I’m starting to amass a large collection of infused/flavored simple syrups. Partly it’s that I keep surprising myself with how much syrup is left after I make a batch for a sorbet. And because I always just mindlessly make a 1 cup to 1 cup ratio every time I do a syrup. So yeah, a lot of these bottles.
To try and start using them up I’ve been picking my brain for new ways to use them. Mint lattes? Why not! Basil lattes? No. Nononono… Adding them in to cocktails that I already know how to make? Sure, yeah, I guess.
That basil syrup is sure a hard one to be clever with. However, going with flavor profiles I was familiar with, I decided on making a variant of a gimlet.
With the addition of some fresh mint, this drink becomes very fragrant. The notes of both herbs are quite strong, but not powerfully “herbal”. Staying true to a gimlet, it’s also sweet and tart. Together it’s a lovely flavor combination.
Second you need to make the berry mixture for the sorbet.
1 lb. of mixed berries ( I used 2:1 raspberries to blackberries)
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 cup of Mint Simple Syrup from recipe above
In a food processor, break up the berries and add the rest of the ingredients. Continue to process until smooth.
When your mixture is thoroughly chilled and mingled, start your ice cream maker and throw in your mixture. Sorbet only needs about 15 minutes to set. After set, scoop into freezer safe containers and freeze until solid.
This week I was bombarded with recipes for smashes. So much so that I couldn’t get the idea of purchasing an ice crusher out of my head. Then I found a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon in a pile of mail and figured I could justify spending $30 on one. I mean, it would be countless happy drinking moments this summer if I had one. Also, if it broke I’m not out a whole lot of money.
I excitedly got it home, out of the box and washed it. Opened up a bottle of liquor and…couldn’t get a smash recipe right to save my life. Everything tasted awful. Six tries later I gave up and poured myself some bourbon over ice. That at least didn’t disappoint. I think I’ll post a couple of the recipes and see if anyone has some suggestions; maybe it will help to talk it out.
For the moment I’m putting the idea of a smash off to the side and instead using crushed ice for a more solid drink recipe. One I’ve surprisingly never made before, simple in its ingredients yet satisfying in the end result. A mint julep.
I’m relying heavily on Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe here. I find him an authority on this recipe, or at least his telling me he is makes me trust him. My only changes are that I switched out bourbon for rye whiskey. And also, I had mint simple syrup I just made so I used that instead of straight up regular simple syrup.
2 oz Rye Whiskey, such as FEW Spirits
1/4 oz mint simple syrup
12 mint leaves
One sprig of mint for garnish
In a wide double old fashioned glass muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup. Mix in the rye (and it’s totally ok to lick the spoon after you stir the rye. You should taste for sweetness and also, it’s delicious). Mound the crushed ice in the glass and add the mint sprig garnish.
All the ice here with the addition of the mint makes drinking spicy rye quite refreshing. I use only a quarter ounce of the simple syrup because I find more than that is just too sweet for my palate. Also, the small handful of mint is really the perfect amount. Much as it would be in cooking, too much actually creates a bitter aftertaste while too little would be lost against the rye.
So this is my tarragon plant. But I’m sure all the other herb plants think of it as a blood thirsty killer. That pot used to house a dill plant. But the Tarragon killed it dead. This plant is growing at a rate I’ve never seen any of my plants succeed at doing and now I’m stuck with a lot of an herb I only use a tiny bit of. My natural inclination was to see how I could fit it into a drink.
I’ve mentioned on here that I have a couple of bottles of Shrubs I’ve been experimenting with for work cocktails. This drink was born out of the remnants of a chicken salad. Sorta. I saw my husband mixing up tarragon and lemon juice into his classic sandwich mix and I thought, Hey- I should stick those herbs in the lemon shrub and see what happens. It ended up being a pretty nice combination and I’m glad I risked possible salmonella to try it (I may or may not have grabbed some leftover tarragon leaves for the first version of this that were mingling with leftover chicken on a cutting board. Don’t judge.).
One last note. Cumin in savory cocktails. I was out two weeks ago at a bar in downtown L.A. and had one and my mind has been blown. I need to get on this bandwagon. So, hopefully I can make something drinkable with cumin. If not, you’ll hear about it either way.
Warning. You’re going to see several, if not plenty, of drinks containing Shrubs in them coming up in the next few weeks. What’s a Shrub? A Shrub is a vinegar based fruit concentrate that dates back to Colonial Times. Sounds kind of gnarly huh? Vinegar? Gross. Well, actually, if combined with other appealing mixers and liquors it is quite pleasant. Really.
