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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

RECIPE: Sparkling Pear Cocktail

La Poire Sparkling Cocktail

America's Favorite Pear

[1] La Poire sparkling cocktail (photo courtesy Grey Goose). [2] America’s favorite pear, the Bartlett (photo courtesy CookThink). There are also red Bartlett and d’Anjou are available in green and red varieties.

 

This week we had a bottle of Angry Orchard’s Knotty Pear Cider at lunch, and it reminded us that fall is also a time for all things pear.

For a celebration, toast or other special occasion—or weekend chillaxing—this cocktail from Grey Goose is a star. Easy to make, it combines pear and citrus with sweet Moscato. You can use other slightly sweet sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante.

If it isn’t a special occasion, don’t go out of your way to find the perfect garnish. Or a Champagne flute.

 
RECIPE: SPARKLING PEAR VODKA COCKTAIL

Ingredients For 6 Drinks

  • 6 parts Grey Goose La Poire
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small pear, ideally Anjou or Bartlett*, red or green
  • 1 bottle sparkling Moscato or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Garnish options: baby orchid, crystallized ginger, sliced star fruit
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL and core the pear and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

    2. PLACE the lemon juice, sugar, pear and Grey Goose La Poire in a bowl. Stir well to combine until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    2. DIVIDE the pear mixture into six Champagne flutes or wine glasses. Fill each chilled glass with Moscato.

    3. GARNISH and serve.
     
    ________________
    *A juicier pear variety will accentuate the pear flavors. Here are the different types of pears.

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Rum Punch For National Rum Punch Day

    September 20th is National Rum Punch Day. While the word “punch” conjures up a large bowl of drink, the word actually derives from the number five in Sanskrit and Hindi.

    THE HISTORY OF PUNCH

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, panch, from the Sanskrit is panchan, five.

    In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit; hence the name.

    Punch was “discovered” in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century. From there it spread to other countries.

    While Western punch recipes generally contain fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required: a pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    You can also make just one punch drink at a time. Here are two recipes for individual punch drinks—rum punch, of course, to celebrate National Rum Punch Day.

    For serving in tall glasses, get some fun straws.

    It’s hard to resist 144 cocktail umbrellas for $4.79, but we resisted.

    RECIPE: BACCARDI RUM PUNCH

    This classic rum punch uses two different types of rum: white and dark. If you don’t have both, use what you have.

    Because this recipe is in “parts,” you can make anything from a single glass to a party portion, without any calculations.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Bacardi Superior (white rum)
  • ½ part Bacardi Select (dark rum)
  • ¼ part grenadine
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • ½ part cranberry juice
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ombine all liquid ingredients iIn a large container. Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy. If making a large batch, just before serving…

    2. POUR into a large punch bowl, stirring in ice. Garnish the bowl with floating lemon slices. Serve each glass with a lemon wheel.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT RUM PUNCH

    This recipe, from Inspired By Charm, uses coconut rum and dark rum. No dark rum? Try it with all coconut rum.

     

    Rum Punch

    National Rum Punch Day

    Yellow Striped Straws

    [1] Grenadine and orange or yellow fruit juices create the “sunset” effect (photo courtesy Inspired By Charm). [2] Get out your Mason jars (photo courtesy The Blond Cook). [3] Tall drinks deserve a fun straw (photo courtesy Balloon Red).

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 1 ounce dark rum, plus 1/2 ounce to splash on top
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Garnish: lime slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR into a glass the pineapple juice, orange juice, 1 ounce dark rum and 1 ounce coconut rum. Gently stir.

    2. SLOWLY POUR in a splash of grenadine. The grenadine will sink to the bottom to create the “sunset” coloration.

    3. ADD 1/2 ounce of dark rum to the top. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve.
     
     
    10 PUNCH MAKING TIPS

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drinks For Mexican Independence Day

    Tequila & Grapefruit Juice Cocktail

    Bandera Shots

    [1] The Paloma, said to be Mexico’s favorite tequila-based cocktail (photo courtesy TasteCocktails.com). [2] The Bandera comprises shots in green, white and red, the colors of the Mexican flag (photo courtesy FoodNetwork.com). [3] A layered bandora shot with chartreuse, maraschino liqueur (clear) and grenadine (photo courtesy BarinaCraft.com).

     

    September 16th is Mexican Independence Day. It’s also National Guacamole Day. Coincidence? We think not!

    Yesterday, we explained how Mexicans celebrated with shots of Reposda tequila, aged for up to a year.

    But what if you don’t like drinking straight tequila?

    You can enjoy another tequila cocktail or a non-alcoholic Mexican drink. Here are some of the most popular:
     
    RECIPE #1: MICHELADA: MEXICO’S BEER COCKTAIL

    You can have a plain Mexican beer, of course. Bohemia, Corona, Dos Equis and others are commonly found across the country.

