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TIP OF THE DAY: The Different Types Of Rum

August 16th is National Rum Day.

Rum can be a confusing spirit for the everyday consumer. What’s silver versus white rum? What’s silver versus gold rum? Which one should you use for a rum cocktail?

It starts with distilling molasses.
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RUM

Sugar cane grew wild in parts of Southeast Asia. It was first domesticated sometime around 8,000 B.C.E., probably in New Guinea. It arrived in India, where better extraction and purifying techniques were developed to refine the cane juice into granulated crystals.

Sugar then spread quickly. By the sixth century C.E., sugar cultivation had reached Persia; and, from there to elsewhere in the Mediterranean, brought by Arab expansion and travel.

In 1425, sugar arrived in Madiera and the Canary Islands. In 1493, his second voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane seedlings. They were grown, first in Hispaniola and then on other islands. The main sugar-exporting countries in the Caribbean today are Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Guyana and Jamaica.

In the 17th century, Caribbean sugar cane planters produced sugar by crushing sugar cane, extracting and boiling the cane juice, then leaving the boiled syrup to cure in clay pots. A viscous liquid would seep out of the pots, leaving the sugar in the pot.

The seepage was molasses—and no one wanted the thick, cloying by-product. It was fed to slaves and livestock, but a monumental amount of molasses was still left over. Sugar was a great cash crop for European planters, but two pounds of sugar yielded a pound of molasses!

There were no customers or known uses for molasses, so the planters dumped it into the ocean: very sweet industrial waste.

Finally, slaves figured out a use, and a great one at that. They fermented the molasses and distilled it into alcohol, to yield what became known as rum (source).

Then, playing around with the now-valued molasses, it was discovered to be as good as sugar in baked goods, and more flavorful.
 
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF RUM

There are several types of rum, known as grades of rum, in the industry.

   

Aged Rum On The Rocks

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[1] Enjoy aged rum on the rocks. [2] Add the basic grade, known a light, silver, white and other names, to an iced coffee for Jamaican Iced Coffee (photos courtesy Appleton Estates rum).

 
The different types based on factors such as distillation technique, blending technique, alcoholic content and style preferences of the country or the individual distiller. One of the easiest differentiators to understand is aging.

Aged rums will differ based on type of barrel and length of time in the barrel. Anejo means old in Spanish; Extra-Anejo is the most aged rum you can buy.

The better rums are made with high-quality molasses, which contains a higher percentage of fermentable sugars and a lower percentage of chemicals.*

  • Light Rum or Silver Rum or White Rum or Crystal Rum. This is “entry-level rum,” offering alcohol and a little sweetness, but not much flavor. Light rums can have a very light color, or can be filtered after aging to be totally colorless. It is aged briefly or not at all. It can be filtered to remove any color, earning it the names “crystal” and “white.” Light rum is typically used for mixed drinks.
  • Gold Rum, Oro rum or Amber Rum. Medium-bodied rum, midway between light rum and dark rum, gold rum is typically aged in wooden barrels. Use it when you want more flavor than light rum provides, for example in a simple cocktail like a Daiquiri or a Mojito.
  • Dark Rum. The rums in this group are also called by their particular color: brown, black, or red rum. This category is a grade darker than gold rum, due to longer aging in heavily charred barrels. As a result, dark rum delivers stronger flavors, more richness and a full body. There are strong molasses or caramel overtones with hints of spices. Dark rum is used to provide a deep flavor in cocktails and is typically used in baking and cooking (it’s the rum used in rum cake).
  • Flavored Rum. Following the growth of the flavored vodka market, you can now find light rum flavored in apple. banana, black cherry, citrus, coconut, cranberry, grape, guava, mango, melon, passionfruit, peach, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, spiced…and on and on. They have a base of light rum, are mostly used to make cocktails, but are also enjoyable drunk neat or on the rocks.
  • Spiced Rum. Spiced rum is infused with spices—aniseed, cinnamon, pepper and rosemary, for example—and botanicals such as orange peel. The better brands use gold rum and are darker in color, but cheaper brands made from inexpensive light rum will darkened their products with caramel color.
  • Single Barrel Rum. This is the finest rum for sipping. The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels, which impart flavors. It is slowly aged again, and finally bottled.
  • Overproof Rum. For serious tipplers, these rums are much higher than the standard 40% ABV (80 proof). Many are as high as 75% ABV (150 proof) to 80% ABV (160 proof). Bacardi 151, for example, is 151 proof.
  • Premium Rum or Viejo Rum. This long-aged spirit is like Cognac and fine Scotch: meant for serious sipping (viejo means old, añejo means aged—it’s semantic). The rum can be aged 7 years of more, and is produced by artisan distillers dedicated to craftsmanship. Premium rum has far more character and flavor than “mixing rum”—it’s a different experience entirely, enjoyed for its complex layering of flavors. The 18 year old Centenario Gold from Flor de Cana is a wonderful sipping experience, but also is priced at $65 or so. You can find a nice 12-year-old in the $25 range.
  •  

    Flavored Mojitos

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    Use silver/white rum for mixed drink. [1] Mojitos—original, mango and lime—from RA Sushi in Orlando. [2] The classic rum drink: the Daiquiri (photo courtesy Tempered Spirits).

