THE FROZEN GRAPEFRUIT NEGRONI

6 years ago Dan De Oliveira and I began a tradition here in Chicago that lasted 3 years: The Beefeater Gin Boat Cruise.

We turned some classic cocktails into frozen drinks and created some originals. Frozen Beefeater Gin Gimlets, Frozen Gin Lemon Ices, Frozen Aviations, Frozen Gin and Bitter Lemon.

While we intended to make a frozen Negroni for the cruise, we opted for making a Summer Negroni which was a tall drink that included Grapefruit Cordial and Club Soda. The addition of the citrus and acid of the grapefruit with the dilution of the club soda made this a refreshing summer long drink.

Bar Boss Blender

But this works so well as a frozen drink with these ingredients that I wanted to share this for Negroni week 2016 and the upcoming summer.

One thing about blender/frozen drinks is that the base ingredients need to be concentrated and not diluted in any way. This helps them stand up to the ice that they are blended with. This is where the grapefruit cordial/syrup really shines. It is concentrated and can bring all the spirits along with for the ride. It also balances the bittersweetness of the Negroni with citrus and acid, something I have always found the Negroni missing.

 

You also need to have the right balance of ice to mixer. Too much ice and it becomes snow and weak, too little ice and it becomes watery with ice floating. I find that for this recipe 1.5 pint glasses full of ice works perfectly. Adjust for more. I also find making one to be blender overkill. Make at least two at a time.

Gin, Campari, Grapefruit Cordial

 

 

INGREDIENTS
Beefeater Gin

Campari

Sweet Vermouth

Grapefruit Cordial (recipe follows)

Club Soda

Fresh Grapefruit

Ice

Ice and Grapefruit Negroni

 

 

GRAPEFRUIT NEGRONI

2 Drinks

4 oz Beefeater 24 or Beefeater

1 oz Campari

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

2 oz Grapefruit Cordial

1.5 Pint glasses full of ice

 

Add all spirits and cordial to pint glass.

Add ice to blender and add Negroni mixture.

Cover blender.

Blend until smooth.

Pour into rocks glass or coupe or wine goblet.

Grapefruit peel.

Straw

 

HORCHATA “MARGARITA” AND STEEL CUT OAT ORGEAT

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HORCHATA/ORGEAT

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Shakespeare

The first thing I would like to try to clarify is that the terms orgeat and horchata are derivatives of the same Latin root word for barley, hordeum. The French word for barley is orge. Without getting too involved, I think it is relatively apparent that those root words were transformed into the two above terms that we are familiar with for a beverage originally made from barley.

It isn’t a far reach to see how this style of beverage could easily be applied using other grains and even nuts and tubers (chufa for example). Orgeat is typically almond based or fake almond flavored and a main ingredient in many tiki cocktails. Horchata is generally rice based and often flavored with fruit or cinnamon and is mostly used as a non-alcoholic refreshing drink. My opinion is that these terms are interchangeable, even though they each have different connotations.  I also sometimes call this an oatmeal cream. But, in common parlance, the term orgeat means a sweet almond syrup, and if one uses the term horchata, then it is a sweet rice/cinnamon based syrup or refreshing drink. There are different techniques or recipes for making all of them.


STEEL CUT OAT ORGEAT/HORCHATA

 

I love this syrup in cocktails and N/A refreshing long drinks. I have read some recent articles using orgeats in similar ways. I have also been making a variety of  alternatively based orgeats/horchatas for many years now but the one I use most is the steel cut oat based version.

This horchata consists of steel cut oats, cane sugar, water with hint of cinnamon.

It adds a creamy texture to drinks and cocktails without the use of dairy. The grain and cane sugar are clean on your palate and the flavors are both subtle and apparent.

Oats are naturally gluten free for anyone who suffers from celiac and they also do not present dangers to people with nut allergies that an almond orgeat may.

Since this oat horchata is made into a base syrup, it needs some dilution from spirits and/or water.  It can be used in place of almond orgeat in Tiki drinks, but it also works wonderfully in many other classic and original drinks that may not be considered Tiki.

I would like to share a few successful and popular ways I have used this steel cut oat horchata to make cocktails.


 

COCKTAILS

I am using the name Horchata Margarita for this drink, even though I am not a fan of using a classic as a descriptor for cocktails…like putting the suffix “tini” at the end of drinks, but the following use of the term, Margarita, seems to have stuck here. But I am open to suggestions for a better name.

 

HORCHATA MARGARITA

2 oz BLANCO TEQUILA

1.5 oz STEEL CUT OAT HORCHATA

.5 oz FRESH LIME JUICE

Add to shaker tin full of ice, shake very hard, and then strain into fresh iced rocks glass or into a chilled cocktail glass. Lime garnish.

