The Little Pink Sombrero

Little Pink Sombrero Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWell, after a break I think some of you might be groaning to hear that I’m coming back with yet another Tiki drink. But wait! It’s so much more than that! It’s…. got Mezcal in it. Oh yeah I did.

In making this drink I realized that Mezcal on its own CAN work with the world of Tiki, and also, when you add Cruzan Black Strap Rum to the drink, it’s total magic.pinksombrero-2

I’m happy I took a little break, I feel like I cleared out the cobwebs and have some great ideas I want to work with. You should do that too. Go take a mental break.

Admittedly the name came WAY before the drink. I have an Evernote notebook filled with just names of drinks I should make some day because at the time I thought they were clever. I clear it out frequently. Cause a lot of the times I’m drinking coming up with these and you know, it’s not the same the next day. Why would you name your drink the Canine Chasm? What the hell does that even mean?

This cocktail started as a variation on the Jungle Bird, but then flew off in another direction. Campari, with its bitter citrus flavor seemed a good candidate to start mixing with Mezcal. It is, FYI.

The only issue I ran into here was trying to photograph a flame; a liquor flame. It’s blue and in daylight fades, and at night, you can see it but not the drink. Frustrating, but after some tips from a bartender the other night, I will have to go at it again with some minor adjustments to my camera (I’ve unlearned a lot of my photo skills from college apparently). For this post you’ll have to just accept the shaky garnish and Oh and AH at the only picture to come out IN focus WITH a flame in it. But really, the drink will more than make up for any displeasure the image causes you.

If you are interested in creating a drink there are several techniques for creating a flame that lasts a bit while you imbibe. One method is to use a toasted cube of bread doused in 151 rum, another is to soak a sugar cube in the same 151. I chose the later; it smells good. Also, if you want to really create a WOW effect, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, it will crackle and pop a bit. And also smell good.pinksombrero-1

1-1/2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
3/4 oz. Campari
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum

For garnish: pineapple wheel, spent lime shell (with pulp removed), sugar cube, 151 rum

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake well to combine and pour, strained, into a chilled coupe. Garnish with pineapple wheel with flaming sugar cube on top (either way above will work). Try not to burn eyebrows.

This cocktail blends in a very interesting way flavors you associate with tropical, but with a more savory base from the Mezcal. Very dry, slightly sweet with an added molasses depth that I’m finding hard to explain HOW AWESOME IT TASTES. Fruit flavors are subtle with a balance of smoke from the Mezcal.

In the first variation of this, I left out the Cruzan Black Strap rum and the drink definitely had a much stronger punch of smoke. However, when it was added to the cocktail, it balanced everything out in a way I wasn’t prepared for since I was expecting more sweet.

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In Other News…

I was interviewed! Listen to the webcast on Break Thru Radio here! (Click the blue play button at the top next to the DJ to listen)

Check out the Death to Sour Mix site for the post on MY SITE. It was badgers, not weasels. FYI.

And if you like music, you should follow my twitter feed, as I’m doing a song a day for the next year. Committed, that’s me.

Mixology Monday: Lazy Sunday Punch

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

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Sundays should be lazy. You shouldn’t have to think that far ahead in your day; events should just roll in and out. And no one judges you if you stay in your soft clothes until Monday morning. This drink came about in that lazy Sunday way. There was definitely a driving force behind it. Mixology Monday was due the next day, and clearly I had to produce something to show for it. Not to knock this month’s theme Drink Your Vegetables, hosted by Fogged In Lounge (whose blog name is so fantastic by the way). This month has just been particularly hard for posts due to outside circumstances, any other month I could have been running wild with fennel and kohlrabi and other vegetables. But here I am on Sunday with a couple cucumbers, and a blender, in my yoga pants.

Mainly when I think of cucumbers I think light, refreshing, and I wanted this drink to come off that way. And it does. It’s not very sweet, although it is sweet enough for me. There is an overwhelming taste of cucumbers, which is the point since we are highlighting veggies here, but it’s not like drinking a V-8. The citrus gives a nice sweet-tart bite, while the elderflower and rose water take away some of the ‘green-ness’ of the drink with a peppery finish from the mint. The tequila is very soft in the background, cucumbers are surprisingly overpowering in flavor. I chose to blitz it all with ice since it seemed like a perfect way to imbibe it on this warm afternoon.

