Mocktails revisited

Hello friends!  This Summer has been a total whirlwind of travel and parties and tasting events.  It’s been amazing.  One of the funnest things I did this year, was show up to booze focused tasting events and serve non-alcoholic mocktails.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a well crafted cocktail.  Seasonal ingredients, locally produced spirits, fresh and innovative spins on classics all make me excited to imbibe.  But my beloved is not a drinker, and he’s often stuck sipping a Sprite or other bland sugar bomb, while I enjoy my crafted cocktail.  So this Summer, I set out to change a few minds about what a mocktail could be.

When I craft a mocktail, I try to keep in mind that a balanced cocktail has something sweet, something sour, something bitter, something weak, and something boozy in it.  So, I remove the booze component, and focus on the other four.  Sweet and sour are provided by the shrub, as they would be in a cocktail, and form the main flavor of the mocktail.  Once a shrub is chosen, it’s just a matter of choosing bitter and bubbly ingredients to round out the experience.

For the bitter component, I reach for my bitters collection.  2-3 dashes in a glass will provide loads of flavor, but the alcohol by volume of the drink stays at less that .5%, which is within the non-alcoholic category.  However, bitters are alcohol tinctures and should not be used if you’re making a drink for someone who cannot have any alcohol.  So what are some other options?  Muddled herbs such as rosemary, sage, or mint.  Thin strips of citrus peel, especially lemon, lime and grapefruit have loads of flavorful oils that express easily when muddled with sugar.  Or you can make bittered simple syrups using things like cinnamon, orris root, angelica, dandelion root, or burdock root.

Lastly, pick your weak component, which in this context is a non-alcoholic mixer, usually with bubbles.  I tend to prefer a combination of seltzer water and something else.  That something else can be freshly squeezed juice, your favorite soda, non-alcoholic beer or non-alcoholic wine, flavored fizzy water, or anything else that pairs well with your shrub and bitters combo.

Here’s what that might look like in action:

In a glass with 8-10 ounce capacity put one teaspoon of sugar. Using a veggie peeler, peel off two thin strips of lemon peel. It’s ok if some of the white pith is on this, as it will add a nice bitterness to the finished mocktail. Use the back of a spoon to crush the lemon peel into the sugar to draw out the oils and start dissolving the sugar. This shouldn’t take more than 15-20 presses with the spoon.

Add 1 ounce of Blueberry Cinnamon shrub to the glass and give it a good stir. Try to ensure the sugar dissolves fully. Then add 2 ounces of Vanilla Bean soda, I like Dry Soda because it’s not as sweet as a cream soda but has loads of flavor. Give everything a good stir, add enough ice to fill the glass, and top it off with seltzer water. Since the lemon peel is already in the glass, it acts as your garnish but you can add a lemon slice if you want to be extra fancy.

As summer winds down, and holiday parties start being planned for, it is my hope that you will find encouragement and have fun making mocktails for your guests that are just as delicious as the cocktails you’re serving.

Cheers!

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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?

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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”

ShruBBQ

July was so intensely busy for me that I forgot to tell you all about my new favorite way to use shrubs: as an ingredient in brine for BBQ!  The following works for both pork and chicken, and would likely work for beef as well but I haven’t tried it yet (although now I’m totally envisioning Blackberry Balsamic Brisket).  As with most non-cocktail recipes, this is meant as a jumping off point for you.  Change the flavor of shrub.  Add more or less sugar.  Use water and beer or broth or some other liquid.  Food should be fun, and so should making it.

To 3 cups water (or a combination of liquids) add:
1/2 cup shrub such as our Peach Brown Sugar or Apricot Rosemary shrub
1/3 cup Salt
1/4 sugar, white or brown
1/4 cup vinegar, white or apple cider

Mix well in a zip top bag and add 3-4 lbs of meat. So far we’ve used this for chicken hind quarters (where the thigh and leg are still attached) and pork butt. You could also use this for any meat that benefits from a “slow and low” cooking style such as ribs, shanks, and pot-roast style cuts such as chuck or round.  I have plans to do this to chicken wings at some point and I expect it will be glorious!

Zip the bag closed, making sure to gently press out any air, and let it sit in the refrigerator for no less than 2 hours, and up to 6. In the bag, a magical thing will happen called osmosis.  The end result is the meat will soak up salty sweetness, and any other flavors in the mix (like Peaches), while expressing water.  This gives a wonderful texture and means that the meat won’t lose water during cooking (thus staying moist).