The oatmeal and cinnamon work wonderfully with a good young tequila. The hint of lime brings them together and adds freshness and balances the sweetness in the horchata without making it an acid bomb. It is very similar in build to a classic Mai Tai, that being rum, orgeat, lime and triple sec/orange curação.

This cocktail was mentioned in the Playboy Magazine summer feature on the Best Bars in America 2015 at the bar Best Intentions. Owned by my good friends Chris and Calvin Marty, Best Intentions is located in Logan Square, Chicago where I have made it often on their patio and where they feature it on their current menu (2015-2016).


 

The Steel Cut Oat Orgeat (switching to orgeat now) is also at home with brown spirits. Bourbon, Cognac, other brandies, and rum are natural base spirits for this orgeat and can be made hot or cold. This one uses Clyde Mays Alabama Whiskey which has a hint of dried apple in it that makes it exceptional when mixed with oatmeal and cinnamon.

 

APPLE BETTY

2 oz CLYDE MAYS WHISKEY

1.5 oz STEEL CUT OAT ORGEAT

.5 oz FRESH LEMON JUICE

ANGOSTURA BITTERS

Pour all ingredients, except the bitters, into a shaker tin full of ice and shake hard. Strain into fresh iced rocks glass. Top with a couple dashes of Angostura.

This drink can easily be made hot by simply heating all the ingredients, except the spirits, together and then pouring over the spirits in a warmed mug. Bitters are optional. Lemon twist is also an option.


 

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APPLE CIDER OATMEAL CREAM

The Apple Betty can also be made with an apple cider based oat orgeat to make it an APPLE BROWN BETTY. Instead of using water as the base of the regular orgeat, we substitute apple cider to add another dimension of flavor.

This Apple Cider-Oatmeal Cream (yes, another term) is wonderful as the base mixer for a hot buttered rum.

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HOT BUTTERED RUM
4 Servings
8 oz Quality Aged Rum, Dry
12 oz Apple Cider Oatmeal Cream
4 Tblsp Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Salt
4 Hot Drink Mugs (8oz Size)
In a saucepan, add all ingredients except the rum. Bring to a low simmer while stirring frequently.
Heat each mug or glass by filling them with hot water. Dump the water before building. Then add 2 oz of rum to each of the heated mugs and top with hot Apple-Oat Cream.
Serve with a cinnamon stick or no garnish. Serve with a spoon on the side for stirring.
Notes on Butter
I know it seems odd to use unsalted butter and then add salt, but unsalted butter is better and sweeter by itself and adding salt to it after doesn’t harm those flavors. It also allows you to control how much salt is used in your recipes with butter. Salt is used in butter as a preservative.

One Last Observation

I looked for other versions of horchata and tequila drinks online since this doesn’t seem like a drink that hadn’t been tried before and I came across many simply awful recipes that aren’t even using real horchata of any kind and use ingredients like fireball and sweet condensed milk in them…I saw one entirely covered in powdered cinnamon…gross.

I plan to write some reviews of drinks like these that are tragic messes and uncomfortable to drink because they are not balanced and/or have garnishes that are idiotic and oppressive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEFINING CORDIALS

Lime Cordial

Lime Cordial

The most common confusion I encounter when I talk cordials is that people think I am making a liqueur. The word “cordial” can mean several things, one of which is a liqueur, and another which basically means syrup. The syrup one is the focus of this article.

CORDIALS AND SYRUPS

Generally, I use the term “cordial” when the syrup is fruit/citrus juice based, (e.g. Lime Cordial) When it is an infused sugar and water base with little to no acidity, I generally use the term “syrup” (e.g. Ginger or Rosemary Syrup).  But I often call the pineapple cordial a pineapple syrup. I have the same issue when talking about orgeat, horchata, and non-dairy creams.

PURPOSES AND BENEFITS

The primary purposes and benefits are providing the bartender and consumer with delicious, natural, quick and concentrated flavor vehicles for drinks and cocktails of all kinds. When you want lemon, you’ve got lemon. Appel’s Lemon Cordial is like liquid lemon oleosaccharum. It gives you the lemon aromas, flavor, sugar and acid that juice alone doesn’t. The same thing holds for Lime, Grapefruit and others.

Cordials aren’t meant to be a replacement for fresh juices, but, rather, compliment a fresh juice program and provide a ready made, non perishable workhorse ingredient that can be used in classic or improvised drinks on the fly behind a busy bar or at home.

Highballs made with club soda and spirit are perfect for cordials where a fresh juice may fall flat.  It also gives the bartender/consumer the freedom to control the sweetness or intensity that you can’t expect from a packaged flavored soda  The riffs are endless and easy once you realize their utility.

Another benefit is their long shelf life. High acid, high sugar, low water cordials are naturally resistant to spoilage (how sugar acts as a preservative) and thus you are able to make them far ahead of time for use when you need them. The original idea behind making these cordials was based on research my father, Gary, and I did on the preserved lime cordial that was used by the British Navy to stave off scurvy (Preserved Lime Juice Cordial and the Gimlet). Minus the sulfites used in Rose’s Lime Cordial, this is a natural means of preserving juices for future use and keeping waste to a minimum.