If you find the need for a bit more sweetness, a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of simple syrup should do the trick.lazysundaypunch-2

4 oz Cazadores Tequila Blanco
1-1/2 oz St. Germain
4 oz freshly squeezed oro blanco grapefruit juice (or sub white grapefruit)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz rose water
2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded
small handfull of mint leaves

1 cup of crushed ice
cucumber spear for garnish

Add all ingredients except ice to a blender and blend for 15 seconds to combine. Add ice and blend for another 15-20 seconds. Pour into chilled margarita glasses or oversized martini glasses. Garnish with cucumber spears.

I am just realizing that this post is also killing two birds by getting a MxMo post up and getting another round of drinks for two into the mix. Although this makes more like drinks for two and then some.

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria for Two

sage blackberry sangriaCocktails are rarely a solitary experience in my household. Many of the cocktails you find on this site are created in duplicate because they are shared among two or more people in one sitting. Which got me thinking, why don’t I have more cocktails for two on here? So, I’m going to try and have more of those around in the next few months.

First up, Sangria. Except, this is way more complex of a Sangria than I thought I would be able to get out of it. This is due to an extreme case of being flustered, tired, and combatting a cold. To sum it up, I was too lazy to check in on it after the first day and just let it sit for two days in the fridge. Result: a sangria for cocktail lovers.

Sangria holds a special place in my memory. I remember the first time I drank it. At the office going away party that was thrown for me when I turned 21 and moved out to Los Angeles. Let’s get our story straight though; turning 21 had nothing to do with moving West. It was a passing fancy when a friend of mine decided to move out here and I decided I would too. It was a last minute decision. Rarely did I make well thought-out decisions at that age. Anyway, since there was a table of us, and technically, we were at lunch and people would be returning to the office, a pitcher of Sangria was ordered. At 21 this seemed exotic and fancy, the same way that seeing someone bring out a flaming bowl of liquor at a Chinese restaurant was exotic 10 years prior. I don’t remember how it tasted, only that it was red Sangria. Since then, I’ve been spectacularly disappointed by this drink many a time.

But now something in me wanted to make this again, and make it good. Thankfully procrastination made this work in my favor.sageblackberrysangria-1

Burnt sage? YES. Just lightly torch the edges, don’t try and burn up the whole leaf. If you find you’ve charred it too much, just break that part off. This was also an excuse to use more of the black pepper syrup I have stored up in the fridge, it’s really much more versatile than I thought and adds a peppery bite to the syrupy blackberries and wine.sageblackberrysangria-2

This drink is for two but can easily be adapted into a larger batch. If you have a third of a bottle laying around it’s a good way to use that up.

4-1/2 oz Red Wine (Malbec used here)
3 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz black pepper syrup (recipe here)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4-5 burnt sage leaves
8 blackberries

4 slices of blood orange

Burn the edges of the sage leaves and let cool for a few seconds. Add the leaves to the bottom of a mixing glass, add syrup and lime juice. Lightly muddle. Add blackberries and crush, leaving some pieces more intact than others. Pour in wine and whiskey, add orange slices, stir to combine and cover (I used the other half of the Boston Strainer for a cover). Let sit for two days refrigerated to steep. After two days, stir gently. Fill two rocks glasses with ice cubes. Carefully pour the contents of the mixing glass between the two glasses.sageblackberrysangria-3

Don’t be afraid of the overpowering smell of whiskey you will have when you first make this. It needs to sit and steep. What you get at the end of two days is a sweet and sharp elixir.  On the nose are orange and berry followed by more berry on the palate with subtle layers of tart and pepper with an earthy undertone. It’s rich, which is the one characteristic that I find lacking in most Sangrias. There is a heavier body that the whiskey contributes to overall making this seem almost more like a rather large cocktail than just a ‘wine’ drink.

Now I somehow need to do this with a white wine. Wish me luck.

