Tag Archives: cocktails

I have no excuses.

It seems sort of ridiculous to be posting another recap when so many others are as of yet unfinished. There was that brunch at the start of the year. Then the East Meets [South] West dinner that I had planned. One of the out-of-towners from the aforementioned dinner has already been back in touch, and I haven’t even begun to share the Sweet Potato Ice Cream Recipe with you. And, there was the dinner party for a friend’s birthday where I neglected to take a single photo.

What can I say? It’s been a whirlwind, at best. And, I’m not good at managing my time.

I’ve managed, however, to do more cooking. You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I share with you a series of photos from the latest—a Jewish Deli Inspired Brunch.

Jewish Deli Spread

What if I give you a cocktail, too? Maybe two.

Ok, good then, that should assuage some of my guilt.

The menu, then:
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls (or, Kanidela, as we call them in my family)
Rye Bread
Challah
Knishes, two ways (Classic and Spinach)
Corned Beef
Black and White Cookies
Rainbow Cookies (adapted from this recipe)

To drink:
Cel-Ray Tonics
Not quite Manischewitz Cocktails
Assorted Dr. Brown’s Sodas

And, as promised: the cocktails. Almost a year ago, I alluded to my plans for the first in this post. It’s a boozy twist on a deli classic: Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic.

Cel-ray tonic is one of those things, like violet candies or marmite, that you either get or you don’t. Although I’ll never quite understand the appeal of marmite, I’m firmly in the “for” camp when it comes to the voilets and the cel-ray. Of course, I’m also of the school of thought that there is very little that cannot be improved upon with a good splash of booze. So, consider these Cel-Ray tonics my elevation of the classic. Bright green, floral, and surprisingly refreshing, the gin adds some subtle floral notes, you’ll want to use one with a stronger flavor—I like Tanqueray for this one—otherwise the gin flavor will get a bit lost.

Speaking of which—Manischewitz.

If ever there was an alcohol designed to put me off alcohol, this was it. At my temple, when you were Bat Mitzvah-ed, you were given a Kiddush cup and expected to say the Kiddish at the Shabbat Service the night before your Bat Mitzvah service. I lived in fear of this. It wasn’t the Hebrew—that, I had under control. It was the wine. It was cloying and harsh and the smell—I’ll just say this: I didn’t realize for many years that wine could taste good.

And, yet, as I get older, I’m finding myself more nostalgic—I still don’t want to drink Manischewitz, but the scent takes me instantly back to being thirteen in a sanctuary on Long Island, horrified as my cantor told me that I hadn’t poured enough wine into the Kiddish cup and trusting that I could count on my father to drink the balance. Keep reading for a cocktail that captures the scent and that you’ll actually want to drink.

Cel-Ray Tonic

Cel-Ray Tonics
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 celery stalks, with leaves still attached
1 cup celery juice
1 cup gin
Seltzer

Bring 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 celery stalks to a boil to make a simple syrup. Strain the celery and refrigerate the simple syrup.

Once the syrup has cooled, combine it with the celery juice and gin in a large pitcher. Top off with seltzer to taste.

Makes 6-8 drinks

Not quite Manischewitz Cocktails
1 oz Concord Grape Vodka
1 oz simple syrup
6 oz seltzer
splash of lime

Mix the first three ingredients together, serve over ice and finish with a splash of lime.

Makes one drink

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In case you were wondering

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason that classic cocktails remain classics.

Give me a good Manhattan any day and I’m a happy girl.

However, it should come as no surprise to any of you that I like discovering the old gems. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I once asked a barman for something different and was given what I was told was a lost cocktail from the 1920s: The Bone—a combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and Tabasco. In theory, it should have been delicious, the bourbon taking the edge off of the acidic punch of the lemon finished with heat that rounded out each sip, keeping it balanced. In practice, it reminded me of the concoctions that my sister and I used to create when we were young for the sole purpose of seeing what would freeze. In case you were wondering, nothing with plain M&Ms ever did. I’m still not sure why.

The Bone also made me wonder how our tastes had evolved in the last century.

That’s the thing about cocktails—they’re tricky to get just right.

When it came to making my own for Friendsgiving, I wanted to go simple—first because I still hadn’t gotten over my infusion kick, and I wanted the flavors of the vodka to really shine. And, secondly, because, with a house full of guests who were getting hungrier by the minute (please refer to my inability to serve dinner before 9 pm), it had to be quick to prepare.

This one hits all the right marks, although I suspect that the vodka would be equally delicious with some apple cider and cinnamon. It’s something to try next year, anyway. So is remembering to take a photo of said cocktail.

Apple Cranberry Vodka
750 ml vodka1 cup fresh cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
Crush the cranberries and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Add the apples to your infusion jar. Top with vodka, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for at least 5-7 days. You can leave it longer, but remember to shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing throughout the process. Once the infusion is ready, strain the cranberries and apples out of it from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the vodka to a serving container.

Friendsgiving Cocktails
1 oz apple cranberry vodka
7 oz ginger ale
Frozen Cranberries (or, ice)

In a large glass, combine vodka and ginger ale. Garnish with frozen cranberries.

Makes One

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We Interrupt The Previously Scheduled Recording…

.For this emergency broadcast.

Ok, fine, I might be getting a little melodramatic. But, now that I have your attention: my recaps from the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic will continue shortly. Bear with me in the meantime, this one is good. And, actually, came about directly as a result of the Indian Summer Picnic.