     

    WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY?

    For mixed drinks, use the basic light/silver/white rum. Here are the top rum cocktails.

    For sipping, look to aged rums. Compared to aged Scotch, they’re relatively inexpensive.

    Here are some tasting notes from Ethan Trex at:
    Here are recommended brands from Ethan Trax at MentalFloss.com. Unlike pricey aged whiskey, you can pick up some for $25 and $40.

  • Bacardi Anejo
  • Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva
  • Cruzan Estate Single Barrel
  • Don Q Gran Anejo
  • El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old (Guayana)
  • Gosling’s Old Rum
  • Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • Pyrat XO
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Year Old
  • Ron Vizcaya VXOP
  • Sugar Island Spiced Rum
  •  
    WHAT ABOUT CACHAÇA?WHAT ABOUT CACHAÇA?

    Cachaça (ka-SHA-suh) is a sugar cane distillate made in Brazil, in the style of gold or dark rum. It is the ingredient used in the popular Caipirinha (kai-puh-REEN-ya), Brazil’s national cocktail.

    Cachaça is often called “Brazilian rum,” but the Brazilians take exception to that. They consider their national drink to stand in a category of its own.

    The actual difference between rum and cachaça, which taste very similar, is that rum is typically made from molasses, a by-product after the cane juice has been boiled to extract as much sugar crystal as possible. Cachaça is made from the fresh sugar cane juice (but so are some Caribbean rums, particularly from the French islands). Both are then fermented and distilled. The style is usually like that of light rum, but some cachaça brands are in a style similar to gold rums.
     
    Cachaça has its own holiday: International Cachaça Day is June 12th.

    Here’s more about cachaça.

     
    __________________
    *The chemicals, which are used to extract sugar crystals from the sugar cane, can interfere with the actions of the yeast that fermentat the molasses into rum.

    †Black rum is so-named for its color; brown rum and red rum are dark rums described by their colors.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Alcohol & Gummy Candy

    Champagne With Gummy Worms

    Gummy Worm Mojito Cocktail

    Gummy Worm Cocktail

    [1] Champagne with gummy bears. [2] Mojito with a gummy worm garnish—although a Mezcal drink might make more sense with the worms (photos 1 and 2 courtesy Monarch Rooftop). [3] Gummies slithering in a Tequila Sunrise (photo courtesy Drinking In America.

     

    Search for “adult gummies” and you’ll turn up bottles and bottles of nutritional supplements.

    They’re not just multivitamins but biotin, fiber, fish oil, melatonin, vitamin C and more. (Caveat: Before you get too excited, check the grams of sugar on the bottle.)

    Let us introduce you instead to our kind of adult gummies: soaked in wine or spirits.

    Some background: A few months ago, a candy boutique in Los Angeles, Sugarfina, introduced rosé-infused gummy bears. Thanks to social media, they were sold out by pre-order before they even arrived from Germany; there’s a long waiting list (Monarch Rooftop says the number now exceeds 14,000).

    We had tried the Champagne Gummies, which are still available. There also are Cuba Libre Gummies, infused with rum and Coca-Cola.

    We wouldn’t have known the Sugarfina gummies were infused with Champagne, much less with Dom Perignon. (We deduced that the amount of champagne used was “just a splash.”)
     
    REAL ADULT GUMMIES

    Monarch Rooftop, a lounge with a view of the Empire State Building (71 West 35th Street, Manhattan), infuses its own gummies for a selection of creative cocktails. The current menu offers:

  • Tipsy Teddy Bears: gummy bears soaked in Champagne/Rosé.
  • Rummy Worms: gummy worms soaked in rum and paired with a Mojito.
  • Fish Out Of Water: vodka-soaked Swedish Fish laid atop a blue Jell-O shot.
  •  
    They inspired us to infuse our own gummies by soaking them in alcohol. We first tried spirits, then wine. We briefly considered a Boilermaker: beer with whiskey-infused gummies instead of the shot. Maybe for the Super Bowl?

    Whatever you want to infuse, the recipe is below.
     
    National Gummy Worms Day is July 15th, giving you plenty of time to test your own cocktail menu.

    MAKE YOUR OWN ALCOHOL-INFUSED GUMMY CANDY

    The hardest part of this is deciding which spirit and which fruit juice to use. You can halve the spirits and juice and make a split batch to see which you like better. Flavored vodka is even better.

    Beyond Gummy Bears & Worms

    So many decisions! There are gummy butterflies, Easter bunnies, fish, flower blossoms, frogs, fruits, gummy rings, lobsters, peaches, penguins, pigs, rattlesnakes, sharks, Smurfs, soda bottles and turtles.

    You can make your own adult gummy recipe book, with different shapes and flavors for different occasions. Tequila-infused gummies for your Margarita? Certainly: And get the Mexican Hat gummies.

    Check out the novelty gummies on Nuts.com.

