Category Archives: gin

How to end summer

You’ve got an abundance of basil in your garden. Your farmer’s market still has cucumbers. You’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer produce. You’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer itself. And you want a cocktail.

We give you the cucumber basil gimlet.

This refreshing summer beverage was adapted from a recipe found over at What’s Gaby Cooking (but originally inspired by a Miss Mojito post from a few years back). Gaby probably had some time to think about, and plan for, her preparation of this cocktail. Ms. S&C’s preparation was a little last minute, and she didn’t have the patience for simple-syrup-making and pureed-cucumber-straining. So, her adaptation went something like this. (With more time, she would recommend the simple syrup making and cucumber puree straining.)

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Basil — large handful
  • Agave nectar
  • Lime — one half per cocktail
  • Gin

Directions (for one cocktail):

Peel cucumber, slice and puree until finely chopped. Fill glass with spoonful of pureed cucumber, 7 or so basil leaves, a squirt of agave nectar, juice of half a lime, and then muddle. Fill glass with ice, add an once and a half of gin and stir well (or preferably, transfer to a cocktail shaker to mix). Garnish with a cucumber wheel and sprig of fresh basil.

As a bonus: maybe you’ve got some extra tomatoes. Maybe that arugula became the bumper crop you never expected. Pick up some pre-made naan, whip up some arugula pesto, and top with whatever is around (maybe some parmigiano-reggiano,  maybe some goat cheese, and maybe fresh basil). And perfetto! Summer ingredients at their best.

posted by Ms. S&C

Showing Some Love for the G&T

I’ve mentioned before that the gin & tonic is my most frequent go-to drink for its combination of two important factors: ease of assembly and general availability at any and every bar (not to mention the positively pleasing taste factor). So I was more than a little excited to read Jason Wilson’s most recent column for the Washington Post, which describes the writer’s quest and research in elevating the classic cocktail from a weeknight treat to a special occasion libation.

I recommend the article – and its recipes – to you in its entirety, but here are a few of my fave take-away lessons for your own G&T pleasure.

  • Don’t limit yourself to lime. Different gins lend themselves to different flavor profiles – some are more well suited to citrus, other benefit from amplifying herbaceous notes with thyme or other herbs and spices.
  • Homemade tonic is worth consideration. It does take some specialty ingredients and equipment – namely, quinine powder and a soda siphon – but making your own tonic gives you the ability to customize it with flavor infusions.
  • There’s more to gin than just Tanqueray. Don’t get me wrong, this go-to gin is a fantastic quality. But there’s a whole world of other gin brands to be explored!

So what are we waiting for? It’s high time to get experimental and take our G&T concocting up a notch with creative garnishes, quality tonics and new and exciting gin prospects.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Making (music) references

You may or may not know this: Ms. S&C likes music. All kinds of music. She particularly likes listening to music with a cocktail in hand.

Over on Facebook — both on the S&C fan page and my personal page — I often make reference to what I’m eating, what I’m drinking, and what I’m listening to. (When it comes to status updates, they are like my holy trinity.) A friend suggested that I incorporate more music selections/recommendations in my S&C blog posts. You know she’s a good friend when (a) she reads my blog, and (b) says she likes my taste in music (thanks, AV!)

What you also may or may not know: I fancy using a song title as a blog post title. Some of the references are more subtle than others, but here are a few faves:

  • Femme Fatalesnakeskin Louboutins are a perfect match for this song from the Velvet Underground & Nico album. The shoes are wicked cool and so is the song, the band, and Nico.
  • Paint it Black — the patent leather boots post was inspired by the Rolling Stones song (which Rolling Stone magazine lists as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.)
  • Dancing Queen — easy reference for a Project Runway blog post about drag queens, but the ABBA song is deserving.
  • Dry the Rain — when writing about rain boots, I couldn’t help but think about all the movie scenes with John Cusack in the rain, and also the scene from High Fidelity,when he tries to get customers to buy the Beta Band album by playing this song.
  • Such Great Heights — I love the original Postal Service song, but the Iron & Wine version is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard (like so beautiful it hurts beautiful). And, high heels = great heights, right?
  • Killing the Blues — things that go well together: purses and shoes, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Then, there’s an occasion when a song inspires a drink selection. Who wouldn’t want a sloe gin fizz after hearing Portland, Oregon, from Loretta Lynn and Jack White? Loretta Lynn is amazing. Jack White is amazing. This song is amazing. Too bad a sloe gin fizz isn’t quite as amazing (but worth trying).

Sloe Gin Fizz
(recipe courtesy of Esquire)

  • 2 ounces sloe gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • club soda

Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker. Strain into a small, chilled Collins glass and fizz to an inch or so from the top — splash the club soda or seltzer in rather carelessly, so that it foams.

