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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

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.
     
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    *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.
     
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    *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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Frosé, A Rosé Cocktail

    We were delighted with this summer refreshment idea from Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse.

    The Frosé combines Davio’s house-made sorbet with rosé wine.

    It’s a refreshing winetail, a mixed drink made with wine instead of spirits (also see beertail.)

    You can turn a Frosé into dessert by adding more fruit and less wine. You also can mix different flavors of sorbet.

    Don’t use a bone-dry rosé, but have the wine store clerk guide you to something with a hint of sweetness*. It will go better with the sorbet and fruit. We used a sparkling rosé and loved it.

    Use whatever glassware you have on hand, from tumblers to wine goblets.
     
    RECIPE: DAVIO’S FROSÉ

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Sorbet flavor of choice
  • 6 ounces rosé or sparkling rosé, chilled
  • Fresh fruit of choice, preferably chilled
  • Optional garnish: rosemary sprig, mint sprig, citrus slice, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCOOP the sorbet into a glass, add the fruit and then top with the rosé.

    2. GARNISH and serve with a spoon and a straw.
     
    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

    Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.

    Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes.

    The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins. Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet.

     

    Rose Cocktail

    Sorbet Cocktail Recipe

    [1] For a drink, add the sorbet and fruit to the glass and top with rosé. Photo courtesy Peabody Johansen, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody. [2] For dessert, use more fruit and less rosé.

     
    Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California. Note that rosé wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old.

    The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
     
    WHAT IS TERROIR?

    The same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors; for example, depending on where it is grown, Sauvignon Blanc can have grassy or grapefruit notes—or neither.

    Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH, is a French agricultural term referring to the unique set of environmental factors in a specific habitat that affect a crop’s qualities. It includes climate, elevation, proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of sun.

    These environmental characteristics gives the wine its character. Terroir is the basis of the French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system.
     
    ALSO SEE WINESHAKES: WINE MILKSHAKES
     
    __________________
    *We first made the drink with a sparkling rosé that was as sweet as a soft drink or sweet iced tea. It was too sweet for us.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Fish Bowl Or Shark Tank Punch

    Fish Bowl Punch

    Gummy Sharks

    [1] Sip the punch, eat the fish (photo and recipe courtesy CocktailsDetails.com). [2] Prefer to swim with the sharks? Use shark gummies instead. Or make a statement by using four fish and one shark (photo courtesy Amazon.com).

     

    Last summer we presented Pool Party Punch, a cocktail as blue as a swimming pool.

    This year, it’s Fishbowl Punch from CocktailDetails.com, with our own variation, Shark Tank Punch.

    You can also make a non-alcoholic punch (recipe below).
     
    RECIPE: FISHBOWL PUNCH OR SHARK TANK PUNCH

    Ingredients For 64 Ounces (1/2 Gallon*)

  • 5 ounces vodka
  • 5 ounces Malibu rum
  • 3 ounces blue Curaçao
  • 6 ounces sweet-and-sour mix (make your own)
  • 16 ounces pineapple juice
  • Half-gallon goldfish bowl
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Nerds candy or other gravel-like candy
  • Optional: fish tank plant
  • Ice cubes†
  • 16 ounces Sprite
  • 4 Swedish Fish or Gummy Sharks
  • Garnish for the bowl: lime slices
  • Garnish for each glass: a fish or a shark
  •  
    __________________
    *1/2 gallon= 64 ounces = eight 8-ounce servings = ten 6-ounce servings = or sixteen 4-ounce servings. Serving size includes ice.

    †Use large ice cubes, if possible. The larger the ice, the slower it melts, the less dilution of the drink.

    Preparation

    1. COMINE the first five ingredients in a pitcher and stir to blend. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve…

    2. SPRINKLE the Nerds on the bottom of the fish bowl to create “gravel,” and anchor the optional fish tank plant.

    3. ADD ice to the bowl; then add the the chilled punch and the candy fish/sharks. Top off with lime slices.

    4. LADLE the punch into glasses and garnish with a fish. Alternatively, you can provide the ladle and glasses for self-service.
     
    NON-ALCOHOLIC VERSION

    Ingredients

  • 1 package Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 12 ounces bottled Piña Colada mix (no alcohol)
  • 1 two-liter bottle of Sprite or other lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • Garnishes per above
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the Kool-Aid powder and sugar in a large pitcher. Add half the water and whisk thoroughly to dissolve, making sure that the powder and sugar dissolve.

