Tarantas Wine Slushie with Melon, Pimm’s and Crystalized Ginger One SPICY cocktail!

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comFor about the last month or so you guys may have noticed I’ve been promoting a contest by Tarantas Wines where I’ll be judging all of the wine-based cocktails. I feel that sometimes saying “wine-based” for cocktails confuses people, like, they only imagine taking the wine and mixing it with club soda and maybe adding a mint leaf to it. Or, in one kinda sad case online I recently saw some wine cocktails that were just a bottle of wine blended with a basket of strawberries and ice. It looked pretty in the picture, but I wouldn’t warrant it an innovative cocktail.

I’l take a step back here though and not get on the soapbox about what IS and ISN’T a cocktail, because quite frankly that’s not a debate I want to get into. (Although, side-note, according to David Wondrich the first usage of the term cocktail has to do with horses and ginger placed in their, um, well, butts to make their tails perk up.)

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comSo let’s talk about how I like to make wine cocktails, or rather, since the weather is getting HOT again in my neighborhood, wine slushie cocktails. I don’t bat an eyelash over frozen cocktails as evidenced here here and here. In fact, book publishers- if you want a cocktail book on this subject, go ahead and contact me; I’m taking meetings.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comThe wine I’ve chosen as my base is Tarantas Monastrell, an inky, tart and not-too-sweet red from the Jumilla region of Spain. Because it’s so dry, I added in some sweetness with honeydew melon and Pimm’s No. 1. The Pimm’s also adds in some spices and subtle earthy flavors. I wanted to finish this on a spicy note so in went crystalized ginger. (You can get crystalized ginger in a speciality grocer, online, or can make your own too.) I wanted to add a touch more sweetness and have some of the ginger chunks actually present in the drink- think of them as your chewy spice bombs. Otherwise I could have gone with fresh ginger infused in some capacity.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comTo minimize watering the drink down with ice, I pre-freeze the mixture the night before. Because there is a low alcohol content, the mixture actually becomes solid overnight but not completely frozen. This way I can add the pre-frozen mixture directly into the blender and only add ice to it as needed. Yes, it’s an additional step that requires some thought beforehand, but it makes for a better frozen drink. If you don’t have the time to freeze overnight, you should at least chill the mixture a few hours beforehand, and if you need this IMMEDIATELY, then go ahead and throw it into the blender with crushed ice, just taste and adjust as you go.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

The overnight mixture makes for a refreshing and light cocktail. You get honeyed ginger flavors with subtle spice and some grassiness; overall it’s quite balanced. If you like your drinks even spicer, I’d up the ginger by another tablespoon, it gets quite zingy.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

15 ounces honey dew melon (about half a melon), chopped into 1/2″ pieces
36 g or 1.2 ounces (about a quarter cup) chopped Crystalized ginger
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ration)
4 ounces of Pimm’s No. 1
8 ounces Tarantas Monastrell wine*
crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals for garnish

  • The night before, combine the honeydew melon, crystalized ginger, simple syrup, Pimm’s No. 1 and the Tarantas Monastrell wine into a gallon size ziplock bag. Freeze overnight.
  • When ready to make the cocktails, add pre-frozen mixture to a blender and blend to desired consistency (should be smooth, not too chunky). Add ice as needed.
  • To serve, pour into double rocks glasses and garnish with crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals.

Remember, you have until THIS FRIDAY to enter your own wine-based cocktail on the Tarantas website! Happy Wine Wednesday everyone!

Mixology Monday: Pelée Sunset Cocktail

Pelee Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
mxmologo

I hate to admit it, but this month’s Mixology Monday almost had me stumped. Wrongly I assumed I had a great flipped recipe; until I tried it and was horribly mistaken. This month’s theme, Flip Flop!, hosted by Frederic from the Cocktail Virgin Slut blog, seemed straight forward enough. Take a recipe, exchange two or more ingredients while keeping the proportions the same. And there you go, new recipe.

The great thing behind these monthly challenges is that sometimes they really take you out of your comfort zone in the bar area. I am sitting here at the very end of the day, finally getting something down because I have spent a solid week of try and try agains. I feel like I’m in school.

Alas, something clicked. Lately I’ve been trying to familiarize myself more with the world of Rum and picked up a bottle of Rhum J.M Gold. I’m not 100% if I am including all of the correct information when stating its name. I DO know it is Rhum Agricole, which is made from sugarcane, as opposed to regular Rum which is mostly molasses produced. And that’s where my knowledge stops. The Ministry of Rum is a good place to go for more info. Anyway, so I have this bottle of golden rum with a nice spicy nose and paired it up with Pimms for a Manhattan variation. And it worked.

2 oz. Rhum J.M. Gold
1 oz.  Pimm’s No. 1
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Luxardo Cherry for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add the Rhum, Pimm’s and bitters. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Drop a cherry in for garnish.

pelee sunset cherries

This drink is STRONG. And it’s not afraid to let you know. You can taste the strength of the Rhum, at 50% ABV. But, you will also taste some mild fruity spice as well. All 3 (well, even 4 if you count the cherry’s syrup) ingredients have varying degrees of spiciness to them contributing to an overall warmth. Maybe not so much a summer drink here, but I wouldn’t turn it down today.

Oh, and the name. The name is the volcano where this particular Rhum is produced. Don’t you feel smart now today?

Thanks again to Frederic for hosting this month, I’ve definitely upped my knowledge of spirits that work well together this week.

The Pimm’s Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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