“Well Portland Oregon and sloe gin fizz / If that ain’t love then tell me what is uh huh, uh huh.”

“Well sloe gin fizz works mighty fast / When you drink it by the pitcher and not by the glass uh huh, uh huh.”

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C reader mail–out of this world cocktails

Ms. Shoes and Cocktails,

Long story, but my company is having an “Around the World” day where we have to pick a country/region/place, make food from that area, and then present it to a judge wearing an outfit representative of the area. My team has picked “Outer Space” for our theme. We’ll be making futuristic, astronaut-like food, and someone brought up the idea of a tang drink.

Might you have any ideas for a tang-inspired cocktail? Ideally we would serve it out of a punch bowl. We are also planning on making shot glasses out of ice (someone in the group has the appropriate molds to do so).

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you!
LC

——————————————

Dear LC,

I love your workplace! First, mobile beer carts, now an “Around the World” day where cocktails will be served.

I’ve tried to find something out-of-this-world, given your team has chosen “Outer Space” as your theme. But, it’s been a challenge. In a good way.

I’ve seen this “Jupiter” drink in a few of my cocktail books. Not sure it can be turned into a “traditional” punch, but it looks pretty tasty (and, I know your affection for gin). Tang could certainly be substituted for the OJ. And, since it should be served in a chilled glass, an ice shot glass would be a great touch.

Jupiter Cocktail
(serves one)

  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/4 oz French Vermouth (white/clear vermouth)
  • 1 tablespoon Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Parfait Amour

Shake ingredients well over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Another option that has significantly less ingredients, and much easier to prepare — how  about tang and champagne? What do you think they call mimosas in outer space?

Please let me know what you decide!

Ms. S&C

——————————————

Update on the “Around the World” office party: LC’s team decided on tang mimosas, and really took their Outer Space theme to a whole other level. Check out their impressive menu. (I forgot to ask about what outfits they wore.)

  • Cocktail: Tang Mimosa
  • Main dish: Dehydrated steak and potatoes (Grass-fed Cabernet Sauvignon-marinated beef jerky with homemade potato chips)
  • Dessert: Fire in ice (Chipotle vanilla ice cream)
  • Chef’s gift: Whisky gums (Glenlivet whisky-flavored gummy candy)

Need an outer space themed cocktail? Or something to complement futuristic, astronaut-like food? Try tang mimosas.

posted by Ms. S&C

Meryl and Julia: the cocktails

The 82nd annual Academy Awards are this Sunday. I’ll admit, I do get enraptured in the red carpet hoopla, the extravagant celebrity fashion, the self-indulgent speeches. Plus, I like movies. I also like the timing of this shindig. A month or so before the awards, I happily escape the cold and head to the movie theater to see many of the Oscar nominated picks.

No big awards show is a big awards show without Meryl Streep. Last Sunday’s New York Times called her a “cinematic chameleon for all audiences.” And with that, I dedicate this blog post to her 16th Oscar nomination — this year for best performance by an actress in a leading role for “Julie and Julia.” In this role, Meryl becomes Julia Child — and, because of her outstanding performance — Julia has now become Meryl. When Ms. Streep was nominated for an Academy Award last year for “Doubt,” Gourmet named a cocktail in her honor.

The Meryl Streep cocktail, courtesy of Gourmet,
because the lady is tasteful, classy and golden.

The Meryl Streep
courtesy of Gourmet

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon Goldschläger, including some gold flecks
  • 1 teaspoon Bénédictine
  • Demi-sec Champagne or Prosecco (well-chilled)

Combine Goldschläger and Bénédictine in a Champagne flute, then top off with Champagne.

Another cocktail option for awards ceremony watching, is a drink honoring of Ms. Julia Child. Back in August, a New York Times’ Shaken & Stirred column focused on Noilly Prat vermouth. The recipe featured? The Upside-Down Martini, which is said to be Julia’s favorite cocktail.

Upside-Down Martini
courtesy of The New York Times, adapted from Libation

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3 3/4 ounces Noilly Prat vermouth
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Combine the gin and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist. (Alternatively, you can serve it on the rocks; combine the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice, garnish and serve.)

Ms. S&C will be *live blogging* the event from a friend’s seventh annual Oscar Extravaganza party. So, if you’re home watching the show, check-in with S&C and share your comments!

posted by Ms. S&C

Cocktails Savoy!

