Thursday, December 20, 2012

Piny Cocktails for the Holidays

Bold and original, the Scots Pine will keep you festive this holiday season.

Both of us grew up celebrating Christmas. We still do. One year we visit one family in Connecticut, with hopes of freshly fallen snow blanketing the New England landscape; the next year, we escape the cold Brooklyn for the dry, saguaro-spiked desert called Arizona. Truth be told, we’ve never spent Yuletide in NYC, but we vow to spend Christmas in New York in the near future. That would make our job of making creative Holiday-themed cocktails a little easier, since we have over 150 bottles of booze on the shelves, and in the fridges (one regular-sized and two mini), with spillover in the sideboard.

With all those bottles, experimenting becomes a chore insofar as we have to decide among six ryes, eight gins, seven bourbons, four orange liqueurs—you get the idea. It’s a chore of which we never grow weary. What we imagine being a full-time taster for Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s might be like.

But being part-time cocktail tasters is just as fun. Indulgence has its limits (same as with ice cream), so you kind of have to know ahead of time what you want your cocktails to taste like; thus, what spirits, juices, and other ingredients you’re going to be working with. So, when your booze arsenal is vast and varied, you tend to use items you normally would keep hidden at the back of the shelf. It’s good to bring these spirits to the fore to challenge your creativity.

Over the years, we’ve been playing with the flavor of pine. Yes, pine, as in fir tree. The conifer you bring indoors and decorate year after year, just so you can get high on the piny smell of Christmastime. So we offer you two drinks that find their roots in pine and we bestow them names that befit their essence, O Tannenbaum and Scots Pine.

Paul came up with the Scots Pine a few years back, unbeknownst to Steve, who was away visiting family. Scotch whisky was primed to the be the main ingredient since Steve isn’t the biggest fan of the spirit. And Paul was itching to mix with a recently acquired bottle of Zirbenz stone pine liqueur. This liqueur smells like someone baking blondies in the middle of a coniferous forest. The taste is mildly sweet and resinous. It is definitely one of those things that make you go hmm, then mmm. Paul felt he was onto something when he mixed it with a blended scotch, but when he added some sweet vermouth (particularly Carpano Antica), he knew he was onto something. Here was a scotch cocktail that got some zing from the Zirbenz, but then a little taming and smoothing over the rough edges from the vermouth. Alas, a scotch cocktail that Steve would like. An orange peel expressed over and dropped into the glass was the one last touch needed to elevate this lovely drink to even lovelier.

The Scots Pine is the perfect cocktail to share with friends over an intimate Holiday gathering. A few sips will open the palate and pair nicely with an array of cheeses and little nibbles, like spiced nuts, preparing the way for dinner.

Scots Pine
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces blended scotch
1/2 ounce Zirbenz stone pine liqueur
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
orange peel, as garnish

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or coupe. With a vegetable peeler, peel a 3/4 × 2-inch swatch of orange, but careful not to get any pith. Express peel over drink and toss in.


❤ ❤ ❤

After dinner, you might want to gather round the dessert buffet with a simple drink we call O Tannenbaum. We came up with it one night when trying to come up with a cocktail for a NYC theatre company’s holiday party. It’s an odd bird really, using an old timey liqueur called crème de noyaux (pronounced nwah-YO), a primary ingredient in a pink squirrel (a great name that makes sense since crème de noyaux is almond-flavored and, in most instances, bright red). Mixing almond flavors with the juniper flavors in a London dry gin creates a piny explosion. The half and half unites these flavors with its mellowing caress of dairy, giving the drink a bright deep pink hue. Perfect for nibbling cookies by the fire while lovingly gazing at the tree.


O Tannenbaum
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces London dry gin
1 ounce half and half
3/4 ounce crème de noyaux
nutmeg, as garnish (optional)

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into chilled punch or small cocktail glasses. Garnish with nutmeg, if so desired, for an extra spicy kick.

Serves 2 (or 1, if you’re terribly thirsty).

Further Explorations in Pine
If you love the taste of pine, you must try Clear Creek Distillery’s Douglas Fir eau de vie. The aroma is slightly redolent of pears, with a hint of pine, but when drunk with a little water to soften its alcohol content (47.73%), the roles reverse. You taste the resinous pine, mellowed by a hint of pear. Exquisite.

cocktail photos © Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz
Zirbenz photo courtesy Haus Alpenz

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revamping the Jack Rose Cocktail

The Jack Rose is a classic, and one of seminal cocktail writer David Embury’s “six basic drinks.”

One thing that is permanent is change. Our tastes change all the time. One day we’re loving the sleek simple lines of a Calvin Klein sheath, the next we’re extolling the rococo color explosion of a Hermès print. This holds true for cocktails. Right now we are really into up drinks, like Manhattans and all their variations. Perhaps it’s the weather—in the colder months, we’d rather not be holding a glass of ice-filled social lubricant that continually negates the alcohol’s warming properties. But, alas, these rocks-free libations can be a little more difficult to pair with food. Especially if the cocktail uses spirits high in proof. (Ever take a sip of one after eating a bread-heavy canapé? It’s like tasting a communion wafer dipped in cheap wine. Alcohol throat-burn is not something to strive for when creating a harmonious cocktailing experience for your party guests.) “Up” cocktails, though, can and should be good foils for the hors d’oeuvres and party snacks we put into our mouths. That’s why we come up with perfect pairings. But perfect parings are never actually set in stone. Our tastes not only change then, they evolve. So, it’s important for the development of any chef, artist, writer—any creative person really—to reach into the past and reinvestigate matters that now, in the light of day, have become a bit troublesome. So now we will look back at an old cocktail recipe we honed years ago, one about which we have since changed our opinion.

The Jack Rose is that cocktail. The recipe is simple: applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine. Applejack is a Colonial American invention that was first made in an unusual process known as freeze distillation, also known as “jacking.” Apple cider (so important to these early settlers since potable water was hard to come by) is left to freeze during the cold months. Chunks of ice are removed from the cider when the water separates from the alcohol, making the remaining alcohol much more concentrated. Standard distillation supersedes this quaint process, and the liquor is much cleaner now, allowing for easy mixing with other spirits, juices, and sugars. Grenadine is essentially pomegranate and sugar, boiled down to a slightly viscous syrup.

