Archive for the ‘Drinks for Parties’ Category

Off to the races…or a fiesta

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A dilemma! Two fab cocktail-ready events on Saturday, May 5, but which to choose? Cinco de Mayo, with tequila and citrus, or Derby Day (not roller derby, darn it), featuring the always-welcome Mint Julep? I may have to decide officially by rochambeau.

Granada de Amor

If you are hosting a Cinco de Mayo party, having a pitcher drink will free you from bartender duties. And if you want to stay in theme but have tequila-phobic guests (there are many of those), try the Granada de Amor. It uses citrus vodka as its base, but gets Mexican street cred from the use of Damaina liqueur.

Damaina liqueur is made from the damaina herb, thought to have many health benefits and aphrodisiac qualities. The bottle, in the shape of a buxom fertility goddess, touts Damaina liqueur as a traditional bridal gift from the groom’s mother (I’m thinking those mothers lack faith in their son’s virility). If the legends hold, those serving the Granada de Amore this weekend should watch for a baby boom around New Years.

Granada de Amor*

12 oz citrus vodka
3 oz Damiana liqueur
4 ½ oz fresh lime juice
4 ½ oz fresh orange juice (I opted for a bit less)
1 ½ oz cinnamon syrup
6 orange twists to garnish 

Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with orange twists. Serves 6.

Cinnamon syrup
see previous post 
 
Online descriptions say that damaina is an aphrodesiac…and cures bedwetting. Just so you know.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is the class Derby Day drink. There are many ways to make it and most of the variations involve how to handle the mint, while some swap the bourbon for rum or rye whiskey. The consistent elements are crushed ice, mint, sugar and a brown spirit swizzled into icy goodness.  The following Mint Julep introduced me to bourbon and I love it still.

 Run for the Roses*

Crushed ice
1 ½ oz bourbon
1 oz mint syrup (I reduce to ¾ oz)
1 sprig of mint for garnish

Fill a silver mint julep cup (no, I don’t have one, either) or lowball rocks glass with crushed ice. Add the mint syrup and bourbon. Stir briskly to chill thoroughly. Garnish with mint sprig and straw.

Mint syrup

¾ oz turbinado sugar
¾ oz water
1 c. chopped mint

Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add fresh mint. Cover and stand at room temperature for 3-5 hours. Strain, bottle and refrigerate until needed. Makes about 1 cup.

El luchador mexicano le gusta, por lo que debe ser bueno. (translation: The Mexican wrestler likes it, so it must be good.)

El Luchador was featured here for Cinco de Mayo 2011, but reappears for another laugh.

Cheers, ICE

 *the Granada de Amor is featured in Food & Wine Cocktails 2008 and hails from Andina, an incredible Portland restaurant

 *Run for the Roses is featured in MixShakeStir

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

 

You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

‘Tis the season for gifts and travel and I am benefiting from both. My friend Lizzie over at Corkscrews & Curls travels for work and oh so kindly brings me back bottled treasures.  Most recently it was a bottle of Bénédictine, another lovely liqueur originally created by monks (the monasteries must be party central; I’m convinced monks take a vow of silence because they would otherwise be slurring), and previously it was a small bottle of Becherovka from the Czech Republic.

Where Bénédictine is light and soft, Becherovka is a bitter liquor and has been more challenging to use in cocktails. But as luck would have it, the latest issue of Imbibe Magazine features a great seasonal drink using both, AND takes its name from A Christmas Story, my favorite holiday movie.  

Careful, it's fra-jee-lay!

  

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out*

2 oz aged rum
1/2 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Bénédictine
1/4 oz cinnamon syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist garnish (optional)

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cinnamon Syrup

1 c sugar
1 c water
4-5 broken cinnamon sticks

Bring sugar and water to boil to make simple syrup. Reduce heat, add cinnamon and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain well once cooled. Bottle and refrigerate for a few weeks

This cocktail is flavorful and the not-in-your-face cinnamon accents are seasonally festive. The recipe suggests serving it up or in a rocks glass with a single large ice cube (I used my ice ball molds), and I prefer the latter.  Unlike some drinks that fall apart as the ice melts, this one changes in a pleasing way.  I’d even theorize that this would make an elegant small punch if displayed with a large ice block to slow melting. Both Bénédictine and Becherovka are also available at some local liquor stores.

Cheers, ICE 

*created by Mathias Simonis at Distil in Milwaukee, and included on page 42 of the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Imbibe Magazine.

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

 

A Sauced Cranberry gets you ready for the big meal

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving Day is defined by The Meal: The lore of the first Thanksgiving meal between pilgrims and Native Americans (who certainly must regret it now) and the meals we Americans eat every fourth Thursday in November. Since cranberries are such an integral part of the turkey dinner, I was drawn to incorporating them into a pre-dinner cocktail.  An aperitif primes the digestive system for a meal, and this cranberry shrub cocktail will do just that.

Shrubs are fruit preserved with vinegar and were widely consumed in the colonial America that came after the pilgrims. They are an effective way to make seasonal fruits last longer, and, in cocktails, add both sweet and acidic elements.  Having that acidic component is a huge plus for group cocktails as it means no tedious citrus squeezing.   

There are two ways to produce a shrub, either the cold-process method where fruit is macerated with sugar for 24-48 hours before adding vinegar, or by simmering the ingredients together until the fruit is broken down.  For cranberries, using heat is a better option to soften the harder fruit.

