Bitters

Bitters Sugar Cubes

04.16.15

Bitters Sugar CubesI totally can’t take credit for this idea. Awhile ago, in the midst of a Pinterest spiral, I came across gorgeous pink angostura sugar cubes and have had them in the back of my mind since. They were basically begging me to recreate them.

Bitters_Sugar_Cubes_2 I made smaller batches so that I could experiment a little more (and not have 1 million sugar cubes on my hands). I ended up using Raft Smoked Tea Vanilla Syrup, The Bitter Housewife’s Cardamom Bitters, and classic Peychaud’s.Bitters_Sugar_CubesMy cubes didn’t turn out perfectly, but I’m OK with that. I’ve come to terms with perfection and know imperfection is what makes things and people unique. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

A few lessons learned: Use silicone trays rather than hard plastic. Err on the side of more rather than less bitters. Be patient and let those suckers dry completely before trying to remove them. Let’s just say I have a few issues with waiting, especially during cocktail hour. Gimme those sugar cubes, already!

You could use these in any drink that called for simple syrup and bitters, but I kind of love just plopping them in a glass of dry champagne and watching them unleash their sweet, bubbly magic.

Bitters Sugar CubesBitters Sugar Cubes
makes approximately 50 cubes

  • ½ c. superfine sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp bitters of your choice
  • sugar cube molds (preferably silicone) or a jelly roll pan lined with parchment

Assembly
Mix sugar and bitters in a small bowl until well combined—your fingers will do the best job. Press wet sugar into mold or pan. Allow to dry completely overnight.

Barware notes: My tiny ice cube molds are these ones, but I would recommend trying out a silicone version instead. My flutes are from CB2. The dishcloth is by Kiriko. The bar spoon was an Alameda Antiques Faire find.

Gin

Bee’s Collins + Finding a Voice

04.02.15

Bee's Collins CocktailThis week, the annual Saveur Blog Awards released their 2015 nominations. I look forward to this each spring, mostly because I follow a lot of food blogs, and more recently because this year, I kind of am one. I love to curl up with the list, discovering new voices and delighting in seeing some of my favorites being recognized.

In the “Best Spirits & Cocktail Coverage”, I wasn’t surprised to see some well-known blogs nominated, like Stir & Strain and Gastronomista. And deservedly so—their blogs are innovative and fresh, and they know the facets of mixology well. I was also excited to read about a few new names, like Tuxedo No. 2, which was instantly added to my to-follow list.

Bee's CollinsWhile browsing this list of such accomplished spirits blogs, I couldn’t help but feel a little lacking. These guys know their stuff. They are well-versed in all things cocktail-related and are deep in the industry trenches. They speak to the Avid Cocktail Connoisseur and they do so with conviction. Which made me wonder—should I be talking to that person, too? Am I doing this wrong?

Over the past six months, I’ve posted straight cocktail recipes, and other times I’ve let my voice in and opened up about things that go beyond the cocktail shaker. And I have to say, the posts that fall into the latter category are the ones I take the most pride in after I hit “publish”—not the ones in which I experimented with a unique ingredient or created an elaborate drink.

As with every creative endeavor, comparison is unavoidable. It’s also the thief of joy. Not only do I compare my blog to other cocktail blogs, but I also compare it to my favorite lifestyle and photography blogs. Too often there is a little nagging voice telling me to be more like them, mimic what made them successful, follow the leader.

Bee's Collins CocktailBut in reality, I know that’s not me. I know that’s not what I want this blog to be about. I’m not a cocktail expert and I probably never will be. And that’s OK. It’s OK not to be everybody else.

This blog is less about fancy liquor characterizations and more about fresh ingredients. It’s less about spending your paycheck to build a 50-bottle home bar, and more about creating simple drinks you can make at home with ingredients you have on hand. It’s less about the cocktail and more about the conversation you have while sipping that cocktail.

As I move forward in this blogging adventure, I hope I can continue to find and honor my voice, while taking bits and pieces of inspiration from blogs and websites I admire. And if someday I happen to find myself on that Saveur list, I’ll know that it was me who was recognized, not a well-made Manhattan. And that may be the greatest recognition there is.