     

    Tips

  • Look for a large size of gummies: a 1 kg tub (2.2 pounds) or bulk pricing. A five-pound bag of Haribo Gold-Bears is $12 on Amazon.com. That’s $2.40/pound. If your local store sells them in bulk for much more than that, you may wish to consider your options.
  • Don’t overlook flavored vodkas. We think they’re a better choice than plain vodka. We also loved sipping artisan gin, so made them for a small snack bowl. We ours soaked in gin; although we used everyday Tanqueray to infuse.
  • Test the amount of alcohol. You can make a split batch, or vary the amount your next batch.
  • Make them as gifts, too, with a reminder note to consume within five days.
  • These are not Jell-O shots. Don’t expect a buzz.
  •  
    RECIPE: ALCOHOL-INFUSED GUMMY CANDIES

    Plan ahead: The gummies need to infuse in alcohol for five days.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups of vodka or other spirit or wine
  • 2 pounds gummi candy
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PACK the gummies into a lidded container and cover with the spirit. The alcohol should barely cover the top of the gummies.

    2. STIR, cover with the lid and place the container in the refrigerator.

    3. STIR twice a day for five days. If you use a large enough container, you can simply shake it. When ready, drain and serve.

    That’s it!
     
    What If They’re Too Alcoholic?

    First, taste them on the third day. If they’re what you expect, drain them and enjoy. If they’re still too boozy, try them with a cocktail. The combination may provide the right counterpoint. If not…

    You can fix the batch by draining the alcohol and covering the alcohol in apple juice. Shake and taste in a few hours. They may need to juice-infuse overnight.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUMMY CANDY

    Gummi candy was first produced by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Haribo is a contraction of Hans Riegel Bonn.

    Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear, in 1922. It was succeeded in 1967 by what would become known worldwide as Gummi Bears, which would spawn an entire zoo of gummi animals.

    Gummi worms, however, were introduced by another gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981.

    Many Americans use the English spelling, gummy, instead of the German gummi.
     

     

    Gummy Bear Sangria

    Cocktail With Gummy Candy

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    [1] Wine-infused dummies with sangria. Given all the fruit, we’d serve them on the side. Here’s the recipe from TrendHunter.com. [3] A root beer float with soda bottle gummies. Add vanilla vodka along with the root beer and ice cream. Check out these alcoholic root beer float recipes on Yummly.com. [4] What to drink while watching “Shark Tank.” At the Sugar Factory in New York City, it’s called The Ocean Blue (photos 2 and 3 courtesy Sugar Factory).

    MORE WAYS TO SERVE GUMMIES

    Beyond filling candy bowls, you can:

  • Garnish the rim of soft drinks or cocktails.
  • Garnish desert plates.
  • Top cupcakes or iced cookies.
  • Use as ice cream/sorbet toppers.
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs, alternating gummies with fresh fruits.
  • Dip in chocolate and harden on wax paper or parchment, for “gourmet” gummies. For this one, it’s better to avoid the smaller gummies like bears.
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails.
  • Add to popcorn.
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries or cranberries.
  • Make the classic Dirt Cake or Dirt Pudding.
  •   

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

    Blueberry Lemon Drop Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    Lemon Drops

    [1] A Blueberry Lemon Drop vodka cocktail. [2] Fresh highbush blueberries (photos courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council). [3] Lemon Drop candies (photo LettuceTemptYou | Tumblr).

     

    The Lemon Drop cocktail is a relatively new one, invented in the 1970s at Henry Africa’s bar in San Francisco.

    It is named after old-fashioned lemon drop candy: lemon-shaped hard candies sanded (coated) with very fine sugar. No doubt, it’s why the cocktail version is often made with a sugar rim.

    A sweet-and-sour vodka-based cocktail, it combines using lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and vodka (in this recipe, lower-glycemic* agave syrup replaces the simple syrup).

    Variations such as the Blueberry Lemon Drop and the Raspberry Lemon Drop followed.

    For more complex flavor, replace the agave with ginger or lavender simple syrup.

    The drink is served straight up in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass.

     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY LEMON DROP COCKTAIL

    This recipe was contributed by Erin Rebecca of PlatingsAndPairings.com.

    Variations can be made with any muddled blueberries or puréed fruit. Blueberry and raspberry are two popular versions.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 frozen blueberries, thawed slightly
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig and fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Optional rim: superfine† sugar
  • __________________

    *A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular table sugar in the food processor.
    __________________
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional sugar rim by moistening the rim of a Martini glass and twisting it in a shallow dish of superfine* sugar.

    2. MUDDLE the blueberries and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and agave and fill the cocktail shaker with ice.

    3. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and blueberries.

     
    Find more blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE LEMON DROP

    The lemon drop was the first candy sold commercially in the U.S., in 1806. The hard candy was made in lemon and peppermint flavors by a confectioner in Salem, Massachusetts, and called the Salem Gibralter [sic].

    According to Wikipedia, modern lemon drops, like most hard candies we know today, evolved from ancient medicinal lozenges. Eighteenth century advances in sugar technology made hard sugar concoctions possible.

      

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    RECIPES: National S’mores Day Cocktail

    Combine chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka and graham cracker crumbs into a special cocktail for National S’mores Day, August 10th.

    Numerous recipes abound, but we had fun with this one, adapted from ACocktailLife.com.

    You can also use chocolate vodka and marshmallow syrup, or a cream liqueur in any combination.

    You can use a simple rim of graham crackers and a single marshmallow garnish, or go over the top.

    Serve in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass (you can use a wine glass).

