There’s a good reason why you saw this neon sign all over Instagram.
It was no more than a mere two weeks ago when the phenomenon known as the Polar Vortex became another weather thing that Americans had to accept despite its implication that an icy sinkhole was about to swallow North America over a 36 hour period. Weathermen predicted that the country would resemble the inside of Snow Miser’s lair and city dwellers began to brace for cold air like never before. Yesterday, New York turned into an urban snow globe then braced itself overnight for the Polar Vortex part deux. For me, cold is cold. I would take a foot of snow over a heat wave any day of the year. As a seasoned east coaster, I embrace the rituals of the winter weather. And while many warm their bellies with familiar soups and stews, my appetite finds optimal hibernation with a warm and comforting cocktail to shield me from the chilly air.
For years I have defaulted to making hot toddies for their strong bite against a bitter cold. But as the countdown to the vortex ticked, I needed to not only be warmed up, but soothed and so came the craving for a buttered apple cider. Buttered cider is a sweeter, softer option whose buttery texture gently glosses the palate. The taste can be easily improvised as a variety of spices can be incorporated for a more adventurous flavor. Below is a basic recipe made with Four Roses yellow label bourbon that I will certainly be using again and again this winter and for future vortexes to come.
Buttered Bourbon Cider
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons honey
1 star anise
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup bourbon
Fresh lemon juice
In a saucepan, combine apple cider, water, honey and star anise to simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let stand about 8 minutes.
Add butter to the mixture and simmer again over low heat until the butter melts, stirring a few times to blend.
Once blended in, turn off heat. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add bourbon. Stir to combine.
Allow 2-3 minutes to steep. Pour into heatproof glasses and serve.
Note: you can keep a batch covered in the fridge for up to two days after making… just reheat and drink!
The history of eggnog is said to have started in Britain where it was derived from a milk-ale punch that was heated and spiced called posset. Monks would later introduce eggs to the mixture. At the time, eggs, milk and sherry were luxury commodities, so consuming these drinks was a toast to prosperity and good health. The drink began to make its way across the pond where rum became the signature alcohol base. The origin of the name eggnog isn’t certain, but is believed to have derived from either the term nog, which was a wooden cup, or grog, a strong beer. Regardless, the name stuck and has remained a seasonal holiday drink since the late 18th century.
Store-bought eggnog from a carton holds no comparison to a homemade batch, but crafting it is a physical process. I never made eggnog from scratch before — it looked like too much work and the store-bought version’s sugary taste of mediocrity didn’t help me get why everyone thought it was great. So I decided to figure that out on my own and make it myself.
The original recipe I used came from Serious Eats and called for bacon, which I omitted. Instead we added some sherry and rum to the mix which was a really delicious decision.
Maple Bourbon Eggnog
(adapted from Serious Eats)
8 eggs, separated
2/3 cup maple syrup
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups bourbon
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup rum
Using a hand or stand mixer, whisk egg whites on low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until they are the consistency of shaving cream. Reduce speed to medium. While mixing, add half of the maple syrup and beat until incorporated. Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl – do not wash the bowl yet.
Add egg yolks and the remaining maple syrup to the bowl. Beat at medium-high speed until they are pale yellow and begin to ribbon. Be sure to scrape the sides if necessary. Add milk, cream, and alcohol and mix together on low speed to combine.
Using a spatula or whisk, fold in the whipped egg whites until they are incorporated in the yolk mixture. Feel free to transfer to a pitcher.
Pour into glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Wary drinkers of raw eggs need not be afraid… thermal action from whipping the eggs deactivates the egg enzymes, but you can substitute with pasteurized eggs found in grocery stores.
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. The 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol in and out of the US, was the first to invade Americans’ right to a personal pleasure which lasted for approximately 13 years. It was estimated that over 30,000 speakeasies existed during this time in New York alone. While some may see Repeal Day as one day in American history, think of it this way: unlike St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo, it’s a truly American right to celebrate this day in history . So go out and celebrate because you have the Constitutional right to do so!
Need some inspiration? Check out this slideshow to see images of how America celebrated the end of Prohibition.
This week we celebrate the 4th of July holiday which serves as the pinnacle of the summer season. If you’re like me and plan to celebrate in the sun with food, friends and fireworks then maybe some festive drinks might work their way into your menu. Want more than just cold beers with your bbq? Try these Red, White, and Blue themed cocktails this week.
The recipe for this red drink is adapted from The Classic Cocktail Bible (Spruce, 2012). This gin-based drink is filled with fresh berries with a sweet undertone that’s perfect for a sunny, summer day. The original recipe calls for a dash of strawberry syrup, but I think muddling fresh strawberries will work just fine.
Strawberries, or strawberry syrup (like Rose’s)
Muddle all the berries at the bottom of a tall glass. Fill the glass with ice. Pour over gin, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup to taste. Stir to combine and top with club soda. Option to use extra berries for garnish.
How much more patriotic can a drink be when it’s garnished with stars? Sangrias are great to make because they yield larger quantities. Additionally, this sangria recipe – originally found on Serious Eats - doesn’t include a lot of fruit so there’s more liquid to go around.
Sauvignon blanc or dry riesling, chilled
Fresh lemon juice
Club soda or ginger beer
Pour wine, gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and about ten dashes of bitters into a large pitcher. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add about a cup of ice to chill it down. Add club soda or ginger beer to the pitcher to taste for a tinge of fizz. Slice starfruit into thin slices and line glasses to garnish. Pour the sangria into the glasses over ice.
Mojitos are usually a labor-intensive drink to make, but this one is quite simple. I found this recipe from Food & Wine and sounds like a perfect drink to sip on for some daytime imbibing.
Fresh lime juice
Club soda or Sprite
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves and blueberries with the simple syrup. Add ice to the shaker, along with the rum and a squeeze of lime juice. Shake to combine. Strain into a glass over ice and top with club soda or Sprite.
Have a great Independence Day!
If you’re in New York, like me, chances are you’re a little afraid of going outside today as the dreaded “three H’s” come to melt us to sleep tonight. Luckily, this cocktail profile from Cool Hunting sounds so good it might just ease our fear of the thick air outside. The Salty Bird cocktail, a collaboration by notable bartenders from Milk & Honey and Little Branch is a rum and Campari based summer drink that sounds really great right about now.
While some cocktail bars focus on ever-more unusual techniques and ingredients, there are bartenders and patrons alike who are beginning to push back. We’re beginning to see an opposite trend emerging: simplicity.
“As of March, the United States was home to two thousand three hundred and sixty craft breweries, the relatively small, artisanship-oriented producers best known for India pale ales, porters, and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers.”
The New Yorker released an interactive map of craft breweries nationwide. Readers can toggle with the options of the map displaying the fifty largest breweries, to the most recently opened ones, among other features. Did you know that all but two states produced more craft beer in 2012 than the previous year?
What’s your favorite craft beer these days?
For whatever reason, Mind Erasers were the drink of choice for my friends and me our last semester of college. Coincidentally, the same group of girls recently got together at a wedding and, as usual, we joked around about ordering Mind Erasers from the bartender. Now, thanks to this post on Serious Eats, we no longer have to look back on Mind Erasers as a thing of our past… our glory days can live on and I think this mature version will go down a lot better.
The yearly roundups are out (ok, and have been for a while. I know this is a belated post) and here we start with Tasting Table’s Best Cocktails for 2012. This year’s list is concise but wealthy in flavor. A note to reader: I personally and absolutely love the Basil Bixby.