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Onto our regularly scheduled programming! This simple, refreshing cocktail is a great one to make mid-week—easy to pull together, common ingredients, light and airy. It’s a combination between a Tom Collins and a Bee’s Knees, with just a little twist with the addition of lavender (which is completely optional!)

As the summer months approach, there will only be more of these fresh, classic cocktails that are easy to make and even easier to sip. It’s going to be the best.

Bee’s Collins

  • 1 ½ oz gin – I used Venus Spirits Blend No. 1, which I cannot recommend enough—super floral and citrus-y
  • 1 ¼ oz lavender honey (recipe follows) – plain ol’ honey or honey syrup would work great too
  • 1 ¼ oz fresh lemon juice
  • club soda or seltzer
  • lemon sugar for rimming (simply combine 1 tbsp lemon zest and ⅓ c. sugar)

Assembly:
Rim a highball or lowball glass with lemon juice and then the lemon sugar; fill with ice. Add ice and first three ingredients to a shaker; shake until very cold. Pour into the ice-filled glass. Top with club soda or seltzer water. [Do you know what differentiates the two? I didn’t. Club soda has minerals added, while seltzer is just artificially carbonated. To the average consumer, there isn’t a noticeable difference.]

Garnish with a lemon wedge, honeycomb or lavender!

Lavender Honey
Bring ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, 2 tbsp honey, and 2 tsp dried or fresh lavender to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lavender flavor is pronounced, about 3 minutes. Strain syrup into small bowl.

Barware notes: The lowball glass was an old IKEA find. The honey-filled container is a working glass from Crate & Barrel.

Whiskey

Spiked Matcha Latte

03.17.15

Matcha Whiskey Cocktail // The Shared SipI was feeling completely uninspired to create a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail, bombarded by the same Guinness floats and Irish Car Bomb remakes. Yawn. I had all but chalked the holiday up to a loss, when I remembered the container of matcha tea latte powder buried in the back of my pantry. If ever there was a time to try to work it into a cocktail, this green-everything occasion was it.

Matcha Whiskey Cocktail // The Shared SipI kept it super simple, adding only water, milk and Irish whiskey to create a creamy beverage ideal for a boozy brunch or as a dessert cocktail.

While I won’t be hitting the bars tonight, I will be feasting on corned beef and, in tradition, sipping a green beer. It’s the right thing to do. Slainte!

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Spiked Matcha Latte
makes 2 cocktails

  • 6 tbsp matcha green tea latte powder; I used the Trader Joe’s variety
  • 6 oz milk or half & half
  • 6 oz water
  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey; I used Bushmills

Assembly

Fill two highball glasses with ice. In a separate container or mixing glass, combine matcha tea latte powder with milk and water, and whisk until well blended. Add mixture and whiskey to a shaker with ice. Shake well until very cold. Pour into highball glasses and sip immediately!

I frothed some milk and added the foam to the top for a fancier presentation. It’s tasty with or without it!

Barware notes: The mixing glass is from Umami Mart; the highball glass and small milk pitcher were both thrift finds.

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Sip + Skim
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise

  • I recently discovered the site A Drink With, where Chicagoan Hillary Sawchuk chats with celebrities, entrepreneurs, musicians and more over a drink. The interviews with video are my favorite, but the others are just as charming. My first stop was Aaron Paul, obviously.
  • Working from home, I basically live in workout clothes. I’m looking at trying out Wantable, the Stitch Fix of workout gear. Or, I could just start wearing real clothes. Predicament.
  • Not to keep talking about fitness like a total meathead here, but I have become completely obsessed with my new membership to Class Pass, which allows you to go to a ton of different classes at various studios in your city. Spin one day, Pilates the next, Bootcamp after that. It mixes up my routine so I never get bored.
  • Have you read this piece, Busy Is A Sickness? It’s all about how we create busyness in our life as a self-imposed indication of worth and value, and to avoid simply being with ourselves. Worth a read for sure.
  • Saving my pennies for a handmade ceramic juicer by Fringe + Fettle, which is almost too beautiful to use. Almost.
Styling / Travel

Styling And Photography Workshop + Portland Favorites

03.10.15

Styling + Photography WorkshopThis past weekend, I headed to Portland for a food styling and photography workshop, despite some insecurities and fears. It was hosted by the wonderful Jason French, who owns the event space, Elder Hall, and the adjoining restaurant Ned Ludd. One of my favorite bloggers and stylists, Ashley Marti of Local Haven, taught us all her secrets and was such a joy to learn from.