    RECIPE: S’MORES COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces marshmallow vodka (Pinnacle and Smirnoff make it)
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • Ice
  • Garnish: 2 standard marshmallows
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Chocolate sauce (fudge sauce)
  • 1 crushed graham cracker
  •  
    Substitutions

  • No marshmallow vodka? Use vanilla.
  • No creme de cacao? Double the chocolate liqueur.
  • No cream? Use milk (the drink will be less rich).
  • Alternative garnishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow, pick of mini marshmallows, Mallomar
  •  
     
    Preparation

     

    Smores Cocktail

    Smores Cocktail

    [1] What’s a S’mores celebration without a S’mores cocktail? Photo and recipe courtesy ACocktailLife.com). [2] More subtle, this variation uses white chocolate liqueur (from Carrabba’s Italian Grill | Facebook).

     
    1. CREATE the rim. Crush the graham cracker into crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the chocolate sauce into a shallow microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Dip the rim of the glass into the chocolate, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside to set.

    2. COMBINE the marshmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and fresh cream to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

    3. TOAST the marshmallow garnish. Place the marshmallows at the end or in the center of a skewer. Use at the end to set the skewer into the drink, use the center to lie the skewer across the rim. Hold the skewer over an open flame to lightly toast (if your skewers are bamboo, soak them first). Add the skewer to the drink and serve.

      

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    RECIPES: Top Rum Cocktails For A Party

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    Dark & Stormy Cocktail

    Daiquiri

    [1] The Daiquiri, invented by an American engineer in Cuba (photo courtesy TemperedSpirits.com). [2] The Sidecar, made with dark rum (photo courtesy Hyatt Regency| LA). [3] Our favorite rum cocktail is the Banana Daiquiri. Here’s a recipe from CookingWithCurls.com*.

     

    August 16th is National Rum Day. This year it’s on a Tuesday, but that’s not stopping us.

    We’re having a rum cocktail party the weekend before and the weekend after, to try and compare as many rum drinks as we can.

    If you like this idea, here are the top rum cocktails (although there are scores and scores of them).

    Since rum is distilled from sugar cane (actually, the molasses left over from refining the cane juice into sugar crystals), it’s not surprising that these are sweet drinks.

    All have added sugar and many have variations (e.g. Banana Daiquiri, Pomegranate Mojito).

    All have their traditional garnishes, from lime wedges and mint sprigs to a pineapple wedge and gardenia†.

    For your consideration, here are recipes for the top rum cocktails (don’t get mad if some links make you sign into the website, to verify that you are 21 or older):

  • Bacardi Cocktail: rum, lime juice, pomegranate grenadine.
  • Bacardi Rum Punch: two rums, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice.
  • Blue Hawaii: rum, vodka, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix.
  • Coquito: super creamy with coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed and evaporated milks.
  • Cuba Libre: rum, Coca-Cola, lime (a.k.a. Rum & Coke).
  • Daiquiri: rum, lime and sugar over ice.
  • Dark ‘N’ Stormy: dark rum and ginger beer.
  • Hot Buttered Rum (Rum Toddy): dark rum, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spices, butter.
  • Hurricane: two rums, orange juice, lime juice, passion fruit syrup, grenadine.
  • Long Island Iced Tea: rum, gin, tequila, vodka, triple sec, Coca-Cola
  • Mai Tai: two types of rum, curaçao, lime juice
  • Mojito: rum, lime, mint, soda water
  • Pina Colada: rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, pineapple juice
  • Planter’s Punch: dark rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine
  • Scorpion: rum, cognac, orange juice, lemon, mint
  • Sidecar: rum, triple sec, lime juice
  • Zombie: two rums, triple sec, orange juice, lime juice, grenadine
  •  
    …not to mention the Bahama Mama, Beach Bum, Brass Monkey, Bushewacker, Flaming Volcano.
     
    We could have a party that just includes rum drinks with evocative names!

    FINAL TIP: Drink responsibly, unless you’re hosting a sleepover party.
     
    __________________
    *Our own recipe per drink: Toss in the blender 1 very ripe banana, 3 tablespoons ounces white rum, 2 tablespoons banana liqueur (it delivers a richer banana flavor), 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice.

     
    †As far as anyone can tell, the Scorpion was first served 1930s at Honolulu bar called The Hut. “Trader Vic” Bergeron (“Trader Vic”) picked up the recipe a decade or so later at his bar in Oakland, tweaked it a bunch and multiplied it by about four, and thus birthed the Scorpion Bowl, a large-format cocktail now served in Tiki bars and seedy Chinese joints around the world.The Scorpion, when served in a bowl large enough to float the flower.

     
      

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    OLYMPICS COCKTAIL RECIPE: The Caipirinha

    What’s your weekend cocktail?

    For the next three weeks, when watching the Olympics, it could be the Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. It’s made with the national’s official spirit, cachaça.

    In the U.S., cachaça is considered “Brazilian rum,” but don’t call it that in front of a Brazilian!

  • Rum is distilled from molasses, the residue that remains after the sugar crystals are extracted from the sugar cane juice.
  • Cachaça is made from fresh cane juice, the purest product of sugar cane.
  • According to Wikipedia, cachaça is the third most consumed spirit in the world, although it doesn’t appear in this analysis from The Economist.
     
