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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

FOOD 101: What’s A Kir? What’s A Margarita?

It’s a teaching moment: When is a Kir not a Kir? Or a Margarita not a Margarita? Or a Martini not a Martini?

Every drink made with vodka is not a Martini, every drink made with Tequila is not a Margarita. Yet, each week we are sent a mis-named recipe that only serves to misinform.

Capricious cooks and mixologists, professionals and amateurs alike, give names to their recipes through ignorance or selfishness; for example, “We need a cocktail for St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s call this drink an Irish Kir.”

An omelet is not a frittata. Both are beaten eggs with mix-ins. But for an omelet, the egg is cooked and then folded over the filling, while a frittata blends the mix-ins with the egg and cooks it like a crustless quiche, on the stove top or in the oven.

Since much of our mission is education that you can imagine the consternation this causes.

Here’s that “Irish Kir” story. Why didn’t we publish it around St. Patrick’s Day? We wanted to take a moment to note that regular or “royale,” it’s a delightful summer drink.

So, let’s start at the beginning:

   

Kir_cocktail-wiki-230

A Kir is a combination of blackcurrant liqueur and white wine or sparkling white wine. The color is red. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

 
WHAT’S A KIR?

Kir is a drink that was created by a major of Dijon, in France’s Burgundy region. For an apéritif, Félix Kir (1876-1968) added a splash of cassis (blackcurrant liqueur, a specialty of Burgundy) to Aligote, a local white wine.

The “Kir,” as it was known, became very popular and led to eight different variations, the best known of which, the Kir Royale, substitutes Champagne for the still wine.

 

green-sparkling-volcano-cocktail-blog.relishinteriors-230s

Champagne and apple schnapps can be
called lots of things, but not a Kir Royale.
Photo courtesy RelishInteriors.com.

 

THE PROBLEM

We received a pitch from Benjamin Steakhouse Westchester for a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail called the “Shamrock Kir,” made of Champagne and Apple Pucker. Huh?

It’s a recipe for a Champagne cocktail, but has nothing to do with Kir, the distinguishing feature of which is blackcurrant liqueur.

Not to mention, a kir made with Champagne is a Kir Royale—so mis-name your cocktail an Irish Kir Royale, at least! Would any responsible person argue the facts otherwise?

Said the email:

“Add ½ oz of Apple Pucker or other apple schnapps to a Champagne flute and top of with Champagne or another sparkling wine. Those of you going to Benjamin Steakhouse Westchester and ordering the drink should be sure you’re getting authentic Champagne and not a less expensive sparkling wine.”

Those of you going to Benjamin Steakhouse Westchester should ask why they call this drink a Kir of any kind, instead of a “Sparkling Shamrock,” for example.

The teaching moment:

 

The publicist who sent this pitch, her client, and all supervisors involved, clearly don’t fully grasp what they’re writing about. Would they call a yellow cake with chocolate frosting a chocolate cake?

Ignorance isn’t bliss: It’s aggravating! To all those involved: You have the Internet at your fingertips. There’s no excuse not to do your research.

  

Comments

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Whiskey-Infused Chocolate Truffles

If Dad loves chocolate and spirits, this may be the ideal Father’s Day gift!

The Oregon Distiller’s Collection from Moonstruck Chocolate is nine-piece collection of truffles infused with spirits from five of Oregon’s finest craft distillers.

The spirits are infused into chocolate ganache and hand-piped into hand-painted chocolate shells. The collection is a parade of deliciousness:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle: A ganache of ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the spirit. A blend of five different sweet and hot chiles creates a balance of flavor and spice; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Distillery Pacific Rum and Cola Truffle: A blend of dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with the rum and cola-flavored spirit to mimic the classic cocktail; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle: A dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with this popular whiskey, creating sweet and smoky notes with a hint of fruit and butterscotch; in a dark chocolate shell.
  •    

    craft-distillers-230

    A gift box of spirits-infused truffles. Photo courtesy Moonstruck Chocolate.

     

  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle: The spirit is blended into a ganache of ivory and dark chocolate, featuring notes of grass, apple and spice; in dark chocolate shell.
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle: A blended milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the pear brandy; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  •  

    moonstruck_craft_distillers-goodstuffnw-230r

    Each individual flavor can be purchased
    separately, too. Photo courtesy
    GoodstuffNW.com.