    But if you like a bit of heat, have a Michelada (mee-cha-LAH-dah), a traditional cerveza preparada, or beer cocktail.

    Michelada is a combination of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer, combined with mixto, referring to the the mix of ingredients added to the beer. Eliminate the hot sauce and you’ve got a Chelada.

    Here’s the complete Michelada recipe.
     
    RECIPE #2: PALOMA COCKTAIL, TEQUILA & GRAPEFRUIT

    This cocktail couldn’t be easier: 3 parts grapefruit soda and 1 part tequila, served over ice cubes in a highball glass, garnished with a lime wedge. You can add an optional salt rim.

    And you can make it by the pitcher-ful, which we’ll be doing tonight.

    Paloma is the Spanish word for dove. In Mexico the soft drink of choice is Jarritos brand grapefruit soda (in the U.S., look for it at international markets or substitute Fresca.

    You can purchase pink grapefruit soda from the premium mixer brand Q Drinks, or combine grapefruit juice with club soda or grapefruit-flavored club soda.

     
    At better establishments, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice is combined with club soda. Use pink grapefruit juice and you’ll have a Pink Paloma (our term for it).

    Here’s the history of the Paloma from TasteCocktails.com, which says it’s the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico.
     
    RECIPE #2: BANDERA SHOTS

    In Mexico the Bandera (flag), named after the flag of Mexico, consists of three shot glasses representing the colors of the flag (photo #2).

    The first is filled with lime juice (for the green), the middle has white (silver) tequila, and the last contains sangrita (for the red), a chaser that usually contains orange and tomato juices. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

    You can also make layered shooter with liqueurs in the national colors (photo #3). Here’s a recipe.

     

    NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

    RECIPE #4: AGUA FRESCA

    In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water.

    In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries (photo #4). They’re also sold bottled at stores, and are easily whipped up at home.

    Agua fresca is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated. The recipe can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers (like hibiscus), herbs and/or spices, cereals (barley, oats, rice), seeds (chia), even almond flour (which is used to make horchata, the next example).

    A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade.

    Our favorite combinations: watermelon (or any melon), basil cucumber and mint hibiscus. Here’s how to make them.

    As you can see from this recipe template, it’s easy to mix your favorite flavors.
     
    RECIPE #5: HORCHATA

    Agua de horchata—horchata for short—is a very popular recipe, made from ground almonds and rice spiced with cinnamon (photo #5). Other flavors such as coconut can be added.

    Here’s a recipe from Noshon.it.

    It’s not conventional, but, you could add a shot of tequila or rum.

    After all, it’s a day to celebrate!

     

    Watermelon Agua Fresca

    Mexican Soft Drink

    [4] Whip up a pitcher of watermelon aqua fresca with this recipe from Whole Foods Markets. [5] Horchata, made from ground almonds and cooked rice, may sound unusual—but it’s unusually good (photo courtesy Noshon.It).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Instead Of Cinco De Mayo, Celebrate September 16th…With Reposado Tequila

    Blue Nectar Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Manhattan Cocktail

    [1] Reposado tequila is the preferred type for celebrations [2] Distrito Federal is Manhattan cocktail that replaces the bourbon with tequila (all photos courtesy Blue Nectar Tequila).

     

    Many Americans look forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo each spring. This relatively small Mexican holiday commemorates a regional battle in 1862, long after Mexican Independence was declared. More Americans celebrate it than Mexicans!

    Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

    That honor goes September 16th, known as Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores, the town where the battle began). It’s the most popular holiday in Mexico.

    Here’s the scoop on Mexican Independence Day, commemorating the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810.

    As with America’s Independence Day, the Mexican National Day of Independence is a patriotic holiday, with celebratory drinks, food and fireworks.

    Today’s tip: Wherever you live, celebrate Mexican Independence Day on the 16th.

    The folks at Blue Nectar Tequila tell us that the most popular type of tequila consumed in Mexico on national holidays is the more aged (and more expensive) Reposado, not the clear Blanco (a.k.a. silver or white tequila—here are the different types of tequila).

    Blanco is aged not at all or up to two months, while Reposado and Añejo tequilas are aged longer: Reposado for six months to a year, Añejo for one to three years. Aging gives layers of complexity to the spirit.

    While tequila was first produced in the 16th century by Spanish immigrants to Mexico, aged tequila styles such as Reposado and Añejo did not appear until the early 1900s.

    Some producers began to age their tequila in oak casks left over from red wine, brandy and rum that had been imported for consumption by the Spanish aristocracy.

    This stroke of genius changed the overall quality and taste of basic tequila, which at the time was raw-edged and without complexity.

    So today’s tip is: Celebrate September 16th by sipping a glass of Reposado or Añejo tequila, neat or on the rocks, enjoying the flavors with each sip.

    Or try one of the cocktails below, or this wonderful menu of tequila cocktail recipes.