“Herein after learn all that is known about COCKTAILS.” And so starts Harry Craddock’s 1930 compilation of “cocktails, rickeys, daisies, slings, shrubs, smashes, fizzes, juleps, cobblers, fixes and other drinks.” As head barman at the famous Savoy Hotel in London in the 1920s and 1930s, Mr. Craddock translated his expertise into a true treasure trove for today’s cocktail connoisseur. And Miss Mojito couldn’t have been happier to be gifted with this beautifully illustrated book from a good pal with a similar penchant for all-things-cocktail.

The book contains upwards of 750 recipes presented in a simple style. In most recipes, the ingredients are listed in proportions (1/2 of this to 1/2 of that), although you will find scattered about a few vague references (add “a glass” of gin, for example). In addition to cocktail recipes, the reader also receives a brief education in wine and wine drinking.

Mr. Craddock’s collection is not all business, as witnessed by the quips and remarks found throughout the recipes. The Rattlesnake Cocktail (whiskey, egg shite, sweetened lemon juice and absinthe) is so named, he writes, “because it will either cure rattlesnake bite, or kill rattlesnakes, or make you see them.” And the Jabberwock Cocktail (orange bitters, gin, sherry, caperitif), he warns, is sure to make you “gyre and gimble in the wabe until brillig all right, all right.”  The man’s a hoot!

But humor certainly takes second place to usefulness in this guide. I certainly appreciate “A Few Hints for the Young Mixer,” namely:

  1. Ice is nearly always an absolute essential for any Cocktail.
  2. Never use the same ice twice. (I’m totally guilty of this cocktail sin.)
  3. Remember that ingredients mix better in a shaker rather larger than is necessary to contain them. (I learned this one the hard way.)
  4. Shake the shaker as hard as you can: don’t just rock it: you are trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!
  5. If possible, ice your glasses before using them.
  6. Drink your Cocktail as soon as possible. Henry Craddock was once asked what was the best way to drink a Cocktail: “Quickly,” replied that great man, “while it’s laughing at you!”

Here are just a couple examples of Savoy cocktails that Miss Mojito is eager to try. I’ll be reporting back after I’ve done a bit more experimentation and exploration!

Mississippi Mule Cocktail

  • 2/3 dry gin
  • 1/6 lemon juice
  • 1/6 Creme de Cassis

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Mr. Manhattan Cocktail

  • One lump sugar
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 4 dashes orange juice
  • 1 glass gin
  • 4 mint leaves

Crush the lump of sugar in a little water. Then crush four leaves of green mint, and add remaining ingredients. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Dressing boldly (an update)

About a month ago, Ms. S&C declared that the goal of her fall wardrobe was to dress boldly. In her original blog post, she highlighted a few trends that were catching her eye. Did she follow-through on her own advice? Yes, sort-of.

Below are some of her recent purchases. Obviously, there’s not a lot of bold color and flashy prints in this selection – with the exception of the bright cobalt clutch. She likes this sweet, satin bow clutch because it can brighten up a lot of outfits. She’ll take it out when she’s in distressed denim (or her new black denim), and when wearing the all-occasion black dress.

Biker chic accessories are a popular fall trend. Ms. S&C picked up this studded belt, which she’ll wear high-waisted over her numerous black and gray cardigans, to make them much more exciting.

black-denimclutch_belt

As for shoes – Ms. S&C recently tossed a pair of black, peep-toe pumps from Nine West. She’d had them for at least five years, probably longer, and they showed their years. Replacing them was a necessity. She spotted these Nine West platforms when researching suede shoes for a reader, and she loves them. Her first day wearing them — a lady stopped her in Starbucks to comment.

Ms. S&C has been toying with buying a pair of booties for awhile now. She didn’t want anything too flashy, as she plans to wear them with shorter-length skirts/dresses and colorful tights. And, she didn’t want to spend a lot of money. She thinks she satisfied both requirements with these Report Dylan ankle boots.blk-platform

blk-bootie

While Ms. S&C likes trends, she prefers classic items with a long shelf-life. Not purposely, this mentality has transferred over to cocktail preferences of late. The drink in her hand on Friday’s, after work? It was a Tom Collins over the summer.  For the early fall, it’s been the classic martini — or more specifically, the original-pre-Prohibition martini, which is currently called the Fifty-Fifty Martini. Confused? It’s the martini with equal parts gin and equal parts vermouth. Why the extra vermouth? Read Jason Wilson’s, WaPo columnist, article “Stirrings of a Better Martini,” or this article from NYT’ Shaken and Stirred column. Vermouth is good in cocktails,people. Use it.

Since there are so many variations of the martini, I find it’s easiest just to tell the bartender what I want in it, and how I want it prepared. For example, tonight, I’ll simply say, “Martini with equal parts gin and vermouth, up, with a twist. And, a dash of orange bitters, if you got ‘em.” Please. 

posted by Ms. S&C