Cocktails from Chicago: The 13 Degrees at The Gage

The 13 Degrees cocktail from the Gage is by barman Thomas Mooneyham.
The 13 Degrees cocktail — with prosecco, sage, velvet falernum and gin — was created by Chicago barman Thomas Mooneyham at The Gage.

I just came back from visiting my family in Chicagoland. I mostly hung out in the ‘burbs, but I did foray into the city one afternoon. I saw the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago — it was great seeing the genesis of his famous Chicago woman/bird sculpture as well as a series of pen-and-ink drawings.

Looking at art made me thirsty and hungry, so I went across Michigan Avenue to The Gage, a lively new American restaurant and tavern.  It was a warm day at the 13 Degrees was perfectly smooth and refreshing, with lots of wonderful herbal flavors from the Velvet Falernum and the Death’s Door Gin, which is made in the Midwest.

Creator Thomas Mooneyham, who was kind enough to share his recipe, makes the drink unique with his pear-sage syrup. But flavored syrups like this one are actually quite easy to make at home following the instructions below.

13 Degrees

3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
3/4 ounce Death’s Door Gin
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pear-sage syrup (see note)
Prosecco float
sage leaf

Add the Velvet Falernum, gin, lime juice and pear-sage syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail coupe. Add prosecco float. For the garnish, slap or spank the sage leaf between your hands and place on top of the drink.
Makes 1 cocktail

Note: To make your own pear-sage syrup, boil 2 cups pear nectar or juice with 1 cup sugar and 2 sage leaves in a 2-quart pot. Once it boils, turn it down to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off and let the syrup steep. Once it’s cool, strain it, then bottle it and refrigerate for up to a week.
 

 

 

 

The Lava Lamp: Three Easy Holiday Cocktails in One

A modernist take on the Lava Lamp: it’s topped with a blood orange-pomegranate-cranberry foam I made in an iSi Soda Siphon.

I have a confession: the Lava Lamp is probably the most simple cocktail from my book The Bubbly Bar. And maybe for that reason, or the fact that people love the tangy mix of pomegranate and sparkling wine, it’s also the most popular. If you’ve never tried it, here’s the classic recipe:

The Lava Lamp

1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur

4 ounces brut sparkling wine

3 pomegranate seeds

Add the pomegranate liqueur to a champagne flute. Top with the brut sparkling wine. Garnish with the three pomegranate seeds.

I’m glad people still enjoy this cocktail, but I’ve created a few variations on it, and I thought you might like to try them. I’ve found that all sorts of tangy deep red winter fruit juices like blood orange, hibiscus, pomegranate juice, cranberry work well too and make a lower calorie drink. I’ve subbed Pür Spirits Blood Orange Liqueur for the alcohol. And I’ve changed up the garnishes as well. Use the formula below to make your own variation on this holiday drink.

START WITH:

4 ounces brut sparkling wine (or brut rosé or sparkling water for a non alcoholic drink)

ADD:

1 to 1-1/2 ounces of either: Pür Blood Orange, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, hibiscus juice, tart cherry juice, Cherry Heering Liqueur

GARNISH WITH:

3 pomegranate seeds or slivers of candied ginger, pickled cranberries, candied Meyer lemon peel, a candied hibiscus flower, a flavored cocktail foam

For a modernist (aka molecular cuisine inspired) take on the Lava Lamp, I topped it with a foam made with Pür Blood Orange Liqueur and pomegranate-cranberry juice. I know a lot of people have soda siphons like the iSi at home for making soft drinks; you can also use it to make a velvety foam to top cocktails. I mixed 1-1/2 cups of juice with 1/4 cup of the liqueur and 6 egg whites. Put it in a cold iSi soda siphon, charge it with one cartridge, then shake and chill.

Pumpkin Pie Parfait Cocktail Recipe for Autumn

 

My Pumpkin Pie Parfait is like dessert in a glass.

Well, now that Halloween is here, the leaves are turning red and gold and it’s getting chilly, it’s officially fall. Things are changing at the market too, with autumn produce like pears, pomegranates, persimmons and pumpkins taking the place of summer berries and peaches.