Remember the Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades I told you about last week? Well, although I have a closet filled with more beer than I know what to do with and bottle after bottle of wine lining the floor of my closet—mind you, I’m not complaining, here. In fact, I’m plotting my next event—the whole bottle of Concord Grape Vodka went quickly. So quickly, in fact, that after an hour or so, Abbey (of pig-vented apple pie fame) was diluting it with plain-old-vodka to keep the cocktails coming.

Luckily, since Concord grapes are still in season, and I’m determined to consume as many as I can while that’s the case, I had some frozen grapes on hand. Which meant that could make more. And, since I was making a trip to the liquor store to get more cheap vodka anyway it seemed like a good idea to get a handle, in order to continue on infusion making kick.

This time, I had my sights set on Limoncello, a logical progression following the lemonade making of the day prior. Naturally, as I was zesting this batch of lemons, it occurred to me that, had I planned this better, I could have started the process the day before, when I was making the first batch of lemonade. This is really a convoluted way of saying that Limoncello calls for the lemon zest only, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. lemon Bars or lemon curd are both good options. Or, you could make another batch of Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades.Personally, I’m going for the latter.

Limoncello
Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiss

10 lemons
750-ml or 3 cups of vodka (Cheap vodka is fine here)
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes 7 Cups

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Only the Best

Did you know that there are ordinances in New York City governing when a building must turn on the heat?

I once called 311 about this, many years ago, when I had just moved into a new apartment. I know, it sounds like a punchline, and, yet, I’m embarrassed to admit, it’s totally true.

For the record, here’s the official law:

Heat (During the heating season, October 1 through May 31)

  • Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., heat must register at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees

  • Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., heat must register at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

See? I supply you with recipes and lessons about New York City law.

Only the best for you, my friends. Only the best.

And, so, once again I find myself in that awkward part of the season when it’s not quite cold enough for sweaters but too warm for heat. I’ve taken to walking around my apartment in my ugly—but very, very warm—polka dot slippers. And, if it doesn’t get warmer soon, or cold enough to warrant heat within my building, I may break out my tie dye snuggie (It was a gift from a friend, I swear.)

This is a very long way of saying that I think the temperature in my apartment may, in fact, be colder than outside. Naturally, this makes me long for the blissful days of summer and early fall.

Although the weather is long gone, I’m pleased to say that, this year, I planned ahead so that I could preserve the flavors. And, while I haven’t attempted canning, yet, mostly due to a fear that I’m accident prone enough to afflict my friends with botulism, there is something that I can do:

Infuse alcohol.

I’m operating under the theory that alcohol kills most everything. Except flavor. So, now I have grand plans—Singapore Slings with sour cherry gin, Concord Grape Cocktails. There may be come limoncello in my future, too. It’s too late to get the sour cherries this year, but concord grapes are still in season. And, be honest, doesn’t Concord grape vodka seem so much more appealing that jam, or even focaccia.

Actually, on second thought, get enough grapes to make the perfect happy hour cocktail and snack.

Infused Spirits
Technique from About.com

This is more of a method than a recipe, and, as such infinitely adaptable. My biggest suggestion is to use cheaper, more mildly flavored spirits while you’re trying new flavors so that, in the event that they don’t work out, you haven’t spent a fortune.

Concord Grape Infused Vodka

750 ml vodka
1 cup fresh concord grapes

Crush the grapes and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Top with vodka, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days. Shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing. Once the infusion is ready, strain the concord grapes from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the vodka to a serving container.

Sour Cherry Infused Gin

750 ml gin
1 cup fresh sour cherries

Pit the sour cherries and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Top with gin, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days. Shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing. Once the infusion is ready, strain the concord grapes from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the gin to a serving container.

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Coming Attractions

I’m back! And, very, very jet lagged.

In other words, there are still piles of clothing to be put away, gifts to be handed out, emails to be attended to. All of the demands of regular life beckon. A little too loudly.

Did I mention that I was jet lagged?

I’m also aching to share some of the sights of Zurich, Lugano and Alsace with you (and, embarassingly several recipes from the days before I left for vacation.) So, there will be more to come. With recipes and stories that are both charming and more smartly articulated than I can promise at the moment.

Consider this a small preview for the time being. Or, better, yet, an apéritif.

Appropriate enough, given that I’m leaving you with a recipe for my new favorite drink—an Aperol Spritz.

Before we go on, let’s get this out of th eway: Aperol is, in fact, an Italian bitter.

I read about a few months back, on Orangette. At the time, it felt too cold for something that seemed, to me at least, so summery both in color and flavor profile. So, the craving was filed away for summer. And then, it was summer. And, I arrived in Switzerland and saw it on offer throughout the cafés of Zürich and, later in the week, just a hopskipandajump away from Italy, in Lugano.

As for the drink: It’s quintessentially Swiss. Or, maybe not, but the friends who I visited told me so, and that’s good enough for me.

Think Campari but without the rough, bitter edge. Instead, it’s just got a slight bitterness rounded with the floral notes of rhubarb that keeps it from veering into the “drinks I drank when I was seventeen” range. And, when mixed with prosecco or seltzer, it is a vibrant shade of orange.

It’s positively celebratory, if you ask me.

Just the right kind of drink to enjoy on your vacation. Or, perhaps, the rest of your summer.

Aperol Spritz
Recipe courtesy of Aperol

2 ounces Aperol
3 ounces Prosecco
Splash of Seltzer
Ice
Orange Slices, to garnish

In a wine or highball glass, add ice and pour in Aperol. Top off with prosecco and seltzer, and then garnish with a thin slice of orange.

Makes One

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