Posts Tagged ‘infused_syrups’

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.

 

Bending the calendar with fruit shrubs

Friday, October 5th, 2012

It is October, right? Or am I being punked by my calendar, fooled into thinking it’s October when the weather seems more like the end of August? If so, then the joke is also on the blackberries, plums and other late summer fruit still heavy on trees and bushes. But I will have the last laugh when I am enjoying these fruits into 2013.

I won’t freeze them or make jam. Instead, I’ll do as American colonialists did and make shrubs – a combination of fruit, vinegar and sugar.  Shrubs can be used in cocktails or enjoyed splashed into plain club soda or even Diet Coke (try with cherry shrub!). The vinegar lends a tangy taste to produce and serves as a great preservative.

In my cranberry Thanksgiving shrub post, I described how to cook a shrub. For late summer’s softer, juicier fruits, I love the cold-process approach because it is so easy and the ingredients do all the work. But don’t be limited by season: I have found that frozen berries make excellent shrubs with this same technique.

Blackberry shrub

2 c. washed blackberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. champagne vinegar

Combine the blackberries and sugar in a covered jar or bowl and refrigerate for a day or two, until the berries break down and a syrup forms. Fine strain the berry solids out, then add vinegar to the syrup, bottle and refrigerate. For best taste, wait another day or two for the flavors to meld and then enjoy!

I use the recipe above as my template for most shrubs: 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar and 1 cup vinegar (usually white wine, champagne or apple cider vinegars). Then I experiment with flavors, using my shrubs as substitutes for citrus juice and muddled fruit in cocktails.

Sometimes an existing cocktail recipe provides the perfect foundation for a shrub tweak. Such was the case with the Bufala Negra, which calls for balsamic vinegar. I can’t compare it to the original recipe, but my version makes a flavorful and refreshing drink to enjoy all year round.  

Bufala Negra Shrubbed

1½ oz bourbon
4 fresh basil leaves (+1 for optional garnish)
3/4 oz shrub
2 oz ginger beer (I used Fentimans)
Brown sugar (optional)

Muddle the shrub and basil. Add bourbon and ice and shake hard. Strain over fresh ice cubes into a glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with basil leaf. Note: Since shrub sweetness can vary by fruit and time of season, you can add a teaspoon or more of brown sugar when muddling the basil if you like.

Combined, blackberries, bourbon and basil are a tongue twister — and a tongue tingler. Enjoy!

  

Cheers, ICE

*Bufala Negra is from Imbibe Magazine online

 

Going…going…tarra-GONE!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

 Just when I thought I had a handle on all the essential cocktail herbs to grow, I discovered a new one – tarragon.

I have eaten plenty of dishes with tarragon, but still had no sense of its individual flavor. While browsing through our farmer’s market, picking up plump cherries and vibrant sunflowers, I noticed a bunch of tarragon and remembered that it is supposed to pair well with strawberries, also in my bag. Time for cocktail making!

This photo is not digitally enhanced: this drink was red, red, red!

To muddle or infuse? Not knowing how long my tarragon bunch would last, I opted to infuse a syrup (recipe below) and save the muddling for my incredibly delicious, juicy strawberries. My new Gun Club gin from local Sun Liquor rounded out the flavors for this blissful cocktail inspiration:

Strawberry-Tarragon Summer Bliss 

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz tarragon syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
3 juicy strawberries
Splash of club soda
Sprig of tarragon to garnish (optional)

Muddle the strawberries in a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice and syrup. Add gin and ice and shake well to chill. Double strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with sprig.  Note: my strawberries were quite naturally sweet and flavorful, but you may need to add another strawberry or an extra bit of plain simple syrup if yours are not.

Tarragon Syrup

1/4 c. chopped tarragon leaves
1 c. sugar
1 c. water

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add tarragon and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cool and strain leaves before bottling.

The tarragon, I discovered, has a soft anise/licorice flavor. It does indeed pair well with strawberries and gives a bump of subtle flavor at the end of a sip. Tarragon surprisingly doesn’t appear in many cocktails. It’s time to change that, at least in my glass.

Cheers, ICE

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