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….
I bet everyone is ready for Valentine’s Day…I know I sure am! Whether you’re spending the weekend with you gal pals or getting ready for a romantic night out, a cocktail is always in order. That’s why I’m here! I’ve whipped up these super easy Negroni Floats that are perfect for your Galentine’s Day party or a romantic evening spent at home. They’re boozy, but with the addition of freshly whipped cream, they become a delicious alcoholic creamsicle. Now who doesn’t want one of those?
Easy Negroni Floats (makes one serving)
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 oz. Campari
Add all your ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice, and stir. If you’re making multiple drinks, double up or consider building in a pitcher. Strain into a coupe glass.
For the cream:
Add 4 ounces of heavy cream to a tin with two sugar cubes and a very small piece of ice. Shake, shake, shake! You want to shake it till the sugar has dissolved and the cream is slighly thick but not pie topping thick. You want it to slide right over the top of the drink. I do this at work all the time with no trouble, with these the cream started to sink at a pretty fast rate. No problem! Just give it a little stir, it will only enhance the creamsicle effect. Garnish with a little zest of orange on top. Enjoy! Happy Valentine’s Day!
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.
Greetings everyone! It’s finally August, and by now everyone is trying to beat the heat. The summers are always a bit slower for bars here in New York, as everyone vacates the city to go upstate or down the shore on the weekends. People are slowly going back to their local watering holes, tired of rooftops and patios, searching for some cold AC and an even colder drink. I have whipped up another strong, and spirit forward cocktail, inspired by the rum old fashioned and colder nights to come.
Last year I was lucky enough to be one of the few bartenders to get their hands on Stiggin’s Fancy Pineapple Rum by Plantation, as originally it was not being produced for sale. Due to overwhelming popularity they decided to keep making it, and this year it won Best New Spirit at Tales of the Cocktail 2016. So don’t fret because you should be able to get your hands on some!
“This rum was created by Alexandre Gabriel, cellar master at Plantation and David Wondrich, author of the book Imbibe! It is a tribute to the esteemed Reverend Stiggins whose favorite drink was the “pineapple rum” in the Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Not intended for sale, the rum was created to share among colleagues and friends at Tales of the Cocktail 2014. “Victim” of its own success, it is now available in the United States. The manufacturing process of Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple is complex.”
This rum is delicious and rich, with slight smoke and aromas of tropical fruit like ripe banana, pineapple, citrus peel, and a touch of spice. This spirit is so versatile, you can drink it neat, on a rock, shaken in a daiquiri, or in a spirit forward cocktail, all will yield amazing results. Plantation not only puts out some of the best and most unique rums on the market, it is brought to you by Alexandre Gabriel and the team behind Maison Ferrand, one of the oldest spirits brands in the Cognac Region of France. They are responsible for Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Citadelle Gin, and Ferrand Dry Curacao, all staples for your at home bar.
The Plantation Pineapple Rum will pair well with other tropical fruits, citrus, spices like nutmeg, clove, and allspice, others rums, cognac, and so on. I paired it with Campari, allspice liqueur, and macadamia nut. I made orgeat and will include that recipe and instructions for making your own at home, or you can buy your favorite store bought almond syrup.
Stiggin’s Fancy Old Fashioned
1 1/2 oz. Plantation Pineapple
1/2 oz. Campari
Barspoon Allspice Liqueur
Barspoon Macadamia Nut Orgeat
Add all your ingredients to a single old fashioned glass, add ice, and stir with your barspoon until all the ingredients are incorporated and the cocktails is cold. Spray and discard a lemon twist, and garnish with a pineapple leaf.
Macadamia Nut Orgeat
1 cup macadamia nuts (either raw or dry-roasted)
4 cups filtered water or boiled water
pinch salt (if nuts are unsalted)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add the macadamia nuts in a single layer. (If they’re already toasted, we’re just re-toasting them for a minute or two to add a bit more flavor).
- Cook over medium heat, stirring very frequently, until the macadamia nuts are just starting to turn golden brown and smell fragrant. For pre-roasted nuts, this will only take a minute. For raw nuts, this will take around 3 to 5 minutes.
