Rooibos Toddy

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Friday. The weather this week has averaged below 20ºF. And I made it through the first full week of the semester. Never has a hot toddy been more appropriate.

Rooibos Toddy

6 oz freshly brewed rooibos tea
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Bénèdictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine tea, bourbon, Cognac, Bénèdictine and bitters in a mug; stir to combine. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, a clove-studded lemon wheel and a cinnamon stick.

Notes: If you don't have rooibos on hand, strong black tea will be better than fine. But stay away from overproofed bourbons for this sipper, and stick to a classic like Wild Turkey. Cheers, and stay warm!

Recipe by Damon Boelte, image by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott.

Moët Ruby Red

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Golden Globes are this weekend, and while we may not have a hair and makeup team to doll us up or a gorgeous gown to swan around in, we can enjoy the cocktail stars will be sipping–and do it without Spanx on.

Moët Ruby Red

1 oz vodka
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz tarragon-raspberry shrub
2 1/2 oz sparkling wine

Combine vodka, lemon and shrub in a shaker with ice; shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled stemmed glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a spring of tarragon and a long, spiraled lemon peel.

Notes: Sparkling, pretty, and potent–I can hardly imagine anything better! The Golden Globes and Moët have a long relationship, but don't be afraid to substitute the Champagne for your favorite (less expensive) sparkling wine. To make the shrub, combine 2 cups crushed raspberries, 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 4 cups cane sugar, the peel of one lemon and 4 sprigs of tarragon in a sauce pot. Bring ingredients to a simmer and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool before using. Cheers!

To 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Whatever, wherever, however you're celebrating tonight, I hope you ring in the best year yet.

Image by Michael Kraus for Saveur.

In a Pear Tree

Thursday, December 24, 2015

One December when John and I were first dating, I was fascinated by Belle de Brillet, a Cognac infused with pears–and John wisely took note. The oddly wrapped package on the mantle of our first apartment was none other than a bottle of Belle de Brillet, and now the delicate spirit always reminds me of the holidays. I'm planning to indulge in a tipple of it in a Champagne cocktail this Christmas!

In a Pear Tree

1/2 oz pisco
1/2 oz Calvados
3/4 oz St-Germain
1/2 oz Belle de Brillet
dash of orange bitters

Combine pisco, Calvados, St-Germain, Belle de Brillet and orange bitters in a shaker or mixing glass with ice; stir until chilled. Pour into a flute or coupe, top with Champagne and garnish with an orange peel.

Notes: Belle de Brillet is much easier to find these days, but if collecting all these ingredients at your in-laws proves too difficult, a high-quality pear spirit topped with Champagne and finished with a dash of orange bitters will be just the ticket. 

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday–cheers!

Christmas in the City

Monday, December 21, 2015

After turning in the last of my assignments for the semester, I headed to Chicago to see my lifelong friend–and take in a little city living after moving to the suburbs. I didn't think I had such a soft spot for public transit or crowded sidewalks, but when I heard the T rumbling overhead, I was filled with delight!

I had made a list of all the cocktail bars, cuisines and culture I had been missing, and over the course of two packed days we managed to do a lot of it. Coffees at La Colombe and window shopping in Wicker Park, dinner at avec and a daiquiri at Broken Shaker, bahn mi at Saigon Sisters before miniatures at the Art Institute, cocktails, small plates, and seeing the city by foot. We didn't get a chance to check out Chicago's tiki scene, but that just gives me another reason to head back–and bring John!

I took an early train back to Michigan on Friday, and curled up with a book while snow swirled around us. When I pulled into the station, John was there waiting for me. We dashed home through the snow for a big bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, then started to make our final preparations for Saturday, when we'd be celebrating the holidays early with a little gift exchange and a fabulous meal! We cooked breakfast–a pint sized spanakopita–the night before and crawled into bed early wearing our most festive pjs!

The next morning, we slept in, had breakfast in bed, and giggled our way through our favorite Christmas episodes of West Wing and Frasier. We were delighted by the light dusting of snow (a white Christmas!) and decided to walk to our favorite coffee shop after opening presents. Thoroughly tuckered out, we squeezed in a nap before dinner prep which consumed the better part of the day. On the menu: a little gem salad with avocado and satsumas segments finished in a sherry-orange dressing, duck á l'orange with a carrot-star anise purée and green beans sautéed in duck fat, and a chocolate pudding cake all enjoyed with a bottle of pinot noir John had brought back from Switzerland this summer. We took a chilly walk through the neighborhood after supper, then curled up with White Christmas before heading to bed. And best of all, our holiday celebrations have only just begun! We head to TX this week where we'll get to see some of our nearest and dearest before the semester begins in early January.  

