A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

The PomeGrenade

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y!  (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?):  a pomegranate-tequila-sparkling wine cocktail

The PomeGrenade - made with Pomegranate-tequila liqueur

The PomeGrenade – made with Pomegranate-tequila liqueur

My gal Big Bold California Cab brought me back a bottle of tequila-based La Pinta Pomegranate Liqueur after her last turn-around to Mexico (she’s a flight attendant for a major airline).  She said all of the folks she worked with were raving about the stuff.  They mostly liked it on the rocks mixed with diet lemon-lime soda, or with seltzer, but they’d like to try it out in some festive cocktails.  It’s definitely a tequila-forward liqueur (38 proof – 19% ABV), with a bright ruby color and not-too-cloying sweet fruity tone that rings pretty true to pomegranate with some cranberry notes; it also has a slight citrus finish.

Well, with it being New Year’s and all, I thought it would be perfect in a champagne cocktail!  I’m in the middle of writing a piece for CityHomeCOLLECTIVE about the French 75 for my “Cocktails 101” series, so I have WWI artillery (it’s named after the eponymous 75 mm gun), and champagne on the brain already.  The old root of the word “pomegranate” comes from the French name for the fruit first cultivated in Persia; the French called it a pomme-grenade. The word “grenade”—referring to ordinance—is believed by historians to come from the Old French word that alluded to the resemblance of hand-sized bombs to the fragmented nature of the fruit within its spherical hull.  Hence, the fruity AND explosive moniker for this cocktail.  Plus, it will totally knock you on your ass after one or three.  BOOM.

So, here ya go, my flighty friends!  I’m happy to take any and all extra drinks coupons you may have laying around off y’alls hands in exchange.

The PomeGrenade

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

Juice of ¼ lime (plus a nice long twist cut from the rind)

1.5 oz. pomegranate liqueur

2 oz. sparkling wine (champagne, prosecco, or whatever you’ve got open)

To a cocktail shaker add sugar, lime, pomegranate liqueur, and 4-5 cubes ice.  Shake like crazy, and strain into a martini glass.  Fill to rim with champagne.  Garnish with a long lime twist.

Cranberry Nation

Cranberries Three Ways: in an Old-Fashioned, Sugared, and in a Cranberry-Rum ginger jam that is amazeballs instead of that jiggly canned shit served at Thanksgiving.  Trust me.  It’s also delightful stirred into rum cocktails, or into club soda with a dash of bitters for a gorgeous spritzer.

Cranberry-Clementine Old Fashioned.  Mid-century style (photo by Tristan Shepherd).

Cranberry-Clementine Old Fashioned. Mid-century style (photo by Tristan Shepherd).

My super-hip friends Fat Tire Ale and Cosmopolitan recently asked me to curate—which it seems is a fancy-schmancy word used everywhere now for ‘make shit up’ as opposed to the ‘curatorial’ work I did in museums, anyhoooo—the cocktails for a holiday party they hosted recently at their gorgeous mid-century modern house.  I was MORE than happy to do so, and even more excited about the substantial research and testing needed to get the job done.  I suffer for y’all.  Really I do.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with making a cranberry jam.  Cranberries are perfect for canning projects: they are easy to process (no peeling, seeding, etc.), take on flavor well, and already have a lot of natural pectin, which means they gel delightfully well.  As I often do, I referenced the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (ed by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine) to make sure my acid levels would be appropriate for canning to avoid the cooties.  In case you hadn’t heard:  Botulism sucks. Avoid it.  If you are a beginning canner, or just want to have pretty much The Bible of Canning on hand, THIS, my friends, is the book for you.   Here are the recipes I came up with, based very loosely on the Ball book’s Cranberry Rum Sauce.

Cranberry-Clementine Old-Fashioned

My buddy Ramos Gin Fizz and I, all fancied up.  Classic polaroid.  (photo by Cody Derrick)

My buddy Ramos Gin Fizz and I, all fancied up. Classic polaroid. (photo by Cody Derrick)

For the full story on my Old Fashioned experience, see the piece that I wrote for CityHomeCollective this week.  Apologies in advance to my in-laws: they are wonderful, talented, loving people.  They are just not-so-great bartenders.  

Rub ½ of the rim of a lowball glass with ¼ of a Clementine wedge;

dip the citrus-coated rim of the glass in turbinado sugar to coat.

To a short glass add:

juice of ¼ Clementine wedge (drop it into the glass, if you want to be like Don Draper’s daughter)

3 dashes bitters

½ tsp. cranberry jam (or cranberry sauce)

½ tsp sugar

Stir with a spoon until sugar dissolves.

Add 2 oz. bourbon

3-4 cubes ice

Top with an optional tiny baby splash of club soda.

Stir gently to combine.

Garnish with 2-3 sugared cranberries*.

Cranberry Jam with ginger and citrus.  If you have a few tablespoons left from canning, it's terrific on toast, or mixed into a rum-citrus cocktail with a little ginger beer floater.

Cranberry Jam with ginger and citrus. If you have a few tablespoons left from canning, it’s terrific on toast, or mixed into a rum-citrus cocktail with a little ginger beer floater.

