Concord grapes are a true sign of fall. With thick, sour skins and a luscious, sweet interior, they’re harvested in September through late October. When I see them at the market I know exactly what I’m making — an Enzoni! If you’re not familiar with this drink it is a citrusy and fruity Negroni variation invented by Vincenzo Errico of Milk and Honey in NYC c. 2003. You can use any grape but my favorite is the Concord due to its rich flavor and vibrant hue. I’ve replaced the sugar with elderflower liqueur for a slightly more floral take for this Elderflower Concord Grape Cocktail….
With all the recipe developing for menus and blog posts, my refrigerator becomes a graveyard for fruit, herbs and miscellaneous syrups. I try my best to eat and repurpose most of it for cooking, smoothie bowls, or other recipes throughout the week but sometimes there’s a little waste. I’m implementing a new rule that if I make it, I have to use it! I made syrups for posts on A Beautiful Mess and Palm Springs Style last week and was wondering what my next cocktail would be on my own blog. Fresh ginger and hibiscus, does that work? You bet it does!
One of the first cocktails that came to mind was one that I learned when I worked behind the bar at Flatiron Lounge, the Gin-Gin Mule. It was created by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in 2000 and was a milestone drink of the 21st-century cocktail renaissance. It has inspired countless spin-offs and heavily influenced the use of fresh ginger and homemade ingredients in cocktails. It’s a drink that I still find myself making for people at Dutch Kills when they request a bartenders choice, “I’ll have something with gin that’s refreshing”, I pretty much immediately make a Gin-Gin Mule.
This cocktail is essentially a fusion of two classics, the Mojito (rum, lime, sugar, mint) and a Gin Buck (gin, lime, fresh ginger, soda). I’ve replaced the call for simple syrup in this recipe with hibiscus syrup. You can find out how to make ginger syrup here and my hibiscus syrup here.
Hibiscus Gin-Gin Mule, serves 1
2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Hibiscus Syrup
1/2 oz. Ginger Syrup
Add lime juice, hibiscus syrup, ginger syrup, and mint to your shaker and muddle. Lightly tapping the mint is sufficient. When muddling a good rule to follow in the words of Sasha Petraske is “bruise don’t abuse”. Add gin, ice, and then shake. Strain into a highball glass over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and ginger candy.
I’ve always loved this cocktail but the hibiscus syrup adds a tart, fruity, and floral element that makes this drink even more perfect for summer (if that’s even possible). The sweet floral element of the hibiscus blends perfectly with the spiciness of the ginger and freshness of the mint. More than 10 years later and this cocktail is so good it still influences how I develop cocktails. Some of the most delicious drinks are so perfect just because they’re simple. Less IS more. What’s your favorite modern classic? Do you ever put your own spin on it? Tell me about it in the comments below.
I’ve been really wanting to do a gin and tonic recipe ever since I came back from Spain and for some reason, I just haven’t gotten around to it. A Spanish-style gin and tonic are usually made with a premium gin and the best quality tonic water, combined with your choice of bitters and various herbs, vegetables and fruits. I had some lemongrass syrup leftover from my national piña colada day post and I thought this would be the perfect time to make one. Gin and tonics are supposed to be crisp, dry, herbal and refreshing which makes them thirst quenchingly perfect for the very hot weather in Spain and the current summer temperature we’re experiencing here in NYC (or wherever you might be). The lemongrass syrup is super easy to make (you can find the recipe here) and when combined with gin, cucumber, Meyer lemon juice, and bitter lemon fever tree tonic water creates an effortless drink that is fragrant and full of flavor.
Cucumber Lemongrass Gin and Tonic
2 oz. Botanist Gin
3/4 oz. Meyer Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Lemongrass Syrup
4 Cucumber Slices
Cucumber ribbon and lemon wheel for garnish
Add cucumber, lemon juice, and syrup to a tin and lightly muddle. Add gin and then fill with ice and give a quick shake.
Strain into desired glassware, top with tonic water and garnish with cucumber ribbon and lemon wheel.
