Plum Loco

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) comes from my new best girlfriend who has several 30+ year old fruit trees in the backyard of her Avenues home in our Salty City. Plums, pears, apples, and other fruity goodness for days, people. The boys and I went over a few days ago and harvested buckets full of her late-season plums, and she’s still swimmin’ in ’em.  I’m sending her some of my Plum Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup–which is dead easy to make with even the squishiest of fruit you’ve got on hand– in thanks for sharing her bounty, and hope she’ll make this fab tequila cocktail with it, or perhaps an equally delish Plum Lucky (with gin) or Plum Crazy (with bourbon). It’s ALL good.

Plum Loco A tequila, plum & ginger glass of YUM

Plum Loco
A tequila, plum & ginger glass of YUM

 Plum Loco

1.5 oz (okay, more like 2) oz. tequila blanco

0.5 oz. Cointreau or triple sec

2 oz. Plum Ginger pink peppercorn syrup

splash of club soda

generous pinch of smoked sea salt

Fill a tall Collins glass with ice. To a bar glass filled with ice, add the tequila, Cointreau, and plum syrup. Stir with a bar spoon for a minute. Strain into the Collins glass. Add a splash of club soda floater. As with many sweet drinks, a good pinch of salt does wonders right on top; use plain kosher salt, or some wacky smoked sea salt you’ve been saving up. Get yourself a straw to slurp down all of that sweet, sweet goodness.

 

 

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Hachi Hive

The Hachi Hive

The Hachi Hive

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) is a request by many friends for the “Hachi Hive” cocktail developed at Salt Lake City’s award-winning Takashi restaurant by manager Rich Romney and barman Jonny Bonner.  We were slurping ’em down during a recent photo shoot and interview I did about Utah’s Jack Rabbit Gin [made by SLC-based Beehive Distilling] for cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, and it was also featured at the distiller’s launch party this spring. It’s decidedly refreshing and delicious, y’all, and one of my new favorite drinks during this heat wave. The only downside is that Takashi’s bar uses fresh yuzu* juice in the cocktail, which can be difficult to source. I found yuzu juice at my favorite local Asian foods market, but it was $17.99 a bottle. Not a typo, friends. Holy Liquid Gold, Batman! A great substitution is plain old fresh lemon juice. It also calls for using a honey-sage syrup, which is dead easy to make at home–recipe, below– and I love it in other white booze-based cocktails.

It’s sweet, tart, and lively drink, and perfect for summer sippin’.  Distiller Chris Barlow said of this betty of a beverage, “it haunted my dreams.” Agreed, Chris. It’s some sublime shit.

HACHI HIVE 

To a tall bar glass filled with ice add:

2 oz. floral gin [I used Jack Rabbit Gin]

1 oz. Elderflower liqueur [such as St. Germain]

1 oz. honey-sage syrup

1 oz. yuzu [or lemon] juice

Takashi's bar

Takashi’s bar

Stir with a bar spoon until the glass is frosty [about one minute]. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and add a spanked sage leaf for garnish.

To make honey-sage syrup:  This is perfect for that barely-filtered crusty honey your neighbor gave you from their hives that may or may not have a stray bee, bits of honeycomb, and a dog hair or two; you’ll be straining it yourself, anyway. At Takashi, they are using honey from their roof-top beehives [“hachi” = “bee” in Japanese] and I’m sure they are much more tidy about their filtering process than my neighborhood honey donors.  To one cup of honey in a pint Mason jar, add one cup boiling water. Stir until honey is dissolved evenly. Add 3-4 fresh clean sage leaves, and let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours to cool off [or overnight]. Strain through a fine mesh into a clean glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

*Yuzu is a very sour and seedy citrus fruit developed in Southeast Asia, although you can grow it in the US [see info about California sourcing, here]. It’s about the size of a tangerine, and folks use the pulp, rind, and juice for cooking and cocktails.

Moonshine Layered Jello shots

Moonshine Jello shots.

Moonshine Jello shots.

That’s right y’all: Moonshine Jello shots, layered in patriotic colors and topped with exploding candy. I posted this recipe last July, but have gotten lots of requests for a re-blog and update, so here ya go.

