Friday, July 25, 2014

Tall and Cool

I'm back!  Yes, friends - it's the first cocktail I've felt worth recording in the last couple weeks.  It's a pretty dang good one, though.

2 oz white rhum agricole (J.M.)
2 1/2 oz watermelon juice
1/2 oz watermelon-strawberry syrup
1 oz lime juice
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Shake and strain over large cubes in a Collins glass.  Top with ~2 oz soda water and stir.

One of my favorite things about this drink is how well the anisette component of the bitters mixes with the freshness of the watermelon and the funk of the rhum.  It's a damn fine highball, I must say.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Baby Blue Punch

One last stop before we break the non-alcoholic streak, I promise.  This is a recipe that I've been meaning to record for some time; it was the first large-scale non-alcoholic punch that I produced and presented in my beloved self-mix format.  Seemed appropriate since it was being served at a baby shower (also hence the name).  Alternative name: Caias' Punch, after the baby in question.

For once, a picture!  I can't take credit for the punch bowl, unfortunately, but I can claim the garnish.

I'm recreating this as best I can - I didn't write down the recipe at the time, which I regret, but I did a lot of adjusting on the go anyway.  Consider this a consolidated, streamlined version.  This also makes a lot of punch - about 9 liters in total - and I'm not going to scale it down here, but it's pretty easy to cut in half.

8 cups water
4 lbs sugar (a standard bag of the regular white stuff)
2 lbs frozen blueberries
2 vanilla beans, split
2 tbsp black peppercorns
Rind from 4 medium lemons
16 oz lemon juice
12 mint sprigs

Place the lemon rinds in a non-reactive bowl and pour a couple ounces of sugar over them.  Muddle the peels until the sugar begins absorbing the oil and set aside.  Combine the water, sugar, vanilla, and peppercorns in a large stock pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the blueberries and lemon peels, including the oil-soaked sugar, and bring back up to a simmer.  Turn off the heat, add the mint sprigs, and let stand and cool for 2-4 hours.

Add the lemon juice and adjust to taste; you can easily add a bit more lemon juice, sweetener (honey would be nice here) or vanilla extract if desired.  Carefully strain the whole concoction into the storage vessels of your choice - I love my reserved pair of 1.75L Tanqueray bottles, featuring convenient transport handles!

To serve, pour your storage vessel into a large punch bowl over ice, and add an equal volume of cold water.  Top off with soda water to taste; a full liter was just about right for 1.75 liters of syrup plus 1.75 liters of water.  Yep, that's 4.5 total liters, and that's why you want a large punch bowl.  Keep refreshed with plentiful ice and serve next to some chilled white wine for spritzers, a bottle of gin for highballs, a couple of jiggers for measuring, and brief instructions.  My personal favorite combination wound up being about 1 oz gin, 3 oz wine, and 5 oz punch.

Optionally, garnish with lemon wheels, speared with mint sprigs for a nice flowery look.  I took some pictures of this one which I'll add here later.

Mocktail Week Afterthought: In-Law Cooler

This is getting a bit freaky - this is about the 8th post in a row dealing exclusively with non-alcoholic beverages.  WTF?  I'll have to get back on track soon.

A request from my sister-in-law prompted this one.  I wasn't aiming for anything too fancy but it turned out interesting enough to merit recording...

1 1/2 oz lime juice
2 oz strawberry-watermelon syrup (turned out relatively dilute thanks to the water content of the melon)
2 oz iced white tea
2-3 dashes rhubarb bitters (homemade)

Shake and strain over fresh ice, then top with about 2 oz chilled cucumber water.  Garnish with whatever's handy - watermelon would be particularly appropriate.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Independent Island Punch

Why hello!  I hope you didn't think I poisoned myself upon returning to booze post-Mocktail Week.  Nothing so unfortunate, I assure you - just didn't have much in the way of free time between painting half the house and preparing a massive spread for the 4th of July last week.

In addition to the food, I figured I couldn't just get away with a cooler full of beer.  Got a reputation to uphold and all!  So I decided on what's rapidly becoming my favorite party trick: a non-alcoholic punch base, served along with a basic white wine for spritzers and a variety of spirits for sundry highballs.  Ingredients wound up being dead simple, too; this is probably the easiest punch that I've assembled to date.

The listing below just about fills up a 1-liter bottle of punch base, which makes 2 liters total once combined.  I went through about 2 1/2 of these for a mixed group of 14 people, which included some non-drinkers and those who stuck only with the aforementioned cooler of beer.  Call it a 1-liter bottle for every 6 people in your party.

8 oz lime juice (you could use fresh, but I used a bottled not-from-concentrate version from the co-op)
8 oz pineapple juice (ditto)
4 oz mint syrup (homemade)
4 oz pineapple-lime syrup (ditto)
8 oz ginger beer (back to my usual Reed's here)

Combine in a 1-liter bottle (or 1-quart mason jar), stuff in a large mint sprig, and fill up the balance with soda water.  When ready to serve, pour over ice (straining out the old mint) and top with 1 liter of soda water.  Stir to combine, garnish with some fresh mint sprigs, and park next to a couple bottles of chilled white wine, plus whatever spirits you have at hand (gin, white rum, and bourbon in my case).  A couple of signs with instructions and some jiggers or shot glasses are helpful too - these will encourage your guests to measure, rather than free-pouring.

Happy belated Independence Day to my fellow 'Mericans!