    CAIPIRINHA HISTORY

    Although the exact origins of caipirinha are not known, it is said that it began around 1918 in the state of São Paulo as a tonic for the Spanish Flu: cachaca, lime, garlic and honey. It is still used as a palliative for the common cold.

    Along the line, someone replaced the honey and garlic with sugar and ice as a cocktail, and the modern caipirinha was born.

    The name caipirinha is the diminutive of the caipira, Brazilian Portuguese for a peasant. Caipirinha is a “little peasant.”

    According to CaipirinhaRecipes.com, sugarcane plantations and cachaça production were established in rural areas where land and the labor of the caipiras were cheap. The spirit they made was what people drank, and a novelty variation emerged sweeting the spirit sugar and lime.

    When the cocktail traveled to the larger port-town of Santos, it was given the name of “Caipirinha.”
     
    RECIPE: THE CLASSIC CAIPIRINHA

    The traditional drink is made in an Old Fashioned glass. Many varieties have proliferated in recent years, from expected fruit versions like berries or pineapple, and sophisticated flavor combinations like rose and pink pepper.
     

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 lime, cut into eight wedges
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces cachaça
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: lime wheel, mint sprig, sugar cane stick
  •  

    Caipirinha Cocktail

    Cacacha

    [1] The national cocktail of Brazil: the Caipirinha (photo courtesy JamieOliver.com). [2] A leading brand of cachaça, Leblon is named after the most affluent neighborhood in Rio.

     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the lime and sugar into glass; then add ice to the top of the glass.

    2. ADD the cachaça, stir, garnish and serve.
     
    MORE CACHACA RECIPES

  • Read more about the History of Cachaça
  • Try some of The Nibble’s Cachaça-Based Cocktail Recipes
  •  
    THE OLD-FASHIONED GLASS

    The Old Fashioned glass, also called lowball glass, or rocks glass, is a short tumbler used for serving an alcoholic beverage with ice cubes (“on the rocks”). It gets its name from the Old Fashioned cocktail, invented in the 1860s in New York City.

    Old Fashioned glasses are made with a wide brim and a thick base for muddling (source).

    Bottoms up!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Up Some Coolers

    Blackberry Cooler

    Peach Wine Cooler

    Watermelon Cooler Recipe

    Bottled Wine Coolers

    [1] Blackberry cooler (photo courtesy FreidaFroo.Wordpress.com). [2] A peach wine cooler (here’s the recipe from TasteOfHome.com). [3] Watermelon cooler with green tea and white wine (photo courtesy Serendipitea.com). [4] Commercial wine coolers: the lowest common denominator (photo courtesy Majestic Brands).

     

    WHAT’S A COOLER?

    Short for wine cooler, a cooler is a tall drink typically made with wine, fruit juice and soda water (you can use any glasses you have).

    It’s a less complex relative of sangria. Don’t like wine? Try the latest cooler incarnation, the beer cooler.

    Modern coolers are refreshing summer drinks that trace their ancestry to hot-weather countries in ancient times.
     
    HISTORY OF THE WINE COOLER

    Wine-based drinks have long existed in the Mediterranean, the birthplace of wine. The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production found to date has been in Georgia (c. 6000 B.C.E.), Iran (c. 5000 B.C.E.), Greece (c. 4500 B.C.E.), and Armenia (c. 4100 B.C.E.).

    The wine could be drunk straight or mixed with honey, spices or other ingredients, especially by the kitchen staff of rich households and at public drinking houses for the hoi polloi. It was a less sophisticated product than today’s wine, with no sophisticated fermentation or aging techniques. Thousands of years before stoppered glass bottles were invented, wine was stored in clay jars.

    Flash forward to the present: Wine coolers have been sold commercially since the early 1980s [Source]. Bartles & Jaymes, a brand of E & J Gallo Winery.

    The latter makes flavors dozens of flavors, including Strawberry Daiquiri, Fuzzy Navel, Margarita and Piña Colada.

    However delicious these may sound, they were formerly made with wine that Wikipedia calls “the cheapest available grade,” since most of the wine flavor in obscured by the sugar and the fruit juice. According to Lucas J. Meeker of Meeker Vineyard in Sonoma County, domestic wine coolers were largely made from a base of apple wine.

    Today, many bottled wine coolers have no wine. Because of a quadrupled excise tax levied on wine beginning in 1991, most brands replaced wine with cheaper malt. Bartles & Jaymes calls their revised product line a “flavored malt cooler.”

    The malt, according to Meeker, renders the result more like beer but still largely the same: “a largely flavorless base beverage is combined with flavor and color additions, then carbonated and bottled.”
     
    WINE COOLER RECIPE TEMPLATE

    Blend your own recipe to find create your signature wine cooler. To develop your recipe, use a shot glass to combine 1/3 each of wine, juice and sparkling water.

