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

Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

RECIPE: Strawberry Rose Mojito

Strawberry Rose Mojito Recipe

Fresh Mint

[1] This Mojito is enhanced with strawberry-rose syrup for a special occasion (photo courtesy Nielsen Massey). [2] Every Mojito requires lots of fresh mint (photo courtesy Indian Home Cooking).

 

Mojito fans: Nielsen-Massey has tailored the classic recipe for Valentine’s Day, using their vanilla extract and rose water.

If your Valentine plans are already set, put this on the calendar for Mother’s Day.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY-ROSE MOJITO

Ingredients
 
For The Strawberry-Rose Syrup (Yield: 1 Cup)

Not all flavored cocktail syrups are simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Here’s a syrup made This recipe from Nielsen-Massey makes enough syrup for four Strawberry-Rose Mojitos.

  • 8-9 large strawberries, stemmed, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
  • 1/8 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  
    For The Mojito (Per Drink)

  • 15-20 fresh mint leaves
  • 2-1/2 ounces Strawberry-Rose Syrup
  • 2-1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Club soda
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: whole strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Add the ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until smooth; set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the mint leaves in a tall glass. Add the syrup, rum, lime juice and lots of ice.

    3. TOP with club soda and a freshly squeezed lime wedge; stir.

    4. NOTCH the strawberry, place it on the rim of the glass and serve.

     
    FOR A PITCHER (4 DRINKS)

    Ingredients

  • Same syrup recipe as above
  • 40-45 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 liter club soda
  • Ice
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: 4 whole strawberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the syrup, lime juice and mint leaves to a pitcher and muddle together. Add the rum, club soda and ice; stir to combine.
     
    MOJITO HISTORY

    The mojito (mo-HEE-toe) is a quintessential Cuban cocktail. The name derives from the African voodoo term mojo, to cast a small spell.

    According to Bacardi Rum, the drink can be traced to 1586, when Sir Francis Drake and his pirates unsuccessfully attempted to sack Havana for its gold. His associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque that was made with aguardiente, a crude forerunner of rum, sugar, lime and mint.

    Around the mid-1800s, when the Bacardi Company was established, rum was substituted and the cocktail became known as a Mojito. Here’s the original Mojito recipe.
    ________________

    *Nielsen Massey uses its Tahitian vanilla extra. Here are the different types of vanilla.

     
      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jell-O Shots For Your Valentine(s)

    How about gelatin shots as a treat for Valentine’s Day? Use unflavored gelatin and other drink ingredients to turn your favorite cocktails into solid form.

    The alcohol-free version, Jell-O Jigglers, uses Jell-O for flavor and color; and engendered the return of a very old recipe—popular among young ladies in the 1860s, popular among all youth in the 1980s and beyond.

    For the record:

  • Jell-O shots are made with Jell-O and alcohol. The flavor comes from the Jell-O; alcohol is substituted for one-third to one-half of the cold water. Any spirit can be used; vodka and tequila seem to be in the majority of recipes.
  • Gelatin shots or jelly shots are made with unflavored gelatin. Spirits and other flavorings are added to emulate a cocktail or punch.
  • Jell-O Jigglers are made with no alcohol: just Jell-O made with much less water, promoted by Jell-O in fun shapes, although jiggly cubes are fine.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O SHOTS

    Many of us think of Jell-O shots as the creation of fraternity culture in the late 1980s. But the first published recipe is more than 100 years older: alcoholic punch turned solid with gelatin. You can find it in the original cocktail recipe book published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide of 1862. You can still buy it (reprinted) on Amazon.com.

    That recipe used generic, unflavored gelatin. Thanks to some pretty crafty sleuthing on the part of JelloShotRecipe.Blogspot.com, you can see a photocopy of the first known recipe for a molded gelatin-alcohol combination.

    They may have been forgotten by the cocktail culture, but in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1950s, they were made as a subterfuge to consume alcohol on the alcohol-restricted Army bases.

    The brand of flavored, colored gelatin called Jell-O was invented in 1897. Marketed as a light dessert, the product’s success began to wane in the 1960s; by the 1980s the company needed to revitalize the brand.

    The marketing team pored through older cookbooks and discovered what they renamed Jigglers, adding new excitement to the brand with the fun-shaped finger food snacks.