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.

Tiki Month is over but here’s a Planter’s Punch

planterspunch-6Did you know that this month was Tiki month? According to the Pegu Blog it was. My last Tiki post went up at the end of January- close enough, and I thought I’d squeeze one more in since my other drink recipe that was going to be sitting here went south real quick when I caught the garnishes on fire and burnt the syrup. Here’s a tip: when dealing with boiling sugar, try not to get distracted and walk away for even a minute. As soon as you leave the stove all holy hell will be up in your kitchen.The Players

There are names of cocktails in the Canon of Tiki drinks that everyone is aware of, albeit they probably don’t know what goes in it or what it’s supposed to taste like. One such drink that I know I’ve had before but couldn’t remember anything at all about it was the Planter’s Punch cocktail. To be honest, grenadine is one of the ingredients and I wanted something I could use the syrup in as well.Angostura drops

Planter’s Punch, in my memory, was on the menu of every Polynesian restaurant that my family went to growing up back east. Polynesian also subbing in as a Chinese restaurant; I lived in Rhode Island, it’s a small state and had to be as compact as possible. This drink should also come with no less than 5 pieces of fruit as a garnish and at least one flower. Today we’ll have to suffice with a Tiki mug and my attempts at using a zester to make a lime peel garnish (still needs some work).planterspunch-2

planterspunch-4Drink Recipe adapted slightly via Beach Bum Berry Remixed
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz Appleton Estates gold Jamaican rum
1/2 oz Trader Vic’s Dark rum
1 oz Mt. Gay Eclipse gold rum
1/2 tsp homemade grenadine
1/2 tsp falernum
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
6 oz crushed ice

1 carved lime leaf for garnish*

Put everything in the blender and blend for 5 seconds. Pour unstrained into a tiki mug and garnish with carved lime ‘leaf’.

*To make a carved lime ‘leaf’, use a zester to carve lines into the outside of a lime. Use a pairing knife to cut out a lime shape from the peel, pull the segment out, peeling off the inside of the flesh. Voila! (For this garnish, my limes are a bit yellow. A darker green might have helped this pop more.)planterspunch-5

Planter’s Punch is a sweet and strong drink. A tad too sweet for my tastes, but a nice spiciness from the dark rum and the bitters. The amount of syrups added in would account for the sweet nature of the punch (sugar, grenadine, falernum). However, if you eat something along with this that is very savory, say a steak sandwich, that savoriness cuts right through the sweet making it a pleasing combo. Next time around I’d cut the syrups back and add more juice. Maybe get a little better with the zester too before throwing it out to the public.

Mixology Monday: El Jardín de mi Abuela

longmargarita-4
mxmologoMixology Monday time again; how quickly this year is flying. This month’s host is Stewart Putney of Putney Farm who has asked us to “invert” our cocktail ingredients.

When I first read the announcement I was all on board for busting out some of my crazy chemicals and turning liquids into solids, etc… until real life got in the way and I had to abandon those ideas real fast. Some day you’ll see some posts on that, some day.

Instead I liked the idea of turning a cocktail into a ‘long drink’ and having a new batch of hibiscus infused tequila on hand I opted to make one from a Margarita recipe. Not just stopping at switching the proportions of the tequila and lime juice around, I added some extra touches to turn the other ingredients on their heads. Lime wedges encased in ice? Yes. Dry Orange Curacao syrup? Why not. Vanilla salt?! Let’s do that too!

Sometimes I want a project to work on, and this particular cocktail seems to be just that. However, once you make a couple of the ingredients that go into this, you can use them in lots of other ways. That vanilla salt is going atop some dark chocolate cookies soon. And the limeade is perfect without the booze in it too.

Let’s build this.

