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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Caraway Cheese Spread With A Caraway Stout Cocktail

Caraway seed, from a member of the carrot family*, is a popular seasoning in Irish cuisine. Here’s a great way to start St. Patrick’s Day dinner: with Caraway Cheese Spread and a Caraway Stout Cocktail.

RECIPE: CARAWAY CHEESE SPREAD

This cheese spread from McCormick is so easy to prepare—it takes just five minutes when you start with a prepared Cheddar cheese spread. Make it ahead of time, refrigerate, and let it warm up on the counter for a few minutes prior to serving.
 
Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups (10 Servings)

  • 1 container (12 ounces) Cheddar cheese spread, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons minced onions
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s® Seasoned Salt (or substitute†)
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crudités
  • Crackers
  • Baguette slices
  •    

    Cheese Spread

    Caraway Cheese Spread from McCormick. You can make it in 5 minutes.

     
    ____________________
    *Apiaceae, commonly known as the carrot, celery or parsley family, is a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems.

    †Here’s how to blend your own seasoned salt.

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX the cheese spread and seasonings in medium bowl. Cover.

    2. REFRIGERATE at least 2 hours to blend flavors.

     

    Stout Cocktail

    Caraway Stout Cocktail from McCormick: stout plus Irish whiskey!

     

    RECIPE: CARAWAY STOUT COCKTAIL

    Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this cocktail that features Irish whiskey, Guinness Extra Stout and licorice flavor notes from caraway seeds. It uses homemade caraway simple syrup—easy to make in 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

     
    For The Caraway Simple Syrup (Enough For 6 Cocktails)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed, coarsely crushed‡
  •  
    For The Caraway Stout Cocktail

  • 2 tablespoons caraway simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout or substitute, chilled
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Coarsely crush the caraway seeds (see footnote†). Bring the sugar, water and caraway seeds to boil in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand 1 hour. Strain the caraway seeds and refrigerate the syrup until ready to serve.

    2. MIX the cocktails: Combine the caraway simple syrup and the whiskey in tall glass. Pour the beer into glass. Serve immediately.

     
    ____________________
    ‡How to crush caraway seeds: Coarsely crush seeds with a mortar and pestle. Or, place seeds in a small resealable plastic bag. Close tightly. Pound with a rolling pin, mallet or heavy skillet until coarsely crushed.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Surf & Turf Bloody Mary

    We found this Fully Loaded Bloody Mary at The Wayfarer, in the heart of New York City.

    Because it features both bacon and shrimp garnishes, and because February 29th is National Surf & Turf Day (January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day), we’ve renamed it the Surf & Turf Bloody Mary. There are so many nibbles in the drink that it could also be called the Appetizer Mary.

    To add even more taste consider flavored vodka: bacon, cucumber, lemon or lime. We also use chipotle hot sauce instead of the standard heat.

    If you prefer other clear spirits to vodka, make a Bloody Caesar with gin or a Bloody Maria with tequila.

    And, you can vary the surf and turf: Instead of the bacon strip and “appetizer” cocktail pick, substitute a cocktail pick of steak cubes. Any other meat or poultry from the “turf” also works.

    We have quite a few additional options below.

    THE SURF & TURF BLOODY MARY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 cup Bloody Mary mix (our own recipe is below)
  • 2-3 ounces vodka
  • Celery stalk, green onion (scallion) or fennel stalk
  • Dill pickle or cucumber spear, halved
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Crisp bacon strip
  • Cocktail pick: olive, cocktail onion, cheese cube, etc.
  •  
    THE NIBBLE’s Bloody Mary Mix Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup top-quality tomato juice (our favorite is Knudsen’s)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 6 shakes hot sauce (or chipotle hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime or medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt*
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • Optional: fresh dill
  •  
    Ingredients For Cocktail Pick

    Go to the nearest olive bar for the olives and cocktail onions. It may also have gherkins and peppadews.

  • Cheddar cube (we use Beecher’s Flagship (aged Cheddar)
  • Cocktail onion
  • Mini gherkin
  • Olive
  • Pepppadew
  • ____________________
    *If you only have celery seed, you can make your own celery salt with the recipe that follows.
     
