Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lowcountry connection

Yesterday, the fine folks at the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. actually found one of my cocktail recipes here on the ol’ blog that contains their absolutely delicious tonic. Amazingly, they seemed to really enjoy it! They’ve been having trouble coming up with a tonic/bourbon cocktail, and hopefully I’ve helped them crack the code, at least a little. Click here if you’d like to check that particular delicious concoction out.

I figured that, in honor of their discovery – and to make Friday a little extra celebratory – I’d come up with an equally delicious beverage using their other amazing product, grenadine.

Well, I think I’ve done the grenadine some serious justice. I whipped this up last night and, boyyyy, is it tasty. I call in “The Charleston” for, well, a number of reasons. First off, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. is based out of that fine city, and it happens to be just a hop, skip and jump away from my current place of residence. Also, this cocktail bears a decent resemblance to a Manhattan, so I decided, in keeping with the spirit of location-based cocktail names, Charleston was a particularly good namesake.

Anywho, here it is.

The CharlestonThe Charleston

*4 parts bourbon
*1 part sweet vermouth
*2 parts Jack Rudy Grenadine
*2 parts orgeat syrup
*1 part rose water
*Dash of orange bitters

Shake all that completely delicious goodness together and pour it in a rocks glass over some ice. My friends, you now have yourselves a divine cocktail. Really, you should try it – and you should absolutely pick up any Jack Rudy product you can get your hands on. It’s well worth the impressing of your friends and their taste buds that you’ll be able to do.

Happy Friday to all of you working folks out there. As always, thanks for reading, and see y’all on Monday!

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Mysterious grains

Just a quick one today, and no real recipe to speak of. But I picked up some farro a while back, and I’m finally in the mood to tackle making something out of it. Dear blog readers, meet farro.

Farro in Hand

It’s a bit of a mystery, this grain. Opinions differ on what it actually IS. By most accounts, most of what is sold as farro is actually emmer wheat. However, that may not be entirely accurate – spelt and einkorn are also called “farro” in Italy. So it’s all a bit obtuse. But I’m venturing into the mystery with abandon, definitions be damned.

What I do know is that the farro that I currently have smells deliciously nutty when I open up the canister I have it stored in, so whatever grain it actually is, I’m really excited to work with it.

Popular opinion seems to be that soaking farro overnight is the way to go, so that’s what I’m doing.

Farro SoakingMost recipes I’m finding are fairly simple farro salad recipes. I’m not sure I’m entirely excited about that, so I may play around and try something a little more adventurous. It may be a disaster, but at least it’ll be an interesting disaster.

I’ll report back on my findings soon. Until tomorrow, folks.

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Guac!

I’m gonna get right to it today, because it’s gonna take a while to go through this recipe. But a little note here first…aren’t avocados just FANTASTIC?!? And guacamole?! Ridiculous.

Anywho, I’ve been perfecting my guacamole recipe for years, and I think it’s finally time to share it with the world. Now, just a warning, this is NOT a tepid guacamole. I like my guac chunky and bold (and I hope you do too!), but you should be armed with this vital info before diving in.

Okay, so here goes!

GilbyGuacChips & Guac

Main Ingredient:
*5 ripe Hass avocados
*1 medium-sized red onion
*1 medium-sized sweet onion
*8 cloves garlic
*1 large shallot
*1/3 bunch cilantro
*Juice of 4 limes

Spices:
*Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
*Garlic salt
*Cumin
*Fresh-ground pepper
*Jerk seasoning
*Sriracha
*Cholula

First, go ahead and preheat your oven to 425. Cut off one end of 5 cloves of garlic and wrap in a sheet of tin foil.

Roasted Garlic

Cut off both ends of 1 shallot, place in a sheet of tin foil, toss a splash of olive oil into the foil with the shallot and cover the shallot in the oil. Wrap the shallot up in the foil.

Roasted Shallots

Once the oven is preheated, throw both the garlic and the shallot in the oven for 30 minutes.

While your garlic and shallots are roasting, take half of your red onion and half of your sweet onion and chop them up fine – I used a food processor.

