gin

Milk Washed Last Word ("A Mother's Word")

Awhile back I decided to play around with freezing edible flowers under ice. You've probably seen this on the web and Instagram, but I had never done this myself.  I created my floral ice balls by placing edible flowers in an ice ball mold, then filling the mold with water. The results were so beautiful I couldn't wait to add my flower ice ball to a cocktail. But what cocktail?

flower ice ball

Every cocktail I thought of didn't do the flower ice ball justice. I finally decided to make one of my favorite cocktails, the "Last Word".  Equal parts Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and Lime, the last word is a bright and sweet cocktail perfect for spring. There was only one problem. The traditional recipe made for a cloudy cocktail. If the star was the flower ice ball, I needed to reduce the drink's cloudiness. The solution? Milk washing.

Milk washing is the process of adding milk to an acidic base. The resulting curdled milk is strained off to produce a "clear" and smooth drink removed of harsh flavors.

I had never milk washed a cocktail before so I was super nervous. In addition to making a clear cocktail, I hoped that my milk wash would result in a cocktail that still tasted like a Last Word but less acidic. 

Milk Washed Last Word

I couldn't have been more pleased with the results. The harsh acidity of the limes was muted while still maintaining that bright lime flavor. While the herbs of the chartreuse were still present, they didn't stand out over the other ingredients. Overall the beverage was sweet and smooth. Almost a little too sweet. So I decided to add more gin at the end in hopes of adding some dryness.

Milk Washed Last Word

The only downside to the process was the tedious straining. I had to stop and change the cheesecloth a few times due to the build-up of milk solids. Still, I would be willing to try this process again with other cocktail recipes. There's something nice about relaxing with a bottled cocktail knowing that all the work has been done.

 

A MOTHER'S WORD

4 ounces Dry Gin

1.5 ounces Dry Gin (to be added at the time of bottling.)

4 ounces Green Chartreuse

4 ounces Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

5 ounces Lime Juice

4 ounces Whole Milk

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine alcohol and juice. Set aside.
  2. In a small pot, warm whole milk. Remove from heat before boiling. 
  3. In a separate container, stir alcohol and juice mix into milk. (adding the milk to the alcohol and juice mix will result in an instant curdle.)
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Strain the curdled liquid through a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. 
  6. Add 1.5 ounces dry gin.
  7. Refrigerate. Strain again if desired. 
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Winter Negroni

Don't mind me. I'm just sitting here still waiting for our first real snow storm. Until then, I'm stocking up on winter cocktail recipes. I have my favorite Chartreuse Hot Chocolate and Hot Toddy recipes. Now, it's time for a classic twist.

The Negroni is one of my favorite cocktails that I don't have a lot. I'm afraid that if I order it all the time, I'll grow tired of it and it'll stop being a favorite. Recently I decided to revisit my old friend and it was just as good as the first time. But I always associate the Negroni with spring. Possibly because of its use of gin and it's bright flavor. So, I felt it was time to "winterize" my Negroni.

I love infusing spirits with baking spices. But I couldn't bring myself to infuse my gin with cinnamon and cloves. How often was I going to use this spiced infused gin? So, naturally, my brain turned to the vermouth. I could infuse sweet vermouth with baking spices, I thought. Then it dawned on me that what I really wanted was a Mulled Wine.

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QUICK & EASY MULLED WINE

 

I love how simple and delicious this mulled wine is and couldn't wait to try it in my Winter Negroni. As for my choice of gin. I made sure to avoid any overly floral gins. I didn't want the floral flavors to compete with the baking spices. I've tried this recipe several times and found that a citrus forward gin like the Scottish Caorunn or a simple gin like Bar Hill works best.  

If you're familiar with the Negroni recipe you may also notice, that my recipe isn't in equal parts. That's due to the oranges I infused in my mulled wine. I found that taking the Campari down a step resulted in a more well-rounded cocktail. Whereas, keeping the Campari at one ounce made the cocktail slightly too bitter. Could I have gone back and omitted the oranges from my mulled wine? Yes. But I like my Mulled Wine a lot and I didn't want to tamper with it. 