Styling + Photography WorkshopAshley styled three dishes full of fresh ingredients, offered up some of her tips to perfecting the shot, then set us off to work on our own vignettes. There was a huge table full of gorgeous props to use, and platters upon platters of fresh ingredients.

One of my favorite parts of the workshop was seeing how each of the 12 students in the class styled their shots. We were all using the same ingredients, in yet each and every vignette was completely different.

Styling + Photography WorkshopI tried my best to stop perfecting and obsessing, and instead enjoy the moment as much as possible—the colors, the people, the conversations. At the end of class, we ate the most perfect meal together. My heart was so full when I walked out of that space.

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I had 24 hours before the workshop to explore Portland, so I tried to pack in as much as I could. I stayed on the west side of the river, eating and drinking my way through the city. I stopped at Mother’s for the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had in my life, then made my way to the Pearl District to explore Powell’s bookstore and do some shopping. I had a bunch of spots bookmarked, but my favorite store was one I stumbled upon, called Made Here PDX. Everything in the store was made locally in Portland. I took home some Raft Syrups smoked tea vanilla syrup an The Bitter Housewife‘s cardamom bitters. I can’t wait to dream up some new cocktails with them!

Of course, I couldn’t visit Portland without stopping into a few cocktail bars. I headed to Pepe Le Moko, where I ordered their delicious Hotel Nacional Special cocktail and sipped rums with the bartenders. I’m not usually much of a rum drinker, but they insisted on having me try this El Dorado 15 rum, which was so tasty, you’ll probably find me sipping on it all summer long.

Styling + Photography WorkshopI stopped into the much-hyped Clyde Common at the Ace Hotel, which was cool but admittedly underwhelming. My favorite spot, by far, was the Multnohmah Whisk{e}y Library, which was, in a word, perfection. The bar was dark and spacious, and felt old-timey and incredibly cozy. The walls were lined with over 1500 different spirits, whiskey and beyond.

I sat with the bartender, Jason, and learned about his techniques while he made me a couple of his current scotch-based favorites. I tried my best to keep my phone (slash security blanket) tucked away, learning to be comfortable sitting alone, just me. It’s scary and uncomfortable at first, but was such a freeing night, full of interesting conversations with strangers and time for myself.

The weekend was one I won’t soon forget, full of creativity and exploration—and a little glimpse into the possibilities that present themselves when you let them.

Gin / Ice

Ombre Ice Cubes + On Feeling Like An Imposter

03.06.15

Ombre_Ice_Cubes_2-01This weekend, I’m flying to Portland to take a food styling + photography workshop with one of my favorite bloggers, Local Haven. She does amazing work, and the workshop is offered in this super cool event space in the heart of the city. I am so, so excited.

But ever since I purchased my ticket, there’s been a subtle queasiness associated with my trip; a little anxiety nagging at me from somewhere deep within. I’ve been hesitant to mention the workshop to anyone, and I’ve questioned the trip since I hung up the phone confirming my reservation. If I was forced to admit my plans, I shrugged it off—”It’s no big deal!” or “I’m just doing it for fun, and I’ve never been to Portland!” or my favorite, “It’s silly, I know! It doesn’t mean anything.” And the reason is quite simple: I feel like an imposter.

Ombre_Ice_Cubes_3-01 Of course, this isn’t a new phenomenon. When we explore something new, or outside of what we’re deemed capable of or knowledgeable about, we feel the need to make it seem casual. That way, a) no one is going to judge us (“She’s not a photographer! Who does she think she is?!”) and b) we negate the fear of failure (“I wasn’t great at that, but it was only for fun anyways”). I think this is especially true once you’re in a life phase that expects you to be established wherever you are—career, relationship, family, et cetera. The openness to learning somehow seems to fade with the passage of time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, beating myself up for having these feelings and for not moving confidently in the direction of a passion I’ve discovered. There is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that needs to be made excuses for. If I’m honest, I’m proud for putting myself out there, and trying something new. I would berate any friend of mine who told me they were “too old” or “too inexperienced” to pursue something that interested them, something that lit some sort of fire within them. To ignore it would be crazy—that’s what I would say to them.

