A Diwali Cocktail

A Diwali Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAll of you guys are about to get schooled in a holiday I’m pretty sure you had no idea existed. If you are Indian and are reading this, then, well, you know what holiday this is. If you’re not from Indian descent, I’m guessing you are trying to figure out how to pronounce that word. Diwali. The “W” is like a “V”, pretty easy. In case you are wondering, I am not of Indian descent. My heritage crosses most of Europe, stopping way up North with the Nordic culture, and then randomly zig-zags through the continent. My family even has some French Canadian and a probably unlikely history with the Native American community. That being an unconfirmed princess from some tribe that I think is just made up several generations ago.

So why India’s most major of holidays? I married into it. From first glance you would have no idea my husband was part Indian. The other half is Polish, and after living in Los Angeles for many years before meeting him, I thought he was Mexican when we first met. No offense to Mexican and South American cultures, I was very buzzed at that first meeting. But since being an active part in his Mother’s culture for almost 7 years now, I’ve started to take on some of these other holidays. Also, at his cousin’s request, relocating back to work in India this year, I owe the cousin and her husband a housewarming drink just in time for this holiday.

If you have been reading this blog for some time, you might recall the not-so-pleasant experience I had visiting that continent last year. However, you would note that an awesome drink DID spring up from that experience, and most notably, that country’s love of Gin. India does a decent Gin and Tonic folks.A Diwali Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So for this year, on the festival of lights, I decided to tweak a recipe I encountered in the Washington Post on Indian beverages. The ingredients might seem a bit out there, but if you’re interested in new flavors, this would be a great place to start. The flavors of India are perfect for many cocktail creations, as they encompass sweet, salty and savory all at once and taste a lot more complex than cocktails you might be familiar with.

Here’s a warning for this drink, not to scare you off, but one ingredient in here, the black salt, might be a bit too much for some of you out there. When you open your container, you will get hit with a great amount of sulphur. That is a flavor component that this adds. Smelly, smelly sulphur. However, if you eat Indian food, you will find this subtly in the background in many dishes, so you might have already tried it before. Here though, if you are terrified of ruining a decent cocktail, or just simply cannot get your hands on it, leave it out. I won’t tell.A Diwali Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Also, the article suggests adding herbs and whole black peppercorns to your ice cubes the day before. This is optional and mainly a decorative element. When the ice cube starts to melt in the drink, be mindful that the peppercorns may be now floating in your beverage and you might unknowingly almost swallow one. I might have just done that. Twice.

Diwali Cocktail

Adapted from the Washington Post

Yields about 4 drinks

For paste base:
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons amchoor powder
1 teaspoons Indian Black Salt (make sure it is Indian and NOT anything else. No one else will have the same sulphur quality)
pinch kosher salt
1/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup water

For each serving:
3 to 4 oz. Q Ginger
1-1/2 oz. Old Bombay London Dry Gin

Garnish:
marigolds
lime wedges

  1. In a large mortar dish, add all paste ingredients except water and grind down until a paste forms. Add water and stir to combine. Consistency will be watery.
  2. In a double rocks glass or medium sized snifter, add a tablespoon and a half to the bottom of the glass. Add ice. Pour over gin, Q Ginger and squeeze 2 lime wedges in each glass. Top with marigolds.

At first sip this cocktail is almost shocking. So many flavors are going on in this drink and as you sip they meld together a bit and settle down. Cumin pepper, and the black salt dominate with their earthiness while the ginger, amchoor (which is dried mango powder by the way) and lime have a lovely sharp sweetness. If you would like more sweetness here, you can up the simple syrup or Q Ginger. The mint and cilantro give off some floral aromas as well. And the gin, well, it is sitting way at the back of the class here. It’s in there, but clearly being muscled out by the other spices. The marigolds are edible if you would like to try them although here their presence is symbolic of celebration in Indian culture. For the Hindi ceremony part of our wedding these little guys were EVERYWHERE.

Happy Diwali. If you do venture to make this, please let me know what you think!A Diwali Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Currently Drinking: Homebodies Edition

hanky panky homebodies cocktails // stirandstrain.comRecently Raul over at the Death to Sour Mix blog gave us 3 drinks he enjoyed this summer. That reminded me I wanted to throw up a couple of drinks that have been in regular (heavy) rotation around this house lately.

