Summer Smash

Sometimes I get distracted. This week I’ve been distracted by plans; plans for a big cook out & plans for my Dragon*Con costume (more on both of those later). But! that doesn’t mean I forgot y’all. I owe you some recipes! I’ve been playing around a lot with my two infusions. First up, the Summer Smash using blackberry infused Evan Williams.

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I wanted to fashion up something simple & classic to highlight the flavor & complexity of my blackberry bourbon. Enter the whiskey smash, Georgia fruit failure be damned! 

 

The beau brought home a bag full of peaches from South Carolina & they are perfect. Not to mention my mint plant is exploding. And always looking for balance, I added in the peppery bitters to make sure nothing got too sweet. Basically, I wanted to make summer in a glass & I think I nailed it.

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SUMMER SMASH

2 oz Blackberry infused Evan Williams Bourbon

¼ oz mint simple syrup

Quartered lime wedge

Quartered peach slice (large)

5 d Jamaica #1 bitters

2 d black pepper bitters

Tonic water

In a shaker tin combine mint simple, lime wedge, & peach slice. Muddle sternly first the lime & then the peach, into the mint simple. Add the bourbon & ice to the shaker & shake all together hard. Fill a highball glass with crushed ice, add the bitters over the ice, & strain in the drink over the crushed ice. Top with a heavy splash of tonic water.

I really love this drink & I hope y’all give it a try! If you look on my instagram stories you’ll also find a recipe for a blackberry old fashioned: simple & delicious.

 

Adventures In Infusions

I’ve been interested in making infused spirits for a while now. Despite how easy it seemed to be I kept putting it off. I’m very pleased to say that I got over my hesitations & just jumped right in. I did a bit of research, looking at mostly amounts of fruit & time, & found it to be a pretty subjective process. Once you figure out which base spirit you want to infuse & with what added ingredient, it’s really just about your preference for intensity.

I knew I wanted to use seasonal fruits & my two favorite spirits; bourbon & gin. I’m pretty much always looking at cocktails & ideas & playing around with flavors as I learn what goes together & the different ways other people play with the classics. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of yummy looking drinks with blackberries & figs so that was my inspiration. Blackberry for the bourbon & fig for the gin. I decided to start easy; smaller, cheaper bottles of stuff I am familiar with already. I chose Evan Williams for it’s sturdiness & New Amsterdam because it’s smooth & relatively dry. I didn’t want either one to become too sweet once the fruit was added in.

All in all I’m really excited about the ways these turned out. The colors are beautiful, muted pink-purples reminiscent of watercolors, & the flavors are quite balanced. The bourbon still has that heat on the back end, but the blackberry comes through smooth & dark & slightly sweet. On initial tasting the fig gin is my favorite; the sweeter of the two with a bit more of the natural fruit flavor. I’m definitely looking forward to sharing some recipes with y’all in the next few days!

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Below you can find the (loose) guidelines for my process. I’d love to know what infusions you’ve tried, or if you try these two yourself!

Fig Infused Gin

5-6 Large Black Mission Figs

750 ml bottle your choice of gin

Blackberry Infused Bourbon

8-9 oz Blackberries

750 ml bottle your choice of bourbon

General supplies

Large jar (800 ml Mason jar or equivalent) for process

Fine mesh sieve

Cheese cloth

Large pitcher

Funnel

Storage container (I found some beautiful blue bottles & sealed them with a cork)

 

Cut up your fruit (blackberries halved, figs quartered) & place in bottom of your jar

Pour spirit over the fruit (I found that about ¾ of the bottle fit in the jar with the fruit added)

Secure lid & tumble fruit in the jar a bit

Store in a cool, dry place (I chose a top shelf in an unused closet)

Let sit for 72 hrs, tumbling once or twice

Taste test after 72 hrs, decide if it should sit longer (I did 72 hrs for the gin, 96 for the bourbon)

When you’re ready to drink, line your sieve with cheese cloth, place it over the pitcher, slowly pour your infusion into the pitcher

Gather the left over fruit in the cheese cloth & gently squeeze it to get every ounce of goodness

Using your funnel, slowly transfer the infusion from the pitcher to your chosen storage container & secure the top

Enjoy!

The MC5

“Kick out the jams, motherfucker!” – MC5

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This week I’m diving into Crème de Cassis, a fruit liqueur made with black current. One of my favorite things about booze (& my journey to drink all the drinks) is that there’s always something new to discover. This is my first meeting with Crème de Cassis & I’m definitely digging its jammy quality. It’s a deep, purple-red color with a flavor that reminds me of a sweet red wine or blackberry jam.

