Issue No.038 “Tails From The Bookworm” Annie Hall

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ew Yawwkers love to hate Los Angeles, from experience I know this , I lived in the city that never sleeps for fourteen of my years, and have now been in LA for almost six, my die hard NY friends turn their nose up when I suggest they come and experience life on the west coast, its just not cool to live here so they say. I like to think of myself as an honorary NYer, I mean after battling through fourteen sweltering summers and frigid winters, countless subway rides with weirdos leering at me ,  been held up at knife and gun point, and turning a blind eye to all the literal and figurative rats I feel I’ve done my time in the trenches and deserve some sort of badge of honor, no ? I also have a luff hate thing going on with LA, so I think its appropro that I write this story.

I moved to Los Angeles to reset my life, to escape the constant clamoring of sirens and tourists and players OH MY! LA has been good to me, because I’m not constantly focusing on my survival or recovering from the exhaustion of the fight I have opened up time and energy  to focus on my creativity and and my general wellbeing, I live minutes from the beach ( that yes I rarely visit, too many people ) but that cool ocean air and misty mountains surrounding to the north of me are a tonic to my nervous system.  Through all of this though I have many moments that I yearn for the thrill of NY’s  vibrant energy where anything is possible, including bugs being tossed at you on the subway,  Los Angeles seems so boring and  pedestrian in comparison.

In this issue  I thought I would pay tribute to New York via that quintessential  LA hater Woody Allen and his nervous romance Annie Hall I know not technically a book but at one point it started life as a screen play which is written word and good enough for me .The poster above is in Polish, thats me representing my heritage in this post, this  issue is  also a loose ode to the  fifteen year  anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and those iconic twin towers the  double exclamation marks at the end of the gritty sentence that is New York City ,  Yo!!

The premise of this edition is taking classic  beverages and either dirtying them up NYC style or making them healthful a LA mode

Nazis and Neurosis 

Woody’s character is called Alvy Singer, a Jewish boy raised in Brooklyn who made good by becoming a famous comic , we first meet him as he laments to the camera the downfall of his relationship with Annie , he can’t seem to grasp what went wrong. In the next scene  he’s waiting at the movies for his girl  to appear,  as he waits his comedic self is recognized by a couple of teamster looking guys that he refers to as the cast of The Godfather, one of which pesters him for his autograph for his brudder . Annie finally shows up  looking depressed, Alvy complains its too late to see the movie ( it started two minutes before) and that he has to see a flick from start to fin, so he suggests they go watch a documentary on the holocaust instead,cheery activity for a Saturday afternoon!  Annie reluctantly agrees . As they wait in line Alvy complains about the guy behind dissecting and critiquing  Fellini’s  film efforts rather too loudly like he’s trying to impress his date , it winds Alvy up to no end ,to distract himself  he asks Annie why she’s depressed , her response that she missed her therapy appointment tightens his ticking time bomb of frustration even further  , he calls it a selfish gesture since they are having problems in the sack and the therapist is helping her work through the issues  she has with Alvy who I should mention at a precocious six years old was already lusting after the opposite sex.

My first offering to accompany Alvy’s neurosis and the melancholy of the film would be that classic movie snack popcorn and a coke, except how about trying it healthy  LA style without all those chemicals and corn syrup, I know how I hear you, how can it be any good if its not the classic, coma inducing formula . Well I think mine comes pretty bloody close, the caffeine kick comes from oolong tea, a cross between green and back teas and packed with natural  stimulants,  its sweetened by a mix of coconut sugar , dates and for color  a bit of  burnt organic cane sugar syrup with veggie bouillon, yes indeed  ! The syrup takes a couple of hours to make but you will be glad you tried it, scent wise it comes ridiculously close and taste wise too but a little more aromatic. Make it as sweet or as not as you feel, its the real, real thing !

“The Real Thing”

For the “Cola ” syrup

Tools
*A large pitcher
*A chinoise strainer
*A heavy bottomed pan or an immersion circulator and bath
*A Y peeler
*A measuring cup

For the syrup
1/3 of a cup of dried oolong tea
1 ½ quarts of boiling water
1 Navel orange both peel and juice
2 lemons both peel and juice
2 black limes ( from most Middle Eastern stores or Amazon)
4 cinnamon sticks broken up ( I used a hammer)
6 star anise pods ( whole stars not just seeds)

2 cups date syrup and 1 ½ cups coconut sugar or 3 cups organic cane sugar ( more if you want it sweeter)
¼ oz vanilla extract
¼ cup of bitter orange peel ( from your local brew shop or again Amazon)
½ a teaspoon of veggie bouillon
Optional 3 oz of Tipplemans Burnt Sugar syrup ( Amazon)
Start by steeping your tea in the boiling water
Strain and pour into either your heavy bottomed pan or your ziplock bag
To your pan or bag add your lemon and orange peel, black limes, cinnamon, bitter orange and star anise
In the pan bring to a simmer, then turn heat way down and cover pan allowing aromatics to infuse, in the bag add to your water bath, set immersion circulator to 55 degrees C.
“Cook” for 1 ½ hours , place infusion in fridge overnight to get nice and flavorful
Strain and add lemon and orange juice , vanilla, coconut nectar or cane sugar, bouillon and Burnt sugar syrup
Stir well and refrigerate before serving .

Note: You will need 2 parts of Cola syrup to  4 parts Soda water for a glass of the real “real thing”.

For the Real Thing Cocktail

2 1/2 oz of “Cola” syrup
1 1/2 oz white rum ( I used #62 from Rum Society)
1/2 oz PX sherry ( a raisinated sweet sherry)
1/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes chocolate bitters
2 oz soda water

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Add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes, don’t shake stir to chill the mixture.
Transfer mixture to a your carbonation system (  I used Perlini’s cocktail shaker )
Charge with Co2 and wait for gas to subside before opening
Pour into your vessel of choice .
Serve with a side of popcorn tossed with coconut oil, smoked salt and Togarashi spice

Sacked in the sack

In an attempt to understand whats troubling their relationship Alvy  and Annie discuss his past  sexual relationships with his two ex wives which we watch  via  flash back, the first who was sexually voracious  and turned him off for wanting him too much , the second who found it impossible to climax. He can understand why those two marriages failed but with Annie, things are different, in the beginning they would have a blast doing ordinary  things like buying books, sitting in the park or driving in her VW bug at rapid speeds, somehow somewhere Annie has lost interest in Alvy and he delves even deeper into memories to try figuring out the root cause .

My suggestion at this point would be a good dose of lettuce juice , whats that you say , why lettuce ? Ask the ancient Chinese, they believe that lettuce contains a powerful aphrodisiac , something to do with the minerals within that create a potent love potion to get your mojo moving, your groove grinding and  your bits pumping.

Green Manalishi

Take the standard green juice and dirty it up with a shot of smoky , earthy Mezcal

1 oz Mezcal ( La Nina Espadin or Del Maguey Vida are my choices )
1 oz Floc de gascogne or Pineau des charentes  ( a wine based aperitif )
1 1/2 oz romaine lettuce juice
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
3 dashes Miracle Mile celery bitters
pinch smoked salt for garnish
seasonal green garnish ( I used wood sorrel above but fennel flowers or celery leaves work too)

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes and shake for 3 seconds
Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, preferably one giant cube
finish with pinch of smoked salt and garnish with greenery

Tennis elbow or  speak to me in shellfish 

Flashback to Annie and Alvy’s first meeting , a tennis doubles match set up by friends, after Annie invites him up to her place for some wine and awkward conversation that via mental subtitles we realize is actually flirtation ,  they both start to realize they’re into each other, after having sex on their second date Alvy is a neurotic mess and Annie chills out by smoking some grass, a portent of things to come.  Cut to another scene with Alvy reminiscing about  a weekend getaway with them trying to corral lobsters into the pot , both of them hooting with laughter and screaming as the ill fated  lobsters try scuttling off behind the fridge sensing their imminent butter drenched doom.

I figure some light refreshment at this point would come in the form of California Chardonnay, great for their rooftop scene or to pair with shellfish, the first cocktail I experienced  in NY was a classic martini, its also rumored that the dry martini was invented in the Knickerbocker Hotel in NY . In the EU when you ask for a martini you’ll get a glass of martini vermouth served over ice with a twist or olives, same premise but packing way less  of a spirited punch, a dirty gin martini still happens to be one of my all time favorites though these days I’m drinking it as a 50/50 half gin and half vermouth, great if you want to keep your night going a little longer as I suspect Annie and Alvy would want to do , only in this case  using some Cali chardonnay  instead of dry  vermouth .

The Long Shot Martini

1 1/2 oz London dry gin
1 1/2 oz Broc Cellars Neutral Chardonnay ( great with Lobster)
1 1/2 oz olive brine , my current addiction is to castelvetrano olives, salty without being bullies

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Stir in a mixing glass for 10 seconds with a scoop of ice
Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe
Garnish with olives or a couple of cucumber slices

LA Woman

Alvy’s neurosis  starts to get the better of him, he  becomes a man obsessed with Annie, she catches him following her as she innocently  walks arm in arm with another man, Annie starts to feel stifled by him and annoyed by his lack of support for her aspirations  so she  breaks it off with him, Alvy still hanging on to the idea that he’s done nothing wrong questions random people in the street about the success of their relationships , his agent Rob encourages him to start dating other women. He agrees to go on  a blind date with a writer for Rolling Stone mag , whilst consummating their first night together   the date gets cut short when he gets a frantic call from damsel in distress  Annie , can he come over to kill the spiders in her bathtub, spiders as big as a Buick are as good an excuse as any to restart their romantic dialogue , Annie extends a peace offering of chocolate milk, Alvy  the knight in shining armor slays the dragon, erm spider  his reward a giant case of Miss Hall.

A few days after they get back together , Annie has a gig at a local club singing her usual torch songs, Alvy is there naturally perpetuating their push , pull relationship . Tony Lacy excited by Annie’s performance introduces himself as a Hollywood music producer and man about town , asks if she has representation and  invites them to go hang out with Jack and Anjelica, you know the it couple of seventies New York. Alvy declines for them saying they have a “thing” afterward but Annie is obviously into the idea, Tony tells her to look him up if she ever in LA. Coincidentally Alvy’s agent  Rob suggests he present a TV  award in LA that winter, Annie joins him and  they spend Christmas in LA. Driving through town  Annie Remarks how clean Los Angeles is, Alvy quips  “Its so clean because they don’t throw their trash out they turn it into TV shows” , later they wind up at a house party hosted by none other than Mr.Lacy, much to Alvy’s displeasure. The next day as he preps for the award ceremony Alvy starts to feel ill, complaining of feeling nauseous , perhaps disgusted from watching Rob add canned laughter to a skit he’s just recorded either that or he’s anxious of presenting an award for crap TV , as he’s lying in bed with a Doctor by his side, Annie lets him know that he needn’t worry they found a replacement presenter for him, Alvy miraculously recovers  and starts to chowing down on boiled chicken .

Boiled chicken for an upset tum never much worked for me ,ginger ale or ginger beer are the usually prescriptions I’ve been offered but  my own  miracle elixir is anything gentian based and bitter, Fernet especially  puts me right pretty much in minutes.

The Franciscan

The drink of choice for many a San Franciscan Barfly is Fernet and ginger, I Californiafied it with Ginger water Kefir, water Kefir is sparkling probiotic beverage that helps restore the healthy flora in your gut , mixed with Fernet I think Mr.Singer would have been much happier than eating his boiled chicken regardless of where the drink hails from .

For the Ginger water Kefir

Tools

1 large sterilized mason jar
Muslin or a clean tea towel
Elastic bands
A chinoise strainer
1 large plastic soda bottle with cap ( cleaned out please)
Measuring spoon
Measuring cup

Kefir ingredients
4 cups of  water
1 tablespoon prepared water kefir grains ( that have been soaked in sugar water to wake them up)
1 oz lemon juice
4 1/2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup ginger juice or chopped ginger if a juicer is not handy

Pour  everything  into your mason jar
Add the kefir grains and cover with the muslin or tea towel, secure with elastic bands
Store at room temp and out of sunlight for 48 hours
Strain and transfer to your clean soda bottle, at this point you can add some  botanical flavorings if you wish .
Leave at least 2 inches of space at the top of the bottle, screw on cap tightly and store out of sunlight until carbonated. The beauty of the plastic bottle is it will fill up with gas and turn rock solid letting you know its ready.

Store in fridge to stop fermentation

Note : must be consumed within a month, mine lasts a day or so. Water kefir grains can also be used to make a delicious sparkling wine

For the drink

2 oz Fernet Branca
4 oz ginger water kefir

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Fill a tall glass with ice
Pour in Fernet and top with  sparkling ginger kefir
garnish with a lemon or lime wheel

Dead Sharks and Mashed Yeast

Returning from LA, Annie and Alvy  realize they’re headed on different paths she dreaming of being an LA woman  he likens their relationship to a dead shark, they agree to  call it quits on the plane , Annie returns to LA to take up with her music producer, Alvy trying to reconcile how easy it was for her to leave him pines after her and comes up with a plan to win her back  , he goes back to  LA where he meets her at a health food restaurant  on Sunset Blvd , he  orders a plate of alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast,  she’s not too pleased at him being there and gets annoyed with his yet again questioning what she’s doing with her life . She storms off , he races after her but she drives away into the sunset, frustrated he tries to follow her in his giant yacht of a convertible car but he can’t even maneuver it out of the parking lot, he gets arrested for causing a scene and spends the night in a lock up, giving him time to ruminate over his errors . Its interesting too that Woody uses the symbolism of white clothing to show LA people as enlightened creatures who can wear white because LA is so clean in comparison to the grime of NY.

The movie ends with Alvy writing a play about their relationship only he changes the ending to where Annie goes back to NY with him.

Rather than the unappetizing plate of mashed yeast I thought perhaps a glass of mashed avocado smoothie would go down a little easier, its sullied with a mix of Tikiesque ingredients , Tiki being a movement that was big in CA , its  topped off with sprouts yes, but  the flowering cilantro variety . The glass is wrapped on the inside with a Hoja Santa leaf or a “Sainted” leaf for  Holier than thou white clothed saints of Los Angeles .

Yogi’s Choice
The drink is called Yogi’s choice since you can choose to drink it boozy or booze free. If you choose no booze add 1 oz of coconut or date nectar to sweeten it up .

1 ripe avocado
2 oz pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz aged rum
1 /2 oz mezcal
1 oz lime juice
1 oz Velvet Falernum
drop vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil

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Add everything to your blender with a 5 or 6 ice cubes  and blend on high for until avocado is completely mashed . You can omit the ice cubes if you ,like me  prefer warm beverages, I am English after all!
Transfer into a tall glass and garnish with cilantro sprouts

FIN

Issue No.037 “Tails from the Bookworm” Vita Sackville-West

 

 

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hcapital-A the English summer , that season of light fluttering dresses, strawberries and cream , delicate flowers, Wimbledon, torrential rain and cracking thunderstorms , sticky underarms ( for me out of control frizzy hair-not on my underarms on my head ) non existent A/C and this summer will go down in history as the year of the great “Brexit”. If you hadn’t guessed already from previous editions of The Cup, I’m a first generation Brit, so I don’t have that Nationalism thing drummed into me and naturally am disgusted with the fiasco of leaving the EU .My parents came over after WW2, had a mangled arranged marriage that produced two offspring, myself and a brother, my Pops would have given anything to turn me into a proper little madam, you know a pinkie in the air kind of lady with manners, spotlessly clean shoes and combed hair. Instead he got an outspoken, tomboyesque, leftist leaning socialist with , torn jeans and paint splattered sneakers . Appearances can be deceptive , a bad ass looking punk can be a softie at heart and a lady to the manor born all buttoned up on the outside can be raging and debaucherous wild child !

Such is the tale of our Heroine this issue, the daughter of a Baron, Victoria Sackville-West or Vita for short was an Edwardian Lady who despite the risks she knew she was taking with her reputation was a romantic rebel who made plot lines of Downtown Abbey  pale in comparison . She inspired ardor in men and women alike but most of her lovers were women including a short lived romance but a long lived relationship with Virginia Woolf who was so inspired and besotted by Vita that she wrote the novel Orlando as an homage to her, who’s voracious sexual appetite had her “conjugating verbs” with both sexes way before the names Lesbian or Bi-sexual were in existence .

