cocktails

Cocktail, Dahling?

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What started with the intention of mixing up some martinis for the Mad Men premiere turned into an inspired round of cocktail creation in Kate’s new kitchen. Presenting the results, with a nod to Don Draper and all the other cads we have known.

Firestarter, (pictured) a fiery red concoction incorporating pomegranate, Chambord, and more.

Brooklyn Spring, a chance to break out the Absolut Brooklyn vodka, perking up its apple-ginger flavor with an herbal note.

The Cad Killer, slay ‘em with something sweet and hot.

We Saw Stars

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Anticipating that  The Artist would take home top prizes at this year’s Academy Awards, the Three Points cooks also turned to Old Hollywood for inspiration this weekend. By that we mean two of the restaurants that are synonymous with Movieland’s Golden Years: The Brown Derby and Chasen’s. Together they hosted Hollywood elite and produced some classic recipes that proved even stars love their comfort foods, like Chasen’s Chicken Pot Pie and Chili.

On the menu for our multi-city Oscar viewing parties:

The Brown Derby Cocktail. A refreshing aperitif of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup. Grapefruit seems to have been a theme at The Brown Derby, whether in cocktails or cakes. Go for the fresh-squeezed juice suggested and use leftover  grapefruit segments, as we did, in another throwback salad, tossing with chunks of avocado and this old-fashioned fruit salad dressing.

Cobb Salad. The Brown Derby, so the story goes, is progenitor of this classic American salad, created from leftovers by Bob Cobb, a co-owner. We all know  it and love it… though its original form included chicory and watercress, which are far less likely to appear on today’s menu (or grocery shelves). So, we went with mixed greens. The recipe also calls for boiled (boring) chicken… So we poached it Pierre Franey style (a warm bath with carrots, celery, onion, bay, thyme, marjoram, garlic and — our twists — lemon pepper and a hit of ginger).

Chasen’s Chili.  Legend has it that Elizabeth Taylor loved this chili so much she had orders of it flown to Rome while she was filming Cleopatra (and conducting a torrid affair with co-star Richard Burton). The list of ingredients is pretty simple in comparison to today’s more complex recipes, but something about the combination produces one damn, fine chili. (We suspect that browning the beef and pork in butter before adding to the pot has something to do with the crazy tender, succulent results. Don’t skip this step if your diet can take it.) In honor of the Oscars, served with sparkling Cava.  A award-winning combo, indeed. We  think Liz, who was honored in memoriam at the Oscars, would approve.

Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake. We went with the LA Times Magazine’s modified version of this cake, sans candied grapefruit peel. Goosed with a little grapefruit essence from Aftelier Perfumes, the cake packed a tart punch to counterbalance the cream cheese frosting.

Grenadine, Take Two

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We admit it. Seeding and juicing pomegranates isn’t the most glamorous of kitchen tasks. (Although we were excited to discover the quick Whack-a-Mole method.) So in the service of great cocktails, Brother Dave has been searching for a good grenadine recipe that uses pomegranate juice instead of the fresh pomegranate version posted previously, and comes up with this super simple syrup  from the book Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits
 
Grenadine
 
3 cups Pom Pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
zest of 1 orange
 
Siimmer for 45 minutes or so to reduce by about half.
 
That’s it, although Dave adds a little vodka as an additional preservative, since it can take awhile to go through a batch. So really, no need to buy that food coloring-enhanced, preservative-laden grenadine sold in most stores. And hey, think of all the health properties attributed to drinking Pom!
 
The same basic recipe might serve nicely for a syrup using blood oranges, an of-the-moment cocktail ingredient. Meanwhile,  time to have another round of that classic cocktail with grenadine, the Scofflaw.
 

The Scofflaw*

1 1/2 ounces rye

1 ounce dry vermouth

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce real pomegranate grenadine

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Scofflaw: a frequenter of speakeasies and general flouter of the National Prohibition Act, a term coined in 1924.

 


Riding the Storm Out

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A weekend in D.C. for my birthday was in the plans; a hurricane was not. With event after event cancelled, including Kate’s planned entry in the D.C. State Fair pie contest, and threatened by the potential wrath of Irene, there were only two things to do: put the gumbo pot on and mix up the hurricanes. It was all Southern and NOLA cooking for the duration.

