I want to file a complaint about flirting. No, not that someone flirted with me in an inappropriate way. I want to complain that no one is flirting anymore.
We have this totally skewed definition of flirting - that it somehow involves only a sexual or romantic interaction with a definitive physical outcome.
If you've ever worked near me, you know I highly encourage/value flirting. I'd argue any day that flirting is just as important as ambiance, polished glassware, and possibly even proper garnish (but that's a different blog about foreplay).
When I bring this up I inevitably get an upturned eyebrow from at least one rigid, rule-bound person.
And I say: "You can flirt with anyone."
I contend: "It doesn't have to be sexual."
I persist: "Last week I flirted with a baby at Target."
More eyebrows do eyebrow acrobatics.
"But what does this have to do with cocktails, Betty?" Not much as a whole, but, if you think of your favorite bartenders, you will notice they are always flirting; not just with guests, but with the other bartenders, the barback, the servers, and anyone they can get their eyes on. Skilled flirting is drop. dead. intelligent.
I am implore you, Universe; play coy already! Drop your shoulder into a conversation at the barstool next to you. Wink from the corner of your eye when your friend asks if you should have one more happy hour cocktail. Twirl your hair when your cute bartender asks if she can buy you a shot. It'll do wonders for your blood pressure, and hopefully, wreak havoc on the blood pressure of those around you (in a good way).
Incorporate seasonal fruits and herbs into your cocktail repertoire with a smash. The most basic smash consists of herbs, citrus, and whiskey. And when most people think of a Whiskey Smash; mint, lemon, and bourbon come to mind. As long as you work with classic ratios, a delicious smash should be a breeze.
A Simple Smash
A Custom Smash
The process stays the same here and the fun starts when you vary the ingredients. Look into seasonal herbs. Remember with herbs, the more hearty they are, the more you need to manipulate them to release their flavor. The opposite is true for more delicate plants. Take rosemary and basil for example. Rosemary may be best incorporated through initial muddling with the recipe's simple syrup before adding citrus, or added as a garnish and exposed to heat (yes! that means torch it!!). Basil may require no muddling at all - a simple shake with the other ingredients will adequately release it's aroma.
A Complicated Smash
Continue with the same process and allow seasonal berries or spices to influence you. A smidge of orange juice (added to the lemon) will change the viscosity and alter the flavor depth of your whiskey. Consider using a flavored simple syrup such as cinnamon or ginger to add spice to your smash. No matter what you choose to add, balance ought to be your primary goal. The Flavor Bible is a great source of information if you don't have a natural predilection for finding such matches.
Smash It Up a Notch
A spruce tip by itself will pack a powerful, almost uncomfortable, punch! Although the spruce tip flavor profile is expectedly piney, tasters might be surprised by the range of its profile. Most tips definitely offer a crisp, citrusy, and herbaceous flavor. However, most consumers fail to anticipate the slightly sweet taste this plant also has to offer. Experienced gatherers are quick to note that tip flavors vary immensely, even from tree to tree.
Gathering & Storing
Fresh spruce tips come in a spectrum of green to yellow hues and are in season near late spring, with later blooming in cooler climates. Tips are soft, flexible, and with a bit of resin on the branch. Often they are shedding the papery brown sheath that once encased them. A sheath still attached indicates the tip is young; the sheath should be removed before any cooking or preserving preparations. They can be stored for about one month in a cool, dry environment such as the refrigerator. Alternatively, they can be dried or processed as a syrup, but the future usage options are tremendously limited after these processes.
Preservation & Consumption
Creatively accommodating caloric and dietary limitations is a challenge. At under 150 calories per serving this tasty cocktail, comprised of fresh roasted pumpkin, Pyrat rum, "doctored" coconut cream, and spices, sings holiday praises to tastebuds and guests while simultaneously fulfilling all of the craveable flavors of the Thanksgiving season.
Start with the freshest of pumpkins. (Hint: they're pretty much all fresh this time of year but a thump and a sniff will give you confirmation). Fresh, quality ingredients will help ensure that your end product meets and exceeds your expectations. We found Pumpkin Spice Sugar by Spaulding's Specialty Spices to be exceptionally flavorful and balanced.
While the pumpkin cooks, prepare the remainder ingredients if desired. No additional ingredients are necessarily required as Pyrat rum comes with quite a bit of flavor and sweetness on its own. Pyrat rum offers an undeniably smooth and full bodied flavor and mouth-feel at a pocketbook friendly price. However, you may choose to add cinnamon, molasses, honey, nutmeg, ginger, or a variety of other seasonal spices to the mashed pumpkin.
Once your pumpkin is cooked to necessary softness (press the skin with a fork - if it pokes through, it's done), mash the pumpkin with a fork or blender. While your pumpkin cools, decide on glassware and garnish. Because the balance of this cocktail depends on textural creaminess and evenly spaced spices a wide mouthed cocktail glass is best suited. Chill your glassware with ice and water while you prepare the cocktail.
