Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


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Glam Nog: The Hot New Holiday Trend

This will, as you no doubt intuit, be my final post of the year. I will confess that the subtitle “The Hot New Holiday Trend” is more aspirational than fact, but you, gentle reader, can easily actualize it.

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Glam Nog is not a specific recipe, it’s more like a feeling you get, deep inside your heart. It’s the friends you made along the way. It’s edible glitter and gold sprinkled all over the top of your egg nog. You can make glam nog with two ingredients: your favorite egg nog from the grocery store, and edible gold.A fancy ribbon will also go a long way, but let’s be real, you can also go much, much bigger.

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Below I will give my recipe for luxurious, silky, dare I say it, glamorous egg nog. Think of it as my Christmas present to you, and as your Christmas present to yourself.

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Regarding the composition of egg nog, I will first note that many people are put off by the idea of drinking raw egg yolks, drowned in liquor or not. To me, the ideal egg nog needs to be accessible, so I chose to use créme anglaise as the base of my nog. Long-time readers may remember a previous foray of mine into the use of this ingredient. To make the créme anglaise, I followed this recipe from Chefsteps, but in lieu of the whisk/double boiler conventional method, I cooked mine sous vide at 82c for 15 minutes.

This will, of course, scramble the eggs a bit, but you can easily repair this damage by giving your custard a spin in a high speed blender. I’m not sure if this is technically correct, but it’s easy and delicious, and yields a lovely pourable custard. For mine, I also made a mélange of winter spices and cooked them into the custard. Mine was something like:

3g nutmeg
3g allspice
3g mace
2g cardamon
2g cinnamon
5g vanilla paste

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I did have a small issue from my previous work with this ingredient. The custard is too heavy, and it can’t hold any air. Shake it, blend it, whisk it — it just won’t aerate. It sinks instantly. In pursuit of aeration, I sampled several high quality local Seattle nogs, and I found that a higher milk:yolk content is one way to make the drink more frothable. Too much yolk weighs the mixture down, but more milk results in a lighter, eminently more aeratable nog.

I wanted to build on the egg flavor more, and I felt like the milkier nogs were a tease. To deliver a double whammy of egg in my nog, I had the idea to try integrating a meringue into the custard. I made an italian meringue by bringing 150 grams of sugar and 57 grams of water up to 235 C, and then pouring it into a stand mixer full of stiff peaks egg whites. The hot sugar cooks the whites and stiffens them up into a velvety, marshmallowy foam. To drive home the holiday flavor, I used a blend of white and muscovado sugar in my meringue.

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For the spirits I used a 50/50 blend of vanilla bean-infused bourbon and demerara rum. I find that the presence of fatty liquids such as milk, cream, or custard makes booze taste boozier. In order to keep my nog smooth and drinkable, I dropped the proportion of alcohol down to a single ounce. An ounce of whole milk rounded out the drink, giving it a little bit of levity.

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Glam Nog: The Hot New Holiday Trend
2 oz Muscovado Italian Meringue
1 oz Winter Spice Creme Anglaise
1 oz Whole Milk
.5 oz Vanillla-infused Bourbon
.5 oz Demerara Rum
Shake it Briefly, then double strain into a glass decorated with ribbons and Christmas ornaments. Top it with edible glitter and gold.

The more you glam this up, the more you will enjoy it. Use your imagination and follow your heart.

See you in 2018!


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Thanksgiving Cocktail: The Day After Thanksgiving: Bourbon, Cranberry, Mushroom, Savory Herbs Air, Crispy Turkey Skin

Thanksgiving is over, but I wanted to get this one out before the end of the year. It is inspired by the sandwich you make the day after Thanksgiving. You remember that, right? It was like a week ago.

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I’ve been attempting a lot of sweet and savory drinks this year. I like the challenge. It took a while, but I finally had one succeed. As always, some notes on ingredients and method. The ingredients in this drink proceeded straightforwardly from the concept. I looked into my mental toolkit and found the ingredients suited the theme.

Wild Turkey Rye. Rye whiskey here fills in for the bread in the sandwich. Nothing else will do, although a splash of aquavit might not have been a miss. It pretty obviously has to be Wild Turkey, for the name.

Cranberry juice. Cranberry juice varies wildly in its sweetness. Freshly juiced cranberries are earthy, sweet, tart, and bitter. On their own they can sometimes make a fine replacement for lemon juice in a cocktail, but it is necessary to taste them and calibrate your level of simple syrup appropriately. In one iteration of this drink, I made the mistake of mixing blindly, and I over-sweetened the drink to catastrophic effect.

Mushroom reduction. Mushroom in cocktails has been a white whale of mine for some time. I cannot resist the lure of the idea: umami, earthy, funky. To make this mushroom reduction, I soaked about 50g (total) of dried porcini, morel, and chanterelle mushrooms in about a liter of water. Once the mushrooms were reconstituted, I reduced the liquid down to about 20%. Raw mushroom broth tastes like the pantry, you must heat it.

Savory Herbs Air. Perhaps I repeat myself, sometimes, and with this one I feel a bit repetitive. First, I make a syrup from rosemary, sage, and thyme. To make the syrup, I first blanch the herbs, then blend them in a high speed blender with equal parts of sugar and water, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. The resulting syrup is a lovely forest green. To 200 ml of syrup I add several teaspoons of sucrose esters and beat with a whisk in a wide mouth bowl until a light, “soapy” foam forms.

Crispy Turkey Skin. For the turkey skin, I salted the skin from a turkey leg and placed it between two oven trays lined with silpats, weighed it down with some iron plates, and baked it at a low heat for an hour. When it came out of the oven, I trimmed it into a square. Eating the skin with the drink really recalls the flavors and aromas of the Thanksgiving meal.

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The Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich
1.5 oz Wild Turkey Rye
.75 oz fresh cranberry
.5 simple
.25 mushroom stock
Pinch msg
Top with Savory Herbs Air

The dried mushroom on the skin was mostly for the photo. It looks dramatic but to be honest it does not smell great, and it is, of course, inedible. My favorite garnishes are those which transform the flavor of the drink they accompany, as with the olive in a martini. The turkey skin accomplishes that nicely. Maybe I should have done a dollop of mashed potatoes? Next year we’ll see if I can make an appetizing cocktail with turkey gravy.

Cheers.