When we first starting shaking these rosy-hued beauties and pairing them with simple fair, such as spiced nuts, we had three goals in mind, so as to avoid the dreaded alcohol burn.
  1. Keep the alcohol content low.
  2. Keep the sugar content on the plus side (the sweeter drinks usually pair more easily with the natural sugars in food).
  3. Make sure the cocktail has a decent amount of acid (such as juice, dairy, or wine-based spirits), since these acids create new flavors when confronted with foods ’ sugars and starches).
In our first iteration of the Jack Rose, we dutifully applied all three of these objectives: Applejack (Laird’s) with an alcohol content of 40% (the lowest level of alcohol a spirit can have to be called a spirit), check; a generous amount of grenadine (real pomegranate grenadine) to bring out the sweetness for easier food-pairing, check; and an amount of lemon juice to balance the alcohol and sugars, check. It’s a little on the sweet side, which may be off-putting to some, but allows for easier food pairings, especially with spiced nuts that in simpler circumstances would go well with an ice-cold beer.

But getting back to our main topic. Over the years, we’ve grown a little tired of our recipe. You see, we now prefer a higher-proof applejack that is far superior to our 40% abv applejack. It’s Laird’s bonded (50% abv) apple brandy. Much more complex, a little sweeter, and a little more fruit-forward, this spirit needs less sugar and more acid when mixed as a Jack Rose.

Keep in mind, though, that not all grenadines are created equal. Stirring s makes a decent one that is sweet, but not too sweet, such as the one made by Williams Sonoma. Avoid any all–corn syrup grenadines that look like fake blood in a bottle. Better yet, make your own, so that you can control the level of sweetness. Follow the recipes below, and you can whip up a perfect pairing that requires very little measuring, once you’ve got your ingredients all in place. Spiced nuts would be an ideal accompaniment.

Jack Rose
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces bonded apple brandy (50% abv, or 100 proof)
3/4–1 ounce real pomegranate grenadine (adjust according to taste)*
1/2–3/4 ounce lemon juice (adjust according to taste)

* Some brands are sweeter than others. Alternatively, you can make your own. See recipe below.

Method
Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Spiced nuts are the perfect accompaniment to a well-crafted Jack Rose.

Another great drink to try that uses apple brandy is the Hurricane Sandy.

❤ ❤ ❤

Grenadine

{ You can always make a smaller batch by halving the amounts }

Ingredients
2 cups 100% pomegranate juice*
2 cups sugar
1 ounce vodka

* You can always make this from squeezing pomegranate pips by using a hand citrus squeezer. Two large and heavy pomegranates and a splash of water should do the trick. This is very messy, so wear an apron and squeeze into a deep, wide bowl. 

Method
Bring pomegranate juice to a boil over medium–high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sugar. Stir gently until sugar is dissolved. Keep heat low and simmer for up to 15 minutes, until mixture is slightly reduced. Allow to cool. Add vodka and stir. May be kept for quite a while in the refrigerator in a clean 750ml bottle (or 325ml bottle for half recipes).

Variations
  • Orange flower water (also known as orange blossom water) adds another layer of flavor to the grenadine. Anywhere from 1–2 teaspoons stirred in once the heat is turned off.
  • Lemon juice may round out the sweet-tartness. A half teaspoon should do the trick.
  • Pomegranate molasses may add that super pomegranate flavor you might be looking for. Add about an ounce at the very end of simmering, stirring to incorporate.
Other libations that use grenadine are the Fjord, Global Punch, the Hurricane, the Monkey Gland, and the Scoff Law.

❤ ❤ ❤


Spiced Nuts
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread nuts onto a cookie sheet or ceramic baking dish. Put in oven on center rack for about 15–18 minutes.

Mix the salt, mace, cumin, sand brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter on stovetop. Set aside.

Once you smell the nuts, they are most likely done (do not burn). Remove from oven and add to a mixing bowl. Pour melted butter over nuts and mix thoroughly. Add spice mixture and mix thoroughly.

Pour nuts into a serving bowl and sprinkle any remaining spice mixture on top.

Serves 4–6.

More Cocktail Buzz on the Jack Rose
To watch our video pairing the our first iteration of the Jack Rose cocktail with spiced nuts, click here.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What To Bring This Thanksgiving: An Easy Side Dish and Cocktail Loaded with Fall Flavors

Whether you’re having Thanksgiving at home this year, or are visiting friends and family, the grapefruit and pear notes in a wine-based Aplomb will win everyone over with its simplicity and great taste.

When it’s someone else’s turn to throw a Thanksgiving feast, your host usually asks you to bring a little something to add to the cornucopia — something that won’t interfere too much with his or her preparations. Usually you hear, “A bottle of Pinot Noir would be great,” or “Bring something I can reheat as the turkey rests.”

We like to heed this request, as showing up with something unexpected can make the host harrumph. But instead of just a bottle of wine or another stuffing, we have two alternatives that we think may work in your favor: A wine-based cocktail and some carrot and parsnip triangles.

Roasted carrots and parsnips, well herbed, may be the perfect side dish. Make ahead and reheat when you arrive at your host’s place.

Let’s start with the triangles. This is a side dish that can accompany any meal really. Looking at the ingredients, we know that carrots are common enough, but parsnips at the table always seems to elicit a slight gasp, suggesting the vegetable’s exoticism. We often hear, “I never think to use parsnips.” Why not? They fit perfectly into the flavors-of-Thanksgiving profile — sweet, herbal, nutty. And as an added bonus, they are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium.

Finding thick-bottomed roots that abruptly taper to a point are the key to making triangles.

When shopping for these root vegetables, look for ones that are conical in shape (a wide base that tapers to a point, but roots that aren’t too long). If you can’t find ones shaped this way, then any will do. Just don’t call them triangles. Perhaps “Carrot and Parsnip Parallelograms” would be more appropriate.

Carrot and Parsnip Triangles

Tools
sharp knife for slicing
cutting board
large bowl
cookie sheet (lined with parchment) or baking pan
tongs

Ingredients
2 tablespoon olive oil
5 large carrots (preferably with a wide base and narrow point), peeled
4 large parsnips (preferably with a wide base and narrow point), peeled
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried chervil or parsley

Method
Preheat oven to 400°F.

