The Last Word was a fitting cocktail to end this project on. I’ve been making a new cocktail nearly every week for the last two-and-a-half years. The first entry in this series went live on July 31, 2013. I made a Moscow Mule, at the time my favorite cocktail and still one of my favorites. That post contains a picture of my original “bar” which now looks terribly understocked.
Since then I’ve bought dozens of bottles of liquor, various glasses, shakes, ice bags, other bar accessories, and learned how to make over 80 different cocktails! I’ve come to appreciate the work bartenders and mixologists do behind the bars when they’re making drinks. I’ve gained first-hand experience trying to make my own cocktails and tasted the various subtleties involved with combining liquors, mixers, juice, syrups, bitters, etc., etc!
I suppose I could have kept the cocktail entries going on indefinitely. There appear to be an infinite number of recipes. But, I’ve covered most of the basics and was already running into the problem of having to purchase uncommon liquors and alcohols in order to continue the project. I didn’t really want to spend the money and I’m running out of room on my own bar!
I’ve got an idea for a new project for the blog. I’ve got some more research to do before I unveil it though. I can tell you that it’s going to be food related and will be centered around Davis, CA.
I’ve still got Star Oops to go through as well as various Let’s Plays that are in progress, please look forward to more of those! If I’m especially diligent I might have one or two more to add to that.
Saturday was National Margarita Day (February 22) and so I decided to make a margarita despite featuring one recently. I couldn’t do just another plain ol’ margarita either. D had me covered though with this spicy take on the cocktail she had seen online. This take on the familiar cocktail used grapefruit instead of lemons or lime and substituted a simple syrup for triplesec. Not just any simple syrup though, this one has cayenne pepper in it.
I was skeptical when D described the recipe to me, but she prevailed on me to make it and now, after drinking it, I’m glad she did!
Spicy Grapefruit Margaritas
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. cayenne simple syrup (see below)
4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
Rim glasses (this cocktail is not usually served in a margarita glass, we used mason jars) with either salt or sugar (I use a sugar cayenne pepper mix.) Place ice in glasses, add tequila, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice. Adjust juice and syrup for your desired level of sweetness. Stir well.
Cayenne Simple Syrup
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Combine the sugar, water and cayenne in a small saucepot and bring to a simmer. Stir so that all sugar melts then remove from heat and cool in the fridge. You’ll want to do this an hour or so before you make the drinks as you’ll want the syrup to be chilled before making the cocktail.
I love the colors of this drink a deep ruby red at the bottom from the grapefruit juice and pulp shading lighter as you approach the mouth of the jar. Through out are little flecks of cayenne pepper. This is a delicious drink. Perfect for hot afternoons or warm evenings (the kind we’re having right now in California, sadly…) The sourness of the grapefruit is perfectly offset by the spicy sweetness of the syrup. A lovely drink. I’m thinking I’m going to have to keep some of this pre-made in the freezer as well…
D had an idea for our next cocktail. One that surprised me, as D is not a fan of the primary ingredient of the drink: mint. She said she wanted to try these Mint Juleps she had seen in a recent issue of Bon Appetit. I protested; it didn’t make a lot of sense for me to make a drink she wasn’t going to want. She informed me that these mint juleps also had peach in them and so would taste better. Also, I was to make hers without any mint…
I tried to tell her then that it wasn’t a mint julep at that point. I don’t even think it was a julep of any kind. It was just peach and bourbon. She was insistent and since I like Mint Juleps I went ahead with the drink.
Peach Julep (serves 2)
1/4 cup Ginger syrup
1 ripe peach, peeled, sliced
4 sprigs mint plus more for garnish
4 oz bourbon
2 oz lemon juice
6 oz ginger beer
For each cocktail muddle 1/2 of the peach slices and 2 of the mint sprigs in a julep cup or double old fashioned glass (I just used my old cocktail glasses;) add 2 oz of bourbon, 1 oz of lemon juice, and 1/2 oz of ginger syrup. Fill glasses with crushed ice and add 2-3 oz of ginger beer. Garnish with mint sprig
These were really great! The only real problem was that I didn’t use enough ice. I like to think of Juleps as boozy snow cones and I just didn’t crush enough ice during the prep… The muddled peach and mint was tasted great and added a lot of flavor to the drink. D enjoyed hers as well but thought it was a little strong. This too could have been prevented with more ice.
My Beer of the Week series was fun and it taught me a lot about the vast diversity, complexity, and depth of beers in the world. It was also very, very delicious. But, beer isn’t the only form of alcohol and despite its maturity as a medium it is often seen as the lowbrow option of alcohol consumption. At the top though, the classy form of consumption?
D has recently taken an interest in cocktails and in our new place we’ve got ourselves the beginning of a bar, and a bartender’s manual. It just made sense to use this opportunity to learn about how to make cocktails.
In San Diego D and I had our first Moscow Mules and we really liked the drink. In Seattle this year at a tourist trap bar we fell in love with the cocktail. (I know it is the last place you think you’d find a good cocktail, but Seattle Underground’s Moscow Mule was fantastic.) What makes the Moscow Mule so delicious is the interplay of ginger beer and lime. A sour, peppery, sweetness is not a taste profile that reads well BUT, it tastes really good. My first foray into bar tending turned out pretty good. In the future though I think I’m going to use a spicier ginger beer. Cool and refreshing these are great for long summer days!