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 she wanted a scotch-based punch with lemon as the citrus and a good amount of spice. That last part is tricky as the clarification process strips away much 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, 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 herbs and peels will be pulled out by the sugars and other dried ingredients in the 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 to about room temperature. Strain the whole contents of the bowl into 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 chinois's inside with several cheesecloth layers 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, cycle 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 leave it overnight; just ensure it's wrapped in saran wrap or something to keep bugs out. Next, I 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 transparent 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, making the mouth dry. The alcohol is not too dominant. The dryness does not make it a drink you could drink for hours, 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 occasionally. 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 growing up as people waxed poetic, knowing little about love, wine, or flowers. It may have derived from a poem by Ernest Dowson, 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 prominent flavor of coca leaf, the base used to produce Cocaine. The additive's illegal elements have been removed (where they went, I don't know). There is an invigorating spice kick to this herbaceous liqueur and cocktail. 

Perhaps I overstep here, but I had two bottles of Agwa kicking around and thought the name was funny. I do not partake in anything implied in this drink and discourage anyone from participating in unlawful behavior. But if music, TV shows, and other media are allowed to poke fun at a subject matter, why can't other artistic expressions. I even drank an energy drink 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 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 cited the cocktail's creator 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 the top and garnish with an orange twist. 

The cocktail combines a Death in the Afternoon and an Aperol Spritz with a little dash of French 75. 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 differ from that traditional bottomless style cocktail people are used to with brunch, but a slow burn works with many 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 assemble a flight of three cocktails, one fully fleshed out as a recipe with precise measurements. The other two cocktails could be submitted as loose concepts. There were several 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 will be presented as three cocktails in rocks glasses inserted into a bed of crushed ice in a metal bowl, like oysters or other seafood from the raw bar. 3 Lemon wedge garnishes also sit on the ice 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 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 of smoke, oil, different acids, sweets, and spices.

Talisker comes from the gorgeous windswept Isle of Skye. It is famous for its salinity balanced with medium smokiness (around 20 ppm). I wanted to take that smoke and salt, standard through so many fish dishes, and pair it with a few personal favorites: smoked kippers, oysters, and scallops. Oysters and mignonette immediately came to mind 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." The Storm adds a bit more smoke, reflecting the smoked fish better. I needed a lighter, delicate cocktail to play with scallops for the third. 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 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 for 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 quickly. Drinking through Zoom isn't quite the same, especially when 15 people are on a call and only one person can talk. I forgot to edit my video 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 fascinating non-alcoholic cocktail in a can. It's similar to bitters and soda, a popular hangover cure in the industry. The Hella brand has more cinnamon and clove spice than typical Angostura. To balance that, I wanted to incorporate 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 consumers 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 delicious drinks. Clever, keep 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 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 margarita spec. 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 quite a bit. I won't 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. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shots

Here's another one of my quarantine Jell-O shot recipes. It does balance the quality of craft cocktails with the fun, levity, and nostalgia of Jell-O. It's super easy to make and makes a huge difference. I'm never going back in terms of my own creations. Fresh juice and quality spirits always beat out vodka and powder. 

6 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila Plata
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice, strained
1 oz Orange Curacao, Pierre Ferrand
1 pack Strawberry Jell-O
8 oz Water

Boil water and add the pack of Jell-O. Stir until dissolved and uniform. Add the remaining ingredients and stir again. Pour into serving cups. 15 to 18 should give you decent portion sizes. Chill in the fridge overnight or until set.

Jell-O has quite a bit of sugar and sweetness, so I tend not to add sugar to Jell-O shots. Acid from fresh juice does really help bring out the potential of Jell-O shot cocktails. It's still classic fun but way more elevated than you got in college. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Command of Color

This was my first entry into the Van Gogh Art of the Cocktail competition for Chilled Magazine. It's a fantastic competition where they encourage you to explore the art of making drinks. It's clever in the era of Instagram. I won a weekly prize for this submission. We'll see about the finals.

1.5 oz. Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka
0.75 oz. Strawberry infused Campari
1 oz. Acid Adjusted Orange Juice
0.25 oz. Orange Blossom Honey Syrup
Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce

Shake all the ingredients together with ice. Brush a coupe with a couple strokes of Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce. A squeeze bottle will also do the trick. Double-strain the cocktail into the painted coupe. Serve. 

To make Acid Adjusted Orange Juice:
Mix 1 liter of freshly squeezed and strained orange juice with 32 grams of citric acid and 20 grams of malic acid. Stir until mixed and uniform.

To make Homemade Mango BBQ Sauce: 
Brown 1/4 cup of chopped onion in a pan with 2 minced garlic cloves and olive oil. Stew 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1 1/4 cups peeled, chopped mango (1 whole), 1/2 cup peach nectar, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 2T dark brown sugar, 2T honey, 3T cider vinegar, 1 T molasses, juice of 1 lime, 1.5 t Worcestershire, 1.5 t mustard, and 1 finely diced habanero chile until mango is soft. Blend everything together until creamy and uniform. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days, or boil the sauce to 190 degrees Fahrenheit and store in sterilized jars indefinitely. 

