Tag Archives: rum

Your ultimate Thanksgiving cocktail: Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher, for Cocktails for a Crowd

Here’s why I’m calling this recipe “ultimate”:

1. It works with any brown liquor you have on hand: aged rum, whiskey, brandy, in whatever proportions you like.  If you have two bottles of bourbon and brandy, with just a cupful left in each? Use ‘em up.  It’s like Thanksgiving leftovers for your cup.

2. You can make and serve this drink without leaving the kitchen. Face it – all your guests are gathered there anyway, right?

3. It perfumes your home with the scent of autumn- spicy, apple-y and amazing.

4. Since this drink pairs perfectly with apple cider doughnuts, you now have an excuse to buy some. You saw them at the greenmarket and wanted them anyway.

Okay, that’s enough rationalizing. Let’s drink!

“Spiked & Spiced” Apple Cider

From Cocktails for a Crowd
Serves 8
Total volume: 52 ounces, or 6 1/2 cups

At home, ladle this warming drink straight from the stove (everyone’s probably gathered in the kitchen anyway, right?) or into a teapot to serve. Alternatively, consider pouring the cider into a heatproof thermos to keep toes warm at a tailgating party.

2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
32 ounces (4 cups) apple cider
16 ounces (2 cups) brandy (whiskey or aged rum may be substituted)
8 Tablespoons (1/2 cup) honey

8 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Tie together the spices inside a square of cheesecloth and secure with twine, creating a spice sachet.

In a saucepan, stir together apple cider, brandy and honey. Drop in the spice sachet. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir again. Discard spice sachet.

Ladle into glass mugs or tea cups and garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick.

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Literate drinking: Drink.Think heads to San Fran on Feb 5!

image courtesy Monica BhideDrink.Think is going on the road…to San Francisco!

If you’ll be in the Bay area on Tuesday, Feb 5, I hope you’ll come out to Cantina to enjoy a drink and hear an amazing group of writers read from their work about beverages.

In addition, Karlsson’s Vodka and Santa Teresa Rum will be pouring samples of their products.  (The regular bar also will be available.)

Date & Time:  Tuesday, February 5, 2013.  The bar will be open starting at 6pm – the reading starts at 7pm.

Location:  Cantina, 580 Sutter St at Mason St, San Francisco, CA

Admission: FREE admission and samples of Karlsson’s Vodka and Santa Teresa. Drinks will be available for purchase.

Featured Readers:  Curated by wine and spirits writer Kara Newman, participants include:

  • Camper English, cocktail/spirits writer for San Francisco Chronicle, Details.com andFine Cooking
  • Courtney Humiston, columnist, 7×7 Magazine and founding editor, TableToGrave.com
  • Duggan McDonnell, writer, bartender and boozy entrepreneur
  • Gayle Keck, food and travel writer
  • Virginia Miller, food and drink correspondent, San Francisco Bay Guardian and blogger, ThePerfectSpotSF.com
  • Jill Robinson, travel writer, San Francisco ChronicleAmerican Way and more
  • Michael Shapiro, freelance travel writer, National Geographic Traveler and Islands magazine
  • Stevie Stacionis, wine writer and Director of Communication at Corkbuzz Wine Studio
  • Liza B. Zimmerman, editor-at-large Cheers and contributing editor to Wine Business Monthly

I hope to see you at Cantina on Feb 5 – come thirsty!

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Five things I’ve Learned About… Aged Rum

The December 1, 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is out, and it includes (among other things) my review column on Aged Rum.  You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio (if it’s not there now, it will be soon).  Here’s what I learned:

1. First, I learned that I really, really like aged rum. In general, the rums I tried were AMAZING, and I haven’t had such a good overall crop since the Bourbon category (and the high scores reflected that.)

However…. I do think this got “gamed” a little bit. In other words, I suspect that I was sent cream-of-the-crop reserve rums in many cases, rather than middle-of-the-line specimens. But I’m not really complaining. :)

2. Whenever possible, I try to arrange tastings to compare apples to apples – ie, for tequilas, it made sense to taste all the blancos together, then the reposados, etc. But it’s awfully hard to segregate rums. At first, I thought age would make sense – but many rums are made using a blend of rums of varying ages, and terms like “VSOP” and “anejo” are used pretty much willy nilly, which must piss off cognac & tequila makers. After a while, I understood why in his seminar at Tales, rum expert Ed Hamilton advised, “don’t get hung up by the age of your rum.”

