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.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

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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

Yul Oolu
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.013 Get ourselves back to the garden


up , I admit it,I’m a hippy at heart, a granola crunching, raw juicing, compost making , Joni Mitchell loving , Greenpeace member . I’m a child of the sixties, born in 67 a couple of months after the summer of love, raised to respect

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the land that bore me , I refused to wear shoes on it until school forced me to, shoes in my idealist head represented the “man”, even at the age of four. My fondest childhood memories are scent orientated ,sitting in our back garden breathing in the summer air, my high came from heady tomato plants or sitting under lilac and orange blossom trees after a summer shower. Just like a honey bee I can’t pass by a hedgerow without smelling roses or resist springs first offerings lilly of the valley, hyacinths, bluebells or daffodils,or the Cali phenomenon Night flowering Jasmine which completely intoxicates me , beckoning me like some siren to crash onto the rocks,or in my case the 405, one whiff and am transported to the English country garden in my memory and as Thomas Hardy would say “far from the madding crowd” .

There are other properties that flowers hold too, for eons used for their healing powers, if the scent is not enough to chill you out then consider using their essence suspended in alcohol, yes you knew I would eventually get there, if not in a delicious libation then a la Dr.Bach with his flower remedies, used by many a modern Homeopath to quiet the mind. The Victorian age produced a whole dictionary of flower meanings and symbolism, violets the most often used flowers in scenes symbolizing faithfulness and daisies for innocence.

In Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines both rose and orange flowers are distilled into hydrosols ( a water based solution made by distilling an essence) and used mostly in sweets such as turkish delight or baklava, but also to mask the flavor of high mineral content in drinking water and to purify the hands before tea drinking in Morocco. I carry a spritzer of orange flower water with me to mist on hot days, its reviving and soothing all at the same time. The last few years has seen a resurgence in flowers being used for the making of cordials, the most popular is elderflowers used for St.Germain or Mr.Cooper’s other offering Creme Yvette made from violets. Hibiscus flowers a common ingredient in Latin cuisine, that makes a tart and refreshing agua fresca. Or try Wood sorrel leaves , they look like clover but taste like a grassy citrus, great for making sours.

Like Alice in the garden of live flowers I could easily get lost and wander off intoxicated by scents and stories and never get to the point of this issue, instead am cutting the stem short and presenting you with an edited bouquet of libatious delights perfect for that violet time between day and night, the cocktail hour.

Alright blossom?

One of the most time consuming classic drinks to make is the Ramos Fizz, it involves copious amounts of shaking to get an almost milk shaky consistency, it consists of gin, cream, egg whites and citrus. Created by Henry C. Ramos in 1888, in his bar in New Orleans, it was originally called a “New Orleans Fizz.” Back before prohibition this drink was very

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popular, and because labour rates were so cheap, the Ramos brothers would hire a couple dozen “shaker boys” to whip up these drinks . It became so popular that it was difficult for them to keep up with the orders. Over time the idea of a quality drink was replaced by a fast drink and the Ramos Gin Fizz slowly faded away. To me orange flower water is a marriage made in heaven when paired with pistachios, a classic Middle eastern pairing for wedding cookies as well as Baklava. Below is my variation on the fizz using this inspiration plus a slightly Moorish take on a summery sangria-esque highball that also employs the scent of orange blossoms.

Little Green

2 oz gin ( Ford’s would be my preference but Beefeater is good too)

1 oz egg white

1 1/2 oz pistachio milk ( recipe below in basics)

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1) ratio

bar spoon of orange flower water

3 drops of vanilla extract

soda water to top off and pistachio nut for grating as garnish

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

this may not be the classic and correct way of constructing this drink but its the way it works for me to get a good amount of body.

Add all ingredients except for the cream, soda and garnish to your Boston shaker, give a good dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds to get the egg white nice and lively, add your cream and a wee bit of cracked ice, too much will dilute the drink and deflate the egg, you want a 2-3 small pieces to chill the drink enough and then give a good whip shake for about a minute more if you want to thicken the cream more, the idea is that you are whipping air into both the cream and egg white. Strain into your vessel of choice, I am currently obsessed with these 8oz mini milk bottles, add your splash of soda water and grate pistachio on top using a microplane or zester.

