Vintage glassware giveaway

 

Blendo Glass and Pitcher set

 

The photo contest on Instagram is halfway finished! We’ve seen some great entries from @caseyheartcocktails  @kyliel108 , and @maxymixalot !  Amazing photos and COCKTAILS from amazing women! WOOT WOOT WOOT!  🙂  *Update 7/27 Now the men have entered the fray – uh oh! shit just got real, y’all… @hdiezzy  @cosmicrainbowbeing and @baranza73  – great stuff, guys!

 

I’m excited – yet very anxious and nervous, too… How to choose?! So honored to be trusted to make such a decision.  This is gonna be EPIC!

 

Cocktail photo contest!

During this Summer I will be giving away some gorgeous vintage glassware to some lucky winners!  Let’s start with this amazing blendo pitcher and glass set. Tag me in your photos to enter, and please #sipponderrepeat as well.  I’m excited to give away a little piece of vintage class and style.
Rules:
The photographs will be judged based on 1) composition 2) how tasty the cocktail sounds 3) use of ingredients/proportions and 4) style. The bartender/homebartender are both welcome! 1) Max 4 photos per entrant 2) classic cocktails welcome – but *must* add at least 1 original/unique spin to recipe 3) cocktail *must* be made by entrant 4) photos *must* be taken by entrant

 

Best of luck! (but y’all got skills, so y’all don’t need it 🙂

 

 

There’s Always a Substitute, Mai Tai edition

Today I want to discuss recipe substitutions.  When I first started this home bar endeavor a few years ago, I felt beholden to using the exact ingredients in a given recipe.  Not having the perspective or context to decide for myself what subs would work, etc., I followed w/ blind faith.
Now… bump that!  Home bars are mad expensive, yo!  I have bills to pay and I do love to eat as well as imbibe (typical, right?! 🙂 Although, I know I spend much more on the latter…)
Now that my tastes have developed and I have a more well-rounded understanding of various flavor profiles (e.g. orange based liqueurs, amer/amari, herbal liqueurs, various types of simple…)  I feel confident in making due with the bottles I have on deck, and not using strict recipe interpretation as an excuse to go to Schneider’s on Capitol Hill (again!).
I had to ask myself: Could I make a Mai Tai with the spirits I already have now?
I decided I could.
Also, there are multiple Mai Tai variations.  If you’re interested in the history of the drink – this is an interesting read about Don the Beachcomber vs Trader Vic and who actually created the drink first.
On to the drink (and pic)!  I made a riff on this  recipe that consists of light (which I added to make boozier, hence the light color) and dark rum, fresh lime juice, rock candy simple, orgeat, and orange liqueur …

My Bootleg Mai Tai 
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* 1 1/2oz 51 Cachaca in lieu of light rum, 1 1/2oz Rhum Barbancourt (4yr,3 stars), 3/4oz Lime Juice, 1/2oz Cointreau in lieu of dry curacao, 1/4oz homemade Orgeat, 1/4oz Rock Candy Syrup
What is  YOUR favorite Mai Tai recipe?  Did you make any substitutions?  Let me know 🙂
 *Cachaca is essentially Brazilian Rum Agricole, rum distilled from sugar cane juice instead of molasses sugarcane byproduct. It is the main ingredient in the Caipirinha (which I spell wrong e’retime!) cocktail, which also includes fresh lime juice and sugar.

Tiki!

I cracked my first coconut.  I didn’t maim myself.   More on Tiki later – once I further educate myself.  Please check out Intstagram #tikiaf – cuz those guys got it covered.  Also check out @homebargirl and @ntitz cuz they know Tiki…

Island Rain 

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1 1/2oz Fresh Pineapple Juice — 1oz Fresh Coconut water — 3/4oz Homemade Orgeat — 3/4oz Rhum Barbancourt — 3/4oz Appleton Estate Special Rum — 1/2oz Cointreau — 1/2oz Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach — 4 dashes El Guapo Whiskey Barrel Aged Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters — 1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Syrup — SPR

All Around the World

I don’t travel Internationally nearly as much as I’d like.  I tell myself I can’t afford it – but that’s not the truth.  The truth is – I am gainfully employed and prioritize my funds according to my values, just as every other gainfully employed person does.  I enjoy travel, but it also drains me quite a bit.  So much getting there, then getting back.  What environment will I come back to?  The Spartan life is not for me – I need beauty and whimsy e’reday.

 

Ultimately – I am in love with creating a dynamic environment within my home.  This is my world, and it is ever changing – just as I am.  Design, photography, cocktail creation, and experimentation are things I value – and my bank account proves that. Damn, my hobbies are expensive af.

