Articles Tagged: Kitchen


Jello Shots with Gin: The Negroni

We continue our series on Jello Shots w/gin [made by my friend Laura] with the one that I was most excited about: The Negroni.  The Negroni shots were not a huge hit, as oddly the intersection between those who were most enthusiastic about Jello shots did not intersect with those most enthusiastic about Negronis.

The Ingredients:

(water) (orange zest) (gelatin) 1/3 cup Campari 1/3 cup sweet italian red vermouth 1/3 cup Pinckney Bend Gin

Ingredients in the Negroni jelly shot: Orange (to be zested), sweet red vermouth, gelatin, gin, campari (in a cup, because Aaron provided it), cookbook.

A layer of Negroni shots. Now, lets mix them up:

Overall, I thought they were excellent. Taste remarkably close to a Negroni. Good amount of bitterness from the Campari and a hint of gin flavor. Well balanced. Better than expected, and without the saccharine sweetness I was expecting from my favorite drink committed to the medium of gelatin.

Again, a special thanks to my friend Laura who made the shots and took all of the pictures. They were all wonderful, and I know at all future parties where to turn for fantastic jello shots that don’t remind you one bit of the ones you might have seen in college.

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Carbonated Gin

Whenever I hear something like “it’s not possible to do something!” [particularly in the kitchen], it sounds to me like a challenge.

With carbonated liqueurs making appearances now in liquor stores, the most logical next step in my opinion is carbonated spirits. The logic in this is clear: it seems that more serious cocktail craft is here to stay. And with that, more folks drinking “neat” or heady drinks made mostly of alcohol with a single block of ice in it. Cocktail craft is about emphasis of the spirits and high quality ingredients. Diluting your spirit with extra ice, water, or worse soda water is something best left to dive bars and amateur night. Carbonating spirits seems the perfect way to get that burst of fizz that makes effervescent drinks such a pleasure to enjoy without shifting attention away from the alcohol. You see where I’m going with this?

I recently got two refills for my soda stream carbonator. So it was time to go to work.

On Process and some misunderstandings First and foremost, yes it is possible to carbonate spirits but “The solubility of CO2 in all of the alcohol…decreases as temperature increases and pressure decreases”* There is less surface tension in alcohol than in water, so the higher the proof of your spirit, the quicker the carbonation will dissipate; therefore there are a couple of key things to consider when making a carbonate spirit.

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Other Thoughts

Homemade Tonic Water, Post-mortem (Part III)

This is part III in my adventure making my own tonic water. Today, I dissect the recipe posted by Jeffrey Morganthaler and tell you:

a) where I went wrong, and why I won’t do that again…. b) where I think the recipe could be improved and what I will do in attempt #2.

 4 cups water  1 cup chopped lemongrass (roughly one large stalk) // I don’t know if this is a mistake, but I felt that there wasn’t enough lemongrass. This could be my mistake and I did not take a big enough stalk of lemongrass. I’m going to double it next time. Or buy one HUGE stalk of lemongrass. ¼ cup powdered cinchona bark // My mistake. I used cinchona bark chunks. Although I attempted to make a powder using a variety of methods, I failed. And the lack of surface area caused there to not be enough quinine and therefore bitterness. Here’s what I tried: first, I tried putting into a pepper mill. The chunks were too big to properly shred. I tried grinding it in a food processor [overheated] and coffee mill [overheated]. Okay, next time: buy the powder. 

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Tonic Water

Aaron’s Homemade Tonic [2012]

homemade tonic 2012

Yesterday I showed you how I made my own tonic syrup. Today, I’m going to review my own tonic water. And tell you where I’m going to go next.

Tasting First, the tonic syrup has a nice thickness to it and a pleasant aroma. Hints of quinine, a bit of a vague herbal aroma, but primarily the citrus comes off a bit strong here. Lots of orange, maybe a hint of lime.

Tasting straight, its rather bracing and sour. Way too much orange and lime. There seems to be an almost “juice-like” element at play in here. Hints of lemonade/orangeade. There’s a little bit of bitterness on the aftertaste, but not as much as you might hope for in a good tonic. You can taste a bit of lemongrass in here, but the vibrancy is drowned out by the overwhelming citrus fruit.

Price: 12.99 for the Chinchona + about $1 for the three citrus fruits + $2 for the lemon grass + $5 for the Citric Acid.  Divide by two since there’s enough for about 2 batches in what I bought. So about $10 / 500 mL Best consumed: Umm, I think it can handle a strong juniper forward gin, but it overwhelms nearly anything that is put in it.