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Keeping in mind the sweetness of the cassis, I decided to go with a bourbon based cocktail, thinking it would stand up well to all that jam. I used our home bar staple, W.L. Weller. A little bit of spice & citrus were in order to give some depth & balance, a just a touch of carbonation to keep it feeling light. I chose the Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters for their allspice, ginger, & black pepper flavor profile.

THE MC5

2 oz bourbon 

½ oz Crème de Cassis

½ oz 18.21 Tonic syrup

½ oz fresh lemon juice

6 d Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters

Ginger beer

In a shaker tin combine bourbon, cassis, tonic syrup, & lemon juice with ice & shake hard. Strain into your favorite rocks glass over a large cube, add your bitters, & top with a heavy splash of ginger beer. Enjoy!

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When it all comes together this cocktail is a delicious mix of sweet summer fruit & ginger spice, definitely destined to become a classic in my home bar (just like its namesake!)

 

Peach Green Tea Negroni

 

Before getting sick last week I was out shopping for some dresses on the cheap & came across something interesting. In the check out line were a bunch of Tazo boxed teas & I was struck with inspiration! Since I hadn’t made it out to the liquor store yet, I decided to scrap my original negroni idea & go with a summery white negroni. If you followed along with or participated in Negroni Week last week, you’ll know that while the classic version of the cocktail is wonderful  it’s also endlessly variable.

 

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So here’s my take on a white negroni. I used Dolin Blanc instead of sweet vermouth & Avèze as the bitter amaro in place of Campari. The peach green tea lends the sweetness lost in the vermouth switch & a squeeze of lemon brings it all together. The result is light, summer-fruit forward, & smooth.

 

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PEACH GREEN TEA NEGRONI

1 oz gin

1 oz dry vermouth

¾ oz Tazo Peach Green Iced

¼ oz Aveze

Juice ¼ of a lemon

In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients with ice & stir for 15 seconds. Strain into your favorite rocks or coop glass & enjoy!

 

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Beer Camp Review, Across the Seas

 

Okay, so we’ve sampled the “state-side” beers from the camp, now let’s dive into the beers from “across the seas”! This crew definitely had more highlights for me, but I’ll start off with the ones I didn’t love. German giant, Ayinger offers up a Dunkle Weisse (dark wheat beer) with extra malts. It’s a bit richer, more carmely, than the style typically, but otherwise it is what it is. I wish they’d been a little more adventurous. Then again, it’s incredibly rare that I enjoy a wheat beer anyway. Fuller’s Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale is interesting, but not for me. This one’s a darker, English style Ale with American style hopping & plums added in to complement the fruity strain of yeast. New Zealand’s Garage Project went full theme with their Campout Porter. It’s dry, roasty, & has a hint of vanilla. However, I didn’t really pick up on the honey & “toasted marshmallow” notes they were going for.

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Kiuchi’s White IPA with Yuzu is delightful.  They started with the flavor profile & witbier yeast of the Hitachino Nest White Ale & added in more hops & yuzu fruit. What came out is a delicately hoppy, refreshing IPA with bright citrus notes (almost like lime) that’s soft & easy to drink. Duvel managed to be a bit adventurous in the way I hoped Ayinger would be. They added dry-hops & lemon peel to their classic ale, creating the Hoppy Belgian Style Golden. I’m usually not a fan of the funky-sweet flavor of Belgian yeasts, but this golden won me over. The hops & lemon peel really balance out that sweetness, making this one an easy drinker with some depth. Last, but obviously not least, Mikkeller’s Thai-Style Iced Tea Ale. It’s no surprise this one was my favorite of the whole box, I’m a complete Mikkeller fanboy. This ale is smooth & a bit creamy thanks to the lactose, while the black tea keeps it balanced & a bit dry. The spice notes from orange peel, star anise, & tamarind are present, but subtle. I would drink this beer all summer if I could. I really hope to find it on tap somewhere.

So that’s that. I hope you get a chance to try some of these. It was definitely a fun little adventure. If you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Beer Camp Review, State-Side

Hello again, finally! Last week was kind of a bust blog wise due to a bout of stomach flu. But I made it through! And while I might have technically missed #negroniweek, I still have a refreshing white negroni recipe to share with you. First things first though: Beer Camp.

