Everyone loves receiving a homemade gift of the food variety. Even more so when it tastes good! Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite items to make and give.
Apples and cinnamon. AH! The flavors of Fall. Until…well, this month’s Low Rent Cocktail.
Ok, let me come clean here. For the most part, a Low Rent Cocktail is an over-the-top, “you should only drink this if you’re in college” sort of drink. Sometimes, yes, they actually come out tasting good (see here and here), but mostly they’re a cheap, quick way to get booze from your mouth to your brain. Today’s cocktail concoction is not mine. In fact, this may even be served at a bar near you. Its inspiration comes from a recent visit from my parents, who know I write this blog and read this site daily and yet that does not deter me from speaking about them regardless of the phone call coming soon after I hit publish. Anyway, Christopher took my father out to play pool (which they are both preternaturally good at playing) and after several hours came back and sheepishly told me about a “cocktail” that was tried at a local pool hall.
The “cocktail” (and I am for sure using those quotes here for a reason) was a glass of Angry Orchard to which a large shot of Fireball Whiskey was added. Let’s not get huffy about what constitutes a cocktail. You can make a G&T by taking a large glass of tonic and plopping a shot of gin in it, essentially creating that drink. But is this seasonally appropriate take on a Boilermaker good enough to make itself fall into the category of “cocktail”? Well, it’s good enough for a Low Rent version at least!
So when you’re out at your next weekend apple picking/end of daylight savings/whatever we’re calling this party-party, and your host breaks out the handle of Fireball (cause that is really happening) and you brought that hard cider 6 pack… then you know what you’re making for cocktails.
12 ounces hard apple cider, chilled (Angry Orchard Traditional Dry used here)
1-2 nips of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey (or a hefty 2 ounce shot)
In a pint glass, combine chilled cider and whiskey. Serve.
And Happy Halloween folks! Be safe!
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)!
Ok, first off guys, I am well aware it’s not Monday despite the name of the post. However, I wanted to get this up before the Monday deadline. What deadline? What are you talking about? Mixology Monday for you newbies here is the once a month “cocktail party” where internet people like to show off with a drink they made based on a theme by whoever “hosts” this month. Please read up on it here and see past entries on the MxMo site. This month, Craig from “A World of Drinks” gave us the theme of “Preserves” (and yes, there’s a lot of quotation marks happening in this paragraph). It took me a second to realize that I was already planning on making a shrub this month, and since making shrubs was an old school way of preserving fruit, I was ready to publish a double duty post this month.
Blackberries. I love the taste of them, but, truth be told, I hate eating them. Those little seeds! They always get stuck in my teeth and half the time they seem like too much of a bother to eat. Anyone with me on this or am I crazy? Last week my husband was out getting some food and I had asked him to pick up some blueberries. Apparently the store was out and he figured I just wanted a berry that was close enough to blue to eat. So he picked up blackberries instead. After scrunching up my face at them and letting them sit there for a few days, the overwhelming urge not to waste food made me cave in. What to do with them?
A shrub! If I made them into a shrub I was just going to extract their juices and all those annoying little seeds would stay in the strainer. I might have patted myself on the back there for thoughtfulness.
Shrubs are a bit well known now, more so than say, a year ago. I see them a lot more on cocktail menus and on the shelves of my local liquor suppliers. Shrubs are also pretty simple to make yourself; let me show you how.
Classic Blackberry Shrub
1 cup whole blackberries, rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Combine blackberries and sugar in a bowl. Lightly crush the blackberries to release their juices (I used a potato masher, but a fork would suffice). Cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight. Shake the bowl every once in awhile to make sure the sugar is incorporating into the juice. Half way through, stir the mixture and re-cover.
- Next, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into an airtight container. Add the vinegar and shake well (if any sugar has remained, shake hard to dissolve here). Store the container in the refrigerator for 6 days.
