20150531

The MAKE MY DAY Shooter for Clint Eastwood's Birthday

http://themartinidiva.com

Celebrating the birthday of American actor, director and all around cool guy, Clint Eastwood.

I have had a crush on Clint Eastwood since his days of playing Rowdy on Rawhide. I followed him from the American Old West right over to Italy for his roles as "The Man With No Name" in his Spaghetti westerns, adored him as Dirty Harry and was beguiled by him in Beguiled, and feared for him in Play Misty for Me. I cheered when he won Best Director for Unforgiven, cried at his lost love in Bridges of Madison County and thoroughly enjoyed Space Cowboys. I've seen most of his television roles, and every film he's been in and/or directed, the latest of which was Jersey Boys and American Sniper.  I've also enjoyed his music as a composer, musician and, yes, as a singer - I confess to still hoarding the soundtrack to Paint My Wagon because of his rendition of I Talk To The Trees.

Yep, BIG Eastwood fan.

So today I present to you:

The
MAKE MY DAY
Shooter

1/2 Oz. Wild Turkey
1/2 Oz. Southern Comfort
1/2 Oz. Peach Schnapps
Dash of Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a 2 Oz. Shooter.
 
Flame it if you dare, punk.





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20150530

MINT JULEPS


JULEP: from the Arabic julāb or Persian gulāb, julep translates to rose water.
First Use: 14th century

Originally a medicinal cure for stomach ailments, the Mint Julep is a particularly American drink favored highly in the South as a cool, refreshing summer cocktail. Though originally it could be made with Cognac, brandy, gin or whiskey the most common modern version is made with Bourbon.

The Mint Julep is the official drink of The Kentucky Derby where over 100,000 are served up to racegoers each year. In recent years, however, a commercially pre-mixed substitute has been offered up in place of a true Mint Julep. This is understandable because of the multitudes being served, but still it's a sad tribute to a great drink.

As a member of the Smash family of drinks, a real Julep consists of fresh mint leaves, spirit, sugar, and water (ice) and is constructed by first muddling the mint and sugar in a glass (traditionally a Julep Cup), filling the cup with crushed ice, adding the spirit (traditionally Bourbon), then mounding a bit more crushed ice over the top and garnishing with a fresh mint sprig. Spearmint is the preferred herb, though peppermint can be used.

Below are some of my happy hour riffs on this classic Southern libation.

Brown Sugar PEACH MINT JULEP
PINEAPPLE MINT JULEP
BLUEBERRY MINT JULEP
MINT JULEP as a Martini

The sportsmen ready,
and the julep o'er,
Which doctors storm at,
and which some adore.
~ A Short Poem on Hunting," found in the Virginia Gazette, Jan 11, 1770

National Mint Julep Day is May 30th and Mint Julep Month is from early April to early May (set to coincide 30 days prior to the Kentucky Derby.)

Updated 5-2018
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20150528

Vodka Tonics? Not Really. Fun? Yes!


Except for one odd day in February, yesterday was the first truly hot day of the year and, after several weeks of freakishly cool May days, the temperature of 90° felt more like 110°. That first blast of summer called for some very tall, ice filled, refreshing cocktails for myself and my visiting company, Will and Stephen.

Only problem? I was hot, tired and didn't want to get up and down and behind a bar mixing drinks every ten minutes. I wanted to sit down and enjoy a couple of tall, iced filled cocktails myself. Solution? Set up a Vodka Tonic bar and let the boys do their own bartending!

So I gathered together the basics and some seasonal accompaniments that would mesh well together and lined them all up on my little bungalow bar thusly:

ICE CUBES, in a Bucket
GLASSES, Tall Collins Style
CHILLED VODKA, in a Carafe
CANS of TONIC WATER, Chilled
MUDDLER, JIGGER, ICE TONGS, STIR STICKS
BAR TOWEL (for the inevitable spills)
FRESH BLACKBERRIES, Macerated in Sugar and Lightly Muddled.
CUCUMBER, Peeled, Cubed and Lightly Pureed
MORE CUCUMBER, Sliced
ORANGES, LIMES, LEMONS, Sliced into Quarters
Bottle of Rich Simple Syrup (2X Sugar : 1X Water)
FRESH BASIL, MINT, DILL Sprigs in a Vial of Water
STRAWS, plopped in a Mint Julep Glass

Then I mixed myself MY cocktail, sat down and directed their activities from my favorite chair. I got to relax, they had fun AND got a mixology lesson in the bargain. Win, win, win.