 

I say all of this because while my travel game needs a lot of work – I can still experience parts unknown through drink.  I can connect with people from Scandinavia by drinking something they drink – Aquavit.  I can connect with people in Scotland – their land is in the Scotch.  I can connect with those in Haiti by drinking the rum they painstakingly produce.  Ok, enough of my musings, for now…

Pirate’s Purse

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1 3/4oz Rhum Barbancourt Rum (4yrs/3stars) — 3/4oz Linie Aquavit — 1/2oz Lime juice (though I think I overshot it – a bit) — 1/2oz Maple Simple (1:1) — 3 dashes each Peychaud’s and Dale Degroff’s Pimento bitters *This drink is deceptively mellow… it will sneak up on you, I betcha!t Also, I will revisit this recipe, maybe a little Laphroiag, too? Or omit something? Help y’all!* SPR

 

Infusing Vodka – How long do infusions really last?

_DSC1029My 1yo Jalapeño Basil Infusion

If you have ever tasted an aged spirit (of course you have tasted “the brown”… ), or a flavor bomb liqueur made from over a a hundred different herbs (with a color named after it!), then the nuance of a neutral, or “new make” spirit such as vodka can pale in comparison.

I have certainly graduated from viewing an extra dirty martini as a complex drink! (ma! look at me, adding an extra ingredient to my grey goose…! What’s “vermouth”, again?)

Luckily, a multitude of infusions are possible!  Fruit, herbs, veggies – and more 🙂  As we know, we’re even infusing spirits with fat nowadays…

Alright, to get down to business – I have specifically written this post to talk about a vodka infusion I did over a year ago.  I infused some off brand Eastern European vodka (I do not remember the brand – do I have to remind you all how often I drink?!) with fresh jalapeños and basil.  

The infusion is super easy, slice as many jalapeños as you like – based on your heat preference – and remove the seeds, as they are bitter.  I used five small ones.  Put them in a mason jar and add fresh basil leaves – I used a handful (which is equivalent to the fresh herbs in small plastic containers available in most grocery stores).  Use of a tea ball infuser is also an option. I’ve used basil leaves loosely and with tea ball – and found no real difference in the process.  Ok, well, the tea ball was slightly better, as it did keep the leaves contained … 

Add 750ml vodka to the jar.  Which vodka? This one is a judgement call. Using your favorite brand may insure you’ll love your infusion, while using a less expensive brand is fine too, as you’re creating your own damn flavor!  If your favorite vodka is also inexpensive – score 🙂

Vodka chosen?  Great! Your infusion is ready go!

Infuse for 3-5 days, agitating  the mason jar by gently moving to and fro – to ensure jalapeño and basil over completely covered. Shaking probably wouldn’t hurt, but I believe it’s best to give gentle loving to boozy goodness.  Ok – potential boozy goodness.  

Also – feel free to perform taste tests along the way – it can be fun to taste each day and experience the flavor development.  

Once satisfied with the flavor – strain vodka into a clean, dry mason jar.  Viola!  You have added much needed depth to your vodka!

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Vodka after I re-strained it, due to some sediment that was at the bottom…


As for my year old infusion – it still tasted good to me when I made this drink!  If I don’t post within 3-5 days, call the paramedics.

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2oz Jalapeño Basil infused vodka

1oz Rhum Barbancourt

3/4oz homemade Orgeat syrup

3/4oz fresh Lime juice

1/2oz Yellow Chartreuse

3 or 4 dashes Peychauds bitters

Enjoy! And please feel free to comment with name ideas for this cocktail! 🙂 

*Correction – I also used 1 tablespoon of homemade pear preserves syrup (which I purchased)

SPR 

Oak Aging of Spirits

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Barrel-aged Boulevardier

I truly enjoyed my barrel-aging experience with the American White Oak Barrel I purchased on Amazon from Brew Naturally. *There are many other barrels out there that I’m sure are quite as good. I’m just sharing the specific one that I purchased…

Oak Aging is a process that I am fascinated with and passionate about. Once I learned the complicated – yet magical – chemical processes involved in aging spirits in wood, my respect for aged spirits deepened.

Let’s talk a little bit about wood. Wood is the PERFECT vessel to age spirits in. It has various natural sugars; chemical compounds called “lactones” that impart flavor and aroma; and tannins – which add color, aroma, and flavor. It is also porous – which allows evaporation to occur, and a small amount oxygen in (necessary for oxidation of the spirit, which also imparts color – browning apples, anyone?!) – whilst allowing spirit to stay in, as well. 

Perfect, right? 

American White Oak (Quercus Alba)  is often used to mature spirits.  There are several reasons for this 1) It is abundant in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the Ozarks; 2) porosity allows for a) evaporation of spirit, b) oxidation (small amount of oxygen enters), c) pliability for barrel making; 3) high tannin content, w/potential for imparting over 400 different flavor/aromatic combinations to aging spirit

There are 3 components to Oak  (Quercus genus) heartwood:

  1. Cellulose –  40% mass of the wood, this organic compound has strength and chemical resistance.  It helps the wood maintain structure and remain durable.  
  2. Hemicellulose – 25% mass of the wood, also an organic compound, and is present in most plant cell walls, as is cellulose.  It has various sugars with lower molecular weights than cellulose- assisting in solubility of alcohol.  We have hemicellulose to thank for the “red layer” in charred oak barrels. 
  3. Lignin – 5-10% mass of wood – tannins!  As mentioned above, these polyphenolic compounds contain the potential for imparting 400 flavor/aromatic combinations to aging spirit!   

