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.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.021 “When Irish eyes are smilin”

 

 

ure tis like a morn in Spring…..

 

Ive had a thing about Irish boys since as long as I can remember, my first crush was on a young butcher boy called David, I think I was nine and he was sixteen, something about those sparkling , twinkly smiling blue eyes would bewitch me and put me under the bumbling idiot spell, oh and the manly way he would handle a meat cleaver gave me goosebumps all over! Then there’s one of me favorite movies, “The Quiet Man” not because of John Wayne or the lovely Maureen O’Hara but for the character of Michaleen Flynn, impish, charming, dry humored and totally hilarious, if you have not seen the movie I recommend renting it the next time it pees down with rain, though in the City of Angels you might have to wait a year or two!

Irish boys can go one of two ways, they are either dark and broody like a pint of Guinness or cheeky , lighthearted and play well with others like a wee dram of Jameson, whichever way they go I love them both and

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any that come in between. March 17th in case you were not aware is the day the Irish commemorate Ireland’s number one son Saint Patrick by wearing Kelly green and having an all out feast, its the only time the Lenten observations are lifted by the Catholic church in Ireland to allow for celebrations to be carried out properly and by properly I mean till they drop or their liver gives in whichever comes first. The other thing I love about the Irish is anything they put their hands to is full of beautiful, soulful expression, made with thought and care.

For instance lets take a wee gander at the best selling Irish beverage, Guinness. Guinness stout is made from water, barley roast malt extract, hops and brewers yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark color and characteristic taste. It is pasteurized and filtered,making the product requires knowledge in the sciences of microbiology , mycology , bacteriology and thermodynamics.Despite its reputation as a “meal in a glass”, Guinness only contains 198 calories per pint fewer than skimmed milk or orange juice and most other non-light beers. Until the late 1950s Guinness was still racked into wooden casks. In the late 1950s and early 1960s aluminum kegs began replacing the wooden casks;

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these were nicknamed “iron lungs”. Draught Guinness and its canned counterpart contain nitrogen(N2) as well as carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic “surge” (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen and the dispensing method described above.

A brilliant bit of liquid engineering, right? Then there’s Irish whiskey, one of the greatest styles of whiskey in the world and also one of the most ancient. Unfortunately, the 20th Century saw the decline and fall of the Irish whiskey industry. In recent years Irish whiskey has begun to make a comeback. Today, Irish whiskey is the fourth most popular style of whiskey in the world behind scotch, bourbon and Canadian whiskies. Distilling technology came to Ireland earlier than many parts of Europe, probably brought over to the island by missionary monks. The first distillates were called “uisce beatha” Gaelic for “water of life”, which was eventually anglicized into the word whiskey that we use today. Currently there are only three functioning distilleries in Ireland producing this Eau de Vie, it is typically distilled three times as opposed to twice which makes it far more smoother and less harsh on the finish.

I hope I am doing them a justice in featuring both these lovely brews in the following selection of celebratory concoctions.

Slainte!

DIY Irish Cream (better than Baileys)

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey such as Jameson

1 oz Strauss heavy cream

1/2 oz simple syurp

1 oz homemade coffee liqueur (recipe below)

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Coffee Liqueur:

(recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

1/4 cup fine ground espresso

2 1/4 cup water (divided)

1 cup turbinado sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups light rum

optional rinds of 2 blood oranges

Cold brew the coffee by combining the grounds and 1 1/4 cups of the water into a sealable glass jar, shaking it, then refrigerating the mixture for 12 hours. Strain through a coffee filter into another sealable glass jar.Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let this syrup cool to room temperature. Add cooled syrup, vanilla bean, blood orange rind if using and rum to the glass jar that contains the coffee. Let that mixture steep for 3 days, then remove the vanilla bean and rind and bottle the liqueur.
For the Irish cream:
combine ingredients in a mixing glass with 4 ice cubes and give a good stir to incorporate and chill down, strain into a glass of your choice, over ice or straight up, either way its delightful!

