Roses in the Snow

Roses in the Snow Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAt some point over the last few years I scribbled down the name ‘roses in the snow’ in my notebook. I had a name but only a rough idea for a drink; this happens a lot. Then when I had to come up with some drinks for February over on the Serious Drinks site, I figured this was a good time to dust off the name and develop that idea into a real cocktail.

I love the smell of roses. They remind me of summers in New England and they’re also my birth flower, so I feel like I have an even bigger connection to them, even if it’s made up (who came up with the idea of birth flowers anyway…).Roses in the Snow Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Roses in the Snow is a take on a gin fizz and you can read more about that and hydrosols over on the Serious Drinks post.

1-1/2 ounces new world style gin, Uncle Val’s used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce Rose Water
1 egg white
2 ounces club soda
3-4 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

Add gin, lemon, simple syrup, rosewater, and eggwhite to a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) to incorporate eggwhite, about 30 seconds. Fill shaker with ice and shake until frothy, about 30 seconds longer. Double strain by pouring through a bar strainer into a fine-mesh or conical strainer set in a highball glass filled with ice. Top drink with club soda and bitters. Gently stir and serve.

There’s a lovely hint of roses without being becoming too perfume-y, and the usual sweet-tartness found in a gin fizz. It’s also pretty to look at too.

Private Club Cocktail

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMaple. Walnut. There really are only two places your mind is going to go after hearing these words in rapid succession. One is breakfast cereal, the other is wood types. If you can think of a third I’d love to hear about it.

I got it stuck in my head a few weeks back that what I needed on the site was a maple cocktail. But I couldn’t get out of the loop that it had to be a maple walnut cocktail. Problem with that duo is that it evokes a sticky sweetness that quite frankly sounded like a cocktail I would be serving at a kid’s party…if that makes any sense at all. Shear stubbornness on my part to keep this flavor duo won the house over in the end though. Want to know why? Citrus is the key to balancing a sweet cocktail. Well, and some bitter too but let’s keep this simple.

In its infancy, I was trying to work with a Manhattan variation but Rye was just not cutting it; too harsh. Cognac needed to step in and take over. And then I threw the sweet vermouth out and Amaro Nonino took its place. Angostura stayed put with the maple walnut flavor; just had to cut it with some lemon juice for balance.

Then suddenly it all made sense. The dark wood. The sexy cognac. This was a cocktail you’d find in a private club. I’d say gentlemen’s club but then you’d start thinking of pole dancing and that is not what I mean. This rich and superbly balanced cocktail is meant to be sipped in an overstuffed chair while you debate the sturdiness of the legs on some race horses you no doubt put a lot of money on for the win. There or by the fireplace wishing for the winter chill to pass.The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pro Tip: Just like you would sharpen/hone your knives, did you know you can also extend the life of your paring knife by doing this too? If you have knives you care about and own a Sharpening Steel, make sure you hone your paring knife before every use. Believe me, once I tried this out it made cutting citrus zest SO much easier since I had a nice sharp blade to work with. You can pick up a sharpening steel for relatively cheap online, and save yourself the trouble of having to go and constantly replace your paring knives. Saving money, that’s my gift to you all. 

2 oz. Camus Cognac
3/4 oz. Amaro Nonino
1/4 oz. organic medium amber maple syrup
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice (Eureka lemon used here)
3 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

2″ long strip lemon peel for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add cognac, amaro, maple syrup, lemon juice and bitters. Stir to chill about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Express lemon oils from the peel over the drink and add the zest to the glass.

Lemony aroma that has a bright, clean start that eases into a warm, nutty sweetness. I served this cocktail over a large (2″ square, like this one) ice cube and found that the slow dilution kept this balanced the whole time I sipped it.

Mixology Monday: A Winter Pear Cocktail

Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoHalloween was skipped this year. Not on purpose, but Christopher and I found ourselves on a flight crossing coasts on the 31st. By the time we landed and arrived home, there was just enough time in the day to stare at the tv and zonk off to sleep due to jetlag.

When I woke up it was time for Thanksgiving. So, naturally, I need to start thinking about Christmas RIGHT NOW.

