Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cocktail Hour

Yes, finally, a non-tomato oriented episode!

I’ve dabbling in cocktails, mostly when I get home from work and want to have something a little interesting to sip on. So far I’ve been sticking with the classics or variations thereof—although I’ve made a few gin-or-vodka plus seltzer and blackberry syrup drinks…sometimes spiked with a little gingercello.

But as the herbs in various pots are starting to founder or bolt, I figured I might as well make some use out of them—so I tried a couple of herbal syrups.

The first is a rather standard mint syrup using a recipe from a former managing partner of Gramercy Tavern. I cut his recipe in half, using 1 cup sugar, ½ cup water, and as much of the mint as I could salvage from a struggling plant. I used some of the flowers as well—I did that in the past when I made chocolate mint chip ice cream a couple summers ago and it worked out just fine.

Simmer for 5 minutes stirring frequently, then let cool for an hour and strain into a container.

The second was a lemon-basil syrup from David Lebovitz, using basil leaves, the zest of a lemon, and equal parts sugar and water. The larger amount of water makes for a lighter, less viscous syrup. More subtle and quirky. I doubled his recipe except for the lemon, because the lemon I had was pretty large. I figure this’ll be good with almost any spirit, as well as a prosecco or seltzer-based cocktail.

Simmer until it comes up to a boil, cool for an hour just like you do for the mint syrup, then strain through some cheesecloth into a jar or bottle.

Enjoy either of these with tea (iced or hot), seltzer, or any cocktail you choose.

This is a down-and-dirty mint julep. That’s my Grandma De Nys looking on. Don’t know if she ever had a mint julep, but since she was born in 1905, she most likely had a fair amount of cocktails in her day. This was pretty easy: a shot of Bulleit bourbon, a tablespoon of mint syrup, ice, and filled to the top with seltzer. I could’ve gotten away with a little less syrup, but it was pretty tasty nonetheless. I’d have garnished it with mint, but all the garnishable leaves were already used in the syrup.

Now these syrup efforts have me wondering what other ones I could make. Thyme could be good. Cilantro? Maybe, although a sweet cilantro syrup might be kinda weird. I’ll need to think about it.

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