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Month: September 2016

Friday Musings: One Twisted Gimlet coming right up.

Friday Musings: One Twisted Gimlet coming right up.

twisted-gimletHappy Friday! One night last fall I received a text message from a friend about an amazing cocktail she was drinking at Azul, a restaurant in Miami. It was called a Twisted Gimlet and her request was very simple. “Is there any way you can make this for us at home?” Since then I’ve received quite a few similar text messages from family and friends wanting to know if I can figure out how to duplicate a particular drink they’re having. Sometimes I get a picture too, or a list of ingredients, or a screenshot of the menu, or even the menu itself. One friend in particular likes to call it “field research,” which I love. Whenever I look at my phone and see that this kind of message has popped up, it always makes me smile. Let me tell you why.

First of all, I love text messaging in general. Yes, yes it’s true. I’m one of those people who does not see this electronic means of communicating as the downfall of real relationships, but rather as something that can actually enhance the way we’re connected to one another, especially when we’re limited by time or distance. Secondly, trying to figure out how to make a drink involves some detective work and I am, at heart, a Nancy Drew wannabe. Aren’t we all, really? So it’s fun to track down ingredients, work out the right ratios, make infused simple syrups… whatever it takes to get the drink as close as possible to the original! But there’s something else here other than just fun, which is the most important reason why I love all of this so much. There’s a lot more to making a cocktail for someone that you care about than just the process of measuring, mixing, pouring, and garnishing. You can surely look at it that way, but why not step things up and make the gesture a bit more grandiose? I’d like to think that cocktails, especially those that are thoughtfully planned and carefully made, can be a reflection of the way we feel about one another, as well as a testimony to the lengths we’re willing to go to make each other smile, and the effort we’re willing to put in to maintain the connections that are important to us. Too much? I really don’t think so.

Bottom line to my family and friends: keep those cocktail text message requests coming! They make me very happy. As for the Twisted Gimlet from Azul, it was the very first cocktail I ever attempted to replicate for someone who asked me to do so. It will always have a special place in my heart.

Twisted Gimlet

2 oz vodka*
1/2 oz St. Germain
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz jalapeño simple syrup**
2 slices cucumber for muddling
Cucumber and lime for garnishing

Muddle the cucumber and the jalapeño simple syrup together in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients along with 1 large ice cube and 2 small. If you don’t have the large cubes on hand, fill the shaker 2/3 full with regular ice. Shake for at least 15 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a lime strip. Enjoy!

Notice the ratios above: 2 oz of the base spirit (vodka), 3/4 oz sour ingredients (lime juice), and 3/4 oz sweet ingredients (simple syrup and St. Germain). It gets a bit trickier when there are lots of ingredients involved, but this a basic formula that’s a good place to start with most cocktails like this. Then you can adjust or add from there. Give it a try at home!

*CROP vodka is my very favorite.

**To make the jalapeño simple syrup, mix together equal parts of water and sugar in a pot and heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved and the liquid turns clear. Pour into a mason jar and add several jalapeño slices. Seal the jar and allow to steep, checking frequently to see how hot the syrup is (spicy hot, not temperature hot). Remove the jalapeño slices when it’s to your liking. Store for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Have a great weekend! See you all on Monday!

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Barlogue: Gorshin Trading Post in Haddonfield, NJ.

Barlogue: Gorshin Trading Post in Haddonfield, NJ.

gorshin2When it comes to making great cocktails the base alcohol that goes into the drink is really just a fraction of the final equation. You need only to take a sip of something like gin, for example, to know exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s choose Hendrick’s for this little experiment. You’d get the strong botanical aroma and taste right away, and you’d appreciate the cucumber and rose, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t be something you’d want to spend hours drinking. Add in some St. Germain, a jalapeno simple syrup, fresh lime juice, a great tonic, and a basil garnish and suddenly you’ve elevated things to an entirely new level. You’ve created a cocktail! Since the ingredients we add to our base spirits are what really make the drink, it’s incredibly important that they be the highest quality possible. I’m a stickler for this because I think it makes all the difference in the world.gorshin7For this reason I was ecstatic (remember this is me, and I get very excited about anything to do with cocktails) to learn that Gorshin Trading Post and Supplies right here in downtown Haddonfield carries an excellent selection of tonics, syrups, shrubs, and bitters. My entire family and I have been fans of Gorshin since the shop opened two years ago in a historical building that was once a former tavern. I remember the first day I walked in and felt as though I’d been transported to another world, one where it was the norm for top quality brands like Woolrich, Filson, Topo Supplies, Dubarry, Shinola, Duluth Pack, and Buck to line beautifully-made wood shelving systems. It’s no wonder that Gorshin won the 2016 Best of Philly award for Men’s Gift Shops. In addition to clothing, gear, and supplies, Gorshin also carries an extensive selection of  “man cave food favorites like hot sauces, jerkies, snacks, and cocktail essentials.” Ahhh, it’s that last bit there that really speaks to this girl’s heart.