Marrakesh Express

2 1/2 oz light fruity red wine

1/2 oz luxardo maraschino liqueur

1 oz booze of your choice gin ,vodka,brandy or omit for a less boozie version

1 oz cocchi americano

1/2 oz agave syrup

3/4 lemon juice

barspoon of orange flower water

a couple of turns of ground pink peppercorn

fruit to muddle, such as oranges, kumquats, blueberries, strawbs, ( later in year figs and pomegranite)

dry ginger beer to top off (Fevertree my current flame) and orange slice, peppercorn garnish

 

Toss everything together in your shaker, add a couple of cubes of ice and whip shake to blend everything well without diluting too much. Strain into a tall ice filled vessel and top with the dry ginger beer and garnish

Rambling Rose

This should be my nickname, having a tendency to go off on several tangents and then forgetting what my point was like one of your batty aunts, one of my favorite rose scented bevvies comes from Jamie Boudreau, he created the inspirational Rosewater Ricky, a combo of gin, flamed cherries and rosewater amongst other things. However a recent inspiration of mine came from a fellow called Max, one of our prep cooks at work who came up with a refreshing non-boozie lemonade using an unexpected ingredient, you can make it with or without the sauce. This drink also works well as a pitcher

Green Manalishi

1 1/2 oz pea & mint syrup ( yup peas) recipe below in basics

4-5 fresh mint leaves ( stems are bitter)

2 oz of vodka, gin or aquavit

1 oz lemon

1 oz Dolin blanc vermouth

bar spoon rosewater

4 or 5 slices of lemongrass

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle mint and lemongrass with pea syrup and lemon juice, add rest of your ingredients and give a good shake with cracked ice for about 30 seconds in your Boston shaker. Double strain into an ice filled glass using your coco and hawthorn strainers , double straining makes sure you get no bits of mint,pea or lemongrass. Top with a splash of something bubbly , soda , ginger beer or prosecco. Top with mint sprig garnish.

 

Pink Moon

My second rose scented offering also incorporates the very british garden grown ingredient rhubarb, its delicious vegetal subtle pinkness is simply divine darling when paired with a wee bit of rose water, the syrup can be used for a refreshing soda or amazing drizzled on goats milk yogurt or ice cream. The drink is pretty much a version of a boozy pink lemonade, nothing too complicated allowing the ingredients to shine through,I dusted it with little beet powder that adds extra earthy drama.

Inspired by the rose scented delicacy Turkish delight, for a bit of fun I made jello shot jellys to accompany both this drink and the following one, the recipe I adapted from the NY Time’s article written by the wonderfully smart Toby Cecchini.

2 oz gin or vodka

1 1/2 oz rhubarb syrup ( recipe below in basics)

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz egg white

1/2 oz cocchi americano

bar spoon of rosewater

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

toss everything together in your trusty shaker and dry shake without ice for a good 15 seconds or so, add a small amount of ice and whip shake for another 30 seconds, you want the shaker nicely chilled but your contents not too diluted and bruised. Strain into a coupe or small glass , top with some of the remaining egg white foam, garnish with a skewer of berries or if you got adventurous additionally with a rhubarb jelly and a sprinkle of dehydrated beet powder.

Bramble on…

The Bramble is more of a new classic, invented somewhere in the 80’s ( nineteen not eighteen), by a fellow Brit bartender, its a cobbler in style, using plump ripe blackberries to fruitify some London dry, my additions here were minimal, a touch of the gentle lady rose water and a couple of crushed rosehips, oh and a splash of strawberry lambic to finish off the English brambled garden theme.

2 oz gin

1 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz creme Yvette, creme de mure or cassis

barspoon of rosewater

4-5 plump ripe blackberries

2 crushed rosehips ( local herbal store should stock)

splash of Timmermans strawberry lambic ale to top off and lemon twist

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

In your glass or jelly jar add your berries, rosehips, syrup and lemon juice, give it all a good muddling, top with ice, add gin and rosewater and stir for about 20 seconds, top with the lambic ale, lemon twist and a skewered blackberry.