Virginia Woolf herself was a member of the Bloomsbury Group ( a collection of  bohemian painters, writers, sculptors and aristos) and was a great source of inspiration for me during  my art school days . The country house that they inhabited , Charleston House now a national monument in the south of England became their giant evolving canvas, every corner and every surface is painted with beautiful scenes and frescos.

Vita’s other passions were tennis and as she grew older she became an incredibly accomplished gardener,  in her dairies that are detailed in the book  ‘ Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita-Sackville-West” Vita has entries that list her activities for the day, listed in alternating order on one page are “made love” and ” played hours of tennis”, as one of the most privileged young things of the Edwardian era she  lived in a sprawling mansion and had a pet tortoise with a monogram picked out in diamonds that would roam the house . Because her life story is a long one and her affairs many here is just an extract of her escapades that starts  with summer love , the drinks I chose to illustrate these moments take their cues from the plummy proper English, their love of that summer time obsession Wimbledon,  and the good old English country garden .

In the summer of 1910  at a dinner party Vita met a young diplomat called Harold Nicholson, they both fell in love with each other and whilst he was away  taking care of his diplomatic duties Vita continued her extra curricular activities with her best friend Rosamund , though Harold was mad about Vita he also understood that his primary sexual desires were for men though his dalliances never over took him emotionally as Vita’s did .

Watermelon Rose Jallab

The classic Mint Julep gets its name from this Middle Eastern drink the Jallab, a type of fruit syrup made with molasses and rosewater that is served over crushed ice . Its a perfect summer drink, boozy yet refreshing , my version is served in a hollowed out mini watermelon and though I could not get my hands on pellet ice I found a mini ice cube tray that makes these centimeter big cubes that keep the drink iced cold without turning into wet slush.

For the drink:

1 miniature watermelon, top cut off and saved and watermelon flesh scooped out
1/2 bunch of  fresh Moroccan mint
1 1/2 oz Giffard Black rose liqueur ( if this is not available you can sub out by making a simple syrup  with rosewater , for every cup of syrup add 1 oz of rosewater)
2 1/2 oz Bourbon ( my go to is Buffalo Trace)
handful of rose petals
rose buds and mint sprigs to garnish

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Add the watermelon flesh, mint and rose petals to your juicer, strain so any chunky bits and seeds  are removed .
Set watermelon shell on top of a small shallow bowl so that it stands up
Fill hollowed out watermelon with pellet ice
Pour in Bourbon, watermelon juice and rose liqueur
Using a swizzle stick gently agitate liquid and ice being careful not to rip open watermelon shell.
Add more ice to top and garnish with rose buds and mint sprigs, slurp through a straw .

*****

After much courting Vita and Harold married in 1913, Rosamund was devastated , Violet another of Vita’s lovers was livid and later on exacted her revenge . Vita and Harold at this point had not admitted their sexual proclivities , but lived a blissful life with a Honeymoon that lasted four and a half years and produced two sons , Vita concluded it was hardly possible for two people to be any happier. This ended when Harold had to admit an encounter with another man had resulted in venereal disease and that he was forbidden to have sex for 6 months, terrified that he’d lose his wife he tried to  convince her that his homosexuality meant nothing to him and for a while all seemed to blow over.

Garden Gin and Tonic 

There is something wrong with me that I thought this drink would be an appropriate Ode to Virginia Woolfe, she drowned herself by putting rocks in her pockets, I slapped myself several times and decided instead to have it be a tonic for Harold’s V.D and am sure his accompanying fever, the original tonic water was made out of cinchona bark that helped with malaria, the gin was added to make the bitter tonic more palatable and so a classic drink was born, favored by the Brits and the Spanish but also has a growing fan base world wide. My friend Gabrielle  here in Socal does a frozen G&T out of her slushy machine at a Spanish restaurant called Vaca which for the summer sweats is a ubiquitous drink to have close at hand .

Mine is a wee bit more conventional , in that its still  liquid . Served over Nitro frozen garden pebbles that have been washed and sanitized in boiling water, the pebbles take the place of the ice which means you get zero dilution but a really bloody cold drink . Its topped off with a dollop of salt water foam.

For the drink:

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock gin
1/2 oz white verjus
3/4 oz Nikolai elderflower syrup
1-2 oz Fevertree elderflower tonic

For the foam :

4 oz saline solution ( made from 10:1 water to Maldon salt flakes)
3/4 oz yuzu juice
1/2 oz Nikolai elderflower syrup
.5 grams ( or half a bar spoon) of Texturas sucro

Allow the Sucro powder to dissolve fully into your liquid by using a small hand whisk.
Using an immersion blender blend the mixture then allow the blades to skim over the surface to aerate into a bubbley foam, set aside  ( it will stay foamy for about 10-15 minutes after which time you’ll need to re blend and froth)

For the pebbles: 

If nitrogen is not available make sure you have your cleaned pebbles sitting in the freezer at least two hours before you need them. If you have liquid nitrogen have the pebbles sitting in a stainless steel bowl and pour over the liquid nitrogen, using a spoon place pebbles in your glass of choice.

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To assemble, add pebbles to your glass, place your garden sprig garnish into the pebbles making sure it is situated securely .
In a mixing glass add your gin, versus and syrup and stir for about 5 seconds over ice , strain into your pebble filled glass , add tonic water and spoon over the salty foam, you can add an optional dusting of spirulina as your pondweed element .

*****

Violet however had not stopped pining for Vita and with Harold’s admission her chance came to get back into Vita’s life, two days before the doctor was to give Harold the all-clear Violet happened to be a house guest of the couple . Vita had just just gotten some breeches delivered and when she put them on she went wild with excitement , running and jumping and feeling like a young school boy freed for vacation, as she ran through the grounds Violet followed her. The outfit seemed to liberate something within the two women , by nightfall they were sleeping together, ten days later they ran away to Cornwall, Violet later said “we loved each other so much we became inarticulate “. Harold on the other hand begged Vita to return and suggested he would drown himself .

Matcha Made in Heaven 

Yes I’m corny, but at this point in the excerpt  am assuming the ladies will be a bit spent with all that romping and need a little pick me up, taking its cues from the traditional afternoon  tea ( well , tea with milk) I thought this would be appropriate for an energy boost, matcha green tea has a healthy dose of caffeine, the drink is constructed in a similar way to a classic Ramos fizz but using  the Japanese  milky soft drink Calpico as its dairy element .

For the drink:

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock Vodka
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
dash of vanilla extract
1 oz  peach calpico
1 oz aguafaba or egg white
splash of soda water to finish
garden herbs for garnish

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Add everything but the soda water to your shaker tin with 1 ice cube.
Whip shake for 5 seconds to wake up the proteins in your emulsifier
add 4 more ice cubes and shake vigorously ( depending on what shenanigans you’ve been up to its ok if you can’t muster vigor)
In your chilled glass add 2 ice cubes , strain your drink into glass and top with soda water
Finish with a few sprigs of vegetation, I used cilantro blossoms.

*****

Vita however was only just coming into her streak of recklessness, one night in London she dressed up as a man to meet with Violet and asked her lover to call her Julian. So confident was she that no-one would penetrate her disguise the two traveled to a boarding house and spent the night there as husband and wife , before long the couple were cutting a swath in France and Monte Carlo, though Julian’s disguise was not always effective the pair had to change hotels rather rapidly as their secret became apparent . Vita, now always dressed as Julian had stopped wearing her wedding band .

To take  his revenge Harold decided to have a very public affair with another male diplomat, knowing full well that it would not be hidden from Vita. Violet,without telling Vita decided to marry a military man in the hopes it would provide her with a beard of respectability so she could continue her affair , the night the couple were married Vita abducted Violet and took her to a hotel where she savagely had her way with her, she didn’t care if she was hurting Violet she just wanted to hurt Violet’s new husband . The next day the women told him of their relationship and he almost fainted.

Rhubarb “Pimms” Cup

After cutting swathes in France, Monte Carlo and London I’m pretty sure our heroine would b pretty thirsty especially after her debauching of Violet on her Honeymoon night. What better way to quench a thirst than with the light and refreshing Pimms cup , mine is made using my own mix of rhubarb, lemon peels , gin and Brovo pink vermouth which tastes like roses and rhubarb. For garnish it gets what I like to call “surround smell”, you know like a pair of headphones that surround your head with sound , this is the same but for your schnoz . Rose geranium leaves and verbena sprigs get placed around the glass and add to that feeling of being transported to an English country garden, cue the Morris Dancers !

For the “Pimms”

1/2 a bottle of Cap Rock gin
1 bottle of Brovo pink vermouth
3 cups of rhubarb chopped into inch cubes
1 lemon peel cut into strips

You have two options  for infusing, either place in a ziplock baggie and sous vide for 1 1/2 hours then let sit for a day in the fridge or do a cold infusion for a week. I’m impatient as ever as prefer to cheat, much like Vita . Once the “Pimms” cup is ready strain and bottle, keep in the fridge until ready, mine never lasts longer than a few days

For the drink:

2 1/2 oz rhubarb “Pimms”
1/2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz Aperol or Contratto bitter
1/2 oz lemon juice
strawberry lambic to finish and give some spritz

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Start by constructing your surround smell garnish, place your stemless wine glass onto a shallow bowl and poke stems into the gap between glass an bowl until your glass is surrounded
Add everything to your shaker tin except for lambic ale and shake briefly for 3 seconds.
Strain into a chilled ice filled glass, garnish with a couple of seasonal flowers, I used the ironically named Heartsease .

*****

The affair continued with voracity , though there were moments when Vita pleaded with her husband to win her back, she was no longer sure that choosing Violet over her husband and respectability were the right thing to do for her reputation . Back in London Violet’s mother was determined to salvage her daughter’s marriage , when Vita learned that Violet and her husband had slept together she left with Harold horrified and said she could noter to look at the two of them any longer, but the drama had by no means ended . To make matters worse, Violet’s mother had employed a chaperone , Pat to separate the two ladies, the female chaperone on meeting Vita fell madly in love and set out to woo her away from Violet, having witnessed Vita dressing up as Julian , Pat nicknamed her the Dark Man, playing into her fantasy which all too quickly became a reality as she became Vita’s new lover . As with most of her other affairs this one was short lived  and as she tried to extricate herself from Pat’s clutches, she became aware  how much she  underestimated Pat who threatened revenge by taking her story to the newspapers , when Vita agreed to see her Pat produced a pistol and aimed it at her own head, a fight ensued and she managed to wrestle the gun out of Pat’s hand , after some talking they parted amicably as friends.

As for Vita’s relationship with Violet that too was coming to an end , Harold was understandably skeptical , he wrote his wife ” I know that when you fall into V’s hands, your will becomes like a jellyfish addicted to cocaine,” but Vita had made her choice though her affair with Violet turned out to be only one of many extra marital affairs that she had with both women and men.

Parfait D’amour 

A cross between a milk shake , a parfait and an egg cream this last drink is for the blissfully wedded couple to share on a summers  afternoon or eve after their broadcast of their guide to matrimonial success, there’s also nothing that screams more English Summer than strawberries and cream  . It includes “tequila for mi amante ” , or tequila for my lover which is strawberry infused tequila. Use only the sweetest tasting strawberries, no insipid ,anemic half  ripe specimens please, only use strawberries that make you salivate , the flavor translates to your tequila remember ! It gets whipped together with strawberry ice cream and is finished with  a splash of soda water, seasonal berries and a dusting of powder sugar , mine here is served over a base of strawberry caviar, make your own if you wish but you can buy them online or from your local Japanese market.

For the Tequila for mi Amante :

1 pint sweet ripe strawberries
1 750ml bottle of silver tequila

Halve the strawberries and place into a large screw top jar
Top with tequila and allow them to get to know each other intimately for about a week ( store in the fridge whilst they co-mingle)
When ready strain and store in an airtight bottle or jar in fridge until ready to demolish,and you will!

For the parfait:

1 cup of strawberry ice cream ( sure you can make your own if you have time, my current favorite is Haagen Dazs)
1 1/2 oz tequila por mi amante
1 oz  manzanilla sherry
1 dash rosewater
4-5 chopped strawberries

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In a medium sized pitcher add all of your ingredients .
Blitz together using an immersion blender, or if you have a blender, blend on high for about 5 seconds , if you want it frosty cold add a couple of ice cubes, I prefer it sloppier.
Pour into your glass of choice ,  top with seasonal berries ,mint sprigs and powdered sugar.
Share or not depending on your frame of mind!

*****

Vita and Harold continued to live together and  ironically even broadcast a talk  on tips for marital bliss, though they continued having extra marital relations there was a bond between them that was unbreakable , more best friends than partners , when Vita died in 1962 Harold spent the next six years heartbroken until he too passed away, we can only assume from a broken heart pining for his Vita !

Issue No.036 “Tails from the Bookworm” Far from the Madding Crowd

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omance novels have never been my thing , you know the ones,those blouse ripping tomes where man falls for girl, girl shuns man, she gets into trouble through her strong headed nature and is saved by that knight in shining armor that she previously abhorred . Though I love a good romantic story I’m more attracted to fantastic or mysterious stories rather than naturalistic ones like Far From the Madding Crowd written by British novelist and poet Thomas Hardy ( no, not that strapping nemesis playing fellow Tom Hardy ) . Madding however is a beautiful story , one of only a couple that captivated me into awake mode during my English lit classes back in the day , you see my lit teacher was an old bore of a man , with coffee tainted breath and rumpled tweed suits that could send a whirling dervish to sleep and he would dissect a story into oblivion so that you had no idea what the meaning of it all was. However, why Madding managed to knock me out of my day dreams was due to the female protagonist Bathsheba Everdene , an untamable slightly haughty lass who preferred her independence to being a man’s beck and call, she captivates the hearts of three men, interestingly each one depicts very different interpretations  of what it means to love , one obsesses over her, one wants to protect her and be her equal and one who abuses her . She states toward the end of the book when asked to explain herself “It is difficult for me to express my feelings in a language chiefly made for men to express theirs” , I’m sure the suffrage movement was well on its way when Hardy wrote of Bathsheba’s strong will and refusal to be put into a box but the fact that he created such an inspiring character shows us that not all men back then were misogynistic neanderthals .

What makes this story so appropriate for me at this minute is this disturbing political climate in this country of “women’s cards” and governments passing laws that allow women to be raped when they’re passed out drunk, it feels like we are headed back into the dark ages when a man could grab a by the hair and drag her off into his cave , though Far From the Madding Crowd is set in Victorian times Hardy and our heroine Miss Everdene are thoroughly modern in their outlook , thank goodness!

WINTER

Our story starts with Bathsheba , a proud beauty joining her aunt on her farm for the winter, we first meet her as she’s tilling  the frozen earth  to turn it over for seed planting in the coming months . On occasion she rides her horse astride ( not side saddle as ladies of that era would) through the copse delighting in the intermingling smells of wet soil, hoof oil and horse sweat. It is on on of these afternoon rides that she is spied by her first love interest, Gabriel Oak a young sheep farmer with the savings of his frugal life, who is intent on buying his farm out right and on becoming the master of his own destiny , he is described as a faithful and good man , hard working and moral and true to his word, in other words he’s a bit of a catch in them there parts . Bathsheba and Gabriel grow to like each other becoming friends . However when Gabriel makes her an offer of marriage she declines since she values her independence over her feelings for  Farmer Oak. A few days later she leaves for the village of Weatherbury , some miles away . The next time they meet their circumstances have changed drastically , Oak has lost all of his sheep due to an inexperienced sheep dog , young George, who drives the flock over the cliff one spring night . He manages to pay what he owes to his lenders and moves on to find work and rebuild himself elsewhere . Bathsheba on the other hand is now a landowner, having inherited her uncle’s farm she is now the Mistress of a small estate .

