Tag Archives: vanilla

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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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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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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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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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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