A tomato, some salt and a pickle walk into a bar. . . . .
Bacon Vodka and Pickle Vodka Infused
WAIT, don't cringe and click away! These lovely little bites of Bloody Mary inspired tapas are delicious, thanks to both those vodka flavors. Plain vodka is just boring with this recipe. Trust me, I did all three and the plain vodka tomatoes might as well have been totally sober.
This whole recipe was actually inspired by a bottle of Naked Jay BIG DILL sent to me as a sample which I really liked. I am a big dill pickle fan though and if you're not don't use the dill pickle vodka. You can use tomato vodka but that seems a little redundant to me. The addition of using my Homemade Bacon Vodka on some of the tomatoes was because I wanted another flavor in some of the tomatoes.
I tossed them all together for this presentation. I like the idea that you don't know which flavor you're going to get. Feel free to put the different flavors in different serving dishes if you like, not everyone likes a surprise.
You'll want to serve these up with some lovely choices of dipping salts. Here I've used (from the bottom of the photo up) Cypress Black Lava Salt Flakes (in the pile), some marvelously earthy Truffle Salt, some Himalayan Pink Salt and some wonderfully smoky Artisan Salt Company Salish Alder Smoked Salt.
Presentation: 3 or 4 Small Serving Containers for the Salt, Serving Bowl(s) for the Tomatoes, Serving Platter
Tools: Toothpicks, Small Bowls, Medium Metal Strainer
Poke quite a few small holes in all the tomatoes with a toothpick, place the tomatoes in small bowls and cover them with your choice of flavor infused vodka. Do this for all the different flavored vodkas you're working with.
I added fresh dill weed to the pickle vodka tomatoes and some course black pepper to all of the tomatoes.
Let these sit overnight or even for a couple of days. The longer the tomatoes sit the longer they will soak up the flavor - up to about 3 days.
Pour the tomatoes through a medium metal strainer over a bowl - you want to drain the vodka off but DON'T THROW IT AWAY ... chill that vodka and serve it with the tomatoes in cold shot glasses, it's a lovely drink to have with this dish.
Plate everything up and enjoy.
Next time I might try adding some fresh, crushed garlic to the plain vodka, it might help pop the flavor up a bit. Another combination that would be nice would be some fresh basil and a couple of teaspoons of balsamic and add some mozzarella balls to the plate.
"She never forgets a slight, real or imagined. She takes caution for cowardice and dissent for defiance. And she is greedy. Greedy for power, for honour, for love."
~ George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
So here we are at the end of season 6. All the dragons have returned, Daenerys is back in command with Tyrion beside her as her right hand Imp, Arya is a person again, Jon Snow survived the Battle of the Bastards, Sansa is finally a widow, Jaime completed his storming the castle task and poor, beleaguered Cersei is facing execution without the possibility of the right to a trial by combat. Too bad about that nixed trial by combat, with The Mountain, aka Ser Robert Strong, as her champion that would have been an easy out for her, right?
There has been much speculation as to whether our favorite blond villainess will meet her end at the end of season 6. Some are laying bets on the execution, while others speculate sororicide by her brother/lover Jaime over that nasty blue wildfire stash. I'm betting on the return of Cersei next season, whether alive or as a vengeful spectre. She's a survivor and, shhhhhhh, she's reportedly getting $500k per episode to continue her nefarious scheming. And don't think she won't be hell bent on revenge.
Beautiful. Powerful. Dangerous.
2 Oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1 Oz. Cruzan 151 Rum
2 Oz. Fresh Pineapple Juice
1 Oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Orgeat Syrup
Splash Ginger Beer
GARNISH: 1 Pineapple Juice Ice Sphere, Fresh Mint Sprig, Rum Soaked Cocktail Cherry
TOOLS: Ice Mold, Cocktail Shaker, Strainer
GLASS: Old Fashioned
Fill a round ice mold with fresh pineapple juice and freeze.
Cover nice quality cocktail cherries with some of the Cruzan 151 and let soak overnight.
Add all the ingredients except the overproof rum to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.
Strain over the pineapple ice sphere in a chilled glass.
