gin

MxMo: Witches’ Garden

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This is probably the best smelling syrup ever.

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I’m cutting it pretty close on this Mixology Monday. Call it poor planning or …poor planning? I sure cant blame it on the theme, since it was wide open to interpretation, benefiting from the broad nature of “gardens“. I guess you could make a drink with the devil’s lettuce flowers if you wanted to and it’d be cool. But maybe I didn’t know the rules to this one, so I used one of everything.

The host for this month is my mate Mark (We’re not friends yet but I’m certain I’d impress him with my respectable bow tie collection and wonderful—ly bad British accent) of Cardiff Cocktails fame. Not only does he post some impressive drinks but he’s got a rad Instagram feed as well.

lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing. I don’t want to put too many limits on this theme so get as creative as you please, want to use roots, spices or beans as well? Sure thing. Want to make your own herbal infusions or tinctures? Sounds wonderful.

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  • dry Gin
  • curacao
  • lavender bitters
  • lemon juice
  • guava/sage gomme

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In a way I dedicate this one to my mother. She sure as hell doesn’t drink (though she did kick back a shot of Hibiki the day of my wedding) and I’m sure she wishes I didn’t either, but when I think of gardens (this month’s theme), I think of her.

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I used guava here as the base of it all because lets be honest, that fruit is fucking amazing; Not only does it taste and smell lovely but (the pink type) has this rich color too. The best is to peel and juice and strain them but to be honest, I go to this little Cuban place where they do the heavy lifting for me. Yes. I am lazy. Lavender and sage are basically naturally born BFF’s and gin, with its array of botanicals, is there to tie it all up.

If you want to be super crazy, this works wonders with a dry junmai sake instead of the gin, making it much lower in proof but twice as fun.

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's gin
3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
2 dashes of Scrappy's lavender bitters
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz guava syrup*

*for the syrup, take 2 cups of fresh guava juice, 10 sage leaves, the zest of a lemon (juiced later for the drink) & a bit of grated allspice. Combine them and bring to a boil. When cooled, double strain into a glass bottle and refrigerate it. Should hold up for a week or 2.

Add all to a shaker with some ice and go to town with your preferred method of shaking. Mine’s the one that doesn’t end up all over my kitchen ’cause I failed (every damn time) to create a proper seal.

Double strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with a few sage leaves on a single lavender branch. Once it looks like a prom corsage, you’re set.

 

[ Enjoy ]

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Guava gomme infused with sage & lemon zest: Initially I had this as a syrup with lavender in it but after making it a few times, it just works so much better when mixed with some gum Arabic, thickening it a bit and using lavender bitters instead. Serious Drinks has an easy tutorial on gomme syrup which you can quickly adapt this with.

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Hey That’s My Bike

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So…Easter happened. Yeah. That was fun? It’s a weird holiday; Especially if you don’t have kids and aren’t (“and arent?” what fucking language is this blog in?) religious (unless you count religiously day drinking on Easter Sunday). So for me it was making brunch-y egg drinks for my fiance and me while hearing our neighbor’s kids scream their lungs out looking for Easter eggs while high on chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs.

Fun fact: When I was a kid, the only egg hunts I was involved in during Easter involved hard boiled eggs EXCLUSIVELY. After finding these motherf*ckers, I was then expected to eat them. So many eggs. So many. WHY WAS I SO GOOD AT FINDING THEM?! Back to the booze…

This drink is a mix between a pisco sour and a Ramos gin fizz. I don’t have it in me to ever add cream into a cocktail, as delicious as it may sound, so instead I’ll add any other random shit I can throw at it. I reused some of my leftover lemongrass / palm sugar syrup which was really nice here but it probably tastes the same with regular simple to be fair. Just be warned, we were surprised at how easy we were downing these. Way past brunch. Unless brunch is still going on @ around 10pm…

 

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Gin
Lillet Blanc
Bitters
Lime juice
Cucumber juice
Simple syrup
Egg white

In this case, I used Bitterman’s Boston Bittahs because the chamomile and citrus in it compliments the rest of the flavors, but I’m certain a 1 to 1 of orange and angostura bitters would work nice too.