On a cutting board, cut the carrots and parsnips lengthwise, in 1/4-inch strips. This will create the triangle shapes in varying lengths and thicknesses. Add to bowl, then olive oil and herbs and toss until all the vegetables are coated evenly.

Spread the vegetables out on a stone baking pan or a cookie sheet covered in parchment.

Place on center rack for 15 minutes. With tongs, flip and bake for another 10 minutes. (Watch to make sure the edges don’t burn.) Serve immediately.

You may add salt, but we feel the herbs bring out the sharp sweetness of the parsnips and the woodsy sweetness of the carrots.

Serves 8-ish. (It all depends on how many other sides are available.)

❤ ❤ ❤

Now that you’ve got your side dish out of the way, it’s time to focus on the drink. This one is called Aplomb because, at the eleventh hour, when the guests start to arrive, you want a drink with a name that evokes confidence and poise. The Aplomb is guaranteed to elicit oohs and aahs with its mix of pear liqueur, red grapefruit juice, and one of the easiest and delicious wines that is perfect for cocktail creations, Moscato d’Asti. Produced in northwestern Italy, this traditional dessert wine is fruity, with peach and pear notes, and not too sweet. You’ll also notice a slight effervescence if you take a sip. This type of wine is known as a frizzante, with the bubbles offsetting the sweetness. Adding pear liqueur brings out the fruit, and mixing with grapefruit juice creates a more interesting notes of sweet, bitter, and sour.

If you’d like to earn forever love and respect from your host, pre-batch the cocktail by shaking in ice and straining into a big 1.75-liter bottle. Bring a bag of ice and a bowl with you to keep it chilled at the bar, or, alternatively, if there’s room in the fridge (doubtful), or the host has a mini fridge, by all means keep it in there. Just take it out from time to time and refill your fellow celebrants’ glasses. A few gentle swishes before pouring should suffice.

Aplomb
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1/2 ounce pear liqueur (we like Xanté, but any will do)
1 ounce red grapefruit juice (you can substitute pink if you cannot find red)
1 1/2 ounces Moscato d’Asti wine

Method
Shake the first two ingredients in ice vigorously, so that little ice shards are created. Strain into chilled glass. Top with Moscato d'Asti. Garnish with grapefruit peel, if desired.

More Ideas, with Pairings

These other wine-based cocktails and apps may suit your taste buds (and your host’s) as well.
  • Deviled Quail Eggs paired with The Bird Nest (champagne, with a hint of blue curaçao and tequila)
  • Seedless red grapes and brie paired with The Wink (Moscato d'Asti, pear brandy, celery bitters)
Photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Ballad of Hurricane Sandy, or Drink Today, For Tomorrow You May Be Out

Our hearts go out to all the victims of Hurricane Sandy. 

Let’s not mince words: Hurricanes suck. Or blow, rather. For us Northeasterners, they used to seem exotic, exciting, a day off from work. But now, as global weather mutates from long-term exposure to the ever-changing whimsies of Man, compounded with Mother Nature’s own middle-aged problems, our planet provides little succor.

But if hurricanes provide one positive aspect, it’s that they bring people closer together. Just look at all the news stories about the fearless who rescued the elderly and sick from certain peril, the do-gooders who opened their doors to the needy. Selflessness on a grand scale.

The four stages of Hurricane Sandy:
Theo (calm), Curt (scared),
Steve (buzzed), and Paul (faking
confidence)
Take our recent Man vs. Nature battle against the tumultuous Sandy. While we did not perform heroic deeds, what little we had to offer was in the form of booze. We’ve got lots of it, and as Sandy began its histrionics, we left our penthouse aerie to wait out the blustery evening hours with our lovely friends Curt and Theo, on the safer second floor. Our survival kit: several bottles of spirits, a few limes we had left in the crisper, a shaker, and a bucket of ice.

When coming up with a Hurricane Sandy cocktail, we eschewed any association with the classic Hurricane cocktail of many rums, passion fruit, grenadine, orange, and lime. Although we do enjoy a homemade Hurricane (we had them during Irene’s shenanigans last year [SEE RECIPE BELOW]), and we had the ingredients on hand, we wanted to be at least a little bit creative as the wind started to pummel the building. But we also wanted something simple, something that could be made in the dark if the power decided to give up.

We decided that our main spirit would be twofold: Laird’s apple brandy (not Laird’s Applejack, but the bonded, higher-proof version, with the words “Apple Brandy” on the label [SEE PHOTO RIGHT]), and Southern Comfort. We chose the apple brandy because it’s made in New Jersey, and we wanted to pay homage because we knew that the Garden State would be hit hard. Southern Comfort was a more difficult choice. On its own, it can be a bit cloying, but when mixed with other spirits, this New Orleans spicy peach liqueur can really add depth, creating oodles of new flavors. Sipping them together, we knew we were on the right track.

Normally, we would then start to experiment with fresh citrus or other juices to add to the mix, but a convenient bottle of limeade saved us from having to constantly squeeze fresh limes. When we mixed the three together, we knew the three ingredients made for a happy menage a trois. Present at the finish was a lingering slightly grassy flan-like flavor that reminded us of Żubrówka, or Polish bison grass vodka. This made us happy. So happy in fact, we whipped up a batch of Cheddar Blue Fricos to pair with them before we ventured down to the second floor.

While mixing up our first batch at Curt’s place, we heard a loud crack, followed by an instant boom. We ran to the window to see a huge bough spanning the entire width of the street, lying atop a parked car. Neighbors flocked to the streets to see what had happened. The last thing we wanted to witness was another bough crashing down, so we implored everyone to get back inside. Luckily we had some Hurricane Sandys to assuage our fears of what was yet to come.

Hurricane Sandy
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/4 ounces Laird’s Apple Brandy (bonded, 100 proof)
1 ounce Southern Comfort
1 ounce limeade (we used Santa Cruz Organic Limeade)
lime wedge

Method
Shake in ice for 10 seconds and strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Squeeze lime wedge and drop into drink. Hope for the best.

Pairing Suggestions for Hurricane Sandy
Cheddar Blue Fricos

❤ ❤ ❤

And, if you’re a fan of the classic, here is a Hurricane recipe that everyone loved last year.