Onions before chopping

You’re gonna sauté each of these halves in a pan. Spray the pan first with a little cooking oil, and throw some garlic salt and some Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (RUN to your grocery store NOW if you don’t have any of this stuff on hand) for good measure.

Tony Chachere's

Sauteeing Onions

While these are sauteing, chop up the other halves of each onion, this time much more coarsely. Remember, chunky is the name of the game here. Then go ahead and grab your cilantro and toss it in the food processor.

Cilantro

Cilantro Chopped

Dice up your remaining 3 cloves of garlic. Once your shallot is done roasting, grab it out of the oven and give it a quick chop. Grab the other garlic out of the oven as well and toss everything you’ve worked on up to this point and throw it all together in a large mixing bowl.

Onions Garlic Shallots in Bowl

Now, it’s finally time for the avocados! Halve each avocado, remove the pits and toss all that delicious green meat into the mixing bowl.

All Ingredients

Finally, it’s spice time. Throw in the lime juice and all of the spices listed above, and give everything a good stir. You’ll need to smash the avocado a bunch to smooth out the guacamole. And as always, spices here are a little up to your interpretation. Wanna make it spicy? Use a bunch of Sriracha and Cholula. Want a little more sweetness? Go heavy on the jerk seasoning.

That’s it, really. It’s a little time-consuming, but that time is completely worth it. So whip some of this stuff up and go to town with your favorite tortilla chips! For the record, I highly recommend Tostitos Multigrain Scoops. They’re tremendous.

Until tomorrow!

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Equal

Not to get too serious here on the ol’ lighthearted blog, but today is a pretty big day. A lot of us are anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision today on Prop 8 (and tomorrow on DOMA).

I’m not going to rant and rave too much, and honestly, there’s nothing I can really say that hasn’t been said already. But this is one of the BIG issues for me. I got chills and got all choked up when Obama announced his support of gay marriage. And I’m really hoping today and tomorrow are just the next step. This truly is the civil rights issue of our time. And I suppose Scalia is probably a lost cause, but I’m cautiously optimistic that this is all going to turn out in favor of what’s right and good.

Anywho…in honor of this extremely important moment in our country’s history, I’m making a cocktail in (hopefully) celebration.

The EqualityThe Equality

*4 parts vinho verde (click here for Wiki’s take)
*1 part Hendrick’s Gin
*1 part apple juice (fancy, naturally)
*Splash of lime juice
*Dash of plum bitters

Just a quick note about vinho verde – it’s DELICIOUS. In case you weren’t aware. It’s got just a hint of carbonation, it’s dry and fruity at the same time, and best of all, it won’t break the bank! I grabbed this bottle of Broadbent for 9.99 at my local wine store. Plus, the gays love white wine, right?!

I’m kidding!

Back for more tomorrow – let’s just all keep our fingers crossed that these next two days end up like they should.

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Strawberry dreams

Before we go any further, if you haven’t tried this absolutely delicious nectar before, stop reading this and go pick some up NOW (and then come back and commence readership).

Abita Strawberry

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. My lord. This stuff is just perfect. Really, it’s an absolute pleasure. I know some of you probably don’t really go for the fruit-based beer, but this should be your exception. The strawberry is present and wonderful without being overwhelming. Somehow, the fine folks at Abita found the perfect balance here. Honestly, I don’t usually go for lagers or fruit-based beers. This beer is both of those things and I’m 100% in love with it.

Still, I’m not here to rant on for paragraphs about this magic elixir. I’m here to make cocktails, dammit! And boy, does Abita Strawberry make for a gooood cocktail base. So here ya go:

Springtime in NOLASpringtime in NOLA

*1 part bourbon
*4 parts Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager
*1 part grapefruit juice (go fancy!)
*Splash of lime juice
*Dash of aromatic bitters

I love this cocktail. It allows the beer to shine it’s strawberry light, and yet the bourbon really hangs in there and manages to come through. And somehow, they both compliment each other. All in all, it’s a light, delicious fare that goes down easily – something you can drink on your porch as you dream of New Orleans in all its glory.