     
  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle: The aquavit is blended into an ivory and dark chocolate ganache, creating a warm blend of chocolate, star anise and caraway flavors; in a milk chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle: The strong, freshly-brewed coffee flavor of the liqueur infuses a blend of milk and dark chocolate ganache; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle: This milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the gin, delivering a bouquet of botanical flavors, with top notes of citrus, anise, cardamom and lavender; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle: A blended ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the whiskey, creating delicately sweet notes, a rich malt complexity and a warm peppery finish; in a milk chocolate shell.
  •  
    Who could resist? The nine-piece sampler is $20.00. The flavors can be purchased individually in boxes of 20 pieces for $50.00.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHISKEY & WHISKY

    Check out the different types of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.
      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY: Pairing Food With Single Malt Scotch

    Ready for an evening of fine food and Scotch? On Thursday, May 29, Empire Steak House in New York City will show why single-malt Scotch pairs well with every course. A five-course classic steakhouse menu will be paired with leading single-malt Scotches, in a tasting led by Master of Whisky* Spike McClure; $150 includes five courses, five single malt scotches and a hand-rolled cigar.

    You may not be able to attend the event, but you can create something similar at home. How about for Father’s Day? Empire Steak has shared their menu and Scotch pairings with us. We’ve included pairing notes notes from Spike McClure, plus tasting notes on the single malts courtesy of Master Of Malt.com.

    Each region of Scotland produces different flavors, and each distillery within a reason likewise. As with any wine varietal, different bottlings have flavors that pair better with particular foods. McClure’s top five favorite pairings for steakhouse cuisine and single malts:

  • Talisker 10: with fresh clams, fresh oysters, chorizo sausage, barbecue
  • Oban 14: with white fish, chicken, Swiss cheese
  • Cragganmore 12: with duck, mushroom risotto, Gouda cheese
  • Glenkinchie 12: with Parmesan cheese, asparagus, bitter greens, chicken
  • Dalwhinnie 15: with chocolate, cake, pudding, ice cream
  •    

    dark-rum-rocks-liquor.com-230

    From the first course to the last, the right single malt replaces wine at dinner Photo courtesy Liquor.com.

     
    *Master of Whisky is not an official industry certification, but a term given to global brand ambassadors by Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits. More information.
     
    THE MENU

    Course 1: Raw Seafood Bar

  • Little Neck clams and fresh oysters on the half shell
  • Scotch Pairing: Talisker Storm (Region: Isle of Skye)
  •  
    Scotch Tasting Notes
    The nose shows initial brine and banana. The palate is thick and mouth-coating with wood smoke, brine, some tin and chilli heat too. Red chile peppers appear in the finish, along with oak dryness and a hint of embers. The smoky, “maritime” character pairs well with seafood.

    Course 2: Fish & Seafood

  • Grilled Chilean sea bass with pan seared scallops, with steamed spinach
  • Scotch Pairing: Oban 14 (Region: West Highland)
  •  
    Scotch Tasting Notes
    The nose is rich and smoky. Medicinal notes are quite evident along with seaweed and other notes of the sea that pair with fish and seafood. The palate is robust, with notes of cut hay and wood smoke, along with citrus and a smooth sweetness. The finish is long, with notes of fruit and oak.

     

    scotch-cheese6.19336.768

    Serve Scotch instead of wine with a cheese
    course. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    Course 3: Poultry

  • Grilled chicken with linguine and white clam sauce, with sautéed asparagus
  • Scotch Pairing: Cragganmore 12 (Region: Speyside)
  •  
    Scotch Tasting Notes
    The nose is aromatic, redolent of florals (heather), fruit salad, smoked almonds and stemmy hay. The palate is rich with notes of honey, stone fruits, berries, chestnuts, walnuts and almonds. The finish is ofgood length and smoky, with a delicate peppery spice.

     
    Course 4: Beef

  • USDA Prime dry aged New York sirloin steak, with German potatoes
  • Scotch Pairing: Lagavulin 16 (Region: Islay)
  •  
    Scotch Tasting Notes

    This sought-after single malt has the massive peat-smoke that’s typical of southern Islay; it stands up well to red meat.

     
    The nose is reminiscent of Lapsang Souchong tea, with notes of iodine, sweet spices, mature sherry and creamy vanilla. The palate is very thick and rich: malt, sherry and fruity sweetness with powerful peat and oak. There’s a long, spicy finish with figs, dates, peat smoke and vanilla.
     