 

Winter Negroni

WINTER NEGRONI

1 oz. Gin

1 oz. Mulled Wine

3/4 oz. Campari

In a mixing glass, combine ingredients with ice.

Stir.

Strain.

Enjoy!

 

So that's my Winter Negroni. I'm crossing my fingers for a snow day. How awesome would that Winter Negroni look tucked into a bed of snow?

San Diego: Eat, Pray, Drink

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the fair city of San Diego. At the time that I was planning this trip I was feeling down and needed something to cheer me up. The decision to go to San Diego was on an impulse and before I could fully think things thru I was on Expedia booking my flight and hotel.

I've heard of women having Eat Pray Love moments and flying overseas, alone, in an effort to find themselves. I had no clue that was what I was doing until my first full day there.

Originally this post was intended to be a journal of my drinks and my experience at the San Diego Spirits Festival. But I realize now that my trip was more than that, it was more personal.

I am by nature a nervous person. Anything and everything scares me, although I do my best not to show it. I'm constantly thinking of worse case scenarios and will eventually talk myself out of things in order to play it safe. As a consequence I have lead a life full of regret. I was determined not to let San Diego be another regret.

This was the first trip that I'd taken completely by myself. Every step there was an accomplishment. Getting to the airport. Loading my carry-on into the overhead bin. Finding my way from the airport to the hotel. Checking into said hotel. These were all things that made my nervous little heart beat with palpitations.

When I finally arrived at the W Hotel San Diego, I was so overcome with joy that I had made it without incident, a hotel room dance party of one soon followed.

On my first day in San Diego I headed to Craft & Commerce bar and restaurant. 80's music played joyfully in the background, there was a dog for every two patrons,  animal heads hung from the bookshelf adorned walls, and the bartenders were dressed in suspenders and beards. I arrived while it was still slow, but that didn't last long.

Peruvian Rose by Craft & Commerce. Photo by Cocktail Crafty.

Craft & Commerce has an impressive number of beers on tap. Listening to the bartenders talk about beer is like listening to a foreign language. But I didn't go there for beer. After perusing their cocktail menu online, I went in knowing exactly what I wanted.

Peruvian Rose

Pisco, Cocchi Americano Rosa, Apricot Liqeuer, Lemon

I knew I'd enjoy The Peruvian Rose because I love Pisco. This is a light cocktail with a touch of sweetness. And if I didn't have plans that afternoon I would have stayed and had another...and another. 

After my lunch at Craft & Commerce (which consisted of some awesome tacos, the first of several awesome taco meals in San Diego) I headed over to the San Diego Spirits Festival. In honesty, I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more spirits vendors. However, between the burlesque show, the aerial acts, bartending competition, great food, and the view alone, I managed to have a great time.

Of the vendors that I met at the festival two stood out to me:

Gompers Gin

Gomper's Gin. Photo by Cocktail Crafty

A combination of pear, lavender, juniper and other flavors. Gompers Gin stood out to me as being smooth and flavorful. I'm a gin girl. I love how all the flavors dance on your tongue. To few, and the gin is dull and lifeless. To many, and your mouth becomes overwhelmed. You also have to be mindful of the flavor combination. Do they play well together?

When I first tried Gompers Gin I definitely noticed the pear flavor. I thought, pear flavored gin? Cool. But then the rep cooled it down with ice and suddenly the lavender decided to show up to the party. I like the fact that this gin goes down just as easily straight as it does on the rocks. It's sure to elevate your next gimlet or martini.

AVIV 613

First, let's talk about the flavor. I often think of vodka as having little flavor. It rarely stands out in a cocktail, taking on the flavor of whatever you mix it with. It's like the chicken of spirits. You can't criticize AVIV for lacking in taste.

AVIV Vodka. Photo by Cocktail Crafty

AVIV Vodka. Photo by Cocktail Crafty

Distilled from wheat, barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes and pomegranates. AVIV excites your taste buds. My brain became flooded with a multitude of recipe ideas. It's the only spirit at the festival that I went back to for a third taste (okay, maybe it was four).

