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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

TIP OF THE DAY: Frosé, Frozen Rosé Wine For Cocktails Or Dessert

Frose Granita

Frose Dessert With Ice Cream

[1] Frosé granita. [2] Frosé with ice cream (both photos courtesy Kim Crawford).

  Call it a cocktail or call it dessert: We have long enjoyed a frozen rosé cocktail by scooping some sherbet in a glass and topping it off with sparkling wine or still or sparkling rosé.

A couple of years ago, some rosé marketer came up with a new term: frosé! Some winemakers even named bottles of sweet-style rose, frosé.

Here are two frosé recipes courtesy of Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand. He sent these for National Rosé Day, June 10th.

(Mr. Crawford must have a sweet tooth: A few years ago, he proposed rosé ice pops. Just add the wine to ice pop molds, with optional berries.)

For a cocktail, use a drier-style rosé. For dessert, top sorbet or ice cream with a sweeter rosé: a zinfandel rosé from California, or anything labeled frosé (a relatively new term taking advantage of the trend). Or ask the clerk for guidance.
 
 
RECIPE #1: FROSÉ GRANITA

This recipe is a rosé granita, a word that means granular in Italian (granité/granitée is the French word, meaning granite-like).

Granita is a rustic version of sorbet, made without an ice cream machine. The ingredients are frozen in a pan. As the crystals on the top freeze, they are scraped into a grainy, coarse cousin of sorbet.

Granita, made from sugar, water and flavorings, originated in Sicily. The preferred texture and flavor varies from town to town, where residents variously preferred (and still do) almond, black mulberry, chocolate, coffee, jasmine, lemon, mandarin orange, mint, pistachio and strawberry flavors.

But the concept of water ices goes back to China in the fourth century B.C.E. The recipe, as it were, arrived in Persia via traders.

Persians enjoyed what we might now call snow cones: snow flavored with syrups. Called sharbat (the origin of sherbet and sorbetto), it was made at least from the middle of the third century B.C.E.

Alexander The Great brought the concept back to Greece after he conquered Persia in 330 B.C.E. Gelato, the first type of ice cream, took a while. It is believed to date to Florence, Italy in the late 16th century.

Here’s the history of ice cream. And now, back to the frosé, in photo #1.

 
Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1 bottle Kim Crawford Frosé or substitute
  • Garnish: lemon twists or berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the wine into ice cube trays, a baking pan, or what-have-you and pop it into the freezer. As ice crystals begin to form, scrape them to the front of the pan until frozen solid. You can do this in advance. To serve…

    2. USE a hand blender or food processor to process the frozen wine until smooth. Serve directly or freeze again for up to 1 week, covered. Garnish and serve with a spoon and/or straw.

    Note: We weren’t at home so couldn’t occasionally stir and scrape. So we simply froze the rosé as ice cubes. We then placed the frozen cubes into the blender. The result was a crunchy granita. If we had continued to blend, we might have ended up with something finer, but we liked the crunchiness!
     
     
    RECIPE #2: DRINKABLE FROSÉ SUNDAE

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1 bottle Kim Crawford Frosé or substitute, well chilled
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar*
  • Club soda
  • 1 carton vanilla ice cream
  • Garnish: edible flowers or more berries
  • ________________

    *Use less sugar or omit it entirely if the strawberries are very ripe.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the strawberries and sugar in a bowl, cover and let sit for 30 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    2. DIVIDE the strawberries and any juices among 5 rocks glasses. Add the wine and a splash of club soda. Top with a scoop of ice cream and garnish (photo #2).

     
     
    CHECK OUT THE OTHER TYPES OF FROZEN DESSERTS.

     
      

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    PRODUCTS: Favorite Gifts For Father’s Day

    Are you old enough to remember when a Father’s Day gift meant a new tie? Today, how many dads even wear a tie most days?

    Here are five items that most dads would much rather have.

    CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    We discovered our favorite tequila last fall, when we had the privilege of tasting every expression. You can see our review, but the bottom line is: This tequila is so fine that even the blanco (silver) can be sipped straight.

    There are the five standard expressions: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo.

    There are also rare, older expressions like Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza: Only 563 bottles were made for the world market, at $1,200 per bottle.

    But you can treat a tequila-loving dad to a bottle of this great tequila starting at less than $40 for the blanco.

