Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cocktail Hour at Home

My bourbon infusion was ready to go, so I decided to invite my lovely friend Brynn over for dinner and cocktails. Before we get into the drink recipes, let’s talk about the infusion by itself. How much do I love grapefruit? So much that I would write an ode to it, if I were any good at writing odes. The substitution of grapefruit zest for lemon and orange was a stroke of pure genius. The citrus did kind of overwhelm the vanilla, though, which was barely detectable. Next time I’d go with two vanilla beans instead of one. Still, it was quite nice, and could easily be a stand alone drink, chilled and served up. But where’s the fun in that?

No, my friends, the fun is all in the mixing, so on we go to the cocktails. The first concoction is something I’ve been making in various configurations for a while now, so it deserves a name. I hereby dub thee “The Savage Refresher.” Doesn’t that sound like something you want to drink?

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It consists of: bourbon (this time I used the infusion, but it’s also delicious with regular bourbon), muddled mint, bitters, and freshly squeezed grapefruit. You can add a little sugar or simple syrup if you like your drinks on the sweet side of tart. Muddle a handful of mint, sugar (if you want), 10ish drops of bitters, and a little ice in a shaker. Add 2 oz of bourbon (depending on how strong you like it), half a grapefruit (squeezed), and some more ice. Shake and serve up in a cocktail glass of your choosing.

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I squeeze the grapefruit by hand, but what I really want is a dedicated grapefruit squeezer like this one. Also, despite our arsenal of bar tools, we still don’t have a muddler at home, which makes me sad. Now you know what to get me for my birthday, right?

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The Savage Refreshers went perfectly with our dinner…I threw some mint in the salad too. Yummy!

Then it was on to post dinner conversation and round two. If you’re as obsessed with Mad Men as I am, you’ve probably had a hankering for an Old Fashioned sometime in the last few months. If you’re a purist, like Don Draper, here is a recipe for the classic Old Fashioned, complements of Esquire magazine. Most bars these days make it with and orange slice and a maraschino cherry, but apparently that’s a recent edition. Fascinating!

Seeing as how I’m all grapefruit obsessed at the moment, I use a grapefruit slice instead of the now-traditional orange slice, a smidge of grenadine, and regular sugar, because really, who has sugar cubes and maraschino cherries at home?

How to make a Grapefruit Old Fashioned: In a cocktail shaker, muddle a large slice of grapefruit, a teaspoon-ish of sugar, a dash or two of grenadine (one cherry’s worth if you can figure that out), and 3-4 dashes of bitters. Once that has been muddled, you add 2 oz or so of bourbon and shake. I like to top it off with another squeeze of grapefruit, but that’s just me. Traditionally, you’d serve this in a rocks glass over ice. What can I say, I’ve never been all that traditional.

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The photo may not look all that impressive, but trust me, they’re delicious. This cocktail makes a frequent appearance in our house. Typically while we’re watching Mad Men. In our fedoras.

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Bourbon Infusion #1

Since this is my first post, I thought I’d start out with an infusion. When you bust out home-made infusions at parties or while hosting guests, it never ceases to amaze people. The oohs and aahs you get are great for the ego. Little do most people know, making the infusion is incredibly easy. The real art lies in coming up with interesting and delicious ingredient combinations. It takes a little experimenting, but it’s pretty tough to come up with something that doesn’t taste good, as long as you start with a liquor you already like to drink.

In my household, we are a bourbon family. We’ve also made a series of delicious, candy-infused vodka, but bourbon is our go-to for cocktails. My recent favorite is Samuel Grant. Why? Because it’s always on sale for cheap at the Safeway across the street. I recently found out that this is because it’s the house brand. Safeway makes its own booze, who knew?

The infusion I made is based on a recipe I found on Culinary Anthropologist, but I used less vanilla, and grapefruit zest instead of lemon and orange, mostly because I had some lovely organic grapefruits from Rainbow Grocery. Grapefruit is also my latest obsession as a cocktail ingredient. Put freshly squeezed grapefruit in any drink, and I defy you not to love it.

I started by putting the bourbon in a large bowl, in order to catch all the oils of grapefruity goodness that splatter with zesting. This proved a bit difficult later on for pouring, so next time I’d go with a wide-mouthed jar or pitcher instead. I cut open a fresh vanilla bean with a knife to expose the seeds, and zested two grapefruits with a vegetable peeler, over the bowl.

                               

Now you might be asking yourself, “Where in the heck do you get whole vanilla beans?” At least that’s what I was asking myself when I first found this recipe. The answer is Xanath , on Valencia St, which also makes dynamite ice cream…though nothing vegan as of yet. If you aren’t lucky enough to live in San Francisco like me, they also operate Saffron, which will ship them to you anywhere in the US.

After everything was in the bowl, I proceeded to pour it all into a mason jar. Mason jars are perfect for infusions, though the process of pouring, as aforementioned, was a bit messy, even with a funnel. Turns out, bowls are not so good for pouring liquid in an organized fashion. Live and learn. Life is all about experimentation! Make sure all the leftover bits of zest make it into the jar.

Once everything was in the jar, I added just a touch of honey, to take away some of the bitterness, in case I wasn’t as careful with the zesting as I should have been, and because of this math equation:  bourbon+honey=deliciousness. Math doesn’t lie people. Once it’s in the jar, you just store it in a dark-ish place, like a pantry, and shake it a couple of times a day for about a week. Mine will be ready on Sunday. The next post will feature whatever concoction I mix it up with. Happy infusing!

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