One more benefit is that they add concentrated flavor, aroma, sugar and acidity with no extra added water. This means you wont over dilute your cocktail and work perfectly in drinks that are naturally diluted (sodas and blender/frozen drinks).

They pack a lot of flavor in a small amount. They expand in your glass with the ice and spirits/soda diluting the cordial and the cordial modifying the spirits or soda. This concentrated, low water syrup also means they really shine when used in frozen drinks. They stand up beautifully to the ice required for blender drinks without watering them down, making the frozen drink that a straw stands up in. Non-alcoholic, frozen Lemon Slushies in the summer are outstanding… just add some gin or rum to make them into perfect boating drinks.

CASE COMPARISON

The Gin Gimlet

To make a perfect lime cordial based Gin Gimlet all you need is 2oz London Dry Gin and .5oz of homemade lime cordial, stirred or shaken, strained up or served on the rocks. This is an Americanized version and there are many valid versions of the Gimlet. But this is my favorite recipe in that it squarely emphasizes the gin with the lime cordial playing the only supporting role. They work beautifully together in this fashion.

This is a 4-1 ratio, but the lime packs a punch and really expands. The ice expands both the spirits and lime, and the spirits expand the lime. Easy and real. Perfectly balanced. Delicious.

The differences between a standard Gimlet made with fresh lime juice and simple syrup and one made with lime cordial are subtle and several.

In a fresh lime Gimlet the simple syrup, combined with lime juice, leaves a bigger liquid footprint in your drink. Even in small amounts like 1/2 oz lime and 1/2 oz simple, you now have a combined ingredient that is half your Gimlet. This changes the texture of the drink to one that can be refreshing and delicious, but one that I believe is more often imbalanced because of the lack of bartender attention to the simple syrup/lime juice ratio (Sugar Syrup In Cocktails) and by it taking up a larger portion of your drink. You could add more gin, but this then begins to get a a little unwieldy for most people. With a 2 oz gin pour, this often leads to the gin being overwhelmed by the mixers with the mixers too often starting out imbalanced in the first place. If you are using 1 oz of lime juice in a drink that only has 2 oz of spirit, with the addition of sugar to balance that much lime juice, in my opinion, your drink will be a mess. But balanced with a small amount of lime juice and rich simple (1/2 oz each), it is still a great drink. More like a gin daiquiri than what I think of as a gimlet, but delicious and refreshing.

Plain juice also doesn’t impart the natural lime oils derived from the lime zest that lime cordial does. One way around this and the use of juice/simple syrup in Gimlets is by pre-making fresh lime sour.

1 Part Fresh Lime Juice, Zest of Lime, 1 Part Cane Sugar

Mix until dissolved. This technique compacts your lime/sugar flavor vehicle while bypassing any added water. It also allows you to pour or jigger only the sour you need, rather than add juice and simple syrup in separate actions. It’s pre-balanced and ready to mix. If you want 3/4oz of mixer to the 2 oz of gin and do it separately, you need a minsicule .375oz each of simple and juice and this gets ludicrous to hand measure/jigger.

GIMLET (LIME CORDIAL)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Lime Cordial

Ice/Melt

GIMLET (FRESH LIME/SIMPLE)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2-1)

Ice/Melt

GIMLET (FRESH LIME SOUR)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2-3/4 oz Fresh Lime Sour


CORDIALLY PRESERVED

ACID  WATER  SUGAR  pH  HEAT

Two Types of Cordial

Making lemon or lime cordial is straightforward since the acidity is more than able to balance the sugar needed. But when using sweeter fruit (e.g. grapefruit, pineapple, etc) as the base, we encounter a problem.

Sweeter citrus requires more acidity to balance the sugar needed for the preserving and the textural qualities of a good cordial. Using citric acid would be an easier and much cheaper way to increase the acidity, but I prefer an all juice base for my cordials. My preferred choice, then, is fresh lemon juice. Plain fresh lemon juice acts as a natural and neutral base acid mix for these kinds of cordials that are too sweet to accept the required amount of sugar.

Heat

Most of these cordials are slowly heated to a temperature of 180F. In my earlier trials making lime cordial I over heated the syrup by bringing it to a simmer and that had a detrimental effect on the flavor, aroma and color that I was looking for. Easing the cordial into this below-simmer level of heat is necessary for several reasons; concentrating the juice/sugar mixture into a syrup over time with some evaporation, keeping the colors and flavors vibrant without browning (maillard effect and caramelization) , aiding in anti-microbial effects by thermal process, aiding in creating the viscous texture desired by activating the natural pectin in the juices and dissolving the sugar with minimal inversion. The heat, sugar, acidity and low water content all add up to a very spoil resistant syrup.

