Friday, September 28, 2007

No. 209 and Western Gin

My luggage was briefly lost on my way back form San Francisco and I panicked thinking my treasure from the Sierras would be lost forever.

Thankfully, Jet Blue delivered my suitcase today and I was able to make my first cocktail with No. 209 Gin.

Originally a distillery in the Napa Valley during the Gold Rush, No.209 gin was revived in this century by Leslie Rudd and the Edge Hill Winery. The gin is distilled five times making it smooth and the juniper is tempered with citrus and fruity notes. One sip and I feel transported to those dry western mountains.

When Adam and I were in San Francisco last month, we noticed a plethora of fine gin available at the local watering holes. Gin is one of Adam's favorite spirits and I have recently been converted as those gins of high quality go so well with the classics. One of our favorite discoveries was the Spruce Gin at the Rouge Public House. Not available for purchase in the state of California, we were lucky enough to get snifter full right at the bar. The character of the gin reflects the distinctly different climate where it was made. While No 209 gin is dry, with hints of sage, Rouge's Spruce gin was more wet and juicy. The piny notes were softer and greener. And they make it with "Free Range Coastal water"! I sure that water is so much happier being range. I am currently looking how to get my hands on a bottle here.

In the meantime, last night we made some classics with No. 209:

Lavender Gimlet
No 209 Gin

I ground the lavender with a mortal and pestle and threw it in the glass with the lime, gin and agave, stirring briskly, but gently with cracked ice. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Bijou Cocktail
No 209 Gin
Green Chartreuse (that fun stuff in the little wooden box I got in Paris)
Sweet Vermouth (Antiqua Formula)

Stir ingredients gently over cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Left My Pride in San Francisco

Well, that will teach me. Stick to making cocktails for friends and loved ones in your own sweet home taking your own sweet time. And don't go up against a professional competitor in his own hometown.

The sad details forthcoming on HotForHoundstooth.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Farmer’s Market Cocktails

Believe it or not, completely independent of this week’s episode of Top Chef, I also went shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket. Adam and I didn’t even fire up the DVR to watch Top Chef until we had already consumed many of the cocktails listed below. My goal was not a chicken dinner, but fresh cocktails, natch! Using ingredients local, seasonal and unusual, I did a trial run of what my day in San Francisco will be like next week. Below are the literal fruits of my labor.

Apple Pie-tini

Sweet juicy tart Wine Sap apples
(a bit of a cheat since I will probably have none in SF)
Dash of lemon juice
¼ of a vanilla bean
agave syrup
Caramel sugar rim.
*that was Adam’s favorite part

Muddle the heck out of the chopped apple with the vanilla bean, lemon, cinnamon and agave. Add cracked ice, vodka and calavados. Pour into cocktail glass, with caramel rim*. You might not need the lemon, I just always liked my mom’s lemony apple pie and this tasted just like it, minus her fabulous crust..hmm…maybe THAT should be the rim?

*to make the rim, heat some natural cane sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. When caramelized, let cool slightly and dip non-chilled glass in the pan to coat the rim. Chilling the glass before hand may cause the glass to break.

The Concord Fizz

Bunch of Concord Grapes
Cane Sugar
Lemon Verbena
Dash of lemon bitters
Club Soda or sparking wine (pref from NY State)

Muddle the grapes, sugar and bitters. Add ice, vodka and shake vigorously. Pour into cocktail glass and top with wine or soda. Add a sprig of lemon verbena speared with a grape

This one reminded me of summers at my grandma and grandpa’s farm. I love the grapey taste on Concords and the verbena added and very pleasant herby flavor. The color is gorgeous! This was Adam’s favorite of the night.

The Black and Blue

Lemon Basil
Thai Basil
Maraschino Liquor
Honey to taste

Muddle together the two berries and the two basils (I went a little muddle mad last night) with the Maraschino. Add ice and vodka, shake and strain though a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass (you want avoid those blackberry seeds, as we learned on Top Chef this season). Add honey to taste if its too tart, but I like my drinks tart. Garnish with a sprig from one of the basils, I used the Thai because it is purple like the drink. Again, gorgeous color with this drink!