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2 parts Hendrick’s gin
1/2 part Lillet Blanc
1/2 part blended/muddled cucumber juice
1/2 part lime juice
1/2 part lemongrass / palm sugar syrup (remnants from last week’s post)
2 eye droppers of Bitterman’s Boston Bittahs
1 egg white

Add the gin, lillet, bitters, juices and syrup to one part of your shaker.
Crack the egg and pour the egg white in the other half, so that you can clear out any shell if needed or in case you were to dump the yolk.
Pour one into the other and give it a dry shake for about 15-20 seconds (What’s a dry shake? It’s the best way to homogenize that egg and start getting that aerated, silky texture that you’re gonna want. All without diluting with water).
Pop the seal, add your ice and go to town on it again as usual.

strain into a coupe or rocks glass*.
*Honestly I did this drink a few times on Easter and I poured it into a different type of glass each time. So just do whatever feels right to you.

No need to double strain here. You’d be robbing yourself of that frothy egg mixture.
Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel and some thin slices of English cucumber.
[ Enjoy ]

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Wanderlust

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Wanderlust. I mean, the name says it all, right? No? Ok…

I’ve been working on this drink for a while and it seems that every time I make it, I either forget the ratios, what goes in it or simply end up calling it something different. At one time, I was cracking black pepper in it. Yeah. That happened. But then my meds kicked in (Rogaine if you must know) and all is well. I was calling it “The Doubleblack” too, which is just egocentric really, tho if you knew me, you’d say “hmm. that makes sense”. On the egocentric part. The name was shit and hence, while listening to Bjork recently, I photoshop’d the name on a picture, which around these here parts means it’s permanent. Just like your life’s most embarrassing mistakes.

I’ve professed my love for blood oranges in the past and since they’re going out of style faster than overalls in the late 90’s, I wanted to make one last drink to rule them all [where my ‘lord of the rings’ nerds at?! -crickets-].

This cocktail aims to be playful (like me, you guys!) and although it may seem all over the place (like me, you guys!), I like it cause it has a bit of whimsy (no), which is never a bad thing in life. The nigori sake and the gin (Junipero here. My new bff) go great together and the thyme/ginger/elderflower combo brings out some nice earthy—record stops— who am I?! I can’t tell you if I taste coffee beans while sipping an espresso, much less can I point out notes and shit. Know this: Its very pretty (seductive even), has tons of flavor and it packs a punch.

Cautionary tale:
My lovely Liliana (future Mrs. Zelaya who takes many of the photos on this blog) was sipping a bit extra I had poured in a shot glass while taking this picture, and once she was done, while giggling on the couch, confessed she was, as they say in the olden days: “a little fucked up”. 5 minutes later, she was out like a black rhino in the savannah after being hit in the ass with a tranquilizer dart (NOTE to self: make a drink called black rhyno. I called dibs!).

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Dry gin
Junmai nigori sake
Elder flower liquor
Bitters
honey/ginger/thyme syrup *
blood orange juice

To make the syrup:
3 parts water
2 parts clover honey
1 part fresh grated ginger
3 branches of thyme

boil. simmer. strain. bottle.

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1 part Junipero gin
1 part Rihaku junmai nigori sake
1/2 part St Germain elderflower liquor
1/2 eye-dropper of Bitterman’s Xocolatl Mole bitters
3/4 part blood orange juice
1/2 part honey/ginger/thyme syrup*

baby shaking syndrome time…
pour in a rocks glass or my favorite: DIRECTLY INTO YOUR MOUTH
garnish with 1/2 slice of blood orange & thyme branch.
[Enjoy]

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Herbalism

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It’s OK to change your mind. I mean, we do it all the time, right? Sometimes I wear different socks in the morning (I’m not just talking about color here, I mean, 1 will be an ankle sock and the other will be a barely elastic crew sock with a hole in the front big enough for 2 toes) and right before I leave the house I stop myself and say “No. Not like this. You’re a grown man now”.

Well just like that, I made a cocktail the other night that I had enjoyed @ Eastern Standard which they call the “Au Provence”. Its a nice little vodka gimlet with tarragon infused simple that I bastardized the shit out of it in the comfort of my home and took pictures for you guys, wrote up a recipe, the whole 9… Turns out that vodka (was using Karlsson’s) falls flat with tarragon and lime. There’s nothing to make it anything more than starter drink for the night that you’ll forget as soon as something better comes along. Like a first husband or wife.
On my second run, I used No. 3 gin, which with its delicate botanical mix is just perfect for this cocktail.

