The Pineapple Gimlet

I've been wanting to make this cocktail for months, ever since I scheduled my Midwestern roundabout (Mtl -->StL -->CHI -->TOR -->Mtl) for late April and knew I'd get the chance to revisit The Matchbox, that sliver of a Chicago watering hole that is basically the greatest bar on Earth. To sate myself in the weeks prior, I read through Matchbox's Yelp reviews and saw that, time and again, opiners were recommending the pineapple gimlet. Doesn't that sound ah-mah-zing? A pineapple gimlet!

And then the PhoBlograpHusband and I finally went to The Matchbox and got the last two seats at the bar during happy hour. It seemed foolish for me to order and pay for an entire cocktail that I could only take one sip of (per my own pregnancy rules) so I asked Sean to order himself a pineapple gimlet and he said no. He was in the mood for a Manhattan. I suppose I could choose to call my husband a big, fat jerk at this point but it's really OK. I pouted for a moment and then moved on.

Except not entirely, because I still just knew that I had to try making a pineapple gimlet of my own, at home, for you, me, the blog and that selfish hubs o'mine. And in fact, when that finally happened, it was Sean who took the wheel and hammered this recipe out (because every now and then in my 30-something weeks of pregnancy I just hit a wall and have to go sit comatosely for a while).

Sean did everything right with this pineapple gimlet recipe, and the cocktail is quite divine: light in body yet full and round in flavor. You taste the lime juice first, its citrus tang bullish out of the gate, and then for an aftertaste you get the comparatively soft and lilting taste of pineapple.

Sean used less egg white than I probably would have, resulting in a drink with more visual clarity (and probably more clarity on the palate as well). Usually, out of sheer laziness, I just plop the entire, raw white of an egg into my shaker, but here Sean carefully portioned out just half of the white. Adding raw egg white to a cocktail, as well as complementing the drink with a rim of confectioner's sugar, are two tricks I learned years ago thanks to The Matchbox.

The Pineapple Gimlet

(inspired by the offering on the menu at Matchbox, but I have no idea how similar our recipes may be)

2 ounces Akvinta Vodka

1/2 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounces freshly squeezed pineapple juice

1/2 ounce lime juice

1/2 of the raw white of a large egg

Confectioner's sugar, for the rim

Lime slice, to garnish

Rim a cocktail glass with confectioner's sugar and set aside. Pour all liquid ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds (aka, a dry shake). Then fill with ice and do so again. Strain into your glass and add garnish.

Tasting Notes

Yeah, I made this a vodka pineapple gimlet rather than a gin one. Again, thought it might result in a flavor with more clarity, plus it gave me the chance to use our gifted Akvinta Vodka, which is clear-tasting in all those good vodka ways to say the least.

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The World's Greatest Beer-jito

The following all actually happened.

I was watching TV a few days ago when on came a commercial for the new Bud Light Lime Mojito. My first reaction was to groan, and to recall the cases of Coors Light Iced T that have been stacked near the checkout lines at my local supermarket for weeks; those also make me groan, anew, each time I must sidle by them to pay for my thrice-weekly pint of ice cream habit groceries.

But my second reaction to the mojito beer was, shockingly (shocking I say!), this: That sounds pretty good, actually.

I've tasted the various Miller Chills and other fruit-flavored swills that have hit the market in recent years. The problem is obviously not the citrus-lager pairing; we've all been thumbing lime wedges down our Corona longnecks since we were kids (unless we're Irish, in which case we've been mixing beer and lemonade) and it's still a flavor combo that hits the spot on a sweltering day. The problem is how it tastes when it's not an actual lime being used as a flavor agent; that artificialime nonsense is gag-worthy (that goes for you, too, Diet Coke Lime).

But you think about a mojito, it's just a little light sweetness (rum, spoonful of sugar) playing along with mint and lime. And then you think about a light beer -- it's as barely-there as Bacardi. I wanted to give it a shot.

And what I found is that it was so good (so good, I tell you!) that, more than any other cocktail that's passed my lips during my pregnancy (and yes, I've still got my one-sip rule in place) it was damn near torture to keep myself from sucking down the whole thing. Turns out that all along, a mojito's never realized how much it misses the hoppy-yeasty whateverness of a lager.

Of course, it does take a few extra f lairs to make a beer-jito the World's Greatest Beer-Jito. It needs a shot-ish of booze, because with beer alone as the source of alcohol, the drink is kickless. It could stand for a tall, handsome sort of glass just to dress/mature it up a bit. And it needs a lager more respectable than an actual Bud Light, because come on, what am I in high school? (I am not in high school.)

The World's Greatest Beer-jito

1 ounce Akvinta Vodka

5 ounces Red Stripe

2 lime wedges

6-8 mint leaves

Pinch of sugar

Lime wedge and/or mint sprig, to garnish

Muddle lime, mint and sugar in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill glass with ice. Add vodka, then beer. Garnish.

