Friday, February 15, 2019

Recipe Round-Up: Hot Cocktails

There's honestly nothing better than being curled up inside with a mug of something hot and boozy while the snow falls. It's been a bit of a weird winter - in Boston our January temperatures ranged from sub-zero to 60 degrees - but that fact still stands. If you're looking for something to drink during the next cold spell, here are ten hot cocktail recipes to warm you up!

Hot Toddy

1. Hot Toddy. A simple mix of spirit, lemon, sweetener, and hot water, the Hot Toddy is a versatile template. My traditional recipe uses bourbon and honey.

Irish Coffee

2. Irish Coffee. There's a reason this is a classic. I use Dead Rabbit's recipe: 1.5 oz. Irish Whiskey, 1/2 oz. Demerara syrup, and 4 oz. coffee topped with lightly whipped heavy cream.

Hot Buttered Rum

3. Hot Buttered Rum. I made this for the first time this winter, and it is fantastic. I thought adding butter to a drink seemed a bit weird, but trust me: butter makes everything better.

Mulled Wine

4. Mulled Wine. I used to not be a fan of Mulled Wine, and now I can't get enough of it around the holidays. It's so easy to make, especially in a batch for company, and it warms you up to your core.

Icky Poo Tonic

5. Icky-Poo Tonic. This is a recipe I got from Joy the Baker that my husband and I have come to rely on when we get colds. A mixture of orange juice, bourbon, honey, and hot water, it soothes your throat and your aches and just makes you feel better. The name is ridiculous, but it stuck.

Warm Spiced Vanilla

6. Warm Spiced Vanilla. By now you've probably noticed that I don't really own a wide variety of glassware for hot cocktails. ;-) This delicious mixture of bourbon, Bailey's, milk, and lots of other good stuff is a long-time favorite for cold weather.

Verte Chaud

7. Vert Chaud. If you're looking for something a bit more unique, mix some hot chocolate with Green Chartreuse, top it with a bit of whipped cream, and enjoy. My favorite part is lighting the Chartreuse on fire in the mug to warm it up.

Mexican Hot Chocolate with Mezcal Whipped Cream

8. Mexican Hot Chocolate with Mezcal Whipped Cream. This one is probably my favorite recipe on this list. It's ridiculously decadent and delicious. Ancho Reyes gives rich hot chocolate some spice, and whipping Mezcal into the cream adds a dreamy bit of smoke to the mix.

Montenegro Toddy

9. Montenegro Toddy. I mentioned how versatile a Hot Toddy recipe can be - here's the perfect example. Amaro Montenegro is a great addition for some complexity and bitterness. Try it with your favorite amaro.

Ursa Major Cocktail

10. Ursa Major. This hot tea cocktail is made with honey-bourbon liqueur that is sooo good in a hot drink. You can substitute bourbon and honey if you don't have it. Some Allspice Dram adds a perfect seasonal touch.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Widow's Touch

Widow's Touch cocktail

A few weeks ago, I featured a classic cocktail called the Widow's Kiss made with apple brandy, Benedictine, and Yellow Chartreuse. It's a good drink, but not really something I'd like to make again and again. A lot of older cocktails just aren't quite balanced for modern tastes, and even with PDT's adjusted recipe, the Widow's Kiss tastes like something from another time. To me that's part of the appeal.

Widow's Touch cocktail

The Widow's Touch, however, is another matter. I love this drink. It's an updated version of the classic that swaps out the Yellow Chartreuse for St. Germain, and the switch makes all the difference. In Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh calls the Widow's Kiss "a cocktail of fall turning towards winter." In that case, the Widow's Touch is a cocktail of fall meeting spring. It's bright, sweet, and floral with flavors of apple and pear.

Widow's Touch cocktail

History: The Widow's Touch sprang from Boston's fantastic bar scene. It was created by John Gertsen when he was at No. 9 Park. He went on to open Drink, one of Boston's best-known cocktail bars.

Widow's Touch

1 1/4 oz. Laird's Applejack or Apple Brandy
3/4 oz. St. Germain
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a coupe glass.

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Bottle Swap: Swedish Punsch

Swedish Punsch

It's time for part two of my latest Bottle Swap with Mr. Muddle! Last month we traded half a bottle of St. George Spiced Pear liqueur and it's become one of my favorite ingredients since then. Today we have a bottle I've been curious about for a long time: Swedish Punsch.

Punch was a big thing back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Individual cocktails were not the norm - if you wanted to go drinking with your friends, you'd get a big bowl of punch to share. This was usually made with rum or arrack and flavored with sugar, fruit juice, and spices. Swedish Punsch was a particular recipe that originated in - you guessed it - Sweden, when the Swedish East India Company began importing arrack from Southeast Asia in 1733. It was often served hot, which is a bit unique for a punch (but understandable given the climate in Sweden).

Swedish Punsch

Punch was popular enough across Europe that many distilleries began bottling pre-mixed punches. Swedish Punsch was no exception, and the first bottled Swedish Punsch was created in the 1840's. It was popular enough that bottles of it ended up in the US and England, where enterprising bartenders began using it in cocktails. Prohibition and World War II limited its availability and, like many unique spirits from this time, it all but disappeared on the international stage. With the revived interest in classic cocktails, Kronan began bottling and exporting Swedish Punsch in 2012.

