Art&Amaretto

For all it’s grandeur it’s built to the human scale. While the tangle of streets,alleys and canals form a maze that can confuse even old-timers,the city is small enough to be comprehensible. You will continue to get lost,but in places that are familiar and welcoming.-p. 29 of No Vulgar Hotel

More cocktails I’m afraid. I had a trial monkey over and decided to make the most of it. And as the Venice Biennale has now begun it seemed like a good idea to make a cocktail named after that habitat on the marshes. But let’s be honest; for me Venice is always “top of mind”. It is one of the most magical places on earth. I’ve visited twice and would love to go back, but we’ll see when it happens. Until then there is plenty to read to take me back.

One of my all time favorite books,Jonathan Strange&Mr Norrell, partly takes place in Venice. In Proust’s epic suit A la recherche de temps perdu the narrator makes a visit. I recently read The passion by Jeanette Winterson which also is set partly there. And many many others. I’ve read more then one book purely because it takes place in that decaying city that has been described as a living museum. My tip for getting a genuin feel for the place is to get up early and move around, have breakfast at a cafe to view people who live and work there. Try to get away from the crowds a bit and visit the outskirts of the city, which given the small size of the plan isn’t that difficult.

A fun read, a bit out of the ordinary, that I picked up on one of my visits is No vulgar hotel by Judith Martin. She is a Venetophile and isn’t afraid to say so(nobody is; a love of Venice is a love that totally dares speak it’s name). With a a dark sense of humor Martin tells the story of Venice and how to make the most of your stay. Somewhere between “A Year in France” and “1066 and all that”, but you know, Venice, is how I would describe it. Byron makes an appearance, obviously.  Martin is American and writes from that perspective, just skim the fist chapter or so where she draws parallels between the US and The Venetian Republic. Or read them, rather interesting actually.

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But the where is the drink I promised? Ah. Most who have visited Italy are familiar with The Spritz; white wine, Aperol or Campari and soda. Very good stuff on a hot day. So called low ABV i.e. low alcohol but very refreshing. Served with olives or crips. This cocktail, the Ventian, comes from a cocktail book I have somewhere. Iused to make it often and feel it’s time to bring it back into my repertoire as Campari is always a good idea and Amaretto has a bad rep despite being a very nice thing to have on the bar cart.

Venetia-cocktail;yields 1 drink

4 cl dry gin

2 cl dry vermouth

1 cl Campari

1cl Amaretto

for serving;

chilled coupette or other cocktail glass

lemonzest

  1. Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixer glass until chilled.
  2. Pour into the coupette and add the lemon zest.
  3. Enjoy responsibly.

This is a very nice drink with a mix of bitter and sweet. Very refreshing but also potent. On a hot day a spritz is a better option, and if you find yourself in the actual city you may not find this but then a Martin at Harry’S Bar is a nice substitute. For rainy nights when you wish you were somewhere else? This is just the thing.

-Suss

Gin&Juice

It seems like a thought but only today did I discover,by accident, that Jo Malone products are available in Stockholm. They just started selling it at Åhléns City. But that’s not why I made a drink inspired by one of the scents in their range yesterday,

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That reason is simply because I’ve been wearing Earl grey&Cucumber for the last week or so; let’s start with a few words on “the juice” . It’s a classic cologne, non intrusive but nice. With it’s warm from bergamot and cold notes from the cucumber it’s a very good scent for the days that go from cold,to warm and then to cold again; much like we’ve had. Typical spring basically. Although the sun has been shining so three cheers for that, it’s Gin&Tonic season for real now.

Because that’s what it is, a twist on the classic. I decided to name it Gin&Tonic in a cold climate as the bottle of perfume that I have was a gift from @lifeinacoldclimate. I had smelled it on a visit to London, put off purchase until I was at the airport and ,of course, they were all out of it at the Heathrow Jo Malone-shop. Annikky was nice enough to send me a bottle.

