Tag Archives: ginger

Cocktail Recipe: The Amazing Teflon Rhubarb Cooler

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Some people are downright breezy when it comes to messing with recipes. Not me:  I fret when I start tweaking ingredients, convinced that I’ll ruin the drink.

But not this one. You can’t hurt this recipe — it’s like cocktail teflon.

This drink started life as “The Rhubarb Cooler.” But I’ve since realized that I might was well rename this versatile cocktail “The Whatever Seasonal Produce You Can Get Your Hands On Cooler,” since it’s easily adaptable… and the window for rhubarb is very, very short.

Sure, I’ve made it with rhubarb. The last of it is probably at the greenmarket right now. When rhubarb is in season, I’ll sometimes cut the rosy-red stalks into half-inch pieces and puree them in the food processor. After the stalks are pulverized into smithereens, the fibrous mess can be spooned into a piece of cheesecloth, and the juices squeezed out into a measuring cup. Only an ounce of the vibrant ruby juice is needed for one cocktail.

But the rhubarb season is short — mid-to-late spring– and I foolishly agreed to make this drink for Martha Stewart’s “Cooking Today” show on Sirius at the tail end of March. I went to the greenmarket, the supermarket, and what did I find? NO RHUBARB. I was too early!

So I substituted strawberry lemonade, to approximate the rosy hue and tart punch of fresh rhubarb. And it was delicious!

So I’ve been experimenting with the juices in this drink:  as long as there’s a tart element (lemonade or fresh lemon juice) to balance out the sweetness of the fruit juice and liqueur, it works great. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, fresh-pressed apple juice. It all works. No mint for the garnish? Try basil (probably would be amazing with a strawberry variation). Try coriander, or rosemary.

Another change that seems to make for a more forgiving cocktail:  I’ve switched the format from straight up to on the rocks. The gradual dilution seems to smooth any remaining rough edges.

Teflon, I tell you.

Rhubarb Cooler  Teflon Rhubarb Cooler

adapted from “Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails,” by Kara Newman

1 ½ ounces Maker’s Mark bourbon

1 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

1 ounce rhubarb puree * (or other amount of seasonal fruit juice, plus a squeeze of lemon)

1 mint sprig, for garnish

Vigorously shake together the bourbon, ginger liqueur and rhubarb puree with ice, until frothy. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with mint sprig, and offer a straw.

*For rhubarb puree:

1 ½ cups 1-inch pieces rhubarb

Puree the rhubarb in a blender and strain out the sediment through cheesecloth. Makes enough for several drinks.

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Spicy cocktail contest finalists

Did you enter the “build us a spicy cocktail” contest? In case you missed all the excitement, spice goddess Monica Bhide is hosting this contest to find the best original spicy cocktail — and I have the pleasure of judging the entries. So over the weekend, I made (and drank!) the three finalist cocktails. Here they are:

Poddy Toddy, submitted by Lamb’s Munchings & Musings

1/4 cup shots boiling water
4 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 teaspoon honey
1 thai chili, cut in half lengthwise through the stem
2 shots brandy
whipped cream
ground cardamom (optional)

Steep cardamom pods in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Strain, and stir honey into water, add the chili halves, and reheat water until hot or boiling.

Remove chili halves and reserve. Add brandy. Divide liquid between two mugs. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream, a very light dusting of ground cardamom atop the cream, and hang half a chili from the side of each mug.

Panaka Punch, submitted by Panfusine

1 oz chilled Lemon flavored Vodka
2 oz Domain de Canton Ginger liqueur
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered dry ginger
2-3 pods Cardamom (seeds lightly crushed)
1/2 a lime ( juice squeezed )
3 ounces chilled sparkling water or lime flavored seltzer

Muddle the brown sugar, cardamom seeds, ginger powder and lime juice till the sugar dissolves. add the vodka, and ginger liqueur along with the seltzer/sparkling water. Strain into glasses (rimmed with sugar if desired) & serve chilled.

Saffron Mojito, submitted by nitu didi

To make 1 cup of saffron syrup, boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water for about 6 minutes and add a pinch saffron to the sugar water mixture.