     
    WHAT TO EAT WITH THE TEQUILA

    Reposado tequila has a woodsy quality that pairs well with beef-based, poultry and pork-type main dishes. (complementary flavors in recipes include orange, cinnamon and honey).

    Instead of America’s go-to grilled food for Independence Day, a favorite dish in Mexico is pozole, a classic soup made of hominy and pork.

    In modern times it’s also made with beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables and beans. Here’s a selection of pozole recipes.

    For dessert, have churros or dark chocolate with Añejo tequila.

    And sure: Bring on the guacamole, salsa, chips and esquites—Mexican corn on the cob.
     
    COCKTAIL RECIPE #1: DISTRITO FEDERAL

    The classic bourbon-based Manhattan cocktail is the inspiration for this Mexican version, which is named after historic Mexico City, an area known as Distrito Federal.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Reposado or Añejo tequila
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: brandied cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the spirits and bitters in a cocktail glass. Add ice and stir until cold, about one to two minutes.

    2. STRAIN into a coupe glass, garnish with the cherry and serve.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE #2: MEXIPOLITAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

    The vodka-based Cosmo is remade with Reposado teqila.

  • 4 lime quarters
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces Reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: lime wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the lime quarters with the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, orange liqueur and cranberry juice.

    2. TOP with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel.

     

    Tequila Cosmopolitan Cocktail

    [3] The Mexipolitan: A Cosmopolitan with tequila instead of vodka. Calling Carrie Bradshaw!

     

    FIND MORE DELICIOUS TEQUILA COCKTAIL RECIPES AT BLUENECTARTEQUILA.COM.
     
    ABOUT BLUE NECTAR TEQUILA

    Blue Nectar Tequila, is a hand-crafted, super-premium tequila that focuses on agave-forward flavor profiles.

    While by Mexican law Reposado must be aged a minimum of 2 months, Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend is aged 6-8 months and then blended with three-year-old Extra Añejo, to deliver hints of vanilla and smoke.

    For more information on the different expressions of Blue Nectar tequila, visit BlueNectarTequila.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur & How To Infuse Your Own

    Ancho Reyes Liqueur

    Casa Noble Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Cocktail

    [1] Today’s pick: Ancho Reyes chile liqueur (photo courtesy Ancho Reyes). [2] Casa Noble reposado and blanco tequilas. Mix reposado with the liqueur in the cocktail below (photo courtesy Casa Noble). [3] Combine them to make this delicious cocktail (photo courtesy Casa Noble).

     

    If you like tequila, mezcal and the cuisine and culture of Mexico, why should you celebrate September 16th?

    Because it’s Mexican Independence Day.

    In the U.S., the holiday Americans celebrate is Cinco de Mayo. But Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico. More Americans celebrate it than Mexicans!

    Here’s the scoop on Mexican Independence Day, commemorating the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810—the biggest holiday celebration in Mexico.

    Why do Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

    The date commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over superior French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is celebrated locally in the city and state of Puebla, in south-central Mexico.

    A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo has taken on a life of its own. It has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations, and many non-Mexican fans of the cuisine. Here’s more on the holiday.

    So what’s today’s tip?

    Celebrate with some chile-infused liqueur.
     
    ANCHO REYES LIQUEUR

    In 1927, the Reyes family of Puebla, Mexico made a homemade liqueur from the area’s ample ancho chile crop. Fortunately, they decided to make it commercially.

    We love its smoky heat, for mixing, sipping neat, in marinades or for drizzling over lemon or lime sorbet.

    It’s not simple, sweet heat: Beyond the smoky chile are notes of cinnamon, cocoa, herbs and tamarind (maybe more depending on the sensitivity of your palate).

    Here’s a detailed story in pictures of how the chiles are grown and infused to become Ancho Reyes.

    We’ve seen it on Wine-Tracker from $29.99 to a high of $48.99.
     
    RECIPE: IN NOBLE FASHION (TEQUILA & ANCHO CHILE LIQUEUR)

    We really enjoyed this cocktail from Casa Noble Tequila (here are more recipes).

    The recipe specifies reposado tequila, slightly aged (a minimum of two months by law): Casa Noble reposed is matured in French white oak barrels for 364 days!

    We had only silver/blanco, but it was delicious just the same. (Here are the different types of tequila.)
     
    Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces reposado tequila
  • .5 ounce ancho chile liqueur
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 drops mole bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: orange peel
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients—except the garnish and ice—in a mixing glass. Stir and strain the drink into a glass over ice.

    2. SQUEEZE the orange peel into the glass; then rub the inside of the peel around rim and drop into the glass.
     
    FIND MORE COCKTAILS FOR ANCHO CHILE LIQUEUR AT ANCHOREYES.COM.

    Here’s an Ancho Reyes cocktail we published, featuring grilled pineapple.

     

    OTHER CHILE-INFUSED SPIRITS

    While not an exhaustive list, we found these products at retailers:

  • Tanteo (a NIBBLE favorite) and other brands make chile-infused tequila.
  • Stolichnaya and other brands make chile-infused vodka.
  • Patrón XO Cafe Incendio adds arbol chiles to a chocolate liqueur based on their tequila.
  • Kiss Of Fire is another chile-infused liqueur.
  •  
    HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHILE-INFUSED TEQUILA

    You can infuse tequila or vodka (or any other spirit) with fresh chiles. The spirit adds more heat to Margaritas and Bloody Marys (and the tequila-based Bloody Maria and Chipotle Maria.

    You can also cook with the infused spirits. Just search online for “cooking with tequila” (or vodka) and you’ll find everything from salad dressing and marinades to pasta sauce and tequila-lime sorbet.

    You can use any type of chile; habaneros will give more heat than jalapeños (check the Scoville Heat Units. For a smoky flavor, chose ancho or chipotle.

    Try three chiles your first time out. If you want more heat when you taste it after 3-4 weeks, you can add more chiles and infuse for another 3-4 weeks (or just use more chiles next time).

    Here’s our glossary of the different types of chiles.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750ml) tequila, vodka or other spirit
  • 3 large chile peppers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the chiles, pat dry, slit lengthwise and insert into the bottle of tequila.

    2. CAP the bottle tightly and place in a cool (away from a heat source), dark place for 3 weeks. Taste and if you want more chile flavor, infuse for another 1-2 weeks.

    3. KEEP or strain the chiles from the bottle, depending on how you like the look.

     

    Ancho Chile

    Infused Tequila

    [4] An ancho chile, used to infuse the alcohol base of Ancho Reyes chile liqueur (photo courtesy CulinaryArts.About.com). [5] It’s easy to infuse your own favorite chiles into tequila or vodka. This photo shows how Foodie Misadventures did it (photo © Foodie Misadventures).

     
    Infused spirits are great for gifting!

      

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    RECIPE: Bacon Bourbon Cider

    Bacon Cocktail Garnish

    Cinnamon Sticks

    [1] Another way to enjoy fall’s apple cider: with bourbon and bacon (photo courtesy Davio’s | Manhattan). [2] Make your own cinnamon simple syrup with cinnamon, sugar and water (photo by Ben Fink, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran).

     

    As restaurants and lounges switch to their autumn menus, we’re getting lots of fall cocktail recipes. We test cocktail recipes each weekend, typically inviting friends to stop by between their errands.

    This week’s cocktail recipe: Bacon Bourbon Cider from Davio’s Manhattan, one of New York’s fine steakhouses with a Northern Italian-accented menu.

    Two fall favorites—apple cider and maple-candied bacon—will make this a favorite fall cocktail. It’s so easy that it may well end up on your favorite home cocktail list.

    Davio’s uses Bulleit Bourbon for the cocktail. We used another top brand/
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ounce cinnamon infused* simple syrup
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake and pour into a Collins glass.

    2. GARNISH with a slice of candied bacon.
     
    ________________
    *You can add ground cinnamon to plain simple syrup or use the recipe below.
     
    RECIPE: CANDIED BACON

    This recipe is for 8 pieces, but trust us: You’ll want to candy the entire pound package.
     
    Ingredients

  • 8 pieces thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons maple syru
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Place the bacon strips flat on a cooling rack screen placed over a baking sheet. Bake the bacon for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until thoroughly brown and crisp.

    2. COOL the bacon; then brush both sides of the strips with maple syrup, using a pastry brush. (We long ago replaced our bristle pastry and basting brush with a silicon pastry brush—so much easier to use and clean).

    3. PLACE the bacon back on the rack in the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.

    4. RESTRAIN yourself from eating all the candied bacon.

     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP

    You can make simple syrup up to a month in advance and keep it in the fridge, tightly capped. It can keep even longer, but why take up spice with an item you don’t use?

    Instead, use the cinnamon syrup to sweeten tea or coffee, or to drizzle over desserts: baked goods, fruits, puddings, etc. You can also give it as gifts in a Mason jar tied with a ribbon.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BREAK the cinnamon sticks into pieces (1 inch or longer), using a rolling pin or other implement (or break them by hand). Place them in a small sauce pan with the sugar and water.

    2. BRING to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

    3. STRAIN out and discard the cinnamon stick pieces, and refrigerate, tightly covered.
     
    SUBSTITUTING GROUND CINNAMON FOR CINNAMON STICKS

  • For each 2-inch cinnamon stick piece a recipe requires, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Taste to see if you want more cinnamon flavor, and proceed 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Ground cinnamon has a stronger flavor than cinnamon sticks.
  • However, the flavor of ground cinnamon dissipates after 6 months or so (the minute a spice is ground and has much more exposure to air, the flavor begins to fade). If you don’t use cinnamon often, buy cinnamon sticks instead: They keep their flavor for up to 2 years. Grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder as needed.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CINNAMON AND CASSIA

    Who knew that most of our ground “cinnamon” is actually cassia—not true cinnamon?