Little buggers drank half their Vodka Tonic concoctions before I could get a photo, but here's the first round:


From left to right, here were the combos and constructions on the first round:

BLACKBERRY CUCUMBER TONIC (Mine)
Build into the glass:
1/4 C. Macerated Blackberries
2 Tbsp. Cucumber Puree
Ice
2 Oz. Vodka
Top off with Tonic
Squeeze and Drop in 1 Orange Quarter
Stir
Garnish with Cucumber Slice
Serve with Straw

CUCUMBER MINT TONIC (Will's)
Build into the glass:
2 Tbsp. Cucumber Puree
1 Tbsp. Rich Simple Syrup
6 Mint Leaves
Muddle Lightly
Ice
2 Oz. Vodka
Top off with Tonic
Squeeze and Drop in 2 Lime Quarters
Stir
Garnish with Cucumber Slice and Mint Sprig
Serve with Straw

BLACKBERRY BASIL TONIC (Stephen's)
Build into the glass
1/4 C. Macerated Blackberries
3 Mint Leaves
2 Basil Leaves
Muddle Lightly
Ice
2 Oz. Vodka
Top off with Tonic
Squeeze and Drop in 1 Orange Quarter
Stir
Garnish with Fresh Basil Sprig
Serve with Straw

The second round it was musical cocktails as we switched the combos around. The third round is now a blur but suffice to say we emptied off the bar before commencing to supper.

For a bigger party, where I had more time to plan, I would have added more fruit choices, expanded the spirit choices, added more mixers and moved it all over to my long window bar). However, for something I tossed together in a few minutes this worked. Hilarity and creativity ensued, I sat on my keister and laughed and kibitzed, they mixed and muddled and spilled. A good time was had by all.

And I conned Will into washing up.




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20150519

Tangelo Tangos with Maple Bourbon Cocktail! Bee Survives.


I got a twofer (two for one) on some Jim Beam the other day so I picked up a bottle of their regular bourbon and a bottle of their new maple infused bourbon. I've made my own maple infused bourbon* but I hadn't tried Beam's version before so I thought, what the heck, basically it's free. It's also definitely maple. It's also VERY sweet, it tastes like bourbon with a lot of maple syrup in it. If you are a straight bourbon kind of person, this might not be your cup of tea. But it presents possibilities for mixing. Right away I knew this was a spirit that was going to require some bitters to balance that sweetness, but I like adding bitters to cocktails so no problemo. I'm very fond of the depth of flavor bitters can add to a cocktail and I like the additional herbal qualities they bring to the mix.

I was also in possession of some fairly ripe tangelos that needed to be used and an itch to try out a cocktail foam technique. Plus it was Monday and I really needed a cocktail. Really. Put those all together and this is what I ended up with. It's not really a sour, I don't know what the heck it is as far as cocktail categories go, but it was darned good ... so good, in fact, I had a surprise guest**.

Naming it with another issue, so pardon the word play here:

The
TANGELO BOURBON TANGO
Cocktail 
(Makes 2 Cocktails)

INGREDIENTS:
2 Oz. Jim Beam Bourbon
1-1/2 Oz. Jim Beam Maple Bourbon
8 Oz. Fresh Tangelo Juice, Chilled
1 Oz. Lemon Juice
6 Bourbon Cherries
2 Wide Tangelo Twists
Ice

Cognac Foam
4 Oz Tangelo Juice, Chilled
3 Oz. Pasteurized Egg Whites
Splash of Cognac
3 Dashes Orange Bitters

TOOLS: Vegetable peeler, Knife, Juicer, Blender, Cocktail shaker, Long cocktail picks, Coupe glasses, Bar spoon.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Chill 2 large coupe glasses in the freezer.
Using a wide vegetable peeler, slice 2 wide twists off the tangelo rind.
Interweave the tangelo twists with the Bourbon cherries on your cocktail picks and set aside.
Add the ingredients for the cognac foam to your blender and whip on high until the volume triples in size.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice then pour in both the Bourbons, the tangelo juice and the lemon juice and shake until chilled.
Strain your cocktail into the chilled coupe the pour the foam gently over the back of a bar spoon on top. Lay your tangelo and cherry garnish across the top of a glass and serve.


** SAVE THE BEES
As I was outside enjoying my second Tangelo Tango a BEE dove straight into the cognac foam! I think he thought it was a giant queen bee. He couldn't extricate himself from the thick foam, so I grabbed the cocktail pick and pulled him out and set him on my deck rail to dry out. Of course it was a "he", no female would be that much of a thrill seeker.
#SaveTheBees

* P.S. If you like the idea of Maple Infused Bourbon you should make my Toasted Walnut Maple Bourbon.  I think the Jim Beam could have benefited greatly from those toasted walnuts.






