I love glitter and all things kitsch, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I also love drag queens. Back when I was making jewelry as a way to cope with the soul sucking corporate gig I had, I wanted to do a drag/burlesque craft show so that I could hang out with and meet more of the amazingly talented men, women, lady-boys, kings, queens and queerdos that populate the local scene. I never found the time to organize said event but, I have thankfully found time to experience more of the amazing talent here in Seattle.
If you've watched RuPaul's Drag Race, and if you haven't seriously what are you doing with your life, you have seen two amazing queens from Seattle kick ass and take names (and a crown). And while Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are both amazing performers we have a city full of amazing. This Saturday I got to hit one of my favorite daytime drag shows, Mimosas Cabaret featuring Ruby Bouche, Isabella Aextynn, Tipsy Rose Lee and Vanity White. Two plus hours of live performance, lip syncing, camp, glamour, glitter, liquor, and the stage manager's ass. You should stop whatever you're doing and buy tickets to this ASAP.
Obviously a show this amazing needs to have a signature cocktail, and it needed to be based on the titular (hehe, I said tit....) Mimosa. We've done cocktails before with Cava, but I wanted this to be closer to the original so I grabbed our Blood Orange shrub. Now you can't just dump shrub into sparkling wine, or you end up with a 4th grade science experiment all over your counters and flat wine. Which is not fun and not delicious. So you have to dilute the shrub with ice and booze.
For this I wanted the orange flavor to really shine so I grabbed some local craft vodka. If you wanted to do something a little sharper, you could swap the vodka out for gin or bourbon but it would be a very different cocktail.
I also wanted to pay homage to the Unicorn Bar, home of the Mimosas Cabaret, so I added just a little vanilla extract to this. Hello boozy orange creamsicle. You could use vanilla infused vodka if you like, or if you have it around, but make sure it isn't sweetened or this will get over sweet really fast. I tend to find most of the commercially available flavored vodkas to be unpleasantly artificial tasting, so I either infuse my own or use high quality extracts. You do you.
A last word about sparkling wine. You have three main options for these sorts of cocktails. You will often find me using Cava in the recipes, because it's the closes to Champagne with a price tag that's about half the cost for a halfway decent bottle. It also tends to be less sweet than Prosecco, which is important when adding sweet ingredients like shrubs. If you can't find Cava, or if you just have a serious sweet tooth, use Prosecco.
.75 oz Blood Orange Shrub
1.5 oz Vodka
.25 - .5 tsp Vanilla Extract
Chilled Cava or Prosecco
In a shaker with ice, put all ingredients except Cava. Shake well, about 15 seconds, and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with Cava or prosecco. Garnish with a fierce attitude and red lip glitter.
I really hope you were able to spend some of today outside because it was GLORIOUS!!! I was at the U District market all day, enjoying the weather and all the puppies (seriously I do the markets just for puppy scritches some days). I also scored some nettles and some fiddle head ferns which I'm really excited to have for dinner later this week. But perhaps the best part was meeting the folks at Hierophant Meadery, who made this amazing off-dry mead you see pictured.
If you've never had mead, you totally should. It's a type of wine made from honey and it's delicious all on its own. This one is lightly sweet, with mild honey flavor and lots of grassy notes. This is going to be a favorite warm weather sipper I can tell.
But mead always makes me think of high fantasy, which always makes me think of D&D, and the way every adventure begins: in the tavern where a shadowy figure lurks. This cocktail is the perfect thing to kick off your night of adventure. The sweetness from the mead and shrub are balanced by a little lemon and bourbon, keeping it refreshing and light. Use a more robust bourbon like Buffalo Trace, or Woodinville Whiskey, to add a light smokey note to the background. And top it all off with a bit of seltzer or tonic, for an effervescent kick.
Meanwhile Back at the Tavern...
1 oz Blueberry Thyme shrub
1 oz Semi-Dry Mead
1 oz Bourbon
.25 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Seltzer or Tonic
Put everything except seltzer in a shaker with ice. Shake around 20 seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a glass and top with seltzer. Add ice if desired. Raise high and toast to the beginning of your adventure.
Spring seems to be well and truly here in Seattle. The trees are blooming and the air is warmer, birds are singing, and we're getting a few precious days of sun. It's one of my favorite times of year. It's also the time of year that I go through my freezer in the kitchen and see what I have lots of left from the previous year's purchases. Last year, it was Apricots and that led to the creation of our Apricot Cardamom shrub. We loved it so much that it's now part of our regular rotation.