Float the Cruzan 151 on top, garnish and serve icy cold.
Be sure to try out all my other Game of Thrones cocktails over the long wait for our return to the Land of Ice and Fire next year.
This is one of the first cocktails I ever created and it's still one of my favorites. I love a Key Lime Pie but it has to be in a pastry pie shell, not a graham cracker crust and I prefer a meringue topping over whipped cream. There's a lot of versions out there, but that's my favorite style and the one I styled my original recipe around.
My first Key Lime Pie Martini recipe called for limeade concentrate instead of key lime juice because the first time I made the cocktail I used actual Key limes and drove myself crazy trying to juice the little buggers without a decent juicer. Key limes are small and hard and I spent forever rolling them around trying to loosen up the juice inside. So I tried a frozen limeade for my next version and, though it didn't have that Key lime flavor, made a pretty decent, and way easier, drink. It also had the sweetener already included. Plus Key limes aren't always available and I could keep frozen limeade always on hand in the freezer.
Now I have a juicer so there's no excuse for not using fresh Key lime juice when they're in season. Gotta love the mod-cons, especially if you're in the cocktail business. I do love my juicers, especially when it comes to extracting Key lime juice.
This Part Deux version I decided to try out rum instead of vodka. If you prefer vodka, go for it, but be aware that the rum brings a stronger flavor profile to the game than vodka does so there will be a slightly different taste experience between the two spirits.
KEY LIME PIE
2 Oz. White Rum
1-1/4 Oz. Fresh Key Lime Juice
2 Oz. Heavy Cream or Half & Half
1 Oz. Simple Syrup
Garnish: Pie Crust and Sugar Rim
Tools: Juicer, Cocktail shaker
Blind bake a single layer of sugared, prepared pie crust, cool, then crumble. Mix with a teaspoon of sugar. I added in a bit of green sugar crystals for extra color. Dip the glass rim in some lime juice then into the crumbled pie crust mixture. Chill glass in the freezer.
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until icy cold.
You may wonder why you are getting two different versions of this edible cocktail. There's two versions because I had tons of lovely custard cocktail gel left over after making the samples for the photo shoot. Why not make a pudding cocktail too? So I did.
I hand made these chocolate cups because my chocolate mold did not come in time. You can also buy ready made chocolate cups at Amazon. I'm doing that next time, it's just plain easier - though I did infuse my chocolate cups with a nice little pinch of sea salt.
There's a hilarious Instagram account called Taste Of Streep that takes Meryl Streep and Photoshops her into all types of food. It tickles me funny. If you're a Streep fan and a foodie you can't help but enjoy these photo mash-ups, they're just perfectly silly and fun.
Besides the requisite doughnut, cannoli, pizza, et al., they have dropped Meryl into a glass of milk, a cup of coffee, a beer, a glass of wine and a pina colada but they neglected a martini.
As a huge Meryl fan, and since it's Ms. Streep's birthday today, I just can't let that go ignored ...
SIP OF STREEP
A Chocolate Meryl Martini Mash-up
1 Oz. Chocolate Vodka
1Oz. Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 Oz. Irish Cream
2 Dashes Coffee Bitters
Splash of Cream
Garnish: Chocolate shavings
Tools: Cocktail shaker, Strainer
Shake ingredients with ice until chilled, strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with chocolate shavings, serve.
June 21st is National Peaches and Cream Day. Now, most people
would slice up a peach and pour some cream over it to celebrate but you
know me, I add booze. Yeah, I sliced up some peaches and I added some
cream in the form of half & half but then I took it to my happy hour place and poured in some vanilla vodka, some peach schnapps and a little sugar
PEACHES & CREAM
1-1/2 Oz. Vanilla Vodka 1 Oz. Peach Schnapps 1 Fresh Peach, Pureed 1 Oz. Half & Half 1/2 C. Sugar w/ 1 Tsp. Nutmeg Fresh Peach Slice
Dip your glass rim in some of the Peach Schnapps and then into the sugar and nutmeg mixture and chill in the freezer. Add a cup of ice to a cocktail shaker then pour in the vanilla vodka, peach schnapps, pureed peach, half & half. (Add an optional bit of that extra nutmeg sugar mixture if your peaches need sweetening.) Shake until well blended and chilled, strain into your cold cocktail glass, garnish with peach slice and serve.
