Archive for the ‘Gin’ Category

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The Noblers Know Cocktails: Part 2

May 23, 2013

cocktails

When the Noblers gather, it tends to be for a real purpose. And last night’s Gathering was no different. Because while we always share in the enjoyment of good drinking, sometimes you have to get back to the basics. The basics of delicious cocktails.

As I’ve said before, everyone should have an arsenal of drinks to pull from. Different cocktails work for different reasons, but knowing you have a few gold standards to draw upon is a wonderful feeling. And last night I think we came up with a new one to add to the list in the Ed Wood (see below for the recipe).

With a few basil juleps, some fantastic Old Fashioneds (with my new batch of bitters), and a couple of Manhattan’s rounding out the cocktail experience, I think it’s safe to say it was another successful Gathering. Thanks again to Mark and Kelly for hosting!

The Ed Wood

3 oz Gin (I used Bluecoat)

1 oz fresh lime juice

1.5 oz rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)

Ed Wood loved himself a few gimlets, and I think he’d love the woody addition of the rosemary. Mix all three ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with a rosemary skewer.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

2 cups water

1.5 cups sugar

Half a lemon

3 bunches of rosemary skewers

Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the rosemary and lemon juice and lower heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool. Strain the rosemary and keep refrigerated.

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Coffee and Gin, Batman and Robin

May 10, 2013

coffee
I normally find these things kind of idiotic but this one definitely resonates. After a quick 52 hour trip to Israel this week, I’m back in town and it’s going to be coffee and alcohol in a Batman and Robin like adventure this weekend. For now, I’m giving the Batman role to coffee…KAPOW!

And while there are many suitable leads to play the role of Robin, I’m on a serious gin kick these days, as there is nothing quite like a refreshing gin cocktail to ring in the warm weather. And I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way. Check out New York’s Grub Street, Spring Drinking guide to Gin and Tonics. You’ll remember my re-hash of our experience at Cata which definitely sums up the Spanish resurgence but I have a number of these other options on my radar to check out the latest and greatest in NYC. Most recently, we hit up Alder and I tried the Zereshk Is History and loved it.

The point is, the gin and tonic we all grew accustomed to is only the starting point; a most often shitty starting point at that. So much can be done with subtle and/or bold flavor profiles to highlight the wonderful herbaciousness in gin. But then again, if you find yourself a product as good as Tuthilltown’s you might choose to drink that sucker straight on its own. At least that’s what I do…

gin

Using a blend of wheat and apples to make their base neutral spirit, the Half Moon Orchard Gin is hands down my favorite product in the category right now. The apple (distilled from, not flavored) adds such a nice smoothness that the herbs and botanicals shine through without being overwhelming. Last night I slowly sipped away at a glass with just a tiny lemon wedge and I couldn’t stop being amazed. So delicious.

But regardless of how you’ll enjoy it, it’s time to get on the gin train…Check out a few of my older gin posts here, and enjoy the beautiful (let’s hope so) weekend!

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Last Minute Derby Cocktail: Go Overanalyze!

May 4, 2013

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Deep in derby day prep and I’ve got a last minute tip to share. Maybe you are worried some of your guests won’t like the basil julep you’ve perfected over the last 24 hours. Well don’t worry, the fix is simple. Kick them out of your house…

Okay just kidding. But for one of the world’s easiest cocktail recipes, perfect for summer days and derby victories, look no further than a few simple ingredients to make this green tea lemonade; a perfect companion for just about any liquor in your collection.

Just a few hours to go…I’ll be cheering for Overanalyze! So actually, that’s probably a better tip. Bet on any other horse, because I haven’t won anything since a $10 scratch-off at the age of 12. Good luck and Happy Derby!

The Overanalyze

2 oz vodka, gin, or bourbon (your choice)

5 oz green tea lemonade (recipe below)

Splash of seltzer

Lemon and cucumber to garnish

Mix all of the ingredients over ice and enjoy. Drink slow because these are damn drinkable.

Green Tea Lemonade

1 Liter of Boiling Water

3 tea bags of green tea

2 liters of lemonade (get something on the natural side, not too sweet otherwise this will be gross, or better yet make your own)

1 cucumber (sliced)

1 lemon (sliced)

Steep the tea bags in the liter of boiling water and let cool. Pour the tea and lemonade into a pitcher and fill with the slices of cucumber and lemon. Keep chilled until serving.

