Archive for the ‘Gin’ Category

Even Leap Day has a cocktail

Monday, February 27th, 2012

What was Julius Caesar thinking when he created the extra Leap Year day in February? Not that I’m in any hurry to see March – it being just as soggy and cold as November-May – but an extra day in July or August would be so much better. 

Leap Day is mostly lacking in traditions or celebrations, but does claim its own cocktail. According to Paul Clarke on SeriousEats, this Leap Year cocktail was created at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928 to celebrate Leap Day.

 Leap Year Cocktail

 2 oz gin
½ oz Grand Marnier
½ oz sweet vermouth (I used Dolin)
1 dash fresh lemon juice

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use for garnish.

Have a couple on the 29th, because real life is for March.

 

Cheers, ICE

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

 

Little Labor for This Long Weekend Pitcher Drink

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Maybe you have a last BBQ to attend this Labor Day Weekend and need an easy pitcher drink. The Capetown Collins is that drink. It is easy to create and unique in taste – the perfect combo.

Capetown Collins* (make ahead of serving)

12 ounces gin
12 ounces Rosemary-Rooibos Syrup
9 ounces fresh lemon juice
6 rosemary sprigs (optional garnishes)

 In a pitcher, combine the gin, Rosemary-Rooibos Syrup and lemon juice and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Stir well and strain into ice-filled collins glasses. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs. Makes six servings.

 Rosemary-Rooibos Syrup

 2 cups water
1 rosemary sprig
2 rooibos tea bags
1 cup superfine sugar

 In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the rosemary sprig; simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags and rosemary and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool, then pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

 You really only need an hour and a half advance notice to throw this together. The syrup is quick to steep while you juice a couple of lemons, and then combine it all in a pitcher. The rosemary and rooibos tea together give it a nice spice profile that mellows the gin. This combination of ingredients isn’t especially seasonal, so keep the Capetown Collins in mind for parties throughout the year.

 Cheers, ICE

 *the Capetown Collins was created at No. 9 Park in Boston and featured in Food & Wine’s Cocktails 2008.

 As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page 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.

 

Eggs: To Drink, Not to Dye

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Some post-Easter fun with those leftover eggs:

Want to amuse yourself when friends come over? Ask them if they want a cocktail and see their faces light up. Then ask how they feel about egg whites in their drink and watch them shudder.

It’s too bad, because a properly made cocktail with egg whites – traditionally called a Flip – is divine. It is frothy, foamy and light, NOT slimy or thick. And the perfect choice when I’ve done a kick-ass barre3 workout and later need some extra protein (this is my excuse to go from barre to bar).   

Pink Lady, a classic cocktail with egg whites

 I have to admit the process can be messy. Separating the egg white from the yolk isn’t too difficult, but I find the current accepted shaking technique to be drippy and annoying. Also, some people are wary of salmonella*, although I also don’t avoid cookie dough or a Caesar salad for that reason. 

In the name of research I launched my Great Egg White Experiment to find the best products and approach. I tried pasteurized powdered eggs, pasteurized carton egg whites, chilled eggs and not, shaking with crushed ice, cubed ice and no ice. Yeah, I totaled a lot of cocktails!  And I found a great solution. Read on for the best method, plus recipes of course!

Challenging the Accepted Wisdom of The Double Shake

The double shake is considered the best way to emulsify a drink with egg whites. It calls for adding together the egg white and all ingredients and shaking well first with no ice, then adding ice and shaking well again. The problem is that opening the shaker to add the ice creates a drippy mess down the sides and an unacceptable loss of liquor! But it does create good froth…too much of it, actually. It ends up reminding me of a bad tap pour; I don’t want that much head on my beer or my cocktail.

What if we skip that first shake without ice. What happens? A sad, forlorn layer of foam is the result. Looking at it, you’d barely know it was a flip.  Drinking it, you’d miss the creamy texture.

In other attempts I did have slightly better results doing a solo shake with crushed ice instead of cubed. Maybe all the small pieces served to better whip the egg white. But while respectable, it still wasn’t the ideal amount of foam.  A chilled egg versus one kept at room temperature also didn’t make a difference.

Powdered vs Carton Egg Whites 

Eggbeaters vs. Powdered in a PC Fizz

 For those concerned about food-borne illness, using a pasteurized product is an option.  For a head-to-head competition I made the same drink using each.

I found the powdered egg whites in the baking section at the grocery store and followed the directions to reconstitute it by mixing 2 tablespoons of powder with 1 ounce of warm water. Then I mixed and mixed. Even using my tiny whisk it was difficult to get the clumps out and rather tedious.

For the competition I used Eggbeaters Egg Whites, managing to find a carton without added coloring, unlike the last time when the “yellow” egg whites turned my drink baby shit brown. Yuck.

Employing the double-shake technique (see above) for both, I deemed the Eggbeaters to be the clear winner. Not only was it easier with no extra mixing, it produced the perfect amount of foam. The powdered eggs, perhaps because of the pre-whisking, just produced too much foam.  Both drinks tasted and felt exactly the same while drinking.
 

The Solution

Sticking to fresh eggs because they are always on hand, I tried another approach. If this is recommended elsewhere, I haven’t seen it so I’ll consider it my “breakthrough.” But I will let you use it because I’m nice like that.

I was thinking about the additional foam created by the powdered egg whites and the pre-whisking involved, and I wondered:  Would whisking an egg white (fresh or carton) – just as I do before making scrambled eggs – then adding ingredients and ice for a single shake be a good substitute for that pre-ice shaking used in the double shake technique?  Why, yes it is! In fact, it created the perfect amount of foam for my PC Fizz with no extra mess or time. 
 

Voila, a perfect PC Fizz!

 Woo hoo, let’s celebrate with a couple of drinks I used during my mad science trials:

The PC Fizz – from the MixShakeStir cocktail book

1 ½ oz Pimm’s No. 1
½ oz chartreuse (either yellow or green)
1 oz simple syrup
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz lime juice
1 egg white
pinch of pumpkin pie spice to garnish

 Add egg white to shaker and whisk (use a fork or small whisk) until foamy. Add all ingredients (except pie spice) and ice, and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, garnish with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice on top of the foam and enjoy. Note:  I like this drink with either green chartreuse for a brighter drink or the yellow for a mellower version.

The next drink is a classic. Pink and tasty:

The Pink Lady

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz applejack
¾ oz lemon juice
¼ oz grenadine
1 egg white

 Add egg white to shaker and whisk (use a fork or small whisk) until foamy. Add all ingredients and ice, and shake well. Strain into a wine glass.

So now you have no excuses. Pasteurized carton egg whites are as tasty in drinks as fresh. Whisking the egg white is less messy than alternatives. Using egg whites provides texture and elegance to cocktails. It’s time to mug a chicken.

 Cheers, ICE

*what, actually, is the risk of salmonella poisoning from an egg white? Very small according to Lawrence Pong, principal health inspector and manager of food-borne illness outbreak investigations for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco: “Egg whites are alkaline in nature, and salmonella colonies cannot survive there.”  Plus it seems that the alcohol present in cocktail would also inhibit bacteria.