I made the ones photographed here for a July 4th party hosted by Lemon Drop and IPA (a.k.a. Hoss on Hops) last year. They were a freaking HIT. Half I made without alcohol; those were topped with fresh 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 (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

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 verrrryyy slowly 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 gently equally into small cups.  Add fruit to top at this point, if desired.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set. Don’t add the Pop Rocks yet. 

For the PopRocks Firecracker finale!  As you are serving the Jell-O shots, have guests sprinkle about ¼ tsp. Pop Rocks on their Jell-O shot right before slurping.

 

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

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

Sassy Orange Julep

Bourbon-Campari Sassy Orange Julep

Bourbon-Campari Sassy Orange Julep

I’m going to cut straight to the chase on this one–well, as much as I ever do–because it is so good. So refreshing. So few ingredients! Plus, I abso-freaking-LOVE Campari cocktails of any kind, and this is like a classic Boulevardier cocktail, but lighter, fruity-er and served on the rocks. If you still have some of that minted syrup left over from Derby weekend, now, my friend, is the time to use it up or pitch it out because pretty soon you’re going to have that nasty sugar gel bacteria glob baby growing in the middle of your syrup. Nasty.

This is also really good made with plain old simple syrup (equal parts granulated sugar dissolved in very hot water until combined, then cooled) too, but add a bit more mint to your shaker.  No need to muddle the shit out of your mint; you’ll get plenty of flavor by just adding it to the shaker and letting it beat up against all that ice while you shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Now you’ve got that song stuck in your head, too.  You’re welcome. Sh-sh-sh-sh-shake it.

To a cocktail shaker add:

1.5 oz bourbon

0.5 oz Campari

4-5 leaves fresh mint

The juice of ½ fresh orange

1 oz simple syrup (BONUS if you’ve got minted simple syrup)

Enough ice to almost cover your ingredients

Shake it shake it shake it until frothy.

Pour into a pint mason jar or (in this photo) Belgian beer glass.  Pretty!  Add another 1-2 oz. club soda if it’s particularly hot day and you are pacing yourself.

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint  

My guys last season. Awwwww

My guys last season. Awwwww

Nothing heralds Spring quite like baseball season in our house. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a completely shallow fan of the game. I’m not super invested in a particular team, don’t follow stats with regularity, and am an inconsistent televised viewer. But I freaking love the experience of live games. When I worked for the National Park Service based out of Boston [this is pre-kids, y’all], I traveled a shit-ton for my job as a museum consultant, and a couple of my co-workers were also big baseball fans. We’d plan our summer evenings around visiting AAA, double-A, and single-A ballparks for games. We’d get there early, buy a hot dog and some peanuts, and drink draft beers which would invariably get warm long before we’d finish them in the humid dank heat of mid-summer in say, Virginia.

Both my boys play, and my hubster, The Macallan, has been a little league coach for forever. Sure, I love watching my kids’ games, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the pros [or in the case of our town, the Salt Lake Bees, a AAA farm team for the Angels] knock out nine innings. We plan our family road trips around visiting as many MLB ballparks as we can, since we’ve made a goal of hitting every major league stadium for a game before our youngest graduates from high school.

The Colorado Rockies players were super-friendly with the kids and signed a ton of pre-game autographs. Thanks, guys!

The Colorado Rockies players were super-friendly with the kids and signed a ton of pre-game autographs. Thanks, guys!

A couple of weeks ago, we took a break from the mayhem of shoulder season [in our house, it’s the overlap of the kids still ski racing, and the beginning of little league baseball #FML – hence, taking a month off from blog-writing. Sorry!], and went to a couple of preseason games in Arizona during “Cactus League” Spring training. One of the nicer surprises of the visit was checking out the Rockies/Diamondbacks practice facility Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Those folks know how to run a badass ballpark: gracious and helpful staff, parking was efficient and easy, the practice fields gorgeous, and the Rockies players were genuinely fan-friendly and signed tons of autographs for the kids pregame. There were even complementary sunscreen dispensers located around the ballpark, with free-flow SPF 30. Nice.

