Category Archives: Cocktails and Spirits

Spirit finds, recipes and pairings with artisan cocktails/spirits

Cocktail time, with Brighton Beach inspiration

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Green tea and tarragon cooler, A refreshing cocktail inspired by the flavors of Brighton Beach

Summer days off call for staycations for this New Yorker. Wandering unfamiliar neighborhoods often results in discovering strange exotic ingredients and specialties readily available to satisfy the cravings of home for the inhabitants who have immigrated from a far away land. Last weekends destination was Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, aka Little Odessa, easily accessable on the B or Q train and filled with a taste of Russia’s flavorful culture.

Lucky for me I had A Russian friend to guide me on my journey through the mountains of sausage, tinned fish, dumplings,  savory pies, farmers cheeses and bizarre beverages tempting me at every market on the main drag.

sausage

Best Buy International

 

Best Buy International Food Company offered up the best selection of everything,  including more cured meats than I could count, an impressive amount of beer and other liquid refreshment, including Tarragon soda, a Georgian treat that my friend explained is Russia’s version of Mt. Dew. We left with bags filled spilling over with exotic treats, including two bottles of the herbal soda to experiment with later.

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Neon green herbal soda

Varenichnaya, our second stop, is a must visit for dumpling lovers! Specializing in succulent skewers of grilled meat and vareniki (a light Russian dumpling boiled and sautéed in butter) this spot filled our bellies with a generous helping of little pockets of paper-thin dough filled with sauerkraut and potato. Chicken and lamb served on red-hot slivers of metal were a delicious steal at under $5 a piece.

vareniki

A plate of Russian comfort

Vareniki and Pelmeni ( a meat stuffed dumpling) are both available to go frozen in bags of fifty for under ten dollars. If you choose to dine in this spot is byob only.

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Eight different selections of take away dumplings

Numerous other stops on the main drag offer up interesting visits including walls of Vodka, savory baked goods made by local ladies and a book store that stocks Russian nesting dolls featuring images of the band Queen and Elvis. Walk on the beach nearby to end a perfect day away, without ever leaving NYC.

Mix up one of my cocktails for a taste inspired by Brighton Beach! It’s a thirst quenching cooler perfect for summer nights in Brighton or the location of your choice.

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Mix and garnish with lemon twist

Brighton Beach Cooler

In large glass over ice build-

2 oz Green tea infused Gin, I used this recipe

juice of one lime

juice of half lemon

1/2 ounce simple syrup

3 ounces Tarragon soda, available online

Stir and top with splash of club soda or sparkling water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boozy Brooklyn Egg Cream; A childhood favorite for adults only

Sammy's Romanian table side egg cream!

Sammy’s Romanian table side egg cream!

I love egg creams! Whether crafted from vanilla (Manhattan style) or made with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup (Brooklyn style) they are a favorite treat with a long history. Traditionally they contain no egg or cream, just the perfect ratio of frosty cold milk, bubbly seltzer and sweet syrup. The inventor of this NY iconic beverage remains a mystery but mentions date back to the 1880s, with one possibly theory that it was based on a try at recreating a favorite French drink enjoyed by Yiddish theatre poineer Boris Thomashevsky in Paris. Another popular theory is it was created on accident by Louis Auster. In the 1890s Brooklyn candy shop owner Louis Auster sold hundreds of egg creams a day, he even had his own secret recipe for chocolate syrup that he took to the grave.

Today, Sammy’s Romanian, my favorite NYC kitsch palace, turns this simple classic into a table side presentation, ending with a drizzle of Fox’s U-Bet swirled on your table. Eisenberg’s, one of NYC’s oldest deli counters serves countless egg creams paired with their deli sandwiches to happy customers daily. Down in the East Village Gem Spa newsstand is a stop on more than one food tour searching for the perfect egg cream!

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Boozy delicious egg cream!

When I first tasted Kings County Distillery’s chocolate corn whiskey I immediately though of trying my hand at egg cream greatness, but, with a boozy twist. This unusual whiskey, made in Brooklyn, is crafted from a blend of 80% NY state organic corn and 20% malt barley. After distillation it is infused with ground cacao bean husks from Mast Brothers Chocolate factory, also in Brooklyn. Smooth and rich it tastes like a bitter, silky, dark chocolate, without any sweetness. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have a need for chocolate whiskey, but, this is truly a phenomenal tipple that is perfect on its own or for mixing. Combining the rich chocolate flavor with vanilla I found adult egg cream heaven! Serve the traditional way with a salty pretzel on the side and enjoy a classic with a twist!

Boozy Egg Cream

4 ounces ice cold whole milk

1.5 ounces Kings County chocolate whisky

4 ounces chilled seltzer

2 tablespoons vanilla syrup

Blend milk, whiskey and 1 tablespoon syrup in fountain glass. Pour in seltzer, stir and drizzle additional syrup on top.

King's County Chocolate Whisky

Kings County Chocolate Whisky

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Cafe Rumaro cold brew cocktail; A delicious pick me up before or after dinner

A cold brew cocktail perfect for before or after dinner

A cold brew cocktail perfect for before or after dinner

Cold brew coffee is one of my summer favorites, and surprisingly easy to make. Add your choice of whiskey, rum or vodka, cream and simple syrup and it transforms into as a delicious pick me up at cocktail hour.