I studied Art and Art History in college but never much cared for the art that came from Van Gogh. His realism and perspective were always completely out of sorts. The Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" drilled home a bit about the artist himself. If you haven't seen it, watch it. You will weep. The color orange was used prominently in Van Gogh's work, from the sunflowers to his own hair in self-portraits. As a hobby during quarantine, I took up hot sauce making, and that mango habanero balance works beautifully. Bringing out that sweetness of tropical fruits with a light tingle of heat has been a joy at every step. 

Philadelphia Fish House Punch Jell-O Shots

So, during quarantine, I found myself missing the dive bars most of all. I can make all kinds of craft cocktails at home and have been doing much of that. Friends are sharing their recipes, and it's fun trying these fantastic ideas, but the atmosphere is what I miss. I miss the silliness, the laughs, the community, everything. My regular bar, Garage Bar North, always had Jell-O shots made up behind the bar. I'd probably have an average of at least one a week. That and Pickle Backs. I decided to make some Jell-O shots at home. Yes, there's the standard spec of a pack of Jell-O with half water and half vodka, but let's improve on that. 

3.5 oz Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum
2.5 oz Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice, strained
0.25 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
1 pack Peach Jell-O
8 oz Water

Boil water and add the pack of Jell-O. Stir until dissolved and uniform. Add the remaining ingredients and stir again. Pour into serving cups. Chill in the fridge overnight. My baking tray holds 15 2 oz cups perfectly, so that's how I divide it, at just a bit over 1 oz per shot. Feel free to divide and scale it however you like, but about 1 oz is suitable for a Jell-O shot. 

This really is a pretty good representation of the classic punch recipe. The cocktail typically had peach brandy and crushed ice. I upped the ratio of brandy to accommodate, and the peach flavor from the Jell-O is an adequate substitute. Like the ice dilution, the water used to dissolve the gelatin powder helps soften the drink. This drink still uses 69% ABV rum (excellent), so it's got a fun little kick in there for you. 

Jell-O shots should taste like Jell-O and not just be a drink given consistency from gelatin sheets. Plenty of experts and chefs might disagree. But I've had calvados gelee and the like at some great restaurants as a side to a dessert, which is good, but I'd never order a cube of that when I'm bellied up to the bar. Jell-O shots are fun and fake, nostalgic and silly. They can be delicious, too, but they must be kind of fake to give the guests what they want when ordering a Jell-O shot. Just an opinion.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Loaded Dice

This was my entry for the Patron Perfectionists Tour. It is about consistency in the culinary and beverage world and how fresh ingredients are inconsistent. This cocktail was my attempt to help flatten the curve. 

1.5 oz. Patron Reposado
0.5 oz. Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro
0.75 oz. Acid Adjusted Pineapple juice
0.75 oz. Orange Blossom Honey Syrup

Add all the ingredients to a shaker tin. Add ice and shake thoroughly. Double strain into a large rocks glass with a large carved cube.

To make Acid Adjusted Pineapple Juice:
To every 100g of pineapple juice, add 4.5g citric acid and 0.7g malic acid. Stir vigorously to dissolve the powder. Shake the solution lightly before each use.

To make Honey Syrup:
Mix Dutch Gold Orange Blossom Honey with an equal weight of boiling water and stir until uniform.

This drink was inspired by every molecule's randomness or lack of predictability. The fermentation tanks of the Patron distillery are open and surrounded by countless varieties of plant life that produce different strains of wild yeast. Each strain will create a different character. Even every piece of fruit will be unique. Two pineapples from the same tree can have wildly different sugar contents and acidity. This just won't do for a competition called Perfectionist. I aim to erase chance and balance flavors as I see fit. Craft comes from taking what nature gives you and using it to create a consistent quality product.

The Dutch Gold Honey comes from a local apiary as well.

Dream Maker in the Sky

This is one of the many drinks I came up with for the Chilled Toast the Industry competition. It was a brilliant idea to have a contest during the quarantine. Bartenders made up to 50 unique cocktails for this one, using a vast range of spirits from 10 brands. Scapegrace is an interesting gin from New Zealand, and I love any gin that does a Navy Strength. 

1 oz. Scapegrace Gold
0.5 oz. Luxardo Bitter Bianco
0.5 oz. Triple Sec (Combier)
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
1 Large Egg White
Orange Bitters

Add all the ingredients aside from the bitters to a shaker tin without ice. Dry shake vigorously, add ice, and hard shake even more vigorously until the drink is chilled and foamy. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Add a few drops of bitters on top of the foam for garnish and aromatics.

This started as a navy-strength Negroni Sour, but I really wanted to bring out the lemon, orange and dried tangerine in the gin. The vermouth got swapped for orange liqueur. Luxardo Bitter Bianco has always acted as a better balancing agent for softer flavors than the more aggressive Campari or Suze. Also, it gives a pretty white color you don't see in many cocktails. "Dream Maker in the Sky" comes from a song called "No Hopers, Jokers, and Rogues." A Scapegrace is a rogue. It fits.

"Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere; let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars. Who knows?
Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and rogues."
- Fisherman's Friends

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Blood

This is a cocktail I made for the Make It Exotico Competition. It's a lovely balance of sweet, bitter, and sour. It's fairly low alcohol by volume compared to a lot of my other cocktails. Nothing too complicated or fancy. All the ingredients are readily available at any liquor or grocery store. cheers. 

1 1/2 oz. Exotico Blanco
1/2 oz. Cynar
1/2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
3/4 oz. Blood Orange Soda

Add all the ingredients aside from the soda to a mixing tin with ice. Shake until well chilled. Double strain into a large rocks or collins glass with ice. Top with the blood orange soda. Garnish with a quarter slice of grapefruit.

Upon recent reflection, I'm starting to see why this kind of cocktail doesn't garner much attention. It's not incorporating some exotic juice or homemade syrup or liqueur. That said it's actually pretty tasty and very easy for a home bartender to whip up at home or even batch into a punch.

"They drew first blood!"
- Frank Reynolds

Friday, January 17, 2020

Cockney Stairs

This was my entry for Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender competition a few years ago. I just never got around to posting it. It really is just a touch of English time in a cocktail. Not the most imaginative thing I've ever done but it is a pretty tasty drink. It's definitely better as a batched drink. 

1/8th Honeycrisp Apple
1/8th Red Delicious Apple
1/8th Bartlett Pear
1/8th Starkrimson Pear
15 Black Peppercorns
5 Cardamom Pods
4 Allspice Berries
1 Star Anise Pod
1 1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
1/2 oz. Raw Honey
4 1/2 oz. Hot Water
1 1/2 oz. Whole Milk

Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the peppercorn, cardamom, allspice, and anise. Dice the apples and pears. Bring water to a boil. Add 4 1/2 oz. of the water and all the other ingredients aside from the milk and gin to a french press coffee maker. Stir lightly and apply the cap. Froth the milk using a steamer or motorized frother. Add the gin to an Irish coffee glass. Once the cocktail has steeped for approximately 2 minutes strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with the frothy milk.

The inspiration for this drink was a trend I've seen in coffee shops repurposing their tools. I've seen coffee shops use a milk steamer to make hot chocolate and even small servings of mulled wine. The heat helps the infusion process and aromatics. A go-to nightcap of a friend is boiling water, with a lemon peel, and just a touch of gin. I decided to take the flavors just a little further with some juicy, sweet, and floral apples and pears along with some spices. Adding some warm milk turns this drink adds a touch of British heritage, softening out any intense edges that may have over intensified in the infusion process, as if you were having a nice midday tea. 

The name come from cockney rhyming slang where one would use phrases like "Apples and Pears" to replace works like "Stairs". There is some peculiarity in that the phrase "Apples and pears" became so widely known to people who didn't understand cockney slang it's actually fallen out of fashion. 

Excerpt from Austin Powers Goldmember:
Nigel: Don't you remember the crimbo din-din we had with the grotty Scots bint?
Austin: Oh, the one that was all sixes and sevens!
Nigel: Yeah, yeah, she was the trouble and strife of the Morris dancer what lived up the apples and pears!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Garden of the Butterflies

This was the first cocktail I got on the menu at my old job at Royal Boucherie in Old City, Philadelphia. It was a staple on the summer cocktail menu and stayed there for a bit over 3 months. It was a lovely refreshing floral take on a margarita. 

1.5 Tequila
0.5 Lemon Sage Shrub
0.5 Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 St Germain
Butterfly Pea Tea

Add the tequila, shrub, juice, and liqueur to a shaker tin. Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with butterfly pea tea.

To make Butterfly Pea Tea:
Add 24 flowers to a quart container. Fill the container with boiling water. Let that sit for 3 minutes. Strain out the flowers and press them to extract all the tea.

To make Lemon Sage Shrub:
Slice a series of lemons into a fish tray with the skin on. Cover the lemons with white sugar in equal weight to the weight of the lemons in layers making sure to fully coat the lemons on all sides. Toss in one sprig of sage for every 2 lemons. Let that sit overnight to extract the oil from the lemon skin. Add champagne vinegar to the mixture in equal weight to the lemons and sugar. muddle the lemons slightly to extract the juice. Add the mixture to a pan on low heat. muddle and mix until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is uniform. Run through a chinois and mash the solids to extract all the liquid possible. Store in an airtight refrigerated space.

The inspiration for this really came out of nowhere. My fiance lovely very citrusy cocktails. I wanted a citrusy floral cocktail. I played with gin at first but tequila or sotol really made the drink pop a bit more and stand out from some other generic floral gin cocktails. The pea tea adds a bit of tannin but the real selling point is the color. We had some St. Germain branded glassware which made this cocktail look just like a flower and its stem. It happened a lot where I would make one of these and it would catch the eye of someone at the bar and then that's 3 more drinks to make.

"We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest."
- Voltaire