Archive for the ‘Syrups’ Category

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.