Drink up all the colors of love…
This past week over on Instagram I unofficially declared it the week of crème de violette. Mainly I had been staring at a bottle of it on my shelf for way too long wondering how I was going to use it up.
The bottle is still there (I’m convinced it refills itself while I sleep), but I’ve definitely put a major dent in it and I’m still recipe testing! Anyways, I had asked the audience if anyone had any suggestions for this bottle that they currently love, and the Water Lily cocktail came up a few times. This recipe was created by Richard Boccato in New York, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint which bar it came out of due to references stating different places.
This cocktail hit a lot of marks for ingredients people were also already looking for: gin, lemon juice, ease of recipe, etc… Besides the crème de violette, most of the ingredients you’d find even in a not well stocked home bar, so I thought I’d share this, with my one small twist.
The drink is great on its own; well balanced, floral notes not too overpowering. But I found I enjoyed it slightly more with a small splash of cava as well. Just to add some dryness to it, and a touch of effervescence that brings a bit more of the floral out. This step is completely optional by the way, but just one more variation to play around with.
I hope you enjoy the drink, and please let me know if you have another use for your bottle of crème de violette!
Water Lily Cocktail
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce crème de violette
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
splash of cava, optional
orange zest for garnish
Combine all ingredients except cava in a mixing glass, stir well and strain into a coupe. Top with cava if using and garnish with orange zest.
Is there a store you go into that, once there–even with a list in hand, you always come out with WAY more than you intended (and I’m not counting Target, because, really, that’s everyone on the planet.)? My downfall is World Market. I love to shop there for props. I will go in with a very specific list, and leave with several bags of stuff. And when I say “stuff” I mean candy from their food section. I’m sorry, but if you put me in a room with a pack of Hobnobs and some tortilla flavored Ritter Sport I am just not passing the marshmallow test (shout out to all you Early Childhood Development Majors).
It was no surprise then when I stopped into World Market a few weeks back, with my very rambunctious preschooler, so pretty much one-handed, that I still managed to leave with a several large bags of stuff. There were the prop glasses I needed, and some random textiles, and a giant chocolate orange because she had never had one so of course I was going to buy it and give her a piece, but also a 6 pack of Chinotto.
Chinotto is a generic term for a soft drink produced by several companies in Italy, but mostly known here in the states from San Pellegrino. I first happened upon it when I was creative director at a company that imported it but refused to try it because I was told it was “bitter” and didn’t like the dark brown color. This was in the early 2000’s before it was cool to drink bitter things by the way. Also, I was young and still developing a palate.
But now, hey, it’s cool to drink all the bitter things! So I picked up a 6 pack of this sparkling fruit drink, thinking I’d make something with it. Fast forward a few weeks and after having a week long happy hour habit of dinner time Negroni cocktails…I ran out of Campari. Usually when this happens (and it’s more frequent than you’d think) I turn towards a White Negroni, but this time I thought I’d replace the Campari with Chinotto. It’s less bitter, more sweet, but I find that the bubbles cut the sweetness back a bit.
If you find a regular Negroni too bitter, this might be more to your liking. And if you’ve figured out how to stick to your shopping list, please leave me some tips.
The Negroni Nero
1 ounce London dry gin, like Beefeater
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2-3 ounces Chinotto (one bottle is good for two cocktails)
orange zest for garnish
In a rocks glass, add ice and pour in gin and sweet vermouth. Stir 10 seconds. Then pour in Chinotto. Stir gently again to combine. Garnish with an orange peel, oils expressed over the drink. Then, if you’re trying to be cute, cut some flowers out of the peel and pop them in your drink too (I used these cutters).
Glasses: Tom Dixon
This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.
I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.
So today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).
I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.
It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.
A “Fruitcake” Cocktail
2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.
For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.
This post is brought to you by Campari. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Your Instagram feed might be turning from #millennialpink to a cheery garnet red next week as we embark on the FIFTH year of Negroni Week!
If you’re not familiar with this wonderful time of year, or have only heard of it in passing, let me loop you guys in. From June 5 through 11 this year, bars, restaurants and vendors from around the world celebrate the Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of Campari, gin, and sweet red vermouth – to raise money and awareness for great causes. What started as just 100 bars in the US, has now grown into an International event and this year will be bigger than ever.
While you’ll see me out to help the cause next week at a few of my favorite bars (remember to follow us along on Instagram as we’ve planned a few surprises!!) there are other ways you can help a charity out. A portion of proceeds from the sales of nationally-available items such as a Campari-branded red bicycle from PUBLIC, a Negroni-red Baggu tote, and fire red-tinted sunglasses from Sunski, among other items, will be donated to charity. National partner Lyft will also offer coupon codes to new users to help riders safely get around during Negroni Week.