Tell me, how are you celebrating this holiday season?

Image by James Nord.

Smoking Bishop

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Smoking Bishop could warm even Ebenezer Scrooge's heart!

Smoking Bishop

1 bottle ruby port
1 bottle red wine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 oranges
20 cloves

Preheat your oven to 350º. Wash, dry, and stud each orange with five cloves; place oranges in a baking dish and roast until lightly browned all over (60-90 minutes). While the oranges are baking, add port, wine, water, sugar and spices to a saucepan and simmer over low heat. Slice baked oranges in half; squeeze juice into wine-port mixture. Serve in a coupe or rocks glass with a clove-studded orange slice.

Notes: Ruby port is a fortified red wine with berry, caramel and cinnamon flavors; an inexpensive bottle from your local grocery or liquor store will be more than special enough for this punch. As for the red wine, I'd look for something from Portugal (where port is made) or Spain–if it grows together, it goes together. Cheers! 

Image by Daniel Krieger for PUNCH.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Hi friends–it's been a while! But with finals finished and the holidays near, I thought we could catch up. Just imagine we're all cozied up with a cup of cocoa, or a Champagne coupe!

The end of the semester was a sprint to the finish, but it seems impossible that I've already checked off one semester of graduate school. The transition has been harder than I imagined, and homesickness for a place I only really started to like in the last year or so will occasionally hit me like a truck. I am reminded frequently how important routine and structure are to me, and so when I'm not reading wildly (I'm averaging about 100 library books checked out at any given time), I am trying to nurture a sense of normalcy. The bad news is that it takes time. The good news is that we have lots of that.

We're heading to DFW later than usual this year and heading back soon after because classes start the first week in January. My bag will, as usual, be packed with books–on Mark Morris, dance philosophy, musical form. And no matter how hard it's been to leave a job, a team, a place I adored, every time I crack open a  new book, I know I'm exactly where I'm meant to be. That's what I would give to each and every one of you, darling readers, this holiday season: the feeling that wherever you are, it's where you belong. Because you do.

Tell me, what are your holiday plans this year? Are you jetting someplace warm, hosting your first holiday fête or Christmas dinner, or making a cross-country effort to be with your nearest and dearest?


Friday, December 11, 2015

"Here we come a-wassailing..."


5-6 crisp cored apples
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups dry hard cider
3 cups ale
2 cups oloroso sherry
1 cinnamon strick
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves
4 allspice berries

Preheat over to 350º. Place apples in a baking dish, spoon brown sugar over cores; add 1/4" water to the bottom of the dish and cook until softened, about 45 minutes.

In a large pot, warm cider, ale and sherry with cinnamon stick, clove, allspice, ginger and nutmeg over low heat, being careful not to boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add apples and baking liquid. Ladle into mugs or handled glasses; garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Notes: This recipe is perfect for a crowd coming in from the cold, and can stay warming on the stove (or in a crock pot) the whole night through. While it is a little labor-intensive at the start, just think how easy hosting will be if every helps themselves to wassail–cheers!

Image by Daniel Krieger for PUNCH.

Spanish Coffee

Friday, December 4, 2015

Finals are nearly here, which calls for coffee and booze in equal measure. I propose we simplify matters and put coffee in our booze–at the very least, it'll make for cheerful studying (or end-of-year meetings, or midday gift exchanges...)

Spanish Coffee

4 oz freshly brewed dark roast coffee
4 oz heavy cream
3/4 oz aged rum
3/4 oz orange liqueur

Combine heavy cream and 1/4 oz orange liqueur in a shaker; add coil of a Hawthorne strainer and shake vigorously for at least ten seconds. Cream should be aerated but still pourable. Combine coffee, Jamaican rum, and 1/2 oz orange liqueur in a mug and stir. Float heavy cream atop coffee.

Notes: Shaking heavy cream with the coil of a Hawthorne strainer is how a bartender would do it–but you can gently whip cream with a hand mixer if that's easier. Use high quality orange liqueur; this recipe isn't the place to discover that triple sec from the back of the cabinet has a strange aftertaste. Cheers!

Image by Daniel Krieger for PUNCH.

Mulled Wine

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's nearly December, and the holiday season is in full swing. John and I strongly believe that hosts should get a chance to eat, drink and socialize, so we're big fans of beautiful punches that keep you from spending the whole night tending bar. This mulled wine recipe is perfect for whatever holiday celebrations are coming your way, and will keep you warm no matter the weather!

