The Southall Tonic

The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.comFor some time now I’ve had a “warming cocktail with turmeric” sitting in my to-make queue. Summer clearly was not the time to bust that out. Now that it’s turned a tad cooler out, I figured I should quickly get my act together and make this, especially before I found winter had sped by and it was too late to make it again (story of my life).The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Inspiration came from an unlikely place this time in the form of online dating. Yes, if you’ve been a loyal (or even semi-loyal) reader on here you know I am attached, so I wasn’t out looking, but Match.com came looking for me! In collaboration with the site, they asked me to come up with a London-inspired cocktail. Something that you’d want to order on your first date. You know, the date where you’re trying to impress the other person with your knowledge of fine spirits and interesting ingredients…. that “showing off” I try to impress all of you readers with every week.

For me, when I think of what Londoners are drinking, my mind goes to sophistication. Classy, gin-based cocktails (I’m picturing the American Bar at the Savoy), and then, perhaps, closely followed by beer (I mean, there’s a lot of pubs around town). But all of that tends to start to seem mundane when you suddenly have to impress someone on a first date. And first impressions are everything. So, I’ve come up with a London-inspired cocktail that is still sophisticated, but much more interesting than your run of the mill gin and tonic. Looking for your ice breaker? Here you go…The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

What was my inspiration behind this cocktail? Tony Conigliaro, whose imaginative cocktails are inspiring to myself and many others way across the pond, and curry. No, seriously, curry too. When I think of the flavors of London, I immediately go to the fragrant and spicy dishes found everywhere in town. An amalgam of cultures, London lets you cherry pick the best flavors found all over the planet. But for today, my mind went to curry.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Or, more specifically, the turmeric found in curry. Turmeric’s bright yellow color not only provides a beautiful color for the cocktail, but its peppery flavor profile gives it a nice earthy, warm kick too. Oh, and if you’re looking for some banter, it also has numerous health benefits, lots of which you can wiki when you have a moment (just not during your date please).

And there I got my warming cocktail, with turmeric. A couple dashes of lapsang souchong tea tincture gave the drink not only some heft, but an unexpected smoky flavor coming from such a brightly colored cocktail. Rounding out the ingredients, orange flower was added as a finishing touch calling out some of the Middle Eastern influence also found around town. Orange was used instead of lime for the much needed citrus element for this take on a Gin and Tonic.

Southall Tonic

2 ounces London Dry Gin, Beefeater used here
3/4 ounce Turmeric syrup (recipe below)
3-4 drops Lapsang Souchong tea tincutre
4 ounces tonic water, Fever-Tree used here
2 sprays orange flower water (use an atomizer to disperse)

orange peel for garnish

Build the drink by adding a large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in syrup and then add drops of tincture. Pour in gin, top with tonic and then spray orange flower water over glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Turmeric Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh turmeric root, cleaned and roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Store for up to one month.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Strong orange oil on the nose and the hint of quinine. The first sip is both sweet and immediately hits you with savory from the tea tincture; it’s an unexpected twist. Next layer of flavors you get are more earthy from the turmeric syrup which balances the sweetness of the syrup and tonic against the strong, smoky lapsang suchong. In the end there is still a crisp bite from the gin that reminds you, at its core, it’s just a tarted up Gin & Tonic.

This post is in collaboration with Match.com. For more information on their city guides, please visit them here!

Make It: Macadamia Nut Orgeat

Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.comEvery word I just tried typing in the title I misspelled. It’s late and it’s been one of those weeks. This recipe was a lot like that. Every turn was a mistake until I finally threw up my hands and swore at the second batch I’M GIVING UP ON YOU.

But I couldn’t really give up. So I shelved this orgeat recipe until I felt like I could confidently proceed with it again. Third try was indeed a charm.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Initially I tried a few different recipes but in the end I turned to the Beach Bum for help on this one. Who else would know more about this essential Tiki drink ingredient?Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

I’ve had this recipe out there for so long on my “to make” list that I can’t even remember how I decided to come to develop a macadamia nut version of this almond-based syrup. All I can say is that regular orgeat is lighter in flavor, while the roasted macadamia nuts give a more hefty, robust nuttiness to the final product. It’s still quite sweet, as it should be – it’s a syrup. That said I don’t see this as a blanket replacement for regular almond orgeat. The macadamia nuts would do well to balance out some sweeter flavors like coconut or give dimension to some blander fruits like banana.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

If you make this, tell me what you found it worked best in!Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Now on to the recipe!