- After 6 days give it a taste. Usually, by day 6 the sharpness of the vinegar has started to pull back and let the sweetness from the sugar and fruit stand out more. Keep in mind, this is a vinegar base: it will ALWAYS taste like vinegar. The vinegar will mellow more as it sits but its zing is what is wanted in a shrub.
For this shrub, there is a nice sweet and sour balance from the ingredients. The blackberries produce a tartness that is heightened from the vinegar while the sugar cuts through to keep your mouth from puckering. Strong nose of vinegar with subtle berry.
Sparkling Blackberry Shrub (no booze)
1/2 ounce blackberry shrub (recipe above)
6 ounces sparkling water
1 lime wedge
Fill a rocks glass with the water and pour the shrub down the center. Stir to combine. Squeeze a wedge of lime and add spent lime to the glass.
And here’s Christopher’s cocktail recipe with the shrub he’s been making:
2 ounces 4 Roses Bourbon Yellow Label
1 ounce Blackberry Shrub (recipe above)
1/4 ounce maple syrup
Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Add all ingredients and stir to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Thanks to Craig for hosting this month and Fred for keeping MxMo up and alive!
I’m sure that this week every aspect of your social media accounts are being filled to the brim with green drinks and Irish whiskey recipes. Well, this cocktail isn’t green but it does use Irish whiskey.
Usually, Jameson or Redbreast is drunk by itself in this household. Very rarely does it make its way into a cocktail, although there have been a few off nights when I’ve desperately wanted a Manhattan and used it as the base when there was not a drop of Rye to be found. So this week’s challenge to me over on the Serious Drinks site was to make a cocktail that uses Irish whiskey as the base and go from there. Initially I was at a blank until I started sifting through my new copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. Although at times I find myself pouring over the vintage Ads more than the words, the recipes collected here are a good history lesson for those of us interested in the world of cocktails; you need to know your beginnings.
Looking through here one realizes that many recipes are ready made for substitutions. I just had to find one for Irish whiskey, and in particular, Redbreast. The Derby cocktail stood out as one that might work, and after adjusting for tastes (woo there was a bit too much lime juice in here), it did. The original cocktail was bourbon based but utilized sweet vermouth, dry orange curaçao and lime juice. I upped the whiskey, downed the lime and added Angostura to balance it all out. What resulted was a light, slightly zingy cocktail where the whiskey played more of a supporting actor role.
1-1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey, such as Redbreast
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry orange curaçao (can sub with Cointreau)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 long lime zest for garnish
First, peel the zest from the lime using a channel knife, or use a sharp paring knife to curl a long continuous piece of peel from the lime. Set aside. Next, fill a shaker 2/3 with ice and add all ingredients. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime peel.
Strong essence of orange oil and sweet florals from the lime on the nose. The Redbreast is mellowed out by the sweetness from the angostura and curaçao, while the Angostura adds just a touch of bitterness that completes the drinks. Not your usual Irish drink.
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.
I’m taking a break from reading emails where everyone is telling me to get “what I really want”. I figured I would just make up my own mind and make the last gift guide on here this season “what I really want”.
You are either reading the first line of this after seeing the header and clicking to another page (possibly rolling your eyes), or you are salivating to find out more. This is the fate of bloggers during Fall who choose to go down the path of the pumpkin.
Thanks for sticking with me until the next paragraph. I am really into the idea of pumpkin flavor, but rarely do I do anything more than bake/eat a pumpkin pie during the season. This year though I started thinking about syrups for drinks and really wanted to incorporate more Fall flavors on the site. And now it’s November and I haven’t a clue where those last few weeks have gone. Whoops.
You’ll have to check in with me later for syrups, but what I do have for you now is some fantastic infused bourbon. And it’s the flavors of Fall, without all those gross artificial flavors you are probably accustomed to. Think pumpkin pie without the weird film that forms on the roof of your mouth from corn syrup.
