• 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Nerds take advantage of a good name/story and global ingredients to cover seven continents with the Amundsen (nice historical reference guys!).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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  • The Viveka Cocktail And Homemade Limoncello

    viv

    The Viveka Cocktail.

    Many months ago we asked for our readers to guess the location of a photo we took in Kauai. The winner would get a cocktail named after them. The winner was our friend Viveka from My Guilty Pleasures, a blog about life with all it’s humor, delights, food and travel. It is also a blog about friendship. Viveka seems to collect friends, both in the physical and virtual world, at a very steady clip. She has a big, warm, generous heart.

    viv4viv5viv6Viveka is also patient. Because once she won our little contest, we knew we had to use a special homemade ingredient in her cocktail; limoncello. The only problem was that limoncello, while easy to make, takes a while. Like a few months. But we warned Viveka of the impending wait. And then we waited. And waited. But finally the wait is over.

    viv7Limoncello is basically a liqueur of lemon zest (with as little white pith as possible) soaked in grain alcohol (or strong vodka), strained and then sweetened with sugar syrup. You get a sweet, lemony liqueur without any sour notes. It’s good stuff. While you can make limoncello in just a few days, an infusion of 30-45 days is generally considered the best method. The you need to strain and filter the zest from the very-strong booze and add some simple syrup to get to about 60 proof and age it again for another 45 days (most people shorten this step). But since we are making cocktails, we took a slightly different path.

    viv3viv2Our one issue with limoncello in cocktails is that it is a bit sweet and not strong enough to lead a cocktail. It is good as an accent, but we thought it could fully replace gin or vodka if our limoncello was stronger and dryer. So rather than use a mix of 50% or more simple syrup, we went with about 35-40% syrup. And since we were using 135 proof Everclear as our base, we ended up at about 90-100 proof. The limoncello is a bit strong on its own, but has the juice to carry a cocktail and gives a slight warming feel as you drink it. Not too hot or boozy, but you know it’s there.

    viv8And that was exactly what we wanted for our special cocktail. Our friend Viveka is not a fan of dark booze like rum or whiskey, so we wanted to use a “clear” booze. We do enough gin drinks around here, so that was out. And since Viveka is from Scandinavia, we figured she knows her vodka. Boozy limoncello seemed liked a good fit. And we even had a recipe in mind.

    viv9The Viveka combines, boozy limoncello, Cointreau, lemon juice and muddled raspberries (or raspberry syrup, if you must). The drink is a riff on the 1934 Cosmopolitan (an older,  lesser-known- but IMHO better- version of the Cosmo), with the boozy limoncello replacing gin and fresh raspberries rather than syrup. (If using lower-proof limoncello, just add 1/2 oz. good vodka and a touch more lemon juice). What you get is a bright lemon sip that isn’t particularly sour, mixed with sweet orange and raspberry notes that almost seem to dance around. On the finish you get a nice warm kick from the limoncello. This drink has a warm heart, just like Viveka…..Here you go Wivi!

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  • Mixology Monday LXXII Cocktail: CSA Gin

    The CSA Cocktail.

    The CSA Cocktail.

    Another Mixology Monday is here and (hopefully) we got this in under the wire. This month’s theme is “Drink Your Vegetables” and is hosted by Rowen at the Fogged In Lounge (a very good cocktail blog, worth a visit). And thanks, as always, to Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping this whole shindig going. So here are the details of the theme:

    csa2Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.

    csa3csa4So you would think that a “farm” blog would have this one in the bag, right? Not so, my friends, not so. We struggled mightily. It’s a good theme, and certainly we like our veggies, but somehow it took a bunch of time for us to formulate anything remotely original, interesting or blogworthy. And we aren’t big Bloody Mary fans, so no fallback there, either.

    csa5So what to do? Two things. Firstly, we chose to use fennel, one of our favorite ingredients (we may change the name of our blog to “Fennel Farms”). Secondly, we decided to use veggies to actually craft the base spirit and the cocktail. In this case we use veggies, fruits and spices to make “gin” and then formulate a cocktail.