30 ml of white rum

60 ml of saffron sugar syrup
a few mint leaves
20 ml of lime juice
lots of crushed ice

In a fancy glass crush the mint leaves with the back of the spoon to emit their flavor. Add the rum, sugar syrup and the lime juice and taste. You can always make it sweeter, more sour or even more potent!!! add the crushed ice and give it a stir!!!!!!!!!!

and the winner is…..? 

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“I will not use sour mix….” and other notes from Austin

“I will not use sour mix.”  A reminder posted (over and over and over again!) above the bar at Second Bar & Kitchen, in Austin TX.

This is probably a good lead-in to talking about other bibulous notes from the IACP conference in Austin. I’ve already posted about Tipsy Texan’s Rumble Sour, but I haven’t yet gotten into the details of what brought me to Austin in the first place:  moderating a panel on Tequila, Texas, and Terroir. (If you care to, you can buy access to video archives of my panel and others here.)

My panelists were local tequila expert/author Lucinda Hutson, who made a fabulous picante sangrita, and bartender extraordinaire Bill Norris.

A couple of nights before the panel, I tried out drinks at Haddington’s, where Norris  runs the bar. In addition to the conversation-stopping Duck Fat Sazerac, my favorite drink on the menu there was The Dubliner, a mix of Jameson’s, Aperol…and Dr. Pepper reduction. It sounds unbelievably odd, but it worked beautifully, and put me in mind of the barrel-aged Trident I had at Clyde Common in Portland.

But I didn’t get to try any cocktails made by Norris until my seminar, when he made Diablos, with silver tequila (we used Siete Leguas). Here he is in action, in the “staging room” before the seminar. (Why is the culinary volunteer to the right so distracted? NOLA chef John Besh was in the room too….causing one of the other volunteers to have a celebrity-induced teary meltdown.)

And here’s the finished Diablo:

Diablo Cocktail – from Bill Norris

1.5 oz Silver/Plata Tequila

.5 oz Creme De Casis

.5 oz lime juice

Ginger Beer

Combine tequila and lime juice in a shaker with ice.  Shake and strain over crushed ice-filled collins glass.  Top with ginger beer and float casis on top.

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Spicy Spirits: Yazi ginger flavored vodka

I hate spirits targeted to women. I just don’t understand why I’m expected to want to drink something just because it’s pink, or just because a chick is printed somewhere on the label.

So sorry to say, Yazi Vodka (isn’t that the name of a contraceptive?) had a strike against it from the minute I saw the marketing material. The funny thing is, it’s not a particularly “feminine” bottle. It has a dragon on one side, and a red-and-and-white label on the other. Although it’s being marketed as “perfume-inspired,” in fact, the bottle has some serious heft to it. Perhaps it could be marketed to women looking for a weapon to fend off attackers.

Okay, that’s enough sniping about the packaging. What about what’s inside?

The ginger-infused vodka has a good punch to it, “sweet and spicy,” as advertised. Supposedly it’s made from four different species of ginger (which ones are not specified anywhere I can find), and cayenne, as well as lemon and orange.  I didn’t quite pick up the fruity notes. The cayenne zing sneaks up on you and lingers a good long time, though it probably would be tempered in a drink with some sweetness to it, like the “Yazitini” recipe listed on the bottle neck tag — essentially, a ginger Cosmopolitan. At 35% abv, it’s a little less potent than most of the 80 proof vodkas out there, which is not a bad thing.

The final verdict: Although the pseudo “Sex and the City” positioning makes me cranky, the spirit is just fine.  Chileheads will enjoy the lingering cayenne prickle.

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A peek at Junoon’s spice room

I finally found a bar that loves spices in cocktails as much as I do:  the bar at Junoon.

Although the restaurant is its own brand of Indian Nouveau-Fabulous, they throw spices into their cocktails like nobody’s business. So far my favorites have been the Ginger Rose (gin, lychee, egg white, fresh ginger), and the Fall Daiquiri, which is made with muddled spices. Check out the drink menu here, although it’s not quite up to date with the cocktails being served at the bar now, like the spring-seasonal Rhubarb Cooler.

But something blew me away even more than the drinks:  the spice room, hidden downstairs. Check it out in the photos below. On one wall, they’ve even posted their various recipes for curry mixes used in the restaurant. I didn’t think publishing those pages on the Internet would be quite fair.  You’ll have to go check it out for yourself.

