Tag Archives: simple syrup

The drink you need for your 4th of July party: The Rosemary Refresher

The Rosemary Refresher

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher

It’s possible that I may I love this drink a little too much. I made a batch for a book signing event on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

A few random thoughts on this drink:

  • Although it was created to be a pitcher drink, if it’s going to sit out for longer than a few minutes before guests gulp it down in a thirsty frenzy, do not add ice! This drink is best when chilled, but loses all its oomph when it gets watered down. Mix it up and set it in a bottle or carafe, and pour it over ice to serve, if it’s going to sit for any length of time. (if serving right away, the pitcher method is just fine, though.)
  • If any rosemary syrup (and/or lime juice) is left over, refrigerate it and save it. Sunday night, I used this template to create an enjoyable Rosemary Daiquiri (though I used 2 oz white rum, not 2.5 oz aged rum). Tuesday night, I found inspiration here to make a rosemary-tinged gin Gimlet.
  • The rosemary sprig garnish is optional. But it makes the drink look really impressive.

The Rosemary Refresher

From Cocktails for a Crowd, by Kara Newman (Chronicle Books)

Serves 8
Total volume: 4 3/4 cups (without ice)

This sophisticated margarita variation is a wonderful thirst-quenching aperitif. The recipe makes a bit more rosemary-infused simple syrup than needed for the cocktails. Offer the leftover portion in a small pitcher for anyone who isn’t drinking alcohol so they can enjoy it mixed with club soda or ginger ale.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 cups reposado tequila
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
6 ounces rosemary-infused simple syrup
4 cups ice cubes
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish

To make the rosemary syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. When the syrup starts to boil, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Gently roll the rosemary between your hands to release some of the aromatic oils, then add it to the syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the rosemary sprigs and strain the syrup if need be. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, the syrup will keep for about 2 weeks.

To make the cocktails: In pitcher that holds at least 10 cups, combine the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and rosemary simple syrup and stir until thoroughly blended. Add the ice and stir well.

To serve, pour into rocks glasses and garnish each glass with a rosemary sprig.

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July 3, 2013 · 11:16 am

Celery-spiked cocktail recipe: Green Hornet

My article, “Put A Stalk In It,” about celery-spiked cocktails, is in the May/June issue of Imbibe Magazine.

Although it may seem like an obscure ingredient for cocktails, once I started looking around, I found myself spotting celery everywhere, in various forms. Erick Castro has a Paloma riff at his new bar, Polite Provisions, subbing Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda in place of grapefruit Jarritos. Celery foam tops Bloody Marys.  A Celery Gimlet is on the menu at Saxon + Parole, one of my new favorite bars — with celery juice and Maldon sea salt. Celery shrub here. Celery bitters there. Celery seed-infused syrups. Housemade celery cordial at Dead Rabbit. In researching a separate article on Rock & Rye, I came across a 1902 reference to “La Rue’s Celery Rock & Rye.”  

It’s enough to make you want a good drink.  So here’s one to try. Although it didn’t fit into the Imbibe article, it’s a mighty refreshing cocktail nevertheless.

Green Hornet

Tona Palomino, Trenchermen, Chicago, IL

The menu description reads simply:  celery gin and tonic. “A lot of people thought it was celery gin,” notes Palomino. “Rather, it’s a celery-flavored gin and tonic.”

1.5 oz. gin

1.5 oz. fresh celery juice

3/4 oz. simple syrup

3/4 oz. lime juice

I dash  Bitter Truth Celery Bitters (optional)

1 oz.  tonic water

Measure everything but the tonic water into a cocktail shaker. Cover with ice and shake. Strain into a 12-ounce Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top off with the tonic water.

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Filed under Drink recipes, Drink trends, My writings

Just in time for Halloween, the Ghost Pepper Cocktail

At the recent Chile Pepper Fiesta (great write-up & photos here), I was shaking up drinks a few booths over from the Bhut Jolokia folks, who make products using the Bhut Jolokia chile pepper, also fondly known as the Ghost Pepper.

