Nata's Cocktails

Nata's Cocktails

The Simple Truth

This is what I am going to drink tonight. While I normally do not like flavored Vodkas, there is one I do, Danska Grapefruit (hard to come by). I am shaking 3oz of the Danska over ice with several twists of floral pepper (black pepper, roses, and lavender) and a healthy dosing of Peychaud's Bitters. I strain it onto a glass that I spritzed with rosewater. 
 That's it! 
Simplicity personified!

Nicole's Dragon - A Dragonfruit & Vodka Cocktail

Because I know that most of the time who really gives a damn about the story behind the drink, I am posting the recipe first.
 If you want to read my blah blah blah, it's  below and you can scroll down.
Nicole's Dragon

What you need for a couple of drinks
1 Red Dragon Fruit
1 cup of Fresh Raspberries
a scant teaspoon of cane sugar
6 ounces of lime infused Vodka ( homemade please)
1 small can of San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda or similar beverage
Now before we begin, is there anyone out there who still does not flavor their Vodka themselves? No excuses, it's too easy. A few peels sans pith or zesting your preferred citrus into some Vodka, waiting a few hours (or overnight) and there you have it.
Back to the recipe.
I mushed up the raspberries and dragon fruit in a bowl and added a light sprinkling of sugar to bring out the juices. I let it sit for about an hour or so.

 I removed my shaker from the freezer where I always keep it.; filled it with ice, added my puree, Vodka, and a good squeeze of lime.

Shook it all up and shared it between 2 red wine goblets filled with fresh rocks. (the little strainer on the shaker held back the old ice) Now if you do not want little bits and seeds in your drink, strain it through a tea strainer into the glass.
 I topped off each with the Blood Orange soda.
If you cannot find it, do not fret. Substitute, just nothing too overly sweet.
Garnish with Dragon Fruit slices and a lime wheel.

I am here in the tropics, visiting my one  and only sister.
  When we are together, we delight in our own private Happy Hour.
 Every night a different drink.
 We seek out local markets and gather fruits for our nightly delight. 
We ran across a fruit I don't often see up north, red dragon fruit. 
We snapped up a few, knowing we had found our flavor profile for the next round.
I do know from past experience that it is not a wildly flavorful fruit, but such a great color. Raspberries that we had on hand at home, seemed like a perfect match.

The High Tail - A Tropical Cocktail with Cachaca

Having had a whirlwind and fabulous trip to the Salone del Gusto sponsored 
I had to high tail it to domestic tropical shores for some consultations.
While here, I needless to say, did some research and a bit of mixing.
 The palm trees swaying and the lilting seas led me to mix up a cocktail or two of my own.
 The High Tail Cocktail

To begin
Take the peel and skin of approximately 1/4 of a pineapple and
cover it with 1 cup of Cachaca
Let sit overnight (or longer)
The spirit will take on a golden color as the flavor of the fruit is absorbed.
I use the old taste method to decide when I feel the flavor is right.
Strain off the flesh, throw out the solids, and reserve the liquid.
Next I take to making a ginger syrup with a one cup to one cup, sugar - water ratio and add about a a half an inch of ginger. I heat up the mixture until the sugar has disappeared, never quite bringing it to boil. Again strain off the solids and reserve the liquid.
For one Cocktail:
In a shaker filled with ice add 2 ounces of the Pineapple Cachaca
add about 1.5 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained)
add about 4 T. of the ginger syrup, always adjusting the amount to your preferred level of sweetness.
and strain into a martini style glass.
Garnish with a piece of pineapple and a lemon peel (I like to squeeze the peel over the drink to express the oils from the peel before dropping it in.
Remember, taste it to adjust to your palate. 

Winding my way to Slow Food's Salone del Gusto

I have been one busy gal, working my way through Italy with the final destination of the Slow Food Salone del Gusto. 
A very strong cocktail culture exists here but very different than the US. The small batch distilleries we have popping up everywhere, the experimentaion of new flavors and products, the unusual combinations, is not anything I am seeing here. The classic and traditional spirits, especially of course Vermouth (invented in Torino)and Amaros, line very shelf. 
 I have happily gone the route of embracing the stalwarts of Italian cocktails, and pictured here are some of these endeavours. Beautiful and tasty all!

I know I am bad.....but I discovered a new distillery, the Denning's Point!

I have to admit I have been neglectful about posting. 
Do you forgive me?
It is not for lack of desire.
It has been a few months of riding the roller coaster of life. 
a high point is coming with my impending trip to the
where yours truly, will be making 
Rye & Applejack based 
for a worldly group.
I will be happily chatting, discussing, and mixing cocktails on Saturday night at the Conference.
Do stop in if you find yourself there! 
In the meantime I have had the wonderful experience of meeting with a brand new distiller, right in my own backyard. 
While wandering the streets of Beacon, NY I stumbled across a most knowledgable and kind gentleman, named Karl Johnson.

