Category Archives: Recipes

Holiday Recipe, Special Christmas-Eve-Eve Edition: Mulled Wine (Vin Chaud)

Mulled Wine

Having only just recently perfected this recipe, the Bartender has been mulling (pardon the pun) over whether to post this one now, so late in the holiday season, or sit on it for next year.  However, after writing it up in email for one friend, and then spending the next couple of days watching the list of recipients grow longer and longer as more of her friends demand the recipe, it seems wisest to capitulate to obvious demand.  After all, there are still several months of cold days ahead, long after the warm glow of the holidays have faded, when a bit of warm spicy cheer might not go amiss.

Luckily, mulled wine (or Vin Chaud as it’s known in France) is quite easy to make, and very open to interpretation.  Put the wine and spices (and fruit, if you’re using it) into a pot, turn the heat on medium-low, wait for it to just start bubbling, then turn the heat to low and leave it partially covered.  Stir it now and then if you feel inspired.  Half an hour later you’ve got mulled wine.  You can let it simmer longer if you like stronger flavors from the spices.  Needless to say, the product at the end is fairly low in alcohol content, so if you like you can fortify it with brandy, but this is optional.

A point of note:  The secret to this particular combination appears to be the vanilla bean, which is a slightly alien ingredient to many people.  (Pro tip:  they’re usually ridiculously expensive, but Costco has them right now for $15 for ten beans.  Normally they’re more like $15 for one bean.)  All you need to know is that the seeds are tiny and suspended in a sort of gooey texture.  So you cut it down its length with the tip of a paring knife (the bean itself is fibrous and will help you do that), then lay it out flat and scrape the seeds out of the inside with the dull side of the blade.  You can then put the seeds and the pod both in the wine.

Speaking of the wine, the Bartender here breaks with her usual “quality-only” mantra, because the spices and the heat serve to break down any subtle bouquets the original wine might have had.  Break out the three-buck Chuck, with her blessing – especially if you have quality spices!

1 bottle fruity red wine
2 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste, depending on how dry the wine is)
1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeded, with pod
2 cinnamon sticks
11 whole cloves
1 star anise
3 cardamom pods
2 ounces brandy

Strain before drinking.  Irish coffee glasses are great for serving it in, especially over one of the cinnamon sticks.

And for those who want to play around with theirs, here are some ideas for additional/replacement ingredients to get you started:

Blackberry cordial or brandy
Chambord
Orange slices
Lemon slices
Sliced fresh ginger

Enjoy, friends, and stay warm!

Holiday Recipe: Old-School Egg Nog

A holiday recipe?  Nearly two months before the actual holiday?  Surely the Bartender hasn’t sold out to the ever-increasing, ever-bemoaned commercialization of the winter months?  No, dear reader.  Rather, today’s recipe is of the old-fashioned variety, where aging and anticipation both increase its savor.  But first, the origin story!

ImageThe Rebel Spouse, who has been known to hang out in the Something Awful Forum Goon community, came to the Bartender a few years ago with this recipe.  “We have to try this,” he said, in a tone that brooked no argument.  “The goons call it ‘Fuckin’ Nog’, short for ‘The Best Fucking Eggnog You Will Ever Drink’.”

Looking over the recipe, and mentally calculating the calories (not to mention the booze content) involved, your Bartender’s eyes widened.  “If we drank this all ourselves, we’d be spherical.  Possibly dead and spherical.  Certainly dead drunk.  And spherical.”

“Then we’ll have to have a party,” the Spouse decided.  “We know enough people here to have a Christmas party, don’t we?”  Though at the time we’d just moved to Bisbee, the promise of such alcoholic delight proved a potent lure, and the Rebel Christmas Party was a modest success during the years it was held, in large part due to the eggnog.

Incidentally, this recipe may well be the perfect use for Kirkland Signature Bourbon, as the strength of flavor that makes it so overpowering an experience drunk straight serves it well against the incredible richness of the eggs and cream – and it’s inexpensive, to boot.  Even better, Kirkland has seen fit to add a quite tasty and reasonably-priced spiced rum to its line (review forthcoming!), which also serves well.