That’s all for now. Hope y’all are having a great Monday. More soon!

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Classic with mustard

We all know about yogurt-cucumber-dill sauce. It’s been done over and over again. At the very least, I’m certainly not the first one to try my hand at this particular tangy concoction.

But in the spirit of experimentation that we here at The Amateur Cocktailer try to keep up at all times, I’m turning this old standby on its head, just a little.

First of all, I don’t know if y’all have Publix in your area of the world, but if you don’t, do yourself a huge favor and pick up some of this:

Whole Grain Garlic Mustard

I don’t know what the hell they do to make this THE BEST MUSTARD I’VE EVER HAD, but whatever it is, I’m in. Seriously. It’s spectacular. Who knew? Publix Private Selection?! Anyway, just go get some.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe. It has a bunch of different uses, which I will gladly detail after the jump.

YMCD (yes, that’s a Village People reference, dammit)

Yogurt Dill Mustard Sauce

Main Ingredients
*1 medium yellow onion (diced very fine)
*5-6 cloves garlic (diced very fine)
*1/2 large leek (diced very fine)
*1/2 large cucumber
*12 oz Greek yogurt (to me, Fage brand is really the only Greek yogurt – I used the 0%)
*2 tablespoons whole grain garlic mustard

Spices (for onions/leeks)
*Garlic salt
*Cumin
*Jerk seasoning
*Honey

Spices (for sauce)
*Dill
*Lime juice
*Cinnamon sugar
*Sriracha
*Cholula
*Curry powder

Here’s the deal on how to actually pull this off.

First, chop up the onion, garlic and leek and sautee them all in the spices listed. I sprayed just a little canola oil in there too, just to prevent sticking.

Once that’s done, chop up your cucumber and then combine everything else together in a big bowl and stir! That’s pretty much it. It’s super easy and super tasty. Of course, as always with my recipes, I spice to taste, so it’s tough for me to give exact spice measurements. So play around!

Now this sauce can be used in a variety of ways. It’s a great dipping sauce for carrots or pita chips. I used it last night for making a delicious yellow squash dish, as seen here.

Squash in Yogurt Mustard Dill Sauce

But what I’m thinking would be totally ridiculously awesome is making some lamb burgers and then throwing some YMCD on top. Oh boy. I kind of want to drop everything and go do that right now.

That’s it for now, I suppose. It’s almost the end of the week, y’all! And spring is here! Only technically, I suppose, but I sense good things on the horizon. Until tomorrow.

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Orgeat love

I’ve been meaning to pick up some orgeat for a while now, but could never manage to find it here in the Hostess City. But my secular prayers have finally been answered, as I recently walked into my local liquor store the other day and found THIS!

Orgeat

Look at that adorable Fee Brothers bottle! I would actually really like to make my own homemade orgeat at some point, but for now, this’ll do just fine – Fee Brothers products are classic. Maybe not the most high class of the bunch, but I really appreciate the history.

Now, don’t go crazy with this stuff, folks. Too much, and the almond flavor will take aim at your cocktail and completely overpower it. But used in just the right amount, it adds a touch of fantastic almondy sweetness. Almondy? Yes. I made it up and I’m sticking with it.

And here’s a cocktail that utilizes the power of orgeat just perfectly.

Land of OpportunityLand of Opportunity Ingredients

*1 1/2 parts bourbon
*1 part Dolin Blanc
*2 1/2 parts apple juice (as always! the fancy stuff)
*1/2 part fresh lemon juice
*1/2 part orgeat syrup
*Few dashes plum bitters

Shake all that goodness together, pour it over some ice and you’ve got yourself a delicious and definitely unique cocktail. You won’t be able to tell if it’s sweet or tangy, and before you know it, it’ll be gone.

Just a quick one today, as more guests have arrived. But I’ll return tomorrow for more deliciousness! Until then.

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Birthday grenadine

Apologies all around for the shameful lack of posts here in the last few weeks. I’ve been busy going on some trips, having guests visit and (gasp!) trying to get a job. But I’m back on the train, dammit! More to come this week, I promise.