I’m using this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the Booze Nerds, to do just that; think about winter holidays. The theme picked this month is “Resin”. What, you may ask yourselves, is that all about? You can read the full post on their site here, but mainly it’s using SAP (from Trees, not the accounting program).

My eyes drifted over in the direction of the front of my house, which is covered with rosemary plants. The likes of which you’ve seen as ingredients in my drinks here here and here. This month, rosemary is strictly a garnish as I bring out another beauty of the deciduous kind, Douglas Fir Eau de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery. I saw this on the shelf at a liquor store and picked it up for the sheer fact that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the smell of fir trees (i.e. Christmas Trees). This probably falls in at #3 on my list of favorite smells, which is a list that I have.

Pears are replacing apples right now as the seasonal fruit and I thought that a pairing of pear and fir tree is about as winter holiday of a cocktail as I can pull off right now. Adding cardamom also helps. And it works for the MxMo challenge.Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1/4 asian pear, cubed
3 whole green cardamom pods, pods discarded and seeds lightly crushed
1/2 oz lemon juice
1-1/2 oz Chopin Rye Vodka*
3/4 oz J Vineyards Pear Liqueur
1/4 oz Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

Garnish:
Pear wheel
rosemary sprig

Combine pear cubes and cardamom seeds in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add lemon juice and muddle well to full combine and break down the pear. Next add in ice about 2/3 up the way of the mixing glass. Pour in vodka, pear and fir eau de vie. Shake to fully combine about 20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a pear wheel skewered with the rosemary sprig.

Strong rosemary and cardamom nose with sweet, lemony notes. Flavor is juicy pear with a nice balance of tartness from the lemon. The presence of the fir is not subtle, as it stands out next to the pear, but it also compliments the sweetness by offering an unexpected earthiness and woodsy layer to the drink.

Thanks to the Booze Nerds for this month’s MxMo challenge and for making me break into this bottle, it was a delicious experiment and kinda like drinking a Christmas Tree.

*This bottle of Chopin was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Make It: Fernet Branca Jelly

Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.comFact: three years ago I had no idea what Fernet Branca was apart from being an ingredient listed in a new cocktail book I bought and what a bunch of bartender twitter feeds told me they were drinking a shot of. When struck by an ingredient I’d never heard of, but keep seeing, I do the only logical thing I can think of; I go buy it. I was prepared in a small way for what to expect when trying this Amaro for the first time. Biting, minty, medicinal, sweet….confused. And after my first sip, the only remark I could say was, “I like it. What’s all the fuss?”

I’ve now found myself in a chatty group of cocktail bloggers who all view Fernet Branca as a tasty shot of awesome. Right guys? And two weeks ago, in a long-winded, nonsensical twitter ramble (isn’t that how a lot of these things happen?) among us, urged on by the Fernet Branca twitter feed, I found I had agreed to making Fernet Branca jelly. Jelly, like, for toast.Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Jelly with an ounce of booze I’ve heard of, but making a jelly whose star ingredient was the booze? Research was in order. A friend of mine who cans on a semi-regular basis suggested I go look up Wine Jelly. So, jelly made with alcohol was a thing. I found a pretty standard recipe and cut it in half. If this didn’t work out, I wasn’t about to waste an entire bottle of Fernet Branca. I bought a second bottle though as a just in case.Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Here are a couple things you need to know about this recipe before trying it.

  1. I am not a home canner. I made a small batch and it filled about 3 of the small 8 ounce mason jars. With the taste testing I’ve gone through them already (less then a week). Since they did not go through a hot water bath to bring to temp to kill off bacteria, I cannot guarantee how long yours will last. However, if you don’t consume all of it within a few days. Keep sealed in the fridge and eat within a month. If you DO can. Congratulations. Hot water process and keep them in your pantry until you want to use them.
  2. I was happy, really happy, after the first pass at this. However, the texture did include some sugar crystals that did not render the jelly smooth as silk. However, one of the aspects of this site is to get YOUR feedback. If you make this and you have some pointers on how to improve up on this, add them to the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your experience.
  3. The recipe comes together quickly. So have everything ready once you begin, because you will NOT be able to leave the stove.
  4. This is not a super sweet jelly. I wanted the flavor of the Fernet Branca to be the star. That’s the whole point of this experiment. That said, there IS sugar added to this recipe, otherwise you couldn’t make a jelly. You could always reduce the Fernet over a low heat to make a reduction/syrup. That would also be tasty, but not a jelly.
  5. This is a quick cook, and the alcohol is not killed off. There is A LOT that remains. Did I get drunk off of eating this? No, but you can taste the alcohol, so be warned.

