Showing posts with label gin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gin. Show all posts

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.

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?





Friday, February 10, 2012

Buvare: Ruby Sipper


Love is in the air.
Sure, so maybe Valentine's has never been a favorite holiday of mine, but this year I can't help but blush. On the Table Set this week we discuss the stigmas of the holiday, avoiding amateur night at your favorite bistro, growing out of "anti-", and settling for a little bourbon and glitter.

Listen to The Table Set: Pink Paper Hearts

I rarely need an excuse to fiddle with my top shelf, but figured Vday is an especially good one. Here's a specialty cocktail I whipped up for you and your sweetheart. It's pretty in pink, though not too sweet, with added depth thanks to a kiss of ruby port. Of course what makes the spectacle is the unique garnish, a candied Wild Hibiscus Blossom in syrup. Gorgeous, and delicious.

Ruby Sipper

1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz fresh-squeezed red grapefruit
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Ruby Port
Dash of Peychauds bitters

Build in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a Wild Hibiscus Blossom.

XOXO

Friday, January 13, 2012

Buvare: Distillery Row


Portland is pretty sly.
Disguised as a sleepy town, the artisans there are often, sneakily, a few steps ahead. Especially in the booze department.
Let's not forget the liquid treasure produced by the vineyard-filled Oregon valleys surrounding Portland that shook up the American wine world, or where the craft beer movement established a formidable foundation.
Several years back, I visited Clear Creek Distillery in industrial NW Portland, at the time a refreshingly anomalous producer of eaux de vie, grappa and wine brandy. Nowadays, Portland has so many craft distilleries that they have their own district deemed Distillery Row and a passport to guide you through it. Clearly this is not something I would pass by. Listen up.


Aware that intoxication was a fair prediction for the afternoon, I opted for the distilleries within walking distance of each other. Unfortunately, due to tasting hours as well, that ruled out Stone Barn Brandyworks in SE's Brooklyn neighborhood. (Alas, something to look forward to for next time.)
And so we started out at Integrity Spirits, ready for the first stamp in our adorable passport (which cost $20, and waives tasting fees at all distilleries on the self-guided tour).


I was familiar with Integrity's Lovejoy Vodka, a beautifully designed bottle housing a lightly viscous vodka with hints of chamomile. Yummy.


The 12 Bridges Gin was my favorite, with a bright blend of herbs and spices reminiscent of Hendrick's (light juniper and that hint of cucumber).


The Hazelnut Vodka was a nutty punch to the palate, super tasty and roasty. Almost Nutella-like with cocoa character.


Next we sampled two batches of infused vodkas under the Sub Rosa label. The Tarragon was fresh and vegetal with licorice and pepper notes (a fun booze for cooking). The bright yellow Saffron was complex with lemony coriander, cumin, and pepper notes.


Integrity is famous for their Trillium Absinthe Supèrieure, Oregon’s first absinthe and one of the first in the US after it became legal. The 120 proof absinthe is intended to be diluted and sweetened per traditional ritual, which we prepared during the tasting. The result was one of the smoothest, most palatable absinthes I've enjoyed.


Next up was New Deal Distillery down the street. Known for their vodka, I was most impressed with the range of product New Deal presented. All exceptionally well-executed.


I was startled by the drinkability of New Deal Vodka. Smooth "sipping vodka" with clean botanicals and an easy finish. Even the 88, a traditional vodka distilled in copper stills, bottled at 88 proof. A piece of cake! A delicious piece of cake.


I got really excited when we moved to the handsome Gin No. 1 and Gin No. 3. A study for purists, these are two very different gins using juniper as the sole botanical. The first is a less-refined early-Dutch-style gin, cloudy, lightly yellow, and viscous. This is not a mixing gin, it is meant to be sipped neat and enjoyed. The latter, Gin No. 3 is bright and complex, shocking such a melange of flavors (pine, mint, citrus) could come purely from juniper berries. Absolutely delectable. This was a gin I needed to own (and do).


We tasted a lovely coffee liqueur and new ginger liqueur, but both were eclipsed by the Mud Puddle. Unlike most cloying chocolate-flavored liqueurs, here cacao is added to this spirit prior to distillation for a dry and subtle, rich after-dinner treat.
The brave of us finished off the tasting with a fiery shot of Hot Monkey, a piquant blend of five Southwestern chili peppers, lending just enough heat to keep you wanting more. Forget the bloody mary, this stuff is great on its own or with a splash of tropical fruit juice.


Overall I was most excited for our visit to House Spirits, which was the perfect place to finish off the increasingly galvanizing day.


Known for their Aviation Gin, the owners at House Spirits were more like hosts, and us their guests. They offered Aviation and Fever Tree tonics as we perused the shop before diving into the tasting. Their famous full-bodied, Dutch-style recipe blends juniper, cardamom, coriander, lavender, anise seed, sarsaparilla and dried sweet orange peel. This stuff is major.


