Champagne cocktails

I get asked often about making a shrub cocktail with champagne. And with Valentine’s day this weekend I thought it woukd be a good idea to talk about how to combine these two delicious items.

To start, it’s not advisable to just add a splash of shrub to a flute full of bubbly. The acidity of the shrub and the particles of fruit combine with the carbonation in a sort of 4th grade science experiment effect.

image
Shrub + champagne = mess and you don't event get cute dinosaurs

So, how do you combine the two? The trick is to treat the shrub like it’s the lemon juice and simple syrup in a French 75. If you’ve never had a French 75 before I recommend that you try one. A simple blend of lemon juice, gin, and champagne sweetened with a touch of simple syrup to create a delicious fizzy concoction. Try the following:

1 ounce Gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/4-1/2 ounce simple syrup, depending on how sweet you like things
Champagne or Cava

In a shaker with ice, combine the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake 15 or so seconds and strain into a chilled flute. Top with bubbly and a lemon twist.

Now, how do you modify this for use with shrubs? To start let’s look at the way the sweet/sour/strong ingredients relate to one another. There’s close to a 1 to one ratio of strong (the gin) to sweet/sour (the lemon juice and simple syrup). And the total of the three is around 2 ounces before shaking. So, if we’re replacing the lemon/simple blend with shrub we’ll need about 3/4 – 1 ounce.

The classic calls for London Dry Gin, and I do love gin. Feel free to use it here as well. But say you don’t like gin. Then what can you use? Other options include: whiskey, tequila, brandy, rum, or vodka.

The Blueberry Cinnamon shrub is lovely with rye, bourbon and rum. Or try the Spiced Plum shrub with brandy. Maybe tequila and the Apricot Cardamom shrub suites you.

But since it is nearly Valentine’s day, I recommend this…

Heart Shaped Box

1 ounce gin, something a bit softer like Seattle Distilling or Hendricks
1 ounce Vanilla Pear shrub
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Champagne or Cava

In a shaker with ice combine the shrub, gin and bitters. Shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled flute and top with the bubbly of your choice.

Manhattan in Blue

Last night I had the opportunity to hang out with some amazing local bartenders, bar owners and distribution people at the Basil Hayden Art of Craft event, here in Seattle.  I love these kinds of parties because I get to meet all kinds of folks involved in my chosen industry.  And I get to show off my developing cocktail chops.  While I was having fun sampling my shrubs just mixed with a bit of seltzer water, I also got to make a tasting cocktail that featured the Basil Hayden bourbon, which was the star of the evening.

Getting all the parts together
Getting all the parts together

Manhattans are my go-to cocktail, and I am a big fan of the way they interact to having shrubs added to them.  They’re also a fantastic option for the cocktails-at-home novice, because they require easy to source ingredients.  You can also batch make a Manhattan, so they’re fantastic for entertaining (something to consider with the holidays coming up).  I suspect this may be the signature cocktail for my Thanksgiving table this year.

I love the way this came together.  Sometimes blueberry cocktails can taste overly sweet, and bourbon is a pretty sweet spirit to start with.  But, the high percentage of rye in the Basil Hayden puts this into an almost Bourbon/Rye hybrid territory with taste.  That, combined with the Broker’s Bitters and the cinnamon note in my shrub, really gave this cocktail a fall sensibility.  It has lots of woodsy, earthy, spice notes with a pleasantly fruity finish.

Manhattan in Blue

2 ounces Basil Hayden bourbon
1 ounce Sweet Vermouth, I used Dolin but if you have a preferred Vermouth use that instead
3/4 ounce Blueberry Cinnamon shrub
3 dashes Broker’s Bitters
Orange twist OR 1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters

In a cocktail mixing glass, combine all ingredients. Fill the glass with ice, and stir well (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an orange peel twist if using.

The Weather’s Fine

One of my favorite things about what I do, is making new friends and experimenting with them. Today, I got a chance to stop into a really great place that has been on my list to try for ages. Damn the Weather is a precious hole in the wall, with an ever changing menu of locally sourced deliciousness.

While we’re not partners yet, we did come up with an amazing cocktail. It continues my tiki vibe post Mixology Monday, with shrub of course, but has an early fall sensibility I can really get into. It’s a Rhum Agricol cocktail, which makes me really happy as it’s not a spirit I reach for often. Growth can be beautiful. And tasty.

