• Weekly Cocktail #51: The Queen’s Park Swizzle

    The Queen's Park Swizzle

    The Queen’s Park Swizzle

    Happy Friday everyone! We like Fridays here at the farm, and the best thing about them is they happen every week….So now that the weekend is here and the forecast is for sunny skies and 80 degrees, what to drink? When the sun is out we tend to look towards gin, rum and long drinks.  G n T or a Collins? Great, but we have been there (and will continue to do that). Tiki? Awesome, but often complicated. Punch? Always good, but then we have to throw a party (a good excuse, btw). But how about a Swizzle?  Now that is something worth exploring…

    swizswiz1What’s a swizzle? Basically it is a rum-based cocktail (almost always, although Chartreuse swizzles are very tasty) served with crushed ice that is then vigorously stirred or “swizzled” using a spoon or “swizzle stick”. When you swizzle the cocktail a nice layer of frost forms on the outside, and the drink itself gets very, very cold. Popular in the Caribbean, swizzles are meant for long, lazy sipping on hot days.

    swiz2swiz4There are all sorts of swizzle recipes out there, but this one, The Queen’s Park Swizzle, is one of our favorites. A combination of mint, Demerara rum (we add some aged Jamaican rum), lime juice, sugar syrup and bitters, the Queen’s Park Swizzle is a simple, smooth and flavorful drink. It is also very strong, with almost double the normal amount of booze, but these drinks are meant to be nursed over time. As it is, we usually have only one (and if we had two we probably wouldn’t remember anyway).

    swiz5The one surprise about the Queen’s Park Swizzle is the flavor. You might expect a big bold drink, but instead you get soft, mellow flavors. You get a big whiff of mint from the garnish, followed by a sweet, rich rum sip with just a touch of the lime, mint and bitters. This is really a rum drink, with the other players in supporting roles. Demerara rum (we use El Dorado 3yr old here), with its smoky flavors is the traditional choice for this cocktail, but we add the aged Jamaican for a little more funk and vanilla notes.

    swiz6As for the history of this cocktail, the recipe supposedly comes from the (now closed) Queen’s Park hotel in Trinidad. Some say this was one of the first swizzles, but like most things in cocktail history, the facts are a bit fuzzy. Pretty much everyone in the hemisphere had rum, sugar, limes and bitters. Most people had readily available ice by 1900, and they all know how to stir. So maybe this was the first swizzle, maybe it wasn’t. We just know the Queen’s Park Swizzle is our first choice when we swizzle….now we just need to swizzle more often…;-)

    swiz7The Queen’s Park Swizzle:

    Ingredients:

    • 8-10 mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
    • 2 oz. Demerara rum (or use 3 oz. and omit the Jamaican rum)
    • 1 oz. aged Jamaican rum (optional)
    • 1/2 oz. rich simple syrup (2 to 1 sugar to water)
    • 1/2 oz lime juice
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Lime wheel, for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Place the mint leaves in a highball or Collins glass. Lightly muddle the mint and rub it along the inside of the glass.
    2. Add the liquid ingredients to the glass and then fill it with crushed ice. Then, using a spoon or swizzle stick, stir the drink until it is very cold and a light frost forms on the outside of the glass. Top off with more crushed ice to fill the glass, if needed.
    3. Garnish with a big sprig of mint and a lime wheel. Serve.
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  • 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.