A growing star among the ranks at House Spirits is their Krogstad Aquavit, an invigorating take on the traditional Scandinavian spirit lightly spiced with star anise and caraway seed. A chilled glass will warm even your winteriest nights!


We quickly moved to the big guns, the Limited Release Line. These small-batch specialty stunners range in production from a few cases to a few pallets, each apothecary bottle numbered.


We got to check out Gammal Krogstad, a barrel-aged version of the previous Aquavit, rested for 10 month in 3 barrels (a 53 gallon House Spirits whiskey barrel and two 30 gallon used House Spirits rum barrels). The blend of the three produced a honeyed grandfather to the crisp Aquavit, with deep amber resonant notes.


Then we tried the White Dog.
House Spirits White Dog un-aged whiskey (50% abv) is made from 100% malted barley and Oregon Bull Run water. Unlike moonshine, White Dog starts big and rich, with a malty nose, chewy mouthfeel, and insanely disparate flavors from white pepper to lemon peel, flower petal to Halloween candy. I shouted "WHOA" when I took my first taste, and "more?" after my second. This was my trophy bottle of the day, and if you can find it, recommend you buy it at once. You won't be sorry.

So yeah, we were pretty tanked by the end of the day. But all the better for wandering into random rose garden picnics.
I love you, Portland. Thank you for being so good to me. Until next time...

distilleryrowpdx.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homefries U!

If these ladies look like they're up to something... That's because they are.

Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean Benjamin are the stars of the Joy the Baker Podcast on a little network I sometimes talk about called Homefries. They like to have fun, talk about doughnuts, relationships, cookies, travel, sticky buns, and wombats. But what if for one weekend they could [literally] share the fun with their listeners?

One house in Palm Springs, some help from some friends, and a freezer full of ice cream later and Homefries U was totally in session!
Guests were greeted Friday night with - what else? Punch! I made up this batch of deliciousness with Krupnik Honey Liqueur, Dolin Blanc vermouth, fresh lemon juice, soda, Fee's Plum Bitters and a healthy dose of Cava Brut. Yowza!
Joy and Tracy made everyone addictively edible soup for dinner - vegan coconut carrot ginger heaven or chunky delish tomato situation. Winners.
After dinner there was, well, more punch to finish! And nails to paint. That's right. Not your average food blogger gathering. SEO? What's that, a sparkly blue?
Morning meant coffee cake, choco-studded banana bread, fresh fruit and lots of coffee.
An informative photo workshop led into the really good stuff - A brunch cooking demo. Joy and Tracy worked out a killer how-to brunch menu from A to Z. Then we ate it, of course.
Frittata time. Tracy doesn't mess around with bell peppers. Lady's got skills.
Breakfast pizza: the way into any sane person's heart.
After brunch everyone took a break for fizzy cucumber spritzers and pool time. Even Joy!
Craft hour included making herbal and fruit sugar infusions. And friendship bracelets. What else?
Happy hour is when things started getting REAL. Spiced nuts, cured salumi, and fresh-popped corn whet everyone's palate for a LOT of booze tasting.
Whitney from The Crush came out to teach everyone how to be a sexy sparkling wine dilettante in four tasty steps. And a frugal one at that, each wine is available for under $20 at DomaineLA.
Trust me, Whitney knows her stuff. And this Grotta del Sole Gragnano rules.
Cocktail time! Still a little loopy from the bubbles, I wasted little time getting everyone in a tizzy about one of my favorite and oft misunderstood spirits - Gin.
And you really can't talk about the history of gin without addressing its grandaddy, Dutch Genever, a malty juniper spirit back on the market thanks to Lucas Bols, the oldest Dutch distillery still in production. A distilled malt wine, Genever resembles a malt Scotch or white whiskey more than gin, and is great on its own, sipped out of a tulip glass alongside a beer (the traditional way) or mixed in an old-fashioned.
We also talked about London Dry, Plymouth, and New American styles of gin. And you can't leave out Hendrick's. If anything will convert a room of skeptics, a chilled sip of Scottish Hendrick's Gin with a cucumber slice does the trick. To lead into dinner we mixed up a bevy of Aviation cocktails with Plymouth Gin, the most winning of the pack.
What would a Sunday morning be without doughnuts? Joy and Tracy couldn't disappoint, and absolutely did not with their chocolate glazed and powdered perfect confections. (Not kidding, this chocolate doughnut was the best I've EVER had. EVER, people!)
After breaky, Tracy raided the spice rack for a expose on the real what's what and when to use it.
And what would a "conference" be without gift bags and a raffle? We wrapped up some goodies for our new friends so they could relive the best weekend ever once they got home. But the Real Housewives DVDs? Those were Joy's, sorry y'all.
Keep an eye out in early 2012 for Homefries U Spring Break! We're just getting started...

Homefries.com