Bars can be expensive. Not that hotel bar you eye occasionally, the one with the $15 drinks. No, I’m talking about your home bar.
If you love cocktails and cocktails books — which I do — then it is possible to have stack of “gotta make” recipes. Taken together, all those recipes can demand that your home bar be extensively stocked. And there’s the rub.
I collect the Food and Wine Cocktails books, one published each year. The 2013 edition is easily the best, flush with wonderful beverage ideas. I recommend the ideas and the book.
One idea called for both tequila and mescal. Tequila I have in abundance. Of Mescal, not a drop. I know enough to know that all tequilas are a subset of mescal so, I assumed, the larger collection of mescals had to include some bottles with modest price tags. My first nearby liquor store want $54. I passed, heading for my corner store which always has a good selection at modest prices. $120 and $80. I now began my mantra of “Curse you, Red Baron.”
Back home I examined the recipe. It wanted agave, which I believe, based on the prices in Whole Foods, is as outrageously priced as certain liquors that are based on plants related to asparagus. [Oh, you thought agave used to be considered a cactus but is really a lily. There’s been a little update and it has been reclassified again as a cousin to asparagus. That should give tequila drinkers both pause and smug satisfaction: it is, too, healthy.]
I felt confused and cheap. I rethought the whole concept for this cocktail and I revised it. A lot. It’s now my concoction.
What had caught my eye initially was the heat. This drink begins by muddling poblanos, along with jalapenos the most popular of hot peppers. I imagined a meal of stuffed poblanos consumed with a fork accompanied by muddled poblanos consumed sip by sip.
To fight the poblano heat, the muddling includes fresh pineapple chunks. Then tequila, and lemon juice and that backbone ingredient of most cocktails: a simple sugar syrup. All that resonates in my brain like a mariachi band.
Once made, the drink is pretty to look at that I waited, perhaps, a full three seconds before imbibing. Frankly, my dear, I don’t think mescal would have made a damn difference.
As a hint of things to come, I have been experimenting with hot sugar syrups, spicy hot. In place of the simple syrup, you could use a habanero sugar syrup here for a refined blast of fire. More about that as spring evolves.
Muddled Heat and Sweet
Yield: 1 cocktail
- 4 ¼ inch thick rings of poblano + 1 more for garnish
- 4 1-inch cubes of fresh pineapple
- 2 ounces of silver tequila
- 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 4 of the poblano chile rings with the pineapple. Add the tequila, lemon juice and simple syrup. Fill the shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled cocktail class filled with crush ice. Garnish, if you wish, with a poblano ring or a citrus round.
Source: Brian O’Rourke with inspiration from Food and Wine Cocktails 2013 [the Pablo Escabar]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60MM Macro Lens, F/5.6, 1/100th second, ISO-1600
Many of us drink gin and we are in a gin paradise: there is a generation of new gins being created in Europe and across this country. In Brooklyn, for example, there are little micro spots coming up with diverse and grand flavors, for example, Greenhook Ginsmiths who can go glass for glass with anything from London town.
Gin was the basis in the 19th century for the rise of the cocktail in American society, or so the myth goes. Actually, this beverage revolution was not inspired by gin but by genever.
Genever is the national spirit of the The Netherlands. The famed firm Bols began distilling genevers in 1664. Over time, Bols tried many recipes. Then, in 1820, Bols introduced a revolutionary new genever recipe with a more subtle taste, as a result of a better balance of malt wine, neutral grain alcohol and botanicals. This new recipe is the authentic flavor of genever: complex from layers of ingredients, powerful and not subtle, and delectable. Not too sweet, either. No single herb clobbers your nose here.
In addition to being a lively spirit for drinking neat, it is the perfect, powerful vehicle for mixed beverages of all sorts.
Here’s a sample cocktail using Bols Genevers. Visit bolscocktails.com and you’ll find many others.
Yes, you can even do an Enever and Tonic!
Yield: 1 large cocktail
- 2 ounces Bols Genever
- 2 ounces Cachaca
- 2 ounces freshly squeeze lime juice
Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish, if you wish, with a wedge of lime, lemon or orange.
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/20th second at ISO-3200