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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tequila Old Fashioned

Tequila Old Fashioned

Since I'm not making cocktails during my pregnancy, I've invited some fellow bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts to write guest posts and share their recipes. Today's guest blogger is Instagrammer Morgan Hufstetler!

This past fall I moved to Florida and wanted an Old Fashioned, however it was 85 degrees outside and well, tequila sounded more refreshing. But don't wait till fall to drink this refreshingly boozy concoction. It's a great little drink that doesn't require too many steps and is extremely well-balanced. The bitterness of the Campari is offset by the elderflower liqueur and the Ancho Reyes and tequila pair nicely together.

Tequila Old Fashioned

Tequila Old Fashioned

1 1/2 oz. tequila reposado
3/4 oz. Ancho Reyes
1/2 oz. Campari
1/4 oz. elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain)

Stir with ice and strain over a giant ice cube or spherical and garnish with a flamed orange twist.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mocktail: Consolation Prize


This is a mocktail recipe I've had bookmarked for a while, since long before I became pregnant. It comes from Smitten Kitchen, one of my absolute favorite food blogs. It's basically my go-to for looking up basic recipes, and browsing the archive by ingredient is an endless source of inspiration on nights when I have no idea what to cook. Every recipe I've tried from the blog has been delicious. So when I saw that Deb had posted a mocktail recipe during her pregnancy, I immediately bookmarked it, knowing the day would come when I too would be pregnant and desperate for something resembling a cocktail. The fact that it's basically a combination of a Pina Colada and a Mojito - arguably two of the most delicious summer drinks - only made me want one even more.


This drink is so delicious and refreshing. The smooth, creamy coconut milk smooths out the tart lime and pineapple into tasty perfection. The club soda lightens it up quite a bit, depending how much you use, and turns it from a thick and creamy treat to a refreshing summer sipper. There aren't many mocktails out there that make you feel even luckier than the folks who can drink, but this is one.

Also, can we just talk about the genius name for a minute? Possibly the best mocktail name ever.

Booze it up: I agree with Deb that rum would be the way to go. I'd reach for white rum myself, but as she points out, an aged rum similar to what you'd use in a Pina Colada would probably be lovely as well.


Consolation Prize

5 mint leaves
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz. coconut milk (well-shaken)
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. honey
Club soda, to taste

Place mint leaves at the bottom of a shaker and muddle lightly to release the flavor. Add the pineapple juice, coconut milk, lime juice, and honey. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Garnish with lime wedges, mint leaves, and/or pineapple slices.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

It's been a while since I posted a good bar snack or appetizer, and since I had some chickpeas left over after my Chamomile Pear Sour made with aquafaba, I thought it was high time for one. Roasted chickpeas are a genuinely magical snack. They're warm and crunchy and filling and actually good for you. And they're really easy to make. I kept hearing about how awesome they were but I assumed for some reason that you needed to start with dried chickpeas, which I never have on hand. I was quite pleased to find out that you can go from typical canned chickpeas to crunchy goodness in about an hour. Now my pantry is rarely without a can.

Roasted Chickpeas

The first step to making this recipe is to drain, rinse, and dry your chickpeas. Be sure to save the liquid from the can if you want to experiment with some aquafaba cocktails! After rinsing the chickpeas in a colander, roll them around in a dish towel or some paper towels to dry them well. The drier they are, the better they'll roast. You may find that they start shedding skins as you dry them - that's fine. Just pull the skins off and discard them.

Roasted Chickpeas

Next, spread your dry chickpeas out on a pan and drizzle them with olive oil, tossing them to make sure they're all well-coated. Sprinkle on some salt and toss them again. Then put them in an oven preheated to 400 degrees and bake them for about 30 minutes, stirring and tossing them every 10 minutes so they roast evenly. When they're done, they should be brown and crispy outside but still a little soft inside.

Once your chickpeas are ready, it's time to season them. I used smoked paprika and cumin on these, but there are tons of other great options: rosemary, curry powder, garlic, lemon... you can even go sweet and use cinnamon and sugar. The Kitchn, where I got this recipe, has lots of great suggestions. Sprinkle on your seasonings, give them one more stir, and serve them immediately - they're best when they're hot!

