When it comes to creating orange drinks for Halloween, most people reach for a can of pumpkin. Or more creatively, some sweet potato puree. But both of those are so thick and starchy, they make rather substantial drinks.
I’ve discovered that persimmon is the perfect orange base for a Halloween cocktail. They’re a beautiful hue, persimmons are really coming into season in mid-October and their sweet unassertive flavor mixes well.
I paired my persimmon syrupÂ (created by mixing a cup of organic persimmon puree with a brown- sugar simple syrup) with some preserved fresh walnuts from Harvest Song Ventures. They’re black, soft and sweet,Â and often paired with blue cheese or even foie gras. TheÂ baby walnuts do look rather alarming, soÂ you could say they were decaying eyeballs, spider eggs or something equally gross for Halloween. The Nutty Persimmon
1-1/2 ounces persimmon syrup
1-1/2 ounces Laird’s applejack (or bourbon)
1 teaspoon walnut syrup
juice of 1/4 lemon
shake powdered cinnamon
float of blanc de noirs sparkling wine
1/2 fresh walnut, for garnish
Add the persimmon syrup, applejack, walnut syrup, lemon juice and spices to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a small martin glass or a coupe. Top with the blanc de noirs and stir lightly. Garnish with the fresh walnut half.
I love champagne. Its effervescence excites me, its crispness makes me smile and its very aura is appealing. I drink it all, from the little grower champagnes to the Grand Dames. No other drink has the same complex creation, the unique history or the emotional impact.
Today on Champagne Day, I’m sharing a piece I wrote a few years ago about the way champagne is marketed to maintain its unique pop culture status.
Clear morning sunlight is just breaking over the distant hills, but Iâ€™ve been sipping champagne for an hour, floating in a hot air balloon at 2,500 feet above the Sonoran desert near Phoenix. A white scarf that recalls the magnificent men in their flying machines is draped around my neck.Â The silence is broken by the roar of the propane burners that keep the elegant white balloon with its silvery vine logo afloat.
The occasion? Krug Champagne is flossing its unique brand of bespoke luxury in this $500,000 balloon outfitted with hand-tooled white leather, a mid-fight repast created by a French culinary designer and a pilot with a British accent.
Perrier JouÃ«t By and For â€“ a true bespoke bubbly — burst on the scene this spring as the most expensive champagne to date. Celebs Sophie Marceau and Marianne Faithfull have jumped at the chance to be one of the lucky 100 to buy a case for about $98,000. The price includes a trip to Paris for four, â€œpersonalityâ€ champagne blending with the chef de caves, and lunch at the Maison Belle Epoque in Epernay. If thatâ€™s not enough, then consider dropping another $165,000 for the Van Cleef & Arpels anemone flower brooch set with 450 diamonds and 259 yellow sapphires that commemorates the launch.
But by far the most egregious example of the power of marketing is Armand de Brignac champagne, aka â€œAce of Spadesâ€ that was introduced by rapper Jay Z. A few years ago, the Cattier family had little success selling champagne for about $64 a bottle in the U.S. Their fortunes changed after Cattier Champagne â€“ poured into a shiny gold bottle â€“ appeared in the Jay-Z video â€œShow Me What You Got.â€ Now it sells for $300 a pop.
Though the flying Krug room takes champagne marketing to new heights, at least thereâ€™s a historical precedent. In the late 1700s when the French balloon aviation pioneers took a flight, they always carried a bottle of champagne as a peace offering since the balloon were prone to landing unexpectedly in some poor farmerâ€™s field.
When I got a bottle of the Crystal Head Vodka in the distinctive skull-shaped bottle, I knew it would be perfect for a Halloween cocktail shoot. Since it was released, I’ve seen some tequilas in painted Day of the Dead-style calavera bottles. But they look dowdy next to this perfectly clear gleaming skull.
The Moscow Mule is the only vodka cocktail I drink regularly. It’s like a gingery mojito and it’s super simple to make, since there’s absolutely no muddling involved.
The story goes that the Moscow Mule was created back in 1941 for a promotion by the Smirnoff Company to help market their new vodka. The recipe was released along with special copper-colored mugs.
Holding the cold, sweaty mug in your hand adds to the refreshing experience of the drink. But to see the bloody effect I created by swapping the simple syrup in the recipe for the pomegranate syrup known as grenadine,Â you’ll want to make this cocktail in a clear glass.
By the way, that’s not a stain on the front of the cranium, that’s a signature from actor, bluesman and entrepreneur Dan Akroyd who owns the brand! (Off topic, but if you’ve never seen Akroyd in ’80s movies The Blues Brothers or Trading Places – which has a great Halloween story line – go check them out on Netflix.)
Bloody Moscow Mule
2 tablespoons natural grenadine, like Stirrings
1-1/2 ounces vodka
3 ounces ginger beer
Â¼ ouncd fresh lime juice
1 sprig fresh mint
1 slice lime
Pour the grenadine into the bottom of your cocktail glass. Fill the glass three-quarters with ice, add vodka and lime juice. Stir gently to combine. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.
Makes 1 cocktail
People often ask me to name my favorite bubbly. And my answer is always the same: it depends.
I appreciate sparkling wines ranging from the crisp brut nature champagne to the deep dark sparkling shiraz from Australia to the sparkling ice wine from Canada. What I want depends on what food I’m eating.
I found that the right food made all the difference with VA de VI, a relatively new dry (read slightly sweet) sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma. The first time I tried it, we didn’t connect.
But when I tried it with a variety of Asian foods that might be challenging for other wines, Va de Vi charmed me with its versatility.
A friend who often shares bubbly with me even though it’s not his thing liked it right away. He said the Va de Vi felt softer than some of the other sparkling wines we’d tried.
The first food I tasted with it was a Japanese seven spice-crusted ahi tuna salad with pickled ginger, avocado and a rice vinegar and soy dressing. The Va de Vi brought out the sweetness in the ahi tuna and ginger while complementing the saltiness of the soy sauce.
I poured another glass with my leftovers from a weekend trip to Mission Chinese Food, where most of the food is laden with Szechwan peppercorn, red peppers and jalapeno for good measure. The Va de Vi was the perfect foil for Thrice Cooked Bacon, a smoky jumble of bacon, salty black beans, chewy tofu skin, bitter melon and healthy dose of chili oil. The wine tamed the spice while lifting the flavor of smokiness of the dish.
I poured the last of my Va de Vi with spicy tuna roll and California rolls with real crab.Â Va de Vi was a perfect sushi wine, as it enhanced the flavors of the seafood while softening the edges on the soy and wasabi. – By now, Va de Vi felt like an old friend.Â And I was sorry to see it go.
On October 13, Domaine Chandon presents Pink Party 2011, the winery’s annual fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. This year, the exuberant party has been restyled as “Eve of Hope”, a swank $125 per person fashion show featuring creations by Whitney Port. Port gained name recognition after appearing on The Hills and The City. But she proved she had some fashion cred by working for Diane von Furstenburg before launching her own line Whitney Eve.