Take the meat out and rub it down with your favorite BBQ dry rub.  Be generous.  Right now I’m totally into Deb Perelman‘s dry rub recipe, though as usual I’ve messed around with things.  This rub is earthy, smokey, spicy, sweet and so fragrant.  The recipe makes a bit over a cup, so you should get 2-4 applications, depending on the size of your meat.

6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons sweet or smoked paprika (I used a half-and-half combination of both which I found well balanced, if you will be grilling this you can lean more toward the sweet)
3 tablespoons chili powder (I have Penzeys Medium Hot Chili Powder at home, which is full of delicious Ancho chilies and cumin)
Up to 1 tablespoon ground red pepper (if you like things quite hot) or to taste (I used something like 1/8 tsp since my chili powder already has ground red pepper in it)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Kosher salt (I admit I used about half this amount, as we like things a little less salty here, and it was just fine)
Up to 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Put your well coated meat into an oven safe pan with a tight fitting lid, a roaster, or foil packet, and bake at 300 degrees for 3-5 hours.  Much will depend on the thickness of your meat, but I found 3 hours is perfect for bone in chicken and thinner cuts of pork, where a beef chuck roast or pork shoulder will likely take 4 or more hours.

Once the meat is cooked through and falling apart tender, take it out of the cooking vessel and set it aside on a sheet pan.  Time to make a sauce!

Transfer the accumulated juices into a sauce pot and bring to a gentle boil.  If you cooked in a pan that can be used on the stove, you can use that instead.  Reduce the cooking liquid by about half, or until it’s very syrupy and coats the back of a spoon.  It will likely be pretty salty, but an extra splash of vinegar (a tsp or two) and another tsp or so of sugar should round out the flavor of your sauce.

If you want you can pop your meat under the broiler for a few minutes to give it a quick sear.  I like to do this with meat I’m going to eat by itself, like chicken hind quarters, but often skip it if I’m going to shred the meat like with pulled pork.

Eat delicious BBQ you made yourself.  Perhaps with a shrub cocktail along side!

Let it go…

I have an amazing support network of friends and spouse, which is why I can write this post from the Hotel Monteleon where I’m attending Tales of the Cocktail. While I’m here, meeting new people and drinking tasty things, said amazing support network is rocking the Bite of Seattle and giving people the ability to discover us.

But, it wasn’t exactly easy to turn over the reigns to my business. It did remind me though, in a very visceral way, that I have a tribe. That they do care about me. That I can do this business owner thing, and kick ass at it. Even if it leaves me quoting Disney.

Also, New Orleans is amazing.

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Urban Craft Uprising

This week is our last minute push for the summer UCU show, and I’m super excited! We’ll have loads of Strawberries and Champagne shrub, our new batch of Apricot Rosemary shrub, and our ever popular Simply Rhubarb shrub.

Plus, as a special edition, ourBlack Cherry shrub. This one is near and dear to my heart, and was blended in honor of my father who introduced me to Boylan’s Black Cherry soda. A flavor I love to this day. This is deep, dark, rich shrub made with Pino Noir vinegar and bursting with cherries. Mixed with seltzer, it’s a more grown up version of the Boyln’s I enjoyed as a child. Or, blend it into a rye Manhatten for a really grown up treat.

Can’t wait to see all of you there!

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Dark Lady

2 ounces Rye
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
1/2 ounce Cherry Bounce or Cherry Herring
3/4 ounce Black Cherry shrub
3 dashes aromatic bitters

Shake all with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Mixology Monday: Hometown Hooch

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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?

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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.

Surprise cocktails

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Stopped into one of my favorite places for a late night meal and look what was one the super special menu! Not just a shrub cocktail, but one with my name in it. Of course I had to have one.

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Sweet and tangy with a welcome bit of earthiness from the tea. But the salt and sugar rim is what really sets it off. A strange yet delicious cocktail, and one I drank with pleasure.

Stop the presses

I had a chance to swing by and say hello to the staff of Sip Northwest at the end of last week, and to show off our Rhubarb shrub (plus one or two others). I love getting to meet new people and make connections in my chosen industry. It might be one of my favorite things about what I do.

And today, they posted a really sweet article about me and my shrubs. I may or may not have done a happy dance in my living room. It might have scared my cats. It does make me think another box or three of rhubarb is in my future.

Certainly more rhubarb cocktails are!

Strawberries!

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Had a chance to wander the farmers market over Memorial day weekend and was thoroughly pleased to see piles of the season’s first berries. These lush gems are from Hayton farms, one of our favorite berry growers, and are sweet as can be.

We’re pairing these beauties with champagne vinegar and just enough sugar for a shrubtastic spin on strawberries and champagne. What drink or food ideas does this give you?