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and other seasonings (I used smoked paprika and cumin)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drain chickpeas (reserving water for cocktails, if desired) and rinse them well. Dry them thoroughly on a towel. Some of them may lose their skins; just pick them out if so. Spread them on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss well to coat the chickpeas. Sprinkle with some salt. Bake for about 30 minutes (I did 35), stirring and tossing the chickpeas every 10 minutes, until they have shrunken slightly and have become crispy on the outside. Add whatever seasonings you want to use and more salt. Serve them while they're still warm.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mocktail: Tea Thyme

Tea Thyme

If you were looking for an excuse to drink this past weekend, I doubt you had to try too hard - between Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, the margaritas and mint juleps seemed to be flowing. We didn't really participate in either celebration this year (are we already boring parents?!) but we did have our own news to celebrate - our ultrasound on Thursday revealed that we're having a boy! He was moving around like crazy during the scan, and has continued to be pretty active in there. It's fun feeling little kicks, especially now that we've seen his little feet.

Tea Thyme

After scrolling past photo after photo of frosty mint juleps on Twitter and Instagram, I decided to try and make a mocktail version of a julep for me and the little guy. In its purest form, the mint julep is not really a cocktail that lends itself to mocktailification (that's a word, right?) - it's mostly bourbon. Ok, it's basically all bourbon. But the general template of a julep, a sweet and herbal beverage served over crushed ice, definitely leaves some room for experimentation. I liked the idea of using peaches and sweet tea, both of which have a very southern feel, and I threw in some fresh thyme as well. The result is a refreshing mocktail that I think holds up pretty darn well against a mint julep or margarita. Cheers!

Booze it up: Bourbon. Lots of bourbon. :-)

Tea Thyme

Tea Thyme

2 1/2 oz. cold black tea
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. honey
3 slices peach
1 sprig fresh thyme

Place peach slices, thyme, and honey in the bottom of a julep cup and muddle well.* Add lemon juice and black tea and stir. Fill the cup with crushed ice. Garnish with a slice of peach and a sprig of thyme and serve with a straw.

*I personally like the pieces of peach pulp at the bottom of the drink, which get sucked up into the straw as you sip, but if you'd prefer not to have them then prepare the drink in a shaker or mixing glass and strain it into the julep cup.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Gold Leader

Gold Leader

Since I'm not making cocktails during my pregnancy, I've invited some fellow bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts to write guest posts and share their recipes. Today's guest blogger is Adam of Mr. Muddle!

Greetings Garnish Nation (Garnishites? Garnisheers?)! Katie has asked me to play guest blogger this week, and I couldn’t be happier to oblige.  Us Boston cocktail bloggers gotta stick together. Anyway, some of you may know that yesterday was a “holiday” of sorts for fans of a certain movie empire.  In these circles, May 4th is known as Star Wars Day (say “May the Fourth...” Get it?). So it seemed like a good time to put a new spin on one of my older Star Wars related drinks.

Just over a year ago I came up with a drink using bourbon, Aperol, Benedictine and lemon juice called Good Shot Red Two. The name comes from a throwaway line in Episode VI by Wedge Antilles during the Battle of Endor (you’ll see where I came up with the name for this new drink in that clip too). It’s a line that has stuck with me for many years, and works well as a cocktail name.

For this new spin, I decided to take the basic components of the drink (brown spirit, bitter liqueur, sweet liqueur, juice), but push the flavors a bit more. I really liked the interplay of sweet Benedictine and bitter Aperol in the original, so I thought about other ways to highlight this yin/yang flavor combo. My amari collection has grown a bit this year, and recently I got some Suze* to add to the arsenal. The bright herbaceousness matches the intense yellow color of this French liqueur. More floral than its Italian cousins, it seemed like a good counterpoint to the warm spices of Benedictine. As for the base spirit, I decided to use Cognac in place of bourbon, hoping to get a little more punch there as well.

*Fun Fact - After a successful bottle swap a few months ago, Katie and I decided to run it back again with different bottles and she chose Suze (I’ll keep the other half a secret for now). Then she made her big announcement and we had to put Round 2 of the bottle swap posts on hold. But it's too good to let it collect dust for 9 months.

