Friday, January 30, 2015

tea julep

1 quart Tea Infusion (16 oz Ban-Cha Toasted Green Tea, 3 tea bags)
12 spray Fresh Mint (6 sprays)
2 Oranges (1 Orange)
2 Lemons (1 Lemon)
1/2 Medium Cucumber (1/4 English Cucumber)
1 pint Ginger Ale (8 oz Blue Sky Organic)
Sugar to taste (2 oz Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar)

Make the tea infusion and let stand for 6 minutes. When cool, pour into a bowl. Add half the mint, the oranges thinly sliced, the lemon juice, and the peeled and thinly sliced cucumber. Add sugar to taste, and let stand for an hour (I placed into the refrigerator to chill). Remove cucumber and the mint (I removed the orange slices as well). Pour 4 oz of infused tea into a glass of crushed ice. Add 2 oz of ginger ale per glass and garnish with mint and strawberries if in season. Makes 8 servings (here 4).

Back for Mixology Monday 49, the theme was "Tom Waits." I thought about what I would make this crooner who frequently sang about Manhattans and other boozy libations. However, it dawned on me that he no longer drank alcohol for he has been sober for over 20 years. It did not seem right to make a cocktail to serve in his honor, but I set about to figure out a mocktail (other than black coffee) that he might enjoy.
For a recipe, I looked in Bertha Stockbridge's What to Drink which was published in 1920 right after Prohibition started and Temperance drink recipes were greatly needed by those playing by the rules. Stockbridge has been touted as "the Jerry Thomas of the 'Nonalcoholic Drink'." Her attention to detail with measurements and her preparations of syrups and the like make her recipes stand out as elegant drinks regardless of their lack of alcohol content. Since our mint patch has come back with a vengeance, I was drawn to the Tea Julep. I scaled down the recipe and paraphrased the directions a bit (see above). While the drink took a lot longer to prepare than a regular Julep, the majority of this time was spent in the hour (I went 90 minutes) infusion time. The problem with nonalcoholic drinks is that they are often more labor intensive to produce something as satisfying, but the extra effort pays off and is quite the gift to the recipient who is often used to being poured a glass of soda or juice.

The Tea Julep's nose was filled with strawberry and freshly picked mint aromas. On the sip, sweet ginger and mint were up front, cucumber in the middle, and tea on the swallow. Indeed, I was quite surprised and pleased at how much the cucumber flavor leached out of the slices; however, I found the amount of orange notes to be disappointing. Finally, the lemon and the soda donated a refreshing level of crispness to the drink.

Originally posted on the Cocktail Virgin blog in May 2010, and adapted for this blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

tea smash

4 oz Black Tea (here, our house iced tea), cooled to room temperature
3/4 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
3 wedge Lemon
6-8 leaf Mint

Muddle the lemon wedges and lightly muddle the mint in a Double Old Fashioned glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. Fill with crushed ice and stir again. Garnish with mint sprigs bound by a long lemon twist, and add straws.
After discussing with a guest how the Whiskey Mint Smash made most famous here in Boston at Eastern Standard was one of the best introductions to whiskey drinks (for non-whiskey drinkers) in town, I began to ponder the Smash as a mocktail structure. Recalling the Tea Julep I had made years ago (which I will repost here in a few days), I decided to give the idea of a Tea Smash a whirl. Instead of simple syrup used in most Smashes, I opted for honey syrup to complement the tea flavors and to donate extra flavor notes to the mix. While I wanted to keep the traditional mint sprigs as a garnish, I remembered the garnish for Colin Shearn's Archipelago Swizzle where the sprigs were bound by a long, thin lemon twist. Besides being attractive, it does add some delightful lemon oils to the bouquet. Here, it was hard to take a good picture of the drink and show off the lemon twist though given the short but leafy mint fronds I was working with. Flavorwise, there were no surprises to me with tea flavors being fattened up by the honey, brightened by the lemon juice, and accented by the mint. To the hosts that received this one, they were rather pleased with the flavor complexity within.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

egg nog

2 oz Heavy Cream
2 oz Whole Milk
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 Egg Yolk

Shake once without ice and once with ice (~6 Kold Draft cubes). Pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a whole star anise (previously have done grated trio of nutmeg, coffee bean, and clove), and add a straw.

