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Archive for July, 2009

photo by Angel Franco/The New York Times (2005)

photo by Angel Franco/The New York Times (2005)

I was trying to trace back to the point in time when I really developed my appreciation and love for cocktails and mixed drinks. I think the turning point was April 2005 in NYC. It was my first trip up and right before we left I read the weekly Shaken and Stirred article in the Sunday Style section of the New York Times that happened to feature the spring drink trends for 2005. The concept of using fresh, seasonal ingredients caught my attention.

With article in tow, my husband and I visited Gramercy Tavern where I had the Belle du Jour that has permanently secured my love for lavender and gin. The drink was created by Barry Johnson and named after Catherine Deneuve, since he felt it reflected the feminine nature of the lavender simple syrup, gin, and lemon juice.

Once we came home, I experimented to recreate the Belle du Jour and came up with the following:

    Belle du Jour – Retour
    2 oz gin
    1 oz lemon juice
    ½ oz lavender simple syrup

    Combine ingredients in shaker, add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

    Lavender Simple Syrup
    1¼ cups water
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    1 oz fresh lavender leaves (preferably french), chopped

    Bring water to boil in a saucepan, add sugar, stir until sugar dissolves, and add lavender leaves. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and strain syrup into a bottle. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Blood_OrangeWe also stopped by Lure Fishbar where I had a delicious blood orange margarita and my husband had a basil-strawberry drink (can’t remember the base spirit). The margarita was made with fresh blood orange puree, tequila, and orange curacao and happens to be still/back on their menu. While not the recipe from Rainlove Lampariello (who created the cocktails for Lure at that time) I did find another version:

    Blue Smoke’s Blood Orange Margarita from Mix Shake Stir: Recipes from Danny Meyer’s Acclaimed New York City Restaurants
    2 oz blanco tequila
    1½ oz fresh lime juice
    ¾ oz orange liqueur (such as GranGala or Cointreau)
    ½ oz simple syrup
    ¾ oz blood orange purée
    1 lime wheel (optional)
    1 blood orange wheel (optional)

    Moisten the edge of a rocks glass using a wedge of lime. Sprinkle salt on a plate and dip the outside rim of the glass into the salt. Fill both the glass and a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, simple syrup, and purée to the shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish with orange and lime wheels.

    Blood Orange Puree
    4 blood oranges, peeled, segmented, and seeded
    1 tblsp simple syrup, or to taste
    1 tsp lemon juice

    In a blender, combine the orange segments, simple syrup, and lemon juice and purée until smooth. (Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two days.)

So what was your first love and who was behind it?

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Yvette Guilbert Scala - Ferdinand BacTales of the Cocktail 2009 is finishing up today. One of the highlights yesterday was the unveiling of Crème Yvette by Cooper Spirits International of St-Germain fame. Crème Yvette is a liqueur with a blend of berries, vanilla and other spices, and violets. According to Dr. Cocktail it was originally named after Yvette Guilbert, a singer/actress in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. It has been unavailable for the most part since the 1960s and, from what I’ve heard from others, was the preferred violet liqueur – much better than Crème de Violette or Parfait Amour.

The tasting room that was set up at Tales had the lights turned low, was clad in black, fitted with about half-a-dozen high cafe tables and stools, and had a single bar in spotlight where Jamie Boudreau was mixing up Aviations and Blue Moons.

The new Crème Yvette is sexy from the start – the bottle is buxom and beautiful. Unfortunately due to the lighting and the crowd I couldn’t get a picture (although you can find a picture in a Time Out NY article from earlier this year). I sampled an Aviation, which unfortunately featured the maraschino liqueur more than the Crème Yvette. I can’t wait until Crème Yvette hits the shelves so that I can try out some drinks on my own such as:

    Blue Moon Variation from CocktailDB
    1½ oz Gin
    1 egg white
    ¾ oz lemon juice
    ¼ oz Crème Yvette

    Shake over ice and strain into cocktail glass.

    Violet Fizz adapted from Dr. Cocktail (Ted Haigh)
    1½ oz Gin
    ½ oz Crème Yvette
    1 oz lemon juice
    ½ oz sugar
    Soda water

    Combine gin, Crème Yvette, lemon juice, and sugar in shaker; add ice; shake; and strain into highball glass filled with ice. Top off with soda water.

    Attention adapted from Jamie Boudreau’s recipe in July/August 2007 Imbibe
    2 oz gin
    ¼ oz dry vermouth
    ¼ oz Crème Yvette
    ¼ oz Herbasint, Pernod or other pastis
    2 dashes orange bitters
    Lemon twist

    Combine all ingredients except for twist in a mixing glass. Fill with cracked ice and stir for 30 seconds (or until frost develops on the glass). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

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GrapefruitIt’s hot. So hot. With the sun blazing down and heat radiating off the surrounding pavement and buildings, I desperately seek out shade, air-conditioning and a cool drink. However, drinks that are too strong or sweet just aren’t appealing even if they’re cold. Citrus fruits, even though they’re technically winter produce, provide an ideal refreshment. As a kid if I was allowed to have a soda, I’d choose either Squirt, Mellow Yellow, and to a lesser degree Fresca. Now I thankfully graduated to versions without all the processed ingredients and sugars and can indulge with drinks having a bit more complexity. The Paloma embodies the tart/sweet/salty flavors of a great summer drink.

Back in April, Julio Bermejo was in town giving a seminar at the Museum of the American Cocktail on his favorite subject, tequila. One of the drinks presented and served was the Paloma, but this one was different from the standard variety that you pick-up in Mexico or as represented in the many recipes online (such as the Cazadores Paloma demonstrated in this hilarious, campy video).

Rather than use grapefruit soda, such as Jarritos, Julio used fresh grapefruit juice carbonated with a seltzer bottle. Muy bueno! This simple drink forced my husband and me to purchase a Sodastream Pure Home Soda Maker (Charcoal/Stainless) so we could do this at home.

    Dr. Kern’s Paloma by Julio Bermejo
    2 oz 100% agave tequila (Ocho Resposado)
    4 oz fresh, force-carbonated ruby red grapefruit juice
    Pinch of salt

    In a boston shaker filled with ice, pour tequila, add carbonated ruby red grapefruit juice, and shake. Strain into glass and add pinch of salt.

For some additional variations to the Paloma, I have found these others:

    Paloma, Mi Amante by Paul Clarke
    2 oz Tequila por Mi Amante
    ½ a lime
    Pinch of coarse salt
    Grapefruit soda

    Add ingredients to an ice-filled Collins glass; top with grapefruit soda (Jarritos, Squirt, or if you just can’t find any, try Sprite with a healthy squeeze of fresh grapefruit).

I’m fortunate to have a batch of Tequila por Mi Amante sitting in the frig that I made a while back when Louisiana strawberries were in season. Using this strawberry-infused tequila is a nice twist to the standard Paloma.

    Paloma Pura Cocktail from Kitchen Caravan
    2 grapefruits, halved
    1 lime, halved
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 oz tequila
    soda water
    2 fresh basil leaves

    Squeeze the juice of the grapefruit and lime into a bowl; it should equal about 1 cup. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Prepare two cocktail glasses with ice. Divide the juice between the glasses and pour 1 oz of tequila into each. Top off with a little bit of soda water. If using basil, tear up the leaves and add to the glass. Serves 2.

If you can no longer get your hands on any good grapefruit, the traditional preparation remains, but there are better alternatives to the grapefruit soda such as Izze’s or Hansen’s. In addition, I created another version since I had some extra rose sparkling wine and named it to fit along with its parentage (“paloma” means dove) and the pink hue from both the juice and the sparkling wine:

Paloma_Rose Colombe de Rose
1 oz fresh, ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ oz reposado tequila
Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé
Pinch of pink finishing salt

Strain the grapefruit juice into a champagne glass, add tequila and top off the glass with the Rosé. Sprinkle the salt into the glass.

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