 

Barefoot in the Grass

This drink is an ode to my good friend Paddy, who takes all of my gorgeous shots here, recently he told me he’s quite fond of whiskey sours, I came up with this drink a version of a classic Boston whiskey sour for St.Patrick’s day and used Irish whiskey, the elderflower based liqueur St.germain and at the suggestion of one our fantastic chefs, foraged wood sorrel , which happens to look like a little lucky charm with its clover shaped self. You can also use sorrel leaves, I find them at the Farmer’s market and from time to time at WF’s.The lemony sourness of sisters sorrel and wood sorrel once wazzed in the blender with some cold water can be used as the sour element of your drink instead of citrus juice and add a fragrant grassy note to your drinks.

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey

1 oz wood 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 ( a vin d’aperitif, use Lillet blanc in a pinch)

1 oz egg white

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Dry shake your ingredients together for about 15 seconds, add wee bit of ice and shake again for further 30 seconds, again the trick is not to over shake and kill the flavors but get the drink chilled and nicely frisky.

strain into a coupe or sour glass and top with a sprig of something herbal, I had fennel handy.

 

The Basics

Rhubarb syrup

12 stalks of rhubarb ( or thereabouts) washed and chopped into half inch width bits

2 cups of organic cane sugar ( not brown sugar, the molasses will kill the flavor)

1 cup of cold water

1 large metal bowl

plastic wrap

1 large pot that the bowl will sit on without touching the bottom of the pan

throw rhubarb, water and sugar into the bowl, cover with a couple of layers of plastic wrap, in meantime fill large pan about half way full of water and set onto high heat. Once the water starts to simmer place the plastic wrapped bowl onto pan and turn down heat to medium, the steam from the hot water will start to cook the rhubarb and make it release its juices. Leave it for about an hour and a half until the rhubarb has gotten soft but not totally broken down, if you leave it too long the syrup will be less consomme like, which is what you’re after and more muddy, the taste won’t be much different but the look will. Once ready take the bowl off the pan and using a second bowl and a chinoise strainer, strain off the liquid, don’t push the solids through but agitate it enough that all the precious liquid drains out. When you have most of the liquid separated set it aside to cool, the solids left from the rhubarb you can use for pie filling, compote , jam or ice cream topping.

Pea & mint syrup

1 bag of frozen peas

a generous handful of fresh mint leaves only, no stems

a cup of simple syrup ( 1:1 ratio sugar to hot water, cool before using)

in a blender add your ingredients and wazz on high for about 30 seconds

strain through a chinoise strainer adding a touch of water if needed to thin out.

add to lemon juice and soda water for a refreshing lemonade.

Sorrel Juice

2 cups of rough chopped sorrel leaves

1 cup cold water ( warm will blanch it and make the leaves yellow)

add both to your blender and wazz on high for about 15 seconds, strain and store the liquid in an airtight container, this oxides quite fast so use within a day.

Pistachio Milk

2 cups raw shelled pistachios

2 cups warm water

2 cups distilled water

in a mason jar add your pistachio nuts and warm water, allow to sit for about an house so the nuts soften, strain out liquid then add nuts and distilled water to a blender, blitz nuts for about 30 seconds and throw everything back into a clean lidded jar, allow to sit for about 4-5 hours, shake the jar every so often to agitate. Strain out liquid, double strain if needed, this is your nut milk, store in the fridge for a couple of days at max.

Rhubarb jellies

1 packet knox unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup of rhubarb syrup warmed through on stove

1/4 cup of cocchi americano

1/4 oz rose water

add the gelatin powder to the warm syrup, stir to dissolve powder, add the cocchi and rosewater and stir again, transfer to an airtight flat bottomed container and tsore in fridge for 3-4 hours till set. Carve up how you so choose if they get as far as a drink well done, mine got gobbled up pretty fast.

 

 

Next up….Thai one on

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