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For those who don’t know, Beer Camp is Sierra Nevada’s annual mass collaboration. Each year they pair up with twelve different breweries to make twelve one-off, one-of-a-kind brews. This year Sierra Nevada split the camp between six international breweries & six American breweries. As promised, I tackled this fancy twelve-pack, made many detailed notes, & agonized over the best way to share my findings. So first off, here’s what I think about the 2017 Beer Camp State-Side brews:

 

Let’s start with my favorite “state-side” brew; Saint Arnold’s Dry-Hopped Berliner-Style Weisse. This is the first offering from the Texas brewery & I loved it. I think that even in the brief history we’ve shared it’s been no secret that I love sours. Berliner Weisse is a style of tart German wheat beer & in this version the extra hops really accentuate the citrus flavor of the tart. It’s bright & crisp from the dry-hop, a bit lemony, & super crushable.

As for the rest of the “state-side” crew, it was kind of up & down. I was pleasantly surprised by Avery’s Dry-Hopped Barleywine-Style Ale. Typically I really hate barelywines, but this dry-hopped version reminded me of a sweeter black ipa. The Treehouse East Meets West IPA fell a little flat, especially next to the West Coast Style DIPA from Boneyard Beer. The former was a bit too bready for me. Surly’s Ginger Lager was interesting. The cayenne adds some extra kick to the ginger heat, which I didn’t expect, but I couldn’t being myself to finish the whole pint. I’m curious to see what this one is like on draft. Finally, the Bruery’s Raspberry Sundae was enjoyable, though a bit much for me. The raspberry & lactose come forward right away, followed quickly by the cocoa & vanilla. It’s not as sweet as I was expecting, but something about it just didn’t sit right. This is another one I’d like to try on draft.

Alrighty! That’s the first six down, I’ll have the other half for you real quick!

For Your Gray Day Blues

The beginning of summer is always a bit rainy & gray in Atlanta. I really don’t mind it, especially since by the end of summer we’re usually praying for rain or some clouds. Sometimes though it’s nice to brighten up a gloomy week. Cue beau’s grocery haul of summer fruit. I’m not really a fan of watermelon, it’s a texture thing, but beau loves it. So when he asked for a margarita with muddled watermelon in it, I was definitely intrigued.

This margarita is summery & tart, with just the right amount of sweet. I took a key from my friend, Keyatta , who made her own delicious watermelon margarita recently. Keyatta’s version used a watermelon shrub & while I don’t have any shrubs on hand, I did want to make sure my cocktail had just as much depth.

I’d love to know if you give it try. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!

WATERMELON MARGARITA

2 oz silver tequila

1 oz fresh lime juice

½ oz orange liqueur

2 chunks watermelon

Pinch of salt

5-6 d 18.21 Japanese Chili Lime bitters

In shaker muddle lime juice, watermelon chunks, salt, & orange liqueur. Muddle til melon is mushy. Add tequila & ice cubes. Shake hard til the mixture is frothy. Place a large cube (or ice to your preference) & the bitters in your rocks glass. Strain* the mixture into your rocks glass & enjoy!

*I found that a julep strainer caught the melon seeds & mush better

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Surprise Highlight

 

Okay, real talk. I am not a fan of Second Self. I want to be, really I do, but I keep being disappointed. Admittedly their most popular brew, Thai Wheat, just isn’t my style, but it’s not the only one that has left me wanting more. That is, until now. Their newest offering MiG (Margarita in Gose) is delightful! A variant on Maverick and Gose, their traditional gose style, this version adds lime juice, orange peels, & amps up the salt. The lime & orange play together really well, very reminiscent of a classic margarita. Guys, it’s really great. It’s light, refreshing, perfectly tart, & makes me want to get drunk by a pool. I genuinely hope I can get my hands on this special run more than once this summer. The guys over at Second Self are really good dudes & I’m so happy to enjoy this new brew. I think you’ll love it too!

Home again, home again

Vegas was a blast! Who would’ve thought I’d get to see Iggy Pop live?! Not to mention beginner’s luck at roulette, swimming with sharks (well near them), & this beautiful oasis

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But, after a long weekend of punk rocking, PBR, & casino gin & tonics it’s good to be home. I’ve got some good things coming down the pipeline for y’all. My review of the 2017 Beer Camp (I already have a couple favorites), new cocktail ideas, & a few profiles of some Atlanta locals whom I admire. In the mean time, I found some awesome glass pens at Target. They write on smooth, dry quick, & wipe off with a damp paper towel. They will definitely be featured in a lot of photos this summer. Until then, have a good drink & tell me all about it!

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