Hurricane
(adapted from Chuck Taggart, who inspired Gary Regan’s recipe in The Joy of Mixology)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces light rum
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces passion fruit syrup (if you only have passion fruit puree, use 2 ounces of the puree, plus 1/2 ounce of simple syrup*)
1 teaspoon of real pomegranate grenadine

Method
Shake with ice for 5 seconds and strain into an ice-filled Hurricane or tiki glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry on a cocktail pick.

* In a sauce pan over low heat, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water, stirring occasionally until all crystals have dissolved. Let cool and transfer to a clean, airtight container. May be kept in refrigerator for up to a month.

You Can Help
Many restaurants, bars, distilleries, food shops, and liquor stores in the hurricane zone were hit hard, and some face extinction. Those that are still operating need your support right now to stay in business. Stop by one before or after work today, or make a special trip this weekend, to keep their cash registers singing. Or make a donation to one of the many charities set up to provide relief. Peace.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sweet Bacon Bites Are the Perfect No-Brainer for Your Brunch or Cocktail Party

Sweet Bacon Bites, packing an umami punch, highlight one of our favorite taste combinations: sweet and salty.

The ongoing trend of adding bacon to just about everything doesn’t seem to have peaked, but rather continues to pique the imaginations of chefs and home cooks all around the globe. For years, we eschewed bacon with proclamations of “too fatty,” “unhealthy,” and the weakest excuse of all, “What will we do with all the grease?” Well, those days came to an end one day when our defenses weakened as we spotted a greasy spoon while on a road trip to Tennessee to experience Dollywood and Graceland. We plopped ourselves down in the welcoming booth and, during the course of our lunch, proceeded to devour crisp slices of bacon with, what else, eggs over easy with a side of creamy grits.

We survived the road trip and the bacon, so we thought that since everyone seems to love bacon again, why not just make something that’s all bacon, with a little sweetness added. A little light brown sugar sprinkled on top creates a crisp, succulent chew with every bite. You can sprinkle other pantry items on top of the bacon as well, like crushed pretzels, pecans, you name it. Let your whimsy be your guide. Although, as Sister Maria chirps in The Sound of Music, we do recommend you start at the very beginning and just use light brown sugar. It’s a very good place to start.

Sweet Bacon Bites

Ingredients
1 package bacon (such as Boar’s Head)
light brown sugar (1/4 cup for every four slices of bacon)

Method
Preheat oven at 400°F. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bacon slices in a single layer, side by side but not touching, on parchment. You can slice the bacon in half, thirds, or quarters depending on how long you want each piece (shrinkage is minimal). Sprinkle light brown sugar making sure to cover the bacon and not the parchment. Bake for 13 minutes. With tongs, flip bacon slices. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Tips & Tricks
  • If you leave the bacon slices intact, you can serve them in a wide-mouthed jar or vessel.
  • Save the bacon grease in the fridge for another application.
Suggested Pairings
We’d be hard-pressed to find a drink that clashes with Sweet Bacon Bites. It goes with just about anything. We’ve narrowed it down to a few drinks in our arsenal. And these caramelized nuggets of lusciousness are ideal for a brunch gathering or an evening party. Just make sure you have enough.

Brunch Suggestions
Harvey Wallbanger (vodka, Galliano, orange juice)
Adam (tomato water, moonshine)
Suzette (bourbon, orange and maple liqueurs)
Farrah Fawcett (light rum, Champagne, crème de banana, advocaat)
Ramos Gin Fizz (gin, cream, egg white, lemon and lime juices)
Mimosa (Champagne, orange juice)

Evening suggestions
Manhattan (rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters)
French 75 (gin, Champagne, lemon juice)
Kitty Carlisle (bourbon, Catdaddy, lemon juice, crème de cacao)
Mojito (light rum, lime juice, mint, sugar)
Jack Twist (walnut-infused Jack Daniels, walnut liqueur)
Oriental (rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, triple sec, lime juice)
Cosmopolitan (citrus vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juices)
Champagne Cocktail (Champagne, brandy or cognac, sugar)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two New Cocktails for a Headmaster and His Pupil

aka the Marriage of Bulleit Rye with Fernet-Branca

A few months backs when we visited Providence, Rhode Island, we were chatting with artists Matthew Lawrence and Jason Tranchida over some strong Bulleit rye cocktails. When they asked us to come up with a signature cocktail for their art and literary magazine Headmaster, we jumped at the opportunity. We love creating new drinks for events, but this one was special. Matthew declared his love for Bulleit rye, which we also adore, so we started to experiment with drinks we thought would unite the spiciness of Bulleit rye—with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and tobacco—with the themes of avuncular strength that a Headmaster evokes.

Since the New York launch would be held at Tender Trap in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (how perfect is that!), we decided to check out their stash and see what we could come up with on the fly. We espied a bottle of the bitterest of bitter liqueurs Fernet-Branca on Tender Trap’s wee shelf, and decided to start with a Manhattan variation, substituting the traditional Angostura bitters with the Fernet-Branca. What sealed the deal occurred when the lovely bartender Rebecca pulled out a bottle of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth from the fridge. If you know us, you know how much we love love love this exceptional vermouth. Serendipitously, it’s made by the same geniuses who put out the Fernet-Branca. The Fernet-Branca brings out the subtle smokiness of the Bulleit rye extremely well. The Carpano smooths and sweetens the ride, but not too smooth or sweet. This is the Headmaster after all, and the drink should be strong like a Headmaster.

But we couldn’t just create one cocktail for the Headmaster 4 party; a companion was needed, something a little lighter, for those imbibers who like some fizz and ice in their drink. That’s where The Pupil comes into play. It is definitely lighter than the Headmaster 4, but has the same Bulleit Rye/Fernet-Branca taste combo. The ginger ale, which adds the fizz, smooths it out in the way the Carpano Antica does in the Headmaster 4. Both will make you feel that little click we all seek when we bring a cocktail to our lips, ironing out any bumpy ride the day may bring. 

Headmaster 4
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces Bulleit rye
1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1 dash/drizzle Fernet-Branca

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The Pupil
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Bulleit rye
1 dash/drizzle Fernet-Branca
3 ounces ginger ale
ice

Method
Add ingredients one at a time in double-rocks or highball glass the order above. Stir until chilled.