One of the best things about living here in Savannah is that the weather is awesome nearly year-round – let’s just pretend the summer doesn’t exist, okay?! – and thus lots of people want to come visit!

We were lucky enough to have the lovely Jeremy and Attia Crews in town this past weekend, and lo and behold, it also happened to be Mr. Crews’s birthday weekend! So I’m concocting a cocktail in his honor. It’s the least I can do, really.

But first, I have a confession to make. I often tout using the “fancy stuff” when referring to using any sort of juice in my cocktails – fancy apple juice, fancy grapefruit juice, etc. It really does make all the difference. However, sadly, I have not extended this to my use of lime and lemon juice. It’s just so easy to buy those little bottles of lime and lemon juice from the store! No hassle! But I can’t continue to lead this double life, so I’m switching permanently over to fresh lime and lemon juice, as you can see here.

Juicing Limes

All it take is a little juicer like this – I bought this for about 4 bucks at my local grocery store. If you use a lot of lime of lemon juice in your cocktails, I highly recommend doing it. And look! I repurposed an empty bottle of bitters to store my lime juice in!

Lime in Bitters Bottle

It’s a perfect size for storing your lime or lemon juice. You don’t want anything too big, because you really only want to keep the lime juice for a week a most before making more. Damn, I love repurposing.

Anywho, I digress. But before I get to the actual cocktail, I have to show you guys this.

Jack Rudy Grenadine

The fine folks at Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. have struck again. This time with some absolutely killer small batch grenadine. And in case you didn’t notice, this bottle is from Batch Number 1! I know I’m a dork, but I’m really excited by that. Anyway, you can go ahead and throw out all the grenadine in your house because this just rolled into town like Bonnie & Clyde and really tore up your town. Seriously, it’s spectacular. Just the right amount of sweet. Just the right amount of tart. I probably would have killed myself with Shirley Temples as a kid if the local soda shop had had this delectable stuff around.

And now, finally, for the cocktail, in honor of Mr. Crews.

The CrewsThe Crews

*2 parts bourbon (Bulleit, naturally)
*1 part sweet vermouth
*1 part Jack Rudy grenadine
*1 part fresh lime juice

Shake what ya mama gave ya and pour this into a rocks glass over some ice. Or serve it straight up – either way, it’s damn tasty. It’s like a Manhattan with a bit more pizazz, which I think its namesake would be into.

Alright, I’m off to enjoy some 70 degree weather and prepare for our next visitors. More tomorrow!

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Fairgrounds

Remember all those days you spent during your youth, going to county and state fairs, devouring way too much cotton candy and making yourself a little (or a lot) ill from eating fluffy pink sugar that looked like insulation? No? Well, I do…I even remember making cotton candy for the 4-H club. I’m not sure why this happened. I was never part of the 4-H club. My memory on this is fuzzy, at best.

Anywho, I digress. If you ever reminisce about the more innocent days of cotton candy and state fairs, then have I got something for you.

Jones Cream Soda
I don’t know if you guys have ever tried this stuff, but WOWZA. It sure does taste and smell like cotton candy. I mean, holy beejezus. And it is SUPER sweet. Honestly, I’m not sure I could handle more than a few sips of this on its own. BUT! As a cocktail mixer, used in much moderation, it is pretty spectacular. Seriously, don’t go overboard with this stuff, but a little bit of it can really make for a lot of deliciousness. It took a few tries, but I managed to come up with a cocktail that plays to this particular beverage’s cotton candy strengths perfectly. I call it “The Insulator”.

The InsulatorCotton Candy

*2 parts bourbon
*2 parts grapefruit juice (get fancy with it)
*1/2 part Jack Rudy Tonic (for heaven’s sake, grab yourself some of this stuff!)
*1 part Jones Cream Soda
*1 part seltzer

The grapefruit juice and the tonic really tame the uber-sweetness of the cream soda, and the seltzer mellows the whole thing out just perfectly. I really enjoy this one. Sweet and tart, but not overwhelming on either account.

More tomorrow, folks! Enjoy.

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