Gold Leader

The Gold Leader is a whirlwind of herbs and spices on the nose from the two liqueurs. Each whiff alternates between the bracing freshness of the Suze and the subtle warmth of the Benedictine. The sip starts with a round tartness as the lemon tries to peek through. The Cognac keeps things just soft enough, with the grape and burnt sugar notes popping through, while tannins in the background give it some bite. Wonderful warm low notes from the Benedictine and Cognac keep the Suze from taking over, but its unmistakeable botanicals are ever present.

Since this was a riff on a Star Wars themed cocktail, the name should stay true to that formula. Plus, I wanted to give a nod to the brilliant yellow gold color of Suze. Gold Leader is Lando Calrissian's call sign in the battle, and it certainly checks all those boxes. The Gold Leader is a perfect wingman to Good Shot Red Two, providing another take on a template worthy of more exploration.  

Thanks again to Katie for letting me take over her corner of cyberspace for a bit. Cheers!

Gold Leader

1 1/2 oz. Cognac (Hine VSOP)
1/2 oz. Suze
1/2 oz. Benedictine
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Favorite Cocktail Blogs

My Favorite Cocktail Blogs

One thing I've realized since I started blogging about cocktails is that there are a lot of other people out there blogging about cocktails, too. And it's great. I love that you can find the same recipe on ten different blogs, and everyone who made it has a different perspective on it. Some blogs focus on original concoctions and others just cover the classics. Some have impeccable photography with perfect lighting, and others make do with a few cellphone snaps. Some have thousands of loyal followers, and others operate quietly in the background because they love what they're doing.

I've found a lot of blogs I love over the past couple of years, and since I'm not making any cocktails myself right now, I thought I'd share some favorites with you. Check them out to get your cocktail recipe fix!

Mr. Muddle

1. Mr. Muddle. You probably already know Adam, aka Mr. Muddle, from our Bottle Swap posts. Since he's a fellow Boston blogger, he's one of the few on this list that I've actually met in person. He's a whiz at coming up with original cocktail recipes (and perfect names), and his blog is a treasure trove of inspiration for new drinks. He's also got a couple of kids, so I'm hoping I can get him to give me some parenting tips. :-)


Drinking With Chickens

2. Drinking with Chickens. I am obsessed with Drinking with Chickens. Kate makes and photographs beautiful, colorful cocktails all made with fresh ingredients straight from her extensive garden. And, more often than not, there are chickens involved. I follow her Instagram religiously enough that I know many of these chickens by name. (The one in the photo is Pip.) She's also got two adorable boxers and an African Grey parrot, so I basically want her life. Or to at least be her best friend. Call me, Kate.


Craft and Cocktails

3. Craft & Cocktails. When I first stumbled upon Ashley Rose Conway's absolutely stunning cocktail blog, I basically wondered what I was even doing with mine. It's just so, so lovely. Her recipes are often imaginative and whimsical twists on classics, like her Carrot Cake Ramos Gin Fizz or Negroni Float. The styling and photography is impeccable. It's like entering a magical fantasy world of perfect, pretty cocktails. And I never want to leave.


Apartment Bartender

4. Apartment Bartender. Elliot Clark, aka Apartment Bartender, is just so effortlessly cool. (Even Express thinks so.) His blog is full of well-curated cocktail recipes paired with beautiful photography, as well as useful articles like 10 Really Damn Good Bottles of Scotch Under $100 or How to Tiki at Home. I particularly enjoy his Instagram, where he posts gorgeous photos of the process of making his drinks.


Stir and Strain

5. Stir and Strain. I've always thought of Elena's wonderful blog as something of a model for what I'd like mine to be. She refers to it as "a cocktail scratchpad" - a place to test out new recipes. Her drinks are creative and approachable. I love her gift guides and bar cart styling guides, and I miss her weekly Booze News posts. She also frequently does great giveaways.


Holly and Flora

6. Holly and Flora. This blog by Denver-based sommelier Jayme Henderson is all about fresh, seasonal, garden-to-glass cocktails. Nowhere will you find a more stunning array of mouth-watering ingredients and beautiful fruit and herb garnishes. Her photography and styling set a delicate, tranquil mood. Each post makes you feel like you're sipping a perfectly crafted cocktail with Jayme in her garden and watching the sunset. Or at least wish you were!