Father's Day calls for some manly cocktails. None of those pink girly drinks, nothing with a cocktail umbrella, nothing watered down with loads of fruit juices, just strong, muscle man, testosterone approved booze for Dad!
Here are some great bespoke guy drinks with male appeal. Not a bit of frilly in the bunch. Every one pairs well with power tools, cigars and sports. There's serious machismo here, don't say I didn't warn you.
“We’ve been flaying our enemies for a thousand years. The flayed man is on our banners!”
~ Ramsey Bolton
The battle for Winterfell begins with the "Battle of the Bastards" episode this Sunday. When you have a battle in the Land of Ice and Fire, where the weapons are pretty much up close and personal, there's going to be a lot of smashing going on so I thought a smash style cocktail would be fairly appropriate. (If you're not too sure what a smash style cocktail, buy my book The Zen of Cocktails, you'll find the definition in the Categories Schmategories chapter.)
I also like the idea of a Smash cocktail because I dearly want to see Jon Snow and his Wildling army defeat and smash the living hell out of Ramsay Bolton. It's time for one less bastard in Westeros ... and it had better be Ramsey.
Jon Snow (good bastard) Ramsey Bolton (bad bastard)
Since this is for Winterfell I decided that, despite it being summer, a more winter-ish fruit and herb would be appropriate for this cocktail. However, since it is summer, it also had to be cool and refreshing which a Smash, with its mound of crushed ice, definitely is.
The Wolves Will Come Again
3 Ounces Bourbon
2 Tablespoons Sauteed Apples
1 - 2 Tablespoons Tarragon Apple Butter Syrup
1-1/2 Teaspoons Tarragon Vinegar
Garnish: Apple wedges, Dusting Dried Tarragon
Tools: Muddler, Cocktail shaker
Glass: Old Fashioned
Muddle the sauteed apples, apple tarragon butter syrup and tarragon vinegar in the bottom of the cocktail shaker.
Add the ice cubes to your cocktail shaker, pour in the bourbon and shake until chilled.
Pour into a chilled old fashioned glass, pile in the crushed ice, top off with a splash of soda.
Add your apple garnish, a few extra sauteed apples, a dusting of some dried tarragon leaves and serve.
SAUTEED APPLES & TARRAGON APPLE BUTTER SYRUP
This recipe creates both the sauteed apples and the Tarragon Apple Butter Syrup.
For each cocktail saute half a cubed red delicious apple in 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a splash of bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon. Cook on medium until the apples are softened and the sauce has reached a syrup consistency. Cool to room temperature before adding to your cocktail.
“My father told me big men fall just as quick as little ones, if you put a sword through their hearts.”
There is an aura of mystery that surrounds the birth of the Martini. I suppose that is fitting for a drink that has become associated with the likes of James Bond, spy extraordinaire, as well as other notables such as Frank Sinatra, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alfred Hitchcock, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.
Some say the martini originated in a saloon in the late 1800's in Martinez, California. There is a "Martinez" recipe in a bartending book from 1887 (The Bon Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas - but with a Maraschino cherry instead of an olive and a dash of orange bitters instead of a lemon twist. Some claim the name "martini" came from the Martini and Henry rifle used by the British army in the late 1800s - supposedly because both had "a strong kick". The first official mention of the word Martini appears in the New and Improved Illustrated Bartending Manual in 1888.
The martini was considered THE cocktail in the days of Prohibition - probably because of the "bathtub gin" of the era. It gained great popularity and élan during the days of the "Rat Pack" and fell into oblivion during the health conscious days of the 70s and 80s. The resurgence of the martini in today's chi chi bistros is due in part to the return of glamour and sophistication and the development of "designer" martinis that have little in common with the original drink.
