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Confessing that I’ve been obsessing… over DRAM Apothecary bitters

Confessing that I’ve been obsessing… over DRAM Apothecary bitters

If you follow me regularly you may have noticed that I’ve developed a slight obsession with DRAM Apothecary bitters. Why do I love them so? Let’s begin with the fact that they are made in Colorado from wild and organic herbs that are foraged locally. They contain no synthetic dyes, flavorings, preservatives, or flavor oil, and they are alcohol and gluten free as well. I wish every product I buy could make these claims! The fact that they are free of anything undesirable makes these bitters equally at home in a cocktail, a cup of tea, a smoothie, or even in baked goods. I’ve used their Citrus Medica flavor in a pound cake and it was amazing. As if all this wonderfulness wasn’t enough, DRAM bitters are also available in the most fun and fabulous flavors. My favorite are the Black bitters, which are deep and dark, but with a happy pop of cardamom. I’ve used them in The Blackout, You Want It Darker, A Tale of Two Whiskies, and Moonshine and Apples. Second runner-up goes to Wild Mountain Sage whose taste literally makes me feel like I am wandering around on a mountain somewhere, under a gorgeous blue sky, with just a slight chill in the air, and a nice dog by my side… Sorry I’m getting carried away. I’ve used these bitters in 3 of my cocktails so far: December New Moon, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and Early Autumn. Next we have the Citrus Medica flavor which is citrusy and floral at the same time; it was an important component in The Ghost of Christmas Past, as well as in that pound cake! The Palo Santo bitters were the perfect fit in The Winter Solstice, both because of their vanilla smokiness, and because they are supposed to have magical powers, much like the solstice itself. Hair of the Dog bitters made an appearance in Falling in Love Slowly, one of my favorite cocktails that I’ve come up with, and I’m using them in today’s drink called Ginger or MaryAnn? The only flavor I have not tried yet is the Lavender Lemon Balm, but don’t despair! They’ll be front and center in tomorrow’s Friday Musings post that features a drink called All My Good Intentions. 

As for today’s cocktail, who remembers the TV show Gilligan’s Island?? Ginger was the redheaded movie star and MaryAnn was the brunette farm girl, both beautiful, but in completely different ways. So it became a question mostly asked of men (because who would have thought to ask a woman back then) as to who they’d prefer: Ginger or MaryAnn? In a broader sense the question was really asking “do you want to chase the spectacular, but most likely unattainable girl that might break your heart, or can you be satisfied with the down-to-earth, more realistic one that might actually marry you?” Apparently the answer was thought to be able to give men insight into their personalities, which I find to be more than a little bit funny. In terms of the drink, MaryAnn is represented by the Goslings Rum and the chamomile fennel simple syrup, and Ginger by the ginger shrub and the Velvet Falernum. DRAM’s Hair of the Dog bitters, with their fennel and ginger flavor profile, work to bring all the ingredients together. This cocktail also has a bit of an island feel to it, which makes me think that Gilligan and the Skipper could have easily spent a lazy afternoon drinking these, hoping to gain insight into their male personalities.

Ginger or MaryAnn?

2 oz Goslings Black Seal dark rum
2 oz Tait Farms ginger shrub (or your favorite brand or homemade)
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum (Canal’s Pennnsauken)
1/4 oz chamomile fennel simple syrup*
2 dashes DRAM Apothecary Hair of the Dog bitters
2 oz of a good club soda
1 candied ginger cube and 1 fennel frond for garnishing

Combine all the ingredients except for the club soda in the bottom of a shaker tin and add ice. Shake for 30 seconds or until very cold. Strain and pour over ice into a Collins glass. Top with the club soda. Garnish with the ginger cube on a skewer and the fennel frond. Enjoy!

*To make the syrup, steep 1 fennel and 2 chamomile teabags in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add an equal amount of sugar and heat gently until clear. Store in the fridge in a Mason jar for 2-3 weeks.

DRAM products are available on their website, locally here on N. 3rd St. in Philadelphia at the Art in the Age store, and at Dean & DeLuca stores. The cocktail bitters sampler pack is around $30.

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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