3. It didn’t make sense to arrange tastings by provenance, either, since rums come from all over the Caribbean and Latin America. However, if I had specifically asked for rums from say, Martinique, or Puerto Rico, I could have done it. Lesson:  I’ll be smarter in future rum tastings and will ask for rums from a specific place.

4. Soft, softer, softest. Sometimes we refer to spirits as having a “soft” or “velvety” texture. But  I’ve never felt anything quite like aged rum for feather-bed softness on the tongue. It sounds like a cliché, but my raw tasting notes for one rum in particular said, “like sticking my tongue in feathers.” Not an appetizing description if you think about it too closely, but it was super-velvety. (The rum was Angostura 1919.)

5. Many rums were aged (or finished) in barrels that previously held Cognac, Sherry, Bourbon etc etc. You can really taste it in the spirit, too, which is lovely. The type of wood used varies too – French, American oak, etc. I knew this was increasingly common in whiskey, but I didn’t realize how prevalent the practice had become in rum too.

Do you have a favorite aged rum?  I’d love to hear about it. (you know where to leave a reply…)

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5 Things I’ve Learned About…Spiced Rum

The August 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is out, and it includes (among other things) my review column on Spiced Rum.  You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio.  Here’s what I learned:

1. Spiced rum has a bad reputation. It’s fun. It can be too sweet. You knew someone in college who tossed back too many Captain-and-Cokes. But that doesn’t stop many from taking spiced rum very seriously.  Maybe too seriously. 

2. Dry vs. sweet spiced rums. I didn’t realize there were different styles until I started tasting. But it’s a rather pronounced difference, and the “dry style” spiced rums were particularly nuanced and delicious.

3. Spiced rum is made with actual spices. Not just flavorings. Vanilla is perhaps the most commonly found spice. However, cocktail geeks mostly  disapprove of “vanilla-forward” rums. Taste thoughtfully, and you may detect spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Ginger and black pepper also may appear. One particularly spicy Cajun brand also used cayenne pepper.

4. Spiced rum is not part of the classic cocktail canon. Old school tiki bars would make their own. Some newfangled tiki lounges still do. (I’m lookin’ at you, Martin Cate!)

5. How to use spiced rum in cocktails. Tiki driks. Hot drinks like spiced cider. The Cable Car is a new classic. In other words, spiced rum is more versatile than I had thought. Check out some drink recipes here.

If you have a favorite spiced rum or cocktail made with spiced rum, I’d love to hear about it!

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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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Buttered Yum: 6 spirits to butter besides rum

photo credit: Corey Bunnewith

My story for Wine Enthusiast online is up this week, celebrating Hot Buttered Rum Day on January 17. (Don’t you just love these “holidays”?)  As usual, there was a lot more than could possibly be squeezed into the article.  For example, I learned you can “butter” spirits beyond just rum. For example:

1. Hot Buttered Rye – this was on the menu at Rye in San Francisco, and regularly sold out. UPDATED:  also available at Rye in Williamsburg.

2. Hot Buttered Tequila – in addition to the “Hot Buttered Toddy” that ran in the WE piece, Camper English also takes on Hot Buttered Anejo (aged tequila) in Fine Cooking magazine.

3. Hot Buttered Bourbon – hat tip to Bon Appetit, circa…1999? wow. Practically retro!

4. Hot Buttered Scotch – Also in the whiskey category, photography and cocktal maven Kathryn Yu reports that Peels has hot buttered Scotch on offer.

In other words, butter can be added to pretty much any dark spirit (brandy, applejack, Scotch…) to create a Hot Buttered Whatever. But wait – not just dark spirits:

5. Hot Buttered Cachaca – when he was at Coppa, this was a specialty of Boston bar wizard Corey Bunnewith. Of course, he was getting all pastry chef on this drink, creating a brown butter noisette to fat-wash the cachaca, and adding Maldon sea salt, maple syrup, and a final dollop of compound butter sourced from a local dairy, seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla, and aerated in an ice-cream maker.

6. Hot Buttered Pisco – also courtesy of Kathryn Yu, who spotted this on PDT’s cocktail list last year.

Other random Hot Buttered Stuff I was unable to cram into the article:

–Cold Buttered Rum – as made by Todd Thrasher at Restaurant PX in Alexandria, VA.