The chopping, stirring and slow simmering of Hurricane Gumbo allowed us to stay glued to coverage of the approaching storm. Gumbo is as hotly contested in the Bayou as barbecue is back home in Kansas City. (How dark the roux? Seafood, chicken or sausage? Okra haters or lovers in the house?) Combing through the cookbooks, we combined ideas for our own version featuring shrimp and Andouille sausage.

Hurricanes were poured, using a recipe from Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, just as the rain and winds started picking up. These babies can pack a punch, true to their name. The next-door neighbor was slayed by one, but the cooks managed to slog through the rest of the batch.


The beautiful chess pie intended for the State Fair kept us going as the winds began to howl and the trees bent toward the ground. Chess pie is an oft-forgotten Southern favorite with a filling that has a consistency reminiscent of pecan pie. Ah, but this chessie has some spectacular twists, to be revealed at a later date.

The idea of Bananas Foster was also tossed around, as it always is. (For some reason, the classic New Orleans recipe of flambéed bananas in a rum sauce poured over ice cream turns up repeatedly in Kate’s life). Although with the fridge on the fritz and power outages a possibility, ice cream seemed a risk.  A brilliant solution emerged with Bananas Foster Waffles (of course, based on Brennan’s recipe) for Sunday brunch, served on homemade almond waffles with fresh kielbasa from Stachowski Brand Charcuterie on the side (thanks, guys for getting to the Columbia Heights Community Market on Saturday) and Bellinis made wtih fresh, market peaches and sparkling rosé. We sat down to a birthday toast as the sun emerged in a clear blue sky. The worst of Irene had passed us by.



Rooted (Summer Cocktail Edition)

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Over lunch a few days ago, a friend suggested I take a stab at making ginger beer. Not quite a Three Cubed project, perhaps, but not something I’d ever even thought about making in my home kitchen before. She sent me a recipe, and I filed it away for future crafting.

As these things tend to unfold, a few nights later I was at my favorite dining establishment and the summer cocktail list included a tempting item called a Root Cup. This drink involved said gingery beverage plus lemon, cucumber, and (bonus points) a new-to-me liquor called Root, produced by our friends to the north, Art in the Age. The friendly Woodberry Kitchen bartender showed me the lovely watercolor reproductions of herbs on the bottle and explained the contents, but the producer has actually made a short movie about it (it’s that kind of operation) which you can watch for a much more illuminating explanation than I could type here.

Based on my internet research, I wasn’t sure Root could be sourced locally for common purchase, but of course it was available at the Wine Source. In fact, a few people before me had clearly also been bitten by the bug and there was only a single bottle left on the shelf.

If you can juice (thank you, $5 yard sale juicer) and measure, you can make ginger beer. The ingredients in the recipe I followed are lemon juice, ginger juice, and simple syrup, plus water and a pinch (and I do mean a pinch–more on that below) of champagne yeast. Pour it into flip-top bottles, shake well, and leave it to brew in a dark, warm place for 48 hours. Then refrigerate and get ready to get your cocktail on.

By 6 p.m. this evening, we were ready to experiment. Drink production started explosively enough, since I apparently had not taken the “25 grains of yeast” proviso literally enough. Fair warning all: This recipe tastes great but the dude is serious about the teeny tiny itsy bitsy amount of yeast needed to make the bubbles. I lost a good portion of the brew when I popped the swingtop and the carbonated beverage spewed forth, over the top of the bottle and across the counter with frightening speed (not pictured due to frantic mopping). If you want to work this into a volcano demonstration for your kids, by all means. Otherwise, be stingy with the yeast, keep cameras and pets clear, and maybe open the bottle over the sink just to be safe.

Once that little bit of drama was cleaned up, the drink itself was a welcome reward. To my taste, it’s a perfect match to a setting sun and a summer swing. A little sweet, a little bubbly, the alcohol not offering too harsh a bite. This is going to become a habit, I can tell already.

A Tax Day Toast

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The mental exhaustion involved in getting my taxes filed just under the wire ( as usual) called for a proper cocktail. How better to commemorate the annual occasion than with an Income Tax? The recipe, from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, is  essentially a Bronx cocktail with the addition of Angostura bitters. Good for the occasion, but this New Yorker prefers her other borough drinks, a Manhattan or, true my borough, a Brooklyn. Shake them up with
rye, darling.


The Income Tax Cocktail

  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • Juice of ¼ orange (squeezed right into the shaker)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.