 

Little Oge Flynn

for the drink:

1 1/2 oz of Irish whisky infused with Ibara chocolate ( I used one wafer or tablet per 1 bottle of whisky, you need to break it up and let it sit and ruminate for at least a week, lucky for me the impatient one I sous vide mine at 55 degrees for an hour and a half to get a good amount of flavor)

2 of good quality piping hot coffee or espresso, espresso is my favorite it has less acid and more flavor

3/4 oz cinnamon simple syrup ( Vietnamese or Saigon is fuller and more intoxicating in my opinion) 1 tablespoon per 3 cups of 1:1 simple , needs to be added when the simple syrup is hot

4 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

1 dash of vanilla extract

1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez PX sherry ( the raisins in this and the chocolate are beautiful together)

for the milk foam:

in your ISI gun add all ingredients and charge with one NO2 canister

8 oz of skim milk ( or buttermilk)

1/4 oz vanilla extract

3 oz of egg whites

1 oz 1:1 simple syrup

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Assemble your ingredients in a shaking tin stir a couple of times and pour into your warmed glass or vessel of choice , top with a generous cloud of milk foam and shaved dark chocolate, garnish with cinnamon stick.

 

Tay & Sympathay

A spin on a White Russian

2 oz Earl grey infused Irish whiskey ( 8 tea bags to one 750ml bottle of whiskey)

1 oz Amaretto ( not very Irish I admit but great with Earl grey)

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 drops vanilla extract

1 oz Strauss heavy cream

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add all ingredients except the cream to your mixing glass, stir with 4 ice cubes and strain into a chilled coupette or over 1 large ice cube. If serving up pour the cream slowly onto the back of a spoon into the drink so that it lays carefully on the top, if using an ice cube pour the cream onto the top of the rock and it will cover the surface and float at the top.

 

Barefoot in the grass

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey

1 oz sorrel juice

3/4 oz St.Germain

1/4 oz fresh yuzu juice ( sub lemon if you cant find, I get at a Japanese market)

1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water)

3/4 Floc de Gascogne ( an aperitif wine, use Lillet blanc in a pinch)

1 oz egg white

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 10-15 seconds. Add 4 ice cubes and shake again for 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled ice filled Old Fashioned glass and spoon over the egg white meringue. Garnish with wood sorrel leaves if you can find them if no baby arugula looks just as pretty.

 

Innisfree Cup

2 oz Irish whiskey

2 oz strong brewed mint tea ( cooled)

1-2 sugar cubes depending on your sweet tooth

3 generous dashes angostura bitters

1 oz cynar

about 6 mint leaves for muddling, 8-10 leaves for laying in bottom of glass and 3-4 generous bushy mint sprigs for garnish

photo by Paddy O’Brien-Smith

Add your bitters and sugar into the bottom half of your Boston shaker, splash in a touch of mint tea to help dissolve the sugar, muddle the sugar and bitters. Add six mint leaves, no need to muddle, over muddling will result in bitter sludge tasting mint, shaking the drink with ice should beat up the mint just enough. Add the whiskey, cold tea and Cynar and about 4-5 ice cubes. Shake hard for about 30 seconds. In a 12 oz glass lay the remaining mint leaves in the bottom , pile on top a generous scoop of crushed ice, I beat mine up in a ziplock bag with a muddler. Strain the contents of your tin over the ice and add a touch more crushed ice on top. Dash over a little more Angostura bitters, garnish with a festive straw and your mint sprigs.

 

The Brooklyn Maker

(a spin on a Boiler maker, using a variation on the classic Brooklyn cocktail)

1 1/2 oz Redbreast Irish whiskey

1/2 oz CiaoCiaro or Averna Amaro

1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz dry vermouth such as Dolin Dry

2 dashes Miracle Mile orange bitters

4-5 oz of dark Irish porter beer such as Guinness

 

In your mixing glass add all ingredients except for the beer, stir over ice for about 25-30 seconds, strain into a bottle of mini carafe . In a second matching mini bottle pour your dark beer.

When presenting the drink make sure both the beer and the cocktail are chilled as well as the glass, this drink can be served over ice or without, you can also play with different beers to lighten it up slightly, since I’m a bitter lover I chose the combination of dark porter and Amaro.

 

In the spirit of the Holiday and my large living Gaelic friends I leave you with this saying by Brooklyn’s Irish daughter , Mae West…”You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough”

 

Next up…something to wine about

Issue No.019 Give me little drink from your Loving Cup

 

 

 

 

magine if  going on a cleanse  was as easy as switching on a vacuum cleaner and having it all get sucked out, all evils just washed away and us absolved of our many imbibed sins.  We spend so much time taking care of the outside, the visible parts of us , gussying it up, making it all shiny , yet we put so much crap into our bodies not really thinking too much about the consequences, or dealing with them many years down the line.