First, my husband, Christopher, who no longer would like to be referred to by ‘husband’ here but by his own name (maybe should have thought twice before he put a ring on it) is not one to turn down a drink. He leafs through all the cocktail books I bring in (never telling me I’ve bought too many. Thank god.) and, in addition to being my test monkey, he very often makes up his own drinks or makes a recipe that appeals to him. Lately it’s been the Hanky Panky via the PDT cocktail book. But not just your run of the mill HP. For the Gin, he uses the very assertive Terroir from St. George Spirits. Quite possibly his favorite gin ever. For me, this completely changes the drink and it’s totally something else, in a good way. Like when you put an onion in a martini and get to call it a Gibson. Be warned, this is like a pine forest took up camp in your cup, which you will either love, or not. NO in-betweens here!

Hanky Panky in a Forrest

2 oz. St. George Spirits Terroir Gin
1-1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca

Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled coupe.

red lantern homebodies cocktails // stirandstrain.comFor me, it’s all about this Negroni variation suggested by Michael Dietsch via his Serious Drinks article found here. I mean…dang! Smith and Cross was always a bit too powerful to the point I sometimes was unsure of what to do with it. But with Carpano and Campari it tames that wild beast of a rum into delectable smoothness. At first my only addition was adding a grapefruit peel garnish. I’m a bit sad to think about how many grapefruits I peeled to death and then forgot to eat the inside of. I need to learn to supreme citrus already! And then it happened, I ran out of Carpano. Playing my own game of swapping out the liquor I turned to Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and it worked in this drink’s favor. So much so I decided I’d even name this one.

Red Lantern

1-1/2 oz. Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
grapefruit peel for garnish

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add first three ingredients. Stir for 30 seconds and pour into a chilled double rocks glass. Cut a peel of grapefruit about 3 inches long. Express the oil over the drink, swab the inside of the glass with the oil and drop the peel into the glass.

Why a double rocks glass for that small amount of liquid? It’s all about getting that grapefruit aroma in there and up your nose. When I added that grapefruit peel the first time I tried this variation, bells went off; it was pretty darn perfect for me. And the rest of the drink? Velvet texture. The sharpness of the Smith and Cross is but by the syrupy Vermouth and bitter-sweetness of Campari. Powerful, and yet so easy to drink.

So what are you guys drinking at home? Is it your favorite classic cocktail? Or maybe it’s just a good beer. Let me know!

Mixology Monday: The Eyes of Angelique

The Angelique Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
mxmologo

Confession time. Or maybe rather, here’s some facts about me you didn’t know. One: I could have gone to college, full ride, on a Chemistry scholarship. Instead I chose art and am still paying off the TWO bachelor degrees that I am barely using right now. Two: I’m a giant nerd for the original Dark Shadows television program. I don’t go to the fan shows because I hate crowds, but I was overcome with sadness when Jonathan Frid, aka Barnabus Collins, passed away last year and I never got to geek out on him and tell him how much I enjoyed his melodramatic, line forgetting, over-the-top acting on the show. I am always going to regret that.

Why am I making you read that above paragraph? Because for this month’s Mixology Monday the Muse of Doom, writer of the blog Feu de Vie, decided that this month’s theme was FIRE. Immediately I started humming the chorus to Arthur Brown’s FIRE, and then while watching an episode of Dark Shadows decided that I wanted to name it after the lady always staring into the fire and being a badass, Angelique. I am, for the fourth time in my life, rewatching the series in its entirety, so, you know, it’s on the brain lately.The Angelique Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The name came first, as is sometimes the case. So taking that cue, I decided I wanted a drink both potent and spicy, and also with a touch of femininity. And that’s when I broke out the chemicals. I feel like nationally the molecular gastronomy movement has come, hit a crazy frenzy, and then gone back to the people who have really made it their shtick; José Andrés, Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, Wylie Dufresne. I have many of these chemicals available at hand from my day job and have been itching for a reason to use them. Recently I’ve been catching up on older episodes of the Dinner Party Download when the bartender at the SLS hotel (where José Andrés has his restaurant) was asked to make a Andy Warhol inspired cocktail. His cocktail, not surprisingly, had a ‘bubble bath’ that sat upon the top. This intrigued me since all I needed to perform this task was one chemical: Lecithin. Lecithin is an emulsifier, soy based (there is also egg based), that makes stable foam out of most liquids. You can read more on the chemical over here.

