• Mixology Monday XCVIII Roundup: Hometown Hooch

    bergman-zombie-3Time for our roundup of truly awesome cocktails from this month’s Mixology Monday. We had the pleasure of hosting and our theme was “Hometown Hooch”. If you want more info on the theme, see here. But, in short, we were looking for cocktails that feature some of the bloggers favorite local spirits, and we were not disappointed.mxmologo

    We had many submissions from cocktail hotbeds of Boston, the Pacific Northwest and the Bay Area. But we also had some excellent cocktails from all over the US and serious representation from Europe. It seems the whole world is making local, craft booze. We think that is a good thing.

    We will start with the Bergman Zombie (see the first cocktail image) from Robin at Kitchen Shamanism, a very good Scandinavian cocktail blog (worth a visit). The Bergman Zombie features Facile Stockholm Punsch, a version of the venerable Swedish Punsch. We are fans of the funky notes of Batavia Arrak in Swedish Punsch, so we will certainly be trying this one (we are always looking for excuses to mix a Tiki Drink).

    img_0500Next up is the North of 7 Rhubarbian from Delicious Cocktail Time. It seems that Ottowa is making serious strides in local distilling and DCT featured the Triple Beam Gin from North of 7 Distillery. Combined with Lillet, rhubarb syrup and lemon juice, the Rubarbian combines local gin with seasonal ingredients. Rhubarb plays very well with gin and Lillet- so this sounds good to us.

    hubbahub0717Our Master of Ceremonies at Mixology Monday, Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut gave us some old school local hooch along with some serious history. Seems that back in the day (like, the 19th century) many local distillers made bottled “punches” of booze, fruit and spices. Fred found a local product called “Hub Punch” and after a little time, Boston’s Bully Boy Distillers made a modern version. Fred’s Hubba Hubba, takes the Hub Punch into the 21st century (the post is worth a read, cocktail history never disappoints.)

    Boston MolassacreStaying in Boston metro, GarnishGirl gave us the aptly named Boston Mollasacre using local Folly Cove Rum from Ryan & Wood. Turns out that Boston was once a hub of rum production before whiskey became our national spirit. But even as rum production faded, there was still a LOT of molasses left around…with surprisingly dire consequences (take a look). Regardless, we love molasses, and combined with rum, ginger beer and lime, it’s hard to go wrong.

    strawbeerystrawbeery2Moving west to Seattle, the Shrubbery gives us two tasty cocktails featuring their strawberry champagne shrub (we want some of that!). The first cocktail is O’Keefe’s Wild Rose, featuring Hedge Trimmer Gin from Sun Liquor and Rose Sugar from Libertine Tacoma. The second cocktail is the aptly named Strawbeery Punch, a beer-based punch using Naughtly Nellie from Pike Brewery. Sounds like a perfect summer sip. Continue reading

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  • Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Wunderlich Park

    ginYes it’s Tuesday, but we drank this on Monday and we are hosting Mixology Monday this month so we get a little slack. Besides, a good drink is worth waiting for….who needs to be on time? Anyway, here is a quick reminder of the theme:mxmologo

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    Last week we made a cocktail using Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1. Venus is a welcome newcomer to the Bay Area’s ever-growing band of craft distillers. But we do have a “grandaddy” of craft distillers here on the Bay Area, St. George Spirits of Alameda. St. George distills all kinds of spirits (all worth trying, particularly the coffee liqueur and their truly unique Rhum Agricole), but we are huge fans of their family of gins.

    gin2And we do mean “family” of gins. St. George has three gins: the “Botanivore” a dry, smooth and (unsurprisingly) botanical gin, the “Dry Rye”, a pot still and rye grain creation that has a fuller, spicier flavor, and then there is the “Terroir”, a truly “hometown hooch”.

    gin3Terroir Gin was designed to truly reflect the land of northern California, and in our opinion, St. George absolutely nails it. The key flavors are Douglas fir, bay laurel and sage. But if you have ever smelled a Redwood forest in the morning, that is how the Terroir Gin tastes, clean, clear notes of pine and forest floor and just a bit of citrus to balance the sip. The Terroir is strongly flavored stuff, the pine almost kicks you in the face, but there is nothing like it (just as there is no place like Northern California).

    As for our cocktail, we wanted to make a Martini variant that highlighted the forest flavor of the Terrior while softening the edges. When we tried vermouth with the Terrior we found the herbal flavors could fight with the pine flavor. The bitter edges of quinquinas didn’t work either. So we tried a few dashes of Pineau de Charentes, a French fortified wine that has sweet, slightly honeyed flavors with a touch of acidity. The Pineau took some edge off the Terroir without muting the overall flavor.

    gin4We also wanted to see if we could expand on the forest / pine flavors of the Terroir and we already had an ingredient in mind, Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit bitters. The hoppy bitters have their own earthy notes with a nice kick of grapefruit. The added citrus (along with a big lemon twist) truly balanced the pine and earth flavors of the Terrior and the sweet notes of the Pineau.