    2. ADD the remaining water and the Piña Colada mix. Stir and chill for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve…

    3. CONTINUE with Step 2 in the alcoholic version.

    4. ADD Sprite to fill the pitcher, stir gently and serve.
     
    PLANNING A WEDDING OR OTHER SPECIAL EVENT?

    Take a look at CocktailsDetails.com.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Piña Colada Jell-O Shots

    Jell-O Shots

    Pina Colada

    [1] You can make Piña Colada shots with rum, or with add more pineapple juice for a cocktail (photo courtesy BreadBoozeBacon.com). [2] The inspiration: a Piña Colada (photo courtesy Tommy Bahama).

     

    July 10th is National Piña Colada Day, which reminded us that we’d saved a recipe for Piña Colada Jell-O Shots.

    So today’s tip is: Return to youthful fun with Jell-O Shots. You can find recipes online for everything from Margarita to Whiskey Sour Jell-O Shots.

    We first tried another recipe but preferred this one from by Julie Kotzbach of BreadBoozeBacon.com. We also like that she made them in a pan and sliced them, instead of using paper or plastic cups.

    Note #1: Look at the pans or baking dishes you have. Julie used a 6×9″ pan. We used the 8″ square Pyrex baking dish we have.

    Note #2: While most shot recipes use Jell-O (hence the term Jell-O shots), there is none in this recipe. Unflavored gelatin is used instead.
     
    RECIPE: PIÑA COLADA JELL-O SHOTS

    Ingredients For 15 Shots

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cream of coconut (Coco Lopez, Coco Reàl*, etc.)
  • ¼ cup white rum or coconut rum (the different types of rum—substitute pineapple juice for a no-alcohol recipe)
  • 15 maraschino cherries, rinsed and dried (we used Tillen Farms’ with stems and just patted them dry)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the maraschino cherries: Pat dry, first rinsing as needed. Set aside on a paper towel.

    2. SPRINKLE the gelatin over the cold water in a small mixing bowl. Let the powder to soak in for 2 minutes.

    3. POUR the boiling water into the bowl and whisk constantly until the gelatin is dissolved. Then add the sugar, and whisk until dissolved.

    4. ADD the pineapple juice, cream of coconut and rum. Whisk to combine. Pour into a small baking pan (you can also use paper or plastic cups or mini jello molds).

    5. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour until the gelatin has thickened. Place the cherries evenly in 3 lines across the top. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 more hours or overnight.

     
    6. PLATE: Dip the bottom of the pan into warm water for 10 to 15 seconds. Run a sharp knife through the gelatin, parallel to the cherry lines, creating 3 strips. Cut each strip into squares. Use a small offset spatula to lift from the pan onto a serving dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
     
    CUTTING DOWN ON THE SUGAR

  • Coco Reàl makes a version of its cream of coconut using low-glycemic agave instead of sugar.
  • Smirnoff makes a light pineapple-coconut vodka. Drink it straight or mix it with a splash of coconut water or milk. It’s not a Jell-O Shot, but it is lower in calories. You also can experiment with your own “light” shot recipe.
  •  
    WHO INVENTED THE JELL-O SHOT?

    The American singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer wrote about Jell-O shots in the 1950s, making them as a way to consume alcohol undetected on the Army base where he was stationed (no alcohol allowed).

    Jell-O shots seem like a modern concept, but Jell-O itself (flavored, sweetened gelatin) was invented in 1897. Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make desserts—a laborious undertaking.

    In 1862, the first modern cocktail recipe book was published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide.

    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.” That sounds so much more charming than “falling-down drunk.”
     
    DON’T WANT TO MAKE JELL-O SHOTS?

    How about a Piña Colada dessert pizza?

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Mocktails

    In the heat* of the summer, not every cocktail fan wants alcohol; and not everyone drinks alcohol, preferring a cocktail.

    So mixologists created the most tempting mocktails we’ve seen: just like a creative cocktails served at hot spots.

    By layering complex flavors, you’ll never know the alcohol is missing. We’ve included two recipes below, created by Richard Woos for SushiSamba New York. You may utter words like “Where am I supposed to get these ingredients?”

    But use them as a guideline. Mixologists have many more ingredients to play with than we do. You can substitute, or be inspired to create something entirely different with coconut water, fruit juices, sweet herbs, etc. Think of the flavors you like and mix away!

    For those who want a bit of kick, add a shot of sochu (shochu), half the proof of vodka.

