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…..? 

From Saveur: Boozy Hot Sauce

photo credit: Saveur

I was psyched to open the all-chef  edition of Saveur Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011) and spot, in big-ass, all capital letters:  “BOOZY HOT SAUCE,” with the accompanying photo at right.

This item, #25 on the “Saveur 100” list, was contributed by Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country Barbecue here in NY. She describes this as “homemade hot sauce,” but if you ask me, this is infused tequila. Karmel says:

“I buy a half pint –or sometimes a pint– of the best tequila that the liquor store sells and pour myself a shot or two. That leaves enough room to stuff the bottle with red-hot bird peppers, peppercorns, and just a few pods of cracked smoked black cardamom. I put the top back on, shake it, and let it sit for at least a week before I use it. The longer it sits, the more delicious it gets.”

The  full recipe is posted here, on Saveur’s website.  I say bravo for toasting the spices (note: the recipe says cumin and allspice berries, rather than cardamom pods) before adding them to the tequila, and again — bravo for enjoying a shot of the hooch straight up. But in my opinion, a weeklong steep might be a bit much, even with dried chile peppers.

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.