A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

The Wasatch Mule: a pear-ginger white whiskey cocktail

The Wasatch Mule

The Wasatch Mule

After posting my call for bourbon cocktail requests in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month I learned quite a bit about y’all via your feedback. Mostly that:

1) your time, storage space and/or desire to mix up a bunch of esoteric syrups, shrubs, and bitters is limited;

2) y’all don’t like to purchase or wash any more cocktail equipment than necessary; and

3) you are curious (dare I say suspicious?) about how I manage to make this shit happen on a regular basis in my tiny kitchen with all of those kids and dogs underfoot.

So, for the rest of this month at this here blog we’ll go through each of these concerns and talk it out. And drink some bad-ass cocktails. We’ll tackle the time/space issue this post.

Before I call y’all out as the laziest bunch of sorry cocktail geeks I’ve ever known, I’ll make some of excuses on your behalf. In fact, they’re excuses I use for myself, all the time. Rare ingredients and random specialty booze like that 12-year-old crusty Blue Curaçao bottle with only 3-4 oz. used up take up a lot of space, and if you live in a 1940’s Sugarhouse cottage like mine, that’s at a premium. We were lucky enough to buy a house that the previous owner had obviously fitted with some SERIOUS food storage/hoarding capabilities, which my boys promptly filled with Legos in various stages of completion. Also, most syrups and some shrubs experiments require refrigeration, and if you are an infrequent cocktail mixer this seems like a waste of space that could be used for cheap white wine, expensive beer, and your Costco-sized bag of lettuce. I get it, so I’m gonna go full disclosure on y’all so you don’t get all frustrated about the physical and emotional space you are in.

The booze: You know why bars have that huge shelf of hundreds of bottles behind them? Because a bar needs them to serve the whim of folks who wouldn’t ever use Fernet or Aperol (both of which are next to impossible to source for the home consumer in Utah) for in a cocktail at home, but like to order the most complicated cocktails ever made when they’re out. A good barkeep will also have a wide price and flavor range within a booze category, e.g. several kinds of gin, bourbon, etc. Unless you are having outrageous cocktail parties every weekend or write a booze blog you don’t need all that shit at your house. Figure out what you like, and just keep that on hand. If you don’t know what you like, go to a very good bar early on a not-very-busy night and talk to your bartender. They’ll be happy to help you find your groove – most mixologists love to share their knowledge and recipes. Only buy the random stuff when you have a big party and want to make a signature cocktail, then at the end of the night give a guest who loved it (and whom you love) the random bottle(s). You get your space back, and make a friend for life. Win-win.

The mixers: I started out making my own shrubs, syrups, and bitters because when I first moved to Utah years ago there wasn’t much of a cocktail scene here and these things were hard to come by for the average home consumer. Thanks to Amazon.com, Etsy, and great local small-batch producers all over the country, it’s getting easier every day to source great ingredients. For instance, here in Salt Lake, you can buy Sugarhouse Libations cocktail syrups at the Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, or order their delicious syrups online. No, they didn’t pay me to say this, I just like their stuff. And the packaging and recipes that come with the heavy sexy bottle are feckin’ killing it. Get some. Then make this with it:

The Wasatch Mule

This cocktail is a play on the Moscow Mule, which you’ve seen served in pretty metal cups. To make it Utah Wasatch Mountains style, I used High West Distillery Silver Oat Whiskey instead of vodka, and Sugarhouse Libations Pear-Ginger syrup, and mix up the whole thing in a pint Mason jar. Yes, you can make your own pear liqueur (which, yes, I do, and it’s the BOMB), but you can also find it at big liquor stores.