Cranberry-Rum Jam with ginger and citrus

Makes nine or ten 8oz. jars

3 lg. (6”) cinnamon sticks, broken into 2” pieces

12 whole allspice berries

9 whole cloves

4 ½ cups granulated sugar

2- 2/3 cups water

12 cups fresh cranberries

3 large apples (sweet or tart, or a combo), peeled, cored, and chopped

1 ½ cups rum

2 Tbs. fresh grated ginger

Zest of 1 orange

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 envelope liquid fruit pectin

Prepare canner, jars and lids for water bath canning.

My Canning Bible.

My Canning Bible.

Make a spice bundle with a large square of cheesecloth: add cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves.

To a very large non-reactive saucepan, add sugar, water, and spice bag.  Bring to a boil, and stir constantly until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat, and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Add cranberries and apples, and return to boil.  Boil on med-low gently, stirring frequently to avoid scorching, for about 15-20 minutes, or until cranberries have burst and the apples are very tender.

Remove the spice bag, and remove pan from heat.  Add the rum to the pan.  Purée until smooth using an immersion blender (or in batches- careful!!!- in a regular blender).  Add the ginger, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

Bring to a high boil that cannot be stirred down (as for jam), add the liquid pectin, and stir constantly to avoid scorching.  Boil hard for one minute, then remove from heat.

Ladle hot jam into jars leaving ¼” headspace.  Wipe rims, add new sterilized lids and clean rings.  Tighten to fingertip tight.

Process in boiling water bath canner for sea-level baseline 15 minutes (adjust for altitude wherever you are!).  Turn off the heat, and remove canner lid.  Let jars sit in canner 5 minutes.  Remove jars, cool, and store for up to one year.

Sugared Cranberries

To make sugared cranberries:  whisk together 1 egg white and 1 Tbs. water in a medium bowl until frothy.

Throw 1 cup cranberries in the egg-water and toss to coat; shake off the excess egg by letting it drip through your fingers.

Immediately toss the cranberries with 1 cup turbinado or sanding sugar until evenly coated.  Set out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet to harden for 24 hours.  Store for up to one week on the cookie sheet or in a vented container (if it’s sealed tightly, the sugar will melt).

Utah Craft Beer Dinner at Finca

Dead soldiers from the 2nd Annual Utah Craft Beer Dinner

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock while trapped in a sea chest and thrown to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, you know that Utah beer makers are kickin’ some serious ass, and throwin’ down some wicked clever names at national and international brewer’s competitions.  Recently, 60 lucky folks attended the 2nd annual Utah Craft Beer Dinner, slurping up some award-winning suds alongside a table of impressively mustachioed brew masters representing four of Utah’s top breweries: Wasatch Beers, Red Rock Brewery, Uinta Brewing, and Epic Brewing.  All hosted at the ever-lovely and luscious Finca restaurant.  I was lucky enough to sit with my buddy IPA (aka Hoss on Hops), who actually knows A LOT about beer.  Hoss wrote a terrific blog review of all of the beers at the dinner, and you can read all about what a real beer aficionado thinks over there.  I thought they were all super tasty, and wonderful with the pairing menu. Yup, that just tapped out my beer knowledge (badap-bap-pssshhh).Oysters with a coriander and citrus vinaigrette

Finca (and Pago) owner Scott Evans, along with executive chef Phelix Gardner pulled out the big guns for this celebration of all things hops and yeast.  Oysters on the half shell with a playful coriander mignonette, grilled citrus salad, a rich Verduras y Castillas—that would be fall veggies in sherry cream with house-smoked bacon and pull-apart-with-butterfly-wings-succulent braised short ribs.  Duck confit Empanadas were delicious with Uinta’s Sea Legs Smoked Porter, my vote for sexiest label.  (I don’t know if they have that category at the Brewers competition, but they should).

Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter, fondled by my spectalulary tatooed buddy, Ramos Gin Fizz

Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter, fondled by my spectacularly tatooed buddy, Ramos Gin Fizz

We’d heard rumors that Finca’s massive paella pan would be pulled out for the event and weren’t disappointed.  How big is it?  Well, let’s just say we are tempted to sneak into Finca and pull it off the wall some snowy morning so we can take our whole family sledding on it, dogs included.  Or, put to it’s intended use (feckingkilljoys)  you make one bangin’ maldito Paella with house-smoked chicken, roasted local-foraged mushrooms and black garlic for six dozen of your closest friends.

Paella for 70

Paella for 70

Confirming that these guys take their final salvos seriously, Epic Brewing rounded out the meal with Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, a respectably shitface inducing 10.5% alcohol beer brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans and aged in High West Distillery barrels.  It’s terrific on its own, but paired with Finca’s delicate churros snuggled alongside a chocolate-stout beer dipping sauce it put us over the top.  Happily so.  I’ll be sending The Macallan with my beer shopping list to Epic’s Brewery Cold Case (at 825 South State Street – OPEN Sundays!) to go with all those holiday cookies I’ve told myself I wouldn’t eat this year.

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