But what if you’re looking for coffee inspiration after dinner to enjoy with a  creamy cheese, tiramasu or butter cookies? Forget the boring Irish coffee and try mixing up this cocktail inspired by a recent evening filled with overindulgence. It hits all marks as both a digestif and an after dinner treat. The silky smooth cold brew melds perfectly with aged rum, bitter-sweet Amaro and just a touch of cherry cordial. Not too sweet, just a hint of spice and roasted, caramelized flavor. Something to satisfy those wanting something a bit out of the ordinary.

Each spirit compliments the dark, rich cold brewed coffee.

Each spirit compliments the dark, rich cold brewed coffee.

Cafe Rumaro

1.5 oz Cold Brew, you may use your favorite such as Stumptown or use this easy recipe

1.5 oz Diplomatico Reserva Rum

1.5 oz Ramazzotti Amaro

1 oz Wisniak cherry cordial

1 oz selter

Garnish with one of my Boozy cherries

Add cold brew, Amaro, Rum, cherry cordial to tall cocktail glass filled with ice. Stir with long bar spoon and top with seltzer. Garnish with cherry. Enjoy!!!!

 

Spirit Tasting Notes-

Diplomatico Reserva Rum, Venezuela– Rich and full, with golden syrup, Demerara and a hint of treacle. This 8 years old rum, product of the Batch distillation process, has reassuringly weighty oak in the background – polished mahogany notes. Hints of cinnamon, over-ripe oranges or orange liqueur and bitter dark chocolate. Amazingly smooth, gentle texture – like being stroked with a silk glove. Chocolate velvetiness on the palate, with creamy oak spice and citrus notes counteracting the syrupy sweetness. A sweet cocoa caress, with shimmering spices.- producer

Ramazzotti Amaro, Piedmont, Italy– Ausano Ramazzotti created the formula for Ramazzotti in his small Milan laboratory in 1815. His proved an immediate success. The recipe contains neither colouring nor artificial additives and is still secret today. Its most distinctive flavours are the Sicilian sweet oranges, bitter oranges from Curaçao, star anise and cardamom.- producer

 Wisniak  Cherry Cordial, Poland–  A fine representation of the elegant old Polish cherry liqueurs. The advantageous climate and soil conditions in Poland yield succulent black cherry varieties. Their sweet, ruby-colored juice with aromatic flavor of an incomparable bouquet produce… WISNIAK! Its low alcohol content and unique taste are sure to please the most discriminating connoisseurs.” -producer

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Killer Cucumber Cooler; The ultimate Summer cocktail for refreshment

Refreshingly delicious

Refreshingly delicious

I’ve been playing around with flavors for summer simple syrups using veggies and herbs. Cucumber syrup whether infused with herbal notes or on its own has come out as the clear winner for refreshment again and again! It can be mixed with citrus and sparkling wine, used as base in non alcoholic lemonade or mixed with white liquors such as Corn Whiskey, Vodka and Gin for a killer cocktail. One of my favorite syrup variations includes cucumber with the addition of fresh basil, it adds a beautiful aroma and subtle flavor that is simply delicious.

Thinking of spirits to mix with this magic elixir I experimented with my favorite Gin, G’Vine Florisian, a French offering made from  the subtle and rare green grape flower and neutral spirits distilled from grapes, G’Vine is delicate and floral, light and smooth, and is very mixable. It’s the Gin that changed the way I thought about Gin, often too strongly flavored for me.

With the dog days of summer on the way you may want to keep this special syrup on hand at all times. Mix up a pitcher of my cocktail, sit by the pool, on the roof or head for the beach and relax!

 

Florisian Cucumber Cooler

1 oz G’vine Florisian Gin

2 oz Cucumber Basil Syrup

1 oz fresh lime juice

Splash St Germain liquor

Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine

Seltzer or Club Soda

Build over ice in shaker and strain into chilled wine glass filled with ice. Top with equal parts club soda and Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. I like Veuve Ambal sparkling but you may use any dry sparkler. Enjoy!

Cucumber  basil syrup

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1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 shredded Persian cucumbers

12 basil leaves cut in thin strips

Heat sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat till boiling and mixture turns clear. Add cucumber and basil and remove from heat. Stir to incorporate solids into syrup. Cover and let mixture come to room temp and refrigerate for 4 hours. Strain solids from liquid, make sure to press liquid from cucumbers. Will keep up to two weeks in fridge.

 

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Aper-Fino Cocktail; A refreshing start to Summer sipping

A refreshing start to summer!

A refreshing start to summer!

Two of my favorite Summer sippers are Aperol, a slightly sweet and bitter apéritif and Fino Sherry, a dry, crisp, yeasty treat. What better way to maximize on my love for both than combining them in a delicious cocktail. Both are relatively low in alcohol so the addition of a local vodka adds just enough kick without packing too much of a punch. This is a perfect way to start your evening or enjoyed poolside!

Aper-Fino

1.5 oz. Aperol

1 oz. Lustau Fino Sherry

1/2 oz. Tuthilltown Indigenous Wheat Vodka

1 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon juice

Dash orange bitters

Dash rhubarb syrup, Morris Kitchen  or recipe here. This is also wonderful added to sparkling wine!

splash club soda

Fresh orange peel for garnish

Add Aperol, Sherry, lemon juice, Vodka, bitters, rhubarb syrup to shaker filled with ice. Shake till outside of shaker becomes frosty and strain into chilled stem glass. Add splash club soda to taste and garnish with fresh orange twist

Enjoy!

Wendy

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Filed under cocktail recipes, Cocktails and Spirits, NYC recipes culture, Wine Pairing Recipes