My thinking, after listening to the interview, was that I could create a fire-like mound upon on the drink using this chemical. Maybe add some extra oomph with edible red dust. And I did just that, sort of.

I’m not one to shy away from heat in my drink. I love it. Have you seen my Satan’s Breath or the Tres Palmas? If it makes me tear up, the better. I’m sure this sheds some kind of light onto my character, but this is a cocktail site, not a therapy session so we’ll leave that for my late-night marathon tweeting. I opted not to add heat in the form of peppers this time and instead made a spicy combo using a barrel-aged gin and ginger shrub. And topping it all off was a fiery cayenne laced Campari and Pineapple foam. The Angelique Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The lecithin was tricky. This was the first time using it and have learned a couple things I will try next time. One is that make sure you get the powdered form, the liquid does not work with juices/alcohol, it’s more for chocolates and food usage. Two is that you need a container with tall sides as using a hand blender will make this splatter all over the place if it’s a small sided vessel. You better believe my workspace is a sticky mess right now. I’ll clean it later.The Angelique Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

2 oz. Barrel Aged Rusty Blade Gin
1 oz. Shrub & Co. Ginger Shrub
1/2 oz. Rose Water
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all of the above ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled champagne saucer.

For the Bubbles:
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
2 oz. Campari
1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp if you’re not wanting too much fire)
1/2 tsp Lecithin

Edible red glitter for garnish

Combine ingredients in a flat bottomed container with tall sides. Gently stir to dissolve lecithin. Using a hand blender, whip contents until a foam begins. You will have to do several batches depending on the surface area of your container. Gently spoon foam on top of drink. Garnish with fiery red edible glitter.

Fire is up there when describing this cocktail. I may not have been able to create the fiery mound for the drink but that cayenne laced foam added a secondary punch after the first hit of the ginger shrub creating dynamic layers. Sweet, sharp and spicy all sing out beautifully here. Shrub & Co’s Ginger shrub and the Rusty Blade gin give the drink a lot of spice and heat, while the sweetness of the foam is just enough to balance out the tart notes. The rose water has a subtle layer of floral sweetness that is there in the background. Careful, the fire of the cayenne builds as you drink, settling down also at the bottom of the glass, making that last gulp a mouth of fire.

Improved Aviation Cocktail

improved aviation cocktailAmazon is both a pleasure and a curse. When a box arrives on our doorstep, the first thing I think is “Oh crap. How much did we spend this time?”. And then I open up the box and all questions of financial insanity are wiped clean away. Because I got a new cocktail book! My husband was browsing this time around and picked it out due to the crazy techniques in the description he found online. A Japanese take on cocktails, Cocktail Techniques by Kazuo Uyeda instructs the reader on making an ice sphere by hand, and the author’s well-known technique of “hard shaking” to mix cocktails. He thought it would make for an interesting break from the cocktail books I have been reading.

Not very far into this book and I’m already feeling schooled. There is a discipline that Uyeda not so subtly is trying to get across to the reader. Mainly, I should know how to make all great cocktails well first before I try and make my own. Well, hrm. This blog would start to get very boring if I just ran through the roster of drinks you’ve already heard of. One point he makes that stuck with me is that once you can make a cocktail, make it better. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and re-make the martini, but what I got from this was go out and make it great and to your liking.

Which brings us to the Aviation cocktail.