    Our review includes a cheese pairing for the different expressions.

    Here’s the Casa Noble website.
     
     
    MAGNUM HIGHLAND CREAM LIQUEUR

    We’ve been fans of Irish cream liqueur since Bailey’s was first imported to the U.S. Now, Scotch drinkers have t heir own cream liqueur: Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. A blending fine Speyside Scotch malt whisky with rich cream from Holland (the ancestral home of Holstein black and white dairy cows), we highly recommend it for gifting as well as personal imbibing.

    It’s 34 proof (17% alcohol by volume), with an SRP of $27.99 per 750ml bottle. If you can’t find it locally, CraftSpiritsExchange.com will ship it nationally.

    Try it in an adult milkshake, or make an egg cream with Magnum, chocolate liqueur and soda water.
     
     
    THE MOZZARELLA COMPANY: PECAN MASCARPONE TORTA

    Mascarpone is a rich, creamy cheese made by heating heavy cream and then curdling it with an vinegar instead of rennet. It’s a first cousin to clotted cream. The Mozzarella Company makes four mascarpone torta, the newest of which is flavored with crushed pecan pralines.

    It is a wonderful dessert served with ginger snaps and strawberries; or stuffed into dates or dried apricots. The torta can dessert for two people; maybe four if you’ll settle for a small wedge.

    Other flavors, for appetizers or the salad course, are ancho chile, basil and tomato basil. The tortas are $12.95 each from the Mozzarella Company.

    Mascarpone is the fresh cheese used in tiramisu. Here’s more about mascarpone.

       

    Casa Noble Tequila Blanco

    Magnum Cream Liqueur

    Pecan Praline Torta, Mozzarella Company

    [1] Casa Noble Tequila. [2] Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. [3] Mozzarella Company’s Pecan Praline Torta (photos courtesy of their respective brands).

     

    Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Scrappy's Artisan Bitters

    [4] The Sansaire sous vide machine cooks in your own pot. [5] Scrappy’s artisan bitters for cocktails and mocktails (photos courtesy their respective brands).

     

    SANSAIRE SOUS VIDE

    You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to love sous vide cooking, an easy way to prepare everyday recipes as well as fancy ones. The sous vide technique was developed in France to easily cook fine meals on trains, many portions at a time. Sous vide guarantees, for example, that a steak or piece of fish will turn out exactly as the client wishes. The quality of the food it produced attracted fine French chefs and caterers.

    Sous vide machines quickly appeared in some of the world’s best restaurants. And now, you can have one at home.

    The benefit of Sansaire is that it cooks food in the pots you already have; it’s not a bulky countertop machine. Its in the $168 range. Here’s more information.
     
     
    SCRAPPY’S: COCKTAIL BITTERS SET

    Bitters can add interest to simple drinks like a vodka tonic or balance the sour and sweet flavors of sours and fizzes.

    They’re essential ingredients in cocktails such as the Manhattan, Negroni, Rob Roy, Rum Sizzle, Sazerac and Singapore Sling. But modern mixologists have been using new varieties of artisan cocktails to create new flavors in their drinks.

    Bitters are non-alcoholic essences extracted from aromatic barks, flowers, fruits, herbs and root. For most of their existence, they have been made for botanicals known for their medicinal properties (that long before alcohol was a leisure drink, it was used as medicine).

    With the boom in artisan bitters over the last 20 years, they are now being made in flavors that have no root in homeopathy, but give great flavor accents to cocktails:

    Aztec chocolate, black walnut, blood orange, cardamom, celery, cherry, chocolate, cranberry, cucumber, fig and cinnamon, grapefruit, habanero, lavender, lemon, mint, peach, rhubarb and others.

     
    Whether you’re making a dry Martini or a Cosmopolitan, a splash of bitters provides a note of sophistication.

    For mocktails, add them to club soda.

    And try the latest use for bitters: add them to coffee, hot and iced.

    The eight-flavor set shown, from Scrappy’s Bitters, is $38.99 for eight flavors.

    For a set of 12 flavors from Fee Brothers is $99.90.

    Individual bottles can be purchased in the $8-$13 range.

      

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    RECIPE: Pinot Grigio Spritzer

    What do you do to make a bottle of an already-popular Pinot Grigio leap on the shelf (figuratively speaking)?

    You hire a top fashion designer to create an alluring, limited-edition bottle design.