    Choose one from each group:

  • Wine: red, rose, white
  • Fruit juice: cherry, cranberry, grapefruit, pineapple, etc.
  • Fizzy water: club soda, mineral water, seltzer, flavored seltzer (alternatively, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, Sprite)
  • Optional sweetener: agave, honey, simple syrup, superfine sugar
  • Optional: splash of fruit liqueur (adding spirits turns the drink from cooler to cocktail)
  • Optional garnish: berries or other fresh fruit, mint or basil leaves (tip: you can use frozen fruit, which will help keep the drink cold)
  •  
    Here’s a recipe for a green tea cooler from fine tea purveyor Serendipitea:

     
    RECIPE: GREEN TEA WATERMELON COOLER

    Ingredients For 4 Tall Drinks

  • Seedless watermelon or 1.5 cups watermelon juice
  • 1.5 cups dry-yet-fruity white wine*
  • 1 cup Dragon’s Well China Green Tea (or substitute), brewed and chilled
  • Optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the watermelon and run it through a fine mesh sieve (yield about 1.5 cups juice).

    2. WARM a teapot with a little hot water, discard, place the tea leaves in the pot, allowing heat of the pot to release the bouquet of the tea leaves.

    3. HEAT water to below boiling (approximately 180°F). Steep 1 teaspoon (2.5 g/8 oz. cup) up to 3 minutes & refresh cup as desired. Vary the time according to taste with this caveat: steeping tea leaves beyond 3 minutes does not give you more flavor, only bitterness.
     
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    *Try Albariño, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muscat, Pinot Gris/PinotGrigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

      

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    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Fizzy Lemonade With Sambuca

    Each weekend we try a new cocktail recipe. Last weekend it was Fizzy Lemonade, a fresh lemonade made with club soda and sambucca. The recipe was sent to us by Molinari Sambuca Extra.
     
    ANISE-FLAVORED LIQUEURS & SPIRITS

    Sambuca (som-BOO-kah) is an anise-flavored liqueur from Italy, one of a family of anise-flavoured alcohol that also includes absinthe (Switzerland), anesone (Italy), anis (Spain), anisette (France) arak (the Levant*), kasra (Libya), mistra and ouzo (Greece), ojen (Spain), pastis (France) and raki (Turkey).

    The base of sambucca consists of essential oils extracted from the seeds from the star anise (third photo) and other spices; some brands use anise or licorice. The blend also contains elderflowers. The oils are added to pure alcohol and sweetened with sugar.

    Sambucca is served neat, on the rocks, with water, and with coffee as an after-dinner drink. When drunk after the coffee, it is known in Italy as an ammazzacaffè; added directly to coffee instead of sugar it is called a caffè corretto.
     
    Sambuca Shots

    The classic serving of sambuca in Italy is a shot topped with seven coffee beans, representing the seven hills of Rome (bottom photo).

    A shot with just one coffee bean is called con la mosca, “with the fly.” Three coffee beans represent health, happiness and prosperity for some; the Holy Trinity for others.

    The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans; the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.

    Sambucca shots are delicious year-round; but here’s a refreshing summer samba drink:
     
    RECIPE: FIZZY LEMONADE WITH SAMBUCA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 1½ ounces sambuca
  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: lemon wheel, cucumber spear
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the agave and basil in mixing glass. Add the sambuca, a scoop of crushed ice and the lemon juice. Cap and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN over crushed ice and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge and optional cucumber spear or vertical slice.

     
    WHAT IS STAR ANISE?

    Star anise (Illicium verum) is an evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China.

    The spice star anise, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit, ia also called badiam, Chinese star anise and star anise seed. Each “arm” of the star contains one seed.

    Star anise closely resembles the herb anise (native to Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia) in flavor, but they are not related botanically. However, both include the chemical compound anethole, which provides the licorice-like flavor.

    Because star anise is less expensive to produce but provides comparable flavor, it has begun to replace anise in some culinary uses, especially baking.

    Star anise is a component of Chinese Five Spice powder. The spice blend also includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper, representing all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and hot. The proportions vary by producer.

     

    Lemonade Cocktail Recipe

    Molinari Sambuca Extra

    Star Anise

    Samba With Coffee Beans

    [1] Fizzy lemonade, with a touch of sambucca (photo courtesy Molinari). [2] Molinari Sambucca Extra. [3] Star anise: The seeds in the “petals” are distilled into essential oil (photo courtesy Farmgirl Gourmet). [4] Samba is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink with coffee, or alone with a garnish of coffee beans (photo courtesy GreatItalianFoodTrade.it).

     
    Star Anise In Cooking

    It is grown commercially in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. It is used whole to sweeten soups and meat stews.

    Ground star anise is used as a spice rub; and to flavor breads, custards, pastries, puddings and strudels.

  • In the Pacific Rim, star anise is widely used in Chinese cuisine; in the preparation of biryani, garam masala and masala chai in Indian cuisine; and in Indonesian and Malay cuisines.
  • In Vietnam, it is an important ingredient in the country’s famous noodle soup, pho.
  • The French, who ruled French Indochina from 1887 to 1954, use star anise in their mulled wine (called vin chaud, hot wine).
  •  
    We use it in fruit compote, and as a cocktail garnish.

    Instead of those coffee beans, how about a sambuca shot with a star anise?
     
    __________________
    *The Levant is an English term first appearing in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Shrub, a.k.a. Drinking Vinegar

    There are shrubs for landscaping, and shrubs for drinking. The latter is an acidulated beverage: made with an acid such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice along with fruit juice, sugar and optional ingredients including herbs, spices and alcohol.

