The-Drunken-Elf

December 17th – The Drunken Elf

I can’t believe that Christmas Eve is only 1 week away. That just doesn’t seem possible. With 1 week less between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year I’ve just seemed so rushed getting through the holidays. It doesn’t help that work is crazy also and I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time there on the weekends. And on top of that, creating a cocktail a day. And I’m still not done Christmas shopping…oh yeah, and anniversary shopping as my wife and I celebrate our anniversary on December 30th. I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing week of vacation after Christmas when we head up to a cabin, away from it all, with my brother’s family and my parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. I am so looking forward to the down time and am planning on loading up my Kindle before I head out.

The Drunken Elf
1 drink

1oz. Midori
1oz. Domaine de Canton
1 oz. Pineapple juice
Lemon-Lime Soda

Fill a pilsner glass, or other tall glass, with ice. Add the Midori, Domaine de Canton, and pineapple juice. Give a good stir and top with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with a couple of cherries.

Ruby-Red-Cocktail

December 14th – The Ruby Red Cocktail

This is one cocktail that I wish I could take credit for, but actually I found the basic recipe over at merrygourmet.com. It was originally created as a Valentine’s Day cocktail, and with it’s pretty pink color I can see that, but I thought the flavors were perfect for a Christmastime cocktail and besides, I haven’t offered up a gin drink yet.

Now I know that gin isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I do have a few gin cocktails that are my go-to drinks for people who don’t like gin. This one isn’t necessarily one of them. My wife isn’t a gin fan, and while she claimed to like this cocktail I could tell it wasn’t her favorite. So if you really, really don’t like gin, you probably won’t like this drink, but if you enjoy gin, or don’t at least have an aversion to it, then I think you will like this cocktail.

American’s aren’t big fans of “bitter” when it comes to flavors. That’s probably one reason lots of people aren’t big fans of gin. With both gin and grapefruit juice, this cocktail has a decent bitter kick to it, but I really like that. I had originally added a dash or 2 of bitters to the recipe, but, even though I really liked it that way, I thought it made it too bitter for most people, but if you embrace the bitter then go ahead and add a dash of bitters to this drink. I tried it with both orange bitters and Angostura bitters and both added a bit more nuance to the drink.

The Ruby Red Cocktail
adapted from merrygourmet.com
1 drink

1 1/2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. Gin
1 1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice
1 1/2 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
Lemon Twist for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake until icy cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.

Mexican-Mocha-Cocktail

December 12th – Mexican Mocha Cocktail

Rumchata hit the market a few years ago and has made a pretty big splash recently. It’s one of those great drinks for people who don’t like the flavor of alcohol. I’ve also been finding it rather fun to play around with as I work on creating these holiday themed cocktails as is evidenced by the cocktail for December 3rd, The Dirty Snowball.

While “mocha” usually conjures up visions of a warm drink, it’s really the combination of coffee flavors and chocolate that make mocha, well, mocha. This cocktail starts with Kalhua (although you could use another coffee flavored liqueur), mixed with the creamy cinnamon flavors of Rumchata, and gets finished off with chocolate syrup. Why “Mexican” in the title? Well, Kalhua is from Mexico, chocolate originated in Mexico and Latin America and Rumchata is a Horchata flavored rum. For those of you not familiar with Horchata, it is drink popular in many Spanish countries and is usually, although not always, made by steeping ground rice in water, along with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. The drink is extremely popular in Mexico. So that is why I decided to call it the Mexican Mocha Cocktail.

The drink really came about as I was looking for a way to create a drink similar to a White Russian, using Rumchata in place of the cream.

The Mexican Mocha Cocktail
1 drink

2 oz. Kalhua
2 oz. Rumchata
2 tsp. Chocolate Syrup

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the ingredients. Give a good shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Hot-Spiced-Cider

December 11th – Hot Spiced Cider

Okay, it got really cold, really quick, here in Wisconsin. I love winter, but this cold blast took me off guard, and on top of that I spent an hour standing outside, ringing bells for Salvation Army. My daughter and I have been doing this for the last 3 years. It is one of the projects my Kiwanis group does, but I like to include my daughter in it. It gives her a chance to do a little something to give back to the community and it has helped us teach her about others less fortunate than ourselves and how it is important to reach out to our fellow human beings in need. She has come to look forward to it every year and usually starts asking in September if we are going to ring bells again. She’s going through a very materialistic phase right now so it was a great chance to talk about how “things” can’t buy happiness and that we should be very thankful for what we have; a roof over our heads, food to fill our tummy, heat to keep us warm, etc. because there are many that don’t even have those basic things. She gets it, but she still wants everything that catches her fancy, but I have no doubt in my mind that she will grow out of that phase and become a wonderful, giving person, even more so than she already is.

