Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Riviera

The Riviera

This is a total gateway cocktail for people who don't think they like the bitter cordials.
First, a couple days before you are having a party, infuse 4 cups of gin (a good strong one like Tanqueray or Beefeater) 2 cups of Maraschino (Luxardo preferably) and a cup of Campari with a pineapple that had been skinned and sliced into thick wedges. Let sit for at least 24 hours, 48 is better.

This cocktail is all pineapply goodness then with Campari creeps up on you.

2 oz Pineapple/luxardo/Campari Infused Gin
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
5 drops of orange bitters.

riviera Cocktail Ingredients
* icon 1/2 shot gin
* icon 1/2 shot rum
* icon pineapple juice
* icon grenadine
* icon almond extract

Pour Gin & Rum over ice, add pineapple juice (orange or combination of works great too)and optional almond extract. Shake until cool, strain into cocktail glass, slowly add grenadine (should sink). Decorate if desired with citrus fruit and/or flowers
My wife and I had this in Tunisia, nothing happens for the first few (no alcohol taste) but be careful... Gin has a way of sneaking up! Before you know it, you’re naked...again

Branca Zarzamora

Wild Turkey: es un bourbon hecho en Kentucky destilado y añejado en barriles de roble blanco utilizando centeno, maiz y cebada. Mientras que los bourbons son usualmente 80, este Wild turkey es proof 101.
Fernet es un tipo de amaro (amargo), un bitter, o licor aromaticoes hecho de hierbas y especias que varian de acuerdo a la marca.la mayoría incluyen mirra, ruibardo, myrrh, rhubarb, manzanilla, cardamomo, el aloe, y el azafrán, en un alcohol destiladode uvas, con colorizantes y acaramelantes.
Fernet-Branca, es un digestivoque se puede servir solo o con café o expresosa temperatura ambiente o en las rocas. Brancamenta, es una version mentolada. Fernet-Branca, se ha usadopara el tratamiento de colicos mestruales, malestar intestinal, resacas, colico de bebes y anteriormente para la colera.
amargos de naranja se usan para saborizar cocteles y son hechos de la corteza de naranjas sevillanas, cardamomo, semillas de alcaravea, Cilantro y azúcar quemada. Algunas recetas de cócteles que tradicionalmente usan Amargos de naranja ahora puede excluir dicho ingrediente.
Zarzamora o mora hibrida es una fruta del bosque dulce muy popular en pastelería para la preparación de postres, mermeladas y jaleas y, a veces, vinos y licores. Las hojas disecadas, utilizadas como infusiones, tienen propiedades antisepticas urinarias, diureticas y levemente laxativas. La mora negra o zarzamora contiene sales minerales vitaminas A, B y C, por su alto contenido de hierro es utilizada para prevenir y combatir la anemia. Entre otras facultades, estudios recientes comprobaron que el elevado contenido de flavonoides (taninos que tambien poseen los vinos tintos) contribuye a prevenir cancer y disminuir el colesterol malo.

Receta 1

2 oz whiskey
½ oz Fernet branca (amaro)
½ licor de mora o zarzamora - rasberry or blueberry liquor
½ cucharada moras frescas

Receta 2

2 oz whiskey
2 oz de blueberry brandy
2 cucharadas de jarabe de azucar
1 oz de jugo de limon
1 mora desmenuzada

Receta 3

1/2 Brandy de arandanos (blueberry brandy)
2 oz Whiskey
1 cucharada de jugo de limon fresco
½ onza de jugo de naranja fresco
½ cucharada de azucar super-refinada
1 mora desmenuzada

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Algonquin Hotel

Famed literary gatherings. Echoes of some of the world’s most celebrated cabaret singers. A singular environment of inspiration that spawned the creation of The New Yorker magazine. All of these things are impressive in their own right. More impressive still is that they all occurred at The Algonquin Hotel.
Today these traditions continue, just as they have for over 100 years. Step into the sanctuary of our lobby on any given evening, and you will find a diverse mix of New York’s cultural and artistic elite. Here, and within our famed Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar, martinis are savored, ideas are shared, insights arrived at, and the designs that result shape the cultural fabric of the city.

It was named after the famous Algonquin hotel in New York City although when exactly it was created is unclear. The hotel, built in 1902, was known as a "dry" hotel even before Prohibition. But the how's and why's of the Algonquin Cocktail's origin are not important when you're enjoying its fantastic fruit and whiskey taste.

The Algonquin Cocktail is a great "Martini" of your favorite rye whiskey, dry vermouth and pineapple juice.

