The Swaying Stalk

If you've been following my blog for some time, you've probably noticed that I enjoy using infusions in my cocktails. They're quite easy to prepare if you understand the proper length of infusion time for various ingredients. Simply add fruit, herbs, tea or spices to liquor, wait while it infuses, and then strain out all of the solids to stop the process. Infusions are an excellent way to add complexity to a drink because they have no added sugars and don't water down the overall cocktail. I've done infusions for both flavor and color with great results.

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I was recently approached by the company Teroforma to test 1pt, their newest product line of artisanal spirit infusion blends. This blog is a space for me to share my findings on brands whose ingredients and value propositions I support, and 1pt met and exceeded my criteria. I've typically done infusions with one or maybe two ingredients at a time and then added additional flavors in the cocktail mixing process. In contrast, all of of 1pt's seven blends feature at least four thoughtfully layered herbs, spices and teas, meaning you don't need to add much to the infused spirit to make a fantastic cocktail. I chose to play with their Citrus Blend, a mix of lemongrass, ginger, lemon verbana, Yerba Mate, and marigold petals

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Given the freshness and citrus character of the infusion ingredients, I chose to use a London Dry Gin for the spirit. London Dry Gin's aren't necessarily made in London nowadays but tend to be more juniper-forward, higher proof, and with a citrus component. Beefeater is particularly great for infusions as it's very reasonably priced, fairly straightforward in taste profile and therefore quite versatile. 

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I wanted to use honey to completely smooth the bite of the gin and thus draw the focus entirely to the brightness of the infusion. Instead of using a plain honey syrup, I paired blackberries with wildflower honey for a pop of color and a delightfully tart fall flavor that I slightly accentuated with a bit of lemon. I then topped the drink with club soda to give it the refreshing feel of a gin and tonic.

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For garnish, I added a fresh stalk of lemongrass and a dehydrated citrus peel. If you'd like to learn how to make dehydrated citrus peel in your oven, check out this earlier post. The resulting cocktail was fresh, herbaceous, bright and complex.

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The Swaying Stalk 

  • 2 oz 1pt Citrus-infused London Dry Gin*
  • 0.75 oz honey blackberry syrup**
  • 0.25 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz club soda
  • Lemongrass stalk and/or dehydrated lemon slice, for garnish

Stir all ingredients other than garnish with ice, then strain into a stemmed glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with lemongrass and dehydrated lemon and enjoy while taking a deep breath of cool air after a rainstorm.

*Infuse gin with 1pt Citrus Blend for 5 hours.

**To make syrup, bring 1 cup water and 1/2 cup blackberries to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Muddle the blackberries and then add 1/4 cup wildflower honey, stirring just until it dissolves. Allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

If you'd like to try 1pt for yourself, use the code valcohol10 for 10% off orders over $20.

 

Turmeric Ginger Milk Punch

A month ago, I was approached with a project to design two cocktails for the anniversary party of a local clothing and accessory boutique and the launch of a related bridal boutique - Milk Handmade and Honey Bridal. This particular cocktail was my solution for the milk-themed half of the event, and I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it turned out. I don't typically mix with dairy to keep my drinks a little lighter, but dairy can be so effective at giving cocktails a silky smoothness and balancing the bite of most spirits. 

Earlier this year, I discovered turmeric for natural health purposes and found that it is often enjoyed with milk and several other spices for an immune system boost, cold relief, and a slew of other benefits. Conveniently, I also found turmeric to be delicious. It can be overwhelming in large quantities but wonderful if used in a balanced way, sweetened with some honey, and paired with ginger. Turmeric root powder is typically easier to find than the actual root, though the root can yield a more vibrant flavor if you're up for the extra effort. If you go the powder route, I highly recommend saving some money by stocking up bulk.

I chose to add turmeric to the punch via a simple syrup made with turmeric powder and added a bit more spice and sweetness with KOVAL's Ginger Liqueur. For the spirit, I selected KOVAL Oat Whiskey for its amazingly smooth, almost creamy finish. The natural sweetness and mouthfeel of the the Oat Whiskey make it my go-to for more decadent dessert drinks. 

For the milk, I chose an organic 2%. Personally, I find skim to be rather flavorless and whole milk to be too heavy, so 2% was a great balance for the little bit of fat content and flavor to round out the drink. If you can, try to use organic as pesticides are easily transferred through the fat content of dairy. If you prefer to go dairy-free, a blend of full fat coconut milk and almond or cashew milk should make an effective and tasty substitution. 

This drink can easily be presented individually, or scaled up as a punch. The only component that takes a bit of effort is the turmeric syrup but that goes quite quickly when using powder. I added some candied ginger cubes for garnish for an extra spicy treat and some more visual interest. The resulting drink is a beautifully colored, lightly spiced boozy milkshake that is actually somewhat good for you! 

Turmeric Ginger Milk Punch

  • 2 oz Oat Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Ginger Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz turmeric syrup*
  • 2 oz 2% milk
  • Candied ginger, for garnish

Stir first four ingredients with ice until chilled, then strain into a tall glass over ice. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger on a cocktail spear. If making in bulk, prepare in a punch bowl or pitcher with chilled ingredients and serve with ice. Enjoy to cool down and give your body a boost on a hot summer day.

*To make turmeric syrup, add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to a small saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 tbsp turmeric powder and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Some separation will occur - just shake up the syrup before use.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography. You can find the West Elm items from this shoot, herehere, and here. Cocktail picks are by Viski.  