To honor Farmer Oak, the drink below is a combination of the Brits love of tea for a shock, Sheep milk ( for the obvious ) and spirit, I mean after losing two hundred sheep a stiff drink would be most necessary .

The Madness of Young George

I love tea in cocktails but to get a full flavor from black tea you have to do a super intense infusion which means that the tannins become way too strong and bitter and take over the rest of the drink. To balance the tannins out I use Dave Arnold’s method of milk washing the tea ( appropriate since Brits drink their tea with milk) the casein in the milk latches onto the tannins and strips them from the spirit leaving only the aromatic flavor of the tea, its similar to doing an egg wash where the proteins soften both the effect of the spirit and the tea . Clarifying spirits and cocktails are not a new thing they’ve been around since the 1800’s but it takes a genius like Chef Arnold to make them relevant again.

The drink is delicious just by itself over rocks with a lemon twist, for that added barnyard flavor I finished it with a toasted hay goat milk foam

Milk washed Earl Grey tea vodka

1 750ml bottle vodka
4 earl grey tea bags
1/2 cup of sheep or goat milk ( goat milk gets the spirit more clear than cow milk)
1/2 oz lemon juice

Steep the tea in the vodka for a good 12 hours if not using your trusty immersion circulator, 1 hour if you are using . Strain tea and set aside making sure its totally cooled down before you mix with milk.

In a clear  lidded container pour in the milk, slowly add the tea infused vodka stirring it in, then gradually add drops of the lemon juice stirring lightly until the milk solids begin to separate . Allow to rest for at least 4-5 hours in the fridge before straining off the curds.  The result should be a totally clear pale yellow liquid.

Toasted hay goat milk foam

8 oz goat or sheep milk
2 hay scented egg whites
1/2 oz honey syrup

turn your oven onto 350 degrees , line a small sheet tray with parchment paper and layer on top fresh green hay ( I used alfalfa)  which you can get from your pet store. The hay should be evenly spread on sheet tray so that it all gets toasted .

Once hay has gotten a nice deep yellow color and has a rich aroma, remove and put into a plastic container , nestle 2-3 eggs in their shells in the hay and store in the fridge overnight  ( you could be doing this whilst the tea is being milk washed )

when ready to make the foam add everything to your ISI chamber and charge with two No2 cartridges , the drink needs to be served straight away so the foam stays light and airy .

For the drink

2 oz  milk washed tea vodka
1 oz white verjus
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz drambuie
1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 honey to hot water)
barspoon benedictine
2 dashes orange bitters
finish off with an optional toasted hay goat milk foam

 

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything but the foam and lemon twist to your mixing glass and stir for 10 seconds with 6 ice cubes , strain into your vessel of choice either ice filled or as I chose in a mini milk bottle without ice , top with a lemon twist and your optional milk foam.

SPRING

Farmer Oak finds himself heading to a hiring fair , on his way there he happens upon a dangerous fire on a farm and leads the farm workers in putting the fire out, dousing himself with water he climbs upon the burning roofs and hacks the fire to death. When the veiled owner comes to thank him he asks if she needs a shepherd, though somewhat uncomfortable she agrees and so they reunite with her having the upper hand which is exactly where she likes to be .

Meanwhile the fair Miss Everdene has attracted another suitor, a middle aged gentlemen farmer Mr.Boldwood who whilst considered an extremely eligible bachelor by the locals is lonely and repressed, not exactly a ball of fun but fully loaded. He becomes a man obssessed . Bathsheba attracts his attention somewhat unwittingly after she sees him at market and he does not give her the customary glance that all men bestow upon her, she sends him as a joke a Valentines card that reads “Marry Me” , pretty wicked of her really! Boldwood not realizing the card was a joke turns into a man possessed and he eventually proposes marriage to her too, she tinkers with the idea after all his fortune would more than assure her safety and comfort for the rest of her life , so she postpones giving him a firm answer so as not to let him down completely , Gabriel on learning of her actions rebukes her for being so thoughtless and for that she fires him.

Ambrose Heath suggests rhubarb as a fruit option at this time of year and its blushing pink color is perfect for the Valentines time of year, I attempted to make a Victorianesque V-day card in the tableau below . You may wonder why three cups, well one for each of B’s suitors and once for the lady herself .

Kiss Me You (Rhubarb) Fool

Rhubarb is  a vegetable thats available from spring to early summer around the time of Valentines day , its beautiful pink hue and vegetal aroma pairs beautifully with strawberries the chosen fruit of this holiday for lovers . A fool is a dessert that has fruit folded into whipped cream and sometimes egg whites . My liquid version is made using rhubarb consommé .

Rhubarb consomme

1000 grams diced rhubarb
100 grams water
5oo grams cane sugar
1 vanilla bean ( optional ) seeded and popped into bowl

you will need either a  warm water bath and immersion circulator or a bain marie consisting of a bowl and a saucepan filled to half with water ( so that it does not touch the bottom of the bowl when placed on top)

add everything to either a ziplock bag or  large stainless steel bowl, if adding to a bag this will get placed into a warm water bath with your immersion circulator set at 55 degrees C. If using a bain marie, wrap the entire bowl securely with plastic wrap and place on top of simmering water, if using the bain marie allow to steam for at least two hours, if using the sous vide method you should have adequate consomme after an hour.

For the drink 

1  oz Rhubarb consomme
1 1/2 oz bourbon
3/4 oz aperol
3/4 oz lemon
1 drop rosewater
1 dash of egg white
top off with Timmerman’s strawberry lambic and  a pinch of pink peppercorn

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaking tin with 5 ice cubes and shakes for 5 seconds, strain into either chilled coupe glasses or chilled punch glasses ,top off with lambic ale and peppercorns .

LATE SUMMER / FALL HARVEST

Farmer Oak leaves the next day, only has fate would have it Bathsheba winds up needing him back to save her own sheep, sheepses are not the smartest of creatures you put something green that smells fresh and delicious  in front of them and well they’ll eat it, except instead of grass they eat young green clover which causes them to bloat up with gas and if left can blow up their intestines , as you can imagine its not something that can be left to subside by itself and wouldn’t you know it the only man in the county that can fix these poor beasts has just up and left . Bathsheba beside herself calls for one of the farm workers to go track Oak down and bring him back to relieve the sheep, only problem with this plan is that Oak being a proud sort refuses to come back unless the Lady herself apologizes and asks him back herself . So off she rides gathering up her pride and begs him to return ,which he does and saves the day and the sheep. Bathsheba starts to realize that she cannot do without Gabriel and he is falling ever harder for her.

Around this point a dashing young Sergeant Francis Troy returns to Weatherbury his native home and bumps into Bathsheba one night as she’s out for a walk (  a little back ground, Troy was recently jilted  mistakenly  at the alter by his sweetheart Fanny Robbin who shows up to the wrong church, Troy humiliated by these events calls off the wedding) we first think he’s a sensitive fellow being so heartbroken by Fanny’s mistake , or at least I did. But soon Troy shows his true nature to be controlling, egotistical and abusive , but I’m jumping ahead to far….Troy bumps into B and is bewitched by her beauty, she initially dislikes him but agrees to meet him in the hollow the next day and is so excited by his swordsman ship that she allows him to steal one big juicy kiss before he marches off into the woods. They next meet when he shows up at Harvest trying to show Bathsheba that he’s her kind of man, a wheat chopping, haystack making and sheep wrangling heartthrob .

John Barleycorn Must Die

The Ploughman’s lunch is a simple packed lunch that mostly consists of apple, cheese bread and pickle, maybe a beer, its served in pubs across the UK but has its roots as the humble farm workers snack to tide them over until dinner time . Instead of beer I thought perhaps a nice refreshing veggie based low ABV drink would be just the trick .  If you want to make enough for two  and bottle it for your next  roll in the hay double up the amounts, just make sure its served over ice or well chilled.

For the drink 

1 oz Vida Mezcal
1 oz celery and romaine lettuce juice
1 oz floc de gascogne  ( a wine based aperitif)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3 dashes of celery bitters ( Miracle Mile is by far the best on the market)

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake for 5 seconds with 5 ice cubes and strain into either a chilled ice filled glass or bottle and cap for transporting , serve with sliced apples and a hunk of cheese for eh full experience .

WINTER SOLSTICE

Gabriel noticing her interest in Troy tries to dissuade her from pursuing him but like most proud and stubborn young ladies the more she hears she shouldn’t the more she’ll go in the opposite direction to defy her critics. Troy and Bathsheba elope  and marry igniting anger in Boldwood and disappointment in Oak. Upon their return to the farm Bathsheba begins to realize her new husband is not what she first thought him to be , het gets lazier having no interest in the farm, starts to gamble and drink her money away . A chance encounter  that he has with the innocent  Fanny Robin in the village where she informs him that she’s carrying his child makes Troy despise his wife even more . He arranges with Fanny that she must go find a bed for the night in the work house and he will find money and come and fetch her the next day. The next morning he demands money from his wife who denies him, he storms out and starts walking to the work house on his way passing a horse and cart carrying a coffin, not until he returns home does he learn that its Fanny an his baby in that coffin. He storms out of the house in a rage of grief denouncing his love for Bathsheba , his solution for this pain is to throw himself into the English channel to drown.

A year passes with Troy gone and Boldwood starts to court Bathsheba again,she tells him she will only wed after six years have gone since Troy’s passing, its around Christmas time so Boldwood decides to throw a holiday party for the villagers mainly to show to Miss Everdene what kind of life style lies ahead for her once she marries him. Only Troy is not dead, having been reduced by a fishing boat he learns that Boldwood is once again pursuing his wife and goes back to claim her, he tries to force Bathsheba to return with him and she struggles away, Boldwood seeing her in distress picks up his shot gun and shoots Troy dead. Boldwood is arrested and tried for murder however he does not receive the death sentence since his crime was inspired by passion. Bathsheba distraught with theses events  buries Frank with Fanny and their child  so they may at last lay together once again.

Shot Through the Heart

The classic ” corpse reviver” cocktail was a tongue in cheek name for a morning after or hair of the dog remedy for someone that had enjoyed a little too much of the grog the night before . My version here is for young Frank who comes back from the dead only to be shot and killed , its a good drink to have to shock your system back up and also whilst waiting for an unexpected firing squad .

For the drink

1 1/2 oz of Cognac ( I used Parks)
1/2 oz green chartreuse
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes angostura bitters
the oils from an orange twist

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Stir for 10 seconds with 6 ice cubes and strain into a chilled cordial or coupe glass, spritz the orange oils over the top of the drink and discard peel, good for sipping , equally good as a quick shot before you know, you get shot.

SUMMER

With both Troy and Boldwood out of the picture , Bathsheba is left with her true love Gabriel who has stood by her side through the good and bad . One summer morning he announces to her that he must leave to set sail for America  to search for his fortune there and to avoid the gossip that he means to marry her himself , she tells him that its absurd that they should marry, when he repeats it she says only that it is too short a time since Troy has passed. Filled with hope Gabriel asks here again to be his wife only this time she accepts , they wed quietly and live happily ever after.

Midsummer Madness

Another traditional summer favorite in the UK is the Pimms Cup, I decided to make my own version inspired by a limited release that Pimms made that is flavored with sweet summer strawberries . For the long awaited wedding celebration I thought a touch of bubbles would be nice for the happy couple’s day.

For the Pimms

2 cups sweet vermouth
1 1/2 cups Cap Rock gin
1 teaspoon bitter orange peel ( you can buy this from your local brew shop)
1/2 cup manzanilla sherry for a nutty finish
Peel of one orange
1 pint seascape strawberries cut in half

In a screw top jar add all of your ingredients and allow to steep in the fridge for 2-3 days to get full extraction from the strawberries ,when ready strain and bottle. Store in the fridge until ready to use

For the drink 

3 oz strawberry Pimms
1 oz lemon
1 oz simple 1:1 ratio simple syrup
1 dash celery bitters
mint leaves and sprigs
cucumber  and strawberry slices ( mine were cut using a small cookie cutter)
sparkling rose to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add all liquid ingredients except for rose to shaker and shake with 5 ice cubes for 5 seconds . Stain into an ice filled glass, arrange strawberry and cute slices and top with rose, finish off with a nice fragrant mint sprig, summer perfection in a glass!

Issue No.035 “Tails from the Bookworm” Auntie Mame (an irreverent escapade)

 

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there was ever a motto that inspired my pre-teen and teen ardor to live ,live live and get up to no good it would be a line from Mame Dennis ” Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death !” Miss Dennis viewed life through a kaleidoscope of mildly controlled chaos, she encouraged  the unexpected to happen and embraced eccentricity. I was once told that I am an alien looking for my people, well Mame Dennis is my kind of people , from early on   I could not wrap my head around life in a safe little box, if there was a rule to break  I wanted to smash it, if there was a uniform to wear I would bastardize it beyond recognition  , if there was a statement to be made I wanted to scream it ,  from the minute I popped out of the womb ( and most likely before ) I needed to push the boundaries  , to challenge  my family and  the world in general and Mame Dennis, my screen  idol,  made me do it….well , you know almost. As a kid in school I was sent home regularly for not adhering to dress codes , for not being the proper little miss , I would show up channeling  a cross between Janis Joplin  and Dr.Who or I would skip classes altogether and go to an anti-fox hunting rally. In college I embraced androgyny choosing super short hair and a masculine Oxfam inspired wardrobe whilst smoking cigarettes from  a foot long holder. I had affectations galore but  I was a kid that knew my own mind and refused to be budged regardless of the consequences.

Nothing much has changed, though now I’m a big girl and calmed down a great deal, not all of the themes in Auntie Mame resonate as much with me anymore, Mame Dennis was a strong who am sure would have been capable to get back on her feet after the stock market crash of the twenties without a man to prop her up, but the rest of the book ( and the movie) is solid gold , irreverent  inspiration , my first taste of an independent , free spirited dame . Back in the twenties were Mame any younger she would have been a flapper, flaunting her disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior, drinking excessively and touting social and sexual norms.

33 Beekman Place
The story begins in the book with Mame’s brother dropping dead of a heart attack and leaving his only son Patrick in her care , he arrives  at Beekman Place with his nanny  Norah Muldoon on a night when Mame is holding one of her many “affairs” , her apartment would change decor depending on the theme of the party all of which were lubricated by bootleg gin and bucket loads of caviar ( which she pronounced “cav-YAAAR) or fishberry jam as she calls it to help Patrick better understand what it is. On the night of Patrick’s arrival the soiree theme is inspired by the Far East, Chinese dragons and buddhas abound with sukiyaki and raw fish tails along with women dressed as men, a monkey wearing a turban and a pianist playing upside down. Since its also a time of prohibition I figured my first drink would be disguised as a box of Chinese take-out. The drink itself is flavored by toasted brown rice orgeat and Chinese five spice

#59

Inspired by a classic Mai Tai this drink takes its flavor cues from Cantonese roasted duck that uses five spice as its dominant accent. The orgeat is made using toasted brown rice that is then ground up in simple syrup and left to release its milk ( recipe below)

Brown Rice Orgeat
2 cups organic brown rice
2 cups rice milk
2 cups cane sugar
1/2 oz orange flower water
1 oz unflavored vodka

*toast the brown rice in a skillet over a medium flame until its medium brown and smelling nutty.
*add the brown rice to a large container along with sugar and rice milk, blend on high with an immersion   blender so the rice resembles coarse grains
*dump everything into  a ziplock bag and sous vide for 1 1/2 hours at 55 degrees C, alternatively you can put it in a screw top jar and let it sit for 24 hours in the fridge, I am impatient so the sous vide is my cure for this downfall.
*strain when finished and add the orange flower water and vodka to perfume and help stabilize . store in the fridge till needed

Chinese 5 spice rum
1/2 cup Chinese fixe spice powder( might sound like a lot but you want to taste the 5 spice once cocktail mixed)
1 750ml bottle of anejo rum such as zacapa or appleton estate

again I sous vide this infusion  as above but it works just as well in a screw top jar that you agitate every so often, steep for about 24 hours.