❤ ❤ ❤

Special Thanks
The cocktails would not be possible without the generosity of Bulleit rye’s World Ambassador Hollis Bulleit. She hooked us up with Jim Ruane at Diageo so the partygoer’s could delight in the Headmaster 4 and Pupil.

The Headmaster 4 launch party is 10 p.m. tonight, Sept. 27, 2012, at Tender Trap, 245 S. 1st Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The Providence, R.I. launch party is Oct. 7, 2012, at Dark Lady, 17 Snow Street. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Żubrówka (Polish Bison Grass Vodka) Should Be in Your Mixology Arsenal


These Six Żubrówka (zhuh-BROOV-kuh) Cocktail Recipes Should Be the Only Ones You’ll Ever Need.

Three Żubrówka cocktails (from left to right: Polish Martini, Szarlotka,
Buffalo Fizz).

Sense memory, or the concept that a particular sensory stimulus can trigger a memory that, in turn, affects one’s feelings or emotional state, plays an important role in our lives, especially a memory related to the olfactory system, or more commonly, the nose. Perhaps you encounter a waft of baking bread and are instantly transported to a dining table from a decade ago. A wave of contentment and joy courses through your body as you remember the moment you ripped apart that crusty hot loaf, the steam rising, that first bite. Perfection.

Or take for instance the other day. We decided for our anniversary to visit a museum we’d never been to before. So we headed to off to Columbus Circle to check out the Museum of Arts and Design, also known as MAD. A good amount of modern and contemporary Native North American art was on display, and as we walked into one of the galleries, a whiff of sweet hay emanating from one of the installations made us both look at each other, smile, and proclaim, “Żubrówka.”

If you haven’t yet tried Żubrówka (pronounced zhuh-BROOV-kuh), then you must try to find some immediately, which shouldn’t be too difficult these days. Available in the United States since 2007, this honey-hued Polish vodka, distilled from rye and flavored with bison grass (a distinct smelling and tasting grass that bison love to eat—there’s a blade of it in every bottle), boasts a one-of-a-kind almond–coconut–vanilla flavor that guarantees to make you want to dance the polka. You can almost hear strains of fleet-fingered accordion music in the far reaches of your brain. And once you bring a shot of Żubrówka to your lips, you’ll notice the slightly sweet, vegetal–caramel aroma. Take a sip and your suspicions are confirmed: This vodka is a delight. Any cocktail mixed with it will delight you even more.

A Polish Martini benefits from the traditional addition of Old Krupnik honey liqueur.

Poles enjoy drinking Żubrówka mixed with apple juice. Together, they create a crisp, fruity flavor that is hard to duplicate with any other liqueur. Called a Szarlotka (pronounced shar-LOAT-kuk, Polish for an apple pie–like charlotte), this sweet drink is made usually with double the amount of apple juice to bison grass vodka, and stirred in ice. Simple. (On a side note, you may have had this drink called by another moniker, Tatanka. In the Lakota Native American language, tatanka is a bison.)

Szarlotka
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounce Żubrówka (Polish bison grass vodka)
4 ounces apple juice

Method
Pour ingredients into an ice-filled double-rocks or highball glass. Stir until cold.

❤ ❤ ❤

Another of our favorite Żubrówka–apple juice drinks, mixed with Old Krupnik Polish spiced honey liqueur, is aptly called the Polish Martini. This too is a sweet drink, made sweeter by the honey liqueur. Adjust the ratios as you see fit for both drinks, but note that in their current recipes, they pair marvelously with salty and meaty foods, and also desserts.

Polish Martini
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 ounce Żubrówka vodka (Polish bison grass vodka)
1 ounce Old Krupnik honey liqueur
1 ounce apple juice

Method
Shake in an ice-filled shaker for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add thin apple slice if desired, as garnish. (You can serve it on the rocks if you so desire, if you’re in a relaxed sipping mood.)

❤ ❤ ❤

If you’re look for something light and effervescent, but still want the taste of apples, then look no further than a Buffalo Fizz. Sparkling cider does double duty, providing both the bubbles and the apple juice flavor.

Buffalo Fizz
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 to 1/2 ounces Żubrówka (Polish bison grass vodka)
Sparkling apple cider
ice

Method
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the bison grass vodka. Give it a little stir. Top with sparkling cider.

❤ ❤ ❤

Żubrówka mixes well with other liqueurs besides Krupnik, and especially in the Silesian Cocktail. The floral notes in this concoction, named after the area that spans the Polish–Czech border, make for a smooth, slightly sweet, slightly caramel-flavored delight. As with the Z Martini, you can pair it with pigs in a blanket. Or pair it with some fried cabbage pierogi seasoned with paprika and dill and a dollop of sour cream on the side.


Silesian Cocktail
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces Żubrówka (Polish bison grass vodka)
3/4 ounce Jeżynówka (blackberry-flavored brandy)
1/3 ounce Becherovka (Czech spice liqueur)
lemon peel, as garnish (optional)

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add lemon twist if desired.

❤ ❤ ❤


Our advice for Żubrówka cocktails is “the colder the better.” The Z Martini is no exception to this. It tastes best at its most gelid. Before you pour, allow the ice to dissolve a bit after your initial stir. Walk away for a minute, then come back and give it another concentrated stir. For the Z Pear Martini, give the shaker a good workout before straining. A few ice shards glimmering on the top of your cocktail will certainly add appeal on many sensory levels.

Z Martini
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces Żubrówka (Polish bison grass vodka)
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce white vermouth

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Z Pear Martini
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Żubrówka vodka (Polish bison grass vodka)
3/4 ounce pear puree
1 ounce white vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Method
Shake in an ice-filled shaker for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add thin spear-shaped pear slice, as garnish.

Pairing Suggestions
Pigs in a Blanket
Pierogi
Shortbread
Spice Cookies

Pigs in a Blanket pair perfectly with a Z Martini or a Z Pear Martini.

To check out our video pairing the Z Martini with Pigs in a Blanket, click here.

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Byrrh Is Back, and Is Ready for Your Next Cocktail

Byrrh, a fortified wine once unavailable in the U.S., shines in the Marianne cocktail, a riff on our cherished Manhattan.