So what's in a bottle of Swedish Punsch? It's a blend of both arrack (a Southeast Asian spirit made from red rice and/or sugarcane) and Caribbean rum, along with citrus, spices, and sugar. It's essentially a bottled cocktail that you can enjoy on the rocks as-is. The label boasts "notes of rich toffee, smoke, molasses, and leather." These flavors are definitely all there, but I'd say the smoke and leather take a backseat to the bright toffee sweetness, spice, and classic "funk" you'd expect from a Jamaican rum.

Swedish Punsch

Alcohol Content: 26%
Price: $30
Popular Cocktails: Doctor Cocktail, Havana, Waldorf

Swedish Punsch

After reading about Swedish Punsch I was intrigued by the Doctor Cocktail, one of the simplest and best-known Swedish Punsch drinks. It's essentially a Daiquiri that uses Swedish Punsch instead of a sweetener. I also enjoyed reading Fred Yarm's writeup on Cocktail Virgin Slut, which includes some advice on what other flavors work well with Swedish Punsch. I decided to mash-up the Doctor Cocktail with a well-known Tiki drink, the Jungle Bird, to make a Doctor Bird. This is the local name of the national bird of Jamaica, a beautiful hummingbird with an incredibly long tail (and the subject of my undergraduate thesis research). I love the way this drink came out. It's bright and tropical with a hint of bitterness. It's also a lovely shade of orange!

Don't forget to head over to Mr. Muddle's blog and check out his Swedish Punsch drink, the Field Promotion!

Swedish Punsch

Doctor Bird

1 1/2 oz. Plantation Pineapple Rum
1 oz. Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. Demerara syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Historical information came from Cocktail Virgin Slut and Punch.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sparkling Cosmo

Sparkling Cosmo

The Cosmopolitan has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the last few years. And I guess at first blush, it might seem deserved. It's made with vodka, arguably the craft cocktail world's least-favorite spirit. It's bright pink. It was a fixture on Sex and the City. Interestingly, I think that last one was responsible for both the Cosmo's rapid rise and its decline. It became a little too popular to be cool anymore. Plus, around the same time avid HBO viewers were ordering Cosmos, the craft cocktail renaissance was really picking up. It's even easier to turn your nose up at a pink vodka cocktail when you're holding a barrel-aged Negroni served over a perfectly clear hand-carved ice sphere.

But I'd like to argue that the Cosmo deserves a second look. Made correctly, it's a well-balanced, tasty, surprisingly boozy drink. And yes, it's pink. It's fun. It doesn't take itself too seriously. But these are things I value in a cocktail. In fact, if we're already going to be making Cosmos, I say ramp it up. Let's add some champagne!

Sparkling Cosmo

I was originally only going to post this cocktail to Instagram, but when I realized how ridiculously delicious it was, I knew I needed to write an impromptu blog post as well. The flavors in a Cosmopolitan go great with sparkling wine. I went with a rosé to preserve the pink color and keep it from getting too sweet. It is such a fun, tasty cocktail! I can't imagine anything more perfect for a girl's night (Galentine's Day, anyone?) but it's also perfect for, I don't know... a Tuesday?

I made this drink in collaboration with Snow Leopard Vodka, a brand that gives 15% of its profits to the Snow Leopard Trust to support conservation of these incredible animals. And in the month of January, they are doubling that amount! So if you're going to be making Cosmos, this is the bottle you want to pick up. If you don't need any vodka right now (can't really imagine that, but ok), they are also doubling all donations made via Facebook. Consider giving to help save the snow leopard!

Sparkling Cosmo

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. triple sec
1 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
Sparkling rosé, to top (~4 oz)

Combine vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute and top with sparkling rosé. Garnish with a slice of blood orange or lime.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Widow's Kiss

Widow's Kiss

It's been much too long since I featured a classic recipe - maybe not since the Clover Club back in September. Drinks that stand the test of time are always worth exploring. They provide such a unique connection to history. And if that's what you're looking for, the Widow's Kiss has it in spades. This recipe dates all the way back to 1895. We've been drinking this cocktail for 124 years!

To aptly describe the Widow's Kiss, I must quote Ted Haigh. In his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, he writes:

As the scene opens, you are up in your grandmother's attic opening the dusty steamer trunk she brought from Europe in 1914. You reverently turn back layer upon layer of old lace and brocade, unveiling a packet of old love letters tied in silk ribbon. Ancient dried rose petals flutter down from between the envelope. 

That is what the Widow's Kiss is like.

I'm not sure I've ever read a more poetic and evocative description of a cocktail. I'd like to see a bar menu where all the drinks are described this way. After all, drinking cocktails is so often about the entire experience rather than just the flavor.

