Omnivore Books Punch Contest

Omnivore Books Punch Contest

The punch contest at Omnivore Books was lots of fun and a nice crowd showed up to taste-test.  There were 10 punch entries and I’m guessing 40-50 people showed up to drink punch.  At $5, it was a pretty good deal!  I decided to represent my home state and county (Monmouth County, NJ) with a Laird’s Applejack based punch.  Laird’s is America’s oldest native distillery and their recipe for Applejack was given to George Washington after he requested it.  They have a great product and history.  I was inspired in part by a classic applejack cocktail called the Applejack Rabbit, so I named my entry, Jersey Rabbit Punch.  I didn’t win, but a number of people told me that it was delicious, including Celia Sack, the owner of Omnivore Books, and the third-place winner told me that he voted for my punch, so hey, I’m holding my head high!

Jersey Rabbit Punch

The winner was a punch called “Mission Gutter Juice”.  The ingredients included Smirnoff Vodka, Fresca diet soda, Country Time Pink Lemonade powder, and Bud Light. They were also the only entrants that planned for a big crowd.  I thought I made a lot of punch, but after everyone else’s punch was gone, they were still mixing up new bowls for the crowd!  I’m guessing they’ve made this before…can you say party?

1st Place - Mission Gutter Juice

Mission Gutter Juice

The second-place winner was Jetsetter Punch.  It was a mixture of brandy, rum, cachaca, cava, green tea, and pineapple-nutmeg syrup.  Third place went to Kagetaka’s Grog, a persimmon vodka-based punch.  It was a fun time and frankly, I wish there were more punch contests in bookstores!

Kagetaka's Grog ingredient list

Jetsetter Punch

I was asked for the recipe for my entry, so here it is…enjoy!

Jersey Rabbit Punch

  • 6 cups Laird’s Applejack (About a 750 ml bottle and a half)
  • 1.5 cups Appleton Special Gold Jamaica Rum
  • 1 quart Odwalla fresh-pressed apple juice
  • 14 oz fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 6 oz Grade B pure maple syrup
  • 6 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • .5 oz Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Bitters
  • 1 750 ml bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider (chilled)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ice ring with lemon and lime (or apple slices)

Mix first 7 ingredients and chill.  When ready to serve empty into a large punch bowl.  Add the bottle of sparkling apple cider and stir.  Add ice ring to punch and grate nutmeg over the top of punch.

Jersey Rabbit Punch a few minutes before it was all gone!

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , ,

Cocktail Grapefruit

Cocktail Grapefruit

Before I loved cocktails, I loved food.  And at a fairly early age, I fell in love with shopping for food.  Yes, I love grocery shopping.  I do.  I love to read the labels and thump the melons, stroll the aisles slowly, and peer at the new products. When I see something new to me, especially in the produce section (where things do not surprise me frequently), I stop and lean in for a closer look.  So when I saw the sign proclaiming Cocktail Grapefruit, I was intrigued.  I snapped a pic and brought one home.  It was much smaller than your average grapefruit and had a yellow inside when cut open.  Lots of seeds, but juicy, so I’m planning on using the juice rather than eat it for breakfast.  After doing a quick google, I found some more info on this petite pamplemousse.  It turns out it isn’t really a grapefruit at all, but a cross between a Frua Mandarin and a Pummelo.  It tastes like a grapefruit, but without the bitterness or sourness.  Kind of like a sweet grapefruit.  I’m going to buy some more and make a Cocktail Grapefruit Cocktail!  Stay tuned…

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm  Comments (3)  

Sweet and Lovely

Photo by Esther Kirby, Flickr

A little rough around the edges, but sweet and lovely all the same. Here is a cocktail from David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948):

Sweet and Lovely

  • 1 part Maraschino & Grenadine (half and half)
  • 2 parts Lime Juice
  • 3 parts Gin
  • 5 parts Applejack

Shake with cracked ice.

Make sure you use Maraschino liqueur, not the juice from your maraschino cherry jar.  I substituted raspberry syrup for the grenadine which I liked, but either way would work. Just make sure to use real pomegranate grenadine and all will be good.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Q & A with Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow mixin' it up. Photo by Eric Susch, Flickr.

No, no, don’t get all excited. I didn’t bump into Rachel Maddow on the bus and grill her about her cocktail preferences.  Imbibe Magazine had a great little Q & A with her, and if you want to read it for yourself click here.  I must say, the woman has excellent taste in cocktails.  Also, apparently we both share a love of rhum agricole and diet Dr. Pepper. (I try, but I just can’t stop!)  Rachel says that she likes her rye old fashioneds, hold the fruit.  In honor of her tonight I made a round of Rhum Agricole Punches for my guests (big fans of her, by the way) and then capped it off with an obscure rye cocktail from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails called The Japalac Cocktail. No, no again! I know what you’re thinking…how un-PC.  Well, as Dr. Cocktail points out, The Japalac just sounds bad…it’s actually just the name for an old-timey brand of quick-drying varnish. So, here it is, if you feel like getting varnished:

The Japalac Cocktail (1931)

