Archive for the ‘Cointreau’ Category

A is for Absinthe

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Note: I wrote the following recap for May’s Seattle LUPEC meeting and it is also posted on that site.

If the adage that “practice makes perfect” is true, then Seattle LUPEC (Ladies United for Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) members certainly need no lessons in drinking – we are already very, very good at it. But we love to learn (to get perfect-er?) and were eager students at the special Sorrento Drinking Lessons held just for our May 1st meeting. Not even May Day protesters (or at least the traffic of those fleeing them) could keep us from learning all about absinthe from Andrew Bohrer, bartender, cocktail history buff and Spirits Portfolio Manager for Vinum distributers.

Absinthe has a rich and varied history, from toast of the town in the 1800’s to modern-day bootleg production in dorm bathrooms. Andrew took us through the developments – such as the use of wormwood and herbs as additives — in spirit production that eventually led to the creation of absinthe in 1797. By 1840 it was the most popular non-wine spirit around, and vintage cocktail books reflect its use in many, many cocktails. An entire drinking ritual was created for it, and while drinks like the Moscow Mule may have their own special serving glass, absinthe boasts a range of apparatus (take that, vodka!) like the fountain and slotted spoon.  

A victim of misunderstanding about its ingredients, blamed for psychotic incidents and later slandered by threatened wineries, “the Green Fairy” was banned in the United States and elsewhere for up to 90 years. Fortunately for us, the bans have ended and an explosion of absinthe producers gives us many choices for enjoying the spirit and using it in cocktails. With the help of Alex mixing and Jen and Molly serving, Andrew treated LUPEC members to three samples of absinthe and three absinthe-laced cocktails.  

A Test for Our Tastebuds

Our glasses of Lucid, Trillium and Pacifique absinthes were served in the customary manner, with a bit of sugar and a ratio of 1 part absinthe to 3-5 parts water. Andrew explained that the cloudiness in the liquid is called the louche and results from the water separating the essential oils locked in during the two-step distillation and maceration process that defines absinthe production. Its green – vert – shade comes from the chlorophyll of its ingredients. While most absinthes use the herbs absinthium (wormwood), anise and fennel during distillation, more variation is used among brands in flavoring the secondary maceration and that results in a range of distinctive tastes.

Could we taste the differences among the three absinthes? Indeed we could. The LUPEC consensus was that the Trillium (not unexpectedly discontinued) was too cloying, especially compared to the softer, more complex Pacifique (which Wendy compared to beloved Good & Plenty candies). The Lucid, with a beet base, showed that the spirit can evolve and still remain true to its roots.

Comparing their bottles, Andrew also explained some practicalities about absinthe: because it is a very high proof spirit, it is susceptible (i.e. explosive) to heat. Therefore, Trillium’s narrow necked bottle was a detriment as it trapped heat; for us home bartenders, that means we must not store any absinthe near the stove!

While absorbed in the nuances of each absinthe, we were also excited to sample them in cocktails. In keeping with the theme of absinthe history, Andrew served us up three classic cocktails (recipes below) with absinthe as a key player: the Corpse Reviver #2, the Chrysanthemum, and the Sazerac. Andrew’s parting advice on the last is that to make a Sazerac New-Orleans-style, you must add the absinthe to an empty glass and then toss it in the air to provide the proper rinse. This is better advice for the first drink of the night than the last, if you value your glassware.

Corpse Reviver #2

1 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz lemon juice
3 dashes absinthe 

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

Chrysanthemum

2 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz Benedictine
2 dashes absinthe

Stir with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Sazerac

2 oz rye whiskey
1 sugar cube
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes absinthe
 steady hands for tossing glass

Stir with ice; strain into a chilled lowball glass.

 Class is Dismissed 

Having gained knowledge, excellent drinks and a delicious meal provided by our hosts at the Sorrento, we LUPEC members mingled in the plush Fireside Room. There were no diplomas touting our expertise in the Field of Absinthe, but – even better! – we were treated to parting favors:  a tasty “to-go cocktail” of the Clipper Ship (Voyager gin, Pur Blossom liqueur, lime juice and Pacifique Absinthe), plus an atomizer of absinthe for our home bars.  We thank Andrew Bohrer, the Sorrento Hotel, Alex, Molly and Jen for their great help in presenting another informative, tasty LUPEC meeting. 

Cheers, ICE 

(A Necessary Diversion)

While steeped in absinthe (almost literally), the opportunity to ask a distributor about the state of liquor availability was too irresistible. Where and when will cherished brands return to shelves? What should we stock up on before June 1?  Andrew said that Voyager gin and Pacifique Absinthe will be stocked next month at Fred Meyer and likely at Metropolitan Market, QFC and independent stores as well.  Andrew will post availability on the LUPEC Facebook page to keep us updated. Those not wanting to run dry on smaller Italian liqueurs should stock up; many of their producers are not prepared for the changes in distribution. 