The Green Monster

Ogen melon - the “internets” say this melon is from Israel, perfect for Yon Kippur I guess!
Lemon Thyme – pick the leaves off
Lemon Basil - pick the leaves off
St Germain Elderflower liquor

Blend all ingredients in a blender and you get a frothy, tasty treat. The fresh smoothie quality makes it seems like its good for you! The color is bright green, however.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Sweet Tart!

So every once in a while, mistakes are made. I will get suckered in by some cool packaging, a nifty ad campaign or a good sale and end up buying a mistake. Vermouth, mixers, liquors clutter up my 2nd cocktail cart and gather dust in their dark cave of uselessness.

But rather than admit defeat, I look for ways to use, abuse or re-create the mistake into a tasty cocktail concoction.

Last night, as I was making Adam his nightly cocktail, inspiration struck. I had this bottle of vodka mixed with calvados. Sounds like it would be good? Not really. But I pour a hefty amount in the shaker anyway. What could I mix it with to make it more palatable? Apple cider first came to mind. The weather has had an unseasonable chilly and fall drinks have been on my mind. But that would require a 1am trip to he deli, and I wasn’t in the mood. Besides, that would be too easy. I like the challenge of making something out of whatever we have on hand. Looking down at our bar cart, I see the small bottle of family made bootleg Calvados from France that Adam received from his last employer.

Just a dash of that goes in the shaker. Its like moonshine and too good to waste if the drink is a dud. The fumes rising from the shaker tell me its is strong enough, now to round out the flavors. Some Grand Marnier goes in, as does the juice of one lemon. Wow! That is tart! Ok…some sweetness is in order. I was about to reach for the agave, when I saw another mistake in the fridge.

V8 Tropical Twister should have been easy to pass on, the color alone looks like nothing in nature. But it was purchased during the humid spell we had last week and I was craving juice to quench my endless thirst. It was too sweet to drink straight, but it just might do the trick for this drink. In the shaker it goes...

The result? A perfect Sweet Tart! Poured into my vintage champagne coups it looked like a beautiful late summer rose. The flavor was bright and strong. Even Adam declared it a success!

Mistakes can be magic!

High Cocktail Noon

I leave for San Francisco next Tuesday to complete in the Chow Cocktail Square Off!

It’s an Iron Chef style cocktail throw down between a professional bartender and myself. I will be recreating my Flying Fig for the judges. I will also be asked to create a 2nd cocktail from fresh ingredients found at the farmers market that morning. A third cocktail will be created using a “secret ingredient” that the judges will reveal that day. I feel good and I will do my very best. I already feel like a winner, getting to compete in such a fun event!

I went to the farmer’s market in Union Square yesterday to test my skills. I would love to say I practiced on Adam, but the Chef has been so busy lately and didn’t come home until well after 4am! There was so delicious herbs and a lot of berries. There is going to be some fine drinking there, and if you are in the San Francisco area, I suggest you check it out!

Monday, September 10, 2007

I am a Winner! (a finalist!)

Check it out! : I WON! The Flying Fig is Flying to San Fran!

Update: I am the winner! I actually have been asked to go to San Francisco to compete in the finals, but I am not sure my boss will let me go.

Oh to feel such joy and
disappointment in one day!!!

Update to the update: I am on my way! Hooray!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Flying Fig!

Believe it or not, I am modest about a lot of things, but not my cocktail skills. I am an officially an amateur mixologist. But I think my palate is more refined, and my knowledge more extensive than most professionals.

So when LeNell’s newsletter came with a link to a cocktail contest, I jumped at the chance to show off my skills. After much deliberation, care attention to the rules and a focus panel of one (Adam) I came up with: The Flying Fig. Its light and fragrant and a perfect aperitif. As you can see, it is a beautiful drink as well.
There is on line voting for this contest so if you have not yet, click the link here and vote for Abigail’s Flying Fig. Recipe is below if you would like to try it at home!

The Flying Fig
2 oz Square One Vodka

2-3 fresh organic figs

1/2 oz St Germain Elderflower Liquor

1 oz Fresh squeezed organic Lemon Juice

1/2 oz organic Agave syrup, to taste

Fresh organic Mint, leaf garnish

Muddle diced fig in the Elderflower liquor (reserve one slice for garnish). Add cracked ice, vodka, lemon juice and agave, Shake vigorously. Slap one mint leaf, rim and drop in chilled cocktail glass along with reserved fig slice. Strain cocktail into glass.