Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

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?

 

Doomsday approach-eth

Monday, December 17th, 2012

We don’t need the Maya to point out December’s doomsday vibe. The days are so dark and short, the traffic catastrophic and the calories so destructive.  It seems fitting that the Maya chose to end their extensive calendar system on Dec. 21, 2012.*

I’m pretty sure we’ll live to see 2013. But just in case, I created this cocktail to soften the blow of Maya Prophesy Day. It’s strong, so you won’t feel the flames lickin’ at your feet…

Doomsday Drink

1 oz reposado tequila
½ oz crème de cacao (I used Marie Brizard white)
¼ oz vanilla syrup
½ oz Becherovka liqueur
4 drops Xocalatl Mole bitters (Bittermans)
Grated cinnamon garnish

Combine first five ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and grate a dusting of cinnamon over the top…

… Or, hell, just dump them all in a glass and tip back. The world is ending, people! This is no time for prissy drinks!

IMG_8261

Sorry, hysteria contained. Why these flavors for the Doomsday Drink, you ask? Simple. The Maya’s territory stretched from southern Mexico through Central America, and their descendants still favor the flavors of chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla. Mexican tequila and Xocalatl Mole bitters also fit geographically. The digestif Becherovka lends the cinnamon note and keeps the drink from being too sweet.

But don’t despair: If Dec. 22 rolls around and you find the world still intact, this would make a great cocktail for Festivus/Winter Solstice/Christmas/New Year, et al. A multitasking cocktail is a truly welcome gift.

Cheers and fa la la la la,  ICE

*Well, we know now that they didn’t. Their calendars continued on elsewhere, and apparently we are safe for thousands more years. I think the Maya would have enjoyed this cocktail, though.

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

 

Skip the pumpkin patches and corn mazes for the Pumpkin King cocktail

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Cocktail experiments are much like wandering through a corn maze.  Sometimes – too often – a promising zig or zag ends up a dead-end. Repeatedly. Should I consider it cheating if someone finally hands me a map? Hell no!

I get some flavor ideas stuck in my head; this month it was pumpkin (for the holidays and because my daughter’s smile looks like a jack-o-lantern now, with missing teeth galore). The problem is that pumpkin, no matter in syrup or butter form, leaves unappealing sediment.  Blech.  Then I remembered that chocolate can have that same problem –> but my chocolate stout reduction did not –> and they do make pumpkin ale –> so I could use the same technique to make pumpkin ale syrup. Aha! Surely I had found my way out of the maze. 

 

 

Er, not quite. Sticking with my chocolate stout syrup recipe, I created the pumpkin ale syrup and trialed it in several cocktails. Somehow I just couldn’t find the right combination of flavors to highlight the pumpkin element. Ready to toss that idea into my (full) dustbin of discarded cocktail ideas, an online search brought me to a Raising the Bar segment with Jamie Boudreau, owner of the excellent Canon on Capitol Hill. Boudreau demonstrates the Pumpkin King recipe, even using the same brand of ale, Southern Tier Pumking, for his pumpkin ale liqueur.

The Pumpkin King cocktail is refreshing and interesting. It would make an ideal chaser to Trick or Treating or a Thanksgiving feast…or both!

 

Jamie Boudreau’s Pumpkin King cocktail

1½ oz blended Scotch
½ oz pumpkin ale liqueur (see my change below)
½ oz lime juice
Dash of bitters (I used Peyschauds)
Ginger beer to top (I used 1 oz of Fentimans)

Shake the first four ingredients with ice; strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with ginger beer (I found 1 oz to be better, perhaps owing to different glass sizes), and garnish with a lime wedge.

 

Disclosure: my version deviates from Boudreau’s because I wanted to use the pumpkin ale syrup I had already made rather than create a liqueur.  My syrup uses less sugar, so I bumped the amount up from ½ oz to 1 oz in the cocktail. If you also want to go that route, here is my recipe:

 

Pumpkin Ale Syrup

1 bottle (24 oz) of pumpkin ale
1 c. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. allspice berries
1/8 t. salt
 
Combine all in a large sauce pan. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, and then simmer on medium while stirring occasionally and watching carefully — it can quickly bubble up and over if left unwatched. After simmering for 15 minutes, remove from heat and discard any foam on top.

 

Happy Halloween! Looking for more Halloween-inspired cocktails? Check out these previous posts:

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Drinks That Burn in Hell-oween

When Orange Meets Black

Uniting Fire and Ice

A Cackle Night Hollow

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.