Several years ago, while pouring through Vincent Gasnier’s Drinks, a gorgeously photographed and curated tome of alcoholic beverages throughout the world, Paul stumbled upon a minuscule entry for a fortified wine called Byrrh.
Byrrh is produced in Roussillion, in the far south of France. It is red wine treated with quinine . . . and herbs. The mixture is matured for three years before bottling. 
You will either love or hate this distinctive apéritif—its combination of sweet flavors and bitter finish is unique. Serve it either at room temperature or slightly chilled.

So many things in these two succinct paragraphs intrigue: “matured for three years,” “love or hate,” “unique.” Also, the name itself. Byrrh looks like the word myrrh (frankincense and gold’s biblical sibling), so Paul decides, in rhyming solidarity, to pronounce it brrr, as if shivering from a chill in the air. After doing a little sleuthing, he discovers that Byrrh (actually pronounced beer—how’s that for confusion!) is unavailable in the U.S. Like a child confronted with the unobtainable, he is stung by the bee of acquisitiveness and that bee will remain buzzing around his bonnet for the next six years until Byrrh finds its way to these shores (thanks to Pernod Ricard).

Byrrh is categorized as an amère (bitter), specifically a quinquina, a fortified wine that contains the herb quinine, which was added to wines as an effective malaria prevention. Invented in 1866 in the Eastern Pyrénées, Byrrh’s popularity grew steadily after poster competitions were launched in 1903 to promote the brand, and were continued throughout the early part of that century. By 1935, Byrrh achieved the position as the number one apéritif in France.

Cut to a few years later, Paul is trying to come up with a name for a cocktail he created for his mom. In doing so, he googles “Marianne Cocktail” to see if her name is already taken. Lo and behold, it is. And one of its ingredients is Byrrh! (Foiled again.)

Scouring old cocktail books can be an entertaining but often frustrating endeavor if a spirit is unavailable. Take for instance David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Ever since Mud Puddle Books republished it, we had been meaning to get a copy, so when we finally did, we looked through the Manhattan section only to rediscover the Marianne cocktail. But this time, we were in luck. The bee that was busily buzzing in Paul’s bonnet would be laid to rest; Byrrh was being sold at Astor Wines & Spirits.

We’ve played with several spirits brands in making the Marianne cocktail, and find that following the recipe below will make you look at the Manhattan in an entirely new light. Akin to what we now would call a Perfect Manhattan (Embury called it a Medium Manhattan), the Marianne cocktail replaces sweet vermouth with Byrrh. But before you make the cocktail, you should take a sip of this enticing quinquina. It’s sweeter than most vermouths because it contains mistelle, a syrup made from mixing neutral spirits with partially fermented grape must. You can taste the lusciousness of the fruit. Enjoy.


Marianne
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces rye (try Bulleit or Templeton)
1/2 ounce Byrrh
1/2 ounce dry vermouth (try Noilly Prat)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a maraschino or brandied cherry.

❤ ❤ ❤

If you like the taste of Byrrh, you may love the Rye Byrrh, which reverses the potency of the spirits in the Marianne. It’s lighter, and on the rocks. Perfect for a casual cocktail party. Serve with bacon-wrapped dates.

Rye Byrrh
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces Byrrh
3/4 ounce rye (try Bulleit or Templeton)
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
lemon twist, as garnish
ice

Method
Stir in ice for 15 seconds and strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Express twist over glass and toss in.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crafting the Freshest Mojito


Hemingway loved it, as well he should have. Imbibing this Cuban work of art can be a religious experience. 

If ever there was a drink that defined the first decade of the new millennium, hands down it would be the Mojito [pronounced moe-HEE-toe, but you probably already knew that]. Easily recognizable by its limey and minty redolence, the Mojito seemed to pounce on the bar scene in the early aughts as the tropical replacement to the 90’s très façonnable Cosmopolitan. A sigh of relief, really. It seemed time for the vodka-based Cosmo to lose its crown: by the end of the 90’s it had been bastardized to the point where some bartenders were just pouring unmeasured ingredients or prebatched concoctions into an ice-filled glass just to keep the cash register burping contentedly. The Mojito was a welcomed pinch hitter. Light rum, which had always been popular, was due for a resurgence in well-made drinks for the thirsty crowd. Fresh ingredients were a must. But as the decade dragged on, bartenders arms grew weary from muddling, and bar managers saw how long it took to make one. Those life-changing Mojitos you used to imbibe at reputable drinking establishments morphed into sugar-bomb low-rent sludge-fests. We all remember being bewitched by our first, superbly crafted Mojito. It’s high time to return to those flavors, guaranteed by proper muddling with fresh ingredients.

Because we love Mojitos, we’ve been playing around with ratios of ingredients and interpretations of methods for several years. As a result, we never published a recipe. We knew it was the right time to do so when our friend Matt Schepis texted in disbelief. “I looked on your Recipe Index for a Mojito and it wasn’t there.” Sorry, Schepis. We assured him not to worry. The recipe was on its way.

When we make Mojitos with our friends Theo and Curt, we always seem to talk about how widely varying Mojitos can be from bar to bar, party to party, and Theo decries this wide gap that separates a great Mojito—the one that changed your life—from a horrible one. We assured him that ours would be the one to bring back good memories.

Mojito
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces light rum
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
10 mint leaves
mint sprigs, for garnish
soda
ice, preferably crushed or cracked*

Method
Cut lime into wedges. Add mint leaves to shaker, followed by lime wedges, then sugar. Muddle until all the juice is released from the lime, which will dissolve the sugar. Add rum and ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into ice-filed highball glass. Top with soda. Garnish with lots of mint sprigs.

* On an exceptionally warm day, if you’re outdoors, you may wish to eschew crushed ice and use cubed ice. Dilution will be slower.

Pairing Suggestions
Guacamole and Chips

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Watermelon and Spice Cocktail? Try Daddy Gives Rosie a Buzz


Watermelon juice is the center of attention in the Catdaddy and London Dry gin cooler, Daddy Gives Rosie a Buzz. 

