• Mixology Monday LXXXII: The Hanalei Sour

    sour5Mixology Monday time again! And not a moment too soon. We were getting a bit one-dimensional with our cocktails here at the farm (playing with Old Fashioned variants mostly), so it is always good to get the creative juices flowing (pouring?). Here is the theme from the excellent Ginhound Blog (they took the name before we could):

    mxmologoSome of the most iconic cocktails are Sours… There is a reason for this: A perfectly balanced sour is a work of art. What has happened to the Margarita shows exactly what is at stake when mixes replace bartender skill. For this month’s MxMo I suggest that we test the sour to the limit: Are there citrus besides lemon, lime and grapefruit that works in a Sour? Is citrus the only possible souring ingredient? Could vinegar or other tart fruits or vegetables be used? Let’s also include the Daisies and the Fizzes – that widens the playing field with eggs and whatever makes you fizz to play with. Let’s play with the garnish – or just take Jerry Thomas’s advice from The Bon Vivant’s Companion: In mixing sours be careful and put the lemon skin in the glass.

    Ah, sours, one of our favorite types of cocktail. And just like last month’s theme of Highballs, it is a good reminder that there are only a few “families” of basic cocktails and that most creations are just riffs on a common core. So with this in mind, we got to work.

    sourThe cool thing about a sour is the basic construct is so easy: spirits, sour and sweet. The hard thing is making them all play nice together. Too much of any ingredient can make a sour into a mess. And while we are not big fans of the term “balanced”, it is the right term for a good sour. The sour brightens your palate, the spirits give some kick and the sweet smooths the flavor. Alchemy.

    sour1sour8Now we just needed some inspiration. In our case, since some of the crew are in Kauai (with a much smaller bar to work with), we chose to use local ingredients as our core. And in Hawaii that means sugar and pineapple, at one time both were the primary crops of the islands. We also have a bounty of local citrus (Tahitian and Calamondin limes) and local rum, Koloa from here in Kauai (good stuff). We also got some local coconut flavored sugar…hmmm. Time to make a local daiquiri variant….that may delve into the realm of tiki. But both daiquiris and tiki drinks tend to be sours, so when in Kauai……

    sour3The Hanalei Sour combines fresh muddled pineapple, lime juice, coconut sugar (or just superfine sugar), Koloa Gold Rum and Tiki Bitters (Angostura in a pinch). We also garnish with fresh pineapple, lime, rim the glass with the coconut sugar (vanilla sugar would also do well here) and add some bitters to the foam on top of the drink. Is this really a sour? Or more tiki? Not sure. But we are sure it tastes good.

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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.

    Continue reading

  • Weekly Cocktail #55: The Scorpion

    The Scorpion.

    The Scorpion.

    While I would never say we were stuck in a rut with our cocktails here at the farm, we did notice that we were in a bit of a holding pattern. Lots of gin and lime, lots of Negroni variants and Florodoras at every party (that trend won’t change soon, everyone loves those Florodoras). So we decided to look for something different, but also had an additional challenge: we still have our last big batch of Meyer lemons and Cara-Cara oranges to use before they go bad. Happily, if you have a lot of citrus, the world of cocktails has a pretty standard answer, Tiki.


    A beautiful friendship.

    A beautiful friendship.

    It was about time we got back to Tiki. Winter or summer, or anywhere in between, when you want a quick smile and a tasty sip a Tiki drink is usually the answer. The only hiccup in our plans for a Tiki drink is that many of our favorites use tart lime and/or pineapple juice, rather than lemons and oranges. But a little research on our Tiki app from Beachbum Berry gave us the Scorpion, as classic from Trader Vic Bergeron. Perfect.

    scorpion2And the Scorpion is a very good tiki drink, particularly for summer. The Scorpion combines orange juice, lemon juice, orgeat syrup, light rum, brandy, crushed ice and a fruit / mint garnish. The sweeter citrus, light rum and brandy give you a bright, clean sip without some of the aged rum and spice funk of many tiki drinks. If it wasn’t so boozy (hey, it’s still a tiki drink) you could almost make a summer punch out of the Scorpion. In fact, if you add some sparking wine and tiki bitters you have a lovely punch, in case you need to serve a crowd.

    scorpion5scorpion4The other fun thing we did with the Scorpion was pull out the blender (not something we do every day) and really go to town with our garnish. While we are all for mixing our drinks quickly and serving them, sometimes it is fun to take a little time and put on a show. We chopped the ice in the blender so it was nice and snowy and then crafted a fancy garnish of a Cara-Cara half-circle, two maraschino cherries and a mint sprig. Good fun and our reward was a an attractive, albeit very strong, cocktail. The perfect thing to get us back on track.

    scorpion6The Scorpion:

    (From Trader Vic and Beachbum Berry)


    • 2 oz. fresh orange juice
    • 1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
    • 2 oz. light rum
    • 1 oz. brandy
    • Crushed ice
    • Fruit and mint for garnish


    1. Crush the ice in the blender, then add the liquid ingredients and blend for 10 seconds. Pour into a large wine glass, Collins glass or tiki mug. Garnish with fruit and/or mint. 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.


