Quantcast
Garnish

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bottle Buy: Amaro Nonino

Amaro Nonino

A few months ago, I wrote about an amazing meal I had with some friends at Gramercy Tavern in New York. After dessert, our waitress recommended a couple of amari for us to taste. She brought out Amaro Averna and Amaro Nonino. Everyone else at the table seemed to prefer the Averna, but I liked the Nonino better. When I saw the price difference between them, however ($30 vs. $50), I made the Averna my first amaro purchase. But I suppose I was just delaying the inevitable - I finally bought a bottle of Nonino, and I think it was well worth the money. Its flavor is just beautiful. It's light and sweet and nutty, with flavors of vanilla, caramel, spices, and a bit of anise. I already snuck it into one cocktail, the European Vagrant, and I've got many more to come.

Amaro Nonino (officially Amaro Nonino Quintessentia) is made in Friuli in northeastern Italy. The Nonino distillery was founded there in 1897 by Orazio Nonino, who produced grappa, an Italian grape liqueur. Though the family has continued to produce grappa ever since, I was surprised to find out that Nonino is a fairly new product, born in 1992. It is made from an aged grape distillate infused with a number of herbs and spices including gentian root, saffron, bitter orange, licorice, rhubarb, tamarind, sweet orange, and carmelized sugar. It's traditionally served at room temperature after a meal as a digestif, but it can also make a nice aperitif when served on the rocks or in a cocktail. It's easily one of my favorite bottles in my bar.

Amaro Nonino

Amaro Nonino

Price: $50
Alcohol Content: 35%
Popular Cocktails: Paper Plane, served up as a digestif

The Paper Plane is one of the better-known drinks that contains Amaro Nonino. Like the Last Word, it's an equal-parts cocktail with four ingredients: bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice. It's sour and tart, with a subtly bitter aftertaste. Nuttiness from the Nonino, bright citrus from the Aperol, and rich bourbon tie it all together. It's lighter and more refreshing than you would expect from its ingredients.

If you don't have Amaro Nonino and aren't ready to take the plunge (do it!), you could definitely try this recipe with other amari and see how it turns out. I've also seen a version that uses Campari instead of Aperol. There's definitely room to play around, but it's hard to beat the original.

Paper Plane

History: The Paper Plane was created by Sam Ross at Little Branch in New York City. A former bartender at the famous Milk & Honey, Ross opened Attaboy with Michael McIlroy in the bar’s old space. He also invented the well-known Penicillin cocktail, so he’s kind of a big deal.

As I mentioned last week, I got to spend the weekend before Thanksgiving in New York City, crossing some amazing cocktail bars off my bucket list. One of these – my favorite, in fact – was Attaboy. I vaguely knew that Sam Ross owned the bar, but it didn’t occur to me to find out what he looked like or anything; for some reason I assumed that the big-name guys who own these bars never actually step behind them anymore. So when our bearded Australian bartender introduced himself as “Sam,” I just smiled and nodded and complimented the drinks. It was literally 48 hours later that the wayward neurons in my brain (no doubt a bit fried by the weekend of barhopping) made the connection, and I facepalmed pretty hard. No wonder the drinks were so perfect. Sam, on the off-chance you read this, thanks for a lovely time.

As for the Paper Plane, Ross named it after M.I.A.'s song Paper Planes, which he was listening to while he worked on the recipe.

Paper Plane

1 oz. bourbon
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Amaro Nonino
1 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. No garnish. Or get cute and fold a teeny tiny paper plane to hang on the glass.

Recipe adapted from Liquor.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Autumn Cocktail #2

Autumn Cocktail #2

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We're having one of the quietest ones we've had in a while. GarnishGuy is working a half day and we don't even have dinner plans yet. I've got a lot of work to do myself, so it doesn't really feel like much of a holiday. But I don't mind. We had our share of fun last weekend, when we went to New York with my sister and her husband. My travel companions let me drag them on a frantic quest to visit as many iconic cocktail bars as possible in three evenings. And we did a pretty decent job: Amor y Amargo, Death & Co., Dead Rabbit, Mother of Pearl, Mayahuel, Attaboy, PDT, and Dear Irving. Kind of a dream come true.

