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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Life2 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.
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.
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
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.
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. :-)