OK, with those points covered, let’s start the fun.

1-3/4 cup of Fernet Branca
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 oz. Pure Apple Pectin
2 cups granulated sugar

3 8-Ounce Mason Jars, cleaned with lids or a large jar with a tight fitting lid
heat proof spatula

Combine first three ingredients over medium-high heat in a medium sized non-reactive sauce pan (stainless steel is good). Stir constantly until the ingredients start to boil, scraping down the sides all the time you are stirring. Add sugar carefully to the mixture, stir to combine, and keep stirring while bringing back the entire mixture to a rolling boil. Once boil is reached, boil rapidly for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour into 3 8-oz. sized mason jars, or one large jar with a tight fitting lid*. Cover and let cool. Once cool, store in refrigerator. See notes above about storage.

*If you ARE a home canner, at this point process your hot water bath. Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

And the result? It’s SO Fernet Branca, except slightly sweetened and spreadable. Cooking it does not reduce it’s pungent flavor, as it still has that wonderful minty and bitter flavor. How did I enjoy it? With a generous dab of Plugra butter on a biscuit. Perfect morning fuel. It was also consumed by the spoonful.

Are you game to try this? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

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.

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!

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

What to do with Amaretto: Part One, make a sour

For a couple years I’ve been slowly adding to my liquor cabinet, and then recently I’ve just gone nutso and been buying carts full of stuff to try. Unfortunately this means that the tidy little nook that was housing all the liquor is now being turned back into the wine rack it really is. The sideboard is now starting to groan under the weight until we get around to finishing the bar (and with a now tentative plan of late January for this year’s Tiki Party, that really needs to happen ASAP).

While cleaning out the wine nook, I came across a couple bottles that have not seen the light of day for quite some time. One being an ‘ok’ bottle of Amaretto. I believe this was bought around the time of the first Tiki Party four years ago, and hasn’t been cracked open since this post. Needless to say it was quite dusty.

I figured it was time to give it a second chance when it occurred to me… what to do with a bottle of Amaretto? An Amaretto Sour? I don’t think I’d even tried one before. And while I wasn’t about to compete with Mr. Morgenthaler on how to make one (who can while he is making that face?… I kid, I’m sure it’s delicious.) I wanted to just make it as basic as possible and to just try it on for size. Just two ingredients.

And in the end, head-scratchingly good.

I guess I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the taste of almonds. That is, after all, the defining characteristic of Amaretto. Mixing it with lemon made it one of the most delicious, almond-spiked (albeit maybe the only almond-spiked) lemon-aides I’ve ever had. I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed the drink. The sharp lemon was cut perfectly with the overly sweet amaretto, omitting the need for sweetener entirely and blending just two ingredients into a well-balanced cocktail.

I could see this working at brunch.

2 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
sugar crystals for garnish
optional: nutmeg

Add liquids to a shaker 1/2 filled with ice. Shake and strain into a sour glass garnished with a sugar rim.

Note on the sugar rim: while pretty to look at, completely covering the entire rim resulted in WAY too much sugar. I’d suggest half the rim dipped in sugar, or just leave it off completely if you’re by yourself and don’t feel the need to garnish.

I also did one take with a slight dusting of nutmeg. It gave the whole drink a lovely woodsy aroma and I found it enhanced the almond flavor; add if you want to get fancy like that.