The Weather’s Fine starts sweet and fruity, with rum overtones. The middle is funky and herbaceous, with a spicy finish. Cardamom bitters act as an element to tie everything together, while the vinegar and lime keep your palette refreshed and ready for another sip.

image
The Weather's Fine by Matthew Collette @ Damn the Weather

The Weather’s Fine

1 oz Apricot Rosemary shrub
1.5 oz Rhum Agricol
.5 oz Lime juice
2 drops Scrapy’s Cardomom Bitters
3 oz Goslings ginger beer or your favorite

Blend Rhum, shrub, lime juice and bitters in a collins glass. Mix well. Topp with chilled ginger beer and cubed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

What’s for dinner?

Apricot Rosemary chicken with patty pan squash and mashed sweet potatoes
Apricot Rosemary chicken with patty pan squash and mashed sweet potatoes

Here in Seattle summer has been holding on, with 70 degree weather and sunny skies. But all I’ve been wanting are grey skies, and rain, and proper fall weather. Today the sky cooperated, just in time for my birthday! So I turned on the oven and roasted some sweet potatoes and chicken. Patty pan squash put in an appearance at the farmers market this weekend (they’re like zucchini but with a fun shape) so those came home with me.

But what made this so tasty was the sauce I made for the chicken. Apricot Rosemary shrub, juices from the chicken, white wine and a little chicken stock. Sweet and chickeny and tangy and rich. This is a wonderful way to use shrubs in new ways. It’s especially fun because you can mix up the protein and the shrub to make tasty combinations.

Apricot Rosemary chicken

1 chicken skin on but no bones. You can have your butcher take a whole chicken and cut it into parts (breast, thigh, legs) and take out the bones from the thigh and breast. Save the bones and the wings to make stock.

Boneless skin-on chicken
Boneless skin-on chicken

1/3 cup Apricot Rosemary shrub
1/4 chicken stock
Salt
Pepper

Heat the oven to 400.
Salt both sides of the chicken.
In an oven safe pan, heat a tablespoon or two of oil on medium heat until it’s shimmering and starting to smoke.
Put the chicken in the pan skin side down and cook it until golden. About 5 minutes.

Golden brown skin is delicious
Golden brown skin is delicious

Flip the chicken over and bake until the breasts are done (internal temp of 160).
Take the chicken out of the pan and set it aside to rest. This lets the juices redistribute in the meat, and is important.
Put the pan on medium heat and add the shrub, stock, and wine to the pan. Scrape up any brown bits, because they’re full of flavor.
Let that simmer and reduce down until it coats the back of the spoon. Taste for salt and add a few grinds of black pepper.

This is how you know it's done
This is how you know it’s done

Slice the chicken breast and serve with a generous amount of sauce.

Mixology Monday: Erzuli’s Elixer

wpid-wp-1426266760366.gif

This month’s Mixology Monday theme is Orange Juice, from Spirited Remix, which isn’t an ingredient I tend to work with. But it’s been a while since I participated, and I do love a challenge so experiments needed to happen. To start, I had to pick a shrub (because that’s my theme) that would match with orange juice. Thankfully, I’ve been producing an Apricot Rosemary shrub and apricots and oranges are lovely together. Many of my customers ask me about mixing shrubs with champagne, so I wanted to incorporate something with bubbly.  In this case Proseco, but I think I’ll make this again with Cava to see how it changes.  Because science!

Then, of course, we had to pick a base spirit. I’ve made a lovely cocktail with our Apricot shrub, a resposado tequila and Cointreau. But we were out of resposado, and silver tequila plus mezcal just wasn’t working for me. We tried a light rum with an herbal honey liqueur but the end result essentially tasted like a mimosa. And that’s not what I was after.

Then, my head of R&D (D for drinking) suggested Benedictine and a richer rum.  I settled on Plantation’s 5 year. I love aged Barbados rums, and this is a lovely example with a nice amount of vanilla and brown sugar while staying light (Mount Gay Black Barrel would likely also be a nice choice here, but give more robust barrel and brown sugar notes). This was a lovely combination, that has a touch of tiki and a bit of herbaceousness. For my sparkle, I went with Proseco which added sweetness to the drink that was pleasant but not cloying. If you prefer a dryer cocktail, use Cava.