    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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  • Mixology Monday Cocktail: The McCovey Cove

    The McCovey Cove Cocktail.

    Time for another Mixology Monday! (We know it’s Friday, we like to be early.) This month’s online cocktail party theme is “Garnish Grandiloquence”  and our host is Joseph at Measure + Stir, one of the most innovative cocktail blogs out there (and one of our favorites). Here are the details:

    I’m always shocked by the way that an orange peel or a lemon peel can transform the experience of drinking a mixed drink from something mundane to something magical. In a similar vein, eating the olive in a martini will totally transform the imbiber’s perception of the drink. So this Mixology Monday, let’s really make a study of art of the garnish, by mixing up drinks where the garnish plays a central role in the experience of the drink. Of course, you don’t have to make a latticework out of orange peels, a pirate ship out of citrus, or a ferris wheel out of pineapple and squash, but it sure would warm my heart. This type of garnish is traditionally in the realm of tiki, but you could mix anything, so long as the garnish is the star of the show.

    Very cool, but a bit of a challenge, as we tend to keep our garnishes simple. But part of the reason we blog is to constantly improve our skills, so we got to work. Happily, we had an easy subject to work with, the San Francisco Giants’ second world series win in the last three years. As die-hard fans there was no question we would create a cocktail to celebrate. And our friend Sonja even gave us Giants cocktail umbrellas. Well, now we had one garnish, but motivated by Joseph’s Gourd Vibrations we decided to make the “glass” a garnish as well. And since the Giants are all about orange and black, we decided to use a hollowed orange with the SF logo and include a black (or very dark brown) cocktail. And after going through a bunch of oranges, we got our cocktail and named it after McCovey Cove, the body of water outside the Giant’s ballpark (knick-named after Giants’ Hall of Fame player Willie McCovey). Buster Posey was just named MVP, so we almost named the cocktail after him, but he doesn’t seem like the drinking type….

    As for the actual cocktail, the McCovey Cove is our adaptation of a Port Antonio, a tiki drink with gold and dark rum, lime juice, coffee liqueur and falernum. The Port Antonio is a good tiki drink that uses the coffee to add some aroma and slight bitter notes to cut through the sweetness of the rum and falernum, a “grown-up” tiki drink.  We wanted to go even more “coffee-forward” and developed the McCovey Cove. The McCovey Cove has aged Jamaican rum, high-proof coffee liqueur, Cherry Heering, lemon juice, allspice liqueur and a big orange twist (or hollowed orange) as a garnish. The McCovey Cove features a full orange oil and spice aroma followed by strong coffee and vanilla flavors backed up by the fruit of the Heering and the spice notes of the allspice liqueur. The lemon juice provides a backbone of citrus and acidity to keep the overall flavors bright and refreshing.

    A few notes on ingredients. We use Kahlua Especial, a 70-proof version of Kahlua in this recipe, we prefer the flavor and extra spirits. Most high-proof coffee liqueurs should work, but they vary in coffee flavor, so be ready to tune the recipe. As for the allspice liqueur (also known as pimento dram), it is a useful tiki ingredient featuring a full blast of holiday spices that are a great foil for sweet rum and citrus. St. Elizabeth makes a commercial version, but Alicia at Boozed and Infused has an excellent DIY recipe here. In a pinch, you can sub tiki bitters or Angostura for the allspice liqueur. Finally, Cherry Heering is one of the best cherry liqueurs and a worthy addition to any bar. Heering works equally well with gin, whiskeys and rum- go get some!

    Our thanks to Joseph for hosting this month’s MXMO and Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for managing the whole enterprise. It was great fun, as always. And we managed to slaughter only a “few” oranges making the McCovey Cove…but we think their “sacrifice” was worth it!