Campari, the star of the cocktail itself, is committed to supporting the trade community’s fundraising efforts as well. This year, Campari is teaming up with both the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), as well as SHARE – a nationwide community that offers support to women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancers – via SHARE’s partnership with Speed Rack, the all-female speed bartending competition benefitting breast cancer research, education and prevention. Multi-city events will be held with both the USBG and SHARE/Speed Rack to raise money for each charitable cause.
I am a staunch believer in volunteer and charity work and grew up in a community that placed a strong emphasis on these values. That’s why I’m participating once again to help spread the word. While going for a drink out may seem almost like a lay up to support a charity, the point is, it supports a charity. Everyone, and every bit (or drink), counts.
Because Negroni Week is also a celebration of the cocktail, I’ve teamed up with Campari to create 3 of my own variations on the cocktail to represent its Past, Present and Future (and have named them such).
Negroni:Past (double vanilla Negroni float)
Representing the past, the Negroni: Past Cocktail harkens back to old timey soda fountain shops where ice cream floats were an indulgent treat for everyone. Here we’ve made this an “adult’s only” cocktail with double the vanilla. Vanilla infused gin, Campari, vanilla ice cream and sweet vermouth “sauce” is a refreshing, and super indulgent, treat for the summer. Optionally, if you can get your hands on some acid phosphate you can give your float extra tang just like the OG soda jerks did.
1-1/2 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin, infused with vanilla (recipe follows)
1 ounce Campari
2-3 scoops vanilla ice cream
8 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
optional: 1/2 tsp acid phosphate
- Start by reducing the sweet vermouth. To do this, heat sweet vermouth in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it reduces to about 2 ounces. Set aside.
- In a pint glass, or soda fountain glass, add 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then, in a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add in vanilla infused gin and Campari (and acid phosphate if using). Stir to chill about 20 seconds. Strain mixture over the ice cream.
- Garnish your adult float with the sweet vermouth “sauce”.
Vanilla Infused Gin
8 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin
3 to 4 vanilla beans
- Chop vanilla beans into 1″ pieces. Add vanilla pieces and gin into an airtight container and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 days.
- Strain the mixture into a new container when desired taste has been reached.
- Vanilla infused gin will keep at optimal taste up to 6 months.
Just because the original Negroni cocktail uses gin, does not mean that today’s has to. One of the biggest trends of the current cocktail era is to take a classic drink and swap out the main spirit. Mezcal has exploded onto the bar scene and you can find it popping up in most bar’s menus. And with good reason, it’s delicious. For this cocktail, we swap out the gin with mezcal, keep our friends Campari and sweet vermouth, and add a touch of green bell pepper syrup to highlight the vegetal nuances of the mezcal.
1 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce green bell pepper syrup (recipe follows)
large strip of orange zest for garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add in mezcal, sweet vermouth, Campari and bell pepper syrup. Stir for 20 seconds to chill and then strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest.
Green Bell Pepper Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add to the pan the sugar and water. Stir to dissolve and add in green bell pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and cover.
- Let sit one hour, remove bell peppers, and let syrup finish cooling to room temperature.
- Store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
When you think of the future of cocktails, do you picture some mad scientists conducting experiments in a lab? I do. With the future in mind, I’m highlighting the sharp bitterness of the Negroni with gentian smoke for a take on the smoked cocktail. This cocktail requires a blow torch, so you know it’s fun.
- Start by moving to a well ventilated room. Place gentian root in a shallow, heat proof dish (I also like mini disposable pie plates!). Get a kitchen torch or long fireplace lighter ready.
- Next, fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Pour in gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Stir to chill 20 seconds.
- Immediately begin smoking the gentian root by holding a flame to it until starts to smoke. As soon as it begins to smoke, place a glass upside down over the smoke to “catch” the smoke. When the glass is filled, slide a postcard or piece of cardstock over the hole to keep the smoke in.
- Turn the glass right side up, keeping the hole covered. When ready to serve, remove the card and strain the mixed cocktail into the smoke. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.
For more information on Negroni Week, and for a list of bars participating, visit negroniweek.com and follow @CampariUS and @Imbibe on Facebook, @CampariUSA and @Imbibe on Instagram, @Campari and @Imbibe on Twitter, and engaging with the #NegroniWeek hashtag.
Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.
When you have too many Meyer Lemons:
What about Tangellos:
Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:
And then there’s always the cocktail option:
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.
Now, I’ll admit it, the whole “alternative sugars” thing was something I wrinkled my nose at. While I won’t touch any of those chemically created sugars (don’t they make you run to the bathroom??), I really couldn’t be bothered with all those other “natural” sweeteners. Agave, date syrup, rice syrup… why couldn’t I just have plain old natural cane sugar? That is until recently, when I realized how you could get some very unique flavors while not using plain old evaporated cane sugar.
