I seriously received no less than 6 emails from PR companies pitching me “Labor-less cocktail ideas” over the past two weeks. Eye rolling aside, I get it. No one wants to spend time outside at their Labor Day BBQ making single drink requests for every person that stops by. It’s time for PITCHERS OF COCKTAILS! And I have a few ideas for you guys. Check them out below.
Well guys, it’s been two years since I’ve done one of these, so here’s your 2016 cocktail roundup for all your Moms. Drink up!
Maybe you guys can help me out here. If a neighbor has a fruit tree, let’s say a pomegranate tree, overburdened with fruit, like so much fruit. And it’s just sitting there out on the sidewalk for anyone to pluck a few as they walk by… Is it OK just to pluck a few? You’re not going in their yard. In fact, they are dropping from the branches looking for an excuse to go home with you.
My neighbors don’t know how lucky they are. My mother-in-law’s pomegranate tree gave us a whopping two fruit. TWO?! The tree is being downright lazy this year. So for this cocktail we’ll just turn to the bottled stuff.
Thank god for bottled pomegranate juice though. I will say that despite this desperation I have of ridding my neighbor’s tree of all their fruit, juicing all those pomegranates is a pain in the ass. And now that it’s officially Fall, and I believe also the start of pomegranate season, it’s time for some transitional cocktails. Because we are still going through our usual high temps in Southern California I just can’t bring myself to make something too Fall-like yet. So today I have a bit of a summery beverage with just a touch of Fall.
This recipe yields enough for about 4 cocktails, but you can also single batch this for yourself. I’ve been enjoying these splits of sparkling wine lately for when I want a sparkling cocktail but don’t want to crack open a big bottle. Because what usually happens is that I make a cocktail and just drink all the rest of the sparkling wine by itself.
Do you like juicing pomegranates? Feel free to sub in fresh for the bottled if you’d like.
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
- In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to 3 ounces (6 tablespoons), 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 month.
For the Cocktails:
3 ounces Pomegranate Reduction
4 ounces Cocchi Rosa
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 4 limes
16 ounces sparkling wine
4 orange twists, for garnish
- In a pitcher, add the pomegranate reduction, Cocchi Rosa, and lime juice. Top with sparkling wine and gently stir to combine. To serve, divide between 4 glasses filled with ice. Express orange oil from twists over each drink, then add twists to each glass to garnish.
To temper the pomegranate syrup’s richness and bring in a bit of brightness, I use a sparkling wine for the base. And to offset the syrup’s sweetness, I mix in Cocchi Rosa, an aromatized wine whose subtle bitterness comes from gentian and cinchona bark. A splash of lime keeps it fresh. An orange twist adds a final layer of aroma and brings out the citrus qualities of the Rosa.
I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.
At its base, there’s an oleo-saccharum (your fancy term for muddled citrus peels and sugar) and with the tea, it’s kinda like a boozy, refreshing Arnold Palmer. The kicker here is the addition of celery bitters (!!!). So the result is a sweet and savory punch that has unexpected flavors but it definitely a crowd pleaser.
Plus, people will be intrigued just by you saying ‘gunpowder’ in the title. But maybe sneak in a few sparklers one last time this weekend for good measure as well.
For the Oleo-Saccharum:
4 ounces granulated sugar
Peel zest from lemons and lime, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Muddle gently until peels begin to express their oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.
For the Gunpowder Tea:
3 teabags gunpowder green tea
16 ounces boiling water
Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool to room temperature before using.
For the Punch:
8 ounces gin, such as Aviation
16 ounces Gunpowder Tea at room temperature
8 dashes celery bitters, such as Scrappy’s
Lemon wheels and celery stalks for garnish
In a pitcher or punch bowl, combine gin, tea, bitters, and oleo-saccharum. Stir to combine and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, add ice to rocks glasses, pour in the punch and add a lemon wheel and celery stalk for garnish.
This recipe originally written for Serious eats.
For the Five-Spice Syrup:
1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 whole star anise pod
1 (6-inch) cinnamon stick or 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
- Toast Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and fennel in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, tossing and stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cinnamon stick, sugar, and water and place over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until just starting to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Five-spice syrup will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
For 4 Cocktails:
6 ounces bourbon, such as 4 Roses Yellow Label
3 ounces Five-Spice Syrup (see above)
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
8 ounces club soda
Lime wedges for garnish
- In a pitcher, combine bourbon, 3 ounces Five-spice syrup, and lime juice. Stir well. Add club soda and stir gently. To serve, fill rocks glasses with ice, pour in 4-3/4 ounces of the cocktail and top with lime wedges.
The sweet, savory, and pungent flavors of the Five Spice Syrup are an excellent pair to the rich, slightly sweet bourbon. And when you add in the lime juice and club soda, the whole cocktail gets loosened up a bit and really is quite refreshing.
I go into this a little in the article I wrote on Serious Eats, but let me elaborate on this just a wee bit here. Since this is a safe place to ramble on and you readers are somewhat more forgiving of these overly long explanations (well, some of you aren’t and you know who you are).