Cranberry Shrub

4 c. fresh cranberries
3 c. sugar
1 c. water
2 c. apple cider vinegar (I used unfiltered)

Split open all of the cranberries with a muddler or other hard tool. Combine with sugar and water, and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes as fruit softens and sugar dissolves. Add apple cider vinegar and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Strain out all solids, bottle and keep in the refrigerator. Makes 3+ cups after straining. A shrub can last months because of the preservation nature of vinegar.

For this occasion, I chose apple cider vinegar because I thought it would pair nicely with the cranberries, but any variety – white or red wine vinegars, white vinegar, champagne vinegar – will do. Brandy also seemed suiting, along with a final garnish of cayenne pepper to add a bit of heat. So while the cocktail was coming together with aspects of tart, tangy and heat, it still needed a touch of sweetness to round it out. An amaretto’s almond flavoring provided the missing element.

Sauced Cranberry

1 oz brandy
½ oz cranberry shrub
¼ oz amaretto (I used Di Saronno)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix brandy, shrub and amaretto in a glass with ice. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to garnish (this is optional, but provides a nice heat and offsets typically non-spicy Thanksgiving dishes to come later).  It will be lacking the full flavor, but if you want to substitute an almond syrup for the amaretto, start with half the amount and add to taste.  To scale into a pitcher drink that serves 12, use 12 oz of brandy, 6 oz of shrub, and 3 oz of amaretto; pour into a glass with ice and garnish.

There is some research showing that consuming vinegar (in salad dressings and such) can help stabilize blood sugar, lower glucose levels in diabetics, and help with general digestive issues.  Like, perhaps, those caused by ingesting mass quantities of turkey, mashed potatoes and pie?  But even if the Sauced Cranberry doesn’t provide health benefits, it is easy to make ahead and the shrub could do double-duty as a mocktail with Sprite or ginger beer.

 Have a Happy Thanksgiving. May you pull the long side of the wishbone!

 Cheers, ICE

 

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

 

 

Drinks That Burn in Hell-oween

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Other than color (blood red, orange, gruesome green), Halloween cocktails are often chosen by garnish and presentation – we have to dress up our drinks like we do ourselves for this holiday. This year I’m choosing to cloak my cocktails in flames:  Eerie blue flames that spark with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon, or turn orange with a bit of salt. I was not aware that I could channel Beavis & Butthead, but there they were, snickering “fire, fire, fire, heheh.”

My first flaming cocktail attempt was the The Goblet of Fire*, created for the Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows movie and appropriate for Halloween. I followed the instructions very carefully and found it quite simple, particularly since I learned how to layer drink ingredients (super duper easy) for last year’s Black + Orange drink. 

 The Goblet of Fire

 2 oz Ty Ku Liqueur
1 oz Kahlua liqueur
Barspoon of cream
1 oz Bacardi 151 rum
grated cinnamon
 
Directions:
  • Shake Ty Ku and Kahlua in a shaker filled with ice.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass.
  • Float cream on top using a bar spoon.
  • Float Bacardi 151 on top of cream.
  • Light the rum with a match.
  • As flame burns, sprinkle some cinnamon onto the flame.
  • Clap hands over flame or blow to put it out.
  • Give a stir and serve.

So much fun to make!  But not a favorite taste for me since I’m not keen on coffee (unlike everyone else in the Seattle area).  So I decided to try another recipe, using green chartreuse as the accelerant. This one was more to my taste.

Cradle of Life 

3/4 oz white rum
3/4 oz spiced rum
1/2 oz orgeat
1/3 oz (= 1T) fresh lemon juice
1/3 oz (= 1T) fresh lime juice
1/3 oz (= 1T) fresh orange juice
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
crushed ice
1 hollowed-out lime half, for garnish
1/2 ounce green chartreuse

 In a cocktail shaker, combine the rums, orgeat, citrus juices and bitters; shake well. Pour into a chilled double rocks glass. Add crushed ice and garnish with the lime cup (the site photo shows the lime cup inside out). Pour the chartreuse into the cup and ignite the chartreuse. Blow out the flame, then tip the chartreuse into the drink.

Really, though, any drink recipe can be made into the flaming variety, provided the accelerant liquor is compatible with the rest of the ingredients and the drink is served up (without ice). Floating a bit of Barcardi 151 on the top of a rum drink will little impact the taste (hmmm, this could be the perfect presentation for my Bloody Sunday drink!).  I did a lot of experimenting and here is what I learned:

  1. Depending on the mouth opening of the glass, as little as a quarter ounce of high-proof liquor floated on top can produce nice flames; if the glass mouth is wide, you’ll need more for dispersal
  2. I didn’t have any luck producing visible flames with less than 110 proof. Liquor can produce invisible flames and perhaps that was the case with the 100-proof vodka, but what’s the spectacle in that?
  3. While ice in a drink does not prevent floating a liquor on top, but it does prevent flaming (I had to see if fire could burn around the ice cubes; wouldn’t that be cool?)
  4. Better to keep the flames going just long enough to serve the drink, ooh and ahh quickly, maybe spark it with some cinnamon or nutmeg, and then blow it out. Otherwise the glassware gets too hot to drink.
  5. Because I was sober and safe, my eyebrows and house remain intact. DrinkNation serves up some safety tips for working with flaming drinks. 

Drinks that appear to arise from the inferno – that’s Halloween!

Cheers, ICE

* The Goblet of Fire is courtesy of Cocktails.About.com and Cradle of Life is from FoodandWine.com and featured in their Food & Wine Cocktails 2011 book.

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