Personally, I find it boring. With it’s unique blend of ingredients (VIOLET!) there should be more… flavor? Balance? Anything. Taking the cue from Uyeda I decided that I’ve had this enough out and at home that I think I could find a way to improve upon it. In the end I believe, for my preferred tastes, that I have.improved-aviation-3

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
1/4 oz Bénédictine
3 drops Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 drops Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.improved-aviation-2

The resulting cocktail has more layers of flavor. In short, less boring. They are not loud, in your face flavors, but they balance the drink out considerably. Lime works as a better acid with the floral violet than the  lemon did. Adding the Bénédictine and both bitters creates those more complex layers this drink needed, as well as a more pleasant citrus and cherry nose instead of the heavily perfume-y nose it originally had.

So is there a well known drink you’ve had but are not wowed by it? Go ahead and let yourself make it better. You’re the one who has to drink it.

Mixology Monday: Old Tom’s Mistake

old tom's mistake cocktailmxmologo

I really shot myself in the foot this month for Mixology Monday. Kidding around thinking Midori would be a fantastic ingredient for this month’s theme: From Crass to Craft – hosted by Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain & Sip, I soon discovered I was having quite the time trying to actually make a ‘craft’ drink I could proudly show off.

In my mind there is a strong memory of Midori being one of the first liqueurs I ‘made cocktails’ with. Sophomore year of high-school there was one memorable night where a friend’s parents had gone away and several of my girlfriends and I showed up and raided the liquor cabinet. I don’t recall how I knew of the recipe, but I do remember there being a drink of orange juice and Midori. Perhaps its pretty colors, perhaps there not being much on hand, I remember drinking those until I was quite possibly intoxicated. No, wait. I’m also remembering a bottle of Rumple Minze too. Regardless, I don’t think I’ve touched a bottle since then and there was a small part of me that wanted to try it again for the first time as an adult. And really, it’s quite a crass one with it’s ‘melon’ bubblegum smell and OH-SO-SWEETNESS hiding there under a lovely shade of emerald. But dang, OJ and Midori was not going to cut it for “Craft”.

Let’s talk about procrastination shall we? As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become fascinated/kinda obsessed with dehydrating liquors and finding ways of using them. So before I even came up with an inkling of a recipe, I shoved a tray of Midori in the oven and let her go. I had much better success this time around than with the Baileys. After 24 hours the Midori formed these neon crystals that looked like crumbled rock candy. But alas, I still couldn’t think of a recipe to go with them.dehydrated-midori-1

Until now. Part of the fun of thinking up new cocktail recipes is just going through lists in your head of flavor combinations (well, it’s fun for me). Sometimes when I have an ingredient I want to use, but not sure how to, I turn to flavors in cooking (or baking) I would use with it. This usually helps me through a roadblock. In this case I also had a black pepper syrup that I had been dying to try out in something and thought “melon and black pepper”- hey, they could work!

Altering the recipe for a Tom Collins, I was able to work in both the Midori and the black pepper syrup into something I really *gasp* liked.

2 oz Old Tom Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
1/2 oz black pepper syrup (see recipe below)
1/4 oz Midori liqueur
1-1/2 to 2 oz tonic water

dehydrated Midori (see recipe below) lemon slice

In a Collins glass 2/3 filled with ice, build your drink by adding the gin, Meyer lemon juice, black pepper syrup and Midori. Stir gently and top with tonic water. Garnish with a lemon slice rolled in dehydrated Midori.old-tom-midori-2

Admittedly I did find this refreshing. It leans on the side of sweet with a sharp tart tang while the black pepper syrup grounds it with a subtle earthy layer. The melon is mellowed out by the sweet acidity of the Meyer lemon juice while the tonic helps the ingredients move throughout the drink. I probably wouldn’t have two right after another, but just the one drink worked out in the end for me!

Done. I haven’t sweated over an assignment this bad since college. Thanks to Scott for hosting this month!
old-tom-midori-1

Black Pepper Syrup

(based loosely on this recipe found at the bottom of that page)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup black peppercorns, about half lightly cracked

Heat all the ingredients until boiling. Remove from heat and let steep 15-20 minutes. Strain peppercorns out and allow to cool. Once cool, fine strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated for up to a month*.

*Since I didn’t see myself using this daily, I also added a 1/4 oz of vodka to the mixture and refrigerated it. This will probably keep it safe in there for at least 3 months.

