Archive for the ‘Horticulture for Cocktails’ Category

Nice Spoils From the Blueberry Wars

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Here is the scenario: Lovely sunny day with time on our hands and a plan to meet up with friends. Berry picking? Great idea. The kids are all happy to pick and taste blueberries, content to wander among the bushes to seek the ripest berries, buckets in hand.  (Note that there is no holding hands and skipping because that would be obnoxious).  Sounds nice, eh?

Now cue the snakes, boys pelting each other with berries and later my daughter loudly describing the snake’s poop (probably scared out of the poor thing) to all at the check-out stand. Ah, now that’s a typical summer afternoon.

 

Check out the schmancy garnish. It took me only slightly more time than making the drink and syrup...

But it was fruitful because I now have ingredients for a wonderful cocktail: blueberries we picked with our own hands, rosemary clipped from my own pots, and maple syrup…poured from a bottle. Sorry, no syrup-making trees in our parts. Intriguing ingredients made it worth hauling out the blender for this one.

Blueberry-Maple Caiprissimo *

6 ounces bourbon or Cognac (I used Metaxa brandy)
6 ounces blueberries, plus 4 blueberries, each skewered on a rosemary sprig, for garnish (optional; see picture)
6 ounces Maple-Rosemary Syrup
4 ounces fresh lemon juice
3 cups ice

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the skewered blueberries and blend until smooth. Pour the drinks into chilled rocks glasses and garnish. Makes 4 drinks.

 

Rosemary-Maple Syrup

4 rosemary sprigs
6 ounces pure maple syrup

 Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power until hot, about 30 seconds. Let the syrup cool, then discard the rosemary sprigs. Transfer the syrup to a jar, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Try on pancakes or French toast, too!

 While normally not a lover of blended cocktails, I make an exception for this one because it is darn tasty. Plus, it has the added novelty of including an actual microwave in the directions. How easy is that? Considering that a friend just sent me instructions on how to hard boil eggs, I think we can all see how I was drawn to this one.

Cheers, ICE

*The Blueberry-Maple Caiprissimo was created by mixologist Adam Seger and was featured in Food & Wine’s Cocktails 2009.  No snakes were harmed (tangibly) in the making of this post.

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

 

Reunited And It Feels So Good

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Remember that song by Peaches & Herb (the duo’s name is even cocktail-friendly!): “Reunited and it feels so good…” That’s how I’m feeling about my summer cocktail recipes. Seeing the cherry stand at the side of the road, I couldn’t wait to revisit brandied cherries and the Cherry Blossom Sling recipe I made with them. These cherries are so good and so easy; I’m already certain that I should have made more. I re-posted the recipes below.

 

Aren't these gorgeous? The cherry stand proprietor suggested I try this Strawberry-Cherry variety, and I'm glad I did. They kept my mouth happy while my brandied bing cherries brewed.

 

 Lu’s Brandied Cherries (courtesy of Imbibe Magazine)

1 lb sweet cherries, pitted
½ c. sugar
½ c. water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 stick cinnamon
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. brandy (I used Metaxa Greek brandy but any should do)

Wash and pit the cherries (stain warning: gloves would be helpful). In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and brandy and bring to a rolling boil. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add the cherries and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, add the brandy and let cool. Transfer the cherries into clean jars and refrigerate uncovered until cherries are cool to touch. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 weeks.

To showcase my cherries I chose the Cherry Blossom Sling, from my MixShakeStir cocktail book. The book also has a brandied cherries recipe, but I was missing several ingredients. Lu’s worked quite well, and the recipe allowed me to incorporate some of the yummy liquid into the drink.

Cherry Blossom Sling

3 brandied cherries, plus a splash of liquid
3 lime wedges
1 ½ oz gin
¼ oz Cherry Heering (a cherry liqueur)
½ oz simple syrup
¼ oz fresh lime juice
Splash of soda water
Dash of Angostura bitters

Muddle the cherries and lime wedges in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and all ingredients except the soda water and bitters and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, add the soda water and bitters, and serve.

Cheers, ICE

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

 

You Can Lead a Horticulture, But You Can’t Make Her Drink*

Thursday, July 8th, 2010
I’m getting used to strange looks from friends. Usually they stem from my mention of some less common (but incredibly yummy) liquor or the fact that I have willingly embarked on a cooking-related activity in pursuit of a cocktail. But I know I’m in for some serious eye-rolling when I say that I’m actually growing my own food – herbs, mostly – to use for cocktails.

Past years I’ve stuck to planting shrubs, trees and other perennials in the yard, but frankly the upkeep is pretty tedious. I’m not into tedious.  However, I figured that a few pots filled with herbs should be manageable even for me. Oh, and a Topsy Turvy strawberry planter because my kids can’t pass one on the street without yelling, “Topsy Turvy! Topsy Turvy! You should get one, Mom!” Buying a few strawberry plants seemed like better parenting than duct tape as a gag.

Who knows if my “garden” will bring forth cocktail bounty?  I will admit it has been very satisfying to wander to the patio to pick the mint, lemon thyme, basil or cilantro called for in my recipe books.  Soon I should be able to try out some pineapple mint, orange mint, thai basil and sage, too.

My cocktail garden.

In the meantime, here is a great recipe that utilizes the cilantro, as well as the blackberries that are poised to take over in my region. My friend Dee calls the Yerba Mora, “bright and lovely.” Funny, that’s how I describe Dee, too.

Yerba Mora  (created by mixologist Joaquin Simo)

5 cilantro leaves
5 blackberries, plus 3 blackberries skewered on a pick for garnish
Ice
2 ounces blanco tequila
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
Dash of absinthe
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, shaken to mix)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the 5 blackberries. Add ice and all of the remaining ingredients except the skewered blackberries and shake well. Strain (a small fine-mesh sieve is handy to catch the blackberry seeds) into an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with the skewered blackberries (optional).

The Chartreuse is an appealing liqueur and one of the finds that I’ve been happiest about discovering. I have the green Chartreuse called for in the Yerba Mora, but there is a also a yellow (and therefore not actually chartreuse) Chartreuse that is sweeter. Monks in France have been making it for centuries, which suddenly make monks seem far more interesting. It has also made my liquor cabinet more interesting.

Cheers, ICE

*This headline – slightly tweaked – is courtesy of writer Dorothy Parker’s quote, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”