As much as I like making drinks with summer fruit, I think the texture and deeper flavors in fall fruits can be just as appealing. The Pumpkin Pie Parfait cocktail recipe was inspired by the Thanksgiving dessert, but it actually has no pumpkin in it. I didn’t want to deal with the stringy texture in a drink, so I used Torani’s Pumpkin Spice Syrup instead. I like the syrups by the San Francisco company because they really capture the flavor of the natural fruit.

Garnish it with a lot of whipped cream or just a little depending on your taste. I like freshly grated nutmeg best for this drink because it has such a subtle flavor.

Pumpkin Pie Parfait

3/4 ounce Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
1 ounce fresh orange juice
Juice from 1/4 lemon
pinch fresh nutmeg
3 drops Angostura bitters
whipped cream

Add pumpkin spice syrup, bourbon, ginger liqueur,
orange and lemon juices, nutmeg and bitters to a
cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a deep champagne coupe or a martini glass.
Garnish with whipped cream and another pinch of nutmeg
on top.
Makes 1 cocktail

© Recipe by Maria C. Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl. All rights reserved.

Got Peaches? Try This Bellini Sorbet Recipe

Ripe peaches and Moscato sparkling wine made a refreshing and easy Bellini sorbet.

A couple summers ago dining with friends at Zazu in Santa Rosa, I spotted this recipe on the wall. I snapped a picture of it, so I could try it during peach season.

Duskie Estes and John Stewart, the chefs of Italian inspired Zazu, are known for their way with pork and Black pig bacon. But they also make crazy-good wood-fired pizzas, seasonal pastas and desserts.

Technically, a Bellini is made with white peaches and prosecco, the light and fresh tasting dry sparkling wine from the Veneto. (Click to read more about prosecco on The Bubbly Girl.com.) This recipe features Moscato d’Asti, another popular Italian sparkling wine that’s sweeter and less bubbly.

Since Moscato naturally and has flavors and aromas of peaches and apricots, I’m guessing that’s why the Duskie and John chose it for this sorbet. They suggest their favorite Bonny Doon Moscato del Solo, but it works just fine with any good quality Moscato.

I spotted this Zazu BellBellini Sorbet recipe on the wall at the Santa Rosa restaurant.

Zazu Bellini Sorbet

1-1/4 pounds ripe white peaches
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Moscato d’Asti

Peel the peaches with a small knife. Combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor bowl. Process until you have a smooth purée. Stir in the Moscato. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions or freeze in a shallow pan and fluff up every hour or so using the granita method.

Recipe courtesy John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant.

Celebrate Summer with A New Strawberry Cocktail

Pink Berry Punch is a perfect non-alcoholic way to welcome summer.

It’s officially here: the start of summer 2012! But the weather has been so gorgeous for the past few weeks that I already initiated it by creating some new summer drinks starring strawberries.

Even though strawberries make their first appearance in spring, it’s this time of year when they start to get really sweet, plentiful and affordable, which makes them perfect for cocktails.

The Pink Berry Punch, shown above, is a non-alcoholic drink that I made with organic strawberries from Driscoll’s, pineapple and pink grapefruit juice along with Perrier  Mineral Water

It was easy, since I fed everything into my juicer. And I showed a crowd of 50 guests how easy it was to use the Breville Juice Fountain to make drinks last Saturday at Bloomingdale’s San Francisco Centre during the Cuisine Noir Magazine Summer Celebration. The demo, which included two delicious recipes by Chef Berlin Lillard II (for a crispy glazed shrimp and a spicy cucumber mint granita), wouldn’t have gone so smoothly without our fabulous hostess: Chef Candi Austin, the culinary specialist at Bloomingdale’s.

In the Bloomingdale's demo kitchen, with the ingredients for the strawberry and Perrier Pink Berry Punch we served the crowd.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try making the Pink Berry Punch at home. You’ve probably noticed that these flavors would work well with a splash of gin or rum as well. But one in a while, it’s nice to make a drink that everyone at the party can enjoy.

Pink Berry Punch

1/2 cup organic strawberries, hulled

1 pink grapefruit, peeled

4 sprigs fresh mint

1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks

1/4 cup Perrier Mineral Water

small strawberry and sprig mint, for garnish

Feed the strawberries, grapefruit, mint and pineapple through your juicer. Let the juice settle and then strain into a cocktail glass. Add the chilled Perrier water. Garnish with the small strawberry and the sprig of mint.