Ombre_Ice_Cubes-01Still, it’s hard to make that case to myself. Instead, I see beautiful pictures on Instagram, or read about a talented stylist and think, “There is no way I will ever be that good.” And maybe I won’t. But to deny the part of myself that feels joy and excitement in those creative moments is only allowing the insecurity and fear to win.

So I will go to Portland. I will let the creativity and the inspiration in. I will stop worrying about what others think. I will allow myself to fail and to keep failing. I’ll grow. And I will make a promise to myself—despite the external and internal voices—to never stop learning.

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On that note, let’s make some ice cubes! Guys, I think my new thing might be creating beautiful ice cubes. You can do so much with them! And darn if they aren’t just pretty. They bring a boring ol’ cocktail to the next level in a major way.

I will say, these take a little time (and patience) to make. You have to let each layer set completely before adding the next. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. I would say a solid 3-4 hours per layer. So, you’ll need to plan ahead a bit if you’re making these for a special occasion, or, if you’re like me, a Tuesday night.

Once they are done though, they are complete show-stoppers. I kept the cocktail super simple and I recommend using only clear liquor and mixers. Go with a classic—the cubes will add the punch. Plus, as the cubes melt the cocktail continues to morph into something more delicious with each passing moment. What was once a gin + tonic is now a gin + tonic with grapefruit and orange flavors subtly hitting your tastebuds at unexpected moments. YES.

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Ombre Ice Cubes
makes approximately 20 1-inch cubes

  • 5 pink grapefruits
  • 4 blood oranges
  • ice cube trays; I love my extra-large Tolovo tray and my 1-inch Dexas trays

Assembly

Juice the grapefruits and oranges into separate containers; Strain each of the liquids again through a fine mesh strainer if you have one. Take a little orange and grapefruit juice and mix them together in another container, adding more of either juice until you have created the desired color. The blood orange juice is really potent, so start with a small amount. Repeat again, creating a different shade than the one you already made. Sidenote: Feel free to add water to your juices to create the desired shades. Line the juices up in order from darkest to lightest; this will be your pouring order.

Fill each cube up 1/4 of the way up; freeze 3-4 until completely set. Add another 1/4 of the next shade on top of the frozen shade; freeze until completely set. Repeat for the other two shades of juice.

Once completely frozen, pop them into any drink of choice! Here I made a simple gin + tonic, using 2 oz of gin and about 5 oz of good tonic. Fever Tree makes a great one but really any ol’ tonic or seltzer would be great. If you’re a vodka fan, go vodka. The world is your ombre ice cube.

Barware notes: The wine glasses pictured are old; I bought them ages ago (sorry!). The little wobbly glass at the bottom is from Muji. That store has some rad stuff.

Classic Cocktails / Gin

Perfecting A Classic, Vol. 01: The Martini

03.02.15

The Martini-01 If you ask someone how he likes his martini, chances are, you’re going to get a very convicted, passionate response. Everyone likes his or her martini a specific way, which is, to them, the only way. The thing is, I started this blog to shake things up (pun intended) in my home bar. To experiment and make mistakes. To have some damn fun with cocktails! And the classic martini is no exception.

I’ve never been much of a martini drinker, so my predilections for “correctness” were nearly nonexistent. My best reference was to my dad’s preparation of choice, which consisted of mainly just gin with what he called “a whisper” of vermouth—an amount so small he likened it to quietly murmuring across the top of a chilled gin-filled glass, “vermouuuuuth.”

The Gin MartiniMe, I like a little more than a whisper in my martini. I also enjoy a dash of slightly-sweet bitters (oxymoron!) and even a splash of olive juice. My father probably won’t speak to me for awhile after I post this.