    The fun molds created for Jell-O Jigglers charmed children. The concept enticed teens and young adults to add alcohol to the Jell-O and call them Jell-O shots. Simple squares cut from a baking pan sufficed.

    Back in 1862 Jerry Thomas advised: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”

    Refined ladies of the time could not be seen downing drink after drink, but the “gelatine punch” nibbles had the same effect as they have today (a.k.a., “drunk on Jell-O shots).

    MODERN JELL-O SHOTS

    Today, Jell-O shots are made in baking pans and cut into squares or fingers; made in theme-shape ice cube trays (hearts, stars, shamrocks, etc.), garnished with edible glitter, coated in hard chocolate, tiered in two or three colors, embedded with berries or cherries, and so on.

    You’ll find endless recipes on line. Note that many, like the one immediately below, are made with plain gelatin as opposed to Jell-O; and are thus technically gelatin shots.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: COSMOPOLITAN JELL-O SHOTS

    Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw! Other people are enjoying their Cosmos in solid form—and they’re spill-proof.

    We adopted this recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus setting in the fridge; total time 4 hours.
     
    Ingredients For 32 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2-1/2 envelopes plain gelatin
  • 1/4 cup Rose’s lime juice (or preferably, fresh lime juice with a half teaspoon of simple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3/4 cup orange flavored vodka
  • Garnish: 1/4 cup lime zest
  •    

    Pink Champagne Jello Shots

    Cosmopolitan Jello Shots

    Jello Shots Ingredients

    Chambord Jello Shots

    Jello Shot Recipe Book

    [1] It takes more time to turn out a good supply, but heart-shape shots are an extra treat (here’a the recipe from That’s So Michelle). [2] A favorite American cocktail, the Cosmopolitan, transformed into a solid state (photo courtesy Jelly Test Shot Kitchen). [3] Look for fancy ice cube molds locally or online (photo courtesy Craftster). [4] What to do with that bottle of cassis, Chambord or framboise: Make gelatin shots (photo courtesy Sugar And Cream). [5] Get a copy of Jelly Shot Test Kitchen: Jell-ing Classic Cocktails—One Drink at a Time (photo courtesy Running Press).

     
    Preparation
     
    1. COMBINE the cranberry and lime juices in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it set for a few minutes; then place over low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the liquors, blending thoroughly. Pour into a pan or molds and chill until set, several hours or overnight. To serve…

    3. CUT into the desired shape and garnish with lime zest. They can be served on a plate or tray, or placed in mini-cupcake wrappers immediately before serving.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: JELL-O JIGGLERS

    Because there’s no alcohol for flavoring, Jigglers simply need Jell-O. Here’s the recipe via Craftster.org:

    If you don’t have a flexible mold, you can always make Jigglers—or shots—in an old-fashioned ice cube tray (using the bottom only) or a small square or rectangular pan.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 package red Jell-O
  • 1 flexible ice cube tray
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Pam cooking spray
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPRAY the mold with Pam, blotting any excess cooking spray.

    2. DISSOLVE the Jell-O in the boiled water, stirring to dissolve. Add the cold water, blend, pour into the mold and refrigerate until set, two hours or longer.

    3. POP them out of the molds (the joy of silicon!), plate and serve.
     

     

    Molded Jello Shots

    Maraschino Jello Shots

    [6] For dessert: Turn the recipe into a mold, slice and serve with berries and crème fraîche or mascarpone. This molded “punch” includes crème de cassis, sloe gin and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Here’s the recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen). [7] For maraschino lovers: a creative idea for shots or jiggles (no alcohol—here’s the recipe from That’s So Michelle).

     

    RECIPE #3: CHAMPAGNE & CHAMBORD GELATIN SHOTS

    This recipe is from Sugar and Charm.
     
    Ingredients

  • 5 cups Champagne or other sparkling wine, regular or rosé
  • 9 packs gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups Chambord
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: red food coloring for a darker color
  • Optional garnish: edible glitter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the Champagne, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Add the packets of gelatin and let proof for a few minutes. Once bloomed, put the pot over medium heat and bring to a slow boil until the gelatin is dissolved.

    2. REMOVE from the heat and add the Chambord. Pour into a square baking dish or cake pan and refrigerate, covered, for a few hours until set. After half an hour, add the optional glitter.