For the most part, I like to live an uncluttered life.. actually, let me stop you here if you’re just searching for “super bowl cocktails” and you’re still reading at this point. Might I suggest you just scroll down to the recipe? Anyways, I’m the type of person who loves, with a capital L, to throw stuff away and have lots of clean surfaces. I’m a believer that an uncluttered space means an uncluttered mind and yes, I might just use the excuse that the studio space is too cluttered to photograph in right now so I’m just going to be over here watching tv and procrastinating. But mainly I’m not a person who holds on to stuff. However, I do have a few exceptions for collectibles. The major collections I have are my Tiki mugs, which need a new cabinet (see, I still need to sequester the collections) and, since I used to DJ out here with much, much more frequency than I do now, my 1960’s girl group and girl garage band 45s. That was mainly it for stuff I held on to that took up space. You know what doesn’t take up a lot of space that is fun to hang on to if you’re into cocktails: vintage drink stirrers. These are highly curated because I can’t justify keeping more on hand than what will fit in a Highball glass.
Knowing that I liked some of these kitschy treasures from restaurants and bars that once were, a friend of mine found herself at a flea market somewhere in Arizona a few years ago and happened upon someone’s stockpile of stirrers for sale. Sifting through the amazing variety of brightly-colored sticks, she selected what she thought I’d most like to have (and seriously did an amazing job). One of my favorites though was this black stick with gold lettering that just said “steak island” on it with this little grass hut. Either it was the bizarre combination of this little tropical hut imagined to house giant steak laden plates, or that it was coming out of Texas and I was to believe there was something tropical-like there, but either way, I immediately knew someday I’d need to make a drink in honor of this establishment’s namesake. Super Bowl Sunday seemed like the most appropriate “holiday” to make such a drink.
So what better to wash down plates of rich, meaty foods than some light and refreshing effervescent cocktails…made with beer! And… steak sauce!
If I was going to make a cocktail that included the word steak, then I figured some steak sauce as an extra special ingredient was in order. So what you get is a drink close to a Michelada with a heaping amount of tangy, umami-filled A1 Steak Sauce (or whatever sauce you’d like). Personally, growing up I was not a fan of steak, but I did like dipping the steak in A1 and then sucking all the sauce off the meat and tossing the meat away (I wasn’t a picky eater but the texture of steak I found to be most offensive to my young self). Now I skip the formalities and just drink the sauce here.
Intrigued? You should be, so let’s make some cocktails!
Yields 6-8 drinks for a party
8 ounces red and yellow bell pepper slices
14 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from about 14 limes
4 ounces steak sauce, such as A1
1/4 ounce freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
48 ounces lager, such as Pacifico
Lime wheels and additional bell pepper slices for garnish
- In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle together the bell peppers and lime juice. Add the steak sauce and pepper. If your sauce is not on the salty side, add some additional salt to your liking. Cover and refrigerate the base at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- To serve, add beer straight to the pitcher and stir gently to combine, serving into ice-filled glasses. Alternately, you can pour about 2 1/2 ounces of the cocktail base into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with about 5 ounces of the beer and stir gently to combine.
- Garnish glasses with lime wheels and bell pepper slices, serve.
Like I said, it’s super refreshing and easy drinking, a great pair to richer foods. The steak sauce has a touch of sweetness and adds some underlying umami to the cocktail. Mixed with fresh citrus juice, it adds both a base note and a tangy brightness to your fizzy beer mixer. Muddled bell peppers offer a subtle vegetal flavor and complexity that’ll keep you sipping. I chose to top it all off with a lager so that the beer doesn’t overpower the drink with too much hops or bitterness or whatever special flavor it might have been brewed with. I enjoyed with Pacifico, Christopher liked some Foster’s with his.
Another nice fact about pitcher drinks: they can mostly be assembled beforehand and topped off before the party starts. Less stress this summer; you are welcome.
Note: my pitcher is on the small side, serving about 6. If yours is much larger this can easily be doubled (or hell, tripled). And be careful with the hibiscus! This little flower goes from tangy to bitter super fast so don’t walk away and forget about it when you’re steeping.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 dried hibiscus flowers
zest from one lime
2 ounces lime juice from 2-3 limes
Over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to just under a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus and lime zest. Stir, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, let cool and add lime juice.
For the drinks:
1 lime, sliced thin
1 cup hibiscus-lime syrup (recipe above)
1 cup tequila, Herradura Tequila Silver used here
2 cups tonic water, chilled
For the drink: In a pitcher, add lime slices, syrup and tequila. If not using right away, store in refrigerator. Otherwise, add tonic water and stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime wedges.
Tart and tangy, the hibiscus-lime mixture provides a lift to the vegetal nature of the tequila. The tonic gives a hint of bitter and sweetness to the final drink, along with a nice effervescence. If tonic is too overpowering for you, club soda can be substituted.
I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Drinks site.