Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Friday Fête: Three Drinks

August 29, 2008

I feel bad I haven’t put any of my own drink-making fun up this week (cause I’m lame, or busy, or tipsy, or all three), but still wanted to point you to three mighty mixes from the blogosphere, to make sure you spend the weekend in high spirits.

 

  • Anticipation: Paul at the Cocktail Chronicles is always good for teaching not only about a drink, but about the history behind it, with fun bounding around everything. Here, he details a drink found in William Schmidt’s The Flowing Bowl, from 1891, that still tastes swell.
  • Natural Harmonic: Take a trip to the Spirit World and discover this  intriguing combination that uses a syrup made from I.P.A. (that’s beer, folks) to balance out Damrak gin. Old pals lemon juice and Marashino round out the orchestra in a manner sure to transport you. Consuming it while playing a hydrocrystalophone is suggested.
  • Tropical Rum Infusion: The knockout photos at Rejiggered of this fruity mixer made me unabashedly start salivating. Wow. Every time I look at them I realize that yes, even though silly Seattle is a bit cloudy it’s still summer most spots, and a pitcher full of booze and fruit is something summer wears as comfortably as Natalie Portman wears skinny pants.

What I’m Drinking Right Now: Margarita’s From the Trolley

August 21, 2008

The missus had her Discovery Park (for those not in Seattle, Discovery Park’s the biggest park here, and she directs the summer camp, the nature preschool, and about everything else out there) staff of rowdies over for eats and drinks, and I decided to roll out the outdoor drink trolley so I could keep up with their massive intake requests. As the line-up included rogue actresses Megan and Melissa (from the Paradise Cocktail video), I knew I’d need to keep things flowing. The cart, as the picture displays, has three bottle holders, (though the bottles are out on top in the picture, you get the idea), which led me to honing in on the classic, straight up, Margarita for the drink of choice (it’s also good in the August sunshine). It boasted simply tequila, GranGala (a lovely orange liqueur from Italy–if you aren’t already acquainted with it, it’s brandy-based, has rich orange flavor with a punch, and matches up with tequila in Margs like sleeping in matches with Saturdays: perfectly), and fresh lime juice. Shaken, strained, and accented with a lime slice in 3, 2, 1 fashion, here it is in recipe breakdown format:

 

Ice cubes

3 ounces Cazadores Blanco Tequila

2 ounces GranGala

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Lime slice, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the tequila, GranGala, and lime juice. Shake well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass or other glass that fits your mood, occasion, and dancing style. Garnish with the lime slice and a smile.

 

Cocktail Video: The Paradise Cocktail

August 13, 2008

A nice drink, a little silliness, and some gin, orange juice, and apricot brandy equal a whole truckload of summertime fun.

 

A Recipe for What I’m Drinking: The Crimson Slippers

August 12, 2008

When clearing out space in the homemade liqueurs cabinet (for the new bottles from the below post), I realized that I had a few ounces left of some homemade triple sec that I’d constructed during my first liqueur-making frenzy. Not sure why I didn’t completely guzzle it up, cause it ruled/rules–not too sugary and just orange-y enough. Anyway, I wanted to utilize the last drops in making up a new drink (to give that triple sec the honor it deserved), and the Crimson Slippers was the end result. An awfully pretty result, as you can see.

 

Since I had the Campari bottle at the front of the shelves (from the Negroni-making), I thought I’d play around with it in the drink, even knowing that it can be a dangerous addition to the party because of the bitter undertones. But hey, I love bitter. So much that I ended up adding a dash of some homemade bitters in there as well (I’d made them for a bitters party thrown by no other than bartender Andrew Bohrer, from Cask Strength). These homemade bitters were based on an old “stomach” bitters called Hostetter’s, and take the bitters scale to another level. If I play around with the drink a little further in the future, I might try in other bitters–I think Peychaud’s would work well (and look well, too). Wait, I’m skipping the base liquor. I decided to go with rum, since it’s summertime. Well, and I thought it would be a nice touch, especially the dark variety, which has enough personality to hold its own, and thought it would be enjoyable to work to balance it with the other players.

The Campari uses a disguise to try and sneak into the scene

The Campari uses a disguise to try and sneak away from the scene.

The end result is a touch bitter, but bounces around well due to that touch of triple sec (the homemade kind has such a bright orange-ness that it doesn’t get overwhelmed). The color, with that red glow, seemes like it would fit in at a crime scene, too. Maybe not one of the modern, forensic-equipment-and-fluorescent-y-mood-lit heavy scenes, but an Agatha Christie attic scene, with lots of thinking and sipping and a rocking chair. Here’s the final recipe.

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces dark rum

1 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce homemade triple sec

1 dash bitters

Lime slice, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the rum, Campari, triple sec, and bitters. Shake well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze the lime slice over the glass and drop it in.

Drinking Homemade Liqueurs: Limoncello, Millifiori, Fentastic

August 10, 2008

I spent a few hours straining and straining liqueurs yesterday (in anticipation of the liqueurs book release–hey, there’s my first book plug. I’m shameless), which is always a good time. Especially because tasting them is an important part of the process. The ones I worked on started with limoncello, the sun king of liqueurs, and a favorite, and really the main impetus behind my whole crazy homemade liqueur obsession. It began when my wife Natalie and I went to Italy for the first time and had a lot of limoncello, both house-made and store bought, and fell in love with its strong-but-pleasant lemon-ness. Then, on returning home, we found that the available limoncellos here didn’t have the same backbone, and tended to be overly sweet. So, we thought, why not make our own? It’s devilishly simple, and allows a lot more control. We loved constructing it (and sipping it, ice cold, and pouring it into drinks) so much that we ended up throwing together a gigantic batch before our wedding, so we could give little bottles to everyone in attendance and spread the love around. You can see the lemons close up in the below photo–don’t they look a little tipsy?