Back in December, there was a thread on Chowhound about where to purchase high quality egg nog in town. Most people agreed that egg nog without alcohol will not last too long without loading it up with chemical preservatives and how pasteurization would change the texture of it greatly. I ended up suggesting that they make it themselves with this simple recipe that I make at work with a prep time of only a few minutes once all the ingredients are assembled. My ratios were learned from classic (boozy) recipes like George Washington's Egg Nog, and I have modified this nonboozy version to a boozy one rather easily and with great success. Overall, this à la minute egg nog tastes so good and fresh while being chemical free (assuming that they are not in your syrups) all with very little effort!
The garnishes on the egg nog contribute greatly to aroma with nutmeg and anise pleasantly filling the bouquet here. A rich, creamy sip gave way to a smooth vanilla and cinnamon swallow. While I often have made this recipe for hosts and servers during slow points at work, I have made it for myself when I did not have time for breakfast that morning. Quite satisfying regardless of the hour or whether it is virgin or not!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

blue girl

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCIII) was picked by Andrea of the Ginhound blog. The theme she chose was "Blue" which seems like a great way to shake off the winter "blues" with something fun. This is the first month that I am doing a double post, one on the CocktailVirgin blog and one here on the MocktailVirgin blog. Do mocktails have a place in the event? Definite! Especially considering that we did low alcohol "shims" back in November and no alcohol "Temperance" ones back last April. Andrea elaborated on this month's concept by describing, "January needs a bit of color -- or perhaps the month after all the holiday mania makes you Either way this month's Mixology Monday is a chance to live those emotions out. You can dazzle us with a brilliant blue drink or you can share that blue feeling with a melancholic drink. Blue has been predicted as a new cocktail trend several times in recent years... Feel free to interpret blue as freely as you wish -- if natural is the way you want to go blueberries, violets, cornflower or red cabbage could be good ingredients to work with."

For a mocktail idea, I thought about blue ingredients and quickly shot down a Gatorade-based libation. While blueberries might have worked, most ingredients found in nature just aren't all that blue. My friend who works for Hasbro has described why kids' drinks and foods are unnatural blue and why children seek them out -- it is like their bitters to the cocktail drinker. Bitter is something that nature tells us is dangerous, and blue is something that chemical compounders use to tell us that the anti-freeze or glass cleaner isn't to be drank. To get at that level of blueness, I opted for food coloring. And the drink that I wanted to riff off of was one of my early cocktail favorites, the White Lady. I used to make the White Lady as a gin Sidecar sans egg white, but soon, I lost my fear of eggs and began enjoying White Ladies as they were intended. While White and Pink Lady drinks are well known, certain cocktail books have the Brown Lady (made with South African Van der Hum liqueur) and the Café Royal Cocktail Book from 1937 contains the Blue Lady! Theirs used blue curaçao for the coloring.
To riff off of the Blue Lady, I would keep the lemon juice and egg white components. Instead of the blue curaçao, simple syrup and a drop of blue food coloring would suffice save for the fruit notes lost. To regain the fruit notes, the gin would be replaced by a fruit juice. Originally, I planned on using the flavorful but not overly sweet Ceres-brand passion fruit juice in my fridge, but when I opened it that night, I discovered that it had gone south. Passion fruit has a great citrus-like feel to it that would help to replace the notes lost from 86ing the alcohol-laden curaçao. As a last minute punt, I reached for pineapple juice.
Blue Girl
• 1 1/2 oz Passion Fruit or Pineapple Juice
• 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
• 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
• 1 drop Blue Food Coloring
• 1 Egg White
Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with Fee's Bitters. Here I used Fee's Boston Cocktail Summit Bitters (similar would be their Aromatic Bitters), but I considered using their orange bitters save for the fact that they would not appear in a photo well). All of Fee's bitters are alcohol free (although the whiskey- and gin-barrel bitters have seen a barrel that previously contained alcohol).
The aromatic Fee's bitters donated an elegant gentian and cinnamon note; definitely, Fee's orange, lemon, or grapefruit bitters would work well with the flavors in the drink, although their lack of coloration would make for a less showy presentation. A creamy lemon sip shared hints of pineapple; however, most of the pineapple came through on the swallow where it was joined by cinnamon notes when the bitters on the foam worked their way into the gulp. The only change I could think of was that perhaps a flavored syrup like an alcohol-free falernum (see the BG Reynolds syrup line, for example) would work well here instead of simple syrup.