So; I basically made a earl grey syrup with 2 dl of caster sugar,1,5 dl of boiling water and 3 tablespoons of good quality earl grey.

  1. Put the sugar in a heat proof bowl, pour over the boiling water and then stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the tea leaves and let steep for about 7 minutes. Don’t worry about it becoming bitter, the sugar will balance but don’t let it steep for too long.

My trick to making good tea, in general, is using a bit more tea leaves then recommended but then letting it infuse for shorter. I find with earl grey this gives more of the lovely bergamot. Make sure to sieve the syrup when the 7 minutes are over, and then let it cool. Otherwise it will be to sticky to sieve easily.

Then it’s just a case of filling a glass with ice cubes, add 1,5 cl of the syrup and the amount of gin and stir. Then add the tonic you prefer; Schweppes is perfect for this as it doesn’t overpower the bergamot. Serve with a sizable cucumber chunk. Also good for stirring. A citrusy gin is a god idea.

This is nothing revolutionary but a nice take on a classic with a lot of nice roundness from the bergamot. Enjoy responsibly.

-Suss

The power of a sour

I’ve been working my way through my bar cart, trying to use up odd liqueurs and spirits gathered during my days as a cocktail blogger. My aim is to rebuild my bar to suit less nerdy needs. One thing has become abundantly clear; lemon juice is the great balancer*.

It’s not a panacea but citrus,-floral- and berry liqueurs with some gin and lemon juice makes a great cocktail. It’s been an endless parade with twists on the old White lady. That weird citrus liqueur that you bought on holiday? Brilliant! Old dusty bottle of Amaretto? bring it! Some homemade elderflower liqueur that didn’t end up as intended? Tastes great.

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That last one is mine actually; the other year I made elderflower liqueur, and didn’t watch what I was doing and somewhere in-between the rhum I based it on and putting to much of the stems in there, it turned out more herbaceous that floral. Not necessarily bad or anything, just not as intended. So it’s been standing on the back of the bar cart , I can’t really put it in any cocktails as it has a unique flavor. Until now.

Strega,Amaretto,experiments and limoncello. They all work with the same basic concept. Liqueurs are very sweet so they need that dash of gin and the lemon juice but then you are pretty much good to go. Don’t do this with any amaro as they will curdle(I have a trick for that too;it’s called the Café Pushkin flip and well get to it at some point) nor any pastis like substance.

A white lady-twist;yields 1 cocktail 

3 cl of what have you. See above.

2 cl of gin

2 cl lemonjuice

1 egg white

for serving;

coupette

  1. Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker until cold.
  2. Pour into glass.
  3. Serve and enjoy responsibly.

And it’s as simple as that. If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll help you the best I can.

-Suss

*Words chosen for effect. I knew this and have know it for a long time. Just haven’t shared my expertise in this forum.

Florals for spring..

As winter has had us in a tight grip(and I’ll continue moaning until the lilacs blossom OK?) I’m still in my big ol’ coat, wrapped in a woolly scarf and thinking about warm drinks. But I made an effort to make something  more interesting when the sun came out for a few hours.

Jasmine green tea is not my usual tea of choice but I do like it, and make sure to have some on hand for when mood takes me there. With jasmine green tea it is the case that you get what you pay for; I splurge and buy “jasmine pearls” which is the whole tea leaf rolled into a small pearl. Pricey to buy but it has the most intense jasmine flavor which is what I’m after and I’ve found that they do stretch a long way; several brewing of the same leaves turn out just fine. This time I used them as a base for cocktails. The thing to remember with green tea is to not use boiling water when brewing, that’s when you get that bitterness. 70 degrees Celsius at most.

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Jasmine Martinis with tea-infused dry vermouth;

This is very easy, all you need to do is plan ahead; Pour the amount of dry vermouth that you want to infuse in a jar, add a reasonable amount of jasmin green tea,I’d say a pinch per deciliter, screw on the lid,let it infuse for 3-5 hours and then filter the vermouth. Then make Martinis as usual. I will also say that this vermouth is equally wonderful in a Negroni.