    RECIPE: CELERY SALT

    You can buy celery salt, but homemade, without the caking agents, is so much better. We use celery seed far more often than celery salt, so it’s also fresher than a pre-ground, pre-bottled version. And it’s so easy.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/fully garnished thewayfererNYC 230

    Surf & Turf

    Crab Legs Surf & Turf

    Shrimp Surf & Turf

    Top: The Surf & Turf Bloody Mary at The Wayfarer | NYC. Second: The classic lobster tail and fillet mignon from Mackenzie Ltd. Third and Fourth: Switching the lobster for crab legs or shrimp at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     
    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground celery seed (or grind whole celery seed)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIFT the celery seed and salt together, into a bowl. Add the combined seasoning to a food processor or spice grinder. You can use a coffee grinder, but first grind white rice in it to eliminate the coffee particles.

    2. STORE the remainder in an airtight container.
     
    MORE INTERPRETATIONS OF SURF & TURF

  • Surf & Turf History Plus Combinations Beyond Steak and Lobster
  • For Breakfast Or Lunch: Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict Recipe
  • The New Surf & Turf, Including Surf & Turf Sushi Roll, Lobster Roll or Clam Roll With Bacon, and 15 More
  • Beef Carpaccio or Steak Tartare Surf & Turf Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Thyme Ice Cubes

    Strawberry Ice Cubes

    Strawberries In Colander

    Top: Strawberry ice cube, a recipe from
    Shari’s Berries. Bottom: Beautiful berries
    from the California Strawberry Commission.

     

    It’s National Strawberry Day. You can have a classic bowl of strawberries and cream, or eat your berries plain. And we have lots of strawberry recipes below, from cocktails and salads to (of course) desserts.

    To start the celebration, here’s a fun and tasty recipe from Shari’s Berries: Strawberry Thyme Ice Cubes.

    Use them in cocktails, iced tea, punch bowls, sparkling water, water pitchers or soft drinks like Ginger Ale, 7-Up and Fresca.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY THYME ICE CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Large silicon ice cube tray*
  • 18† medium-sized fresh strawberries
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (substitute basil chiffonade)
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Water
  • _____________________
    *The larger the cubes, the more slowly they melt.

    †The number will vary based on the size of strawberries available, and how many ice cubes you’d like to make.
     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the strawberries with a mortar and pestle. Distribute evenly so each section of the ice cube tray is filled 2/3 with muddled berries. Each cube requires 2-3 berries.

    2. FILL the ice cube sections the rest of the way with water, and top with a sprig of fresh thyme. Freeze 4-5 hours.
     

    MORE STRAWBERRY RECIPES

    Beverages & Cocktails

  • Strawberry Basil Gimlet
  • Strawberry Egg Cream
  • Strawberry Margarita
  • Strawberry Mojito
  •  
    Breakfast

  • Strawberry Banana Pancake Stack
  • Strawberry Yogurt Parfait
  •  
    Desserts

  • Angel Food Cake With Strawberry Glaze
  • Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
  • Easy Strawberry Sorbet
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Topping
  • Strawberry Cream Pie
  • Strawberry Ice Cream Cake
  • Strawberry Shortcake With Yellow Cake
  • Strawberry Shortcake With Biscuits
  • Strawberry Parfait
  • Strawberry Sundae
  •  

    First Courses & Mains

  • Chilled Strawberry Soup
  • Green Salad With Strawberries
  • Strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Strawberry-Orange Pasta Salad
  • Strawberry gastrique (sauce) sweet-and-sour sauce
  •  
    Snacks

  • Crunchy Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Strawberry & Brownie Skewers
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Pops
  • Strawberry Margarita Ice Pops
  • Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches
  •  
    STRAWBERRY TRIVIA

  • Strawberries are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.
  • The strawberry is not a true berry, but what is known as an aggregate accessory fruit: The fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.
  • Strawberries do not reproduce with their seeds, but via long shoots of new growth.
  • The most widely held view of the origin of the name is that the berries are “strewn” about on the plants. The name “strewn berry” evolved into “strawberry.”
  • The strawberry belongs to the botanical genus Fragraria, which is in the rose family, along with apples and plums. The name of the scientific classification was derived from the Old Latin word for fragrant. The garden strawberry is Fragaria × ananassa.
  • The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s as a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile in 1714.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  •  

    Strawberry Mojito

    Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Top: Strawberry Mojito (photo Hard Rock Cafe). Bottom: Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches (photo Pillsbury).

     
    How will you enjoy strawberries today?

      

    Comments

    HOLIDAY RECIPE: Frozen Cherry Margarita

    February 22nd is National Margarita Day. It’s also the day George Washington was born (in 1732).

    Decades ago, it was established that George Washington never cut down his father’s beloved cherry tree.*

    But the tradition of cherry pie on his birthday existed for many years before scholars uncovered the reality. So this year’s contribution to our cherry recipe collection is a Cherry Margarita.

    While a cocktail made with puréed fresh cherries would be divine, we’re a few months away from cherry season. So let’s default to the next-best thing: frozen tart cherries.

    RECIPE: FROZEN CHERRY MARGARITA

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1/2 cup frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces cherry juice*
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups ice
  • Optional: coarse salt for rim
  • Optional garnish: 1 stemmed maraschino cherry†, lime wheel, or both
  •  
    _________________________________
    *Our favorite is Knudsen’s, but any brand will do.

    †The absolute best maraschino cherries are the all-natural ones from Tillen Farms. They’re great for gifting, too.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE alt rim.

    2. COMBINE the tequila, cherry juice, lime juice and liqueur in a blender; then add the ice (the order is important so the ice doesn’t jam the blades).

    3. PURÉE until the drink is thick. If it’s too thick, add more ice to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. POUR into a glass, garnish and serve.

       

    Frozen Cherry Margarita

    Cherry-Margarita-createdbydiane-230s

    Top: A frozen Cherry Margarita from IngredientsInc.net. Bottom: A conventional-style Cherry Margarita from Made By Diane, who uses fresh cherries in season. Here’s the recipe for her Fresh Cherry Margarita.

     

    MORE

  • Margarita History
  • Different Types Of Orange Liqueurs
  •  
    __________________________
    *The legend of George Washington and the cherry tree was an invention of book agent Mason Locke Weems, in his 1800 biography, The Life of Washington (click to buy a copy). The cherry tree has been associated with Washington ever since. Washington’s Birthday was declared a federal holiday by Congress in 1880,* the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen.

    Initially the holiday was for government offices in the District of Columbia. It was expanded to include all federal offices in 1885. State government offices, including schools, followed suit, followed by banks and other businesses (in private businesses, the day off is not mandatory). The holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22, until 1971, when it was shifted to the third Monday in February and combined with the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration to allow federal employees a three-day weekend.

     

    Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

    Although it’s only a garnish, the cherry can
    turn a Manhattan cocktail into a
    Washington’s Birthday toast.

     

    NOT A TEQUILA PERSON? BELLY UP TO SOME BOURBON.

    Even though it’s America’s favorite cocktail, not everyone likes a tequila or the sweetness level of a Margarita.

    Instead, consider Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Presidential Manhattan, a twist on the classic Manhattan with a cherry for Washington’s birthday.

    Seeking something else? George Washington was a big fan of eggnog. He also brewed his own beer, including pumpkin ale.
     
    RECIPE: PRESIDENTIAL MANHATTAN

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
  • 1/2 part sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 part dry vermouth
  • 1/2 part maple syrup
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together the bourbon, vermouth, maple syrup and bitters over ice in a rocks glass.

    2. GARNISH with a cherry and serve.
     
    MORE FUN RECIPES

  • Blue Cheese Salad With Dried Cherries
  • Cherry Home Fries
  • Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cherry-Topped Brownies
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

    The distillers at Jack Daniel’s have created a lovely portfolio of Jack. Old No. 7 is now joined by Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel, Tennessee Fire and now, Tennessee Honey. Mr. Daniel would be proud.

    For those who like sweetness, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is a blend of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and the company’s own spiced honey liqueur, made just for blending with Old No. 7. There’s general spice on the nose and cinnamon on the palate.

    This unique flavor profile has not pleased all Jack lovers. Some comments online are literally, “awful.” Those folks don’t want their spirits sweet.

    But for those who do, Tennessee Honey is rich, smooth and succulent—no heat, no burn. It is alluring, even seductive. It’s sweet without being cloying. It has a long, lovely finish. And it’s too easy to keep drinking.

    Fortunately, unlike most of our other liquid pleasures, a 750ml bottle is only $22.

    We received a bottle for Valentine’s Day, and we’re ready for another. We’re going to pay it backward by gifting it to our Valentine honeys next year.

    You can sip it straight (our preference) or:

  • Use it in your favorite cocktails (the Jack Daniel’s website has numerous recipes).
  • Add it to iced tea or lemonade.
  • Pour it over dessert: fruit salad or cooked fruit (compote, baked apples, poached pears), ice cream or sorbet, pudding (we enjoyed it with chocolate and vanilla flavors).
  •  
    RECIPE: TENNESSEE HONEY TEA*

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
  • .5 ounce cinnamon schnapps
  • .5 ounce triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • 5 ounces iced tea
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a tall glass over ice.

    2. TOP with a squeeze of lemon and garnish with a mint spring.

     

    Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey  Liqueur

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/JD tennessee honey tea brookebolling 230

    Top photo courtesy Jack Daniel’s; bottom photo © Brooke Bolling Photography.

     
    FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WHISKEY, CHECK OUT OUR WHISKEY GLOSSARY.

     
    ____________________
    *We have no idea where this recipe came from. It ended up cut and pasted into a draft of this article, and no one remembers. If it’s your recipe, please let us know so we can provide credit and links; and thanks, it’s delicious!

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Drinking With The Hatfields & The McCoys

    The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Whiskey

    Hatfields-230

    Top: Heritage hooch in a glass jug. Bottom: Three generations of Hatfields. Photos
    courtesy The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy
    Whiskey.

     

    From our tween years, we remember the expression “feuding like the Hatfields and the McCoys” (not that we were personally involved in an epic feud).

    The hostilities between two clans living in the Appalachian Mountains began in 1865, with a murder. The feud and mayhem continued for decades. There was a miniseries on the History Channel in 2012, and you can review the whole sorry mess on History.com.

    Whether truth or marketing, The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Whiskey claims to be made by descendants of those Hatfields and McCoys.

    It extends the tale with news that the two clans have finally put aside their differences, and have created a new whiskey “rooted in old family recipes, pride of name, and Appalachian tradition.”

    We received a bottle as a Valentine gift, along with the recipe for a special cocktail (recipe below).
     
    WHAT KIND OF SPIRIT IS IT?

    Bottled in South Carolina, its an American whiskey, for starters. American whiskeys include Bourbon, corn whiskey, rye and Tennessee Whiskey. Bourbon and Tennessee whiskies are distinguished in flavor from other types of American whiskey, largely because the grain mash used to make them must contain more than 50% corn. By law, all American whiskeys except corn whiskey must be aged in new casks that have been charred on the inside.

    The 80-proof whiskey is made from a proprietary blend of “corn, barley, malt, special strains of yeast, [and] infused natural flavors.” By comparison:

  • Bourbon, corn and Tennessee whiskeys must contain 50% or more corn.
  • Corn whiskey must contain 80% or more corn.
  • We don’t know what The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Whiskey contains; it’s a proprietary recipe. If it isn’t labeled as a particular type of whiskey, the company doesn’t have to adhere to government standards (e.g., specific ingredients and the percentages).
  •  
    WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?

    If you’re accustomed to analyzing the flavor components of wine or spirits, you may notice flavor nuances that are not uncommon in other whiskeys:

  • Butter/butterscotch and vanilla, flavors that typically derive from aging in new wooden casks.
  • Black pepper, cedar, smoke, spice and tar.
  • Some of our colleagues tasted banana, dried apricot and walnut.
  • If you don’t care about any of this, it makes you no less worthy of drinking it.
  •  
    The suggested retail price is $37.99 for a 750 ml bottle. It’s currently available in 42 states and online.

    At this price, this is not so much a connoisseur whiskey as a novel spirit for entertaining and gifting. We’d especially give it to someone with whom we’re having a major disagreement (and who has a sense of whimsy).

    Discover more at LegendaryHatfieldAndMcCoy.com. And consider it for Father’s Day gifts.
     

