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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Flavored Ice Cubes

Today’s tip is to make flavored ice cubes. They’re the easiest way to add dazzle to everyday drinks, be they club soda, juice, soft drinks, mocktails or cocktails.

We have long made “party ice cubes” that deliver big impact with no effort beyond freezing a liquid in an ice cube tray.

The benefits of flavored ice cubes:

  • They don’t dilute the drink as plain ice cubes will.
  • They add extra flavor(s).
  • They colors provide visual appeal.
  • There’s something more to drink when the cubes melt.
  • You get exercise your inner mixologist.
  •  
    OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO USE FLAVORED ICE CUBES

  • Coffee & Tea Ice Cubes. They keep iced coffee and tea intensely flavored to the end. You don’t need to specially brew the coffee or tea if you use leftover coffee from the pot or re-brew tea bags or leaves (they may make weaker tea, but are still good for cubes). Herbal tea ice cubes can also be added to a glass of club soda or juice.
  • Juice For Cocktails. Make cranberry cubes for the Cosmos, pineapple juice for the Pina Coladas, tomato juice for Undiluted Marys. You can make beef bouillon ice cubes for a “Beefy Mary” (a.k.a. Bloody Bull or Bull Shot). Freeze clam juice for a Bloody Mariner/Bloody Caesar.
  • Carbonated Mixers. Whether tonic water for a G&T or cola cubes for a Rum & Coke, or tonic water, these mixers come with a bonus: You can use the flat soda that often results at the bottom of a large size. But you can create new “sodas” as well. One of our favorite summer combinations is lime soda ice cubes in raspberry soda, for a raspberry-lime rickey.
  • Wine Ice Cubes. Make them for sangria, or to keep your poolside wine chilled.
  • Combination Ice Cubes. Add small berries, diced fruit, shredded basil or dill to the cubes: whatever adds to the drink.
  •  
    WHAT ABOUT FREEZING FRUIT DIRECTLY?

    You can freeze any high-moisture fruit, such as:

  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Melon balls
  •  
    They’ll defrost more quickly than frozen liquid, so consider a combination of frozen fruit and flavored ice cubes.

    MIX & MATCH CHECKLIST

    Soft Drink Mixers

  • Bitter lemon
  • Cola or root beer
  • Flavored seltzer
  • Ginger ale/ginger beer
  • Lemon-lime (7 Up, Sprite, etc.)
  • Other fruit soda: cherry, grape, orange, etc.
  • Tonic water
  •  
    For Creamy Drinks

  • Coconut milk
  • Cream, milk or half and half
  • Eggnog
  • Melted ice cream
  •  
    Juices: Sweet

  • Apple cider
  • Coconut water
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grape juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Lemonade or limeade
  • Orange juice
  • Pineapple juice
  •  
    Juices: Savory

  • Brine (save the juice from pickles!)
  • Clam juice
  • Olive juice
  • Tomato juice or V–8
  • Wheatgrass or other vegetable juice
  •  
    MORE ICE CUBE IDEAS

  • Chocolate Ice Cubes
  • Coconut Water Ice Cubes
  • Coffee Ice Cubes
  • Flower Ice Cubes
  • Frozen Fruit Ice Cubes
  • Herb Ice Cubes
  • July 4th Ice Cubes
  • Layered Color Ice Cubes
  • Lemonade Ice Cubes
  • Strawberry-Thyme Ice Cubes
  • Tea, Coffee Or Lemonade Ice Cubes
  • Watermelon Ice Cubes
  • Wine Ice Cubes
  •  

    Fruit Juice Ice Cubes
    [1] Fruit juice ice cubes at Fig & Olive.

    Coffee Ice Cubes
    [2] Coffee ice cubes for iced coffee, or any coffee cocktail (Black Russian, White Russian, Espresso-tini, anything with Kahlúa), from the Angelica Kitchen.

    Strawberry Ice Cubes
    [3] Crushed strawberry and thyme ice cubes at Shari’s Berries.

    Pineapple Ice Cube
    [4] A cube of frozen pineapple at Hakkasan | NYC.

    Colored Ice Cubes

    [5] A stack of flavors from from Mihoko’s 21 Grams.

     
     
    OTHER WAYS TO USE YOUR ICE CUBE TRAYS

    When you’re not using them for ice, here are other things to freeze in your ice cube trays.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Mai Tai & Other Tiki Drinks

    June 30th is National Mai Tai Day, a drink that is attributed by most experts to Victor J. Bergeron, a.k.a. Trader Vic (1902-1984).