Our friend Rosie 151, that incomparable burlesque enchantress, asked us to make her a Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine summer drink for when she performs at The Way Station in Brooklyn (the first Thursday night of every month at 10:00 sharp). We love watching her croon her way through double entendre–laden standards, with the dixieland jazz band the Red Hook Ramblers. Together, they create a French Quarter speakeasy vibe that fits snugly into the steampunk atmosphere of this Washington Avenue joint. But we had a task in front of us: Rosie wanted something summer-seasonal and fruity. With half a juicy watermelon in one hand and a fit of desperate creative energy in the other, Paul came up with a quick and utterly tasty cooler that’ll make you wish watermelon were in season year round. It’s called Daddy Gives Rosie a Buzz (or DGRB for those who prefer acronyms).

Daddy Paul gives Rosie a hug.
To make a DGRB, you need watermelon juice, which is quite easy to make. Just cut up your melon into chucks that’ll fit into a handheld lemon juicer, and squeeze into a measuring cup. That’s it. [SEE Method BELOW FOR ALTERNATIVES.] Pairing the juice with Catdaddy works miracles because it goes so well with the cinnamon and vanilla in the moonshine. But to make the drink more complex, Paul added some lime juice to give it a little pucker, and after that, the herbal complexities of a London dry gin to balance the sweet and tart. You can serve Daddy Gives Rosie a Buzz up, but for the dog days of summer, we enjoy topping it with a little fizz, especially Perrier sparkling water from its 250ml cans. (No more wasting an entire liter of bubbles when you only need a splash.) If you can’t make it to Brooklyn to taste the nicely spiced and fruity effervescence of a DGRB, and gaze at its bubbling blushing rosy hue, make one for yourself at home, or for friends who want to hang out with you. Pasties are optional.

Daddy Gives Rosie a Buzz
(created by Cocktail Buzz, with the participation of Rosie 151)

Ingredients
1 ounce Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine
1 ounce watermelon juice*
1/2 ounce gin (try Beefeater)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 ounces Perrier sparkling water**
ice
lime wedge, as garnish (optional)

Method
Shake all ingredients except sparkling water in ice for 15 seconds. If you want it up, strain (or double-strain if you want a smoother drink) into a coupe or cocktail glass. If you want it fizzy, strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lime wedge, if you so desire.

* To make watermelon juice, cut a watermelon into chunks (smaller than your fist) that will fit into a hand-squeezed citrus juicer. Squeeze juice into a glass and measure, pouring into a highball glass, or better yet, squeeze directly into a measuring cup. If you don’t have said squeezer, you can mash up the watermelon chunk(s) in a glass using a muddler, then strain. Alternatively, if you have a blender, you can blend the chunks, then strain.

** You can substitute club soda.

Thanks 
Laura Baddish at The Baddish Group for providing cans of Perrier sparkling water, and Piedmont Distillers for the Catdaddy.

cocktail photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz
Rosie 151 photo courtesy of Ann Yoo

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Shortbread Recipes, Perfect for Any Time of Year


Shortbread Fingers with Lavender and Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles. The buttery crumb can’t be beat.

Shortbread with a little nightcap can set the stage for a lovely holiday gathering or the perfect way to end a dinner party. The “short” in shortbread derives from shortening, and anyone familiar with these delicate confections knows that butter plays a prominent role in its flavor and crumb. Culinary scholars like to attribute its 16th-century invention to Mary, Queen of Scots, but many believe the confection is derived from medieval times, when yeasty biscuits were baked twice, hardened into rusks, and sprinkled with sugar and other spices. Today, we eliminate the yeast and only use four basic kitchen staples to create this centuries-old cookie: butter, sugar, salt, and flour. Mix them all up, and form the doughy mass less than a half-inch thick on a baking sheet, and bake.

While “plain” shortbread is fine for your party, we like to add a few ingredients to create a more flavorful crumb. The lavender shortbread is a perfect partner for a Rusty Nail. The floral notes in the buds lend old-world lightness to the sweet and peaty punch in this classic drink. It also pairs exceedingly well with our newest drink, courtesy of Jerry Sheets (Steve’s mom’s husband), called Scotch Aggravation [SEE RECIPE BELOW]. This mix of your favorite blended scotch, with milk and coffee liqueur, will remove any lingering irritations you have carried over into your evening. It tastes a bit like smoked chocolate milk. And if you’re a fan of chiles and chocolate, our Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles will brighten up your taste buds as you sip a creamy, cooling cocktail, such as a Maltese. If the Queen of Scotland had hot peppers and chocolate at her disposal, we’re certain she would have made these her go-to snacks while relaxing at the end of a long workday with a flagon of scotch.

Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes with your shortbread dough.


Shortbread Fingers with Lavender
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender buds, slightly ground or rubbed between the fingers, plus 1 pinch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried hot chiles, ground (or chile powder), plus 1 pinch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Total Time: 50 minutes

Method
Mix butter, sugar, salt, lavender or ground chiles, and vanilla in a bowl until blended well. Add flour (and cocoa, if using) 1/4 cup at a time to the mixture and, using a fork, mix well until the dough comes together. Chill for a half hour. Meanwhile, center the rack in the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Place dough on a naked cookie sheet and, using your hands, form into a rectangle about 12 inches by 3 inches. Sprinkle with a pinch of either rubbed lavender buds or chile powder, depending on the style of shortbread you chose. Prick the dough with the fork over the entire surface. Using a butter knife, score the dough crosswise so that there will be 12 pieces. Bake for about 15–20 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes (the shortbread will still be warm), then slice through the scoring using a sharp knife. Transfer to a flat surface and cool thoroughly

Tips & Tricks
  • You can shape the shortbread dough into a circle and score it so that you will have wedge-shaped cookies. If simple shapes aren’t floating your boat, and you’re making the lavender shortbread, why not use your favorite cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Just shorten baking time by five minutes.
  • If you want your cocoa shortbread spicier, add up to a quarter teaspoon more of the ground chiles or chile powder.


Scotch Aggravation
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz from a recipe by Jerry Sheets)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces blended scotch
1 1/2 ounces Kahlúa (or other coffee liqueur)
milk
ice

Method
In an ice-filled rocks glass, add the scotch and Kahlúa, then as much or as little milk as you desire. Stir.