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New Cocktail: Gin and Juice

February 25, 2013

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Grape is one of the hardest flavors to utilize correctly. Think about all of the awful examples out there. Grape cough syrup tastes like someone designed it to suck. Grape soda, while being sort of delicious, tastes nothing like grapes. And grape jelly…well okay, I kind of love grape jelly. But as I was thinking of new ways to utilize my juicer and dreaming of spring and summer days filled with fresh fruits and veggies, I found myself fixated on this childhood favorite: the red seedless grape.

It turns out, fresh “squeezed” grape juice is wonderful. Not at all cloying like the crap you buy in the grocery store and vibrant in its purple color. I added a bit of lemon to the juice once it was squeezed to preserve that color and balance a bit of the sweetness. But once I paired it with my rosemary simple syrup and some strong proof gin, that’s where some serious deliciousness took place. Lay back, put your mind on your money, and your money on your mind and sip some of my “gin and juice”.

Gin and Juice

1.5 oz strong proof gin (I love Bluecoat)

3 oz fresh squeezed grape juice (with a touch of lemon to preserve color)

1 oz rosemary simple syrup (see recipe below)

splash of seltzer

1 rosemary sprig and three grapes for garnish

In a rocks glass mix the gin, grape juice and rosemary syrup. Fill glass with ice and finish with a splash of seltzer and your rosemary skewered grapes for garnish.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

4 large sprigs of rosemary

1.5 cups water

.5 cups of sugar
Juice of half a lemon

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil. Add the rosemary sprigs and simmer for 10 minutes. Cut the heat and let sit for an additional half hour before removing the rosemary sprigs. Cool before using. This syrup is a bit less sweet than I would normally make as the grape juice carries the sugar for the drink.

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The Spanish Are Loving Their Gin and Tonics

January 22, 2013

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I’ve been staying up to date with the gin boom throughout the U.S. as this has been an exciting time in craft gin distillation. And logistically it makes a ton of sense. With no requirements for a lengthy aging process but still a ton of room for creativity and craftsmanship, gin is a really wonderful spirit to be producing. But somehow, even with staying well connected to the goings-on stateside, I somehow missed something massive in the gin world. It turns out, if you want to see some passion for gin, and particularly gin and tonics, it’s time to look towards Spain.

Saturday night we were cruising through the LES after another amazing meal at Cocoron (you guys have to check this Soba spot out if you haven’t already), and we stumbled upon Cata. Cata is a highly rated and energetic tapas spot which having now seen the menu in action, is on the top of my lists to check out for food. But it was the gin and tonic menu that Nobler Mark had enjoyed previously that convinced us to stop in for a seat at the bar. This was a good call!

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As you can see the gin and tonic menu is a massive list of flavors meant to act as supporting characters to the main show: quality gin and tonic. We tried a number of the options and most were really delicious. The grapefruit, while simple and straightforward made us all agree that no standard gin and tonic should be served again, without this ruby red citrus. More subtle but amazingly delicious was the kumquat and clove which gained in momentum as the flavors had a chance to mingle. Some others were less successful like the thai chili which I had really high hopes for going in. The simplicity of throwing ingredients into a gin and tonic works for stronger flavors but these dried chilis never had the opportunity to impart their spice and earthiness.

But without a doubt, my favorite on the list of options we tried was the kaffir lime. I have never actually seen a kaffir lime in person, but the bartender was kind enough to show us one of these guys which is about a 45 on the 1-10 scale of awesome. Notes of almost lemongrass combined with intense and slightly sweet lime characteristics makes the kaffir variety complex and sort of shocking. I couldn’t stop gushing over the fragrance simply coming off the drink itself. This one is a must order.

The list at Cata however was only the tipping point in my realization of what the gin and tonic means to Spain. After a bit of research, it really is amazing how the country has embraced this cocktail as one of their own, and are constantly pushing the envelope on what the perfect concoction can be. Ironically, one of my fellow blogging buddies over at Boy Drinks World, was discussing the same topic this weekend. Looks like we’re all starting to take notice! I’m just glad I now know to order a G+T the next time I’m in Spain.

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The Nobler Mixer and Bathtub Gin

September 17, 2012

“I… (insert name here)… Member in good standing of the He-Man Woman Haters Club… Do solemnly swear to be a he-man and hate women and not play with them or talk to them unless I have to. And especially: never fall in love, and if I do may I die slowly and painfully and suffer for hours – or until I scream bloody murder.”

– The Little Rascals

We at the Nobler Experiment are not nearly as barbaric as those Little Rascals. However, for the nine times we have gathered to date, the Noblers have met sans the ladies. So for our tenth installment of the Nobler Gathering series, we felt strongly it was time to to branch out. And branch out we did, at the Nobler Mixer…

Just like we had in the past, we showcased one particular type of liquor, one of which made it’s name close to 100 years ago during Prohibition as men and women gathered for cocktail parties just like ours. Well sort of. Their cocktail parties were held in secret locations with the added excitement of breaking the law but that’s just semantics. One major difference however, was their drink of choice, bathtub gin, was driven by necessity, not preference. As the high (or even average) quality liquor became wildly expensive and hard to locate, folks looking to let loose and throw a party were forced to buy low quality, and in some cases dangerous alcohol. Let’s ignore the purchasing of wood based alcohol (which actually can kill you) for now, and focus on the “Popov” like grain liquor that was nearly un-drinkable.

We’ve all had the plastic jug vodka before, and we all know how nasty it can be. Vodka is kind of ironic in that way. We typically pay more for the stuff to taste like less. But for both taste and finish alike, these plastic bottle, $7.99 vodkas are a good comparison to what our Prohibition friends were faced with. These folks were smart, however. By adding herbs, spices, and other ingredients, they were able to mellow the grain alcohol and add some well needed flavor. In many cases, juniper berries were used to impart that “gin” like flavor profile as the strength of this flavoring went a long way for drink-ability. So why the bathtub labeling? Turns out, in order to mellow the grain liquor even more, bottles were topped off with water. And the most efficient and hidden method: using the bathtub faucet.

For our Mixer, I made three “bathtub gins” and served them in three fantastic cocktails. My lavender and honey martini was a perfect way to kick off the evening as we snacked on cucumber sandwiches, homemade ricotta and sweet pea and mint puree. Following up the martini was a citrus “bathtub gin” that had bright flavor notes from the lemon and orange peels paired with rosemary and lemon thyme. Mixed up with a rosemary lemonade and a cucumber slice, this cocktail was wildly refreshing (see top photo).  And last but not least, a more traditionally flavored “bathtub gin” with juniper berries, cardamom, rosemary, and fennel seed made for a perfect gin and tonic.

While the drinks went over exceptionally well, the food was just as delicious. Co-host, Kelly created some of the more memorable bites of the night with her mushroom and olive stromboli and most amazingly with her plum and rosemary tart with sweet corn ice cream. Friggin delicious! And to be completely candid, it was nice having the ladies there. They make us all look good!

So what to do if you are looking to make your own “bathtub gin”. It’s actually amazingly simple. With a few mason jars, and a couple bottles of decent vodka, you can replicate the process with almost any flavors of your preference. This is a great time of year as your herb gardens are dying for new applications and the fall months are perfect for a stiff drink. While it was really fun to replicate the traditional gin flavor, my favorite of the bunch ended up being the lavender. I used a few sprigs of fresh lavender and tasted daily. After about a week, the flavor was perfect. With a little bit of honey and a squeeze of lime, this martini is unreal.

The Nobler Martini:

4 full sprigs of fresh lavender

32 oz average vodka (don’t skimp but don’t go crazy)

4 tbsp honey

1 lime

1 lemon

In a 32 oz mason jar steep the lavender in the vodka for one week. Strain the vodka to remove the lavender and pour through a coffee filter to remove small impurities. Add the honey, the juice of the citrus, shake and keep in the refrigerator until ready. Shake 4 oz of the mixture in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime peel.

 

 

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Converting Gin Haters, One at a Time

July 30, 2012

I’m always blown away by the number of people who hate gin. But then I think back, and remember that for the formative years of adolescence and college education, gin is more or less a commodity item. Whether it was well gin and tonics at T&L or big plastic bottles of Gilbey’s at house parties, I guess my first experiences were pretty consistent with the gin haters out there. Only one major difference: I’ve always sort of loved the stuff.

But I do commiserate with those who have had one too many bad experiences to convince them to get back in the game. However, with all the amazing gin distillers emerging along with the true classics on the market, Gin has quickly become one of my favorites for cocktail creation. The floral and herbal components pair so nicely with fresh fruit, and you know how much I enjoy me some fresh fruit (see: The Juice Bar).

So here’s a trick for all your gin lovers out there looking to recruit a few more to our side. Next time you are at the farmers market or in the grocery store, pick up a few summer ripe peaches. Half and core those suckers and get them soaking in your favorite gin. Over the course of even hours, you’ll begin to taste the delicious infusion. The fruit’s flavor and sweetness begins to mellow the gin and even after a short period of time, the peach infused gin is perfect for making seriously refreshing cocktails. We paired ours with a little lemon and seltzer! But if you are even a little more patient, after a few more days (depending on how sweet the peaches are), this flavor packed gin will be perfect on its own, chilled over ice with only a slice of lemon.