You know what is great about making infused booze at home? It’s a lazy man’s project. You just need time (FYI, make a calendar reminder as soon as you start your infusion. No forgetting about it after you stash it in a cool, dark place!) This one might be a bit more involved, but you could also make some great spiced-infused bourbon if the cutting and gutting (is that the correct terminology?) of a pumpkin is not your thing. I understand; knives can be scary.
Part the First:
Dehydrate your pumpkin! Why? Dehydrating removes excess moisture from the squash and intensifies the “pumpkin” flavor.
1 organic sugar pumpkin, about 8″ diameter
- Heat your oven to 200°F.
- Cut your pumpkin in half from stem to bottom. Scoop out seeds (discard, or roast if that’s your thing. Personally I can’t stand them.) and slice into 1/2″ moons.
- Spread the slices on a baking sheet and move that to the oven. Wait six hours. Watch if you want occasionally. It’s like the Shrinky Dinks of my childhood.
- After 6 hours, turn the slices over. Bake another 6 hours. This will fully dry the slices out for infusion.
- Optionally, you can do this in a dehydrator. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place all ingredients in an airtight container, glass would be best.
- Give the container a good swirl to make sure all ingredients are covered with liquid. Stick the jar in a cool, dark place for two weeks.
- After two weeks, strain all material out of the liquid using cheese cloth over a fine mesh strainer into a storage container (I reused the Buffalo Trace bottle).
- Taste the infusion. You have two options now.
- First, you can use as is. Second, bottle and wait an additional week to mellow out the flavor (I prefer the later).
Why would you wait one more week? Right after discarding the solids the flavor of the infusion is quite sharp. Giving the infusion a week to sit let’s the flavors meld and mellow out. But this is entirely up to you. Like it sharp? Start using it now.
What to do with this infusion? Well, for one, you can drink it over ice. It’s pretty much a flavor bomb of Fall smells. The sugar pumpkin has enough sweetness in it that it creates a nice balance with the whiskey. For those of you who want something a little less Fall tasting than just drinking Pimento Dram, this is for you.
I’m going to play with this over the next week or so and see what I come up with for some cocktail suggestions. That gives you some time to start infusing. So get going!
This month I’ve been playing around with ideas for Mixology Monday, the theme being SMOKE. This seemed like an interesting path to follow and see where it went. I am, in all honesty, still very much amateur status when it comes to all things behind the bar. I’ve definitely broadened my scope of these items over the past few years (like how to say Cynar correctly), but for awhile the idea of tinctures seemed mildly hazy to me. Aren’t these just infusions? Why a separate name?
Well, I read a bit for this post and pretty much what it came down to is that a tincture is the essence of the ingredient you steep in a neutral grain alcohol. It can be used in small amounts by itself, or added with more ingredients for compounds like bitters. Because it is steeped in a high proof alcohol, you don’t shoot it back in a giant gulp. It would also probably taste awful. With an infusion, you are also extracting the essence of what you are putting into the alcohol, but it is co-mingling with the base spirit for a new combined flavor. You might see sour cherry bourbon, lemon lavender gin, something along those lines.
When I think aroma, my mind naturally moves towards perfume. Now, before I lose all you men out there, check this article out from the New York Times last year. The Pegu Club, PDT, these big timers have been using aroma, perfume even, in cocktails for awhile now. Perhaps for us New Wave Cocktail Bloggers this is brand new, but treading into this territory we find the path already laid out for us. So, give perfume a try I guess.
For this particular use of smoke in a cocktail, I didn’t want the drink to continue to be steeped in smoke. What I wanted here was for the initial smell to be a deep, meaty smoke aroma, and then when tasted, you were only getting the cocktail. This beautiful smoky aroma would make the drink a surprise for the person drinking it, hopefully a pleasant shock. The aroma would then dissipate as one continued to finish the drink. I chose a Boulevardier to accompany the smoke aroma.