    3. CUT into squares or fingers.
     

    THE HISTORY OF GELATIN

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the dawn of commercial gelatin.

    Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make fancy aspics and desserts.

     
    It was a laborious process, undertaken largely by the kitchens of the wealthy, which had the staff resources to undertake it. It relied only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    The next development, commercial gelatin sheets, was easier but still cumbersome: Gelatin was sold in sheets and had to be purified first, a time-consuming process.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. Here’s a longer history of gelatin and Jell-O; and a much longer discussion on Wikipedia.

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Pink Party

    For Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, baby girl showers, bridal showers, or any other occasion demanding that you ”think pink”: All the food and drink are in shades of pink, with some touches of deeper rose and red.

    There’s also a National Pink Day on June 23rd.

    If you want to hold your own party, menu options are below. It can be a cocktail party—pink cocktails, pink nibbles—or an entire dinner or buffet.

    You can make anything more pink with beet juice, red food color or rosy accents like pomegranate arils, raspberries and strawberries. You can make sauces and soups pinker with a touch of crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, or plain yogurt.

    You can keep it all pink and rose, or add bright red and burgundy accents.

    You are encouraged guests to wear something pink to the party (pink nail polish counts).

    PINK PARTY MENU

    PINK & RED COCKTAILS

  • Champagne cocktail with pink sparkling wine
  • Classic pink cocktails like Pink Lady and Pink Squirrel
  • Cosmopolitans
  • Pink Champagne and strawberry punch
  • Pink Jell-O Shots (recipes)
  •  
    PINK & RED WINES

  • Pink sparkling wine (Yellowtail and Martini are great values)
  • Red Wine
  • Rosé
  •  
    There are scores and scores of pink cocktails—just search online.
     

    RED & PINK APPETIZERS

  • Bruschetta with strawberry-basil or tomato topping
  • Crab cocktail
  • Crudités: red bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, red Belgian endive, etc., with spicy pink dip (recipe below); you can include some celery, fennel or other pale vegetables for variety
  • Goat cheese log rolled in pink peppercorns
  • Hot dogs in jelly-mustard dip
  • Pink deviled eggs (soak peeled whole eggs in beet juice or food color)
  • Poached shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Red pepper dip
  • Salume platter
  • Shrimp spread with crackers
  • Shrimp tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax platter
  • Smoked salmon pinwheels or tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon rillettes
  • Strawberry bruschetta (recipe)
  • Taramasalata (Greek caviar dip) with crackers or party breads
  • Tuna sushi and spicy tuna rolls
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice spritzers (with white wine) or mocktails
  • Pomegranate Martini
  • Rosé Champagne
  • Vodka and pink lemonade
  •  

    Rose Champagne

    Hibiscus Margarita

    Smoked Salmon Tartine

    Cherry Tomato Burrata Crostini

    [1] Always a hit: rosé champagne or other sparkling rosé wine (photo courtesy Tommy Bahama). [2] Hibiscus Margarita, with a bit of hibiscus syrup for color (you can use regular food color) and a rim of hibiscus salt (photo courtesy Miro Kitchen). [3] Smoked salmon tartine (photo courtesy Ocean Cut Chicago). [4] Cherry tomato-burrata crostini (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Lobster Bisque

    olive-oil-poached-salmon-pomwonderful-230

    Raspberry Champagne Float

    Buttercream Rose Cake

    [5] Lobster bisque. You can serve soup shooters on a buffet. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com. [6] Think pink with poached salmon (photo courtesy Pom Wonderful). [7] An easy dessert: sorbet, sparkling wine, berries (here’s the recipe from The Cookie Rookie). [8] You can buy this rose-topped cake from Williams-Sonoma.

      FOR A PINK & RED BUFFET OR SIT-DOWN DINNER
     
    PINK & RED SOUPS

  • Borscht (you can turn it from red to pink with sour cream)
  • Cream of tomato soup
  • Lobster or shrimp bisque
  • Red bell pepper purée
  • Red gazpacho
  • Tomato or watermelon gazpacho
  •  
    PROTEINS & OTHER MAINS

  • Pasta in pink sauce
  • Poached salmon
  • Rare beef (we’re poaching a filet mignon)
  • Shrimp & strawberry salad (recipe in footnote* below)
  • Steak tartare or tuna tartare
  •  
    PINK & RED SIDES