I think Attaboy was the highlight of the trip. From the hidden entrance and the atmosphere to the impeccable cocktails, it was just perfect. The drinks were even more impressive given that there wasn't a menu. I've had mixed success with that format at places like Drink in Boston, but our bartender at Attaboy was an utter genius; in the words of my sister, "He saw into my soul." For my first drink, I requested something bourbon-based with amaro, and he made me a drink called a Paycut with Fernet-Vallet, a Mexican(!) amaro I've never heard of. Every sip was heaven. I've got to figure out the recipe.

Autumn Cocktail #2

After drinks like that, my own offering for a fall cocktail feels a bit inadequate, but it's nice to have something to aspire to. Last year around this time I made my Autumn Cocktail #1, a fall-appropriate mixture of bourbon, apple cider, maple syrup, lemon, and cinnamon. For #2 this year, I kept the maple syrup and cinnamon and went with Laird's Applejack to bring in some apple flavor. The maple syrup makes this drink particularly special, because it's not just any maple syrup - it's Noble Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.

Noble Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Guys. This maple syrup. Oh my gosh. If you'd told me prior to tasting it that I'd be recommending a $27 bottle of maple syrup, I'd have said you were completely nuts. But this stuff is spectacular. Other maple syrup pales in comparison to its rich, deep flavor. It's incredible in cocktails, and as a big fan of all carby breakfasts I'd really like to try it on some pancakes. If you want to snag your own bottle, you can get it at Muddle & Stir. If you're in Boston, I also recently saw it at Boston General Store in Coolidge Corner.

After the Applejack, syrup, and cinnamon, I tried a few different ingredients in this drink, and I did not expect Cynar to be the one that worked. As I mentioned in my post on amari, this is a bitter, artichoke-flavored liqueur that's somewhat like a more vegetal Campari. It's surprisingly versatile, and I love the way it works with the other flavors, adding a wonderful bitterness and depth to the cocktail. It's a fragrant glass of apple, cinnamon, and spice - perfect for fall!


Autumn Cocktail #2

Autumn Cocktail #2

1 1/2 oz. Laird's Applejack or Apple Brandy
1/2 oz. Cynar
1/4 oz. maple syrup (preferably Noble Bourbon Barrel Aged)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients, including the cinnamon stick, in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with an apple slice and a fresh cinnamon stick.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mixology Monday: Bombay Sour

Bombay Sour

Mixology MondayThis month's theme for Mixology Monday is quite close to my heart: brunch cocktails!! Gary at Doc Elliot's Mixology has chosen the theme "Bacon, Eggs, and Booze" this month, and I couldn't be more on board. I love brunch. It's easily my favorite meal. And as Gary reminds us, "A brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast." We all enjoy our Mimosas and Bloody Marys at brunch time, but there's a lot more to brunch cocktails than that, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone whips up for some late-morning imbibing.

Bombay Sour

The timing of this challenge was quite fortuitous, because I already had a couple of cocktail recipes I was playing with that would be very brunch-appropriate. One involves some coffee-infused rye, which I managed to over-infuse into the realm of unpalatable bitterness, so that one is still in the pipeline. But this one is utter perfection, and I'm pretty excited to share it. It works for brunch because it basically contains a healthy breakfast: yogurt, mangos, and honey.

Black Cloud Saffron Mango Bitters

The inspiration for this cocktail was Black Cloud's Saffron Mango Bitters. The flavor made me think of a mango lassi, so I decided to include some yogurt in this recipe. I've been wanting to use yogurt in a cocktail for a long time, ever since this article from Liquor.com made it look so ridiculously good. And after trying it, I think it's definitely going to end up in more drinks in the future. It adds a thick, silky texture to your cocktail, along with a slight tang. It's really lovely.

Bombay Sour

Before we get to the recipe: my fellow home mixologists who are reading this might be interested in a cocktail contest that's being hosted by Durham Distillery. This North Carolina distillery produces Conniption gin and a number of liqueurs. Enter your cocktail recipe using their products or any gin or comparable liqueur to win $150 worth of prizes! It's open to everyone, not just bartenders. So get mixing!

Durham Distillery Mix Maven Contest

Bombay Sour

1 1/2 oz. aged rum
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. honey simple syrup*
1/2 tbsp. Greek yogurt
3 large pieces of mango
2 droppers Black Cloud Saffron Mango bitters

Place mango and honey simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker and muddle well until the mango has released its juice. Add rum, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, bitters, and ice. Shake well to incorporate the yogurt into the cocktail. Strain into a rocks glass and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with saffron threads.

