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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.