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.
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!
I hope everyone is off to a good New Year! This week has been a little bit more mellow and I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying it. I love the holidays but theres also stress and pressure that goes along with them. I’m excited to get back to normal life and a brand new year. I know its cliche to set all of these goals once the calender flips to January 1st, I know its not a clean slate, but it is a good time to get youself motivated to accomplish the things that maybe you’ve been putting off or didn’t have enough time for in the previous year. I did set a lot of goals for myself in 2016 and I am very proud of how far I’ve come, but there’s still work to be done!
Is there anything special that you’re setting some extra time aside for this year? Work goals? Relationship goals? Health goals? I’m looking forward to continuing the blog, I started running this week (I can only make it a 1/2 mile before dying), and I have some major home goals. I’ve been looking around at buying, but real estate is insane here in the NY/NJ area. If I can’t accomplish buying a house or condo in the new year, I’m going to do a major overhaul in the little rent controlled railroad apartment that I’ve been living in for the past 8 years. I’m going to be 30 in 49 days and I moved in when I was 21. THAT’S CRAZY!! The apartment has always been a work in progress but I have changed a lot and so have my tastes. I have been trying to slowly incorporate new things in over the past year but I’m getting a little overwhelmed. Someone please help me.
The most recent photo of my bedroom, which I hope to repaint and do some simple decor updates to. I painted the wardrobe myself and changed the hardware. Inside the drawers are ombre from light blue to navy. Salvation Army purchase along with that mid-century sideboard.
Anyways, since I got way off track, I’ve teamed up with The Hair Room here in Jersey City to bring you delicious drinks (my Sparkling Apple Cider Punch) for the Golden Globes tomorrow. If you’re local swing by for a cocktail, pajama attire is recommended! If not, I’m posting the recipe here for your at home enjoyment. This punch is yummy! Its resfreshing, super fragrant and fruity. Comment below to let me know what you think. Either about all of my random thoughts, the cocktail or your favorite red carpet looks. I’d love to hear from you. Cheers to all of you from snowy New Jersey!
Sparkling Apple Cider Punch
1 1/2 oz. Gin (I used Fifty Pound)
3/4 oz. Elderflower Liqueur (Giffard or St. Germain work)
1 oz. Apple Cider
1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
Top Champagne or a Sparkling Wine, Club Soda also works in a pinch for something lower ABV.
You can make a batch of this cocktail by simply multiplying each ingredient by how many people you will be making drinks for. You can put it in a pitcher, build in a punch bowl or make to order. If you’re making to order add all ingredients besides sparkling wine to a tin, shake, strain into your desired glassware like a coupe or flute, and top with champagne/sparkling. Garnish with an apple slice. Cheers and enjoy!
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.
I’ve been eyeing lychees at my local natural food store for weeks waiting for the right time to pick some up and play around. I have to admit the idea of using lychees in cocktails makes me do an eye roll. I spent some time years ago working in an establishment with a Pan-Asian inspired food and bar program. The sight of a large can with preserved and over sugary fruits pouring out of it and being muddled into martinis gives me chills, and not the good kind. I rarely have come across them fresh, which is why I was so excited and intrigued to use them in a drink.
The lychee has a rough, red, leathery skin, and on the inside is a white creamy, almost grape-like fruit. It’s a tropical fruit that originated in China, and is known for its sweet and fragrant flavor. If you can get your hands on some (they’re in season from May till June or July) I think you will be surprised and delighted by the taste and texture of the fruit. They also contain and impressive array of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
I thought the aroma of the lychee paired best with the botanicals and citrus notes of Gin, along with the beautifully fragrant and complexity of lavender. My Lavender Lychee Collins is easy to make at home, and is a refreshing boozy take on a lemonade, which means you can keep the booze out as well for your friends that are not imbibing, just double up on your citrus and sweetener.
Lavender Lychee Collins
2 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Lavender Simple Syrup
6 Peeled & Pitted Lychees
In your tin add your lemon juice, lavender syrup, and 4 peeled & pitted lychees, give it a light muddle. Add your Gin, I chose a London Dry like Beefeater, add ice, shake, and strain into a highball glass over ice. Top with soda and garnish your cocktail with remaining lychees and a lavender sprig.
Lavender Simple Syrup (1:1)
- Combine water, sugar, and lavender blossoms in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup steep, about 30 minutes.
- Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar or bottle through a mesh strainer to remove blossoms; let cool.