–Buttered rum variations made with compound butters – mmmm. Craft (NY) was selling a spiced rum with compound butter one evening I passed through (they were making their own spiced rum, by the way), and we have Bunnewith’s compound butter above.

–And finally, a labor-intensive but delicious-sounding Hot Buttered Rum recipe from The Tipsy Parson, which was just too dang long to include in the WE piece, but sounds so delightful and-over-the-top that I just couldn’t quite let go just yet. Seriously – lots of buttered rum recipes begin by making a labor-intensive batter. This one begins with a creme anglaise - and then a batter too! This is an advanced-level buttered rum.  So here it is:

Hot Buttered Rum 

By Tasha Garcia Gibson of The Tipsy Parson, New York

Despite the somewhat labor-intensive batter, Garcia Gibson says the batter can be made ahead of time and frozen in ice cube trays. After, that, it’s simply a matter of adding hot water:  “at this point, it doesn’t dirty a pan.”

However, a word of caution:  When making this batter, you won’t be alone in the kitchen for long. Garcia Gibson says that when it’s time to make the batter, the staff quickly gather around, spoons in hand:  “Everyone turns into children wanting to put their spoon in the bowl!”

Step 1:  Make the Crème Anglaise

  • 3 cups heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.

In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.

In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.  Yields 1 quart.

Step 2:  Make the Batter

  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 pound light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 quart crème anglais

Cream butter and sugars together in kitchen aid until smooth. Add crème anglais and mix until creamy. Mixture may be poured into ice cube trays and frozen in individual serving sizes or used fresh.

Step 3:  Make the Drink! 

  • 2 Tablespoons (1 “ice cube”) of batter
  • Boiling water
  • 1 ¼ ounces spiced rum
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

Place the batter cube in the bottom of a footed mug. Add 1 oz of boiling water and stir until the mixture is melted. Add the rum, and top with more boiling water. Stir until the mixture is melted. Sprinkle top with freshly grated nutmeg and serve.

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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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Finally – a new cocktail technique?

Compared to cooking, where new techniques are seemingly infinite, the cocktail playbook is limited to a few, relatively simple moves:  Pour. Shake. Strain. You get the picture.

So you’ll understand why I get excited to find someone doing something new, like Ryan Maybee of Manifesto in Kansas City, MO. 

Initially, I was pointed in his direction because of his Smokin’ Choke cocktail; he was among the first to use a “smoking gun” to quick-smoke liquor. And he was smart enough to make a video, which PolyScience glommed on to, making Ryan the poster child for the product. (Contrary to my initial perception, the videos are not created by or sponsored by PolyScience. They just knew a good thing when they saw one).

So what other cool tricks does Ryan have up his sleeve? Using eyedroppers to drizzle a spicy float on top of a cocktail. Although I know that eyedroppers are not a new tool in the bartender arsenal – they’re sometimes used to dose a drink with bitters or aromatic tinctures – I have never seen it used to add heat to the top of a drink. It’s different.

The drink itself, called “The Tempest,” is a riff on the classic Dark & Stormy, and it’s shaken to create a foam on the top of the drink. Then he drizzles a five-pepper-infused tequila on top of the drink. “It gives just a whiff of pepperiness,” he explained to me. “It’s the first thing you smell.”

Ryan was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I have to admit, for the quintet of infused peppers, I worry about infusing two habaneros, even roasted habs, in a bottle for a full week. A week! I’ve done hab infusions that are searingly hot in just a couple of short hours. A week seems a little insane with habs, although perfectly reasonable for bell peppers and poblano peppers. But then again, you’re just getting about a teaspoon’s worth, not a full two-ounce pour of this firewater.

The Tempest  (courtesy of Ryan Maybee, Manifesto)

2oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 oz homemade ginger syrup

Eyedropper of 5 pepper-infused Tequila (recipe below)

Combine Rum, lime juice, and ginger syrup in mixing glass, add ice.  Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Strain into Collins glass with ice.  Using an eyedropper, drizzle a few drops of 5 pepper infused Tequila over the top of the foam.  Garnish with a lime wheel and piece of homemade candied ginger.

 5 pepper infused Tequila

Using Blanco or Silver Tequila, infuse 1 750ml bottle with 1 sliced Green Bell Pepper, 1 sliced Red Bell pepper, 1 sliced yellow bell pepper, 1 sliced Poblano, and 2 small roasted Habaneros.  On all sliced bell peppers, remove the hearts and seeds.  Infuse for 1 week in a cool, dark place, shaking up occasionally.

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