Friday, November 25, 2005

Rusty Nail and Between the Sheets

Ah, the holidays have begun! I broke down and bought a carton of eggnog while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner groceries. It, plus a healthy amount of brandy, was an excellent cooking companion.

I also picked up some Johnnie Walker in order to make a Rusty Nail. Which is, simply, a shot of scotch and a shot of Drambuie. On ice. As Margaret Berry put it, it's for when "I like a little scotch with my scotch".

I still find the first few sips of anything from the whiskey family makes me wheeze and say "Hoo-hah!" in a Scent of a Woman manner. But the sweetness is nice. I still think it needs lemon, though.

But tonight, I've gotten a good portion of the Christmas decorations up, and I feel I could use a reward. So I decided to mix up a Between the Sheets. I couldn't resist, as brandy, rum, and Cointreau are all favorites of mine.

Between the Sheets
1 oz light rum (Bacardi)
1 oz brandy (Raynal VSOP)
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Citrusy and strong. Good stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

La Paloma

Whew, time to relax. I've just come back from volleyball practice. A really stiff drink isn't what I need right now, so I wandered over to the Esquire Drinking Database
to check out the Highballs section, otherwise known as the "hydration" cocktail family.

There I found a drink by the lovely name of La Paloma.
Combine in tall glass:
2 oz tequila (reposado, preferably) (Sauza)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
pinch of salt
Add ice, top off with grapefruit soda, and stir. (Safeway Select).

We usually have Safeway diet grapefruit soda on hand, although I believe it's a knockoff of Fresca, not the Jarritos brand recommended by Esquire. Still, I quite like it on it's own.

Therefore when I saw a recipe that was basically a margarita (yum) softened by some grapefruit soda, it sounded right up my alley. And my goodness, I think I've found a new favorite after-sports drink.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pineapple Cocktail

I have a problem. You see, I absolutely love pineapple. It's the only proper topping for a pizza. Put a fresh pineapple in front of me and I'll eat it until the acid flays my mouth. But I am not a big fan of coconut. Why people think that these two things go together, I'll never understand.

So the Piña Colada always both tempts and repels me. I want to like them, but the coconut....especially when the coconut is Malibu rum...I shudder.

Therefore I was happy to come across the simple Pineapple Cocktail.

The recipe as given by Cocktail Times is as follows:
Pineapple Cocktail
- 2 oz Light Rum (Bacardi)
- 1 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- Glassware: Cocktail Glass

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and strain into a cocktail glass.

Now, perhaps I added more than 1/2 oz of Lemon Juice, but I found the result to be overwhelmingly acidic. I decided to balance it by adding sugar to taste. It probably amounted to about 1/2 teaspoon. Mmmm, tasty!

While I'm at it, I thought I'd mention one of my clever home bar techniques. My husband and I are the only ones in the house, and he's a law student. Which means that while I'm kicking back after work, he needs a clear head to study. So my bar ingredients take a loooong time to get used up.

Many of my favorite cocktails require fruit juice. But one is torn between the need to commit to drinking a couple week's worth of cosmpolitans to finish off a bottle of cranberry juice, or allowing it to sit in the fridge until is goes fizzy.

But I discovered an ideal solution! A batch of juice goes into ice cube trays. Each cube is about 1 oz, coincidentally. Once frozen, the cubes go into a freezer bag. So to make the cocktail above, for example, I put one cube of frozen pineapple into the shaker and add the alcohol. A few shakes, and the alcohol melts the cube completely. Then I can add the other ingredients and make the drink as I normally would.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sano Grog

We'd just come home on a brisk November night (ok, brisk for Northern California), and I was in the mood for a warm drink. Normally in this instance I'd have some tea, but I'm also due for a cocktail post, so I thought I'll kill two birds with one stone.

Hence, a visit over to the Esquire Drinks site (which is nicely organized by drink type) to find a hot punch recipe. The Sano Grog sounded like it would be a nice alcoholic substitute for tea. And easy to make, too! No steeping cloves, whipping cream, or mixing stuff up in saucepans.

So, here we go:
Sano Grog
Into a tall, heavy glass or mug, put:

1 oz bourbon (Jim Beam)
1 oz dark Jamaica rum (Myers's)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon bar sugar
1 thin wheel of lemon

Add 3 or 4 oz boiling water.

I have to admit, I at first forgot the sugar. And I thought, this drink is crap! It takes like hot, watered-down liquor. Luckily, I looked at the recipe again and noticed the omission. Whew!