Tasting Notes

Why I use vodka? Why I no use rum? The honest answer is, rum didn't even occur to me (didn't even occur, I say!) and Akvinta was on my mind because a bottle had recently been sent to me. (This my blogger's confession of things I get sent for free, is that sufficient, FCC?) I would slightly hesitate to suggest rum, obvs though it may be, because I wouldn't want to tip over from crisp into saccharine on the overall flavor profile. I also bet tequila rocks in this.

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The Pregnant Pause

It's been un longtemps and a day since I've posted, which means lots to catch up on even if you're one of my kindly regular readers -- let alone a newbie gamely bouncing on the blogwagon thanks to my recent Saveur Best Cocktail Blog nom (#believethatscalledahumblebrag #hinewbies).

Everything you need to know about my truancy, as well as my all-telling *general*outlook*on*life*, you can glean from the following statement: I feel acutely guilty that, thanks to uterus-subletting fetus, I'm not inclined to drink for you guys as much as I once did. Isn't it awful how I'm letting y'all down, spending my current pregnancy largely away from alcohol? Without a coupe in her claw, who is this Blogtender personbot?

Talking like a normal now... I'm totes pregs! A girl is due in August. I drink a lot of nonalcoholic beer these days (it takes the edge off, it really does). I also allow myself one sip per cocktail ordered by the PhoBlograpHusband whenever we're out, and when out at restaurants with ace bartenders, I ask them to mix me up a mocktail of my own.

At MEDIAnoche in St. Louis (my old stomping ground, was there in February), one bartender complied with a lemon juice-ginger syrup concoction that was damn fine and delightful. I found myself relishing its memory (and replicating it in pic below) as if it were a real, actual drink. I hadn't caught every move he'd made in its construction; was it really just lemon juice and ginger syrup? I might have tasted fizz. At least mocktails are still getting my mixology mojo going, right? At least I still have that?

FYI, I have no plans to turn this blog dry for the next few months. My one-sip rule stands for the full-hooch tipples I'll continue to roll out here. Is that controversial? If so, let some modern-day Carry Nation twist up her bloomers, cause a stink online, and pave the way for my appearance on Anderson touting my hedonistic child-ruining. Cocktail-book deal to follow, natch.

Having said that, today's cmocktail is, in fact, without alcohol. I started with that lemon-ginger base and wanted to see what I could work up from there. Turns out it was the sprightly kick of fresh ginger that felt like fizz, so no soda needed, but the recipe I drafted this weekend did include grapefruit soda and a quick hit of Liber & Co. Spiced Tonic Syrup, which I was kindly sent as a review sample several weeks back and do recommend as a quirky, comfortably priced change of pace from bitters. (Think Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters, with a more concentrated flavor and a quinine-y finish, bought at a half-off sale.)

Impregnate the Pregnant Pause with light or dark rum or tequila, or gin, or even bourbon. I think this recipe's got legs, versatility-wise, and damn if it's not refreshing as all get-out. Maybe not as refreshing as the half-gallon of mint chip I downed last week, but that's just the expectation talking.

The Pregnant Pause

1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce ginger-infused simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon Liber & Co. Spiced Tonic Syrup

Grapefruit soda, to fill

Cucumber wheel and rosemary sprig, to garnish

1 1/2 ounces booze of choice, to taste (optional)

Combine juice, syrups and liquor, if including, in ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a Pilsner glass over ice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with cucumber and rosemary.

Tasting Notes

My grapefruit soda came from SodaStream. It's one of the little flavor-adding packets you get when you buy the start-up kit. FWIW, I only used half the packet and the soda turns out just as flavorful and (I'm assuming) not as sweet.

As I suggested above, swap in Fee Brothers Barrel Aged Whiskey Bitters for the tonic syrup, or even Angostura. You basically just want a couple dashes (maybe 2 or 3 to taste) of something that plays against the other flavors.

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The Absolut (sorry) Maple Sour

Booze is at Defcon 1. Repeat: BOOZE IS AT DEFCON 1.

After drinking down our whiskey supply last week to the unspeakable amount of none, on Friday night the PhoBlograpHusband and I (were we drugged? hallucinating?) offered to supply the hard liquor at a friend's get-together in her nearby Plateau apartment. Sean put together an impressive travel bar backpack full of drinkies-poo: gin, both vermouths, Campari and I think dark rum and bitters. This was not the most experienced cocktailing crowd, which was more than fine, because all we had to do was mix up a nice round of Negronis and we were regarded as freaking geniuses.

Also dry geniuses: Four weeks to go 'til the end of Sean's semester, and what remains of the home stock is... vodka. And I think Calvados. And like two bottles of ouzo. So when Sean mentioned that he came across this Absolut Maple Sour recipe from a Google ad or spam mail (if I were in his shoes, I wouldn't fully cop to it either), what else was a girl to make? Times is tough, and recessions ain't just for breakfast anymore.

