• Mixology Monday LXXX Cocktail: The Royal Sazerac

    The Royal Sazerac cocktail.

    The Royal Sazerac cocktail.

    Yes, it’s Tuesday. But it was Mixology Monday, and we did make a cocktail. Let’s hope Nick at the Straight Up blog (worth a regular visit, btw) will show some Christmas spirit and let us in late. As it is, here is the summary for this month’s theme, Anise:

    mxmologoWhile I had a few ideas I’ve been kicking around for this months theme, including some more holidayesque thoughts, I ultimately decided on one of my favorite flavors: anise. Although great any time of year, there is something about colder weather and the holidays that really sets my anise fetish into overdrive. While past MxMos have seen a few specific sources of anise, such as pastis and absinthe, I wanted to open things up to anything anise flavored, the more unique the better. Most folks have something with anise notes laying around, whether it’s absinthe or pastis, ouzo, Genepe, even Green Chartreuse, Peychaud’s, Raki, etc. Maybe get creative and make something tasty with some star anise, like a syrup, infusion or tincture.  Show us that riff on a Sazerac or Improved Holland Gin Cocktail that you love, or create something entirely new.

    Cool theme, and one we were quite happy to play with. As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to use anise flavor in cocktails. As a lead element, anise means licorice and herbal flavors. But as many home bartenders know, an extra dash of anise flavor is often used to supply that “I know not what” of extra complexity and depth to many famous drinks. From pre-prohibition cocktails to tiki drinks, you will find anise (usually in the form of absinthe or pastis) in dozens of drinks where you might not expect it.

    saz2saz3We started this MxMo with the intent of experimenting and putting anise in the lead of a new cocktail. And we did have a nice gin, lime, fennel, tarragon, Chartreuse, absinthe and sugar thing going. That drink will eventually make the blog, but we got sidetracked.

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  • Weekly Cocktail #60: The Stone 75

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    Ah, cocktails. Just when you think you’ve had enough….they pull you back in. And in this case, “had enough” meant that we recently hosted Mixology Monday and had seen our fill of cocktails and photos. We were a bit tired. Time for some tea, maybe a sip of wine, new kegs on tap (an IPA and a crisp golden ale), and perhaps some hard cider to celebrate the season. Cider? Hmm….

    stoneAnd this is what happens once you start mixing drinks and catch the bug. We got a few different bottles of hard cider to play with and suddenly the gears started grinding turning and we were mixing away. This time the inspiration came from a bit of internet research into different styles of cider. While looking at dry vs. sweet cider we saw a recipe for the Stone Fence, one of America’s oldest cocktails and perhaps our original highball.

    stone1stone2The Stone Fence is the simple combination of a big glass of hard cider and a shot of rum, applejack or whiskey. This drink is literally hundreds of years old and the variety of hard liquor simply reflects what was available at any time or different regions. Applejack in New Jersey or rum in Massachusetts, gave way (somewhat) to whiskey, but all still work. At some point, most people added ice to the mix and we get this “proto-highball”. A good sip, particularly if feeling a bit lazy. But as you may have guessed, the big issue is that this is a strong drink. We will forgo the “fell face-first into a Stone Fence” jokes…but you get the idea.

    stone7We decided to play with the basic recipe and craft something with a bit less booze (but just a bit) and a slightly more elegant presentation. We also had some old-school sugar to play with (a piloncillo of Mexican sugar that would be similar to colonial-era sugar) and decided to include it in the cocktail. As for inspiration, we looked to two of our favorite sparklers, the citrusy French 75 and the bitters-heavy Seelbach.

    stone3After some very pleasant experimentation, we came up with the Stone 75. The Stone 75 combines muddled lemon peel and sugar with lemon juice, Cointreau, Jamaican rum, applejack, tiki bitters (Angostura also work) and dry hard cider. Served in a coupé or flute and topped with a lemon twist, this is a very pretty cocktail.

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  • Mixology Monday LXXVIII Roundup: Intercontinental

    Time of the Saison cocktail.

    Time of the Saison cocktail.

    Another Mixology Monday has come and gone, so now it is time for the roundup. Our theme was “Intercontinental” and the goal was to mix a cocktail, or cocktails, that have “ingredients” from at least three but up to seven continents. And, as we mentioned, the definition of  “ingredient” was pretty broad, so we hoped to see many cocktails that spanned the globe….including Antarctica.

    mxmologoSo how did everyone do?  Very, very well, IMHO. The cocktails, photos and the stories were great. We actually had many of the ingredients (should we be embarrassed about that?) and mixed a number of the drinks. Very tasty. And just as important, an excuse (motivation?) to try something new. Whenever we feel we may be getting into a slight cocktail “rut”, Mixology Monday snaps us out of it.

    Thanks again to everyone for participating and to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping MxMo going. Here is the roundup (in no particular order):

    Feu-de-vie, one of our favorite booze blogs, covers six continents with the Giganta, a coffee-pineapple tiki-ish concoction with homemade Coffee-Macadamia Orgeat. Nice. We want some of that…

    Giganta cocktail.

