Archive for the ‘Cocktail recipes’ Category

Pour this in your Apple Cup, revisited

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The Apple Cup is back on Friday, and so is my Apple Cup post. Enjoy!

Cheers, ICE

 

Skip the pumpkin patches and corn mazes for the Pumpkin King cocktail

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Cocktail experiments are much like wandering through a corn maze.  Sometimes – too often – a promising zig or zag ends up a dead-end. Repeatedly. Should I consider it cheating if someone finally hands me a map? Hell no!

I get some flavor ideas stuck in my head; this month it was pumpkin (for the holidays and because my daughter’s smile looks like a jack-o-lantern now, with missing teeth galore). The problem is that pumpkin, no matter in syrup or butter form, leaves unappealing sediment.  Blech.  Then I remembered that chocolate can have that same problem –> but my chocolate stout reduction did not –> and they do make pumpkin ale –> so I could use the same technique to make pumpkin ale syrup. Aha! Surely I had found my way out of the maze. 

 

 

Er, not quite. Sticking with my chocolate stout syrup recipe, I created the pumpkin ale syrup and trialed it in several cocktails. Somehow I just couldn’t find the right combination of flavors to highlight the pumpkin element. Ready to toss that idea into my (full) dustbin of discarded cocktail ideas, an online search brought me to a Raising the Bar segment with Jamie Boudreau, owner of the excellent Canon on Capitol Hill. Boudreau demonstrates the Pumpkin King recipe, even using the same brand of ale, Southern Tier Pumking, for his pumpkin ale liqueur.

The Pumpkin King cocktail is refreshing and interesting. It would make an ideal chaser to Trick or Treating or a Thanksgiving feast…or both!

 

Jamie Boudreau’s Pumpkin King cocktail

1½ oz blended Scotch
½ oz pumpkin ale liqueur (see my change below)
½ oz lime juice
Dash of bitters (I used Peyschauds)
Ginger beer to top (I used 1 oz of Fentimans)

Shake the first four ingredients with ice; strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with ginger beer (I found 1 oz to be better, perhaps owing to different glass sizes), and garnish with a lime wedge.

 

Disclosure: my version deviates from Boudreau’s because I wanted to use the pumpkin ale syrup I had already made rather than create a liqueur.  My syrup uses less sugar, so I bumped the amount up from ½ oz to 1 oz in the cocktail. If you also want to go that route, here is my recipe:

 

Pumpkin Ale Syrup

1 bottle (24 oz) of pumpkin ale
1 c. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. allspice berries
1/8 t. salt
 
Combine all in a large sauce pan. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, and then simmer on medium while stirring occasionally and watching carefully — it can quickly bubble up and over if left unwatched. After simmering for 15 minutes, remove from heat and discard any foam on top.

 

Happy Halloween! Looking for more Halloween-inspired cocktails? Check out these previous posts:

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Drinks That Burn in Hell-oween

When Orange Meets Black

Uniting Fire and Ice

A Cackle Night Hollow

Cheers, ICE

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.

 

Bending the calendar with fruit shrubs

Friday, October 5th, 2012

It is October, right? Or am I being punked by my calendar, fooled into thinking it’s October when the weather seems more like the end of August? If so, then the joke is also on the blackberries, plums and other late summer fruit still heavy on trees and bushes. But I will have the last laugh when I am enjoying these fruits into 2013.

I won’t freeze them or make jam. Instead, I’ll do as American colonialists did and make shrubs – a combination of fruit, vinegar and sugar.  Shrubs can be used in cocktails or enjoyed splashed into plain club soda or even Diet Coke (try with cherry shrub!). The vinegar lends a tangy taste to produce and serves as a great preservative.

In my cranberry Thanksgiving shrub post, I described how to cook a shrub. For late summer’s softer, juicier fruits, I love the cold-process approach because it is so easy and the ingredients do all the work. But don’t be limited by season: I have found that frozen berries make excellent shrubs with this same technique.

Blackberry shrub

2 c. washed blackberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. champagne vinegar

Combine the blackberries and sugar in a covered jar or bowl and refrigerate for a day or two, until the berries break down and a syrup forms. Fine strain the berry solids out, then add vinegar to the syrup, bottle and refrigerate. For best taste, wait another day or two for the flavors to meld and then enjoy!

I use the recipe above as my template for most shrubs: 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar and 1 cup vinegar (usually white wine, champagne or apple cider vinegars). Then I experiment with flavors, using my shrubs as substitutes for citrus juice and muddled fruit in cocktails.

Sometimes an existing cocktail recipe provides the perfect foundation for a shrub tweak. Such was the case with the Bufala Negra, which calls for balsamic vinegar. I can’t compare it to the original recipe, but my version makes a flavorful and refreshing drink to enjoy all year round.  

Bufala Negra Shrubbed

1½ oz bourbon
4 fresh basil leaves (+1 for optional garnish)
3/4 oz shrub
2 oz ginger beer (I used Fentimans)
Brown sugar (optional)

Muddle the shrub and basil. Add bourbon and ice and shake hard. Strain over fresh ice cubes into a glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with basil leaf. Note: Since shrub sweetness can vary by fruit and time of season, you can add a teaspoon or more of brown sugar when muddling the basil if you like.

Combined, blackberries, bourbon and basil are a tongue twister — and a tongue tingler. Enjoy!

  

Cheers, ICE

*Bufala Negra is from Imbibe Magazine online

 

Going…going…tarra-GONE!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

 Just when I thought I had a handle on all the essential cocktail herbs to grow, I discovered a new one – tarragon.

I have eaten plenty of dishes with tarragon, but still had no sense of its individual flavor. While browsing through our farmer’s market, picking up plump cherries and vibrant sunflowers, I noticed a bunch of tarragon and remembered that it is supposed to pair well with strawberries, also in my bag. Time for cocktail making!

This photo is not digitally enhanced: this drink was red, red, red!

To muddle or infuse? Not knowing how long my tarragon bunch would last, I opted to infuse a syrup (recipe below) and save the muddling for my incredibly delicious, juicy strawberries. My new Gun Club gin from local Sun Liquor rounded out the flavors for this blissful cocktail inspiration:

Strawberry-Tarragon Summer Bliss 

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz tarragon syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
3 juicy strawberries
Splash of club soda
Sprig of tarragon to garnish (optional)

Muddle the strawberries in a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice and syrup. Add gin and ice and shake well to chill. Double strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with sprig.  Note: my strawberries were quite naturally sweet and flavorful, but you may need to add another strawberry or an extra bit of plain simple syrup if yours are not.

Tarragon Syrup

1/4 c. chopped tarragon leaves
1 c. sugar
1 c. water

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add tarragon and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cool and strain leaves before bottling.

The tarragon, I discovered, has a soft anise/licorice flavor. It does indeed pair well with strawberries and gives a bump of subtle flavor at the end of a sip. Tarragon surprisingly doesn’t appear in many cocktails. It’s time to change that, at least in my glass.

Cheers, ICE

 As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.