EVOLUTION OF THE MARTINI
Probably the first true "martini" was concocted around 1911 at the Knickerbocker Hotel of New York by Martini de Arma di Taggia, who was head bartender at the time. He combined 1 part London Gin, 1 part Noilly Prat Vermouth and orange bitters, chilled over ice and then strained into a chilled glass. No one is really sure who added the olive - I like to think it was a hungry customer who decided to grab an olive or two and tossed one in the mouth and one in the drink for later.
Often referred to as the "Silver Bullet" (because of this quote by William Emerson, Jr.: "and when that first martini hits the liver like a silver bullet, there is a sigh of contentment that can be heard in Dubuque"), the current recipe for a classic martini is five parts gin to one part vermouth. A Dry Martin reduces the vermouth, depending on the taste preferences, from just a splash to simply coating the inside of the glass. It is said the Winston Churchill's idea of a dry martini was to look at the bottle of vermouth from across the room! The Classic Martini is most often served with an olive as garnish, but a softer version is served with a twist of lemon rind.
Current tastes prefer vodka instead of gin, though purists claim this is not a classic martini but a Vodkatini or a Kangaroo. In most upscale cocktail lounges these days you will find what I call "designer martinis" in a variety of recipes from the ground breaking Appletini to the downright decadence of dessert martinis like my Chocolate Martinis. For the glamorati of today if you serve it in a martini glass it's a martini. Fine by me, because it was the elegant and sophisticated martini glass that really began my own martini obsession.
INTERESTING MARTINI FACTS
"Shaken, Not Stirred", the movie version of 007's supposedly favorite way to have his martini mixed, would not give you a classic "Martini" but a "Bradford" where a cocktail of gin and vermouth is shaken then poured into a martini glass not strained so that small shards of ice float in it.
Though this oft repeated pop culture phrase has been the culprit of many a badly abused classic martini, it is not through any fault of the impeccable Mr. Bond, James Bond. In the books our favorite spy is actually ordering a "Vesper" (named after a Bond Girl) and not a martini.
Shaking the martini as opposed to stirring is said to "bruise" the gin, thereby sharpening it's taste and many argue this dulls the taste of the vermouth - possibly another way to create a "dry" martini. Either way, a Gin Martini is best stirred, not shaken and a Vodka Martini is best shaken, strained and served ice cold - like revenge.
For you health nuts, here's an interesting fact: A shaken martini is more healthy for you. Evidently, shaking the martini produces significantly higher antioxidant properties than a stirred one.
History of the Martini Glass Design
A study in form over function.
The martini glass, correctly called a cocktail glass, is a subset of bar glasses designed for specific purposes. Though the glass design may look arbitrary and somewhat of a balance challenge, there is a true function to this elegant and unique drinking vessel.
In a cocktail glass the long stem is a design element that will keep the martini cold without the addition of ice which would water down the drink. It also allows for holding the cocktail without allowing the heat of the hand to warm the drink.
There is a tale that the wide mouth was designed to allow for quicker dumping of the “illegal” alcohol in the event of a raid on the speakeasy during the Prohibition era, though it’s more likely that the wide brim was a design element that allows for surface tension which enhances the natural bouquet of the juniper berries in the gin.
A traditional martini (cocktail) glass was originally designed to hold a three to four ounce cocktail. When martini glasses were invented a martini was nearly all gin, then vodka, with just a splash or so of vermouth and maybe some orange bitters. These days the designer martinis require larger capacity because of the addition of juices and mixers. It’s not uncommon to see martini glasses that will serve a six or even eight ounce cocktail.
Martini (cocktail) glasses now come in all sizes and shapes and decorations. There are hand blown glasses with imaginative stems, etched crystal glasses and fun, colorful hand painted glasses available today. There are “inverted” glasses and even martini bowls without the stems that come nestled in a larger fishbowl shape you can fill with ice. I even have a giant martini glass that I use for chips, flowers and even party favors on my buffet table – but the one common design element is that distinctive conical bowl with the wide mouth.
