Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: A Shot of C

emergency-lrc-1I have a small staff that I manage at my day job. They’re an amusing lot. Conversations tend to be about food, not surprising considering where we work, my confessions of trashy tv I’ve been watching lately and occasionally cocktails. The other day my main assistant, or at least the one I yell over at the most, was describing “cocktails” that he and his roommates make at home and immediately I figured I’d use one for this month’s LRC.

Besides the obvious Red Bull and Vodka which I believe was one of their first choices for drinks at home, one rather timely cocktail for this winter was the combination of Emergen-C and vodka. To paraphrase my assistant, “It’s surprisingly good”.

So in the name of curiosity, here we go…

1 packet of orange flavored Emergen-C
2-1/2 oz. vodka, chilled

Mix the two in a small rocks glass and shoot it back. No need to sip this one.

While this “cocktail” isn’t made with real citrus, it is close enough to fit in with the current theme of citrus cocktails. Right? Right. There’s vitamins in there somewhere.

Flavor-wise you’re looking at what you’d expect to taste with one of those vitamin packs, backed by a throat-ripping burn of vodka. FYI, do NOT ever drink this room temp.

emergencypack

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.

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

De Kers en De Oranje Cocktail

I’m a bit behind posting some drinks what with the holidays this week and me too busy trying to get my Christmas shopping done online. Are the sales really better in the stores? Who can resist sitting at a computer and making stupid purchases while drinking, heavily, post family dinner? Not I. And now here’s a post.

Oranges are just coming into season here at the farmer’s market so I picked up a couple with an idea to roast them for garnishes. I had some orange based drinks in mind and thought I’d try doing something other than an orange slice on the rim.

Roasting oranges is easy. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F, slice the oranges at about 1/4″ or thinner if you can, stick them on a sheet pan with some parchment, and let them roast for about 25 minutes. I forgot about turning mine over, so only one side got nice and caramelized (flip them about half-way through). Want to make them even more caramelized and delicious? Sprinkle some brown sugar on some.

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.

Garnishes Up In My Face, and Vamping Up a French 75

Giant Beautiful Garnish

Recently my husband and I took a trip to Vegas for a couple of days. Unfortunately the morning of I had come down with a horrible bout of food poisoning. We ended up canceling all of our dinner plans, but kept the cocktail tastings since that was about all I could take. We visited the bar at Postrio at the Venetian, had a beautiful drink with Hendrick’s Gin and Grapefruit juice (I wish I could tell you all the ingredients; hell, I wish I remembered them so I could make this at home). The garnish was this large section of grapefruit. It really looked… beautiful. But it was pretty clumsy to drink. I love a garnish that adds to the drink, but if you’re concerned with it falling off, or on your face, while you’re trying to drink, then what’s the point? We ran into a similar problem at a Champagne bar at the Palazzo. The lemon twist was HUGE. I had to take it off to drink out of the flute… otherwise it might have come tumbling out. Not to make this a downer post, but the champagne cocktail itself was a one note drink. Which made me think about what I’d want in one. And hence a post about drinks with Champagne (or, Prosecco since that’s all that I have on hand).

 

Well. Damn, I still have that container of orange simple syrup lurking in my fridge. And well, I’d love to riff on the French 75 I had at that champagne bar. How could a drink made with lemon juice and gin.. have no flavor?

 

I have a tiny bit of Citadelle Gin that I should use up. Do you ever have a bottle that has been hanging around for awhile, and not because you don’t like it.. you just have a tiny bit left and cannot throw it out? Welcome to my world. I cannot waste things, like food. I cry if I find a half dead head of lettuce in the fridge and I have to throw it out. And I also have on hand is some brand X prosecco(it’s really not that great of a prosecco here and you would laugh at how much I bought it for. So really, any dry bubbly will work here) that is going into a risotto recipe after this. But on to the drink recipe…

 

2 oz Citadelle Gin (this boasts 19 different ingredients and since it had both orange and lemon peel on this list I figured this would work fine)
1-1/2 ounce Meyer lemon juice
1 oz orange simple syrup
prosecco to top it off with

 

Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a highball glass. Top it off with prosecco. I would suggest not filling the glass all the way to the top with prosecco as you will drown out the other flavors (and possibly have it fizz all over you and the floor).