    One of our favorite designers, Christian Siriano, has created Ecco Domani’s third annual designer label for summer, inspired by the glamour of 1960s Palm Springs.

    Covered in fanciful palm leaves in chartreuse and fuchsia, it’s a summer celebration in a bottle.

    The Christian Siriano Ecco Domani bottle is now available nationwide, with a suggested retail price of $10.99.

    When we went to the debut of the bottle design, we were treated to a wine cocktail—a winetail—so delicious that we had two!

    We already had the cocktail ingredients at home; but don’t hesitate to buy the Cappelletti and orange bitters to make it.

    We almost guarantee that you’ll race through the ingredients in short order. It’s our signature summer cocktail for sure—even though the signature is Ecco Domani.

    RECIPE: ECCO DOMANI’S PALM SPRINGS SPRITZ

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
  • 1 ounce Cappelletti Aperitivo (see below; substitute Campari or Luxardo)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Sparkling water/club soda (the difference)
  • Optional garnish: dendrobium orchid or notched strawberry for the rim
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE both wines and the bitters in a standard red wine glass; stir to combine.

    2. TOP off with sparkling water. Garnish as desired and serve.

     

    Ecco Domani Christian Siriani Cocktail

    Aperitivo Cappelletti

    [1] The Palm Beach Spritz cocktail with the limited edition Christian Siriano bottle (photo courtesy Ecco Domani). [2] Cappelletti Aperitivo, a noteworthy aperitif wine. Here’s the cocktail recipe for the Ginger Specialino from Nugget Markets.

     
    WHAT’S CAPPELLETTI?

    It’s the name of a shape of pasta that resembles little sailor hats; but it’s also the name of an apéritif wine: Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano Rosso.

    Produced in the Alto-Adige region of Italy by the fourth generation of the Cappelletti family, Aperitivo Cappelletti is a deep red apéritif wine.

    It can be sipped on its own over ice, mixed with club soda for a spritzer, or mixed into cocktails. Use it for a less-sweet Negroni.

    Made from mostly trebbiano grapes, the nose is round and very full, captivating with just a hint of bitterness and herbs. The texture on the palate is generous, providing a slight bitterness from notes of citrus peel.

    It has a hint of bitterness (from citrus peel), gentle herbality and a slight sweetness—which is why we like it more than the better-known, sweeter Campari.

    Unlike Campari, Cappelletti is a wine-based apéritif, instead of grain-based (distilled alcohol). This gives makes it more complex, with a richer, fuller flavor profile.

  • Instead of a cocktail before dinner, try an apéritif. Combine 2 ounces of Cappelletti and 3 ounces of soda over ice, and garnish with an orange twist, wedge or wheel.
  • For a sparkling apéritif, combine 3 ounces of prosecco with a 1/2 ounce of Cappelletti over ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with the orange twist, wedge or wheel.
  •  
    WHAT’S AN APÉRITIF WINE?

    An apéritif is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal.

    Long before the cocktail was invented (in the mid-19th century), people of means enjoyed an apéritif before dinner.

    Spirits were not desired, because high alcohol dulls our taste buds. An apéritif wine, on the other hand, was designed to stimulate the appetite in anticipation of dinner.

    An aperitif should be very dry (low in sugar), since sugar also dulls the appetite for the dinner to come.

    Apéritif (French) or aperitivo (Italian) derives from the medieval Latin aperitivus, from the Latin verb aperire to open.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Jell-O Shots…Or Maybe Beer

    How old can you be and still enjoy Jell-O shots?

    Erica of Erica’s Sweet Tooth adapted this recipe from Bakers Royale.

    Point of accuracy: This recipe is made with plain gelatin, not flavored Jell-O, so it’s not really a Jell-O shot.

    Another point: Everyone responds to the word “champagne,” but pricey champagne at $30 and up is not the best wine to use in recipes. Instead, use another sparkling wine for one-third of the price.

    Don’t Like Champagne?

    If the dad-of-honor prefers beer, substitute fruit beer in the recipe…or go bold with an IPA or stout. Guinness shots, anyone?
     
    RECIPE: CHAMPAGNE JELL-O SHOTS

    Ingredients For 15 Jello Shots

  • 10 ounces plus 5 ounces champagne (or cava, prosecco or other sparkling wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 envelopes Knox plain gelatin
  • Optional garnish: white sparkling sugar (sanding sugar)
  •    

    Champagne Jell-O Shots

    Champagne gelatin shots for any festive occasion (photo courtesy Erica’s Sweet Tooth).

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 10 ounces of the champagne with the sugar in a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it soften for 2 minutes.

    2. PLACE the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the remaining 5 ounces of champagne; stir to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into a brownie pan or other square/rectangular container, and chill for at least an hour until firm.

    4. CUT: First dip the pan into warm water and use a knife along the sides to gently release the gelatin. Use a sharp knife to cut squares. Before serving, dip the tops in the sparkling sugar and serve with a festive toothpick.

    (Or, for the tongue-in-cheek approach described below, serve a square or two in champagne coupes, with an optional strawberry or raspberry.)

     

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    Champagne cupcakes—to serve with the shots? (Photo courtesy Cook Craft Love.)

     

    RECIPE: RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES

    Another celebratory treat: champagne cupcakes. Why are they shown in champagne coupes (photo at left)?

    Decades ago, it was established that the champagne coupe—also called sherbet champagne glasses because they were popularly used to serve scoops of sherbet—were not ideal for sparkling wine.

    The wide surface area of the bowl—allegedly modeled after Marie Antoinette’s breasts—enables the bubbles to dissipate more quickly than they do in a flute or tulip glass.

    While the photo shows them tongue-in-cheek, serving champagne cupcakes instead of champagne, you can serve equally tongue-in-cheek champagne shots in them.

    If you want to bake the raspberry champagne cupcakes in the photo, here’s the recipe from Meaghan of CookCraftLove.com.

    You don’t have to open a new bottle: You can make this recipe with leftover champagne. It doesn’t matter if it’s flat: It will become flat quickly enough when mixed into the batter.

     
    You can serve the cupcakes with a glass of sec or demi-sec champagne, which are sweeter than brut champagne. Here are the levels of sweetness in Champagne.

    If you’re planning to buy champagne, check out our champagne buying tips.

      

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    RECIPE: Honey Cocktail…Two Bees Walk Into A Bar

    For spring and summer, this honey-based cocktail can strike just the right tone: a light buzz.

    We adapted it from the cocktail of the month, called Two Bees Walk Into A Bar, at Davio’s Italian Steakhouse in New York City.

    It uses an easy-to-make honey simple syrup, infused with rosemary, that you can use in other drinks as well. A recipe for a Honey-Rosemary Martini is below.

    RECIPE #1: HONEY & HONEY POLLEN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces gin (Davio’s uses Hendricks)
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon or lime juice (double for a more tangy cocktail)
  • 1 large egg white*
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) honey-rosemary simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Garnish: bee pollen (available at health food/natural food stores)
  •  
    For The Honey Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • ________________

    *If you’re concerned about raw eggs, get pasteurized raw eggs.
    ________________

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup. Combine the water and honey in a small pot over medium heat and whisk until the honey dissolves. Add the rosemary and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover the pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until cool. Strain and discard the rosemary, and store the syrup in an airtight jar.

    2. COMBINE the other ingredients (except ice and garnish) in cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Add the ice and shake for another 30 seconds.

    3. STRAIN into an 8-ounce glass (the photo shows a large Martini glass). Sprinkle with bee pollen and serve.
     
    BENEFITS OF BEE POLLEN

    Bee pollen is made by bees as food for their young. It is considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods, containing nearly all nutrients required by humans, including approximately 40% protein.

    For this reason, it is a valued nutritional supplement, but has also become fashionable as a garnish. Consider this a most nutritious cocktail.

     

    Honey Cocktail

    Fresh Rosemary

    Bee Pollen

    [1] A honey of a cocktail, from Davio’s Manhattan. [2] Fresh rosemary (photo courtesy Burpee). [3] Bee pollen. Here’s more about it from Shape Magazine.

     

    RECIPE #2: ROSEMARY-HONEY MARTINI

    You can make a sweeter cocktail with a bit more simple syrup (proceed cautiously); or a less sweet cocktail by adding more vermouth.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 parts gin or vodka
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 part rosemary-honey simple syrup (recipe above)
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary sprig
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD 6 ice cubes to a cocktail shaker, followed by the other ingredients.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a Martini glass. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

      

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