Dehydrated Midori Crystals

1/4  cup Midori

Set oven to 170°. In a silicone container (I only had on hand a silicone Madeleine pan), evenly spread out the Midori. A baking sheet underneath will help keep it steady going in and out of the oven. Place in oven. At the 17 hour mark, take Midori out and break up chunks in the container by squeezing the container around to expose any wet spots. Place back in oven and continue to heat until a full 24 hours has been reached. After 24 hours, take the sheet out of the oven and break up pieces again and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove crystals and either place in an airtight container in the fridge, or grind with a mortar and pestle if using immediately.old-tom-midori-3

And here’s the roundup post!

Being Seasonal // Meyer Lemon Rosemary Sparkler

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.comOne of goals of this site was to integrate seasonally appropriate ingredients into cocktails. Sometimes I remember to do that… sometimes not so much. Right now, everyone is inundated with citrus, and has been for a couple months now. I just came back from visiting my in-laws who have Meyer lemons, Bears limes, key limes and tangerines at their house. Magically, anything planted there thrives beyond expectations and around January/February every year it seems I have BAGS of citrus laying about. Even at my own house this year my tangelo tree exploded with fruit. I wish my lime trees would do that though (they’re still recovering from those nasty wind we had in Los Angeles in December 2011).

So I thought I’d come up with a few seasonally appropriate posts that will hopefully help you use up what citrus fruits you have laying around. The first of which is a pretty simple Meyer Lemon simple syrup to which I’m adding rosemary (another plant that no matter how much I cut it back, my entire front yard is crawling with it). And then I’ll make a drink with it for you. Because I’m a nice host.

Let’s get to it.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-2

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
zest from 2 Meyer lemons
1 sprig of rosemary (about 6″ in length)

Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Take off from the heat, add juice, zest and rosemary. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain out solids and let sit in a container (I used a bowl) until cool. Bottle. This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Add 1 oz. of vodka and it will keep for months in the fridge.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-3This syrup is so fragrant and I attribute the combination of zest and juice. The rosemary is subtle but noticeable. Together it’s a sweet and woodsy potion. Don’t want to use it in cocktails? Sweeten your tea with this and you’ll get a similar magic in your cup.

Now let’s make you a drink.

I’m keeping this simple so that the flavor of the syrup will shine through, but not so simple you can say I’m phoning it in. Ginger is a great pair for the flavors of the Meyer lemon, which is  sweeter and a less acidic lemony lemon, and the earthiness of the rosemary.

1-1/2 oz. Broker’s Gin
3/4 oz. Meyer lemon rosemary syrup
4-6 oz. Ginger Beer
sprig of rosemary for garnish

Build the drink in a Highball glass by adding ice, gin, syrup and topping with the ginger beer. Add a clean piece of rosemary for garnish.mlrs-bottleopener

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!

Ruby Fizz // Happy 2 Years to Me

rubyfizz-5I’ll start right off by apologizing for the misleading title. The drink didn’t turn out Ruby colored, or even a pale pink. You get a nice eggshell color when the foam subsides. Oh, but it’s delicious so let’s just put that name game past us.

Around New Year’s I started hearing about a drink called a Diamond Fizz. Ooh fancy pants, I thought. After digging into the recipe, the only marked feature is that you replace the soda water in a Ramos Gin Fizz with Champagne. I still had a couple bottles of Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs at home and didn’t feel the need to go buy more sparkling anything. In my head I imagined the rosiness of the wine to come through and create a two-toned drink to which I would name it the Ruby Fizz. Not so fancy as a diamond, but still pretty classy.rubyfizz-1rubyfizz-3

Alas the color didn’t turn out right, but still keeping the essence of the base (or topper in some Fizz cases), I decided on sticking with that name.

Before you read on let me just mention one thing. There is an egg white in here. NO! Don’t be scared! If you go out for cocktails you might see an egg white turn up on the occasional menu. This is a good thing, I’ll explain. Reading about egg whites in cocktails, I kept coming across the notion that they only add a silky texture to the drink- no egg taste. However, it wasn’t until I made this drink that I realized that yes, it really is silky. The cocktail transforms into something airy, like a cloud in your mouth if you will. Is there a chance you can contract Salmonella? There could always be a teenie tiny chance. You can avoid this by using dehydrated egg whites or getting very fresh eggs, super pasteurized eggs, or liquid egg whites. Your choice. I still lick the spoon after baking every time and I have yet in my life so far gotten sick from doing it.rubyfizz-2

Let’s continue with the drink making!