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Spicy spirits: DragonBleu flavored vodkas

I’m always on the lookout for new spicy spirits, and these appeared on my doorstep one day, French vodkas made by a Cognac distiller, each one infused with agave nectar and a little something extra.  (There’s an unflavored version too, but we’re all about the bold flavors here.)  At first, I thought they might be made from grapes, but nope, it’s a grain-based vodka.  Here’s the assessment:

DragonBleu White Ginger Vodka:  It’s slightly cloudy in the glass, and has a true but relatively mild ginger scent. The spirit has a good ginger zing on top of the agave sweetness, and finishes surprisingly smooth. It had a slight bitter aftertaste, but overall I like it and I think others would too. I want to mix it with pineapple juice & make tiki-style drinks.

Final verdict:  Very nice. Get some. Make tiki drinks.

DragonBleu Penja Pepper Vodka:  Okay, so my first question was, what the heck is a Penja pepper? The label doesn’t really tell you, so I looked it up:  peppercorns from the Penja Valley of Cameroon – black, white, or green. 

The vodka had an earthy flavor, with a mild black pepper/pink pepper burn in the back of the throat, which lingers there. (I may have just interpreted white peppercorn as pink because the sweetness from the agave).  It takes a couple of sips for the peppery heat to build, but it’s not a harsh heat, it’s about medium heat.

Final verdict:  Medium heat. Could be interesting in fruity drinks, like a Cosmo variation.  I appreciated it more than I enjoyed it.

DragonBleu Rose Blossom Vodka:  Floral flavors are tough to do. Too much, and you imagine you’re drinking perfume or soap – bleech!  So this one is a pleasant surprise. Just a faint rosewater fragrance, and an equally delicate floral taste manned up by peppery notes on the finish. There’s that now-familiar agave sweetness. Mixed with say, grapefruit and cranberry juice to cut some of the perfuminess, this would go down easy. I wanted to add a splash of rye whiskey too, to rough up the edges a bit.

Final verdict:  Chileheads will hate this, unless they muddle a few slices of Serrano in there first. But a good choice for those who appreciate floral flavors.

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Spicy spirits: King’s Ginger Liqueur

I love ginger. I really, really do.

I have long been a vocal fan of Domaine de Canton, that zingy ginger-infused brandy liqueur. And when I had a chance to try a swig of Skyy Infusions Ginger vodka, that made me happy too:  all bright ginger sizzle and aroma, but no sweetness. And of course, the more fiery the ginger beer for my Dark & Stormy’s, the better (Fentimans is still my brand of choice).

And now, add to the ginger landscape The King’s Ginger liqueur. It’s distilled in Holland, and clocks in at 82 proof (rather high for a liqueur). The label says it’s “produced exclusively for Berry Bros & Rudd” in London, supposedly created in 1903 for King Edward VII. The marketing literature plays heavily on the London provenance. I do like that it’s sold in Harvey Nick’s -  very Ab Fab, sweetie darling.

So how does it taste?  The honey-colored liqueur has a good dose of ginger in the aroma, but when you take a sip you get hit by a syrupy sweetness first, and then the spiciness of the ginger only kicks in after a beat or two. The end result is that it seems heavier than it really is.  I suspect it will be best lightened up with carbonation (tonic water? ginger ale) and citrus. Speaking of citrus, there’s an intriguing citrusy note on the finish, though it fades out quickly.

The final verdict:  I prefer ginger to really sing out, so Domaine de Canton still wins for me. But I realize that I’m probably in the minority, and many people will enjoy this sweeter version, especially when mixed into drinks. And perhaps consumed while watching Patsy & Edina in action. Kiss kiss, sweetie darling.

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Two parties, two punches

Last week, I participated in two events, and punch was the featured libation at both. A few snaps (and recipes) to share:

Event #1:  The Holiday Spirits Bazaar – This event was hosted by The Dizzy Fizz. I was there selling copies of Spice & Ice, so of course I showcased a drink from the book, writ large in punch format.  I also had hot sauce available for sale, the hottest I could find!

Punch #1:  Sparkling Ginger Daisy Punch (click for recipe)

  
 

 

Event #2: Monastic Liqueurs & Cheeses – This was an event hosted by The Culinary Historians of New York, and focused on the rich foodways that monks have provided throughout history, and continue to provide today. The event was held at the National Arts Club, who provided the gorgeous silver punchbowl.