Another major martini controversy: shaken or stirred. I read up a bit on this in my new Death & Co. cocktail book (I honestly cannot recommend this book enough), and the general rule of thumb is: if the cocktail contains any opaque or cloudy ingredients, it should be shaken; a cocktail of transparent ingredients should be stirred. Since martinis are primarily gin and vermouth, stirred it is.

Here, I used a new gin recommended to me by my local spirits shop, Alchemy, which they said would be great for martinis and other cocktails alike. I love that it’s made locally, and well, the label is just plain cool.

The Martini 2-01

The stirring technique was a whole new beast to tackle—you can’t just stir it like a cup of coffee, there’s a science to it. I found this video helpful.

I think the version below is pretty tasty, but I encourage you to experiment and find the martini that works for you. Forget the rules. Cocktailing is for rebels.

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The Gin Martini
makes 2 cocktails

  • 5 oz dry gin
  • 1.5 oz dry vermouth; I used Dolin
  • 6 dashes of bitters; I used Fee Brothers celery bitters
  • optional: splash of olive juice
  • 6 olives, pitted
  • mixing glass
  • bar spoon

Assembly

Place 3 olives on each of two cocktail picks; set aside. In a mixing glass, add all other ingredients without ice, and give a good stir. Add several ice cubes (1-inch cubes are ideal), until the mixing glass is packed fairly tight.

Slide your bar spoon down the side of the glass so that the rounded side touches the glass. Place pointer and middle finger on inside of bar spoon (facing the ice) and the other two on the outside of the spoon (closer to the glass). Push the spoon with your ring finger, then pull with your middle finger, using the packed ice’s natural motion to mix. You shouldn’t be moving your arm much, only your fingers. Mix for about 20 seconds. Using a julep or regular cocktail strainer, strain equally into two martini or coupe glasses (chilled if possible!). Top with your olives.

IMG_5427Barware notes: I found the coupe glass at a thrift shop, but these are similar. The mixing glass is also from Umami Mart. Snag the Death & Co. book here. The gold cocktail picks are an old find from Crate & Barrel Outlet; similar can be found at Cocktail Kingdom, another ah-maz-ing bar-building resource. I want all the things.

Cointreau / Gin

Oscars Edition: The Golden Gent

02.22.15

Golgen Gent Cocktail OscarsI am a huge Academy Awards fangirl; I await the nominations announcement like a kid at Christmastime. And for the month following, I spend my free time curled up in the backs of dark theaters, watching as many nominees as I can, soaking in the performances and comparing my own thoughts to the industry’s critiques.

And that’s just before the ceremony itself. On Oscar night, I love to throw parties to gather friends and watch together—formal attire required, monetary bets placed on printed ballots, and plenty of themed eats. It’s such a great excuse for celebration, usually in the dead of winter when extra merriment is so welcome. Unsurprisingly, a themed cocktail is nothing short of mandatory.

Golgen Gent Cocktail OscarsThis year, though, I’ve felt a little meh about the Oscars. I’m not sure if it’s because none of the films really resonated with me or what, but I’m taking in this year’s screening without much jubilation. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a cocktail in hand (even if I am eating take-out in my sweats); a great cocktail does not require an occasion, if you ask me.

I was trying to come up with a good prosecco-based drink, but none stuck out at me. So I decided to go with a frothy something-or-other, and spotted a cocktail called the White Lady from Food52. I’ve only slightly adapted it here, as I wanted to keep it simple and include ingredients most will already have in their barsinal (heh!).

Enjoy the show! If nothing else, NPH as host guarantees a good time, right?

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The Golden Gent
makes 2 cocktails

  • 3 oz gin
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • 1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup
  • 2 egg whites

Assembly

Add all ingredients except egg whites to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until cold, about 20 seconds. Add egg whites to shaker and shake again until frothy, another 20 seconds. Strain into a martini or coupe.

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Barware notes: I’ve DIYed these chalkboard paint glasses for my sisters—they make a great gift. Simply tape off the base of a martini or coupe class, spray paint with chalkboard paint, and let dry overnight. Use chalk or chalkboard pens to write the names of your guests on the base. Super cute and no one loses their glass during the party!

The juicer was a 99-cent Crate & Barrel Outlet find. Gold tray was picked up at the Alameda Antiques Faire. Striped napkins and mini clipboard are from Target. Popcorn box and clapboard are from Party City.

