• Citrus Cordials (Go Make A Gimlet)

    cordial5One of the great, ongoing arguments of cocktail geekery concerns the classic Gimlet. You see, some folks say a Gimlet is just Rose’s Lime Juice (originally Rose’s Lime Cordial) and gin. Other folks say a gimlet can be gin, fresh lime juice and sugar or maybe gin, Rose’s and then some fresh lime juice. Now this may seem somewhat trivial, but this kind of esoterica gives drinkers “cocktailians” an excuse to have more drinks…all in the name of “research”. Nice trick, huh?

    Regardless of the recipe, the Gimlet is a good cocktail that is also very easy to make. And since gin and Rose’s are available (and shelf stable) all over the world, it is nice to have a cocktail you can enjoy almost anytime/anywhere (joining classics like the gin and tonic and Scotch and soda). And even with Rose’s in the US being pretty artificial (corn syrup and plenty of preservatives and colors), the classic Rose’s and gin Gimlet is still served in plenty of good bars.

    cordialBut the Rose’s ingredient list did get us thinking that we could probably make our own lime cordial, and since we have a bunch of lemons we could make lemon cordial as well. So what is a cordial? Basically, a cordial is a mixture of concentrated citrus juice and sugar, usually also flavored by the citrus zest. Lime is the most popular cordial, but lemon and grapefruit cordials are also quite good.

    cordial1What is the difference between a cordial and a citrus syrup (like sour mix or oleo saccharum)? Most cordials are reduced by half using heat, while most syrups are not reduced or are made using “cold” methods. In general, syrups will have fresher, lighter flavors, while cordials will have a stronger more “candyish” flavor. We like both syrups and cordials in cocktails, but find that a combination of cordial and fresh juice adds extra layers of flavor to cocktails and house-made sodas.

    cordial2As for making citrus cordials, it’s easy (we adapted a recipe from Imbibe). Zest and juice some citrus, heat the juice with sugar, let it reduce by half and then cool, add zest and steep, then strain. From there, you can make gimlets (and a very good riff on the Margarita, btw) with your lime cordial and some fresh juice. With the lemon cordial we suggest you make the best whiskey sour of your life.

    cordial4And if you aren’t feeling boozy, the cordials are an easy base for tasty sparkling limeade / lemonade. We suggest 1 part cordial and 1 part juice to 3-4 parts sparkling water. Regardless, once you make some citrus cordial, it doesn’t seem to stick around very long- there are just too many tasty things you can make.

    The Classic Gimlet:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice)

    Assemble:

    1. Combine gin and cordial in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Modern Gimlet:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

    Assemble:

    1. Combine gin, cordial and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Putney Farm Whiskey Sour:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. bourbon
    • 3/4 oz. lemon cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters

    Assemble:

    1. Combine bourbon, cordial, juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.

    —–

    Lime Cordial:

    Ingredients:

    • 12 limes (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar

    Assemble:

    1. Zest the limes, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the limes until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

    —-

    Lemon Cordial:

    Ingredients:

    • 8-10 lemons (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 cup sugar

    Assemble:

    1. Zest the lemons, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the lemons until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
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  • Monthly Cocktail #3: The Bramble

    bramble8Here in California our endless summer drought? continues. But elsewhere we assume that fall is coming. With that in mind, we tend to think of “last gasp of summer” types of cocktails, and that usually brings us to the Bramble, a delightful combo of gin, lemon, sugar and blackberry liqueur (Creme de Mure). While most people here in the States haven’t heard of the Bramble, it is one of the most popular cocktails in the UK. And just like the Arctic Monkeys, this is an import from Britain that more Americans should enjoy.

    bramble1bramble2The story of the Bramble is also a good one. The history says that UK bartender Dick Bradsell came up with the Bramble as an answer to the Cosmopolitan. And we can say that while the Bramble shares the attractive looks of the Cosmo, it is a much better cocktail (sorry, it is…). Basically a gin sour enhanced by blackberry liqueur and made into a slow sipper using crushed ice, the Bramble is a warm-weather delight.

    bramble3bramble4Now, you may say “I don’t want to buy that Creme de Mure stuff, how often will I use it?” Well, considering how tasty the Bramble is (and that you can make a bourbon variant called the Black Demure), we think it is worth buying. But, if not, just adjust the recipe and muddle 3 or 4 fresh blackberries and some extra simple syrup. You will still have a tasty sip, even if it doesn’t get the intense blackberry flavor from the liqueur.

    bramble5bramble6 Continue reading

  • Our Garden, Growing Strong….

    grows….please forgive the obscure Game of Thrones reference (think House Tyrell). But our garden is growing strong, indeed. The hot and dry winter left us without cherries (not enough chill hours) and with withered greens. But our spring onions and potatoes were a delight and the blueberries and strawberries are simply amazing…and plentiful. No complaints.