Among the cocktail essentials that you’ll find at Gorshin are McClary Brothers handcrafted small batch shrubs made from organic apple cider vinegar and ingredients sourced from farms local to the Great Lakes region, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. tonics, syrups, cherries, and aromatic bitters also hancrafted in small batches and intended to recreate cocktail ingredients from a bygone era, Tait Farms Original Fruit Shrubs from an organic family farm in central Pennsylvania, Cocktail Crate craft mixers, Woodford Reserve bourbon cherries, and Luxardo Maraschino cherries (considered by many to be the only garnish to use in a Manhatten). And I cannot fail to mention the line of Whitley’s Nuts that we love to have on hand to accompany cocktails here at our house. They are extraordinarily irresistible!gorshin4In addition to everything that Gorshin carries, the main factor that makes shopping there such a standout experience is the atmosphere that owners Mitch and Maria Gorshin have worked so hard to create. Despite the fact that they are both extremely knowledgeable about every item in the store, there’s simply no pressure to buy anything. From the moment you walk in you’ll feel as though you’re there to visit old friends. You’ll soon grow to appreciate the thoughtful way in which they’ve displayed their merchandise by using furniture and other unique accessories. The standout piece at the moment is the recently acquired 1820s bar from lower New York, back when it was known as Five Points. (I’ll be pouring cocktails at that bar for Haddonfield’s next Girls’ Night Out on October 6th. Mark your calendars!) Everything about Gorshin reflects quality, care, and craftsmanship, from the largest item in the store down to the smallest. If you haven’t already stopped by, make it a point to do so soon. It will no doubt become one of your favorite places to shop!

I’ll leave you with a recipe from Jack Rudy’s website that uses Sweet Tea Syrup, which I purchased today at Gorshin. The recipe was developed in collaboration with Leon’s Oyster Shop in Charleston SC.gorshin3The Daytripper

1 1/2 oz of your favorite Vodka (mine is CROP)
3/4 oz Jack Rudy Sweet Tea Syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon Juice
3 drops of Lavender Bitters

Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add your 1 large cube and 2 small cubes if you have them on hand. Otherwise fill the shaker 2/3 full with regular ice. Shake for about 15 seconds until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!

Gorshin Trading Post and Supplies.  125 Kings Highway East.  Haddonfield, NJ.  856-427-6800

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The 1960s called. They want to make you a whiskey sour.

The 1960s called. They want to make you a whiskey sour.

whiskeysour

I grew up in the 1960s and I can remember my parents having parties at the house where they served cocktails. My dad was a Dewars and water guy and my mom liked screwdrivers, but they had a friend who loved a a good whiskey sour. Much like the Daiquiri, the whiskey sour is one of those drinks that is available as a mix, but my dad never believed in that. He’d whip up something from scratch, although I have to say that I don’t remember him ever shaking anything. And the whole question of using egg whites was never an issue for him  Why waste a raw egg on a drink when you could wake up in the morning and drink it Rocky Balboa style??

The original recipe for a whiskey sour was first recorded in 1862 in a book called The Bartender’s Guide, but some version of the cocktail is said to have been around for at least 100 years prior to that when sailors were drinking it to ward off scurvy on long sea voyages. Like some of the other classic cocktails, the whiskey sour has been making a reappearance on many bar menus and has become one of those drinks that home bartenders also take pride in making well. The use of an egg white is still up for debate; you certainly don’t have to use one if you’re opposed to it, or you can use less (anywhere from a 1/2 ounce on up). You can also consider a vegan substitute like chick pea liquid, but use a full ounce of that if you’re going to give it a try. Either way we’ll need to first dry shake the ingredients without ice to get the the drink good and foamy. Then we can add the ice and shake again to bring the temperature down.

The Whiskey Sour

2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon*
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz egg white**
1 dash Angostura or other aromatic bitters
Orange strip and Italian cherries as a garnish

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake for 15 seconds or so. Add the ice (1 large cube and 2 small if you can) and shake for another 15 seconds or until well chilled. Strain into an old-fashioned glass or a goblet over 1 large ice cube. Garnish with the orange and cherries. Using an eye dropper, place small drops of the bitters in the egg white to finish off the top of the drink. Toast the 1960s and enjoy!

*Of course! What else for me? Feel free to substitute your favorite.

**Use up to the full egg white, or 1 oz of a vegan substitute, or omit it entirely.

Vintage glass a recent thrift store find. I’m always on the lookout.

On tomorrow’s barlogue I’ll be changing things up a bit and covering Gorshin Trading Post & Supplies right here in Haddonfield. They carry excellent cocktail making supplies! Check back to read more.