     

    RECIPE: FULL SNEAK FROM THE LEGENDARY HATFIELD & McCOY BRAND WHISKEY

    While no one drinks a photo, this one, with its red ribbon of Port, encouraged us to make a Valentine cocktail. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it also works for Halloween, for a Dracula-themed cocktail.

    You may be asking, “What’s a full sneak?” We had no idea, and headed straight to our browser. It’s a taxidermist’s pose often used for the trophy head of a buck deer (big antlers!). Perhaps the Hatfields and the McCoys had their share of impressively antlered buck heads?

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Whiskey
  • .5 ounce ginger liqueur
  • .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Ginger ale
  • .25 ounce ruby Port
  • Garnish: fresh mint or lemon slice
  •  

    The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Cocktail

    The Full Sneak cocktail. Photo courtesy The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Whiskey.

     
    Preparation

    1. STIR the first three ingredients together over ice. Strain into a tall Collins glass and top with ginger ale.

    2. FLOAT the ruby Port on top and garnish with fresh mint or a lemon slice.

     
    WHISKEY VS. WHISKY: BOTH ARE CORRECT

    Whisky is the Scottish spelling of whiskey, a term that originated in Ireland. The alternative spelling was chosen to differentiate the Scots’ national product from Irish whiskey.

    The “whisky” spelling is used in Canada, Japan and Wales, as well as Scotland.

    In the U.S., a 1968 directive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling. However, it allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey.”

    Most U.S. producers prefer to include the “e,” as do we. Without it, it looks like something is missing.

    Ironically, distillation was discovered in the 8th century in Persia—a country that has not permitted the sale and consumption of spirits since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    Here’s a brief history of whiskey.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cocktails Or Mocktails

    Some people think a Valentine’s Day cocktail should be rose red. Others think it should be chocolate. Still others want to drink pink.

    Here, we offer chocolate, coffee, red and pink Valentine cocktails for your consideration. If you’re having a party, choose several.

    Mocktail options follow.

    VALENTINE COCKTAIL DRINKS

  • Amore Espresso Cocktail Recipe
  • Bright Red Cocktail Recipes (including the Lovecicle)
  • Chocolate Basil Martini Recipe
  • Five Chocolate Cocktail Recipes (including the Hot Lips Chocolatini)
  • Love Nectar Recipe (red, with tequila, cider, red grapes)
  • Love Potion Recipe (bright red)
  • Passionfruit Tequila “Besame” (Kiss Me) Recipe (bright red)
  • Pink Cocktail Recipes (including Cupid’s Cosmo)
  • Pomegranate Martini Recipe (deep pink with red arils)
  • Pomegranate Refresher Recipe (pale pink with red arils)
  • The Right Kiss Gin Cocktail Recipe (deep red)
  • Rose Cocktail Recipes (pink, with rose simple syrup)
  • Secret Crush Champagne Cocktail Recipe (red)
  •    

    Valentine Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush “Champagne” cocktail made with Prosecco and grenadine. Photo courtesy Macao Trading Co.

     

    VALENTINE MOCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

    To make a Valentine-red mocktail, you need to use either a red base (blood orange juice, cranberry juice, cherry or raspberry soda) or a red-colored flavor such as grenadine or strawberry purée)—or both.

    Blend the juice and soda in proportions you prefer. If it isn’t red enough, add one of the red-colored flavors. Taste, add some citrus juice to pick up the flavor, and select a garnish.

     

    Valentine Cocktail

    The Pomegranate Refresher can be made
    with tequila, or as a mocktail with regular or
    diet 7-UP or Sprite.

     

    Juice

  • Blood orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pink lemonade
  •  
    Soda Pop

  • Cherry Soda
  • Club Soda
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Raspberry Soda
  •  
    Red-Colored Flavors

  • Grenadine
  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Strawberry or raspberry purée
  •  
    Flavor Accent

  • Bitters
  • Citrus juice: grapefruit lemon, lime
  •  
    Garnish

  • Fruit: blood orange wheel, notched strawberry, pomegranate arils, raspberry pick
  • Herbs: fresh mint, opal (purple) basil
  •  
    Plus

  • Ice
  • Optional: red straws
  •   

    Comments

    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.

      

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    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.

      

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