    The word is a transposition from the Arabic shurb, a cool drink.

    In the U.K. today, shrubs are popular fruity vinegar tonics. But they have not yet achieved a level of awareness in the U.S., even when called “drinking vinegar,” a modern term for the syrup that can be used to make cocktails and cocktails.

    Perhaps ten years ago, we were in the Japanese pavilion at a restaurant industry trade show and first encountered “drinking vinegar.” It was an exquisite shot for an after dinner drink: sweet and tart, complex, exciting.

    We treasured the bottles we picked up at the show, bringing them to dinners with connoisseur friends, where they were greatly appreciated. Then they were gone, and we moved on. We couldn’t find it for sale, and didn’t realize how easy it was to make it at home.

    But drinking vinegar moved on too, as vinegar-based shrub drinks began to be revived around 2011—on a limited basis at trendy bars and restaurants in the U.S., Canada and London.

    The acidity of a shrub makes it a fine digestif* or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.
     
    TYPES OF SHRUBS

    There two different types of shrubs, both acidulated mixed drinks:

  • The original shrub is a fruit liqueur mixed with rum or brandy, sugar and the juice or rinds of a citrus fruit. It evolved to syrup made of vinegar, sugar and fruit that was popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The second type of shrub, made on the other side of the pond, was a Colonial-era cocktail or soft drink made by mixing spirits with a vinegared syrup and water or carbonated† water.
  • Shrub can also refer to drinking vinegar, the vinegar-based syrup used to make the cocktail. The vinegar is often infused with fruit (or made with fruit juice), herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks or as a digestif†; and can serve as a sophisticated soft drink.
  •  
    THE MODERN SHRUB: DRINKING VINEGAR

    Shrubs date to the 17th century (see the history of shrubs below). Fresh fruits were steeped in vinegar and sugar, and infused anywhere from overnight up to several days. The fruit solids were then strained out to create a sweet-and-tart concentrate that was mixed with spirits, water or sparkling water.

    Beyond mixology, today’s cooks also add “drinking vinegar” to sauces and salad dressings. We’ve drizzled them on lemon sorbet and rice pudding.
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN SHRUBS

    You can buy artisan shrub syrups at specialty foods stores, but they tend to be pricey, like any top-quality drink mixer. You can find bottled shrub syrup in flavors like Apple, Ginger and Strawberry as well as compound flavors such as Apple Caraway, Blood Orange Cardamom, Blood Orange Ginger, Meyer Lemon Lavender, Smoked Spiced Pear, Watermelon Habanero (these compound flavors from Kansas City Canning Co.).

    But it costs very little to make your own.

    Some people use the ratio of one part fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar for shrub syrup; but these proportions should vary according to the sweetness of the fruit. If the fruit is particularly sweet, you could cut back on the sugar and increase the fruit ratio.

    Think seasonally: berries and stone fruits in the summer; apples, pears and quince in the fall; blood oranges and grapefruits in the winter; strawberries, blackberries and pineapple in the spring.

    While apple cider vinegar is traditional, go beyond it to champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar and flavored vinegar (see the different types of vinegar and how to pair vinegars and foods).
     
    TO MAKE A SHRUB, combine 1 pound chopped fruit, 2 cups sugar and 2 cups apple cider or other vinegar.

    Use the instructions below. For an apple shrub, we cut back on the sugar.

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SHRUB

    Prep time is 5 minutes plus 3-5 days infusing time.

    Ingredients For 3/4 Quart

  • 3 apples
  • 1-1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar (the best vinegar makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  •    

    Strawberry Shrub

    Fresh Pineapple

    Stone Fruits

    Boyajian Vinegars

    Watermelon Shrub

    [1] A strawberry shrub (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] We’re particularly fond of pineapple shrub (photo courtesy Del Monte). [3] In the summer, use stone fruits for your shrubs (photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farms). [4] Beyond apple cider vinegar, consider vinegars flavored with fruit, herbs and spices like these from Boyajian. [5] A bottle of watermelon-habanero shrub from Kansas City Canning Co. (photo © Laura Noll Photography).

     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the apples into very small pieces and place in a quart-size mason jar. Add the vinegar and sugar, and the herb sprigs. If there’s room at the top of the jar, add a few more splashes of vinegar.

    2. CAP the jar tightly and shake it a few times to blend in the sugar. Place the jar in the fridge for 3-5 days, shaking once or twice.

    3. TASTE the shrub after three days. If you like the intensity of flavor, strain out the fruit, first pressing the fruit with the back of the spoon to get all of the juice. Then, store the shrub in an airtight container. Otherwise, let it infuse for two more days.

    4. SERVE: Pour the shrub over ice and mix with sparkling water or make a cocktail. Or try it as a shot: We did, and really liked it.
     
    __________________
    *A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion. Digestifs are usually taken straight, and include brandy, distilled spirits, eaux de vie (fruit brandy, Schnapps), fortified wine (madeira, port, sweet vermouth), grappa and liqueur. Here’s the difference between apéritif and digestif.