*For honey simple syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until honey is dissolved. Let cool entirely before using.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bottle Swap: Ancho Reyes

Ancho Reyes

It's week 2 of my bottle swap with Mr. Muddle! If you missed it, check out last week's cocktails made with The King's Ginger. This week we're working with the bottle that was at the top of my wish list, Ancho Reyes. Before you read on, be sure to check out Mr. Muddle's cocktail, The Pope of Chili Town!

Ancho Reyes is a liqueur is flavored with ancho chiles, which are dried and smoked poblano peppers. A neutral sugar cane spirit is steeped with the peppers for six months, then aged. According to the makers of Ancho Reyes, it's based on a recipe from 1927. Back then, cantinas in the town of Puebla, Mexico each served their own menjurjes, spirits made with local ingredients. The Reyes family created one with the local dried poblanos that was the inspiration for Ancho Reyes. But though the recipe is old, the spirit itself is quite new; it was created in 2014.

For a great virtual tour of the distillery and the process of making Ancho Reyes from field to bottle, check out Alcademics.

Ancho Reyes

Price: $40
Alcohol Content: 40%
Popular Cocktails: Ancho Margarita, Ancho Old Fashioned... basically add it to any tequila cocktail!

I knew Ancho Reyes would be great for adding a bit of spice to cocktails, but what I didn't expect was its complexity and drinkability. When you first sip it, you get the richness and sweetness of the aging process. Then the spice of the ancho chiles hits you, lingering on your palate. As cocktail ingredients go, it's pretty killer. It's an instant, spicy facelift to anything you add it to. The first thing I made with it was a Margarita, subbing it in for triple sec, and I couldn't believe how great it was. I'm not sure I want to make them without it anymore.

Bonfire cocktail

Since the thing that surprised me about Ancho Reyes were those flavors up front, and since they seemed kind of perfect for autumn, I decided to play up the spices and sweetness. I originally wanted to make a bourbon cocktail, but I have to say, the Ancho Reyes just sings with tequila. Tequila anejo aged in bourbon barrels gave me those same smooth vanilla and caramel notes while blending perfectly with the Ancho. I added mezcal for smoke and Besamim by Sukkah Hill Spirits for some autumn spices. (I'm guessing you could sub Allspice Dram but I'm not sure - I don't have a bottle yet. Bottle swap, anyone??) Punt e Mes helped bind it all together.

I think this is a pretty great cocktail. At first you get the sweetness of the Punt e Mes, the Besamim, and flavors of cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon. It drinks like a bourbon cocktail for a split second. Then the mezcal and Ancho Reyes hit you, and you get the smoke and spice at the end of your sip. I can't imagine anything more perfect for a chilly fall day. One of these will warm you right up.

Bonfire

1 1/2 oz. tequila anejo (I used Espolon)
1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes
1/2 oz. Punt e Mes
1/4 oz. mezcal
1/4 oz. Besamim or Allspice Dram

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a burnt cinnamon stick.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Guide: Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. It's a day where we get together with family, eat a lot of great food, and think about how grateful we are for all the good things going on in our lives. Since moving away from my family in Louisiana, I've spent Thanksgiving a lot of different ways, usually with friends who are also from far away. I've yet to host my own Thanksgiving dinner, but it's definitely something I'd like to tackle. I'd probably leave the turkey to my husband, but I will definitely take charge of the drinks!

Lately I've been coming across a lot of cocktail-related products that are just perfect for Thanksgiving and autumn in general. So I thought I'd share a few current favorites that would be great additions to your Thanksgiving celebration:


1. Copper Hammered Beverage Tub. I went into Pier 1 for the first time in a while and I was impressed by all their lovely copper barware. This drink tub would be great for keeping beer or bottles of wine on ice. $70.

2. Morris Kitchen Spiced Apple Syrup. This syrup is made with apple cider and mulling spices for a perfect autumn flavor. Mix it into cocktails or use it to top ice cream. $13.25 for 8 oz.

3. Vino Marker Metallic Wine Glass Pens. If you're hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner, keeping everyone's drinks straight can be an issue. These gold and silver pens will write directly on your glassware and wash off with soapy water! $15.50 for 4 pens.

4. ParTea Orange Spice Booze Infuser. This kit will allow you to infused a 750 ml bottle of booze with a delicious orange spice flavor. I used it on a bottle of brandy and made lovely Orange Spice Sidecars. It's perfect for giving classic cocktails a twist. $15.

