Measure & Stir

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


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Fourth of July Cocktail: Make America Flow Again

This is just a quick, four-day-late post to talk about my 4th of July drink. This one was shot gonzo-style (i.e., on my phone), served to a large crowd, and primarily about image. So basically, it was just like politics. Independence day is all about the red, white, and blue, so I decided to bring back that old resort classic, the Lava Flow, and garnish it with an attention-grabbing comb-over of blue sanding sugar.

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And honestly, that’s all there is to it. We had initially tried rimming the glass with blue sugar, but with this style of glass, that did not provide the density that I desired for maximum visual impact. Sprinkling blue sugar on top proved to be both more striking and simpler to execute.

For the puree, I blended a cup of raspberries, a cup of strawberries, and ~6 oz of raspberry jam, and stored the puree in a squeeze bottle. This produced both a richness of flavor and a thick viscosity, ideal for coating the outside of clear plastic party cups.

for the smoothie, we used compressed pineapple, made in my friend Johan’s chamber vac. It didn’t affect the final drink in any noticeable way, but it signaled our molecularly gastronomic values. The plating was the most interesting part of this drink, I am sure you will agree.

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Make America Flow Again
3/4 Cup of compressed pineapple
8 oz light rum (Bacardi)
4 oz Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream
3 oz lime juice
2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
2 Cups of ice
Blend it up, and pour it into a clear glass with red stripes of berry puree. Top with blue sanding sugar.

All of the above measurements are approximations, except the rum/lime/sugar. Perhaps ironically, I never measure my smoothies.

The most frustrating thing about this drink is that it tastes better if you swirl it all together, and that completely ruins the aesthetics. Personally I’d rather preserve its beauty, but most guests opted for the stir. Populism vs. elitism, I guess.

Happy (belated) fourth.


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Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Pineapple and Coconut

I’ve never been to Hawaii myself, but several of my friends have been on holiday there during the last year. They’ve all brought back delicious snacks, and there’s always some kind of macadamia-based treat included amongst the bounty. I don’t know what it is about this state, but it must be overflowing with macadamia nuts. The last friend of mine to visit the 50th state brought back what has been my favorite macadamia treat so far: macadamia nut liqueur.

Being a gift from Hawaii, this ingredient was destined to be mixed into a macadamia-themed tiki drink, like Joe’s Tkach Tiki Delux, only we wanted to make sure that the macadamia flavor was the main attraction, so Joe and I blended up this tropical treat. Behold!

This drink is nuts, so we call it Macadamia, or Macadamia Piña Colada
3 oz Macadamia nut liqueur
2 oz Smith & Cross rum
2 oz Matusalem rum
1 oz Coconut cream (critically important: use unsweetened coconut cream, not coco lopez)
.5 oz Fresh lime juice
.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
2 or 3 generous handfuls of freshly sliced pineapple chunks

Add all ingredients to a blender with plenty of ice. Blend until the ice is crushed. Pour into four glasses and smack some mint leaves for a garnish.

Something about blended tiki drinks is just really pleasing. What begins with a minty scent is followed by bright tropical notes from the fresh pineapple and citrus juices. The macadamia’s sweet nutty taste rounds out a rummy swallow. Personally, I like to keep the ice in my mouth and munch on it afterwards, but I’m weird like that.

We regret that the garnish was not grandiloquent, however, mint was definitely the right choice for this drink. I always enjoy tiki drinks that come with a fruity garnish, but in our haste to mix other drinks we neglected to cut a pineapple wedge. I guess nothing we could have done here would top the pineapple-as-a-vessel piña colada we made a while ago. If you choose to create a more impressive garnish, you really should keep the mint spring in the mix, as it provides a critical fragrance to this drink.

Aloha!


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Pina Colada, Pineapple Vessel

Happy Monday!

Doug from the Pegu Blog taught me the idea of turning a pineapple upside down and cutting the leaves to make a stem, such that the upside-down pineapple becomes a goblet for a drink. The recipe he gives there is deliciously rummy, but I wanted to get my blend on, so I got some coconut milk from the local asian market, and blended it with lime juice and dark rum. I saved some nice-looking leaves from the pineapple base and skewered them on a toothpick for a quick and dirty garnish. A longer bamboo skewer would have looked a lot better, but as it is it reminded me of a little sailboat, taking me to some exotic tropical destination.

I learned to blend before I learned to mix drinks, and I love to make a good smoothie, even without booze.

I don’t make frozen drinks very often, but since we’re on the subject, I thought I would share here some tips on creating the optimal blend. Unfortunately, when I blend I go by feel, so I don’t have an exact ratio to give you.

Pina Colada

Fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

Unsweetened Coconut milk (use the kind that comes in a can like this)

Fresh lime juice

Simple syrup

Dark Rum

Ice

Blend first without ice, to gauge the flavor, and then again with ice.

There’s no magic to making a good pina colada, but rather you must exercise your good taste, and strive for a balance of flavors which captures the essence of the pina colada. In a perfect preparation, there will be about 2.5 times as much ice by volume as pineapple chunks, and the coconut milk will add the necessary aqueous element to allow the blades of the blender to turn smoothly. Even with my ridiculously powerful vitamix, if the drink is too dry, the blades will form a little vaccuum around themselves at the bottom the blender, and turn without turning the drink.

Blending all of the ice into a slushy texture dramatically increases the dilution of the drink, and makes it very cold, so it becomes necessary to add a small quantity of simple syrup. Otherwise, the ice will numb the tongue, and the drink will be bland.

I suggest blending the fruit and juice before introducing the other ingredients, so that you can establish a good baseline of flavor before committing to ice. You probably want a ratio of about 2/3 blended pineapple to 1/3 coconut milk, and about 1/2 oz of simple syrup for every five ounces of fruit, but I just made those numbers up. Keep the lime in parity with the simple syrup, and constantly taste it.

Is the coconut fully expressed in combination with the pineapple? if not, add a bit more. Is the total drink sweet enough? Before it is iced, it should be just slightly sweeter than you want the final product. Once you have perfected your smoothie, add about 3 oz of rum per person, and then blend with ice. Hollowing out a pineapple is kind of a pain, but it’s worth it once in a while to beat the heat.