35ml American Rye Whisky
15ml Dry Vermouth
25ml Pineapple Juice
dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir the whiskey, vermouth, and pineapple juice (be sure to use unsweetened) well with cracked ice (if you shake it, the pineapple juice will foam), then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Truth be told, we find that 2 or 3 dashes of Fee Bros. West Indian Orange Bitters (call 716-544-9530) does wonders for the drink. Failing that, a generous squeeze of orange peel will work almost as well.


* Peel from 4 lemons (removed in strips with vegetable peeler)
* 1/3 cup superfine sugar
* 2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
* 3 cups Plymouth Sloe Gin
* 2 cups fresh lemon juice
* 1 1/2 cups Coruba dark Jamaican rum
* 6 cups ice cubes
* 1 ice block
* 2 cups chilled brut Champagne
* Lemon slices


Place lemon peel strips in large bowl.
Add sugar and mash with muddler or wooden spoon to infuse sugar with lemon.
Add 1 1/4 cups raspberries and mash to blend. Pour in sloe gin, lemon juice,
and rum. Add ice cubes; stir to blend. Refrigerate punch 20 minutes.
Place ice block in punch bowl. Strain punch over ice block into bowl.
Add Champagne; stir to blend. Garnish punch with lemon slices
and remaining 3/4 cup raspberries. Ladle into punch cups.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Autumn Ablazed - my own delicious pumpkin cocktail

My submission for the About.com pumpkin cocktail contest. All pumpkin cocktails recipes carry some version of nutmeg on them. Either sprinkled or grated. I wanted to change that. For my pumpkin is Autumn. Pumpkin reminds me of the feeling of comfort, of enjoyment, of happiness, of life firing in my belly!!. I wanted to have that on a drink. Since I create my own Hell-fire bitters, I put them to the test with the creamy and smooth aftertaste of pumpkins. To round up the flavors, i sensed that i needed a fruity nose to it, but with some refinement, that is why Brandy came to mind. Additionally, Demerara rums have a rich, raw brown sugar flavor that could be the perfect finish to coordinate a rich, amazing drink with just a hint of hot spices.  After playing with amounts and proportions to get the right balance, I decided that this creamy libation needed to be serve over crushed ice to dissolve evenly while sipping it in front of the chimney.

  • 1 1/2 oz Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Dark Rum (1)
  • 1/3 oz Pumpkin Spice Syrup (2)
  • 1/3 oz Pumpkin Schnapps
  • 1 1/3 oz Half and Half (cream/ milk)
  • 1 dash Hell-fire bitters (3)

Shake with Ice in a cocktail shaker and then strain into an Crushed Ice-filled Lowball Glass. Garnish with a Cinnamon stick and then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the cinnamon when sipping this Autumn Ablazed.

(1) Any Brown sugar cane rum or Demerara rums works best.
(2) Torani and Monin brands carry Pumpkin Spice Syrup
(3) I recommend doing your own Hell Fire Bitters

A little advice

  • El Dorado rum, Captain Morgan, Mount Gay Rum, Ron Viejo de Caldas, Flor de Caña, Zacapa... any of these Caribbean rums would work just fine.
  • My homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup is really easy to do. See below for the recipe.
  • My homemade Hellfire bitters recipe is at the end of the blog. 

Pumpkin Spice Syrup 
Simmer in sauce pan: 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pre-cooked pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mace

stir until sugar dissolves, Cool slightly, then stir in about a shot of Cognac.Strain using coffee filter.

Hellfire Bitters 
My own recipe - easy to do 
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 oz Rum
  • 1 oz water
  • 1 oz coffee

In a small pot, muddle the jalapeño. Add rum and muddle some more. Mix in the coffee and the water; cover on low heat for 10 min. Cool. strain, let sit for 6 hours. Use dropper to pour over drinks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mezcal 101 for drinkers

You will see that everything related to mezcal, will be related to the heart. Keep reading and you will know what I mean. I lived in Chicago for many, many years. With such a big Mexican population, I had to learn a thing or two about  tequila and guess what else?... mezcal. The following part I had to learn by heart, otherwise my Mexican employees, friends, and vendors will eat my heart out (You see, I told you).

How to drink Mezcal
  • Traditionally is served in a shot glass. Straight. Neat.
  • At bars, might be served with salt, lime wedges or orange halves.
  • Hardcore traditionalist might throw a pinch of ground larvae salt with chili over a lime wedge, chew the wedge, slam the mezcal shot, and drink it straight. Viva Mexico!.

