Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

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
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.”


Drinks With a Bite

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Ha, I’m betting my headline misled that I’m posting vampire-related drinks, what with the Twilight Eclipse movie releasing this week.  Given that I lean Team Jacob, any cocktail would have to have garlic in it – which sounds just gross — and a Bloody Mary seemed too obvious.  So instead the bite is about spicy…

As my liquid weekend in Portland confirmed, I love the drinks with heat. Not torched-mouth heat, just the kind with a nice burn in the back of the throat.  Apart from muddling a jalapeno or adding a little Serrano pepper juice, I haven’t worked much with peppers at home. After pulling this recipe out of my stash so many times, I decided to attempt both the pepper-infused syrup AND turning a single cocktail into a pitcher drink.  Ooh, this could have been dangerous.

**Ginger-Habañero Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
 1 seeded habañero
2 oz sliced fresh ginger

Heat to just before boiling and sugar is dissolved, and then remove from heat. After 5 minutes off heat, scoop out peppers. Allow remaining mixture to cool and strain out ginger. Keeps in refrigerator for 3 weeks in a sealed container. Makes 10 ounces.

Since I didn’t find habañeros at the store, I substituted two Serrano peppers per instructions on various Web sites about peppers and cooking substitutes. I also used 3 tablespoons of jarred sliced ginger because I have no idea how to cook with fresh ginger. These were fine substitutions because the end syrup was delish. It was also wonderfully easy to make.

Next came the challenge of scaling the cocktail recipe to pitcher proportions. The original recipe is The Chadwick and was created by bartender Adam Seger at Nacional 27 in Chicago.  Since I had only 10 oz of syrup and the original recipe called for 1 oz, I knew I had to multiply the other ingredients by 10 as well. This was easily done with this particular recipe, although I chose to add a little extra of this and that in the end. I also opted to use 3 ounces of lime juice rather than muddle 20 lime quarters.

Here is my pitcher version of The Chadwick:

30 large mint leaves
5 oz dark rum
7 oz light rum
12 oz pomegranate juice
3 oz lime juice
10 oz spiced syrup
33 oz club soda

Muddle mint leaves with lime juice, add in all ingredients except club soda to chill in refrigerator. Add club soda before serving.

In hindsight, I could have added all dark rum, as the original listed, and more of it. Considering how quickly the pitcher was drained, no one at the BBQ seemed to mind, though. I was left wishing I had doubled the syrup recipe so that I could have made a larger pitcher AND been able to try this non-alcohol Nojito from the same creator:

Pomegranate-Ginger-Chile Nojito

Sugar + 1 oz pomegranate juice for rim of collins glass
½ lime, quartered
8 mint leaves
¾ oz ginger-chile syrup
1 oz pomegranate juice
3 oz chilled club soda

Moisten the outer rim of a collins glass with 1 ounce of the pomegranate juice and coat lightly with sugar. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime quarters with the mint leaves and Ginger-Habanero Syrup. Add ice and the remaining 1 ounce of pomegranate juice and shake well. Strain into the prepared collins glass and stir in the club soda.

These drinks are sure to add heat and praise to your 4th of July function!

Cheers, ICE


Four strikes, this drink is out

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The Loser lives up to its name

Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But the drink that sounded so amazing – black pepper syrup, yowza! – just hasn’t panned out.  Four times I’ve tried:

Attempt No. 1: The recipe said to crack the peppercorns coarsely, but it made for a very weak syrup and boring drink.

Attempt No. 2:  Armed with a mallet, plastic bag and my alarmingly aggressive children, we pounded the hell out of those peppercorns. This time the syrup was flavorful but still not a winner. Maybe the problem was substituting tequila for the pisco (a grape-based brandy from South America)?

Attempt No. 3: Our friends Stacy and Laura generously donated a bottle of pisco to the cause. Stacy picked up a couple of bottles in Chile when his engineering firm went down to survey the recent earthquake damage. It is lovely having friends that support your, uh, endeavors.

However, even with the pisco this drink doesn’t cut it for me. It could be the pineapple juice; while I love fresh pineapple, I just don’t care for it in cocktails (pina coladas in Maui being the exception).  On this third try I did reduce the pineapple juice from 3 ounces to just a ½ ounce, but the pineapple was still pushy.

Attempt No. 4: I am stubbornly pursuing this drink. This last time I eliminated the pineapple juice altogether and upped the lemon juice and black pepper syrup by ½ ounce each. Still, it’s just OK. Maybe using grapefruit juice instead of pineapple would be a worthy substitute?

I guess you win some, lose some, even with cocktails.  But not all is lost – I will use the pisco to try shaking up a Pisco Sour — the drink in Peru and Chile — and I just saw some recipes in the new Imbibe magazine calling for black pepper syrup.  Oh, darn, more experimenting.

The Loser

1 oz pisco
½ oz Velvet Falernum (clove-spiced liqueur)
3 oz pineapple juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz black pepper syrup
1 oz chilled club soda
Pinch of freshly ground pepper, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the soda and ground pepper; shake well.  Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Stir in the soda; garnish with pepper.

Black Pepper Syrup – makes about 8 oz

1 c. water
½ c. sugar
¼ cup cracked black peppercorns

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add sugar and stir over moderately high heat until dissolved. Add peppercorns and let stand off the heat for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jar, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Cheers, ICE


Beyond ComPear

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Spring.  My days are given over to field trips, baseball, or the schedule upheavals they create. I spent the day on a preschool field trip to West Seattle. This meant a volley of high-pitched screeching in enclosed spaces (how do 5 year old girls hit notes that high?) and that fun “why” game.  Would it have been wrong for me to get to drink every time I was asked, “why?”

I did perk up on the way home when I hit the West Seattle Produce Company – a brand new produce stand on Fauntleroy Way SW. I got lots of cocktail fixin’s, including mint, cilantro, pineapple, Meyer lemons and Asian pears. It was these last that my daughter went crazy for, and while I was thinking the equivalent of comfort food in cocktails, Shirley Temple was insisting that we make a drink with pears (yup, even my kids are getting into the act).

So we did. Asian pears, fresh mint leaves, honey syrup, lime and lemon juices and ginger beer. Of course, I added some Captain Morgan’s spiced rum to mine.  I’m sure you could substitute regular pears.

Beyond ComPear

3 mint leaves
1 ½  oz Captain Morgan spiced rum
3/4 oz pureed Asian pear
½ oz honey syrup (see below)
¼ oz lemon juice
¼ oz lime juice
1 oz ginger beer (I used Cock N Bull brand; other brands may be sweeter)

Make the honey syrup ahead by vigorously shaking together equal parts honey and warm water and allow to chill in the refrigerator. Make a batch as it will keep for 3 weeks refrigerated.

Puree the Asian pear and set aside. Muddle the mint leaves in a shaker, then add ice, pear puree, honey syrup, and lemon & lime juices; shake well. Double-strain into cocktail glass, add ginger beer and stir.

Keep in mind that even fresh ingredients can vary in flavor, so it’s important to taste a drink and then adjust for sweetness or tartness as desired. If you are serving to guests and they don’t want your cooties, try this: dip in a straw, hold the top and then release the portion into your mouth.  

I’m thinking it is time for my own field trip. There are many mixologists shaking up great cocktails Seattle area. If you have a favorite destination, please share with us!

Cheers, ICE

Next up to bat: drinks featuring rhubarb.