5. Letterpressed Thankful Coasters. These sweet coasters from Waiting on Martha have Thanksgiving decorations and spaces for your guests to write what they're thankful for. $32 for 100 coasters.

6. Bully Boy Old Fashioned. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that sells products from this Boston distillery, their bottled Old Fashioned is a perfect cocktail to serve when you don't have time to be constantly mixing drinks. It's heavy on the Angostura, making it ideal for autumn. It would also make a nice gift for your hosts if dinner isn't at your house. $35.

7. Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters. Make any cocktail taste a little bit more like pecan pie with these bitters. Perfect for bourbon cocktails. $23.50 for 4 oz.

8. Copper Stainless Steel Coupe. The original reason I went into Pier 1 was to buy one of these for my Moscow Martini. The color just seems perfect for Thanksgiving. It's a bit large for your average cocktail, but I guess that means you'll just have to drink twice as much. $15 each.

9. El Guapo Sweet Potato Spiced Syrup. I haven't tried this syrup myself, but I love El Guapo bitters and this syrup just sounds too appropriate for Thanksgiving to pass up. It's definitely the first time I've seen sweet potato in a cocktail mixer, but think Pumpkin Spice. $14.25 for 8.5 oz.

10. David Wondrich Classic Collection Punch Bowl, Georgian Punch Glasses, and Ladle. This set from Cocktail Kingdom was designed by the famous cocktail historian as a tribute to the classic 19th century punch service. It's a bit pricey, but perfect for a true cocktail lover. $130 for the bowl, ladle, and four glasses.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

It's been a weird week, hasn't it? No matter what your politics, I think we can all agree that we deserve a drink after this election. And when the rest of the world seems a little off-kilter, there's nothing better than a classic cocktail to remind you how little a lot of things have changed.

The Brooklyn is, admittedly, not one of the most widespread classics. Its close cousin the Manhattan always steals the spotlight. I'd argue that there's a reason for this; I personally prefer the Manhattan with its sweet vermouth to the lighter Brooklyn. But the Brooklyn has inspired a number of spinoff cocktails that I really enjoy, most named after Brooklyn neighborhoods: the Red Hook, Greenpoint, Slope, Prospect Park, and many others. So it seemed like high time that I made one.

One reason I've avoided the Brooklyn until now is because it technically calls for an ingredient I don't have, a bitter orange liqueur from France called Amer Picon. It was invented in 1837 by GaƩtan Picon, a distiller-turned-soldier who mixed up the quinine-laced bitters to cure the malaria he contracted while stationed in Algeria. It seemed to work, and the French army asked him to stay in Algeria and continue to produce it for the troops there. He opened multiple distilleries in the country, and when his "Amer Africain" won a major competition in London, he moved to Marseilles and began making the bitters under the name Amer Picon. They found their way into a number of turn-of-the-century cocktails, including the Brooklyn.

Unfortunately, the Picon company was sold around the 1970's, and the recipe for Amer Picon was changed and diluted (so much for nothing really changing). Besides a few precious bottles hoarded away by collectors, it's now impossible to taste the original formula. Even the altered version is not available for purchase in the United States. So you can't really make a "real" Brooklyn anymore. You can get around this problem by making your own Amer Picon substitute or just subbing in Angostura and orange bitters. I did the latter, including two dashes of each.

The Brooklyn is surprisingly light in flavor due to the dry vermouth. With the ingredients I used, it has almost a nutty flavor, with strong hints of cherry and vanilla. There was a lot of spice on the finish. It's a pleasant cocktail, but all in all it's not my favorite of the Manhattan family. I feel like it's crying out for sweet vermouth. But I'm still quite happy that I finally tried it. I'd like to replace the Amer Picon with some different amari and see how that improves things.

History: As I mentioned in my post on the Greenpoint, there are five cocktails that were created in the early twentieth century that were named after New York City's five boroughs: the Manhattan (rye, sweet vermouth, bitters), the Bronx (rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, orange juice), the Brooklyn (rye, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Amer Picon), the Queens (gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, pineapple juice) and the Staten Island Ferry (rum, pineapple juice). It seems that the Manhattan came first and sparked a trend. Not to be left behind, Brooklyn bartenders began serving up a number of different cocktails named after their neighborhood.