I think grog is an appropriate word to describe this drink. It's hearty and warm, yet isn't burdened with "holiday" flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg. If you are saying to yourself, "I'm cold, and I'd like some hooch, but nothing too fancy," this is the drink for you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kir Royale

This weekend my husband and I decided to try out La Bistro Vida. Normally when we're in Menlo Park and in the mood for fatty food, we go to the Left Bank, but we had walked by this place a few weeks ago and it looked fun.

Anyway, I decided upon the Mixed Grill of the day. This was a dish composed of french fries, a lamb chop, sausage, and duck. I was then faced with the choice of what, if anything, to order off the wine list. For a place that serves fries with most of their entrees, their by-the-glass prices were pretty steep. In this case, I felt like a glass of champagne (oh, how I love champagne) would be just the thing to cut the grease on my palate. But while the cheapest glass of champagne was $10, one could get a Kir Royale for a mere $7.50. Score!

Kir Royale:
In a champagne flute, pour 3/4 oz Creme de Cassis (a black currant liquer). Top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

It was crisp and a little sweet, with a nice hint of lemon. But really, how could it go wrong?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Mojito

I cannot sing more loudly the praises of the Mojito. It has become my standard "weekend" drink. They are one of the few alcoholic beverages that I feel are perfectly appropriate for the daylight hours.

My recipe:
1.5 oz white rum (Bacardi)
1 Tbs sugar (I will occasionally use Splenda to cut out the empty calories)
1/2 lime
a few springs of mint (fresh from the garden!)

Into a highball glass, juice the lime and add the sugar and mint. Muddle. I used to do this with the handle end of a wooden spoon, but now I have a proper muddler. The proper muddler makes nice small pieces of mint that distribute through the drink, which is nice. The kind I have is wooden (to spare the glassware) with a spiky bottom.
Add ice, rum, and top with club soda. Add a stirrer and serve.


By the way, a great source for cocktail stirrers is American Science and Surplus. At $.50/glass rod, it's a great deal for simple, classic stirrers. That is a great site, for many reasons. I'm a big fan of the labware section. You can find decanters, funnels, corks, glass straws, and whatever else they happen to have in stock. Go ahead, waste an hour or so reading through the whimsical product descriptions.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Over the weekend I took my only supply of grenadine to a Halloween party for Tequila Sunrises, which turn a nice Halloweeny orange when stirred. I like them in concept because they are pretty, showy, and easy, but the truth is they aren't really any more drinkable than a Screwdriver with some sugar added. But in a party setting where the drinks are accompanying cakes shaped like cauldrons, all is well and everyone gets buzzed.

I also discovered this post at Cocktail Chronicles. In the comments there is a recipe for homemade grenadine that I plan to try sometime very soon, along with various recipes for homemade obscure bitters. In the meantime I had my husband pick up a bottle at the grocery store. But I figure I might as well try an El Presidente while I'm at it.

Over at Drinkboy he recommends red curacao. As far as I can tell, internet consensus is that anything called curacao is the same thing taste-wise, just colored differently. So I could make this drink with clear curacao and food coloring, in theory. I suspect that the El Presidente I will be making will be using the grenadine purely for color, so I'll go light on it.

Which reminds me, why on earth hasn't someone made a really detailed liquor database online? The best I've seen yet is the Cook's Thesaurus. What I want to see would include:

1. Overview of type of alcohol, with a general descripton.
2. List of possible substitutes, with a link to a comparison table (cost/flavors/alcohol content). Some substitutions can be made in cooking, for example, that you wouldn't want to do in a cocktail in which is it a primary ingredient.
3. Cross-references to drink recipes in which it is used.
4. A list of all common or famous brands with brief cost/reputation description
5. For each brand, further link to tasting analysis, common uses, cost, etc.
6. Trivia/history/tips/etc. Like "use this in a flambe" or "this will make dairy curdle" or "no normal bar will ever stock this, so don't order it."

A lot of work, isn't it? That's why I'm not starting my own any time soon. I'm still drinking mostly safe, established midpriced liquors until my palate is trained enough to tell the difference between that and the good stuff.

Anyway, a long way around to the main event of the night. I should probably include the recipes I try here in case my hyperlinks dry up some day. I'll also annotate which brands I use for reference.

Ok, here we go:
1 1/2 ounces white rum (Bacardi)
3/4 ounce orange curacao (Potter's)
3/4 ounce French (dry) vermouth (Martini&Rossi)
dash grenadine (Rose's)

Ok, first impressions:
Very sweet, ORANGE up front. The vermouth blends in, and then I can barely taste the rum at the very end. I feel that the orange and vermouth are in a bit of a battle here.
What is nice though, is that there is a fair amount of flavor stuff going on here that's not all just tropical-fruity, which is a bit unusual for a rum drink. I like rum quite a lot, so it's nice to see it in a cocktail glass.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Test post.

I just syndicated this blog over at livejournal.