    Giganta cocktail.

    Next we get the Vegan Pisco Sour from Elana at Stir and Strain. She has lovely creations and her photos are some of the best we have seen. For this cocktail, not only do we get four continents, but some cool info on using beer as a substitute for egg whites in “foamy” cocktails. For vegans, good stuff. For us, a tasty drink. Everyone wins.

    Vegan Pisco Sour cocktail.

    Vegan Pisco Sour cocktail.

    Amarula, the “Bailey’s of Africa” makes its first (but not its only) MxMo appearance in Swizzlestick’s Life is Beautiful cocktail. Lychee liqueur made it in as well. A truly global cocktail that hits six continents. Well done.

    Life is Beautiful cocktail.

    Life is Beautiful cocktail.

    The good folks at Booze Nerds take advantage of a good name/story and global ingredients to cover seven continents with the Amundsen (nice historical reference guys!). More importantly we get a very creative drink with spirits, amaro, bitters, spice, a tea reduction / syrup and a port wine float. Gold Star.

    Amundsen cocktail.

    Amundsen cocktail.

    The Straight Up, gives us another drink using Australian port and narrative license to cover seven continents with the ….and Antarctica. Again, we also see some tea and amaro in play for this beautiful aperitif-style cocktail. We certainly are intrigued with the mix of bitter, tannic, smokey and herbal ingredients. Gold Star.

    ...and Antarctica cocktail.

    …and Antarctica cocktail.

    Our Bay Area neighbors and frequent travelers BarFlySF, take us to five continents and then a few layers of hell as a bonus…seriously. They give us Dante’s Divinia and Dante’s Divinia Down Under, riffs on the Dante’s Paradise cocktail they discovered at Longman and Eagle’s in Chicago. And with some Habanero shrub involved- there will be some fire.

    Dante's Divinia.

    Dante’s Divinia cocktail.

    Out in Tennessee, Sass and Gin goes a slightly more traditional route with the Madison’s Revenge. This Manhattan variant shows that you can get to five or six continents quicker than you think. A little tuning of sweetener, spice or garnish and you have a global cocktail. Good work.

    Madison's Revenge cocktail.

    Madison’s Revenge cocktail.

    Our fearless leader Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut pulls out a bottle of Van Der Hum, an African tangerine and spice liqueur, for a very spirituous, old-time cocktail the Daiqurbon. We expected to see a bit more Van Der Hum this MxMo, but since we couldn’t find any here in Norcal, we are glad somebody found some.

    Daiqurbon cocktail.

    Daiqurbon cocktail.

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  • Mixology Monday LXXIII Cocktail: The Strawberry Witch

    The Strawberry Witch cocktail.

    The Strawberry Witch cocktail.

    Wow, time flies. It’s Mixology Monday again. It seems like we just made our CSA Gin cocktail for the last MxMo and here we are. Happily, we have another theme that is close to this wannabe farmer’s heart, “the witch’s garden”. Here are the details from this month’s host Cardiff Cocktails (an excellent site, worth a visit):

    mxmologoAs far back as we can look, the use of fresh herbs have been prevalent in the world of mixed drinks. From the early days of the julep, through Williams Terrington’s 19th century Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, to Don the Beachcomber’s ahead of their time Tiki drinks, fresh herbs have always been at the forefront of mixology. So lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing. I don’t want to put too many limits on this theme so get as creative as you please, want to use roots, spices or beans as well? Sure thing. Want to make your own herbal infusions or tinctures? Sounds wonderful.

    witchwitch1Well, we certainly have herbs here at the farm. Mint, thyme, basil, tarragon, oregano, sage, marjoram, lemon verbena, parsley and rosemary are all in full swing. But we also have strawberries that need to be used and we wanted to play with Strawberries and thyme for a while. So we chose these as the basis for the cocktail. We also took the name of the challenge to heart and immediately looked at our bottle of Strega (“Strega” means witch in Italian) as a potential ingredient.

    witch2witch4If you are unfamiliar with Strega, it is an herbal Italian digestif that features a rich yellow color (from saffron) and sweet herbal flavors. Strega, is usually enjoyed by itself, but we have been trying to get it into our cocktails. To our tastes, Strega has mint, juniper and citrus notes, so gin seemed like a good match (and one more herbal ingredient). But we were a bit concerned about too many herbal notes, so we added some lemon juice and a splash of sparking wine to brighten, and lighten, the overall flavor of the cocktail.

    witch5So how does the Strawberry Witch taste? In a word, herbal. But in a good way. Strawberries and thyme play very well together, the Strega sweetens without being cloying and the gin, lemon and champagne add the expected bright notes. The sip is tart, with mint and thyme flavors followed by some of the lemon and sweet notes of the Strega. The strawberries do more for color and aroma than flavor, but we are OK with that.The finish is very clean, almost dry.

    witch6(One last note here. Thyme can be strong stuff. At first we muddled it along with the strawberries and some lemon peel. This was a bad idea- the thyme got harsh and bitter. The next time around we muddled the strawberries and lemon first, then added the thyme and gave it just a few nudges. This worked way better, plenty of thyme flavor but not too much. Fresh herbs vary widely in strength and flavor, but be warned, you may want to do a quick test run before you muddle your herbs.)

    witch8Thanks again to Cardiff Cocktails and Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for another great MxMo!