It started with some baking, and then, naturally, into my cocktails. I recently started experimenting with date syrup since I had been making my way through 3 of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks and found that instead of dropping some cash on the pre-made stuff, I could make my own (also, we are spending a LOT more time out in the Palm Springs area with family making the move that way. There’s quite a lot of dates out here). Making your own date syrup results in a slightly lighter syrup than the store bought kind and while that wasn’t always what I wanted for my baked goods, the lighter syrup resulted in a nice substitute for simple syrup in a few cocktails. The one I bring to you today, that I originally posted on Serious Eats, is for a Date Martinez.
You have a choice here. You can make your own date syrup, and not only use it for this cocktail, but sweeten up your oatmeal, or bake with it, or I don’t know, make a face scrub. Or if you’re short on time and can pick up store bought, go do that. But keep in mind, you’ll need LESS of the store bought to sweeten the drink. If you do a 1:1 swap this will turn out too sweet.
1-1/2 ounces amontillado dry sherry, such as Lustau
1-1/2 ounces gin, such as Ford’s
3/4 ounce date syrup, homemade (recipe link here!)
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Orange peel, for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, then pour in sherry, gin and date syrup. Add the dashes of Peychaud’s and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over top of drink to release oils and garnish drink with peel.
The syrup’s rich, deep date flavor pairs wonderfully with a nutty but dry amontillado sherry. Here, my fall-inspired riff on the Martinez mixes the sherry with equal parts gin to dry out the drink and lend some contrasting juniper and pine flavors. The cocktail gets a sweet and spicy kick from a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitter, and is brightened up with a twisted orange peel that doubles as a garnish.
For someone who lives in a climate that doesn’t stray too far in one direction or another, I realize I sure do focus on the weather a lot. But really, it wouldn’t take too much psychoanalysis to realize it’s because I grew up in New England and Fall time is… special. Yes, if you live in a place where there is amazing foliage you do make fun of the tourists coming in just to stare at trees. But when you’re away from it for over a decade, you miss it; you get why the people flock out to be in nature.
More than the trees though I miss the apple orchards. I didn’t realize just how many were squeezed into the tiny state of Rhode Island. I bet there are a few apple orchards somewhere in Southern California, but it’s not the same. My aunt has a small orchard on her property and I remember being a teenage, sulking about in my beat up black leather jacket trying to not look I was enjoying the annual cider press (but secretly I was so into it). The adult me is telling my younger self to stop being such a bitch and just enjoy myself already. God, how much time and effort went into teenage sulking!
So anyways, it’s finally feeling like Fall in Los Angeles. I turned on the heated seats in my car and turned the heat on at home. The first day is always rough on my sinuses as months worth of dust that’s accumulated god-knows-where burns off and makes my entire house smell like something has caught on fire somewhere. But we have apples! And for this cocktail there’s sherry and apple brandy and orange liqueur!
Over on the Serious Eats site I wrote an amusing tale about how this cocktail, originally named the “Quasi Apple Cocktail” got its name. Hint: there’s history, a war, Napoléon, the United States and a touch of Spain thrown in for good measure. OH! And pirates! We tossed the name, but there’s still some history there to learn if you’re into that.
1/4 apple, cored and diced
1 1/2 ounces apple brandy, such as Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 ounce Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
1/2 ounce oloroso sherry, such as Williams & Humbert
4 ounces prosecco sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish
Thinly sliced apple, for garnish
- Add diced apple to the bottom of a mixing glass and muddle until apples are broken down and have released their juice. Fill the mixing glass 2/3 full with ice and then pour in apple brandy, Mandarine Napoléon liqueur, and oloroso sherry. Stir to chill until mixing glass is very cold, about 20 seconds, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with prosecco.
- Twist orange peel over top of drink to release oils, then discard peels. Garnish with a thinly cut round of apple.
Sweet, fresh apples are balanced by the nutty Sherry with a kick of american apple brandy. For body and a touch of richness, Mandarine Napoléon liqueur gives us just a hint of citrus. To finish, the cocktail is topped with prosecco to tie all the ingredients together and give an effervescent pop.
NOTES: Super-thin apple slices make gorgeous garnishes. Right now, THIS mandoline from OXO is my favorite. To keep the slices looking crisp and white, remember to soak them in a bowl of water with a small spritz of lemon juice after slicing. Use your favorite kind of apple here; both sweeter, softer varieties and more tart, firm types work well. If you can’t find Mandarine Napoléon liqueur, you can substitute with Grand Marnier or a good dry orange curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand.
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.