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  • On The Menu

    Archive for the ‘mxmo’ Category

    So, It’s Your First Time?

    This month’s Mixology Monday explores how to properly welcome someone to the world of cocktails.

    Every month a group of adventurous spirits gathers for an event called Mixology Monday where each participant offers up a blog post featuring a cocktail recipe that fits within the monthly theme. This month’s theme is First Time and it is hosted by Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails – Boston. Their basic guidelines were as follows:

    What drink do you suggest for the delicate palate of the cocktail neophyte? Something boozy and balanced, sure – but one wrong suggestion could relegate the newbie to a beer-drinker’s life. To which go-to cocktails do you turn to when faced with the challenge?

     

    It could be argued that choosing the Margarita as someone’s introduction to cocktails is dangerous as it doesn’t really push people out of their comfort zone; the Margarita just doesn’t seem that sophisticated to most people. However, if done with the right ingredients and presentation it can transcend people’s perception, satisfying even the most jaded Coors drinker.

    The great thing about this drink is how simple and disarming it is to most people. There are no real acquired-taste ingredients like Campari, Fernet or Absinthe, and it’s simplicity means it is something most anyone can create at home, making it a great gateway to an exciting future in mixology!

    Like all classic drinks, the Margarita has a shady history. As David Wondrich has written, “History, written in a bar, is never straight-forward”. There are almost as many origin stories as there are versions of the drink, though interestingly many of them involve lovelorn Mexican bartenders naming the drink after a beautiful showgirl… including Rita Hayworth who was formerly known as Margarita Cansino. Another common story is that the Margarita is really just a Daisy; a class of mixed drink that is basically a sour with a little bit of soda in it, and of course margarita is a Spanish word for daisy. Whatever the story, the one thing that is for sure about the Margarita is that nothing about the Margarita is for sure.

    As a type of drink, The Margarita is second only to The Martini in terms of how often it is bastardized. Nearly every bar has a version that could be said to be dramatically different from one another. Frozen or rocks, salt or no salt, Cointreau or triple sec, mango, strawberry – the list goes on. For us however, there is only one Margarita recipe; 100% agave tequila, lime juice and agave nectar.

    The Margarita
    • 2 oz 100% Agave Reposado Tequila
    • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • .75 oz Agave Nectar

    Directions
    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.

    As you probably notice, our Margarita is missing two of its most common ingredients; Orange liqueur and Salt. For our money the agave nectar better highlights the spirits natural base than Cointreau, and the salt seems to us just a vestigial throwback to a need to cover up bad tequila. In fact in this San Francisco Chronicle article Tres Agave’s Eric Rubin speculates that the salt was introduced due to the Spanish influenza epidemic in the early 1900s and that Mexican doctors had the citizenry inoculate themselves with lime and salt.

    So the next time you have a cocktail n00b at your bar, take it easy on them and show them that cocktails don’t have to be frou-frou or toxic. The only real danger is that they may never enjoy the bad Margaritas at Chevy’s or Bennigan’s again.

    We like it Spicy!

    Mixing up some Indian cocktails for Mixology Monday.

    Every month a group of adventurous spirits gathers for an event called Mixology Monday where each participant offers up a blog post featuring a cocktail recipe that fits within the monthly theme. This month’s theme is Spice and it is hosted by Craig at Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments. His basic guidelines were as follows:

    Spice should give you plenty of room to play – from the winter warmers of egg nog, wassail and mulled products to the strange and interesting infusions of pepper, ceubub, grains of paradise, nutmeg — what have you! I would like to stretch the traditional meanings of spice (as the bark, seed, nut or flowering part of a plant used for seasoning) to basically anything used for flavoring that isn’t an herb. Salt? Go for it. Paprika? I’d love to see you try. I hear that cardamom is hot right now.

    It turns out that this couldn’t really be better timed for me as I have been obsessed with spices in cocktails recently. About a month ago some friends and I planned to go see Slumdog Millionaire, the new Danny Boyle film about an Indian kid who ends up on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and spends the film reflecting on his past in the slums of Mumbai. We were all getting together before the film and I was asked to come up with some Indian themed cocktails. Well, after a bit of research, it turned out there weren’t really many non-lassi based drinks out there that were Indian themed. This surprised me considering how flavorful indian food is. Scott Beattie had a few recipes that were inspiring in their use of coconut milk and cilantro and pickled hearts of palm but they were all really more southeast asian than Indian, and I wanted something with cumin, and coriander and turmeric.

    We only had a short notice to prepare for the party so I took the quick and easy route and made some syrups that would allow me to Indian-up nearly anything with some strong flavors. I made a coriander syrup and a cumin syrup. The cumin syrup turned out amazing and outrageously flavorful and only a small amount was needed to give any drink a hint of the spice route. The coriander syrup was much more subtle but intriguing to mix with as it added a flavor that was at once familiar but mysterious.

    The following week though, it was like the Indian-cocktail rosetta stone was recovered. That was when Jonny Raglin introduced his Spice Route cocktail menu at the new southern indian restaurant Dosa in San Francisco. It was like a trip though a new world of cocktail flavors, darjeeling tea cordial, mango gastrique, curry nectar, hell-flower tincture, yogurt. It sounded amazing, and after a visit, I was not disappointed. The next day I took a trip to Berkley bowl, one of the greatest produce markets i have ever been to, and picked up some kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, celery root, cilantro, sweet limes and fresh tumeric and began experimenting.

    Out of that came two drinks that worked pretty well, the first was based loosely on a gimlet recipe using pisco and the coriander syrup. It is called the Dhaniya Nimbu. Dihaniya is Hindi for coriander and nimbu is Hindi for lime. The second drink was inspired very much by the drinks at Dosa, and is called the Cumin Get It, which is admittedly a pretty lame name but I couldn’t avoid such a golden opportunity for a pun.

    Dhaniya Nimbu
    • 1.5 oz Pisco
    • 1 oz lime juice
    • 1 oz coriander nectar
    • 1 sprig cilantro

    Directions
    shake all ingredients except cilantro and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cilantro sprig.

    Coriander Nectar
    • 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
    • 1 cup water
    • .5 cup sugar

    Directions
    Heat coriander seeds in a hot skillet for a minute or so to release the aromatics. Add the seeds to a sauce pan and crush them with a muddler. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. simmer for 5 minutes and add the sugar stirring until it is dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool and strain out the coriander seeds from the mixture, bottle and refrigerate. Mixture should keep for about a week.

    Cumin Get It
    • 1.5 oz Gin
    • .75 oz Light coconut milk
    • .75 oz Lime juice
    • .75 oz Cumin syrup
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves

    Directions
    Place all ingredients except for one of the kaffir lime leaves in a shaker and shake very well as you would a drink with egg white. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with remaining kaffir lime leaf.

    Cumin syrup
    • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup sugar

    Directions
    Heat cumin seeds in a hot skillet for a minute or so to release the aromatics. Add the seeds to a sauce pan and add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. simmer for 5 minutes and add the sugar stirring until it is dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool and strain out the cumin seeds from the mixture, bottle and refrigerate. Mixture should keep for about a week.

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