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20150517

Whiskey ( Bourbon) Cherry Cobbler Cocktail


Summertime is ideal for cobblers because of all the fresh fruits and berries that are in season. I'm not just referring to the baked variety of cobbler either, the shaked variety is pretty awesome liquid refreshment on those warm evenings where you sit on the veranda to watch the fireflies and listen to the crickets and critters of the evening.

After giving a classic sherry based cobbler a whirl with my Berry Infused Sherry Cobbler, I thought a go at a whiskey or bourbon based cobbler might be interesting so I did a little Google research. I found an interesting recipe in Jamie Boudreau’s Whiskey Cobbler recipe over at Spirits and Cocktails but, since I had been using a lot of blackberries lately, I wanted to use a different fruit.

Since May 17th is National Cherry Cobbler Day, I had a new bag of frozen cherries and I love cherries with bourbon, Mr. Boudreau’s lovely recipe gave me the ratios and my inspiration. I didn't have peach bitters so I used chocolate bitters plus just a dash of orange bitters as well to tie in the traditional slices of orange that are piled on top of a cobbler. I  also replaced his plain simple syrup with homemade cherry simple syrup and used chocolate mint instead of the more common variety. And I opted for a soda free version because I was (OMG!) out of soda! Okay, I strayed a bit ... in fact I may have strayed out of a cobbler into a smash* when I dumped the soda ... but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the esteemed Mr. Boudreau does not come over and beat me with a muddler.

WHISKEY CHERRY COBBLER
or maybe a Smash, but not a julep ....
oh, hell, COCKTAIL!

INGREDIENTS:
2 Oz. Whiskey (I used Bourbon)
1 -2 Tsp. CHERRY Simple Syrup
7 Fresh or (Thawed) Frozen Dark Cherries
2 - 3 Dashes of Chocolate Bitters
1 Dash of Orange Bitters
Club Soda, optional
1 Homemade Bourbon Cherry
Sprig of Chocolate Mint
2 Orange Slices, 1 quartered 
Ice Cubes
Cracked Ice

TOOLS: Cocktail shaker, Muddler, Bar spoon, Strainer, Knife, Jigger, Old Fashioned Glass**, Reusable or Biodegradable Straw

DIRECTIONS:
Chill your glass in the freezer.
(** If you plan on topping off with club soda use a Collins glass instead of an Old Fashioned glass.)
Muddle the cherries and the quartered orange slice with the cherry simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
Fill the cocktail shaker with ice cubes, pour in your whiskey of choice, add the chocolate and orange bitters and shake until well chilled.
Fill your glass with cracked ice, strain the cocktail into your iced glass,  top off with a splash of soda (if you're adding it) then garnish with the 2nd orange slice, a bourbonized cherry and a few sprigs of chocolate mint. Don't forget the straw!

RECIPE VIDEO:

A little straw trivia:
Before the invention of the paper straw in the late 1800's, barkeeps used actual pieces of straw and later pieces of hollow pasta, like vermicelli!

* A cobbler (spirit, fresh fruit, sugar, soda) is a venerable, usually wine (sherry) based libation, kind of a second cousin to a julep (spirit, mint, sugar) and akin to a smash (spirit, mint, fruit, sugar). David Wondrich says, "A smash is a julep, but a julep is not always a smash."

Yeah, with all the inventive mixology going on these days cocktail categories are a bit convoluted and confusing, but once upon a time there were rules.


Updated 5-2018
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20150515

MIND YOUR Ps & Qs Cucumber Pea Shoot Mojito Cocktail


I started growing my own micro greens for my food blog and I love having these flavor and nutrient packed little gems of greenery on hand. But they grow really fast and if you don't harvest them properly you end up with a full size plant. Suddenly I with awash in a mini jungle and eating salads as fast as I could when realized I could use them in my cocktails as well.

My pea shoots were threatening to turn from adorable toddlers into gangly teenagers overnight so they were the first I harvested for happy hour. I also grabbed some fresh mint because peas and mint are a classic culinary combination, and a cucumber because it was sitting in the counter looking refreshing. The name was just a happy coincidence .... 

The
MIND YOUR Ps & Qs
Cucumber Pea Shoot Mojito

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 Oz. Light Rum
2 Oz. Cucumber, Diced 
1 Oz. Lime Juice
4 - 5 Fresh Pea Shoots
7 - 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
2-3 Tsp. Raw Wildflower Honey*
(Use Tablespoons for a sweet cocktail)
Club Soda
Mint Infused Sugar for Rim
Cucumber Slices
Mint Sprig
Pea Shoots
Cracked Ice
* 2 - 3 teaspoons of honey will make this a dry, or more savory style cocktail. If you prefer more sweetness use 2 - 3 tablespoons instead.