    Course 5: Dessert

  • Chocolate ice cream with wafers (substitute dessert: cheese plate)
  • Scotch Pairing: Dalwhinnie 15 (Region: Highlands)
  •  
    Scotch Tasting Notes
    The nose is aromatic with toffee, fruit salad, nectarine and custard; along with floral notes of apple blossom and honeysuckle and a touch of smoke. A semblance of manuka honey and vanilla encourage pairing with dessert. The palate is malty with gentle smoke and a touch of spice. The finish is long and malty, with flavors of almond and walnut.
     
    WHISKY VS. WHISKEY

    In Ireland and the United States, the word whiskey is spelled with an “e,” while the British, Scots and Canadians opt to drop the “e.”

    Scholars can’t determine why the “e” was dropped in Scotland. One theory is that the Irish made whiskey first and pronounced it with a broad “e.” When the Scots began to make it, they dropped the “e” to differentiate their product.
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

    We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with these Margarita Jell-O shots, created by Good Cocktails.com.

    Mix up some strawberry Margarita Jell-O (yes, with tequila) and pour into hollowed-out strawberry cups.

    Refrigerate, garnish with a small slice of lime, and serve.

    It’s delicious and fun. Here’s the recipe.

     

    strawberry-jello-shot-goodcocktail-230sq

    A strawberry serves as the shot glass. Photo courtesy GoodCocktail.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Create The Best Sugar Rim

    red-sugar-rim-eljimador-230

    Red sanding sugar makes a sweet, colorful
    cocktail or mocktail rimmer. Photo courtesy
    El Jimador Tequila.

     

    Here’s a fun idea for Mother’s Day or any other celebration: a custom glass rimmer for cocktails or mocktails. You can buy rimmers in tins, but it’s almost as fast to make your own.

    We owe this tip to Seattle’s Best, which served us a coffee Martini with a sugar rim at a recent event.

    Wow, we said: How did you get the sugar to really stick on? Our own efforts to create the ideal flavored rim were not as successful.

    The answer: Dip the rim of the glass in maple syrup, not water as we’ve been doing, to create the glass rimmer. Do it in advance so the syrup can dry.

    We substituted agave for the maple syrup, which held just as fast and firm and is even better when you don’t want to add maple flavor.

    Sanding sugar is available in numerous colors, and the technique also works with a chocolate rim, a shredded coconut rim, a sprinkles rim or whatever look and taste you like.

    You can be creative in your blend, adding anise, cinnamon or other spice to the base ingredient.

     

    And you can do it with savory rims, blending celery salt, chili powder or sea salt with just about any herb or spice that adds complementary flavor to the drink.

    Here’s the recipe we tasted from Seattle’s Best:

     

    RECIPE: SEATTLE’S BEST COFFEE MAPLETINI

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 1 cup brewed Signature Blend No. 4 Seattle’s Best Coffee, chilled (or coffee of your choice)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus extra for decorating the rims of the Martini glasses
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla-flavored vodka
  • 1-1/2 cups ice
  • Colored sugar, ground chocolate or ground coffee beans mixed with sugar
  •  

    chocolate-rimmed-jimador-230sq

    Make a chocolate rim with ground chocolate or cocoa and sugar. Photo courtesy El Jimador Tequila.

     

    Preparation

    1. BREW coffee one hour or more before serving and cool to room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator. (Note: You can brew and refrigerate the coffee days in advance.)

    2. COMBINE the brewed coffee, half & half, maple syrup and vanilla-flavored vodka in a large glass or martini shaker. Fill with ice, then shake or stir until the ingredients are well-combined.

    3. MOISTEN the rims of four martini glasses with maple syrup and dip in sugar to lightly coat.

    4. STRAIN the cocktail and pour into the prepared glasses.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Liqueur For Mom Or Dad

    clementine-vodka-kaminsky-230

    Home-infused clementine vodka. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog has already made her Mother’s Day gift: which she calls climoncello (a rift on the lemon liqueur, limoncello).

    You’ve got more than enough time to make your own liqueur for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, in any flavor you choose. It simply requires a base spirit—vodka—plus fruit and sugar.

    You don’t even have to buy fruit: You can use citrus peels leftover from other recipes, which is what started Hannah on this journey. You can save them up in a freezer bag, and make a mixed citrus if you don’t have enough of any one variety. You’ll also need a large infusing jar and a funnel.

    Then, just cook it up and let the fruit or peel infuse for a month or longer. Hannah went on vacation, forgot about the steeping peels and ended up with a three-month infusion.

    Here’s her easy recipe:

    RECIPE: CLIMONCELLO, CLEMENTINE LIQUEUR

    Ingredients

  • 14-15 clementine peels
  • 3-1/2 cups water
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle vodka*
  •  

    *Don’t buy the cheapest firewater like Everclear, but don’t buy premium brands, either. Hannah used Popov; we used Russian Standard and Absolut (and couldn’t tell the difference in the finished product).

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the peels, water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar has fully dissolved. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let cool to room temperature.

    2. TAKE a pestle or other blunt instrument and muddle/mash the rinds, bruising them to release more of the essential oils.

    3. ADD the vodka, give it a good stir and transfer the whole mixture, peels and all, into a large glass jar (be sure to save the vodka bottle for packaging the finished product, if you don’t want to buy a decorative bottle). Seal the lid tightly and stash it in a cool, dark place for 1-3 months. You’re likely to get even greater depth of flavor if you let it steep for an extra month or so. When the liqueur is ready, the liquid should be a golden orange color and smell of sweet oranges.

    4. STRAIN out and discard the peels, and transfer the liquor to an attractive glass bottle. Store in a cool, dark place for however long you can make it last. It should keep indefinitely, but you’ll no doubt want to enjoy it before too long.

     

    mint-liqueur-goodcocktails.com-230

    Homemade mint liqueur. Photo courtesy Good Cocktails.

     

    MINT LIQUEUR

    If you’d rather have mint or other herb liqueur than a fruit flavor, here’s a recipe from GoodCocktails.com. You can make basil, rosemary or anything you’d like.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Celebrate With A Spring Cocktail

    berry-fizz-tuaca-230

    Celebrate spring with a springlike cocktail. Photo courtesy Tuaca.

     

    We’re less than 24 hours into spring and contemplating a spring cocktail this evening—to celebrate both the arrival of spring and the end of the work week.

    The spring equinox occurred yesterday at 12:57 p.m. It begs for a little astronomy lesson about equinoxes and solstices, the days that mark the change of seasons.

    What’s An Equinox?

    During an equinox, the sun is closest to the Equator, the imaginary line around the Earth that is equidistant from the North and South Poles. On those days, night and day are approximately equally long. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus, equal and nox, night.

    An equinox marks the beginning of spring and fall. To acknowledge the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are now being called the March and September equinoxes.

     
    What’s A Solstice?

    Solstices, on the other hand, occur when which the sun is furthest from the Equator and the difference in length between night and day is greatest. This creates the shortest day of the year, in December, and the longest day, in June. Solstices mark the beginning of winter and summer.

    Solstice means “sun-standing” from the Latin solstitium, literally, the apparent standing still of the sun (sol is sun, sistere is to stand still).

    O.K., you’ve studied hard. You deserve a spring cocktail. This one is courtesy of Courvoisier, one of our favorite Cognacs.

     
    RECIPE: COURVOISIBERRY COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1 part Courvoisier VSOP or other Cognac
  • 1 part rum
  • 2 parts rosé wine
  • Exotic berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine all ingredients, stir and serve in a wine glass over ice.

    2. Garnish with berries.

    3. Toast to spring!

      

    Comments

    ENTERTAINING: A Cocktail Party For Vincent Van Gogh

    If you’re inclined to entertain between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, here’s an idea from Van Gogh Vodka:

    A “Starry Night” cocktail part, to celebrate the March 30th birthday of Vincent van Gogh.

    Van Gogh Vodka has created a cocktail named for, and inspired by perhaps, one of his best-loved works, The Starry Night (De Sterrennacht).

    It emulates the dark blue sky of “Starry Night” with its purple-colored Açaí-Blueberry Vodka. The “starry” comes from a slice of starfruit.

    Painted in 1889, the view is from Van Gogh’s sanitorium* room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, looking north toward the village. In an example of “artistic license,” Van Gogh rearranged the scenery, incorporating the mountains on the southern side of the asylum and adding a large cypress tree that did not exist. He painted the dark night sky during the day, from memory.

     

    Drink a “Starry Night.” Photo courtesy Van Gogh Vodka.

     

    Van Gogh’s masterpiece, “Starry Night.”
    Photo courtesy Wikipedia | The Google Art
    Project.

     

    RECIPE: STARRY NIGHT COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 ounces sparkling rosé*
  • 1 ounce Van Gogh Açaí-Blueberry Vodka*, chilled
  • Garnish: starfruit slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR chilled vodka into a flute.

    2. TOP with sparkling rosé wine and garnish with a starfruit slace.

     

    Van Gogh Vodkas are crafted in small batches at the Royal Dirkzwager Distilleries in Schiedam, Holland. They received “Royal Appointment” designation by Netherlands’s Queen Beatrix.

    The Van Gogh Vodka portfolio includes over 20 flavored vodkas, each, according to the distiller, offering a spirited way to pay tribute to a creative genius.

     
    *We used Yellow Tail Sparkling Rosé, one of our favorites; and couldn’t find the Van Gogh Açaí-Blueberry Vodka so substituted Stoli Blueberi and colored it. We used McCormick food colors to approximate the navy in the painting, rather than the purple Van Gogh color: 150 drops Neon Blue and 8 drops Black.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Coffee

    Even if you don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parade-watching and partying, take the occasion to enjoy an Irish Coffee—a simply wonderful cup of coffee enhanced with Irish whiskey and whipped cream.

    It will be especially welcome in our neck of the woods: Mother Nature is giving us a wind chill factor in the teens, and possible snow.

    You might think that Irish Coffee is a centuries-old drink, enjoyed by generations of Irish folk around a hot fire at home or at the pub.

    But truth be told, it originated in the era around World War II during the dawn of transatlantic plane travel, when air travelers from America to Ireland took an 18-hour seaplane to Port of Foynes in County Limerick.

    In cold, damp weather, a hot cup of coffee or tea was offered upon arrival. When “something stronger” was requested, Irish Coffee was born.

    The name purportedly was bestowed when an American asked if the beverage was made with Brazilian coffee. He was told in return, “This is Irish coffee.”

     

    irish-coffee-rogers-cowan-230

    Irish Coffee. Any glass will do. Photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan.

     
    One passenger enjoying a cup was the owner of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. He brought the recipe home in 1952 and began serving the first Irish Coffee in the U.S.

    Here’s the full story.

    So get out the bottle of Bushmills, Jameson or Tullamore Dew. You don’t need a special glass handled pedestal mug that evolved to serve Irish coffee; any glass will do.

    Here’s the original Irish Coffee recipe plus variations. And if you don’t like coffee, there’s a recipe for Irish Hot Chocolate.

    Sláinte!*
     
    *Pronounced SLAWN-cha, SLON-che or SLON-tih depending on the area of Ireland, it means “health!” in Gaelic.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Peppermint Paddy Martini

    For those who like things minty, here’s a fun drink for St. Patrick’s Day: a Peppermint Paddy Martini.

    The recipe is from McCormick, which uses its McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract to create the mintiness.

    Note that Peppermint Paddy, not Peppermint Patty or Peppermint Pattie, is the right name for this drink.

  • Peppermint Patty, the Peanuts character, was inspired by a bowl of peppermint candy on Charles Schulz’s desk.
  • Peppermint Patty first appeared in the Peanuts comic strip on August 22, 1966.
  • The York Peppermint Pattie, no relation to Peppermint Patty, was introduced in 1940.
  •  
    And while we’re on the subject, it’s St. Paddy’s Day, not St. Patty’s Day. Here’s why.

     

    peppermint-paddy-martini-mccormick-230

    It may look like mousse, but it’s a Peppermint Paddy Martini. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: PEPPERMINT PADDY MARTINI

    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 8 ounces Irish cream liqueur
  • 2 ounces crème de cacao liqueur
  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • Optional garnish: peppermint whipped cream (recipe below)
  • Optional rim garnish: coarse sugar*
  •  
    *Use sanding sugar or a raw brown sugar such as demerara or turbinado (Sugar In The Raw). You can find green sanding sugar, shown in the photo below, in baking supplies stores or online.

     online

    green-sugar-crystals-dressmycupcakeAMZ-230

    Green sanding sugar. Photo courtesy
    Dress My Cupcake | Amazon.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE Martini glasses with optional sugar rim. Wet the outside rim of martini glass with peppermint extract. Dip glass in coarse sugar to lightly coat.

    2. FILL cocktail shaker 1/3 full with ice. Add first 5 ingredients; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into glass.

    3. TOP each with a dollop of Peppermint Whipped Cream, if desired.

     
    PEPPERMINT WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients For About 2 Cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract plus more for rim
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT cream, confectioners’ sugar and peppermint extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed, until stiff peaks form.

    2. POUR in Martini, top with whipped cream and serve.

      

    Comments

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