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