Sugar Inversion

Inversion of sugar, in this case, is the breakdown of sucrose into glucose and fructose when it is mixed and heated in the acidic fruit juices used to make cordial. I prefer the clean mouth feel of sucrose over fructose, so I don’t want this to become honeylike. The use of fructose in the American soda market is one reason that Mexican Coca Cola has become so popular in the U.S. The data on taste differences is mostly anecdotal and the corn syrup industry denies any taste difference between sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, but I can easily tell and so can most other people. (Huffpost Taste Test) Fructose gives honey and agave nectar that palate coating effect (honey is up to 40% fructose and agave nectar can be up to 90% fructose!). It’s great in hot remedy drinks for sore throats, but that coating effect leaves a cloying, lingering and overly sweet taste that, I think, makes it unpalatable in most drinks that aren’t medicinal in purpose.

Any health issues surrounding sugars are beyond my expertise or the scope and point of this discussion, but my philosophy is that balance is not only a necessity in food and cocktails but also for body and soul.

No Water

No extra water is ever added to any cordial, except in the those where cranberries are used. Cranberries are high in acidity and pectin and need a little added water to bring out the juice and offset the thickening effects of the pectin. But, for the most part, the only liquid used in cordials are the base juice or the base juice and modifier (lemon juice). This keeps the percentages of acid and sugar at the level you want flavor-wise and also preservation-wise.

Evaporation is also a desired effect for further concentration. The slow heating means more time evaporating.

All of these things (time, real juice, heat, evaporation, etc.) add to the overall cost but also add to the quality and taste of your crafted cordials.

Note: the pectins, along with other super fine particulate matter that isn’t strained from the juices, will add a naturally colored opaqueness to your cordial that I actually find pleasing, not off putting. The cordials could be clarified and juice extraction increased by using a pectin enzyme, pectinase, that is used in brewing and wine making, or by using a centrifuge, or egg whites etc.., but, again, I prefer to be minimal and natural in these recipes so I do not use anything but fine, double straining.

I am not opposed to any of these techniques or additives, as long as they do not compromise the taste or texture of the final product.

Acidity and pH Level

The pH level of most of these cordials is generally just above 2, which means they are high acid syrups. Combined with the high percentage of sugar added to the juices/fruit, this makes a very difficult environment for bacteria to live in, let alone thrive in. Any problems would occur if these were lower and this is one reason why lemon juice is added to the sweeter juices so as to increase the sugar level while keeping the acidity levels high. The other reason is for balance, flavor and texture.

COSTA DORADA

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I love wine and fortified wine cocktails…Aperitif wine cocktails….Sometimes lightly fruity…sometimes lightly bitter…sometimes both…But always refreshing and easy to sip.

I imagine drinks off the Spanish Riviera…Seaside or by the pool… Perhaps on a yacht… Spain, grapes, wine and gin are the theme. Civilized and refined and not about self indulgence or self promotion. You don’t need to call attention to yourself, your confident style already does that naturally. You drink to please no one but yourself and you share your good taste with others around you.

I recently created this recipe for a local cocktail competition under a different name. Very simple in ingredients, but not simple on the palate.

Sliced Grape Garnish

Sliced Grape Garnish

There is nothing Earth shattering here ingredient-wise as one could view this as just a riff on a reverse style martini (2 parts Vermouth 1 Part Gin). But the addition of fresh grapes makes this familiar combination something entirely new. It is very refreshing and invites you to drink one after the other, yet not so boozy that you couldn’t make the attempt. The flavors are sweet with a bit of tartness. Tannin from the grape skins adds a very nice astringent quality that works well in balancing the sweetness. But the sweetness is not sugary or cloying at all. I originally thought I would want lemon or lime for the acid balance, but after I sipped the prototype without it, I never gave it another thought. I love this cocktail and have been making it all summer (2014)

It is also versatile and I really enjoy being able to improvise other drinks based on a theme. It can be served on the rocks, up in a cocktail glass as is or topped with sparkling wine, or served as a long drink with either soda or sparkling wine. It can be based with other aperitif wines, like Lillet, in place of vermouth. Pisco would be fantastic substituted for gin. It is easily batched for larger service.

 

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Tools and Ingredients

From top left to right

Shaker tin, measuring shot glass, rocks glass, mixing glass, grapes, secondary strainer, julep strainer, Hawthorne strainer

 

 

THE COSTA DORADA

1 Serving

Ingredients

1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater, Plymouth or Spanish Gin)

2 oz Dry Vermouth (Martini and Rossi, Carpano Bianco, Dolin)

9-12 Firm Ripe Green Seedless Grapes

Large Style Ice Cubes

3 Sliced Green Grapes for Garnish

Tools

Mixing Glass and/or Shaker Tin

Mixing Spoon

Muddler

Julep and/or Hawthorne Strainer

Secondary Strainer

 

Method

In a mixing glass, add grapes

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Grapes!

and 2 oz Vermouth

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Vermouth!