Modern diets and lifestyles, i’m not preaching honest, wreak havoc on us . Lets face it we’re all guilty especially at this time of the year when we’ve just spent a month ( maybe more) indulging in a plethora of delights from christmas pudding and mince pies, to egg nog and copious amounts of champagne (ok that was my holiday diet). You get to January and all your bits have gotten a bit softer, bit wobblier , you feel sluggish and lumpy. So the next step is you sign up for a new gym membership to get back into bikini shape, but what about the inside, whats the saying , beauty should start from within , right?A popular method of inner spring cleaning is the fast, you give your digestive system a rest by only drinking juices or teas or spicy maple lemonade. Fasts are  nothing new of course, but they’re pretty bloody trendy these days and not just as  religious practice during Ramadan or Lent  which both employ fasting as part of the “making yourself holy” schtick . A fast is great but but whilst washing your inner bits its not really putting anything back into your system.

I live in the city of Angels, the land of mashed yeast and alfalfa sprouts according to that great Noo Yawker Woody Allen, here there  is an almost unnatural   obsession with juice cleansing, juice bars popping up all over the shop, charging $10 a go for a cold pressed bottle of green nectar, its also become popular to add, dare I say it ( waiting to be struck down by lighting) a shot of vodka or gin to said juice mix, I mean I wrote about it this time last year so I know it to be true. But this month as a change of pace and to give us all a break I decided to concentrate on the beneficial aspects of juice cocktails , or mocktails.  As a bartender I get at least one request a night to make a mocktail of some sort , since I’m a lover of veggie juice I always try to incorporate it somewhere on any drink list I have a hand in. Recently  however I started thinking about making healthful tonics not only that will cleanse those twenty  odd miles of twisted pipes in your tum but that will also help put you back on the right track with the addition of plant extracts.

Phytochemistry ( yup a big word but not a scary one) is the science of chemicals derived from plants, natural chemicals of course,that are used to heal and prevent illness, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines are all derived from Phytochemical mixtures and have been used for centuries before modern medicine was even considered, in fact a whole slew of modern medicines are synthetic imitations of plant based compounds.You may be asking yourself at this point did I suddenly decide to change track and start writing a wellbeing blog, rest assured I did not but as someone that has over the years developed intolerance to all sorts of foods I started looking at ways of making my body feel better and stronger naturally. Here’s just a few…for my chronic migraines I take Feverfew daily, for joint stiffness ( brought on by standing too long and gluten in my diet) I take Boswellia ( same family as Frankincense, you know one of the gifts that a wise man carried) and Turmeric , for upset tummy I use Black walnut tincture or charcoal powder and as an immunity booster oregano or astragalus. Don’t get me wrong I still pop an Advil every now and again much to my Witch Doctor’s disapproval, sometimes pain needs a faster method of being whipped, especially if I’m behind the bar facing 6-8 hours of shaking drinks and attempting to be sweet ( not my forte) , but popping one too many and your liver will start to suffer, too many artificial chemicals will eventually take a toll.

Natural healers are all around us,  take for instance extra virgin olive oil, believe it or not it has similar actions to ibuprofen, its a powerful anti-inflammatory , turmeric one of the main components of curry also great for pain and joint stiffness, eating hot peppers helps to release endorphins and make you feel good, ginger root helps with upset tummies and has a higher level of cancer fighting anti oxidants than most berries ( and its often cheaper than them ) it also helps eliminate pain and inflammation. So using these guys as part of my phytocleansing arsenal, here then are this months soothing cups of love full of natural, plant based free radical fighting superheros.

Oh…and when you get sick of being too righteous  and good, toss in a shot of your favorite liquid poison.