All vermouth should be kept in the fridge BTW.

White Nixons with cold jasmine green tea;

I got the recipe for this from Martha Stewart magazine actually, from an article focusing on tea-purveyor Bellocq that sell very exclusive tea in Brooklyn. I don’t have access to their teas but the ideas for food and drink in that spread were noted. I think this drink was originally made with lemon vodka, not a bad idea, but I use gin bc. I never have lemon vodka around. Here I made it into a shaken cocktail but in the heat of summer its wonderful as a long drink with more green tea and loads of ice.

White nixon; yields one cocktail

5 cl gin

2 cl cold jasmin green tea

2 cl pink grapefruit juice

1 cl ginger syrup (from a jar of gingembre confit is fine. Don’t know what it’s called in english)

Either shake the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and serve in a coupette or pour them into a tumbler filled with ice. Using pink grapefruit juice makes all the difference as the colour is so inviting, that pink blush. Exclude the gin and add a bit more ginger syrup and you have a very nice non-alcoholic cocktail that I like to call “The dim sum-Sunday

G&T with jasmin-syrup;

According to bartenders here G&T:s are over. Over. O.V.E.R. Whatevs boys. Don’t care about your hip cocktails. However I discovered a long time ago that adding a little something sweet, like ginger syrup or elderflower liqueur, improves it. This time I went with a green tea syrup and as the jasmin goes so well with the gin, it turned out nice. Stuck to Schweppes, a fancier tonic would just overpower the jasmine I think.

Jasmin green tea syrup;

Pour 1 dl of boiling water over 2 dl of caster sugar placed in a heatproof bowl. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add 2 pinches of green tea/10 jasmine pearls and let steep until cool. Filter the tea(or just fish out the leafs if using pearls, they really are a charm to work with)

Add 1 to 1,5 cl of the syrup when making a G&T and then proceed as you normally would. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

 

Things mentioned in this post;

Bellocq

Ginger syrup

-Suss

A poet and a cocktail

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I did have a “Bobby Burns” on Burns night actually, but didn’t blog about it. Hadn’t planned that far ahead(not at all in fact). As I’m Swedish, and until recently not much of a poetry reader, I’ve been more acquainted with the cocktail that bears his name then his actual work.

Well then; more then one of his poems is is “A poem for every night of the year” so I’m getting friendly with the peasant poet too. If I rummage in the archives of my fave podcast,”In our time”, I’m sure to find an episode about him. In addition to that I recently won this lovely print. I need to find a frame and a place for it but all in good time. Let’s have a cocktail first.

The Bobby Burns first turns up in that most classic of cocktail books, The Savoy Cocktail book. However I was always taught to use twice as much whiskey as sweet vermouth. My preference is for  very smokey  single malt; I love the contrast with the sweet vermouth and the herbal touch from the Bénédictine D.O.M. However it is unclear what this has to do with the poet more then Scottish poet= Scottish whiskey. That said the naming of cocktails can be pretty damn random, as long as they taste this good nobody minds.

The Bobby Burns; yields one cocktail

5 cl single malt whiskey

2,5 cl sweet vermouth

3-4 dashes Bénédictine

for serving;

chilled cocktailglass

lemonzest

  1. Stir ingredients in a stirring glass filled with ice until chilled.
  2. Pour into the glass and zest with the lemon. Then let the lemon zest join the drink in the glass.
  3. Enjoy responsibly!

-Suss

 

Books referred to in this post:

The Savoy cocktail book

A poem for every night of the year

 

Three Toklas tipples

img_0223-1In the Alice B. Toklas cookbook there is a recipe for Sloe gin. She insists that the jars need to be shook everyday for the three months they are infusing, I beg to differ.

Regardless of that they are now ready to be sieved and enjoyed; the berries has had enough time to give the gin an excellent taste. She makes no suggestions how to enjoy it, so let me help you. (You can obviously buy sloe gin ready-made but it isn’t as nice though better then nothing).