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Other Thoughts

Making my Own Tonic Water (Part I)

For my first Tonic Water making experience I followed along with the seminal work on the topic, Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog post on the subject from a few years ago. 

Firstly, I gathered all of the ingredients. I found most of the more difficult to find things at Kalustyans in New York

Exercising my zest muscle, zesting a series of citrus fruits. The best part of this is the oils that get all over your hands, and if you’re lucky- spring into your face with each zest.

The first step that I was a little uncertain of, which was juicing each of the three fruits.

1 teaspoon full [more or less] of Allspice Berries

Preparing to chop the Lemongrass

Adding the chopped lemongrass to the mixture.

Add water and bring to a boil

When boiling, lower to a simmer and put a lid on it


I decided to use gravity filtration. It took way too long. Next time I’d choose a french press if I could.

Gravity Filtration in full swing

The completely filtered tonic, before adding the simply syrup

The final syrup is gently heated with the simple syrup mixture.

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1GD: with Cardinal Gin

For my wife’s recent birthday, we decided to celebrate at a BYOB restaurant. And you know what that means? How about a Pitcher of Twentieth Century Cocktails starring the quite good Cardinal Gin from North Carolina.

I specifically chose Cardinal because I thought that the mint notes of the gin would compliment the chocolate flavor in the cocktail. Overall, I fear that the mint notes didn’t shine through in this rather potent drink, but I think Cardinal gin succeeded in making a great cocktail nonetheless. Among many drinkers [and many non-gin drinkers] there was nary a complaint and plenty of drinking.

Also, this is the largest cocktail I’ve ever made. And to think, I briefly was worried that this wasn’t going to be enough.

[It wasn’t.]

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1GD: The Alaska Cocktail w/ Brandon’s Gin

Here I am conducting important research. Brandon Thomas Parsons’ Bitters: A spirited history of the classic cure-all with cocktails, recipes and formulas  was the source for this experiment.

Here is the collection of ingredients that we’re putting together for this Alaska Cocktail.

Bitter Truth’s Orange Bitters Yellow Chartreuse (on sale! for a ridiculously low $27!) And of course Brandon’s [quite excellent, review forthcoming] gin.

Its a rather herbaceous cocktail. The Chartreuse is not to be hidden easily, but I think the gin and the herbal notes compliment each other really nicely. I like the sweetness of The Bitter Truth’s Orange Bitters, but after mixing I felt that I should have used Fee Brothers’ Orange Bitters. They’re a little bit stronger in smaller doses.

Overall, this is a cocktail that I can really see myself spending more time with this summer. Its simple, easy to make, but complex and worth coming back to.

The Juneau Cocktail a.k.a. My variation on the Alaska Cocktail 5 parts a strong juniper forward gin 1 part Yellow Chartretuse 2 dashes of orange bitters [the orange bitters add a nice note here] Stir with ice until ice cold, strain and serve.

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Spring 44 w/ Fentiman’s Tonic

Those of you tired of hearing about Fentiman’s tonic will be glad to know that this will be among the last mentions for a while. My local store which had been stocking it, no longer seems to be. So now good tonic water is a difficult to obtain commodity.

But in the meantime let me rave about this combination. I think the Fentiman’s helps bring out Spring 44’s floral side making for a more New American style gin and tonic.

Of course, also worth pointing out because I’m a huge hockey fan and have never seen a gin ad at a hockey rink before, apparently Spring 44 is the official gin sponsor at MSG.  But although I’m a huge fan of gin and enjoy Spring 44 gin, I am still a Buffalo Sabres fan first!

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Caorunn Gin w/ Tonic and Bitters

Sometimes I like to push a gin out of its comfort zone a little bit. Caorunn is a good gin but one that I think could have come on a bit stronger given the fantastic set of exotic ingredients it boasts. Can it stand up to a bold tonic and bitters to boot?

I sometimes like a little bit of bitters in gin and tonics. Its an alternative to the lime juice and creates a more palate-cleansing mouth sensation. The Fentiman’s tonic was sweet and all of this flavor dwarfed the flavor of Caorunn. I don’t know if it was the fact that Caorunn is a milder gin that fits in the London Dry style, or if the fact that I paired it with two very bold flavors- but this cocktail just didn’t work.

Next time, I may try a bolder more juniperesque (or more citrusy) gin. I may choose a more bitter tonic (such as Q) or a less bold sweet tonic (such as Fever Tree)

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