Why the onslaught of Shrub recipes? I recently became a slashie at work. Actually, I have no idea if I’m even using that correctly, but the long and short of it is that I was christened with the title of in-house Mixologist /slash/ creative director (slash a bunch of other titles. It’s a small company). I may have (completely) had something to do with this. But, we re-brought back in a line of Shrubs due to some popularity of them in cocktails and local bars and needed desperately to come up with some recipes so customers knew what to do with them. (That’s right, we had them for sale 4 years ago when no one gave a shit. Although, people are apparently still confused.)
So now I’m doing research, and taking notes, and really using this blog as a scratch pad for ideas. I think I’ve had some hits, and some misses. Here’s a hit. Mainly for people who either want a lighter cocktail, or just don’t want their cocktail tasting so much like alcohol (I need to hit a range of tastes here…).
3 strawberries quartered
1 lime wheel cut in half
1-1/2 oz white rum (I used Oronoco, a favorite for someone who is as confused about rum as someone reading smoke signals who doesn’t, understand.. smoke signals. You get my analogy.)
3/4 oz Strawberry Shrub (Tait Farms)
1/2 oz Falernum
1 strawberry for garnish
Side note; this tastes amazing with milk chocolate FYI.
Recently we spent a relaxing couple of days out in the wonderfully hot Palm Springs, it was for my birthday, but really, everyone needed some time to veg out. My husband is not a big fan of heat, sun, or swimming pools so he volunteered to be the cook and cocktail maker and give me a break (in the cocktail area, he’s still cook around the house). This meant he could stay indoors in air conditioning and not let on how much he was sampling the drinks; not like I can judge.
So there was lots of nachos and guacamole and the like, requiring lots of cilantro and hot pepper scraps to end up laying about doing nothing. In a moment of brilliance the husband tosses some of these scraps into a tumbler of gin and grapefruit juice topped with champagne and hands it to me upon request for a drink to have on my raft. Now, he tried to convince me that he’s had similar drinks before, but I hadn’t. So as far as I was concerned this was a groundbreaking flavor combination, possibly due to the extreme heat and sun exposure and the several morning cocktails we’d already had (read: vacation drinking).
Since we’ve been back I’ve been wanting to make this again, only I had some ideas to tweak it a bit. I finally got around to doing it and with a couple modifications, I was able to encapsulate exactly what I thought the drink should be.
First thing I did was try it with the champagne, and then again without. In the end the float of champagne wasn’t helping anyone so I tossed that out of the recipe. Second, I added some lime in for balance. Then, I decided it needed salt. I have no idea where this desire to constantly dump salt on everything is coming from. I seriously should just carry around a salt lick so I stop ruining perfectly good meals. However, I had some fancy smoked salt flakes from Maldon that did the trick.
Tres Palmas was the name of the house we stayed at (it belonged to Jack Lalanne at some point in his life); I thought it a fitting name for the drink.
2 oz Gin (Beefeater was used here)
3 oz Grapefruit Juice (we had fresh squeezed in a bottle when we were on the trip so I used the same here. Feel free to sub in your own freshly squeezed by hand)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
4 Jalapeno rings
1/2 lime wedge
slice of lime
Maldon smoked salt flakes
Start with the salt rim. Use your lime garnish to coat a quarter section of the glass. Roll the outside edge in the salt, pressing hard to crack the larger flakes. Set aside. In a mixing glass, combine all other ingredients and shake vigorously with your metal tumbler (so rare I use the Boston Shaker on here). Pour unstrained into the rocks glass. Finish with the lime wedge garnish.
The drink has a nice balance of citrus that compliments the gin. However the cilantro leaves add unexpected flavor, in a good way, and the heat of the jalapenos gives it great punch. I love the nice bits of cilantro and jalapeno floating around in the drink. They’re awesome little flavor bites. And the smoked salt is just another unexpected layer to the drink that imparts a subtle smokiness, that, in all honesty, reminds me of a lovely salsa.
Note: Jalapenos can vary greatly in hotness and you should really decide how spicy you want to make this. One recipe I made I left the seeds in, and though it was VERY spicy (the way I like it), it was obnoxious to drink having all these small seeds. I’d suggest that if you want heat, leave a few of the seeds in. If you want less heat, scrape the seeds out altogether. No use making something you can’t drink.
In a Mixing Glass, muddles the mint with the limoncello. Add the pinch of salt and muddle just enough to mix it in. Add the watermelons to the glass and muddle until smooth (this may take a few minutes). Strain through a medium-fine strainer into a rocks glass. You’ll need to use the back of a spoon to push the solids through to help get the remaining liquid in your glass. Add the champagne and garnish with a mint sprig.
This drink is a great balance of flavors with the addition of salt (just like in baking). The watermelon is present, but not overpowering to make it too sweet. That champagne cuts through to help aid in that as well. And in the background there is a nice herbal-citrus note that finishes well. I was really happy with this, and I hope you can enjoy it too.