This Blueberry Thyme shrub might have a similar place in our line up; it's that good.
I mean, I never make anything I don't personally want to drink but that doesn't mean all the flavors I invent are wildly successful with our adoring public. But if its inaugural weekend is anything to go by, it seems you really like this one. Which makes me so delightfully happy because I really love this one.
As I was making it, I was struck by the way thyme smells like loamy forests in the rain which got me thinking about the number one request I got after we published our Chandra cocktail a few weeks ago: a cocktail for Nissa, her fierce elven companion (and unconfirmed lover, but let's be real here we all ship it). I knew I wanted to make something very herbaceous and light, so initially I was thinking about gin. But honestly, I've always pictured elves as living in deciduous forests and gin is more of a deep pine forest sort of flavor.
So instead I pulled out some Aquavit I purchased from local distiller Old Ballard Liquor Co, which is just as herbaceous but without the juniper note. I did want a little bit of woody pine, so a touch of barrel aged gin from our friends at Copperworks was added as a grounding spirit. The barest whisper of Campari rounded everything out and kept things earthy. Overall the taste of this is very light and sippable, with a sweet berry start, lots of herbs and a lightly bitter/woody finish. I know you're going to enjoy this.
What other nerdy pursuits would go better with a themed cocktail? Let me know in the comments.
The Voice of Zendikar
.75 oz Blueberry Thyme shrub
1 oz Citron Aquavit
.5 oz Barrel Aged Gin
.5 tsp Campari
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well, about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You can garnish with a lightly bruised thyme sprig or a few fresh blueberries, though I chose to leave it unadorned today.
What's up GruulFriends? How excited are you that the trees are FINALLY in bloom here in Seattle? I look forward to this brief time all year and have been just stupid happy that the trees are putting on such a lovely show for us. It's still mostly rain in the forecast, but we keep getting days with a touch of sun, and we seem to have seen the last of the bitter cold. And thank gods, because I have so many cocktails to drink out on my patio.
One thing I'm also looking forward to doing is playing more Magic the Gathering with friends. I started playing a little over my Winter break and it's serious fun. I mean yes, it's nerdy AF but that's what we're into around here so... And while I enjoy the strategy of the game itself, I'm enamored with the stories they weave around the various characters. I mean, you don't have to be into the lore to play it but I love how fully fleshed out it is.
Right now Wizards (the owners and makers of Magic) have been focusing on the plane of Kaladesh and the planeswalker Chandra Nalaar who hails from that plane. It's complicated, and full of political intrigue, but her story is really fascinating. Plus there's a lovely will she won't she tension between her and a certain elven planeswalker.
In honor of this fiery badass comes a sweet cocktail with a touch of smokey heat. While the recipe calls for bourbon, rye would be just as good here. Anything robust with a nice bit of woodiness and just a little spice suits this. I used Buffalo Trace, but pick your favorite. Ancho Reyes liqueur, which we've used before, has a gentle heat and has hints of caramel, chocolate and earth. If you want to kick the heat up a little you can add a dash of Scrappy's Firewater Bitters, but go easy since it's made from habaneros and packs a punch.
The Fires of Kaladesh
1 ounce Apricot Cardamom shrub
1.5 ounce Bourbon or Rye
.5 ounce Ancho Reyes
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
1 dash (optional) Firewater
Put everything in a shaker with ice. Shake well, about 20-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
"Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five year mission: to seek out new life, and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before."
Fun fact, I love Star Trek. I love that it's based in hope, that it demands optimism in the face of adversity, that the writers (mostly) demanded that viewers get over their shitty attitudes about race, religion, gender and class. I love too the way that it has influenced generations of scientists, actors, explorers, and pop culture makers.
And while in terms of captains I will always be a Next Generation girl (Picard forever!), I also have a deep love for the fierce and unapologetic women that have been part of the show. This is my homage to the woman who held the coms in the original series and who refused to take any shit from anyone. She would not be won like a prize, or be talked down to. She owned her talents as both a linguist and a singer and inspired a generation to believe they could be something other than a maid. Dax, Troi, Kira, Dr Crusher, Torres, Janeway and the rest all have their start in this calm, beautiful, unashamed woman.
I am so pleased to be able to raise my glass in honor of Nyota Uhura.
