First and, I guess, foremost: When I say "JC," I'm talking 'bout Jersey City, not Jesus Christ. Although now that I mention it, perhaps this post's/cocktail's name will SEO some hyperChristians my way. In which case, give God the glory and pass me the bar nuts, flock! I think Jesus was a cool dude with lots of nice things to say -- even if he did prefer wine over the hard stuff.Read More
When I was penning The Big Book of Martinis for Moms -- because that's how one writes a book; one pens them ever so eloquently; one doesn't thrash at one's laptop until the "c" key gets permanently stuck or try to organize one's writer-blocked thoughts by haphazardly slapping a bajillion Post-Its on the wall like a mental patient -- I had an idea for a chocolate-cherry cocktail.
If you've readskimmed why haven't you bought this book yet please buy this seen the book, you know that the cocktail recipes therein each correspond to a particular feat of motherhood that deserves a potent, potable reward. So like babyproofing the house is an accomplishment that calls for a Rusty Nail, while helping with homework earns Mom a Brainstorm. The chocolate-cherry cocktail, I thought, would be a mother's just desserts on those blessed afternoons or evenings when she gets to do nothing at all, fluffy-slippered feet resting atop the coffee table. In other words, like drinking a bonbon.
Unfortunately, I knew that actually inventing said cocktail would not be so easy-breezy. Chocolate and cherry are two very forceful flavors. I find that sometimes when I try to combine two big, bold tastes like that, I wind up with a flavor profile that's somehow less than, or even worse than, the sum of its parts. It can taste entirely like one flavor and none like the other, or two two can meld into something downright blech-y.
Anyway, one way I snuck around those problems was by relying on cranberry juice, which provided a lovely hue (seriously, cranberry juice really does pretty up a drink) as well as an easygoing companion, palate-wise, to my white creme de cacao.
The Bonne Bonne (which I've given a French feminine spelling) wound up not making it into the book. Quel mal-mal for the book but goody for us!
The Bonne Bonne
1 1/4 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail
2 dashes chocolate bitters
Combine all four ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass.
I didn't have any Three Olives Cherry vodka on hand while testing out this recipe, but I'd bet it's an ever better ingredient to use in this instance that straight-up vodka.
An even bigger cheat: You can make a drink with equal parts chocolate vodka and cranberry juice. Not bad at all. (Ghetto Bonne Bonne, anyone?)
The Bittman is a source of contention around here. Me, I don't think much about The Bitt one way or the other. I never read The Bitt's Minimalist column with regularity and have never understood the cult of his personality. He's just a goofy white guy who mostly cooks off-book, right? Who can't do that? Buy whatever's wholesome and on sale, go home and Google "easy [something you just bought] recipe," pick the one you can fudge the best and make. (At least, that's what I do.)
(Having said that, my new love is Gojee.com, which lets you search blogged-about recipes by ingredients you have/crave/dislike. And I'm not just saying that because this blog is included in the new Gojee Drinks database!)
Anyway, Sean hates The Bitt. What Sean has to say about The Bitt is, "He's just annoying and he seems like a hack. I don't understand why anybody cares what he has to say. I do not trust his authority. I feel like anyone could be Mark Bittman, he just happens to be the one, probably because he knows somebody or various other social injustices."
Yet I couldn't look away when a recent Bittman headline in the Times touted "A Radical Rethinking of Thanksgiving Leftovers." Just how "radical" were we talking here? Well, The Bitt had me at "pan-fried stuffing cakes," and so I read until the end, where I was rewarded with the notion of a Cranberry Negroni. Or really, tortured by reading in print that The Bitt had come up with a way to sneak a cocktail into his list of 20 radicalizations, and WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT, DAMMIT?! DAMN THE BITT!! (I'm not the only one who feels this way, either.)