The Pimm’s Cup

About 6 years ago I decided I wasn’t watching Netflix enough to warrant keeping my subscription so  I decided to put it on hold. For awhile. When I moved in with my husband (that sounds weird… before we were married), we decided to get a subscription again so I just reinstated mine. Apparently they kept my queue. For three years. I never really bothered checking on it, just kept adding things, or adding things to the top, so that occasionally when I’m not paying attention, strange things I no longer care about show up in the mail. Like random British documentaries. I still watch them though.

One thing I did notice throughout some of my watching. Have you ever looked in a British person’s liquor cabinet? Everyone has a bottle of Pimm’s. I watched a documentary on Windsor Castle a couple weeks ago and you know what? Bottles of Pimm’s everywhere!! The Pimm’s Cup cocktail was unheard of to me until a couple years ago, and I only learned of its existence because it was on a menu of drinks I could have when I got my nails done at this British place I frequented. So I picked up a bottle of Pimm’s with the intention of trying out the cocktail and then it sat next to that bottle of Aquavit being sad friends together on the liquor shelf. Until today.

There are SO many versions of the Pimm’s Cup. All of them calling themselves ‘classic’. The recipe on the bottle is to just pour it into a glass with lemon-lime soda and add a lemon wheel. That was a bit too basic for me. So I muddled together a couple of ideas and came up with the recipe below (borrowing the use of cucumbers from Bon Appetit online). One thing a lot of the recipes alluded to was that this was a ‘summer drink’, and was very ‘refreshing’. But isn’t summer in England like, 60 degrees? That’s close enough to my ‘winter’ here in L.A. And I enjoy a refreshing drink regardless of the weather.

1-1/2 oz Pimm’s No. 1 Cup Liqueur
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2″ cucumber rounds
1 sprig of mint
Ginger Beer (I used Reed’s)

Garnish:
1 rosemary sprig
1 cucumber peel sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler

I always start with my garnishes first. So, peel off the dark green skin of a cucumber and, using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice off longways a piece of cucumber. Thread that in an O- or S-shape through a toothpick. Work the toothpick around a little to open the hole and remove the toothpick and thread the peel onto a clean sprig of rosemary. Next, in the glass half of a Boston shaker, muddle together the cucumber rounds and the mint. Pour in the Pimm’s and the lemon juice and fill the glass 2/3 with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top off with ginger beer (around 2 to 3 oz). Add garnish. Repeat some lines from Mary Poppins.

It really is refreshing. I had to agree with everyone on this. It’s fruity and spicy, but I love that the cucumber flavor is also there mingling with the flavors. It somehow prevents it from being too sweet tasting. I’d add way more mint next time as I could barely taste it. Also, the rosemary adds a nice nose to the whole drink when you’re down in there taking a sip. Now onto finding other uses for Pimm’s…

Elliot Gould Approved, Sorta

There’s a bottle of Jim Beam in the house. Not sure when it arrived but it’s there.

A friend of mine sent this image to me a while back.
Sometimes I think my husband reminds me of Elliot Gould. I think he’d rather not hear that. He also gets called Wolverine in public by 7-11 clerks. And drunk guys in Vegas.

Tonight we’re watching the Long Goodbye. A movie I swear up and down I’ve never seen, but one he swears I have seen. The movie made me think of this poster and that I should use Elliot Gould as an excuse to use up some of this Jim Beam.

The first incarnation of this was so wrong. I had to cut down on the lemon juice and up the marmalade for added sweetness. This version though I’m pretty happy with. The drink has the right balance of sweet and sour, with really bright notes from the citrus. Also the citrus and the cherry elements play well off each other.

 

The Long Gould-night Sour
2-1/2oz Jim Beam
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon of Mixed Citrus Chunky Marmalade (Considering this was a home made gift from a friend I do not have a recipe. However, I would suggest looking for a smoky concoction. Better even if it’s mixed with cherries. If you are using a fine cut marmalade, go less than a tablespoon- or rather, just do it to taste.)
3-4 dashes of Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
Luxardo Cherry garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, build up all of the ingredients sans cherry. Shake vigorously for at least 20-30 seconds to breakdown the marmalade as much as possible. There is going to be a lot o peel left in the shaker, but you’ll also get a lot of bits into your glass which is totally fine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass containing one luxardo cherry at the bottom.