That was day before yesterday. Maybe one of the last possible days to enjoy a pomegranate-ginger smash—a lemony, minty, sweet-tart concoction served over crushed ice—even in Richmond, Virginia. October 21st is way beyond the date of wanting such a thing in Vermont—the place where I lived for seven years before plopping myself down here exactly one month ago.
The views. They’re from the balcony off of the second floor bedroom in our new home. Starting from the top: looking out to the left toward the parish house and Father Wayne’s back courtyard; straight ahead to the large magnolia tree in our own courtyard, which will be magnificent next spring; over the tree tops to the stately, prior school building, now condominiums, the next block over (which you could make out better if the top portion of the photograph wasn’t blown out); then over to the right at a slight angle to some of the courtyards of neighboring buildings; and finally, the bottom image, to the far right out beyond our neighbor’s matching Juliet balcony and beyond to nearby rooftops, my favorite view.
The drink. It’s a hold-over from Jerusalem days: the thread being the use of pomegranate molasses. (The recipe is below.) I came up with this cocktail back in mid-August with the plan of photographing it soon after and posting it on the blog—in perfect late (more…)
This cocktail packs a double dose of fortified wines: vermouth and port. The port, added at the last directly to the cocktail glass, descends in a gorgeous red cloud before settling in the bottom of the glass.
A rough draft of this drink has been kicking around in my little black book of (more…)
This cocktail, developed while cooking from the previous DCCC pick, Thai Food, is based on a category of drinks called the Smash, also known as, according to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, the Smasher or Smash-Up, referring to that happens to the herb, traditionally mint, when it is shaken vigorously with ice, not what happens to you if you drink too many of them, though that could happen as well.
Apt descriptions like “whiskey sourish,” “sweet-tart,” “adult lemonade with a peppery kick” give you an idea of what this refreshing drink, served over crushed ice, tastes like, and why it is particularly welcome on a warm day. I was planning on giving this Thai-inspired cocktail a generic but descriptive title, like the Ginger–Thai Basil Smash, until, while searching for a photo prop, I spontaneously grabbed a (more…)
Right now I’m waiting to hear from the publisher of the current DCCC pick about whether my request to post a few Thai food recipes on the DCCC blog will be granted. I don’t post recipes from cookbooks without receiving permission first, unless I’ve adapted a recipe considerably. And there has to be a good reason for me to change something; I won’t just change something for the sake of changing it so that I can say a recipe’s been adapted, thereby skirting the permission issue. If something is perfect as is, why touch it?
I’m especially hesitant to tinker with a recipe when the subject of a cookbook is a foreign cuisine, from a land I’ve never visited, and the cookbook is written by an expert, someone who’s spent years learning that cuisine and steeping themselves in the culture—in this case, chef and cookbook writer David Thompson.
But permission requests are one of the more tedious aspects of publishing. Drinking a cocktail is a lot more fun. So, while you’re waiting for the main course (hey, maybe you could supplicate Random House on my behalf, telling them to speedily process my request because you’re waiting for some delicious Thai recipes to appear on the blog.), I thought I’d offer you a cocktail. (more…)
Some cocktails are like mayonnaise. They’ve been around so long, and their origins are so speculative (or lost completely), that they are considered part of the community of recipes to which no one can lay claim. (more…)
This Greek-inspired cocktail, with delicate citrus flavors and a silky, smooth texture, was created by my friend Miguel Aranda, a professional mixologist and contributor to the book Asian Cocktails. Miguel likes using Greek brandy, known as Metaxa, in cocktails because it has enough heat to hold its own against other cocktail ingredients, yet it is smooth, very smooth. A 7-star Metaxa is actually smoother than many brandies, but then, it’s not a true brandy. It can be more correctly thought of as a brandy liqueur because it is sweetened with Muscat wine and flavored with botanicals. It is aged in limousine oak barrels for typically three, five, or seven years, though sometimes longer. The stars on the bottle signify the number of years the brandy has been aged, and the greater number of stars, the smoother the Metaxa will be.
I made this cocktail last week for Georgia and Judy at DCCC’s Greek-themed potluck. I’ve stirred and shaken lots of cocktails, but, before making a Metaxa Sour, had never flamed an orange peel. It definitely adds a new level to cocktail showmanship, especially in the setting of a dimly lit room.
For instructions on how to flame an orange peel, given by a calm, cool, and collected professional, you can watch this clip recommended by Miguel, or you can watch me fumble through it in my kitchen video, below. (My Internet connection is maddeningly slow—a problem of rural living—so in the video, Georgia reads instructions for flaming an orange peel from the book The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale Degroff.) I suggest watching the first video of me making the cocktail for guidance, and then watch the “Ins and Outtakes of Making a Metaxa Sour” to give yourself some cocktail shaking and flaming confidence, knowing that if you don’t get it right the first time, you can try again, and again (like I did).
The orange peel adds more than visual effect. It adds a subtle touch of flavor and aroma. If you don’t like playing with matches, then twist the peel, rind-side-down, over the cocktail and rub it on the rim before placing it in the drink. (I forgot to rub the rim of the cocktail glass with the orange peel in the video, but should have done. I also forgot to add the orange peel garnish to the cocktail when photographing it! Please don’t do as I did.)
Makes one 4½-ounce cocktail
2 ounces 7-star Metaxa
¾ ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice (see note)
¼ ounce 2:1 simple syrup (2 parts sugar heated in 1 part water until melted)
1 egg white
Dash of orange bitters
Flamed orange peel, for flavor and garnish
In an iced shaker, add the Metaxa, orange juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the flamed orange peel.
Note: In Miguel’s version of this recipe, he uses ½ ounce of “sweet and sour mix,” which is comprised of equal parts fresh squeezed lemon juice and 2:1 simple syrup. For simplicity, I state this ingredient in the recipe as ¼ ounce lemon juice and ¼ ounce simple syrup. If you are entertaining, and making several Metaxa Sours, making a batch of sweet and sour mix will be more efficient. Simply replace the lemon juice and simple syrup with ½ ounce of sweet and sour mix. Note that in the video, the batch of sweet and sour mix I’ve made has a light tan color. This is because I used unrefined cane sugar, which is okay when making a cocktail with a dark-colored base liquor. If making cocktails with a clear liquor—vodka or gin, for example—you will want to make simple syrup with white, granulated sugar.
This site got its start as the blog for a cookbook club I started when living in Vermont. Back then, the focus was wide and international—basically, any cuisine or cooking topic that struck the interest of club members. Currently the lure is Southern: The fantastically vital food scene happening right here in my new hometown of Richmond, Virginia, and my hitherto unfulfilled love of the foods of this region. Both of these things beg my attention. These days the “club” consists of two: me and whoever stumbles across this site, reads a few lines of a posting, and maybe even tries a recipe or two. Thanks in advance for helping to make this a club of two, because a club of one just isn’t a club, after all.