The Brooklyn we know and love today was one of the earliest of these to appear on the scene. It popped up in J.A. Grohusko's Jack's Manual in 1908. It didn't really catch on at first (one could argue that it never really caught on, not the way the Manhattan or even the Bronx did), but it was included in Jacques Straub's 1913 Manual of Mixed Drinks and the famous Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. Still, bartenders continued to invent their own Brooklyns, either ignorant of this one's existence or unsatisfied with it. Though the recipe flew under the radar until very recently, it did survive, and now it has a number of descendants created during the recent craft cocktail renaissance.

For much more on the Brooklyn's history, check out this article from Edible Brooklyn.

Brooklyn

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz. Amer Picon or a few dashes Angostura or orange bitters (I used two dashes of each)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a brandied cherry.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats. The history of Amer Picon came from Punch.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bottle Swap: The King's Ginger

Moscow Martini

This post is going to be a little different from my usual Bottle Buys, because this time it's a bottle swap! Fellow Boston cocktail blogger Mr. Muddle and I, lamenting the fact that we can't buy every single cocktail ingredient out there without bankrupting ourselves, decided to do a bottle swap where we each bought a new spirit and shared half of the bottle. Today and next Thursday, we're both using our new ingredients in original cocktails. Be sure to check out Mr. Muddle's blog today for the Thoroughly Polite Dustup, his take on The King's Ginger (and possibly the best cocktail name I've heard in a while - reference for the uninitiated).

The King's Ginger was Mr. Muddle's suggestion for the swap, and I was very excited to get my hands on some of this ginger liqueur. It's made by macerating ginger root in a high-proof brandy. Honey, lemon peel, and a bit of whiskey are added as well. It's a thick, syrupy liqueur with an intense ginger flavor and a spicy bite.

I love a liqueur with an interesting history behind it, and as you might guess from its name, The King's Ginger has got one. According to their website, the royal physician of King Edward VII commissioned the ginger liqueur in 1903 "to stimulate and revivify His Majesty whilst exposed to the elements on morning rides in his new horseless carriage." It was created by Berry Bros., a spirits company that has existed since 1698 and is still operating today as Berry Bros. & Rudd. They have supplied wine and spirits to the royal family since 1720.

King Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria. He was quite the bon vivant; you may recall some of his antics from my post on the Prince of Wales cocktail, one of his favored drinks. He enjoyed good food, cigars, hunting, and the company of ladies. (As The King's Ginger tactfully puts it, "The encumbrance of marriage didn't curb the socialising to which Edward had become accustomed.") He also enjoyed driving. He became the first monarch to own an automobile in 1900, when he bought a Daimler. He bought several more during his reign. These were open-air vehicles, and the Royal Physician was very worried about the effects of driving on Edward's health. He asked Berry Bros. to create a liqueur that would warm His Majesty up after his morning drives. And so the King's Ginger was born.

King Edward VII in his Daimler
Edward VII in his Daimler.

I'm a little unclear on exactly how long The King's Ginger has been on the shelves - it was sold as far back as the 1980's, but the current version has only been around since 2010 or so. I don't know if Berry Bros. started marketing it immediately or if it remained something of a royal specialty for a while. But thank goodness it's available to us commoners now!

I was really excited about this liqueur, as ginger is one of my favorite flavors in a cocktail. It seems to work with any spirit. I've made ginger syrup in the past, but fresh ginger definitely isn't something I usually have on hand, and I love that this liqueur will be a permanent fixture in my bar. Unlike Domain de Canton, which is quite sweet, The King's Ginger really has some bite to it, and a wonderfully natural-tasting ginger flavor.

King's Ginger

Price: $35
Alcohol Content: 41%
Popular Cocktails: No classics I know of; try it in any citrusy or fizzy drink

The King's Ginger is an extremely versatile cocktail ingredient - a million possible recipes popped into my mind when I tasted it. I decided to try something a little fun and do a riff on a cocktail I'm not really a huge fan of: the Moscow Mule. This mixture of ginger beer, lime, and vodka is undeniably refreshing but not really all that complex or special, copper mug aside. So I wondered what it would take to make a version I'd like with the King's Ginger. Since I generally prefer cocktails that are served up instead of on the rocks, I decided the fizz was going to go - I was going to martini-fy the Moscow Mule. And I have to say, I'm kind of in love with the finished product. This is definitely a vodka cocktail that I like!

And this one doesn't need a special glass, right? Oh wait... they sell copper coupes? Um, yeah. I had to get one of those.

