This post was made in partnership with Cask & Crew. Recipe and ideas are my own.
My husband has this plate that hangs on the wall in our kitchen (yes, we have a decorative plate. Actually, there are two in the house. Laugh if you must but they’re pretty cool looking.). On the plate are two older gentlemen curiously hovering above a globe, one holds a magnifying glass and some papers while the other points at some uncertain location; it’s called Newfound Worlds. It’s also apparently a Norman Rockwell painting so you all can look it up and check it out too.
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add in Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey, sweet vermouth, Amontillado sherry, coconut syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters. Shake 20 seconds and then strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Express orange oils over the drink and garnish with peel.
*If you’d like to make your own coconut syrup, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 cup flaked coconut in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and let mixture come to just under a boil. Turn heat down to low and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 1 hour. Fine strain into an airtight container (I like wide mouth ball jars for these) and store, refrigerated, for up to one month.
I’m of the camp that you need a little sweet with the savory. And while I enjoy pretty much all the flavors that grace the holiday table (except maybe you, green bean casserole), you bet that on every forkful of turkey or potatoes or creamed onions, there is a little bit of cranberry sauce. Ok, maybe a LOT of cranberry sauce.
And I’m not picky either. You want to feed me the jello version from the can? Sure, I’ll take it. Or you made a passed down recipe from your great-grandmother that is laced with a little booze? Sure, I’ll take that too. I’ll take them all.
So why am I not eating it more often so that when Turkey Day comes I’m not feeding myself like a ravenous zombie? Well, I kinda forget about it. I think the ensuing coma from eating resets my brain every year and I spend the rest of the time oblivious until a week or so before Thanksgiving when I see some ad in a magazine and my mouth starts salivating in a Pavlovian response.
This year it was decided that since I have such a short window of time to enjoy cranberries, I’ll make the most of it and enjoy them by not only eating those berries, but also drinking them! In fact, I figured if I made a shrub with them, I’d get to enjoy them a little bit longer (although, it’s so darn tasty I doubt it will stick around for very long).
This black pepper–spiced cranberry shrub is sweet, savory, and tart. It mixes up quick and with a fruity sparkling wine and citrusy bitters, the drink works wonderfully to lighten a meal packed with sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and more. And if you don’t use up the whole shrub in one go, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month.
For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
2 cups (approximately 10 ounces by weight) cranberries
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Cook, opening the lid and stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and some of the cranberries begin popping open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Pour entire mixture into an airtight, nonreactive container. Refrigerate at least 8 and up to 12 hours. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one month.
For the Cocktails (yields 12 drinks)
36 ounces chilled sparkling wine (from 2 bottles)
20 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s used here
12 ounces chilled Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
Cranberries, for garnish
Slowly pour chilled sparkling wine into a pitcher. Add bitters and chilled cranberry-black pepper shrub. Stir very gently to mix. Serve immediately. Individual glasses can be garnished with cranberries.
Note: For a non-alcoholic alternative, combine 1 ounce of the cranberry-black pepper shrub, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and 3 ounces club soda (I love Q-Club!) in a wine glass. (Add two dashes of orange bitters, if desired—they contain a tiny amount of alcohol.) Garnish with cranberries and serve. This recipe originally appeared on Serious Eats.
I’m also talking about the Negroni cocktail today because next week is Negroni Week! It’s not just an excuse to drink this cocktail, but there’s also a great cause behind it. You can read all about that right here.
Last year I switched out the gin with mezcal, but this year we’re keeping the gin but adding in some extra flavor goodness. Like coconut. And coffee.
St. George Spirits put out this NOLA Coffee Liqueur a little while ago and I’ve been obsessed with getting a bottle. I could drink this stuff straight, but today I’m using the liqueur in lieu of sweet vermouth in the first Negroni variation. This Negroni combines that bittersweet, robust coffee liqueur with toasted coconut infused gin and a touch of Campari (and don’t worry, if you feel you haven’t the time for another cocktail project I’ve got a pretty simple variation below too). It’s more of an after-dinner drink, or actually, a pretty amazing weekend brunch cocktail (or breakfast cocktail if you prefer).