Makes one drink

By Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl. All rights reserved.

We had a great crowd of 50 guests for the Summer Celebration at Bloomingdale's San Francisco Centre.

 

Drink a Desert Rose Margarita for Cinco de Mayo

The Desert Rose cocktail — with guava, passion fruit, lime and of course tequila — makes a great sparkling alternative to a classic margarita for Cinco de Mayo.

Who doesn’t love a margarita, especially on an important drinking holiday like Cinco de Mayo? As you’re probably aware, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s equivalent of the Fourth of July. May 5 was the date of an important battle near the city of Puebla where the Mexican army defeated French forces.

Here in the US, it makes a great time to enjoy Mexican beer, tequila and margaritas. There are so many great twists on the classic lime and tequila cocktail (Pink Cadillac anyone?), so I thought of a way to add some of my favorite tropical fruits to the drink while I was writing my champagne cocktail book The Bubbly Bar. A few drops of rose water, guava and passion fruit make my Desert Rose one of the most fragrant margaritas you’ll ever enjoy.

Desert Rose

In this sultry sparkling version of a margarita, guava nectar and passion fruit juice add the sweet-tart flavor that would ordinarily come from sour mix.

1 ounce guava nectar

1 ounce passion fruit juice

½ ounce tequila

½ ounce Grand Marnier

Juice of ½ lime

3 drops rose water (optional)

3 ounces dry sparkling wine

1 key lime slice for garnish

Add guava and passion fruit juices, tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice and rose water if using to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a margarita style glass. Garnish with the lime.

Makes 1 cocktail

From The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter, 2009)

 

Sip a Sparkling Viola Cocktail: Inspired by Viola Davis

Inspired by actress Viola Davis, the Sparkling Viola cocktail is a deliciously bubbly mix of violet and blackberry garnished with edible flowers and edible 24 K gold.

For the first time in a few years, I’ll be tuning into the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday. I’ll be watching because I really want to see Viola Davis with the award for Best Actress.

This amazing actress, wife and mother is getting her long-overdue star turn for her work in The Help, a movie about a group of maids in 1960s Mississippi.

She may seem like a late bloomer, but Viola Davis has been practicing her craft for years, giving deeply moving portrayals of people who were often in some kind of pain. One of my roles favorite was on the show “Without a Trace.” She played a mother grappling with the disappearance of her son, and the fact that TV news blasted the story of a missing blond girl, while ignoring her son’s plight.

Davis is making the most of her star turn with gorgeous awards show ensembles, which inspired the Polyvore set by Svud Je Holivud. Viola’s bubbly, dark and lovely and it inspired me to toast her with a special golden Oscar’s cocktail.

The viola, a dainty flower related to the violet and pansy, is one of my favorite edible flowers. They come in a range of gorgeous shades, and they have so much personality with markings that resemble a face. Candied or in cocktails, they have a sweet cucumber taste.

The Sparkling Viola
1 ounce Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette Liqueur
3/4 ounce blackberry syrup
4 ounces demi sec champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
1 fresh blackberry
1 organic viola flower
24K edible gold leaf flakes

Add the violet liqueur and blackberry syrup to a champagne flute. Top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with the blackberry. Lay the viola on top of the cocktail and top with a sprinkle of gold.

© By Maria C. Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl. All rights reserved.

 

 

Viola Davis

Make a Pink Rose Cocktail for Valentine’s Day

Floral rose notes, Pink Pigeon Rum and sparkling wine make for a romantic combination in my Pink Rose Cocktail - it's perfect for Valentine's Day.

There’s something incredibly alluring – and delicious – about the combination of roses, raspberries and sparkling wine. The flavor of roses and tart raspberries meld so well, and the bubbles are like an atomizer that bring the gorgeous scent floating out of the glass.

I’ve made plenty of rose and raspberry cocktails over the years, but when Valentine’s Day come around, I like to revisit it to see if I can invent anything new. I love the way the combination of rose and raspberry is a beautiful shade of pink and it’s intensely flavored enough to work with a variety of spirits.