Now, this may be burying the lead, but I did NOT make this with Absolut. I have never kept Absolut in my house and have no plans to start. While I am an Absolut snob, I'm not an all-around vodka snob, because who's got the money or the inclination to care? Ketel One always served us fine back in the States. The vodka we happen to have on hand these days is Cupcake Vodka. Those readers who often find themselves purchasing bottles of cheap wine for their cutesy names (it's OK, we're all admitting embarrassing things here) will probably recognize the label from bottles of California vino; it's made by the same guys. And it's incredibly inexpensive and completely pleasant, two characteristics that can also be said about this recommendable sour itself.

The combination of the three ingredients of color gives this cocktail a trompe l'oeil orange tone. The taste is of an old fashioned as much as a sour, with the maple's sugared earthiness covering for the lack of whiskey more than you might expect.

The Absolut Maple Sour

1 1/2 ounces Cupcake  (or whatever you like) vodka

3/4 ounces maple syrup

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Lemon peel, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until your hands are too cold to keep holding onto the tin. (Srsly, because that syrup is a mother to disperse well.) Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Tasting Notes

Sean says, "This is good as outlined in the recipe above, but you could use a different liquor just as easily. You could also turn it into a maple Collins by adding soda."

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The Bathtub Gin(ger)

In my quest for Total World Cocktail Domination, last week I made myself a little spreadsheet of upcoming recipe contests, those expressly for cocktails as well as others where my commendable potations will be up against some lame-ass summer salads or whatever.

First at bat: a grapefruit-and-ginger recipe contest courtesy of a skin-treats company. Winners get paid in grapefruit and ginger-scented bath-product gift baskets!... Wait, I've never mentioned what a slut I am for a nice, relaxing bubble bath? Well, there you go.

Starting from scratch, here's how I manifested The Bathtub Gin(ger). I am writing this all down for you because one day The Museum of the American Cocktail will ask that my brain be donated to their archives, but that won't be possible because I never plan on dying. So you guys can pass this along to them and I bet they'd even give you money for it.

Attempt #1: Take everything I know and/or have at my disposal in the grapefruit and ginger departments, combine with appropriate cutesy wordplay and visual puns, pour into a glass. This means gin, sloe gin, ginger syrup and fresh grapefruit juice, plus some egg white (creating visual pun of frothiness = bubble bath) and a salted and sugared rim (because I like Salty Dogs).

Result: Salt overpowered EVERYTHING. Blergh.

Attempt #2: Nix salt/sugar rim, see what happens when you add in some Luxardo. Why? Because Luxardo's proven itself a stealth facilitator of awesomesauce cocktails before.

Result: All Luxardo, even though I only used half an ounce. Damn.

Attempt #3: Back to drawing board. Try using World's Greatest Cosmopolitan as a template, swapping out cranberry juice for grapefruit and ginger syrup for regular simple syrup. (Oh wait... I don't use simple syrup in the World's Greatest Cosmopolitan.) Keep all other elements of WGC intact: lime juice, triple sec, confectioner's-sugar rim.

Result:  Weirdly lacks a center. What starts out as the right amount of sweetness somehow evaporates into nothing. This is getting frustrating.

Attempt #4: Brainstorm other possible ingredients. Remember the beauty that is grapefruit-Campari sorbet. Graft Campari and a splash of sloe gin onto WGC recipe.

Result: Getting there...

Attempt #5: Spend way too much money on a bottle of Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Flavored Vodka, all the while lamenting, "Whither art thou, Domaine de Canton?" Curse the SAQ for putting you in this predicament. Go home, construct a recipe using those elements you like best from attempts 1-4. Decide that the ginger syrup needs help; find ginger ale on sale.

Result: This...

The Bathtub Gin(ger)

2 ounces Bulldog Gin

1 ounce Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Flavored Vodka

1/2 ounce Campari

2 ounces freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice

1 ounce ginger syrup

1 raw egg

About 2 ounces ginger ale

Confectioner's sugar, for the rim

Mint sprig, to garnish

Rim a cocktail glass with confectioner's sugar and set aside. Combine gin, vodka, Campari, grapefruit juice, ginger syrup and the white from raw egg in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Before straining contents of shaker into sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, pour about two ounces of ginger ale in the glass first. Garnish with mint sprig.

Tasting Notes

To make ginger syrup: Mix a half-cup of granulated sugar and a half-cup of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While waiting for mixture to come to a boil, grate a thumb-sized piece of ginger into the pan. Stir until mixture reaches a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a container and let cool before using. This will make you more syrup than you need. You can refrigerate or freeze the rest.

As you probably already figured out, I poured the ginger ale into the empty cocktail glass first because I didn't want to shake the carbonation out of it. If you've got Domain de Canton on hand, try it in this recipe (instead of or in addition to ginger ale) and let me know what it tastes like!

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