5-6 leaves mint, spanked
2 oz. Silver Whiskey (or moonshine)
1 oz. pear liqueur
4 oz. pear-ginger syrup
2 oz. club soda

Spank the mint between your palms, as if clapping. Throw it in the bottom of a pint Mason jar. Add the whiskey, pear liqueur, and pear-ginger syrup. Fill almost to the top with ice. Close up with the jar lid and shake like crazy. Uncap the jar and add club soda. Replace the lid and gently tilt to combine ingredients –don’t shake it or that shit will explode all over you! This can also be made in a traditional cocktail shaker (minus the club soda—again with the exploding) and poured into a mule cup or julep cup with a floater of club soda swizzled in.

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Peach & Basil Bourbon Smash

Peaches & Herb: A Peach-Basil Smash Cocktail

Peaches & Herb: A Peach-Basil Smash Cocktail

Another H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) from a friend, “I’ve got a sh!tload of peaches.  What to do?”

Well, mix ’em with bourbon, of course!

Make a Peach and Bourbon Smash cocktail, perhaps we’ll call it Peaches & Herb? (Get it? #weareold) Celebrate the end of the week -or just getting through 4th grade homework- with this refreshing seasonal cocktail.

In a cocktail shaker muddle together:

1/2 very ripe peach

4-5 basil leaves

2 tsp honey or agave syrup

Add:

1.5 oz bourbon

0.5 oz Lillet Blanc

and a bunch o’ ice

Shake like crazy & strain into a pretty glass.  Garnish with a peach wedge and sprig of basil.

TGIF!

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

Paraphrasing my ole’ buddy Cole Porter, It’s Too Damn HOT!

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

I was chatting with a gal in the produce section of Trader Joe’s the other day, and we were talking about Persian (cocktail) cucumbers – namely about how delicious they are and how nice it is not to have to peel them.  But, it’s also widely know that those temperamental bastards won’t last more than a couple of days in your fridge before they get moldy spots and you’re throwing them into the compost bin.

Sure, they are delightful in salads (especially with a little feta and some melon or tomatoes this time of year).  If you think they are getting borderline funky, you can slow down the decay trajectory by making a quick refrigerator pickle:  slice or sliver your cukes, then add some chopped scallions and about 2 teaspoons vinegar—I like rice wine vinegar or white balsamic—per cucumber ratio; toss to combine and refrigerate.  Add a bit of red or black pepper before serving and a pinch of sea salt.

I also like pulling out a couple to make cocktails, a few of which I’ve talked about here before.

You’ve probably seen the studies quoted that hot foods actually make you feel cooler and have natural antimicrobial qualities.  Hence, spicy food preferences in cultures living in warmer climates.  Right now, Utah’s about as hot as I can take it—and this from a gal who lived in muggy Memphis and the ‘dry’ heat of Arizona for years.  I made this spicy-cool version of a gimlet to at least give me a modicum of gracious respite last night.  It’s cool and bracing at the same time.  I like using vodka instead of gin for this gimlet recipe; it makes the jalapeño taste cleaner and brighter in contrast.  It’s fabulous with half of the martini glass rim coated in a fragrant smoked sea salt.

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

1 Persian (small cocktail) cucumber, sliced

½ jalapeño, seeded

2 oz. vodka

1 Tbs. agave nectar

Juice of 1 lime

Smoked sea salt

 

Throw the cucumber and jalapeño in a cocktail shaker and muddle the bejesus out of them with a pestle or wooden spoon.   Meanwhile, rub ½ of the rim of a martini glass with half of a cut lime, then dip in smoked sea salt (I used a Durango smoked salt for this, but it’s also great with a black Salish smoked salt).  Add the vodka, agave, and lime juice to the shaker with a few cubes of ice.  Shake like crazy.  Add a few cubes of fresh ice to your pretty cocktail glass, then strain your cocktail over the rocks.  Garnish with cucumber and jalapeño.

For the rest of September, I’ll be featuring Bourbon cocktails and recipes for National Bourbon Heritage Month!  Email, Facebook (“A Bourbon Gal”), or Instagram (abourbongal) me your requests for the next bourbon-based H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?)  You can also find abourbongal on Twitter, but I suck at it.  #sorrykinda

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