For the drink
(per 16 oz box)
2 oz five spice rum
1 oz brown rice orgeat
1 oz lime juice
1 oz pierre ferrand orange curacao
1/2 oz pernod absinthe

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Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes, shake for 5 seconds strain into a pellet ice filled take-out box of your choice ( I like the pagoda decorated 16 oz version)
garnish with a pickled kumquat, a pinch of 5 spice powder and a mint or basil sprig, add straw for easy consumption

Knowledge is Power ( or bully for Bixby)
Patrick settles into his new routine with Mame, a couple of weeks go by and the trustee that his late father has appointed, Dwight Babcock of the Knickerbocker Bank, sends a telegram that he’s coming to visit to discuss Patrick’s schooling, its the morning after another night before where Mame’s bestie , the honorable Vera Charles is sleeping off her gin fix in the Marie Antoinette room. Mame panics, she can’t be seen to have Patrick living in a house of  ill repute as it were so she sends him down stairs to greet the trustee whilst she wrestles with her halo and reviving Vera. Whilst waiting for Miss Dennis to appear Patrick prepares a Martini for  Babcock, he accepts the drink but then questions Mame on how such a youngster knows drink mixing, she responds with “knowledge is power” ! Which reminds Babcock why he’s there , he suggests Bixby school for Patrick where he’ll turn into a bully little chap,  though Mame has decided on a progressive school in New York’s Greenwich Village run by the dashing and free spirited Acacius Paige, where the kids pretend to be fishes and swim on the floor naked together to learn about conception, nothing in the least wrong with that! Mame feigns agreement with Babcock and shoos him away .

The Shiso-tini
Since Patrick is swimming with the fishies in this scene I thought perhaps a Martini accompanied by some fishberry jam , what goes better with fish than shiso and cucumber , the drink is served in a traditional coupe modeled after the breasts of  Marie-Antoinette herself .

For the drink
1 oz of Cap rock gin ( aromas of cucumber and rosewater)
1  oz shiso infused dolin blanc vermouth ( I sous vide this to get maximum flavor extraction)
1 oz  cucumber junmai sake  ( slice cucumbers and allow to steep in the sake for a day or so)
4 slices of english cucumber
1 drop rosewater

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*muddle the cucumber gently into the gin, you want to release the favor without muddying the gin too much
*add the vermouth and rosewater , stir for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with cucumber slices.

Meditation and the Jackson-Pickett-Burnsides
Babcock soon figures out that Mame is pulling the wool over his eyes, he demands that Patrick gets sent to his alma mater  the restricted and exclusive St.Boniface, this also happens to be the same day as the great crash of 1929 where fortunes, including Mame’s are wiped out. Miss Dennis obviously devastated starts to brainstorm on jobs she can do, she is consoled by that first lady of the theater Vera Charles, who asks her to join her on the stage in a dramatic production, needless to say the gig does not work out and Mame moves onto her next performance as a switchboard operator which again ends in comedic disaster, lastly she signs up as a Macy’s store assistant where she meets her future late husband Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside of the Georgia Pickett Burnsides y’all hear. Her Macy’s career may be short lived but a love blossoms fast and hard between the two and soon Mame is being whisked off to Beau’s plantation to meet his mama and the extended family.  In order to show Beau she’s an all round gal,  Mame  agrees to go on a fox hunt and is saddled with a wild horse called Meditation a jealous neighbor’s attempt to de-seat Mame from the the hunt and Beau’s heart , needless to say our heroine lives to tell another day , saves the fox and bags the man.

When I think of Georgia of course I think of peaches, since Mame is hard up for cash I thought perhaps I would use canned peaches gussied up to make a thrifty Peach Bellini style drink , using of course only the finest Crystal to serve it in, the dichotomy in this drink of white trash ( is that horrible I think canned peaches are white trash?) and high class are very satisfying to my sensibilities .

The Fox & The Hound

2-3 canned peach slices
3/4 oz peach liqueur such as gaffed peach de vigne
3/4 oz domaine de canton ginger liqueur
3/4  oz white verjus
3 dashes peach bitters
3-4 oz of bubbles, your choice cheap and cheerful or higher priced .
1 spritz of Aftelier’s galangal essence ( to finish drink)

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In the bottom of your glass place the peach slices, crush gently so they break up slightly . Build the remaining ingredients on top and finish with the bubbles, give a couple of stirs with a bar spoon and spritz over the galangal spray, it will fill the nose with a  lovely spiced aroma as the drink is sipped, you can also provide long spoons to fish out the drunken peach slices too.

The Parched Garden
One would think the next chapter would be about how they all lived happily ever after, they did indeed live happily but the ever after only lasted about eight or nine years, Mame and Beau travelled extensively for their honeymoon , in fact eight or nine years and on one of their excursions up the Matterhorn Beau took a step too far back whilst trying to focus his camera and ended, well you know the rest. Mame spends the next few months in mourning when Patrick ( now he’s all grown up and graduating college) suggests  she come back home and write her memoirs. He enlists one Brian O’Banion to help in this endeavor , he charms Mame and presents her with a book of his “pomes” called “The Parched Garden” , along with her secretary Agnes Gooch who follows her every word Mame recounts her life adventures , O’Banion it turns out is a bit of a freeloading scoundrel, whilst the ladies work, he lords it up eating and drinking at his leisure and contributes barely a lick of work, his ardor for Mame growing with every moment, Agnes on the other hand develops a crush on O’Banion  . One evening Mame is invited to a a meeting with Warner Bros. to discuss buying the rights to her book for a film, only thing is Patrick and his girl Gloria are visiting too so she gussies up Missie Gooch to go to the meeting with Brian instead. Agnes returns the following morning looking the worst for wear and not remembering a thing from the night before , O’Banion is nowhere to be found , when Ito the butler asks her what happened all she can say is “I lived!” Of course we later learn Mr.O’Banion had his way with her.

In honor of that cad O’Banion I thought I would recreate a wood sorrel sour I came up with a couple of years ago, wood sorrel looks almost exactly like clover but is tart with yellow flowers , great in salads and on raw fish but also when blended into a liquid creates a great sour layer to drinks . I acquired some from a hike last year and now its taking over my not so parched garden.

O’Banion’s Obligation

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey
3/4 oz elderflower liqueur
3/4 oz wood sorrel cocchi americano ( 1 cup of wood sorrel leaves blended into 1 bottle of cocchi americano)
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz meyer lemon juice
2 drops lime bitters
1 oz aguafaba ( chickpea water, used instead  of egg whites )

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add everything to you shaker and whip shake for 5 seconds with 1 small ice cube, this will aerate your aguafaba , add 4 more ice cubes and shake hard for a further 5-6 seconds , strain into a vessel of choice , a coupe or goblet works best, garnish with a single wood sorrel leaf or a garland depending on your desire for dramatic effect.

Upson Downs
Lets back up a bit , so you remember Patrick was introducing his girl Gloria to Mame? Well the next day Mame is invited to visit her parents in Connecticut , Mame is not altogether impressed with Gloria but she visits with the parents for Patrick’s sake , whilst at their estate she learns just how wrong Gloria and her family are for her nephew, snobs and racists to boot . Gloria’s father tries to show off his prowess in the drink mixing department and makes her his signature drink the Upson Daiquiri, a trick he learned from a Cuban using honey instead of sugar. You realize thats probably all he’s put in the drink since Mame can hardly drink it, but its a good starting point so the drink that follows is I hope a slightly more drinkable version.

The Upson Daiquiri
The classic Daiquiri Naturale  is three ingredients , rum, sweetener and lime juice , its shaken and served up and its delicious ! Not wanting to stray too far off the formula I added a couple of things to make it my own.

2oz chai green tea infused white rum ( cruzan is the one I use most often)
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz yuzu juice
3/4 oz manuka honey syrup
2 dashes lime bitters
1 drop vanilla
pinch of smoked salt
bee pollen to garnish

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Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes, shake hard  for 6 seconds , strain up into a coupe glass and finish with a pinch of bee pollen

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Mame horrified by her experience at the Upson’s starts working on a plan to turn Gloria off of Patrick, she decides to plan a get together at Beekman Place and make it as eccentric an experience as possible . She enlists the help of her new secretary Pegeen Ryan, a smart and savvy young lady. Beekman gets decorated in the style of Danish Modern complete with interactive furnishings and a mobile that could also double as a giant catcher of dreams.  The Upsons arrive with Gloria in tow expecting a safe family get together ,  Mame terrorizes them with plates of pickled rattlesnake and chalices of burning booze that she calls “The Flaming Mame” , to top it off they get stuck on the elevated furniture which for everyone but the Upsons turns into a hoot. Needless to say both Gloria and her folks storm off into the night never to be seen again, leaving Patrick in the every capable hands of Miss Pigeen Ryan.

The Flaming Mame
Who knows what Mame Dennis put into her concoction but it reminded me of a tiki drink called the Scorpion Bowl that has a small amount  of absinthe ignited on the top, super tasty, pretty boozy and great party drink. This version is an individual serving but if you found a bowl large enough multiply all ingredients by four for a community bowl.

In advance prepare your ice balls, I used  a cube mold then popped them into the cocktail kingdom ice ball maker that magically reshapes a cube into a ball, whoever said you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole be damned!

for the ice cube

1/2 cup filtered water
1 oz grapefruit juice
1/4 oz cynar or campari
freeze overnight then when ready pop them out of the mold, don’t add too much juice or sugar or it wont freeze.

For the Drink

1 oz anejo rum
1/2 oz mezcal
1/2 oz cynar
3/4 oz cinnamon infused orgeat ( cinnamon powder allowed to steep in almond syrup)
1 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz lime juice

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To present the drink you can get as creative or as simple as you wish, I hollowed out grapefruit halves and place them in large stainless martini  glasses, then surrounded the grapefruit shell with kafir lime leaves to add a touch of a tropical element . The Iceball then went inside the shell

to make the drink add everything to your shaker and shake hard with 4 ice cubes for 6 seconds , strain into your grapefruit shells and garnish with  a lime half that has been doused with absinthe , the lime half is skewered so it will sit on the top without rolling away, when ready to serve light the absinthe.

and finally they all lived happily ever after!

Cheers and Cin Cin!

Issue No.034 “Tales from the Bookworm” A Christmas Carol

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the night before Christmas and all round the house, not a soul was stirring, not even a mouse, perhaps he had partaken in  a few sips too many of spiced wine left out for Santa?

The Holidays are always a time of melancholy for me as am sure a number of people, I’m far away from my family with airline tickets costing way too much to travel and so I have a tendency to hide in my den until all the smiles and celebrations that I’m not a part of disappear. To top it off this year I managed to break my wrist a couple of weeks ago which has brought me its own special kind of  magic ,  I’m a bit of a curmudgeon as my dear friend Kate likes to call me  though on the inside as gooey as my spirit animal brie en croute .  Since I know am not alone with this seasonal malady I thought I would focus on the most famous grump Ebenezer himself brought to life by Charles Dickens that Victorian foodie extraordinaire who fills his stories with libatious references. What? you thought being a foodie was some hipster invention that came about with the birth of the iPhone? Nay my friends methinks if you look back food and drink has been our inspiration for centuries, or at least for those that could afford it ! Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the season in literature but he was the first to superimpose  his ideal of  a humanitarian vision on the public, he himself started life in impoverished circumstances after his father was imprisoned and he was forced to sell everything he owned to survive, in many of his stories we see him highlighting the plight of the poor.

Since I am currently  limited in my mobility ( well typing and mixing drinks one handed)  I thought I would keep this issue short and sweet basing each drink on the ghosts that visit dear Mr. Scrooge, the ghosts of  Christmas past, present and of future and  taking my cue from Dickens himself who was a lover of spiced wine,  each drink has as its base flavored wine.

Marley is dead….is how we first meet Ebenezer, his business partner Jacob Marley has died on Christmas eve and it is supposed that because of this his disdain for the holiday continues to grow over the years, he feels he needs to be somber in memory in stark contrast to the rest of the population who can only hope for joy at that time of year. In the first stave of the book Scrooge is described as a whining, covetous, miserable grasping old sinner who on Christmas eve rudely turns down two gents looking for a donation for the poor, throws his nephew Fred  out of his office for suggesting he join him for Christmas dinner and berates his overworked and underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit for wanting to spend time with his family for the holiday, the only gift he gives  is  of a paid day off to Cratchit, likening it to having his pocket picked.

That night as Scrooge sits at home he is visited by his ex partner Marley’s ghost who enters the room weighed down by masses of chains which he explains he spent his lifetime accumulating , inch by inch, yard by yard. He warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts on consecutive evenings and tells him to take care and listen to what they have to say or be doomed to carry chains like him in his afterlife , he leaves Scrooge cowering restlessly under his bed covers. At the stroke of 1am the first ghost appears like a bobbing candle flickering in the breeze . The spirit whisks Ebenezer on a journey back to his innocent and hopeful youth where he sees his old school, his sister and his friends , its here we see the first weakening of the armor Scrooge has built around himself .

A drink of the the past, The Negus
The Negus is a hot port base punch created in the 1700’S and  named after its inventor Francis Negus a British courtier and master of the hounds who no doubt needed something other than a wanton young ( or man for that matter) to keep him toasty at night .The drink is a combination of port, sugar, spices and hot water and is the inspiration behind the Smoking Bishop mentioned by Dickens in a Christmas Carol, called so because of the bishop’s miter shaped vessel it was served from and for the steam rising from it. My own version is a blasphemous one since it can be served hot or chilled ( I mean I live in the land of eternal sunshine) and is scented with the heady aroma of frankincense .

The Bishop’s Wife (MK2)

Per drink you will need
1 1/2 oz of  gingerbread spice infused ruby port
3/4 oz cherry heering
3/4 oz benedictine
1 oz  strong brewed chai tea
1 oz red verjus
2 dashes orange bitters
1 teaspoon demerara  sugar
2 turns of cracked black pepper
( for a punch bowl multiply everything by 10)

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add everything to your pan and heat through until steam starts to rise on the surface . Put aside and prepare your cup/s set on fire one small piece of frankincense resin and place on a heat proof surface , cover it with your upturned glass , the smoke will fill the glass . When ready to serve ladle the warmed wine mix into the glass and sip immediately .

Life in the moment….Scrooge gets deposited back into his bedroom, exhausted from his  travels he is immediately forced into another scene by the ghost of Christmas present, a Bacchanalian looking man with a full beard and green robe wearing a wreath around his curly hair, he also wears a swordless scabbard as a representation of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, he is himself a representation of one day lasting only 24 hours and dying at the stroke  of midnight. He shows Scrooge into the living rooms and parlors of his nephew Fred and of Bob Cratchit, the former shows pity for his uncle whilst the latter raises his glass in toast of his employer as his wife scoffs at the little he provides the family in wages. Its in this part of the story that we meet Cratchit’s youngest son Tiny Tim who is sick and crippled and we learn if the Scrooge’s shadows continue to grow unaltered he will most likely not survive. Scrooge is horrified to learn how he is perceived and how his actions effect those around him.

 The Nogettone or Pan-e-Nog
A drink that is meant to be consumed in the moment for its freshness and air dissipate quite rapidly is egg nog or an egg flip as its called in the UK. A combination of rich and fatty yolks , sweet cream, spiced liquor and sugar made fluffy and light by whisking egg whites and serving them almost like isle flotants on the surface of the drink. This one takes a bit of time to prepare but the results of your patience are most gratifying and all worthy.

You will need:
4 eggs, yolks and whites  separated
1 cup + 1 tablespoon  cane sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup panettone infused madeira ( Italian spiced bread, which you can drop into a ziplock bag with a bottle of madeira and either sous vide using the handy dandy immersion circulator for home use from Polyscience or ghetto sous vide using ziplock bags and a  hot water bath)
1/2 cup of good brandy
nutmeg and candied peel  to garnish

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In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and 1 cup sugar until frothy and the yolk turn a pale yellow. Add the milk and cream and stir, lastly add your spirits and stir again. Set aside and whisk egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar util whites form soft shiny peaks . Assemble immediately by pouring in egg nog into glass and topping with a spoon of whisked whites, finish with nutmeg and a slice of candied peel.

