I immediately added it to my ever fluctuating list of projects I assign myself. Making the syrup seemed the obvious choice this month as HIGHBALLS! was the assigned theme by Joel over at the Southern Ash blog. What is Mixology Monday you might be asking yourself (if you are new around this site)? Well, every month a group of cocktail (and food bloggers…we’re not picky) get together and face a challenge presented by whoever is “hosting” this online cocktail party that month. To check out what we did last year, please check out the archives over on the MxMo site, there were quite a few epic drinks. Everyone submits by the deadline and we eagerly await the roundup to see what everyone came up with, and secretly friend-hate on those that did a better job than you. It’s all about community.
One of my favorite Highball drinks is a Gin & Tonic (also Amaro Highballs but we’ve already covered that on here), and what better way to feature this drink than with an amazing homemade tonic syrup? What is your go-to Tonic Water? Do you like some of the more exotic ones like Fever-Tree or Q-Tonic? Or do you go with plain ol’ Canada Dry? No judgement here; I’ve had them all. Before I became aware that you can actually MAKE your own, I was a big fan (still am) of Fever-Tree’s Indian Tonic Water. It had more character than I had experienced in other tonic waters and added a nice, spicy flavor profile to a G&T. In making my own, I wanted to capture some of that spiciness, but also introduce more bolder flavors into the mix. The tonic ingredients moved away from what I thought of mostly as “Indian” spices (cardamom, coriander) and moved more into the broader category of “Southeast Asian” (kaffir lime leaves, ginger).
Since this was my first time venturing down the path of this DIY project I sought out someone who I trust implicitly with these homemade concoctions: Morgenthaler. (You can read his original recipe with the link below.) Ingredients were tweaked from his original to include other’s favorites and whatever I had in my spice cabinet that I thought would be interesting. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty interesting. Also, tasty.
Southeast Asian Style Tonic
adapted from Jeffrey Morgenthaler
4 cups water
2-3 dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
4 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp. whole allspice berries
1/2 whole star anise
1/4 tsp. whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1″ knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cinchona bark powder (update: cut this back to 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup citric acid
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
zest and juice from one lime
zest and juice from one lemon
zest and juice from one orange
7 oz. sugar
1 oz. vodka, optional
Combine all ingredients except sugar in a medium sauce pan. Stir to combine (a slight skin may form over the top, don’t worry, that will dissipate once the boil starts). Heat over high heat until a rolling boil is reached. Reduce to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Strain a second time through a coffee filter to remove any remaining sediment and a third time if solids are still left. You DO NOT want any remaining solids in your final product. Pour strained mixture back into a clean sauce pan over medium heat, after mixture warms, about 3-5 minutes, add sugar and stir to combine. Once sugar has fully melted, about 7-9 mintues, remove from heat. Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container. If not using right away, add one ounce vodka to syrup.
Gin and Southeast Asian Tonic
2 oz. tonic syrup (recipe above)
2-1/2 oz. carbonated water
2 oz. Gin, Hendrick’s used here
Build the cocktail by adding all three ingredients to a highball (or double rocks if you’d like one large ice cube) glass filled with ice. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a small lime wedge.
Holy flavor bomb Batman! This syrup has a lot of spice and tartness going on, but one ingredients does not overpower the other. The citrus element here is very strong in the tonic and I found that adding lime wedges, which I usually squeeze in, were not needed. If you close your eyes and slowly taste, you can definitely point out the pepper, the coriander, etc. But it’s so refreshing and delicious you’re just going to want to gulp it down.
**If you have a hard time sourcing herbs in your neighborhood, Dandelion Botanical Company is a great online resource (and where I get the majority of mine).
Thanks to the Southern Ash blog for hosting this month and to Fred for keeping the dream alive. Check back here next week for the round up of everyone’s submissions.
A few weeks ago I was invited to be part of the “media” who judged a sangria contest sponsored by Pavan liqueur. I won’t point out who, but some of the drinks I found to be just one-note beverages. They were flat; they were boring. That’s so sad. When I did like the drink, it was because the bartender had put a lot of thought into the layers that were making up the recipe. Flavor after flavor that both was interesting, worked as a whole, and was not boring. And that’s what I want when I am drinking sangria and when others might possibly be ingesting the drink too.
Fast forward to last week where I put the finishing touches on this sangria recipe I had been dreaming about and up it went on the Serious Drinks site. I will be posting some recipes this month on their site, so please jump on over there from time to time and check them out. Outtakes and the usual nonsense will be found here still.
For the cranberry-black pepper syrup:
3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
½ cup whole black peppercorns
For the base:
1/4 cup of sliced kumquats, about 5-6 kumquats
1 satsuma tangerine, sliced
1 ounce of Shrub & Co. Spicy Ginger Shrub
2 ounces of cranberry-black pepper syrup
4 ounces of Pavan
For each drink:
4-5 ounces of Brut Cava, such as German Gilabert
- For the syrup, combine water, sugar, cranberries and peppercorns in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Cool and fine-strain mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into an air-tight container. Will keep refrigerated for one week, or add half an ounce of vodka to the mixture to prolong freshness up to 3 months.
- For the base, combine sliced kumquats and tangerines in the base of an airtight container with ginger shrub, syrup and pavan. Refrigerate for at least two days and up to four days.
- For individual servings, pour 1 and a half ounces of base into the bottom of a white wine or rocks glass along with any desired fruit from the base. Add ice cubes and top with 4 ounces of the Cava. Gently stir to combine and serve.
- For a full pitcher, add the entire bottle of Cava to a pitcher containing the base. Stir gently to combine, and pour into individual serving glasses.
Lots of flavor with sharp, spiciness from the ginger and pepper. The dry cava balances out the sweet, syrupy base.
Gentlemen, this is a sangria drink for you too; it bites back. I served this drink at a private party this weekend and one guy had 6 servings. Granted, the alcohol content is not too high, but seriously: SIX. He dragged people over to try it and they were also converted. I’m convinced all of your guests will love this.
Once a long time ago I used marmalade in a drink and I patted myself on the back for thinking of trying it. And then I realized that my Eureka moment had been experienced by many a cocktail maker. Oh well. Great minds think alike right?
Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that tastes similar to a sour orange and is very aromatic. The Sqirl marmalade has a nice bitter, sour and sweet flavor profile. You can sub in an orange marmalade that is more on the tart side and not too sweet to get similar results in this cocktail. Don’t sub the Yuzu bitters though, you’ll want to track these down online if your local store doesn’t carry them.
Adapted from Saveur
2 oz Old Grandad 100-proof bourbon
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 tsp Sqirl Yuzu marmalade (or a bitter orange marmalade)
1 egg white
2 drops Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters
1 lemon strip for garnish
Combine all ingredients except your garnish in a Boston shaker. Dry shake for 30 seconds to incorporate the egg white. Add ice and shake vigorously for about a minute. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the lemon strip.
Sharp and tart, this drink provides a nice contrast with a subtle sweet flavor and floral notes from the bitters. Those bitters also provide balance between the bite of the whiskey and the sour flavor of the citrus. Again I’m delving into the semi-scary world of raw eggs but fear not, that egg white adds a lovely creaminess to the drink with a rich mouthfeel. On its own, the Yuzu marmalade is quite tangy, but mellows out into the drink. Overall it’s surprisingly dry, not unlike my sense of humor.
The result is light and refreshing, which I find I want more lately than my usual heavy whiskey. The cocktail is not too sweet, but the syrup does cut through the sharp bite of the ginger beer.
I have a couple more of these citrus posts ready to roll out this week, so please check back!
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.