20150918_220009

Erzuli’s Elixer

1 ounce Apricot Rosemary shrub
1.5 ounce Aged Barbados Rum such as Plantation 5 year or Mount Gay Black Barrel
.5 ounce Benedictine
.5 ounce fresh squeezed (not pressed) OJ
2-3 ounces Proseco or Cava

In a shaker with ice, combine all but the bubbly. Shake until well chilled, 10-15 seconds. Strain into a chilled wine glass and top with ice cold Proseco or Cava. Sip happy and dream of love.

20150918_215940

Cheers!

Yo ho ho and a bottle of shrub

One of my favorite things about what I do is the fact that I make (and sell) edible history.  I am a food nerd, and being able to incorporate that into my products is really important.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to talk about the history of shrubs much when I’m at a farmer’s market or craft show.  People only have so much attention to give me, and it’s time better spent putting spoonfuls of shrub in their mouths.  Which I love doing, but is also a shame, because the history of shrubs is wild and has pirates.

And who doesn’t love a good pirate story?

12243413_10153213471731146_5877271253236277724_n
At the Broadway Farmer’s Market talking holiday cocktails

Lucky for me, I have this blog where I get to talk about whatever I want to talk about.  And today, I want to talk about pirates, punch, rum, and shrubs.  Partly because rum and punch and shrubs are delicious, and partly because I haven’t talked much here about the history of what I do.

Continue reading “Yo ho ho and a bottle of shrub”

Mixology Monday: Hometown Hooch

wpid-wp-1426266760366.gif

This month Putney Farm gave us our theme of Hometown Hooch.

Your quest is simple. Create a new cocktail, or refashion a classic, using your favorite “hometown hooch” (and we can expand the definition of “hooch” to include spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and beer). Feel free to feature new distillers or local favorites that have withstood the test of time. And since part of the fun of cocktails is the story that comes with every drink, a little local flavor or history on your “hometown hooch” is very welcome.

This might be one of the most fun MixMo’s for me, because I’m smack bang in the middle of about a squillion craft distillers and brewers.  Which could actually have made this month really difficult for me.  Luckily, strawberries came into season at the beginning of the month so I’ve been feeling very inspired by our new Strawberries N Champagne shrub.  I mean, look at these berries!  Can you blame me?

wpid-wp-1432668686415.jpeg

When I’m coming up with cocktails for both this blog and the side of the bottles I’m nearly always incorporating local spirits, seltzers, tonic, bitters, sodas, and so on.  I’m a small maker, and they’re a small maker, and as far as I’m concerned we need to stick together.  I’m a bit of a care bear like that (only instead of light shooting from my tummy, I pour everyone a drink).

I managed to limit myself to only 2 drinks this month, even though I had about 5 or so that I’ve been fiddling with.  These are sharing cocktails, each recipe making more than one, which make them ideal for the warm weather that beckons us outside.

O’Keeffe’s Wild Rose
I freely admit that I’m a fan of both word play and the double entendre.  So, I may have slipped more than a few into the creation of this tasty tipple for two.  There are 7 in total, but I’ll give you the first one free.  The Wildrose is Seattle’s long running bar for women who love women.

tasty ingredients make tasty cocktails
tasty ingredients make tasty cocktails

2 Ounces Strawberries n Champagne shrub
5 Ounces Hedge Trimmer Gin from Sun Liquor
1 tsp Rosewater
pinch of salt (optional)
Seltzer Water
Optional Rose Sugar for the rim
Makes 2 cocktails

Moisten half the rim of two 6 ounce glasses with either gin or some lemon juice or a touch of rosewater, and roll in rose sugar (here I used the Rose Sugar by Libertine Tacoma).  Pour everything but the Seltzer into a shaker with cracked ice, and shake until well chilled.  Strain evenly into the prepared glasses, add fresh ice and top with the Seltzer.

Tasting notes:  Roses and juniper in the nose.  My sense of smell isn’t very sharp,cocktail
but the rosewater overpowered the scent of vinegar which can sometimes be present in shrub cocktails.  Yummy gin forward cocktail with rich berry flavor and roses rounding out the sip.  This gin is less juniper forward than others, and the strawberry shrub brings out the woody flavors while the rosewater adds a really nice sweetness.  With the pinch of salt, the flavors are more unified and the overall flavor is less sweet.  If you prefer your drink sweeter with the flavors a bit more differentiated, leave the salt out.