Fear the Reaper….at the stroke of midnight the ghost of Christmas present withers and dies leaving Ebenezer to face the ghost of Christmas future as it approaches like a mist on the ground, it rises to from the shadowy shape of the reaper with its claw like fingers pointing Scrooge forward . The ghost shows him Christmas exactly one year on, starting with a dead man lying in his bed swathed in sheets, his belongings having been stolen Scrooge begs not to know who the man is ,  instead asks to be shown any emotion associated with this man’s death, he hopes to see someone sad but instead is shown a young couple who are delighted they no longer have to pay their creditor and a sad Crachit family as they mourn the loss of their youngest son Tim who they could not afford to heal. The Ghost then pushes Ebenezer to a graveyard where he sees his own unkept gravestone, sobbing he pledges to the ghost he will change his ways .

What would Abe do?
Looking toward how we might be drinking spiced wines in the future I was reminded during research of that genius  Abe Schoener, ex philosophy professor who turned his hand to wine making and who has turned wine making on its head bottling oxygenated wines on purpose and a force carbonated bubbly called the “Blowout” made by charging the wine with Co2 rather than by creating yeast made bubbles. He’s a man way ahead of his time when it come to anything grape related and so thinking about this drink I wondered what would Abe do to create a wine drink of the future ? The result was a force carbonated spiced wine that is chilled using  cryo berries that have been rapidly infused with allspice liqueur then frozen with nitrogen  ( ok so I don’t expect you to have  tank of N2o at home so a freezer will more than do the trick) Without further waffling…

The Scholium Fizz

per drink you will need:
3 oz of shiraz
3/4 oz st.elizabeth allspice dram
3/4 oz pierre ferrand dry curacao
3/4 oz ransom sweet vermouth
3 dashes orange bitters
1 dash cardamom bitters

for the  cryo berries :
1 cup of firm berries like cranberries with their ends cut off ( so liquid can enter easily)
1/2 cup either kings ginger liqueur or more allspice dram
either an ISI gun with a couple of N2o cartridges or Polyscience’s  nifty home vacuum sealer
a small tank of Nitrogen for you adventurers or access to  a blast chiller or freezer

place the berries in your vacuum bag plus your liqueur , seal via the vacuum sealer interrupting cycle so you don’t end up with liquid everywhere , or place bag into your ISI gun chamber, screw on lid and charge with two N2o cartridges. Allow berries to sit in bag and get extra drunk, then pop bag open and place onto a metal tray and pop into freezer, or if Nitro freezing ad berries to ladle and dip ladle a couple of times into gas canister until all berries have been zapped with the gas. Needless to say these must be used immediately or placed back into freezer for future use.

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For the drink:
add everything together into a sealable container and chill for a couple of hours, Co2 attaches to cold liquid way better than room temp liquid. Pour the wine blend into either an ISI chamber, a highly illegal twist and sparkle , a sodastream mix ( I think only available so far in Europe ) or if you have a Co2 tank and soda bottle rig into the soda bottle. Wherever you put it charge with Co2 now, allow gas to permeate liquid by shaking it slightly .

To assemble add your cryo berries to glass and unleash your bubble goodness into glass . Spritz for an extra aroma with Aftelier’s Galangal spray, its quite lovely!

Thank fully Ebenezer makes a complete turnaround , he increases Cratchit’s pay, he shows up to Fred’s for Christmas dinner and he bequeaths an undisclosed sum to the poor. Honestly ,  I dare you to read this book and not need a hanky to mop up your eyes!

Lastly in the words of Tiny Tim,  God Bless us,  everyone ! If this story reminds us of anything it should be to be safe and merry and spend time with your loves whilst you still have them!

Cheers!!!

 

Issue No.033 “Tails from the Bookworm” Pygmalion

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nce again I am veering off the black and white “librarious” path to gather inspiration for this issue from Shaw’s   play Pygmalion , or rather from the Hollywood rendition “My Fair Lady”. As a youngster growing up in England , I was obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, she was the epitome of chic, cool and fabulousness, the costumes she wore were simply divine darling and inspired me to pursue a career in Fashion, not until I started working in the industry did I realize how un-glamorous  of an industry I was in. I guess I was more interested in the fantasy of the beautiful dresses , the charmed life of having it all. Of course as an adult you realize its all cods    ( short for codswallop) and its more likely you’ll get a clip round the earhole than diamond clip on your ear. In England there is a very defined class system and  its extremely rare ( like winning the lottery rare)  to mix with  folks from different classes, at least in a social environment, the snobbery of the upper class  make it  hard for someone without back ground and societal breeding to get up on the ladder of life ,  which is what drew me , this working class  lassie to New York many moons ago where you had a feeling back then that anything was possible regardless of where you came from and how much moolah you had in your pocket.

Eliza the fair lady in this story has a similar discovery, she yearns to be a lady in a flower shop but as the daughter of a cockney dustman from the lower classes she can get no further than being a poor , grubby street seller. Everything  about her from her hair to her hat to her manner and speech is wrong  for the life she dreams of, and its her speech and some of the Cockney slangs that she uses that both brings her to the attention of  the man that will change her life and inspired me for the following libations. The subtitle for Pygmalion is a romance in five acts so here one  drink for each act.

Act I, Wouldn’t it be loverly

We first meet miss Eliza on a rainy night in Covent Garden, a young man bumps her as he searches for a taxi, she cautions him to mind where he’s going and catches the attention of a phonetics scholar who claims he can tell where she is from just by her dialect, he then boasts  that in six months he can pass Eliza off as a duchess at the embassy ball which sets miss Eliza off to thinking. In cockney rhyming slang apples and pears translates to  stairs and symbolize  Eliza’s journey up those steps to a new life.

Apples & Pears

1 1/2 oz calvados
1/2 oz rothman and winter pear liqueur
1/2 oz caramel syrup ( you can cheat and use torroni but theres nothing like fresh caramel)
1/16 oz apple cider vinegar
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/16 oz smoked salt solution (10:1 water to smoked salt)
1 dash celery bitters
1 oz egg white
finish off with a spritz of Aftelier’s apple spray

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Add everything to the  shaker with one ice cube for your semi dry shake, the ice cube will chill the shaker down enough so that it won’t pop open when you aerate the egg white, shake for 10 seconds. Add 4 more ice cubes and shake for a further 8 seconds. Strain into your chosen vessel, I like the idea of using an apple shaped stemless glass, allow the drink to settle then top with an apple leaf and a spritz of apple spray.

Act II , I’m a good girl I am 

The next day Eliza decides to track down Professor Higgins ( the phonetics chap) and  his buddy Pickering who are  just finishing a morning of vocal studies at Higgins pad . She’s shown into their study  and requests that Higgins teaches her how to speak English like a lady, she plans to pay him of course. Pickering remembers the wager from the night before and suggests the prof takes on the girl as a project , Eliza gets seduced by a plate of chocolates into staying with Higgins for six months for the purpose of turning her into a Duchess, they agree after six months she’ll be free to go back to her old life if she chooses, she’s then dragged off for the first bath of her life.  After such a taxing morning the gents are in need of a distraction to quench their thirsts.  A classic British  refreshment  is either a pimms cup or a shandy depending on which class you hail from, here I did the unthinkable and mixed classes for a pimms and a shandy, on the hit and miss stand for on the piss, which further translates to drinking beer with the garden gates, your mates, you know , the lads

On the Hit & Miss

1 1/2 oz Pimms
1/2 oz cognac
1/2 oz pierre ferrand curacao
1/4 oz franjelico
1 generous barspoon claret jelly ( you can buy at most Italian delis, omit if you can’t find)
1/2 oz lemon juice
2 oz fevertree ginger beer
2 oz scrimshaw pilsner or any other lager that takes you fancy
cucumbers, mint and pomegranate seeds for bashing
copious amounts of greenery to decorate

 

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In the bottom of your glass add your spoon of claret jelly. In your shaker, add cukes, mint and pomegranate seeds along with lemon and franjelico, muddle. Add Pimms, cognac,  lemon and a scoop of ice, shake hard for 4 seconds and dump into your glass, top with pilsner and ginger beer, dress up with fragrant leaves such as mint and verbena.

Act III,  Ascot Ladies Day

Satisfied that Eliza has conquered enough of the English language Higgins decides to show off his prodigy at one of the finest societal  gatherings in London, namely at the Ascot races where annually the ladies of England gather to show off their finest hats, here he introduces her to his mother Mrs. Higgins and to several aristos, the young man that bumped her in Covent Garden, Freddy also joins them and becomes completely besotted by the lady in training. Eliza forgetting where she is starts peppering he speech with her old slang culminating with her yelling at a horse to move its bloomin arse causing an uproar. When I think of the quintessential chick drink I think of sex and the city and cosmos, that cranberry laced cocktail that epitomized the drinking scene of New York in the nineties.  I attempted to tart it up and pull it apart a bit, trouble and strife translates to wife just in case you’re curious .

Trouble & Strife

1 1/2 oz cranberry infused vodka ( sous vide  1 cup of cranberries with half a bottle of vodka or infuse in jar for 2 days)
1 oz pierre ferrand dry curaçao
1/2 oz ransom sweet vermouth
1/4 oz st elizabeth allspice dram
1/16 oz vanilla extract
1/2 oz sloe gin ( I used spirit works)
2 dashes scrappy’s lime bitters

 

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add everything to your mixing glass and stop for ten seconds with 6 ice cubes. You can stop here or take your cosmo to the next level with a spoonful of curacao foam, finger lime caviar and candied cranberries.

candied cranberries

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup simple syrup
sugar and nutmeg for dusting
Cook the cranberries in simple syrup until it reduces down and you can draw a line through the syrup. Transfer the berries onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 35o degrees, toss in sugar and nutmeg mix and serve immediately .

Curacao foam

1 cup pierre ferrand dry curaçao
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz vanilla extract
2 oz egg white
pinch salt
add everything to an ISI gun and charge with 1 No2 charger

 

Act IV, get me to the church on time 

After Eliza’s performance at Ascot, Higgins forces her into more grueling hours of phonetics, finally satisfied that she is presentable for the Embassy Ball where she is introduced to royalty, the Princess at the ball asks he resident imposterologist to find out more about Eliza and they declare her to be of  Hungarian royal blood. Higgins and Pickering are so  excited by their success that they forget to congratulate Eliza on her triumph, Eliza starts to realize that she is falling in love with Higgins and becomes incensed that he has completely  ignored her and given her no credit. Upset she packs her bag and decides to go back to Covent Garden where she thinks she belongs, but in six months she is no longer that old dusty Doolittle gal, none of her old friends recognize her and all of a sudden she is completely lost.

Meanwhile , Eliza’s pops  Alfred is forced into getting hitched after being bequeathed a considerable sum of money by an American business man, Eliza bumps into him on his stag night , the drink I would suggest for him and his band of merry men is  essentially inspired by that stupor inducing concoction the  Long Island Iced Tea but using brown spirits instead of white, presented here with a generous helping of  an Italian effervescent used as a morning after cure.

Barney Rubble

3/4 oz bourbon
3/4 oz rye
3/4 oz islay whiskey
3/4 oz fernet branca
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
top with 2 oz fevertree bitter lemon soda

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Add everything to your shaker except for bitter lemon soda, shake for 6 seconds and dump into a chilled highball, top with bitter lemon soda , garnish with a lemon wheel or two.

Act V, On the street where you live

Confused what is to come next  and realizing she is free to do as she chooses , Eliza leaves Higgins and lands at his mother’s house, the only other person she knows who can help her figure out the predicament she’s in, they are enjoying afternoon tea when  Higgins arrives ,  she proclaims she is free of him ,  doesn’t need him anymore and will marry Freddy , he suddenly realizes he cannot live without her. returning home he replays her speech recordings, whilst he’s listening Eliza walks in and everything is clear, their love and need for each other is mutual, one cannot live without the other.

The drink that follows , named Rosie Lee, slang for Tea, is  a take on a White Russian but  instead of coffee made with aromatic earl grey  and amaretto, the cream presented on the side for those with dairy challenges.

Rosie Lee

2 oz earl grey tea infused vodka
1 oz amaretto
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 dashes scrappy’s orange bitters
1 drop saline solution ( 10:1 water to salt)

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Stir everything but the cream in your mixing glass with 6 ice cubes for 6 seconds  make a batch and you can serve it as a pot or a pitcher , strain into a chilled vessel of choice and serve with a side of heavy cream for stirring into tea if desired, the cream adds a lush quality to the drink.

Issue No.032 “Tails from the Bookworm” Siddhartha

 

 

 

 

ome  years back I was introduced to a Buddhist teacher in NY, Pema Chodron.  Her teachings center around attachment or “shenpa” , working in the fashion industry at the time there was a lot of that going on, I lusted after jobs,pairs of shoes, people I wanted in my life and paychecks , I was a fledgling capitalist , but what I discovered through of all of this was that I didn’t feel any better or different by attaining any of it.  It was all just empty nonsense. I can’t say  I was a good student but meeting Pema and listening to her words put me on a very different path to the one I was on,  yoga also helped in my meditation of the present moment and the middle ground rather than the highs and lows of past and future. Now don’t think I’m some perfect zen creature who wakes up and lights Nag Champa and chants Om before my first bowel movement ( too graphic?) , because I am so not, I still have bouts of  intense nuttiness  and constantly search for more peace in my life, in fact have just been dealing with a couple of months of self doubt and ennui when it came to work and I remembered both Pema’s words and the words of my ex roomie who is a Nietzsche lover, the only moment that exists is now, this very second, everything else is unimportant . On my quest for re-centering,  I searched out a couple of books that were instrumental in clearing my head in the past, Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Women who run with the Wolves” which may show up in later posts and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha .

Siddhartha is the story of a privileged young man born to highly respected Brahmin in India who decides that he needs to find enlightenment in his life by first following ascetics who eschew all attachment to everything including food and clothing , then a student of Gotama the Buddha , a student of desire and lastly he becomes an apprentice  of a humble ferryman . The story is set some six centuries before the birth of Christ so when using this story as a starting point I hope you understand my imagination is in full force when it comes to any kind of libatious creation, one thing I do know  is the kind of flavors Siddhartha would have enjoyed , heady spices and floral notes for sure but the rest is purely circumspection  .

The Chosen one

Everyone knows Siddhartha,  he is destined for greatness because he has mastered all the rituals and wisdom of his religion at an early age. His village is idyllic, and Siddhartha seems to live an enviable life. His father is a Brahmin, a religious leader and esteemed member of the community. Siddhartha seems well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps. What he does not see in his father’s life though is complete fulfillment even after reading all the scriptures he feels his and his father’s existence is  mechanical , unbalanced and not whole, for him this has to change .

My thoughts on the drink that followed , since Siddhartha is looking to feel rooted and whole I thought I would include  earthy and sweet carrot juice as the main flavor , scented with one of the main spices in Indian cooking , cardamom , keeping it bright  and balanced with a bit of Aperol.

Earthly delight

2 oz carrot juice

1  1/2 oz gin

3/4 oz Aperol

3/4 oz lemon

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 dashes scrappy’s cardamom bitters

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes and shake for 4-5 seconds , strain into an ice filled glass , garnish with whatever is seasonally available, pea tendril in spring, or parsley flowers in summer.

Barefoot in the Grass

One day a group of Samanas,wandering mendicant priests pass through Siddhartha’s city, the Samanas are starved, half-naked, and must beg for food, but only because they believe enlightenment can be reached through asceticism, a rejection of the body and physical desire. He decides to leave his comfort and safety behind and follow them in his quest for finding balance .

Ok, so I know these guys would probably never touch a drop of alcohol , so I figured  the next treat  could be either boozy or booze free, cherries that are bountiful at this time of year felt like the right choice for a shrub, I snagged a pound of black republicans from my local Farmer’s Market, sweet, tart and floral all in one juicy package. Then I cheated, yes I do that a lot ,by coming up with my own version of 20 minute tonic water.