A note on aging:  Though it goes against the usual instant gratification of drink-mixing, the secret to a truly great nog is aging.  Buy a cheap gallon jug of water from the store, empty the jug, fill it with nog, and stick it in the back of the fridge for a month, checking it now and again and shaking it up if it separates.  The leftovers you can keep handy, and try a little bit each weekend until your party.  You’ll likely be amazed at the improvement in mellowness and depth that the nog takes on each week.  (The Bartender has heard tell of folk making theirs a year ahead of time and keeping it in the garage – and it’s true that the booze quantity is likely sufficient to kill anything that might try to grow in the nog! – but that seems slightly overkill.)

Old-School Egg Nog
Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking”, with help from the Something Awful Forum Goons
serves approximately 20, or one Goon

12 eggs, separated
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
3 cups bourbon
2 cups spiced rum
2 quarts whipping cream
pinch of salt
freshly grated nutmeg

Strain the egg yolks through a sieve and beat until light in color. Gradually add the sugar. While continuing to beat, slowly add 2 cups of the bourbon. Cover the mixture and let stand for 1 hour to dispel the “eggy” taste.

Add the rest of the liquor and the cream, beating well. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them into the other ingredients. Grate nutmeg to taste into the eggnog and fold it in. Transfer to a jug or pitcher, cover, and let age in the refrigerator for thirty days.

Serve in small cups (the one in the picture is a double-serving), with a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg grated over each pour.

With apologies to Mr. Bond

Have you ever felt intimidated by the constant arguments over “the right way” to prepare a martini?  Wonder no more, thanks to this excellent video by master bartender Ms. Charlotte Voisey.  Not only are the techniques (both practical and presentational) that she describes useful for a number of cocktails, she describes them all in an adorable British accent, and she uses Hendrick’s gin.  Really, how can you go wrong?

Recipe: Adam & Eve Martini

This recipe comes courtesy of the folks who make the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, and it nicely showcases both the aesthetic and flavor-related strengths of their product; so far as the Bartender’s cocktail-learning quest is concerned, it also demonstrated the supreme importance of using good-quality spirits when mixing a drink.  In this instance, she initially thought the drink interesting but a little bitter; when a bit of tinkering with the ingredients failed to produce something more palatable, she set the recipe aside.

Revisiting it some time later and with a far greater vodka selection, the Bartender decided to try making it with Kirkland Signature vodka.  And lo and behold – a drink that had previously been mostly a novelty suddenly became extremely tasty.  (For the record, plain Skyy is rapidly losing its place on her liquor shelf, although their citrus offering is still excellent.)

This is also an excellent example of how an unusual ingredient and a fancy garnish can really dress up a drink.  If you ordered one of these in a nice bar, it’d probably come served by a uniformed attendant with a price tag bordering on the obscene.

Adam & Eve Martini

2 ounces good-quality vodka
3 ounces apple puree (stage 1 baby food works best)
1 ounce Wild Hibiscus syrup
1 hibiscus blossom + maraschino cherry for garnish

Take one hibiscus blossom and stuff it with a maraschino cherry.  Shake the rest of the ingredients with ice, then strain into glass.  Spear the flower/cherry garnish with a chopstick and lay across the top of your cocktail glass.

Rebel Bartender Original Recipe: Blood Orange Martini

“Gin, lemon juice, and blood-orange soda?”

“I think it’s good.”

“I don’t know, it just seems like…shouldn’t there be something more?”

“It’s three ingredients.  That makes a cocktail.”

While the Rebel Bartender is not one to generally trust to others’ declarations, in this instance, she decided to assent to her husband’s wisdom.  Because while there may be something impressive about a drink that delicately balances five or six different flavors like a juggler spinning plates, there’s also a lot to be said for simplicity.  And in this instance, simplicity works surprisingly well.