Cold Glass

7. Cold Glass. This site is an absolute treasure trove of cocktail information. Doug Ford serves his cocktails garnished with fascinating histories, digging up the stories behind such classics as the Swizzle, the Tuxedo, and the Gibson. But he doesn't neglect new favorites either, being sure to include recipes like the Paper Plane and the Cooper Union as well. I always check his site when I write about a drink to see if he has covered it yet. He posts relatively infrequently, but it's always worth reading.


Boxes and Booze

8. Boxes and Booze. There are a lot of cocktail blogs and Instagram accounts with interesting themes (this one comes to mind), but one of my favorites is Boxes and Booze. On his blog, Steve shares his love of well-crafted cocktails with an extensive collection of wooden puzzle-boxes, and presents each recipe with a related box that inspired it. It's incredibly unique and absolutely fascinating. He's also a wizard with elaborate citrus peel garnishes - check out the pup on his Doggone Old Fashioned or the Cupid on his Heart-Shaped Box.


Letters and Liquor

9. Letters and Liquor. Along the same vein, Matthew of Letters & Liquor pairs his cocktails with beautifully hand-lettered cocktail-themed artwork. Both are absolutely stunning. Each of his posts tackles a classic recipe, and he provides spectacular historical information and context for each one. I love learning the history behind cocktails, and this blog is a complete treasure trove. Don't miss Matthew's Instagram, where he often shows pictures of his works in progress - until you see them, you'll have trouble believing the lettering is done by hand.


Cocktail Virgin

10. Cocktail Virgin Slut. Don't let the generic blogger template and iPhone photos fool you - Cocktail Virgin Slut is one of the best resources for cocktail recipes and information on the internet. Bartender Fred Yarm posts new recipes prolifically, and always with detailed tasting notes and often some interesting historical context. Check out what he's made lately, or use the list of ingredients in the sidebar to browse the extensive archive. Or pick up one of his recipe books: Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book and the brand new (and aptly-named) Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told. And if you're in the Boston area, head over to Loyal Nine to have him make you a cocktail himself!

There are a lot more great blogs out there, and it was tough narrowing down this list to only ten! Did your favorite blog make the list?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mocktail: Chamomile Pear Sour

Chamomile Pear Sour

Yes, this is a mocktail! And I think it may be prettier than any cocktail I've ever made.

"But wait!" you cry, concerned. "I see the layer of foam on that sour. You're pregnant! You can't be drinking raw eggwhites."

You're so sweet to worry. But this sour is totally vegan and pregnancy-friendly. Let me introduce you, friends, to the wonder that is aquafaba.

Aquafaba is chickpea water. As in, the cloudy liquid from the can of chickpeas. In 2014, a French chef named Joel Roessel discovered that aquafaba had many of the same properties as eggwhites. Added to a cocktail and shaken well, it yields almost the same texture and foam, with none of the concerns that surround consuming raw egg. Since then, it's started popping up in tons of cocktails and has provided vegans a great alternative for their drinks.

Aquafaba

I was a little skeptical about aquafaba at first. I couldn't imagine that it wouldn't lend a chickpea flavor to a cocktail, and indeed, some people complain that it does. But I had to try it and find out.

I got my aquafaba from canned chickpeas, but another option is to make your own by boiling dried chickpeas and saving the liquid left behind. For a mocktail to test it in, a created a Chamomile Pear Sour with chamomile tea, pear juice, lemon juice, and vanilla demerara syrup. Roughly basing my proportions on this whiskey sour recipe, I added 1 ounce of aquafaba to my 4.5 ounce mocktail.

Like eggwhites, aquafaba has to be really well shaken to give you that perfect foam. I've practiced a bit with eggwhites in the past, and while I haven't posted the results of my attempts, I've learned a couple of tricks that help in this regard. One is to put a spring or a shaker ball into your shaker, which really helps build up foam. I feel like this was the magic ingredient for a proper eggwhite consistency, so I did the same thing for my aquafaba. I also did a dry shake with no ice before adding ice and shaking again. (Be careful to seal your shaker well for the dry shake - without the ice to create a tight seal, it can leak.)

Chamomile Pear Sour

At first, as I strained the liquid into my coupe, I was disappointed - no foam. But then, at the end, it all came pouring out and formed a perfect foamy layer over the drink. It's maybe not quite as thick as it ought to be, but this could be remedied with a longer shake or maybe more aquafaba. As far as I was concerned, the texture turned out perfect.