❤ ❤ ❤

More Cocktails to Pair with Shortbread
Rusty Nail (scotch, Drambuie)
The Maltese (Catdaddy spiced moonshine, coffee, cream, egg white, molasses, spiced chocolate shavings)
Farrah Fawcett (light rum, advocate, banana liqueur, coconut, blueberries)
Jack Twist (walnut-infused Jack Daniels, walnut liqueur, dark brown sugar, lemon twist)
White Russian (vodka, coffee liqueur, milk or cream)
Sombrero (coffee liqueur, milk or cream)
Marianne at Midnight (scotch, Tuaca, crème de violette)

photos © Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Now Is the Time to Imbibe a Daiquiri


The luminescence of a classic Daiquiri will light up your night.  

Ask anyone from the North Pole to Tierra del Fuego about the Daiquiri, and she will probably say, “I love Daiquiris. I drink them all the time.” Chances are the version she’s drinking is a frozen Daiquiri, and perhaps one with strawberry, banana, or some fruit other than just lime tossed into the blender. This is fine if you like slushy drinks. (Slushy drinks are enjoying a cocktail renaissance at the moment and, during these dog days of summer, may be just what the doctor ordered!) But we’re here to proffer a less noisy interpretation of the original Daiquiri, one that doesn’t involve worrying about having enough ice in the freezer, or a blender that is sturdy enough to grind it to fine crystals; one that goes back to its roots as one of “six basic cocktails” according to David A. Embury is his seminal mid-20th-century classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

In his recipe, he mixes two ounces of rum with a half ounce of lime juice, and a quarter ounce of simple syrup, making the finished product a little tart to the uninitiated. No offense to Mr. Embury and his mandate for imbibing pre-prandial drinks on the drier side, but the palate has changed thanks to the disco era’s swirl of cavity-inducing cocktails, and as a result, we crave drinks a little sweeter. But don’t worry, we only use a tablespoon of sugar per drink, which is double the amount Mr. Embury decrees. (And if you wish to keep with tradition and invoke his recipe to the letter, by all means do. It is your drink, after all, and we won’t mind one iota.)

What we discovered when trying to come up with the perfect recipe for the Daiquiri, one that would work with a variety of party food, isn’t really the amount of sugar or light rum in the drink, but the quality of the lime. Pick the freshest one you can find, one so fresh that, when you cut it in half, the oils from the peel mix with the pulpy juice and instantly hit your nose with the smell of its fresh limy essence. After you toss some wedges into a mixing glass along with the white sugar crystals and muddle the heck out of the pair, you will be left with the most delicious juice possible. The oils are released from the sugar crystals abrading the lime peel, and they dissolve in the chartreuse-colored juice.

But what about the strangely spelled name daiquiri? Where does it come from? A little Web-sleuthing reveals that the name derives from Daiquirí (die-key-REE), a beach and an iron mine in Santiago, Cuba, where it was putatively invented by American mining engineer Jennings Cox, who happened to be in Cuba at the time of the Spanish-American War. As the twentieth century progressed, and relations with Latin American countries, such as Cuba, prospered, rum consumption grew, and the Daiquiri, as well as all things Latin American, spiked in popularity.

Although perfect for any time of year, summer feels rather appropriate for a Daiquiri. The commingling of juice and oil from the limes lends itself to rather remarkable food pairings, especially Guacamole with Chips, and Shrimp Cocktail. ¡Salud!

Daiquiri
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces light rum
1/2 lime
1/2–1 tablespoon sugar (depending on how sweet you like them)

Method
Cut the lime into wedges and add to a shaker. Sprinkle sugar on top. Muddle vigorously, extracting all the juice from the lime, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Add rum and ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain (or double-strain if you do not want any tiny stray bits of lime pulp – although, if serving with party food, the little lime pulp bits may add flavor nuances) into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Pairing Suggestions
Guacamole and Chips
Shrimp Cocktail

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Simplicity of Preparing Warmed Olives, Paired with Vesper Cocktails


Warmed olives, seasoned with herbs and spices, pair well with dry gin and vodka cocktails.

Steve was inspired to reinvestigate Alice Waters’s renowned “warm olives with thyme” recipe in The Art of Simple Food when he sipped his first Vesper cocktail. So after taste-testing her recipe side-by-side with this classic drink, he decided to toss in a few more ingredients to her mix, and lower the Vesper’s alcohol content by using less gin.

His additions worked magic. Warmed ever so gently in a bath of herbs and spices, these olives deliver a punch of flavor thanks to the interplay of thyme, cumin, and red pepper flakes. They’re addictive on their own. But paired with a cocktail like the Vesper [SEE RECIPE BELOW], or a Martini if you feel so inclined, the hint of citrus infused in the warmed olive oil brings all the flavors together and makes for a piquant pairing with strong drinks.

And the most beautiful thing about this recipe is its ease. In the minutes it takes to meld all the flavors, you can stir up some trouble at the bar and mix some ice-cold cocktails. The olives will be ready as your guests raise a toast.

Warmed Olives
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups mixed olives
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, quartered
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
citrus peel (lemon or orange, or both)

Method
Rinse olives thoroughly, drain, and let dry. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium–low heat. Add all the ingredients and mix until coated with oil. Warm for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pairings
Pairing Warmed Olives with cocktails seems easy at the outset, but olives have a way of making sweet cocktails taste, well, not so good. Our advice: Stick with savory cocktails, and those employing gin or vodka as their base. Our favorite is the Vesper, made famous by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale, his first James Bond 007 book. Gin is the main ingredient, followed by vodka, then Lillet blanc, a winy, lightly herbal quinquina (an aperitif that has quinine as an ingredient). If you use a variety of olives, you’ll notice that each one brings out a different flavor note in the cocktail. Your taste buds will thank you.

Meet the Vesper, James Bond’s preferred cocktail in Casino Royale.

Vesper
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces gin (Plymouth is a good gin to start with)
1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Lillet blanc
orange peel, for garnish

Method
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into well chilled cocktail glass. Add orange peel.

A Note on the Twist
For the Vesper, we like to take a firm orange and use a standard vegetable peeler to get a nice wide garnish for the cocktail. Make sure to peel the orange over the Vesper to impart the oils from its rind. Lemon works just as well if you don’t have any oranges handy.

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION
To read more and watch our video pairing Warmed Olives with the Vesper cocktail, click here.

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz