Archive for June, 2012


Welcome to the Shandy Shanty

June 28, 2012

I had always thought that mixing beer with juice or soda was solely appropriate for toxic party mixes. That was until a few years ago when I had my first Ginger Shandy, an absurdly refreshing mix of ginger and wheat beers at Pianos in the LES. Turns out wheat beers are actually ideal for beer-based cocktails. The addition of citrus (see Blue Moon and Hoegaarden) is obviously common place but most often it’s only a wedge here or there. If you up the ante a little bit with fresh juice, it’s amazing what a beer cocktail will do for you.

The line from last night, if I remember correctly was… “This drink feels great!”

Blood oranges tend to be a little sweeter than the standard navel, and the vibrant color makes for a stunning cocktail. Truth be told, I got a little duped into buying some “fresh blood orange juice” which wasn’t all that special. Luckily for me, I’ve found that honey is the great equalizer. A little bit of honey won’t make the juice taste overly sweetened but rather it evens out some of the acidity from processing. That being said, the kicker to this Shandy is by far the rosemary. In my last post, I talked about making simple syrups from fresh herbs. In this case, fresh rosemary sprigs are strong enough on their own to impart the slight flavor profile you are looking for. But the real key here is in the aroma. As you bring that glass up for a swig, the fresh rosemary smell blends with the citrus and wheat making for the ultimate summer, beer based cocktail.

If I lived on the beach, I would open the Shandy Shanty and this would be one of my signatures…shit, that’s actually a really good idea…no one steal that, okay?

Rosemary and Blood Orange Shandy

12 oz wheat beer (Hoegaarden, Shocktop, etc.)

4 oz blood orange juice

3 drops of orange bitters (optional but a great addition)

1 rosemary sprig for stirring

In a pint glass add the bitters and orange juice followed by the beer. Stir with the rosemary and serve as is.


Thyme to Make Your Own Simple Syrup

June 26, 2012

I’ve been mildly obsessed the last few weeks with thyme infused cocktails because well, they are f’n great. As I mentioned in the Nec of Thyme posting, the herbaciousness and citrusy flavor profile of thyme makes it ideal for summer fruit and liquor. In the Old Man Thyme, the balance comes from Red Jacket Orchard’s apricot stomp which pairs with Cachaça like you wouldn’t believe. But adding a few thyme sprigs after you are all shook up won’t do the trick here…

Simple syrups are one of the easiest game changing ingredients you should be making on your own. Traditionally a mix of 50/50 sugar and water, the simple syrup is the perfect way to sweeten your drinks in a controllable fashion. Sugar itself is difficult to dissolve on the fly so by producing the simple syrup in advance, you can have this cocktail ingredient constantly at your disposal. But there’s no reason to stop at sugar and water.

One of the greatest ways to impart flavors into your drinks is through simple syrup. Herbs and spices in particularly transfer their flavor extremely well in simple syrup production so you can really take this process and run with it. I’ve cut back on the sugar content over the years as I find the full sweetness level of traditional simple syrups can be overwhelming, and I love adding some citrus to the mix to further balance the flavors. Start making yourself some herb based simple syrups and I promise you’ll be making impressive cocktails constantly. Plus, when you decide you need a day off, and the only way you can convince yourself not to drink is to trick yourself (I’m not the only one, right?), these simple syrups in iced tea or seltzer are really friggin refreshing. Enjoy!

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

1 ½ cups water

Juice of one lemon

1 cup sugar

1 bunch of fresh thyme

In a sauce pan bring the first three ingredients to a boil and stir quickly to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Add the fresh thyme, turn the heat off and let the simple syrup sit for one hour. Remove the fresh thyme and store the syrup in a container in the refrigerator until use.

Old Man Thyme

2 oz cachaça

1 oz lemon thyme syrup

3 oz Red Jacket Orchards apricot stomp

1 lime wedge

Splash of seltzer

Thyme for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, shake the first three ingredients and pour over a rocks glass with ice. Finish with a splash of seltzer, a squeeze of the lime, and some fresh thyme for garnish.


Cow Thieves Saison

June 24, 2012

The Cow Thieves Brewery was back in action this weekend as we finally got going on our summer ales. Our Saison Farmhouse style ales should be ready in a few weeks and I can’t wait to give them a shot. Nobler Dan turned me on to Saisons at the Nobler Beer Gathering and it’s been on the top of the brewing cue ever since. Saisons originated in Belgium farmhouses and had a high degree of variability from brew to brew. Traditionally, until modern-day beer lovers got back on the Saison bandwagon, these beers were pretty low in alcohol content. This was intentional as safe drinking water wasn’t always readily available, and the field workers needed refreshment in the summer months. Brewed in the fall and winter and bottle conditioned, the Saisons were light and yeasty with just enough alcohol to keep them “safe” without being a deterrent for hard work.

Nowadays, the Saison has been revitalized and is becoming more and more popular. Because this is a yeast forward beer, we decided to use the same batch recipe for two, 5 gallon brews with a variation on the yeast variety. These little guys (all 100 billion of them), are already at work fermenting and it’s only a matter of a few weeks before we get our first taste. I had to stop for a second when we picked up these liquid yeast packets: 100 billion yeast makes about 50 beers. Considering it only takes a few of us to drink them all, 2 billion yeast cells a beer puts the scale of the process in perspective. I promise to drink our Saison nice and slowly in honor of all the hard work!


Hey Hey! It’s the Air Conditioner!

