Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Modern Riff: Blood and Sand

I know you're thinking this is a sweater weather cocktail, but in this adaptation I use blood oranges, and you can still score some pretty tasty blood oranges this time of year in CA. The really interesting winter citrus starts popping up in late January, but can sometimes still be found as late as June in NorCal. People, listen up. This is why we live in California. Anyway, we're on the tail end of the season, but I still see blood oranges at Berkeley Bowl, so I think it still counts as seasonally appropriate.

-Blood and Sand-

1 oz peated single malt (Ledaig 10 year or Bruichladdich Heavily Peated)
.75 oz blood orange juice
.75 oz Punt e Mes
.75 oz Cherry Heering

Shake, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with blood orange wheel. 

Notes: The traditional recipe is equal parts for everything, and that leans a bit sweet for my taste. Many people use a blended scotch to make a Blood and Sand, but I like the play of smokey and sweet together, so I usually opt for something young and smokey. Please insert I like my whiskey like I like my women jokes here. The Punt e Mes is a spicy, more robust style of sweet vermouth that stands up to the orange juice and Cherry Heering. Be careful with substitutions. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Original Cocktail: La Despedida

I honestly don't know what to say about this cocktail other than it's freakin' delicious and you'll want to drink three of them. Also, here's a chance to use the rosé syrup you just made.

-La Despedida-

1.75 oz blanco tequila
.5 oz Amara amaro*
.5 oz strawberry rosé syrup
.75 oz fresh lime juice

Shake all ingredients like your life depends on it. Double strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish optional, but use a lime wheel if you really want one.

Isn't this just a Margarita? Yea, pretty much. Except better.

*Amara amaro is not widely available, so feel free to substitute your favorite orange liqueur. Be wary of the super sweet ones like Grand Marnier that tend to be a bit too heavy handed for a drink like this.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Strawberry Rosé Wine Syrup

First of all, I should start by saying that this never happens to me. Really. I'm kind of embarrassed. But the other day we opened a bottle of rosé that was just not very good. And unless the wine is actually spoiled, fermented liquids rarely go down the drain at this house. Recycle, reuse. Standard protocol. The recovery was quick, and here are the results.

-Strawberry Rosé Syrup-

1 bottle (meh) rosé
1 hefty cup strawberries halved or sliced, fresh or frozen
1 cup organic cane sugar
peel of one lemon

Heat the wine until the sugar is dissolved, bringing the liquid to a very light simmer. Reduce for about 20-30 minutes, or until the syrup has reduced by at least a quarter to a third. Stir occasionally. Strain out the solids and let cool. Store in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least a month, but probably more. I keep mine in mason jars, and you'll end up with a few 8oz portions.

This is a somewhat delicate syrup in terms of flavor profile. Use this in cocktails with clear spirits, like gin, pisco, and agave.  I guess vodka if you have to, just don't tell me you did it. Also, it works really well in sangria or in a dry sparkling wine.

If you're planning to buy rosé to make the syrup, don't spend more than $10 bucks. A bottle at Trader Joe's for $3.99 should do the trick.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Original Cocktail: The Tomcat

Slightly reminiscent of the Martinez, the Tomcat features a sweeter style of gin called Old Tom. You can think of this style as the missing link between Genever and London Dry gin. The cocktail itself is simple to make, and you have a few options for the brand of gin, including San Francisco's Anchor Distilling and Hayman's Old Tom. Meow.

-The Tomcat-

2 oz Old Tom gin
.5 oz Cardamaro**
.5 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
one dash of orange bitters

Stir until chilled and diluted (about 30 seconds or so), and strain into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

**Cardamaro is an Italian wine based amaro that's made with cardoon, a relative of the artichoke. The name can be slightly misleading since many may be expecting a cardamom spirit on first glancing at the label. It's both bitter and sweet, and lower in proof than many distillate-based amari. You can find it in many specialty liquor stores.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Classic Cocktail: El Diablo

This week in my Spanish class we learned about Cinco de Mayo. Not the white-people-chugging-Cuervo-til-they-yak Murica! version of the holiday, but the actual history of the Battle of Puebla where Mexico gave France the old shove off. So here's a little agave cocktail you can drink while cursing imperialism. Damn you, Napoleon! But yea, we'll still keep the cassis. 

-El Diablo -             


1.75 oz blanco tequila
.5 oz Cassis
.75 oz fresh lime
spicy ginger beer

Shake all ingredients except for ginger beer, and strain into a collins* glass filled with ice, top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wheel.

*The tall, narrow one.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Modern Riff: The Cat's Paw (Singapore Sling)

The Singapore Sling has mostly fallen out of fashion, which if I were being dramatic, is nearly tragic. I made this version for the 2013 Cherry Heering cocktail competition a few years ago and I think it's just proof that a little Chartreuse makes everything better.

-The Cat's Paw-

1.5 oz Navy strength gin
.25 oz green Chartreuse or Chartreuse VEP
.5 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Benedictine
.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1-2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 good dashes of Peychaud's bitters

about 1-2 oz seltzer water

Shake all ingredients through bitters, strain into a tall glass (should be able to hold 14-16 oz) add fresh ice, leaving enough room to top off with seltzer water. After topping with soda/seltzer, stir before serving. Garnish is optional, but a cherry would do the trick.