So what about the taste? I was pretty convinced that the aquafaba was going to affect the flavor and I was going to have to try another recipe with less. But I was shocked to notice absolutely no chickpea flavor whatsoever in the drink. All I tasted was chamomile and pear and vanilla, and it was lovely. It did have a bit of an odd odor, but no more so than eggwhite cocktails often do. And it was well worth it for the final effect. As far as mocktails go, this one was as close to a real cocktail as I can imagine coming! It felt like drinking something really special. At this rate, the next five months will be a breeze.

Chamomile Pear Sour

Chamomile Pear Sour

2 oz. chamomile tea
1 oz. pear juice
1 oz. aquafaba
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. vanilla demerara syrup*

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, with a shaker ball or spring, if using. Seal the shaker well (if you're using a Boston shaker, make a straight seal to prevent leakage) and shake for 30 seconds with no ice. Then open the shaker, add ice, and shake for another 30 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass. For me, most of the foam came out at the very end. Sprinkle with chamomile to garnish.

*For vanilla demerara syrup, combine 2 parts demerara sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla extract per cup of syrup.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mocktail: Green Monster

Green Monster

This is another drink loosely based on one I had at a restaurant, this time Tapestry in Fenway (thus the name). We went to dinner there with a couple of friends and were very excited to surprise them with news of our pregnancy. We were still chatting and catching up when the waiter came to take drink orders. I quietly asked for a drink from the menu made with green tea, black pepper, and sparkling lemonade. The waiter loudly replied, "Sure. You know that's a mocktail?"

Obviously, given my cocktail obsession, our friends weren't quite as surprised as they might have been when we told them the good news. :-)

Green Monster

I filed away the ingredients in my telltale beverage for future reference, and today I tried out my own version, with cucumber added as well. It proved to be quite as tasty as the one I had at Tapestry, and perfectly refreshing on a lovely spring day.

Booze it up: I'd definitely reach for gin to spike this one, although tequila blanco could be very interesting, and vodka would certainly work as well. And maybe a dash of Green Chartreuse!

Green Monster

Green Monster

2 oz. green tea
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup*
1/2 oz. cucumber water**
1-2 grinds black pepper
2 oz. club soda

Combine all ingredients except club soda (including black pepper) in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice (and, if desired, garnished with a cucumber ribbon). Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with another grind of pepper.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, heat gently, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using.

**For cucumber water, grate a cucumber over a strainer so that the liquid from the pulp is strained into a bowl or cup measure. Press on the pulp to expel all the water. Alternatively, you could muddle a few slices of cucumber in the shaker before adding your ingredients.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Whiskey Cocktails with Shaker & Spoon

Mighty Craic Cobbler

Guys, pregnancy kinda sucks. I've been nauseous, exhausted, and uncomfortable. I had a migraine headache that lasted three straight weeks. I haven't wanted to eat anything but bagels and cereal since January. But I want to take a minute to focus on the real martyr here: my poor husband. Because I've been so sick that he has had to make. his. own. cocktails. (Gasp!)

I'm kidding, of course - he's not really suffering, and in fact, he even offered to give up alcohol with me for the duration of the pregnancy. (I told him he didn't have to, and instead encouraged him to drink more so that he would get hungover and feel as sick as me. It's a different sort of solidarity.) But as I certainly haven't been making cocktails for myself the last three months and really haven't felt like making any for him, he has been left to fend for himself. Which usually means nothing more elaborate than a Scotch or bourbon on the rocks. The man can sous vide a steak like nobody's business, but he's a bit helpless with a shaker.

Kiss Me, I'm Whiskey

Enter Shaker & Spoon! When they offered to send me one of their cocktail kits, at first I was disappointed that I would have to turn them down. But then I realized who could really use an easy, pre-packaged craft cocktail complete with instructions: my husband. I asked if they'd be willing to come to his rescue and they came through with their Kiss Me, I'm Whiskey box.

I've heard about Shaker & Spoon for a while, but I've never tried a subscription, mostly because I love making my own ingredients at home already. But I have to admit, it's a really fun thing to get in the mail! I couldn't believe how much they crammed into the box, and how many fresh ingredients were included. The Kiss Me, I'm Whiskey box came with 1 orange, 4 lemons, 4 syrups, three different garnishes (dried peppers, fresh sage, and dried orange wheels, complete with tiny clothespins), and two adorable little bottles of bitters. The only negative thing I could say is that the sage was starting to turn a little brown; everything else looked wonderful.