    The Strawberry Witch:

    Ingredients:

    • 3-4 medium strawberries
    • Lemon peel
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus some extra for garnish
    • 1 1/2 oz dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
    • 1/2 oz. Strega
    • 1-2 oz. sparkling wine or Champagne

    Assemble:

    1. Place the strawberries and lemon peel in the cocktail shaker. Muddle until the strawberries are a smooth purée. Then add the thyme springs and lightly muddle a few times.
    2. Add the gin, lemon juice and Stega to the cocktail shaker. Add some ice and then shake until well-chilled. Double-strain the mixture into a coupé or flute. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a thyme sprig. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday LXX Roundup: Inverted

    Stir and Strain’s El Jardin de Mi Abuela.

    Another Mixology Monday has come and gone, but this time we were hosting. Thanks again to everyone who participated and to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for reviving and maintaining Mixology Monday.

    mxmologoThe theme was “inverted”, and we will spare you the full back story (post here) and just say the theme was intended to see if we could “flip drinks on their heads” any and all possible ways. And the Mixology Monday crowd certainly delivered. We saw drinks “inverted” on name, spirits, solid/liquid (ice was well used), colors, layers and temperatures. All good stuff. We are “working” our way through as many of the cocktails as we can, and many are very good.

    As for us, we found this theme somewhat more challenging than expected. We created two drinks, but also failed repeatedly to make our third, a champagne-based cocktail that tasted and looked like Napa Cabernet (some things simply aren’t meant to be, and who wants a cocktail to taste like wine anyway?). Oh well. In any event, here are all the cocktails (mostly) in the order we got them:

    BarFlySF gave us three cocktails that invert classics using light instead of dark spirits. We like their use of homemade limoncello as a substitute for darker liqueurs. Their Union Square inverted the New Orleans classic the Vieux Carre.unionsquare1

    BarFlySF then took up our challenge to invert the Manhattan and created the Nemo.

    nemo

    And finally, BarFlySF, added another post and inverted the classic Brandy Sidecar and created the Pisco Pedicab. Extra points for use of blood oranges.pisco1

    ——

    Shake Strain and Sip took the inverted theme to another place altogether and put the drink inside an ice-cube. The Alice’s Looking Glass is a very cool, and very tasty, creation with rye and Aperol in the lead. (We made it with regular ice, still great).——

    901 Very Good Cocktails managed to create a cocktail, discuss the Butthole Surfers (a band from our youth, yes we are that old) and even promote the idea of moderation. We are all for moderation….in moderation.  The Shah Sleeps Cocktail inverts standard cocktail proportions and leads with Amaro Montenegro.Shah

    ——

    The Shorter Straw applied the inverted theme to the Super Bowl (we would still like to invert that outcome) and gave us the 35th Minute. The lights went out during the 35th minute of the game and we certainly would have liked to sip this beautiful Rhum Agricole-based cocktail while we waited.

    ——-

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  • Max’s Mocktail

    Max's Mocktail

    Max’s Mocktail

    Truth be told, we mix a lot of drinks and cook a lot of dishes with the blog in mind, but most of the things we make are simply to feed our family and friends. But when they do like something and ask for a recipe, you can be damn sure we are going to post it. Happy faces never get old, and successful dishes and drinks are still hard to come by. If you want the recipe, just ask, we are happy to oblige.

    max3max6As for this “mocktail”, our eldest son had his friend Max over to work on a school project and play some baseball. After some time outside, our son asked for a mocktail, and if our kid gets one, well, so does his guest. And since we had a bunch of fresh winter citrus available, including blood oranges and Meyer Lemons (two of our favorite ingredients) we figured we could make something the boys would enjoy. And Max liked this enough to want the recipe, so here it is.

    max4max5Max’s Mocktail combines blood orange juice, lemon juice, falernum syrup, a dash of Rhubarb bitters (optional) and sparkling water. So what’s falernum syrup? Falernum is a sweet West-Indian syrup with flavors of lime, ginger and clove. Falernum is a common tiki-drink ingredient and is a primary flavor in classics like the Jet Pilot and Zombie. You can find falernum syrup in many liquor stores, it is inexpensive and lasts forever. Just don’t confuse falernum syrup with Velvet Falernum, a version that has alcohol and isn’t safe for “mocktails”. We understand that many people won’t have falernum syrup, so we also have a second version of the recipe that subs a dash of lime juice, sugar and ginger ale for the falernum syrup and sparkling water.

    max7max8 Continue reading