Repeal Day Bourbon Punch

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

A boozy punch for a crowd!

The key to making this very old school-style punch is making the oleo-saccharum, basically a process for releasing all of the goodness and zing of the lemon oils from the zest, which then gets made into a shrub to balance the fruit/acid/sugar. This is a technique of pre-Civil War era origins which I’ve messed with a bit (see sources below), popular with booze slingers from the Early American Republic through the early cocktail era. It’s a pain in the ass, for sure, to peel all those lemons, but get to work: it’s totally worth it after you’ve completed making the shrub base a couple of days later. I made this punch by request for my friends over at Sugar House Distillery for a private event they held to celebrate the release of their first bourbon whiskey. All grains sourced within 200 miles, then fermented, distilled, barreled and bottled in house! This recipe makes a quart of shrub concentrate, which when combined with three bottles bourbon and three bottles sparkling wine makes enough generous drinks for 40-60 people. Or a dozen of my friends. Collect erry’body’s keys upon arrival, just sayin’. This punch is some potent stuff!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who'd have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distilling and I are pretty dang excited!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who’d have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distillery and I are pretty dang excited!

Repeal Day Punch

1 quart lemon shrub*

3 bottles bourbon

3 bottles sparkling wine (err towards brut profile)

Combine well and serve over ice

 

*Shrub ingredients:

6 big juicy lemons

2 1/4 cups demerara sugar (divided use)

6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice)

½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely

6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever, the small green things)

4-5 whole white peppercorns

1″ of a cinnamon stick (more if you really like cinnamon)

To make the shrub:

Prepare an oleo-saccharum (oil-sugar) by completely removing zest (just the peels without any white parts – a swivel potato peeler is the perfect tool for this job!) of six large juicy lemons. In a big bowl, combine the lemon peels with 1 cup demerara or raw turbinado sugar. Stir to combine, smash peels a bit with the back of a wooden spoon to grind in the sugar. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, and move to a warm spot out of direct sunlight- this bowl’s gonna be living there for a while so get used to it! Reserve all those whole peeled lemons in the refrigerator; you’ll be needing them later. Every time you remember (every 3-4 hours or so), stir and smash the sugar and peels some more. Do this for at least 12 hours and up to two days. You’ll eventually have a nice pool of lemony oily, syrupy goodness in your bowl of curly lemon peels.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we've been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we’ve been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

While that’s going, you can prepare the spice syrup. To a quart or other large heat-proof lidded jar, add 1 ½ cups demerara or raw turbinado sugar, bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil, and pour hot water over the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add up to another 1/4 more hot water to dissolve sugar, if needed. Add the following spices to this simple syrup: 6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice), ½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely, 6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever), 4-5 whole white peppercorns, and a 1″ piece of a cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine, then let sit until the syrup reaches room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick (really, or the entire brew will taste only of cinnamon). Put a lid on that jar, and refrigerate until you’ve got your oleo-saccharum nice and runny.

When the oleo-saccharum is ready, juice the reserved 6 lemons over the lemon oil (it’s great if some pulp and pips end up in the bowl, no worries! You’ll be straining this, anyway). Stir well to combine. Add the spice syrup to the bowl with the lemony goodness. Stir well again, and let sit at room temp to meld for a few hours. Stir again, then strain through a sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth to catch all the woody bits. Decant into another lidded jar (this should make about a 4 cups/1 quart of shrub, if it’s not quite 4 cups, add enough water to fill the quart jar) and refrigerate until ready for use, up to two weeks.

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

For booze geeks wanting to explore the delights of historic punch recipes, I highly recommend picking up a copy of David Wondrich’s treatise on the subject, “PUNCH: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl” (Penguin, 2010). Therein he discusses the roots and uses of various recipes for making oleo-saccharum and other alcoholically alchemical wonders. The Repeal Day Punch recipe I made is loosely based on Wondrich’s historic research on the Chatham Artillery Punch, and old Georgia recipe that featured bourbon, rum, brandy mixed with lemon oil and juice in horse buckets.

Full disclosure: the guys at Sugar House Distillery paid me to curate this punch recipe for them. Which I did gladly, since their booze kicks ass and they’re fantastic fellas. -abg

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Fall Fandango

The Fall Fandango Silver rum, Applejack, stout beer syrup, cardamom & chocolate bitters, and apple Pok Pok

The Fall Fandango
Silver rum, Applejack, stout beer syrup, cardamom & chocolate bitters, and apple Pok Pok

This rum based cocktail combines my favorite flavors of fall: apples, coffee, chocolate, and rum. Yum!