Campari / mezcal

The Bloody Valentine

02.14.15

Bloody Valentine Mezcal Cocktail

Valentine’s Day is, in a word, fake. So fake! What is even the significance of having a dozen red roses show up at your desk or going out to dinner with every other schmuck in town on a predetermined day? Thanks, but no thanks. I’m happy to share takeout pizza and a Netflix marathon with my significant other, which, it turns out, you don’t need to make reservations for three months in advance. Valentine’s Day is just like New Year’s Eve: amateur hour.

Things I do love about Valentine’s Day: crafts, chocolate and cocktails. But, really, I like those things every day of the year. I made a DIY version of these adorable cards for my friends, ate plenty of red velvet Oreos, and am going to throw back several cocktails over the weekend. Join me, will ya?

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PIsco

The Pearisian Pisco + A Year of Grace

01.27.15

pearisian piscoRemember that time I said I was going to write a post about the new year, and now it’s January 27th? Because that’s right now. BUT! It’s still January, so I’m giving myself a pass. We all deserve a little grace to start out the year.

With that said, happy new year! I hope New Year’s Eve graced you with good friends and delicious cocktails and a smooch from someone you love. If you’re like the rest of the world, the arrival of a new year brings about overwhelming feelings of anxiety and the pressure to GET IT RIGHT this year. It’s such a bummer, don’t you think? I’m trying to ditch that mindset and approach 2015 with a little more zen.

Which brings us to: resolutions. A part of me thinks they are such a cliché, an opportunity for disappointment, an overwrought attempt at change based solely on a date on the calendar. But, there’s also a part of me that loves the opportunity for reflection and renewal. What did I do last year that made my heart full? How can I bring more of that into my life this year?

So I made my resolutions with over-arching desires and intention-based values in mind:

      • Create meaningful habits. I want to write in my journal more; I want to learn more about meditation; I want to read more. By creating habits, it takes less effort to carve out time to do the things you love. If I decide that each Monday and Thursday before bed I’m going to journal, I’m more likely to do it because it’s a set habit.
      • Stop phoning it in. Or, rather, the exact opposite. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve picked up the phone to call a friend in the last year. With texting and social media, who needs it, right? Wrong. The connection is so much greater when you can hear the words spoken by someone you love. And every time I do get off the phone or spend time with someone in person, I ask myself, why don’t I do that more often?
      • Honor creativity. Just because my day job isn’t as creative as I wish it was doesn’t mean I can’t fuel my creativity outside of work. I’m lucky that my job is super flexible – I could easily take an afternoon to walk around the city with my camera. So why don’t I? Excuses, mostly. I’m done with those, though. Find the time. Learn. Grow. A few on my list: calligraphy, photography, prop styling, and of course, this blog.
      • Be present. This year I will try my damnedest to put down the phone. Take out the earbuds. Stop walking so fast. Look around. Have you ever noticed how much more enjoyable a dinner is when you’re not trying to Instagram it? I want to capture meaningful experiences when I can, but not at the cost of the authenticity of the present moment.
      • Practice gratitude. So much easier said than done. Between the too-frequent comparisons to others, the daily annoyances, the routine of life, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing outstanding to be grateful for. But there always is. I have a warm bed to sleep in every night. I never have to worry about my next meal. I’m healthy. I could weep with gratitude when I think about how lucky I am, but too often I just don’t think about it. I want to change that.

With these in mind, I’m trying to give myself grace in not “following” them all time. I think that’s my word this year: Grace. The courage to grow but the grace to fall. I think 2015 is going to be a good one.

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On that note, I bring you a cheery, fruity cocktail to welcome this new year!