Cherry Tamarind shrub

4 oz of tamarind paste soaked in 1 cup boiling hot water and strained through a chinoise ( reserve water from soaking for tonic water below)

1lb black republican cherries, pitted ( or farmers market cherries, the ones in stores pale by comparison in the flavor department)

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/4 cup of banyuls vinegar

mash cherries and tamarind together with sugar in a screw top jar, add vinegar and stir. Screw on lid and let sit in fridge for about 5 days, stirring daily for first couple of days. When ready strain off liquid through your trusty chinoise cap and bottle , keep some of the solids to the side.

Cheater’s Tonic

1 cup of water reserved from tamarind soaking

1/8 oz gentian liquid ( Nature’s Answer is my favorite) instead of cinchona

1/4 oz rosewater

1/4 cup simple syrup

1/2 teaspoon of citric acid

Mix everything together and add to either an ISI siphon or a Twist and Sparkle device, charge with C02 and serve immediately

Stone Free

1 bar spoon cherry shrub solids

1 oz cherry shrub liquid

2 oz manzanilla sherry ( optional)

4 oz cheaters tonic

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Build in glass, start with shrub and pulp, add ice and sherry if desired, top with cheaters tonic , garnish with whole cherry and curry leaves for that festive touch.

New Sheriff in town

Three years pass and Siddhartha feels no different, then a rumor reaches him that an enlightened one, Gotama the Buddha who has overcome the suffering of the world and brought his chain of karma to an end . The Samana’s are skeptical but nothing can sway Siddhartha from seeking out this Buddha fellow. He is accepted by Gotama as a spiritual pilgrim and is anxious to learn true enlightenment.

 

Sweet Neem

1 1/2 oz mezcal ( vodka and gin also work well)

3/4 oz coriander &  curry leaf simple syrup ( I used my immersion circulator and cooked 1 quart of syrup with 1/4 cup coriander seeds and 30 grams of curry leaves at 55 degrees C for 1 1/2 hours,  conventional steeping takes about a day, infuse the same amounts in boiling water then turn into a simple syrup once steeping time is completed)

3/4 lemon juice

1 oz dolin blanc vermouth

3 dashes scrappy’s firewater bitters ( more consistent than muddling hot peppers but they can be subbed out if you prefer )

 

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes and shake for 6 seconds , strain into a rocks filled glass, garnish with curry leaves and chilli flakes if you want extra kick.

Lust for Life

Something however is still not connecting for Siddhartha, he confronts Gotama about his doctrine and questions how can one embrace the unity of all things, as Gotama asks, if they are also told to overcome the physical world? He also points out that Gotama reached this state of Nirvana without any kind of teaching and is not convinced that this is the correct path for him, so he decides to leave and go on a quest to learn from himself , find himself , he also realizes that he is truly now by himself which puts him in  a state  of awakening. He wanders alone for a time looking at the world through new eyes, then one day finds himself in a city where he meets the beautiful Kamala, an elegant  courtesan , he is transfixed! He attempts feebly to seduce here but she rejects him on the grounds that he is not wealthy and has nothing to offer her. She recommends him to her a friend a successful merchant and asks that he increase his wealth by working with this businessman. Over time Siddhartha becomes more accomplished and richer than the merchant, at hit point he revisits Kamala in a second attempt to seduce her.

What kind of delicious delight would he present to Kamala as a form of love potion? When I think of love  ripe sweet strawberries and roses come to mind, inspired by Barman Jeffrey Morgentahler’s book I decided to create a potion called ” tequila poor mi amante” or tequila for my lover, strawberries are infused in tequila, I took it a step further and added rose geranium leaves.

Tequila por mi Amante

1 pint ripe strawberries, the farmers market ones are way better ( of course) than store bought

1 750ml bottle of reposedo tequila

20 grams of rose geranium leaves

add everything to a large screw top jar and let sit for a week, the tequila will draw out the flavor from the berries , the berries sadly will  become useless and tasteless so don’t bother to save them . Once ready strain off tequila and store either in a cleaned jar or sealed bottle.

Rosewater foam

1 oz alwahdi rosewater

2 oz egg white

12 oz bottle Timmermans strawberry lambic ale

1 1/2 oz simple syrup

add everything to you ISI and charge with 2 N02 chargers, store in fridge till ready to serve.

 

On the Wings of Desire

2 oz Tequila por mi Amante

3/4 oz red verjus

1/4 oz lime juice

3/4  oz simple syrup

3/4 oz  amontillado sherry

2 turns of fresh pink peppercorns

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes and shake for 6 seconds, strain into a chilled glass and top with a generous helping of the rosewater foam, garnish with berry and rose geranium leaf

This is this, that is that, that is all there is 

Kamala excites Siddhartha, she teaches him how to enjoy his physical body and exploit his senses, but she is not in love with him and he not in live with her, she uses his instruction for financial gain which considering she’s a courtesan is not surprising. From her,  Siddhartha learns much that is useful in the world of time, including how to live happily in the moment and induce it to yield its fruits. Some Twenty years pass and he realizes that this life he has been living seems only a diversion from his path to enlightenment, he realizes it cannot continue forever and distraught leaves the city without a word. He finds himself by a river and contemplates ending his life in it, as he sits by its banks the sound of OM reverberates through his body, he becomes transfixed by the river and vows never to leave its side. His next decision to find work by the river leads him to meet a humble ferryman, the every day man , Siddhartha is fascinated that this man exudes such unattached enlightenment and yet strong connection to the river, he surrenders himself to the ferryman and follows his example in leading a life of calm fulfillment and wisdom, the river teaches him that time does not exist only the present moment. Siddhartha can now see that all life is unified, just as the river is in all places at one time, everything and everyone is connected, it is here that he finally finds true enlightenment.

What to drink for a hot day on the river and something for the everyman , for me a banana slushy sounds like just the trick…using banana rum, and the food staple of the humble brown rice to make a milk.

Brown rice milk

2 cups of brown rice toasted on a sheet tray or in a large pan till golden.

1 container of rice milk

1 container of unsweetened almond milk

grind toasted rice in a food processor till it resembles a coarse grind, add this to a container with rice and almond milks and using an immersion blender blend till rice is finely ground. Let sit for 24 hours in the fridge and them strain off the liquid

Banana rum

An old favorite of mine…

6 ripe bananas

1 cup brown butter melted

1 liter white rum

mash bananas with hot brown butter till bananas smell caramelized. Pour over rum and let sit for 12 hours. Strain off liquid then place in fridge, this allows the fat to separate form the liquid which can then be scooped off only leaving its delicious flavor in the rum.

 

Banana the Republic

2 oz banana rum

2 oz brown rice milk

1 oz saigon cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has been steeped with cinnamon powder then strained)

orange bitters to dash over the top

1 foot long piece of banana leaf

 

 

Form your banana leaf into a cone and fold the bottom portion over to seal the cone roughly, place the cone point down into a tall vessel of choice , I used a tin, a shaker tin would also work. Scoop in a generous amount of shaved ice ( I found an ice shaver at my local Japanese market for a few dollars and now can’t live without it) . In another tin add the rum, simple and milk and stir, pour over the shaved ice cone and dash over orange bitters, garnish with marigolds or carnations.

Issue No 031 “Tails from the Bookworm” Pride and Prejudice

 

 

 

any moons ago ,  I had a relative  try to fix me up with a wealthy farmer , also a distant cousin (!) I was turning into an old maid at 25 and I needed to be tamed and turned into a good little wife. It reminded me of the opening line from Pride & Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune , must be in want of a wife” , I insisted I would only marry for true love or not at all parental units and societal norms be damned!

Pride and Prejudice is first and foremost a tale of one family’s struggle to marry off not just one but five daughters ,Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of this story  and  thought to be  based on Jane Austen herself, was ahead of her time she was known to have singular beliefs , to be uncompromising and stubborn as well as intelligent , witty and handsome, she was what one would call a strong .  These days the western world at least is filled with many such examples , thank fully we no longer have to wait for a dashing man on a horse to whip us up in their arms and wend us away to a make believe land of parties, dresses , dancing and a life lived on an overstuffed wing armchair. Lizzie Bennet of course would have been mucking in and getting her hem dirty rather than idling away as a lady of leisure ,  its because of her willingness to be a participant of life rather than an observer that she is one of my idols,we  have a lot in common ,  passionate, check, stubborn, check, willful, check, love getting my hands dirty, check, have no patience for nonsense , weakness, ignorance  and mediocrity , check all of the above.

During the story  we  also meet a cast of hilarious and wicked characters, Mr. Collins the ridiculous pastor, Miss Bingley the meddling aristo, Mrs. Bennet the reactionary , always in a tizzy mother, Mr. Wickham the opportunist cad and the pompous Lady Catherine De Bourgh. My solution to all this drama would be to feed them all a jolly good drink and in so thinking about what they may have enjoyed I took myself on a history lesson of drinks of the early Eighteenth century when the book is set, before Whisky and Vodka were widely imbibed spirits , the time when the Sangaree was in a fashion and a cobbler was fruit filled drink rather than a pastry topped dessert.

In the study with Mr. Bennet

At the start of the book we meet Mr.Bennet, father and husband to the Bennet ladies, he has to possess the patience of a saint or be able to switch off at will the drama of his household. Mr. Bennet  I would imagine as a gentleman of that time probably spent a good amount of time reading ledgers, talking to farm hands, meeting with the villagers and hiding from his wife . On such occasions I’d like to think of him in his study pottering around possibly reading but definitely with something libatious in hand , now remember whisky had not yet become a popular spirit, it was only once disease killed all the grapes and brandy production that whisky grew in popularity . Gents of the time drank Madeira, Arrack, port, sherry, wine, for Mr.Bennet I decided on a sherry cobbler ( forgive my inclusion of some more modern day mixers the purists amongst you). Sherry was drank extensively throughout Europe, its nutty flavor comingling perfectly with citrus and fruit, served tall on that new fangled stuff called ice it must have been a very refreshing change to room temp ports and wines. It is here in his study that we first meet Papa Bennet, his wife has barged in to demand that he go calling on the young  single gentleman Mr.Bingley , who has just rented the nearby stately home  Netherfield Hall , though this might sound like she’s being friendly  her ulterior motive is to get him  and his wealth matched to one of her daughters. Mr.Bennet would in be in dire need of some soothing refreshment by the end of his convo.  Without further waffling may I present…The Sherry Cobbler
The Cobbler
A Cobbler is usually a fruity drink served over cobble shaped ice, pellet ice is the preferred one of bartenders but bashed up half moon ice will do for home use, pellet ice can get a little pricey, bit is worth the splurge if you are entertaining.
The Gentleman’s  Home Companion
2 oz Oloroso sherry
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz Battavia Arrack
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
3 dashes peychauds bitters
6 lemon verbena leaves plus one generous sprig
cherries for muddling ( I used homemade brandied cherries from last years crop)

beauty shot by the dashing Mr.Obrien-Smith

In a shaker tin, muddle powdered sugar, cherries and verbena leaves . Add everything else   plus a couple of ice cubes, shake for 5 seconds then dump into a glass of choice , pack full with ice and garnish with verbena sprig

Jane, Jane! Don’t get caught in the rain!

The next time we see the  clan Bennet the ladies are having a good old knees up ( dance) at the local town hall dance and its here that the dashing and rather shy  Mr.Bingley falls head over heels for Miss Jane Bennet the eldest of the five daughters. He is intoxicated by her beauty and demeanor and she too is smite in return. His BFF Mr.Darcy is another story, he looks like he has a bad smell under his nose,  could it be not enough deodorant in this room plus  lots of smelly socks after all that twirling around ? I don’t think its the smell that has him turning his nose up, it is here we first witness the prejudice of the books title, he comes across as being too hoity toity to be bothered with these dancing minions, it is only until he spies the lovely Elizabeth that he  bothers to take a second glance at anything . Cut to the next morning and Jane has received an invite to dine with Mr.Bingley’s sister Caroline ( who we later learn is a bit of a minx) . The sly Mrs.Bennet realizing its about to rain sends Jane off on horseback instead of safely in a carriage, she figures Jane will get soaked and need to spend the night and more time at the Bingley household, her scheme works like a treat , Jane catches cold and has to recuperate Chez Bingley nursed by the sweet Mr.B himself. Jane would be in need of a warming cuppa, so I whipped up this hot port Sangaree to give her some cheer….

The Sangaree

A Sangaree, is the  18th century precursor to the better known Sangria, named after the Spanish word for blood , Sangre. A Sangaree should contain wine, beer, port or madeira, lemon , sugar and either hot or cold water. In this case I used hot for Jane’s cold remedy. I made my trusty Jello stock cubes for that just add water instant experience .

The Loving Cup

28 grams of Knox unflavored gelatin

1  cup of fresh squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup madeira

1/3 cup  St. Elizabeth allspice dram

1 cup ruby port

2 cups blueberry or hibiscus tea

2 heaped tablespoons of brown sugar

sliced apples and black pepper for garnish

beauty shot by the dashing Mr. O’Brien-Smith

 

The trick to remember for any boozy jello shot is that 1/3 of your mix can be boozy and the remaining 2/3 should be a mix of juice or low ABV liquids, too much liquor and the jello will not set.

add the gelatin powder and armagnac/brandy and allspice dram to a bowl and allow the gelatin to bloom, meanwhile add red wine , lemon and  OJ to a pan with falernum and bring up to a simmer, once simmering take off the heat and pour into the bowl where the gelatin is blooming. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir in the sugar till dissolved.

Prepare your cube molds with a bit of vegetable spray which will help pop the Jello cubes out easily, wipe out any excess oil.  For the molds I usually us the Tovollo silicon 1″ cubes molds.

Pour the Jello mix into the molds and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours .

Once ready to drink, boil some water and steep your fruity tea ( I like blueberry but hibiscus just as tasty). Take three cubes and places them in a cup with an apple slice and a twist or two of cracked black pepper. Pour over the hot tea and stir to dissolve the cubes, should take about a minute.

 Off to the ball at Netherfield 

Mr.Bingley by this point is so head over heels for Jane that he’ll agree to anything , so when the younger Bennet sisters insist he throw a ball he cannot refuse them, any opportunity he can get to be with his love. Mr.Darcy is also clandestinely planning to woo Miss Eliza, though as we know she’s a proud and stubborn young lass so his task ahead will not be an easy one. Mrs B is beside herself and can’t stop twittering on about favorable matches and imminent weddings , oblivious to Le Toute Monde her ter is picked up by siss Bingley who sets about unravelling her brother’s tied and bound heart. Mr.Darcy meanwhile is intent on stealing some time with Lizzie so he asks for a dance, Lizzie politely accepts but the whole episode just seems to annoy her and she finds Darcy quite pompous , Darcy, obviously bowled over by her beauty and honesty  starts falling for our girl. When dreaming up this next drink I thought about the time period, the whimsy and romanticism of the early 18th century, the time of Napolean and in England  the Georgian  era, anything served as somewhere as grand as Netherfield would need to be fittingly pretty and whimsical,  for a large group  a punch is of course the best choice, fruity, light, refreshing and easily tarted up with flowers and trim.

The Punch

The classic 18th century punch  punch would have  contained water, citrus, alcohol and spice, as well as the secret ingredient  an Oleo-Saccharum, which is a mix of citrus oils and sugar, its easy to make but adds real depth of flavor to the simplest of punches.
Oleo-Saccharum
The peel of 6 lemons
1 cup of cane sugar
1 cup of lemon juice
muddle the peel and sugar and let sit for half an hour so the oils have enough time to extract. Add the lemon juice the strain the liquid off and store till ready
Heartsease Punch

1 cup Brandy

1 cup lillet rose

1/2 cup velvet falernum

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

brandied cherries halved

grilled pineapple cut into 1/2″ pieces

heartsease pansies and leaves to decorate such as strawberry or mint

3/4 cup lemon peel oleo-saccharum

3/4 cup lemon juice

beauty shot by the dashing Mr.Obrien-Smith

Lightly muddle pineapple with falernum, add remaining ingredients and stir, the ice once you place it in the glass will provide your water component . The punch mix should be stored in a fridge to get it cold before serving. To serve add add to a punch cup, pour over a small ladle of punch mix and decorate .

