Beer. Popcorn. Mezcal. We’ve rounded up a few favorite game day recipes.
Are you going to Tales this year? Can we meet at Tales? I’m reaching out to you about meeting up at TOTC… Sorry guys, I did not attend Tales of the Cocktail this year. I really don’t know when I’ll make that happen, if ever. However, I was able to bypass the crowds and the sweltering, miserable 105° heat with god-knows-how-high humidity and just look at everyone’s Instagram and Twitter and quite frankly that was great and totally enough, thanks.
Lately though it’s been hard to muster up the interest to pretend everything is OK and go eventing and snap some ‘grams. Instead I’ve been compulsively scrolling through the news with an ever increasing knot in my stomach wondering what the hell is going on in the world. It makes all this social media and even this website seem, well…¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But I’ll save those thoughts and actions for offline, where I can actively do things and not just type type type on here. Anyways, to say the least, I’ve been pretty uninspired with drinks lately. I recently read on article on the End of the Craft Cocktail Movement, and while I initially wanted to get cocky and yell in an obnoxious manner no it’s not, I had to give the author a nod for touching on some truths. The truth being that, yeah, you can get a good cocktail practically anywhere and we as cocktail drinkers have come to expect that now. It’s not novel to be craft and to use fresh ingredients and make your own bitters and muddle in some cucumber. We ALL know how to do that and that’s a good thing. The scary part for people like myself is how do we move on from there.
When I was perusing the images from TOTC, one of the most intriguing things I saw was on Craft & Cocktails’ twitter. It was 4 images of weird stuff with the caption that they were “all cocktails”. You can see that post here and read my comments on it below. To sum up, I was most into the weirdest, the most wrong, the most confusing cocktail of the bunch that was a glass with what looked like dentures sitting in it.
Spectacle. We’re now moving onto spectacle. When we all expect what’s in the glass to taste great, you’re going to need a 3 ring circus to bring the audience in, at least when we’re talking about here in the blog/social media world. There has been a trend with the younger, newer drinking age audience to stop making drinks at home and to cease entertaining. Their eyeballs are glued onto their phones looking for the next great cat bar, not to necessarily go there, but to “like” the idea of it and quickly move on to the next strange idea.
This is a weird spot to be in when you’ve been happily plugging along on your website, coming up in the (second? third?) craft cocktail movement and sharing a love of home bartending. The newer audience will not be home bartenders, and the audience you’ve been talking to is going to start getting home bartending fatigue. Even I see that in myself. I’ve stopped reading a lot of sites, even ones I’ve loved, and stopped browsing through a good chunk of the social media sites, and instead started reading more actual books again. I chuckle at the newest hashtag of #readafuckingbook and am actively giving my brain a break from the nonsense and just the relentless tragedy that coexist in the same feeds.
And so, here’s a little spectacle, wrapped around a good drink. The good folks at Copper & Kings just released an orange Curaçao that is pretty darn great and I added that into my variation here on a Brandy Crusta. First, I swapped some California rye whiskey in for the brandy and then instead of the sugar crusted rim and lemon peel, I made some lemon zest infused sugar and spun that around the glass. The sugar looked like amber when it hardened, and it made me happy to look at it. Like a little artwork on my glass.
I hope you all find a little something that makes you happy this week.
2 ounces whiskey, Spirit Works Straight Rye Whiskey used here*
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange curaçao, Copper & Kings intense orange curaçao used here*
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Dash Angostura bitters
lemon-sugar garnish (recipe follows)
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice, orange curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into lemon-sugar crusted glass.
Lemon Infused Spun Sugar Garnish
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon zest, stir to combine. When sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until sugar reaches a golden-brown color. Remove from heat immediately and continue to stir. As the sugar mixtures begins to cool, the liquid will thicken. Sugar is ready when a wooden spoon is dipped in and sugar pours off in a ribbon. Dip a coupe glass into the sugar and slowly pull out, twisting the sugar as you remove the glass. Hold upside down for about 30 seconds and then stand up to finish cooling. Set aside until ready to use.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Let me help you pick out what you should be drinking and eating today. I am a 1/4 Irish after all…
And a few Green Drinks…
I tend to go back and forth on bottled cocktails. Will the juice taste fresh enough? Should I even bother with juices or should it be all booze and bitters? Can I just drink this whole bottle and not share it?
