Category Archives: test kitchen

we try cocktail recipes from others

Jumping on the Homemade Bandwagon

Ever since Miss Mojito started testing tonics and investigating the possibility of homemade tonic water, she’s experienced a growing interest in the make-your-own-ingredient movement. Expert mixologists are well known for creating their own syrups, cordials and the like, but more and more the trend is for at-home-cocktail-imbibers to adapt these techniques for their own kitchens.

In a May 19 article on San Francisco-based blog, the poster recalls her experience at a “House-Made Ingredients How-To” class, where instructors Jeff Holinger and Neyah White taught attendees about the value of experimenting with everyday kitchen items—pickle juice, for example—with a waste-not, want-not mentality. The end results are liquors with new and exciting flavors.

And in Michelle Maynard’s May 19 New York Times article, “Ginger Ale Without the Can,” Ms. Maynard has convinced me to try my hand at a homemade version of the soda to integrate into my home bar. A homemade ginger ale and bourbon sounds like it would literally burst with freshness.

Wikihow even provides an easy, 10-step method for creating your own cordials.  With summer upon us, I’m thinking that a cordial made from strawberries or raspberries might be the ultimate refreshment. I’d love to try a dollop in a flute of champagne.

And the prospect of homemade, pomegranate-flavored grenadine is truly exciting. The process of boiling and reducing a mixture of sugar and pomegranate juice couldn’t be more simple, although I might try replacing the two cups of sugar with agave nectar or Stevia natural sweetener. That’s the beauty of homemade ingredients, after all: you can adapt the recipes to suit your needs.

Miss Mojito is eager to know: do you have any home ingredient experiments to share?

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Shocking Tonic Results

Some girlfriends gathered chez moi last weekend for some high school reminiscing, appetizer consuming and cocktail imbibing. We started by sipping prosecco with hibiscus flowers and syrup (which I’ll save for another post). I then proceeded to turn my guests into guinea pigs with my much anticipated tonic testing. The results, I must say, were surprising indeed! But first, let’s meet the contestants.

My hope was to integrate a homemade tonic into my tasting. Todd Thrasher, of Restaurant Eve fame, has a recipe that the Washington Post published a while back, but I had a bit of trouble putting my hands on some of the ingredients, namely quinine powder and citric acid. So, we had to resort to store-bought brands. I picked two brands widely available in grocery stores: Schweppes Diet Tonic and Canada Dry Regular Tonic. My third pick was the Q Tonic, a new discovery I mentioned in a previous post. Made from organic agave nectar instead of sugar, it’s billed as a healthy, superior tonic.

I mixed up three mini-cocktails for each of my friends, using Smirnoff Vodka or Tanqueray Gin and a squeeze of lime. It was a blind tasting (I used Solo cups and labeled the bottom of each with a Sharpee), so our results were completely unbiased.

The results? Three out of four gals picked the diet tonic as their favorite! The Q Tonic samples—which ring in schweppesat a staggering $10 for around 25 ounces—tasted a bit flavorless to our palettes. Comparatively, the diet tonic—a bargain at around $2 for about 33 ounces—had a sweeter flavor that seemed to accentuate the drink’s lime-iness. Needless to say, we felt extremely unsophisticated to discover that the organic, “gourmet” tonic was the least palatable to our taste buds. But I’m not dismissing the Q Tonic all together. I think it might be best suited to really bringing out the flavor of the liquor. A pairing of Q Tonic with the cucumber-infused Hendrick’s gin, for example, or maybe a flavored vodka, might be better suited to bringing out the tonic’s best attributes. But I think you’ll have to give it a try and see for yourself! You can find out where to buy Q Tonic on their Web site.

posted by Miss Mojito

S&C test kitchen–bloody mary tomato mousse

This past weekend, friends LC and CA invited us over for a round of Texas hold ’em. Given they appreciate a good cocktail as much as we do, it was a perfect opportunity for me to test the Bloody Mary Tomato Mousse cocktail recently featured in “Summer in a cup.”

There are many things to like about this drink: the colors are impressive, its innovative, and I love the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. I thought the flavor of the multiple, ripe tomatoes would make my mouth explode, but that didn’t quite happen. While I would make this cocktail again, I would continue to experiment with the ingredients, the portions (notice how I had a lot more of the red mixture), and the layering technique (not quite as beautiful as the original picture).

The original recipe comes from Washington Post Food Section Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad. I didn’t alter the recipe much – I added fesh basil, more Worcestershire and hot pepper sauce. I recommend when making, you taste each batch of puree and alter spices accordingly. The S&C modified recipe is the one below.


· 3 small yellow tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
· Freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 5 medium red tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
· Several dashes hot pepper sauce (to taste)
· 5 to 6 tablespoons vodka, plus more to taste (preferably from the freezer)
· 3 small green tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 2 ribs celery, washed, trimmed and cut into chunks
· Handful of fresh basil
· Celery salt (kosher salt mixed with celery seed)


I made the pureed tomato batches several hours before serving, so I stored each in separate plastic containers.

Original recipe calls for pureeing in a blender for 5 minutes. Fearing my blender couldn’t handle it, I opted for a food processor, and didn’t need the full 5 minutes. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy, so my tomato purees were very liquidy. I put the containers in the freezer, rather than the refrigerator, hoping to thicken the mixture.

1. Place the yellow tomato pieces in a food processor and puree for 3-5 minutes until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender jar as needed. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to taste. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken.

2. Rinse out the food processor and place the red tomato pieces inside; puree for 3-5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and vodka to taste; puree for a few seconds just to combine. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken.

3. Rinse out the food processor, then add the green tomato pieces, chunks of celery, and basil. Puree for 3-5 minutes, or until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken. (For next time: I will try adding a roasted poblano pepper to the green mixture.)

4. Remove puree mixtures about a half-hour before serving. The mixtures should not be frozen (only slightly crystalized along the edge of the containers). In the meantime, make the celery salt.

5. When ready to serve – I had a lot more of the red mixture, so I placed the red layer on the bottom of the glass. Then, carefully pour the yellow mixture on top (pouring it over the back of a spoon will cause less agitation). Add a splash of well-chilled vodka. Then, pour the green mixture on top of the yellow mixture. Sprinkle with celery salt.

Overall rating: 3 out of 4 stars