(For some of my favorite pink wines, check out this Valentine’s Day rosé post on Williams-Sonoma’s Blender blog.)

This year I was inspired by the release of Pink Pigeon, a Madagascar vanilla-scented rum from the African island of Mauritius. I used a rose syrup in my cocktail, but it also works with a Tea Rose Petal Jam like this one from Harvest Song. I balanced the fruity and floral flavors in this cocktail with a splash of Campari. Like love, a good cocktail is bitter and sweet.

Pink Rose Cocktail
1 ounce Pink Pigeon Rum
3 raspberries, fresh or thawed frozen ones, plus one for garnish
1/2 ounce rose syrup (or 1 tsp. Tea Rose Petal Jam)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon Campari
2 ounces sparkling wine, brut, brut rosé or blanc de noirs
fresh organic rose petal

Add the rum and raspberries to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add the rose syrup (or jam), lemon juice and Campari. Shake until well-chilled, then double strain into a champagne coupe. Top with chilled sparkling wine, then garnish with a rose petal and the remaining raspberry.

Warm up the Winter with Four Roses Bourbon – Plus a Fat Washing Primer

Bacon-infused bourbon, apple cider and a 4505 Meats chicharron were winning ingredients in the Autumn Rose cocktail.

Of all the brown spirits, bourbon is the one I’m warming up to the fastest. I guess it must be the warm flavors of caramel and vanilla and the hint of sweetness from the corn mash that makes it easy to appreciate. I’ve sipped it on the rocks, but love the way it works in cocktails. I’m not the only one apparently: this spring, an organization called Bourbon Women had their coming out party in Kentucky. Founded by Peggy Noe Stevens – the first female master bourbon taster – the group celebrates the heritage of bourbon and educates women about it through tasting events around the country.

I got a personal lesson in the versatility of bourbon this fall when I judged a Four Roses Bourbon cocktail contest at Bourbon & Branch.The Four Roses legend starts with Paul Jones, Jr. who was in love with a local belle. He asked her to marry him and coyly suggested that if her answer was yes, she should wear a corsage of four red roses to the next dance. She did, and the rest is history. These days, Four Roses is admired by connoisseurs for Jim Rutledge’s careful blending five yeast strains and two grain mixes to create 10 distinctive bourbon recipes. Each blend is aged in new white oak barrels, and only Rutledge’s favorite is selected as their Single Barrel bourbon.

For their annual cocktail contest, creative Bay Area mixologists made diverse cocktails with their own corn milk punch, rootbeer and combination of amari and other brown spirits. But in the end, we were most taken with the way the bourbon was enhanced by a combo of bacon, apple cider and a spicy 4505 Meats chicharron in a drink called Autumn Rose by Christina Cabrera.

Autumn Rose

2 ounces bacon-infused Four Roses Bourbon
1/4 ounce Gran Classico
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce apple cider
1/2 ounce honey
1/2 ounce maple syrup
2 dashes chocolate bitters

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a coupe style cocktail glass. Now take a bite of the chicharron before sipping the cocktail.

Now Christina’s recipe used maple bacon infused honey. Since I didn’t have any of that around, I decided it was time to make some bacon-infused bourbon. This is a simple version of the technique called “fat-washing” that mixologists and chefs use to add the flavor of a fatty food like bacon or foie gras to a spirit.

Bacon-Infused Bourbon

4 pieces thick-cut, old-fashioned bacon, ie  applewood smoked
1 bottle bourbon

Basically, all you do is pour the fat released by cooking the bacon into the bourbon, or whatever spirit you’re infusing. Let it sit for a day or two and then freeze it before pouring the bourbon back into the bottle through a cheesecloth or strainer. The bacon fat will have transferred flavor into the spirit.

For a more involved description of fat-washing, check out this post on Blender Booze blog; I also like this profile of fat-washing pioneer Eben Freeman in Food & Wine Magazine.  I learned the lard ..er hard way that it’s important to let your bourbon sit in the refrigerator while it’s infusing with the bacon fat. I let it sit on the counter as one recipe suggested and the bacon fat took on a rancid odor, not the sort of thing one wants to drink. I also think the effect works best if you use a more smoky style of bacon.