The Fall Fandango

1.5 oz white rum (I used Sugar House Distilling’s Silver Rum)

0.75 oz Laird’s Applejack

0.75 oz chocolate-coffee stout syrup*

0.5 oz Pok Pok apple sipping vinegar

2 dashes cardamom bitters

2 dashes chocolate bitters

tiny splash of seltzer

To a mixing glass filled with ice, add all ingredients. Stir for 50 revolutions. Strain into a highball glass over a bigass ice cube infused with some cacao nibs (about ¼ tsp per cube). Splash in a teaspoon or two of seltzer. Garnish with thin apple slices. Drizzle apple slices with a little more of the beer syrup.

Chocolate coffee stout beer syrup

Chocolate coffee stout beer syrup

*To make beer syrup: to a heavy non-reactive saucepan, add 2 cups of beer. For this cocktail, I used Epic Brewing’s Big Bad Baptist, a stout beer made with cacao and coffee and finished in whiskey barrels. I know, it seems a shame to make syrup out of this amazing beer, but it’s worth it! Bring the beer to a slight boil over med-high heat, then reduce heat to med-low, stir often to prevent scorching, and simmer until the beer is reduced by half (about 30 minutes). Remove from the heat, and cool for about 5-10 minutes at room temp. Add 1 cup raw (turbinado or demerara) sugar and keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely to room temp, pour the syrup into a lidded jar, and refrigerate until ready to use. It’ll keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.  

 

The story behind the drink….

About a year and a half ago, I got a call from a colleague who works in philanthropy for a local museum. They were putting together live auction items for their annual gala, and for one item they were planning an “Ultimate Chocolate Experience” private VIP dinner, since the museum had just launched a wildly successful visiting Chocolate exhibit (for which I’d written a promo piece for my other gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE). They asked if I’d be willing to create a chocolate-themed original cocktail for the event, to which I replied “Hell, yes!” That’s right up my alley: kind of a H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) assignment on a meta level.

Long story short, some of my dear friends bid on the item and won. With everyone’s crazy busy lives, we finally saw all the stars align and had the dinner for 16 guests last weekend. It was amazing! The talented and generous folks at Millcreek Cacao Roasters provided some of their superb chocolate (really, the quality and sourcing are top notch) for the building blocks of many of my recipes. Luckily, there was a bit left over for me to eat straight from the bar!

This lucky duck is looking over my Oaxaca Old Fashioned during the very important R & D phase of my chocolate cocktail assignment

This lucky duck is looking over my Oaxaca Old Fashioned during the very important R & D phase of my chocolate cocktail assignment

I made the “Fall Fandango” rum-based cocktail using a lot of locally sourced ingredients, and it was far and away the crowd favorite. I also offered a “Oaxaca Old Fashioned” using a shot of cacao nib infused rye, ½ tsp raw sugar, a barspoon of pomegranate grenadine, and 3-4 dashes mole bitters; served over a bigass ice ball, and garnished with a candied orange slice drizzled with some Millcreek Cacao 70% chocolate (and yes, those chocolate candied oranges are insane on their own. Only 2 out of 3 made it into my cocktail kit – the others ‘mysteriously’ disappeared during my kids’ quality control check).

There are always folks who appreciate a non-alcohol option, and it’s been my point as a host to make some effort to serve a drink made with as much detail and care as the boozy crowd gets on the regular. I made a zingy and refreshing spritzer (recipe below).

Me serving up the NA spritzer. Finish it up with a straw and a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice for garnish.

Me serving up the NA spritzer. Finish it up with a straw and a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice for garnish.

Blood Orange & Chocolate Spritzer

To a tall glass filled with ice add:

0.5 oz Pok Pok blood orange sipping vinegar

3-4 dashes chocolate bitters

1 barspoon pomegranate grenadine

Stir well to combine all ingredients, and fill to the rim with seltzer (about 3-4 ounces). Serve with a straw. Garnish with a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice.

Shake Your Razz

A big sassy drink brimming with raspberries and rye, this is a terrific cocktail for pre-batching to serve a crowd. Perfect for tailgating and picnics!

Shake Your Razz. Thanks to my girlfriend Pink Lady for coming over to be my drinks research partner/hand model.