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Let’s talk about Paris. The Strawberry Daiquiri meets the French 75.

Let’s talk about Paris. The Strawberry Daiquiri meets the French 75.

daiquiri2

Around this time last year my daughter and I were just starting to talk about a trip to Paris. I wanted to come up with a cocktail that we could drink as we sat down to begin making specific plans. Her only requirements were that it should have strawberries and St. Germain in it. I had recently had an abominable Strawberry Daiquiri made from a mix and remembered thinking “there has to be a way to come up with a respectable version of this drink.” I thought about making a French 75 and adding strawberries to it, but I didn’t have any Champagne in the house and I couldn’t get that Daiquiri out of my head. So what I decided on was a sort of a blend between the two drinks with the addition of strawberries and St. Germain. The color remained true to what we typically see in a frozen Daiquiri made from a mix, but the taste was something altogether different.

Let’s Talk About Paris

2 oz white rum*
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 simple syrup**
1 ripe strawberry
Pinch of salt***

Gently muddle together the strawberries and the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients to the shaker and add 1 large and 2 small cubes of ice. (If you don’t have the large format cubes on hand then fill the shaker about 2/3 full with ice). Shake for about 15 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a strawberry slice. Enjoy!

*I used Petty’s Island Rum from our local Cooper River Distillers.

**Simple syrup is very easy to make at home. Combine equal amounts of regular sugar and water in a pot and heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns completely clear. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for about a month.

***The salt helps to brighten the flavor of the citrus in much the same way that it does in cooking.

Cocktail coupe glass made by Schott Zwiesel.

Follow up with me tomorrow when we’ll take a look at the Whiskey Sour, a classic shaken drink!

 

Let’s Shake Things Up!

Let’s Shake Things Up!

 

shaken1

Happy Monday! So far we’ve talked about drinks that are built and drinks that are stirred, two methods of making cocktails that yield a clear finished product with very little texture at all. If we take a look at the drink above we immediately see that it’s neither clear nor smooth. That’s because this is a shaken drink, and the whole purpose of preparing it this way is to emulsify the ingredients and infuse the cocktail with texture in the form of air bubbles. This cocktail also contains both citrus juice and egg whites, two ingredients that require shaking in order to be properly incorporated. As soon as you see either of them in a recipe you know you’ll be taking your shaker out! So let’s get down to the details.

shaken5

We start by measuring and pouring our ingredients into a cocktail shaker. What you see pictured above is the smaller half of a Boston shaker. It measures 16 oz. and the larger half measures 28 oz. I always build the drink in the smaller half and then add my ice. In terms of which ice to use, I found the information in Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold to be truly helpful. He painstakingly conducted experiments to see what effect different sized ice cubes had on shaken cocktails and concluded that the best combination is one large cube and 2 small. To be honest, I really didn’t believe this at first. What difference could it possibly make? So I followed Arnold’s suggestion and did the experiment at home. Just as he predicted the cocktail with the large and small cubes had the best texture by a long shot.

shaken3

Once we’ve added all our ingredients, the next step is to seal the shaker. To do this I place the larger half on top of the smaller half and give it a good whack with my palm. The pressure inside the shaker from the changing temperature builds up and helps to seal the two tins together. To get ready to shake I invert the tins (so that the smaller one is on the top and the larger one is on the bottom) and I point the bottom half away from me at an angle. The reason for this is so that if the tins were to separate the drink would end up all over me, not my guest. Now I’m ready to shake – this is the best part! Rather than shaking in a back and forth motion, I like the recommendation from Death & Co. to think of moving the shaker in a fast arc so that the ice cubes are spinning around inside, rather than slamming back and forth. This means less breakage and less chance of too much dilution. I shake the drink for a  good 10 -15 seconds; I want it to get very cold. I shake for less time if I’m making a drink like a Cucumber Collins that will be served over ice. There is also something called a dry shake that’s used when there are egg whites in the drink. You seal the tins and shake vigorously with no ice to get the egg whites nice and foamy, then add your ice and shake again to chill. After I’m finished shaking, I separate the tins by holding them in my right hand and giving another good whack with my left palm right about where the two tins are joined together. Alternatively (and I like this better) I squeeze the larger tin in that same approximate spot and push against the smaller one until the seal breaks.

shaken4

Before I actually pour my drink, I place my larger half of the shaker into the smaller half (you can see that above). It’s just a good habit to get into and it helps to keep your work area neat. I double strain my drink into a chilled cocktail glass using a Hawthorne strainer and a mesh strainer. This is to be sure to keep small pieces of ice out of the finished drink. We’re now ready to garnish and serve! As with the building and stirring techniques we’ve already covered, try to develop a regular pattern when shaking your cocktails. This creates consistency and that’s the hallmark of a great bartender!

Check back tomorrow and Wednesday for recipes!

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