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.

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…..? 

Build us a spicy cocktail!

A photo Monica snapped of SOME of the prize booty.

Want to win a copy of Spice & Ice, plus an amazing passel of cocktail-worthy goodies?  Strut your stuff by creating your own original spicy cocktail!  All the details are posted here.

Spice goddess Monica Bhide is hosting the contest – if you’re not already familiar with her, let me tell you, the woman is a walking spice encyclopedia. Among her many accomplishments, she’s the author of the fab ” iSpice” app as well as Modern Spice, a mouthwatering book focused on Indian cooking.  Clearly we share a love of bold flavors in food and drink.

I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Monica on this giveaway. Wait until you see the incredible box of goodies she’s put together: spices from Williams-Sonoma and MySpiceSage, Bar Keep Bitters ( love those Baked Apple Bitters), a cocktail shaker from Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, and a LOT more. No wonder Monica says this is her biggest contest EVER!

One more detail: I will make (and drink) the top 3 finalist cocktails, and will be posting those finalist recipes on this site. But only one winner gets the grand prize box (…AND publication on both Monica’s site and mine…AND of course, bragging rights)!

Deadline to submit is Sept. 30.  Click here to check out all the contest details and view the giveaway prize!

Look, Ma, I’m in Penthouse magazine

Well, there’s a headline I never thought I would write!

To be more specific, my book and I are quoted extensively in the July/Aug issue of Penthouse (get yer mind out of the gutter…). Here’s a scan of the article. I have every confidence this column will boost Spice & Ice sales through the roof. Because we all know everyone buys this particular magazine just to read the articles.

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.

Drink recipe: Sparkling Ginger Daisy Punch

photo courtesy Marleigh Riggins

So far, the Sparkling Ginger Daisy has proven to be one of the most popular drinks from the Spice & Ice book. I made it at the book launch party; I made a non-alcoholic version of it on TV; and it’s even going to be appearing in a major women’s magazine very shortly (shhh….more on that soon).

And now, it’s also avaiable writ large, in punch format, at the request of clever spirits rep MIchelle Ponto, for a holiday party.  And why not? Punches are everywhere this season (thanks, Dave Wondrich!)

Hmmm. I can’t resist a challenge. It took just a couple of minutes with a measurement converter tool, and a tweak here and there. Voila!

Sparkling Ginger Daisy PUNCH!

 Yield:  enough for 8 guests. Double this recipe for 16 guests (or 8 hard-drinkin’ types)

1 cup Plymouth gin

1 cup Domaine de Canton

1 cup lemon juice

½ cup grenadine (or a little less – some people find the recipe as is a little too pink)

Approx. 2 cups Brut Champagne, Prosecco, or other sparkling wine.

In a large punchbowl, stir together gin, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and grenadine. Add large chunks of ice to keep everything chilled (such as frozen in a round Bundt pan). Add the sparkling wine, and stir again.

Serve with a ladle, and consider keeping a bowl of maraschino cherries next to the punchbowl for guests to garnish their own drinks.

Why don’t you come out and see me sometime?

The next couple of weeks are shaping up to be crazy ones, in the best possible way!   Simply put, here’s my event calendar, and I hope to see you (or hear you!) at one of these events. Cheers!

 Thursday, September 30:  Cocktails For Everyone! radio, on VoiceAmerica.com. I’ll be talking about Spice & Ice on this lively radio show about the people “behind the bottle,” with host Catherine Schiff.

Friday, October 1: Martha Stewart Radio (Sirius). I’ll be on the “Morning Living”  show talking about chile pepper-spiked cocktails.

Saturday, October 2:  Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY.  Book signing and drink sampling!

Tuesday, October 5:  Drink.Think, a new reading event about all things drink! New York, NY.