If you’re not already familiar with these bad boys, Bhut Jolokia peppers are waaaayyy up there on the Scoville scale — hotter than Habaneros, hotter than Scotch Bonnets, and allegedly, the hottest known pepper of all. The peppers are widely sold at Kalustyan’s and elsewhere, but the Ghost Pepper guys in Brooklyn were smart enough to package and sell them – and best of all, they make a Spicy Ghost Pepper Watermelon Candy. Oh yes. And it’s inspired me to create a boozy version:  The Ghost Pepper Cocktail.

Here’s the recipe. It may seem a little sweet – but trust me, you need a little extra sugar to help mellow the Bhut Jolokia burn. I dare you to serve this at your Halloween party this year!

Ghost Pepper Cocktail

1/3 cups watermelon puree ( fresh watermelon chunks, seeded and pureed)

3/4 ounce Ghost Pepper simple syrup* (recipe below)

1 1/2 ounce vanilla vodka

Juice of 1 lime

Lemon-lime soda

Pour the watermelon puree, simple syrup, vanilla vodka, and lime juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into a tall glass. Top up with lemon-lime soda. Serve with a straw (or two).

Ghost-Pepper Simple Syrup (enough for several drinks)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 dried jolokia chile pepper (aka Ghost Pepper)

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil, continuously stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the water starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the dried pepper to the simmering liquid.

Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove the dried pepper. Pour the syrup into a container and keep in the refrigerator.

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Filed under chile peppers, Drink recipes

Hot Stuff: Making Chile-Cello

photo credit: Paul Fontana

I love limoncello, as well as lime-cello and orange-cello, so I thought, why not try the same experiment with chile peppers?

Well….with some modifications. The key to limoncello is to combine high-proof spirits with citrus peel, and then allow it to steep undisturbed for at least a week, often longer. But you can’t do that with chiles, which infuse super-fast. A week-long infusion would be insanely spicy. So here’s my revised version, loosely based on Scott Beattie’s “Hello Cello” recipe from Artisanal Cocktails.

Chile-Cello

Zest of 4 lemons

Zest of 5 limes

2 jalapeno peppers, sliced lengthwise

1 quart 100-proof vodka

2 cups simple syrup  (2:1 ratio)

Combine citrus zest, jalapenos, and vodka in a large, air-tight container. Allow to sit for 2 hours, then remove pepper pieces (look out for free-floating pepper seeds, too). Cover tightly, and let the mixture rest for at least 1 week in a cool, dark place.

Once infused, strain out the zest and add the simple syrup to the vodka. Seal the container and let the cello rest for 1 more week, refrigerated.

Strain cello into glass bottles and store them in the freezer.

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Filed under Drink recipes, Spicy spirits

Scenes from the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (#MCC)

Greetings from Hangover Central the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a multi-day fete celebrating cocktail culture.  The event is only at the halfway point, but already I’ve got some photos and stories to share.

For me, the main event was “The Spirited Whey,” yesterday’s seminar on Monk-Inspired Cocktails & Cheeses, which I co-presented with cheese expert Diana Pittet. I’ll have more on this soon, but I’m happy to report that the room was filled to capacity, all the spirits and cheeses arrived (plus some last-minute surprise add-ons), and we’ve been getting lovely feedback that the audience had a good time. (whew!)  

But a quick story:  For “The Spirited Whey,” we had hunted for a great cocktail that showcased two particular liqueurs with monastic heritage:  Benedictine and Chartreuse. We found one in the Monte Cassino, Damon Dyer’s award-winning drink crafted for Benedictine’s recent 500th anniversary event.  It’s a lovely drink made with rye, Benedictine, yellow chartreuse, and loads of lemon. And yesterday, minutes before our presentation, I spotted it on the bar menu at Astor Center, ground zero for most of the MCC events.

So I ordered one and introduced myself, (yep, it was Damon behind the bar!) and explained that we were about to feature his drink. What impressed him most:  Diana had done the research to figure out the meaning of the drink’s name (it’s a the name of a monastery).  He later popped into our seminar to talk about how he came up with the drink.

Damon Dyer in action, making a Monte Cassino

The finished Monte Cassino

Other highlights:  The “Hotel Bars” panel hosted by Elayne Duke.

Charlotte Voisey demonstrates how to "throw" a drink.

My favorite drink from the session: The Black Cherry Sling, from Bemelmans Bar (The Carlyle)

And of course, you know I woudn’t miss Tad Carducci’s seminar on Spice:  The Fennel Frontier.

The drink with the hottest profile was the Little Market, made with tequila, guajillo chile syrup pineaple, Yucateca green habanero sauce, and a pico piquin (chile salt mixture) rim for “extra depth and heat.”

Hot Stuff! The "Little Market" cocktail

But my personal favorite was the Masalarinha (a riff on the caipiriha), made with cachaca, fresh lime, Garam Masala syrup, and garnished with a cinnamon-dusted wedge of pineapple. (I need to add this to my list of curry-spiked cocktails.)

The Masalarinha

Diana relaxes with a full line-up of drinks from the Spice seminar (ok, they're not ALL hers!)

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Filed under Bar culture, chile peppers, Classes and seminars, hot sauce, Uncategorized

Trend-spotting: Curry Cocktails

Photo credit: Erwin Schoonderwaldt (via Flickr)

The April issue of Bon Appetit magazine arrived over the weekend (I was a Gourmet subscriber – and although I honestly have nothing against Bon App, I still feel a little stab of resentment every time the unasked-for substitute shows up in the mailbox). As I was leafing through, the page serendipitously fell open to a recipe for Curry-Spiced Bloody Marys.

It’s an otherwise standard recipe (tomato juice, vodka, lemon and lime juices, salt and pepper, celery-stick garnish), but it also calls for two unusual ingredients:  balsamic vinegar, and “2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons” of Madras curry powder. (I’ll assume that 3 full tablespoons would have overpowered.)

I seem to be all but stumbling over curry-spiked cocktails lately!  At the Cocktail All-Stars event, I was handed a Delhi Daisy, made with tequila, elderflower, lemon, curry simple syrup, and aromatic bitters. (I later learned it was the brainchild of Misty Kalkofen, of Boston’s Drink).

Just days later, I was sent a press release for AGAINN, in Washington D.C. And tucked in among a number of innovative drinks was The Bare-Knuckle Boxer, described as follows:  “house-blended madras curry powder infused into John L. Sullivan Irish Whisky, R&W Orchard Apricot liqueur, Dolin Dry, and Peychaud’s Bitters.” 

Hmm, I thought:  here’s someone mixing up their own spices, and then infusing them into a base spirit. Very different approach from Misty’s simple syrup approach. But wait…why did it sound so familiar?  And then it hit me:  a few months back, I interviewed Justin Guthrie of Central Michel Richard, also in D.C.  He was all kinds of fired up about a recent experiment utilizing sous-vide technology from the kitchen, which he’d used to concoct a  curry powder “super-infused” bourbon.  The end result:  an exotic whiskey sour

Though I’m not exactly a sous-vide expert, what I do know is that it’s a method of slow-cooking. In other words, not exactly curry in a hurry.

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Filed under Drink trends

Dr. by Day, Cocktailian by Night

Serendipity is one of the best parts of the blogosphere.

Great example:  earlier this week, I received a kind comment from the blogger behind Dr. By Day, about the Dragonfire cocktail.  “Very nice,” he wrote. “I was looking for a decent protocol for handling habañero’s [sic].”  

In real life, the odds of Dr. By Day and I meeting are slim at best; it’s hard to gather the details from his blog, but it appears that he’s a Los Angeles-based PhD candidate studying chemistry, and cocktail enthusiast with a tolerance for the spicy stuff.  But thanks to the wonder of the online world, he has access to my cocktail library, and I have access to his.

And though limited, what a fun library it is. He’s got a great instinct for concocting drink recipes as well as drink photography – take a look at his ginger-y Oh Snap, the jalapeno-spiked Amoxicillin (yep, he’s entrenched in the medical world), and especially, the beautiful Red Queen, made with London dry gin, Peychaud’s bitters, peppercorn simple syrup, and fresh basil leaves.  Seriously, that photo looks like a blossoming rose.

photo credit: Dr. By Day

I suppose it makes sense that cocktailing and chemistry would intersect. And it makes me happy that clear across the country, some giddy, over-tired student sees inspiration to make habanero-infused simple syrup as a great excuse to steal gloves from the lab. You go, Dr. By Day!