Combine in an iced cocktail shaker, and shake and strain into a small cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Drink Note: (by Ted Haigh) This is a prime example of  a classically proportioned pre-Prohibition-style cocktail. By modern standards, it is quite small.  Here, though, is the genius of the method: Unlike the highball, the julep, the sling, or the fizz, the cocktail is a powerful, largely undiluted bolt of unfettered flavor — and of alcohol. As such, small really does work best.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Fog City Hot Buttered Rum

Flickr: tibchris

I don’t know how it is in your part of the country, but out here in San Francisco it’s been a-stormin’.  Torrents of rain have been battering away on the roof like chimney sweeps doing a drunken and angry rendition of Mary Poppins’ “Step in Time”.  Howling winds, and even some thunder and lightning (which we rarely get out here), are making me feel like I’m finally experiencing some winter weather! I would say it’s a perfect time for an antifogmatic, wouldn’t you?  I whipped up a version of hot buttered rum designed to warm your belly and bring some color back into your cheeks.

Fog City Hot Buttered Rum

  • 2 oz. rum (I used Lemon Hart Demerara)
  • 2 oz. Odwalla tangerine juice
  • 3/4 oz. sugar cane syrup (I used Petite Canne from Martinique)
  • 1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • 4 oz boiling hot water
  • 1/2 tbs butter
  • 1/4 medium-size lime

Mix first 4 ingredients in a mug or large teacup.  Add hot water and butter and stir until butter melts.  Squeeze a lime quarter into the drink, stir again, and serve.  (I think this would be just as good without the butter, so if you prefer a fat-free beverage, just leave it out.)  Note: if you don’t have sugar cane syrup, you could make a brown sugar simple syrup or just use regular simple syrup.

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

The King is dead. Long live the King!

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge

The spirit of Elvis was certainly alive last Friday at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, where a crowd gathered to celebrate what would have been the King’s 75th birthday.  Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas were playing on separate screens, peanut butter & banana sandwiches were the featured snack, and Elvis-themed cocktails were flowing.  Six members of The Antifogmatic League turned out to pay tribute to the King and toast him in grand style…repeatedly.  It was only fitting to start off the evening with one of the six featured Elvis cocktails, so we ordered a round of Blue Hawaiians.  FI’s version of the Blue Hawaiian was creamy and sweet with plenty of coconut and rum.

Blue Hawaiians for the King's 75th

Our intrepid members then sampled a cocktail as showy as the King himself, the Burning Love: a flaming drink made with two kinds of rum, lime, and homemade pomegranate grenadine.  Our fearless explorers then branched out on different paths, some continuing on the Elvis trail, while others sampled libations from FI’s extensive list of Tiki drinks.

Burning Love x 3

Other Elvis cocktails sampled included the “King Creole” which was really a Sazerac.  A rare misstep of the evening, The King Creole suffered from a heavy hand with the absinthe and we politely discussed our expectations for a Sazerac with our bartender, Paddy.  Paddy, I must say, was a perfect gentleman, and a wicked good bartender, and he took the drink back and delivered another that was spot-on.  Another AL member tried the “Girl Happy” which was Forbidden Island’s version of La Floridita Daiquiri.  Petite, but delicious, the Girl Happy was a classic combination of fresh lime juice, rum, and Maraschino Liqueur.  The Burning Love proved to be more than a flash in the pan, and Paddy was more pyromaniac than bartender at points in the evening as he lit fire after fire for the throng.

Paddy, our pyromaniac bartender

Drinks sampled from FI’s extensive menu included The Monkey Pod, an original cocktail featuring rum, lime, coconut and tamarind served with a sprig of fresh mint. Virgin Painkillers were the drink of choice for our AL member with the bun in the oven, and somehow that seemed so àpropos.  The Nui Nui didn’t disappoint either with its kickass combo of allspice, cinnamon, rum, and citrus.  Hail to Don the Beachcomber! (The creator of this drink, one of my favorites.)

Virgin Painkiller, Burning Love, Monkeypod

Nui Nui

Towards the witching hour, our stalwart AL members carried on, venturing off the beaten menu paths.  Dr. John sipped Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old rum, while your fearless leader tried the same on the rocks with falernum (kind of a Corn n’ Biodiesel, instead of a Corn n’ Oil).  Our ever accommodating bartender, Paddy, even whipped up an old-skool Aviation complete with a dash of Crème de Violette for one of our members, who was celebrating his last day at one job, before moving on to the next.

Aviation with Tiki-style garnish

A little after midnight, our crew decided to head for our respective little grass shacks. As we started to leave, a new wave of patrons started to trickle in. Will the Thrill grilled them as he had everyone who ventured in during the evening, “Are you over 21, and do you know who Elvis Presley is?”