Adapted from Beach Bum Berry Remixed
Yields aproximately 1-1/2 liters

500 grams raw macadamia nuts
800 ml water
700 grams granulated sugar, organic
1 ounce vodka
2 teaspoons orange flower water (start here and gradually add more to taste)

  1. Start by roasting the macadamia nuts. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lay macadamia nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 15-17 minutes until golden in color. If your oven runs hot, start checking around 12 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Macadamia nuts are expensive and you don’t want to waste them.
  2. Cool the nuts and place them in a bowl. Fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer (I found this work much better than with a rolling pin and I didn’t feel like busting out the food processor).
  3. Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 800 ml of water to it. Let stand for two hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
  4. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I recommend making chocolate bark because… chocolate). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air tight container.

 

P.S. if you happen to be in Los Angeles in October on either the 6th or the 27th, you can taste this wonderful orgeat at The Coconut Club in our signature drink. Just saying. 

Mixology Monday: The Vegan Pisco Sour

Vegan Pisco Sour // stirandstrain.comMixology Monday LogoLately it seems that Mixology Monday is how I mark the passing of time. “Didn’t we just do this?”, I ask myself when I get the alert that there is a new challenge up on the site. Maybe it’s also because I hosted last month and I was neck-deep in it for a full week. This isn’t a complaint by the way. I love these challenges, and this month, Stewart from the Putney Farm blog has really created a doozy of a challenge for us all: make an “Intercontinental” cocktail. For the full run down, please visit his site here!

A geography lesson was needed as I started picking through what I had on hand. Trinidad is considered part of South America, even though it’s an island. Right, islands are still part of a continent. Admittedly I kept forgetting we only have 7 continents. Why does this feel like school?

However, even with all the map reading and consulting a globe, I actually had a recipe idea already in mind that I was just going to shoehorn into this month’s challenge. Last month I attended a cocktail event here in Los Angeles, Taste L.A. (which was actually cocktails and food but I only went to the cocktail-themed event), where there were some great demos that I took notes on and squirreled away for future post ideas. The demo I was looking forward to attend the most was one with bartender extraordinaire Matthew Biancaniello, who was awesome, but what I didn’t expect to be the most intrigued by was Brady Weise from the 1886 Bar (which I wrote about over here if you’re interested). He is known for his beer cocktails, and I am always on the lookout for those, but for his demo he showed us how to use  beer as an emulsifier to sub out using egg whites in cocktails. Science cocktails! By doing this, he effectively made a vegan cocktail. Yes, before anyone brings it up, many, many cocktails have no animal products in them whatsoever. However, if you notice, more bars now are using egg whites and whole eggs in their cocktails as they re-discover classics that call for these. If you are vegan, you are missing out. This post is for you guys.Vegan Pisco Sour // stirandstrain.com

Weise’s cocktail was a Pisco Sour and since this is my first time trying this out, I’m sticking, mostly, with his measurements. To get the right consistency, he suggests using a very wheat-y beer. There’s some scientific stuff about proteins and such that I have not provided for you to read. You can open a new tab if you’re really interested and have the internet tell you about it.

So which continents did I hit? Well, the limes were from Mexico (they’re not in season here right now) so there’s North America. The Pisco was from Peru, so there you have South America. Angostura Bitters are from Trinadad, but that’s still in the Americas (shoot!). The Hefe-Weizen’s Germany so we got Europe covered. And the added touch? Orange Flower Water, from Lebanon. So there’s Asia. BOOM! Four out of seven is not bad in my book.Vegan Pisco Sour // stirandstrain.com

Now that school is over, let’s make a drink!

Adapted from Brady Weise:
1-1/2 oz. Encanto Pisco
1-1/2 oz. Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Beer
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/4 tsp. Orange Flower Water
3-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Pour the Orange Flower Water in the bottom of a rocks glass. Swirl to coat the entire inside of the glass and pour out remaining liquid. In a mixing glass, add lime juice, simple syrup, pisco and–slowly–beer. Using a Boston Shaker, hard shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into your rocks glass and give a few hard shakes to get foam out of the shaker and into the glass. Top with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.

The result is similar to a regular Pisco Sour, except this version has some wheat in the finish and a sweet orange, floral aroma and taste. Overall tart with sweet grape, but a balanced tartness due to the orange flower water (after trying without, I prefer this less mouth-puckering version) that also compliments the wheat from the Hefe-Weizen. The head is thick, foamy, and slowly dissipates, showing its structure.

Thanks to Stewart for hosting this month and to Frederic for keeping Mixology Monday up and running.

In Other News

If you didn’t click on the link for 1886, and that’s fine, no one is forcing you to, more of my writing can be found on the Serious Drinks site now. What kind of stuff? Reviews of some of my favorite places to drink in Los Angeles, and first looks at some new places. Heading to L.A. soon? Check it out!

The liquor shelf page was starting to get a bit crowded, so the bookshelf is getting it’s own page now!

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…