One of my favorite ways to warm up after being out in the cold is Hot Spiced Cider. It also makes a great beverage for any winter get together and has the added bonus of making your house smell like the holidays. And it can act as double duty for both those that drink alcoholic beverages and for those that abstain for one reason or another. In fact, you can make it self serve, by placing the cider in a slow cooker set on low, to keep it warm and setting out mugs and a variety of liquors with which people can spike their own, making it as strong or as weak as they like. If you go this route, at the very least you should offer whiskey and rum for spiking the cider, but you also can’t go wrong with brandy, spiced rum, vanilla flavored vodka and any number of different types of liqueurs.

Back in December of 2011 I posted a Hot Spiced Cider recipe that was a twist on the one I grew up with. It’s ingredient list included orange juice concentrate and Red Hot candies. You can find the recipe here. This recipe is a little more standard. I like both of them, but then again what’s not to like about any Hot Spiced Cider, as long as it is made with real cider and not that clear, yellowish, apple juice looking stuff some companies try to call cider.

Hot Spiced Cider
makes 1 gallon (enough for 12-20 servings depending on the size of the mugs or coffee cups you use)

1 gallon Cider
4 sticks Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tb. Cloves, whole
2 Tb. Allspice, whole
3 Oranges, with peel, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients in a non reactive pot, bring to a simmer and allow to steep for at least 15-20 minutes. For self-serve, pour into a slow cooker, set on low and skim out as many of the cloves and allspice berries as you can. Leave the oranges and cinnamon sticks in. To spike your cider start with 1 part alcohol to 4-5 parts cider. You can adjust from there depending on your preference.

Very-Cherry-Berry-Christams

December 10th – A Very Cherry Berry Christmas Cocktail

This is a whiskey cocktail for those that don’t like whiskey. My wife loved the drink even though she doesn’t like whiskey or bourbon. She likes the smell of the stuff but doesn’t like the taste. I know that raspberries aren’t really in season this time of year but I love them and thought they would make a good addition to this drink. Enjoy!!

A Very Cherry Berry Christmas Cocktail

2 oz. Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry
5 each Raspberries
1 splash Orange Bitters
1 tsp. Grenadine
Cranberry Ginger Ale

In a large cocktail glass slightly crush the raspberries. Fill the glass with ice and add the remaining ingredients. Give a gentle stir and garnish with an orange wheel or cherries.

Very-Cherry-Berry-Christmas

St-Germain-Cocktail

December 9th – St. Germain Cocktail

No list of holiday cocktails would be complete without at least 1 or 2 champagne (or sparkling wine) drinks. Champagne is the drink for celebrations and adds a touch of class to even the most mundane of get togethers or dinners, or elevates a simple toast into an event. While I love to serve champagne and sparkling wine straight it is also fun to, occasionally offer up a champagne cocktail. Any champagne cocktail makes a great holiday drink but one of my favorites is the St. Germain Cocktail.

The cocktail only requires 2 ingredients, champagne and St. Germain Liqueur. If you have never tried St. Germain before you should give it a try. It is a liqueur that has been made in France for well over 100 years and is created from Elderberry flowers. It is sweet and boasts flavors of peach, grapefruit and lychee. It’s not necessarily something that I would want to drink too much of on its own, although my wife might disagree with that, but it makes a great addition to many cocktails lending its fruity, floral essence to many well crafted drinks.

This cocktail is also a great way to please people with differing palates. I like dry champagnes and sparkling wines, but my wife prefers hers on the sweeter side. With a bottle of St. Germain handy, we can both have what we want; I enjoy the champagne as it was meant to be while me wife can add a bit of sweetness to hers to make it more enjoyable.

St. Germain Cocktail

1/2 oz. St. Germain Liqueur
Champagne

Pour the St. Germain into a champagne flute. Fill with champagne and serve. For an added layer of flavor you could also garnish the drink with a lemon twist.