First, the tincture:
1/2 cup grain alcohol (I have 151 proof everclear)
1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong Loose Tea
Combine the two ingredients in an airtight glass container. Let sit for two weeks in a cool, dark place. Gently shaking every few days. After two weeks, strain with a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. You want to make sure you are getting all the tiny bits of tea out. If you still see residue, strain an additional time. Store in a dropper bottle.
Ok, so, here is the part when you can decide whether getting an atomizer is worth it or not. I tried experimenting with the tincture in 3 ways. First, I rinsed the glass and added the cocktail. Second, I swapped a tincture soaked cotton ball around in inside of the glass after pouring the drink in. Third, I sprayed the tincture with an atomizer over the finished drink. Of the three I found the atomizer to have a stronger aroma over the final drink. Rinsing added too much of the smoke to the drink and was not the effect I wanted. The cotton ball didn’t create a strong enough smell for me. When I used the atomizer, I found I had more control over how much aroma went onto the finished cocktail and I appreciated being able to add more in small increments to achieve the final essence. So, if you are not one for unitaskers, then maybe an atomizer is not something you need taking up space in your bar drawer. I found a tiny atomizer that is under 3″, meant for perfume, but works great.
Next, the Boulevardier Cocktail with Smoke Aroma:
2 oz Bourbon (Black Ridge Small Batch was used for this cocktail)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
Orange peel garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, stir the first three ingredients about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass or goblet (you want some space for your nose to dip into; sounds gross but trust me). Garnish with an orange peel and over the top of the drink, spray about 3-4 sprays of the tincture.
As you move into the glass, there is the meaty smoke aroma followed by the sudden bittersweet richness of the Boulevardier. That first sip has the most smoke on it, while progressive sips become less and less potent, which lets you experience varying degrees of the aroma. If this is all a bit too much for you, have you had a Boulevardier cocktail yet? Go make one, it’s a great Fall cocktail.
So we picked up a bottle to have on hand and realized one thing about it, it is really strong, like, one and I’m done strong. Mainly in part because the smoke really is so powerful. Sometimes even I can’t handle that much smoke. That is when the quest to find a cocktail to put this guy in began.
There are many bottles on my shelf that are relegated to the back positions. Not because I don’t know what to do with them…. only I don’t know what to do with them right now. My beautiful bottle of Chartreuse was one of those bottles. Then one day looking through some older cocktail recipes I happened upon the Bijou drink and gave it a whirl. It was sweet and vegetal and I couldn’t stop making them. It also seemed like a great match for the Brimstone.
Initially I tried tweaking the ingredients to see if I could add an Amaro in for the vermouth, but the sharpness of the vermouth is really needed here to balance out the herbal chartreuse and sweeten the whisky.
And the name of the drink? The combo of the green chartreuse and a smoky whisky called Brimstone immediately made me think of the song Green Hell by the Misfits. I wouldn’t even call the Misfits a guilty pleasure (that would be the housewives franchise). In fact, I realized some time ago while playing the ‘stranded island’ game, that I would take the Misfits collection with me for music I could listen to on said island. I love a crooner’s voice and would, with all sincerity, put Danzig in there as a crooner. Even if he’s singing about dead cats and serial killers.
1-1/2 oz. Balcones Brimstone Corn Whisky
1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Regan’s Bitters
3-4 mint leaves for garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients except mint and stir until cold (20-30 seconds). Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish a side of the glass with mint leaves so that they stick up like little green flames. To do this, drag the bottom half of the leaf through the drink and up on to the side of the glass. The leaf should stick to the inside of the glass. (This could take a try or two).
Woodsmoke is the first aroma that will hit your nose. The color is a deep amber (nope, not green at all). The taste is of woodsmoke with a bittersweet finish. And there are light herbal notes from the chartreuse with hints of citrus.
So this is my first entry for this month’s Mixology Monday. I will have some more smoky fun coming up later in the week. To check on what other’s are submitting, see the announcement post! You can also follow me and Mixology Monday on twitter for retweets and updates.