Thursday, October 29, 2020

Milk Punch : Indian Spice

This is a specialty punch recipe I made for my darling friend and regular of mine, Ragini. She gave me a lovely medley of Indian spices and peppers. We decided that she wanted a scotch based punch with lemon as the citrus and a good amount of spice to it. That last part is tricky as the clarification process strips away a lot of the heat from peppers. 

1 cup Demerara Sugar, peel of 3 lemons, 1 tsp Ancho Chili Powder, 1 Poblano pepper (stemmed, w/ seeds, dried), 10 dried red chili peppers (whole), 1 stick cinnamon, 1 tsp Garam Masala, 8 oz. water, 6 oz scotch, 8 oz lemon Juice, 3 oz. Ancho Reyes, 2 oz. Campari. 10 oz. Milk

Mixing bowl, muddler, measuring spoons, measuring cup, at least 2 large pots buckets or bowls, a chinois, enough cheesecloth to line the chinois 3 times over (I used 28 x 24 thread count), and lastly a means of bottling the final product

As with any good punch, we start with some Oleo Saccharum. Peel 3 large lemons and all your dry ingredients. Muddle until well mixed and the spices are broken down. The oils and the flavors from the spices and peels will be pulled out by the sugars and other dried ingredients in a form of osmosis. For this batch I let it infuse for about 36 hours.

To make sure we pull as much flavor off these solid components we add 8 oz of boiling water to the bowl. Let this steep, covered, until it settles down to about room temperature. Strain the whole contents of the bowl to a large pot. Rinse the bowl with the scotch to collect any flavors or undissolved sugars. Add the remainder of the ingredients aside from the milk.

Now we start the clarification process. Start by heating the milk and bringing it to a near boil. If it starts to boil, take it off the heat immediately. Add the hot milk to the pot with all the other ingredients. The mixture will curdle. If it doesn't curdle well, add a little more citrus. Stir it around a little to let it all bind. Line the inside of the chinois with several layers of cheesecloth and clamp it to the rim. Pour the punch through the strainer over another pot or bowl.

The first part of the run will come out slightly cloudy. Once it starts running clear, start cycling the liquid back into the strainer. the more you keep cycling it the cleaner the product will be. I usually cycle through about 3 times. It takes ages to get those last few drops out. I tend to leave it overnight, just make sure it's wrapped in saran wrap or something to keep bugs out. Next, I just funneled the clear punch into a bottle and stuck it in the fridge to chill. Serve with ice and drink up. 

The final product is a clear liquid with a red tint. It is a nice spicy cocktail. There isn't quite as much smoke as I was hoping.

It's a very herbaceous cocktail. The rosemary and black pepper pop as flavors and it leaves the mouth feeling dry. The alcohol is not too dominant. The dryness does not make it a drink you could drink for hours on end like some of my other punch batches. but it is tasty. The infinite shelf life granted by this process is ideal for a fancy drink you'd have once in a while. Stick a bottle in the fridge and have some every now and then.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Love isn't all coke and roses

The term "Love is not all wine and roses" is a common idiom I heard a bit growing up as people waxed poetic, knowing little about love, wine, or flowers. It may have derived from a poem by Ernest Downson which referred to "the days of wine and roses: out of a misty dream". The great Tim Minchin has a lyric in one of his songs "Love is not all wine and roses, sometimes it's handcuffs and cheese." I like that version the best. 

1 oz Fords Gin Officers Reserve
0.75 oz Cocchi Rosa 
0.5 oz Agwa
1 barspoon Lime Acid Solution
10 drops Crude Sycophant Orange and Fig Bitters

Stir all the ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist flower. 

Agwa is a liquor with the main flavor of coca leaf, the base used to produce cocaine. the additive, illegal elements have been removed (where they went, I don't know). There is an invigorating spice kick to this herbaceous liqueur. cocktail. 

Perhaps I overstep here, but I had two bottles of agwa kicking around and thought that the name was funny. I do not partake in anything implied in this drink and I discourage anyone from participating in unlawful behavior. But if music, tv shows, and other media are allowed to poke fun of a subject matter, why can't other artistic expressions. I even drank an energy drink literally named Cocaine, though they did get shut down in some countries. I doubt I'll get any big liquor companies dying to advertise this drink on their own media, but I hope the concept inspires somebody to make something they wouldn't have thought of otherwise. Eat and drink the weird stuff. Traditions exist, and you can get by simply following them. But we live in an age where everything everywhere is available to just about everyone if you are willing to pay the shipping costs. Have a laugh

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Death By Aperitif

This was a brunch cocktail I threw together for the spring/summer menu for my old job at Royal Boucherie. I was actually quite proud of this at the time. That particular restaurant actually cited the creator of the cocktail on their menu and it was great saying "That's my drink," when people would come in and order it. And it's great to see your name in print.

0.5 oz. London Dry Gin, Tanqueray
1 oz. Aperol
0.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
0.125 oz Absinthe (about 1 barspoon)
2.5 oz Sparkling Wine, Prosecco if available

Add all the ingredients aside from the sparkling wine to a mixing vessel. Fill a small wine glass with ice and add the sparkling wine. Dump the rest of the cocktail over top and garnish with an orange twist. 