Moscow Martini

Moscow Martini

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. King's Ginger
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with lime and crystallized ginger.

Historical information for this post came from The King's Ginger, The Whiskey Exchange, and Anchor Distilling.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Green Thumb

Green Thumb

Lately I've been getting a lot of practice at inventing new cocktail recipes. It's not actually something I do a lot - when I come home at the end of the day, I tend to prefer to flip open a recipe book or turn to an old favorite. But between Mixology Monday, Instagram challenges, and collaborations with different brands, it feels like I've been coming up with new recipes left and right.

Getting inspiration for a new cocktail is kind of critical. If I just go stare at my bar and think "I should make something new," I'll never come up with anything. But a name, a theme, or an ingredient is often enough to get me moving. A focal ingredient is one of my favorite ways to start a cocktail. It's easy to taste it and think about what other things might work with it.

Green Thumb

When I got this sampler pack of Black Cloud Bitters a couple of weeks ago, the wheels really started turning. The flavors were so inspiring, and I've almost come up with a new cocktail for all five. I already posted the Ginger Sage Smash with the Black & Blue Bitters last week. This week I decided to work with the Garden Party Bitters. These have strong flavors of cucumber and celery, along with lots of herbs and botanicals. They are distinctly savory, which I knew would be interesting in a cocktail.

I felt like the cucumber and celery in the Garden Party Bitters basically begged to be paired with gin. I decided to try and bring out their  herbaceous, vegetal quality with some muddled cucumber and Green Chartreuse, which fit perfectly in color and taste. Lime juice and simple syrup rounded it all out. The Green Thumb was one of those cocktails that basically made itself. It's sweet and citrusy at first, basically like a cucumber Gimlet, and then you taste the Chartreuse and the bitters at the end of your sip. That savory bitterness just makes it.

If you'd like to pick up your own sampler pack of Black Cloud Bitters, head over to Muddle & Stir and use the code MS10GB for 10% off and free shipping!

Green Thumb

Green Thumb

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 dropper Black Cloud Garden Party bitters
3 slices cucumber

Combine cucumber and simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker and muddle well. Add gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, and bitters. Fill shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Double-strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a cucumber rose and a mint leaf.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thai Bloody Mary

Thai Bloody Mary

My husband has become obsessed with grilling. It started last summer, when we bought a tiny Weber charcoal grill to use on our balcony. Suddenly the man who never cooked anything other than scrambled eggs was smoking brisket and developing his own secret recipe for ribs that requires two days of work. As a pescatarian, I haven't exactly been reaping all of the benefits of this culinary renaissance, but he does make a mean veggie kabob, and we've been experimenting with more and more seafood (grilled octopus = YUM). Most recently, we got our hands on a whole fish and decided to try and grill it in the same style as the fish we often had in Thailand when we were there several years ago. I made a sauce for it by mashing together various recipes I found online, using lots of lime, peppers, lemongrass, cilantro, and fish sauce.

Thai Bloody Mary

I was skeptical about the fish sauce, and if you're at all familiar with this product, you probably know why. Fish sauce is not named because it's meant to be used on fish, but rather because it's made from fish. Fish that is mixed with salt and allowed to ferment, then squeezed to extract all of the liquid that the salt leeches out of it. Fish sauce is basically rotted fish juice. And that's kind of what it tastes and smells like.

After this lovely description, you might be thinking you would rather pass on the fish sauce, but you've probably already had it and liked it - it's a major ingredient in the sauce that goes on Pad Thai, which is why we had a bottle to begin with. And for something that would probably make you gag if you tried it on its own, fish sauce can be a surprisingly delicious addition to a recipe. When the intense taste is mixed with other ingredients, it provides a delicious savory flavor. It was fantastic in the sauce I made that night, and it suddenly hit me that it would be awesome in a Bloody Mary.

Thai Bloody Mary

Thus the Thai Bloody Mary was born. Taking inspiration from the sauce I made for our fish, I flavored the tomato juice with cilantro, serrano pepper, lime juice, and fish sauce. It's savory, tangy, and absolutely delicious. I'm not a huge Bloody Mary fan - I kind of need to be in the mood for one - but I could guzzle these. Without the vodka, that would probably be pretty healthy, actually. (But much less fun.)

