Measure & Stir

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


2 Comments

Enchanted Valentine’s: Beauty and the Beast Cocktail with Rose, Bourbon, Pomegranate

Who told you that you might gather my roses? Was it not enough that I allowed you to be in my palace and was kind to you? This is how you show your gratitude, by stealing my flowers? But your insolence shall not go unpunished!

The merchant, terrified by these furious words, dropped the fatal rose, and, throwing himself on his knees, cried: “Pardon me, noble sir. I am truly grateful to you for your hospitality, which was so magnificent that I could not imagine that you would be offended by my taking such a little thing as a rose.

beatyandbeast-00227

We finished our Enchanted Valentine’s Day with a cream puff and a cocktail centered around roses, and inspired by Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. As before, Johan describes his half of the project in excruciating detail.

Despite the French setting of the story, the flavor of rose is most at home amongst Levantine flavors, and without any particular intention, we found ourselves pairing it with arak, pistachio, and pomegranate, as well as white chocolate and bourbon. We had a few false starts with this dish, but ultimately we landed in a place that made me feel proud.

At one point I tried smoking the drink by burning rose petals, but it made the drink smell like cigarettes and cheap perfume. Beautiful cloche or no, I cannot suggest rose petal smoke in any capacity.

beautyandbeast-00226

To keep things sweet, and to announce our desserty intentions, I used a vanilla-infused bourbon as the base of this drink, and paired it with a rose shrub, a rinse of arak, and a bit of pomegranate juice. The rose shrub was perfect in this drink, and to be honest I made it as much for the pun value as for the flavor. I’ve used rose syrup before, but to develop the  complexity of the rose, I chose to extract the flavor of fresh rose petals into white vinegar.

Don’t get fancy with the vinegar when you’re making something like this. Apple cider or champagne vinegar would muddy this up too much. To get a clean flavor, I used distilled white vinegar as my base.

Rose Shrub
170g of sugar
150 ml of white vinegar
All of the petals from 6 red roses
In a large bowl, toss all the petals in the sugar to coat them, and let them sit, covered, for half a day. Add the vinegar and stir. Allow the shrub to sit covered, at room temperature, for 2-3 more days.

For the garnish, I bought some wires for arranging flowers, and wired a whole fresh rose around the stem of a coup glass. My roses weren’t very fragrant, so I sprayed them with a little bit of rose-flower water before serving. It’s easy to overdo it with rose flower water, so be careful.

beautyandbeast-00230

Be So Kind as to Bring Me a Rose
1.5 oz Vanilla-Infused Bourbon
.5 oz Rose Shrub
.25 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 tsp of Arak
Stir over ice, strain, and serve in a coupe with a rose wired around it. Intimidate your guests with your gruff presence and threatening demeanor.

At this point I have used vanilla-infused bourbon in so many drinks that I’m not going to bother to talk about it. Drop a vanilla bean in a bottle of bourbon. Wait about three days. There is no need to ever remove the vanilla bean. If the vanilla gets too strong, blend the vanilla bourbon with un-infused bourbon at mixing-time.

I never thought mixology would take me to flower arranging, but here I am.


1 Comment

Mulled Wine (Glogg): Red Wine, Cognac, Port, Winter Spices,

Clearly, we could all use a drink tonight. Moreover, it’s winter and that means it’s hot toddy time, though I confess I did take a break to make you some ice cream. Let’s not overthink it.

I have made many mulled and spiced wines, and if you dig through deep history you can even find a forgettable post about it on this very blog.

There’s not a lot to say about it, to be honest. The basis of any good hot toddy is brown spirits and winter spices. Warm gin, is that something you want? Rhetorical. To feel the warmth from your drink, you need to use a rich brown spirit like bourbon, rum, or brandy, and to make a composed toddy, you need cinnamon at the very least.

glogg2

The cool thing about both brown spirits and brown spices is that they already have soft, “muddy” flavors. Curries and winter stews are the same way. They have big, layered flavors that all blur together into something indistinct, complex, and pleasant. We eat things like this in the winter because they are comforting, and the same principle applies to our drinks.

This exact mulled wine is a Norwegian variant of mulled wine, noteworthy because it is served with slivered almonds and raisins, which soak up the drink and, in the words of my friend Johan, “give you something to munch on”. I found the inclusion of almonds in this toddy to be a delightful addition.

glogg

Mulled Wine (Glogg)
1 bottle of red wine
200 ml brandy
100 ml port
150 g sugar
2 tsp cardamom pods
12 cloves
4 sticks of cinnamon
2 split vanilla beans
4 cm of peeled ginger
2 anise stars
1 fat orange peel

Combine all in a pot and simmer for ten minutes, being careful not to boil. Strain and serve in a cup with raisins and slivered almonds.

As you can see, this recipe is straightforward. It will not surprise you, but it will please a crowd, and if you’ve been trudging through snowy fjords, I’m told, it’s the perfect pick-me-up. I actually scaled the sugar down significantly from the original recipe, because I like my drinks to be only moderately sweet, but if you are inclined to more syrupy concoctions, I could not hold it against you if you doubled it.