2 oz. Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
3/4oz. heavy cream
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 drops of Orange Flower Water
1 egg white (from a medium to large egg)
1-2 oz. of Blanc de Noirs (or another sparkling Pinot)

  • Combine all ingredients except the Blanc de Noirs in a Boston Shaker and dry shake (no ice yet!) until frothy. Add ice and shake vigorously for about TWO minutes. Yes, seriously, that long. You got someone around wanting to show off some muscles? Have them do it. You want to show off your muscles? Make this drink.
  • Add the Blanc de Noirs to the bottom of a chilled wine glass, or a Collins glass (some recipes call for adding it in last but that killed my foam when I tried it). Fine strain the rest of the drink on top.

My first whiff of the drink is a lot of the berry from the Blanc de Noirs, then subtle floral notes from the orange flower water. Those floral notes open up into a fuller flavor after you pass the smooth layer of aromatic foam. For a drink with cream in it, it’s not heavy at all. There is a tiny bite from the citrus and the fruity gin in the finish.

This cocktail is so light and refreshing you could drink it at breakfast, but I could also see it in place of fruitier white wines to have with fish or light appetizers. One note on the orange flower water: be careful with the drops. I found that two were plenty for adding that floral note to the drink, but more and it tastes like perfume. Gross. I cobbled this together from several sources to get a solid base for the drink, but I disagree with those wanting to add more than 3 drops of the orange flower water. Also, don’t skip the dry shaking as it really helps start the foam. If you find that you can’t shake the shaker for the required time, I’ve read of a couple places that use a blender or an immersion blender to help blend the egg white and cream. I just unearthed a frothing device (it looks like this) and I imagine this could also help in place of an immersion blender. I will have to try on the next recipe.rubyfizz-6

 

TWO YEARS!

Last Wednesday was officially my two year anniversary here on this blog. I would have written something had I not been preoccupied with doctors and the like for the past week. But here I am now! Scanning my latest booze purchases as I unpack and place them with my current stock, I can’t help but notice how my liquors have changed. I’m still buying the same bases: gin, whiskey, rum, etc… but when I look over the brands, it’s what I don’t see anymore that amuses me. I remember when the only whiskey I had on hand was Jack Daniels. And there was a bottle of Jose Cuervo too, and not much else. Now we’ve had to expand where the liquor goes, taking up a large section of a credenza (until that bar gets built!).  I see a lot of small batch products, a lot of products that you couldn’t get in the U.S. five years ago (thank you cocktail movement), and around 12 bottles of bitters I’m still trying to get around to opening. It’s been a lot of fun writing and explaining to my husband about my need to budget in alcohol into every month. Many of the first resurgence of cocktail blogs seem to be cutting back, falling off, writing elsewhere, but I’m discovering a whole new group of cocktail enthusiasts to which this is all a new love. And I’m exciting to be adding a few new drinks in there too.rubyfizz-4

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Occasionally while I’m looking through cocktail books, I’ll make a list of liquors and ingredients I want to purchase to use in the future. Then I buy them. And they sit on my liquor shelf. For ever.

I picked up a bottle of Canton awhile back, but I wasn’t really head over heels in love with it when I tried it. I figured it was best mixed in to something, however I had some serious failures the first couple times until I hit upon this drink.

Remember those roasted oranges from last time? I put some brown sugar on a couple when I roasted them and decided to muddle them here.

1-1/2 oz. Broker’s Gin
3/4 oz. Domaine de Canton
3/4 oz. Aperol
3 slices of roasted brown sugar orange rounds (reserve the nicest for garnish)
3 dashes of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters

Muddle the orange slices with the Canton in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add ice to about half way up the glass, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twisted, brown sugar coated orange wheel.

The very syrupy Canton evens out here and the drink is quite light and refreshing. There is a nice bite from the ginger and aromatic bitters with subtle orange notes. The garnish also repeats the citrus nose with a wonderful sweetness and in the back somewhere a sharpness from the browned sugar.

