Bitters & Water

Here’s a very easy and very attractive non-alcoholic drink to make – Bitters & Water.  Add three dashes (or to your taste) of your favorite bitters to a glass of ice water, or soda water if you want to be extra fancy.  The Peychaud’s bitters is fairly easy to find, and creates this lovely rose red hue.  You could use any bitters, depending on your preference.  As your collection of bitters grows, it is fun to let guests choose their own bitters selection to enhance their waters.  Many of the bottles have an eye dropper feature, which makes you feel like a mad scientist of sorts.  I keep my tray of bitters handy for entertaining.

Bitters & Water is an aromatic, non-alcoholic drink that is distinctive and flavor-packed.

Gathering Gin

I enjoy gin.  I enjoy adding new bottles of gin to our liquor collection.  I also enjoy organizing and decorating.  So I rounded up my gin, and put my favorites in front on this bookshelf.  Now I can access them easily, and get a kick out of seeing them on display at the same time.

Crazy for Cherries

We’re not talking about the bright red maraschinos here.  We’re talking about my current favorite cherry to garnish a cocktail – brandied dried cherries.  Absolutely scrumptious.  And so easy to make yourself.

Put some organic dried tart (like Montmorency) cherries in a small glass jar fitted with a lid. Cover them with some nice brandy, and wait a few days for them to plump up.  For extra credit, you could add a section of vanilla bean.  Or a clove or section of cinnamon stick or a star anise pod.  Go easy with the spice element.  Store the cherries in your fridge, and they will last for a while.  You can experiment with other liquors.  I made another batch using Limoncello, and was darn happy with the results.

Not only will these brandied cherries add more flavor to your cocktails, and be an attractive garnish, they are a welcome prize to find and enjoy in the bottom of your glass.

Leap Year Martini

Here’s a spectacular cocktail recipe for a:

Leap Year Martini

2 ounces dry gin (I heartedly recommend Oola Distillery’s gin, made in Seattle, Washington)

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Shake the gin, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice with ice; then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

I know I’m not going to wait four more years before I make another Leap Year Martini.

French Bottle Caddy

 

 

Beautiful and/or quirky looking liquor bottles become home decor around our house.  I found this vintage French metal bottle caddy at a flea market in Provence.  It was worth every inch of suitcase space to bring home something that is so functional, sturdy and attractive.

Limoncello

I have wanted to make my own Limoncello for a while.  I am so happy I finally did.  There still is a bounty of beautiful citrus to be found in the grocery stores, so now is a great time to get a batch going.

I used Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons.  There are a million recipes out there for this special liquer.

Here’s the proportion I used:

Zest from 8 lemons

3 cups vodka

1 cup simple syrup

Since I didn’t need the juice of all these lemons right away, I let them sit out for a day to harden the outsides.  Then they can be refrigerated, and the lemons keep for a while longer.

The zest, vodka and simple syrup go into a sterilized glass jar with a snug-fitting lid for 3 to 4 weeks.  Keep the jar in a cool and dark location, but still easy to get to so you can try and remember to shake it daily.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a very clean bottle.  Use a fresh cork if possible.

Serve chilled.  Salute!

Crushing on Cynar

I’ve got a big crush on Cynar, a bitttersweet Italian apertif.  It is made from 13 herbs and plants, with the most famous ingredient being artichokes.  (When I went looking for Cynar at the liquor store, I asked for “sigh-nar”.  Eventually I realized my pronounciation faux pas, and learned it was pronounced “chee-nar”.  Who knew?)  Cynar is tasty on its’ own, and very wonderful in this cocktail:

The Art of the Choke

1 1/4 ounce Cynar

1 ounce white rum (I used golden rum, since that was what I had on hand)

1/4 ounce Green Chartreuse

1/8 ounce demerra simple syrup (mine was homemade using Trader Joe’s turbinado sugar)

Dash of Angostura bitters

Mix the ingredients with ice until cold.  Pour into a glass and garnish with mint.  (It’s February in the Northwest, and my mint plants look very sad.  So I substituted a nice wedge of lime, since I wanted more tartness.)

This memorable cocktail originated from Chicago’s The Violet Hour.  It’s one that I will make again and again.

Handsome Hostess Gifts

Here’s a couple of ideas for host or hostess gifts that will make you look like the best guest ever.  The Single Silo Vodka has a rescued crystal goblet attached to it with a pretty piece of ribbon.  If you can tie your shoes, you can tie this bow.  The Mischief Whiskey has a simple glass placed over its’ top with a black ribbon and a couple of pieces of twine holding it in place.  Both spirits are from Washington state distilleries, and would be fine additions to anyone’s bar.   These hostess gifts are easy to create, and very easy to receive!

Killer Syrups

Here’s my recipe for a terrific day – invite a foodie/great cook friend over like my buddy Melody, have a bunch of fresh herbs, spices and citrus fruits on hand, and start inventing infused simple syrups for future cocktails!  We started with a couple of recipes from books, some ideas of pleasing favor combinations, and then created even better combinations after we got warmed up.

Melody wanted to create some grenadine syrup, and made a delicious one using a recipe from Maggie Savarino’s The Seasonal Cocktail Companion.  Another absolutely delicious recipe came from Scott Beattie’s Artisanal Cocktails book for Chinese Five Spice Syrup.

Meanwhile, we had four other syrups we invented simmering away:

Vanilla Bean & Cardamom

Lemon & Coriander Seeds

Juniper Berries, Allspice & Lime

Thyme, Orange & Pink Peppercorn

These four recipes can be found in the Infusions & More tab above, under syrups.  Along with other ways to use these wonderful flavors with other food and drinks.

Here is my haul of our culinary collaboration.  Mixology masterpieces!