2 oz. Hibiscus Infused Tequila (recipe on this post)
1/2 oz. Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao Syrup (recipe below)
6 oz. Limeade (recipe below)
3 drop of Bitter Tears’ “Hina” hibiscus and rose bitters
pinch of vanilla salt (recipe below)

lime wedge ice cubes (add lime slices to ice cube tray and freeze)

longmargarita-1

Build the drink by adding lime wedge ice cubes to a Collins glass. Pour in tequila, syrup and limeade. Add the bitters and pinch of salt and stir with a straw gently to combine.longmargarita-3

Limeade Recipe

3 cups of water
1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup of sugar

Heat all three ingredients over medium heat and stir to combine. Cool and transfer to a pitcher. (Those may look like lemons, but the Bears limes from my in-laws trees are more yellow than green this year).longmargarita-2

Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao Syrup

1/2 cup of Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao

Simmer the curacao over medium heat until reduced in half. This can take about 10-12 minutes. Cool and bottle.

Vanilla Salt (this recipe is adapted ever so slightly from The Chocolate of Meats website)

1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean
1/4 cup of kosher salt

Combine the salt and vanilla bean and shake vigorously. Let sit for a few hours before use to allow the vanilla bean scent to permeate the salt. Store in an airtight container.

The result? Instead of a strong tequila forward/ sweet and sour mix, this cocktail becomes a softer, lighter version that is both fruity and floral, with a bite of citrus at the finish. Hibiscus and lime are a wonderful pair, and with a pinch of the vanilla salt, this drink is well balanced. I purposely made the limeade not too sweet so that I could control that with the orange curacao syrup. That syrup’s sweet orange contrasts quite well with the tart lime, creating a more dynamic version of a sweet and sour mix. The drink also has strong floral notes from the hibiscus tequila that are pushed forward more from the bitters and from the vanilla salt due to the Tahitian vanilla bean. Tahitian vanilla is more floral than Mexican or Madagascar vanilla beans. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t taste like perfume.

The name? It translates to the garden of my grandmother. And that came about because the rose scent and the hibiscus flowers reminded me of her garden. Why in Spanish? It’s a riff on a Margarita. I couldn’t just name it in English.longmargarita-5

Thanks to Frederic for keeping Mixology Monday alive and to this month’s host Stewart. Cheers!

I’m trying to be better about posting the roundup post for MxMo. Here’s this month’s!

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

Make It: Grenadine // Semi-Homemade Tequila Sunrise

grenadinespoon-1About 8 or 9 years ago I finally had an apartment to myself, no roommates(!), and in celebration went to the closest liquor store and picked up a bottle of Tequila. OK, it was Jose Cuervo. I already had OJ in the fridge, and had picked up a bottle of grenadine at work. It was a time in my life where I thought it would be adult of me to have a small ‘bar’ at my place. This was fancy for me; I was in my early twenties. Having picked up my first cocktail recipe book, I had decided on making a Tequila Sunrise. This was a cocktail name I had heard before, it was less scary than some of the other recipes in the book and I knew all the ingredients (even if I had no idea what went into grenadine). You have to start somewhere.

The other day, flipping through one of the Bum’s cocktail books, I realized I had no grenadine in the house. That lone bottle I bought some 8 or 9 years ago had stayed with me through several more apartments, a couple boyfriends, and my own wedding. Its existence being extinguished at one of our Tiki parties two years ago. I hesitated to go buy a bottle. There are more bad reviews of grenadine out there than good, and I recently had been reading about just how easy it was to make it. There are two approaches one can make their own grenadine with: the cold method (pomegranate juice and sugar shaken together until the sugar is well incorporated), and the cooked method. I went with the cooked method. Taking inspiration from the SippitySup blog and the Imbibe site, I combined a method I was happy with. I wanted to keep it simple, and the addition of the orange flower water gives it just the subtlest floral hint without being too perfume-like.