Constant Companions

After the ball, we learn the Bingleys have decided to winter away from the hall and head back to London, Miss Bingley has managed to persuade her brother that Jane is not a good match for him or the family. In desperation Mrs. Bennet decides to send Jane off to London to visit with her aunt and uncle in the hopes she will bump into Bingly. At the same time Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte gets married off to a hilarious character and pastor who’s parish belongs to Darcy’s Aunt, with both Jane and Charlotte gone Lizzie’s life becomes quite boring as she spends her time reading and well, doing some more reading. So she decides to pay a visit to her friend and in so doing bumps into Mr.Darcy who has by this point fallen head long into love with Miss Elizabeth, at this point in  the story he irks her even more by proposing, what a preposterous thought, in this mindset sh of course refuses!  Lizzie later learns that Darcy is not such a meddling twerp and starts to see him as a real gentleman, ( for the full story you really have to read the book) At the same time the youngest Bennet sister gets  sent of to Brighton to entertain the regiment  . Lizzie returns and shortly after goes on a tour of the Midlands ( my old stomping ground) with the afore mentioned aunt and uncle ( remember who  Jane gets sent to visit?) They decide to visit Pemberley one of the grandest houses in Derbyshire and also coincidentally Darcy’s family home. Of course Lizzie bumps into him and meets his sister, their acquaintance quickly starts to turn to friendship and more as the visit continues . Meanwhile back in Brighton , Lydia, the youngest Bennet has eloped with the wicked Wickham and are living in sin, he hopes she has money that he can drain her of, she fantasizes of marriage and security , the news reaches Lizzie on her travels and she rushes back to the bosom of her family in an attempt to undo the pending scandal, Darcy, ever the gent goes galloping off on his steed to be the knight in shining armor and save the day. Mrs .Bennet at this point is having a nervous collapse, no amount of fanning or smelling salts seems to be doing the trick so I thought perhaps a drop of brandy right do the trick for this mother in  need of solace.

The Crusta

A crusta is a drink that has a sugar rimmed glass, most often a  classic crusta contained some for of brandy of armagnac. You have two choices on how to achieve your perfect crusted glass, pour a generous amount of sugar into a bowl bigger in diameter than the glass your drink will go in, you can  rim your glass with a lemon wedge and either sprinkle the sugar onto the surface or dip the gas into the bowl of sugar. Don’t over do the lemon rimming or you will end up with a sloppy crusta rather than a nice dry rim. Brandy is the traditional tipple after someone has had a shock or is in a nervous state.

Mother’s lil’ Helper 

1 1/2 oz Germain Robin craft method brandy

3/4 oz yellow chartreuse

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz pineapple gomme syrup

drop vanilla

3 dashes orange bitters

1 oz egg white

photo by the dashing Mr. Obrien-Smith

Rim your glass with sugar and set aside. In your shaker tin add all ingredients and dry shake for 5 seconds. Add 4 ice cubes and shake for a further 8 -10 seconds. Strain into your sugar rimmed  glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The shades of Pemberley poluted.

Darcy succeeds, I mean he has the dosh and  pays off Wickham, forcing him to marry and make an honest of Lydia,( if you can call a fifteen year old a ) . After ascertaining that Jane is truly in love and a good match , he  also gives Bingley the nudge to go and propose to her making both of them a quivering mess of  tears. Darcy meanwhile saunters off dreaming of his Lizzie and wishing she would be his. Later on that night Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh shows up unannounced to grill Lizzie about Darcy’s proposal of marriage to her, and how dare she make her nephew fall in love. Lizzie, tells the old bird pretty much to buzz off and that if she decides she’ll marry whosoever she chooses to. Darcy hearing this news marches back over to the Bennet household to declare his love, love, love for her. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal and the book ends with both Bennett sisters happily married to the two honorable gents. For their wedding  cocktail I wanted to do a cross between the classic English Pimms cup and something with a celebratory ring to it, here a mix of cucumber, lemon balm , gin and bubbles.

The Fizz

A fizz is defined as a  drink that contains citrus and carbonated water, or in this case carbonated wine

The Longbourn Fizz

Rather than have a muddy brown Pimms colored fizz i thought i would add the Pimms and some cucumber juice to an ice cube tray instead to make Pimms cubes, I used the 1 ” square silicone trays from cocktail kingdom.

For the cubes:

1 cup cucumber juice

1/2 cup pimms

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1/2 cup simple syrup

stir everything together and pour into the ice cube trays, let set over night for best results.

For the drink:

1 1/2 oz bols genever

1 oz lemon,

3/4 oz simple syrup

1 oz Floc de Gascogne ( an armagnac grape based aperitif )

2 dashes celery bitters

strawberry slices for garnish and muddling

lemon balm for muddling  (mint will do if you can’t get lemon balm)

photo by the dashing Mr. Obrien-Smith

add a strawberry slice and  6  leaves of lemon balm to your tin and muddle with the simple syrup, add remaining ingredients and shake for 5 seconds with 2 ice cubes, strain into your ISI or twist and sparkle and carbonate . In a chilled highball glass add your pimms cubes, about 4 per drink. Pour over the carbonated cocktail and garnish with strawberries and a lemon balm sprig

Issue No.O30 “Tails from the Bookworm” Chinatown

 

 


 

here was something odd about the room, the lights were dim and the polished glass  tables were set with long sticks. Strange figures were painted on the light shades and on the menus , the kid sniffed the air heavy with garlic, onion and a whiff of aroma wending its way from the kitchen that she had never smelled before, this was new territory and it made her nervous. A small  in pajamas shuffled over and nodded politely at the gathered diners, pen and pad in hand. The kid stares at the menu, none of it makes sense! What does this mean?  How can something be sweet & sour and what are egg drops???  Oh, and why is this wearing jammas in a restaurant! This place is weird! The kid slithers down in her seat hoping to become miraculously  invisible. “What would you like miss?” Six pairs of eyes look in her direction, as she feels heat running up her neck. She scans the paper menu in her hand and shrugs, “C’mon love, we haven’t got all day , we’re hungry!” She slides down even further in her seat then flinches from the kick aimed at her under the table “Ummm, I’m not hungry” She blushes the shade of the silk lantern hanging above her head “Well you’ve got to eat something or there won’t be anything till breakfast” . Realizing the seriousness of the situation she was in, eat now or starve till morning, she chooses starvation  “not hungry” she mumbles then slips under the table hoping the fancy carpeted floor would just swallow her hole , she receives another kick under the table and hears a snicker “I don’t think she’s ever had Chinese food before” the words directed at the waitress ” any chance you can make her a ham omelette?” The waitress shakes her head and replies  solemnly “I’m sorry lady,we don’t make omelettes  ,  this is Chinatown!

The kid in question was myself, just in case you had not figured it out, I grew up in a Polish household raised primarily on sauerkraut , latkes kabanos  (dry sausage) and chicken  soup ( which we ate every single day) . My first outing to an actual sit down restaurant where a waiter takes your order and you don’t have to do the dishes when you finish eating , was at a Chinese restaurant, where instead of my omelette I was presented with a steaming bowl of egg fried rice with crisp english peas that would burst in my mouth when I bit them, it was sublime! I think it was my best friend’s birthday treat, her sister tormented me with  kicks under the table and rolling eyes, I was the Polak nit twit and they were better than me because they knew Chinese food. I wanted to punch her for making fun of me.

Times naturally have changed , I mean thirty some years have passed and thankfully I now  brandish  chopsticks with flair. Chinese food ranks up there as one of my favorite cuisines along with Thai and Japanese food, give me a bowl of eggy, crunchy rice or a cup of miso and I’m as happy as you’ll ever see this curmudgeon.  2015 in the Chinese horoscope is the year of the goat or sheep, I was born under that sign, stubborn , tenacious and the ability to chow down a mountain of food are all flags I fly with panache. I decided in honor of the Chinese New Year , February 19th, to explore one of my favorite movies ( yes I realize its not a book but it would have  made a rather splendid hard boiled crime novel a la Chandler or Hammett) . Set in Southern California amid the water wars and droughts (what’s new?) that took place in the early 20th century , the movie has everything ,there’s a smoking hot dame with a killer wardrobe, a dead guy, an evil father, a midget with a knife and lots of whiskey, what the film does not have is anything to quench the thirst on all those hot, parched days, there’s a mention of a Tom Collins  and iced tea but thats about it. So I figured I’d gather up a basket of foods the Chinese use to symbolize good luck and prosperity    ( lord knows some of the characters need a big change of fortune)  and whip up a few refreshing beverages to revive and keep these characters cool. Its also citrus season here in Socal so I made abundant use of our seasonal bounty too. Cheers and  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Take 1 scene 1: Another stakeout

Enter our hero, J. J Jake Gittes, a hardened whiskey drinking Private Dick and ex LAPD. Jake is on the tail of  one Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for the LADWP, according to his wife he’s been cheating and she wants hard proof so she can screw him for every penny! J. J has spent the day and part of the night in his hot automobile , driving from the Pacific ocean to the east side where he finally gets his proof, Hollis is shacked up with some hot little chica who can’t keep her arms from around his neck. What Jake needs to stop his mouth from feeling like sandpaper and his eyes from drowsily closing is this version of Duke Antone’s Harvey Wallbanger, featuring tangerines (which in Chinese culture symbolize good luck ; oranges represent gold and prosperity, a favorite addition to any Chinese New Year table) Galliano, jasmine  scented Gunpowder green tea and gin.

The Duke’s Punch

serves 12

1  bottle Aviation gin

1 liter of Jasmine gunpowder green tea, chilled

6 oz of  fresh squeezed lemon juice

12 oz of Galliano liqueur

12 dashes of orange bitters ( angostura orange works well here)

3 oz of simple syrup

1/2 oz vanilla extract

1 liter of tangerine or orange soda ( my favorite for this is Fanta)

3-4 tangerines segmented and cleaned of any stringy membranes

2 blood oranges sliced thinly on a mandolin

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

In a large pitcher or punch bowl add all of your ingredients except for the orange soda, add either one great big chunk of ice or 5-6  2 inch cubes to dilute and chill, store in fridge until ready to serve. Once ready, portion out ice in your glasses and pour over the chilled punch, top with an oz or two of orange soda and decorate with tangerines and oranges.

Take 1, scene 2: Chez Mulwray 

Jake gets back to his office thinking his job is done, all he can think of is a shot of scotch and that little blonde he met at the diner two nights ago. As he walks though the door he’s flagged by his two assistants, Mrs. Mulwray is back except this time its the real one. Jake realizing he’s been set up goes back to the water plant to confront Hollis and find out what the deal is, too late though Hollis is being fished out of the drink dead as a dodo! The only way to get to the real story is track down his lady wife.  J.J arrives at Chez Mulwray just in time to see the gardener looking at something shiny  in the Coi pond, curious Jake thinks but just then is distracted by Hollis’s wife, her silk blouse and riding breeches clinging to her, Jake gives her elevator eyes as his words and throat dry up. Evelyn Mulwray, a stunning beauty offers our man iced tea, Iced tea! Methinks not, I propose this  refreshing combination of Mezcal , lettuce juice ( lettuce represents rising fortune), aloe vera, and meyer lemon juice finished off with some tart wood sorrel.

Green Manalishi

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1 1/2 oz lettuce juice

1 oz floc de gascogne

1/2 oz aloe vera juice

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

maldon smoked salt to finish

garnish with wood sorrel flowers and leaves.

 

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

In your trusty shaker add all ingredients except for salt and garnish. Add 4-5 ice cubes and shake hard for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned or rocks glass, add a pinch of smoked malden salt and few wood sorrel leaves to finish  .

(note: wood sorrel grows in abundance in Southern cali, you’ll find it on your hike in the canyons or growing in your back yard, wood sorrel like sorrel is a sour grass and adds an incredible freshness to any drink or dish, I snagged some and planted it in my yard)

Take 1 scene 3: Murder, a midget and Lunch at the Country Club

After Jake meets with the grief stricken Mrs. Mulwray he suspects foul play, the smoking dame Evelyn has him hooked and he’ll do anything to bring her some peace , turns out Hollis was in trouble over some  missing water deal, JJ starts to investigate and heads back to the water and power headquarters where he’s met with double  trouble in the form of a security guard and his midget henchman monkey, Jake trying to escape gets his nose slashed by the ape. Cut to the next morning and Gittes receives news at his office , Hollis and Evelyn’s father were once business partners so he figures who better to visit to collect dirt on the stiff. Pops comes in the intimidating and powerful form of Noah Cross, he meets Jake at his Country Club and thinks he can sway Jake away from his water investigation by offering him double to search for Hollis’s missing girlfriend.  The old man plies him with wine hoping to soften him up. No dice old timer! Jake don’t work that way! Cross may have faired better had he tried getting our man JJ one of these delicious smashes, pineapple mixed with coconut scotch  ( the golden pineapple symbolizes prosperity , luck and fortune whilst dried coconut at New year represents  friendship and unity) finish all this love off with a touch of Saigon  cinnamon .

Bol D’Or

1 1/2 oz of toasted coconut scotch ( see below for details)

3/4 oz cardamaro amaro

4-5 chunks of grilled pineapple

2 halved limequats

1/2 oz Vietnamese cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has cinnamon powder infused in it whilst still warm)

3/4 oz of lime juice

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss the halved limequats and pineapple chunks into your shaker tin, add the simple syrup and muddle pressing the oils out of the citrus, add the remaining ingredients and cracked ice and shake for about 5 seconds. Dump into a vessel of your choice and garnish with citrus leaves and a speared limequat.

(Note: Toasted coconut scotch, you will need 2 cups worth of shredded coconut that has been toasted in a medium oven for about 5-10 minutes till its partially nice and golden, toast too much and you will remove all of the yummy fatty oils that will fragrance your scotch. Add this to a container with a bottle of inexpensive blended scotch, such as Famous Grouse, stir and allow to sit overnight covered. If you are using the sous vide method to infuse , add your ingredients to a bag, seal it up and sous vide at 55 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, strain immediately and store in an airtight container).

Take 1 scene 4 :Alone at last

….and action!  J. J now has some serious questions for Hollis’s ex , he meets up with the dame for dinner where he gives her news of Papa Cross trying to throw him off track , he needs Evelyn’s help to get more answers , but first she needs a drink, stiff and  thirst quenching, something to loosen her lips and spill some beans, she orders a Tom Collins..and Cut! so how to make a Tom Collins more , well interesting, its fine and all but its essentially a boozy lemonade which if thats what you want then great, but how about trying it with preserved or fermented citrus. My version here uses preserved kumquats ( the literal meaning of the word is golden and as we heard earlier the color gold is very auspicious for new year celebrations in China, Kumquat plants are given as gifts) , coriander tincture, Old Tom gin , a touch of chili and club soda.

Tom Tom Club

2 oz Old Tom gin such as Haymans or Ransom ( if gin is not your bag substitute a good vodka)

3/4  oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/8 oz of coriander tincture ( soak one cup of coriander seeds in a bottle of Everclear spirit, strain after 2-3 days of soaking)

1 dash Scrappy’s firewater bitters

2-3 preserved kumquats ( see below for recipe)

sliced kumquats and a pinch of Szechuan pepper for  garnish

club soda to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the kumquats with the simple syrup in your shaker, add remaining ingredients and 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds and dump into highball glass, top off with soda. garnish with kumquat or citrus slices and a pinch of ground Szechuan pepper.

(Note: Preserved Kumquats, you will need a large jar, a couple of pounds of kumquats halved , kosher salt and in this case a cup of coriander seeds. Line the bottom of your jar with salt, layer kumquats and salt with coriander seeds until they’re all used up, finish with a heavy layer of salt and seal the jar. Leave for a couple of weeks, when ready to use rinse off the kumquats to eliminate some of the salt)

Take 1 scene 5: Bedtime stories

After dinner , Jake and Evelyn decide to do some in depth investigations , they head to the Mar Vista Inn retirement home to get a personal look at these land owners who are stealing all the water, whilst there they are confronted once more by the switchblade toting midget and his big dog handler, the exchange must have been exhilarating since our hero and his beauty end up in each other arms and finish the scene in bed , smoking, literally!  Early in the morning Evelyn hears some news and has to leave tout suite, but not before telling JJ that her papa, Noah Cross is dangerous and he should stay away. He follows her to a house where she seems to be holding Hollis’s piece on the side hostage . He confronts her and she confesses the girl is her sister. I would think after this all nighter Jake would be ready for a choice beverage , since the time of day is dawn might I suggest this version of a tequila sunrise….