Coconut Coffee Negroni
Toasted Coconut Gin
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup Martin Miller’s Gin
Set your oven to 350°F. On a cookie sheet, spread out the coconut flakes in an even layer. Place in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool and move to an airtight container (I used a wide mouth canning jar). Cover with the gin, seal, and let sit out overnight. The next day strain through a coffee filter into a new, clean airtight container (I often use old liquor bottles).
1 ounce coconut infused gin
1 ounce St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur
3/4 ounce Campari
In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in coconut infused gin, coffee liqueur, and Campari. Stir 15 seconds to chill and serve.
Now, for those of you who’d like something with a little fewer steps, I give you this Negroni variation. Basically I ran out of most of the ingredients one might need to make one and ended up with this. It’s still got a nice bite and the Zucca does the double duty of being both semi-sweet and bitter with a little more orange-y bitterness from the orange bitters.
The Moorish Dance
1-3/4 ounce gin, Ford’s used here
1-3/4 ounce Zucca
2 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s No.6 used here
orange peel for garnish
In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in the gin and Zucca. Add the dashes of bitters, stir 15 seconds to chill and express the oils from the orange peel over the drink. Add the zest for garnish.
Last night I made a batch of cranberry sauce. Don’t worry, I realize Thanksgiving is still a week away and no, I’m not going crazy with early prep. It’s actually for a project that you guys will hear about next week. Anyway, it was delicious. It’s also a reminder of how food has changed in my life.
When I was a young person, I had no idea what real cranberries looked like, apart from some illustrations on a bottle of cran-apple juice, and for me, cranberry sauce was cylindrical and had ridges. This was just an accepted fact until I actually ate real homemade cranberry sauce. I don’t remember liking it very much. It was too tart and soupy and where was all the sugar?! Now we make cranberry sauce at home every year and once in awhile I will eat out someplace that still uses canned. It’s more a novelty now; like eating Twinkies. Twinkies are pretty gross now to me, as are most of those grocery store goodies I used to crave.
This isn’t a rant by the way about processed foods and being a food snob. Mainly standing over the stove making the sauce last night just reminded me about how much I’ve come to appreciate and love home cooked food.
Also, that I actually really like cranberries too. And so here is your token cranberry holiday cocktail because Thanksgiving is next week. And… cranberries!
1-1/2 ounces Oloroso Sherry, Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15 year Oloroso used here
3/4 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice, Knudsen’s used here
1/2 ounce gold rum, Phraya used here
1/2 ounce simple syrup, see note above
2 dashes orange bitters such as Fee Brothers
orange peel for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine sherry, cranberry juice, rum, simple syrup and bitters. Shake well about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange peel.
I created this drink for Serious Eats as a lighter, lower ABV cocktail that you can drink at your holiday party and not get tanked with. I chose the Dry Sack Oloroso style, with its dry, sweet and nutty profile, as my perfect match for cranberries. The sweetness of the sherry also balances the lip-puckering tartness of the cranberry juice. And using real unsweetened cranberry juice here instead of a syrup helps to lighten the dense and potentially sticky mouthfeel of sherry. (Using a heavy syrup alongside of an Oloroso might have been, well, too much of a good thing.) Because sherry has only 20% ABV, the drink makes for a nice, lighter alcohol aperitif to start your evening. An extra half ounce of gold rum added to the drink gives more spicy depth to the drink without adding much boozy punch or detracting from the sherry’s flavor.
Ready for a drink now? This one is pretty easy, and more crafty than some of my recent drinks.
2 ounces dry gin, such as Caorunn Scottish Gin*
3/4 ounce Byrrh
3 dashes orange bitters
Flamed orange peel for garnish
Add gin, Byrrh, and bitters to a mixing glass. Fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with flamed orange peel.
Caorunn Scottish Gin provides a clean, dry, and slightly spicy framework for Byrrh’s bitter nature. The citrus notes from the gin accent those found in the Byrrh, and the drink gets an added touch of bitter citrus from orange bitters and a flamed orange peel. The complete cocktail is a perfect balance of sweet and bitter with a rich texture that lets you linger.
*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
Two weeks flew by around these parts and in that time a new cocktail was born. Well, the base you all will be familiar with, but the flavor profile? Totally new.