    These cocktails were created by Richard Woods for SUSHISAMBA NYC, so they have an Asian twist.
     
    RECIPE #1: SUU IZURU COCKRAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce aloe water/juice**
  • 1.5 ounces lychee juice
  • .5 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple and tarragon simple syrup†
  • 3-4 organic rose petals (no pesticide!)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: dehydrated pineapple ring, large mint sprig, organic rose bud
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and swizzle through crushed ice. Then swizzle in the rose petals.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     

    Summer Mocktail

    Summer Mocktail

    [1] Aloe, lychee and yuzu are a glorious combination. [2] Yuzu and elderflower liqueur with a shiso garnish.

     
    RECIPE #2: YUSHI FIZZ

    This drink is a combination of two of our favorite flavors, yuzu and lychee, with a shiso garnish (thus the name, yu + shi). The elderflower liquer tastes very much like lychee liqueur (but better).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1.5 ounces shiso sugar syrup
  • 1 bar spoon†† elderflower cordial (Saint-Germain is heavenly, and also great with Champagne)
  • 2 ounces soda water (club soda)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnishes: shisho leaf (substitute basil) or lychees on a pick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SHAKE the first three ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the soda water and roll the shaker to blend.

    2. DOUBLE strain, garnish and serve.
     
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    *Drinking alcohol makes you feel warmer as your blood alcohol level rises, but it does not actually raise your body temperature.

    **Aloe water is a great base for cocktails and cocktails—or for drinking straight. It’s also available in flavors, from the three major melons to strawberry and pineapple. NOTE: If you don’t like orange juice with pulp, you won’t like aloe water: It has pieces of aloe pulp.

    †Heres’s how to make simple syrup. You can infuse whatever you like in it. You can also purchase simple syrup. Sonoma Syrup Co. makes a multitude of flavors, from from ginger to lavender.

    ††A bar spoon is equivalent to a teaspoon, but has a much longer handle so it can mix ingredients in tall glasses. It’s typically stainless steel and the handle is twisted in a decorative way. Here’s a bar spoon photo.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Saké Sangria

    Sake Sangria

    Organic Sake

    Shochu

    [1] Saké, shochu and lychee liqueur combine with fruit to create Saké Sangria from Kabuki restaurants (photo courtesy Flavor & The Menu). [2] Organic saké from SakéOne. [3] Sochu from an article on the best sochu brands from Gear Patrol.

     

    On weekends, we try the cocktail recipes we publish. It’s tough work, but someone has to do it.

    Last weekend’s cocktail was an amped up version of a saké-based sangria from Kabuki restaurant. Saké, Japanese rice wine, is substituted for the red or white wine in a Spanish-style sangria (here’s the history of sangria).

    But that’s not all: This recipe adds sochu, a distilled spirit like vodka, but with a much lower proof.

    We’ve never been to a Kabuki restaurant. They’re located in Southern California, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

    But after we perused the innovative sushi on their Facebook Page, we put it on our “must go” [when in the area] list.

    Until then, we adapted a sangria recipe from Kabuki’s Master Saké Sommelier, Yuji Matsumoto.

    Matsumoto’s Saké Sangria is a long-time favorite at the restaurant. It started as a limited-time-only drink, but was such a hit that it became a mainstay on the menu.
     
    WHAT IS SAKÉ SANGRIA?

    Made with seasonal fruits, saké, shochu and lychee liqueur, the drink is light and refreshing—just right for summer.

    If you don’t want to buy sochu, use the vodka you have—especially a fruit-flavored or vanilla vodka.

    Kabuki Signature Saké Sangria (fresh fruits, sake, shochu, grapefruit & cranberry juice)

    RECIPE: KABUKI-STYLE SAKÉ SANGRIA

    This recipe is an approximation: We didn’t get the recipe from Kabuki.

    However, sangria recipes are very versatile: You can use different ingredients in different proportions.

    Want pineapple or cantaloupe? Toss it in!

    Want more juiciness? Add cranberry, grapefruit, pomegranate or whatever juice you favor.

    No lychee liqueur or elderflower liqueur like Saint-Germain (which tastes much more lychee-like than the SOHO Lychee Liqueur we tried)? Use Grand Marnier.

    Other additions/substitutions: plum wine, hibiscus syrup, starfruit, fresh lychees in season, and so on.

    Since it’s summer, we used summer fruits. In the fall and winter, we’ll switch to apples, pears and blood oranges.