And of course the best part about a Bloody Mary is the garnish. I finished these with cilantro, pickled bean sprouts, shrimp, and a brush of Cajun seasoning (an alternative to using it around the rim that is much more photogenic but much less practical). The bean sprouts in particular are pretty fabulous, and the shrimp taste amazing dipped in the cocktail. All in all I'm quite proud of this one, and I hope you give it a try!

Thai Bloody Mary

Thai Bloody Mary

1 1/2 oz. vodka
6 oz. tomato juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 inch section of serrano pepper, sliced
For garnish: fresh cilantro, pickled bean sprouts*, shrimp**, Cajun seasoning

Combine tomato juice, lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro, and serrano pepper in a food processor and blend until the cilantro and pepper are pureed into tiny pieces. The mixture may foam a bit; let it settle and then stir it gently to recombine the ingredients.

To prepare the glass, take a pastry brush and dip it lightly in lime juice or water. Shaking off the excess, wipe it across the side of a rocks glass and over the rim. Then roll the glass in Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's). Fill the glass with ice and add the vodka. Pour in the tomato mixture and stir gently. Garnish with fresh cilantro, pickled bean sprouts, and shrimp.

*For the bean sprouts, I adapted this recipe for Dua Gia from Girl Cooks World. Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 tsp. salt in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool completely, then pour over bean sprouts and stir. Let sit for at least an hour.

**For the shrimp, I briefly sauteed them in some olive oil with a dash of Tony Chachere's. This can be done in the shells or peeled.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish

Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish Cocktail Journal

Hi guys! I’ve got something a little different for you today. I wanted to let you know about a really cool Kickstarter campaign that just launched. Cocktail enthusiast Ben Putano has created a beautiful cocktail recipe journal called Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish, and has started taking orders and donations for it here.

I came across Ben’s project on Twitter, and I was immediately enchanted by the idea. I have always been a huge sucker for journals, notebooks, sketchpads, recipe books - you name it. I still keep all my appointments and to-do items in a paper planner (a fact for which I am relentlessly teased by my more tech-savvy husband). Before this blog, I was using a moleskin to keep track of my favorite cocktail recipes. The idea of a beautiful blank book specially designed specifically for this purpose really appealed to me. But I was also interested in this project because I was intrigued by the process of taking an idea like this and making it a reality. To kick off the Kickstarter campaign today, Ben told me a bit about the process of designing the book and how he got the idea in the first place.

Ben’s gateway to the world of cocktails was actually coffee. He’s a former barista who now works doing customer education for a coffee equipment company. He got sucked into the world of cocktails when he wrote an article about coffee cocktails for the Daily Coffee News. Soon he had started coffeecocktails.co and a very successful Instagram account. Ben says that the worlds of coffee and cocktails aren’t really all that different. “It’s all about passion for for creating a really high-quality product,” he says. “I love that.”

Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish Cocktail Journal

Ben got the idea for Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish when he wrote down some cocktail recipes in a book for his friends to flip through when they came over. They enjoyed selecting their cocktails and even making them themselves following the instructions in the recipe. Ben and his friend Brett Vance started talking about creating a dedicated cocktail recipe journal.

Ben turned to the followers of his Coffee Cocktails Instagram account for input on what they’d want a journal like this to look like. He asked people about their experiences making cocktails, and what kind of information they liked to record when they developed a recipe. He also asked if they would be interested in buying the kind of journal he was thinking of developing. The response was a resounding “yes,” so Ben and Brett decided to move forward with their idea. They continued to get input from the cocktail community throughout the process, from hosting a cover design competition to sending out surveys about the best size and layout for the journal.

Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish Cocktail Journal

All of their hard work has culminated in today’s big launch. Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish is a gorgeous, 150-page hardbound journal that is divided into six sections by base spirit. At the top of each page is a space for the cocktail’s name, creator, and the date. Sections for ingredients, methods, and notes follow, along with a space to circle the appropriate glassware. A mixers section in the back of the journal provides space to record recipes for syrups, infusions, shrubs, and other ingredients. It’s basically the perfect place to record your favorite cocktail recipes.

I really wanted to support Ben in this endeavor, both because I think it's a great idea and because I think it's incredible how he took this idea and ran with it, creating this journal from scratch. "More people should take the risk of following their passion," Ben says. "There is no better way to spend your life."

So if you’re interested in Spirit, Mixer, Glass & Garnish, head over to Kickstarter and order a copy! They’ll ship in time for Christmas, so it’s a great gift idea as well.