 

 

Hanging out in grain alcohol (which is a must to reach that desired strength) for a month tends to induce tipsiness even among lemonkind, I suppose. The limoncello goes well solo, when ice cold, but is dreamy as well with club soda, and, in certain situations, when combined with other ingredients.

 

Millifiori (or, a million flowers) is another Italian-inspired liqueur, one that’s very herbally and spicy. In the close-up shot here, it may look like it contains worms, but have no fear worm champions–no worms were used in the making of this liqueur–it does have a little lemon zest in it, cozying up with a host of other items (including coriander, mint, cardamom, cloves, mace, marjoram, thyme), with an end result that’s very layered, and which has a number of flavorful notes coming through during a single sip.

 

 

It’s one to use carefully if experimenting with it cocktails and other drinks (I’m experimenting now, and hope to have a good recipe using it later in the blog).

 

Oh, the final liqueur I was working on today is fennel-based, and a completely new recipe for me (nice and simple, solely fennel, the liquor, and simple syrup). From my first tastings, it seems to have a good balance of sweet and fennel (let’s hope I didn’t go overboard on the sweet. It’s a dangerous road). We’ll see how it plays out.

 

Here’s the recipe for the limoncello, nice and delicious.

 

1 liter grain alcohol

14 lemons

3 cups simple syrup

 

1. Peel the lemons, working to leave the white pith with the lemon, and not taking it with the peels. Add the peels to a large, glass, container that is at least 2 liters in size and that has a good lid.

 

2. Add the grain alcohol to the glass container and then secure the lid. Place it on a cool and dry and secure shelf, away from the sun. Let it sit for two weeks.

 

3. Once the two weeks have passed, add the 3 cups simple syrup. Stir, lid, and let sit two more weeks.

 

4. After the waiting is over, strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container.

 

5. Then, using new sheets of cheesecloth, strain the limoncello into bottles or jars.

 

Millifiori, Limoncello, Fentastic

Millifiori, Limoncello, Fentastic

A Recipe for What I’m Drinking: The Negroni

August 6, 2008

I love the Negroni. It’s such an accurate mingling of flavors, a demonstration of how, with a little attention to balance, the world (or at least the drinking world) can come into alignment in a manner that has to make the universe applaud. Sure,  I’m going overboard a bit with my fluffy language, but that’s what a really good drink drives us to, flights of poetic fancy usually reserved for singing the praises of nymphs–or at least of the hottie at the other end of the bar.

 

I love the Negroni so much that I made wife Natalie and pals Jeremy and Meg track down Café Giacosa in Florence, when we were visiting Italy, which is where the Negroni was thought to have been invented by a Florentine count, Camillo Negroni, and bartender Fosco Scarselli, who was bartending at the Bar Casoni, which became Café Giacosa (that sentence is much more confusing than the drink itself). The count wanted more kick in his Americano (which is Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda, and which, if you haven’t had one, is tasty in its own right when the sun’s heat is descending on your head like warm cotton) one day  after a long night of dancing the Volta, and the Negroni was born. At least that’s the story. The Café Giacosa is now owned by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, and packed with animal print stools and I suppose oodles of style (I think we weren’t up to the normal clientele, as we were a bit sweaty and rocking shorts and t-shirts), as well as super friendly bartenders–super friendly and super attractive bartenders. My guess is that they’re models between gigs, or wannabe models, or just modelesque drink slingers. They made dandy Negronis though, which, in the end, matters more than the history, even. Drinking them there, surrounded by the faux leopard prints, in the one of the world’s finest cities, was a perfect way to while away the afternoon.

 

 

The Negroni I’m having now is being consumed at night (though who knows when I’ll actually get this post posted), and in “up” format. Sometimes I enjoy my Negronis over the rocks (when it’s a little sweaty out and I want to have some ice for accompaniment; then it’s “Negroni on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise” as the song says), but the moon is out, and I’m wearing a tux and feeling classy, and having it up seemed the right way to accent the evening. I don’t always feel that a drink should be changeable like that (and I’m sure some will turn up their noses at my even suggesting it, and that’s okay, too, cause everyone has to make those choices. And, while we’re admitting things, I’m not really wearing a tux). But, somehow, the Negroni works both ways for me.

 

Much in the same way as both Diana Prince and Wonder Woman work for me–one is more outwardly heroic, but the secret identity is also important, and also a key role. See, I tend to think (as I’ve mentioned before somewhere) of the Negroni as the Wonder Woman of drinks (this taking drinks into the DC universe, and showing my boundless love for the Negroni in geek form), after the Martini’s Superman and the Manhattan’s Batman. This may be giving it outlandish props (again, disagree if you want–do it in the comments though, and let me know who you’d sub in instead). The Wonder Woman TV show theme song does have the line “dressed in satin tights, fighting for your rights,” and I see the Campari as the satin tights in this situation, which I guess makes the gin the rest of the costume, and that sweet vermouth the magic lasso and the bullet-deflecting bracelets (as without it, the drink would be too metallic? Seems to make sense). And, the Negroni has an even-keeled nature (like Wonder Woman), but is still somewhat a drink of the people (attached to the world, and not belong to the universe). But I’m going far afield. Make yourself one tonight, and you’ll soon have your own theories. Here’s the recipe I used:

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces gin

1-1/2 ounces Campari

1-1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

 

A Variation: I heard about this from Pierre, a Florence bartender (who I met at the Hotel Casci). If you make a Negroni with Champagne or sparkling wine (you’d have to put it in after shaking and straining the Campari and vermouth, then top with the bubbly), it’s called a “Spagliato.” Which means “wrong.”