    csa6And since gin often features the anise and citrus flavors we find in fennel and some gins (Hendrick’s) favor cucumber, we figured we could start with the traditional juniper and build a “gin” with veggies, herbs, citrus and spices. In the end, we used juniper berries, cinnamon (cassia), baby fennel (more citrus notes), fennel fronds, cucumber slices, rosemary, lime peel, lemon peel and Cara Cara orange peel. We muddled like crazy, then added some vodka (a good use for vodka, you could never predict how gin would respond to all these new flavors) and then muddled some more. And then it got interesting.

    csa7Right out of the shaker we got the cinnamon, cucumber and a touch of the rosemary. Good, but not like gin. So we let the mixture steep for 6 hours and the citrus and fennel stared to kick in, while the cinnamon faded. Better, but not there yet. 12 hours later we got more of the fennel, citrus and the sweetness of the cucumber. Basically, we ended up with a ligher (albeit cloudier) version of Hendrick’s. We can live with that. We had to live with that, time was running out.

    csa1Now that we had our “gin”, we made the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) cocktail. With all the flavors here, we didn’t add much. A little lime, a little agave syrup and a few dashes of Angostura. The CSA cocktail opens with  cucumber and citrus nose followed by a sweet cucumber and agave sip. Then you get the lime and finish with the fennel, rosemary (we got more rosemary than juniper, we think) and cinnamon. Not bad, and it certainly would beg the question; “is this cucumber vodka or Hendrick’s?” And that will have to do. Rowen, you made us work on this one.

    The CSA Cocktail:

    (Serves 2)

    • 6 juniper berries
    • 1/2 cinnamon stick
    • 2 or 3 rosemary needles
    • Zest / peel of 1/2 lime
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 lemon
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 orange
    • 1/4 cup baby fennel, roughly chopped
    • 1 fennel frond
    • 4 slices cucumber
    • 6 oz. vodka
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. agave syrup
    • 4 dashed Angostura bitters
    • 2 lemon twists for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Add the juniper berries, cinnamon stick and rosemary to a cocktail shaker. Muddle thoroughly. Add the citrus peels, chopped fennel, fennel frond and cucumber. Muddle some more. Then add the vodka. Muddle again.
    2. Pour the entire mixture into an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least 6, and preferably 12, hours.
    3. Place the entire mixture in a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, agave syrup and bitters. Shake until well chilled and double strain (at least once, maybe twice) into a chilled cocktail glasses, flutes or coupes. Garnish with the lemon twists and serve.
  • Weekly Cocktail #46: Sunny In The Garden

    sungarden1

    Sunny in the Garden cocktail.

    We know spring just sprung, and hasn’t reached many of you at all, but we are already thinking about “long drinks” for summer. For those who are unfamiliar, long drinks are simply large volume cocktails, often six to eight ounces, with more mixer than spirits, usually served on the rocks and often associated with warm summer afternoons, garden parties and preludes to long naps. (We also like to drink them while gardening, but that is just us). The Tom Collins is probably the classic long drink, highballs like the Gin and Tonic also qualify, and there are other well-known classics like the Cuba Libre, Paloma, Pimm’s Cup and the Dark ‘n Stormy. All worth a try, and you may see some more here on the blog over the next few weeks.

    sungarden4sungarden5Part of the fun of long drinks is that you can take almost any mixer, add some spirits, and perhaps a few modifiers, and you have a new drink. The variations are almost endless and it is pretty hard to screw up. In most cases the mixer is non-alcoholic like juice, soda water or ginger ale, but we decided to make a long drink from an apéritif and just a splash of spirits. And if we mix with an apéritif, it will often be Lillet Blanc, one of our favorite ingredients. (See the Rose Pearl for another long drink, this time using Lillet Rose.)

    sungarden6Lillet Blanc is a fortified wine that combines white wine with citrus (mostly orange) infused spirits. It is sweet with citrus notes and a slight bitter quinine edge (if you like things a bit more bitter use Cocchi Americano) and is very easy to sip on the rocks. But we wanted to amp the orange flavor, tame some of the sweetness and add some “heat” from alcohol, but not mess with the core flavors of the Lillet. So we figured this might be the kind of cocktail that makes good use of the vodka gathering dust on our bar (gin tends to win out here at the farm). And while vodka is not always a respected mixology ingredient, it does have its uses, and this was one of those times.