“Yes, and of course we know who Elvis Preston is!” they replied indignantly. We took that as our cue to leave. I think Elvis would’ve headed for Graceland too.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel, Flickr: Nettsu

Ah… nothing like the Friday night at the start of a long weekend.  A twinkle in your eye, a spring in your step. Time to relax, unwind. What to make to kick off the weekend?  Why not make a cocktail that calls to mind exotic locales, extended vacations, and balmy breezes?  A Singapore Sling, I thought. That might fit the bill.  Having never had one before, I turned to my trusty books (I am a librarian after all).  I consulted Charles H. Baker, Jr., David A. Embury, Ted Haigh, and Dale DeGroff.  In 1948, Embury wrote, “Of all the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike.”  Right he was, because the 4 recipes these gentlemen put forth were all different (apparently, the original 1915 recipe is locked in a safe in its birthplace, so I assume there was a lot of guessing going on). I ultimately decided to go with Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail’s recipe for the Singapore Sling, although Mr. Baker claimed to have the bona fide recipe from the venerable Raffles Hotel.  Now, while I love Mr. Baker (LOVE him) sometimes I worry about his recipes.  He cracks me up, I mean, the man is laugh out loud funny, but I trust Dr. Cocktail to make a good drink, so I went with his Singapore Sling.  Regardless of the recipe used, I believed (after tasting the drink) what Mr. Baker wrote of this cocktail:

The Singapore Gin Sling is a delicious, slow-acting, insidious thing.

Or as my husband put it, “Wow. I could drink these all night. Wow.”

My Singapore Sling

The Singapore Sling

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Cherry Heering (or other cherry-flavored brandy)
  • 2 tsp Benedictine
  • 2 tsp Cointreau
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes real pomegranate grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Soda water

Combine all except soda in an iced shaker.  Shake and strain into a collins or highball glass with a few lumps of ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with a cherry, a pineapple slice, and an orange wheel.

Recipe from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Puppies, Kitties, and Cocktails, Oh My!

Flickr: Bogdan Suditu

Do you like animals?  Do you like a well-crafted cocktail?  Of course you do!  Then head on over to Heaven’s Dog this Tuesday to support the San Francisco SPCA. From the Heaven’s Dog website:

On Tuesday, January 19th from 6pm – 8pm, Heaven’s Dog and the Soma Grand are inviting neighbors, pet owners and pet lovers from around the city to raise their glasses high in order to create awareness for the plight of animals in need of care and homes in San Francisco.  In addition, Heaven’s Dog is donating 50% of all beverage sales during that time period to the San Francisco SPCA.

WHERE: Heaven’s Dog Restaurant at Soma Grand: 1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Feeling Punchy?

Photo from Flickr: Lupo Lupo

Then join me at Omnivore Books on Saturday, January 30 at 4:00pm!  They are having a punch contest (of all the wacky and wonderful things).  Having just acquired my mother-in-law’s “Stars & Pinwheels” punch bowl, I have decided to enter.  This will be a first, as I’ve never entered any sort of food or drink competition before. I don’t know how big it will be, but it sounds like a good time.  Trying different punches while gazing at books for $5?  Yessir!  Plus, you know I love my cookbooks, and I’ve been meaning to check out this place since a friend told me about it. Omnivore Books features “new, antiquarian, and collectible books on food and drink.” Sounds right up my alley.  As for the punch contest, here is their description:

Are you an amateur mixologist just itching to show off your skills? Or a professional bartender with a lazy Saturday afternoon? Make up a bowl of your favorite punch (alcoholic or non), and bring it to our punch contest! Free to punch entrants; drinkers-only pay $5 at the door, then judge their favorite punch, and the winner splits the door money with us. It’s a win-win here, folks, so come on by and wow us with your mixing skills. Or you drinking aptitude.

My only problem now is what punch to make?  I’m split between making a version of a rum Ti Punch (kind of like the Rhum Agricole Punch in my last post), or representing my home state and county with an Applejack (aka Jersey Lightning) punch.  If you’d like to weigh in one way or the other, please post a comment with your vote!

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Rhum Agricole Punch

Rhum Agricole Punch

Back in the summer (ah, summer…where did you go?), I had a long lunch with a friend at Heaven’s Dog.  It was my first time there and I had picked our luncheon spot specifically because of the great things I had heard about their cocktails.  What did we eat?  I don’t recall, except that there was pork belly involved.  But the cocktails? Yes, things of beauty.  After the food was consumed, we moved to the beautiful cypress wood bar and sampled a couple more of their wonderful drinks. At one point I ordered something on their menu called “Freedom from Choice”.  Basically, you tell the bartender if you want a citrus-driven or spirituous cocktail and give him an idea of what liquor you might like.  I said, “Citrus and rum.”  What I got was a Rhum Agricole Punch.  I loved it, and was told that it was on the menu at The Slanted Door (the two places are owned by Charles Phan).  I asked what was in it and was graciously given the ingredients.  It wasn’t until recently that I had the proper rum to make it with.  I decided to mix one up and see if it was as good as I remembered.  When I looked at the note in my trusty iPhone I realized that I had gotten the ingredients, but not the proportions.  I tried to recreate it as well as I could, and I was very happy with the results.  I hope you will be too. It’s one worth trying…

Heaven’s Dog Rhum Agricole Punch

Shake first 5 ingredients with ice and strain into a glass over crushed ice.  Grate nutmeg over the drink and serve.  Note: The proportions are my own, but the ingredients were given to me by the bartender. It tasted like I remembered, so I think it’s pretty close.

Rhum Agricole Punch @ Heaven's Dog (on left)

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , ,