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Friday Musings: Closing out Summer 2016

Friday Musings: Closing out Summer 2016

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Next week it will officially be fall and the summer of 2016 will finally come to an end. I have to admit that I’m more than ready. Mine started off on such a high note with a fabulous trip to Paris and then it went in a somewhat unexpected and sad direction. Though I’m tempted to close it out without any ceremony, I still see the need to raise a glass and respectfully say goodbye. After all, it may be cliché but it is certainly still true that we often gain the most from people and situations that deeply disappoint us. Since Friday is my day to give you my take on things, I decided to come up with a cocktail that reflects the transition between the two seasons, and the way in which that change isn’t always easy. Summer wants to hold on, but ultimately fall wins out. It goes that way in our personal lives too. If I sound extra dreamy to you today, blame it on the full moon lunar eclipse that’s happening in Pisces. How’s that for some astrology! It’s supposed to bring closure to whatever has been troubling us, and usher in a whole new cycle of peaceful energy. I say amen to that and I wish it for all of you too.

Now about that cocktail! I put a little fall twist on a Cucumber Collins which I tend to think of mainly as a classic summer drink. I started with Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, cucumbers, and basil – those are my summer ingredients. Then I added Suze (a somewhat bitter, slightly spicy liqueur), Velvet Falernum (smells just like the spice drops we ate as kids), Laird’s Applejack (nothing says fall like apples), and a ripe fig. The aroma of the cucumber and basil hit you first, but then the deeper, spicier flavors take over. Summer into fall. It totally worked for me; I hope it does for you too! If you’re local, both the Suze and the Laird’s are available at Benash Liquors on Rte. 38 in Cherry Hill, one of my go to places for unusual things. They even have a website where you can place an order for something not in the store and avoid shipping costs. You can check for the Velvet Falernum there too, although it seems to only be available by the case. If not, you can grab it at Total Wine and More or Canal’s, both right down the road from Benash. Now for a name, always the trickiest part for me. I felt like it could only be one thing:

Lunar Eclipse in Pisces

1 1/2 oz Tanqueray gin*
1/2 oz Laird’s Applejack
1/4 oz Suze
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
4 thin cucumber slices
1 basil leaf
1 ripe fig
2 oz club soda**

Gently muddle 3 of the cucumber slices, the basil leaf, and 1/2 of the fig with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients except for the club soda and fill the tin 3/4 full with ice. Shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with the club soda. Garnish with the remaining cucumber slice and a fig slice. Enjoy!

*I normally use a more botanical gin like Hendrick’s when I make a standard Cucumber Collins, but in this case I wanted less herbal and floral elements.

**I like to use high quality mixers like Fever Tree or Q.

Retro Collins glass from Dig This in Collingswood.

I’ll see you all on Monday when we’ll be talking about drinks that are shaken. Have a great weekend!

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The Negroni: Elegance in a glass.

The Negroni: Elegance in a glass.

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I simply would not want to live in a world without Campari in it. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but to me there is nothing that embodies elegance in a glass quite the way a Negroni does. But I’m a person who loves bitterness in cocktails and Campari’s biting orange flavor definitely fits into that category. Technically speaking, Campari is considered to be an apertivo, or a substance that you drink before a meal to prepare your digestive system for what’s coming. It is also one of the Italian Amari, a group of versatile herbal liqueurs that are currently among the rising stars of the cocktail world. The origin of the Negroni itself dates back to to 1919 when a Count Camillo Negroni was rumoured to be drinking Americanos in a bar in Florence. Americanos are made with sweet vermouth, Campari, and club soda. Desiring a stronger drink, he asked the bartender to replace the club with gin and so the Negroni was born. A happy day for me! The recipe below calls for equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. This is traditional and it’s the one that I use, but many bartenders bump the gin up to 1.5 ounces. Try it both ways (side by side if you can) and see which you prefer. You’ll want a less botanical gin here so go with something like Bluecoat (my favorite and distilled here in Philadelphia), Tanqueray or Beefeater. As far as sweet vermouth goes, I prefer Carpano Antica Formula and Dolin Rouge, but again try each one and you decide. And finally, the Negroni is a drink that is best served very cold. It tends to fall apart as it warms up and so I love it over ice, preferably one large cube.

1 oz Bluecoat gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica or Dolin Rouge
1 orange peel for garnishing

Place all the ingredients except the orange peel in your mixing glass (or shaker tin). Add ice (medium cubes) until the glass (or tin) is 2/3 full. Remember that too much ice will make it hard to stir and too little will not chill the drink enough. Stir with a long handled bar spoon for 15-20 seconds or until very cold. Strain using a Julep strainer and pour into an Old-Fashioned or bucket glass with one large ice cube in it. Express the oils from the orange peel across the top of the drink by squeezing the peel with the skin side out and the white pith side towards you. Drop the peel in the drink. This is a beautiful cocktail! Take a moment to admire it and then get ready for a taste like nothing else!

Check back with me tomorrow for the Thursday Barlogue when I’ll be covering Charlie was a sinner in Philadelphia!

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