 

Street Phyto Man  

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 3 oz fresh pressed carrot juice

1/2 oz fresh pressed turmeric juice ( or a quarter teaspoon of powdered root)

1/2 oz fresh ginger juice ( or as hot as you can stand it)

2 oz fresh apple juice

1 bar spoon of devil’s claw  tincture ( available at most health food stores)

a pinch of cumin powder

Add everything to your tin with a couple of cubes of ice , no need for tons of dilution, shake for about 10 seconds only then strain into a vessel of choice. Drink it fast or within 15 minutes, the longer it sits the more the valuable elements within the juices will evaporate so you’re just left with carrot tasting water, defying the whole purpose.

great for stiff joints, replaces electrolytes, aids sluggish digestion, lowers sugar levels, soothes the pain)

 

The Kick Inside (an ode to my first vegetarian hero Kate Bush)

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

1 oz fennel juice

3 oz fresh apple juice

6 mint leaves

3 slices jalapeño

1 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz agave ( plant based and low on that nasty sugar index)

black walnut tincture

fennel fronds and mint sprig to garnish

Using your trusty muddler mash up  mint and jalapeño with the agave and lemon juice, add rest of ingredients ( except garnish) and ice. shake for about 15 seconds an dump into a highball. Gussy it up with your garnish and sip away!

Helps with sluggish digestion , rebalances healthy flora in your body, releases endorphins and makes you feel good all over.

 

Flip It Good!

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

3 oz chilled jasmine green tea

1 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz agave nectar

1/2 oz fresh ginger juice

1/2 oz egg white

bar spoon really fruity extra virgin olive oil

bar spoon Camu Camu powder

4 drops of vanilla extract

toss everything except for the olive oil into your tin and dry shake for 10 seconds without ice to build up a nice froth, add ice and shake again for a good 15 seconds to incorporate the Camu Camu. At last second stream in the olive oil, it adds a lovely velvety texture and fruitiness to the drink, shake again for few seconds. This is similar to making a Ramos Fizz, add the fat too soon and the drink will not whip up well.

High in antioxidants, Vitamin C, powerful anti-inflammatory and free radical fighter, immune booster and mood enhancer.

 

Phyt The Power

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

1 whole ripe avocado

1 whole ripe banana

1/2 cup finely chopped lacinato kale

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 oz agave nectar

4 oz unsweetened almond milk or coconut water

bar spoon chlorophyll powder or spirulina

1 ml dropper full of astragalus and ashwaganda ( in the immunity section of your health food store)

Add everything to your blender and blitz on high till your mix is nice and smooth, there will still be green bits of kale but as long as you can get them through a straw you should be good to go.

Great blood cleanser, blood builder, oxygen booster, immune booster, chock full of anti-oxidants and healthy oils to make your skin, nails and hair look strong and vibrant.

 

Chill-dren of the Revolution

glamour shot supplied by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Ok , so this one takes some time to prep but once its done and presuming you made  a batch it will last in the fridge for about a week.

1 silicone ice cube mold (1 ” cube size)

vegetable spray

1/2 cup chilled mint tea

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup of ginger juice

1 cup fresh apple juice

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon powder

3 capsules Rhodiola Rosea, open up and just use the powder

1 teaspoon agar agar powder

2 tablespoons agave nectar ( sweeten to your taste)

put everything together into a saucepan except for the agar and the Rhodiola powder, bring  to a simmer and whisk in the agar agar, whisking for a couple of minutes to makes sure there are no lumps.

meanwhile have the silicone ice tray mold sprayed with veggie oil ( wiping out the excess with a paper towel) this helps release the cubes when ready.

take mix of the heat and add the agave nectar, stirring it in,  cool slightly before whisking in the Rhodiola, again make sure there are no lumps or clusters, you want to make sure it dissolves fully.

pour into prepared mold and let set in fridge for about 1/2 an hour or longer if you can wait that long.

for the drink, take 3 cubes and put into a cup or heat resistant glass, add lemon wheels or a twist, a couple of cloves and another twist of fresh black pepper. Pour over a cup of boiling water, the cubes will dissolve . Stir and enjoy the aromas hitting your senses.

Great stress reliever, mood enhancer, energy booster, helps your brain rebalance all the good brain chemicals such as seratonin and endorphins.

 

 

 

Issue No. 012 Pour Some Sugar In Me

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ow very English of me , pip pip, spit spot , bloody ell, and all that me ol china!

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Tea is my all healer, got a cold, get a cuppa, need refreshing get an iced one, need a kick get some yerba. Its such a multi tasker that am surprised have not gotten to tea time before.