2 ounce Copperworks Gin
1 ounce Blood Orange Shrub
1 ounce heavy cream
.5 ounce lemon juice
1 dash orange bitters
1 egg white
Combine everything in a shaker without ice. Shake for 2 minutes. Yes, really. The longer you shake this before adding ice, the creamier the finished results.
Add ice. Shake another 20-30 seconds, until the tin becomes very cold. Strain into a chilled glass, fresh ice is optional but is nice in warmer weather. Top with about an ounce of seltzer or club soda.
This drinks like a milkshake for adults. It's creamy, with a rich foam on top, an assertive orange and juniper flavor and slightly sweet finish.
I have been totally obsessed with egg white cocktails of late. There's something about that creamy frothy texture that I just love. I knew I wanted to make a cocktail that was a riff on the much loved Clover Club, but with a lighter more spring time sensibility. I also just bought the most darling coup glasses at the Northwest Flower and Garden show which I knew would be fun to use.
The glasses have a band of etched laurel leaves surrounding slightly geometric cabbage roses, and are delightfully art deco. I wish I could get a better picture of the etching work, as it's really quite pretty. But you'll just have to settle for pictures of delicious cocktails.
For spring, rhubarb is one of my go to flavors. I've featured it in our Queen Bee and it's been featured on a few local menus in seasons past. Right now my go to mix is our Simply Rhubarb shrub, gin and a touch of rose water. For our Pink Diamond Theory cocktail, featured on the side of the bottle, we blend these three ingredients with Cava for a bubbly sip that has a lovely sharpness to it. But I wanted this to be softer, more delicate, and oh so slightly fussy.
And it is all the things I wanted it to be. Floral and lightly sweet with a tang of rhubarb and lots of herbal notes in a creamy sip. It reminded me of a favorite Steven Universe character, Pearl, who is a bit fussy and precise, but worth the effort to get to know.
1.5 ounce Aviation Gin
1 ounce Simply Rhubarb shrub
.5 ounce Dry Vermouth
.5 tsp rose water
1 egg white*
Put all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake for at least 30 seconds. A full minute is better. This fully incorporates the egg white and is necessary for a thick, creamy foam. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds to chill and dilute the drink. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
*Can substitute with 1 ounce Aqua Faba for a vegan/egg free version
Chocofest was, as it always is, totally madcap and wonderful. Pike Brewing is such a staple of the city, with so much history, that there's always a sense of roots to the space. This year we were just pleased as can be to partner with Copperworks Distilling, our wonderful waterfront friends, on a cocktail for this party. Since it was just before Valentine's Day I wanted to create something with a touch of romance, that you could sip while looking into your beloved's eyes (even if your beloved is your cat). And since we had just released our Blood Orange shrub, this seemed like a great place to start.
We've paired the Blood Orange with gin on other occasions, in our Dame Judi Dench cocktail last Spring and liberally in our g+t, so I knew the combination was a winner. Honey, with it's seductive aroma and reputation as an aphrodisiac, seemed like a great direction. And we all know honey + gin + citrus is my favorite Bees Knees cocktail. So that was an easy call to make, with the added bonus that it is a great cocktail to make in large batches.
But why the name? Well, in searching for name inspirations I often start with pagan mythologies, especially those outside Greek and Roman tradition. I found that Kamadeva is the Hindu god of desire and love (especially sexual desire) and his bow is made of a sugar cane strung with bees. He seemed like the perfect patron for this cocktail, with it's charming light red color and sweet kiss of honey.
The sip is sweet to start, with big orange and herbal notes following. Then a touch of molasses and honey gives way to a grapefruit like finish. It's very refreshing and the addition of the seltzer keeps it light and effervescent, like new love.
1.5 ounce Copperworks Gin
1 ounce Blood Orange shrub
.5 ounce Rich Honey Syrup
2 ounce Seltzer
To make rich honey syrup, warm 2 parts honey in 1 part water until the honey is dissolved. This makes it easier to incorporate into the cocktail (or a glass of iced tea). For this syrup I used a robust wildflower honey that could stand up to the assertive flavors in the shrub and gin. Cool the syrup fully before using and store in a sealed container. This keeps until just about forever.
Put all ingredients, except seltzer, into a shaker with ice. Shake well, about 15 seconds, until the shaker is frosted on the outside and everything is well combined. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with seltzer. This cocktail is great both straight up or over ice. But either way, you should garnish it with a strip of blood orange zest and a smoldering, come hither look.
So, of course I'm late to my own party...