Shake the rum (2 ounces) and pumpkin (1/4 cup). Strain into your chilled cocktail glass. Gently layer the coconut cream (best when freshly emulsified) with a spoon or pipette onto half the cocktail. To obtain this streamline dusting of spice simply press 2 post-its equidistant on the glass before sprinkling the spice. The viscosity differential between the pumpkin and cream will allow the spice to float atop the cocktail and effortlessly guide itself toward the rim with each sip. Aromatics from the pumpkin, spice, and cream can be consumed at the diner's discretion and allows them to control to the amount of sweet and spice in their drink. Now if only we could control all the sweet and spice in our lives!
Your standard Paloma is a breeze to make; pertinent, considering the word paloma means "dove" or "peace." Many northerners believe the Margarita to be the most popular cocktail of Mexico, but in fact, the Paloma far exceeds that tasty treat as the number one cocktail in Mexico. This three part series aims to impart some technical knowledge about this classic cocktail, and some novel ideas that might be a little off the grid.
The "OG" (Original Gangster)
The Fresh Paloma (Alternate "OG")
In rare, catastrophic instances, grapefruit soda is not available. Let me introduce to you a very fresh option that I personally love because it allows us to use my favorite mineral water with a cult-like following, Topo Chico.
In this rendition, the tequila you choose will have the greatest impact on your cocktail, followed by your grapefruit juice. Decide if you prefer a tart beverage (yellow grapefruit and more lime juice) or something a bit sweeter (pink grapefruit with just a hint of lime).
When HD Liquid Catering invited me to create a few special cocktails for a Shannon Rose event at Kendra Scott, I was tickled pink!
Pale blush and blue create a beautiful backdrop in this brightly lit store, but converting a blue hue into a cocktail can be bit of a challenge. To mimic the texture of the already vibrant stones in the store, Shannon requested a playful candy rim on one of the cocktails. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, sparkling wine, and few secret ingredients danced playfully in this bubbly magenta cocktail. Rhubarb flavored sugar gemstones created quite a buzz when dropped into the cocktail - adding to the essence and appeal.
Fresh and vegetal seemed like the perfect companion to a sweet and fruity cocktail. Sapphire Rain touted flavors of cucumber and fresh lemon, topped with Pellegrino and garnished with blue Meyer lemon sugar sculptures that upon contact with liquid slowly dissolved and left drinks adopting their shade.
Trish from Beatbox Portraits displayed such a natural ability to make everyone feel comfortable in front of the lens that I wondered if perhaps she was a talk show host or a comedian in a previous life. All photos in this post are compliments of Trish and I simply cannot rave enough about her ability, professionalism, and what a joy she was to have at the event.
When you order an Old Fashioned in Texas, your bartender will probably ask you what kind of whiskey you'd like. When you order in Wisconsin, they'll probably ask your brandy preference. But more and more establishments are embracing the true nature of an Old Fashioned, even creating entire menu sections of only Old Fashioneds.
By craft definition, an Old Fashioned has 3 components, sugar (or sweetener), bitters, and spirit, and is served over ice.
Consider these 3 very different old fashioned recipes.
The first fantastically made Old Fashioned I had in Dallas used Redemption Rye. Muddle a single peel from an orange and a lemon with .25 ounces of simple syrup (1:1 ratio water and sugar) in an already chilled pint glass. Add 2 ounces rye and fill glass with ice. Stir. Strain over large cube in double rocks glass. Torch lemon peel, making sure to rub expressed oils around the rim of the glass and down the side. A keen bartender's trick is to incorporate those bright citrus notes where they'll influence your guest the most, next to their face and body. The heat from your guest's hand will warm those oils and release a delightful fragrance so even when they aren't tasting, they're tasting. To snag this delightful classic see the boys at Tate's Dallas on a Wednesday when most whiskeys served neat, on the rocks, or as an Old Fashioned, are half priced.
Now, if you're in Wisconsin be prepared for a completely different cocktail, viscosity, flavor, and presentation. Jono Marcus, South Central Sales Director for Copper & Kings American Brandy knows what it takes to make a proper brandy Old Fashioned. He advises: in your cocktail glass, muddle an orange slice (avoiding the pith), a maraschino cherry, 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters, and a sugar cube. Fill the glass with ice (crushed or pebbled is preferred). Add 2 ounces Copper and Kings American Craft Brandy. (Sidenote: Copper & Kings Butchertown Reserve Cask Brandy stands up quite nicely in this rich cocktail, but at 124 proof it's not for the faint of heart!) Add splash of Sprite or Squirt and garnish with maraschino cherry. For the Old Fashioned fashion-forward, check out the newly released Copper & Kings Cocktail Cherries with the stem on.
And last, but definitely not least. Consider this Old Fashioned made with The Botanist Gin. In a mixing glass add 2 ounces gin, .5 ounce Kleiner Feigling, a few dashes of grapefruit tincture, and stir. Just a few revelations will do; strain over large cube in double rocks glass. Garnish with fresh basil (or herb of choice) and a few dashes of hibiscus tincture.
Just like all cocktails, regional and personal tastes influence what is considered an ideally balanced beverage. What's your favorite way to make an Old Fashioned?
A Betty (by a broad definition) is honest and brave, loyal and nurturing, witty and fun. She's balanced, quirky, open-minded, complex, and flawed. She's soulful and driven. And I think there's a little Betty in all of us.