Archive for the ‘Vodka’ Category

A perfect pitcher: herbs, tequila and Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Wow, I think my calendar did stop since my last post because here it is almost Cinco de Mayo. ..

Here is a quick quiz. When hankering for a drink on Cinco de Mayo, do you:

  1. Avoid tequila because of “that one time when I…” ? (then you really should see my past post on the subject).
  2. Embrace the tequila, but drown the taste with artificial sweet and sour mix, or worse, one of those pre-mixed, pre-frozen tubs of margaritas (“Just Add Tequila!”).
  3. Say the hell with it, and grab some Mexican beer instead?

I’m not a counselor, so I won’t be diagnosing where you fall on the scale of tequila-avoiders. Nor can I relate to your plight because I love tequila. Nonetheless, I do have a solution.  I call it Herbaceous*, but that’s partly for lack of inspiration (do you know, naming cocktails is often harder than creating them?).

Herbaceous* mixes a couple of tasty herbs while cutting the tequila with vodka. I can’t even remember why I did this initially – did I run out of tequila? – but it works. Red and my friend PRS, both tequila shunners, like this pitcher drink a lot. The taste of tequila is still present, but softer, and pairs seamlessly with the flavors of cilantro and lemon-thyme. The overall ratio of booze to non-booze makes it light and refreshing.

The Herbaceous pitcher drink uses muddle cilantro and lemon-thyme syrup. Use about this much lemon-thyme per 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water.

The Herbaceous pitcher drink uses muddle cilantro and lemon-thyme syrup. Twelve stems of cilantro are shown here on the cutting board. Use about this much lemon-thyme (on the right) per 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water for the syrup.

Herbaceous*

Bunch of cilantro (approx. 12 stems)
6 oz reposado tequila
6 oz vodka
6 oz fresh lime juice
11 oz lemon-thyme syrup
24 oz club soda

Muddle the cilantro with lime juice in a pitcher. Add lemon-thyme syrup, tequila and vodka and stir well. Refrigerate for one hour, and then gently stir in chilled club soda. Serve on the rocks in a short bucket glass.  The recipe above serves 12.

Lemon-Thyme Syrup

1 c. sugar
1 c. water
4-5 stems of lemon-thyme (see photo)

Boil sugar and water together until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and drop in rinsed lemon-thyme stems. Cover and steep for 30 minutes, then strain out solids and cool liquid. Makes 12 ounces.  I recommend doubling this recipe so that you have the syrup ready for an ice tea sweetener – I keep this on hand year-round.

I brought this creation to two functions last summer and it disappeared quickly. Enjoy it with friends at a Cinco de Mayo gathering, and keep the recipe on hand for summer days. ¡Salud!

Cheers, HEILO

For more Cinco de Mayo options, see my previous posts: Granada de Amor and  St. Rosemary.

*Seriously, do you have another suggestion?

 

Do not fear the liquor and beer

Monday, June 25th, 2012
Beer before liquor, never sicker
Liquor before beer, never fear…

So they say, but what happens when the beer is mixed with the liquor?!  My report: so far, so good.

My flirtation with beer in cocktails has been picking up speed. It started with the humble shandy and has progressed to other interesting concoctions. I have a feeling I will be reporting on more of these “aletails” this summer, starting with the “One Sunset.”

The “One Sunset” was featured on Imbibe Magazine online after appearing in the new book Beer Cocktails by Howard and Ashley Stelzer. After sampling the “One Sunset,” this book is now on top of my wish list.

One Sunset

6 red grapes
10 fresh mint leaves
2 oz vodka
¾ oz Aperol
¾ oz simple syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 ½ oz amber lager (I used Full Sail’s LTD #05)
grapes and mint to garnish (optional)

In a mixing glass, gently muddle grapes and mint leaves. Add ice and remaining ingredients (except the beer). Stir until well chilled and strain into a Collins glass. Top with beer and garnish.

This aletail has a touch of bitter from the Aperol and the lager, but tastes light and refreshing. Since I had the open bottle of lager, I tried subsequent variations that reduced and then omitted the vodka (sometimes substituting plain club soda). I didn’t miss the vodka in taste, and leaving it out creates a lighter-alcohol drink that can be enjoyably sipped all of a summer afternoon without serious consequences. 

Better yet for continuous sipping, I scaled and tweaked the recipe to create a pitcher drink:

One Sunset Pitcher

48 red grapes
30 mint leaves
8 oz vodka
6 oz Aperol
6 oz simple syrup
4 oz lemon juice
8 oz club soda
1 bottle amber lager

Muddle grapes and strain. Muddle mint leaves and grape juice, then add vodka, Aperol, lemon juice and simple syrup. Mix together and chill for at least one hour. Add beer and club soda just before serving. Stir gently and pour over ice to serve. Makes 8 servings. 

 Cheers, ICE

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

 

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.

 

Crossing the Bridge

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Look at me go: the third post in a row with my own creation! I feel like I’m in touch with my inner mixologist. Or maybe my inner lush. Sometimes they are very hard to tell apart.

My inner mixologist pointed out that many of my herbs will soon be departing for winter. My inner lush reminded me that pear vodka is great in the fall. So I shook up the following concoction, sort of a bridge between summer and fall; or a bridge between mixologist and lush.

 Bridge the Gap

 4 large sage leaves
3 inch rosemary sprig
1 1/2 oz le poire vodka*
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 simple syrup

 Muddle sage and rosemary with lemon juice; add ice, vodka and simple syrup and shake well. Double strain into a rocks glass with ice. Add additional sage leaf to garnish (optional).

 

Something else that will satisfy my dual inner voices is the new Swig Well, a “drinking academy” started by Anu Apte, bartender/owner of Rob Roy in Seattle. Anu presented a preview class just for LUPEC members last week, where she demonstrated how tweaks to a cocktail can help us match our “Memories in a Glass.” Classes are open to the general public by reservation, unless otherwise noted. I can’t wait!  Looks like I’ll be spending more time on a bridge — the 520.

 Cheers, ICE

 *I find most flavored vodkas too sweet or artificial tasting, but the Grey Goose Le Poire is quite nice.

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