Monday, May 31, 2010

Blackberry Sage Cooler

I'm always looking for new flavor pairings, so when Page got blackberry sage tea at the black walnut last saturday, I knew what I was going to try next. I figured I'd start with gin as a base, since gin, with its mix of herby/woody flavors, usually pairs well with herbs. The result? Fantastic. But don't take my word for it.

You'll need:
4 sage leaves (from the back porch!)
6 blackberries (I bought mine at the grocery store (they're from Mexico...that's sort of local, right?), but I discovered this weekend that you can also get blackberries at the farmers' market right now.)
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz lemon juice (fresh squezed is best (plus squeezing lemons will make your kitchen smell awesome))
1.5 oz gin
crushed ice
club soda

Muddle the sage leaves and simple syrup together in the bottom of a mixing glass. (Muddling releases the essense of the herb into the drink. In a pinch mashing the leaves with the back of a spoon will do, but I like to use a muddler, which looks like a little bitty meat tenderizer.)

Add the blackberries and muddle some more, until the berries are mostly liquid. Add 4-5 ice cubes. Add the lemon juice and gin over the ice and stir. Strain into a collins glass. Fill the glass about halfway with crushed ice and top with a bit of club soda. (More for a smoother (more dilute) drink, less if you like booze a lot.)

Pop in a straw. And enjoy.

A particularly easy (and satisfying) method for making crushed ice.

Since my next cocktail calls for crushed ice, I thought I'd share this super-easy way I've discovered to make crushed ice. My previous method was: buy something at whole foods. Ask for one of the little bags of ice they give you to keep your groceries cold on the way home. Voila! Crushed ice! Only there are a few problems, like the difficulty of getting the ice home without it melting into a huge clump of non-crushed ice. Also the fact that you can't just run to whole foods whenever you want a cocktail.

Enter method B:
1. Place a few cubes of ice in a gallon ziplock bag.
2. Place the bag on your countertop.
3. Beat the bag mercilessly with a rolling pin.

After a short time, you will have a bag of crushed ice. And probably a lot less pent-up agression.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

White Peach and Basil Margarita

Here's a little history on this cocktail - I was inspired by a drink called "Peaches and Herb" from this book (which I love and totally reccomend, btw). The original drink called for peaches, sage, and brandy, but the peach and sage combo didn't really do it for me (peaches - delcious; sage - meh), so I decided to try it with peaches and basil. And substitute tequila for the brandy, since peaches and tequila are always a winning combination. I used white peaches because - that's what they had at the grocery store. So there you go. Necessity is the mother of invention?

Peaches and Basil: A good start.

For starters:
5 slices of white peach (a little more than 1/4 of the peach)
3 basil leaves (harvested from the back porch!)
splash of agave nectar (what the heck is a splash, I always want to know? here's what I do: about 1/8 of an ounce.)
splash of lemon juice
1.5 oz tequila
.5 oz triple sec

What you do:
Put the peach slices, basil leaves, and agave nectar in the mixing glass of your shaker. (I'm assuming you have a boston shaker, but a plain old shaker will work just as well.) Muddle (or smoosh with the back of a spoon) the peaches and basil until they make a nice mush. Fill the glass with ice, and then add the tequila, lemon juice and triple sec. Shake it all up. (Most people will say shake until a frost forms on the shaker, but I like to shake until the shaker is so cold I can barely hold it anymore. The ice melting into the cocktail is important because that's what smoothes out the burn of the alcohol.) Strain into a cocktail glass. Cheers.

Verdict: The color is beautiful, pale and peachy, and the flavor is kind of similiar - lovely, smooth, more subtle than you'd expect from a margarita. I'd like another.