THE NIBBLE BLOG Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.



Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

FOOD HOLIDAY: Make A Pisco Sour For National Pisco Day

pisco-porton-and-la-caravedo-230

Pisco Portón is an acholado mosto verde
pisco. Its sister brand, La Caravedo, is a
pisco puro, from estate-grown Quebranta
grapes. See the definitions below. Photo
courtesy Pisco Portón.

 

Quinoa isn’t the only hot product from Peru. Pisco, Peru’s national spirit, is another.

Peruvians honor their pisco so much there are two annual holidays celebrated nationally: Pisco Sour Day (Día del Pisco Sour), the first Saturday of February; and Pisco Day (Día del Pisco), the fourth Sunday of July.
 
WHAT IS PISCO?

Pisco, a grape-based white spirit, dates from the 16th century. It is Denomination of Origin (D.O.) protected, which means it must be made in Peru, in traditional copper pot stills in small batches.

  • It must be unaged and unaltered, meaning that no additives, flavorings or even water can be added to the distilled product.
  • It must be made from at least one of eight specific grape varietals: Albilla, Italia, Mollar, Moscatel, Negra Corriente, Quebranta, Torontel and Uvina.
  • Pisco was created as an act of rebellion. In 1641, Philip IV, King of Spain imposed heavy taxes on all wine produced in Peru. His Peruvian subjects dodged the tax by distilling the year’s grape harvest in hand-forged copper vats.

    A new white spirit was born and christened pisco, after the Port of Pisco from where it was exported. (Pisco means “bird” in the indigenous Quechua language.)

     
    Pisco became so popular that when the pirate Sir Francis Drake took hostages from the Port of Pisco in the 16th century, he demanded a ransom of 300 bottles.

    Types Of Pisco

    There are three types of pisco:

  • Pisco puro, made from one of the eight grape varietals allowed by law.
  • Pisco acholado, a blend of two or more of the eight grape varietals.
  • Pisco mosto verde, made from any of the eight grape varietals or a blend. Mosto verde refers to a specific process* where the fermentation of freshly pressed grape juice is interrupted before the distillation occurs.
  •  
    Pisco Portón, marketed as a “super-premium pisco,” is the number-one pisco brand exported to the U.S. It’s the most award-winning pisco in the world.
     
    *To make the other two styles of pisco, the fermentation process turns all the sugar content in the grape juice to alcohol. The fermented juice is then distilled. With pisco mosto verde, the juice is distill when there is still sugar present. This results in a product that is velvety and smoother on the palate.

     

    RECIPE: PISCO SOUR

    It is believed that the Pisco Sour was invented in at Morris’ Bar in Lima the 1920s by its American owner, Victor Morris. The recipe was perfected by bartender Mario Bruguet, who added the egg whites to create the velvety cocktail we enjoy today.

    Here’s Pisco Portón’s recipe for the most popular pisco drink, Pisco Sour.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces pisco
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (recipe)
  • 1 ounce egg whites
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • 5 ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

     

    pisco-sour-piscoportion-230

    Pisco Sour, the national cocktail of Peru. Photo courtesy Pisco Portón.

     
    1. PLACE all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 15 seconds, add 5 cubes of ice, and then pulse in the blender 5 times.

    2. STRAIN into a glass. Garnish with 3 drops of Angostura bitters.
     
    MORE PISCO DRINKS

    Here’s a recipe for Pisco Punch. You can find other classic pisco recipes at PiscoPorton.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Trim Your Cocktail Calories

    Red Cocktail Mint Garnish

    Herradura Agave Nectar

    Top: Fruit purée and flavored spirits cut the need for sugar in cocktails. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful. Bottom: Agave nectar is a superior alternative to simple sugar. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Right after the new year, we were listening to the four principals on a top morning news show discuss what they would give up for a better new year. Not one could give up drinking!

    Yet, everyone wanted to eat more healthfully.

    An obvious choice is to avoid sweet, sugared cocktails in favor of savory ones: Bloody Mary, Martini, Scotch and Soda and the like. But some people insist on a sweet cocktail.

    Mixologist Sam Fuerstman at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. has crafted a few lower-calorie cocktails, including a “no-guilt Gimlet” and a “cheat-free Margarita.”

    The recipes are below. Here are general tips for cutting cocktail calories:

  • Rethink simple syrup, the main cocktail sweetener, which is half sugar, half water (or worse, HFCS in a prepared mix product). Instead, use much-lower-calorie, low-glycemic agave nectar*. If you want a zero-calorie simple syrup, dissolve one part stevia or Splenda in four parts boiling water. It won’t be thick, but it will deliver sweetness.
  • Use flavor-infused spirits. They contribute flavor without extra calories, and are available in any flavor you could desire.
  • Avoid cocktails with high-calorie juices (e.g. alas, no Piña Colada).
  • Use fruit purée or freshly squeezed juice instead of store-bought juice, which may have added sugars. Take a look at Trop 50: nine different juices, including orange juice, with half the sugar and calories.
  • Use diet mixers instead of sugar-laden ones. Even if you don’t normally buy diet drinks, you can use diet tonic water, ginger ale, cola, cranberry juice, etc. in your drink.
  •  
    and…

  • Sip flavored spirits straight. They taste like a mixed drink; but remember that they’re 80 proof. To us, SKYY’s Pineapple Vodka is a low-calorie alternative to a Piña Colada. Make straight spirits more cocktail-like with crushed ice and a fruit garnish.
  •  
    *Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, has a natural sweetness that’s more elegant than table sugar. It’s never cloying or “sugary.” Its glycemic index is 32, half that of sugar (GI 60-65) and more than 40% less than honey (GI 58) and pure maple syrup (GI 54); it’s diabetes-friendly. A teaspoon of agave has 20 calories; sugar has 16 calories and honey has 22 calories. But since agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, you don’t need to use as much (we use half as much).

     

    RECIPE: NO-GUILT RASPBERRY VODKA GIMLET

    This no-guilt gimlet has a double raspberry twist: raspberry purée plus raspberry-flavored vodka.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon homemade raspberry purée
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Garnish: cucumber wheel, fresh raspberries, lime wedge or lime wheel, lemon curl
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Taste; if you need more sweetness, add a bit of Splenda or agave.

    2. COMBINE with the other ingredients. You can serve the drink on the rocks, or shake it with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass.

     

    RECIPE: NO-PANIC POMEGRANATE MARGARITA

    Here, fresh fruit juice substitutes for the standard sugary Margarita mixes. Here’s how to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. You can also purchase pomegranate juice with no added sugar.

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce of fresh pomegranate juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • Coarse salt and optional lime zest for rim
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ZEST the lime before juicing it and blend with the salt in a shallow dish. Rub the rim of the glass with a slice of lime slice to make the salt mixture stick to it; then dip the glass rim into the salt and twist to coat.

    2. SHAKE the other ingredients with ice, and then carefully pour into the glass, taking care not to dislodge any salt. Serve over ice.
     

    RECIPE: SUGAR-FREE MINT GIN FIZZ

    Sprite Zero substitutes for the simple syrup in a Gin Fizz.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2½ ounces Sprite Zero
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprig(s)
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Pomegranate Margarita

    Mint Cocktail Garnish

    Top: Pomegranate Margarita with homemade pomegranate juice. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s. Bottom: Fresh mint provides flavor and aroma that trumps the lack of sugar in this Gin Fizz. Photo courtesy Junoon | NYC.

     
    1. MUDDLE the mint sprigs in a glass with the lime juice. Add the gin and top with Sprite Zero.

    2. POUR over ice and garnished with a sprig of mint leaves.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Apple Ginger Toddy For National Hot Toddy Day

    ginger-toddy-castelloUSA-230

    Enjoy a hot toddy on a chilly day. Photo
    courtesy Castello USA.

     

    January 11th is National Hot Today Day. Here’s some toddy history.

    And here’s a riff on the classic rum toddy, made with apple cider, Cognac and fresh ginger slices. It’s topped off with a garnish of delicious crystallized ginger chunks.

    The recipe is courtesy Castello USA.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger
  • 2 whole allspice berries or 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 ounces brandy/Cognac
  • 8 candied ginger chunks for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cider, fresh ginger and allspice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover. Let stand 10 minutes. Skim the foam and strain to remove any solids.

    2. LADLE a half cup hot cider into each mug and add ¾ ounce brandy. Skewer the ginger cubes as garnish for each glass.

     

    RECIPE: CRYSTALLIZED GINGER

    You can buy crystallized ginger (candied ginger) or make your own. If your grocer doesn’t carry it, look in natural food stores or candy stores, or get them online.

    This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour.

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound fresh ginger root
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 pound granulated sugar
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SPRAY a wire rack with nonstick spray and set it on a half sheet pan lined with parchment.

    2. PEEL the ginger root and slice it into chunks. You can use the side of a spoon to scrape the peel. Add the ginger and water to a 4-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the ginger is tender.

    3. TRANSFER the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and the rest for another purpose (it’s ginger syrup, great for drinks and desserts).

    4. WEIGH the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes. Stir often and keep an eye on the syrup so it doesn’t start to burn.

     

    Crystallized Ginger

    Crystallized ginger chunks from The Ginger People.

     

    5. TRANSFER the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and separate the individual pieces. Once it is completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Save the sugar that drops from the cooling rack and use it for tea and coffee.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Bloody Mary Garnishes

    Aquavit Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary Crab Claw

    Garnished Bloody Mary

    TOP PHOTO: Aquavit Bloody Mary with beets, a half-sour pickle spear and fresh dill; photo Flavor & The Menu. MIDDLE PHOTO: Mary garnished with crab claw and dilly beans from Ramos House. BOTTOM PHOTO: Surf and Turf Bloody Mary with bacon and shrimp, plus an antipasto skewer and, as a nod to the past, a celery stalk. From The Wayfarer | NYC.

     

    As if everyone who drinks didn’t have enough on New Year’s Eve, January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day. Each year we feature a different Bloody Mary recipe.

    Some time ago we read about a famed Bloody Mary served at Ramos House in San Juan Capistrano, California.

    It was made with shochu instead of vodka, lower-proof and lower in calories. It was garnished with lots of dilly beans (pickled green beans) and a crab claw.

    So today’s tip is: Move past the celery stalk to more interesting Bloody Mary garnishes.
     
    RECIPE: ADAPTED FROM THE RAMOS HOUSE
    BLOODY MARY RECIPE

    Ingredients For 2.25 Quarts

  • 1 liter tomato juice*
  • .5 liter clam juice*
  • 1 bottle (750ml) vodka
  • 1 ounce prepared horseradish (from the refrigerator section
    of your market)
  • 1.5 ounces hot sauce
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • Zest of 1-1/2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Garnish: crab claws, lobster claws or shrimp; dilly beans and/or pickled asparagus†
  • Optional garnishes: bacon strips and/or “antipasto skewers” (a cheese cube, grape tomato mozzarella ball, olive, pickled onion, sausage chunk or other antipasto ingredients—see bottom photo above)
  • Optional: ice cubes
  • Optional: cocktail straws‡
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients (except for garnishes) in a pitcher and chill before serving.

    2. FILL glasses with ice cubes, as desired. We prefer to pre-chill the drink rather than dilute it with ice cubes. Another option: Make the ice cubes from tomato juice.

    3. POUR into tall glasses, 3/4 full. Arrange the garnishes on top.
    _______________________________________________
    *Mott’s Clamato Juice is packed with HFCS—so sweet you could churn it into sorbet (see our review). It’s easy to mix plain tomato juice with plain clam juice.

    †We buy Tillen Farms’ Crispy Dilly Beans and Crispy Asparagus by the case, but you can pickle your own vegetables in just an hour or two. Here’s how to pickle vegetables.

    ‡If you pack the top with garnishes, a straw makes it easy to get to the drink below. How about these red cocktail straws? You can also provide inexpensive bamboo cocktail forks if your guests are too formal to eat the garnish with their fingers.

     
    MORE BLOODY MARYNESS

  • Bloody Mary Drink Bar Or Cart
  • Bloody Mary Ice Pops
  • Bloody Mary History
  • Bloody Mary Variations: Bloody Bull, Bloody Maria, Danish Mary, Highland Mary, Russian Mary
    and numerous others
  • BLT Bloody Mary
  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary
  • Michelada
  • More Bloody Mary Garnishes
  •  
    If you have a favorite Bloody Mary creation, please share.
     
    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE NIBBLE!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Know Your Eggnog!

    Eggnog or egg nog is a descendant of milk-and-wine punches that had long been part of European celebrations when colonists arrived in the Americas. Rum, a New World distillation, enabled a spirited substitution for the wine.

    Eggnog became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. Then as now, people loved the rich, spicy, alcoholic brew. President George Washington was quite a fan of eggnog. His own recipe, which included rye whiskey, rum and sherry, was reputed to be so stiff a drink that only the most courageous could down it.

    Brandy joined rum in the basic recipe much later—as part of a book promotion! In the 1820s, Pierce Egan wrote a book called “Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom.” You can pick up a copy on Amazon.

    Just as today’s mixologists and publicists know how to generate buzz with a new cocktail, Egan created a variation of eggnog he called the “Tom and Jerry.” The half ounce of brandy he added to the basic recipe furthered egg nog’s popularity—and fortunately, the original name prevailed.
     
    FROM THE BEGINNING: A PARTY DRINK

    The research site InDepthInfo.com notes that “Egg nog, in the 1800s, was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, [that] ‘Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.’”

    Baltimore initiated a tradition where young men made the rounds of their friends on New Year’s Day, enjoying a bracing cup of eggnog at each home. The more homes one visited, the more “braced” one became. It was considered a feat to actually finish one’s rounds. How times change! Aside from today’s attitudes toward moderation, would anyone give up football to continue the tradition?
     
    HOW EGGNOG GOT ITS NAME

       

    Cup Of Eggnog

    Glass Of Eggnog

    TOP PHOTO: Eggnog served old-school, in a fancy punch cup. Photo courtesy AllWhitesEggWhites.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: No punch bowl? Serve eggnog in a juice glass, rocks glass, Martini glass or whatever you have.

     

    As with most things in the murky past, there are different stories on the origins of eggnog. The “egg” part is easy: There are eggs in the recipe (along with sugar, rum, milk, whiskey/bourbon/rum/brandy, heavy cream, vanilla and ground nutmeg).

    The two contenders for the “nog” portion:

  • In England and Colonial America, grog* was slang for rum. Thus the description of the beverage, “egg-and-grog,” could be corrupted to egg‘n’grog and then to egg nog and its more modern spelling, eggnog.
  • A nog is a small mug or cup. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is much easier to see how an egg-based drink in a noggin would become egg nog.
  •  
    Regardless, the unusual charm of the name only enhances the rich charm of the beverage. Now if we only could do something about those calories!

     
    *The term grog is named after Old Grog, the nickname of Edward Vernon (1684-1757), a British admiral who ordered that diluted rum be served to his sailors. The nickname is derived from grogram, after his habit of wearing a grogram cloak—a coarse fabric made of silk, mohair, wool, or a blend of them. Isn’t etymology fascinating?

     

    Egg Nog & Cookies

    A glass of eggnog served with eggnog wreath
    cookies
    . Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    EGGNOG VARIATIONS

    Conventional eggnog recipes vary by type of spirits used, or how elaborate they get, from topping with simple whipped cream to ice cream and chocolate shavings. If you don’t have a family eggnog recipe, ask your friends. Or take a look at these:

  • Classic Rum Eggnog Recipe
  • Chocolate Eggnog Recipe
  • Coconut Eggnog Recipe
  • Diet Eggnog Recipe
  •  
    If you don’t want classic eggnog, how about an eggnog cocktail? Here are two:

  • Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Eggnog White Russian Recipe
  •  
    EGGNOG FOR BREAKFAST

  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe #1
  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe #2
  •  
    EGGNOG FOR DESSERT

    For the holidays, serve one or more eggnog desserts. Start with eggnog ice cream from your grocer, and continue on to:

  • Eggnog Crumble Bars Recipe
  • Eggnog Mini Bundts Recipe
  • Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes Recipe
  • Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe Recipe
  • Eggnog Pound Cake Recipe
  • Eggnog Truffles Recipe
  • Eggnog Whipped Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Wreath Cookies Recipe
  • White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge Recipe
  •  
    If you have a favorite eggnog recipe, please share!

    And HAPPY NEW YEAR from THE NIBBLE.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Eggnog Martini

    For Christmas or New Year’s Eve, how about a fun and flavorful Eggnog Martini?

    You can buy eggnog in the supermarket and mix multiple portions in a pitcher.

    RECIPE: EGG NOG MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3-1/2 ounces eggnog
  • 1-1/2 ounces vanilla vodka (make it or buy it)
  • Splash of cinnamon liqueur (see below)
  • Garnish: dash of nutmeg or rim of crushed graham crackers
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a 5-ounce Martini glass with ice to chill it.

    2. COMBINE the eggnog, vanilla vodka and cinnamon liqueur in a shaker with ice, and shake to blend.

    3. DISCARD the ice in the glass and strain the cocktail into it.

    4. GARNISH as desired and serve.

       

    Eggnog Martini

    An Eggnog Martini with a rim of crushed graham crackers. Photo courtesy Cedar Mill Liquor.

     

    Goldschlager Cinnamon Liqueur

    Dramatic and delicious: Goldschläger
    cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. Photo
    courtesy Global Brands.

     

    MAKE VANILLA VODKA

    Infusion method: Add a vanilla bean to a bottle of decent vodka. Cap tightly and let the vanilla infuse for 1-2 weeks in a cool, dark place. Gently shake the bottle every other day.

    Quick solution: Add vanilla extract to vodka, 1/4 teaspoon per two ounces. For a 750 ml bottle of vodka, that’s 3 teaspoons. Shake well to blend.

     
    CORDIAL, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS:
    THE DIFFERENCE

    Cinnamon liqueur can be added to coffee and tea (hot or cold), made into adult hot chocolate, sipped on the rocks, drunk as shooters and mixed into cocktails. If you buy a bottle for this recipe, you’ll find numerous opportunities to use it

    Some brands are meant to burn like Red Hots candy. You want something more elegant. Our favorite is Goldschläger cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. It looks magical in shots and clear cocktails.

     
    So what’s the difference between cordial, eau de vie, liqueur and schnapps?

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences in terms of sweetness and color.

  • Liqueur (lih-CUR, the French pronunciation) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  • Schnapps (SHNOPS) is made by fermenting the fruit, herb or spice along with a base spirit, usually brandy; the product is then distilled. This process creates a stronger, often clear, distilled spirit similar to a lightly flavored vodka. “Schnapps” is German for “snap,” and in this context denotes both a clear brandy distilled from fermented fruits, plus a shot of that spirit. Classic schnapps have no added sugar, and are thus less sweet than liqueur. But note that some manufacturers add sugar to please the palates of American customers.
  • Eau de vie (oh-duh-VEE), French for “water of life,” this is unsweetened fruit brandy—i.e.,schnapps.
  • Cordial has a different meaning in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink. In the U.S, a cordial is a sweet, syrupy, alcoholic beverage: liqueur.
  •  
    In sum: If you want a less sweet, clear spirit, choose schnapps/eau de vie over liqueur. For something sweet and syrupy, go for liqueur/cordial.
     
    FOOD 101

    THE HISTORY OF EGGNOG

    THE HISTORY OF THE MARTINI
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Special Christmas Punch

    When we first received this recipe, we thought: Readers of The Nibble won’t want to buy or make the oleo saccharum. Holiday season is busy enough as it is.

    But we loved the recipe, and decided to make it for our own holiday celebration. We tasted the test batch and thought: We’ll be shortchanging our readers if we don’t share this.

    The recipe was created by Masahiro Urushido, an award-winning New York City bartender. He used Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur and Lejay Creme de Cassis.

    This punch is inspired by traditional Scottish Christmas pudding, made with dried fruits such as raisins and apricots.

    Masa calls his recipe Pepperdier Christmas Punch, adapting the name of a friend. But since that can be confusing to the rest of us (we tried to research “Pepperdier” online), we’ll rename it slightly to Scotch Christmas Punch, acknowledging both the country of inspiration and the Scotch whisky in the recipe.

    RECIPE: SINGLE MALT CHRISTMAS PUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 1/4 cup raisins or sultanas
  • 6 ounces Scotch Whisky
  • 8 ounces Scottish Breakfast Tea (it’s malty Assam tea, but you can substitute any classic black tea)
  • 6 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Dubonnet Rouge (substitute sweet vermouth)
  • 2 ounces apricot liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cassis
  • 3 tablespoons oleo saccharum syrup (citrus sugar syrup—see below)
  • Sparkling wine*
  • Garnishes: rosemary sprigs, whole cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves
  •    

    Christmas Punch

    Oleo Saccharum Syrup

    TOP PHOTO: Christmas punch. Photo by Gabi Porter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Oleo saccharum, a big-sounding name for citrus sugar syrup. Photo courtesy Cocktail & Sons.

     
    *We happened to have a good bottle of Lambrusco—a red sparkling wine—on hand and it went great with this recipe. Most people will use Cava, Prosecco or another sparkling white wine.
     
    Preparation

    1. SOAK the raisins in the Scotch for several hours or overnight.

    2. MAKE the oleo saccharum if you aren’t purchasing it (recipe).

    3. MIX all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a punch bowl. Garnish with rosemary, cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves. Top with sparkling wine and serve.
     
    No Punch Bowl?

    If you don’t have a punch bowl, mix all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a pitcher. To serve, pour the punch into individual glasses, top with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange slice.
     

     

    Harney Scottish Breakfast Tea

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/scottish breakfast tea blend jenierteas 230r

    Both of these are Scottish breakfast teas, yet
    look at the difference in the blends. The top
    photo is Scottish Morn from Harney & Sons.
    The bottom photo is Scottish Breakfast tea
    blend from Jenier Teas.

     

    WHAT IS OLEO SACCHARUM?

    Oleo saccharum is citrus oil blended with sugar. In Latin, oleo means oil and saccharum means sugar. It became prominent in the 19th-century as a way to provide a subtle citrus flavor and aroma to sweetened drinks, instead of plain sugar syrup (simple syrup).

    Oleo saccharum is made from orange and/or lemon peels (lime peels have too much bitterness) that are muddled (crushed) to release the oils. Sugar is added to the muddled peel and mixes with the citrus oil that emerges from the skins. The peel is strained out, leaving sugared citrus oil.

    You can use it to add an elegant citrus note to any cocktail that requires sugar/simple syrup, and can blend it with club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

    The bottled oleo saccharum from Cocktail & Sons, featured in the photo above, is a citrus syrup enriched with fresh lemongrass, toasted green cardamom and ginger. You can buy it on Amazon.com.

    Or, it’s easy enough to make your own. Here’s a recipe.
     
    WHAT IS SCOTTISH BREAKFAST TEA?

    Here’s something that few people outside the tea industry realize: Breakfast teas, notably English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast, are simply strong black tea blends.

    The blends have more flavor to stand up to milk or cream, complement British breakfast foods (eggs, porridge, ham, bacon, etc.) and provide heartiness (more body and caffeine) to energize the drinker in the morning. Afternoon tea blends tend to be lighter and smoother, to pair with sweets and tea sandwiches.

     

    The British first imported tea from China in the 17th century, to great public appreciation. Coffee was available at the time, but otherwise beer and stout were drunk by everyone, including children, because of contaminated water sources.

    The British became avid tea drinkers, and since the 18th century have been among the world’s greatest per capita tea consumers.

    In China tea is drunk plain, but in the 1720s, the British began to add sugar and milk or cream to create a more comforting beverage. Black tea came to exceed green tea in popularity, as it goes better with sugar and milk. (The same pattern occurred in the Thirteen Colonies.)
     
    The Different Types Of Breakfast Tea

    In order of robust flavor and body:

  • English Breakfast Tea is the mildest of the strong teas. It can be a blend of teas from Africa, India (Assam), Indonesia and Sri Lanka (Ceylon), with a base of Chinese congou tea. Originally, before tea cultivation expanded beyond China, it was unblended congou tea.
  • Irish Breakfast Tea has a good amount of Assam, giving it Assam’s malty flavor notes and reddish color. It often contain others black teas, including Darjeeling, to balance the intense flavors of Assam.
  • Scottish Breakfast Tea is the strongest of the three, with a base of Assam plus the smoother Keemun tea from China, among other teas in the blend.
  •  
    It’s important to note that there is no standard formula for any of these blends and no governing body specifying what each should contain. The blends evolved over time, likely as one vendor sought to copy a popular blend offered by another vendor.

    Thus, teas of the same name—English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Jasmine, etc.—can vary slightly in taste, aroma and appearance from vendor to vendor, and country to country. Names can also vary for the same type of blend. [Source]

    For example, fine tea vendor Harney & Sons calls its Scottish Breakfast Tea “Scottish Morn.” Describing the blend, which was made to the specifications of the American Scottish Foundation, Harney says:

    “A mixture of dark brown leaves, the smaller pieces of Assam and Ceylon and [the] CTC (cut, tear, curl) method make for a stronger tea. This is one of our darkest teas, brewing a very dark brown color. Many Scots would lighten it with milk. Aroma is not the point of this tea, so there are only hints of suggestions of malt. It is caffeinated [and] a very full bodied tea…perhaps the strongest tea we offer. Strong and simple, this tea is meant to be drunk with milk.”

    And now you know about Scottish Breakfast Tea and its kin, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. Enjoy the teas…and the punch!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Create A Special Christmas Mocktail

    Ocean Spray Mocktail

    strawberry-mint-lemonade-asweetpeachef-230

    A fun mocktail is a treat for non-drinkers. Top photo courtesy Ocean Spray. Bottom photo courtesy ASweetPeaChef.com.

     

    If you serve alcohol at parties, you’re bound to have some non-drinkers, designated drivers, and probably, drinkers who shouldn’t have another.

    Most hosts address the need with soft drinks and mineral water. But special occasions merit an extra step: a holiday mocktail.

    It’s easy to make it look and taste interesting, and those who can’t drink will feel special.

    For your Christmas mocktail, we suggest something red and green: a red- or rosy-hued drink with a green garnish.

  • Determine on the proportions, e.g. 2 parts cranberry juice and 1 part soft drink.
  • Decide if you want to serve a tall or short drink.
  • Consider a low-calorie option: The juice and soft drink ingredients both have diet versions, which will be especially appreciated by calorie-counting guests.
  •  
    CHRISTMAS MOCKTAIL #1: CRANBERRY GINGER

    Ingredients

  • Cranberry juice*
  • Ginger ale
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: stemmed cherry†, lime wheel or mint leaves
  •  
    CHRISTMAS MOCKTAIL #2: CRANBERRY ORANGE

    Ingredients

  • Cranberry juice*
  • Orange soda‡
  • Garnish: stemmed cherry†, lime wheel or mint leaves
  •  
    You can make the drinks a deeper red color with grenadine.
    _____________________________________________
    *Our favorite cranberry juice is Knudsen’s. Ocean Spray has several 100% juice flavors: plain or blended with blueberry-blackberry, cherry, grape, orange, pomegranate, raspberry, etc. Use 100% juice instead of “juice cocktails” or “juice drinks,” which are typically sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

    †The best maraschino cherries by far are the all-natural (and kosher-certified) Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries. They are “maraschino red” in color but taste great—nothing like the traditional varieties. The company also makes Bada Bing Cherries, with the deep burgundy hue of bing cherries. If you buy multiple packs online, use the extras as stocking stuffers.

    ‡San Pellegrino Aranciata (orange) and Aranciata Rossa (blood orange), and Boylan’s Orange, are the only ones we’ve found that use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. San Pellegrino is less sweet and more elegant; Boylan’s is conventionally sweet.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Flavored Shots Party

    Pinnacle Peppermint Bark Vodka

    Plastic Shot Glasses

    TOP PHOTO: Pinnacle Vodka has 40 flavors, including holiday flavors like Peppermint Bark and Pumpkin Pie. BOTTOM PHOTO: One-ounce, colored shot glasses are the way to go. Photo courtesy Party Essentials.

     

    Looking to do something different for a holiday get-together with friends? While there’s always a holiday drinks menu, here’s an idea that requires no mixing: flavored shots.

    The flavored spirits category is “on fire,” according to Liquor.com. a website for industry professionals. You can now find flavored bourbons and ryes*, in addition to the pioneer category of flavored vodka and the flavored tequilas† that followed vodka’s success.

    Now before the angry comments begin, let us emphasize that this is not a lets-get-loaded shots party. It’s a responsible let’s-taste-some-flavored-spirits-straight opportunity. The novelty for many people is tasting flavored spirits outside of a mixed drink.

    In fact, sipping from a shot glass is our favorite way to enjoy flavored spirits. And for planning purposes, four different flavors are about as much as people should have in an evening, even with designated drivers. While a standard shot is 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) for 80 proof distilled spirits, take it down to 1 ounce.

    What if people want more than four ounces? Flavored club soda or spritzers.
     
    WHERE DO YOU GET THE SHOT GLASSES?

    You can buy clear one-ounce plastic shot glasses or two-ounce shot glasses. They can be washed and reused for another occasion.

    But if you’re serving vodka or tequila, since the sprits are clear, we think colored shot glasses are all-around better. Not only are they festive, but you can color-code the pours.

     
    WHAT FLAVORS SHOULD YOU PICK?

    Your options are based on what spirit you choose. Pinnacle, for example, has more than 40 flavors of vodka. There are large numbers of flavored tequilas, and the numbers get smaller with whiskey.

    For vodka, you can choose four different fruits from the many options, or make the party more holiday-focused with specialty flavors like Pinnacle’s Caramel Apple, Peppermint Bark, Salted Caramel, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Whipped Cream.

     
    But wait: There’s also Cookie Dough, Pecan Pie Vodka and Pumpkin Pie.

    Pinnacle doesn’t make a cranberry vodka, but other distillers do, including Bear Hug, Deep Eddy, Smirnoff and Sobieski.

    And then there’s what your local liquor stores carry—or don’t.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHOTS AND SHOOTERS

    Both shooters and shots are served in shot glasses. Shots are 100% spirits; shooters are mini-cocktails, combining spirits and/or liqueurs with non-alcoholic mixers.

    Traditionally, both are consumed in one gulp, but we recommend breaking with the tradition of chugging. Chugging is for people who want to make a certain statement; sipping is for people who want to taste what they drink.

    As always, plan ahead for designated drivers and don’t forget the plain or flavored club soda for in-between.
     
    _______________________________________
    *Flavored bourbons include Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon and; Red Stag Black Cherry, Hardcore Cider, Honey Tea and Spiced; and Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon. Flavored ryes include Pow-Wow Botanical Rye (saffron and orange peel), Even Dewar’s has Highland Honey Scotch. And Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn produces the makes chocolate whiskey. Also look for Bird Dog Maple, a best-seller, and Canadian Mist Peach, among others.

    †There are numerous flavored tequilas: almond, banana, chile, chocolate, coconut, coffee, lime, mandarin, mango, pear, pomegranate, strawberry and watermelon. Check out these.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Drinks Menu

    What’s on the cocktail menu for the holidays? Egg nog and sparkling wine are perennial favorites.

    But offer guests holiday drink menu. Here are some of the beverages we serve, all with a holiday theme.

    HOLIDAY BEVERAGES

    Wine

  • Instead of white wine, make a Cranberry Kir: white wine with a splash of cranberry liqueur. It’s our own adaptation of the popular French drink, Kir (white wine plus blackcurrant liqueur).
  • Instead of plain red wine, make mulled wine with holiday spices. You can serve it warm or chilled.
  •  
    Seasonal Beer

    Turn to craft breweries for seasonal beers and ales. Many craft beers are only distributed regionally, but here are some we’ve found in wider distributions (check your local shelves for options):

  • Christmas ale: Anchor Brewing, Great Lakes, Rogue
  • Chanukah beer: He’Brew Chanukah Beer
  • Pumpkin ale: Buffalo Bill’s, Shipyard and all of these
  • Winter ale: Blue Point, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams
  •  
    Cranberry Cocktails

  • Cranberry Martini
  • Cranberry Mojito
  • Cranberry Tequila Comfort
  •  
    Eggnog Cocktails

    In addition to all kinds of variations on traditional eggnog recipes, there are also eggnog cocktails which have fewer calories than straight eggnog (which is perhaps the most caloric beverage on earth).

  • Eggnog White Russian
  • Eggnog Martini
  •  
    Ginger Cocktails

  • Ginger Martini
  • Ginger Joy (with pear liqueur)
  •    

    Cranberry Cocktail Garnish

    Egg Nog Cocktail

    TOP PHOTO: A cranberry and mint leaf garnish works for any cocktail. Photo courtesy Sarah’s Joy. BOTTOM PHOTO: Egg nog is less caloric in an eggnog cocktail. Photo courtesy Selvarey Rum.

     

     

    Cranberry Kir

    Cranberry liqueur plus white wine makes a
    Cranberry Kir. Use sparkling wine and it’s a
    Cranberry Kir Royale. Photo courtesy Drink
    Skinny.

     

    Chanukah Cocktails

  • Blue Chanukah Cocktail (think of it as a vodka Margarita; you can substitute tequila)
  • Chocolate Gelt Cocktail (chocolate vodka plus Goldschlager)
  •  
    Warm Drinks

  • Hot Buttered Rum (Rum Toddy)
  • Glogg
  • Mulled Wine
  •  
    Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  • Cranberry seltzer: Canada Dry, Polar Ocean Spray Sparkling Cranberry
  • Cranberry soda: Cape Cod, Sierra Mist (Regular and Diet), Sprite Cranberry (Regular and Diet)
  • Cranberry tea: Bigelow, Republic of Tea, Stash (caffeinated and herbal are available; serve hot or iced)
  • Mulled cider (make it without alcohol, stir in the spirits for those who want them)
  •  

    Serve responsibly! Always have attractive non-alcholic options for guests who should be cut off.

      

    Comments

    « Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »


    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.