St-Germain-Cocktail2

Dirty-Snowball

December 3rd – The Dirty Snowball

In preparation for this month of posting cocktails I’ve been doing a lot of research and experimentation. In other words, I’ve been doing a lot of drinking, but that isn’t the point. As I said, I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation, some with cocktails I’ve found recipes for and some cocktails that I’ve “invented” all by myself. I hate to say invented because chances are someone, somewhere, before me has thought of adding these ingredients together. So when I claim to have invented it, I mean that I have not come across any such combination of beverages in my research and that the drink is one that I thought up all on my own, along with the name (another case where you would be hard pressed to find a completely original name).

I am particularly proud of this cocktail that I invented. I really like the flavor combination and the drink packs quite a kick as it is pure alcohol with no mixer in it. This is one of those “Martini” type drinks for those that don’t like Martinis, although it works just as well poured over ice.

This recipe calls for Domaine de Canton which is a ginger flavored liqueur. You could use another ginger flavored liqueur, but, personally, I think Domaine de Canton is the best option, although it is a bit on the pricy side. Luckily, it is most often used as a flavoring agent in cocktails and not the base liquor, so a bottle will last you a good long time.

The Dirty Snowball

2 parts Rumchata
1 part Captain Morgan Spiced Run
1 part Domaine de Canton

Lightly moisten the lip of a Martini glass and rim in sugar lightly spiced with ground cinnamon.

Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4′s of the way with ice and add the liquors. Shake for 10-15 seconds and strain into the rimmed Martini glass. Alternatively fill a cocktail glass with ice and pour over ice.

Dirty-Snowball2

Holiday-Sangria

December 2nd – Holiday Sangria

People usually associate Sangria with warm weather, and I agree it does make a refreshing drink in summer, but its adaptability really makes it suited to any season or any occasion. Be sure to pick a lighter, fruitier red wine for the base of this drink; a Merlot, American Pinto Noir, or Beaujolais would all make good choices.

Holiday Sangria
makes 10-12 drinks

3 cups Cranberry Juice
1 bottle (750 ml) Red Wine (Merlot)
1 cup Pomegranate juice
1 cup cranberries + more for garnish
1 orange, sliced + more for garnish
1 lemon sliced + more for garnish
¼ cup sugar
2 oz Orange Liquor
1 cup Brandy
2 cups Club Soda
2 sprigs Rosemary

The night before serving lightly crush the cranberries, orange and lemon slices. Add the wine and sugar and allow to macerate overnight. The next day, lightly bruise rosemary in bottom of a large pitcher or punch bowl. Strain the wine, pressing on fruit. Add remaining ingredients. Garnish with more lemon and orange slices, whole cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.

If you have been following my blog for any length of time you should know by now that I am a huge Bourbon fan. While I’ve never met a Whiskey I haven’t liked, over the years I’ve found that I prefer Bourbon to all other Whiskeys, including Scotch. I’ve always been a Bourbon, at least since my college days, when I drank copious amounts of Jim Beam. While in culinary school I discovered Basil Hayden and the rest of the Super Premium Bourbons and haven’t looked back since. Basil Hayden is still one of my favorites, although I can’t afford it often so my “go to” Bourbon is Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace.

While in college I usually drank Jim and Coke, or did straight up shots, but occasionally I would go on Whiskey Sour kicks. I quickly outgrew those drinks as they always seemed too harsh and abrasive. It wasn’t until years later that I rediscovered what great drinks “Sours” could be once you gave up on that nasty premade bottled stuff made with chemicals, acids and a very small percentage (if any) of real juice. Real purists will probably tell you that it is best to make each and every drink completely from scratch. While I will occasionally make my Sours this way, I prefer to streamline the process and make up a batch of homemade sour mix. This is a great time saver, but only make enough to use up in a couple of days. After that, the fresh lemon and lime juice starts to oxidize and loses that wonderfully fresh flavor that one can only get with fresh squeezed juice. Technically, the sour mix will stay good for a week or so, but to really experience the drink in its prime use up your sour mix in a day or two. Also, this drink is all about freshness so don’t even consider using a shortcut and buying one of those plastic lemons and limes. It’s not worth it and you might as well just go ahead and purchase the sour mix itself. Trust me those plastic lemons and limes taste nothing close to fresh squeezed.