Shake Your Razz. Thanks to my girlfriend Pink Lady for coming over to be my drinks research partner/hand model.

Shake Your Razz

To a pint mason jar add:

2-3 basil leaves

3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1.5 oz. raspberry-champagne vinegar shrub*

1.5 oz. black sun tea

0.5 oz. Disaronno

2 oz. rye whiskey

Fill jar almost to the top with ice, screw on the lid, and shake shake shake it like a Polaroid picture. Fill with more ice, if needed and serve with a straw.

*a cold shrub with a ratio of 6 parts fresh raspberries, 6 parts baker’s sugar, and 5 parts champagne vinegar (7% acid min.) by weight. Macerate for 48-72 hours and strain to remove solids.

The story behind the drink…

We’ve chatted about shrubs on this here blog before, as they’re dead easy to make with whatever you’ve got on hand. Shrubs are something I like to throw together as I’m going through fruits and vegetables during canning: the perfect specimens go into the canning jars, the moldy bits go into the chicken-feed bowl, and the bruised and banged-up pieces go into another bowl to be made into shrubs. Since all of my shrub recipes use pretty basic ratios by weight, it doesn’t matter how much or little fruit you end up with, as long as you’ve put enough acid in the ratio. Raspberries have a notoriously short window of ideal preservation; it seems like about a third of every package are a goopy mess. Perfect for making shrubs.

I was super honored to have my girlfriend Lime Rickey invite me over last weekend to co-host a party she threw for a cocktail club here in town run by SLC boozy blogger Chelsea (better known as Heartbeat Nosh). Her cocktail club is fancy, y’all. They have dues and a calendar going out for a whole year, and they are all very young, hip, tattooed mommy bloggers with Pinterest-worthy sponsorships and fabulous shit like that. The bar was set HIGH, and I was definitely the oldest and least inked gal in the room. And since when I get nervous my voice gets even higher and more twangy than usual (think Wynonna Judd channeling Minnie Mouse- it ain’t pretty), the ladies were a very tolerant group for me goin’ on and on about how much I love shrubs. And whiskey. They’re a hilarious and fun group of gals; check out their collective Instagram feed at #hbncocktailclub for some great ideas.

I chose this cocktail to shake up for them for three reasons: 1) I thought they might want to learn a bit about shrubs, ’cause they’re freakin’ awesome, 2) it’s easy to pre-batch for a crowd, and 3) it’s fun and pretty and requires a bit of audience participation, which is always a hit in my book.

It also happens to be pretty damn delicious: the amaretto gives a nice mellow sweet base note, where rye’s spicy kick (use at least 95 proof for this one) comes right through the zing of the shrub. Peychaud’s bitters keep the color bright and add a nice licorice tickle to keep things interesting, even as the drink gets watered down a bit. Black tea adds body and volume to this boozy drink without clouding the flavors, making it a great session cocktail. This is a primo drink for tailgating parties or picnics, since you can pre-mix all the ingredients in individual mason jars for shaking AND serving, load them all right back into the cardboard carriers by the dozen. Just add ice and a straw when you get to your party spot. Bring a few backup ingredients to mix refills on site and you are golden, my friends. I’ve made this exact same drink swapping out apricot, peach, or pear shrubs for the raspberry and they’re all pretty delightful. Try using mint, tarragon, or rosemary instead of basil, too. It’s all good.

 

Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

This summery bourbon-based cocktail’s addition of coarse black sea salt from Hawaii (available online and at specialty stores) rounds out Aperol’s bitter notes and makes watermelon’s sweetness sing.

Smashing Melons

1/4 cup chopped watermelon with juice

½ tsp. sugar

3-4 large basil leaves

½ oz. fresh orange juice

black sea salt

½ oz Aperol

2 oz bourbon

To a cocktail shaker add watermelon, sugar, and basil leaves. Muddle thoroughly. Add two generous handfuls of ice, a big pinch of Hawaiian black sea salt, Aperol, and bourbon. Shake, shake, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with a basil leaf and a watermelon wedge sprinkled with more black sea salt.

The story behind the drink….

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Nothing screams summertime day drinking quite like a fruity cocktail. Especially one made with ubiquitous watermelon and a little hit of bodacious herbaceousness from basil or mint. I recently wrote a piece about using salt in cocktails for Devour Magazine (go check it out! I appreciate the clicks, friends!). I had the great pleasure of hitting some of my favorite SLC hot spots, Undercurrent Bar and Bodega to try what they’ve been mixing up with salt. And up on Main Street in Park City, that hip and moody joint, O.P. Rockwell, I tried a classic gin-forward Corpse Reviver No. 2 prepared brilliantly by barman Chris Panarelli. He graciously added a pinch of salt to the shaker at my request so we could try the original side-by-side with one made by salt to put our salty theories to the test. We liked ‘em both. Inspired by all of this salty sipping, I started working on some re-interpretations of summer favorites, including this kickass watermelon and bourbon cooler.

 

Firecracker Moonshine Jell-O Shots

Layered Jell-O shots.  Party like it's 1847!

Layered Jell-O shots. Party like it’s 1847!

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) is a general request from friends who’ve been asking for my recipe for patriotic moonshine jell-O shots. I make mine with PopRocks and cherries. This recipe originally posted in 2013, but IMHO jell-O shots are a classic appropriate for any old time of the year!

That’s right, people: We are making Freaking Moonshine Jell-O Shots.  With PopRocks on top!

The verdict:  Pretty damn good

The verdict: Pretty damn good

I made the ones photographed here for a July 4th party hosted by Lemon Drop and IPA (a.k.a. Hoss on Hops) in 2013 and blogged about it back then. They were a freaking HIT.  Half I made without alcohol; those were topped with cherries (to make sure the kiddos, pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, and Mormons didn’t get the boozy ones by accident).  Half were made using 80 proof white corn whiskey (commercially available “moonshine”) instead of the frat party favorite Everclear. I left those unadorned until just before serving, then I scattered about ¼ teaspoon of Pop Rocks (yes! The exploding in your mouth candy!) on each shot. The combination of the whiff of Moonshine with the sweet gumminess of the Jell-O was perfectly balanced by the acoustic and sensory bang of the Pop Rocks.  And nobody died from combining Pop Rocks and alcohol, so take that, urban mythologists. As a basis for this recipe, and for help figuring out how to make the “white” layer, I turned to a Wiki-how tutorial on making Patriots football Jell-o shots.  Of course, you can substitute any colors/flavors you want, and you can always use plain old vodka if you don’t have corn liquor on hand. This recipe makes about 35 shots, depending upon what kind of containers you use and how full you fill them.

Layered Moonshine Jell-O shots

(makes about 35)

1 – 3 oz. box blue Jell-O

2 packets plain gelatin

1 can (1 cup) sweetened condensed milk

1 – 3 oz. box red Jell-O

3 cups boiling water (divided use)

2 ½  cups clear relatively flavorless liquor (corn whiskey or vodka)

3-4 packages Cherry or Watermelon (red) Pop Rocks

To assemble your shots: Place 35 small plastic cups on a large rimmed sheet tray.  Lightly spray all of the cups with flavorless cooking spray to reduce sticking.

Blue layer

Blue layer

For the blue layer:  combine blue Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water; stir until completely dissolved.  Let cool slightly (otherwise your liquor will evaporate from the heat- we don’t want that!!).  Add the liquor, and pour equally into small cups.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set.

For the white layer:  sprinkle gelatin packets over 1 ½ cups water just off the boil; whisk quickly to dissolve completely.  Keep whisking and add the condensed milk and ½ cup liquor.   After it’s all combined, pour gently over the blue layer 2/3 the way up the cup.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set.

White layer

White layer

For the red layer:  combine red Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water; stir until completely dissolved.  Let cool slightly.  Add the liquor, and pour equally into small cups.  Add fruit to top at this point, if desired.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set. For the PopRocks Firecracker finale!  As you are serving the Jell-O shots, have guest sprinkle about ¼ tsp. Rop Rocks on their Jell-O shot.

Everything was a little blurry by this time, including this shot

Everything was a little blurry by this time, including this shot

Rhubourbon Smash

Rhubourbon Smash Rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, lemon, rhubarb bitters, and lots of bourbon.

Rhubourbon Smash
Rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, lemon, rhubarb bitters, and lots of bourbon.

Rhubourbon Smash

2 oz. high proof bourbon

3 dashes rhubarb bitters

3 oz. rhubarb smash*

1 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

To a pint glass add rhubarb smash (including fruit pulp) and bitters. Smash with a muddler or the back of a spoon to further break up the fruit. Add remaining ingredients, plenty of cracked ice, then stir, stir, stir with a bar spoon for about a minute. Strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Serve with a straw and strawberry garnish, if so desired.