Karl is in the midst of starting the
Denning's Point Distillery.
 He gave us a tour, tasting, and complete history of his barrels and beginnings in this distillery.

Should you find yourself in this corner of the world, drop in for a taste and let Karl know I sent you. 
You will be thanking me!

An evening out @El Quinto Pino NYC

And what yummy cocktails they make!
I went for the Monserrat, concocted of Aperol, Vermouth Negro, and Cava. Garnished with a marinated kumquat and an olive. Perfecto!

Deconstructed Negroni

1 part Brooklyn Gin
1 part Red Vermouth
poured over Campari ice cubes and served with an orange twist.

Summertime is the time to Slow your Cocktails down

Taking a breather. 
Summertime relaxing.
The garden is bursting,
 the market wares are abundant.
Neighbors and friends offering up the plentiful
from their plots.
So let's enjoy, slow it all down, use what is fresh and free.
Put down the exotic liqueurs (unless they are homemade!),
the fanciful bottles from faraway places; we can get back to them when the seasons change.
For now let's reach into the basket or pluck from the earth (with great thanks) and sip some seasonal potables.
Like this fresh Crenshaw Melon and Mint Cocktail,
 your choice of booze.*
*Mine was bourbon 

Kick Up Your Cocktails

Sometimes you just want to change things up.
Maybe not completely but put a new spin on an old fave.
 We don't all have fancy freezers or ice carving tools at home 
we all have simple ice trays at home.
So why not give a try to flavored ice cubes.
No, not the berries or lemon slices in the cubes but your favorite aperitif?
Like St. Germain or Campari.
 It's a question of balancing the alcohol content to water.
Imagine a nice Gin with a Campari ice cube and a slice of grapefruit?
Give it a try, the possibilities are endless.

Slow Food Speakeasy Salone del Gusto in Turin

Thrilled and thank you for getting out the vote!
 I am most happy to announce that I will be taking it on the road to Turin,Italy for the Slow Food American Speakeasy at the Salone del Gusto Conference in October.
 Who says slow Cocktails can't be great! Hope to see you there! 

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cocktail, the Verb

F.  Scott is one who is known for his literature and complete indulgence in all things pertaining to a "Lush Life".
Here is his creative musing on how to conjugate the word, as used as a verb, Cocktail.

F. Scott Fitzgerald[F. Scott] Fitzgerald wrote, “As ‘cocktail,’ so I gather, has become a verb, it ought to be conjugated at least once. So here goes.

Present: I cocktail, thou cocktail, we cocktail, you cocktail, they cocktail.

Imperfect: I was cocktailing.

Perfect or past definite: I cocktailed.

Past perfect: I have cocktailed.

Conditional: I might have cocktailed.

Pluperfect: I had cocktailed.

Subjunctive: I would have cocktailed.

Voluntary subjunctive: I should have cocktailed.

Preterit: I did cocktail. *

He sure did cocktail.


The Tony Toni Toné - Rhubarb Cocktail and Rhubarb Liqueur

Weeks whizz by in the Spring months (almost summer) and certain garden delights come and go quickly, so it's a time when I am making syrups and liqueurs galore. 
And drinking them too!
It started a couple of weeks ago with rhubarb.An old fashioned kind of fruit, that I imagine some people never experience beyond a strawberry rhubarb pie. That's too bad. The earthy, rugged stalks belie the delicate perfumed flavor of the rhubarb, which is easily accentuated with a variety of herbs or spices.
First for immediate satisfaction, I chose to make a syrup.
Rhubarb, fresh from the local farmer's market, steeped with sugar, water, one star anise, a bit of a vanilla pod, and a drop of rose water. Makes for a perfect mixer or delightful on it's own with sparkling water.
Then I set about pairing it with the wonderful seasonable strawberries now available, for a garden fresh cocktail. 

 For three cocktails, I muddled a small handful of strawberries, about 8. Feel free to increase or decrease this amount
 with about 2 ounces of the rhubarb syrup as well as a a sprig of fresh mint.
 To that I added the juice from 1/2 lemon
 and 6 ounces (more or less) of home infused citrus Vodka.
 Added ice and shook it all up, and served it in a Martini glass.
The Tony Toni Toné Cocktail.
 I also began the slower process of making a rhubarb liqueur for future consumption.
I cut up about 2 cups of fresh rhubarb,
 again one star anise (I love that subtle hint of flavor. Orange/ lemon peel would be nice or a small piece of vanilla)
placed it into a clean, wide mouthed jar and
covered over with 90 proof grain alcohol.
I place in it in a dark spot, and let it sit for one to two weeks. I check it during that time, giving it a shake. The color in the stalks over the days, is leeched into the liquor, and is imparting a pink hue (see photo below).
Once the steeping process is over, the liquid will be strained off (through a fine strainer lined with cheese cloth)
At this point, I put the liquid into a clean jar with about 1/3 the amount of sugar. Sweetness is something that needs to be personally adjusted here. I cap it, give it a shake and back onto the dark shelf it goes for at least 2 -3 more weeks.
Looking forward to enjoying it months from now when summer has faded away.