 

Fireside Pact

This time of the year, while a whirlwind of giving and celebration, is also an important time to look inward and consider your own fulfillment. My mixology craft has brought me so much satisfaction through the ability to grow creatively, the positive feedback loop with my followers, and the relationships I've been able to build with like-minded brands nationwide. The excitement of sharing something delectable and beautiful can truly cure me of any worry.

Earlier this month, I had the very special experience of getting a private tour and tasting at KOVAL, one of my favorite local distilleries. Learning about the brand gave me such a profound appreciation of KOVAL's innovation, attention to ingredient quality, and inspired brand design. I enjoyed every spirit and liqueur I sampled, but was especially impressed with the barreled gin and barreled peach brandy. Not only were both bottles absolutely stunning, but the spirits themselves were unique, well-balanced and begging to be mixed into a delicious beverage.

I figured the barrel-aged flavors of the gin and peach brandy would pair well but wanted to make sure both spirits were highlighted in the resulting concoction. Honey and Meyer lemon came to mind as the perfect complements. A honey simple syrup contributed smooth, buttery sweetness while fresh squeezed Meyer lemon and lemon twist garnish brought a touch of tartness and enhanced the cocktail's botanical profile. I also added a dash of ginger bitters to enhance the spirits' spice without diluting the drink's strength.

The result is a definite crowd pleaser for gin and whiskey drinkers alike with its sweet, lightly spiced body, balanced tartness and pleasant herbal finish.

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The Fireside Pact

  • 1 oz KOVAL barreled gin
  • 1 oz KOVAL barreled peach brandy
  • 0.5 oz honey syrup*
  • 4 drops ginger bitters
  • Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass over ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy over a spirited chat by a roaring fire.

*To make honey syrup, heat a half cup of honey and a half cup of water in a small pot at low heat. Stir frequently until honey dissolves to avoid boiling. Allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the lovely crystal coupes.

 

A Grand Entrance

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, meaning it's time to marginally freak out about hosting or contributing to the greatest feast of the year. After years of helping my family with cooking and taking my first shot at hosting both families with my husband, I've learned to seek that perfect balance between dishes that are impressive yet reasonably simple to prepare. This is one of the few occasions you can depend on for meaningful interaction with all your family or friends. You want to spend that time engaging with them and experiencing the meal for yourself, not running around madly until you collapse on the nearest couch.

I'm here to help you achieve just that on the cocktail front with three inventive autumnal beverages. Either prepare all three as you progress through the evening or select your favorite to share with the lucky guests. As always, I'll provide the inspiration and you'll choose your own adventure. 

The first cocktail of the series is inspired by my FAVORITE relish recipe and is the ideal libation for welcoming your guests. A sweet-tart syrup of cranberry, raspberry and orange shapes the main flavor profile while ginger liqueur adds a a hint of spice, lime maintains balance and club soda bubbles keep it festive. I chose to feature vodka in this cocktail for flavor neutrality but you could experiment with bourbon or rye whiskey if you or your guests prefer it to vodka. As an added bonus, this cocktail can be prepared individually or as a punch, just scale up the recipe if needed. 

A Grand Entrance

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 0.5 oz ginger liqueur (I recommend Domaine de Canton)
  • 1.5 oz cranberry raspberry orange syrup*
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Club soda to top
  • 3 cranberries for garnish

To make individual drinks. mix first four ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake until chilled and strain into a stemmed glass. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with fresh cranberries on a cocktail spear. To make the drink in bulk, scale up the recipe for your desired quantity and add first four ingredients (ideally chilled) to a punch bowl. Top with club soda (no more than 1 oz per drink) right before serving and add some floating cranberries, raspberries and/or orange slices for decoration. Enjoy while welcoming your loved ones to gather around the Thanksgiving table.

*To make syrup, add 6 oz cranberries, 6 oz raspberries, 3 strips of orange peel (try to avoid the white pith as it adds bitterness), 2 cups water and 0.5 cup sugar to a small saucepan. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until berries start to fall apart. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to press out all the liquid. Allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Note that this recipe makes about 16 oz of syrup (or enough for roughly 10 drinks) so scale it up if you're planning for more.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the lovely glasses, dishware and other table adornments.

 

Wingding Juniper, Inspired by Holiday Cheer

Flavor profile: tart, herbal, refreshing

Holiday cheer before Thanksgiving confuses me. However, after a wonderful dinner celebration with friends and family, cold weather setting in and December just around the corner, I embrace it 110% - the aroma of fresh cut frasier firs, holiday lights twinkling in the windows, Celtic Christmas tunes and, of course, holiday-themed booze.

Today's cocktail is brought to you by me switching to full-on holiday mode and Will's father mis-hearing another cocktail I had mentioned (whiskey ginger) as "Wingding Juniper." An excellent name if I ever heard one.

There is no liquor that makes me more nostalgic for the holidays than, you guessed it, gin. It is commonly accepted knowledge that gin tastes like Christmas, especially when paired with cranberry flavor. I chose to add egg white to mellow out the tartness and it worked perfectly. We were also lucky to get to try all sorts of fancy new gins thanks to our engagement bottle shower - Nolet's is delicious! So here's a little gin-filled taste of Christmas for you all to enjoy:

The Wingding Juniper

  • 2 oz gin
  • 4 oz cranberry juice (I recommend spending a bit more to get the more flavorful 100% cranberry juice)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 pasteurized egg white
  • 2 tbsp ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton is the best choice)
  • Several drops of orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously without ice to start forming foam. After 30 or so seconds, add ice and shake until the shaker frosts over (it's nice to use a kitchen towel to hold the shaker so your hands don't freeze). Strain into a stemmed glass and serve up while decorating your tree and listening to holiday tunes!