  • Beet salad or pickled beets
  • Cherry tomato salad
  • Radicchio and radish salad with pickled red onions
  • ________________

    *Combine 3 cups cooked rice, 1/2 pound cooked, sliced shrimp and 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery in a large bowl. Make dressing with 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste. Dress the salad and then fold in 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries. Chill and serve on a bed of greens.
    ________________
     
    PINK & RED DESSERTS

  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Fresh strawberries and raspberries
  • Mignardises: pink cake pops, macarons, marshmallows, mini strawberry cupcakes
  • Pears poached in red wine
  • Pink frosted cake or cake pops
  • Pink ice pops (freeze your own from cherry or pomegranate juice)
  • Raspberry or strawberry mousse
  • Red velvet cake, cupcakes, donuts, ice cream
  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Raspberry or strawberry sorbet float (add rosé champagne to a glass of sorbet)
  • Strawberry ice cream cake
  • Strawberry milkshake shooters
  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Watermelon: granita or fruit salad
  •  
    RECIPE: SPICY PINK SALAD DRESSING OR DIP FOR CRUDITÉS

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise (full fat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sherry wine (not cooking sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon, finely crushed or 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce sauce, or to taste
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring or beet juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX mayonnaise, sour cream, sherry, tarragon, garlic powder and hot sauce until well blended.

    2. ADD a few drops of food coloring to desired shade of pink. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it with a small amount of milk. Chill well before serving.

    Recipe courtesy Food.com.

     
    ________________

    †Mignardises (min-yar-DEEZ, from the French for “precious”) are a type of miniature baked good, also called petit-fours, a group of small sweets beyond what Americans think of as petit-fours (small cubes of layer cake). Mignardises are bite-size or smaller, and are served with coffee and liqueur at the end of the meal. At restaurants they are a lagniappe (lon-YAP), a small gift from the house.

    Mignardises is a category that includes petit-fours. The delicacies can take many forms and shapes: mini cakes and cookies including macarons, as well as non-baked sweets such as glazed or chocolate-dipped fruit, marzipan, chocolates, pâte de fruits and nut clusters.

    Petit-fours is French for “small baked pastries. There are two styles of petit-fours: glacée (iced) and sec (dry). Petit-fours glacées or frais (fresh) include filled and/or iced petit-fours, miniature babas, miniature éclairs, tiny iced cakes and tartlets. Petit-fours secs include small cookies, macaroons, meringues, palmiers and tuiles.

    Friandises (free-yon-DEEZ), from the French for “delicate,” is a term often used instead of petit-fours or mignardises.

    According to The Oxford Companion To Food, these terms are often used interchangeably; and of course, it is not surprising when word meanings evolve over time.

      

    Comments off

    RECIPE: Grapefruit Basil Cocktail To Chase The Winter Blues

    Grapefruit Vodka Cocktail

    Orange Peel

    Lemon Channel Peeler

    Orange Peel Cocktail Garnish

    [1] Grapefruit basil cocktail (photo courtesy Tommy Bahama). [2] Create a twist with a channel peeler (photo courtesy Two Tarts). [3] Get yourself a channel peeler (photo courtesy 1 Easylife | Amazon) [4]. You can knot a long strip of peel (photo courtesy Bar Boulud | Boston).

     

    Each weekend we try a different cocktail from the many recipes we receive.

    This one from Tommy Bahama had previously caught our eye; and when we passed by a bottle of fresh-squeezed red grapefruit juice at our specialty produce store (and February is National Grapefruit Month), we knew it was time to try it.

    Tommy Bahama calls this a Grapefruit Basil Martini, but allow us to offer a correction: A Martini is a savory drink, originally just gin and vermouth (here’s the history of the Martini).

    You can tweak a Martini recipe while still retaining the savory character of the drink. There are Vodka Martinis, Dirty Martinis, dill martinis and a variety of garnishes, from the classics to the modern (like gherkins or pickled habaneros).

    But adding juice and sugar to vodka does not make it a Martini. (Nor would substituting grapefruit juice for the tomato juice create a Grapefruit Bloody Mary, et cetera, et cetera and so forth).

    So why do some call anything with vodka a Martini?

    Because “Martini” is a familiar name and sells better than other descriptions. We like to keep the record straight (avoid alternative facts, as it were).

    RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT BASIL COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ parts vodka
  • 1¼ parts fresh red grapefruit juice*
  • ¾ part simple syrup
  • 1 fresh basil leaf
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: fresh basil leaves, grapefruit peel
  • ________________

    *You can substitute pink or white juice; but the redder, the better looking the drink.
    ________________
     
    For The Simple Syrup

    You can purchase simple syrup; but it is so easy to make. Why spend $7.00 and up for a bottle?

    For other cocktails, you can infuse the simple syrup with whatever flavor you’d like: ginger, habanero, fruit, lavender, rose, vanilla, etc.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Optional flavoring: 1 loose cup basil leaves, 2 cups fruit, ¼ cup chopped peeled ginger, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool, 20 minutes or more. Strain out the flavoring and keep in the fridge in a lidded jar. The syrup can be made up to two weeks in advance.

    2. PREPARE the cocktail. Muddle a large basil leaf with simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients and the ice. Shake well until chilled.

    3. STRAIN into a glass and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and or grapefruit peel.

    HOW TO MAKE A GRAPEFRUIT PEEL TWIST

    This works for any citrus fruit. All you need is a channel peeler.

    1. SCRUB the fruit to remove any pesticides. Using the channel peeler, cut a spiral around the top of the fruit, trying to avoid the bitter white pith.

    TIP: At this point you can take the peel and rub it along the rim of the glass. This touch of citrus oil on the rim is particularly effective for drinks such as the martini or other less fruity cocktails. Thanks to Two Tarts for this tip.

     
    2. WRAP the strip of peel in a tight spiral around your finger or a round kitchen implement (like the handle of a spatula). Hold it for a few seconds; then place it onto your cocktail.
     

    Here are more ways to use the peel.

      

    Comments off

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Casa Noble Tequila & A Tequila-Cheese-Chocolate Tasting

    Casa Noble Blanco Crystal Tequila

    Casa Noble Reposado

    Casa Noble Tequila Carlos Santana

    Casa Noble Alta Belleza

    [1] Casa Noble Crystal Tequila: the best blanco/silver tequila we’ve ever had. [2] Add a bit of age and you get a reposado tequila. [3] The special edition named for company director Carlos Santana: Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo. [4] The top of the line, Casa Noble Alta Bellezza, is as great as tequila gets. But let us quickly say: They’re all great! (Photos courtesy Casa Noble)

     

    You’ve no doubt seen more ads or advertorials that promise “the finest tequila in the world.”

    We haven’t had a side-by-side comparison tasting of them, but we have tasted most of the , and most recently had have the most exquisite tequila tasting of our long life, with the founder and master distiller of Casa Noble Tequila, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo.

    Don’t take only my word for it: Musician Carlos Santana preferred Casa Noble to the extent that he joined the board and had a tequila aged for five years (the bottle bears his signature).

    Casa Noble has two more features that will especially interest some consumers: It’s certified organic and certified kosher (by Star-K).
     
    WHAT MAKES THE FINEST TEQUILA?

    The best agave plants from the species Agave tequilana (commonly called blue agave), aged to maturity (10-14 years) before harvesting.

    As with everything, time is money. The most time-intensive production techniques, from roasting the agave piñas (they look like pineapples) to 100% natural fermentation and triple distillation (most tequilas are only distilled twice).

    Yet, the prices are reasonable for such great spirits.

    THE EXPRESSIONS OF TEQUILA

    If you know spirits, you know there are different expressions based on age. In the case of tequila, the expressions are aged according to law:

  • Blanco Tequila (“white”), also called plata (“silver”) or crystal. Clear and transparent, the tequila is bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged no more than two months.
  • Joven Tequila (“young”) or oro (“gold”): un-aged tequila blended with rested or aged tequilas. In some lesser brands, caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract are often added in order to resemble aged tequila. Don’t buy based on color!
  • Reposado Tequila (“rested”): light yellow and translucent. The tequila is aged for at least six months but less than a year. Reposado began to emerge as a new category of tequila in the late 1980s
  • Añejo Tequila (“aged” or “vintage”): brighter yellow, aged at least one year, but less than three years.
  • Extra Añejo Tequila (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): a golden color, aged at least three years in oak.
  • Older Expressions. These specialty expressions are not age-regulated per se; they can be as old as the distiller likes and designated by age (e.g. 7 Años) or by a proprietary name. For example, the limited edition Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo (MSRP $549.99; we found it online for $499.99).
  •  
    Different distilleries can create even older expressions, in limited editions. These top-of-the-line offerings are typically housed in an exquisite bottle. While the bottle appeals to everyone, the taste is a connoisseur’s delight. They are priced accordingly (Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza—only 563 bottles available for the world—is $1,200).