Drink up and spread the gin gospel!

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Anyone want to try my bathtub gin?

July 10, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve become quite fond of gin these days. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone on a gin kick, but I certainly have a deeper appreciation for it now than when I was stocking my freezer with Gilbey’s. And it’s no secret that a number of small batch US distilleries have been focusing on making a mark on the world of Gin. But gin is a spirit with a polarizing history; simultaneously representing the classic and refined Old World liquors while being synonymous with a wave of American renegades unwilling to give in to the absurdity of Prohibition. Something tells me Mr. Gilbey would not have been thrilled to have been served “bathtub gin”.

When the 18th amendment was passed and the bars and liquor shops were shuttered, fun-loving folks like all of us were forced to be a little creative. Even the most fanatic whiskey drinkers knew that in those times, for storage and consumption sake, an aging process wasn’t exactly ideal. In addition, even un-aged clear liquors such as vodka and gin typically went through a distillation process when in actual production. This process further purifies grain alcohol producing the neutral spirits we are still familiar with today. But considering it wasn’t legal to purchase and consume booze, you can’t imagine many folks were rushing to build stills in their bathrooms. Plus, why would you when you have the bathtub right there.

Bathtub gin is a bit of a misnomer or at least it’s a bit misleading. That same grain alcohol that would typically run through the distillation process, technically doesn’t have to. Despite being harsh and packed with impurities, Prohibition party planners quickly realized that when watered down and flavored with herbs, spices and fruits, grain alcohol made a decent party punch. Juniper berries were often used because of their strong aroma and flavor helping to mask the intensity of the spirit. These spirit filled glass jars topped off with water from the bathtub faucet (made for the most convenient filling station) became a huge hit, despite causing, in some cases some unintended consequences. As I mentioned in my post on home-distillation, the impurities in grain spirits may not taste great, but most likely won’t kill you. But the use of wood based spirits and de-natured alcohols out of confusion or stupidity led to a few Prohibition party fouls.

But luckily for us, we aren’t stuck sneaking in grain alcohol; not since 1933. High proof vodka is the best spirit to choose if you are interested in making your own “bathtub gin” and relying on the very same principles of flavor extracting, making your own delicious “gin-like” spirit is pretty straightforward. You may be wondering, “isn’t this type of bathtub gin pretty much just flavored vodka?”. Actually yes, that’s 100% true. Which is why some of those same passionate small batch distilleries like NY Distilling Co. make a point to emphasize their production style differing from a simple post distillation “flavoring”. But for you at home, looking to mess around with different herbs and different fruits for example, this method is your best bet; particularly if you have a now-booming herb garden in full effect!

Which considering I do, I’m getting to work on some late summer “bathtub gins” to be served at the very first Nobler mixer. Yes, that’s right, I said mixer! And considering I used to “pregame” in the shower through college, making a “bathtub gin” only seems appropriate…

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Congratulations Are In Order!

July 6, 2012

(pic taken from Epicurious)

In the short history of the Nobler, I’ve managed to post close to 30 unique cocktail recipes.  These cocktails are unique in the same way that innovative chefs call upon culinary tradition to introduce new and interesting food. Not that I’m calling myself innovative or a great chef, but you get the point. Even the most revolutionary seeming food and beverage probably calls upon a classic. And that’s a good thing. Because classics are classics for a reason.

So when I was thinking about posting a celebratory cocktail for founding Nobler Mark and his soon to be wife Kelly, it wasn’t some wild and crazy mixture that resonated appropriate. But there were two things for sure…it needed to be classic and it needed to have some bubbles!

The French 75 was created close to 100 years ago in Paris combining floral gin, tart lemon juice, sweet sugar, and crisp champagne making it a truly balanced cocktail. Strong enough to garner a name referencing a 75mm field gun, but crisp enough for a perfect toast, the only thing I found myself doing was adding some fresh rosemary for garnish. Kelly and Mark have this ridiculous rooftop garden that I am just mildly (extremely) jealous of which is why I love mixing up some cocktails at their place. The fresh rosemary works with the gin perfectly! Congrats to an awesome couple!

“Couples that Drink Together, Stay Together” – Anonymous (Or me if no one has ever said this before)

French 75

1 1/2 oz gin

1 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

2 oz Champagne

1 rosemary sprig

In a cocktail shaker with ice, mix the first three ingredients vigorously. Pour into a champagne flute, top with champagne and the rosemary sprig and toast accordingly!

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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.

 

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