Rhubarb-strawberry smash. Basically, macerated fruit.

Rhubarb-strawberry smash. Basically, macerated fruit.

*Rhubarb smash: combine 2/3 c. rough chopped rhubarb, 1/3 c. chopped strawberries, and 1 cup sugar in a large non-reactive bowl or quart jar. Rest in the warmest part of your fridge (or in the cellar) for at least 24 hours and up to 2 days, until fruit has released all its juices. Stir to re-incorporate sugar and evenly distribute fruit before using. Smash syrup will keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks.

The story behind the drink….

Growing up, my sibs and I spent summers with our maternal grandparents in rural Indiana, and my Gram had rhubarb plants spotted along her drive like landscaping features from the Little Shop of Horrors. They were massive plants, or maybe just remain that way in my childhood memory. Mostly they were shudderifically scary because they were inevitably full of spiders, and harvesting stalks from them was an arachnophobic kid’s freakin’ nightmare. After much squealing and squawking about the spiders, I’d chop off the toxic leaves, and blast the stems with a garden hose before I brought ‘em inside. They were transformed into preserves, pickles, and my everliving favorite: pie. Gram made the best pie crust (using chilled shortening and oleo) and there’s nothing I liked better than helping her make the criss-cross lattice weave delicately topping a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Nothing says "Spring" quite like peonies and rhubarb-strawberry cocktails.

Nothing says “Spring” quite like peonies and rhubarb-strawberry cocktails.

One of the first perennials I planted in our Utah garden when we moved here 10 years ago were two rhubarb plants. Only one of ‘em survived the first winter, but it supplies a shit-load of stalks for our family starting in April and going all summer long. Right now I’m in the midst of putting up all things rhubarb, usually with it’s sweet-tart Gemini sister strawberry right along side. I’m brewing up a huge batch of rhubarb-strawberry shrub, and last night skimmed some of the fruit and sugar mash prior to adding the shrub vinegar blend to make a zippy bourbon concoction. It’d be in the ‘smash’ category of cocktails (think along the lines of a julep, but adding fruit to the muddle), which is a half-assed way of saying you smash whatever you like and add booze. Excellent.

For more on how to make seasonal fruit cocktail shrubs, check out my previous post, here.

Sugar House Slingshot

Sugar House Slingshot: silver rum, charred lemon, honey-thyme syrup, cardamom bitters, and salt.

Sugar House Slingshot: silver rum, charred lemon, honey-thyme syrup, cardamom bitters, and salt.

Sugar House Slingshot

2 oz. silver rum

1 oz. honey-thyme syrup*

1 oz. charred lemon juice**

2 dashes cardamom bitters

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake like crazy. Rub the rim of a highball glass with charred lemon, and dip half the rim into coarse salt (I used Utah-sourced RealSalt). Fill glass with fresh ice, strain drink into glass over ice. Pop a little club soda floater on top, if desired. Garnish with thyme and a slice of charred lemon.

The story behind the drink:

This week I was thrilled to hear that my friends over at Sugar House Distilling got the go-ahead for sales of their latest release, a molasses distilled silver rum. Rum gets me all excited for spring imbibing: tiki drinks, mojitos, anything umbrella embellished and slurped through a straw. Slings are usually short cocktails made with liquor, citrus, sugar, and water, so this is a riff on that theme but using a honey-thyme syrup, instead of sugar.

ImageThis freaky unseasonably warm weather lately means we’ve uncovered the grill for the season—no doubt we should anticipate snow any day as a result of this arrogance—and I always throw on a few extra halved lemons when I’ve got some free space on the grates. The juice of these charred lemons makes a spectacular smoky sour mix, and in this case kicks some serious ass paired with the sweet-spicy notes of cardamom bitters. I’ve been playing around with making homemade cardamom bitters, but until I tweak that to satisfaction, you can find several varieties (like Fee Brothers) at specialty stores.

*To make honey-thyme syrup: in Mason jar mix ½ cup honey with ¼ cup water just off the boil; stir until honey is dissolved. Drop in a generous sprig of fresh thyme. Cool to room temp, remove thyme. This syrup will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

**Charred lemon juice: Halve a bunch of lemons. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar over each cut surface. Grill, cut side down, over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until lemons are smoking and well charred. Remove from heat and rest at room temperature for an hour or two. Keep several lemons aside for use as garnishes, and juice the remaining charred lemons, straining out seeds and excess pulp. Juice will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.