32 oz. white sangria at Salt River Fields [at Talking Stick, near Scottsdale, Arizona]

32 oz. white sangria at Salt River Fields [at Talking Stick, near Scottsdale, Arizona]

As you’d imagine, I base a lot of my positive stadium experience on the adult beverage and food selection, and Salt River Fields did not disappoint. Lots of great microbrews on tap, terrific selection of ballpark standard fare as well as local nosh [fantastic street tacos and margaritas the size of your head!], and my favorite: 32 oz. sangrias. Choose red or white, mixed up with as my barely-dressed barmaid described, “wine, brandy, Sprite, and fruit juice.” Not what I’d use, but it’s an efficient and delicious vehicle for dispensing alcoholic refreshment. So, while my guys discretely ogled the halter-clad and short-short sporting drinks slingers, I appreciated the players warming up pre-game, and sipped [okay, guzzled] my humongous sangria. I find these athletes vigor, flexibility, and dedication to fitness as showcase exceptionally well in baseball pants inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Rockies pre-game warm up. Their athleticism is inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Rockies pre-game warm up. Their athleticism is inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Mmmm, baseball. A little something for everyone.*

Here’s my version of white wine sangria, which is more flavor-packed than “authentic.” Mix it up on a scorching day for instant refreshment. Halter tops and tight pants optional.

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint  [makes about 6 cups]

1 750-ml bottle dry white wine

½  cup Melon liqueur [like Midori] OR orange liqueur [such as Cointreau]

2 Tbs. [or more, to taste] agave nectar

1 cup honeydew melon, cubed into ½” pieces

1 lemon, sliced

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1 10 oz. bottle club soda, chilled

6 stems fresh mint

 

White Wine Sangria with Melon  Mint

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint

To a large pitcher, add all ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Fill six tumblers or large wine glasses with ice, and pour sangria over ice. Smack the mint sprigs between your palms [as if clapping], to release fragrance and place a sprig of mint in each glass. Split the fruit equally between the glasses as a garnish and for yummy boozing snacking.

* Yes, I realize this is shallow and objectifying the undeniable talent that it takes to mix drinks or play major-league baseball. But this blog is about mixing drinks and enjoying all that life has to offer, not about changing the rules of society. Everybody’s got their thing.

Bloody Marys 2 Ways: Sriracha Basil Lime & Smoky Cajun Bacon

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers at last year's Grand Targhee race.

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers at last year’s Grand Targhee race.

Last Spring, I wrote about our [mis]adventures at Grand Targhee with my boys’ downhill race team, the Brighton Competition Team, and shared a recipe for a traditional spicy Bloody Mary.The madness has continued yet again this season, with both kids competing in alpine race events all over the place. Usually on different mountains on the same day. #FML. The Macallan has finally embraced Google calendar and we’ve synched up our lives to get the boys where they need to go.

Slope-side selfie

Slope-side selfie

Over President’s Day weekend—one of the busiest weekends at every ski resort, just sayin’ in case you are already making vacation plans for next year—my older son Tim Collins raced slalom and giant slalom at Snowbird. One of my favorite traditions of ski racing, and hell, any outdoor sporting event, is the tailgate party. In the past year, our home mountain team has paired up with Summit Ski Team of Park City and put on a seriously festive tailgating party, that is [dare I say it] the envy of other race teams. Well, at least we have the best bar and loudest cowbells.

Summit Ski Team's fantastic "GrillSki" [patent pending, I'm sure].

Summit Ski Team’s fantastic “GrillSki” [patent pending, I’m sure].

Think of moving everything from your truck ONTO the mountain at whatever resort you are visiting: tents, chairs, tables, grills, coolers, bars. You name it. A parent on the Summit team has even become the envy of pretty much every race dad in the Intermountain Division by mounting a grill on SKIS = the GrillSki. Yes, you can slide your grill to the tailgate spot. Ingenious. It’s up there with the ‘shot ski’ as best re-appropriation of old gear.

On Monday, our family’s contributions to the party were a couple of different kinds of Bloody Mary mix and an XL bottle of vodka. Each of these recipes makes about 1 quart, so increase quantities as needed.  A plastic gallon jug, for instance, is perfect for pouring mixers for a crowd. If we’ve got the space and muscle, I like bringing pint Mason jars to serve the drinks; just put ice and all of your ingredients into the individual jars and they become both the shaker and the glass. Keep all the lids on hand to seal up the jars for mess-free clean up and transport.

Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Mary Bar

Sriracha-Lime-Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix

As one race dad said, “This isn’t a cocktail. This is the best freakin’ breakfast I ever had in a glass.” Aw, y’all say the sweetest things.

3 ½ cups [about 28 oz. +/-] tomato juice or original V8 juice

¼ cup Sriracha hot sauce

½ cup packed [about 2 large heads] Thai basil leaves

4 scallions

Juice of 3 fresh limes

Sriracha Bloody Mary with Lime, Thai Basil, and Scallions

Sriracha Bloody Mary with Lime, Thai Basil, and Scallions

To a small food processor [or large-mouthed quart jar so you can use a stick blender] add all ingredients EXCEPT for the tomato juice. Blend thoroughly, until basil and onions are minced but not a gooey slushy mess. Add herb mix to the quart jar along with tomato juice, replace lid, and shake to combine. Add some crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste. Mix up with a ratio of 2 parts Bloody Mary mix to one part vodka. Serve over ice. Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil and a slivered scallion.

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary Mix

You can either make your own bacon salt—cook down 3-4 strips of smoked bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and cool, then add to a food processor with a pinch of smoked paprika and ¼ cup kosher salt and buzz until all minced together—or use a commercially available blend. If you have time, infuse your vodka by adding all those leftover bacon drippings to 2 cups vodka, chill for a couple of days, and then strain through a double layer of cheesecloth before use.

3 ½ cups [about 28 oz. +/-] tomato juice or original V8 juice

¼ cup Crystal [or other Louisiana-type] hot sauce

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 Tbs. bacon salt [plus additional for dipping the rim of the cup]

2 tsp. liquid smoke

Juice of 1 large fresh lemon

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary. Great slope-side or during your next ski tuning session.

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary. Great slope-side or during your next ski tuning session.

Combine all ingredients in a quart Mason jar and shake like crazy. If desired, rub the rim of the cup/glass with a lemon wedge and dip in additional bacon salt. Mix up with a ratio of 2 parts Bloody Mary mix to one part vodka. Serve over ice, and garnish with pickled okra, a strip of bacon, olives, or whatever you’ve got on hand.

Thanks BST for this photo of my racer!

Thanks BST for this photo of my racer!

Hemingway Mojito: another Mason jar cocktail

Hemingway Mojito: Grapefruit, rum, Disaronno, ginger syrup, mint & kumquat

Hemingway Mojito: Grapefruit, rum, Disaronno, ginger syrup, mint & kumquat

I’m all up in here canning kumquats this week. They’re delightful little buggers with the wonderful dichotomy of having the reverse tastes of most citrus: bitter fruit and sweet skin. They’re definitely not in the Canning 101 category. Like okra and apricots, they’re notorious floaters and take quite a bit of pre-canner finessing [soaking in baking soda, pricking the skin to prevent bursting, etc.]. I’ll post the recipe soon, not to worry.

Right now, I’m frantically packing and getting ready for a trip to Louisville to see my fan-damily AND attend the Bourbon Classic with my mom and sis. Girls trip! Until I get back and tell all y’all about my boozy adventures in the Bluegrass, I hope this will tide you over.

Hemingway Mojito [story soon, promise!]

4 mint leaves

2 oz. aged rum [like Mount Gay]

0.5 oz. Disaronno liqueur

4 oz. grapefruit juice

1 oz. ginger simple syrup*

Additional mint leaves and a kumquat for garnish [or, a gingered kumquat in rum-mint syrup, if you’ve got ‘em. If not, I’ll be sharing the recipe real soon!]

To a pint Mason jar, add all ingredients except garnish. Fill with ice, leaving about 1” head space. Attach lid, and shake like crazy. Remove lid and add a little club soda, if desired, and the extra mint garnish.  Enjoy!

*to make ginger simple syrup: make a pint of simple syrup as usual, then add about 1/3 cup rough chopped peeled fresh ginger while still hot. Cool to room temp, add lid to jar, and refrigerate overnight. Strain out ginger before using. Keep refrigerated, and it’ll last a couple of weeks.