This recipe was actually devised at the request of one of the Bartender’s friends, who tried an advertised “Blood Orange Martini” at a restaurant and found it to be unimpressive.  The Bartender’s original idea for a nonalcoholic base – fresh-squeezed blood orange juice – was stymied by the relative lack of imagination in Arizona produce aisles.  Fortunately, however, she came across some Italian Blood Orange Soda at Trader Joe’s, and it turned out to go surprisingly well with (of all things) Bombay Sapphire gin.  Other gins would probably work, too, but be forewarned that you’ll likely be trading the subtlety of Sapphire for more of a strong juniper flavor.  Which, depending on your tastes, might be what you want.

Blood Orange Martini

1 1/2 ounces Bombay Sapphire
1/4 ounce lemon juice
3 ounces blood orange soda, chilled

Shake the gin and lemon juice with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Gently pour the soda in over the other ingredients, swirling to mix.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Bisbee Pride Commemorative Recipe: Bisbee Fruit Salad

While technically an original recipe, at least part of the credit for this drink goes to the (sadly unknown) bartender who was working the pool party at Bisbee Pride last weekend.  The poolside bar was surprisingly well-stocked, and upon arrival at the head of the line a bottle of Ketel One Oranje caught your Bartender’s eye.  Asking the attendant what she recommended to go with it, she gave it a moment’s thought and said, “Cranberry juice and 7up.”  And really, given that context, what kind of even halfway-adventuresome person would say no to a little experimentation?

Admittedly, the end result you see here is rather different from that first trial.  For one thing, the version she poured was nearly half vodka, and tasted like it; for another, it was a bit oversweet, and lacked a certain complexity that the Bartender appreciates in a drink.  However, it had potential, and looking around at the bevy of fruity types around at that moment, it seemed appropriate that the Bartender find some way to commemorate the occasion in the way its participants would most appreciate:  in drink.

Bisbee Fruit Salad

1 ounce Ketel One Oranje
3/4 ounce melon liqueur
Cranberry juice
Seltzer Water

Pour orange vodka and melon liqueur over ice in rocks glass.  Fill until three-quarters full with cranberry juice; top with seltzer water.  Garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.

Note:  This recipe can easily be adapted for a tall glass as well; however, you may wish to increase the proportions of the alcoholic ingredients to maintain the balance of flavors.

Recipe: Pink Victrola

Hailing from the Hendrick’s website, this little gem provided the Bartender with that rarest of all cocktail sentiments – the absolute conviction that it needs no tinkering or improving whatsoever.  Fun as it can be to swap around ingredients and change the proportions to find that just-right balance, there’s also a distinct joy in finding that recipe that’s already perfectly formed.  It’s much like finding a pearl washed up on the beach, and almost as rare an experience.

The Bartender found this one particularly surprising – she had expected the grapefruit to completely overwhelm the other flavors, but instead found that it showcased the unusual flavors in Hendrick’s gin quite admirably.  And then there’s that lovely pink color; fortunately, this time it’s attached to a drink that’s both tasty and visually striking.

Pink Victrola

1 1/2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
1 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 spoonful (about 1/8 ounce) grenadine

Shake all ingredients and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a citrus twist, cucumber balls, or music device appropriate to your time period.

Recipe: Pomegranate Martini

Funny thing about buying pomegranate juice to make grenadine – you end up with a lot of juice left over.  Not one to waste perfectly good ingredients, the Bartender flipped back through some of her older recipes to see if there were any that might prove assistive in putting the stuff to use.

This particular recipe actually proved doubly helpful; a while back, she had also purchased a bottle of Cîroc, but it had proven too bitter for her initial “shake it up straight for a martini” idea.  The fruity richness that sets it apart from other vodkas, however, both stands up to and complements the strong flavor of the pomegranate juice, while said flavor is more than enough to hide the vodka’s bitterness that otherwise comes out along the sides of the tongue.