    Here’s more about tequila.

    THE JOY OF CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    First, let us say that we had the privilege of tasting Alta Belleza, the first release of Casa Noble’s Colección del Fundador. It is offeredin extremely limited quantities, priced at $1,200, and for those who don’t concern themselves with price, well worth it. For a spectacular tequila gift, look no further.

    The rest of us can find joy in Casa Noble’s Crystal (the best blanco/silver we’ve ever had) and the other expressions, all of which are affordable to reasonably affordable.

     
    These are the suggested retail prices (which, of course, can vary by retailer):

  • Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, $39.99
  • Casa Noble Joven Tequila, $49.99
  • Casa Noble Reposado Tequila, $59.99
  • Casa Noble Añejo Tequila, $69.99
  • Casa Noble Single Barrel Extra Añejo Tequila, $129.99
  •  
    After having the privilege to enjoy a tasting with Pepe a few months ago, the amazing Crystal (blanco, silver) has become our gift of choice for tequila lovers. Our gift note says: “Don’t make Margaritas with this: It’s meant to be savored straight!”

    Of course, if you want to make Margaritas with it, it’s your palate and your right! The Crystal will give an extra lime lift to the fresh lime juice in the cocktail.

     

    TEQUILA, CHEESE & CHOCOLATE TASTING

    We had our second memorable Casa Noble experience last week, at Murray’s Cheese. There, Adam Goddu, a general manager at Murray’s and a Certified Cheese Professional, joined Pepe Hermosillo to escort a group of food writers through a celestial pairing of great tequilas and memorable cheeses.

    Most of us are so oriented to having cheese with wine or beer, that we don’t think of serving a cheese tasting plate with tequila. But with a glorious tequila like Casa Noble, the pairing is as natural as a Burgundy or a Barolo.

    We asked Adam Goddu to advise all of us on how to put together a pairing of cheese and tequila.

    Then we thought: Add a chocolate pairing and make a terrific party of the four food groups (alcohol, cheese, bread, chocolate).

    In general, what do you look for in a cheese/drink pairing?

    Adam: We look for some magical math: 1 + 1 = 3. You want the items to complement each other but you also want the flavor combination to evolve into something more.

    We go by three basic pairing principles: “Like with Like,” “Opposites Attract” and “What Grows Together, Goes Together.” These work for pairings with crackers, jams and honeys as well as drinks.

    Certain regional pairings (Loire Valley goat’s milk cheeses with a crisp white from that region) are a natural pairing…they’ve been made in the same area for centuries. I personally prefer the opposites approach: if you have a rich, decadent sheep’s milk or triple crème, you want a white with a strong acidic back bone (and perhaps some bubbles!).

    Why do tequila and cheese work well together?

    Adam: I think wine and beer hog the limelight when it comes to traditional cheese pairings; but tequila can be just as versatile and special with the right combination or flavors.

    It can be difficult to pair cheese with high-alcohol beverages because that booziness can overpower many elements. When you have tequila with nuance and charm like Casa Noble’s Single Barrel Añejo, the sky is the limit. A funky washed rind or fudgy, spicy blue cheese pair wonderfully.

    Talk us through some of the more specific pairings of different tequilas.

    Adam: There are general rules you can use with certain styles, but you really need to remember that no two expressions* are exactly alike. Blanco and Joven [the two youngest expressions] are quite boozy [alcoholic] and pack a punch, so you need a cheese strong enough to stand its ground. [Editor’s note: We find Casa Noble tequilas to be so finely crafted, even the youngest are not alcoholic or “hot.”]

    Higher butterfat cheeses do very well overall (sheep’s or water buffalo’s milk cheeses).

    Anejo’s oaky/vanilla notes lean toward Alpine cheeses with caramel and roasted almond flavors dancing beautifully together.

    Blanco tends to have a clarity and subtly with sweet corn and grass coming to the forefront. You don’t want a big brassy cheese to overpower the tequila in this case so sticking with a milder, “sweeter” Brie style is perfect.
     
    What’s your favorite type of tequila to pair with cheese?

    Adam: I like a challenge, so finding the perfect cheese for Joven was a lot of fun.

    As far as straight up tastiness, the barrel-aged tequilas (reposado, añejo) allow a bit more freedom. You can play around with Gruyère, a clothbound Cheddar and a mild blue (Gorgonzola, Stilton) and find that each pairing brings out a different side of the tequila.

    For our tasting of Casa Noble’s Crystal, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Single Barrel Añejo, Adam created the following pairings, served with honey, Marcona almonds, dried fruits, baguette slices and crackers.

    While the pairings were “textbook,” based on flavor profiles, we couldn’t find a mis-match. That’s what happens when all items are the best of their kind.

  • Crystal Tequila (not aged; no vegetal notes but flavors of lime zest and sweet corn) with Camembert (strong bloomy rind, full-flavored Brie style)
  • Joven Tequila (aged 6 weeks for sweet floral and tropical fruit notes) with Cornelia, a house specialty washed rind cheese with a creamy paste
  • Reposado Tequila (aged 364 days in French white oak, just one day short of a legal añejo) with Bianco Sardo, a rich, “wooly” raw sheep’s milk cheese. Tangy yet creamy, with earthy and sweet grass notes.
  • Añejo Tequila(two years in French white oak, beautifully balanced), with Annelies, an Alpine style raw cow’s milk cheese redolent of cooked caramel and nuts.
  • Extra Añejo Single Barrel (aged five years with Colton Bassett Stilton and Greensward (Jasper Hill Farm’s Harrison, washed in-house to create deeper flavors)
  •  
    CHOCOLATE & TEQUILA

    While chocolate was not part of the Murray’s event, we host chocolate pairings a few times a year (here’s what we do with wine, beer).

    Chocolate and tequila are a delicious marriage, whether the groom is young (an unaged blanco), old (a well-aged extra añejo), or any age in-between.

    Plain chocolates are the purest way to merge the flavors. We like:

  • White chocolate with blanco or joven tequila
  • Milk chocolate with joven or reposado tequila
  • Dark chocolate with reposado or añejo tequila
  •  
    What about flavored and filled chocolates?

  • Fruity flavors—fruity ganaches (our favorites: orange, raspberry), chocolate cherries, bars with dried fruit, can pair with all expressions of tequila. They pair even better according to our chocolate-and-expression guide immediately above.
  •  

    Anejo Tequila With Cheese

    Greensward Cheese

    Bianco Sardo Sheep Cheese

    Colston Basset Stilton

    Amedei White Chocolate

    Stack Of Dark Chocolate

    Mexican Chocolate Tiles

    [5] All of Casa Noble’s tequilas are delicious with cheese. Shown here: Greensward and Stilton (photo courtesy Casa Noble). [6] Greensward, We love chocolate with tequila. [6] Bianco Sardo, a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese. [7] Cossett Bassett, a beloved Stilton (cheese photos courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [8] Casa Noble’s Crystal, with its lilt of lime, is a perfect pairing with white chocolate (photo courtesy Amedei Chocolate). [9] For milk or dark chocolate, head to the aged tequilas (photo courtesy La Chocolate). [10] Aztec” chocolates with chile and other Mexican spices work well with tequila (photo courtesy Bespoke Chocolate).

  • Mint and tequila are also a classic pairing, with the bright, grassy heat of the tequila emphasizing the coolness of the mint.
  • Spices: According to the “universal law of food pairing,” wine and spirits were made to complement the local cuisine. Thus, spicy chocolates with chiles, cinnamon and other warm-to-hot spices like pepper go well tequila. Look for Aztec bars, which typically have all three.
  •  
    And get ready for a great Valentine’s Day (Or Anytime) Party!
     
    MORE PAIRINGS

  • Bubbly & Chocolate Pairings
  • Cheese & Chocolate Pairings
  • Scotch & Chocolate Pairings
  • ________________

    *An expression is a different variation (think recipe) of the distillery’s spirit. The variations can be based on age, single grain/malt vs. blend (whiskey), single barrel/cask, etc. The highest-regarded distilleries can produce limited editions expressions that are aged longer, with other features that appeal to a connoisseur’s palate.

      

    Comments off



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