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Filed under chile peppers, Drink recipes

Hot stuff: Monin spicy syrups

Well, looka what the postman brought:  Monin’s line of spiced syrups.  I had a great time experimenting with the Habanero Lime flavor over the weekend, which is why you don’t see it in the photo below, dashing it into 7-up, tequila, and whatever else I had on hand. I’m excited about this product line, with good reason.

Spicy Chocolate, Spicy Red Cinnamon, Spicy Mango, Chipotle Pineapple syrups.

Let me tell you a syrup story. Maybe a year ago, after the book manuscript was safely turned in to my editor but long before the publication date, I hit upon the brilliant idea of marketing a line of Spice & Ice-branded syrups and glass rimmers. Great idea, right? I got busy with all the due diligence:  I signed up for a seminar with the NASFT (the same folks who bring us the Fancy Food show); I found a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn willing to let me use their space; I ordered dozens of tiny food-grade squeeze bottles to share with a few selected bartenders; I cranked out a marketing plan.

But wait — one key piece of the puzzle still was missing.

The product.

Here’s the problem:  I have lots of great simple syrup recipes, but they’re good for a couple of weeks, and that’s it. In order to sell a product, it has to keep long enough to survive distribution, maybe sitting in trucks or warehouses or on shelves for months and months. Even refrigerated products require some longetivity.

I spent several weekends brewing up syrups I really liked – Habanero Orange! Jalapeno Mint! Clove & Cinnamon! – and then I’d decant them into squeeze bottles, cap ‘em up, and sit them on a shelf to see how long a shelf life I might claim. Each time, it was about 2 weeks, and then a thin scum of black mold would grow. So very appetizing! So I’d toss out the bottle and start over again. I pestered a lot of very nice people with questions, who generously shared advice:  Use a greater sugar-to-water ratio, since sugar is a preservative. Purchase preservatives to extend shelf life (I had my heart set on creating an organic product, so that ruled out most preservatives). Find a better way to seal air out of the bottles.

Equally troubling: sulfur. I wanted to work with fresh peppers, which work great in freshly-made syrups but don’t age well. They begin to exude a horrible, knock-you-over-backwards, sulphuric stink after about 3 weeks.

So we stamp Kara’s Great Entrepreneurial Syrup Adventure with a big, fat, red FAIL.  (Anyone want to buy a box of 2 dozen tiny food-grade plastic bottles?)

If you’re still reading, you understand one reason I’m psyched about the Monin line:  they pulled off what I could not. I was sure this would be a high-fructose extravaganza, but no, they’re all made with cane sugar, and only the fruit-flavored syrups include potassium sorbate, a relatively innocuous preservative. But maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself:  I insisted on using fresh peppers and spices, where Monin subs in “natural pepper flavor,” “natural cinnamon flavor,” etc. I’m not entirely sure what goes into that, or how “natural” it actually may be.

In terms of taste, I was pleased. There’s a good balance of sweet and heat, with just a pleasant peppery tingle and no harshness in the throat or unpleasantly overt ersatz aftertaste. Nothing is the same as making it yourself, but I consider these syrups a perfectly acceptable substitute, and they get a rare recommendation from me. Bravo to Monin for making the product that I could not.

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Filed under chile peppers, Product recommendations

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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Filed under bar techniques, chile peppers, Drink recipes

Drink Recipe: Heartbreaker Cocktail

we heart chile peppers

Is it too soon to be thinking about Valentine’s Day? It’s only six weeks away, and shop windows are switching over retail merch with alarming speed.

After all, I’ve got a book to promote with a hot-pink cover and the suggestive tag line “Hello, Hot Lips” on the back. If that doesn’t scream “Valentine’s Day impulse buy,” I don’t know what does.

Although I’ve got a “Hot Lips Choco-Tini” in the book, I’m working on creating some other fun V-Day cocktails with lip-tingling flavors and delightfully risque names. Here’s one I’m experimenting with now — I’d love to hear what you think. I’m considering making that last ingredient a pepper-infused simple syrup, and perhaps adding a splash of pomegranate juice for a rosy tint. But again, opinions are welcome.

The Heartbreaker

1 oz. vanilla vodka

1 oz.  pineapple rum

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 oz.  tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 oz. simple syrup

2 slices red Anaheim pepper

 Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with small rounds of red chile pepper.

photo credit: Funnychill.com

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Filed under chile peppers, Drink recipes, Spice & Ice