    gin5We named the cocktail the Wunderlich Park, after our local park that has a large Redwood forest. If you want to know what a walk through our local park is like, just try a cocktail with the Terroir Gin.

    gin1Thanks again to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping our monthly cocktail party on track…

    Wunderlich Park:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. St. George Terroir Gin
    • 1/2 oz. white Pineau de Charentes
    • 2 dashes Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
    • Lemon twist, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Place all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupé. Twist the lemon peel over the glass and add to the drink. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday XCVIII Cocktail: Abeilles et Lavande

    lav5Since we are hosting Mixology Monday (and don’t worry, the due date is 6/15) we thought we should post a few cocktails for our “Hometown Hooch” theme over the next few days- this is our first. Here is the breakdown:

    One of the best recent developments in the world of cocktails and spirits is the reemergence of regional, craft distillers. And we say “reemergence” because 100+ years ago, before the twin scourges of Prohibition and virtual monopolization “industrialization,” distilling was often a truly local endeavor. Not so long ago, if you wanted some booze, it was often made in your neighborhood and for the tastes of the locals. Sadly, for a few generations, that wasn’t the case… But, quite happily, those days are back… There are literally hundreds of local and regional distillers making some seriously tasty spirits… and now is the time for our monthly online cocktail party to send them some love.

    Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer)… A little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

    We have to admit, we chose this theme because we have a few local distillers in mind; one well-established and nationally recognized, another a new kid on the block. We will start with the new kid on the block, Venus Spirits of Santa Cruz. The brainchild of Sean Venus, Venus Spirits makes a range of booze including whiskeys, aquavit, an excellent tequila (or “agave spirit”, since it is made in the states) and some very tasty gin. Not surprisingly, we really like the gin (the tequila didn’t last long either).

    lavlav1lav2Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 01 has a cool feature where they show the list of botanicals they use in their gin. In this particular blend, the flavor that truly stands out from the standard juniper and citrus is a delightful touch of lavender. You know the lavender is there but it never dominates or drowns out other flavors. And, most importantly, it doesn’t have any “soapy” flavors you often get with flowers like lavender or violets. With such a unique flavor profile, this is gin worth seeking out.

    lav4As for the cocktail, we decided to use local lavender for inspiration. We have the gin with lavender notes. And as it turns out, Putney Farm honey is mostly lavender and the lavender patch is right by our Meyer lemon tree. From there, we looked at our favorite gin and lemon cocktails and went for a riff on the classic French 75. We sub our lavender honey for sugar syrup, use a local sparking wine instead of champagne and garnish with a lavender flower from the garden. It tastes like a French 75 but with sweet floral aromas and light lavender flavor. A good sip from beginning to end- think lavender lemonade, just better…..way better.

    lav6We call the drink the “Abeilles et Lavande” (translation: Bees and Lavender). This is a serious “hometown hooch” cocktail.  In fact, everything in this drink comes from well within 50 miles….heck, the lemons, honey and lavender come from within 50 yards.

    lav7Abeilles et Lavande:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 1*
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 oz. lavender honey syrup (1-1 honey and hot water)
    • 2-3 oz. sparkling wine or champagne
    • Lavender flowers, for garnish

    * Note, if you can’t get Venus gin but want the lavender flavor, we suggest you lightly infuse a lemon/honey mixture with just a touch of lavender, a little goes a long way.

    Assemble:

    1. Put the gin, lemon and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled flute or coupé. Add the sparkling wine.
    2. Slap the lavender flower in your hand and add to the top of the cocktail as garnish. Serve.
  • Perfect Zucchini Recipe: Charred Zucchini With Summer Pesto

    Always better with a tasty beverage...

    Always better with a tasty beverage…

    Ah, the joys of zucchini. It grows so easily that it makes any gardener feel good. But then it keeps coming, and coming….and coming….and then you get so much you can’t even give it away (neither can your neighbors). And god forbid you try to cook it all- your kids will never forgive you if you serve it every night (trust us, we have tried and they haven’t forgotten).

    zuczuc1Happily we do have a few recipes that make the bountiful, but otherwise somewhat bland and watery zucchini worth eating throughout the summer. One of our faves is Redcat Zucchini, but that recipe is best done in small batches. What if you are grilling for a group? Well, this charred zucchini recipe is the perfect answer. This recipe is easy, tasty, time-efficient and it features ingredients that should be in your garden or farmers market right now.

    zuc2zuc4zuc5The steps are easy. Get some basil and mint from your garden and then make a pesto with some nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios work), oil, garlic and a little briny kick from some capers. Do some chopping, add some parm and/or pecorino and you are ready to go (oh, and you can do this ahead in big batches- this pesto works with anything).

    zuc6zuc7As for the zucchini, the char on the grill is the way to go (you could use a broiler in a pinch). If you are grilling you can char the zucchini briefly right when the coals go on the grill and are at their hottest (usually too hot for cooking proteins). It only takes a minute or two on each side. And you do want some char, those smoky notes balance with the fresh flavors of the pesto.

    zuc9 Continue reading