• Bonus Cocktail: Reagan Meets Gorbachev

    Reagan Meets Gorbachev cocktail.

    NOTE: Sorry for the strange name, we will explain more below. But please read on, this cocktail is basically a Mint Julep variant that combines bourbon, vodka, simple syrup, mint and crowberry liqueur (substitute blackberry liqueur or crème de Cassis).

    Meanwhile, one of the unexpected (but positive) surprises of cocktail blogging is our friends’ willingness to bring us fun, and sometimes rare, spirits to play with. Booze is always welcome here at the farm. And last week Carolyn’s Dad, and my good friend, Bill brought us two liqueurs from Reykjavík Distillery in Reykjavík Iceland (thanks Bill!). The first liqueur was a very tasty blueberry cordial. But the second was a crowberry liqueur, and we had never heard of crowberries. So we decided almost immediately that a crowberry cocktail was in order. Challenges are good, it means we get to experiment.

    East-meets-west ingredients…

    And after a few minutes of internet research we had at least some information on crowberries. Crowberries are the fruit of a dwarf evergreen shrub found in temperate and sub-arctic regions- basically they grow where it gets cold. Not surprisingly, they are a common food of the Sami in Finland and are also widely found in Iceland. Crowberries have lots of vitamin C and antioxidants, but are often lightly flavored. Their flavor is often described as watery blueberry with some tannic or black currant notes. But while the fresh fruit might be watery, fermentation and distillation concentrate flavors. So we were hopeful the liqueur would be tasty.

    A little fun with antique julep cups…

    Happily, the crowberry liqueur is quite good and tastes somewhat like a sweet mix of blueberries, blackberries and a little currant. So now that we had a good flavor to work with, we needed the cocktail. And since the liqueur is from Reykjavík, we wanted a theme based on the city. But the only thing we know about Reykjavík is that it was the location of the 1980’s meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev where they negotiated some of the IBT, but got hung up on SDI and the delayed approval of SALT II and then zzzzzzzzzzzz….. Let’s just say it was where Reagan and Gorbachev realized that both sides were open to broad concessions and they developed a personal relationship. This led to some good things; Soviet collapse, walls coming down, Maseratis in Moscow, etc….

    Adding dark fruit liqueur to Mint Juleps is a winner. The vodka helps the fruit show in the drink.

    As for the cocktail, we wanted to include both American and Russian spirits with the crowberry liqueur. Bourbon and vodka were the obvious choices. And as for the julep variant, there are many good blackberry juleps out there, so using crowberries isn’t a stretch. The vodka is not only Russian, but it lightens the bourbon without diluting the alcohol and helps the mint and crowberries shine through. Sometimes we think the bourbon overwhelms in Mint Juleps, but the vodka brings a sense of, ummm…detente (ugh, eye-roll).

    Overall this is a lighter, fruitier version of a Mint Julep that still has plenty of flavor. And you can substitute any dark fruit liqueur for the crowberry. So while we don’t expect many people to have crowberry liqueur, give this version of the Mint Julep a try, it may lead to good things.

    Reagan Meets Gorbachev:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. bourbon
    • 1 oz. vodka
    • 1/2 oz. crowberry liqueur (or substitute dark fruit liqueur like blackberry or crème de Cassis)
    • 1/3 oz. Demerara or simple syrup
    • 6 mint leaves
    • Sprig of mint, for garnish
    • Crushed ice

    Assemble:

    1. Place the mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and lightly muddle. Then add the bourbon, vodka, crowberry liqueur and ice to the shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a lowball glass or Julep cup filled with crushed ice.
    2. Stir and top with extra crushed ice, if needed. Garnish with the mint sprig. Serve.
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  • Weekly Cocktail #26: The Polynesian Cocktail

    The Polynesian Cocktail. This is for you Viveka!

    This post marks a half-year of weekly cocktails at Putney Farm. And while it seems like a lot, there are so many more places to go with cocktails. We are certainly enjoying ourselves and hopefully our readers like the drinks, or at least the conversation (we know not everyone loves every drink). And with the “conversation” in mind, one of our blogging friends Viveka from My Guilty Pleasures mentioned she likes Vodka and Cherry Heering, so we decided to look for a cocktail with both ingredients. And as it turns out, a little research led us to the Polynesian Cocktail.

    The Polynesian combines vodka, Cherry Heering and lime juice. And some recipes include a little powdered or superfine sugar. It is easy to make and you can serve this cocktail “up” in a cocktail glass or on the rocks, it works either way. The flavor of the Polynesian comes across as cherry-limeade with a kick, and we are fans of cherry-limeade. This is a very easy drink to like.

    If you are unfamiliar with Cherry Heering, it is a Danish cherry liqueur, and in the opinion of many booze aficionados, one of the best fruit-based liqueurs in the world. Made from crushed cherries combined with neutral spirits and spices, and then aged in wood barrels, Cherry Heering has deep, developed flavors that work wonders in cocktails (and desserts). It’s been around with basically the same recipe since 1818, so you know it’s pretty good. And after Orange Liqueur, if you have one fruit liqueur in your bar, we suggest Cherry Heering. It works in all sorts of combinations, most famously the Singapore Sling and the Blood and Sand. But if you want to experiment, Cherry Heering is a very fun ingredient that blends well with both light and dark spirits.

    Polynesian Cocktail and ingredients.

    And this gets us to the vodka. Some cocktail enthusiasts and mixologists/bartenders have issues with vodka. It has no (or very little) flavor by design and is sometimes a bit heavily marketed and abused (see: Whipped Cream Vodka). But we like vodka in drinks when we want the kick and slight heat of the booze but don’t want to outshine fruit flavors. Carolyn is a true fan of Lemondrops, and I like the vodka/gin mix in a Vesper. And regardless of any cultural over-exposure, a good Cosmo is a fine drink and a crowd-pleaser. And the cold, hard blast of a vodka martini is still a good thing every once in a while. Sometimes we think of the anti-vodka crowd as the cocktail equivalent of the ABC (anything but chardonnay) “movement” in wine. Yes its popular, yes there are other fine spirits, but it has its merits. We will relax and enjoy vodka for what it is. And in a drink like the Polynesian, where you want the lime and Cherry Heering to lead the drink, vodka is the perfect spirit.

    As for why this drink is called the Polynesian, we have no idea, and some internet and cocktail book research didn’t help. There is nothing Polynesian about it…other than maybe the color and that it’s a good warm-weather sip. But who cares? A good cocktail is a good cocktail. Especially when shared with friends. Viveka, we hope you like it!

    The Polynesian Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 and 1/2 oz. vodka
    • 3/4 oz. Cherry Heering (or cherry brandy, in a pinch)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon superfine or powdered sugar (optional, we omit)

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupe’. Serve.

    -or-

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a highball glass with ice. Stir and serve.