So yes, The Bitt's Cranberry Negroni is pretty wondrous and awesome in its simplicity (erm, minimalism) and I highly recommend it as a way to get rid of your cranberry sauce reserves. Using sauce instead of juice adds a little gritty texture to the cocktail that I found I quite liked until the very end of the drink, when it got to be a bit too much. Also, The Bitt says to mix equal parts cranberry sauce, gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, but when I did this I found that you really couldn't taste the cranberry, so I amped that up.
The Cranberry Negroni
(Adapted with minor additions from the New York Times Dining section)
About an ounce of cranberry sauce
About 1/2 ounce each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth
Orange peel and/or dried cranberries, to garnish
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to allow the cranberry sauce to mix well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel, and/or several dried cranberries speared onto a toothpick umbrella.
I have to try this with my World's Greatest Cosmopolitan.
In Montreal, Halloween's a very big deal. Like NO-SCHOOL-THE-DAY-AFTER! big (candy hangover NOMMMMM...).
We'll be spending tonight seated in front of our duplex with one of our upstairs neighbors, treats at the ready. (Smarties, the world's greatest candy, am I right?) He informed us that this is tradition around here, because it prevents us all from going crazy hearing our doorbells go off 300 times in one night. I swear to you, in my 15 1/2 years of postcollegiate adulthood, spent in 13 previous apartments, I have never had a single Halloween customer come to my door! I'm so excited!
Yes it is cold here in Canada on the day before November -- although, jeez, nothing like y'all are getting in the NYC <--> DC Eastern corridor; say hello to balmy Quebec! -- so after telling myself I must wear my Under Armour tonight, the second thing I told myself was to concoct a hot cocktail, something sippable from a Thermos.
When I worked at Redbook ages ago, I once edited a piece on healthy winter snacks. (Ask your Grandma if you're not sure what Redbook is.) One of them was to heat up a glass of cranberry juice in the microwave and sprinkle some cinnamon in it. It's actually quite good and for some reason I've always remembered that, so that's what came to mind for the Hot Cha! The rest pretty much wrote itself, almost as if I were possessed... by ghosts... OOOOoooooOOOOO!
The Hot Cha!
1 1/4 ounces Busnel Fine Calvados
3/4 ounces The Arran Malt Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
4 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce honey lemon water
3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange peel
Heat the cranberry juice, orange peel and cinnamon stick in the microwave together for a minute-ish. While that's nuking, mix the Scotch, Calvados, bitters and honey lemon water in a separate vessel and stir vigorously without ice. Combine the two in a Thermos, or a baby bottle if you want to go as a drunk baby this Halloween.
We're fans of the Arran Scotch around here; we also don't keep many other Scotches in the house. Sean recommends Dewar's as a great pick for this recipe because of its bite.
To make honey lemon water, just stir honey, water and a couple lemon slices in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it's cooked down to a consistency somewhere between the honey and the water. I use two parts water to one part honey.
Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband
Yesterday Rose mentioned our pre-moving“Drink Us Out of House and Homeland” party, which left us depleted of booze but rife with empty bottles and hangover headaches. Among the copious, and at times senseless, consumption (see our friend Jason mistreat a bottle of Michter's below), a few cocktails were born. As our liquor levels ran lower and lower, our need to innovate grew higher and higher. But perhaps my favorite creation of the night was not a particular drink, but a certain game I invented, Box of Mystery.
The idea behind Box of Mystery was simple if a bit sophomoric. Put twelve bottle of liquor in a box and make one of your guests pick a bottle at random. The guest in question then fashions a drink using said liquor. The first few rounds of Box of Mystery yielded few surprises -- Cognac = Sidecar, Gin = Martini, Rye = suck it straight from the bottle -- but the cranberry-flavored Smirnoff vodka, now that one resulted in a twist of creative, collaborative delicious genius. Which I present to you now.
1 1/4 ounes Smirnoff cranberry vodka
Splash pomegranate juice
Splash ginger ale
Combine the vodka, Lillet and pomegranate juice in an old fashioned glass with ice and stir. Add ginger ale and a squeeze of lime. Refresh!