UPDATE: instead of using the strainer to get the last bits in, you can mix and muddle your ingredients in a bar shaker and then flip it over into the glass and push solids through the top. Less dishes and mess.
I had scratched down an idea for a floral drink when the idea came up on Mixology Monday. And then I was out of town and forgot about it. I’m revisiting some ideas this week that I had left to the side and now have some time to actual try. For this recipe, keep in mind that Hibiscus is pretty astringent and this is not a liquor I’d knock back on its own. However, when mixed properly and sweetened, it’s delicious.
6 oz Tequila
1-1/2 Tablespoons Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Combine ingredients in a jar and seal. Refrigerate for 2 hours and then strain out the hibiscus and discard it. Or, if you’re like me and you forget it in the fridge for 24 hours, it’s also ok not ok. It gets too bitter. Stain it out immediately. Although it starts to move into the realm of bitter It’s so bitter, so taste it first after you’ve discarded the flowers.
Use immediately or store in the refrigerator indefinitely.
I’m a little apprehensive about writing this post. On the one hand, I was asked to make this drink- so the parties involved know that I would then later write about it. But on the other hand, it’s a frozen daiquiri. It’s someone’s secret indulgent drink. Not mine mind you- but another person living in this house.
Bananas aren’t even a favorite of mine. Sure, I will saute some and put them on waffles- when asked for a breakfast with bananas. And yes, I will buy banana ice cream- but only if asked specifically to pick it up cause we never have desserts in the house with bananas. I like them as is- maybe in cereal. But not as a dessert.
This was made for someone who loves bananas. As a dessert.
I find frozen daiquiris sort of a joke, but I will make one if asked to, and I will try very hard to not taste like monkey poo.
For this recipe I used dark rum, I wanted some spice in there. Also, I ended up putting more banana liqueur in there than expected because I was asked to put more in. The person in question enjoyed the heightened banana flavor that it provided. The result- not as sweet as one would expect with a frozen beverage- and that’s a good thing! Also, for someone who doesn’t really enjoy banana-anything, this wasn’t half bad. If you did want to add more sweetness to this, I’d add in a 1/4 teaspoon of rich sugar syrup, or more to taste. Hell, if you like you’re teeth zinging with sweetness that’s your choice. Also, I think it could stand for even more spice, and maybe next time (I’m sure I’ll be asked to whip up some more of these before the summer is over, we have two bags of frozen bananas in the freezer) I’d add in some Miracle Mile Gingerbread Bitters in. Stayed tuned for the “light rum” version of this.
2 ounces dark rum
1-1/2 ounces banana liqueur
1/2 juice of a lime
Ice (I used a heaping handful, again, as usual, add to your desired consistency)
In a blender combine all of the above ingredients. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled margarita/daiquiri glass. Yes, I have a pair of these.
Sometimes you need to make a drink quickly. You flip through a cocktail book until you land on something you’re pretty sure you have all the ingredients to. And then it turns out you don’t. A short while ago I was politely asked by my husband if he could pretty much have the upstairs to himself for a work phone conference. On a Sunday. Groan. I had been lingering over some books deciding on trying something out when I found myself in a panic and just grabbed the first cocktail book within reach. The Grog Log. Flipping through I stopped at the Cruzana. Perfect, there was just a hair shy of 2oz of grapefruit juice left from a defrosted bag from some Blanco Oro’s I’d squeezed awhile back. And surely there was a bit of Gold Rum left. I can see a bottle in the way back of the liquor cabinet.
For those of you who live with someone who puts empty bottles back instead of throwing them away… You can guess at my frustration level right about now. But since I was in hurry to grab ingredients and make a mad dash downstairs to mix this drink, I thought I could sub out some gin instead. I happen to like gin and grapefruit sometimes and thought maybe there’s a chance this would work.
2oz grapefruit juice (I used Blanco Oros which produce a bit more sweet juice than your run of the mill grapefruit)
3/4oz Fee Brother’s Maraschino Cherry Syrup (I’d do this to taste depending on your juice- this stuff is sweet)
2oz Broker’s Gin
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and build ingredients. Shake and pour all into a chilled collins glass. (the chilling may not be necessary but it’s a hot one out today and this just tastes better with a really cold glass)
Was this a success with the gin? Well, a couple factors that I would change next time. First, since the grapefruit juice is sweet already, I’d down that syrup to 1/2 an ounce. As is it’s just a tad too sweet for me at 3/4oz in this drink. Second, perhaps this is a drink that could stand a strong base spirit as the gold rum. Something to consider for next time when we do a rum stock up. But overall this worked for me. Mainly sweet with a hint of tart- the gin mellows way out into the background with only subtle notes.