Strawbeery Punch
When the weather is hot, and I am having friends over to BBQ or grill or just hang out, I like to serve punch.  It’s refreshing, lower proof than cocktails, easy to put together, and delicious.  I started making beer based punches last year and I’ve found that shrubs are ideal in this application.  The sweetness and the fruit plays well with the bitterness of the beer and manages to bring forward the floral notes of the hops.  Plus, very few places are without at least one craft brewery, so access to good beer is available.  The picture here is of a non-alcoholic version I made for a tasting event that wasn’t 21+, but I typically make this with Pike Brewery’s Naughty Nellie.

a big batch of delicious

To a large pitcher or drink dispenser add:
8 Ounces Strawberries n Champagne shrub
36 Ounces chilled Beer, use a local beer with a nice citrus character that is NOT an IPA
1 Liter Seltzer water, cilled
1 Lemon, cut into slices

Stir gently to combine and serve over ice.  Should serve 4-6 people over the course of an afternoon of grilling.

Mixology Monday: Ometeotl’s Breath

image

This month Sass and Gin challenged us to explore another classic cocktail: The Old Fashioned. In fact, this is likely the genesis of the cocktail.

Sugar, water, bitters, whisky form the basis of this delicious beverage. And while Mad Men made it cool again, the challenge was to make it our own. Around here that means shrub.

So, we swapped out the sugar cube and water in the classic for a sweet Honeyed Plum shrub. I wanted to double down on both the plum and honey flavors, so  the glass got a honey liqueur rinse. This particular liqueur is honey and herbs, which added some really nice smells to the glass. Then a solid dose of aged rum and several splashes of plum bitters.

image

1.5 ounces Aged Rum (we used Diplomatico Reserva)
.75 ounce Honeyed Plum shrub
3 dashes Fee Brothers Plum bitters
Honey liqueur rinse (we used D’aristi Xiabentun)

Rinse an Old Fashioned glass with the honey liqueur and place 1 ice cube in the glass. Add all the other ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into  prepared glass.

This one really packs a sweet honey punch, but the bitters and the vinegar in the shrub keep it from being cloying. The herbal and anise notes added something special to the experience, and I’m really pleased with how this came out.

A quick note on the name: since we used a Mesoamerican spirit in the drink, I named it after the dualistic creator diety of the Aztec.

Blodewedd’ s Bridal Cup

Here in Seattle, we are pretty firmly in the opening of Spring. The sun is shining, it’s just warm enough to ditch your coat for a heavy sweater and scarf, and the trees are starting to bloom.

Most of the year I drink whisky. Bourbon, rye, Irish, Tennessee, and so on. But right now, when everything is just starting to become green again, I crave gin in all its herbal glory.

This is a spin on the martini, and was nearly my MixMo entry last month. Pairing gin and Chartreuse would almost be herbal over load, but the addition of our Simply Rhubarb shrub adds a touch of sweetness and ties the two together quite nicely. We highly recommend using a barrel aged gin for this, as it adds a nice woody note to ground it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Blodewedd, she is a Celtic diety made from flowers as a bride for a hero. But then she meets the man of her choosing, and they run away together.

Blodewedd’s Bridal Cup

1.5 ounces Barrel Aged Gin
.5 ounce Chartreuse
.75 ounce Simply Rhubarb shrub

Combine everything in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Serve with a strip of lemon peel.

Mixology Monday: The Canticle of Bond

mxmologo

This month’s MixMo comes from Nihil Utopia and tackles one of my favorite cocktails, the Martini. When I first learned to drink, I fell in love with the glamour of martinis: Rat Pack crooners, Hollywood starlets, and of course James Bond.

These days my tastes no longer run to really dry martinis with lots of olives, though there are still foods that seem less delicious without an ice cold martini. So I wanted to explore the history of the cocktail. Which brought me to the Vesper, Bond’s original shaken not stirred.

The original recipe, from Casino Royal is “Three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. “

I’ve run off with this and made a few changes for the Canticle of Bond.

3 Howls Navy Strength Gin (2 ounces)
3 Howls Rosemary Vodka (2/3 ounce)
3 dashes Reception bitters by the San Francisco Bitters Co
The Shrubbery’s Hosui ‘n’ Honey shrub (1/2 ounce)

Mix everything in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake well and double strain into a chilled martini glass. Serve with a strip of lemon peel.

image