Thursday, March 29, 2012

Melongrass Liqueur

A most successful experiment.

1 750-ml bottle resposado tequila
1 cup cantaloupe, chopped
4 oz amber agave nectar
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Combine in a large mason jar and macerate for 7-10 days to taste, agitating daily.  Strain through a fine sieve, bottle, and chill.

This is really wonderful stuff - gentle tropical fruit, intense herbal quality, nice light honey tones, yet still a little bit of bite.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


1 750-ml bottle dry gin
1 medium cucumber, sliced
1 medium lemon, zested
3 oz strawberry-thyme syrup (made using the standard method)
3 tbsp dried rose petals

Combine in a mason jar and store in a cool place for 7-10 days, agitating daily.  Strain through a fine sieve and keep chilled.

I created this one mostly out of a jealous dislike of Hendrick's gin, which although tasty is both over-advertised and over-priced.  It's definitely sweeter than its namesake, but it makes one hell of a gin-and-tonic...

Flower Power

1 750-ml bottle Powers' Gold Label Whiskey
2 tbsp dried rose petals
1 tbsp chamomile
2 tsp dried elderflower
1 tsp dried lavender
1 tsp dried hibiscus
1 tsp bitter orange peel
2-4 oz honey, to taste

Combine in a large mason jar and let stand for 7-10 days, agitating daily.  Strain through a fine sieve and bottle.

The name is really what does it for me on this one, but this is a wonderful liqueur to sip straight - robust and wonderfully floral.  Fuck St. Germain, I'll take this stuff any day of the week.


Do you notice how I completely missed St. Patrick's Day this year?  Kinda weird for an itinerant bartender, huh?  Fact of the matter is, I barely noticed the "holiday", largely because I don't consider it one - an excuse to drink, sure, but some of us need no excuse.

However, I did celebrate in my own fashion by cracking open a couple of liqueurs which I'd started some weeks ago.  I have to say, I've built up a fondness for liqueurs lately, partly because they're basically cocktails waiting to happen.  They can be mixed in other recipes, or served by themselves either on the rocks or shaken, with the presence of absence of bitters, soda, or citrus juice.  But there's also the fact that making them is a breeze - the DIY approach really only takes a cool resting place and some patience, and can be subjected to endless variation.

I think I've mentioned before that I want to include recipes here for many things beyond cocktails, and liqueurs seem like a logical step.  We've already discussed syrups, which have wide application and can be used in the creation of many liqueurs.  These take things a step further by integrating an alcoholic base, which can pull even more flavors out of the desired ingredient by extracting alcohol-soluble flavors and allowing for much longer maceration.

Anyway: a couple of recipes for your consideration.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Redbreast

Riff number two on the same basic theme.  Essentially the same formulation with some substitutions.

1 1/2 oz genever
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz strawberry-thyme syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
3 dashes rhubarb bitters
3 dashes cardamom tincture

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a half strawberry, either frozen or on a cocktail pick.

The Blackbird

A riff on a theme which splits the difference between a Martini and a Sour.

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz blackberry syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
3 dashes orange bitters
3 dashes cinnamon tincture

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a blackberry, either frozen or on a cocktail pick.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tiki Masala

This is a drink that started with a wonderful name, a perfect bartender's pun.  It's made with a garam masala spice blend which our restaurant makes in-house, based on the classical blend behind most Indian curries (yum).  Its sweet, fruit-forward profile is representative of tiki-style drinks, and given that I watch entirely too much British television a riff on what is apparently "the most popular dish in British restaurants" seemed obvious.

1 3/4 oz rum (light, aged, or split the difference according to preference)
1 oz garam masala syrup
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/4-1/2 oz lime juice (to taste)
3 drops chili pepper tincture

Shake like hell and strain over fresh rocks into a double-old-fashioned glass.  Garnish with all the tiki frippery that you like or just insert a lime wheel.

This one was a big hit.  Our final product made for a very easy drink to produce en masse by combining the bottom four ingredients into a so-called "Masala Mix" - we also added a bit of egg white to produce a creamy, frothy texture.  One part rum plus one part Masala Mix made for a fast, delicious, and unique beverage indeed.