So learn this "Mezcal is a distilled liquor from the agave plants". Since tequila is made of Blue Agave, Tequila is too a kind of mezcal. Translation: "All Tequilas are mezcals, only blue agave mezcals are tequilas. "

To produce mezcal a variety of agave is used. This variety is known as "maguey", and this plant´s heart is used to distill this alcoholic beverage. Since the "piñas" (the hearts) are oven-baked or roasted, mezcal has a smoky flavor to it.

If you are like me, of curious nature and willing to develop taste for unusual things (what kind of things?,well you don´t really need to know), this drink might catch your attention.

Fun Facts
  • It takes at least seven years for the plant to mature.
  • Maguey is the variety of agave used for mezcal.
  • “Manso” is best maguey to produce it.
  • Other varieties are “espadín, arroquense and tobalá. 
  • The "piñas" are cooked for about three days
  • Most are aged from one month to four years
  • Mezcal can reach an alcohol content of 55%
  • Most mezcals are a little stronger than tequilas.
  • Mezcal is distilled mostly once, and great ones twice.
  • Not all bottles of mezcal contain a worm.
  • White mezcal is clear and hardly aged.
  • Dorado (golden) is not aged. A coloring agent is added. 
  • Reposado (aged) is placed in wood barrels from two to nine months. 
  • Añejo is aged in barrels for a minimum of twelve months
  • If the añejo is of 100% agave, it is usually aged for about four years.
  • Tequila has NO WORMS.
  • Good Mezcal has NO WORMS.
  • Gimmicky brands DO HAVE WORMS

I had made previously a blind tasting of different mezcal brands somewhere in the South Side of Chicago, where the "Colonia Oaxaqueña" resides. I took a notepad, pencils, camera and carried with me, two good Mexican buddies of mine. Very friendly people. The last thing I remember is a short demonstration of how to salt, chew, slam and dunk. Thanks god to note taking. Here I am throwing a short list of the ones I like.

Well-know brands
  • Del Maguey
  • Gusano Rojo
  • San Luis del Rio
  • Santo Domingo Albarradas
  • Hacienda de Chihuahua 
  • Monte Alban
  • Zacatecano 
  • Embajador 
  • Scorpion 
  • Talapa
  • Tobala
  • Pechuga

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cocktails with Demerara Syrup

Demerara syrup can be used in pretty much any cocktail with a brown liquor, specially cocktails with sugar and molasses based rums. Vintage Tiki drinks have plenty of recipes that might just used a hint of the particular molasses and raw sugary notes that demerara syrup might bring to the drink. Zombies, Demerara´s Dry Floats and Coffee Grogs might be just a few samples. Chekc this drinks out and let me know how much better you like them with Demerara Syrup.
French Martini
  • 50ml Vodka
  • 25ml Pineapple Juice
  • 10ml Chambord*
  • 5ml Demerara Syrup
Shake with Ice, and then strain into a Martini Glass. Garnish with a Raspberry, or a lemon twist, either one will float in the centre of the drink

* Chambord is a Raspberry heavy liquor, that can be homemade. For directions on how to make it, keep posted to my next week blog post.

Demerara Cocktail

  • 2 oz Demerara Rum or Raw Sugar Cane based Rum**
  • 1 oz Puerto Rican Rum (white/gold/dark your choice=***
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ oz Passion Fruit Juice/Nectar
  • 1 Splash Demerara Syrup
Shake, serve straight up on a rocks glass.

The Demerara Cocktail is a nice simple drink that incorporates your standard sweet and sour rum combination, but adds a little Passion fruit Juice to give it an exotic twist. For the most part the Demerara rum comes through with the lime and just a hint of the passion fruit juice.

**   Demerara rums procedence is South American island of Guyana. El Dorado Rum might be the best-know demerara brand (a rising start spirit in the 1990´s, with a solid product with great notes and taste) but other relatively know brand in the international market is Lemonhart 151-proof Demerara Rum.

*** Puerto Rican rums are triple distilled and aged in Charred American white oak barrels. Their brand leader is Bacardi Rum, follow by other relatively well-know brands such as Don Q, Ron del Barrilito, Palo viejo, and Ron Llave.

Queen's Park Swizzle
  • 3oz Demerara Rum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz demerara syrup
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Fresh mint for garnish
Add ingredients into a collins glass along with crushed ice and swizzle with a bar spoon until the glass is frosted over. Garnish with fresh mint.

Demerara Dry Float
  • 1 1/2 oz Demerara rum
  • 1/4 oz 151 Demerara rum
  • 2 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/3 ounces passion fruit syrup
  • 1/3 ounce demerara syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur 

Shake everything except the 151 rum with ice, strain into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, and carefully float the 151. Do not stir.