The best thing about bottled cocktails though? The convenience factor. Batch up a couple to bring to a party and you’re fawned over like you invented cute puppies. But what if you need to take that cocktail on the road? And what if it’s freezing outside because some friend convinced you it would be an awesome idea to go camping? In winter…
Let me introduce you to your new best friend, the insulated thermos. Keeping your hot cocktails hot, and your sanity in check this winter.
When you’re making hot cocktails there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll be adding in hot water so you want to keep your juices to a minimum (if your cocktail requires them). Why water your cocktail down even more? I’ve found the best way to work around this is to make an oleo saccharum to ensure you have that bright zesty citrus flavor in concentrated form and none of the excess juice.
Second, you want to keep your cocktail hot. For my thermos cocktails, I use a Stanley Classic Vacuum thermos. It’s old school looking; like something my Dad would bring with him to work to keep his soup hot. And this guy keeps it hot for HOURS. At 1.1 quarts it also holds enough drinks for you and some friends so no one need go without a drink. But don’t just pour your drink into the thermos! If you preheat it while you’re making the cocktail it will prevent heat loss when you pour the drink in. So, to do that, just add boiling water and stick the cap on while you’re doing the mixing. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is sufficient time to get that thermos nice and hot. When you’re ready to pour the finished cocktail in, dump out the water and you’re good to go.
Third, make a cocktail that actually tastes good hot. For my first venture with the thermos, I made a variation of a Hot Ward 8, Boston’s only real pre-prohibition contribution. I’d love to tell you the history on this but there is so much competing information out there as to its true origins that putting anything down in print seems like hearsay.
I chose this for a few reasons. I thought it would taste good hot, and it uses up some seasonally appropriate produce (Are your kitchen counters filling up with citrus yet? Mine are.). You could always go with some cocktails that are already served hot. Some nice Hot Toddies while you’re ice fishing, or some Irish Coffee while you’re out snow-shoeing, or whatever you do in the snow.
The Ward 8 delivers a bit more complex flavor here with sweet and spicy rye and that bright citrus from the oleo saccharum. I also add in a touch more syrupy citrus sweetener with a dry orange curaçao and round out the drink with tart fresh pomegranate juice (the last of my season’s batch). For a spicy/bitter finish, a few dashes of Angostura are added in to the mix to keep it from getting too sweet.
There’s plenty of cold months ahead of us, so let’s start planning on a few hot cocktails to get us through. And don’t forget your thermos.
For the Oleo-Saccharum:
Zest from 2 lemons
Zest from 1 orange
4 1/2 ounces (130g) sugar
- In a heatproof container with at least a 36-ounce capacity, toss together lemon and orange zests with sugar. Muddle for 30 seconds to release the oil from the zests. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.
For the Cocktails:
8 ounces (235ml) boiling water, plus more for preheating thermos
16 ounces (475ml) rye whiskey, such as Bulleit 95
4 ounces (120ml) unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 ounces (60ml) dry orange curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand
8 dashes Angostura bitters
8 lemon zest strips, for garnish (optional)
- Pre-warm thermos by filling with water just off the boil and let stand. Meanwhile, pour rye whiskey, 8 ounces boiling water, pomegranate juice, orange curaçao, and bitters over the oleo-saccharum. Stir well until sugar is completely dissolved. (If you find you’d like your drink hotter, pour everything except the rye into a sauce pan and heat to desired temperature. Then add in rye and continue with the recipe)
- Discard hot water from thermos, then carefully strain rye mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into thermos (a funnel can help avoid spills); discard spent zests. Seal thermos.
- Optionally, when ready to drink, add new lemon zests to your cocktail, expressing the oils over the top first.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National
Yes, I’m aware there’s been quite a number of round ups on the site this summer. But you know what? It’s SUMMER. Give me a break. To continue the trend of taking it easy as we head into Fall, I’m giving you yet another list of cocktails ideas. This time though I’m making sure they’re batched and sitting pretty in your fridge, waiting for you to break out a pitcher or blender to wizz them up at the touch of a button.
Pro tip: get someone else to make the bases for you.
Salted Peanut Old Fashioneds. You should already have these made and in your fridge.
Hibiscus Lime Cooler. Because you should.
Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails. Cocktails you can eat are always a win.
Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria. I just love an excuse to make Sangria.
See? (Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria)
Lazy Cucumber Punch….
Happy long weekend everyone! Let me know what you’re drinking!