Mulled wine
(for a crowd)

20 whole cloves
2 tangerines, clementines, or small oranges
2 bottles red wine
3 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
2 green cardamom pods, cracked
2 cups tawny Port
Optional: 8 Lady apples
8 cinnamon sticks 

Press 10 cloves into each small citrus; place in a large pot with wine, apple cider, Lady apples, 2 cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook gently for 20 minutes. Stir in port, then divide among glasses. Garnish with mulled Lady apple and/or cinnamon sticks.

Notes: Though Lady apples won't make or break this libation, they make such a darling addition to this recipe that I can't imagine leaving them out (provided you have the perfect glasses to show them off in). You can brew this up to 2 hours in advance, and rewarm as your guests arrive–cheers, and happy holidays!

Image by Ditte Isager, recipe from Bon Appétit.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."

-W.T. Purkiser

Image by Elisabeth Messina.

Cozy Up

Friday, November 20, 2015

I haven't completely embraced the shrub, but I put my toe in the water with this tangerine and chamomile cocktail and wasn't sorry. Plus, this libation can be batched, making it easy to share an after-work drink!

Cozy Up for Two
4 oz chamomile-tangerine syrup
3 oz white balsamic vinegar
4 oz gin
Cava or sparkling wine 
Combine ingredients in a swing-top bottle or mason jar. Gently swirl to combine, and refrigerate for up to 4 days. To serve, top 2 3/4 oz tangerine-chamomile shrub with cava in a coupe glass.

Notes: To make the chamomile-tangerine syrup, combine 1 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and add 4 chamomile tea bags, zest of 2 tangerines, and 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed tangerine juice. Steep tea for 6 minutes, then cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for up to 30 days–cheers!

Image and recipe from Stir and Strain.

Fall Monty

Friday, November 13, 2015

Another Applejack cocktail, the Fall Monty is perfect for a crowd!

Fall Monty

15 oz amontillado sherry
5 oz applejack
5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz cinnamon syrup
5 lemons
3/4 cup of sugar
10 oz strong tea–preferably Roobis
1 bottle Spanish cider

  Peel the lemons, carefully avoiding the pith; add peels to sugar in a large bowl and gently muddle. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Add the tea and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add sherry, applejack, lemon juice, and cinnamon syrup; discard lemon peels and stir to combine. Pour into a punch bowl, and chill. Immediately before serving, add cider. Garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick and apple slices.

Notes: To make cinnamon syrup, add 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in a pot over medium-low heat. Add handful of crushed cinnamon sticks and heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow to sit for a minimum of 8 hours, then remove cinnamon. Bottle and store in the refrigerator; add a small amount of vodka to stabilize the syrup. And cinnamon syrup isn't just for fall cocktails–though it's definitely divine in them; use it on pancakes or French toast, sweeten your tea, or add a little kick to mulled cider or wine. Cheers!

Image by Daniel Krieger, recipe from PUNCH.

Apple Crisp

Friday, November 6, 2015

A simple fall cocktail that's perfect whatever the weather.

Apple Crisp 
1 1/2 oz applejack
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sparkling cider
Crab apple, for garnish

Combine Applejack, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake for 5-10 seconds, then strain over ice into a tall glass. Top with sparkling cider and garnish with half a crab apple.

Notes: Laird's isn't the only company that makes applejack, but they've been doing it the longest. Applejack was hugely important to the American colonial economy, and even served as payment for New Jersey road builders! These days though, it's the perfect spirit for fall–cheers!

Image by Svend Lindbaek.

The Retro Bar Cart

Thursday, November 5, 2015

There's one thing my mother-in-law and I are always on the hunt for: the perfect bar cart. It must be well-proportioned, the right shade of brass, and hold enough bottles to make it a practical. Anyone who's gotten a peek at our liquor cabinet understands this particular dilemma.

When I spotted the Mid-Century Brass Bar Cart at Chairish, I was hooked–the classic oval cart fashioned out of solid brass and mirror glass was a dream! And though the price tag might be a bit steep for a graduate student's budget, I've pulled together some accessories that will make any place feel like your favorite retro watering hole–starting with that amazing pineapple tumbler from W&P Designs! As far as I'm concerned, every bar needs a really lovely rum, plenty of chilled coupe glasses for daiquiris, and vintage cocktail books, as much for inspiration as for the recipes themselves. 

Tell me, what does your bar need?

A Crimson Kiss – Timeless Events and Classic Cocktails by Ana Degenaar : Blogger