- Immediately transfer the toasted macadamia nuts to a blender (I use a Blendtec because they are awesome) and add the water. Let the nuts and water soak together in the blender for 30 minutes or longer if you are able.
- Blend together the macadamia nuts and water until the mixture appears very smooth.
- Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, squeezing out as much excess liquid as you can. If you don’t have a nut milk bag you should get one. JK, just use a fine mesh sieve, layered with cheesecloth. Then later purchase a nut milk bag via amazon, it’s easy.
- After you have successfully strained all excess liquid, whisk in your salt and cinnamon.
- We want to make a 2:1 almond syrup, the 2 being the sugar and 1 being the almond milk. Measure the almond milk, if there are 4 cups of milk you will be adding 8 cups of sugar. I split the sugar half and half with white and demerara, so 4 cups of each. If you want a much richer syrup do all demerara.
- Add the almond milk and appropriate amount of sugar to a pot and simmer on stove over low heat until all sugar has dissolved.
- Add 1 oz of Faretti Liqueur (my fave), Amaretto, or Brandy, and a 1/2 tsp. of orange flower water, stir.
- Use a funnel to portion your orgeat into bottles or jars and keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Make yourself a Mai Tai later after you have the Stiggin’s Fancy Old Fashioned now that you have orgeat in the house.
There is no better way to celebrate your Fourth of July weekend than by drinking and mixing with American Spirits. One of my favorites has always been Lairds Applejack.
The Lairds have been producing Apple Brandy in Monmouth County, New Jersey for almost 300 years, passing down their recipe from generation to generation. They are the oldest commercial and family owned distillery in the country holding license number 1. In fact, historical records show that in 1760 or before, General George Washington wrote to the Laird family requesting their recipe for producing Applejack, which the Laird family supplied. George Washington is the only other known person besides the Laird family to have the recipe. Abraham Lincoln also served Applejack in his New Salem, Illinois tavern. It doesn’t get more American than that.
Apple Brandy fell out of popularity somewhere in the mid century, only being a favorite of old timers sipping on it at their local watering holes. This all changed with the craft cocktail boom of the early 2000s which ushered in a renaissance of enjoying classic cocktails like the Jack Rose again. Suddenly a rather obscure spirit became a cocktail bar staple with a cult following. Nowadays you’re lucky to get your hands on a bottle of it, as bars all across the country struggle to keep it in stock. Laird & Company has been the sole producer of this spirit category since the end of prohibition with only recently some small craft distilleries releasing their own version of apple brandy.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to visit the distillery, which you can read all about here in my article that was featured in Edible Magazine. I have always placed this spirit on all the menus I have put together because of its importance, as well as included it on the menus of establishments I have worked at over the years. In 2011 my recipe for the Hamilton Park Swizzle was in the Summer of Tiki issue of Imbibe Magazine. It was also on the menu at Lani Kai, a now shuddered modern tropical bar owned by Julie Reiner in the Soho section of Manhattan.
Since then it has always been my project to create variations on the Queens Park Swizzle cocktail and name them after parks in Jersey City, NJ where I am from and still reside. I have also created the Van Vorst Park, the Lincoln Park, and now in honor of the holiday weekend that is upon us I have put together the Liberty State Park Swizzle. For those of us that will be spending the fourth there watching the fireworks in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty herself, this is what you should be drinking.
I used Lairds newest product, Jersey Lightning, a clear, un-aged apple distillate. It is boldly flavored with super crisp and fresh apple notes, a moonshine-esque liquid that’s a wonderful candidate for mixing in drinks. It’s also 100 proof. You were warned.
Liberty State Park Swizzle
1 1/2 oz. Lairds Jersey Lightning
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
1/4 oz. Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz. Float of Campari
Handful of mint and blueberries
In your serving vessel put your handful of mint and blueberries. In your mixing tin add all your ingredients except the Campari, dry shake, and pour a splash in your serving vessel. Muddle the mint and blueberries, add ice, and pour the remainder of your cocktail into the glass, float Campari. Garnish with a lavish bouquet of mint, blueberries, and dusting of powdered sugar. I love powdered sugar!