To be completely honest, before making this cocktail I barely knew anything about pisco, other than it was used to create the eponymous Pisco Sour. If you’ve been living in a cave like me, here’s the scoop: Pisco is actually a brandy, distilled from pressed grapes into a spirit, in South America (Peru and Chile primarily). It’s hard to describe but it tastes very…boozy. Helpful, right?! If you invest in a bottle, I promise to make more pisco cocktails here. We can experiment together!

pearisian pisco cocktailIt turns out my cocktails typically come about one of two ways: a) by drinking a killer cocktail at a bar or restaurant and using it as inspiration or b) having various ingredients laying around my kitchen and needing to use them before they go bad. This pisco cocktail falls in the latter group. I had pears sitting on my counter, insulted that I had forgotten to use them in my salad the night before, and ginger hovering in the corner, challenging me to just TRY and find a use for it. Good luck, it smirked.

pearisian pisco cocktailI started by creating a simple ginger syrup. I put a lot of ginger in there—I like an infused syrup to be bold, to shout its identity from the rooftops! Next I pureed my pears. Fair warning: the pears will discolor. Such is life. I didn’t want to add lemon juice to keep them from discoloring because it would have changed the taste quite a bit. Embrace the discoloring!

Though this cocktail is tasty, I would venture to say pears may be on the bottom of my list of preferred fruits to use in cocktails. The puree is just a tad grainy. I know you know what I’m talking about. But hey, live and learn—and cocktail with grace.

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The Pearisian Pisco
makes 2 cocktails

  • 4 oz pureed pear (approximately 1 large pear, peeled and cored)
  • 4 oz pisco
  • 2 oz ginger simple syrup (recipe follows)

Assembly
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold. Strain and serve up in a martini or coupe glass (chilled if possible!)

Ginger simple syrup

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces

Heat all ingredients over low heat, until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and let ginger steep for at least 15 minutes, more if possible. The longer you steep, the stronger the flavor!

Barware notes: The glass was a find at Ohmega Salvage, the sidecar and tiny carafe are both from Crate & Barrel. Shaker can be found here.

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Sip + Skim
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise

  • Loving the simplicity of the new cocktail site 365 Days of Cocktails. Eye candy + delicious cocktail recipes. Yes, please.
  • I’ll take one of each of these glasses, on sale from Zara Home.
  • Visiting this new cocktail bar in San Francisco, Rx, is currently on the tip-top of my list of to-dos. The menu design alone will make you a believer.
  • Unless you’re on a new year’s anti-social media diet, you’ve probably read this New Yorker piece, “Let’s Get Drinks.” TOO. REAL.
  • As noted above, one of my resolutions is to spend more time writing. Journal 52 offers a simple prompt each week—a subtle kick in the rear when I’m feeling too lazy to pick up a pen. See also: The 5-Minute Journal.
  • Lastly, a new awesome podcast to introduce you to! On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from Serial is Dear Sugar, a podcast of the same name as Cheryl Strayed’s advice column (and later, book). She and Steve Almond (the columnist before Strayed took over) answer reader questions that span all sorts of topics, from infidelity to addiction. The show is genuine and smart and will get you thinking.
barware

New Year, New Barwares!

01.05.15

2015_barwaresBetween Christmas and my birthday, I was lucky enough to receive some of the most thoughtful and beautiful pieces to continue building my bar. Here are my favorites from the holiday season.

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one: this gorgeous seamless mixing glass from local Oakland homewares shop Umami Mart—essential for a cocktail stirred, not shaken.

two: Kyle treated me to this fancy bottle of Ardbeg Corryvrecken single malt scotch for Christmas. I’m not typically a scotch drinker, but this one is smoky and complex and could certainly make a believer of me.

three: Liquid Intelligence—a cocktail book with a scientific approach to all things booze. Did you know there’s an actual technique called booze washing, which strips liquor of undesirable flavors? Me neither. I feel smarter already.

four: another awesome cocktail book Death & Co., from a bar of the same name in New York City. The book is written collectively by the speakeasy’s many amazing mixologists, and features stunning pictures and hundreds of unique cocktails.

five: finally! A set of Moscow mule mugs that have been on my wishlist for quite some time. I can’t wait to use them all summer long.

six: my sisters got me this gorgeous wine decanter for my birthday; I’m embarrassed to say I have never owned a decanter (though I have been using this aerator for quite some time and love it). This thing is so pretty it doubles as a work of art.

Not pictured but equally loved: seven: an empire state building cocktail shaker (!); eight: a pair of etched fern coupes.

Your turn! Any great holiday scores I should know about? There’s always room for more, I say.