    Prep time 5 minutes, infusion is 8 hours or longer. Kabuki infuses the fruits for 72 hours!

    Ingredients For 5 Cocktails

  • 1 plum, pitted and sliced
  • 1 nectarine, pitted and sliced
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 bottle 750 milliliters Japanese saké
  • 1/4 cup sochu
  • 1/4 cup lychee liqueur
  • Optional: Ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: starfruit slice, orange slice, fresh blueberries, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1.ADD the fruit to a pitcher and top it with the liqueur, saké and shochu. Gently stir, cover and allow the fruit to marinate for 8 hours or longer. (At Kabuki the sangria is infused for 72 hours!)

    2. TASTE and adjust the sochu and liqueur as desired.

    3. GARNISH as desired and serve in a red wine glass.

    WHAT IS SOCHU?

    Sochu, also spelled shochu, is a neutral grain spirt like vodka. But at half the proof of vodka, it’s a great solution to keep a crowd sober, longer.

    Shochu has a 24% alcohol content (double the alcohol content to get the proof), compared to vodka at 40% and saké at 15%.

    If you use vodka often, we highly recommend trying it. Here’s more about sochu.

     
    WHAT IS KABUKI?

    Kabuki is a form of traditional Japanese theater that originated during the 17th century, during Japan’s the Edo Period.

    Theater troupes dressed in extravagant costumes and supernatural makeup, and acted stories of love, moral conflicts and historical events.
     
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    *Thanks to Kabuki and Flavor & The Menu for the inspiration.

      

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    JULY 4TH DRINK: Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade & Hard Lemonade

    For cookouts and picnics, our family never had everyday soft drinks. For these special occasions, the beverage menu included lemonade, iced tea and Mom’s favorite fruit punch (recipe: equal parts of grape juice, lemonade and orange juice, all from frozen concentrate).

    For July 4th, we switched to a “patriotic” lemonade: red, white and blue. The ingredients: pink lemonade tinted darker with some food color, white ice cubes and blueberries inside the ice cubes.

    Beyond red food color, there are different ways to tint the lemonade a deep rose:

  • Add some red juice: blood orange, cherry, currant, cranberry, grape, pomegranate or watermelon juice.
  • Hibiscus tea (buy the tea and brew it).
  • Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger, Raspberry Zinger or Watermelon-Lime Zinger tea, all of which are blends that contain hibiscus.
  •  
    The herbal teas are delicious iced, so instead of lemonade, you can make patriotic—and caffeine-free—iced tea!

    For adults, keep bottles of gin, lemon liqueur, tequila or vodka (especially lemon-flavored vodka) next to the pitcher with a shot glass and a mixing spoon, and allow the grown-ups to add what they like.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLUEBERRY ICE CUBES

    First, make the white and blue ice cubes. You may need to start making batches a couple of days in advance, depending on how many ice cube trays you have and how many guests you expect.

    This recipe makes enough cubes for a quart of lemonade, assuming 3 cubes per glass.

    Ingredients For 12 Ice Cubes (One Tray)

  • 36 fresh blueberries (about 1/4 cup)
  • Water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 3 berries in each of 12 ice cube compartments.

    2. FILL with water and freeze. Remove the frozen cubes to a freezer storage bag to use the tray for another batch.
     
    RECIPE #2: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY LEMONADE

    While you can purchase pink lemonade in a large format, frozen concentrate is less expensive—and lighter to carry! If you want sugar-free lemonade, you can use Crystal Light (we prefer the taste of their regular lemonade to the pink lemonade; or squeeze fresh lemonade and add your sweetener of choice.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart (Four 1-Cup Servings)

  • 1 can pink lemonade concentrate (frozen)
  • Red color of choice (see list above)
  • 1¼ cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • Blueberry ice cubes (recipe below)
  • Optional: gin, limoncello, orange liqueur, tequila, vodka
  • Optional: straws (you can find them in white with red and/or blue stripes)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD water to the lemonade concentrate per package instructions. Then add the coloring agent to get the desired shade. Note that excepting food color, the more juice you add, the less the drink will taste like classic lemonade. But there’s nothing wrong with that! ss measuring cup or other container. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.

    2. STIR until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. If the red color isn’t strong enough for you, add a drop of food color or some juice to create your preferred shade. Chill.