 

Muddle the vermouth and grapes.

(NOTE I didn’t cut the grapes for these photos, but it is easier to muddle this drink if you do cut the grapes in half first)

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Muddled Grapes and Vermouth

 

Add gin and stir this mixture a bit before adding ice..

Add ice to fill mixing glass (if you dont have enough room, pour into the larger shaker tin or use a larger mixing glass or mixing pitcher).

You should have about half ice and half cocktail mix. Don’t cheat your cocktail on enough ice. You don’t want it just to melt, you want melt and chill. Use regular ice for mixing.

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Ice and Cocktail

Stir this to chill and double strain (using the secondary strainer between mixing glass and rocks glass to catch any bits and pieces as you strain normally) into rocks glass filled with large ice cubes and sliced grapes interspersed. (Kold Draft Style Ice)*

The large ice cubes take up less room and melts more slowly and it shows off the grape slices better.

Yes that big cube is a bit much for this glass!

COSTA DORADA

 Yes that big cube is a bit much for that glass…Kind of Flintstone-esque

icecube-magnum

 

* I long ago I realized it was futile trying to make my own clear ice, but luckily I have access to beautiful classic style cubes at markets here in Chicago (LANG CLASSIC ICE) It’s an ingredient that I can’t add value to by making myself nor is it worth investing in the equipment to make, so I let the pros make the ice for my cocktails.

NATCHEZ TRACE SUMMER PEACH PUNCH

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In the summer I often make large batches of Bourbon-Peach lemonades for BBQ parties and almost always for the 4th of July. This fun drink was easily adapted and embellished into a slightly more refined punch service for that elegant outdoor summer BBQ picnic or soirée. Of course it will also work at any event you wish, even packing it into a cooler for a beach or pool party, so have at it!

NATCHEZ TRACE SUMMER PEACH PUNCH

15-20 servings

1/2 Liter Bourbon Whiskey

1/2 Liter VS Cognac

6 oz Orange Dry Curação or Triple Sec

6 oz Peach Liqueur

12 oz Unsweetened Hibiscus Flower and Orange Pekoe Tea

8 oz Lemon Cordial or Lemon Sour (recipes below)

750ml Fruity Rosé Wine Chilled

6 Large Ripe Juicy Peaches + 1 Peach for Punch Bowl

2 Lemons

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Deconstructed Punch

 

CONCEPTS, RATIONALE AND INSPIRATION

The Story

To commemorate liberté, égalité, fraternité between France and the fledgling United States and in celebration of the Independence from the tyranny of British rule with the aid of our French friends and allies, I thought American Bourbon Whiskey along with Fine French Cognac Brandy would be a fine and natural alliance and the sturdy backbone to this wonderful summer punch.

This made me then remember the classic 1949 film, The Fighting Kentuckian, starring John Wayne as John Breen, the the leader of a band of Kentucky Militia making their way home after the Battle of New Orleans, circa 1816. The militia and John Breen get sidetracked in the assistance and defense of a group of French exiles and settlers in Alabama and by the beautiful Fleurette de Marchand. In the end, the bad guys are defeated, John Breen gets his fair maiden and Fleurette gets her Fighting Kentuckian and I imagine this would be the punch served at their nuptials and party. The blend of rough and tumble Kentucky back woodsman and cultured European aristocracy in alliance on the battle field and in love…and, of course, in the spirits of Kentucky and France.

And that brings us to The Natchez Trace. It was a 440 mile ancient and historical trail leading from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN and linking the Tennessee Valley with the Mississippi River in the south and was the gateway to the deep south, the gulf, and trade and exploration. I imagine Natchez Trace as a good part of the way back home for the Fighting Kentuckians, but it was the real highway for the many traders, Native Americans, and explorers of the day between the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

 

The Punch

Whiskey and Cognac go together like John Breen and Fleurette de Marchand.

and

The substitution of lemon cordial in place of the stalwart of punches, the oleo sacharrum, adds part of the sweetness you will need for this punch, along with the wonderful lemon aromas you want that plain lemon juice is always missing. The cordial also adds the acidity and depth of lemon juice, much like a lemon sour, along with the aromatic benefits of the oleo. This then does the work of several ingredients in a natural and concentrated form.

The recipe for lemon cordial is in a previous article. It is a little bit of a process, but the ingredients are simple and it is well worth the effort since you can make a large amount and store it in the refrigerator with no degradation in taste or aroma and with a veritable unlimited shelf life.

The addition of a fruity summer wine adds length and body to the punch, filling in the cracks without the use of plain water.

The addition of unsweetened hibiscus tea adds a floral note and the extra needed acidity to balance the liqueurs.

