Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Local libation: Angel's Blood

I'm still recovering from last night's festivities (which involved drinking too many cocktails at Palmer's Tavern.) And yet, I still felt compelled to make some sort of a bubbly drink in order to properly celebrate the dawn of 2014.

Craving a combination of Prosecco and Campari, I tracked down a recipe in NYC from Bond 45 called the Angeli Sangui--that's Italian for Angel's Blood. I modified it a bit, tweaking some of the ingredients and portions and I gotta say, it's a great way to hair of the dog it.

Serves two

1 1//2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar shaken)
1 1/2 ounces red grapefruit juice (or blood orange, if you can make it!)
Prosecco (I used Macaron
Sprigs of mint

Shake the Campari, simple syrup and juice with ice for a few seconds
Pour through a strainer into champagne flutes, filling about half way, top with Prosecco
Garnish with mint (or an orange peel if you use blood orange juice) 

Hungover or not, I had so much to celebrate in 2013 (including getting hitched!) and so much to hopefully toast to in the new year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Old drink, new trick: Spiked cider

It has been uncharacteristically chilllly in SF lately. Like, east coast cold. The only solution, as far as I'm concerned, is to get some bourbon running through your blood. And this time of year, it's all about spiking some mulled cider with it.

Last Saturday, I bundled up and headed to Outerlands in the Outer Sunset, where they were serving a hot ginger apple lemon and Asian pear cider with scotch. Now that will warm you right up.

I've spiked cider before (basically by dumping in some brown liquor) but was intrigued by these extra tasty ingredients--particularly the ginger, which is pretty much a cure all for everything. So I cobbled together a knock-off recipe of sorts:

4 cups of cider or unfiltered apple juice (these are pretty much the same)
1 tablespoon of mulled spices (cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, etc)
1/2 tablespoon of peeled, sliced fresh ginger
A few thin slices of lemon, juice from one wedge
4 to 8 ounces of bourbon (I used Bulleit - you gotta go Kentucky with bourbon)
Apple slices, if you please

Heat the cider, spices, ginger and lemon in a sauce pan on the stove on medium heat for around 10 to 15 minutes. (Conveniently, this makes your home smell amazing.) Stir in the bourbon, pour into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick, lemon wedge and/or apple slice. Sip and warm the hell up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Local libation: The Hemingway daiquiri at Smugglers Cove

Ahoy, mateys! It's Cocktail Week here in SF and last night I stopped in at one of the 'about town' happy hours at Smuggler's Cove in Hayes Valley. Technically a tiki bar, it reminded me more of an alcoholic version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride - in a good way. They serve up more than 300 different types of rum here and the cocktail menu is Cheesecake Factory-sized!

So the drink you see above is their eponymous Rum Barrel, made with a secret 'barrel mix' which they remain tight-lipped about - the other ingredients are lime juice, pineapple juice and three types of Demerara rum. It is literally intoxicating. I felt like I had been transported to a Caribbean island almost immediately - this may be because I consumed it on an empty stomach...

However, they will reveal how to make their delicious daiquiris. The daiquiris I've had in the past have been frothy, blended, sugary concoctions. At Smuggler's Cove they make a clean, crisp, simple daiquiri that only has three ingredients so it really spotlights the rum:

1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces of rum - they were using Denizen last night - it's a relatively new brand that's a mix of three styles of rum from Trinidad and Jamaica that's making its debut in SF

They also put different twists on the daiquiri - my favorite is the 'Hemingway,' or the #3. Of course the history of the drink is a little hazy. One story goes that this was the way the renowned writer (and drinker) requested his daiquiri when at the legendary bar in Havana, Cuba called La Floridita. To make it, simply add a tsp of maraschino and a tsp of grapefruit juice. Shake with ice, strain if you like and serve in a stem glass.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Classic cocktail: The martini

I confess, I am not a big martini drinker. However my fiance, Alex, is a huge fan and I find myself strangely jealous of him whenever he orders one. It sounds so...sophisticated. Plus, I'm always ogling the olives! I wondered if maybe I just hadn't tasted one that was juuuuuust right.

So I was more than happy to learn the martini-making basics in a 'Mixology 101' class I recently took, put on by the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail. It was taught by the legendary—at least in SF—bartender H. Joseph Ehrmann (he goes bluntly by just H.), who runs the much-acclaimed saloon Elixir in the Mission. And he knows how to make a mean martini.

Of course, there's some discrepancy as to where the martini originated - many towns want to lay claim to it. Some say it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served at the Occidental Hotel in SF in the early 1860s. Others say it was concocted by a bartender in Martinez, CA around the same time. And still others believe it was created at the Knickerbocker Hotel in NYC.

Regardless, H. tells us, there's a core formula everyone should base their martini-making (and shaking or stirring) on:

2 oz 'principle spirit' (this is the vodka or gin - I used St. George Terroir Gin, which Alex tells me is more on the floral side)
1 oz 'modifying spirit' (this is the vermouth - I used good ol' Martini & Rossi extra dry)
2 dashes of orange bitters (I used Fee Brothers)

Don't feel bound by this formula, though - if you don't love vermouth, use less. If you like the bitters' flavor, add more. Put all the ingredients in your mixing glass, add ice to the top and either stir or shake it, depending on your preference. Finally, strain and garnish with either a lemon twist (peel off the fruit over the glass so the citrus spritzes in) or some olives (I wouldn't use the bitters if you like it dirty aka adding olive juice - but that's just me.) Sophistication is served!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Local libation: The Southside at NOPA

Fittingly, I'm a little tipsy while writing my first post! (You have to taste the cocktail before you write about it, right?) I figured the inaugural entry should be a 'local libation' - a drink I consumed in my new home of San Francisco - because living in this cocktail-obsessed city is a big part of what inspired me to start this blog. So last night I went to NOPA in the Western Addition (known for their local, seasonal California fare), sat at one of the communal tables and requested a light, refreshing beverage. The waiter served up one Southside - traditionally made with gin, he subbed in vodka for me (I am not a big gin drinker but I am going to make more of an effort to embrace the liquor- ever to excel!) 

A little backstory on the cocktail itself: It is rumored to have been born in prohibition-era Chicago where South Side gangsters invented it to mask the taste of the bootleg gin they were selling. Another camp claims it was created at Jack and Charley's speakeasy in New York City (which later became the '21' Club). A recent Wall Street Journal article did its best to debunk those origin stories and claimed the Southside was spawned at the super exclusive Southside Sportsman Club on Long Island.

My take? It doesn't strike me as a particularly snooty drink. Besides, it's delicious - and just the kind of crisp, light cocktail you crave during these dwindling days of summer. Here's how to make it:

Muddle a handful of mint leaves in the bottom of a shaker.
*I will be blogging about tools and techniques in future posts so stay tuned!

Add ice, around two ounces of vodka (I used Hangar One, which - in typical Cali style - is a 'farm to bottle' handmade liquor), one ounce of simple syrup (1/2 sugar, half warm water, shake it up), one ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

Shake, strain and pour into a martini glass or a 'stem glass', which is what I used. Just check your teeth for mint slivers that may have slipped through the strainer before you flash a big smile. Cheers!