    3. FILL tall glasses with the blueberry ice cubes. Add the lemonade and optional spirits.
     
     
    MORE JULY 4TH LEMONADE RECIPES

  • Spicy Hot Lemonade Recipe
  • Homemade Lemonade With Red & Blue Berries
  • Regular Lemonade With A Blueberry & Raspberry Cocktail Pick
  •  

    red-white-blueberry-lemonade-blueberrycouncil-230

    Hibiscus Iced Tea

    Pint Of Fresh Blueberries

    Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Concentrate

    [1] Red, white and blue lemonade (photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org). [2] We added some hibiscus iced tea to make the frozen pink lemonade in the top photo a deeper rose color (photo of hibiscus tea courtesy Republic Of Tea). [3] A pint of blueberries for the ice cubes (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Pink lemonade concentrate (photo courtesy Minute Maid).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gazpacho Shooters

    Gazpacho Shooters

    Gazpacho Shooters

    [1] A gazpacho shot at Fabrick | NYC. [2] A blender gazpacho from OuiChefNetwork.com. Here’s their recipe for their beautiful, orange-hued gazpacho.

     

    As the party is getting started, serve guests a gazpacho shot. Gazpacho, a chilled vegetable soup, is so refreshing on a warm day. Why National Gazpacho Day is December 6th, we have no idea.

    You can add a tablespoon of gin, tequila or vodka to each shot; or serve mocktails. A bonus: Even a small amount of gazpacho can add another portion of veggies to your daily intake.

    You can serve the shooter in a shot glass (you can buy decent ones in hard plastic) or four-ounce juice glasses. Or, ditch the concept of shooters and serve as a full-blown drink, in whatever type of glass you like.

    And, you can make them just for the family, with brunch or before dinner.

    Just make your favorite gazpacho recipe (we have some recipes below). You can simply toss the ingredients into a blender. If you don’t like to cook, your food market may sell gazpacho along with the other fresh soups.
    Or, you can make the Gazpachito recipe below, a cross between a Bloody Mary and a Tequila & Lime shot.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLENDER TOMATO GAZPACHO

    This is our lower calorie version, omitting the bread and the olive oil of a conventional recipe. It also works better for a cocktail.

    Simply layer the ingredients in a blender:. You can vary the vegetable proportions to bring out the flavors you like best.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1-2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 red onion or green onions (scallions) to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Choice of white spirit
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the vegetables and seasonings in a blender and blend to your desired consistency.

    2. TASTE and adjust the proportions and seasoning to taste.

    3. PLACE the blender in the fridge to chill and allow the flavors to meld. Re-taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

    4. SPLIT the batch. Add the alcohol to one portion, leaving a portion alcohol-free. If you know that all the guests will want alcohol, add spirit to the entire batch.

     

    RECIPE #2: GAZPACHITO SHOT

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce blanco (silver) tequila
  • 1-1/2 ounces tomato juice
  • 1/2 ounce sherry
  • Garnish: 2 slices of green or red jalapeño
  • Garnish: cucumber spear for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SHAKE the ingredients with ice in a shaker and strain into a chilled shot glass. Garnish with one or two cucumber spears.

    2. SLAM the shot and then eat the garnish.
     
    GARNISH OPTIONS

  • Avocado slice.
  • Baby beets or diced whole beets.
  • Celery or fennel stick of celery, broccoli or cauliflower floret.
  • Cheese cube.
  • Cucumber slice.
  • Cooked shrimp or a raw sea scallop, notched onto the rim of the glass.
  • Greek yogurt, plain or herbed (mix in finely chopped fresh herbs); crème fraîche or sour cream.
  • Small boiled parsley potato.
  •  
    You can serve the shooters with a tray of crostini as crunchy counterpoint.
     
    MORE GAZPACHO OPTIONS

  • Don’t like tomatoes? Make gazpacho verde, green gazpacho. There’s also the history of gazpacho.
  • Don’t like tomatoes, onion and bell peppers? Make white gazpacho, which is the original gazpacho recipe. Tomatoes came later.
  • Something Snazzy: Try yellow gazpacho, made from yellow bell peppers.
  • Beer Gazpacho: This recipe, with added beer and salsa, is from Chef Rick Bayless.
  • BLT Gazpacho: Make this recipe, or simply add a slice of crisp bacon and some baby arugula to garnish your favorite tomato gazpacho recipe.
  • Fruit Gazpacho: Try Mango Gazpacho or Pineapple Gazpacho. Both are savory recipes with sweet fruit accents.
  • Chocolate Gazpacho: The recipe is also savory, like mole sauce.
  •  

    Gapachito Shot

    Classic Tomato Gazpacho

    [1] A Gazpachito (photo courtesy Skyy Spirits). [2] A bowl of tomato-based gazpacho (photo courtesy AddSomeLife.com).