The bloody English like to claim it as their own,what with elevenses, low tea and high tea, the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the PG Tips chimps but whatevs, the brilliant Chinese are most likely the first to brew up a pot for medicinal purposes no doubt and most likely it was green or white, but us Brits we have to cook everything to within an inch ( of its life) so the leaves get a good roasting and turn to deep black teas . As a kid there was only one way of

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getting your dose of tea tannins, stewed in a big old pot to a dark brown, add some milk and you have a terracotta deep colored brick so strong you can stand on it, add a coupla lumps of sugar and your good to go. My uncle was the one that introduced me to milk-less and herbal teas, we had mint growing like a wild fire taking over the garden in summer time, all different kinds too, penny royal, spearmint, peppermint so he would pull it up, dry some for winter and the rest we would brew into a sugar spiked tea that sat in the fridge in buckets. To this day its probably my favorite tea to drink. My gran would make teas from all sorts in the garden, she claimed each one thing had a purpose in the garden as well as for the body and in the spirit of me old China men , she used them as healing tissanes. My most memorable was a nasty tasting and smelling drink made from Feverfew, it reeked up the house but like a miracle got rid of tummy aches in minutes, no doubt the scent of it was enough to make the nastiest tummy bug pack its bags and move on to more hospitable bellies. Gran was my inspiration for getting into herbal remedies and tinctures, I had a whole wood and glass medicine cabinet full of roots and leaves, bottles and twigs, I read for shits and giggles Culpeper’s Complete Herbal guide, it was my bible until I discovered Led Zep at age 13 and then it took second place to Jimmy Page and his witchy ways.

Thats pretty much how tea started its journey though, a plant brewed with hot water as a tissane for ailments, at some point it was discovered that certain leaves contained stimulants like caffeine and it became the popular pick me up way before coffee and that hideous bull pee concoction . Actually the bull thing has been a bit of an inspiration of late, I am currently working on a natural, tea based butt kicker that will get a dose of the old Co2 so that I can help ween my co-workers off their expensive , destructive and nasty canned habit, am certain I can concoct something to make them happy.Green tea is also used to flavor several gins on the market including Beefeater and contains high levels of the cancer fighting super hero anti-oxidants .

My personal favorites to use in adventures of the cocktail are Earl Grey, named after a British Prime Minister and flavored with bergamot orange oil, the rumor is the oil was added to offset the lime tinged waters of Northern England where the minister resided. Earl Grey is best used with Bourbon and Gin, try infusing a bottle of gin with a few spoons of Earl Grey to make your next Collins or sour, its quite lovely! Lapsang Souchong , a black tea that has its leaves dried over pine fires, a similar process used when making peaty scotch, the smoke from the fires lends the tea an aromatic smokey aroma and flavor, by itself its an acquired taste but make a simple syrup with it and mix it with rum or the afore mentioned scotch it’ll blow your mind. Chamomile infused in vermouth or wine based mixers and green tea, jasmine green and orange blossom my two loves work well infusing gin or vodka. There is seriously a plethora of blends you can play with, mango coconut tea infused rum, mixed into a Mai Tai, green tea gin mixed in a Singapore Sling or a lapsang tea and scotch old fashioned. Here’s a few tea based recipes to whet yer whistle!

The Big Chill

This drink is inspired by the summer staple Sangria

2 oz chamomile infused Cocchi Americano (recipe below)

2 oz Reisling or Gruner Veitliner wine

1 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

1 oz aquavit , gin or vodka

3/4 oz agave

4 drops miracle mile orange bitters

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

chopped citrus such as kumquats or blood oranges

bubbles, choose from ginger beer to champagne

mint sprig garnish

 

In a Boston shaker muddle your fruit with the agave , bitters and lemon juice, not too ferociously, you want your fruit to still look pretty in your glass. Add the rest of your ingredients except for bubbles and garnish, give a good shake for 30 seconds or so with ice and dump into a wine glass of choice, top with bubbles and garnish.

This is also great as a pitcher, make your mix but don’t add ice or bubbles until ready to serve, I suggest adding the ice to your glass rather than the pitcher so that the mix does not get diluted too fast as it stands.

The Sinnerman

The love child of a Sir Sazerac and her Ladyship Julep

2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Earl Grey Tea simple syrup (recipe below in basics)

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

6 mint sprigs

3 dash Peychauds bitters

Absinthe rinsed glass

mint sprig garnish

In your trusted Boston shaker muddle the mint with simple and bitters, toss in the rest of your ingredients with ice and shake, strain into your chilled, absinthe rinsed ice filled ( preferably with a cube) old fashioned glass, top with mint sprig and if you like add an extra spritz of absinthe on top of the drink and mint so that you get a whiff under your nose as you imbibe.