Pouring Whiskey

Of the three cocktails included in the box, my husband opted first for the Spice of Life, a mixture of Irish Whiskey, sour mix, chipotle-maple syrup, and orange bitters. (I thought he picked it for the spiciness, but he later confessed that it looked the easiest.) The recipe comes from Elle Maeyaert of The Local in Minneapolis. The sour mix is particularly special, her own recipe made from a combination of three different citrus juices and brown sugar. I was surprised by the combination of chipotle and whiskey and looking forward to sneaking a sip of the finished product.

Spice of Life

I'm proud to say that the hubs whipped up this cocktail like a master mixologist. The only advice I gave him was to add more ice when he went to stir it. The kit really made it easy, and allowed him to craft a much higher quality cocktail than he ever would have made on his own. I mean, chipotle maple syrup is a tad advanced even for me.

Spice of Life

The Spice of Life is an incredibly rich and flavorful cocktail. The chipotle maple syrup is an incredible ingredient, and really plays a starring role in the drink. I might have to steal some for other recipes! From my two little sips, I'd say my worries about spice and whiskey playing well together were completely unfounded. My husband loved it and drank it right up. I have I feeling he'll be making another one quite soon.

Spice of Life

Spice of Life

2 oz. Irish Whiskey (we used GrandTen South Boston Irish Whiskey)
1 oz. Elle's house sour*
1 oz. chipotle-maple syrup*
2 dashes orange bitters*

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a dried chili pepper.

*These ingredients were provided by Shaker & Spoon, but could probably be roughly replicated at home. (Or you can order a box of your own!) For the sour mix, I'd try dissolving 1 cup brown sugar in 1 cup water and then adding 2 cups of citrus juice (maybe 3/4 cup lemon, 3/4 lime, and 1/2 cup orange). For the chipotle-maple syrup, I'd try bringing equal parts maple syrup and water to a simmer, adding several slices dried or fresh chipotle peppers, and letting the whole thing infuse until it's as spicy as you like it.

Mighty Craic Cobbler

Next he reached for the Mighty Craic Cobbler, a cocktail created not far from us at Ruka in Boston. We've actually been wanting to go to Ruka for a while; it was opened by the folks behind Lolita and Yvonne's, two of our favorite spots. But the menu is quite heavy on raw fish, so it's going to have to wait until October at least. Ruka bartender Will Thompson created this simple but delicious orange and apricot flavored cobbler.

Slicing Orange

Since this is a cobbler, the first step was to crush a bunch of ice in our Lewis bag. Then the oranges and syrup are muddled together in the bottom of a shaker. The orange that came in the box was very fresh! The orange-apricot syrup tasted really incredible; it's another ingredient I'd like to steal for other drinks. Next you add some whiskey, shake everything up, and strain it over your freshly-crushed ice. My husband was working like an old pro by now, and whipped this one right up. It was a simple, spirit-forward drink that really let the whiskey shine. Of the two, he preferred the Spice of Life, but he definitely enjoyed them both.

Mighty Craic Cobbler

Mighty Craic Cobbler

2 oz. Irish Whiskey (we used GrandTen South Boston Irish Whiskey)
2 orange slices, 1/4 inch thick
1/2 oz. spiced orange-apricot syrup*

Combine the orange wheels and syrup in the bottom of a shaker and muddle gently (muddling too hard or too long will express the bitterness in the orange rinds). Add the whiskey and fill the shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a double rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.

*I'm not entirely sure how best to replicate this excellent syrup. The ingredients listed are water, apricots, demerara sugar, orange zest, allspice, cloves, and citric acid. I would perhaps simmer all of those ingredients together, maybe mashing up the apricots a bit, and then strain the resulting syrup. Do let me know if any of you decide to experiment.