The addition of peach liqueur adds sweetness along with a spirited peach flavor.

The addition of orange liqueur adds some more sweetness and plays a citrus supporting role for the lemon.

The addition of ripe peaches is all American and a staple of southern drinks and desserts. The natural stone fruit aromas, juice, flavor and appearance go with everything in this punch. There are peaches that will be macerated in Bourbon and Cognac and strained out and fresh sliced peaches added to the punch bowl.

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Assorted antique glassware

For the Punch Service I like a large glass bowl, but I do not like the little cups. So I get oddball antique/second hand glassware from resale shops. They should be very inexpensive. Goblets, dessert glasses, ornate wine glasses, etc..All different sizes and shapes and colors. The look blows the little cups out of the water and is a ton more fun.

 

THE PROCESS

Decant the Bourbon and Cognac into a large glass jar or Cambro container, large enough to hold the spirits and peaches. Something similar will do as long as it can be sealed and is non-reactive.

Small dice 6 fresh peaches and add to the container of spirits. Add the orange and peach liqueurs to the container. Allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours or overnight is even better the night before. Agitate the container from time to time.

After the peaches are done macerating in the spirits, strain the spirits off and place spirits in container in the refrigerator or on ice in a cooler until chilled and needed. Save the macerated peaches to add to punch goblets or snack on later. Do not throw them away!

While the peaches are macerating, make the hibiscus tea. Add 1.5 oz of dried hibiscus flowers and 4 orange pekoe tea bags to 20 oz of hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain this and allow to cool and chill in refrigerator until needed. This will be more than needed for the punch but extra is good to have if you want to add more or use in a lemonade.

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Dried Hibiscus Flowers

Lemon cordial should already be made, but if you haven’t had a chance to make it, the following is a quick sour version that will work perfectly.

EXTRA LEMONY SOUR

8 oz Fresh Strained Lemon Juice

8 oz Cane Sugar

Lemon Peel from Lemons to be juiced

Wash and zest/peel the lemons and set the lemons aside.

Fine chop the lemon peel and set aside.

Slice and juice the lemons.

Strain the juice.

In a non-reactive bowl, add juice and sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. This take a bit of stirring, but it will dissolve.

Add the lemon peel to the lemon sour mix and cover. Glass mason jars work great for this. Chill in refrigerator until needed.

Strain the lemon peel when needed.

This can be made the night before.

This will make approximately 12 oz of sour mix. To make more just use the 1-1 ratio for the sour and increase. This is the perfect base for making fresh lemonade for your party as well, so make more than you need for the punch and make some lemonade for those who don’t imbibe or are just thirsty.

-Idea-

Add any unused hibiscus tea to the lemonade

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Peaches, Lemons and Hibiscus

Building The Punch

If possible have all the ingredients already chilled before building the punch. Wine, spirits, cordial/sour, tea.

I suggest getting a block of ice that can be chipped into large chunks for the punch. If not available, large clear cubed ice works best. You want large pieces that don’t melt too fast, but do melt. Too small and they melt too fast. Too large a block and it just sits there not melting and not chilling.

Slice thin lemon wheels and set aside. Thin slice chilled peaches any way you wish to be added to the punch and set aside.

Add the large chunks of ice to the punch bowl to begin chilling the bowl and melt off a little bit. In another container large enough for the punch, add all the spirits, tea, cordial/sour and wine and mix together. Taste for consistency and adjust for your taste if necessary.

Pour this over the ice in the bowl and stir lightly to even the temperature. Float the lemon and peaches on the punch.

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Enjoy!

Voilá!

Serve!

Bon Soirée!

Happy Independence Day

 

 

 

 

THE PREPARATION OF LEMON CORDIAL

 

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LEMON CORDIAL

This is the lemon version of the original LIME CORDIAL recipe I did a while back. It is really similar to an oleo saccharum in that you are rendering the natural lemon oils, flavor and aroma of your lemons by steeping the peel in sugar…only with this version you are also using the juice. It is like a cross between and lemon sour and an oleo saccharum. I find it more useful than an oleo and can be stored in the refrigerator almost indefinitely for future use. It is a concentrated ball of flavor and aroma so a little goes a long way in your cocktail, long drink, iced tea or club soda and many other beverages.

BASIC LEMON CORDIAL RECIPE/RATIO
1 Part Lemon Juice
1 Part Cane Sugar
Zest from all the Lemons

In this recipe let’s use enough lemons to make about a quart of LEMON CORDIAL. That should be about 25 nice lemons and about 2/3 of a quart of strained juice. In any case, whatever juice you get from your lemons, the recipe in parts above is still valid. If you get 25 oz of juice, then measure 25 oz of cane sugar. I am giving the parts measured by volume for ease at home. Measured by weight it isn’t exactly 1-1, but that is another subject. Also, you can make this sweeter or more tart for your taste or purpose by varying the sugar used. Less sugar for more tart and more sugar for sweeter.