Tuthilltown Distillery Visit - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I consider myself lucky to live where I do.
I am in very close proximity to both NYC and the glorious Hudson Vally.
 Both steeped deep in the beginnings of America, as we know it today.
The Hudson River being the raison d'etre for the growth and importance of New York City.
 The bounties from the farms upstate were easily brought down
to NYC and ultimately the World.
Today there are many farms, growers, and  distilleries continuing
the traditions of this part of the world.
As you have read on my blog, I am a participant in the Slow Food Ark of Taste Cocktail Competition. The decision to make my focus the Hudson Valley was an easy one.
Manufacturers of some of today's finest spirits are within an easy car ride of NYC.
Tuthilltown Distillery,
 who produce the Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey I used in my recipe, is one of them and the maker of many fine spirits offered here.

As I arrived,  I beelined right to the tasting room, greeted with rows of shelves containing the fruits of their labors, as well as the delightful and knowledgable people who are fortunate to work there.    
 Oh yes, they are fortunate and know it. They love what they do. It reflects in the products they sell. They have both aged and unaged spirits in their product line and I duly sampled several types.
 Their Vodka is made with apples sourced from within 5 miles of the distillery. Heaven!
Great thanks to Barbara, who offered up their latest baby, Half Moon Orchard Gin as well as my beloved, Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey.
You wind your way there past acres of rolling hills,in the shadow of the  Catskill Mountains, through plentiful apple orchards to a
lovely streamside compound, complete with a Gristmill, restaurant, stills, and tasting room.
What better way to spend a day than visiting. 
A beautiful day in the neighborhood.

HOT OFF THE PRESS! Slow Food Speakeasy Ark of Taste Competition

that's the name of my entry in the Slow Food Speakeasy Competition
I featured the Hudson Valley, rich with history and local to me, for my Cocktail.
Tuthilltown Rye,
Harvest Spirits Cornelius Applejack Cocktail,
Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters,
 and ginger syrup made with Hummingbird Ranch Honey
The philosophy, for those of you who may not know, behind the Slow Food Movement is to preserve and share local foods and food cultures, and defend and advocate policies that promote holistic alternatives to the industrial system.
A great and increasingly important group to be a part of. 
The culmination of the contest is a trip to Italy to participate in ther International Summit in Turin, Italy in October.
I am counting on each and everyone one of you to help me get there, by casting your vote for
HOT OFF THE PRESS at this link.
Slow Food USA Cocktail Competition 
So vote early, vote daily and

Now you may be asking just what is in Hot off the Press and where can I drink one?
Well right at home, but only if you vote first!
1.5 oz. Cornelius Applejack from Harvest Spirits
1 oz. Hudson Manhattan Rye from Tuthilltown Spirits Ark Product
0.5 oz. ginger syrup*
0.5 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (approx. half a lime - Reserve peel for garnish)
Several dashes of Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters
Into an old-fashioned/low ball glass, add the ginger simple syrup, lime juice, and bitters. Fill with ice cubes. Add the Rye and Applejack. Stir with a mixing stick. Garnish with a lime twist coiled around a cinnamon stick.

*Ginger syrup is homemade as follows:
Place 4 oz. water, 4 oz. Hummingbird Ranch Raw Clover Honey, and ⅛ cup fresh grated gingerroot into a pot, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and simmer for approx. 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool and strain. Can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for about one week.

Bleinhem Bouquet revisited for Spring

Suddenly with Spring happening all around, it seemed appropriate to indulge in one of those floral heavy Cocktails.
I scrolled through the recipes and quickly chose 
the Bleinhem Bouquet.
A recipe I came across a couple of years ago, created for the Royal Perfumers,
Penhalgion, based on their popular scent, Bleinhem Bouquet.

While not my recipe, one I wished I had come up with.

The Kentucky Derby and a Vanilla Bean Mint Julep

Today's the day!
The Running of the Roses, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
And we know NOTHING is more iconic than 
the Mint Julep. The internet is replete with more recipes than one could ever need. 
The ingredients are straightforward.
Bourbon, Mint, Sugar, and crushed ice.