Mighty Craic Cobbler

All in all, we loved the Shaker & Spoon box. There's still one more cocktail in there to try, and plenty of everything left to make more of these two. I still don't think I'll be a regular subscriber myself, but I could definitely see a subscription becoming a go-to gift for friends and family. The other thing these boxes would be great for is a little cocktail party - there's enough in the box to make four of each of the three cocktails, so it would be really fun to have another couple over for dinner and work our way through the recipes. Thanks to Shaker & Spoon for giving us the chance to try it out! My husband is making another Spice of Life as I write this - I think he'll be all set for cocktails for a few days. :-)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mocktail: Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking

Thanks so much to all of you who shared congratulations and good wishes after my announcement on Tuesday! It's so much more fun now that everyone knows about the pregnancy. I promise I won't overload the blog with baby-related things, but I am looking forward to sharing the next few months with all of you.

Not being able to drink hasn't been nearly so bad as I thought. I was mostly worried that it would be a bummer when I went out, especially to bars. Ever since we started trying for a baby, I've been scanning menus for mocktail sections for future reference. I've been happy to see that most places will have two or three on the menu, or at least a nice selection of sodas and juices. The selection isn't as varied as if you could order a cocktail or a beer, but it's nice not to be left out.

Wishful Thinking

One place that reliably has a couple of high-quality mocktails on their menu is Backbar in Somerville. This is probably my favorite place to grab a cocktail in the Boston area, so I was particularly miffed at having to choose between the two non-alcoholic options. But I really enjoyed the mocktail I ordered, which was made with club soda and a lavender-lime-cardamom shrub. I liked the flavors together, and decided to work on a variation on this for my first mocktail recipe. For ease, I skipped the shrub and made a quick lavender syrup that I paired with lime juice and cardamom bitters. I also worked in some ginger beer for extra flavor. The final product is so delicious, you won't mind in the least that there's no booze involved!

A note on this being a "mocktail:" bitters are generally made with alcohol, so if you're avoiding any traces of it, you'll want to use a substitute (in this case, I recommend throwing some cardamom pods into the syrup as well). But since they're used in such tiny quantities, the fact that they're technically alcoholic isn't going to be an issue during pregnancy or if you're the evening's designated driver.

Wishful Thinking

Booze it up: If you want to make this a cocktail, I'd try adding some vodka, gin, or white rum.

Styling: Copper straw from Viski, glass from World Market.

Wishful Thinking

1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. lavender syrup*
1 dash cardamom bitters (Scrappy's)
6 oz. ginger beer (I recommend a mild one for this recipe)

Combine lime juice, lavender syrup, and bitters in a shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a Collins glass and add ice. Top with the ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with a lime wheel and some dried or fresh lavender.

*For the lavender syrup, combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 4 sprigs of dried lavender in a saucepan (fresh lavender would be even better). Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the syrup sit for one hour. Fine strain to remove the lavender, and let cool before using.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Announcement

Pregnancy Announcement

Big news... I'm pregnant! Our little GarnishBaby is due in October. Don't worry, I haven't been drinking - everything I've posted for the last couple of months was made in advance or exclusively consumed by my husband. This is something we've wanted for a long time and we're really excited!

So what happens to a cocktail blog when the cocktail blogger can't drink? Now that my morning sickness and headaches have subsided (oh my gosh, guys, it's been like a two-month-long hangover, no joke), I'm planning to channel my cocktail creativity into mocktails. For the next six months, I'll be focusing on non-alcoholic recipes and maybe some food and snacks. I think this could be a really fun, educational few months - not being able to use any liquor means exploring a lot of new flavors, ingredients, and techniques, and I'm hoping it will improve my cocktail-making skills once I can drink again. I also think that having a few really good mocktail recipes up your sleeve is a must for any home bar enthusiast. After all, there are tons of reasons why someone might not be drinking, and it's fun to be able to offer your guests - or yourself - something just as exciting and carefully-crafted as a cocktail.

But so that I don't leave all of my dear readers completely sober during the next few months, I'm also hoping to host some guest posts from other bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts. So if you'd like to do a guest post for Garnish, please get in touch!

Cheers,

Katie

(Stuffed cobbler shaker rattle from Cocktail Kingdom; onesie from Fleurty Girl for Tales of the Cocktail, currently unavailable)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Chignon

Chignon

I am on a bit of a roll with the tequila cocktails lately. That's kind of how it goes - I tend to forget how much I like tequila, and then one really good drink reminds me and before I know it I've torn through the tequila section of all of my cocktail recipe books. I've been particularly impressed with the agave section of Death & Co's book, because I expected most of my favorite recipes from the book to be made with gin or whiskey, not tequila and mezcal. But I've found a ton of agave cocktails I love in there. The Almond Brother from two weeks ago was one; the Chignon is another.