TOOLS: Veggie peeler, Cocktail pick, Highball glass, Knife, Cocktail muddler, Jigger, Straw

DIRECTIONS:
Peel off a nice, long strip of cucumber, roll it into a rosette and pierce with a cocktail pick, set aside.
Rub the rim of your glass with either a cucumber or lime slice then roll in the mint infused sugar and set aside.
Dice your cucumber.
Add the cucumber, lime juice, pea shoots, mint leaves and honey to your glass and muddle gently to release the juices and express the mint oil.
Fill the glass with cracked ice, pour in the rum and top off with the club soda.
Garnish with a few pea shoots, cucumber slices, mint sprig and serve with a straw.

RECIPE VIDEO:

A Mojito is a traditional Cuban cocktail wilth an interesting background. For a fun read and more on the Mojito, check out what David Wondrich has to say over at Esquire Magazine.






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20150513

Berry Cherry SHERRY COBBLER Cocktail


COBBLER: a traditional long drink that is characterized by a glass filled with crushed ice that is formed into a centered cone, topped by slices of fruit.

Dating back to the early 1800's, the Cobbler is a form of mixed drink that consists of a base spirit (originally some form of wine), sugar and fresh fruit. According to David Wondrich in Imbibe! Magazine, the Cobbler was very popular during the later part of that century. It's possible the use of crushed ice, a novelty in a mostly non-refrigerated world, and the newly invented paper straw contributed greatly to this popularity.

Barkeeps would mound mountains of the crushed ice in a glass, top with fresh berries then add the necessary straw to get the cocktail past it all and into the mouth!

In his book "How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant's Companion" from 1862, the "Professor of Cocktails", Jerry Thomas, describes a cobbler thus:

2 wine-glasses of sherry
(approximately 4 ounces)
1 table-spoonful of sugar
2 or 3 slices of orange
Fill a tumbler with shaved ice, shake well, and ornament with berries in season. Place a straw as represented in the wood-cut. (sic.)


For once I didn't mess with the recipe much as it is pretty darn good just the way it is. I used a homemade Berry Simple Syrup because I wanted to infuse to drink with more berry flavor and color. I also lowered the amount of sherry by 25 percent to keep in the spirit of a light cocktail and so I could have a couple of drinks. I like to enjoy my drinks on my deck while watching the sunset here in the Arizona desert and it takes a couple of cocktails to watch a whole sunset.

The
BERRY CHERRY
SHERRY COBBLER
Cocktail

INGREDIENTS:
3 Oz. Dry Amontillado Sherry*
3/4 Oz. Berry Simple Syrup
2 Tangelo Slices
Handful of Fresh Berries, Fruit
(I used cherries, strawberries and blueberries)
Crushed Ice
Ice

TOOLS: Cocktail shaker, Muddler, Strainer, Highball Glass

DIRECTIONS:
Gently muddle one orange slice with the simple syrup, about 1/2 cup of assorted berries and fruits (mine was 2 strawberries, 4 - 5 cherries and a few blueberries) in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice and the sherry and shake vigorously until your shaker frosts over.
Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice packed in a mound. Garnish with more fresh berries and a tangelo slice.

* If using a sweeter sherry, reduce the amount of simple syrup.

The use of Sherry, which is a fortified wine originally from Spain, makes this a light cocktail, lower in alcohol content. While most spirits are 80 proof, sherry runs around 30 proof making it's alcohol content lower. This makes a Sherry Cobbler ideal for hot days when heavy drinking just makes you sluggish and sleepy.

A cobbler is a light, refreshing drink, ideal for the warm weather of summer and the fresh berries that abound in that season. It is a uniquely American drink though not limited to the Yankee shores:

".... And it warmed my heart more than I can tell, yesterday, when I witnessed the spectacle of an Englishman ordering an American sherry cobbler of his own free will and accord - and not only that but with a great brain and a level head reminding the barkeeper not to forget the strawberries. With a common origin, a common language, a common literature, a common religion and–common drinks, what is longer needful to the cementing of the two nations together in a permanent bond of brotherhood?" ~ Mark Twain, Sketches New and Old, 1875.





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20150503

LICUADOS DE MAYO Cocktail & Mocktail Recipes


LICUADOS: Spanish for "blendeds" or "liquifieds".

Licuados, also known as Batidos, are a non-alcoholic Mexican version of a smoothie, much like an American milkshake but using milk instead of ice cream. They are typically made with assorted fruits mixed with milk, sometimes a little fruit juice then blended with ice until smooth. Occasionally nuts or honey can be added, it all depends on where you are and which street vendor you're buying from.