Bottling cocktails to have on hand at home (or to bring to a party, or give out as baby shower gifts, whatever) is really very easy. Yes, like any project, you need to invest in some basic equipment. The internet is a great source for that (I’ll post some sources below), but if you’re in a town that has a beer supply shop you could also hop on down to one and very likely find these items. Let’s assume you have the booze on hand for a cocktail you’d like to bottle, then all you need are bottles, caps and a capper. And 2 out of the 3 items can be used over and over again.
Last week Serious Eats published a recipe of mine that was a jumping off point to start bottling cocktails at home. I love single serving bottles that can be handed off to guests when they show up late to your house and demand that you make them a fancy cocktail. I’m not a night person, so my brain after 9pm is staticky at best (no one ever shows up for cocktails at 10am). However, if I have a small supply of varying fanciness in the fridge ready to go at a moments notice, then I look cool. And no one can tell I’d rather be in bed then entertaining (until I fall asleep mid-sentence on the couch).
Cocktails that work well in a bottled cocktail form have the standard rules of NO dairy and NO fresh juice due to stability issues (although I’m testing one of those out next week so check back in here!!). Instead of bottling the household standards of a Manhattan or a Negroni, likely choices since they’re all booze, I decided to riff on an Old Fashioned. It being summertime, I wanted a recipe that worked well both in terms of summer flavor and also would work in a bottle. Thus, the Salted Peanut Old Fashioned was born. Using peanuts in an Old Fashioned I’ve seen before, but I see it a lot on the sweet side. For this drink I wanted to cut back on the sugar, and create a more savory profile. The whole idea made me reminisce about late summer baseball games and eating peanuts and you can read all that in the original post. The summer 6-pack of beer was being replaced by a 6-pack of cocktails!
Couple facts to point out before we begin:
- Water. Water is added to the base since we will NOT be stirring the cocktails. These are stand alone and can be poured right into your mouth and enjoyed from that bottle they’re living in. Or, if you want to get sophisticated, they can be poured into a chilled cocktail glass too. Also, the amount of dilution can be based on YOUR desire as well. Want it to be a tad stronger? Decrease the amount of water, but don’t forgo it altogether unless you want to stir these with ice when you crack them open.
- Yes, there is an infusion in the recipe, but nut infusions tend to move rather quickly. 24 hours isn’t that long if you’re already dedicated to the project.
- The amount of salt added is to MY taste, not your taste. So if you like things less salty, add less. More salty, add more. You should actually want to drink this.
Ready to start bottling? Let’s go!
Peanut Infused Rye
Note: the peanuts will soak up a few ounces of liquor, so you’ll start with more base rye than you think you’ll need.
16 ounces rye whiskey, such as Rittenhouse 100
1 cup (about 5-6 ounces) raw peanuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread raw peanuts on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Let cool. Combine rye and roasted peanuts in an airtight container for 24 hours. Strain peanuts through cheesecloth over a fine strainer, and then strain liquid once more through a new cheesecloth. (If you feel like you’re not getting all the oils/fats/solids out, freeze the mixture for a few hours and scrape off any fats that rise to the top. Thaw, and then use below)
Salted Peanut Old Fashioned
12 ounces peanut-infused rye (recipe above)
9 ounces water
4 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
12 dashes Angostura Bitters
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a large measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using a small funnel, pour 4 ounces of the mixture into each bottle. Using a capper, cap each bottle. Refrigerate if you’re using soon or you can store in a cool, dark place for several months.
The aroma is sweet and nutty while the cocktail has a rich, savory flavor that is complimented by the addition of salt. Bottling this will not change the flavors too dramatically (yes, they will meld a bit together) as we are not barrel-aging, we’re stopping the flavors in time. Summertime.
First, a big thanks to everyone who took up this challenge. We had some newbies, some regulars, and some of you dusting off a few cobwebs on your return back here. I appreciate you all for keeping this monthly gathering going. We had quite an interesting bunch of entries, from DIY infusions and syrups to hesitant scoops of Nutella to a handful of tasty liqueurs. You guys really got creative and now I need to go buy more bottles for more infusions (and seriously need to consider where the hell to store it all). But enough chatter from me, let’s get on to the roundup (after the jump)!
When coming up with ideas this month the one thing I was against was a chocolate cocktail a la the Chocotini. Why would you willingly drink that? I gag just thinking about it. It’s like poop…with alcohol.
So instead I decided that I should somehow infuse cacao nibs into a cocktail and work with that. What I ended up making was a drink that was a riff on a box of chocolates: the smell of chocolate, toasted almonds and spices all infused within some rye whiskey. (You can read more on that over at the Serious Drinks site.)