The constant interaction between the spirit and the (charred) wood barrel allows the 6 major processes of wood aging to occur:

  1. Extraction – Water and alcohol soak into the oak, extracting flavor and sweetness from the charred inside of the wood
  2. Evaporation – Depending on climate –  evaporation (“angel’s share” ) can account for 3-10% loss annually
  3. Oxidation – Evaporated spirit creates space in barrel, allowing air to enter into the barrel. O2 in the air forms aromatic compounds by dissolving into spirit — this is where “terroir” enters – which gives various spirits their unique “taste of place” (I’m thinking briny, seaweed infused Islay Scotch)
  4. Concentration – Depending on climate – water evaporates faster than alcohol, or conversely, alcohol evaporates faster. Either way, the volume of spirit is reduced, concentrating the aromas and flavors the magical (ok, so – yes – science – but it seems magical!) extraction/oxidation aging processes have imparted
  5. Filtration – Charred inner layer (red layer) allows filtration to occur, smoothing the spirit by absorbing sulfur and aldehyde compounds
  6. Coloration – Red layer, now caramelized by charring the inside of the barrel, adds reddish color to spirit, and oxidation colors further, adding brownish shade 

Phew!  Amazing stuff!  Now that we’ve distilled the oak aging process – don’t you just want some tawny, liquid sunshine?! Thank you oak, thank you chemistry, thank you terroir –  thank you, thank you!!!!! 

In closing, I am stoked and humbled knowing that so much dynamic chemistry is occurring during oak aging.  The ability to age cocktails at home is no gimmicky, dismissive project.  There is science/magic going on in there – and that is not to be taken for granted.

SPR

___________.  Certified Specialist of Spirits Study Guide, 2015. Washington, D.C.: The Society of Wine Educators, 2015.

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Light, fresh Summer cocktails – just add fresh JUICE!

It is hot as hell here in the D.C. Metropolitan area.  And humid – really damn humid! Times (and climates) like these can make us question our imbibing lifestyle.  To drink, or not to drink?  Cuz…  dehydration is real.

Well, friends, my answer to that question is – always and forever – drink!

In addition to the heat, I know there is pressure to focus on neutral alcohols such as vodka, gin – and lighter white wines.  Eating and drinking seasonally, and all that.

Bah!  Drink what you want!  And if you have a serious hankering for aged spirits (like me!) lighten up those brown spirits with some fresh pressed fruit juice.  Juicers are very inexpensive now (I got mine for $60 and am lovin’ it!) and though they are annoying to clean – they are worth the effort.  Below, an example of how I am staying true to my dedicated life of drinking, as well as my preference for the brown!

 

 


Naughty Apple

1 1/2 oz Laird’s Applejack

1 1/4oz Fresh Apple Juice (I juiced a whole apple, and had some extra juice)

1oz Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto

3/4oz Dolin Dry Vermouth

Laphroiag Rinse

SPR

 

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Fat-Washing Spirits

Whoa. What an appetizing name!  Yes, I get it – our sometimes health obsessed society shudders at the word fat. But hell, fat has flavor. And you know what else has flavor – damn straight – it’s whiskey!

Alcohol’s ability to extract both fat-soluble and water-soluble flavor compounds makes fat-washing a concept made in heaven – no matter how unappealing it may sound.

 

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Pig in a Pear Tree (name courtesy of @fikafiend on IG)

4oz Fat washed 1729 Bourbon – washed with Sausage grease

2oz fresh Apricot/Cilantro/Lime juice (2 Apricots, 1 Lime, half handful Cilantro

Teaspoon of homemade Pear Preserves (I purchased from yard sale!) 1/4 tsp additional Pear Preserve syrup

1oz Lime Oleo Saccharum

4 dashes Angostura bitters

Dry shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker for 20-30 sec.  Add ice and shake for additional 15 sec. Strain into chilled glass. Separation is normal with fresh fruit juice. 

Fat-washed Bourbon:  

Mix 3 pts. Bourbon with 1pt. sausage grease until mixture becomes opaque, and place in sealed freezable container.  The process of freezing the mixture is perfect, as it allows the fat to freeze on top of the liquid alcohol, which has a freezing point much lower than commercial freezer temps (high proof alcohol, that is). This makes extraction of the fat a breeze.

Freeze overnight, or at least 6-8 hours. Once frozen to the point where fat has solidified on surface, take a butter knife and wedge between inside of container and fat – essentially “ejecting” the hockey puck-like disc of fat and revealing the still liquid bourbon beneath.  Or skim the fat, if you prefer.  Discard the fat and strain the Bourbon through a cheesecloth lined sieve, or coffee filter.   Done, and done. 

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Kinda looks like a hockey puck, right?!

Below: same principle – similar recipe – different pork fat – BACON!

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