Side note: I recently went nuts at Bar Keeper here in Los Angeles and picked up a bunch of bitters to play around with. It’s my goal to feature all of the bottles here in a recipe in the coming months. This bottle of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters I got in a sampler pack is quickly becoming an occasional substitute in Manhattans. It has a nice level of spice that works well if you are using Carpano Antica for sweet vermouth.

Variation on a Gimlet with Mint & Basil

I’m starting to amass a large collection of infused/flavored simple syrups. Partly it’s that I keep surprising myself with how much syrup is left after I make a batch for a sorbet. And because I always just mindlessly make a 1 cup to 1 cup ratio every time I do a syrup. So yeah,  a lot of these bottles.

To try and start using them up I’ve been picking my brain for new ways to use them. Mint lattes? Why not! Basil lattes? No. Nononono… Adding them in to cocktails that I already know how to make? Sure, yeah, I guess.

That basil syrup is sure a hard one to be clever with. However, going with flavor profiles I was familiar with, I decided on making a variant of a gimlet.

With the addition of some fresh mint, this drink becomes very fragrant. The notes of both herbs are quite strong, but not powerfully “herbal”. Staying true to a gimlet, it’s also sweet and tart. Together it’s a lovely flavor combination.

6 mint leaves
1/2 oz basil simple syrup (recipe found through here)
2 oz Gin (Hendrick’s)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Mint leaf for garnish

Muddle the mint and basil simple syrup together. Add gin,  lime juice and fill shaker 2/3 full with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with one mint leaf.

Make It: Mixed Berry Sorbet with Mint and Hendrick’s

This post has been staring at me for several days now. Recipes are backing up in the queue because this needs to go out. I want to share it, but for some reason it has seemed daunting writing it all down. There is no reason to shy away from it, it’s delicious and not that difficult to make. And the mint syrup gets used in a myriad of ways later on. So here it goes…

Tart, sweet and minty. Very minty depending on who you are talking to. I taste tested the recipe and found the mint here to be subtle, however my husband, who pretty much hates mint in desserts (I think he only finds mint tea acceptable) found it to be very strong. Keep this in mind while making the simple syrup. If you like a pretty subtle mint taste, maybe only a half cup of mint leaves will be best for you. And as always, try and get the ripest berries you can find. It creates a lovely sweetness and a heightened tartness that is enhanced by the addition of the lime.

Another note about this recipe. Using what I learned with the strawberry basil sorbet here, I increased the amount of alcohol to 2 ounces, making the consistency softer, even when frozen for 5+ hours. I actually prefer being able to scoop out the sorbet with little difficulty. And that Hendrick’s in there? You can totally taste it, in the background, adding a soft cucumber-gin flavor in both the smell and after-taste. Love it.

I made this over the course of a couple days, hence the crazy discrepancy in lighting. But also because I like to let the mixture sit and mingle for a day, letting the flavors come together.

First thing you need to do is make the Mint Simple Syrup.
1 cup of granulated cane sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of mint leaves

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Swirl to combine. Add the mint leaves and push into the liquid. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves and leave mixture to chill, or at least bring to room temperature.Recipes yields about a cup and a half.

Second you need to make the berry mixture for the sorbet.
1 lb. of mixed berries ( I used 2:1 raspberries to blackberries)
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 cup of Mint Simple Syrup from recipe above

In a food processor, break up the berries and add the rest of the ingredients. Continue to process until smooth.

Strain out the mixture through a fine sieve or through a cheesecloth. Note: if you use a chinoise, make sure you have the proper wooden dowel to push the solids. Otherwise you will be standing for at least 20 minutes trying to strain out the mixture wishing you had one.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours. Also, if you are using a kitchen-aid ice cream maker, throw the bowl and all the parts into the freezer. You want everything to be really cold when you go to mix later.

When your mixture is thoroughly chilled and mingled, start your ice cream maker and throw in your mixture. Sorbet only needs about 15 minutes to set. After set, scoop into freezer safe containers and freeze until solid.