The infusion is quick so if you start it today you can actually make this for Valentine’s Day if you wanted. This would more than likely earn you some brownie points since it means you thought ahead of time.
Cacao Nib, Toasted Almond, and Spice Infused Rye
1/3 cup cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 allspice berries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 2” long cinnamon sticks
1/2 inch cube ginger, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 cups rye whiskey, such as Redemption Rye
In an airtight container, combine all ingredients and swirl to combine. Let sit for 2 days then fine strain into a clean airtight container (you may need to strain a second time). Let sit an additional day or two to mellow. Infusion is now ready to use and will last indefinitely (best flavor within one year though).
Now the cocktail:
1-3/4 ounce cacao nib infused rye
3/4 ounce Oloroso Sherry
1/2 freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice, from 1/2 lemon
bar spoon luxardo cherry syrup from jar of cherries
Fill a mixing glass 2/3 full with ice. Add infused rye, sherry, lemon juice, and syrup from the cherry jar. Stir until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and serve.
The aroma from the infusion is intoxicating. Warm spices combined with a rich chocolate aroma followed by the nutty toasted almonds. And it gets better in the cocktail which is both bright and decadent. Let the drink sit for a minute after you’ve poured it, as that lets all the smells really open up as it looses it’s chill.
*ducks as rocks are thrown*
Look, I enjoy my whiskeys neat, but sometimes I taste something and I think to myself, this would go well with X. And in this case, a couple ounces of Willet go well with the cherry syrup I made last week. And all those lonely cherries that were left behind.
When I started reading about cocktails and really starting delving deeper into their history, I came across the concept of ‘cobblers’. Not the dessert, but a drink in which you decorate a mound of ice with booze and fruit among other things. Kinda like a tarted up adult sno-cone. I loved the idea of these ‘beverages’; they seemed so old fashioned to me. I have been making notes for almost 2 years now on doing this, but just never got around to it. Until now.
After making that cherry syrup I found that I had a bag of sugary, smooshed cherries that needed some love. So I decided now was the time to start tinkering with cobblers. I’m marking this post as a good starting place, but already I’ve thought of some ways to improve upon it. Here’s a big tip: don’t go too fine with the ice. It melts too quick and you find all your cherries and liquid will start quickly plopping over the side of your dish. For presentation’s sake I made this in a shallow dish, thinking that I could mound the cherries on top, however, they all sank due to my ice crusher’s overzealous attempts to pulverize the ice and thus resulting in quickly melting ice. You would be better off to pile the ice in a collins glass and stick the fruit on top. Also, go easy with the ice! Too much and it waters your drink down too quickly.
If you follow those guidelines you’ll be on your way to enjoying this summery, refreshing cocktail. So, grab a spoon and a straw and let’s get started.
2 oz. Willet, Straight Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Spiced Cherry Syrup (recipe found here)
1/4 cup Cherries from the syrup batch (can sub out with Luxardo cherries if you’ve ditched/eaten the cherries from the syrup batch)
1 cup Crushed Ice (not too fine)
Sprig of Mint
In a shallow dish, place the cherries in the bottom (if using a Collins glass, reserve for the end). Mix whiskey and syrup with half of the crushed ice gently to combine. Pour into dish. Pack more ice on top. Slap your mint to release the oil and garnish the drink. Grate fresh cinnamon on top.
Now, here’s the fun thing about the cobbler: do you eat the fruit first? Or do you stick your straw in (go to the very bottom where the syrup, juice and whiskey have collected) and drink up? Your choice. You can even alternate if you’re not a weirdo like me and need to choose one or the other (I was that kid who only ate one food group at a time off their plate and never combined anything, occasionally this annoying trait finds its way back into my life once in a blue moon).
Enjoying this cocktail is like having a more subtle version of an icee, with alcohol. The ice tones down the heat of the whiskey and it mixes with the cherries for a sweet and lightly spiced flavor combo. This is not your convenience store cherry flavor mind you. Don’t go in thinking it’s like that or you’ll be disappointed. It’s a fresh cherry flavor, and in a way more muted. This has been enjoyed with the extreme heat we’ve been having this summer, and this has helped cool me down, sans the uber-sugary fake flavor you’d find elsewhere. Next time though I think I’ll pre-make a snowball with a hole in it to keep the ice-melting at bay.