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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Coffee & Tea

TIP OF THE DAY: Coffee Milk

coffee-milk-davescoffeesyrup-230

Coffee milk is a simple and delicious union of milk and coffee syrup. Photo courtesy Dave’s Coffee Store.

 

Coffee lovers, and especially iced coffee lovers: Have you had coffee milk, the official* state drink of Rhode Island?

Like chocolate milk, coffee milk is made by adding coffee syrup to cold milk. If you like iced coffee with sugar and a lot of milk, coffee milk is the easy way to make it at home. There’s no brewing, no need to keep a container of iced coffee in the fridge. Just pour a glass of milk, add coffee syrup and stir.

It also works for people who prefer alternatives to cow’s milk.

Top quality coffee syrup is a sweetened coffee concentrate made from fresh-roasted coffee beans. It is produced by straining water and sugar through ground coffee. (Supermarket brands tend to be artificially flavored.)

While the precise origin of coffee milk is unclear, several sources trace it back to the turn of the 20th century in Providence’s immigrant Italian population.

The first coffee syrup was introduced by the Silmo Packing Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1932. In 1938, Eclipse Food Products of Warwick, Rhode Island began to promote a coffee syrup product; Autocrat Coffee of Lincoln, Rhode Island came to market in the 1940s.

 
In addition to the syrup form, coffee milk can be found ready-to-drink in store dairy cases, at diners and in university dining halls. [Source: Wikipedia]

USES FOR COFFEE SYRUP

In addition to coffee milk, you can use the syrup for:

  • Baking
  • Cocktails and mocktails
  • Dessert sauce
  • Glazes (check out this list of recipes for fish, meat, poultry and veggies)
  • Granita
  • Hot coffee drink
  • Shakes and smoothies
  • Pancake/waffle syrup
  •  
    *Rhode Island named coffee milk its official state beverage in 1993, after a competition with Del’s Lemonade, another Rhode Island specialty.

     

    DAVE’S COFFEE SYRUP

    Dave’s Coffee is a certified organic coffee roaster that operates an espresso bar and bakery in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The coffee syrup is an all natural artisan product made:

  • With real sugar—no HFCS or artificial sweeteners
  • With only its natural color from the beans—no added caramel color
  • In Original, Mocha and Vanilla flavors
  •  
    By contrast Coffee Time, the best-known supermarket brand, is made with high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, coffee extract, caramel color and potassium sorbate.

    The syrup is made in small batches to ensure quality. Choice Brazilian coffee beans are roasted by hand in a small, gas fired roaster to bring out nutty, sweet, smooth, roasty and smokey flavors. The roasted beans rest for two days; they’re then ground and cold-brewed for 18 hours in a special stainless steel kettle.

    The brewed coffee is mixed with pure cane sugar, brought to a boil and simmered until the syrup reduces and the sugar begins to caramelize. It’s bottled in amber glass, which protects the syrup from light.

    Get yours at DavesCoffeeStore.com.

     

    bottles-duo-230

    Dave’s Coffee Syrup is available in three flavors. Photo courtesy Dave’s Coffee Store.

     

    It’s a great gift idea for coffee-loving moms and dads, and other deserving family and friends.

    If you need a kosher syrup, you can buy Autocrat on Amazon.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Coffee

    french-press-cinnamon-coffee-mccormick-230

    It’s easy to brew delicious cinnamon coffee
    with any coffee maker. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.

     

    If you enjoy cinnamon coffee, here’s a recipe from McCormick, that adds real cinnamon to your ground coffee for a far more exciting flavor. (Commercial cinnamon-flavored coffee uses an extract to flavor the beans.)

    The coffee is brewed with brown sugar, so no sugar bowl is needed. You can use any coffee maker.

    For dessert, you can top the coffee with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. There are just 36 calories per cup, before the whipped cream.

    For a spiked version, add cinnamon liqueur, coffee liqueur or Irish cream liqueur. If you want to avoid the extra sugar, use whiskey (we like bourbon) or tequila.

     

    RECIPE: BREWED CINNAMON COFFEE

    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 3/4 cup ground dark roast coffee, (regular or decaffeinated)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 cups water
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon
  • Optional: milk or cream
  • Optional liqueur: 1-2 tablespoons per cup
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE coffee, sugar and cinnamon in a filter in brew basket of coffee maker (or directly into a French press).