Demerara Syrup Recipe

English fellows have a particular affinity to foreign tastes. Demerara Syrup is just another classic example. Made from rich raw brown caribbean sugar, this syrup is great to be used as a replacement for simple syrup in many recipes. The reason for this is, that this unrefined sugar adds on a richer flavor to the syrup, although its caramel color might alter the final appearance, its great flavor makes up for it.

Demerara Syrup Recipe
  • 2 parts Demerara Sugar or Raw Brown Sugar
  • 1 part distilled water
Medium heat until sugar dissolves. Chill and bottle. To avoid mold, add on a tablespoon or two of high-proof vodka.

This syrup will make a fantastic addition or replacement for some great drinks, with sugar cane based spirits.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Homemade Gum Syrup 19th Century Style

Let´s place ourselves in a french bar, late nineteenth century, ice blocks in tin containers, no ice cubes in sight for another 20 years or so. How to stabilized a flavor from the very first sip to the last one, using little or no ice? It seems like the answer to this riddle, was to use Syrup de Gomme (Gum Syrup).

This sweetener is made with sugar syrup and gum arabic. Use the highest possible percentage of sugar to water. The gum will create a colloidal mixture when interacting with the syrup, making it of it a smooth liquid, softening the flavor and preventing crystallization in this 3:1 ratio mix of sugar vs. water. Most recipes call for a 2:1 ratio, but I prefer a heavier mix which helps to the silk-like effect of the final drink. Edible glycerin is used more  nowadays by food/drinks manufacturers instead of gum arabic.

Gum Arabic Description
A water soluble gum used in binding different medias. in its natural shape is an exudate from Acacia trees. It  contains arabinose, galactose, rhamnose, (these three components are sugars) and glucuronic acid. It is commercialized in lumps, granules, flakes or as a powder.

Homemade Gum Syrup in 4 Steps
Step 1- Dissolve Gum
  • 4 ounces powdered gum arabic
  • 4 ounces distilled water
Gum arabic comes in different presentations as noted before. Better get the powdered one to make it. if you use powdered gum arabic, you can use 1:1 ratio, if you are using the rocks, add 1 or 2 ounces of water since they will require more liquid presence to dilute. If you get the rocks, use a mortar and then go to town on them making them as much or a powder as possible before mixing it with the water. Let them rest for a few hours (12 to 24 hours) to get a colloidal texture.

Step 2- Thick Simple Syrup
  • 18 oz confectionery sugar
  • 6 ounces water
Cold water and sugar, 3 parts sugar to 1 part water to a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves into the water.
Stir. Once the sugar is dissolved, keep the syrup in the stove and get ready for the next step.

Step 3 - Boil and Skim
Add the gum arabic mixture to the warm syrup. Stir repeatedly. Once the contents start to boil, turn the stove off and remove the foam forming on top of the pan.

Step 4- Strain and Bottle
Cooling your mix right is very important. Set it aside covered for a few hours. If you need to speed up the process, then put some ice water in your sink and place the pan on it, to speed up the cooling process.
 If you did not remove all the scum from the syrup while it was boiling, you might need to filter it through a cheesecloth. otherwise, you are good to go. Use sterilized bottles, pleeeeease, to keep your gum syrup from molding. It should keep even if it is out of the fridge.

Pre-prohibition cocktails that require gum syrup
If you did not remove all the scum from the syrup while it was boiling, you might need to filter it through 
  • Sazerac
  • Pisco Punch
  • Tom Collins
  • Old Fashioned
  • Star Cocktail

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Elderflower Syrup for a great martini

Oh guys, you are going to love making this syrup. Elderflowers are usually blooming around amy in the northen hemisphere, but not here in the sunny tropics, no señor. We can see them blooming pretty much any time of the year. You can use Elderflower Syrups with seltzer water over ice with a lemon twist and a wheel of lime, as a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, or add it to a bubbly champagne flute to spice up and add a fantastic aromatic scent to your drink. Elderflower Cordial can be sipped alone , plain cold, just out of the freezer in frozen cordial or sherry glasses, or mixed into a wide variety of cocktails.

I will start this blog by giving you an Elderflower Martini recipe. Since people say that we see God in the details, this simple recipe can be quite difficult to make perfect. Just again, pay attention to the details because flavor wise it is delicious.