Flavor wise AVIV is great, but their marketing can be a bit much. All the ingredients that go into making this vodka are Kosher, meaning they've been blessed by a rabbi. Their water is sourced from the Sea of Galilee. The vodka is distilled a total of 6 times - the grains 3 times, the fruit 3 times and then once together. This is where the 613 comes from. Which is also, as the rep pointed out to me, the number of commandments in the bible. These were all interesting facts and I was intrigued, but then he lost me in the explanation of the bottle.

The phrase CELEBRATE LIFE is written in every major language all over the bottle. The bottle is triangular with one curved side to represent the challenges we face in life. (I think if someone made a bottle based on the challenges of my life it'd look like a spiral graph.) The list of symbols and meanings from goes on and on to the point that it started to make me uncomfortable. I came here for a drink not bible study. But on the flip side I'm still talking about it. In the past few weeks I've told numerous people about this religious, spiritual vodka I had. Out of all the vendors there I remember AVIV the most.

What I've Learned

San Diego Selfie

In the end, I'm extremely happy I made the trip to San Diego. I got to get out of my comfort zone, explored a new city and got to know myself a little better. I've learned that I'm a lot more confident and braver than I give myself credit for. That being alone is not the same as being lonely. And that there's a great big world out there and I can't wait to see it.

My hope is that this will be the first of many more trips to come. For no matter where I am I will always imbibe happily.

- Nikki




Aviation with a Layover

It’s my birthday weekend! Four days (starting Friday, ending Monday) of celebrating Nikki. It’s time to don the birthday girl tiara, with its pinching pain that can only be cured with booze, and live it up.

As I’ve gotten older my birthday has become less about quantity and more about quality. It’s the quality of family and friends that surround me. The quality of birthday cake (and certainly not the quantity of candles.) Its the quality of drinks I choose to imbibe.

Hubby I recently restocked our home bar. On the bar are now various aperitifs and digestifs. I did however forget to restock the sweet vermouth. Which of course meant that every drink I’ve considered trying this past week involved sweet vermouth, driving me to scream out in frustration every time. Don’t know if its a matter of being lazy or cheap because I can’t bring myself to travel 30 minutes to the discount liquor warehouse to save $5-$10 but don’t want to spend more than I think I should at the store downstairs. First world problems, I know. And yes, I’m lucky enough to live in an apartment building with a spirits store (and food court) attached. I’m also married to a produce broker. What more could a cocktailian ask for?

As I stocked my bar this past week, I couldn’t help but notice how my tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older. My late twenties were during the height of the flavored vodka craze, thus my bar contained every flavor from apple pie to pumpkin, from froot loops to s’mores. My bar is now more diverse, though there’s still a bottle of butterscotch schnapps cause a girl likes to get her sweet on every now and then.

When people ask me what my favorite drink is it’s hard for me to answer. Its constantly changing. When I was 28 it was the Espresso Martini. When I hit 30 it was the Dirty Martini. Today its the Aviation.

Aviation

 

 

Aviation

2 oz Gin

.75 oz Lemon Juice

.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur

.24 oz Creme de Violette

Recipe from The PDT Cocktail Book

 

 

I can not effectively try to express to you as to why I love an Aviation. Believe me I have tried. It’s difficult to explain and only becomes more difficult after a few Aviations. It’s the soft muted violet-grey color. It’s the dry tartness of the gin and lemon. It’s the faint sweetness or the maraschino liqueur and creme de violette. It’s...everything.

No doubt an Aviation will make its debut during my birthday festivities. And when it does, it will be a very happy birthday indeed.

Don't like gin? Check out my variation with rum.

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Layover

2 oz Rum

.75 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur

.5 oz Creme de Violette

 

Sunday Cocktails: Lavender Orange Cocktail

Relaxing on the couch watching Top Gear with hubby, recovering from our Saturday out with the moms. After steamed crabs with his mother and cocktails with mine, we're both exhausted. Not too exhausted, however, to make a cocktail.