    sungarden7The Sunny in the Garden combines Lillet Blanc, vodka, lemon juice, orange bitters and a large orange twist, served on the rocks. The aroma is wine, floral and citrus, perfect for summer. As for the taste, you get a big, sweet wine and orange sip up front, but balanced by the lemon juice and just a bit of kick from the booze at the finish. Is this the world’s most complex cocktail? Hardly. But is a very enjoyable sipper you can linger over, think “like white Sangria, but way better”. In fact, we may serve the Sunny in the Garden along with summer meals as a substitute for wine or Sangria. But summer is still a ways away, so for now we will just have to sip this while gardening. We can live with that. Now about that nap….

    Sunny in the Garden cocktail.

    Sunny in the Garden cocktail.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
    • 1 oz. vodka
    • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
    • Long orange peel, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and then strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with ice.
    2. Twist the orange peel over the drink and rub along the edge of the glass. Add the orange peel to the cocktail. 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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  • Weekly Cocktail #34: The Sawyer

    The Sawyer.

    With the Giants in the World Series and us trying to pick up the kids, get them to the game (doing homework in the car the whole way) and then drive back, it has been a tough week for cocktails around the farm. Not that we mind (Go Giants!). We do get to sneak in a beer now and then (thankfully they have decent beer and pretzels at the ballpark). But we still got to play a bit with cocktails and our focus drifted to using more bitters.

    We have been enjoying bitters in sparkling cocktails like the Seelbach and Rochelle-Normande, and started to look for more “bitters-heavy” cocktails to try. And if playing with bitters, then one of the better sources for recipes is Brad Thomas Parson’s cocktail book “Bitters, A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All“. The book has lot’s of history and data on bitters and dozens of classic and new recipes to try. We “sampled” most of the classics, with the Pegu Club being our favorite, so we drifted toward the more modern cocktails.

    And it didn’t take long for us to find the Sawyer. The Sawyer combines gin, sugar and lime with a full blast of over 25 dashes of bitters. It’s basically a gimlet with an almost radioactive amount of bitters. But we like gin and lime, so we are always happy to see riffs on the theme. In this case, the Sawyer has 14 dashes of Angostura, 7 of Peychaud’s and 7 of orange bitters (Regan’s #6 and/or Fee’s West Indian). And not only does the drink taste great with layers of spice, cherry, anise and orange, over a core of juniper and lime, but this recipe pretty much represents the “core” bitters you should have in a bar at home (we have more, but we’re geeky that way). And bitters usually cost anywhere from $5 -$15 bucks and last forever, so they are a worthwhile purchase. So here is a bit of info on the bitters:

    • Angostura: The #1 bitters you need in your bar. Many classic and tiki drinks use it and many recipes sub Angostura if you don’t have more exotic bitters handy. Angostura is dark, bitter and spicy with cinnamon and tamarind flavor. It adds a detectable “zing” to most drinks and a bit of a tannic finish.
    • Orange Bitters: After Angostura, orange bitters are the most common, particularly in classic cocktails. Regan’s #6 has deep, spicy orange peel flavors while Fee’s West Indian bitters have brighter, fresher citrus notes.
    • Peychaud’s: Is the bitters of New Orléans and the key to a good Sazerac and many other classic, whiskey-based cocktails. Peychaud’s has pronounced cherry and anise flavor.

    The other cool thing about the Sawyer is that is comes from Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC, one of our favorite places. In typical fashion, Don Lee the bartender created it and named it after the daughter of Wylie Dufresne, another famous NYC Chef. Got all that? This is all sort of “inside baseball”, but the Sawyer is a very tasty drink and features layered, spicy flavors and aromas while still managing to be light and refreshing. A very pleasant surprise, and a good excuse to go get some bitters.

    The Sawyer:

    (From Brad Thomas Parsons and Don Lee)

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 1/2 fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
    • 14 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
    • 7 dashes orange bitters (split of Regan’s #6 and Fees West Indian Orange bitters, if you can)

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass, cocktail glass or coupé.