The cocktail itself is something of a hybrid of a Death in the Afternoon and an Aperol Spritz, with a little dash of French 75 thrown in there. Both utilize sparkling wine and are delicious midday cocktails. The herbaceous character of the liqueurs and fortified wine compliments the botanical nature of classic gin. The sweetness is light but present. This might not be that classic bottomless style cocktail people are used to with brunch, but a slow burn works with a lot of brunch dishes. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Talisker, Taste of the Sea, Cocktail flight

This was my submission for Round 2 of USBG World Class sponsored by Diageo. The concept was to put together a flight of three cocktails, one of which fully fleshed out as a recipe with precise measurements and all. The other two cocktails could be submitted as loose concepts. There were a number of themes to pick from

To make the Mignonette cocktail add 1.5 oz. Talisker 10-year-old, 0.25 oz. Pimm's, 0.25 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar, 0.25 oz. Demerara Sugar Syrup (2:1), 0.25 tsp Smoked Paprika to a mixing tin. Add ice and shake well. Double strain into a 4.5 oz rock glass without ice. Garnish with a wedge of lemon placed on the side. Serve.

The flight is to be presented as three cocktails served in rocks glasses inserted into a bed of crushed ice in a metal bowl, as though they were oysters or other seafood from the raw bar. 3 Lemon wedge garnishes sit on the ice as well to allow the guest the option of additional citrus. It is meant to reflect a seafood tower/sampler platter presentation. There is no required order to sample the cocktails; in fact, sipping back and forth between all three is the recommendation. If pushed I would suggest the scallop cocktail as a first sip, followed by the kipper cocktail, and the oyster cocktail as the third. Bouncing back and forth between each is encouraged to allow a fun mix between smoke, oil, different acids, sweet, and spice.

Talisker comes from the gorgeous windswept Isle of Skye. It is famous for its salinity balanced with medium smokiness (around 20ppm). I wanted to take that smoke and salt, which is common through so many fish dishes, and pair it a few personal favorites, smoked kippers, oysters, and scallops. Oysters and mignonette came to mind straight away as I've drunk Talisker from an oyster shell more times than I can count. Pimm’s was also invented in an oyster house so it was a natural fit. Smoked kipper is a classic breakfast from the UK and one of my favorite running jokes from the epic sitcom "Red Dwarf". In the 2015 Malt Whiskey Yearbook, Dominic Roskrow even describes the nose of the 10 Year as “Grilled oily fish in lemon oil”. I find that the Storm adds a bit more smoke, better reflecting the smoked fish. For the third, I felt like I needed a lighter, delicate cocktail to play with scallops. A mild fortified wine and a bit of orange zest really highlight the soft citrus note of the Talisker 10 Year. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, September 21, 2020

What a Pear

I don't rightly recall the occasion for which I first made this drink. But it remains absolutely delicious and any time I have all the ingredients on hand this is one of my go-to martini builds. It's a beautiful fruity martini with notes of white flowers and pear. 

1.5 oz. Ford's Gin
0.5 oz. Grey Goose La Poire
1 oz. Alessio Bianco Vermouth
2 dashes Hella co. Orange bitters

Add all of the ingredients to a mixing tin with ice. Stir until well chilled, approximately 18 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The inspiration from this cocktail came from my dear friend Catherine Manning. Her drink of choice is always a 50/50 martini with Bianco Vermouth. Alessio recently came to our shelves in Pennsylvania and has been gaining notoriety. I wanted to highlight the flavors bringing a bit of pear and notes of white flowers with the vodka and gin. A bit of citrus oil balances it out and we have a martini that stays bright and playful any day of the week. Cheers.

Photo Credit: Micah Messinger

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Geez, That's Corny

This was a submission I made during quarantine to be a part of a virtual live happy hour with Hella Cocktail co. Virtual happy hours were a huge thing during the first few months of quarantine but seemed to teeter off pretty quickly. Drinking through zoom isn't quite the same, especially when there are 15 people on a call and only one person can talk at a time. I admittedly forgot to edit my video down to under 1 minute for the submission. Whoopsie. But it is still a tasty drink. 

1.5 oz. Mellow Corn Whiskey
0.5 oz. Licor 43
0.25 oz. Lime Acid Solution 
3.5 oz. Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters and Soda - Spritz

Build the drink in a highball glass with ice and stir lightly. Garnish with the peel of an entire lemon (Horse's Neck). 

To make lime acid solution:
Mix 94g filtered water, 4g citric acid, 2g malic acid, 0.04g succinic acid. or just use fresh lime juice as a substitute.

The hella cocktail co spritz is a very interesting sort of non-alcoholic cocktail in a can. It's similar to bitters and soda, which is a popular hangover cure in the industry. The Hella brand seemed to have a bit more cinnamon and clove spice than typical angostura. To balance that out I wanted to incorporate some more sweet flavors, not necessarily sugar, but flavors people affiliate with sweetness like vanilla and sweet corn. Mellow corn was a gut reaction choice for a base spirit to build this highball on and Licor 43 brings a creamy citrus undertone throughout, further complimented by the massive swath of lemon peel. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Brian's Smokey Pineapple "Margarita"

This is a little number I whipped up for the launch of Red Brick's newest product, Obsidian. Our bar program has always tried to incorporate cocktails that would be easy for the consumer to go home and make on their own. buy our product, swing by the corner store, and you'll have all you need to make more of these delicious drinks. Clever, keeps it simple. 

1.5 oz Red Brick Obsidian White Whiskey
0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz Simple Syrup

Rim a cocktail glass with a spice mixture. Shake all the ingredients together with ice and double strain into the rimmed cocktail glass.

To make Cinnamon Spice Mixture:
Mix 2 parts turbinado sugar with 1 part salt and 1 part smoked paprika

It's a simple sort of margarita spec. Except instead of tequila we are using our new white whiskey. The white whiskey was partially aged in ceramic, a practice done by some mezcal. Our malt house also started producing some smoked grains and our mash bill incorporated white a bit of that. I'm not going to give away all the trade secrets, but this whiskey had many mezcal characteristics. The smokey flavor pairs classically with the pineapple. the lime acid keeps it all in balance. Sweet, smokey, and delicious.