Nata's Cocktails

Nata's Cocktails

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 
BUT 
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.


*http://eupdates.hrc.utexas.edu/site/PageServer?pagename=Voices_of_the_American_Twenties_Audio

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

HOT OFF THE PRESS,
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 
ONE VOTE PER PERSON PER DAY UNTIL JUNE 19TH 
So vote early, vote daily and
THANK YOU!

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!
INGREDIENTS
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
INSTRUCTIONS
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.
Garnish.

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:http://www.natascocktails.com/2014/03/the-kimcheelicious-mul-martini-new.html

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. http://www.kimcheelicious.com/
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!

National Margarita Day. The TNT Margarita

While I do not need any prodding to drink one, I am happy to do my part. 
The TNT Margarita is named after my sister, one explosive gal! 
We started with jalapeño and pineapple infused Tequila, married it with pink lime, cilantro, and pink lime zest syrup.
Riquíssimo!!

Winter Blues

Brighten your winter by using delicious fruits. Pictured on the left is a Spicy Gin (drop a jalapeño or other hot pepper in your gin bottle for a day or two) with my new obession, Yuzu. That incredible citrus fruit. On the right is a Passionfruit with muddled Cilantro Caipirinha! 
This will put some color into gray days!

LOVE is love is love is love...............

 Everyday is a day to celebrate! 

Regal your loved one(s) with a special Cocktail.
It need not be complicated but make it festive.
Bubbles with _______________
You can easily fill in the blank. Spirits, like Gin, Vodka, Shochu, Tequila,Cachaca,
all meld beautifully.
Add a dash of Grenadine, Bitters, juice.....
You can rummage through my files and find 24 days of Champagne Cocktails
http://bit.ly/1cV2GWg
 or my previous post for His/Hers, His/His, or Hers/Hers Gin Cocktails.
http://bit.ly/1atBTlI
This is a moment when thought and effort really do count.
 I wish you all LOVE in your life, in whatever form it comes.
LOVE is love is love is love.............

Valentine's Day His & Hers (or his & his, or hers & hers) Gin Cocktails

Valentine’s day is around the corner. We all scramble to find the symbol of love and affection for our partners. Roses and chocolate have become the go to gift for many, and certainly jewelry is right up there. With many of you at home, creating sumptuous repasts for your beloved, why not raise the bar on your imbibing as well. I certainly would never suggest to forgo that lovely bottle of Champagne, but this year I propose exercising your Mixology skills with his and hers,  (or his & his, or hers & hers) Yin and Yang Gin cocktails. One a heady floral fantasy and the other a bright, citrus sip, both delicious.

The Rose Crown (the Yin cocktail)
Ingredients:
Gin I suggest a floral one, like Martin Miller’s (http://www.martinmillersgin.com/),
 open and airy and very intoxicating, fragrance wise
Ruby Grapefruit juice, fresh
Lychee Juice
Lemon juice
Jasmine Green Tea bag
Sugar
Water
Small amount of rose water placed in a small spray bottle
Before you begin mixing this up place a Martini glass into the freezer, so it is chilled by the time you want to use it.
Method:
2 parts Gin (2 shots aka 4 oz or ½ cup)
1 part Ruby Red Grapefruit juice (1 shot aka 2 oz)
1 part Lychee juice (1 shot, aka 2 oz)
.5 parts fresh lemon juice (1/2 shot, aka 1 oz)
.5 parts Jasmine Green Tea syrup (a simple syrup brewed with Jasmine Green Tea: ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup water, boil it, add the tea bag and steep 5 minutes, let cool)
Place all the ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and shake until chilled and frosty. Remove the glass from the freezer, and spritz the interior with the rose water. If you do not have a small spray bottle, simply drop a scant capful into the glass, swirl it around and pour off the excess. What you have is a glass with an aroma, to delight the senses.
Pour the mixture into the glass and garnish with a fresh rose petal, a lychee, a dried rosebud, or grapefruit twist.
High Tea A Slight Variation on my Classic  
(the Yang cocktail)
Ingredients:
2 ounces of Gin, I choose Greylock Gin, made here in the Berkshire Mountains http://berkshiremountaindistillers.com/our-products/greylock-gin/
½ ounce of Earl Grey Syrup (1/4 cup sugar, ½ cup water: bring to a boil, add the ear grey tea bag and steep 5 minutes)
Orange Blossom Water (1 dash into your earl grey tea syrup)
2 or 3 lightly crushed black peppercorns
A small splash of fresh lemon and orange juice
Method:
All stirred together in a mixer with ice, strained, and served neat in a Martini glass

Peggy's Gold Medal

Here we are in winter's grip, the snow, the Polar blasts and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia. I for one, am searching for a ray of sunshine (figuratively speaking) to get me through the gray and grim cold. A bit of fresh fruit, like passionfruit, tucked away into the freezer, when the days were bright and warm, can be defrosted in the wintry months, and transport us to that summer state of mind.

Now if you were clever enough to freeze some passionfruit several months ago, well, you can go to the head of the class! But if, like me, you did not, no need to fret, you can easily substitute passionfruit puree (found at Kalustyan's on Lexington Ave. in NYC) or in a pinch, Goya Passionfruit juice.
 Be sure to check your local Latino or Asian market,
often they have items you do not find at your local supermarket.
Now here is where we summon some Rumpelstiltskin magic,and turn it into gold, not Olympic but liquid gold!
Recipe for Peggy's Gold Medal
This recipe does require some advance preparation

For 4 cocktails, you will need,
8 ounces of Vanilla/Cardamom Vodka* (Russian Standard brand works perfectly here)
 2 ounces of unsweetened pineapple juice (please do everything you can to use fresh)
6 oz. of passionfruit puree
6 Tblsps. of sugar
a vanilla bean
3 Cardamom pods, lightly crushed with a mortar & pestle
a lime

*For the Vodka, place 6 ounces in a clean jar along with 1/2 of the vanilla bean, split and scraped as well as the cardamom pods. Give a shake and tuck it away somewhere cool & dark, for two days. Strain and discard solids.

 In a small pot, place the sugar with an equal amount of water and add  the other half of the vanilla bean, split down the middle.Heat it up until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cool.
(Feel free to make more for future use, just increase equal amounts of sugar and water.. Stores perfectly well in the fridge, for a week)  
Blend it with the passionfruit puree and pineapple juice.
FINALLY the moment we have all been waiting for......
Combine all the ingredients along with a healthy squeeze of the lime (to taste) in a cocktails shaker, add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini .
With the first sip you know that you have gotten the gold!

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
 Albert Camus