 

 

Hooray for the PTA

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Each year at my kids’ elementary school the staff holds a Volunteer Tea to acknowledge the work of the PTA and volunteers. These are some dedicated parents who put in a lot of time making sure the students and teachers feel supported. They are fortunately not, in other words, in the mold of the Harper Valley PTA folk (other children of the seventies out there?).

To celebrate another successful year of fundraising, hosting school events, chaperoning field trips, coordinating enrichment classes, revamping Websites and general volunteer excellence, I created for them an enhanced Volunteer Tea.  Like many school projects, there are a lot of parts that combine to make the whole. Drink enough and it just might “sock it to the Harper Valley PTA.”

Volunteer Tea

4 raspberries muddled and 3 to garnish
1 oz Pimm’s No. 1
2 ¼ oz brewed Tazo Vanilla-Rooibos Tea, cooled
½ oz ginger liqueur (I used Stirrings brand)
¼ oz Cointreau
¼ oz honey syrup (equal parts water and honey mixed well)

Brew tea according to package directions (1 teabag to 8 oz water) and let cool. Muddle raspberries in a glass; add ice and remaining ingredients and stir well to chill (straining is optional). Garnish with raspberries (optional). Note: if you don’t have ginger liqueur then ginger beer or muddled ginger could also work here.  Serves one weary volunteer.

Thanks for all your great work!

Cheers, ICE

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

 

Pour This in Your Apple Cup

Monday, November 29th, 2010

This Saturday is the annual Apple Cup, Washington’s intra-state football showdown: WSU Cougars vs. UW Huskies. In our case, it is an intra-house battle, as I’m a Coug and hubby is a Dawg.  Mostly this is a skirmish to determine which of us gets to dress our kids for the day.

In addition to beer, a big game needs a cocktail, right? Lo and behold, I discovered this drink already called the Washington Apple. Perfect! And so easy even a Husky can make one.

Washington Apple

1 oz Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
1 oz Sour Apple Pucker
½ oz cranberry juice
½ oz simple syrup (omit if not using 100% cranberry juice)
Splash of soda water (optional)

You can combine the liquids and shake with ice, or simply build in an ice-filled glass and stir well.

The lovely, red Washington Apple

Now, the trouble I have with recipes using cranberry juice is that they are usually not very specific. 100% cranberry juice or the actual fruit are not always available, while juice combinations (with added juices, sugar or even the dreaded high fructose corn syrup) are ubiquitous. But I draw most of my recipes from books and sites that preach the gospel of market-fresh ingredients – are they really using regular ol’ Ocean Spray? These are the questions that vex me.

In this case, I used 100% cranberry juice – which is soooo tart – and therefore compensated with the added simple syrup. If you prefer, make yours with a cranberry juice beverage, omit the syrup and fuggedaboutit.

I will say that with the pure cranberry juice, this drink was a lovely deep red…crimson, really (Go Cougs!).

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Oh, fine. Here’s a purple one, too. I fashioned this one for the UW Alpha Delta Phi Centennial banquet because my friend and organizer wanted a purple cocktail. After I got over the swearing and shaky hands, I came up with this:

Woof

1 oz citrus vodka
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Blueberry Juice mix

Combine in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Oh, sorry. Was that too fast for you? Here it is again:

Woof

1 oz citrus vodka
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Blueberry Juice mix

Combine in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers, ICE

 

Uniting Fire and Ice

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Remember that jalapeno brown sugar syrup from a previous post?  I created a third cocktail with this syrup, this time in honor of our wedding anniversary today, October 30th (Devil’s Night!).  

Fire With Ice Margarita

1 ½ oz tequila
½ oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice
½ oz jalapeno brown sugar syrup

I like my margaritas on the rocks, so I filled a glass with ice, added the ingredients and stirred well. Nice to cool the jalapeno fire with ice.

Heat Miser!

Incidentally, “Fire and Ice” is the name of our maybe-someday-in-the-future boat. Fire because hubby is a redhead and, of course, I’m ICE.  We used that idea for Halloween costumes a few years back, going as the HeatMiser and SnowMiser from The Year Without a Santa Claus. I’m too embarrassed to post a picture of us, but be assured there were cocktails involved that night, too.

 

Happy Anniversary, Fire!

Cheers, ICE

P.S.: I saw this on a forum:” If loving Halloween is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.” Yes!

Snow Miser!