Tag Archives: summer

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.

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 

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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