Showing posts with label cocktail recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktail recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Buvare: Shiso Lovely


I had never sampled Korean cuisine before moving to Los Angeles. Casual as a boisterous group trip to Soot Bull Jeep for KBBQ may seem now, I am well aware of the benefit we have living in this city to enjoy such motley experiences. To many though, even LA denizens, the overwhelming bounty that is our Koreatown (with one of the highest population densities of all neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the United States) remains still an indecipherable mystery. Determined to enlighten international diners about the diverse flavors and health benefits of Hansik (Korean cuisine), The Korean Food Foundation has launched a series of city restaurant guides, including a slick 200-page guide to LA's Korean restaurants, from Koreatown to Marina del Rey, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Pasadena, and Los Feliz. Edited by legendary LA Times & LA Weekly food writer and cookbook author Barbara Hansen, and written with the help of many top local bloggers, the guide is now available at The Korean Cultural Center, through PDF download on The Korean Food Foundation's website, and as a handy iPhone app available in iTunes. To put the guide to the test, I teamed up with my recurring foodventure cohort Kristin "the Cuisinerd" to embark on a mini K-town food marathon. Bibambap, we don't stop!
Check it out over at theCuisinerd.com.


During our walkabout through K-town and its eateries, pubs, markets and banchan delis, I became inspired to craft a cocktail from Hansik ingredients, with a fresh profile to compliment its flavors, and involve the Korean concept of Ssam (literally meaning "wrapped," in which edible leaves are used to wrap meat, condiments, and banchan).
Perusing Han Kook Market, I decided to start with the obvious base spirit - Soju (소주). Known mostly to me these days as the cocktail spirit of choice for restaurants with a beer/wine license, this clear, slightly sweet distilled spirit is made from grain or sweet potatoes and typically has an alcohol content of 40 proof (20% ABV) - Half that of, say, most vodkas. Nevertheless, it is the most popular traditional Korean spirit, deserving of a second chance. I was also intrigued by Makgeolli (막걸리), a milky, sweet low-alcohol (6% ABV) beverage made from sticky rice, known for its high fiber, protein and vitamin levels. With some fresh produce and a lucky hand, Shiso Lovely practically made herself.

Shiso Lovely

1 1/2 oz Jinro Soju
1 oz Jinro Makgeolli
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Honey Tangerine
1/2 oz Lemon
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
3 Shiso Leaves

Add shiso leaves and honey syrup to a shaker and muddle. Combine remaining ingredients, pack with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass lined with a slapped shiso leaf.

Shiso Lovely also works well as a long drink. After shaking, strain instead into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda and garnish with a green maraschino cherry, candied lotus root and shiso leaf ssam.

*For the Honey Syrup:
Combine 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mixology Monday: Road to Mandalay

Is it already that time again? Nothing like a Mixology Monday cocktail recipe challenge to shake things up! 
This month's theme comes from Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain & Sip, challenging the pretense of today's über-craft bar scene: 
"The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey... But with all this focus on 'craft' ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious... As such, this month's MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft, will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less."


In the back of every liquor cabinet lives a dark secret. It is usually very old, always sticky to the touch, and often times... Blue. Oh yes. Blue Curaçao. More commonly found in the tenure of tiki-philes like myself,  the blue devil still causes a blush (or excuse) upon discovery. Unfortunate really, as the liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, from the island of Curaçao, is not completely untasteful. Yet it is often unnecessarily dyed the most unnatural shade of blue. Craft? We'll see...


Burma's Pegu Club, set just outside of Rangoon (now Yangon, Myanmar), is probably best remembered by its legacy, the Pegu Club Cocktail. This ginny signature drink was sipped by its exclusive ex-pat members
mostly wealthy businessmen and military officials, as far back as 1866. First printed in "Barflies and Cocktails" by Harry McElhone in 1927, the recipe has only more recently resurged from obsolescence in Myanmar, now served in several historic colonial hotels in Yangon, as well as on the Road to Mandalay, an Orient Express cruise boat on the Irrawaddy River.

The latter is the namesake for my cerulean adaptation (the original Pegu Club calls for unvaried Curaçao). And given the fact that the cocktail was originally named after the Pegu River, I actually find blue befitting for the cocktail. 

Road to Mandalay

2 oz Gin
3/4 oz 
Blue Curaçao
1/2 oz Lime
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker, fill with ice, and shake well.
Strain into a chilled coupe. If desired, garnish with a grapefruit peel.

A tart refreshing cocktail best sipped out of doors, there is hardly a cloying note to be found. Lick it up, haters. Lick. It. Up.


