Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A perfect heat wave cocktail: the Remsen Cooler

I was trying to think of a good, cold, wet cocktail that wasn't a mojito and I remembered the Remsen Cooler, in particular, David Wondrich's version I read about in Esquire magazine on an airplane years ago. I even managed to find a link to it, with the photo, here (don't we live in marvelous times).

This is basically a glorified scotch and soda but what I like about it is that it's a rare instance where a flashy presentation—peeling an entire lemon in a single coil—really transforms the flavor of the drink. It's more lemon oil than lemon juice. And it looks really elegant, don't you think?

Remsen Cooler (based on David Wondrich's recipe)
  • .5tsp powdered sugar (I often skip it)
  • soda (I use seltzer—one of these days I need to figure out if club soda is really good for something)
  • 2 oz scotch
  • long lemon spiral
Dissolve sugar in some soda, add spiral, add rocks and liquor, top with soda.


PS The wife had a Do Be Careful, which solved the conundrum of the peeled-yet-unjuiced lemon. I also read somewhere that it's good for breastfeeding. Isn't it?

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
    1/2 oz. Lemon Juice (or to taste)
  • splash of Grenadine

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Read more!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Matt's bitters in Edible Brooklyn

I am one of several cocktail enthusiasts whose brains were picked for an article on homemade bitters in the latest (summer) issue of Edible Brooklyn.
The article starts on page 19 and there's a nice photo of me and an old bottle of my bitters on the bottom of page 20. If you can't find it around Brooklyn, check out the digital edition (the link  actually takes you to the spring edition but if you click on "Archives" you'll find the summer issue there, assuming they haven't fixed this). Read more!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Excellent Tequila Cocktails

Long time no post. And even less frequent posting to come, I'm afraid. But I haven't given up yet! The other day I had a bunch of bitter oranges (above) lying around so I I made a tequila invention of mine I'd forgotten how good it is. In fact I have two tequila cocktail recipes to share after the jump, both mexicanizaciones of classic cocktails.

Bitter Orange Margarita
Some of you faithful readers may know that I am a fan of bitters and have made my own on occasion, leading to a certain small yet nonetheless outsized fame (I'll be featured in the summer 2010 issue of Edible Brooklyn, by the way—will post here when it's out.). One by-product of gathering bitter orange peel for making orange bitters is a lot of juice. Bitter orange juice is used for marinading meat in the Carribean, for example the simple and tasty Mayan pork chop preparation, poc chuc (pork chops or steaks marinaded with bitter orange juice, salt and pepper and not much more--unlike the recipes I'm finding online. It's also mixed with recado de achiote to make the marinade for the sublime cochinita pibil.
I've also found that it makes an excellent substitution for lime in a margarita. In fact, I'll make a stand and say that I like it as much if not more. Give it a try.

3 oz of tequila blanco (silver)
2 oz bitter orange juice
1 oz Cointreau
dash of orange bitters (optional)

Shake with ice and serve up or on the rocks, salted rim optional. I hadn't thought of a good garnish to go with this--bitter orange peel is pretty ruddy-looking--but I grabbed a spearmint sprig from our front stoop just so the photo wouldn't look too dull. Turns out it's a good choice, the little hint of mint complements the margarita nicely.

(BTW I suppose you can't mexicanize a Mexican cocktail. What this is is a yucatanización, ¡sí señor!)

This is a straight adaptation of a Manhattan, hence the name (I also like Manjatan). It's a simple switcheroo of tequila for rye but the result is a completely different drink. The quality and kind of tequila makes a big difference here. A reposado (gold) will be very good but I find it works even with a cheap white tequila like Viuda de Romero.

3 oz. tequila blanco
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange or angostura bitters

Shake with ice and serve up.
Read more!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Home-made crème de cassis, part two

Back in July I put a jar of blackcurrants and grain alcohol. Yesterday, I got the jar out of the cupboard to do the last steps to make it crème de cassis, with the help of my devoted assistant, Aldara.