To be fair I've been getting ready to vend at a SteamPunk Convention here in Seattle, which is sort of in the vein of the prompt. It's also the inspiration for my contribution.
Steampunk, for those of you not in the know, is an aesthetic/literary movement based on the steam powered/industrial revolution era with an emphasis on Victorian England. It combines science fiction, alt-history, costuming and tea. It's delightfully fun, and you get to play dress-up! And while yes there are loads of men in frock coats and women in corsets standing around and making delightful eye candy, there is also a very strong maker community that creates props, art, sculpture, modifies electronic devices, and more!
As a litterary movement, there are loads of fun adventure/horror/mystery stories to explore. Anything by Jules Vern or H. G. Wells, the original era writers. Comics like Girl Genius, Hark a Vagrant, Lady Mechanika and others. Modern books like The Parasol Protectorate series, The Difference Engine, Infernal Devices, and Boneshaker are great places to start.
The thing I love best about Steampunk is it's blending of what was with what could have been, and what never was. Often advanced science is powered by steam creating monstrous mechanical marvels, while genteel people take tea and discuss the latest Penny Dreadful. Alternative histories where dashing airship captains swashbuckle for the glory of Queen and Country brush up against horror novels where Jack the Ripper stalks and the undead roam.
So, how am I going to make all THAT into a cocktail? Well I wanted to start with gin, of course. A solid London Dry style gin from Copperworks Distilling seemed like the perfect choice. Their name is even a bit reminiscent of the Steampunk genre. I also knew I wanted to incorporate tea into my cocktail. I've been having tons of fun with tea in cocktails lately, and it so happens that I have an amazingly talented friend who blends and sells the most delightful geeky teas. If you're a tea fan, I can't say enough good things about Friday Afternoon Tea.
Our Apricot Rosemary shrub seemed like the perfect choice for this tea and gin concoction, both because of its color and because I've used it in both gin and tea based cocktails before. I mixed the three components together and felt like it needed a little something more. So into the bitters drawer, and first thing my eye sees are Teapot Bitters which I've been looking for an excuse to play with. They add a spicy note to this cocktail that speaks of danger and dark places well brought up young ladies shouldn't go (but do anyway because it's fun).
Overall the sip on this is herbaceous and the tea gives me earthy notes of leather. I think making this with a touch of smoked tea next time would deepen that. The sweetness is present but not overpowering and there's just a little bit of alcohol bite from the gin.
1.5 oz over brewed black tea
1.5 oz Copperworks Gin
.75 oz Apricot Rosemary shrub
4 dashes Teapot Bitters
Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a steely gaze and a captain's hat.
July here in Seattle has been unexpectedly gloomy and rainy and then sunny and warm, and then gloomy again. I feel like I might get weather related whiplash. Which may sound like a silly complaint from someone who moved to Seattle for the weather, but I've grown to love our brief Summers full of 80 degree days and I want more of them. In succession.
There are an abundance of Summer outdoor festivals, movies in the park and every deck is packed with people enjoying the long days and mild nights. Typically with a beverage in hand. These long evenings, and our partnership with the amazing folks at Letterpress Distilling, helped inspire this cocktail. We got to have them as our neighbors at Proof this year, which was beyond fun. Seriously if you haven't been to see them, do it. They make an excellent craft vodka and one of my two favorite Limoncellos on the market.
It is from this Limoncello that we get our lemons actually. From the beginning I have always wanted to celebrate the produce that comes from Washington State. We have berries galore, stone fruit to die for, pears that are some of the best ever, apples that are one of our best known fruits and so many more things I'd never heard of until I moved here. What we don't have, much to the sadness of my California heart, is citrus. Sure, I use it sparingly in things like our Raspberry Lime shrub, but making a flavor that was focused on a citrus fruit just went against one of the main ideals of my company: Highlight local fruit, grown in state by small to medium sized growers.
And then Skip and his team posted to Facebook about wanting to find someone with a use for a bunch of blood oranges and lemons that they used for making their products. Which is how we ended up with our (sadly now sold out) Blood Orange and Lemon Lavender shrubs. So when I was planning for Proof 2016, I knew it would be super fun to make a cocktail with them to showcase the partnership we'd built. And it was super fun.
It also gave me an opportunity to work with the seriously awesome folks at Addition Cocktail Spice. They make uncomplicated things to add to your cocktails that give a finishing touch, like the best stocked spice rack. But for booze. When I'm formulating a cocktail I want three or so flavor things going on in each sip. Since La Tenerreza was a vodka based cocktail, I knew we'd need something other than the spirit to give those three distinct notes. So I added a few drops of tarragon and just fell in love.
