Posts Tagged ‘pitcher_drinks’

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.

 

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.