For six years, I worked at a tiny Farm/Restaurant in Woodstock, Vermont called Pane e Salute. Among the many perks of my time there was the opportunity to taste a lot of different wines. During my last autumn with Pane, I got to taste the Bonny Doon Vineyards Verjus de Cigare, which is actually a non-alcoholic beverage made from grenache grapes. It’s pretty much the best grape juice you’ve ever tasted in your life.
Because Bonny Doon recommends using Verjus as a mixer for cocktails, I naturally set to work experimenting. The following two cocktails are what resulted from these experiments (with expert input, of course, from my bosses). They were very tasty, and I recommend checking out the Verjus. It is not terribly expensive and it offers a world of interesting possibilities. Use these two drinks as a jumping off point. Play around; have some fun. Recipe
The other day, while looking for something a little different to mix up, I came across “The Secret Cocktail” in our Classic Cocktails book. Secret? Well, I’m intrigued. Tell me more.
Now, this is not the real name of this drink, as the description in our book was quick to point out. However, because of its true identity, many people tend to shy away from the drink, despite its excellent flavor. The thing is, the name is a bit of a misnomer, because this drink is anything but ‘girly’ – it is in face quite strong. So brace yourselves for the original…
Cool evenings send us to the dark liquor. However, being out of whiskey and cognac there was nothing for it but to go with rum. Not that I have anything against rum. Rum is great. It’s the closest I can get to recreating a tropical vacation here in the Mid-Atlantic. Anyway, I was thinking a dark and stormy might be tasty, but we didn’t have any ginger beer. We did, however, have fresh ginger. So I sliced some of that and pounded it in the mortar and pestle, poured lime juice over it, and let it sit for a few minutes. Strain it into a glass, add rum and top up with seltzer and tadaa! A gingery rum drink.
Last week when I went to fetch limes from the produce section at the grocery store, I was distracted by a basket full of deep sunset yellow fruit. Meyer Lemons! I was buying citrus for cocktails, so of course I had cocktails on my mind, and I had to try a couple. After all, I’ve never seen meyer lemons looking so ripe. I grabbed a couple, and here’s the drink I came up with. An interesting thing I noticed was that the shaved zest on top gave off a distinctive vanilla like aroma – very different from a conventional lemon. The juice itself smelled of oranges and tasted of lemons (though less tart). A very interesting fruit and I hope I find some again to try out more experiments!
The weather has finally turned here in NJ, and we have been enjoying some Vermont style summer days. To celebrate the beautiful weather, after church this Sunday, we strolled around town for a bit. We thought about finding a restaurant with outdoor seating, but decided that our own porch and a bottle of bubbly with bakery treats would be just as pleasant and less expensive. So home we came bearing our precious bag of assorted croissants, and down I went to the fetch a bottle of sparkly. Then I thought, since we’re celebrating, why not French 75’s instead of plain sparkling wine? Turned out we were all thinking along the same lines. Great minds, right? But, to our dismay, we were practically out of lemons! <gasp>. We were, however, swimming in limes. Gin goes with limes, I thought. Champagne goes with limes. Gin goes with Champagne. St. Germain goes with all three. And thus, the Alpine Fizz was born. Alpine, because St. Germain is made with Alpine flowers. Fizz because sparkling wine is fizzy!
We recently finished a jar of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. For those of you who have not experienced these little treasures, these are the real thing. None of this brightly died, corn-syrup soaked nonsense. These are incredibly delicious. Having one at the bottom of your drink makes you want another drink just so you can eat the cherry – and for the record, I don’t even really like cherries. Anyway, we finished the cherries in the jar, but there was still all sorts of delicious syrup left, and rather than let it go to waste, I thought I would do a little experimentation. The results were pretty tasty I thought.
Three weeks of vacation has done a real number on my blog writing. I kept thinking, I’ll get around to it… suddenly a month has passed and I haven’t written anything. I do, however, have two new cocktails to share!