Rise and Shine

1 1/2 oz tequila

3/4 oz strega

1 oz pomelo juice ( pomelos again signify prosperity)

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lime juice

pinch of smoked salt

3/4 oz aperol to line the bottom of your rocks glass

blood orange slice and pink peppercorns  to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake everything but the Aperol in your shaker with 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds. Meantime layer the Aperol on the bottom of your chill glass and place on top one large rocks cube. Strain the shaken drink slowly onto the rocks cube so as not to disturb the Aperol, you want this drink to look layered. Finish with a pinch of peppercorns and the blood orange slice.

Take 1 , scene 6: Forget it Jake, its Chinatown!

The next day JJ get an anonymous tip off that leads him to the original but fake Evelyn’s place where he finds not Evelyn murdered and the cops waiting there for him in hiding, the cops suspect the real Evelyn of this murder and Hollis’s, he pressures Jake to produce Mrs. Mulwray or he’s going down himself. Jake returning to Evelyn’s mansion discovers whats shiny in the Coi pond, a pair of glasses he assumes belonged to Hollis, he confronts Evelyn about her sister to discover she is both her sister and daughter and guess who’s the daddy? That’s right evil papa Cross. Jake decides to help the ladies escape their predicament and spirit them away to Mexico, he suggest they hide out in her butler’s pad in Chinatown. Before she leaves she lets Jake know the eye glasses belong to her father implicating him as Hollis’s  and not Evelyn’s killer, you follow? JJ summons papa Cross to the mansion once the ladies have left to settle his deal for the girl. Sadly things go awry , the movie ends with Evelyn shot in the eye and papa Cross  whisking the sister/daughter away. Jake tries to help but his buddies stop him with the words “forget it Jake , its Chinatown”.

This sad ending makes me think that only one drink could soothe a man’s soul . The Sazerac has a special place in my heart, its the perfect ending to a day, a meal, a story. This one gets a little extra aroma from the Chinese Five spice syrup thats paired with this lovely Taiwanese ( yes thats correct) whisky ,this particular one aged in ex bourbon barrels. Its quite stunning in a cocktail as well as by itself.

The Chinatown

2 1/2 oz Kavalan ex bourbon barrel aged whisky

1/2 oz cynar

1/2 oz Chinese 5 spice simple syrup ( use same method as for cinnamon simple syrup above)

1/2 oz absinthe ( such as Kubler or Pontarlier)

1 pomelo twist

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Pour your absinthe into a chilled glass, swill around  coating the inside of the glass and pour off a little if theres is too much in the glass. Set aside. In your mixing glass add the whiskey, sugar and Cynar plus a handful of ice cubes. Stir for about 20 seconds then strain into your absinthe rinsed glass. Finish off with the pomelo twist.

 

Issue No.029 Tails from the Bookworm “Red Riding Hood”

 

ow many stars is the sky? Thats how much I love you….

My Granny’s favorite goodbye, goodnight, birthday, christmas , easter, weekend, just for the hell of it blessing ( though she spoke no English so in Polish  it would go something like “ile ?wiat?a na niebie tyle mam serce dla ciebie”. Gran was a bit unhinged to tell the truth, am not sure if it was the war and watching the Nazis destroy everything around her or she was just born that way, regardless she inspired me in my potion making ( her skills at healing with plant life were legendary in our hamlet) showed me how to stitch like an elf using invisible thread and how to grow anything from scraps ( though I’m still trying to figure out how to propagate my married crush by planting his toenail clipping in the dirt).We were born on the same day, I was equal parts her baby and her little devil that she tried saving using both the Catholic sword and stories of bogeymen that lived around the corner just waiting to pounce on my naive, unsuspecting self.

Her  bed time story characters ranged from the evil  Baba Yaga who lived far in the woods and stood on chicken legs waiting to eat little or the big bad wolf  in  Little Red Riding Hood who also lurked in the dark forest waiting to gobble up pretty much anything that moved, including Granny. My Gran grew up in a small village in eastern Poland and am sure her Gran would tell her to stay away from those forbidden woods, so for her I would imagine she was carrying on the torch of fear and dread. Stay close to Grannie little girl, don’t wander off the path chasing butterflies or shadows of dreams that will just end up hurting you or worse eating you for dinner !

Christmas eve always brings to mind my Gran, the holiday that she went all out creating the  feast of fishes, laid out on the table followed by a mountain of sweets and snowballs made from Advocat followed by a couple of her terrifying bedtime stories.  In honor of  my Gran Caroline  I chose to loosely re-tell  Grimm’s tail of Little Red Riding Hood, her love of Granny so profound that she was brave enough to venture into the woods to bring the old girl comfort , joy and good tidings….

How Red got her name and a stranger on the road

‘Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Once she gave her a little riding hood of red velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear anything else; so she was always called ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

…….One day her mother turned to her and said “Little girl , I need you to take this basket to Grannie, she is very ill so I have packed it with  a few of her favorite things , red wine , spiced cake and crisp red apples , they will surely revive her and make Grannie feel well again” So Little Red grabs her velvet cape bundled up tight against the wind and sets out with the basket of goodies into the woods. Little Red is a brave girl, obviously much more than her mother , she thinks nothing of the perils that lie in the woods, Grannie always told her “stay on the path Little Red and God  will keep you safe” so she stays on the path and heads deep into the dark , black forest. “Snap!!!” she hears a branch break, “Oh its nothing” Red thinks but then she hears another and another and it suddenly occurs to her someone is following her. “Who’s there?” she calls into the shadows. A voice as oily as…well oil  replies “nothing to worry your pretty little head with, I’ve just come to keep you safe . Prey tell what brings you to these neck of the woods my sweet?” Red peers into the dark , she can’t see yet her eyes still not adjusted to the light ” Come out” she asks ” Oh I dare not ” the voice replies “I’ve not eaten in a week and I’m all skin and bones, I’m afraid I’ll frighten you”. Little Red lets out a chuckle “Me scared, I’m not afraid of anything or anyone, I have cake in my basket that I’m taking to Grannie’s house , I’m sure she won’t mind if I break off a piece to give to you…here” she outstretches her hand . The Wolf, for it is he, smells an enticing blend of raisins , cinnamon, apple and little girl flesh that intoxicates him in one whiff, his nose leads him hungrily out into the pathway. Sidling up to Red he slowly licks the cake from her hand   and becomes a wolf possessed, he has to find a way of finishing off this tasty morsel. “Where is Grannie’s house?” he asks coyly, Red points down the path ” There’s a quicker way for sure if you follow the Nasturtiums , you’ll get to Grannie’s in no time , this path winds far too much and will take  too long” Red sighs ” I can’t step off the path, Granny says not to” she eyes the flowers growing in the bush and thinks to herself how lovely it would be if she could take some flowers with her. “For certain its safe little one, fear not I will stay close and keep you safe from harm”.

Little Red convinces herself she’s safe so off she skips into the thick of the wood picking flowers and  leaves to make Granny the prettiest bouquet. Meantime Mr.Wolf bounces ahead on the path to Grannie’s house full of energy knowing that this night he sleeps sound with his belly full…..

With all the flowers Red has picked there’s plenty for both a handsome bouquet and refreshing drink methinks , something light and floral with a hint of peppery green, Nasturtium leaves are both grassy and lightly peppery , a great complement to say  Irish whiskey or even gin , a  pick me up drink for Grannie or the wolf.

The Pepper Pot

1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey

1 oz juiced Nasturtium leaves ( add a 1/4 cup cold water to a packed cup of leaves and blend on high, strain)

3/4  oz  fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz St.Germain

1/4 oz simple syrup

a dash of orange bitters

a handful of torn sorrel leaves ( add a lovely woody tartness)

Nasturtium leaves and flowers for garnish

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

 

Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain into a cup or tin filled with crushed ice and garnish with a straw , leaves and flowers.

The Secret Knock

……Red feels like she’s spent hours in the woods and gotten no-where, she’s a smart girl though she knows how to read the time by the angle of sun in the sky ( you know Granny taught her) the sun appears to be past noon and heading close to 3 of the clock, Red picks up her basket and bushel of flowers and heads back to the path, the wolf no-where to be seen, Red wonders where he could have gotten to and why he thought off the beaten path would be quicker than the path itself. She skips along and finally smells the wood smoke coming from the Hunter’s lodge, he regularly builds a fire where he smokes all manner of beasties, in the clearing just beyond the bonfire she sees the familiar thatched  roof of Grannie’s  red cottage , she can’t wait to help Grannie polish off those apples and cake , picking flowers makes for thirty work.

That sneaky wolf meantime has broken into Grannie’s, gobbled her up in one go and dressed himself in her nightgown ,  bonnet and glasses he just has time to stuff himself under the covers when he hears a knock on the door. Red knocks their secret knock  ( I admit I had a secret ring on the doorbell with my Gran) but no reply comes from within the house , so Red knocks again, this time she hears a feeble “come hither my child .I’m too weak to move” . Red enters into the dark cottage ” Would you like me to turn on the lamps, its so so dark, I’m not sure I can see you Granny darling” Granny creaks back ” no my dear, keep it dark I have a horrible migraine, but come closer I can smell such delights in your basket, I am ravenously starving!”

She heads to the kitchen and locates a couple of plates and glasses then approaches Grannie’s bed where she is huddled deep under the covers, only a bonnet and glasses poking out from the blanket….and a giant pair of ears, Red’s hand shakes slightly as she pours the wine “My what big ears you have ” the wine sloshing out onto the floor….

Little Red’s mum would have been much better served in making something easier to transport on the journey to Grannie’s house than spillable wine, my suggestion would be these spiced wine Jello stock cubes similar to the Toddy cubes I made last year. Don’t be afraid they’re pretty easy to make it just takes a bit of time to prep so if you have the time try them out.

The Loving Cup

28 grams of Knox unflavored gelatin

1  cup of fresh squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup armagnac or calvados

1/3 cup  St. Elizabeth allspice dram

1 cup red wine such as pinot noir or Syrah

2 cups blueberry or hibiscus tea

1/3 cup cinnamon and clove simple syrup ( simple syrup that has been infused with ground cloves and Saigon cinnamon

2 heaped tablespoons of town sugar

sliced apples and black pepper for garnish

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

The trick to remember for any boozy jello shot is that 1/3 of your mix can be boozy and the remaining 2/3 should be a mix of juice or low ABV liquids, too much liquor and the jello will not set.

add the gelatin powder and armagnac/brandy and allspice dram to a bowl and allow the gelatin to bloom, meanwhile add red wine , lemon and  OJ to a pan with spiced syrup and bring up to a simmer, once simmering take off the heat and pour into the bowl where the gelatin is blooming. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir in the sugar till dissolved.

Prepare your cube molds with a bit of vegetable spray which will help pop the Jello cubes out easily, wipe out any excess oil.  For the molds I usually us the Tovollo silicon 1″ cubes molds.

Pour the Jello mix into the molds and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours .

Once ready to drink, boil some water and steep your fruity tea ( I like blueberry but hibiscus just as tasty). Take three cubes and places them in a cup with an apple slice and a twist or two of cracked black pepper. Pour over the hot tea and stir to dissolve the cubes, should take about a minute.

I love the idea of these cubes because you can make a batch and have them in the fridge for a week or so, they’re also a bit of fun . Perfect with a slice of Christmas pudding or  Stollen cake.

Dinner is served

…..Little Red looks at Grannie’s hairy hands as she takes the cup of hot wine and slice of cake, “But Granny, what big hands you have!” The Wolf’s eyes twinkle ” All the better to hug you with my dear ” Red stares  alarmed as “Granny” devours the cake and almost eats the cup too, saliva dripping down her chin. “But Granny what big eyes you have ” the wolf licks his lips ” All the better to see you with little one”. He reaches for the rest of the cake and stuffs it into his ever widening jaw. ” But Grannie” Red quavers ” what big teeth you have”  The wolf springs out of bed and bellows ” All the better to eat you with!!!” Red squeals and screams in the hopes the Hunter will hear her but the big bad wolf gobbles her up whole without even stopping to breath.

He throws himself back down on the bed a small belch escaping as he pats his firm round  and still wriggling tummy, he looks around for something to wash it all down with, cake, apples , wine , little and red velvet make for a heavy meal….

My suggestion for Mr.Wolf would be something celebratory ( he did just now eat better than he probably has in months) and something with a powerful digestif, my friend over at Addiction Mixology makes an Aigre-Doux ( agrodolche in Italian or sweet and sour in Inglese) a combination of strawberries , vinegar,  wine and spices are infused then aged in oak cask for six weeks, similar to a shrub but with more complexity , the vinegar makes this an excellent digestif helping to break down the heavy fats in humans and butter in spiced cake.

The Red Slipper

1 1/2  oz Old Tom Gin such as the one from Anchor or Barr Hill

1 1/2 oz Quady winery’s Elysium (  a mix of black muscat grapes with rose and litchi notes)

1 oz Addiction Mixology’s Aigre-Doux ( called Casanova’s naughty nightgown)

1 oz fresh beet juice

1 oz soda water

2 dashes Peychauds bitters

for garnish candied olives recipe just featured in LA Magazine , and apple slices pickled in beet vinegar ( you know the stuffing the jar)

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

add everything to your tin with a couple of ice cubes to chill down, pour via a funnel into your twist & sparkle , soda stream contraption or ISI gun, if using the ISI or Twist & sparkle  charge with one C02 capsule and dispense into your chilled champagne flute, if using a sad stream just press the button to charge.  Garnish with candied olives and fruit slice.

Sweet revenge and time for tea

…..As the wolf lies back his head sinking into the pillows he starts to dream he’s a factory worker stuffing little into giant pie crusts , still wearing Grannie’s bonnet in his dream it keeps slipping over his eyes , he grumbles and moves it out of the way , the scene in his head has changed and he’s standing next to a table axe in hand ready to cut open the wriggling pie, the bonnet slips once more only this time when he moves it out of his eyes the giant pie is now chasing him axe in hand swiping at his bushy tail! He wakes with a start beads of sweat pouring down his back , he tries pushing himself off the bed but something is pressing him down, the bonnet is still covering his eyes, his arms grow weak as he tries moving the cap off his head,the bonnet slips and he sees Little Red jumping out of his belly tugging Granny by the hand , he gets weaker and weaker and the last sight he sees before drifting off this mortal coil  is the tall, strapping Huntsman, cleaver in hand dripping with blood readying himself to chop of his tail to fashion into a hat!

Red and Granny slump to the floor, the wolf’s belly was hot and they were squished in there with bits of cake and red wine, Granny exhausted passes out from the ordeal, but quickly the Huntsman is at hand, he mixes her a woodland potion , a life giver, a corpse reviver , she springs back to life and runs to the kitchen to make them all tea and they all lived happily ever after!

The Corpse Reviver cocktail became a morning tradition of revelers in the 1930’s, said to fix the body and put it back together again after  a night of merry making, there are a couple of versions out there that can be found in Harry Craddock’s Savoy cocktail bible, since its Christmas I thought I’d make a festive version using Pannetone as the main flavor. Pannetone in case you were wondering a traditional Christmas bread eaten in Italy, with candied orange peel, spices and raisins, Germanic countries have something similar called a Stollen and us Brits have this heavy concoction called a Christmas Pudding, to each their own, I love a slab of Pannetone . My drink is a play on a sidecar.

Abbra Cadavare

2 oz Pannetone infused Hine brandy ( I chopped up one large Pannetore and infused it into a bottle of brandy for 24 hours, strain and rebotttle)

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz pierre ferrand dry curacao

2 drops of vanilla

2 drops of orange bitters

a splash of egg white

optional sugar rim as garnish

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass and slurp, its as simple as that!

 

THE END!

 

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