    Bergeron was the founder of the Trader Vic’s restaurant chain that was so popular in the 1950s and 1960s, which grew to some 30 Trader Vic restaurants worldwide, plus a wholesale food products business.

    Trader Vic and his “amicable rival,” Don The Beachcomber, introduced mainland America to “tiki” drinks: plenty of rum and sweet mixers, garnished with baby orchids and perhaps a mini Japanese paper umbrella.

    Bergeron, son of a San Francisco grocer, entered the restaurant business at age 32 in 1934—the year following the end of Prohibition. He used $300 of his own money and $800 borrowed from an aunt to open Hinky Dink’s, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and beer joint in Oakland.

    He began inventing and improving his vision of South Seas food—largely, the Cantonese cooking he had come across there.

    To go with the food, he invented the exotic, rum-based drinks with catchy names, such as Doctor Funk of Tahiti, Mai Tai, Missionary’s Revenge, Queen’s Park Swizzle, Scorpion and Sufferin’ Bastard, among others.

    Trader Vic’s Is Born

    In 1937, Hinky Dink’s morphed into an upscale South Pacific theme restaurant with menu and Polynesian decor, intended to provide “complete escape and relaxation.” [source]

    Theme-oriented restaurants had been established a few years before then (the history of theme restaurants), based on concepts from hot rods to fishing villages. Don The Beachcomber, and then Vic Bergeron, pioneered the Polynesian theme restaurant.
     
    THE ORIGIN OF TIKI DRINKS

    Polynesian restaurants were known for their “tiki drinks,” so-called because the restaurants decorated with tiki statues, along with other theme items such as South Seas-style wood surfboards, fake palm trees and fish-shaped lights floating above, “trapped” in fishing nets.

    The exotic drinks added excitement to the overall category of rum drinks, which was focused on the Daiquiri, Dark and Stormy, Mojito, and Rum and Coke/Cuba Libre (the Hurricane, Piña Colada and others had not yet seen the light of day).

    Others included Navy Grog, invented by Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1944; Planter’s Punch, invented in Jamaica by 1878); Rum Runner, created in the 1950s at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida; Tahitian Rum Punch, invented by Don The Beachcomber; and the Zombie, invented by Don the Beachcomber and popularized at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

    Tiki-inspired ceramic glasses, mugs and drink bowls were designed to fan the flames, as it were. Some bowls even had a center well into which Sterno could be poured for flaming drinks. Other drinks were flamed with a tablespoon of high proof rum, added to the surface.
     
     
    THE INVENTION OF THE MAI TAI

    The Mai Tai (pronounced my tie), was created in 1944 by Trader Vic. He tested the recipe on two friends from Tahiti, one of whom exclaimed “Maita’i roa a’e”, or “out of this world—the best” in Tahitian. Bergeron shortened that to Mai Tai—“the best.”

    Trader Vic’s recipe is the one that endured, combining dark and light rums, lime juice, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup (almond-flavored simple syrup) and regular simple syrup. The original had a simple garnish (a mint spring) or none at all.

    There is another drink called Mai Tai Swizzle, from Don the Beachcomber. It was invented in 1933, but it seems to have disappeared from his menu sometime before 1937 [source]. But the recipe was quite different, augmenting the rum with grapefruit juice, lime juice, Pernod and bitters (here’s the recipe).

       

    Mai Tai Cocktail
    [1] A Mai Tai based on the original recipe—except for the orchid, a later addition (photo courtesy The Mercury | Atlanta; here’s the recipe).

    Mai Tai With Flowers
    [2] A Mai Tai based on the original recipe—except for the flowers (photo courtesy Turntable Kitchen).

    Mai Tai Cocktail

    [3] A modern Mai Tai, looking like a Tequila Sunset—not what Trader Vic created (photo courtesy Real Restaurant Recipes).

     

    Over the years, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai has been further “developed” by bartenders, into a fruitier and more colorful drink.

    As with every drink called Margarita or Martini—when in fact the ingredients stray far from those recipes—these recipes “borrow” the Mai Tai name but give you a very different rum drink, with pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine.

    Why? Because fruity drinks are downed more quickly, leading to another and another (i.e., more drinks sold). To add to the colorful drink, a baby orchid and/or miniature Japanese umbrella appeared as garnish; or at least, a pineapple slice, orange slice and/or maraschino cherry.