Finally, and I’ve covered this before, but it’s been awhile, many old, classic drinks contain egg white. It lends a rich, almost creamy mouth feel to cocktails. Make sure that you use the freshest eggs you can get your hands on and don’t overdo it or it will add an off flavor to your drink. If the thought of a bit of raw egg white totally grosses you out, you can skip it and the drink will still be good, but I encourage you to try it, at least once, and see if it doesn’t elevate the drink from just good to great.

Sour Mix
makes about 4 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup Lime juice, freshly squeezed

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot, bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the lemon and lime juice to remove any and all pulp and add to the cooled simple syrup. Chill until ready to use. Best if used in the first 3 days but will stay good for a week or so.

Whiskey (Bourbon) Sour
makes 1 drink

2oz. Bourbon
3oz. Homemade Sour Mix
1 Tbl. (1/2oz.) Egg White”"

Combine Bourbon, sour mix and egg white in a cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake without ice) for 5 seconds. Add ice to fill the shaker half way and shake for about 20 seconds. Strain into a tumbler filled with ice, making sure to allow the shaker to drain completely. Garnish with a cherry and lemon or orange wheel. You will notice in the picture above there is no cherry. We had some maraschino cherries in the fridge but it looks like my daughter got to them before I did!

**Egg whites can be difficult to measure out as they want to stick together. You can combat this by adding a drop of water to the egg white and giving it a quick beating with a fork to break it up. If it still wants to cling together it’s best to under portion the egg white rather than over portion it.

The Christmas season is in full swing, and at our house one of the things that means is the drinking of copious amounts of hot, spiced cider. For as long as I can remember the holidays, both Christmas and Thanksgiving…and many of the days inbetween, were accompanied by the the sweet, heady smells of a pot of spiced cider warming away on the stove top. To this day, it just doesn’t seem like the Christmas season without having brewed up a gallon or two of one of my favorite drinks.

While we’re on the subject of cider, I want to rant just a little (and I think I’ve voiced this rant before so I’ll make it short). It drives me nuts, walking through the grocery store and seeing bottles of clear, amber liquid that companies are passing off as cider. Sorry, but it looks and tastes like ordinary apple juice and has about as much in common with real cider as does Grape juice. Cider should be brown and cloudy with a body and mouth feel that apple juice can only wish it could attain to. I even have a problem with “pastuerized” cider, but I understand that some people are concerned about food borne illnesses. But please, if you have never tasted fresh, unpastuerized cider before, check it out. You’re in for a treat. The real stuff, when made properly has a complexity that is totally lost in the pastuerization process.

It’s the holidays so enough ranting and more holiday cheer! You’ll notice, in the picture, that there is a distinctive red hue to that mug of cider. Don’t adjust your computer monitors, it’s supposed to be that way. I often like to add “Red Hots” candies (you know, those little, red, firery, cinnamon candies). They add a nice festive hue to the cider and help bump up the cinnamon in the drink. If you don’t want to use the candies, and sometimes I don’t, just up the number of cinnamon sticks you add to the cider to compensate for the lack of cinnamon flavoring.

Once made, you can ladel it into mugs and serve as is, for the children and teetotallers in your group or you can do as most of the members of my family do and spice with a shot of bourbon or dark rum. A few of those and I guarentee that you’ll get a party started!

This recipe uses a gallon of cider as I find that it can go pretty quickly, but you can easily adjust to make the amount you need. Also I just toss in all the spices. If you’d rather not fish around trying not to ladel up allspice berries and cloves you can tie them up in a coffee filter and just remove the whole thing after about 30-60 minutes.

Hot Spiced Cider
makes just over 1 gallon

1 gallon Cider
4 each Cinnamon sticks
1 Tbl. Whole Cloves
2 Tbl. Whole Allspice Berries
1 (12oz.) can Orange Juice Concentrate
3-4 oz. Red Hots candies (the little red cinnamon candies)

Place all ingredients in a nonreactive pot and simmer, without boiling for, at least, 30 minutes. Ladel into mugs and serve. Feel free to add a shot of bourbon or rum for a more adult beverage, or experiment with any of the various flavored alcohols out there. If you come across a really great combination let me know. If so desired, garnish the mugs with an orange wheel and a cinnamon stick for stirring.

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