Elderflower Martini

  • 2 oz grape based vodka
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur
  • squeeze one lime wedge
Pour ingredients over ice in shaker. Chill a martini glass, shake the contents, strain and serve up. Garnish with lime wedge or lychee fruit. Now the difficulty comes here. Vodka are most likely made of grains like wheat or rye, or from starch like potatoes. But a couple well-known brands are actually made out of grapes. These vodkas have a fruity hints that are just a great addition to the end result. and difficulty number 2, is the elderflower liquor. If you happen to know a french version of this liquor, with a fantastic bottle, you know what I am talking about, Made in the French Alps, This particular liquor is just the right hint needed for this recipe. If you decide to use your Homemade Eldeflower Cordial and in this way control the flavors and the sweetness, guess what? I am posting here the recipe too!.

Elderflower Syrup
Great home made recipe
  • 20-25 elderflower bunches  
  • 30 grams ascorbic acid or  tartaric acid or 2 tablets of citric acid  
  • 2 lbs sugar  
  • Juice of 1-2 organic lemons  
  • Zest of 2 organic lemons
  • 3/4 liters water (boiling)
    Pick the elderflower bunches in the early morning when they are more aromatic, check for bugs. Elderflower plants are pretty resistant and are not usually sprayed with insecticides, but if they are, wash the bunches pretty well. Boil water and add the sugar until the later dissolves, then add the lemon juice,and the lemon zest with the ascorbic acid or the citric acid tablets to the boiling sugar water. Be careful while zesting the lemons not to add any damaged skin or any part of the white pit. Pour the mix over the flowers and cover for 2 to 3 days.

    Stir daily. Don´t keep it more than 3 days. Even although the citric or ascorbic acid will help to avoid fermentation to happen any time sooner than that, there are no guarantees after the third day. Strain out the liquid portion into sterilized sealed containers or bottles and keep cold. With the citric or tartaric acid it will keep for 3-4 months in the fridge. You could replace the Acid for Camden Tablets and your syrup will last for as long as you want if you keep in a dark cool place.

    Elderflower Cordial
    Homemade Recipe
    • 35 fresh elder flower heads – always pick the sweet smelling ones (which tend to be a bit buttery in colour and which do not drop petals when shaken)
    • 2 oranges, rough sliced
    • 2 lemons, also rough sliced
    • 2oz tartaric or citric acid – we prefer citric which makes for a more lemony taste, but some of our friends like tartaric. You can buy either from a shop that sells winemaking stuff and you can get citric acid from your local chemist.
    • 3 pints boiling water
    • 3lb granulated sugar, (if you are worried about your sugar intake, you can use the equivalent of granulated Splenda (it is very light so follow the instructions which substitute volume for weight….)
    • 1 Camden tablet per gallon of cordial (these come from “winemaking stuff” shops and are brilliant – they kill the natural yeasts that arrive with the elder flowers and allow you to store the cordial for years without it going fizzy). If you do not use them, then you can deep freeze the cordial you want to keep for Christmas….
    • One or two large containers (the size depends on how much you make at once)
    • Glass or food grade plastic bottles with airtight caps
    • a Siphon tube
    • J-cloths or wine filtering fabric
    • A large sieve

    • Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow it to cool properly. 
    • Add the orange and lemon slices to the cool sugar water 
    • Stir in and make sure the tartaric or citric acid is dissolved 
    • Add the elder flower heads. 
    • Cover it up with a lid or cloth (we like to use a 5 gallon (25 litre) home winemaking plastic barrels) and leave it for 48-72 hours.
    • Strain the mixture and leave for another 48 hours.
    • We then siphon it all to another container, leaving the sediment/dregs behind and then we add 1 crushed Camden tablet per gallon of cordial
    • Shake well, and then leave for 3-4 hours to settle
    • Bottle, leaving behind any more dregs.
    • If you don’t want to use two large containers, then you will need to add a crushed Camden tablet at the rate of 1 per gallon (1/2 a tablet to a 4 pint milk container for example) and carefully siphon directly into that. Shake the bottle well after you have filled it and do the top up tightly. Shake it again an hour or two later to make sure the tablet has dissolved. It will then keep for ages – as in years.
    • Always, always use sterilised bottles:
    • Microwave – 2-3 minutes should kill anything.
    • Oven -  put glass bottles into your cold oven. Run it up to about 140C, keep it there for 10-15 minutes and then leave it to cool.
    • You can also use Milton or even just very hot water.
    How long you can store your cordial:
    • With no acids or tablets – 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Freeze in plastic bottles for longer storage.
    • With the citric or tartaric acid it will keep for 3-4 months in the fridge.
    • With the Camden tablets, elderflower cordial keeps almost indefinitely in a cool, dark place.