Cocktails

Cocktails

Blending Gins

pouring-ribbons-old-fashioned-7-15

The art of blending is expanding into the world of gin. You may have seen such cocktails as of late if you are a patron of some cutting edge cocktail bars that tend to push the envelop; however, we predict this is a trend which is going to rapidly take the gin world by storm.

With the advent of contemporary gins, there are now more than ever gins which emphasize other ingredients than the humble juniper berry. If you have a flavor preference, odds are there’s a gin on the market today that pushes gin in that direction. This vast array of gins can now empower even the non-distiller to reimagine what their ideal gin might be and taste-like.

It’s also a way for fans of classic gin aficionados to embrace the new flavors while staying true to the style’s roots. But more on that in the blending section below. First, a case study of a cocktail found in the wild at one of my favorite spots, Pouring Ribbons in Manhattan, New York.

The Old Fashioned at Pouring Ribbons, July 2015

Case Study: The Old Fashioned at Pouring Ribbons

The cocktail itself is magical.

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Cocktails

Sneak Preview: Varuna Cocktail

Varuna-Preview-Photo

I’m excited today to share with you a second sneak preview from my forthcoming book Gin: the Art and Craft or the Artisan Revival. 

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found facing the recent explosion in quite excellent Aged Gins is the lack of cocktails to make with them. I partnered with friend and cocktail creator Justin (follow him on Twitter @thetoptippler) to help engineer some novel creations that highlight these new spirits. One which I’m really proud to share with you today is called the Varuna Cocktail and it is an unlikely pairing of aged gin and coconut rum that is absolutely sublime and unique. You’re going to love this drink as much as I do, I promise. And you can get a head-start on making one of these new aged gin cocktails today.

The Aged Gin!

I was playing around with Aged Gins and Justin’s cocktail. Roundhouse Spirits in Colorado makes a fantastic Imperial Barrel Aged Gin (). In the Varuna, Justin’s drink uses this gin to showcase the chamomile, floral, caramelized notes and marries them perfectly with the slight coconut note from the dash of rum, all in a rich, frothy texture.

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Cocktails

Summer Gin Cocktails: Watermelon Gin Fizzy

watermelonfizzy

Cooking as the summer approaches can be a fool’s errand – especially when you don’t live in an apartment with AC, and the temps start to rise above 85F.

So, while I am avoiding cooking in the kitchen , I present a lovely summer gin cocktail to keep you cool.

Watermelon Gin Fizzy

Some watermelon

Some gin (I used Halcyon Gin)

Mint leaves

Soda water

Simple Syrup

A pinch of salt

Ice

Rocks glass

I let the gin and watermelon soak for a couple days.

Cocktail, assemble!

Mash up the watermelon and gin together. You can do this step ahead – slice up some seedless or de-seeded watermelon and let it soak in some gin. Or for a more spur of the moment cocktail, just mash it in a glass together. Add the ice. Slice up a couple mint leaves and add to glass. Then, put in some simple syrup to taste – maybe half an ounce or less, whatever suits your sweet tooth. Add a pinch of salt – the tiniest pinch. Trust me! The salt helps even out the flavors and bring out the freshness of the watermelon.

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Cocktails

Cooking in the Kitchen with Gin – Gin Whipped Cream

Heaven.

Gin Whipped Cream – So much more than you’d think.

After making the Gin Vanilla, it occurred to me that I could use this mixture in place of regular vanilla…for anything! Cookies, pancakes, sauces, ice cream, etc. And then, couldn’t I use just regular gin in place of vanilla?

Enter the Gin Whipped Cream. This is really lovely and different from the Cool Whip you buy from the freezer and spoon into your mouth on a hot August Sunday. (Ahem.) It’s rich, creamy, and scented with the notes of the gin. There’s no cooking, so much of the flavor and nose is preserved in sugary-cream form.

This is a rather simple recipe:

12 oz heavy whipping cream

4 Tbls Sugar

1/2 oz Gin, or Gin Vanilla

Whip all of this together with a mixer in a metal bowl, until soft peaks form.

Voila. It’s good with everything – berries, ice cream, itself.

Heaven.

Now, the real challenge here is combining this into a cocktail. A Gin Vanilla jam drink with Gin Jam topped with Gin Whipped Cream? A knitted hat to the first person that makes this. ;P

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Cocktails

Cooking with Gin: Gin in Horchata

IMG_20150421_210508

That’s right – we’re putting gin into drinks that are historically non-alcoholic. That’s just what we do here in Gin-Central.

Struck by the tastiness of Gin infused Vanilla, and presented with a whole takeout tin of leftover rice, Horchata happened! How did it happen, you ask?

Well, like this:

Gin Horchata

This is based on the Mexican horchata – rice, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and copious amounts of sugar. I’ve altered it a bit because I was too impatient to soak the rice overnight, like many recipes I saw.

Ingredients:

1 cup Leftover rice – and I mean leftover. If you cook up a fresh batch, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

1 cup Rice Milk – optional. You can also use water.

4 cups Milk

1/2 cup sugar, or, to taste

Dose of Gin Vanilla, or just plain gin. Or, just vanilla, but c’mon.

Liberal amount of cinnamon

Hand Blender, or regular blender if you must

Pan that you can cook in, and ideally put in the fridge

Ladel

Serving cups

Ice

Method to the Madness:

Put most of the rice in a pan on the oven.

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Cocktails

Cooking with Gin – An utter failure

Look at how nice these slices are! Oh it all went wrong in the end like a terribly depressing Dostoevsky novel.

Well, friends, I’m sure you all think I’m a kitchen whiz by now. Gin wife, you’ll say, you saw the hundreds of gins floating around the apartment and thought ‘I can cook with this’, you must be some kind of gin wizard!

Er, not quite. Let me tell you a tale of abject failure.

Candied Citrus Rinds with Gin Glaze

These fruits look well peeled. They are lies.

Sounds delicious, yes?

To start with, I didn’t do much research. Thought I knew what I needed to do! Well, turns out, this is what you ought to do:

    Peel citrus fruit after furiously scrubbing the fruit product. Scrap off pith. Cut into fine strips. Boil rinds for an hour, rinse. Throw into pot with sugar/gin mixture and let reach the candy-ing temperature. Cover pot, put on simmer, and let cook down for another hour. The rinds should be deliciously sugared!

I used a thermometer! What happened!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I did:

    Peel citrus fruit. Attempt to scrap off pith. Cursed citrus gods. Cut into an attempt at fine strips.

    Look at how nice these slices are! Oh it all went wrong in the end like a terribly depressing Dostoevsky novel.

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Cocktails

The Gin Wife Invents: Dare I Drink a Plum?

Dare I Drink a Plum?

Friends, the Gin Wife again. I am here to present to you an invented cocktail of mine, something with lots of rich, spice-ful flavors which I find to be perfect for the holiday season.

Dare I Drink a Plum?

2 parts Greenhook Ginsmith’s Beach Plum Gin (or any Beach Plum Gin, this is what we had around, and honestly, what was the inspiration for this drink.)

1 part Soda Water

1 half part Art in the Age’s Root Liquor (Or dashes of spiced bitters, something with good, dark, rich flavor. Something molasses-y, perhaps!)

1 generous lemon (any brand) squeeze

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, and shake it up! Pour over ice. Simple! Add a dash of cinnamon if you are feeling it.

I have a half a notion that this would also taste good heated up, but the other half of that notion is worried that the richness of the Beach Plum liquor would overwhelm, well, everything. I will have to update when I am brave enough to try.

Aaron will be discussing the Beach Plum Gin in more detail soon! As for my notes: I liked it. I like plum and plum-like flavors.

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Cocktails

Mxmo #88: Hainuwele’s Gin

Hainuweles-gin

Does the coconut not get the respect it deserves? Coconut is everywhere! It’s a bonafide trend, the water at least. I mean, few billion dollar industries can complain about “not getting respect” and come out sounding unlike this guy. But I suppose this week’s MxMo theme, courtesy of JFL at Rated R Cocktails does have a point: aside from the ubiquitous and often underwhelming Piña Colada, Coconut doesn’t have the same prestigious place in the cocktail fruit pantheon as Pineapple or Blackberry. So, in the spirit of the challenge, can we bring coconut back to the stage? Can we make it the star? Give it a reason to be kept behind the bar? And most importantly can I laugh in the face of all that is holy and sacred in food pairing and make gin and coconut work together? Take that Flavor Bible*.

Direction

I thought that my challenge was going to be pairing the astringent foresty notes of a good gin with coconut’s creamy richness. Gin and cream go together really well, but for some reason coconut always felt a little dissonant with gin: a touch funky, a touch tropical, but without that delightful acidic balance that pineapple or citrus fruits bring to the party.

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Cocktails

Bar Review: The Drawing Room

henry house halifax

photo from: www.thecoast.ca

My interest was piqued the moment I heard there was something of a “speakeasy” just a short couple of blocks from where we were staying while we were in Halifax.

Enter the Drawing Room, the upstairs speakeasy at an unassuming pub [of which there are many it seems in downtown Halifax]. It’s only open two nights a week, Friday and Saturday. The space however, would not seem out of place in New York City, or any other city with a thriving cocktail scene. A dimly lit, well appointed bar, playing period appropriate music, with simple wooden seating. If this were in New York, you can be sure there’s be another 15 tables in here. But in Halifax? The tables were spread out far enough to give each party their own space. Though the atmosphere might have been a touch louder than other speakeasies, it never felt lacking in intimacy. The Gin Wife and I had plenty of space to enjoy our drinks.

Though, perhaps I am being unfair. Naturally, as an avid cocktail bar visitor in New York, it seems only natural to compare. This is the only place of its kind in Halifax [as far as I know.

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Cocktails

The Confederation Cocktail

confederation cocktail

While on our recent vacation to the Canadian Maritimes, I did my best to try as many local/regional products as possible. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Something to that degree I think. One of these things which caught the eye of the Gin Wife and I was a Maple Dessert Wine from Rossignol Winery on Prince Edward Island. On its own, its sweet, with a hint of caramel, burnt brown sugar, maple, and young port. Nice, but perhaps a touch sweeter than we were able to drink a whole bottle of in a single sitting.

Enter my gin tasting. I had only a small set of basics for writing up the few gins I couldn’t bring back*: tonic, soda, and of course anything else we picked up along the way. Other things [such as the Maple cream liqueur] didn’t quite stick around long enough for me to use in a review. But this local wine, I didn’t want to go to waste, so I did a little bit of on-the-spot cocktail creation to give me a) another lens with which to look at the gins I had to try and b) and an excuse to come up with a Prince Edward Island inspired cocktail.

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