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No. 3 London Dry Gin
Lime juice
Tarragon infused simple
Grapefruit Bitters
Angostura bitters

If you prefer to use a gin that has a more prominent orange peel element, you can swap out the grapefruit bitters for orange bitters to help bring out those flavors.

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2 parts No.3 Gin
3/4 part lime juice
3/4 part tarragon simple
2 dashes of angostura bitters
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters

Pour into a shaker, add ice and beat the devil out of it.
Double strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe.
Garnish with a fresh lime twist and some tarragon to really get that herbal aroma.
[Enjoy]

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Engine No.3

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Some cocktails are complex. Some are very simple; Both can be great in their own way and anyone will tell you that the better the tools (the spirits, the fruit, even down to how the glass is chilled), the higher the chances of a great tasting drink. That’s what we have on display here. It’s 3 ingredients (paying homage to the gin and where the cocktail gets it’s name), all of which have a very specific purpose.
No.3 Dry Gin is really good. It has very few, ‘no bullshit’ botanicals [One of which is grapefruit] that work oh so well together, both in dry martini’s as well as in more clever cocktails.
I used to think that 1 good gin was good enough but with time I’ve realized that’s not the case at all. Different gins serve different purposes and you’ll find [through trial and error] where they work best. Which is why I recommend to stop buying the same bottle every time and take time to see what’s out there, learn what you like and what works best in the drinks you enjoy making.

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No. 3 London Dry Gin
Dry Vermouth
Grapefruit Bitters

Normally, I would make a martini with Plymouth gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters. Try it next time. But since I ran out of it, I had the opportunity of trying out something new [‘No. 3′ in this case], which allowed me to experiment with different flavors.

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3 parts No.3 Gin
1 part Dry Vermouth
2-3 dashes of grapefruit bitters

Pour them into a mixing glass, fill it with ice and stir.
*how long you stir really depends on how much you’d like to dilute your drink, which you may not want to do too much with a drink like this.
Strain [julep strainer works best here] into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with a fresh grapefruit twist for a wonderfully aromatic experience.
[Enjoy]

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Vesper

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Bond, James Bond. Unfortunately, in the real world, saying your own name like that to someone you just met wont ever sound as cool. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll sound like an asshole; More so if you follow it up with some awkward, clammy handshake. Just don’t.

I don’t have the balls to ever order this drink @ a bar. It just feels wrong. Maybe its because it has a connotation of making you feel like a ‘wannabe’, and the only wannabe that I want to be is your lover. But first I gotta get with your friends. Wait. What?

Regardless of my mental breakdown above, this cocktail is actually balanced, sexy and my god is it strong [full disclosure: I made myself one right before going to watch Skyfall last night. Yeah. That was fun]. All things that 007 evokes.  I mean, all it needs is to be served in a l’il tuxedo.

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3 parts gin
1 part vodka
1/2 part lillet
lemon twist

Gin is the prominent ingredient here, and given the crisp qualities that we’re aiming for, it’s best served with a more balanced dry gin, such as No.3 (used here), Greenhook or even Tanqueray.

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The original Vesper called for Gordon’s gin. Yeah, some things just don’t hold up with time and I cant in good faith have you destroy this cocktail with that shit. There’s better gin out there so no tears were shed; The same cant be said for the Kina Lillet, which hasn’t been produced in years.

Take the gin, vodka, Lillet and basically beat the shit out of them, really.
In the words of James Bond in Casino Royal when asked ‘shaken or stirred?':
“Do I look like a give a damn?”
Take a lemon twist, squeeze some of the oils onto the cocktail and dip it in.
[Enjoy]

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The Lilypad

2 parts gin [ Plymouth gin ]
1 part freshly squeezed grapefruit juice [ very important ]
1/2 part simple syrup
3 basil leaves
1 dash of grapefruit bitters [ Scrappy’s Bitters ]

This is a very light and aromatic cocktail, where we pair the citrus from the grapefruit with the orange peel botanicals in the Plymouth gin.

How to:
Pour all the ingredients in your shaker and grab the basil leaves, slap them in the palm of your hand and then tear them in 2. All the ice we’re about to use will ensure they get excoriated enough to extract the oils. Drop them in the shaker.
Load with ice and shake it to wake it up!

Double strain [ Hawthorne + tea strainer ] so that you can smile after drinking it without losing your cool, thinking you have basil in your teeth.
Garnish with some basil leaves.
[ Enjoy ]