Hot Toddy Lesson Three: Use a base of brown spirits and winter spices.

Cheers.


Leave a comment

Seventh Inning Stretch: Root Beer, Bourbon, Salted Peanuts, Oksusucha

It’s getting cold again, and that means its time for my favorite family of mixed drinks: the hot toddy. What is a hot toddy, exactly? For me it’s a feeling you get when it’s rainy and cold outside, and you bring a glass of steaming, aqueous whiskey to your lips. When it’s done right, it warms you to your core.

And yet, the recipe is flexible. At its most essential, it consists of lemon, sugar, whiskey, and boiling water. That is a decent hot toddy all on its own, but it can be a bit plain. When I make it that way, I grate fresh cinnamon and nutmeg over the top, and garnish with a fatty orange peel.

Today, I wanted to do something a little different.

seventh-inning-stretch

This is baseball-inspired hot toddy that I threw together on a whim. This follows my standard hot toddy formulation, which I will be expositing for you at some length over the next few posts.

We start with a base spirit, and I chose to use Bourbon, because it is the all-American choice. I wish I could say it went deeper than that.

In order to evoke the theme of baseball, I made a root beer syrup by boiling star anise, cloves, and sassafras in a syrup made with 1 cup of water, 3/4 cup of white sugar, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Brown sugar is not as sweet as white, but the syrup is still a little rich this way. I finished the syrup with citric acid, to balance the sweetness.

In order to evoke popcorn, I lengthened this drink with 옥수수차 (Oksusucha) — Korean roasted corn tea. It doesn’t taste quite like popcorn, but it hits the right notes and joins the bourbon’s corn flavors to the sassafras’ herbaceousness.

To finish it off, I rimmed the toasted peanuts, ground with salt and sugar to taste. I admit the rim was a little sloppy, but the oily peanut clumped in a way that was difficult to work with. Drying this powder out, either by letting it sit out uncovered, or (maybe? by mixing it with a bit of tapioca maltodextrin) would probably help it form a more consistent coating. Even so, it was delicious.

seventh-inning-stretch-2

Seventh Inning Stretch
1.5 oz Vanilla-infused Bourbon
.5 oz Root Beer Syrup*
4 oz 옥수수차 (Oksusucha)
Salt peanut rim
Build the drink in a mug, finishing with still near-boiling oksusucha.

Root Beer Syrup
1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp sassafras bark
1 tsp star anise
5 or 6 cloves
Bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes, then strain. Finish with 1 tsp of powdered citric acid.

When the drink was still piping hot, it had a bland flavor and alcohol burn. Once it cooled down to a comfortable temperature, the flavor was a bit muddy on the sip, but with pleasant roasty corn notes that gave way to a medium-bodied root beer finish. As the drink cooled, it became a little too sweet.

Hot Toddy Lesson One: pay close attention to your serving temperature. There is a perfect window, and you need to find it.

Cheers.


7 Comments

Carrera: Apricot, Vanilla, Bourbon, Vodka, Cinnamon

I made this a few weeks ago, and I just couldn’t let it sit any longer. I think it is one of my best drinks to date. I was influenced by my time in Japan, particularly at the bar of Gen Yamamoto, who I think is one of the most creative and inspiring bartenders in the business. The strength of his drinks is in their subtlety, and in the way that the natural flavors of his ingredients become objects of contemplation.

To duplicate this effect, I have been casting fresh fruit juices from my macerating juicer in the role of the base spirit, and using lower volumes of alcohol as accent marks. The juice from soft fruits is often saturated with soft pulp, and as such the yield from an apricot or a kumquat is halfway between a juice and a purée. The balance of the viscosity of the juice against that of the spirits provides ample space for a bartender to meditate on texture.

carerra

Carrera
1.25 oz Fresh Apricot Juice
.5 Vanilla-Infused Bourbon
.5 Vodka
.5 Fresh Orange Juice [optional]
1 Barspoon agave syrup

Shake and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a coupe glass. Agitate the mixture through the strainer with a barspoon if necessary. Grate fresh cinnamon across the top.

In the past I was quite offended by vodka, but I have found that it is highly desirable in this style of drink. Soju, Shochu, Sake, and Vodka all have their place when the emphasis is on the delicate and ephemeral. The mere presence of alcohol can make other flavors seem louder and more distinct. Wine, whiskey, coffee — we are accustomed to looking for the entire world of culinary flavors in these things — but perhaps we can perform the same trick with an apricot?

My method is to use a minimum of a spirit to achieve its presence in the end product, and then pad the volume of 80 proof liquor in the drink up to a single ounce. In this case, I wanted to combine the vanilla and bourbon with the taste of fresh apricot, but I wanted the bourbon to play the auxiliary role.

Apricot can be quite acidic when consumed as a juice; it is tangy and floral, and a bit of sweetness from syrup draws out hints of spice; cinnamon in the garnish and vanilla in the bourbon should be like echoes of the notes struck by the fruit. Raw fruits and vegetables can possess a surprisingly complexity all on their own, if one is patient and attentive. Anything as strong as bitters or herbal liqueur would be distracting, like a crashing cymbal in the middle of a cello suite.

Finally, an optional half measure of orange juice blends very seamlessly into the apricot, elongating it, and recalls the flavor of a tangerine. Unfortunately, it sacrifices some of the apricot’s sharpness. I suggest trying both variations.

乾杯!


9 Comments

I Should Buy A Boat: Rum, Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Champagne

I had very fond memories of this rum, grapefruit, cinnamon drink, and in fact, I remembered it as one of my happiest accidents. So, the other day, I mixed one up and I found that the flavor was too sweet, perhaps even cloying. I have updated the drink, looking through the lens of more experience running this blog. The new version, which I have named, is a significant improvement.

buyaboat1

In the original, I used Monin vanilla syrup, and white grapefruit juice, and I derived the cinnamon flavor from cinnamon sticks. When I remade the drink, I used pink grapefruit juice, due to availability, and my homemade cinnamon+vanilla syrup, which I make a bit rich at 1.2 sugar/water. I think the Monin syrup is closer to 1.0, and that the juice of white grapefruit is undeniably dryer, and perhaps a bit more complex than that of the pink.

It was not only the sweetness of the drink that did offend, it was also the texture, which I found to be slightly syrupy. The flavor, however, was balanced between cinnamon and grapefruit, so I did not want to adjust the quantity of syrup. Making a lighter syrup would be one option, but I preferred to lengthen the drink by pouring it over ice, and topping it with two ounces of champagne.

The ice is perhaps unnecessary, but I wanted to serve it at a party as a highball, and it did not detract from the texture. If your syrup is not a bit rich, I would not use ice.

buyaboat2

I Should Buy a Boat
1.5 oz Dark Rum (Doorly’s)
1 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
.5 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 oz Champagne
Shake all but Champagne over ice and double strain over fresh ice. Top with 2 oz Champagne and garnish with a grapefruit slice. Grate a bit of fresh cinnamon on top of the grapefruit in front of your guest, for aroma.

The flavors of this drink somehow came together in a way that suggested cherries and almonds, even though neither of those flavors was present in the ingredients. There might have been notes of those things in the champagne we used (which was from Trader Joe’s, I can’t remember the label), but certainly not enough to create those impressions as distinctly as they were present in the drink.

I worry that my garnishing procedure grows too elaborate, sometimes. Part of my garnish-o-mania derives from the necessity to take interesting photographs, but it has become one of my favorite parts of the craft.

This post is running long, but one quick note on the name. It had rum, and champagne, and I was serving it at a formal party, so I named it after a popular internet cat picture, which I much admire.

i-should-buy-a-boat-cat

This is one of my favorite original creations to date. Cheers!


4 Comments

The Pearsnip: Pear, Vanilla, Parsnip, Lemon

It is gastrophysics* week here at Measure and Stir, a week in which we make drinks using unusual flavor pairings suggested by molecular gastronomy. The idea  is that if ingredients have chemically similar aromas, they will probably taste and smell good together. Some of our experiments turned out better than others, but I think this one was probably the best of the bunch. It helped that we started with an excellent base, namely, pear and vanilla-infused brandy.

(*Yes, I know, it’s a silly word)

To make the infusion, I chopped up a bartlett pear, and infused it in one cup of cognac along with a tablespoon of cane sugar and a filleted vanilla bean. After three days, the infusion was ready, and thoroughly delicious. In my experience, brandy is the best spirit to combine with pears. This was one of the best infusions I have made, and I really wanted it to be the star of this drink, so I started with two ounces of the pear-infused brandy.

Parsnip juice has a very light flavor, but it is sweet, much like carrot juice. Indeed, I often think of a parsnip as an albino carrot. I found that I had to add two ounces of parsnip juice to balance it against the brandy. That combination was delicious on its own, but it still needed some acidity to add interest upon the palate, and lemon is less disruptive than lime or vermouth. Half an ounce of lemon was just right, along with a touch of brown sugar syrup, to bring out the parsnip, and two dashes of grapefruit bitters, for depth.

I cannot explain that last decision, it just felt right.

The Pearsnip
2 oz Pear Vanilla Brandy (infused Cognac Salignac)
2 oz Parsnip Juice
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Brown Sugar Syrup
2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (Fee’s)
Shake over ice and double-strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with pear wedge impaled on vanilla bean, and grate a little bit of vanilla bean over the top.

Ordinarily I am opposed to grating anything over the top of a drink, lest the small particles disrupt the texture of the drink. Nutmeg and cinnamon work in this format, but lemon or lime zest are unpleasant to imbibe, in my opinion. I was on the fence about the vanilla bean, but we ran it over a microplane grater and it was surprisingly flavorful and unobtrusive.

Until next time, keep it craft.


3 Comments

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.