Recipe #2:  Alchemist Punch  The punch (recipe after the photo) showcases Benedictine, a liqueur once made by monks as long as 500 years ago. It’s not supposed to be bright red (I used blood orange puree since I couldn’t find mandarin orange puree). But it sure does look festive, doesn’t it?

Alchemist Punch

Alchemist Punch (courtesy of Benedictine)

Organic honey (50 ml)

Water (300 ml) (10 oz)

1 bottle of Benedictine (70 cl)   

Mandarine Puree/Nectar (500 ml) (16.6 oz)   

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (350 ml) (11.6 oz)

Fresh slices of lemons (2 lemons)

Fresh wedges of tangerines (3 tangerines)

Fresh thyme (for garnish)

Glassware:  Punch bowl + glasses.

Method:  Start by diluting the honey with hot water in the punch bowl. Assemble all the other ingredients, stir to harmonize all the flavors, fresh fruits last. Macerate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Take the punch out. Serve in a cup/glass with ice cubes and garnish with fresh thyme.

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Spicy spirits: Revel Stoke Spiced Whiskey

Surely, any day that begins with me drinking spiced whiskey before breakfast is going to be a good day.

This morning, I had the pleasure of a visit from Dean Phillips of Phillips Distilling. The Minneapolis-based company is perhaps best known for their vodkas (UV, Prairie Organic), but I was particularly looking forward to learning more about their Revel Stoke Spiced Whiskey, and of course, tasting a sample.

A bit about the product:  it’s made with Canadian Whiskey although it’s produced and bottled in Minnesota; it’s  rye-based; it’s 90 proof.  You rarely get precise info about what the spices are in “spiced” spirits — in this case, it’s cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and vanilla.

Although the product has been around for a decade, it now has been re-packaged and was re-introduced in the United States two months ago; it will be available in Canada in January 2011.  And attention all you bar-bet fanatics:  it’s named after Revelstoke, a ski town in British Columbia. And although the town is “Revelstoke” (1 word) , the spirit’s name is officially two words:  Revel Stoke.

So, how does it taste? In short, very good. It has a sweet vanilla fragrance, a soft feel on the tongue (despite the fact that it’s 90 proof), and has a nice warming pop of cinnamon and ginger and just the faintest spicy bite from the rye.  Spice-lovers will enjoy it straight up; a shot would probably also mix well with a tall glass of ginger ale and ice.

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DIY Spiced Rum

I’ve had spiced rum on the brain ever since I wrote about the new crop of rums for “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”  And I’ve been planning to experiment and mix up a few batches but just haven’t found the time.

Turns out, Paul Clarke beat me to the punch, with his Serious Eats post on How To Make Spiced Rum From Scratch. In the article, he notes the importance of selecting the right rum to infuse — he recommends “something with a good, aged richness to it,” (I agree) and recommends Appleton Estate Extra, Mount Gay Eclipse, or Matusalem Gran Reserva. 

He also warns that vanilla can overpower some spiced rums — which seems to be the chief complaint about the current crop of spiced rums. Personally, I find those vanilla notes pleasing, but certainly it’s more interesting when the rum shows pops of cinnamon, allspice, or clove.

Paul Clarke’s Spiced Rum  

  • 1 750ml bottle decent aged rum
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 piece star anise
  • 1/8 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
  • 3 quarter-size pieces fresh ginger
  • 2 3-inch strips fresh orange zest, white pith removed

Combine everything in a large jar and seal. Keep in a cool, dark place for a couple of days, shaking it once a day to distribute the ingredients. Start tasting it after 48 hours; adjust ingredients if necessary, and once you feel it’s done (probably no longer than 4 days altogether), strain and bottle.

In the past, I’ve also tried the following spiced rum recipe — it’s unorthodoxly fruity, intense, and loosely based on a house-made version that was served at the Waldorf-Astoria’s Peacock Alley bar a few years back, where the rum was shaken with Cointreau and raspberry puree.

Autumn Spiced Rum

  • 1 750 ml bottle gold rum
  • 1/2 Fuji apple, diced
  • 5 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into coin-sized slices
  • 1 dried fig
  • 1 piece of orange peel
  • 1 Tablespoon of black peppercorns, crushed

Add all the spices to the rum, close, and let steep 24 hours, or as long as one week. Strain out the fruit and spices and cover tightly. Use in your favorite rum-based cocktails.

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