    †Carbonated water was first created in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, but was not manufactured commercially until J. J. Schweppe did so in 1783.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE SHRUB

     

    Apple Shrub

    An apple shrub (photo courtesy Good Eggs). The recipe is above. Good Eggs also sells artisan shrubs in blackberry, lemon, lime, strawberry and quince. They’re pricey; hence the option to make your own.

     

    The shrub is infused (pun intended) with history.

    Originally, shrubs were developed as another way to preserve seasonal fruits for consumption throughout the year.

    The English shrub evolved from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century. As a mixture of fruit and alcohol, the shrub is related to the punch; however, punch is typically served immediately after mixing, while shrub syrup was stored as a mixer for later use.

    Shrub drinks were sold in English public houses in the 17th and 18th centuries; for the holiday season, shrub was mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry and rum. The syrup was a common ingredient in punch. However, the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.

    The Colonial American shrub derived from the English version. The vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of fruits.

    Shrubs remained popular for a longer period of time in the U.S.: through the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, shrubs fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration (ice boxes), which enabled a wealth of other cold drinks.

    Vinegar-based shrub drinks appeared again in 2011-2012. Help to continue the trend: Make some shrub syrup(s) and invite friends over for shrubs.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Rickey, Cocktail Or Cocktail

    When we were in college, we went often to the Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor in Harvard Square for a Raspberry-Lime Rickey. The coffee shop craze that began in Seattle had not yet become a destination elsewhere. Rickeys were the Frappuccinos of the day.

    To us, a Rickey was raspberry syrup mixed into club soda with a big squeeze of lime.

    We had no idea that the Rickey (originally the “Joe Rickey”) was a fizzy highball, created in 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. (the different types of fizzy water).
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE RICKEY

    The drink was named for “Colonel” Joe Rickey, a Democratic lobbyist from Missouri. Each morning, he went to Shoomaker’s for a Bourbon with Apollinaris sparkling water over lump ice (today’s cubes).

    Cocktail history was changed one day when the bartender, said to be George A. Williamson, squeezed half a lime into the glass and tossed the squeezed lime in after it. The Rickey was born.

  • It has evolved to include simple syrup and bitters. If you want the authentic experience, tell the bartender.
  • Another variation substituted ginger ale for the fizzy water; but either way, the drink was served in a tall (highball) glass with lots of ice.
  • A decade later, the Gin Rickey became a worldwide cocktail sensation. It remains a relatively popular drink today, while Joe Rickey’s Bourbon Rickey has faded into obscurity.
  •  
    Omit the spirits altogether and you have a mocktail/soft drink that you can layer with other flavors. Omit the bitters in the cocktail and trade the simple syrup for fruit syrup, and you have the Raspberry-Lime Rickey of our youth (fondly referred to as a Razz-Lime Rickey. We had to have at least one a day).
     
    MODERNIZE YOUR RICKEY

    Create your signature Rickey: the [Your Name] Rickey instead of the Joe Rickey.

    Soft Drink Variations

  • In addition to the squeeze of lime, freeze pieces of lime to substitute for all or some of the ice.
  • Use a different fruit syrup. Blueberry Rickey? Peach Rickey?
  • Instead of fruit syrup, puréed the fruit. Fresh raspberries are better than syrup; frozen raspberries are just fine (and less expensive than fresh ones). Plus, you can use less sugar, another sweetener or no sweeter at all.
  • Garnish with a pick of matching fruit (raspberries, blueberries, cubed peaches, etc.)
  • Try flavored club soda.
  • Add bitters.
  •  
    Cocktail Variations

  • Try a different spirit. Tequila Rickey? Vodka Rickey? Flavored Vodka Rickey?
  • Play around with some of the modern flavored bitters: cardamom, grapefruit, lavender, orange, etc.
  •  
    RECIPE: THE RAZZ-LIME RICKEY: COCKTAIL

    We turned our college favorite, the Razz-Lime Rickey soft drink, into a cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 to3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries (or a store-bought raspberry syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (omit if using raspberry syrup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries and/or a lime wheel or wedge
  •  

    Raspberry Lime Rickey

    Lime Rickey Recipe

    Blueberry Rickey

    Original Rickey

    [1] A Gin Rickey from from Elegant Affairs. [2] A Raspberry Lime Rickey soft drink rom CooksCountry.com. [3] A Blueberry Rickey with a blueberry cocktail pick (photo courtesy Essence Designs). [4] The original Rickey, made with bourbon (the mint must be left over from a Mint Julep (photo via Tumblr).

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the raspberry-lime syrup: Place the raspberries in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top and add the lime juice. Mash with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

    2. FILL a glass with ice and add the syrup add the sparkling water. Stir, add the vodka and stir again.

    3. TOP OFF with sparkling water. Garnish and serve

    You can make four drinks at a time with these proportions. In a pitcher combine as above:

  • 1-1/3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 cup raspberry vodka
  •  
    Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again before pouring into ice-filled glasses.
     
    __________________
    *The Brigham’s chain of ice cream parlors is defunct (along with its competitor, Bailey’s). The company closed most of its locations in 2008 and sold the rights to its ice cream brand to HP Hood. The chain declared bankruptcy in 2009, but Hood still produced quarts under the Brigham’s name, sold in supermarkets in New England.

      

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