2 cups of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice (or freshly squeezed if you have it on hand)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of Orange Flower Water
1/2 oz of Vodka (for a preservative), optional

Combine juice and sugar in a pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then leave at simmering until reduced by half (I ended up with about a cup and a half). This can take 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, add the orange flower water and leave to cool. Once cool, stir in vodka and bottle.grenadine-2grenadine-4grenadine-1

Couple notes here: Why heat? Testing the cooked method, I enjoyed the more syrupy consistency of the end result. It also resulted in a more intense “berry” flavor. Does orange flower water taste like orange? No. Have you ever smelled fresh blooms on an orange or lime tree? It’s like that, floral, not citrus.grenadine-3

Reminiscing about the grenadine, I thought, for nostalgia reasons, I’d make a Tequila Sunrise to test out the final batch. With a couple of tweaks it was just as satisfying as I remembered drinking it standing in my ‘bar’ of that first studio apartment.This time around, I juiced my own oranges in a rather large batch (I am finding new uses for this juicer we just committed to buying), which, because of how sweet they are this season, I decided on adding a touch of lime juice. And to round the whole drink out, a few dashes of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters.tequilasr-1

2 oz. Avión Silver Tequila
2-1/2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters
Splash of grenadine (house made if you got it!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine tequila, orange juice, lime juice and bitters. Shake well to combine and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the grenadine to the center of your drink so it drops to the bottom of the glass. Stir gently with a bar spoon and watch as the colors float up.

A touch of sweet earthiness from the grenadine floats throughout the drink. I know that in this case it’s mainly a beautiful way to add color, but the richness of the syrup cuts through some of the sweetness of the orange juice too. Those bitters provide a subtle balance to the drink, that tends to just be very citrus forward and not much else.

I hope this post shows just how easy it is to have this bar staple on hand! No need to buy, just shake or simmer…

Behold, the Spice

tikispice-1Making cocktails does not solely get delegated to me at home. My husband enjoys them as much as myself, and sometimes even gets his hands dirty and tries to concoct one on his own. Sometimes they’re even good. This cocktail stems from a creation at least 60% his, with some of my own adjustments. Its creation from a new found love of Allspice Dram; a love so strong I found him drinking the stuff neat once. The syrupy flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove are a bit too powerful for my palate on their own but he couldn’t stop throwing it into drinks once he got his hands on it. I can’t knock him though, I’m doing the same thing with that Apricot Liqueur.

I was going to even have him name this cocktail until all this talk about spices led to absurd quotes from Dune. I know of Dune, but my only vivid memory of the film is in the form of View-Master slides I received for my preschool graduation that erupted a timid 4 year old into screams of horror and probably a fitful sleep that night. Popples and a Dune View-Master… Mom and Dad… what were you guys thinking? No, for this drink I wanted it to be ALL Tiki. Allspice Dram, also referred to as Pimento Liqueur or Pimento Dram, is dotted here and there within Tiki cocktail books. With the combination of the rum and citrus in this cocktail, clearly this drink was headed tropical, and not deserts inhabited with giant worms.tikispice-3

We were also having a string of 80° days in Los Angeles and this was a good thirst quencher.

2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
1-1/2 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse Rum (light rum)
1 oz. Kraken Black Spiced Rum
1 oz. Oronoco Rum (white rum)
1/2 oz. Fee Brother’s Maraschino Syrup
1/2 oz. Orgeat Syrup
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice*
1/8 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes of Miracle Mile Orange Bitters*
*see notes below on varying degrees of sweetness in your orange juice

orange peel
brandied cherry

Combine all ingredients except orange peel and cherry with 6 oz. of crushed ice. Shake well and pour un-strained into a Tiki mug. Add more crushed ice to fill if necessary. Garnish with the orange peel looped over the cherry on a bamboo pick. Straw optional but recommended. tikispice-2

At first one might be shocked that with all the talk about the Allspice Dram there is only an 1/8 of an ounce here. Believe me… that is all you will need. It’s quite powerful stuff and a little goes a long way. If your orange juice is not very sweet, ours was, you can turn down the lime juice and orange bitters. Those two ingredients were added for more bite and tartness to counteract the overly sweet OJ. The Allspice Dram unites the drink in a satisfying way. Without it (and I know this because I forgot to add it on one try) the fruit flavors are segregated from the spice of the rum in a jarring way. Adding it is like a sweet bridge between those two worlds of flavor.

Cocktail Quickie: Aquavit & Dill Bloody Mary

My house is a house that loves a well made Bloody Mary. From home-made tomato water to every bottled version of tomato base under the sun, we’ve tried and tested a great deal of these. Some day I will get around to posting a listing of my top mixes, and those I beg you to stay away from. But it’s far from complete at the moment.