In the first post, I proposed the question to you all, What cocktail should get barrel aged (without a real barrel)? In this post I found that most of you would rather respond on every other form of social media except the post’s page. So I rounded up all of your responses, gave it a thought, and decided the cocktail would be…
A Hanky Panky!
First, thanks to you guys who gave up a lot more info on this process than I had in the instruction manual. All of your comments were super helpful in this process and tuned me in to the fact that I needed to taste daily. And you know what? After four days this baby was done aging with the stave. It did, however, require several more days of chilling out in the bottle before the taste was to my liking.
The jar holds 375ml, so count on about 3 full cocktails, or several small sipping shots.
6 oz. gin, Ford’s works well here
3 oz. sweet vermouth, Martini & Rossi used here
1 oz. Fernet Branca
6 dashes of orange bitters,Regan’s used here
Add the stave to the jar. Using a funnel, pour all ingredients into the barrel and seal.
Taste starting a day or two into aging. After 4 days I found that I was happy with the taste.
Strain mixture through cheesecloth, remove the stave from the jar, rinse the jar, and pour strained mixture back into the bottle. Cap and let sit for about 5 days in a cool, dark place.
After 5 days your Hanky Panky is ready to drink. Pour with ice into a strainer to chill, or sip straight out of the bottle too! Both work.
The flavor definitely has that “barrel aged” quality to it with a sweet, smokiness. On the nose there are hints of molasses, vanilla, raisins, pepper, honey, and smoke; not your typical Hanky Panky. The sweet vermouth is more pronounced while the Fernet Branca has softened considerably. In the barrel it’s been transformed into a richer, moodier version of a Hanky Panky.
Initially I tried tweaking the ingredients to see if I could add an Amaro in for the vermouth, but the sharpness of the vermouth is really needed here to balance out the herbal chartreuse and sweeten the whisky.
And the name of the drink? The combo of the green chartreuse and a smoky whisky called Brimstone immediately made me think of the song Green Hell by the Misfits. I wouldn’t even call the Misfits a guilty pleasure (that would be the housewives franchise). In fact, I realized some time ago while playing the ‘stranded island’ game, that I would take the Misfits collection with me for music I could listen to on said island. I love a crooner’s voice and would, with all sincerity, put Danzig in there as a crooner. Even if he’s singing about dead cats and serial killers.
1-1/2 oz. Balcones Brimstone Corn Whisky
1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Regan’s Bitters
3-4 mint leaves for garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients except mint and stir until cold (20-30 seconds). Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish a side of the glass with mint leaves so that they stick up like little green flames. To do this, drag the bottom half of the leaf through the drink and up on to the side of the glass. The leaf should stick to the inside of the glass. (This could take a try or two).
Woodsmoke is the first aroma that will hit your nose. The color is a deep amber (nope, not green at all). The taste is of woodsmoke with a bittersweet finish. And there are light herbal notes from the chartreuse with hints of citrus.
So this is my first entry for this month’s Mixology Monday. I will have some more smoky fun coming up later in the week. To check on what other’s are submitting, see the announcement post! You can also follow me and Mixology Monday on twitter for retweets and updates.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The 3 orange slices on the right have some sugar on them, in another drink I’m going to muddle those sugared slices. Stay tuned.
The drink I decided to garnish is one that came about because I bought a bottle of Bols Genever and had no idea what to do with it. I’ve had it in drinks around town, but noticed that most of the drink books I keep at home don’t make use of this spirit. I wasn’t that familiar with the flavor on its own, and found, upon drinking it, to be quite unique. So unique that I was still stumped and had to do some research online about what people tend to pair it with. Orange was a big one. After some failed first attempts, I hit upon this drink. I found the Genever here to be still a bit more pronounced for my palate, but the nice thing about having someone around with a very different palate than my own is that they will enjoy something I might not of. This is one of those times. My husband was a big fan of this.
1-1/2 oz. Bols Genever
3/4 oz. Noilly Prat French Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 dashes of Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 dashes of Miracle Mile Orange Bitters
1 roasted orange slice for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with roasted orange slice.
The malty Bols Genever mixed with the warm orange nose hit first. The drink is clean with pronounced citrus flavors, while not being too heavy or sweet. And the bitters provide a subtle sweet and sharp bite in the finish.