This summer, Jessica made some jelly from the other currants we harvested—redcurrants and gooseberry. She ordered a jelly strainer on-line so I set it up to strain the currant-infused grain alcohol into a pot:

Assistant Aldara enthusiastically spooned out the first few scoops of currants, dropping only a small handful into the pot. I then poured the rest of the mixture into the strainer and we waited a half hour or so for it to strain out all the alcohol:

I ended up with a little over 2 cups. Most of the recipes I found on-line call for an equal amount of water and an enormous amount of sugar: over a pound for 4 cups of liquid. I decided to underdo both other quantities so I added a cup and a half of water and started with 8 oz. of sugar. I brought it to a boil and cooked the mixture for 2 minutes (I don't know how rigorous a timing that is in terms of sterilization, but after all there's a hell of a lot of booze in there!). I let it cool and after tasting it, decided it was a little too bitter. Not bad, but the crème's role is partly as sweetener after all. I added another 4 oz. or so of sugar and heated the pot enough to melt it.

I poured it (once more through a strainer (and funnel, of course)) into this pretty bottle I have that used to contain Los Danzantes mezcal (there's also some in a less pretty bottle):

Since our household is awaiting a second baby there's not a lot of drinking going on these days, but I think I'll hazard a little kir for me and th'wife at lunch today.

Read more!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Home-made crème de cassis

A couple of weeks ago I put up my annual batch of crème de cassis using the bounty from this year's garden. Here's the black currant bush, already denuded:

And here's a colander full of fresh black currants:

The first time I made this, a few years ago, I found just one recipe on line (in French) after a considerable amount of searching. I tried to search again and now, of course, there are tons of different recipes (still almost all in French) on a variety of websites and message boards. The most interesting departure from what I did before was on where you macerate the currants in burgundy wine. Mm, I think I'll try that next year! Another interesting detail a lot of recipes featured was to put in a few leaves from the plant as well. To me they had a spice, slightly anisey taste:

The recipe is straightforward. Measurements vary but basically you clean the currants and cover them with grain alcohol (I'm all out, good thing it's legal in NY, now—at least that's what I've heard).

Now the currants need to macerate. The biggest change to my method this time around is that whereas previously I have steeped the currants for three days, I found that most recipes recommend something more like three months, so I'm giving it a try.

The jar is sitting in a cupboard and come September I'll strain out the alcohol, boil it, and add some water and sugar—a bit less of both than is called for with the aim of getting a less-sweet and more "currant-forward" liqueur. I'll post photos when the time comes. Read more!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some Favorite Cocktails: The Sidecar

I made some new friends recently and had them over for drinks for the first time. I didn't know much about them but I knew exactly which cocktail to make for them: the Sidecar. It's the perfect cocktail when you want to make something fancy but you're not sure what kind of drinkers your friends are (of course you're assuming you're friends are drinkers; if not I guess you can have a double for yourself). The Sidecar is sweet (but not too sweet) and lemony enough to appeal to most palates but the the cognac (or cheap brandy...) makes it sharp and complex enough to keep it interesting. In this sense it's actually quite similar to a well-made Margarita.

When I was living in Chicago briefly, in the fall of 1997, Jessica and I went to the opening of a new bar (name and location since forgotten) that was one of my first encounters with the classic cocktail revival. In celebration of the new establishment they were serving free Sidecars and their own very tasty take on a Gimlet (which maybe I'll describe in a later post). Both were made with fresh citrus and served in cocktail glasses laced with confectioner's sugar. That's more sweet than I tend to like things these days but at the time it was a revelation and the evening as a while was one of the key events that set me on the path to being the cocktail-obsessive I am today.

Making a Sidecar is easy. My version is something like:

2 oz cognac (or decent but cheaper brandy... I use Raynal's sometimes)
1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2-3/4 oz Cointreau

Shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist. (Confectioner sugar rim optional but fun once in a while.)
Incidentally this is the same ratio I use for a Margarita, obviously replacing cognac with tequila blanco.

If I haven't already written it elsewhere, I think the key to good "sweet" cocktails is to underdo it a bit with the sugary liqueurs like Cointreau. Read more!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Manly drinks with Rachel Maddow

From Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (who by the way does a fantastic Barry Gibb (I'm sure everyone else in the world already knows this but I'm catching up on my SNL skits on (Justin Timberlake is my new favorite celebrity))), Rachel Maddow (with whom I predict I shall someday make cocktails) shows how to make a Bijou. Read more!