Measure & Stir

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


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Pumpkin Juice, Bourbon, Nutmeg

Pumpkin is one of those quintessential icons of autumn in America. Across the continent the orange globes are ubiquitous from late September until early November, especially in October, before halloween. Lately, the pumpkin proliferation has captivated our inner mixologist, and so here we are, mixing them into drinks. Furthermore, what sort of  cocktail blog we this be without a pumpkin drink in October?

There are many ways to integrate pumpkin flavor into your drinks. If you want the easy way out, there are some pumpkin liqueurs that are seasonally available, such as a pumpkin spice liqueur from Hiram Walker. Also, although I don’t personally recommend them, there are pumpkin-flavored vodkas which show up occasionally. But, if you’re looking to use raw pumpkin, as we did, your options include pumpkin syrup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, or  fresh pumpkin juice. We chose to use fresh pumpkin juice. Why? Because fresh pumpkin juice is tasty, and it’s rich in alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C , В1, B2, В6, and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, and fatty acids. It has a semi-sweet, light, vegetal taste, and pairs well with cinnamon, vanilla,  nutmeg, and, most importantly, whiskey.

As always, it’s vitally important to use fresh juice. If you aren’t using fresh juice, we highly recommend investing in a juicer. Any kind of juicer is better than no juicer, as store-bought juices are usually pasteurized, which tragically destroys many of the health benefits and, more importantly, the flavor benefits, of using fresh juice. Besides, half the fun and charm of mixing drinks is using seasonal fruits and flavors, and what better or more fun way than to make some fresh juice at home?

Bourbon Pumpkin Patch
1.5 oz Bourbon
1 oz Fresh pumpkin juice, strained
.75 oz Cardamaro
.5 oz Cinnamon/Vanilla syrup
Dash of Angostura bitters

Shake, strain into a cocktail goblet, garnish with freshly ground nutmeg and a pumpkin sail.

This drink goes something like this: pumpkin juice and nutmeg on the sip, followed by the spices from the other elements in the drink, and finally the oaky barrel-aged tastes from the bourbon linger after the swallow. Cardamaro is the perfect fall aperitivo; it has just the right blend of spice and herb notes. It’s a tad bitter, but not as much as punt e mes or carpano antica. The pumpkin flavor came through, but not as strongly as we had hoped. If you choose to make one of these at home, here’s how to improve this recipe: the pumpkin juice needs to be reduced with sugar and spices, and the bourbon needs to be rye. We’d leave the Cardamaro right where it is, though, it’s perfect. Fresh nutmeg on top went a long way towards getting it there. Don’t skimp on that fresh nutmeg!

I want to say that this drink was awesome, but in all honesty, using the pumpkin’s juice probably isn’t the best way to incorporate it’s flavor into a cocktail. We made this drink to celebrate the fall, and to that end, I think we could have done better by making some kind of toddy, or perhaps another round of Memories of Fall.  Next time we mix with pumpkin, we’ll either try using the pumpkin’s seeds, which I’ve heard lend a delightful earthy quality to a drink, or we’ll make some pumpkin syrup.


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Oaxacan Flower: Horchata, Mezcal

Steve Livigni and Daniel K. Nelson, of ‘Drink, Inc.’, have come up with a brilliant drink built around my favorite agua fresca, horchata. You can check out the story behind the drink by watching their youtube video (spoilers: they invent it for some restaurant).

We wanted to do it properly and make our own homemade horchata… Unfortunately neither of us had ever made it before, and every recipe we could find was different. Apparently there are a million ways to make horchata, and everyone seems to have their own recipe. We decided to wing it and make up our own.

Horchata
1 cup milk
1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean

Combine rice, milk, and water in a medium-sized pot and heat it up over a medium heat. Crumble up the cinnamon sticks into the pot. Split the vanilla bean down its center and add it to the pot too. Don’t let it boil, just keep it warm, and let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Stop before the rice is fully cooked. Dump the lot into a blender, add additional water, and purée. Keep going, adding water until the desired consistency is achieved. Strain through a cheesecloth.

In the end, we sweetened things up with some vanilla/cinnamon syrup, to taste. If I were to make horchata again, I might add some raw, chopped almonds while the rice is cooking, and perhaps omit the milk altogether (subbing in an additional cup of water instead). There is certainly room for improvement and experimentation here, so if you have any horchata advice, please share your tips!

Oaxacan Flower
1.5 oz Spice-infused Mezcal
2 oz Horchata
Dry shake (to froth the horchata) and serve over crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wedge, star anise, cloves, and grate fresh cinnamon over the top.

The original recipe calls for spice-infused mezcal, but they never mention what sort of spice to use. We just used regular mezcal. No regrets. Mezcal and horchata work astonishingly well together. The spices in the garnish highlight the cinnamon pep provided by the horchata, and the mezcal’s flavors are truly transformed, shifted toward the sweeter side of the spectrum, but still complex, bold, and smoky. This drink would pair perfectly with some delicious adobada tacos, and has become one of my all-time favorite mezcal drinks.

¡Disfruten sus bebidas, mis compañeros de borracheras! Salud.