    The McCovey Cove:


    • 1 oz. Aged Jamaican rum (Appleton 12 year-old)
    • 3/4 oz. Coffee liqueur (Kahlua Especial)
    • 3/4 oz. Cherry Heering
    • 1/3 oz. Fresh lemon juice
    • 2 Dashes allspice liqueur (St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram)
    • 1 Large navel orange (or a big orange twist)
    • Cocktail umbrellas
    • Straw


    1. Carve a design into the orange using a channel or paring knife, if you like. Position the carving on the bottom two-thirds of the orange.
    2. To hollow the orange, cut off just enough of the bottom rind of the orange to create a stable base, but don’t pierce the inner flesh. Then cut off the top third of the orange and carefully cut or scoop out the orange flesh (reserve for juice). A grapefruit knife is a helpful tool.  Set aside.
    3. Combine the rum, coffee liqueur, Heering, lemon juice and allspice liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold and strain into the hollowed orange filled with fresh ice. Garnish with cocktail umbrellas and add a straw. Serve.
  • The Farm At The Beach

    Breathe. Relax. Read a book.

    Well, we are back. Or at least settled. We are now at our “home-away-from-home” on the east end of Long Island. One of our favorite places in the world. I guess you can call it a “home” because we have plenty of friends and family here, and we pretty much know where everything is. That may seem simplistic, but part of being comfortable is familiarity. We cooked in three different kitchens in the last thee days but pretty much knew where everything was. Other people’s kitchens are a tough place to cook, but we know our way around. We can get back to business. But before we cooked, the first business was meeting the two newest members of our extended family. Beautiful babies and happy, if somewhat tired, parents. We can almost field a football team with all the cousins- which is very, very cool. We are so blessed and lucky, and the babies give us a reminder of just how good life is. And they are cute, too.

    Radishes are in season here, and very tasty.

    And we did get back to cooking. In many of our posts, we mention that certain dishes and drinks are good for a crowd. Well, we put a few to the test already. Most meals over the weekend fed groups of 15-20. So far, so good- but we do have a few notes and revisions. And, happily, mostly to the good. As for the actual food, we tend to have simply prepared fish and shellfish as our main courses. Seared ahi tuna, roasted striped bass, sea scallops and steamed clams made it to the table over the weekend, and will be part of almost every dinner this week. Most were caught within the last day or so. The fish is so fresh you don’t need to do much (just don’t screw them up), so we focused on sides that highlight the seafood or feature the local produce.

    The coconut rice goes well with the local fish. A big hit- we will make this throughout the trip.

    Firstly, we had fresh local radishes and served them with butter and salt. Always easy, always good. (My Dad also makes kick-ass guacamole every day, but that is another post). The biggest hit so far is the coconut rice. The rice went very well with the seared, rare ahi tuna (steaks almost 2 inches thick and sooo good). Served with a dash of soy and some cilantro chutney (working on that recipe), it was a perfect fit. A table of 16 were all very happy. One note here, we made the coconut rice with “Light” coconut milk, as the store was out of regular coconut milk. If anything, the light coconut milk gave the dish plenty of flavor, but perhaps a slightly lighter texture. Good to know that we can make a lower-calorie version of the original.

    We added fresh corn kernels to the Red Cat zucchini- it was great.

    Another surprise was how well the coconut rice went with the Red Cat zucchini. The dish comes from here, so everyone enjoyed it (the zucchini was right from the CSA), but as the dish is more Mediterranean, we are surprised how well the flavors meshed. Another note here- we added some fresh corn kernels to the zucchini and they added lovely texture and sweetness. If you have corn, give this a try. The next day we took the leftover coconut rice and combined it with the zucchini and corn. It made a delightful cold summer salad.

    As for the cocktails, we made fresh Tommy’s-style margaritas every day (2 oz. blanco tequila, 1 oz. gave nectar, 1 oz. lime juice). But the big hit was the Lani Honi. As predicted, everyone thought of it as a lemony summer punch with a little extra depth. We served a pitcher alongside the margaritas and the Lani Honi held its own. We had requests for more the next day. Very good.

    As expected, a perfect drink to make for a crowd.

    Lastly we made a punch-sized batch of the Nouvelle Fleur. The drink was a success, but did need some tweaking. In the original recipe we used ruby-red grapefruit and the flavors meshed very well. Out here, we used white grapefruit and the drink was way too sour. Happily, a little extra St. Germain and some agave nectar did the trick and the Nouvelle Fleur was a success, particularly with grapefruit fans. But a quick reminder that it pays to taste your drinks and adjust as necessary.

    A great punch, but we needed to adjust for more sour white greapefruit.

    Today we are off to the CSA garden and then looking for corn and stone fruits. And just wait until we start talking about the pies…oh my. We have new photos and recipes coming all week! It’s good to be back.