    As one article noted, “The flavor is often dominated by fruit and that helps hide the heavy taste of alcohol. This is perfect for drinkers who prefer less alcohol flavor….They end up tasting so good that a person can almost forget how potent they really are.” [source]
     
     
    The Original Mai Tai Recipe

    Bergeron invented the Mai Tai to showcase a favorite aged rum—the 17-year-old J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. Jamaican rum, golden and medium-bodied (the brand is now owned by Campari America).

    He also used rock candy syrup, which is sweeter and thicker than regular simple syrup: a 2 parts sugar and 1 part water instead of a 1:1 ratio (recipe).

    However, the Mai Tai was such a smash hit that “A couple of years after the cocktail’s invention, the world ran out of the 17-year-old rum…so [Bergeron substituted] a 15-year-old J. Wray and Nephew.” [source]

    But once that, too, dwindled in supply, Bergeron created a blend of Jamaican rum and aged molasses-based Martinique rum to emulate the Wray and Nephew rum.

     

    Mai Tai With Umbrella
    [4] Not an authentic Mai Tai: The original had no orange juice, no umbrella (photo courtesy FlickRiver.com).

    Blue Hawaii Cocktail
    [5] If it uses blue curaçao, it’s not an authentic Mai Tai. A Mai Tai uses orange curaçao, not blue curaçao, and no pineapple or cherry (but here’s the recipe for this “Blue Hawaii” from Culinary Creative).

    Flaming Tiki Drink

    [6] As tiki culture evolved, so did the drinks—into flaming bowls equivalent to six or more drinks, served with jumbo straws (here’s the recipe for this Volcano Bowl from Kitchen Riffs).

     

    Thus, here’s a current approximation of Bergeron’s revised Mai Tai:

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3/4 ounce gold rum*
  • 3/4 ounce dark rum*
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons orange curaçao**
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons orgeat syrup†
  • 1-1/2 (1/2 ounce)teaspoons simple syrup‡
  • Juice of one fresh lime (1-1/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 ounce overproof rum
  • Optional garnish: mint sprig (later, lime wheel and sugar cane stick became options)
  • Shaved ice
  • ________________

    *Original recipe: 2 ounces 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum.

    **Original brand: Holland DeKuyper Orange Curaçao.

    †Original recipe: 1/4 ounce Trader Vic’s Rock Candy Syrup (sweeter than orgeat, which is almond-flavored simple syrup).

    ‡Original brand: Garnier Orgeat (orgeat is the preferred simple syrup in France. This brand no longer exists.)
    ________________
     
    Preparation

    SHAKE the ingredients vigorously with the ice. Strain into an ice-filled double-old fashioned glass. Add a sprig of fresh mint

    Regarding the subsequent fruity, colorful modifications to his drink, Bergeron said:

    “The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings.” Alas, bar owners and bar tenders could care less [source].

    THE HISTORY OF THE TIKI BAR

    Ernest Raymond Beaumont Grant (1907-1989) a Texas native, began to travel the world—including the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific—in 1926. A bootlegger during Prohibition, he moved to Hollywood and when Prohibition in 1933, opened a bar called Don’s Beachcomber, the first tiki bar.

    Grant changed his name to Donn Beach, and in 1937 changed the name of the establishment to Don the Beachcomber.

    He then opened what became a very popular bar on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was decorated with items from the South Pacific, and Beach developed a cocktail menu that developed “secret recipes” inspired by the many types of rum drinks he had experienced during his years of island travel.

    In 1934, Victor Bergeron, who had also toured the South Seas, transformed his Oakland, California saloon Hinky Dinks into Trader Vic’s upscale Polynesian bar and restaurant. He created a his own menu of rum drinks.

    Located some 380 miles apart, the two pioneers of “tiki culture” became amicable rivals.

    Following World War II, the interest in South Pacific culture blossomed and the tiki boom took off. Tiki bars popped up all over the country, each attempting to outshine one another with lavish decor and rum cocktails served in mammoth bowls with floating orchids and tiny paper umbrellas [source].

    Both of the original bars expanded into restaurant chains. Don The Beachcomber had 25 locations, the last of which closed in the 1980s (two short-lived locations opened in 2001 and 2004, and a restaurant in Huntington Beach licensed the name in 2009 [source].

     
    Tiki culture peaked in the 1970s, and if you were of drinking age at the time, you may be missing those delightful drinks.

    So throw together a Mai Tai, and celebrate National Mai Tai Day.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lady Liberty Lemonade, Sangria Or Cocktail

    Here’s a very quick, yet very high-impact, trio of drinks for July 4th weekend. One has no alcohol, one is lightly alcoholic and one is full-cocktail.

    Call them Lady Liberty Lemonade or Lady Liberty Sangria; or add gin, tequila or vodka for a Lady Liberty Cocktail.

    Even if you have time for nothing else, you can make this!

    The amounts needed will vary depending on the size of your pitcher.

     
    RECIPE #1: LADY LIBERTY LEMONADE

    Ingredients

  • 1-2 cans frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 large apples
  • Star cookie cutter
  •  
    Preparation

    To serve with ice cubes, prepare a can of lemonade and freeze it in ice cube trays, five hours in advance or overnight. This keeps the drink ice-cold without diluting it.

    1. PREPARE the lemonade according to package instructions.

    2. WASH the fruit. Slice the apples, cut the slices into stars, and add all the fruit to the pitcher of lemonade. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

    RECIPE #2: LADY LIBERTY SANGRIA

    Club soda added to this recipe serves two purposes: to add fizz to a still wine sangria, or to dilute the drink to a lower-alcohol, lower-calorie spritzer.

    Ingredients

  • 1-2 bottles of Prosecco or still, light white wine (see list below)
  • 1 cup white cranberry juice (plus extra if desired for ice cubes)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup triple sec (clear orange liqueur)
  • 1 pint strawberries, washed and halved
  • 1 pint blueberries, washed
  • 2 large apples, washed
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Optional: club soda
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Lady Liberty Lemonade
    [1] The addition of red, white and blue fruits makes this drink a celebration.

    Mionetto Prosecco

    [2] For sparkling sangria, use Prosecco, an Italian bubbly.

     
    To serve with ice cubes, freeze white cranberry juice in ice cube trays in advance.

    1. SLICE the apples, cut the slices into stars, and add all the fruit to a pitcher. Top with the wine, liqueur and juice, and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    2. FILL glasses and top off with club soda.
     
    RECIPE 3: LADY LIBERTY COCKTAIL

    Substitute gin, tequila or vodka for the wine in recipe #2.
     
     
    LIGHT WHITE WINES

    These wines are light enough for the hottest days of summer. Consider picking up varieties that you haven’t had before. Even if they won’t unseat your current favorite to drink as is, they will blend beautifully into the sangria.

  • Albariño
  • Aligote
  • Assyrtiko
  • Chablis
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Cortese/Gavi
  • Gargenega
  • Grenache Blanc
  • Muscadet
  • Picpoul de Pinet
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Soave
  • Verdejo
  • Verdicchio
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Add Grilled Fruit To Your Cocktails

    Cocktails With Grilled Fruit Garnish

    Cocktails With Grilled Fruit Garnish

    If a cocktail uses a fruit garnish, grill the fruit first (photos courtesy Kenyon International).

     

    When your business is making grills, as it is at Kenyon grills, you’re always thinking of what to grill next.

    From the company’s test kitchen, here’s a way to add a subtle smoky flavor to summer cocktails. Grill the fruit!

    Here are two favorite cocktails, given the grilled fruit treatment.
    For both recipes, prep time is 5 minutes; total time is 15 minutes.

    RECIPE #1: PINA COLADA WITH GRILLED FRUIT GARNISH

    A long-time favorite tastes even better with fresh, grilled pineapple and a squeeze of grilled lime.

    July 10th is National Piña Colada Day. Here’s the history of the Piña Colada.

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1 cup fresh, sliced pineapple rings, plus two whole rings for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 3 ounces white rum
  • 1 lime, sliced in halves or quarters
  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: maraschino cherries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium-high heat. Place the sliced pineapple and lime on the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side, or until golden.

    2. REMOVE the limes off the grill first. Set the grilled fruit aside on a plate. Allow the pineapple and lime to completely cool.

    3. ADD the grilled pineapple, cream of coconut, rum and ice to the blender. Squeeze in the juice from the grilled lime. Blend on high until smooth.

    4. POUR into tall glasses and garnish with a slice of grilled pineapple and an optional cherry.

     
    RECIPE #2: GRILLED STRAWBERRY MARGARITA

    Enhance a classic Margarita with the flavors of grilled strawberries and a squeeze of grilled lime. Here’s the history of the Margarita.

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1 pound strawberries, washed and hulled
  • Granulated sugar
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1 cup all-natural Margarita mix
  • 3 ounces tequila
  • Ice
  •  
    Plus

  • 2 skewers, pre-soaked
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium-high heat.

    2. PLACE the strawberries on the skewers. Lightly coat with sugar and set aside.

    3. CUT the lime into 1/4-inch thick slices. Once the grill has preheated, place the strawberry skewers and limes on the grate and close the lid. Grill for approximately 3-4 minutes per side, removing the limes first. Set the fruit aside and let it cool; then remove the strawberries from the skewers.

    4. RIM the glasses with a piece of lime; then dip in either Tajin seasoning, salt, sugar or a mix of salt or sugar and cayenne or other chile powder.

    5. ADD the Margarita mix, tequila, ice and grilled strawberries. Blend until frothy. Pour into glasses and add a squeeze of grilled lime. Garnish with a grilled lime wheel.

    Now that you have the hang of it, consider “grilling up” your other favorite summer cocktails.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Ice Cubes In Vanilla Milk Or Cocktails

    Today’s tip might be a natural for Valentine’s Day, but we like it even more for the cold drinks of summer.

    These chocolate ice cubes are the brainchild of the Parisian chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin.

    His Summer Chocolate Ice Cubes are simply a chocolate ice cream recipe that gets poured into ice cube trays instead of an ice cream churn. Why didn’t we think of this years ago?

    While M. Hévin’s recipe is for a family-friendly, gourmet chocolate milk drink, you can also use the chocolate ice cubes in cocktails or with liqueurs.

    They keep your drinks cold, as they add chocolate flavor by slowly melting. Use them:

  • In regular drinks: Iced coffee, an egg cream, an ice cream soda, or a simple glass of…regular or chocolate milk.
  • In cocktails: Black Russian/White Russian, Chocolate Martini, Coffee Martini, Grasshopper, etc.
  • With liqueurs: Add to a rocks glass of chocolate, coffee or Irish cream liqueur.
  •  
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE ICE CUBES & VANILLA MILK

    The recipe makes enough for one ice cube tray: cubes for 6 rocks glasses or 4 highball glasses. While it goes without saying, we’ll say it: Make the ice cubes 6 hours before you plan to use them, or the night before.

    The vanilla milk also needs to chill for several hours. You can make the entire recipe the night before.

    You can also enhance the flavor with chocolate-friendly seasonings: cayenne pepper, cinnamon, instant coffee, nutmeg, etc.

  • Add a teaspoon of spice to the ice cream mix.
  • Mix the spice with coarse/decorating/sanding/sparkling sugar for a sugar rim.
  •  
    Hévin’s recipe starts with his homemade ice cream, which is poured into ice cube trays instead of churned into ice cream.

    We used Lactaid milk so that all of our crowd, including the lactose sensitive, could have them. Lactose-free milk is virtually like regular milk, but the lactose (milk sugar) that is hard for some people to digest has been de-activated. All the Lactaid products (cottage cheese, ice cream, holiday egg nog) are delish!
     
    Ingredients For The Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 6.8 ounces/200ml milk
  • 3.5 tablespoons/50ml water
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional: 1 cup of instant coffee (prepared, not granules)
  • 70g of 66% cacao dark chocolate
  •  
    For The Vanilla Milk

  • 2.5 cups/600ml whole milk
  • 1/4 cup/60g sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  •  
    Optional

  • Liqueur of choice
  • Straws for tall glasses
  • Sugar, spiced sugar or cocoa mix rim (use sparkling sugar/decorating sugar
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHOP the chocolate finely and place it in a heat-resistant bowl.

    2. COMBINE the milk and water in a saucepan. Add the sugar, cocoa and coffee and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Then…

     

    Chocolate Ice Cubes

    Chocolate Ice Cubes

    Milk With Cocoa Rim

    A tall glass with chocolate ice cubes, and [2] wioth the vanilla milk added (photo courtesy Nordljus). [3] How about a Black or White Russian in this rocks glass (photo courtesy Ellen Fork). [4] Who won’t drink milk with chocolate ice cubes and a cocoa powder rim (photo courtesy Oxmoor House)?

     
    3. REMOVE from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it melt for 5 minutes; then gently mix with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and creamy. Allow to cool, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

    4. MAKE the vanilla milk. Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the sugar and mix to dissolve.

    5. SCRAPE the vanilla bean and add the beans and pod to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and remove from heat. Allow to cool; then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

    6. TO SERVE: Place the chocolate ice cubes in the glasses (depending on the size of the glasses 3 to 4 ice cubes) then pour over the milk to the cold vanilla.
     
     
    This recipe by Jean-Paul Hévin appeared in the Elle à Table and appeared on Nordljus.com. We can across it on Sandra Kavital | Blogspot. Thanks also to Keiko of Nordljus.

      

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