Widow's Kiss

In case grandma's attic isn't specific enough for you: the Widow's Kiss is a strong, herbaceous apple brandy drink made with Yellow Chartreuse and Benedictine. It's a spirit-forward sipper for sure, all apples, herbs, and sweetness. It's almost a touch savory as well. Definitely an interesting and complex drink, and one of the more famous Yellow Chartreuse cocktails.

History: The first mention of the Widow's Kiss is in the 1895 book Modern American Drinks by George Kappeler. Kappeler was the head bartender at Holland House, a fancy New York hotel on the corner of 5th Avenue and 30th Street. It's assumed that he created the recipe.

Haigh's recipe matches Kappeler's (1.5 oz apple brandy and 3/4 oz. each of the Benedictine and Chartreuse), but despite my devotion to cocktail history I decided to use the specs from The PDT Cocktail Book insteadI've come to trust PDT on the classics and thought that their version with less Benedictine and Chartreuse would be more to my taste.

Widow's Kiss

Widow's Kiss

2 oz. apple brandy or Calvados
1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz. Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish.

Recipe and history from The PDT Cocktail Book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ursa Major with Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon

Ursa Major with Barenjager Honey and Bourbon

Winter seems to have finally caught up with us here in Boston, and it's time to break out the hot toddies. The only thing cozier than a steaming mug of tea is a steaming mug of tea and whiskey. Or whatever your spirit of choice might be. If you're on the fence, I've got the perfect suggestion: Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon.

Bärenjäger (which translates to "bear hunter") has been making a delicious Honey Liqueur for over a hundred years. It was supposedly formulated by bear hunters to lure bears out of their dens, and is sometimes called Bärenfang ("bear trap").

Barenjager Honey and Bourbon

Recently, Bärenjäger got the genius idea to mix their honey liqueur with bourbon, and Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon was born. One taste of this stuff and you won't want to pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels ever again. The flavor in Bärenjäger is pure, natural honey. It's definitely on the sweet side, but if that's your thing you're going to love sipping on it. Otherwise it's a fantastic addition to cocktails.

Ursa Major with Barenjager Honey and Bourbon

The honey flavor and the cold weather got me thinking of how I would drink black tea with honey when I was sick as a kid. Honey and tea are a natural match, so a hot toddy seemed like the perfect drink for Bärenjäger. With a little Allspice Dram, lemon, and cinnamon syrup, you're going to want to curl up with one of these all winter long. And I'm thinking an iced version is going to have to happen this summer. Maybe with some ginger liqueur instead of the Allspice Dram? The possibilities are endless.

Ursa Major with Barenjager Honey and Bourbon

Ursa Major

1 1/2 oz. Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon
1/2 oz. Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. cinnamon syrup*
1 oz. hot water
3 oz. brewed hot black tea

Combine all ingredients in a mug and stir gently. Garnish with star anise.

*For cinnamon syrup, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces, and let simmer for a minute or so. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least four hours and up to 12 hours. Fine-strain before using.

This post was sponsored by Bärenjäger. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Chartreuse Swizzle

Chartreuse Swizzle

It's January, and you know what that means - it's time to Tiki the Snow Away! This midwinter celebration of all things Tiki was started by Dani DeLuca and Nic Titze. Living in Boston, it's usually a welcome escape from the cold and snow for me. This year is a bit odd - no snow to Tiki away and temperatures in the 40's. It's practically tropical.

If you missed my overview of the Tiki movement and its history last year, check it out. Tiki is all about kitsch and fun and crazy garnishes. It doesn't take itself too seriously. But you'd never be able to tell that given the cocktail recipes it has produced - elaborate, delicious constructions of juices and rums and spices. If you're interested in getting started making your own Tiki cocktails at home, definitely check out Martin Cate's book Smuggler's Cove.

Chartreuse Swizzle

Smuggler's Cove was where I found this recipe for the Chartreuse Swizzle, and I'm so glad I did. With no rum in sight, it's not a traditional Tiki cocktail, but it is a take on a very Tiki sort of drink, the swizzle. Swizzles are built in their tall glasses with crushed ice and traditionally mixed using a swizzle stick - not a little plastic thing like the one in these photos, but an actual branch from the aptly-named Swizzlestick Tree. The stick is rubbed between your palms, kind of like you're a Boy Scout trying to start a fire. The prongs at the bottom spin and mix the drink to frosty perfection. If you don't have a real swizzle stick (I don't), then a barspoon will do.

Chartreuse Swizzle

The Chartreuse Swizzle showcases everyone's favorite liqueur, Green Chartreuse. Mixed with lime, pineapple, and some Velvet Falernum, it's a bright and herbaceous, a perfect canvas for this unique spirit and a real standout among Tiki cocktails.

History: The Chartreuse Swizzle was created by Marcovaldo Dionysos of Smuggler's Cove itself in the early 2000's. It has since become one of the "new classics" of the cocktail world.

Chartreuse Swizzle

Chartreuse Swizzle

1.5 oz. Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
1 oz. pineapple juice
3/4 lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass and fill it with crushed ice until it is about 3/4 full. Insert a barspoon or swizzle stick and swizzle until the drink is chilled and the glass is frosty. Top with additional crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and grated nutmeg.

Recipe from Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki.