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Archive for the ‘gin’ Category

We’ve been on a breakfast kick of late at my house- pain perdu with strawberry cream cheese, blueberry cornmeal pancakes, coconut lime bread – and naturally need cocktails to go along. While Bloody Marys (liquid salsa in my opinion) and Mimosas (just give me Champagne, please) are fine for some, I prefer drinks such as the Ramos Gin Fizz (RGF), the Brandy Milk Punch (BMP), or Red Rooster Punch. Living in New Orleans, we have plenty of access to and variety of drinks and morning is no exception. It was an adjustment for both my husband and me to get comfortable with the general acceptability here of “drinking before noon.”

Chris McMillian, currently at Bar Uncommon, makes a excellent Ramos Gin Fizz and can teach you about the history of the drink and its creator Henry Ramos as well. The RGF is not relegated to just the a.m. hours, but is particularly well suited for easing into the morning or for those recovering from the effects of the previous evening. Chris actually made me my first RGF the first time I visited him at his bar. I had just read about how Huey P. Long would speak about this great drink during his travels and even went so far to bring along his own bartender so he could have a correctly made RGF. It’s silky, creamy, and zippy. The gin is stealthily hidden, so if you consume too many you might end up needing a hangover cure for your hangover cure. You will definitely need the energy or a second person in reserve to shake this drink for a long time, but the effort is well worth it. Watch this video of Chris making the RGF from his days at the Ritz Carlton and then try it out for yourself. We prefer a modified version of the recipe from The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft by Gary Regan:

    Ramos_Gin_FizzRamos Gin Fizz, makes 2 cocktails

    2 oz gin
    1 oz cream
    1 raw egg white
    ½ oz simple syrup
    ½ oz fresh lime juice
    ½ oz fresh lemon juice
    ¼ oz orange-flower water
    couple of drops of pure vanilla extract

    Combine ingredients in shaker, add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled, highball glass without ice. You will need to shake for well over a minute to get the correct texture.

My other drink that I have fallen in love is the Brandy Milk Punch. I had it for the first time visiting Commander’s Palace where we had Easter brunch. It’s simple to make, requires few ingredients compared to the RGF, and can be batched in large quantities if you’re having a large party or heading off to the parades. Chris McMillian has a video on this as well. While the video presents different proportions, I prefer the Commander’s version of the BMP as printed within the In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks:

    Brandy Milk Punch

    2 oz brandy
    1 oz simple syrup
    ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1½ oz milk
    Freshly grated nutmeg

    Combine ingredients except for nutmeg in shaker, add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into rocks glass with ice. Grate a light dusting of the nutmeg on top.

Lastly, my mom unwittingly established a Thanksgiving day tradition for me by making a Red Rooster Punch many years ago. I believe she had seen it on one of Emeril Lagasse’s shows on the Food Network. The flavors represent fall and it can easily be batched up and enjoyed by a group with breakfast or throughout the morning and afternoon as the big meal is being prepared. I’ve changed it up over the years by freezing the vodka and really chilling the cranberry juice to serve it as a liquid drink with a minimal amount of “ice” crystals. Flavored vodkas (such as citrus, spice, pear, etc.) would also work well with this.
Red_Rooster

    Red Rooster Punch, makes about 8 cocktails

    1½ quarts cranberry juice, very chilled
    One 6 oz can frozen orange juice
    2 cups vodka, pulled straight from the freezer
    Cranberries and/or orange slice to garnish, optional

    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, garnish with fruit, and serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer.

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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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Our Glorious 75

Our Glorious 75

One of my favorite standard cocktails to order here in NOLA is a French 75. It’s light and refreshing enough that you can enjoy it in our hot/humid climate, but it still packs a wallop – hence why it’s named after a WWI field gun. I especially enjoy a French 75 made by Chris Hannah who’s at the Arnaud’s bar bearing the same name as the drink.

In doing my research, many people point out that the preparation, and sometimes the base spirit, of the French 75 varies. Although there are some who prepare this cocktail using brandy or cognac, for my purpose here I’m talking gin. Add sugar, lemon juice, and champagne and we’re locked and loaded.

David Wondrich’s recipe found at Esquire’s Drink Database calls for the following:

    2 oz London dry gin
    1 tsp superfine sugar
    1/2 oz lemon juice
    5 oz Brut champagne

Robert Hess, of Drinkboy, has produced a great video demonstrating the French 75. His recipe, which I believe is from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) is:

    1 1/2 oz gin
    3/4 oz simple syrup
    1/2 oz lemon juice
    Champagne

For both Wondrich’s and Hess’ versions, you combine the gin, sugar, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into a glass. Wondrich has you use a tall Collins glass half-filled with ice, while Hess uses an empty flute. You then top off either glass with champagne. Check out Hess’ video:
The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess – French 75

For a non-traditional French 75, I enjoy a simplified version of the Chameleon – a drink presented by Jamie Boudreau and Eben Freeman at the Tales of the Cocktail 2008. Here St. Germain elderflower liqueur replaces the sugar and lime replaces lemon.

    1 1/2 oz blueberry infused gin
    1/2 oz St-Germain
    1/4 oz lime juice
    3 oz Champagne

    Stir gin, St-Germain, and lime juice over ice and strain into Champagne flute; top with Champagne.

Using all these recipes as a go-by, I’ve developed my own version:

    BridgetBridget
    1 1/2 oz raspberry infused gin (Hendrick’s)
    1/2 oz St-Germain liqueur
    1/2 oz lemon juice
    Brut Champagne or sparkling wine
    Spiral lemon peel, for garnish

    Combine the gin, St-Germain, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a spiral lemon peel.

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