It's funny how you actually don't see orange juice in craft cocktails very often. Orange peels, orange bitters, and orange liqueurs regularly find their way into my drinks, but the Mimosa and the Ward 8 are probably the only recipes I've posted with orange juice. The Chignon, however, uses it with pride, along with reposado tequila, Benedictine, lime, and orgeat. I'd say the orgeat is the best part of this drink. The tart and citrusy flavors are rounded out by its sweet nuttiness. The Benedictine is also a wonderful and unexpected touch.

History: Brian Miller created this drink at Death & Company in New York in honor of their barbacks. The name is Mexican slang meaning "badass."

Chignon

2 oz. reposado tequila
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. orgeat

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Clementine Rum Cobbler

Clementine Rum Cobbler

Of all the winter citrus available right now, my favorite has got to be clementines. You're surely familiar with these sweet, seedless, easy-to-peel little oranges that are often sold in netted bags. I forgot how much I absolutely adore them. I brought some home a couple of weeks ago and since then my husband and I have been going through them by the bagful. So when Diplomático Rum asked me to make a cocktail using their Reserva Exclusiva and some fresh, seasonal ingredients, I knew clementines were going to be making an appearance.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum

Diplomático Rum is made in Venezuela from sugar cane honey and molasses. The Reserva Exclusiva is made from both pot still and column still rums aged up to 12 years. The dignified fellow on the bottle is Don Juancho Nieto Meléndez, a somewhat legendary character who lived in the region where Diplomático is made in the late 19th century. He was a rum connoisseur who traveled extensively and studied the effects of different ingredients and environmental conditions on the flavor of rum. Diplomático calls his "dedication, savoir-faire, chivalry, and authentic personality" the inspiration for their products.

Clementine Rum Cobbler

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is an all-around excellent rum. I'd always assumed it was good, perhaps because the dark bottle and gorgeous postage stamp label lend it a certain air of gravitas. I really became familiar with it at the Boston qualifier for the Diplomático World Tournament that I got to attend last fall, where I was able to try it straight as well as in several amazing cocktails whipped up by local bartenders. It has a delightful flavor, oaky with honey-vanilla sweetness at the end. This is a rum that dedicated bourbon drinkers could seriously appreciate. And in cocktails, well, it's just fantastic.

Cobbler Tools

If you're feeling a little stressed, I highly recommend making a cobbler. The first step is to put your fruit at the bottom of a shaker with some sugar and muddle it well, which is a great way to take out some tension. Add the booze and a bit of ice, shake, and strain into a glass. Then, in case you didn't manage to muddle all your worries away, it's time to crush your ice. And unless you have one of those fancy refrigerators with a touch-screen and an ice crusher, this will probably involve banging on cubes of ice with a blunt object. I used to employ a dish towel and an ice cream scoop for this purpose, but now I've got my nifty Viski Lewis bag and mallet for the task. Whatever you use, it's sure to be quite cathartic.

Clementine Rum Cobbler

The cobbler is a very old classic cocktail. The formula is simple: liquor, sugar, and fresh fruit. It's traditionally made with sherry. If you've never had a sherry cobbler, I highly recommend whipping one up. I used the recipe from Jerry Thomas' famous 1862 Bartender's Guide to make a blood orange sherry cobbler not too long ago, and I can't remember the last time I was so blown away by such a simple drink. Simple often works best when you want to showcase fresh ingredients, so I adjusted Thomas' recipe a bit to include the Diplomático and some beautiful, fresh clementines. This cocktail is bright and vibrant and utterly delicious - the perfect drink to celebrate the start of spring.

Styling notes: Lewis ice bag and mallet from Viski, wooden muddler from Muddle & Stir, and Bar Birds cocktail picks from Prodyne, available on Amazon.

Clementine Rum Cobbler

Clementine Rum Cobbler

1 1/2 oz. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum
1 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 clementine oranges, peeled

Combine the sugar and clementines in the bottom of a shaker and muddle well to release the juices, being careful not to let any squirt into your eyes. (Not that I speak from experience or anything. Just, you know, a warning.) Add rum and sherry and fill the shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with more clementine slices and a sprig of mint or an edible orchid.