June 22, 2012

Let me be the 1 bazillionth person this week to tell you how hot it is. Just in case you didn’t know…

But I’m not going to pretend to be a genius and offer you up some heat wave inspired cocktail recipes that promise to refresh. Because in reality, shouldn’t all cocktails be refreshing? Plus, the heat has melted my brain. Which is why, instead, I’ve decided to offer up my list for top three air-conditioned places, you should be drinking in…

Disclaimer: I don’t think you are actually supposed to drink at any of these places, you know, legally, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

(1) Movie Theatre: You haven’t seen comedy until you’ve popped a bottle in the theatre. Since being inspired by a group drinking bubbly at “New Years Eve” (yes, I saw that god awful movie), we now won’t go to a movie without a bottle of wine in tow. Not sure why it took us so long to realize this, but in NYC, where you aren’t driving home, walking out of the ice-cold theatre buzzed, seriously minimizes the risk of buyers remorse. On a day like today, a chilled Rosé may even make “That’s My Boy” worth a trip to the Theatre.

(2) Aquarium: Okay, so this one I haven’t actually experienced but this seems even more appropriate than the movie. The aquarium is one of the most air-conditioned environments I’ve ever stepped foot in, and what’s better than looking at crazy sea life with a good buzz on. Seriously? Why hasn’t someone thought of making an adult only aquarium? I’d go every weekend!

(3) Public Library: Don’t forget that above disclaimer, but for the readers out there who enjoy sitting in the park or in their backyard with an ice-cold beer or cocktail being swept away by 50 Shades of Grey, the Public Library should be your heat wave destination of choice. Why not make a drinking section of the library? You could still enforce the “quiet” but you’d surely convince more folks to read! And isn’t education more important than silly rules?

What about you guys? Any other suggestions for highly air-conditioned places we should be drinking at?

Stay cool!


National Martini Day

June 19, 2012

It’s National Martini Day everyone! Who’s celebrating?!

In all honestly, I’ve never been much of a martini drinker. I think a lot of it has to do with the glass itself. I’ve never loved drinking anything out of a martini glass and have this inherent predisposed annoyance of any drink they hold. But that’s sort of a ridiculous stance to have so maybe this awesome post over at Boy Drinks World is just the kick in the ass I need. Though I think I need to check in with him and see if it’s okay to drink mine out of a whiskey glass.

Some of the points he makes regarding the flavor of a gin based martini (the only real martini), are really worth taking note of. I’ve always been told, I don’t like vermouth. Notice, that doesn’t mean I’ve really created my own opinion. But considering vermouth is a wine based cocktail contributor, it makes total sense that the stuff would go bad. How many martini’s have I had with old and crappy vermouth? Well not tonight my friends. Away in Toledo, OH I’m gonna find the perfect martini…

Wait, that sounds like a terrible idea. I think I’ll wait til I get home to celebrate.



In the Nec of Thyme

June 15, 2012

When I started the Juice Bar, the combination of herbs and fresh fruit was truly at the heart of the inspiration. Years ago, I worked on simple combinations of lemon with rosemary and strawberry with basil that were damn delicious. These combinations still hold up as perfectly refreshing summer cocktails, but as the Juice Bar repertoire expands, the complexity of flavors built on the same principles is growing in an exciting way.

After our visit to New York Distilling the other day, a gin based cocktail was all I could think of. The botanicals used in gin production make for great subtle flavor notes that can blend really nicely with fruit and herbs. I’ve always been a huge stone fruit fanatic so when I saw some ripe nectarines the rest fell into place pretty quickly. Thyme actually provides some lemony characteristics (which is why it’s great in pastries believe it or not) and by blending the leaves right into the juice, this cocktail is nothing but refreshing. Soon to be another summer favorite!

In the Nec of Thyme:

2 oz gin

4 oz nectarine and thyme juice

3 drops orange bitters

large splash of seltzer

Mix the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker vigorously. Pour over a tall glass with ice and finish with the splash of seltzer. Stir one final time and serve with a slice of nectarine.

Nectarine and Thyme Juice:

3 nectarines, cored

3 tbsp honey

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp thyme leaves

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth. You could strain the juice however, I prefer it as is. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to drink.


There’s Wine in my Beer!

June 13, 2012

I rarely discuss wine here at the Nobler, for a couple of reasons. The first, is quite simple. The world of wine is a complex monster; one that probably deserves its own blog or two. Maybe if you google “wine” you can find something! But the second and more legitimate reason, is that I am by no means an expert. In fact, while I’d say my wine knowledge puts me somewhere above average, the world of wine is a bit intimidating. I know that it doesn’t need to be this way but for me, I know what I like, and I know what I’m willing to spend for what I like. That puts me in a place where I’m rarely disappointed. I know there’s more to be had however, so I’m enlisting new Nobler Adam to help me out. He knows his shit! So who knows, maybe we can even get him to throw in some insight for us all…

So why all the wine talk this morning?  Believe it or not, the inspiration actually came from beer. The amount of craft beer available in NYC is pretty unheard of. And with that in mind, I try my best to try something new fairly frequently. So when I got a glass of this Allagash Victoria Ale, touting the use of chardonnay groups in the mash, I was intrigued but a little skeptical. I assumed there would be some delicate sweetness imparted that worked nicely with the hoppy belgian strong ale which is great, but maybe not worth much fuss. But after one sip, it was clear this Victoria Ale was worth some serious attention. I’m going to dumb this down for a second, but this beer tastes like there’s wine in it!

That doesn’t do justice, however, as there is some serious complexity to their brew. The direct addition of Chardonnay grapes to the mash means that part of the fermentation process is coming from those grape sugars. So the wine finish to this beer makes total sense. And even more interestingly, the complexity is truly balanced. At 9% alcohol and with inspiration from Bacchus, the god of wine, the Allagash Victoria is one that needs to make your list. Enjoy!

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