Thank you Scott for an entertaining Mixology Monday challenge! Check out the round up of submissions here, and visit the original MxMo LXXI announcement post here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mixology Monday: The Tigress

It blows my mind that it has taken my this long this participate in the renowned Mixology Monday. However, in light of the kooky cocktail hijinks I have been up to lately, I am happy that my first is this month's theme dreamt up by Stewart Putney of Putney Farm: "Inverted."
Inspired by Julia Child's upside-down or "inverted" Martini preference, Stewart wrote "What does 'inverted' really mean? Well, here is the definition, 'To turn inside out or upside down; to reverse the position, order, or condition of.' Hmm... It seems that 'inverted' really just means something 'flipped on its head'. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity... You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and 'invert' whatever you want."


Refined. Elegant. Subtle.
Not words generally associated with what we lovingly call tiki.
But why not? Tiki's fine aged rums, specialty liqueurs and complex flavor profiles are every bit considered as a perfectly balanced Martinez or Sazerac, and in their heyday, just as glamorous. As winter tiki has been on my mind a lot lately (and not just because it was 82 degrees this February day), my task was plain. So I looked to the boozy classics, the Mai Tai, Zombie, Scorpion, Planter's Punch, Test Pilot, Sunakora and Three Dots and a Dash to cull a deeply flavorful aromatic tiki cocktail. That's right - no fruit, no juice, no freaky garnish. And by golly, it was easier than I expected.

The Tigress

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz Lemon Hart Demerara rum
1/2 oz pineapple cordial*
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes Bittercube blackstrap bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass over ice and stir well.
Strain into a chilled coupe and express oils from an orange peel over top, adding it to the glass as a garnish.

*For the pineapple cordial:
Fill a pint canning jar with freshly cut pineapple pieces. Pour in an ounce of Amaretto, and fill the remaining space with gold Barbados rum (such as Mount Gay). Seal and keep in a cool dark place for at least a week, agitating every day or so. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to extract any and all fruit pulp before use.

Fruity and rummy on the nose, smooth drinking, with a mellow spicy aftertaste. It's totally tiki, but fit for a speakeasy. Of course, as with all tiki recipes, the ingredients are key. Substituting rums will yield considerably different results, and in this case, the bold flavors of the Smith & Cross and Lemon Hart carry more than their weight (especially considering this cocktail is 100% liquor). So enjoy! And thank you Stewart for a fun and inviting first Mixology Monday!

Visit the original announcement post here, and the full Mixology Monday LXX Roundup: Inverted here! So many awesome and creative submissions I will be trying out...


For further inversion of winter tiki, check out my Hot Grog recipe from the Winter Warmer episode of my podcast, The Table Set. (Hot tiki? You bet!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Buvare: The Tart in Tartan


I've never spent a winter in Scotland, though I imagine it would be spent fireside sipping something strong. This smoky and tart holiday cocktail is all about the pull. Best to give in and let it do its thing.

The Tart in Tartan

1 oz Laphroaig Islay Scotch whisky
1 oz Irish whisky
1 oz Cranberry Shrub (recipe here)
1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine ingredients over ice and shake. Strain into a tumbler over one large fresh ice cube. Express oil from a lemon peel and garnish. Sit back and enjoy slowly.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Buvare: Sidedish


Thanksgiving and cocktail are seldom synonymous words. The holiday is one for wine, and plenty of it. But on the current episode of The Table Set we challenged ourselves to think outside of the wine box and come up with food friendly alternatives to unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
While craft beer and hard cider make great cases for themselves, I decided to also come up with a pre-dinner cocktail. As I would be spending the holiday in the Russian River Valley this year, miles from Iron Horse and Korbel, I considered a sparkling wine element, but instead dusted off a bottle of Korbel brandy as the base spirit.
A longtime fan of a Brandy Sidecar, I tinkered with the classic ratio, introducing fresh cranberry syrup and black walnut bitters, with Dry Curacao in for the orange liqueur. The result is a lively holiday drink that can last through the season, Turkey Day 'til New Year's Eve.


Listen to The Table Set: Not Talking Turkey

Monday, November 12, 2012

Buvare: Sweater Weather


They say the most dangerous food is wedding cake.
I imagine that trickles down to what's in the toasting glass... So when two of my loveliest friends recently asked me to concoct their wedding reception's signature cocktail I may have broken a small sweat whilst smiling and saying "of course!"
This would just have to be my most perfect cocktail yet.


Not one to take such challenges lightly, I drew up a lengthy survey. I would need to know every detail of the bride & groom's tastes, their vision for the wedding, guest makeup, and --most importantly-- if they like a sweet drank.
After diagramming their answers I hosted a very serious cocktail tasting consultation. A wall of jarred syrups and infusions initially separated us, but after a couple of autumnal trial rounds (November wedding = best cocktail season ever), we all loosened up and began to make some headway. The two couldn't have more disparate tastes, but factoring in a diverse group, we all agreed on vodka. I cloaked it with harvest flavors and textures, resulting in what the clever bride (and one-time ChocoMeat guest writer) christened "Sweater Weather."


Important lessons were learned on the big day (i.e. insist on specifics when a caterer is handling the shopping), but all-in-all the cocktail was well received by the party. In fact, some people forewent the wine and drank it all night.
I suppose I can file that under success.

Sweater Weather

1 1/2 oz Tito's vodka
1 oz apricot liqueur
1 oz natural unfiltered apple juice
1/2 oz cinnamon simple syrup
1 1/2 oz Reed's ginger beer

Combine all ingredients except ginger beer and shake well. Strain over fresh ice into a bucket glass. Top with ginger beer and lightly stir. Express oils from an orange peel and garnish, top with freshly-grated nutmeg.

To make cinnamon simple syrup, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar and several cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Strain and bottle. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buvare: Dark and Stormy Night


Halloween! Not only my favorite holiday, but increasingly my favorite time of year to concoct potent potables, with a decidedly sinister edge. Last year's Witching Hour cocktail was brainy and elegant, but this year for our annual Table Set Halloween podcast I decided to brew something more approachable and thirst-quenching.

The Dark and Stormy is one of the simplest and most delightful cocktails, period. For my adaptation I introduced The Kraken, a black spiced rum of epic proportions, a spicy Jamaican ginger brew and several additional autumnal highlights. Leaving out the eye of newt, this time...


Listen to The Table Set: Dark and Stormy Night

Last year with the glut of pumpkin bourbon I infused for the Witching Hour, I made this impromptu punch for my friends. It was consumed within minutes. Highly recommended for your own gathering of ghouls, named for the Halloween party held in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before Ichabod Crane's infamous ride home. Beware!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buvare: Green Leaf

One year and 25 episodes later, The Table Set and HomeFries Media are celebrating our first anniversary! It's been an exciting and challenging road, fraught with liquid courage, dinner parties, blog neglect (xo..) and plenty of recording bloopers. But hey, we're just getting started!

On our 25th episode, we received a call from a pregnant cocktail lover asking how she can make a mean "mocktail" (pardon the term) that lives up to the meticulous craft concoctions on your local speakeasy counter. Andy, Greg and I all tried our hands at the task with enlightening results. Check out the full episode, and my liver-friendly cocktail recipe below (hint: it's good with kumquat-infused London Dry Gin too!).

Listen to The Table Set: Where's the Party?





Monday, April 30, 2012

Voyager Bien: Desert Gold

Spring in Los Angeles means many things. Open windows. Musky Jasmine blossoms. Rogue beach days. But for me, it always stirs a need deep in my soul to return to the desert. Lucky for us, we don't have to go far. Weekending in Palm Springs is the norm, but this year Spring offered a spiritual respite off the grid. For my friend Natalie's bday (you may remember her as octo-girl), we ventured deep into Joshua Tree's boulder country for a sun-spiked, dusty boot brand of good ol' R&R. With tequila.
First, let's talk about this crazy house. Bless Natalie's VRBO karma, because she scored with Boulder House, a throwback to kitschy Crayola Southwest pageantry at its best.
And Boulder House isn't deemed so for nothing. The master suite is tucked between some ancient big guys, who are quite the sight (and great huggers). Still, I couldn't have been happier with my adorable lil' cowboy twin room.
The morning view from my bed of sleeping boulders and acres of desert foliage grounded my soul. This is vacation.
A desert day started right, with Stumptown Cold Brew stubbies to sip on in the morning sun while cast iron flapjacks sizzled on the wood-burning stove inside.
Dates, fruits and homemade corn nuts from a nearby farm graced the table at every meal.
The water was a wee bit cold for me, so I readied some poolside drinks while the polar bear club dared each other to commit the dip.
I whipped up a pitcher that was a riff on the Sonoran Sunset, a cocktail inspired by my desert hometown Tucson. I replaced prickly pear syrup with earthy raw pomegranate juice, which justly compliments the secret ingredient - Spicy black peppercorn and serrano chili infused tequila.

Yucca Valley Sunset

1 1/2 oz black pepper/serrano-infused tequila
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz raw pomegranate juice
1/2 oz Cointreau

Shake, shake. Serve in a salt-rimmed glass.
Afternoon plans: Desert Gold, the photo shoot. What else?
Nightfall was illuminated only by birthday candles and flashlights hiking into the desert darkness. Fiery-bright stars, beer, and makeshift "piñata" action... Boulder naps, hot tubs and bats.
Thanks for the tip, fridge. (Yes, we visited Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown on the drive out of Yucca Valley the following day - what feels like the original Western saloon. Highly recommended.)

Until next time, Boulder House... Spring does come every year.