 

I upped the lemon juice by a here for some more zing in the drink and to balance out the very dry prosecco. The orange simple syrup added just a hint of sweet orange flavor. The gin is a bit buried in this drink. And honestly, for all its boasting of ingredients I couldn’t really distinguish them all when tasting it by itself, so mixing it in here just added one more level of flavor. Oh, and due to some camera difficulties and white balance, the full glass is not shown here due to it looking like a big ol’ glass of pee. It was starting to go flat and I wasn’t about to waste it.

 

So, comparing this drink with the French 75 I had in Vegas… well, for starters you can taste the citrus, and there is not a hint of bitterness. It is sweet and sour and light. And I think I’ll have another.

Lime Fail

This is going to be a two-parter because I haven’t perfected this drink yet. A couple weeks ago when citrus season started around here.. does anyone else ever feel weirded out that such summery fruit as citrus are in season in the winter? Living in Southern California and it being 75 out today at the beginning of February while my parents are snowed in back in New England should probably make me feel less confused (it sure feels summery around here)… but I find myself surprised when my CSA basket arrives and there are a bunch of oranges rolling around on the bottom. Every year. It always gets me. So anyways, I got my first batch of oranges, and then a second batch and I just was not eating them fast enough so I decided perhaps I’ll use a bunch up in something that I will want to eat a lot of. Like cake. The recipe I followed (which you can read here) had one making what I thought at the time was really a LARGE amount of orange simple syrup. I was candying orange slices in it, but really, 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water is a lot of room for 2 small oranges. Fast forward to when the cake was done and I had to brush on the syrup. I felt I was being more than generous practically pouring it on there, but I was still left over with a tub of orange water with a couple left over slices in it. I thought to myself, well, I could definitely use this in something. And so it sat in my fridge for 3 weeks.

This past week I received a copy of The Grog Log in the mail. Very excited to try something in there, but realizing I am very low on resources on the shelf I looked over the book to try and find the simplest of recipes in there to use with a very nice bottle of rum someone brought as a gift during Christmas to the house. Side note here that I am not a fan of rum as is. I can remember being read a bedtime story and my mom leaving her glass of Rum&Coke by the bed for a second and being totally disgusted by the taste. I pretty much still have the same reaction to the drink now almost 30 years later. So, I like to mellow out the flavor in Tiki drinks by mixing it with about 6 other things. However, this rum was supposed to be far superior to the Puerto Rican stuff in a gallon sized jug that I don’t know what to do with. And that at least warranted mixing it with only a few ingredients. Because I am just not going to drink it plain. The simplest I could find was a combination of rum, lime juice and simple syrup. I switched out the simple syrup with the orange syrup and was pretty sure this would be a nice, refreshing drink on such a lovely day. Celebrations were in order what with it only reaching a high of 65 the previous day (it took a very brief period of time to adjust to living in this climate after living 20+ years in New England, and after 8 years my entire family has practically disowned me due to getting the shivers one November when I came back for Thanksgiving).

Ah, but one thing I didn’t count on was the large organic limes we bought would taste like utter crap. And that was the only fresh lime juice to be had. I also think I need to adjust the syrup to a slightly higher mix. ½ an ounce and you could barely taste the orange at all. It’s a nice delicate flavor, as I used extremely sweet, fragrant oranges that stood up after being simmered with sugar for an hour (this was for the purpose of candying the orange slices, no need to do it this long if you are making a simple syrup). Does anyone know how long a boiled sugar concoction like this lasts?

So this week I will try and pick up some different limes and try this again with the adjustments. Stay tuned.

Make It: Candied Orange Syrup

This recipe comes direct from Hadley at Gourmandise Desserts in Los Angeles. Her original recipe states it will last 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I got about a month and a half life out of it.

3 cups sugar
2 seedless oranges, thinly sliced
3 cups water

Place sugar and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium once the sugar has dissolved. Add oranges. Simmer until rinds become very soft and syrup begins to foam, about one hour. Cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.