Lavender Orange Cocktail

2 oz. Gin

1 oz. Lavender Lemon Syrup

1/2 oz. Triple Sec

Garnish with orange peel.

Of all the syrups I've made the Lavender Lemon is my favorite. Its light and elegant and takes any beverage up a notch. It pairs great with gin and flavors such as vanilla and citrus.

Lavender Lemon Syrup

2 cups water

1/2 cup Culinary Lavender

1 cup sugar

1/2 lemon

Bring water to a slow boil. Add lavender and boil for 20 minutes.

Strain lavender. Add sugar and lemon. Simmer until sugar has dissolved.

Allow to cool.

I haven't been blessed with children but my fur baby, Izzy, has been pampering me all morning with cat massages. All in all its been a purr-fect mother's day.

Imbibe happily,

Nikki




Back to the Future of Cocktails

For a Back to the Future Cocktail... click here!

Whenever someone speaks of pre-prohibition or prohibition cocktails, it's hard not to sound pretentious or snooty. Some folks take it the wrong way. As if you're saying my drink is better than yours because its been around a hundred years. That's not the case. Heck, the rum and coke is actually a pre-prohibition drink and that's about as pretentious as a big mac.

It's about partaking in something that's been able to stand the test of time. Even after a century they're still considered good cocktails. To think that your great-grand-pappy once enjoyed the very same cocktail (well, maybe not quite the same) is awe inspiring.

We have come through the re-birth of cocktails. Once again back to the glory days of actually enjoying and respecting the spirits of then and now. Our pallets have been resharpened; once dulled by high octane liquor and high fructose corn syrup.

This Sunday I decided to focus on the past. I've often been inspired by the Clover Club Cocktail but have never actually had one. In fact I've had many bartenders make me a cocktail inspired by the classic but have never had one like the original. So, today I set out to correct this error and enjoy the classic concoction at home.

In my quest I found 5 recipes for a Clover Club Cocktail with 5 different proportions. I decided to look to these recipes as suggestions and went with my own measurements.

CLOVER CLUB COCKTAIL

2 oz. Gin

1 oz. Lemon Juice

.75 oz Raspberry Syrup

1 egg white

I made the raspberry syrup by combining 1 cup water, 1 pint of raspberries, and 2/3 cup sugar. I didn't use equals parts sugar and water this time because I didn't want the syrup to be too sweet since the raspberries bring their own sugar to the mix.

Now, if you're thinking that this drink is going to be sweet, think again. This a sour with a touch of raspberry. If you're like many who love their beverages more on the sweet side, you could always cut the lemon juice in half and increase the raspberry syrup.

I, instead, opted to add dry vermouth; inspired by the current day Clover Club of NYC. I added 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth and decreased the gin to 1 1/2 ounces. I very much enjoyed this version more than the classic. (Note to self: add The Clover Club of NYC to my bucket list of bars.) Now to sit back and enjoy another Sunday afternoon.

Imbibe happily!

- NGD

 

Sunday Cocktail: Plum Happy

I make cocktails at home, not just to fine tune my skills, but because it's economical. I love hanging out at the bar and probably spend a little too much time there. But drinking $9 or $10 cocktails start to add up.

Hubby and I have a deal. We won't go to the bar on Sunday if I play the role of bartender at home.

Plums aren't quite in season yet (June, July, August, September) but I had a hankering for some. Of course with every produce I get I think 'how can I turn this into a cocktail?'. So for this week's Sunday Cocktail I give you the Plum Happy.

PLUM HAPPY

2 oz Bombay Dry Gin

2 oz St. Germain (Elderflower Liqueur)

1/2 Lemon

1/2 Plum

Muddle plum with lemon juice. Add gin, St. Germain and a splash of grenadine for color. Shake with ice. Double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Personally I like my drinks on the dry side. While hubby likes them sweet. We were both plum happy with this drink. (sorry, I couldn't resist.)