    2. PLACE the vanilla in the empty carafe. Add water to coffee maker; brew coffee as usual.

    3. POUR into serving cups; add liqueur if desired. Top with whipped cream or serve with milk or cream. Garnish with an optional sprinkle of cinnamon.
     
    CINNAMON LIQUEUR

    There are more brands than there is shelf space to hold them all. And Bols makes both a cinnamon liqueur and a cinnamon schnapps (see the difference below). Some are more elegant, some are brash and sizzling.

    Cinnamon liqueur can be added to coffee and tea, sipped on the rocks, drunk as shooters and mixed into cocktails.

  • After Shock
  •  

    goldschager-bottle-230

    Dramatic and delicious: Goldschläger cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. Photo courtesy Global Brands.

     

  • Bols Hot Cinnamon Liqueur and Gold Strike Cinnamon Schnapps
  • De Kuyper “Hot Damn!”
  • Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Liqueur
  • Fire Water Hot Cinnamon Schnapps
  • Goldschläger, with flecks of edible gold, the most elegant of the cinnamon liqueurs
  • Leroux Cinnamon Schnapps
  • Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
  • Tuaca Cinnaster Cinnamon and Vodka Liqueur
  •  
    CORDIAL, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS: THE DIFFERENCE

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences that are relevant to the consumer in terms of sweetness and color.

  • Liqueur (lih-KUR, not lih-CURE) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  • Schnapps (shnops) is made by fermenting the fruit, herb or spice along with a base spirit, usually brandy; the product is then distilled. This process creates a stronger, often clear, distilled spirit similar to a lightly flavored vodka. “Schnapps” is German for “snap,” and in this context denotes both a clear brandy distilled from fermented fruits, plus a shot that spirit. Classic schnapps have no added sugar, and are thus less sweet than liqueur. But note that some manufacturers add sugar to please the palates of American customers.
  • Eau de vie (oh-duh-vee), French for “water of life,” this is unsweetened fruit brandy—i.e.,schnapps.
  • Cordial has a different meaning in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink. In the U.S, a cordial is a sweet, syrupy, alcoholic beverage: liqueur.
  •  
    In sum: If you want a less sweet, clear spirit, choose schnapps/eau de vie over liqueur. For something sweet and syrupy, go for liqueur/cordial.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Higher Caffeine Teas

    teacup-230

    More buzz than coffee. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Caffeine is a natural stimulant, a compound present in tea, coffee and other beverages. Coffee has more caffeine, 80 to 100 mg. per cup.

    Among teas, black tea has the highest amount of caffeine, about 40 mg. per cup; with diminishing amounts found in oolong, green (approximately 20 mg. per cup) and white teas, depending on strength and steeping time.

    But what if you need more of a caffeine jolt and don’t like coffee or energy drinks?

    Republic Of Tea hopes to fill the gap with its new line of HiCaf™ Teas for natural energy.

    The company has intensified the normal caffeine in tea by adding green tea extract, known to have more caffeine than coffee, so tea drinkers can quickly get a healthy jump on the day.

    There are five initial varieties: four black and one green.

     

    HiCAF TEA VARIETIES

    Black Teas

  • Breakfast Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Caramel Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Pom-berry Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  • Toasted Coconut Black HiCAF Tea Bags
  •  
    Green Tea

  • Gingermint Green HiCAF Tea Bags
  •  
    We received three samples: Breakfast Black Tea, Black Caramel and Gingermint Green. The caffeine content is clearly indicated on the side of each tin.

    Breakfast Black and Gingermint Green read their scripts well, and we’ve been enjoying them every morning. Caramel Black was too flavor-forward for us but will please people who enjoy highly flavored teas. We expect the same would be true with Pom-berry and Toasted Coconut black teas.

     

    trio-1-230s

    Three of the five HiCAF flavors. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Did they give us a jolt?

    No, but we don’t get a jolt from coffee, either.

    Each tin contains 50 round, unbleached tea bags free of strings, tags and staples: $13/tin.

    The full collection is available for purchase at RepublicOfTea.com and at natural and specialty food stores nationwide.
     
