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.

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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.

The MacHattan

Here’s an Irish-American twist on that New York classic, the Manhattan, made in the drier style of a Perfect Manhattan. A Manhattan crossed with a Tipperary Cocktail, y’all. Yum! 

The MacHattan

The MacHattan

The MacHattan Cocktail

To a bar glass with ice chunks add:

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

1/2 oz. Chartreuse

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth

2 oz. Irish whiskey

Stir, stir, stir with ice using a bar spoon for about 50 revolutions. Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lime zest.

The story behind the drink…

Over the weekend, our family celebrated our 21st annual St. Patrick’s Day Bash. What started out over 20 years ago as a bunch of wild land firefighters and field biologists drinking whiskey in our cabin smack dab  in the middle western Washington’s nowhere has morphed a lot over the years. In the early iterations, guests were free to bring their dogs along for the festivities, as long as they didn’t drink all the Guinness. When we lived in Boston while my hubster was in graduate school, we had crazy late ragers with all kinds of guests; one year we suspect there was an actual leprechaun in attendance. Okay, maybe we stereotyped, however, if you’re a redheaded 5’0″ man with a neck tattoo of a feckin’ shamrock that covers an area from ear to collar, you’re just asking for it. We had one disastrous year of dog/baby overlap, then had to Ix-nay the canines. Y’all won’t be surprised to hear that later the toddlers and primary school aged kiddos proved to be even more shitty guests than the dogs.

From Beehive Distilling's Instagram feed. Love y'all! Everyone's a little Irish at our fest.

From Beehive Distilling’s Instagram feed. Love y’all! Everyone’s a little Irish at our fest.

This year we made it a ‘no kids’ party. Sure, there were fewer guests in attendance overall, but my stress factor was practically cut in half not having to entertain the little bastards. And feedback from our guests was all about the keeping it this way for a while, at least until the kids are old enough to be designated drivers. I didn’t have the space or time to mix MacHattan cocktails for the masses, but our friends cleared out three cases of Guinness, and 7 bottles of Irish whiskey [and no, we don’t serve green beer. We’re grown-ups, and that shit’s disgusting]. Guests knowing about our “only Irish beverages provided” rule brought their own bottles of wine, whiskey, and beer beyond number. We even had our local friends from Beehive Distilling stop by and they nudged a bottle of gin onto the bar. It magically disappeared rather quickly! Y’all are sneaky like that. Here’s my favorite Irish toast to you:

That those who love us love us well. And those that don’t, may God turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping!

Beehive Bombshell

A million thanks to all y’all who took the time to vote for my cocktail the “Beehive Bombshell” over on the CocktailersAnonymous Instagram competition. Haven’t voted yet? Pretty please with cherries on top, go on over there, and pronto! Voting closes today and it’s a close one [though thanks in no small part to y’all, the Beehive Bombshell is ahead by a frog hair right now. Squeeee!]. It’s a riff on one of my favorite celebratory beverages, the festive French 75. I made this one using locally-produced Beehive Distilling Jack Rabbit Gin, and Utah-owned VIDA tequila añejo.

So. Good. It’s made even prettier [and tastier IMHO] by the kickass addition of Meyer lemon juice and sparkling rosé.

The Beehive Bombshell, as featured over on the Cocktailers Anonymous feed.

The Beehive Bombshell, as featured over on the Cocktailers Anonymous feed.

Beehive Bombshell

1.5 oz Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin

0.5 oz VIDA tequila añejo

1.25 teaspoons superfine sugar

0.5 oz Meyer lemon juice

Top with sparkling rosé [2-3 oz.]

In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, add all ingredients except for the wine. Shake briefly to combine, then strain into a champagne flute. Top slowly with sparkling rosé. Garnish with an extravagant lemon peel, of course! Oh la la.

For an extended history-slash-rant on my love of the French 75, check out this story I wrote last winter over at the cityhomeCOLLECTIVE blog: “There’s something about a champagne cocktail that cranks the flyin’ high freak-flag level of any event right up to 11 from the first toast, and the French 75 is arguably THE classic bubbly cocktail. Fair warning: it’s the kind of cocktail that sneaks up on you like a velvet sledgehammer. After a few of these, you’ll be stumbling into the next day wearing nothing but a tuxedo jacket and false eyelashes. That don’t belong to you.”

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.

 

 

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