The Botanist is a highly distinctive, complex, floral gin which mixes perfectly with the fragrance of the lemon grass syrup, and citrusy herbal freshness of the tonic water. The sweet Meyer lemon juice evens out the slight bitterness from the quinine in the tonic as well. This drink was clean, bright, wonderfully balanced and very easy to put together. They’re also very easy to drink, so be careful! After witnessing how serious they take their ‘gintonics’ in Spain, I have a new found love and appreciation for this cocktail. Do you ever experiment with different types of gin and tonics at home? Is there a favorite tonic you like to make them with? Special herbs, fruit, or bitters you like to include? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
I’m finally editing the hundreds of photos I took on my trip to Madrid, Jerez, Cadiz, and Seville, Spain. So stay tuned for that blog post very soon. I have so much to say about brandy, sherry, and the wonderful trip I took to the Cardenal Mendoza distillery and winery.
Cheers everyone and happy weekend!
As Negroni Week continues, I thought I’d bring you another tasty treat. This time in cupcake form! I deconstructed the classic Negroni and made gin and sweet vermouth cupcakes with a Campari buttercream. I really have tons of fun thinking of ways I can turn cocktails into sweets and so far I’ve been pretty successful. They aren’t too complicated to make and if you’ve already been mixing up this cocktail at home, you’re halfway there with having all the ingredients. If you are anything like me, I usually have a full pantry, so I didn’t have to run out for much to whip these up just in time for hump day!…
The negroni is by far one of my favorite classic cocktails. It doesnt hurt that it's super easy to make as well (equal parts gin:sweet vermouth:campari). This coming week is Negroni Week, which is presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari in efforts to raise money for charities around the world. There are so many variations on this drink but one that sticks out to me the most is by a co-worker of mine, and it's the bicycle thief. This is a collins spin on the negroni, excluding the vermouth and adding grapefruit, lemon, simple and topping it with club soda. It still fits the bill – bitter, sweet, and herbal. So I took it a step further and threw it in a blender. Because why not? I also added strawberries because they're in season which compliment the campari and gin perfectly.
Frozen Strawberry Negroni, serves 1
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Simple or Demerara Syrup
Add all your ingredients to your blender pitcher, add ice, and blend on smoothie setting. Pour into desired glassware and garnish with an orange wedge and whole strawberry.
This strawberry negroni was really delicious and easy to make. I always wonder why people are so afraid of blenders? They totally take the work out of making cocktails. You can make yourself a negroni at home or your favorite variation but don’t forget to go out to your local bars and support them for Negroni Week! Participating bars donate a portion of their negroni sales to charity. The only thing better about drinking is drinking with a cause! You can find bars near you participating here. Happy Negroni Week everyone!
We’re finally celebrating the arrival of fall! Although I am writing this from my bed where I’m currently laid up with a cold. It never fails, I always get sick when the seasons change abruptly. The temperature gets cooler, the nights get darker, there is a brisk breeze blowing, the leaves are falling and changing color. It’s time to cozy up with your favorite jacket and scarf and drink something even cozier. It’s not hot drink weather yet so calm down!
During fall I love drinks with darker flavors with in season fruits, spices, teas, cognac, whiskey and darker aged rums (I always love Rum). I’m so excited about having the blog this fall because I get to explore some interesting and fun drink creation that I wouldn’t normally do at work. I’m in the middle of changing two menus right now (which has been hectic) but once they’re out I will get to share some of those cocktails here with you and post some other stuff that doesnt work for a menu but will certainly work for playing around at home.
I was at the market last week and spotted one bundle of concord grapes and almost jumped for joy. I decided to post the recipe for the Enzoni cocktail which was invented at Milk & Honey here in NYC back in 2003. This cocktail was inspired by the Negroni, but is a citrusy and fruitier version, and is super easy to recreate. The recipe calls for grapes, so you can make this with all different kinds anytime of year, but my favorite is Concord Grapes. When they are in season I just go nuts and this is the only drink I want to make. I also shot this in pretty blue glassware I bought at Brimfield!
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
5 Concord Grapes
Add juice, syrup, and grapes to your tin, muddle, and add the rest of your ingredients. Shake with ice, and strain into a double rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a grape.