    Check out the different types of cinnamon.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Sangria (Think Pink!)

    rose-sangria-lamarina-230L

    Shades Of Rose Wine

    [1] Rosé sangria, an adieu to the formal summer season (photo courtesy La Marina restaurant | NYC). [2] The many shades of rosé depend upon the grape varietal and the length of skin contact (photo courtesy Jot Dot).

     

    We started the summer season with a rose tasting party, and we’re ending it more quietly, with pitchers of rose sangria. Easy to make, easy to drink, we have a pitcher in the fridge all weekend.

    RECIPE: ROSÉ SANGRIA

    Ingredients For 12 Cups

  • 2 bottles* rosé wine
  • 1 quart or liter* bottle club soda, seltzer or sparkling mineral water, chilled
  • 1/2 cup agave†, honey, superfine sugar or simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced nectarines or peaches
  • 1 cup melon, sliced
  • 2 blood oranges, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  •  
    Optional Alcohol

  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (types of orange liqueur) – or –
  • 1/4 cup blackberry, blackcurrant or raspberry liqueur (crème de mûre, crème de cassis, Chambord)
  •  
    ________________
    *1 quart is 32 ounces, 1 liter is 33.8 ounces, 1 standard wine bottle (750 ml) is 25.4 ounces.

    †Use equal amounts of agave or honey, but half as much agave as sugar. Agave is twice as sweet. Always add a portion, taste, and continue to add until the desired sweeteness is reached.

     
    Preparation

    Use a 1-gallon pitcher (128 ounces) or other vessel to blend. You’ll be making 84 ounces of sangria (more if you add brandy and liqueur), and also need room for the fruit. We like this oblong gallon pitcher because it fits more easily in the fridge.

    1. COMBINE the wine, brandy and liqueur and half of the sweetener in the pitcher. Blend well and taste; add more sweetener as desired. We prefer less added sugar to better enjoy the alcohol and the fruit.

    2. ADD the fruit and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day in advance. When ready to serve…

    3. Add the club soda, stir gently and serve.
     
    THE HISTORY OF SANGRIA

    Sangria appeared in Spain around 200 B.C.E., when the conquering Romans arrived and planted red grape vineyards. While the majority of the wine was shipped to Rome, the locals used some to make fruit punch, called sangria after the blood-red color.

    Here’s the scoop.

     

    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

    Unlike Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other grape varietals, there is no rosé grape. Any red wine grape can make rosé.

    The term rosé refers to the pink color that is the result of allowing the pressed grape juice limited contact with red grape skins during vinification, a process known as maceration.

    Once it achieves the desired rosiness, the skin contact ends. Extended skin contact products red wine. The juice pressed from red wine grapes is the same color as the juice from white wine grapes: clear.

    A rosé wine can be actually be made by blending red and white wine together; however this is not a common process. Most rosés are dry wines made from red wine grapes. Some are sweeter, such as White Zinfandel; but this is an American taste for blush wine rather than a European tradition.

  • Pink wine, a term that encompasses rosé, blush, and anything else with a pink hue, can be any shade from pale pink to deep rose. It depends on the grape used and the length of skin contact (from one to three days).
  • Blush wine is an American term that refers specifically to pink wines made from red wine grapes, with only enough skin contact to produce a “blush” of red color.
  • The term first appeared in the U.S. in the early 1980s, as a marketing device to sell pink wines.
  • At the time, Americans were not buying rosé wines, while White Zinfandel, a sweet rosé wine, was flying off the shelves (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America).
  • There weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes to meet demand, so winemakers had to use other red grape varietals. Pink wines made from other grapes could not legally be called “White Zinfandel,” so a new category name—blush—was created.
  • American pink wines, whether from Zinfandel or another grape, are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosés. The term “blush” began to refer to not just to pink wines, but to those that were made on the slightly sweet side, like White Zinfandel.
  • These days, all three terms are used more or less interchangeably by people outside the wine-producing industry.
  •  
     
    NATIONAL SANGRIA DAY IS DECEMBER 20TH.

     

    Summer Rose Sangria Recipe

    Mixed Berries

    [1] While luscious summer fruits are still in the market, use them in your sangria. You can get apples and oranges any old time (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco). [2] Don’t forget the berries (photo courtesy Giant Fresh).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Cocktails

    Spicy Watermelon Margarita

    Watermelon Mojito Mocktail

    Tajin Seasoning

    [1] A Spicy Watermelon Margarita? Sure! (Photo courtesy STK LA). [2] A Watermelon Mojito Cocktail (photo courtesy The Merry Thought). [3] Tajin seasoning, a versatile hot spice blend (photo courtesy Tajin Products).