Should you find yourself without grape-based vodka, however, your regular mixer should do the trick, if with a slight loss in depth of flavor.

Pomegranate Martini

1 1/2 ounces Cîroc vodka
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
3/4 ounce triple sec
Lime wedge

Pour first three ingredients into the shaker; add ice and squeeze lime wedge into it.  Shake and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a lime wheel, or something involving pomegranate seeds if you’re feeling extra-creative.

Recipe: Grenadine

While a common ingredient in cocktails, grenadine these days is most often found in the shape of a Rose’s bottle on the shelf at your local liquor store for some outrageous sum (hint: you can replicate the product easily simply by adding red food coloring to a far cheaper bottle of corn syrup).  Its origins were not always so ignoble, however; once upon a time, the stuff was made from pomegranate juice.  Indeed, if you’ll excuse the quick bit of language pedantry, grenadine’s name comes from the French grenada; our term for its source fruit likely comes from their pomme-grenada, “seeded apple”.

One could argue that, given the extremely small amounts generally used in a given cocktail, grenadine suffers no particular loss from its gradual cheapening into what is effectively red syrup.  The Rebel Bartender, however, being a bit of a snob, suggests that you make your own classic grenadine – it’s surprisingly easy, and lends a vibrant color to whatever infusion you happen to adulterate it with.

Grenadine

1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar

Put juice in saucepan and heat on medium for a minute or two; whisk in sugar.  Continue whisking until thoroughly dissolved, then cool and funnel into clean container of your choice.  Cover and refrigerate; should keep for at least a month.

Photo of Rose’s Grenadine stolen from BevMo’s website.

Recipe: Blushing Duchess

Aside from sounding like an inn in medieval Europe, this is a delightful drink that makes for an excellent summer afternoon pick-me-up (or put-me-down – it may not taste like it, but the Duchess is blushing for a reason!).  It’s also one of the few drinks that needs no extra touches for presentation; a mint sprig would add a nice dash of color if one is feeling particularly ambitious, but otherwise, the drink itself is lovely to behold.

A few notes regarding the ingredients:

  • Turbinado sugar is a type of raw sugar that you can find for obscene prices in the supermarket’s baking aisle, or for quite reasonable prices in bulk at the local co-op or health food store.  (If you’ve ever tried Sugar in the Raw, you know what to look for.)  You can substitute plain white sugar in a pinch, but turbinado has the dual advantage of the superior flavor and prettier presentation.
  • The quality of your grapefruit will make a significant difference here; if you can get it, the Bartender especially recommends fresh Arizona grapefruit due to its soft texture and sweeter flavor.  Be careful, though – the stuff is like citrus crack.  Once you start buying it you may not be able to stop.
  • The recipe is originally from Grey Goose’s website (with, of course, a couple of tweaks); the Bartender discovered it as part of her ongoing campaign to find a drink that makes the stuff worth the $30ish price tag.  Having tried it with both Goose and with Skyy (her standby mixer), she can safely recommend that one use higher-quality vodka in this drink; the grapefruit helps hide the harshness, but Skyy’s bitter flavor still came out strongly.  If you don’t feel like shelling out for Goose, however, something less expensive but still quality like Ketel One would probably do the trick nicely.  Edit, 4/27/11:  Having tried it with Ketel One, the Bartender actually recommends it over Goose for this drink – K-1’s citrus overtones, rather than being overwhelmed as expected, in fact complement the grapefruit beautifully.

And now, the recipe!

Blushing Duchess

Turbinado sugar
3 wedges of grapefruit, peeled/seeded
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce triple sec
Lime wedge

Run the inside of a grapefruit peel around the rim of a rocks glass and coat it with turbinado sugar.  Roll the grapefruit wedges in remaining sugar and put them in the bottom of a shaker; muddle vigorously.  Add vodka, triple sec, and ice; shake, then pour everything (including ice and grapefruit wedges) into the rocks glass.  Squeeze the wedge of lime into the drink and serve!

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