So thank you to Andrea of Ginhound for leading this month's foray into that end of the color spectrum and for all of the other Mixology Mondayists who conjured up Picasso's blue years with their shakers and mixing spoons this month! Cheers!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

mr. bali lo

1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Espresso (cooled, pulled almost full strength) (*)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup (**)
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (**)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and freshly grated nutmeg (pineapple wedge and 3 coffee beans have been done too), and add straws.
(*) Was a concentrated espresso-roast coffee prepped in advance
(**) Was 3/4 oz lemongrass syrup (or was it lemongrass plus either vanilla or cinnamon?)

On Friday, I remade one of the mocktails for Halle, the host at work that day, that I had done a few times in the Fall. I first made it for a friend's mom as her second drink. She liked the first one, but wanted something a bit different. I mentally scanned our inventory of nonalcoholic ingredients and honed in on the concentrated espresso-roast coffee that we used in our original Espresso Cocktail (now, a slightly different recipe and one that uses freshly pulled espresso to order). With that, I decided on utilizing the flavors in the classic Tiki drink Mr. Bali Hai, namely the pineapple, lemon, and coffee. For a sweetener, I believe I reached for the lemongrass syrup that we had for a menu item; however, we discontinued that syrup with the recent cocktail menu change. This time, I opted for vanilla and a touch of cinnamon to work with the coffee flavors in a Mexican coffee sort of way. I have garnished this a few ways including a pineapple wedge and coffee beans, but I had garnished my last creation on this blog with a pineapple wedge and wanted to change things up. As a tribute to the original, I dubbed this mocktail the Mr. Bali Lo (as in low octane, but still rich with flavor).
The Mr. Bali Lo presented a lemon oil aroma that brightened the nutmeg's spice notes. The lemon sip shared roast flavors from the coffee and extra fruitiness from the hint of pineapple, but most of the pineapple and coffee came through on the swallow that ended with a light cinnamon finish.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

pineapple ramos

3 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Heavy Cream
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a Collins glass with 2-3 oz soda water. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and add a straw.
Today before 2pm at work, it was a rather slow day and I had drank a lot of coffee. Too much coffee. To keep busy besides cleaning and prep work, I decided to make a mocktail for Kelsey, our host today upstairs at Russell House Tavern. I do not have specific tasting notes for this drink since I was presenting it (instead of making it for myself). However, it follows my general recipe for a Ramos Gin Fizz at work with a few modifications. My standard Ramos Gin Fizz has 2 oz of gin and here I substituted 3 oz of pineapple juice; moreover, I upped the heavy cream from 1 1/2 oz to 2 oz here. While many times the classic is made with just simple syrup, I have seen and made recipes that include vanilla extract (such as the link above); therefore, I split the sweetener two parts simple syrup to one part vanilla syrup. I also left out the 4 drops of orange blossom water I often add in the gin version. Instead of an orange twist garnish, I selected a pineapple wedge that I had prepped for my Mytoi Gardens menu item. Kelsey had no complaints and declared that the balance was right as was the level of vanilla notes in the mix. The presentation also garnered a good deal of oohs and ahs.