La Tenerezza (Tenderness)
1.5 oz Letterpress Distilling vodka
.75 oz Lemon Lavender shrub
6-8 drops Tarragon cocktail spice
Chilled cava or brut champagne
In a shaker with ice, combine the vodka, shrub and cocktail spice. Shake well, 15-20 second, until the outside of the shaker is well frosted. Strain into a chilled champagne flute or coupe glass and top with the chilled bubbly.
This week we had the opportunity to attend and showcase our shrubs at the amazing Women in Beer party/fundraiser hosted by local favorites Pike Brewing. They always put on a super fun event full of talented folks making delicious food and drink and this time was no exception. Craft beer from all over the state was flowing freely, foods flavored with or meant to accompany beer were being relished, and several local craft spirits (what happens when you distil beer) were giving out tastings. My favorite bite was a self made beer float with Balleywood Creamery's chocolate malt ice cream and an espresso stout from a brewery I didn't get the name of (but if you did please leave it in the comments because I seriously need more of that in my life).
In honor of the event, and because I know outdoor grilling party season is here, we made a punch. Now, most of you have probably seen these sorts of 'beer punch' recipes where you dump a 750 mL of cheap vodka in with a 12 pack of Bud and a bunch of lemonade. That sort of beverage has its place, I suppose, but around here we like things a little more flavor full and a lot more refined. I mean, just check out the vintage glass dispenser we brought. So classy.
Classic punch form is based on linearly progressive ratios of 5 ingredients. Which is to say 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong and 4 parts weak plus spice to taste. Given these ratios you can see that classic punches, which predate the cocktail by around 100 years, could be quite high in alcohol content. Not that that's a bad thing, but it doesn't lend itself as well to the style of 'sip all day at the bbq' type of punch I prefer. While I use all the same flavors of a classic punch, I like to tweak the ratios and let some of the ingredients play double duty.
2 parts shrub: this is both sour and sweet
1 part spirit: this is the strong part
4 parts beer: this is the weak part and also add some spice/bitter
4 parts seltzer: also weak
1 or 2 pieces of fruit or herbs: citrus add sour and both add spice/bitter
One final note on making punch. It's something that's best started a few hours before you plan to serve it. While it's no longer necessary to condition the spirits, it does enhance the flavor greatly if you blend the shrub and spirit together with the fruit/herbs ahead of time to let all the alcohol soluble flavors get into the mix. 2-3 hours is ideal, but you can get away with just 1 if you're pressed for time.
With the above ratios you can experiment with all kinds of flavor profiles. Changing the spirit and the beer will give you very different results. For example here are two options with our Blood Orange shrub. Blood Orange shrub with a nutty brown ale, rye and a lemon would be rich and delicious. Blood Orange shrub with gin, a blond ale and rosemary would also be delicious, but a bit little lighter and much more herbaceous.
For the Women in Beer event, this is what we did.
Queen Mab in Her Cups
makes around 1.5 gallons punch
32 ounces Apricot Cardamom shrub
16 ounces Ide Hour Whiskey from Seattle Distilling, or your favorite sweet whiskey
64 ounces Naughty Nellie beer from Pike Brewing, or your prefered blond ale
2 liters of Seltzer
1 lemon organic if available, or well scrubbed
1 orange organic if available, or well scrubbed
Cut the lemon and orange into quarters, and then each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces. Put in a large jar of at least 1/2 gallon capacity. Add to this the whiskey and shrub. Shake well to combine everything and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour at minimum, and up to 4.
When you're ready to serve, get out your punch bowl or drinks dispenser. If you have time before hand, make frozen water balloons so you have extra big pieces of ice. Just peel off the latex and give the ice a rinse before you add it to the punch. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU OR YOUR GUESTS HAVE LATEX ALLERGIES. You can also use a silicone ring or square mold that will fit into your punch bowl. I like having the big ice because it melts much slower, so the punch stays cold longer and doesn't get watery.
Add the punch base (shrub/spirit/fruit mixture) to the chosen vessel. Add the beer and seltzer and stir gently to combine. Add the ice, as gently as possible since the punch vessel will be very full and you want to keep as much of the carbonation as possible. Drink deep and enjoy your outdoor event. Also, this is still around 7-10% abv so make sure you don't forget to drink water, and don't drive under its delicious influence.