• Weekly Cocktail #24: Long Island Iced Tea

    Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail.

    Well, “when in Rome…” And in this case, “when in Long Island….make Long Island Iced Tea”.

    While this cocktail is much tastier than you might think, there is no tea in this drink, and there is nothing “long” about it. “Long” drinks usually denote cocktails that are less boozy and often served in higher volumes, like a Pimms Cup or Dark n Stormy (a Diablo is also a good long drink). Long drinks often make for good summer cocktails, as you can sip them over a lazy afternoon. But with the Long Island Iced Tea, you can sip one over a full afternoon and still feel like you had a Three-Martini lunch…umm… make that a four-martini lunch.

    Many ingredients, but most are easy to find or are in your bar right now.

    The trick with the Long Island Iced Tea (Latin translation: needus designus driverus) is that most recipes suggest anywhere from four to seven ounces of high-proof spirits per drink (most cocktails have two ounces)- but you really don’t taste the booze. The Long Island Iced Tea tastes good (very good if you tweak the recipe), and goes down way to easy for its own (and your own) good.

    Most recipes suggest an ounce to an ounce-and-a-half each of gin, vodka, tequila, rum and triple sec, with some lemon, simple syrup and a splash of coke. We include that recipe below, but it is a bit sweet for most. And while it tastes good, most of the attraction is of the “I can’t believe this drink is smooth with so much booze” category. Our version lightens the drink somewhat (not much) but omits the triple sec and adds more lemon and coke. Usually we don’t mess with original recipes without changing the name of the cocktail. But there are literally dozens of variations on the Long Island Iced Tea (see here, if curious), so whats one more version of the recipe?

    Long Island Iced Tea and ingredients.

    As for the spirits used in the recipe, there is no need for anything special. Decent, inexpensive rum, gin, tequila and vodka will do fine. The real alchemy of the drink is how the spirits mesh, if you add something too good, or aged, it won’t help and may actually harm the drink- and why waste the money? If you do want the best result, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup will work better, but sour mix will work in a pinch. All recipes suggest Coke, and that’s what we use, but any decent cola should be fine. And serve with lots of ice, the dilution helps the drink, and softens the booze (a tiny bit). And in the end, you have a very tasty drink that is a good summer sip. Think rum and coke, but with more tartness, depth and complexity. Just be careful if you have more than one.

    A few too many and you may end up looking like this…

    As for the history of this drink, there are simply too many stories to know where it came from. TGI Fridays claims they invented it (doubtful), but bars from Long Island to Tennessee also claim to be the creators. And to make matters worse, the timeframe varies anywhere from the 1920’s to 1970’s. But since neither tequila or vodka were common in the states until the 1950’s, we suspect the Long Island Iced Tea is a more recent creation. But perhaps fittingly, after a few of these cocktails, no one would remember anyway… ;-)

    The Long Island Iced Tea: (Our version)

    Ingredients:

    • 3/4 oz. white rum
    • 3/4 oz. blanco tequila
    • 3/4 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. vodka
    • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
    • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
    • 2-3 oz. cola
    • Lemon wheel, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Combine the spirits, lemon juice and simple syrup in a highball or Collins glass with lots of ice. Mix and then top with the cola. Add the lemon wedge and serve.

    Continue reading

  • A Visit To LongHouse Reserve

    Elephants almost fly at the LongHouse Reserve.

    Chihuly installation on the lily pond. Cobalt pussy-willows look magical.

    Jack Lenor Larsen’s house is part of the reserve.

    It is amazing what we sometimes find when we just look around. We are here in eastern Long Island for family, friends, food and the beach. But, perhaps out of luck, this year we found a few new places that feed the soul. Our first discovery is the Quail Hill CSA, a beautiful (and bountiful) CSA farm in Amagansett. Our time at the farm with our friends slowed our pulses for a few days, and the boys are still excited to eat their “crop”. Good times for the gardener who has visions (delusions?) of farming.

    Sculpture by Buckminster Fuller. Note the kids (respectfully) get to enjoy the art.

    More fun with kids and art. A great introduction to art and design.

    Fun and thoughtful landscaping abound. Here is a “Bed-of-nails” plant.

    But just a few miles away, in East Hampton, lies another treasure that is a whole other type of garden, the LongHouse Reserve. The LongHouse Reserve is a living art and sculpture garden founded by Textile designer and collector Jack Lenor Larsen. The Reserve features acres of gardens with beautiful sculpture and landscaping from dozens of artists and designers including de Kooning, Fuller, Chilhuly and Libeskind. World class art and landscape design are everywhere, but this is no museum. The LongHouse Reserve is a living, well-tended garden where you can stroll and relax amidst a compelling mixture of the best work of man and nature. A serious art aficionado will enjoy a visit, but so will your kids. Simply a delightful place. We are very grateful to all involved for their work. Continue reading

  • Quail Hill Farm: CSA? Heaven? Both?

    Flower at Quail Hill CSA.

    The rules.

    While we miss our own farm, it is hard to be sad here on the east end of Long Island. We are on some of the best farmland in the world, next to some of the best beaches in the world. And where you don’t have vacation homes, you still see many productive farms. And farm stands selling fresh produce are just about everywhere. The corn, potatoes, zucchini, squash, berries and stone fruit are all great this year. Yum.

    Today’s lineup.

    Your map.

    But there is one very special farm, Quail Hill, that is more than just some tasty produce. It shows the true potential of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to benefit an entire community. Quail Hill is a CSA on 30 acres of donated land and is supported by over 200 member families. The member families pay for a share of the produce and harvest a few times a week (anyone can visit, you just can’t harvest). The staff run the farm and have an apprentice program to educate future farmers. Farmland is preserved, new farmers are trained, families get access to a “real” farm. Oh, and the produce is awesome. Good land, great weather and hard work get you a good crop.

    Garlic for the taking.

    Fennel. We caramelized this and served with the steamed clams. Good match.

    Lots of squash and zucchini.

    While we aren’t members, our friends Chad and Monica are, and we got to visit for a Tuesday harvest. The farm is beautiful and bucolic, but also a place of work. Everything at the farm is there for a reason. While many people (including us) wax poetic about growing food, somebody has to spend some time in the dirt. But it is certainly good dirt. Good dirt makes a good farm. We will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

    Huge herb garden- take what you need.

    The herbs for the steamed clams.

    Orchard- mostly stone fruit.

    Peaches.

    Rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and eggplant.

    A little of the weekly haul. Continue reading

  • 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.