    grows1grows8grows4It is our tomatoes that are truly growing strong, we practically have a tomato thicket. Frankly, we can’t wait. And along with tomatoes, our other warm weather plants like the eggplant, peppers and raspberries all look like they will have a very good summer. That means we will have a good summer.

    grows6grows11grows3Oh, and don’t even get us started on the apples, peaches and figs. They look good so far and we hope we can keep the varmints off them until late summer. It is a 50/50 shot at best…but hope springs eternal.grows10grows9 Continue reading

  • Mystery Fig Jam

    fjamWhile gardening tends to require some attention to detail, sometimes it is simply best to roll with things. And our figs are a good example. A few years ago we had a Black Mission Fig Tree put into the orchard. We cheated a bit and bought a tree that was a few years old and already a few feet high (hey, we wanted figs sooner, rather than later). But that tree didn’t last long, the gophers ate the entire root ball and the tree literally fell over. Nature often gets the last laugh, and your best plans are laid to waste.

    fjam1fjam2But that doesn’t mean we stopped fighting. We got another fig tree, wrapped the root and planting area with wire mesh and planted again (insert Monty Python’s Holy Grail “Swamp Castle” joke here). And this time we beat the gophers…..sweet! Oh, except the figs were green, not black, and now we have no idea what they are. Kadota? Adriatic? Greek Royal? Who knows….we just know they ain’t Black Mission. Ah, nature.

    fjam3Regardless, we got a decent spring crop and an excellent fall crop of these green figs. When ripe, the figs are soft on the outside and have beautiful bright red flesh. And they taste great, too. The only problem is that the figs don’t keep well. You need to eat them quick. And we do. But when you have a couple hundred figs, it is time to make some jam.

    fjam4fjam5fjam6And fig jam is a treat (even if it isn’t the most attractive thing going). It works simply on toast, but the rich sweetness is an excellent foil for cheeses and charcuterie. In fact, if you want a perfect sandwich, make a good grilled ham and sharp cheddar sandwich with fig jam. A perfect dish.

    fjam7fjam9fjam10The recipe we use is adapted from the Blue Chair Cookbook, one of our favorites. It is just figs with sugar and lemon juice and a splash of Yellow Chartreuse and Benedictine for herbal notes. Being the cocktail nerds “cocktailians” we are, we actually have Chartreuse and Benedictine, but If you don’t have them, ignore or use some candied ginger (or go buy some and mix some drinks). The only bummer with this recipe is that it takes a while. Nothing really hard here, it is just that you are making jam and need to do some boiling, reducing, stirring, etc. But since the figs go bad quickly, this is your best option if you grow or buy a lot of them.  Now if we could just figure out what kind of figs they are…

    fjam11Fig Jam:

    (Adapted from The Blue Chair Cookbook)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • You can use any ripe, thin-skinned green figs here, but Adriatic are suggested. Kadota or Greek Royal also work.
    • If you have thicker-skinned figs, you want to precook the fig slivers in a little simmering water until tender, then use as directed.

    What You Get: Delightfully rich and sweet jam that works with sweet or savory dishes. A way to use your ripe figs.

    What You Need: A jamming setup. What? You don’t have one? Well, now is the time…

    How Long? Forever. Well, not quite. But free up a few hours.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/2 pounds plus 3 pounds Adriatic figs, stemmed
    • 3 pounds white sugar
    • 6 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 2 ounces yellow Chartreuse
    • A few drops of Benedictine

    Assemble:

    1. Place 5 metal spoons on a plate and put them in your freezer for jam testing.
    2. Slice 2 1/2 pounds of the figs into 6ths or 8ths, depending on their size. Place the fig slivers in a large heatproof mixing bowl, add the sugar and mix. Let the mixture macerate while you make the rest of the recipe.
    3. Place the remaining 3 pounds of figs in a Stainless steel pot or kettle big enough to hold them in one layer. Add cold water up to 1/2 inch depth in the pot. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir and decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Then, using a potato masher, crush the figs to release their juices. Stir, cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the figs are mushy and translucent. Stir often to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pan.
    4. When the figs are done, put them through the a food mill with the finest setting and add to the slivered figs and sugar. Add anything that does not go through the food mill into the mixture as well, breaking up any large chunks. Stir everything together to dissolve the sugar, then add the lemon juice, Chartreuse and Benedictine. Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive pot or kettle.
    5. Bring the jam to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula. When the jam boils, lower to an active simmer. Simmer 7 more minutes and then mash again with the potato masher. Continue cooking another 25 minutes, stirring regularly and lowering heat of the jam starts to stick.
    6. Test the jam for doneness on the frozen spoons. Place the jam on a spoon, put it back in the freezer for 3-4 minutes, and then tilt the spoon. If the jam is gloppy and runs slowly, it’s done. If runny, cook a few more minutes and repeat the test.
    7. When done, pour the jam into sterilized containers and process per your manufacturer’s instructions (although we suggest processing in the oven, it’s much easier).