The Brooklyn Cocktail

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Elixir of Love

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Star anise steeping in vodka (photo/Julianne Zaleta)

The cocktail genies over at Herbal Alchemy have been busy, coming up with a drink that epitomizes the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Presenting The Barry White, made with a jigger each of anise-flavored vodka and créme de cacao, shaken with a half ounce pomegranate juice and a touch of blood orange. It hits the spot  by bringing together notes of chocolate and pomegranate, touted for their powers as aphrodisiacs, spiced with a bit of anise (also thought to turn up the heat) and a spark of citrus. The alchemist does it with 4 drop of blood orange dilution, but in the rush of Valentine’s Day, perhaps a splash of juice would do.

Who loves you baby?

Hello, Great Pumpkin

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Kate’s Kitchen, Washington, D.C. — We’ve conjured so many Thanksgiving dinners over the years that the routine is down pat (maybe not as much as that of the Italian family we spent a couple of holidays with, where the kitchen was spotlessly clean even before dinner, and the turkey and trimmings were presented as the third course) .

But still, we find ourselves with time on our hands on our baking and prep day, and creativity to spare.  The result is our early contribution to Thanksgiving 2010, The Great Pumpkin Cocktail, a refreshing take on pumpkin pie that combines all the flavors of the traditional favorite without the heaviness. We plan to greet guests at the door with a small glass.  Enjoy!

The Great Pumpkin

2 oz. spiced rum (or for a richer experience, fine aged rum)

3 1/2 tsp. pumpkin purée

1 Kaffir lime leaf (optional)

3 tsp. simple syrup (we used the excellent Sonoma Syrup Co. Cinnamon Infused Simple Syrup)

Pinch each ground nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger

1/2 tsp.  lemon juice, freshly squeezed (recommend the orange-y taste of Meyer lemons)

Splash heavy cream

Stir  pumpkin purée into rum until smooth. Add optional Kaffir lime leaf. Shake with remaining ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into cordial glasses. Garnish with cranberries and/or candied ginger.

For an extra special presentation, rim glasses with cinnamon and sugar.  Mix cinnamon and sugar to taste. Dip glasses into lemon juice and then cinnamon-sugar mix. Use a match to flame and crystalize sugar for final finish.

Aromatic Cocktails, Take Two

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A lame elbow may hinder many activities, but I can still handle a cocktail shaker. So it was off to a local wine shop to assist my cosmic twin Julianne with her autumn cocktail tasting.  The sampling introduced a trio of seasonal cocktails based on infused vodkas and essential oils used in crafting perfumes. It provided an opportunity to gauge pubic reaction to the variations we’d sampled and that Julianne has been perfecting over the past few weeks.

 Lineup included:

  • The Bindi, with pistachio-infused vodka, rosewater, clove oil and a touch of milk, finished with grating of nutmeg, a taste reminiscent of desserts from an Indian restaurant.
  • Kashmere, with fig-infused vodka, pear nectar, coriander oil and a splash of seltzer, has a soft and silky texture that lives up to its name.
  • Black Dog, a mysterious taste with pear-infused vodka, homemade creme de cacoa, a drop of labdanum (also known as rock rose, an amber note used in perfumes) and a splash of seltzer.
Each had its supporters among those surprised by the complex aromas and tastes arising from the mix of florals, spices, fruits and nuts. Several had an aha! moment as they realized the connection between smell and taste; you could see it in their expressions.  The Black Dog, with the rich chocolate flavor of home-made creme de cacao and elusive note of labdanum (no, not laudanum), seemed to attract the most attention from tasters who invariably asked, “What is that?”

Bring on the Pomegranates!

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Staying with the cocktail theme, a futile search in his area for real grenadine syrup—as recommended for recipes in the excellent Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktailshas prompted brother Dave to try making his own.  Turns out this is not such a difficult thing to do. Timely, too, since the pomegranates at the base of this mixer are abundant in markets right now. Here’s one Grenadine recipe, and a couple ideas for how to use it up.

 

 

The Scofflaw* (from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)

1 1/2 ounces rye

1 ounce dry vermouth

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce real pomegranate grenadine

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Scofflaw: a frequenter of speakeasies and general flouter of the National Prohibition Act, a term coined in 1924.

 

The Monkey Gland (from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails)

1 1/2 ounce gin

1 1/2 ounce orange juice (fresh squeezed makes it unimaginably good*)

1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine

1 teaspoon absinthe or pastis (Pernod, Herbsaint and Ricard all work.)

Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a small cocktail glass.

*So says the book’s author.