This year I am changing it up slightly and preparing a 
Vanilla Bean Mint Julep for my crowd.
It's a small variation, giving just another level of flavor.
 The preparation is virtually the same as the modern day recipes,
 the difference is adding a fresh vanilla bean to the simple syrup, letting it stew, then removing it, and using the basic recipe.
Here is one recipe 
6–7 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp. simple syrup
 (when preparing the 1:1 syrup add a split vanilla bean in the mix.
 Let steep for several hours and remove pod.
 Toss the pod into a sugar bowl for vanilla sugar to use at another date)
2 oz. bourbon
Crushed ice

Combine mint leaves, syrup and bourbon in a glass.
 Using a bar spoon, lightly crush the mint. 
Fill the glass with ice. 
Give it some twirls.

Of Mice and Men. Spring Sangria

The best laid plans of mice and men…
Oh I had such good intentions. But then the grapefruit started chattering, the Domaine de Canton was calling my name, the cardamon and vanilla infused Vodka began whispering, and the Pinot Grigio laughed out loud. And down the path I strayed. 
My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Passover Spirits

I am passing on a list of Kosher for Passover (or any other time of year) Spirits.
I will leave the wine list to your local merchants,
 but you can happily pour yourself a shot of Rye!

The Multini …from the Kimcheelicious perspective

Kick back, relax and have a MULtini to start your weekend. It’s made with myBrussels sprouts mul kimchee. My friend Nata Traub, mixologoist extraordinaire, has perfected what most only try to attempt—a kimchee-based cocktail that will rock your world.

Mul kimchee is not spicy, Koreans served it as a soothing summer soup for those scorching hot days. It’s a relatively short fermentation, two weeks at the most, just long enough to go tart. 

I’m not sure if I can tout the health benefits, but I can tell yo this is one fine martini with notes of juniper, ginger, burdock, wasabi and just a hint of garlic, garnished with a wedge of fine-aged Brussels sprout. It soothes the tongue like a good pair of kid gloves and blooms in your mouth like a cool summer evening.

A few weeks ago some of our Eat/Share/Eat group from Facebook met up in real time in the West Village. Over brunch I presented Nata and Justine each with a small vac-sealed bag of freshly made Brussels sprouts mul kimchee. The first thing Nata said was “Cocktails!” and thus the Mul-tini was born. Save those olives for snacking, and leave the pickle-back for the kids. Check out Nata’s blog for cocktails and more. Here’s her recipe for this innovative Korean libation:

The Kimcheelicious MUL Martini - the new dirty Martini

It's time to reinvigorate some standby Cocktails.
The dirty Martini is one.
Now you know that I am lucky to count all different kinds of people as friends.
Antonio Limuaco of Kimcheelicious is one.
He is turning on its side, the art of Kimchee and food fermentation. In his own words,
".....innovative ways of combining traditional Asian fermented foods with the way we Americans cook and eat."
When I was lucky enough to meet with him last week, I was given a package of his latest experiment, Mul Kimchee Brussel Sprouts, which he explained was coveted as much  for its brine as the vegetable itself. 
Well we both knew right away what I had to do with it.............
a Mul Martini,
a modernized for today's palette.   
I decided to go very straight ahead with the recipe. 
A spray or wash of Vermouth in the glass,
 a few teaspoons of the magical Mul Kimchee,
 and 2 ounces of Martin Miller's Fantastical Gin.

All slipped into a shaker with ice,  and garnished with one of the Mul Brussel Sprouts.

A tonifying, thoroughly updated way to have a Martini.
Here's to your health!

The RIGHT Cocktail for the Meal - The Long Hall

Recently a friend queried me about what cocktail to serve at her upcoming dinner party.
She wanted a drink that would compliment a "couple of fancy hors d'oeuvres", followed by a rather hearty sounding pasta Puttanesca, a green salad, some crusty bread, and finished up with Strawberries in chocolate sauce. She had thought perhaps some Prosecco to begin with(never bad) but her husband wanted to shake up something, something uncomplicated and preferably using ingredients in their well stocked bar. 

This is a question I get asked all the time.
You want to change it up a bit, but also don't want to have to run out for obscure ingredients or spirits that may not get used again for a long time.

You have to look at the whole meal and scrutinize the elements and flavor profiles. In this case, straight forward with big bold flavors, Italian. She indicated that Gin was the preferred spirit (YAY!). The weather is still chilly in the Northeast, Spring is coming but not yet here, so no flowery sips for this meal. I decided to play up the Italian aspect, combining the Gin with the perennial Italo favorite, Campari.

 The Long Hall
 1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce Campari
1/4 ounce Cointreau 
Shaken together over ice and strained into a Martini glass or coupe.

Time to get your Cocktail on!

House infused  vanilla Triple Eight Vodka 
Mango, meyer lemon, kaffir lime leaf syrup, a pinch of black pepper orange dust and released oil from the meyer lemon peel.  
Now doesn't that look luscious?

Friday night Cocktail

Black Pepper and Orange Dust rimmer to  use on my Friday night quencher made with Triple 8 Vodka from Nantucket!