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: SunGold Kiwi From Zespri

    You may think of kiwifruit as green, but in the wild they are found in red and yellow as well.

    In the late 1970s, New Zealand kiwifruit growers began experimenting with the breeding of a golden kiwifruit (in the U.S., we call it “kiwi” for short).

    In 1992, Zespri—the world leader in premium quality kiwifruit—selected one offspring plant from the breeding stock to create the the golden-fleshed berry* now known as Zespri© SunGold© Kiwifruit. It is available at supermarkets nationwide from May through October.

    SunGold is sweeter than a green kiwi, and tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry with just a hint of tanginess. We adore it.

    NOTE that SunGold is a proprietary strain from Zespri. You may find other golden kiwifruit; we can’t vouch for it. Look for the Zespri label.
     
    ENJOY KIWI ANYTIME

    Like regular kiwi, SunGold offers healthy ammounts of vitamins C and E, potassium. Its sunny yellow sweetness boosts the nutrition and color on the plate.

    You can simply scoop it and eat it with a spoon, or peel it for just about any fruit recipe. A few examples:

  • Breakfast: with cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt, smoothies
  • Lunch: green salad, garnish for egg, chicken or tuna salad, salsa, sliced on sandwiches (especially ham or turkey)
  • Dinner: cocktails and mocktails, fruit soup, garnishes, sides
  • Dessert: compote, fruit salad, garnishes, ice cream and sorbet, pies and tarts, pudding
  •  
    HOW TO RIPEN KIWIFRUIT

    Golden kiwi is usually ready to eat when you buy it. It should feel slightly soft to the touch, like a ripe peach. Once ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator (the same for green kiwi).

    Green kiwi may be a bit firm when you buy it, and will usually ripen at in three to five days at room temperature. The firmer the fruit, the more tart it will taste.

       

    Sungold Kiwi

    SunGold Kiiwi

    [1] SunGold kiwifruit have a smooth skin, not fuzzy like green kiwi. [2] All you need is a spoon (photos courtesy Zespri).

     
    To speed up the ripening process, place kiwis (or any fruit) in a closed paper bag on the counter along with an apple or banana. Fruits like apples and bananas produce natural ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening.

    By the same token, any ripe fruit should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits—never in the same produce drawer. If you want to store the fruit for longer than a few days, keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
     
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    *Yes, kiwi is a very large berry. It grows on a vine.

     

    Kiwi Cocktail

    Baked Brie With Kiwi

    [1] Kiwi-banana cocktail. [2] Baked Brie with kiwi compote (photos courtesy Zespri).

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: KIWI-BANANA—TINI

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and chopped
  • 1 ounce banana rum
  • 1 ounce Bärenjäger or other honey liqueur‡
  • 1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/2 ounce Licor 43 or other vanilla liqueur**
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: a kiwi wheel, lime wheel or other garnish of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the kiwi and rum in a shaker. Add the Bärenjäger and shake with ice. Strain into a Martini glass.

    2. PLACE the cream and Liquor 43 in a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds until frothy.

    3. PLACE a teaspoon (flatware) against the inside edge of a Martini glass, with the well facing the glass. Slowly pour the cream mixture over back of spoon onto the kiwi mixture, creating a layered effect. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
     
    _____________________
    †A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.

    ‡You can substitute another honey liqueur and can also easily make your own honey liqueur.

    **Licor 43 is made from citrus and other fruit juices, flavored with vanilla, herbs and spices. You can substitute another vanilla liqueur or a citrus liqueur.

     
    RECIPE #2: BAKED BRIE WITH SPICY KIWI COMPOTE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

  • 1 Brie cheese round, about 13 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper jelly (or other pepper jelly)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Zespri green kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • Assorted crackers or baguette slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350F. Unwrap the Brie; trim and discard the top rind. Place the Brie in a baking dish or pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until the Brie is softened and beginning to melt. Meanwhile…

    2. STIR together in a microwavable bowl the jelly, mustard and pepper. Fold in the kiwi and microwave on high power for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through heating, until hot.

    3. TRANSFER the Brie to a serving plate. Top with the kiwi compote and serve with crackers or breads.
     
     
    VISIT ZESPRIKIWI.COM FOR MANY MORE RECIPES

      

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