You order a Manhattan, and the bartender grabs a dusty, room temperature bottle of Martini & Rossi vermouth. That usually means two things: 1. You should have ordered a beer, and 2. That cocktail is going to suck. I’ve learned my lesson: Make Manhattans at home!
Infusing booze may be my new favorite pastime. I’m not talking gummy bear vodka or Jolly Rancher gin or whatever one might find appropriate to soak in rum. A few weeks ago, I set out to make apple-infused brandy with freshly sliced Honeycrisps and Granny Smiths, cinnamon sticks, cloves, sugar, and some E&J. After letting it stew for about a week and a half, I gave the concoction a taste. The verdict? WHOA VERY SWEET. But also, Wow, this tastes like a grown-up, sophisticated version of an apple pie shot.
I strained the apple brandy through a sieve, grudgingly discarding all but a few of the apple slices. I munched a couple of them and they were tasty, but the side effect was some serious dry mouth—not worth it. The strained apple brandy, on the other hand, was totally worth the minimal effort and 10–11 days of patience. The only change I’d make would be to cut the sugar down a bit. It calls for 2 cups of sugar to 750mL of brandy, but I think I’d be safe using 1.5 or even just 1 cup next time. If all infusing is this simple and delicious, you can expect to see more fresh fruit, veggie, herb, and/or spice infused liquor on this blog in the future.
As for what to do with the apple brandy, it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. You can drink it on its own for a sweet autumnal treat, but I prefer to mix it with something with a little more bite. I think it’d be great with Four Roses bourbon, but the Rittenhouse Rye I had on hand did the trick well enough.
To assemble: Pour the apple brandy and whiskey over ice in a mixing glass. Squeeze in the lemon and add a dash of bitters. Stir until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an apple chip.
The apple chips are so simple to make, and the added cinnamon sprinkled on top really adds to the aroma of the drink. Cheers and happy freezing fall!
Heard of it? I feel like I’ve been suffering from some serious vacation brain ever since I came back from a glorious week of relaxation in Florida, followed by a fantastical three-day Beyoncé-themed bachelorette party in Nashvegas.
Needless to say, it’s been a little painful getting into the swing of my everyday office life. To ease the burden of entering back into normalcy, I’ve been making what I like to call Summer Break Cocktails. My current obsession: the beergarita.
If you like a super-sweet frozen margarita/beergarita, then by all means pick up one of those delicious concentrate cans that you pop into the blender—that’s all I was drinking on vacation. This particular beergarita is a less sweet, on-the-rocks version, which I think makes for a more refreshing summertime drink.
Makes two servings
Juice from one large ruby red grapefruit
Juice from one lime
4 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
12 oz. bottle of Corona (or similar)
1–2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
Optional: kosher salt and chopped rosemary for the rim
If you like a salted rim, combine chopped rosemary and kosher salt on a plate.
Moisten the rim of a mason jar with a lime, dip in the salt mixture, and set aside to dry. Combine the grapefruit juice (I kept the pulp) and lime juice, and stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. In a cocktail shaker filled with a handful of small ice cubes, combine the juice mixture, tequila, and Cointreau, and shake until chilled. Pour the contents (including the ice) into the mason jar, and top off with cold beer.
Side note: these pics were taken on an enormous floral Pendelton beach towel—an Easter gift from my mom that I’m a littttle too excited about Anywho, you could always omit the beer and serve this in a martini or margarita glass.
After a weeklong Florida vacation full of sun, sand, and tropical cocktails—Piña Coladas, Beergaritas, Mojitos, and Caipirinhas galore!—it finally feels like summer.
I’m nothing if not a sucker for the spirits of the season. In summer’s case, this usually means opening my mind and liver to two liquors I don’t usually drink: rum and tequila. (Chances are you know at least five people who’ve had “a really bad night” with tequila and generally stay away from the stuff. My really bad night involved too many Tequila Sunrises mixed with a smidge too much freshman-in-college idiocy.) Tequila agrees with me well enough now, especially if I mix it with margarita mix and a Corona to make the all-powerful Beergarita. I could go on about Beergaritas for days, but I’ll save that for another time.
The original recipe for the El Grito calls for a smokier reposado tequila, but I enjoyed the blanco tequila from Espólon so much on vacation that I decided to swap the brown tequila for white. I should note that Marc found this recipe in Spirit—the in-flight magazine for Southwest Airlines. I’d always thought that airline reading was limited to learning about dog stairs in SkyMall and perusing those terrifying “In Case of Water Landing” safety cards. Who knew!
1 oz. Sriracha and 3 cups water (for Sriracha ice cubes)
2 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
Juice from half a large lime (or about 1 oz.)
Sprig of rosemary
Mix the Sriracha and water and pour into ice cubes trays. Freeze overnight. Shake the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Moisten the rim of a tall, skinny glass with a lime wedge, then twist in kosher salt to coat. (I used a Collins glass at first, but it was too big.) Pour the drink over three to four Sriracha ice cubes. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.
The ice cubes melt as you drink, infusing the cocktail with that spicy, smoky Sriracha flavor as you sip. And it’s definitely a sipper. Enjoy!
Faux Negroni? Doppelgröni? Call this frankensteined cocktail whatever you like, except a “Negroni.” Apparently, one without Campari just isn’t a Negroni—the bitter aperitif is essential to the drink.
I first learned of Campari at about 16, when I was reading the Gossip Girl YA book series well before Blake Lively ruined it for me on TV. In the books, these Upper East Side high school WASPs drank Campari on the rocks. Naturally, I assumed the drink was some sort of sweet, fruity concoction, probably because all I’d tasted at the time was Watermelon Pucker and Malibu Coconut Rum.
Eventually I learned that Campari is a bitter liqueur, but I was still surprised by its intense taste the first time I had a Negroni. It took me a couple tries to warm up to the flavor of the drink, but now I crave ’em. Unfortunately I don’t have any Campari in my bar yet, so when I saw Luxardo Bitter on sale at Binny’s Beverage Depot, I snagged it up. (Apparently $9.99 is an insanely low price.) I’d heard it was a good introduction to bitter aperitifs, and god knows I can’t pass up a 50% sale on booze.
Here’s the recipe for the slightly controversial drink. Admittedly, it isn’t quite as punchy as a standard Negroni, but it still tasted great and quenched my craving for a bitter pre-dinner cocktail.
1.5 oz. dry gin
1.5 oz. Luxardo Bitter
1.5 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Dolin)
Splash of soda (optional)
Slice of orange peel for garnish
Fill a lowball glass with ice. Pour the gin, Luxardo Bitter, and sweet vermouth into the glass and gently stir to mix. I added a splash of soda, but that part’s up to you. Add a slice of orange peel for garnish.