Since I had extra homemade pineapple juice leftover from my Strawberry Pina Colada, a few assorted berries I didn't use in my Pimm's Berry Cup and a fresh banana that's what went into mine. I did add some non traditional rum because, well, adding booze is just in my wheelhouse and rum goes so well with fruit! Leaving out the rum is not an issue if you prefer because a licuado is traditionally non-alcoholic. It's up to you, this drink is great both ways!

LICUADOS DE MAYO
Cocktail & Mocktail
A perfect drink for Cinco de Mayo or Day of the Dead
(Makes 2 Large Drinks and/or BoozeSickles.)

INGREDIENTS:
2 Oz. Dark Rum - Cocktail Only
1-1/2 C. Milk "Ice", Milk Frozen into Cubes
1 Banana
1/2 C. Pineapple Juice
1 C. Assorted Fresh Berries
Save a few pieces of fruit as a garnish.

TOOLS: Blender, ice tray, tall glass, straw

DIRECTIONS:
Simply add all the ingredients to your blender, pulse until smooth and creamy, garnish and enjoy.
For the non-alcoholic Mocktail version simply leave out the rum!


LICUADOS DE MAYO BOOZESICLES!

If you watch the video below you'll notice I had nice amount of my drink left over after 1 large serving. If you're not serving a guest or drinking both, you have enough left over to make some cocktail popsicles, what I call Boozesickles! Just take the extra and pour it into popsicle molds and freeze.

RECIPE VIDEO:

HERE ARE SOME OTHER SOUTH OF THE BORDER DRINKS YOU MIGHT WANT TO TRY:
Michelada
Margaritas
Sangrias

Salude! Amor, Riquezas ... y tiempo para gozarlos!
Cheers! To health, love, wealth ... and the time to enjoy them all!





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20150501

NO VANILLA EXTRACT? USE DARK RUM!


 There I was awake in the middle of the night with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. Insomnia and hunger are not a great combination for me. When I'm hungry I can't sleep and when I don't get my 6 hours I get grumpy. The next day I usually end up falling asleep in the afternoon which messes with my work schedule and makes me grumpier. So I wrestled with myself for about a half an hour until I finally gave in, got up and went to the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies. Toll House Cookies to be precise, because that's the only kind I make.
 
I pulled out my bag of Nestle's chocolate chips and began to assemble the other ingredients. It was a midnight mise en place marathon. I measured the flour, poured my sugar into the large bowl, pulled out my eggs, unwrapped the butter to soften, measured out my baking soda and salt, then reached for my vanilla extract.

Zip, nada, nothing. Not a drop, not a bean, not even vanilla ice cream. I could have done without the small measure of extract but the cookies would have lacked the richness and depth of flavor the vanilla adds to the dough. Another extract flavor was not acceptable, I was craving Toll House Cookies not orange chocolate chip cookies. Now I was awake, hungry and annoyed.


I had already solved one problem when I discovered my brown sugar was so dry and hard even the microwave wouldn't bring it back to life. This is the bane of living in a dry desert state, even a sealed container can't keep the moisture in brown sugar for too long. But that's an easy fix if you have molasses and regular sugar because regular sugar is the end result of extracting the molasses from the raw sugar in the first place. You simply add the molasses back in.  

One tablespoon of molasses to a cup of granulated cane sugar will give you a cup of brown sugar, the more molasses you add the darker the brown sugar you get. I didn't even bother to mix them together, I just added the molasses and the extra cup of white sugar to the sugar already in the bowl. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I ran into the vanilla extract brick wall.

Most sane people would have given up at this point and gone back to bed but I am NOT particularly sane in the middle of the night when I have a craving - and I'm stubborn. But I'm also a boozeaphile and it dawned on me that my dark rum had a lovely, rich vanilla note to it and what is vanilla extract? Alcohol infused with vanilla! In fact, vanilla extract is required by law in the United States to contain a minimum of 35% alcohol, many extracts can contain up to 80% alcohol by volume. My bottle of rum was 40% alcohol by volume. I'm a freaking genius in the middle of the night and I was going to be a genius eating Toll House Cookies fairly soon.

In went the rum, on went the oven and in half an hour I was eating my cookies and milk. My cookies tasted just like regular Toll House Cookies. The alcohol cooks off in the baking process leaving just the strong vanilla notes. I ate three. Ten minutes later I was fast asleep.

P.S. I love Chocolate  Chip Cookies enough to do them as pop art and gifts:

 
 AND I even have a Chocolate Chip Martini

 Updated 8-2018
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