What am I drinking right now? My top favorite Bloody Mary mixes currently are McClure’s Spicy Mix, Lefty O’Doul’s San Francisco Original Mix, and Zing Zang’s Mix. One important factor is trying to find a mix where high fructose corn syrup is not the second ingredient or even exists at all. It’s added sweetener where sweetener need not be. All of these are around this ballpark. McClure’s has a taste all its own. Known for their pickles, this mix is kinda like drinking a spicy tomato pickle brine. I love it, however, it’s definitely not for everyone. It really has a nice bite too, because honestly, when a Bloody Mary mix says spicy, I mostly disagree with that statement. The other two mixes here are good to have around if you have a crowd that varies in levels of ‘heat’ they want in their drink. One can drink them as is, or doctor them up. I prefer these for cocktail making for that reason. They make a great base where the flavor can be taken in sudden and unexpected directions (for a Bloody Mary).

This post is mainly just that. A quick way to ‘doctor up’ if you will a pretty solid base into a more complex drink with just a few touches. Also, why I’m including it into the ‘quickie’ section here.

Your standard Bloody Mary will call for vodka, but if I have a bottle of Aquavit around, I will always substitute that liquor instead. Why? For me, it gives the drink more body, more meat. And there is a subtle caraway flavor that it also imparts on the drink that is a nice match for the briny, tomato base. And hand in hand with this Scandinavian liquor goes dill. I will also stick that in if I’m making the Aquavit version.

Players

One detail that you will see in restaurants and bars that many people will skip at home is rimming the glass with some house devised salt and/or pepper mix. For a satisfying Bloody Mary at home I don’t see the point in missing this. You can get a whole other layer of flavor just by quickly combining some spices and adding that to the glass.

If you think this is the part where I have you add a giant stick of celery to the drink, you’re wrong. Personal preference has me sit that ingredient out. I find the smell of fresh celery simply too overpowering and it ruins the flavors of the drink. However, a stick of cucumber? Oh yeah, throw one in. That flavor is a match with the dill.

I do a lot of eye-balling when I make this for myself, but for consistency I will give measurements here. As always, adjust for your taste, you gotta drink it.

2 oz. Aquavit
4 oz. Bloody Mary Mix
1/2 medium lime
1 sprig of dill
2-3 dashes of hot sauce (Tapatío is my preferred hot sauce)

For Garnishes:
1 tbsp of smoked sea salt flakes
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
cucumber slice
olive
small sprig of dill

Let’s make some garnishes first. For the skewer, peel alternate patches of skin from a cucumber lengthwise for a zebra stripe effect. Cut a round from the cucumber and slice in half for a half round. Cut a spear of cucumber and set aside. Add the half round, a small sprig of dill and an olive to a skewer. Set aside.

For the salt rim: Add smoked sea salt, fennel seeds, black pepper and some of the dill fronds into a mortar (bowl) and using a pestle (or end of a wooden spoon), crush all of the ingredients until they are all roughly around the same size, not quite a powder with some crunchy bits left behind. Pour out the salt mixture onto a saucer and set aside.

Cut the lime in half and use one half to rim a highball glass with the juice. Immediately dip the glass into the salt mixture, turning to coat the entire outside rim of the glass. Many debate whether to actually stick the whole rim into your mixture, or just turn the outside around in the mixture so nothing gets inside the glass. I’ll leave this step up to your discretion. Squeeze both halves into the glass, add dill sprig and muddle both just to combine and break up the dill a bit. Add ice cubes and build the rest of your drink by adding Aquavit, Bloody Mary mix, hot sauce, spear of cucumber and your skewer.

As I mentioned earlier, that salt mixture just adds another level to your drink. It has a nice smoky and sweet smell and tastes the same too. Fennel works well with both caraway and dill, and I find it a better addition than say, celery salt. If you’re going to make yourself a quick drink at home, why not spend a few extra minutes to give it an extra shot of flavor? This may seem like a lot, but it really just takes a couple minutes to put together.