STEP ONE

Wash the lemons under warm water to remove any dirt and chemicals left from harvest and shipping. Dry the lemons with a cloth. This helps prevent degradation of your lemon peel by any excess water. You want just the yellow part containing the essential oils so use a good zester. I love the Kühn-Rikon Swiss Peeler.

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STEP TWO

Peel/zest your lemons. Using your peeler just get the yellow part of the zest in long swaths lengthwise along the lemon. It really doesn’t matter what the peel look like or which way you peel them as long as you just get mostly yellow.

 

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STEP THREE

Cut and juice your peeled lemons. Strain pulp from juice. You are ready to mix in the sugar now.

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STEP FOUR

Mixing the Lemon Juice and Sugar.

Equal parts. In a non-reactive sauce pan that is large enough for both sugar and lemon juice, add both. Make sure the pan is the appropriate size for the amount you are making. Stir this mixture until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Put the pan on to a low/medium heat on stove top. Slowly bring the heat up. Use a thermometer to make sure you don’t heat it too fast or too high. We want this to be clean and lemony tasting, not caramelized. Do not bring to a boil. The temperature I bring this to is 175. Once you hit this temp turn off heat and remove from burner. Pour this into a non-reactive container. Cambros work great here but glass or ceramic works too. Regular plastic wont take the heat well.

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STEP FIVE

Adding The Lemon Peel

Once you have your basic lemon syrup in your container, allow to cool off at room temp uncovered. When cooled, add your lemon zest and stir into the cordial. Cover this now and store in your refrigerator. Allow this to rest overnight if possible or a minimum of 2 hours or until cooled to fridge temp.

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STEP SIX

Stir and strain your lemon cordial.

Take your cordial out of the fridge and stir one more time and then fine strain the cordial and store in glass jars or bottles or some non-reactive container.

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The ingredients in this wonderful mixer couldn’t be simpler. It is a bit of a process making this, but well worth the effort since it is a way of preserving this sour/oleo cross for many future uses and doesnt have to be made each time you need it. It is also a wonderful way to preserve lemon juice and the lemon oils and essence. This is a high sugar, low water (there is no water added) and high acid product that is heated so it is a nearly impossible place for any bacteria to grow.

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Enjoy!

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COCKTAIL RECIPES

PERSIAN GIMLET
2 oz Beefeater Gin
.5 oz Lemon Cordial
 Hard shake. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or on the rocks. Lemon peel garnish

 

LEMON DROP

2 oz Vodka

.75 oz Lemon Cordial

Hard shake, strain into chilled cocktail glass, shot glasses or on the rocks.

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Use in your favorite punch recipe in place of oleo saccharum and lemon juice.

Use to add lemon and sugar to your iced tea.

Use in a tall club soda to add lemon. A little goes a long way so it shouldn’t be too sweet or tart.

 

 

 

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IRISH COFFEE CREAM

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Irish Coffee seems simple enough; glass mug, Irish Whiskey, hot coffee, sugar, whipped cream, right? Well, let’s say close. But after making one with these ingredients you may enjoy it, but wonder why it isn’t quite what you expected or that it isn’t even all that special. A closer look at the details of this recipe and you will understand how a few simple tweaks to this recipe will make it into something special.

The most important part of this drink is the ‘whipped’ cream float on the coffee. The rest is as easy as quality medium roasted coffee that won’t overwhelm the Irish Whiskey that you are using, yet will have the backbone for some added sugar…and compliment a fine cream topping.

There are many recipes and opinions for making Irish Coffee, but the usual points of contention and confusion come with the coffee cream topping. Canned whipped cream with some green mint syrup just doesn’t cut it anymore for a proper Irish Coffee made at home or in a quality bar or pub. Even a solid whipped cream from scratch, while better than from the can, does not quite give me what I want on top of an Irish Coffee.

Instinct, taste and experience points in a slightly different direction than whipped heavy cream. To me, the Irish Coffee cream should be more like an airy double cream. Thick but not fluffy. Heavy, yet still light enough to float. Slightly pourable. A little funky in a rustic way, yet retaining the youth of a fresh, sweet cream.

The public is starting to become aware of the many dairy products and styles from around the world and one very important style is the thicker, high fat double creams from Ireland and England. Hard to find in the States, but a very important part of making a good Irish Coffee cream.

Double cream is much higher in butterfat than heavy cream by definition. (Minimum fat levels for Double Cream are 45-48% compared to American Heavy or Whipping  Cream at 35-36%)  The best creams, heavy or double, are an egg shell white like color with an almost cheesy, buttery aroma. An example comparison is American grade A unsalted butter and European style butter. European butter is lightly cultured to give it more depth and complexity. (European Style Butter)

When I was a kid in northern Minnesota, we lived by a dairy farm and always had unpasteurized fresh milk from the dairy farm up the road. We would fill gallon jars with fresh milk. It was real whole milk so the cream rose to the top and was about at least a 1/4 of the entire content of the jar. We would either shake it up and drink it that way (serious milk mustaches!) or siphon the cream off and use it for whipped cream, over fresh berries or make butter with it. It was very thick and not like what you get in the grocery store. It was pure cream and I suspect was more like a double cream.