  1. As an aperitif; when done right just as small glass of this, with an orange zest and maybe and ice cube or two, is a very nice start to a dinner.
  2. Sloe gin&tonic; self explanatory I guess but not to be forgotten. Lemon or orange zest can both be used. The slight sweetness of a sloe gin is offset nicely by the bitterness of tonic. I must say that this does taste best in winter.
  3. Sloe gin Negroni; proceed as a regular Negroni with the exception of the vermouth. Here I must say that a dry vermouth is to be preferred to a sweet one as to not overtake the sloe gin. But a third of each is still the rule.

-Suss

Proustian-cocktail

img_7362When I first created this I called it “A la recherche-cocktail” but “Proustian” seemed simpler somehow. Although it isn’t Proust himself that drinks linden blossom tea and eats madeleines in that well-known scene; it’s the narrator(who may or may not be called Marcel).

Linden blossom tea and Madeleines are just about what most people know of the suit(people often think that it starts with that scene; it doesn’t) and that it is long. No one talks about how funny he is. Or how it will change your life.

So when creating this cocktail I was always going to include linden blossom; I like floral cocktails in general, linden blossom leaves are readily available at health food shops or a very well-stocked tea shop( the french do love their “tisane”). I was once served a shortbread with a cocktail at The Dorchester in London and the concept has stayed with me; I decided to do the same here but with madeleines instead. I make my own usually, the small kind, but that’s not necessary. If you can buy nice small ones at the bakers then go for it(on this occasion I asked someone else to buy some on the way and ended up with the big kind; I should have been more specific. They taste just as nice but don’t photograph as well).

As base spirits I used a combination of gin(the french are obsessed with all things english and there are several references to the infamous “Jockey club” in the suit) and calvados(thinking about Normandy, the french seaside and all that). The madeleines contain lemon zest but I did add a dash or two of orange bitters(Reagan’s No.6).

Linden blossom syrup;

Make a strong brew with 2,5 dl  of water and a 3 tablespoons of leaves. Follow instruction on packaging when it comes to temperature but don’t worry if you let it steep for 10 minutes; unlike ordinary black tea this won’t become to bitter. Take out the linden blossom leaves and bring the brew to the boil and then add 3 dl of caster sugar and let it simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Shouldn’t take more then a minute or so. Let cool before pouring into a clean bottle. Will last in the fridge about 2 weeks.

There are other ways to go about making this syrup; if you find linden blossom tea in bags then just bring equal amounts of water and sugar to the boil and let it simmer, with the bags mixed in, for around 10 minutes( around 1 bag per 1,5 dl water). Then it’s easy to pick the bags out. Linden blossom does’t have the strongest taste so they might need to stew the whole time(with black tea you only need a few minutes and this should never be attempted with green tea as high temperatures will release the bitterness).

Proustian-cocktail; yields 1 drink

3,5 cl London Dry gin

1,5, cl Calvados

1,5 cl linden blossom syrup

1 dash orange bitters

for serving;

cocktail glass

2 small madeleines

  1. Stir ingredients in an ice filled stirring glass until well chilled.
  2. Pour into the glass.
  3. Serve with the little cakes in the side. Enjoy responsibly.

This is the only cocktail I’ve only ever come across  that makes use of linden blossom(and I’ve looked I tell you!). Which is a shame; it’s got a nice green herbaceousness to it that I imagine would work well in a number a combinations, for shame I haven’t really explored it much either. I have made like a gin fizz with this syrup instead of plain sugar and that was nice but no more then that. Will make a note to experiment and hope that I don’t read anything truly spectacular in the next few months and get distracted.

In regards to Proust I’ve tried to convince everyone I know (and many people I have never met) to read him already and I’ve vowed not to be bully this year, so I won’t go on again.(Do give the suit a chance. If you need a soft start then begin with “Let Proust change your life” by Alain de Botton).

-Suss