Well, dear readers, it’s been quite a busy month. Apologies to any of you who were waiting with baited breath to find out how my latest infusion turned out. It was finished soaking in all those lovely fall flavors a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t had time to write about it. After straining the mixture (cheese cloth is best for this, but you can also use a coffee filter and a funnel) into a large mason jar, I chilled it and tasted it. The results were undeniably delicious and very autumnal. The strongest flavors were cinnamon and clove, with the vanilla mellowing and sweetening it just the right amount, but I could hardly taste the ginger at all. Luckily I like cinnamon and clove! Next time, I might think about putting a touch less of those two and doubling the amount of ginger, or leaving the ginger out entirely since it didn’t have much effect on the flavor.
So, now that you’ve got this delightful fall concoction, what do you do with it? It’s great chilled or over ice all on its own, but seeing as how this is a cocktail blog, I couldn’t just leave it alone. This little autumn beauty works best in a simple, classic cocktail: the Manhattan. The Manhattan, unlike the Old-fashioned, has remained relatively pure over the years. Some people garnish it with an orange twist instead of a cherry, and some leave out the bitters, but other than that, the recipe doesn’t vary from bar to bar. There is a bit of controversy about where and when it was first invented, which you can read about here, if you’re interested.
Doesn’t it just look perfect for those chilly fall nights?
The Fall Manhattan:
2oz infused bourbon
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
3 dashes bitters
I prefer to shake my Manhattans over ice and then strain into a fancy glass, but some people like them on the rocks. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, an orange twist, or even a bourbon soaked cherry if you want to get all fancy about it. Happy mixing!
Fall is in the air! Well, actually it’s been 70 degrees here in San Francisco the last couple of days, but hey, a girl can dream. What better way to celebrate fall than with flavors like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and of course, bourbon. There used to be a cocktail lounge in the Bellagio, Las Vegas called the Fontana. It has been replaced with something much trendier, which makes me very very sad. It was very old-school Vegas, had the most amazing cover band with a lady singer who could do Shakira’s “Suerte” in Spanish, and (to get to my point) had a Manhattan on the menu made with Maker’s Mark that they infused in-house with “a secret blend of herbs and spices.” It was delightful, and I’ve been dreaming of recreating it for years. This week, I finally took a crack at it, and in keeping with my new mission of consistency, I wrote down exact amounts of everything I used. I made a big batch, because we still have some people to thank for all their help with the wedding, and what better way to thank people than with booze? If you re-create this recipe for home use, I’d recommend halving all the amounts, unless you throw a lot of cocktail parties. Here’s my recipe:
6 whole vanilla beans (scored lengthwise)
2 large cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup fresh ginger (coarsely chopped)
20 whole cloves
teaspoon brown sugar
My ingredients. Aren’t they pretty?
The infusion process at work.
Put all the ingredients in a 2-quart mason jar with a sealing lid. Then you just let it sit for 2 weeks or so and shake it up a few times a day. Usually I’m nervous about my ingredients overpowering the bourbon, but in the end the flavor turns out to be quite subtle. This time I decided to go bold. In addition to the usual fall spices, I added some ginger for a little bite. I didn’t have any whole nutmeg, so I just put a dash of the ground stuff in…we’ll see how that goes. I also added a little sugar to counteract the bitterness of the cloves and nutmeg, but you could leave that out. It’s got another week of infusing. Check back soon for the results. Happy mixing!