But it’s very difficult to find a double cream in the US so what can one do to get the consistency, taste and aroma that you want from using common American style heavy cream? I thought I would try making a crème fraîche, add some sugar and vanilla, and then whip it up a bit before it became too solidified.  My thought was that this would provide the slightly cultured aroma and taste that I was looking for and be the pourable, slightly sweet floating cream needed for topping your Irish Coffee….and it was.

We never made crème fraîche back when I was a kid or even heard of it. But, when I did learn about it, it seemed very familiar and natural to me since it had those blends of aromas and flavors that were part of my memory.

At first this may seem like too much trouble to go through, but it is ridiculously easy to make and a cool skill/knowledge to have and has many other uses in the kitchen. The most important part of making this crème fraîche at home is that you can customize the process so it is perfect for an Irish Coffee cream.

The recipe consists of heavy cream with a touch of buttermilk as the culture starter. This is then allowed to sit at room temperature for a day. You can get even deeper into the details of this process by finding more natural, locally produced milk/cream and cultures but those will take a trip to the country and a local dairy farm or ordering cultures. But the following recipe is as far as we need to go for this trip.

LIGHT CRÈME FRAÎCHE FOR IRISH COFFEE CREAM

12 oz Heavy Cream

1 oz Buttermilk

16 oz Glass or Ceramic Jar

2 oz Rich 2-1 Simple Syrup or to taste

1/4 tsp High Quality Vanilla Extract or to taste

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THE PROCESS

In a non-reactive mixing bowl add the buttermilk and heavy cream and whip with a wire whisk.

IMG_8639Add this to a jar and cover it, but don’t seal it. It needs to breathe a bit. I usually just put the lid on the jar but don’t tighten it.

Let this sit for approximately 8-12 hours. Make it in the morning for evening service. Check it for consistency from time to time to see how quickly it is thickening.

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When it is thick and coats a spoon, it is ready to add a touch of sweetness. In this recipe I use a rich simple syrup instead of powdered or granulated sugar. It mixes much more easily. I like to use refined cane sugar for the cream to avoid adding any other flavors I might be getting from the coffee. The cream and coffee should be compliments, not redundancies.

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It is important that the cream isn’t noticeably sweet like normal whipped cream. It definitely needs a touch of sweetness for dimension, but there will be sugar in the coffee and whiskey so the cream will be a cool balance to the hot, sweeter and earthy coffee and whiskey combination.

In a non-reactive bowl, add cream, simple syrup and vanilla. Beat by hand with a wire whisk to add some air. You could also just add the syrup and vanilla to the jar already containing the crème fraîche, tighten the lid and shake it until you have a slightly airier whipped consistency. Taste for sweetness and texture. Adjust to your palate if desired. Store in refrigerator.

For the Irish Coffee I prefer a robust coffee, but not so robust that it overwhelms the whiskey and other flavors. I do like an unrefined or raw sugar in the coffee at this point which will add natural depth and aged tastes. Demerara sugar or Azucar Morena are both readily available. Make a 2-1 syrup for this recipe.

IRISH COFFEE

1.5 oz Irish Whiskey

Hot Medium-Dark Roast Coffee

1-2 Tsp Rich Unrefined Sugar Syrup or to Taste

Irish Coffee Cream

8oz Coffee Drink Mug

Piping Hot Water

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THE PROCESS

Before making your Irish Coffee, add piping hot water to your 8 oz coffee drink mugs and let rest while you get ready to pour. You can use whatever sized mug you like and adjust ratios accordingly, but 8 oz is a good place to start. The hot water will help keep your mug hot before and after serving. Use glass mugs so you can show off the coffee and the cream.

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When ready to serve, dump the hot water. Add Irish Whiskey and demerara syrup. Top with coffee, leaving room for cream. About 1/4 of the mug should be free at the top. Use a spoon and, holding it just touching the coffee, gently pour the cream onto the spoon allowing the cream to float over and then onto the surface of the coffee. Fill to the rim.

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Your Irish Coffee is ready to serve. No extra garnishes or straws/stirrers are necessary. Each sip should give you part cream and part whiskey/coffee in your mouth which should make you happy.

If you do wish a garnish of some type, I recommend a light dusting of grated cinnamon or ground cocoa nibs on top of the cream. You could also use pure maple syrup or even a liqueur in place of the sugar syrup in the coffee. The herbal base of Benedictine or Drambuie would make them great complimentary additions to a jazzed up Irish Coffee.

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