Matcha, Matcha Matcha!

1 teaspoon Matcha powdered green tea

2 oz Kaffir lime leaf infused white rum or Pisco ( Recipe below in basics)

1 oz orgeat

1 oz lime juice

2 oz coconut milk

3 dashes Scrappy’s cardamom bitters

 

Add everything to your Boston shaker with ice, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a coupette, garnish with a kaffir lime leaf

Rice Rice Baby (ok , so i’m getting corny with the names)

Rice Milk Hora or an Indian Lhassi is probably one of my favorite drinks to go with spicy food, it dumbs down those evil spice monkeys dancing on your tongue. This version is shot through an ISI gun to give it a bit of fluffing but can be made just as easily just by shaking in a tin. My version is slightly inspired by the Dude’s favorite White Russian and a Ramos, the recipe below is for one drink, if using an ISI you can batch it and make a few at once

1 1/2 oz chai tea infused vodka(recipe below)

1 oz John D Taylor’s Velvet Falernum

2 oz Vanilla rice milk

1 egg white

1/2 oz chilled espresso

1/2 oz agave

1 bar spoon acid phosphate ( adds a zing to milky drinks without adding juice)

3 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

Nutmeg garnish

 

Throw everything into your ISI gun or Boston shaker, in ISI charge with one N02 canister and give a good shake, in Boston shaker toss in some ice and shake for 30-40 seconds. The ISI version is easy to dispense into mini milk bottles, if not using ISI but want the bottled presentation is recommend using a funnel to direct your drink into the right place. Once you’re happy with where your drink landed grate a wee bit of nutmeg and add a straw.

 

The Basics

Tea infused spirits

My rule of thumb is for one 750ml bottle of booze you need about 6 tablespoons of tea, if you get it too strong you can always dilute it with more of the virgin non infused spirit, get it too weak and you wont be able to taste it in your drink once mixers and dilution added. Some green teas can be a bit strong as can lapsang tea. I tend to infuse mostly white spirits or fortified wines since their flavors are less imposing and more able to pick up an infusion, some scotches and bourbons are a little harder to mix with, as with everything I highly encourage experimentation and making your own blends.

1 bottle of vodka, gin , rum or vermouth

6 tablespoons of best quality tea of your choice.

1 large mason jar

a dark corner

throw the spirit and tea into your jar and screw on the lid, give a good shake and place in your dark and undisturbed corner, leave for at least 24 hours shaking a couple of times , taste it and if you think it needs to be stronger leave it for another 12 hours. Once its ready strain through a chinoise strainer and rebottle, if you infused vermouth it should be stored in the fridge, its a fortified wine which means that it will oxidize faster.

You can use the same process for pretty much infusing anything including the kaffir lime leaves in the first recipe, hot peppers should be checked on within 8 hours, they can get crazy spicy, in this case you can always dilute with non infused spirit.

Tea Infused simple syrup

This is one of the first infusions I made when I started to tinker with classic recipes, I used Early Grey tea as my flavor component. The solution needs to be strong so its not lost in the mix.To get the best results use boiling water and cane sugar, do not use brown sugar , the molasses thats in it will change the flavor drastically.

4 cups of boiling water

4 tablespoons of best quality loose tea, or 8 tea bags

4 cups of sugar

Steep the tea as though you were making a cuppa, leave it for about half an hour then strain off liquid, measure your remaining liquid and add an equal volume of cane sugar. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, it should last about a week but no more.

To my Earl Grey recipe I sometimes add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and lemon peels whilst infusing, they add a lovely flavor.

Acid Phosphate

Acid Phosphate was a popular ingredient used at the soda fountains of old, it sounds a bit , well chemical, but its a naturally occurring enzyme found in our own bodies and aids in digestion. In drinks it adds a certain zing if you like, its the slight tartness that balances out milky sweet egg creams but can also be used in soda making, I believe it was a component of the original Coca Cola recipe. Buy it here, its fun to play with and add to your milkshakes.

Next up……Round and round the garden, an ode to Spring

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