    POP QUIZ: NAME THE FOODS THAT CONTAIN CAFFEINE

    There are seven foods that contain natural caffeine. Can you name them?

    The first two are giveaways: coffee and tea. The other five are in the footnote* below, but try to guess before you look.

     
    *Cacao (in cocoa and chocolate products), coffee, guarana (a component of energy drinks), guayusa (another Amazonian leaf), the kola nut (used to make Coke and other colas), conventional tea (Camellia sinensis) and yerba maté.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: RealBeanz Nutrient-Enhanced Iced Coffee

    bottles-glass-230s

    RealBeanz with coconut water. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    A year ago or so, we had the opportunity to taste RealBeanz, a line of flavored bottled coffee beverages with a stylish vibe, 100% natural ingredients and rBST-free milk.

    The flavors have neutraceutical enhancements that turn them into functional beverages. For example, Vanilla Nut has “naturally-calming herbs to sooth feelings of nervousness brought on by everyday stresses”; Mocha has “powerful ingredients that will undoubtedly add a boost to your body’s immune system.”

    Depending on the neutraceutical, each flavor is also labeled with a benefit: Energize, Focus, Relax, and so forth.

    But we, who don’t put sugar in our coffee, found the flavors to be overly sweetened.

    Recently, the company sent us new flavors made with coconut water: Cappuccino With Coconut Water and Dark Roast With Coconut Water.

    The sweetness level seems to be toned down a bit—but still plenty sweet for sugar-craving Americans.

     
    RealBeanz products are all natural, made with real brewed coffee and natural energy enhancing ingredients. (Some brands, likeJava Monster, Rockstar Roasted, and Starbucks Double Shot, are not.)

    There’s more about the neutraceuticals below.

    The line is Certified Kosher by The Orthodox Union.

    WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF COCONUT WATER?

    Enjoy a coconut water drink for hydration, not for enhanced health. According to Web MD, the main benefit of coconut water is the potassium.

    “Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets…” says Web MD, “so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps. Beyond that, the scientific literature does not support the hype that it will help with a laundry list of diseases.”

    Here’s the full article.

     

    WHAT’S THE REAL BENEFIT OF THE
    NEUTRACEUTICALS IN YOUR BEVERAGE?

    All seven varieties of RealBeanz are nutrient enhanced. Beyond the natural caffeine from brewed coffee, the different flavors include natural ingredients such as choline bitrate, green tea, grape seed extract, guarana, L-theanine, niacin, panax ginseng, vitamins B6, B12, B5 and yerba mate.

    Each of these ingredients has shown efficacy, but the question is: How much of these nutrients is needed to provide noticeable benefit? To quote Price Hamlet, “Aye, there’s the rub.”

    Whether you drink cups of green tea or beverages with a neutraceutical enhancement, there’s a threshold beneath which you’re not getting any benefits. The amount of the functional ingredient may be just enough to make a marketing claim and attract your attention.

    So enjoy whatever you drink for the taste and hydration, and try to cut back on the sugar.

     

    coconut-w-water-ist-npr.org-230

    Coconut water has lots of potassium, but that’s about the extent of its extra benefits. Photo | IST.

     

    If you’re counting on real health benefits, do the research: Check how much of the neutraceutical is in your beverage and what health experts recommend as your daily value for efficacy.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Latte Art ~ Try A Heart In Your Coffee

    heart-amoretti-230

    Make this for your Valentine. Photo courtesy
    Amoretti.

     

    Ever wish you could create latte art? Today’s the day to practice a heart design in your latte.

    We love latte art: animals, cross-hatches, ferns (rosettes), hearts, flowers. The ephemeral milk foam adds a smile to the coffee.

    We looked for a book on latte art, but surprise: There isn’t a dedicated book in print (there is, however, LatteArt.org). So we turned to the experts at DeLonghi, whose coffee and espresso machines are coveted by lovers of espresso, cappuccino and latte.

    They in turn reached out to Laila Ghambari, Director of Coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House in Seattle—the home of American latte art. Here are her tips:

  • The micro-foam is a crucial element in creating the perfect latte art. Use a milk foaming machine that is able to produce rich, thick, long-lasting foam.
  • Use whole or 2% milk. More milk fat equals more creaminess.
  • Add air to the milk by bringing the steam wand tip to the surface of the milk (not beneath). Remember that NO air will just create hot milk and TOO MUCH air will make your milk bubbly.
  •  

  • Make sure that when you are steaming your milk that the milk is spinning. You can achieve this by tilting the pitcher, which allows for the air and milk to blend together.
  • You need to steam the milk to a smooth, creamy texture. It should look cold cream or wet paint.
  • Once the milk is steamed, swirl it around to make sure the milk and foam are incorporated, not separated.
  •  

    TO MAKE A HEART

  • TILT. Start by tilting the cup of espresso 45 degrees.
  • TOUCH. Think of the steamed milk in the pitcher as the “pencil” and the espresso in the cup as the “canvas.” To create art you must touch the pencil to the canvas. Tilting the cup enables the pencil to touch the canvas much sooner than if the cup is upright (in which case you could only reach the canvas when the cup is full).
  • POUR. Start pouring up high, further away from the cup, so that the milk has a higher velocity and drops below the espresso. When the cup is full enough that the coffee soon start spilling out of the 45 degree tilt, drop the tip of the pitcher to the surface of the milk.
  • POUR. Keep pouring in the same spot as you fill the cup (make sure you are tilting the cup back to upright, so not to spill). This will create a large white circle in the cup.
  • PULL. To make a heart, pull the pitcher away from the surface of the milk to thin the stream before you “slice” the circle. Pour the milk through the center of the circle, which will split it into two halves. It will immediately start to take the shape of a heart.
  •  

    delonghi-EC155-with-pitcher-230

    A DeLonghi cappuccino machine close-up on the steaming wand and frothing pitcher. Photo courtesy DeLonghi.

     
    See it done in this video.
     
    THE HISTORY OF LATTE ART

    Latte art was enabled by the development of microfoam, created by the steam wand of a cappuccino machine, used to foam a pitcher of milk. The combination of the crema atop the cup of espresso and velvety microfoam allows patterns to be made. (Note that other types of milk steamers/foamers do not create microfoam.)

    Latte art in the United States developed in the Seattle coffee culture of the 1980s and 1990s. By 1989 the heart pattern was a signature at David Schomer’s Espresso Vivace and the rosette pattern followed, based on a photograph Schomer saw of latte art in an Italian café.
     
    FOOD TRIVIA

    Cappuccino is named after the color of the hooded robes worn by monks and nuns of the Capuchin order. The red-brown color was a common descriptor in 17th-century Europe.

     
    HOW DOES LATTE DIFFER FROM OTHER ESPRESSO DRINKS?

    What’s the difference between latte and cappuccino? What’s a macchiato? Check out our Espresso glossary for the different type of espresso drinks.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE GIFT: Red Moka Pot

    moka-pot-red-imusa

    The classic moka pot dons a red coat.
    Photo courtesy IMUSA USA.

     

    Here’s a no-calorie Valentine gift for someone who loves strong coffee: a red moka pot.

    You can purchase the six-cup version at Macy’s for $14.99; it also is available in pumpkin orange and cobalt blue. A three-cup version is available at Kohl’s.

    Bialetti, originators of the moka pot, make six-cup versions in solid red, orange, blue and violet.

    Up until few decades ago, before the introduction of electric-powered espresso machines for the home, people with money made espresso in a moka pot, a manual Italian espresso maker. People without money, space or a frequent need for an electric espresso machine still do.

    WHAT’S A MOKA POT?

    A moka pot is a stove top coffee pot that makes strong coffee. Instead of the more recent drip coffeemakers, where water drips down through ground coffee into a carafe below, the moka pot holds the water in its bottom half. When heated on the stove, the steam pushes boiling water up through the grounds into a top chamber, from which it is poured.

     

    HISTORY OF THE MOKA POT

    The aluminum Moka Express, with its octagonal body, was patented in 1933 by the Italian inventor Luigi De Ponti and acquired by Alfonso Bialetti. It enabled Bialetti, a metals engineer, to transform his company into a leading Italian coffee machine designer and manufacturer.

    Before the moka pot, only people of means could brew café-quality coffee at home, using large and expensive commercial machines that required training. Most people drank their coffee at a café or coffee bar.

    The creation of the small, efficient, user-friendly and affordable Moka Express allowed anyone to quickly brew at home the bold, robust-tasting coffee beloved by Italians. It replaced the more primitive coffee-makers developed in the late 19th century such as the Napoletana.

    Although today there are electric moka pots, it the original survives in its original form—a feat for a kitchen appliance designed more than 80 years ago. The major change has been a move to stainless steel by some the versions, as well as novelty designs like the one above and Bialetti’s cappuccino moka pot with a fun cow-pattern enamel coating (there’s also a plain, elegant cappuccino pot).

     

    WHY IS IT CALLED “MOKA?”

    The Red Sea port city of Mocha in Yemen was the major marketplace for coffee—grown in Africa—from the 15th century through the 17th century. The principal port for Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, it was later eclipsed by the ports of Aden and Hodeida.

    Because the name is transliterated from Arabic letters, there are a variety of spellings: Mocha, Mocca, Moka, Mokha, etc.

    Even after other sources of coffee were developed, Mocha beans (also called Sanani or Mocha Sanani beans, meaning “from Sana’a”) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so today.

     

    moka-pot-red-coffee-imusa-230

    Be my Valentine—have an espresso. Photo courtesy IMUSA USA.

    HOW TO BUY A MOKA POT

    Remember that a “four cup pot” means four wee espresso cups. If you like a double espresso—or a standard coffee cup full—buy the largest pot you can find—typically nine cups. Bialetti’s largest makes 12 cups.

    If you have the option, stainless steel will look better over time than aluminum.

    Typically, Italian roast coffee is used in a moka pot; but you can use whatever you have.

     
    MAKE TEA IN A MOKA POT

    What if you have two moka pots? Use one for tea. See our moka pot tip from ten days ago.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tea In A Moka Pot

    Use your moka pot to make tea! Photo
    courtesy Java Tea Co.

     

    Some tea lovers have found new ways of brewing their beverage, beyond the traditional kettle and boiling water.

    They’ve adopted coffee-brewing techniques, using tea leaves instead of ground coffee. It’s happening from coast to coast.

    Press Tea, which opened last year in Greenwich Village, uses specially adapted espresso machines to achieve a “crema” on the top and a fresh, new, delightful brewed tea flavor.

    Java Tea Company, in Cardiff-By-The-Sea, California (south of Encinitas), also adapts a coffee-brewing approach to its fine teas. They use the classic Italian moka pot (see photo at left).

    You can see the process on the company website, but we’ve included it below.

    One caveat: Give your moka pot a sniff. If there’s any residue aroma from coffee, run it through the dishwasher until it disappears. Otherwise, you may need a new moka pot.

     

     

    MOKA POT BREWING TO MAKE TEA IN THE STYLE OF COFFEE

    The moka pot process extracts the rich and bold flavors of the tea. Here’s how to brew it:

    1. ADD water to base of the moka pot. Scoop two heaping teaspoons of your favorite loose tea blend into the cup.

    2. BREW on high heat until percolation is complete. The tea will bubble over when ready.

    3. POUR into a coffee cup and add a sugar cube if you like sugar (try these brown sugar cubes).

    4. TOP with frothed milk or enjoy it black.

    5. GARNISH with shaved dark chocolate or sprinkle with nutmeg.

     

    It looks like coffee but it’s tea. Make it at home! Photo courtesy Java Tea Co.

     
    Tell us how you like it!
     
    FIND ANYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT TEA IN OUR GOURMET TEA SECTION.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Lipton Natural Energy Tea

    We come from a tea-drinking family, and the tea of choice in the olden days of our childhood was Lipton. There was no “gourmet tea” back then, unless you went to the one place in town, in Greenwich Village, where they sold loose tea (and most people considered it an oddity).

    As we grew into a foodie, and premium coffee bean and tea shops opened up around the city, we started to brew loose tea. We found the variety of whole leaf teas so flavorful on their own, that we never used milk and sugar again with our stash of fine teas (and coffees, too).

    But that may change. Lipton has launched a new Natural Energy Premium Black Tea, with increased caffeine “to keep you alert and energized throughout your day.”

    They sent us a box to try. We’ve been drinking it all day and don’t notice that we’re any more energized; but we refer you to our theory of cold medicine: It may not seem like it’s helping, but how do you know how much more congested and miserable you’d be without it?

     

    It may give you more of a boost than regular
    tea; we can’t tell. Photo courtesy Lipton.

     

    One thing we will aver: Compared to our recent experiences with other Lipton products, this tea tastes the best—so much so that if they wanted to send a crate of it, we’d continue to drink it every day. It tastes fine black as well as with milk and sweetener.

    And, since we’ve been drinking 4 cups a day of it, we’ve had the will to attack piles and piles of papers that we’ve ignored since the beginning of the year. If this keeps up, we’ll be happy to buy our own crates of Lipton Natural Energy Tea from Amazon.com.

    It’s also available in K-cups. The tea is certified kosher by OU and is Rainforest Alliance Certified.

     

    Photo courtesy Historic-spode.co.uk.

      To unleash the flavor and aroma, Lipton says that it “crafted an innovative process where we press fresh, high-quality tea leaves to release their natural essence. The result is a delicious blend with natural caffeine and theanine: 75mg caffeine / 20mg theanine per 8 fl. oz. serving.”

    We’ve written several hundred pages of information on tea, and we have not come across the concept of pressing “fresh, high-quality tea leaves to release their natural essence.” In the language of tea, “pressed tea leaves” are those that are first fired (panned or steamed to stop the natural fermentation) and then pressed into molds. (All black, green and oolong teas are all panned or steamed, whether or not they will be pressed into molds.)

    Our guess is that Lipton takes fresh-off-the-bush tea leaves and presses them to extract that “natural essence.”

     
    We inquired, but did not receive, answers to this or to how the levels of caffeine and l-theanine differ from the regular Lipton tea.
     
    WHAT IS L-THEANINE?

    Theanine is an amino acid found in tea (amino acids are building blocks for proteins). The L- designation describes the structural form found in tea and supplements.

    L-theanine is also found in guyausa, a natural energy tea along the lines of yerba maté and in the bay bolete mushroom (Boletus badius, completely edible despite being called “badius”).

    It is used in pill form to treat anxiety and high blood pressure. It is used to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and to make cancer drugs more effective. It may help the body’s immune system fight infection. In studies that showed efficacy, participants consumed 600 ml, more than 20 ounces, a day.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Pumpkin Liqueur

    Sip your pumpkin liqueur straight, mix into a
    pumpkin Martini or other cocktail. Photo
    courtesy SXC.

     

    If you like to create something new, how about pumpkin liqueur? You can make enough for your own household and as gifts for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

    Then, pumpkin up your holiday cocktails and desserts.

    This recipe comes from The Martini Diva.

    You’ll need these tools:

  • Baking sheets
  • Large metal strainer
  • Coffee filters or cheesecloth
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Citrus zester
  • Large glass jar (infusion jar) for distillation process
  • Second large glass jar for filtering process
  • Decorative bottles and labels for finished liquor
  •  
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN LIQUEUR

    Ingredients

  • 1 fresh pumpkin, 10-12 pounds or 32 ounces canned pumpkin (see note below)
  • 1 fifth 100 proof vodka
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Optional: orange food color (combine red and yellow—see note below)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. REMOVE seeds and fibers and cut pumpkin into chunks (about 8″). Place flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for about half an hour or until the flesh is tender. The baking time will depend on the size of your pieces.

    2. SCRAPE the cooked flesh from the shell and place into the infusion jar with the vodka. Reserve the vodka bottle to bottle your liqueur.

    3. ADD the lemon zest, pumpkin pie spice and sugar. Seal jar and place in the fridge. Let this distill for a minimum of one week and up to two weeks. Shake the jar up whenever you open the fridge, or at least once a day. After the first week you can test the depth of flavor until you get the intensity of pumpkin flavor you want.

    4. STRAIN the ingredients through a large sieve or metal strainer to remove the chunkier pieces.

    5. LINE the metal strainer with coffee filters or cheesecloth and place over the over the filtering jar. Filter the infused pumpkin liqueur through the strainer in stages (do not overfill the strainer). After each portion of the liqueur filters through, toss out the sediment that has accumulated in the strainer. When all the solids are removed, you’re ready to bottle.

    Use the retained vodka bottle for your own use. For gifting, purchase decorative bottles and add a label.

     

    You can also buy pumpkin liqueur. But where’s the fun in that? Photo courtesy Hiram Walker.

     
    Substitute pumpkin liqueur for vermouth to make a Pumpkin Martini, and create your own pumpkin cocktails.

    PREPARATION TIPS

    Canned Pumpkin: You can substitute 32 ounces of canned pumpkin purée can for the fresh pumpkin, but you’ll lose some of the great flavor. Think of fresh-baked acorn or butternut squash versus frozen squash.

    Color: If you want a really bright orange colored liqueur, Add a few drops of food coloring to the infusion jar. Use the proportion of 4 drops yellow to 1 drop red. Add it bit by bit, but don’t worry if you find yourself adding 12 drops of yellow and 4 drops of red food color.

    Rum Option: You can use white rum instead of vodka, but the pumpkin flavor will be less pronounced. Vodka is a neutral spirit, but rum has flavor. Try both and see how you like them.

      

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    RECIPE: Gin Spiced Tea

    For spiced tea lovers, here’s a new way to enjoy spiced tea: with spiced gin. It’s an alternative to a rum toddy, also known as hot buttered rum.

    Look for Darnley’s View Spiced Gin, Edinburg Gin’s Spiced Orange Gin and Opihr, a London Dry Gin with oriental spices.

    Brew a cup of spiced tea and add a tablespoon of gin; relax and enjoy. Then, gather friends for a sophisticated cup of tea.

    No spiced gin? Check out friends’ travel plans: We had bottles brought back to us by a colleague who regularly visits England because we couldn’t can’t find them locally.

    Alternatively, you can infuse Old Plymouth Gin or a brand that doesn’t scream “botanicals!” to you. Add allspice, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel. Follow the directions for how to infuse vodka.

    If you’re a real do-it-yourselfer, you can make gin from scratch with this homemade gin kit.

    And then there’s the easy default: Use whatever gin you have on hand.

     

    A nice twist: gin with similar spices as you’ll find in Constant Comment and other spiced teas.

     

    TANQUERAY MALACCA GIN

    Tanqueray Gin relaunched its Malacca expression earlier this year. The gin was discontinued after a short run from 1997 to 2001.

    Unlike Tanqueray’s well-known London Dry Gin—the juniper-infused style that most people think of as gin—Malacca is more like Old Tom Gin, a style that faded away in the 20th century but is enjoying a small renaissance (see below). Malacca is flavored with citrus and a hint of spice—though not as much spice as the spiced gins above.

    Tanqueray Malacca Gin was introduced in 1997 as a “wetter” (sweeter) alternative to the London Dry Gin. It was launched as a better gin for sweet gin drinks like the Gimlet and the Tom Collins. It didn’t take off as the company had expected, and was discontinued.

    But it was before its time. Over the last decade, the demand for the older style of gin has grown, as evidenced by the launch of several Old Tom-style gins, reviving a style popular in 18th-century England.

     


    Treat yourself to a bottle of Malacca, a
    sweeter, more citrusy style of gin for
    sweeter drinks (or neat). Photo courtesy
    Tanqueray.

     

    OLD TOM GIN

    Old Tom gin is popping up again in England, with brands such as Hayman’s and Ransom. (If you can’t find them in the U.S., ask a favor of a friend who travels to the U.K.)

    More citrusy and not as focused on juniper and other botanicals, Old Tom gin is a style that was popular in 18th-century England but faded away in the 20th century. It is currently undergoing a small renaissance.

    Old Tom is slightly sweeter than London Dry gin, but slightly drier than Dutch jenever, the original gin.

    The name is said to come from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an “Old Tom”) that were mounted on the outside wall of some pubs in 18th century England for passing pedestrians. After they deposited a penny in the cat’s mouth, they would place their lips around a small tube between the cat’s paws. On the other side of the wall, the bartender would pour a shot of gin into the tube. (Yes, it sounds very unsanitary to us moderns.)

    See the different types of gin.

     

      

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