     

    If you’re buying a watermelon for the holiday weekend, buy a bigger one and make watermelon cocktails.

    STK LA, which sent us this recipe, calls it the Secret Affair, made with Don Julio tequila.

    Somehow, that name didn’t ring true so we’re calling it as we see it: a Spicy Watermelon Margarita. We have more watermelon cocktail recipes below.

    RECIPE: SPICY WATERMELON MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces silver tequila (the different types of tequila)
  • .75 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (we substituted orange liqueur—the different types of orange liqueur)
  • 4 watermelon cubes
  • 1 slice fresh red chile pepper (anything from an Anaheim (modest heat) to jalapeño or habanero
  • Optional: whole red chile or chile slice
  • Ice cubes: make them from watermelon juice for more intense flavor/less drink dilution
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Sparkling sugar/sanding sugar (the different types of sugar)
  • Coarse salt
  • Red chili flakes
  • Substitute: Tajin seasoning (see below)
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the glass rimer: Combine the sugar, salt and chile in the proportions you prefer. We used 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes. Moistening the rims of the glasses, twist in the mixture. Set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the chile and watermelon in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, lime and simple syrup.

    3. SHAKE and strain on the rocks into the rimmed glasses.
     
    WHAT IS TAJIN SEASONING?

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.); and in cooked fruit recipes.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. In addition to its popularity as a glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks, try it on:

  • Eggs
  • Fries
  • Ice pops and sorbet
  • Popcorn
  • Proteins
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Vegetables and grains
  •  
    A Mexican staple, you can find Tajin seasoning in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.
     
    RECIPE: WATERMELON MOJITO MOCKTAIL

    Thanks to The Merry Thought for this luscious cocktail. Designated drivers, kids, non-drinkers and the regular cocktail crowd will clamor for it.

    For extra fun and flavor, make the ice cubes from watermelon juice.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • Juice of 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Mint leaves (for cocktails and garnish)
  • Ice
  • Ginger ale
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig and watermelon wedge
  • Optional: bottle of tequila for those who might want a real Mojito*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the watermelon, lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar in a blender until smooth. Muddle 2 mint leaves with 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the bottom of each glass. Add the watermelon pur ée, filling the glass about 1/2 full.

    2. ADD the ice and a splash of ginger ale and top with club soda. Stir to combine. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    MORE WATERMELON COCKTAIL RECIPES

  • Watermelon-Cucumber Summer Splash
  • Watermelon Gin Martini
  • Watermelon Margarita
  • Watermelon Mint Lemonade
  • Watermelon Wave & 5 More Watermelon Cocktails
  •  
    ________________
    *Provide a shot glass and stirrers with the bottle.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sgroppino

    Hot enough for you? Cool off with sgroppino.

     
    THE HISTORY OF SGROPPINO

    Sgroppino (sgro-PEA-no), which originated in Venice, is a refreshing, frothy sorbet cocktail: a slushy combination of lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco.

    It’s served as a digestif (after-dinner drink) or liquid dessert. You don’t want very sweet drinks before a formal European-style dinner, but it works with hot and spicy cuisines. Sgroppino is no sweeter than a frozen Margarita.

    Sgroppino was created by an anonymous kitchen servant in 16th century Venice. At that time, only wealthy households had the means to keep an ice house* and the staff to make sorbet (sorbetto in Italian) by hand.

    In the Venetian dialect the drink is called sgropin from the verb sgropàre, which means to untie a small knot. The reference is to the knots in one’s stomach following at the multi-course dinners of the wealthy. A sweet drink was believed to aid in digestion; hence the after-dinner liqueur.

    Sgroppino was also served as a palate cleanser† to refresh the taste buds between the fish and meat courses as well. This “intermezzo,” used to cleanse the palate of fish before moving onto meat, is still served at some fine restaurants today.

    The classic was made by whisking softened lemon sorbet with prosecco until frothy (it was described as “whipped snow,” although today we call it a slush).

    The recipe evolved to include limoncello, sambuca or vodka. Today it can be both liqueur and vodka.

    More modern variations substitute grapefruit, orange or strawberry sorbetto. If a larger percentage of sorbetto is added, you get a thicker drink.

    In its simplest form, it’s a scoop of sorbet topped with Prosecco, or vice versa.

    The drink separates if left to stand, so in Italy the waiter will often prepare the drink at tableside.

    RECIPE: SGROPPINO, AN ALCOHOLIC LEMON SLUSH

    You can serve sgroppino in a martini glass, coupe, flute or wine glass…or those “sherbet Champagne” glasses‡, designed for Marie Antoinette but not actually good for serving sparkling wine.

       
    Sgroppino

    Pomegranate Sgroppino

    [1] If only every bar and restaurant served these (photo courtesy What’s Cooking America. [2] Chef Bikeski adds pomegranate arils for a bit of color.

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/3 cup lemon sorbet
  • 3 ounces prosecco
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon liqueur—Limoncello; orange liqueur; sambucca, pastas or other anise liqueur
  • Optional garnish: citrus curl or zest, fresh mint, pomegranate arils, micro-herbs
  •  

    Lime Sgroppino

    [3] Some people prefer the cocktail to be separated. In this version, from Zoetrecepten, a scoop of lime sorbet is added to the top of the alcohol.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the sorbet and a splash of prosecco until fully blended, using a cocktail shaker or a stainless steel bowl. Continue whisking while slowly pouring in the vodka and prosecco.

    2. If using a liqueur, you can blend it with the vodka or drizzle it, Venice-style, into the center of the glass right before serving.

    3. SERVE immediately. The drink will separate as it stands, so provide iced tea spoons or straws so people can re-blend as desired. If you take the modern approach of adding sorbet on top of the alcohol, you save the trouble of whisking!

    Some mixologists don’t blend the drink in the first place. Instead, they place the scoop of sorbet on top of the alcohol (see photo 3). So separation is not a bad thing, but a choice.
     
    Tips

  • Do not use a blender, but hand-whisk this drink.
  • If you don’t have a whisk that’s small enough, get this graduated set. The smallest is handy for whisking instant cocoa that doesn’t dissolve. They’re inexpensive: here’s a set on Amazon.
  • Don’t add extra alcohol or the drink will be too liquid.
  •  
    ALSO SEE OUR ARTICLE ON ALCOHOLIC SLUSHIES.

     
    ___________________

    *Before refrigeration, only the wealthy could afford to have ice cut from lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in ice houses for summer use. The oldest known ice house, built by a king in Persia, dates from about 1700 B.C.E. Most other people dug ice pits, lined with straw and sawdust as insulation. While commercial refrigeration was available by the late 1800s, the home refrigerator didn’t arrive until 1930. Prior to then, the wealthy as well as the middle class used an insulated metal “ice box,” which held a large block of ice delivered from the “ice man” to keep perishables cold. When the ice melted, it was replaced.

    †The tartness and citrus acid of lemon sorbet clear the taste buds. Citric acid elicits salivation, which aids in cleansing the palate. Lemons and limes have the highest level of citric acid, which can constitute as much as .3 mol/L, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. By comparison, grapefruits and oranges have just .005 mol/L (source). Passionfruit also can work. It has 38.7 mg/100g compared to 30 mg/100g (source).

    ‡“Sherbet champagne” glasses were purportedly designed by Marie Antoinette, who had them molded after the shape of her breasts. Here’s a photo. They are rarely made anymore, as modern knowledge shows that a wide mouth-glass is not appropriate for sparkling wine: It lets the bubbles escape that much more quickly. But if you have these glasses, they’re just fine for serving sorbet, fruit cocktail and other foods…or sgroppino.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Alcohol Slush

    Zoku Slush Maker

    Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

    [1] Alcohol slush drinks made in the Zoku Slush Maker (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). From top to bottom: Bellini Slush, Gin & Tonic Slush, Screwdriver Slush. [2] Turn your favorite liqueur into a slush (photo courtesy Godiva Liqueurs).

     

    Call it an Icee®, Slurpee*, slush or slushy*, adult versions of shaved ice drinks with alcohol are certainly an delightful advance on the shaved ice or snow with syrup enjoyed in China 4,000 years ago.

    This is the frozen dessert that traveled to Persia and later to Italy. On the dinner table along with plenty of wine, surely someone must have splashed some alcohol on it. (Arabic people drank alcohol until the early 7th century C.E., when the Holy Prophet Muhammad proscribed it.)

    (That shaved ice evolved into granita, sorbet, snow cones and modern shaved ice (a form of granita). A Florentine Renaissance Man adapted the idea and made the first ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.)

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol. It will be available soon, and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home has 100 rooms).
     
    FROZEN DRINKS: AMERICA LOVES THEM!

    The beginning of the American frozen drink trend, frozen Margaritas, started in Houston around 1935 with the blender Margarita.

    It reached its zenith with the invention of the frozen Margarita machine in 1971, which greatly enhanced the demand for Mexican restaurants. The history of that machine is below.

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol, but it’s not yet available and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home is a mansion).
     
    SLUSH DRINKS WITH LOW-PROOF ALCOHOL

    The alcohol’s proof is double the ABV, alcohol by volume. So if a wine is 12% alcohol, it is 24 proof. Standard spirits are 80-proof: too much alcohol to freeze in a home freezer. You need to take some extra steps.

    So first, let’s look at lower-proof spirits that will freeze into slush:

  • Apérifs: Aperol, Dubonnet, Lillet, Kahlúa, and others†.
  • Beer: You can freeze your favorite, but try a cherry or raspberry lambic (beers run 3 to 26 proof).
  • Hard cider, from 3 to 24 proof.
  • Some Liqueurs Many are up to 80 proof, but St-Germain‡ is 40 proof and Baileys Irish Cream is 34 proof.
  • Sochu (like vodka but 40 proof).
  • Wine and sparkling wine (with proofs under 26%, the alcohol is low enough so that you can also make ice pops).
  •  
    Mixologists nationwide are creating recipes for low-proof cocktails. You can turn them into slush cocktails. Here are low-proof recipes from Liquor.com

    Even the strongest is 26 proof; and light beer is just 3 proof. Here’s more on ABV, or alcohol by volume. You double the ABV to get the proof.
     
    HOW TO MAKE SLUSHIE WITH 80 PROOF SPIRITS

    You can’t use high-proof spirits and liqueurs straight to make slush. You have to lower them to 40 proof or less.

    Do this by diluting the spirit: with water, a carbonated beverage or juice, even iced tea or coffee. If you dilute it beyond a 1:1 ratio, you can bring the mix to 40 proof, which will freeze (we used a 2:1 ratio).

    You can make, for example:

  • Gin and Tonic Slush
  • Bloody Mary Slush
  • Rum and Coke Slush
  • Scotch and Soda Slush
  •  
    We used a 2:1 ratio of non-alcohol (orange juice) to spirit (vodka) for our Screwdriver Slush and a 1:1 ratio of peach nectar and Prosecco for a Bellini Slush, since wines are under 13% proof.
     
    HOW TO MAKE AN ALCOHOL SLUSHIE

    Technique #1: Combine the alcohol in a blender with ice cubes or better, with crushed ice.

    Technique #2: Pour the alcohol into ice cube trays and allow to freeze thoroughly (at least four hours). The cubes won’t freeze rock-hard like ice cubes. Tip: Smaller slush cubes will melt more quickly than large ice cubes; it’s a matter of personal preference.

    Technique #3: The easy way to do it is to buy a Zoku Slush Maker; but one 8-ounce slush maker is $19.99. That could be for two people; but if you want more portions, you need to purchase others.

    Technique #4: The easiest way is to invest $30 in an electric shaved ice machine).

    Technique #5: The hard way is to make a granita.

    __________________
    *Icee®, and Slurpee® are trademarked names. You can use them at home when presenting your drink to guests, but the names cannot be used commercially (e.g., at a bar or restaurant) without a license from the owner. Instead, use the generic, slush or slushy. It’s the same deal with Popsicle®, the generic of which is ice pop.

    †Check the bottle. Some favorites, like Grand Marnier, are not liqueurs but liqueur blended with brandy and a higher proof (70% for Grand Marnier). Even the generic triple sec orange liqueur ranges from 30 to 60 proof.

    ‡St-Germain liqueur is Saint-Germain l elderflower liqueur is our personal favorite and the best-selling liqueur in history. It is a favorite mixer with sparkling wines.
     

     

    WHO INVENTED THE FROZEN MARGARITA?

    The original Margarita on the rocks began appearing in bars and restaurants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1930s. An improvement on the first electric (1922), the Waring Blender appeared in 1935.

    The Waring, which could efficiently chop ice, enabled the creation of “frozen” drinks”—a conventional cocktail made in a blender with chopped ice.

    By the 1960s, slushy soft drinks (non-alcoholic) had become the craze among kids and adults alike. The concept and the machine to make them was invented by in the 1950s by Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen franchisee. He did not have a soda fountain, so he served semi-frozen bottled soft drinks, which became slushy and were immensely popular.

    This gave him the idea to create a machine that made slushy sodas, resulting in the ICEE Company. They were a huge hit, and in 1966 7-Eleven purchased machines to sell their proprietary-brand Slurpees.

    Yet no one made the leap to using the machine for frozen cocktails.

    At that time, frozen drinks were made by bartenders in a blender with ice cubes.

    But it wasn’t a great solution.

     

    Frozen Margarita

    Thanks to Mariano Martinez of Dallas for creating the first Frozen Margarita machine, in 1971 (photo courtesy Herradura Tequila).

     
    In Dallas, a restaurant manager, Mariano Martinez, could not deliver frozen Margaritas to the satisfaction of his customers—who no doubt were comparing them to the Slurpees from 7-Eleven. His bartenders complained that the blender drinks were too time-consuming to make.

    One day in 1971, Martinez stopped for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven and saw the Slurpee machine. The light bulb flashed on, and Martinez bought and retrofitted an old soft-serve machine to make frozen Margaritas.
     
    The rest is history. The frozen Margarita was responsible for the growth of tequila in America, as well as the growth of Tex-Mex cuisine to go with all those frozen Margaritas.

    According to Brown-Forman, in 2006 the Margarita surpassed the Martini as the most ordered alcoholic beverage, representing 17% of all mixed-drink sales.

    Martinez’ original machine is now in the Smithsonian. You can see a photo here.

      

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