Better than a poke in the eye with a stick - way better
Ingredients: Pinnacle's Cake Vodka, Creme de Cocoa, Chocolate Milk, Red Food coloring, Cream Cheese Frosting, Red Sprinkles
Red Velvet cake is a very popular Southern dessert (remember the Red Velvet Armadillo Groom's Cake in Steele Magnolias?) and it is, technically, a chocolate cake recipe where the red coloring comes from added food coloring. However, the original recipes used cocoa that was not "Dutch Processed" where the natural red of the cocoa powder, reacting to the acid of the vinegar and buttermilk, would have been more pronounced, possibly this was the source for the name "Red Velvet".
During World War II and the food rationing bakers often used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes and this would have given the cake a very rich, deep red color as well.
Most recipes these days use food coloring, and I have done the same in my martini recipe simply because there is no liqueur of the deep red color that would have enhanced the true Red Velvet Cake flavor of this martini.
Of course, no respectable Red Velvet Cake these days is complete without the requisite cream cheese frosting so I have used this as my garnish and rimming ingredient.
Here's an easy little tip for piping on the cream cheese:
Grab yourself a small baggie, spoon in softened cream cheese frosting, cut a tiny little tip off the corner and simply pipe it on the rim of your glass in a wiggly line.
"They called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered "Kingslayer" behind his back."
Poor, beleaguered Jaime Lannister. Sent away by his son, the King, enmeshed in a seige he wanted no part of and still fighting despite his loss of limb.
Poor, sexy, incestuous Jaime (that King? Jaime's son with sister Cersei), king slayer, Stark crippler, brother of our much beloved dwarf, Tyrion, the Imp. What is it about this conflicted bad guy that we just love so much? Poor guy needs a break, a vacay and a cocktail so let's give him one.
Because you may not be able to fight as well one handed, but you can always drink well one handed.
First, let me say that when you are making homemade gin, you are most likely making a compound gin not a distilled gin. You can read more about the difference between the two here at Serious Eats. I like to be honest and call mine "gin flavored vodka" because that's exactly what it is. In point of fact, all gin is basically flavored vodka, but you can read more about that from Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
Second, let me say that this whole experiment started with some left over rosemary infused vodka made for my Rosemary Lemon Drop Martini. After I had made my martini I had a considerable amount of the rosemary infused vodka leftover and, when I went to put it in the refrigerator, my eyes fell on some of the spices I keep in magnetic metal tins on the fridge door. One of these was filled with juniper berries, another with cardamom, both of which are often aromatics used in flavouring gins.
It wasn't much of a leap from there to the idea of homemade gin, though, truthfully, I was just thinking of adding some more flavors to the rosemary infused vodka for another cocktail recipe. At some point while adding the juniper berries, cardamom, some lemon peel and orange peel, I realized I had the makings of a gin flavored vodka.
Et voila, homemade gin!
The Martini Diva's Basic
1 Cup 100 Proof Vodka
1 Cup 80 Proof Vodka
1 Tablespoon Juniper Berries
1/2 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
4 Cardamom Pods
1 Teaspoon Dried Lemon Peel
1 Small Sprig Rosemary
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Lavender
TOOLS: Infusion jar or bottle, cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
Add the vodka and juniper berries together in a sealable infusion bottle. Allow this to infuse for a full week.
Next day add the coriander, lemon peel and lavender and give this another day to infuse.
The next day add the cardamom and rosemary and let this get happy for 12 hours.
Strain out the flavoring ingredients and bottle up.
If you want a clearer gin, run it through a Brita water filter a few times.
Note: I do not crush my pods as I want a more subtle infusion from these ingredients. Any seeds or pods that you want more flavor from, feel free to hit them up with a little mortar and pestle action.
Your homemade gin should last for up to a year, but I seriously doubt if you will have it around that long.
Of course, you can always just buy a gin kit:
The thing about making your own gin is you can try different flavoring elements, as well as using different infusion times for those elements to subtly adjust the flavor of your homemade gin. Different types of gin work with different types of cocktails, so I hope to try using some other floral elements, like chamomile, or maybe even some cucumber peels and maybe dried orange peel instead of lemon and adjusting the amount of the spices. I might also add an herb or two like basil or cilantro.
Ever since I made my Crepes Suzette Cocktail with the Orange Butter Simple Syrup, I have been wanting to put butter in another cocktail. There was something about the creaminess and that little bit of salt in the butter that just rocked that cocktail. Yesterday, after a particularly teeth gnashing day of working on my newest coloring book, I decided it was time to take a break and make myself a cocktail.
I went to the kitchen and there sat my dish of butter. So I went for butter simple syrup cocktail number two. I didn't have any plan, no special occasion was on the horizon so I hadn't been shopping for any specific ingredients. I just grazed the bar and fridge for what looked good to me in the moment.
Prepare the Cinnamon Maraschino Butter Simple Syrup and set aside to cool.
Chill your glass in the freezer.
Add all the ingredients except the ice to a blender and blend on high for one full minute. (This is my cheater's approach to dry shaking.)
Add this mixture to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.
Pour, do not strain, over the large ice cube in the old-fashioned glass.
Tap on the cherry bitters, garnish with the pie crust square, a few Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and serve.
BUTTER SIMPLE SYRUP
1/2 Stick Salted Butter
1 Stick of Cinnamon
Juice & Zest of 1 Large Lemon
2 Tablespoons Demerrara Sugar
1 Tablespoon Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Melt the butter in a small sauté pan. Grate the lemon zest over the butter then squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Add the sugar and the cinnamon then cook over medium high heat just until the syrup thickens, about a minute. Watch carefully, this can burn quickly. Stir in the Luxardo. Set aside for your cocktail and allow to cool a bit.
Cherry Pie Day is February 20th AND ... Twin Peaks Day is February 24th!
"Free folk don't follow names, or little cloth animals sewn on a tunic ... They won't dance for coins, they don't care how your style yourself or what that chain of office means or who your grandsire was. They follow strength. They follow the man."
~ George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)
Descended from the First Men, the Free Folk are the inhabitants of the North who were unlucky enough to be living north of The Wall when it was constructed eight thousand years ago. They are feared and viewed as savages and barbarians by the Seven Kingdoms who derisively call them Wildlings.
Doomed to endure the ice and cold of the North the Free Folk were shut off from "polite society" by The Wall for eight thousand years, kept at bay by the Night's Watch. Like everyone else, the Watchers had forgotten the wall was originally constructed to keep out White Walkers (now viewed as myths) and not Wildlings. Then Jon Snow came along and things got wild from there.
I see them as the Druids of The Lands of Ice and Fire, sort of the ancient Celts to the Medieval feudal folk of The Seven Kingdoms. The Celts loved their ales so I figure the Free Folk were wild enough to have discovered fermentation themselves and probably liked it a little spicy.
MOONSHINE: White Lightning, Mountain Dew, Hooch, White Whiskey, White Dog, Pop Skull, Bush Whiskey, Donkey Punch, Kickapoo and a host of other nicknames.
WHAT IS MOONSHINE?
Illicitly and illegally distilled and distributed corn liquor found chiefly in the areas of the southern U.S. Yes, ILLEGAL, though the term has crept into legal, federally monitored distilled brands in the last few years. Generally made from a corn mash, real moonshine - the kind made ILLEGALLY by Popcorn Sutton (more information below*) and his Appalachian brethren - is a high proof, clear whiskey. The word "moonshine" is believed to have come from a term for early English Smugglers combined with the fact that most moonshine was produced at night to avoid the notice of the revenuers.
Believe it or not, NASCAR is closely associated with moonshine. The earliest NASCAR drivers, like Junior Johnson, were originally drivers for the illegal whiskey trade who souped up their cars in order to avoid capture. Don't believe me? Just ask NASCAR.
Below are some of my recipes for homemade liquors and liqueurs. I've done tons more (I've even infused booze into whipped cream), I think I've think infused nearly every fruit and herb, and quite a few veggies, candies and spice, into some type of alcohol. I just didn't post all the recipes.
Technically these recipes are not really moonshine because I have not distilled anything, I have simply infused flavors into existing distilled booze. However, if you are like me, it's doubtful you have a copper still laying around your house either. But flavoring your own booze is almost as fun, and it's not illegal.