Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gin Fizz

Santa Fe Spirits: Wheeler's Gin Fizz

After all that, we actually had some gin left, and so we decided to Iron-Chef a cocktail on the spot. What we came up with was the Dry Grapefruit Gin Fizz.

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What you’ll need is:
Gin: We are using Wheeler’s Gin from Santa Fe Spirits.
Grapefruit Seltzer: We are using Polar Brand.
Lime:’s a lime.
Simple Syrup: Optional, depending on how sweet you want it.
Bitters: Also optional.

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Q brand sodas makes a very nice grapefruit soda which would be great with this as well.  It will be sweeter, and because we were going for something that wasn't very sweet at all, we went with just the seltzer instead.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Gin and Tonic

Santa Fe Spirits: Wheeler’s G&T
(Gin and Tonic)

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The G&T is another one of those drinks where London Dry style gin has reigned supreme far and wide.  Wheeler’s gin makes an excellent one however, and it’s really just the need to walk your inexperienced friends through this the experience of a craft gin that isn’t trying to be like Bombay Sapphire in a more fancy-schmancy bottle.

No look into a craft gin would be complete without a look at the Gin and Tonic.  Keeping with the mantra of garbage in = garbage out, we have gone to great normal lengths to ensure that we don’t corrupt the final product with one bad ingredient in a sea of otherwise awesome stuff.  The G & T need not be over-complicated, but it is important to remember to keep both hands on the wheel when making a proper one.

Now we’ll admit that we’ve violated that mantra in the past once or twice and have had one bad ingredient slum down an otherwise higher level drink, but we’re trying to minimize that happening in the future.  If you’d like to help, um ...send us booze (or whatever). 

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So what we’re using is

Gin:  You need a gin that’s made well, but doesn’t necessarily have to be one particular style.  Anything from super-dry to very fragrant can work, as long as it’s something you like.  Mass produced gins have an advantage of being consistent year to year, but often lack depth, character, and sometimes they’re just crap.  Craft and micro distilled runs often have much more complexity, can be of stellar quality, but can sometimes vary from batch to batch.  We are once again using Wheeler's Gin from Santa Fe Spirits
Tonic Water:  First is first;  No High Fructse Corn Syrup.  That’s non-negotiable.  With its distinct flavor coming from Quinine extracted from the bark of the Cinchona tree, it was once drank to prevent malaria and tasted so bad, that gin was added as a mixer to make it go down easier.  While the U.S. government severely limits the amount of Quinine that can be in tonic water (because it can give you poor little babies a tummy ache), you can cross the border to get some Canadian stuff, or you can try making your own.  While it’s difficult to poison yourself with Quinine, it’s not impossible, so take care if you try to do this.
Lime:  Traditional G&T recipes often call for an actual squeeze of lime or lemon juice to go into the drink rather than just serve as a garnish.  We got these limes from some organic hippie-market, so we hope you’re happy.
Ice:  In your mixology adventures, you should always treat ice as an ingredient.  It’s important to realize that no matter what, it is gonna melt in there and become part of the thing.  So waters that a have funk to them (whether it’s the bad kind of the good kind of funk) should probably be avoided, as those elements will make its way into whatever you’re mixing.  We get to use NYC water, which is better than yours.

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See Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy in the Stormy Orchard (a variation on the Dark n Stormy).

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Gin Sour

Santa Fe Spirits: Wheeler’s Gin OG Sour
(The Gin Sour) 

The gin sour is a long forgotten popular drink of the pre-prohibition era. Simple, strong, and easy going, this version from Santa Fe Spirits adds a dash of bitters and aromatics of the American desert. While gin is all too often passed over in sours these days for things like bourbon and tequila, its aromatics make it a nice change of pace from the oak and smoky notes of the other ones.

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This one is simple, and you’ll need:

Gin: We are using Wheeler's Gin from Santa Fe Spirits.
Lemon: Aperture Science non-combustible lemon.
Lime:  Black Mesa limes.
Simple Syrup: Homemade

Bitters:  We are using Angostura Bitters.
Optional Garnish: you could use mint, rosemary, catnip, or anything else really.

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The juice yield from lemons and limes will always vary from fruit to fruit.  It's best to have one or two extra around to use on an as-needed basis.

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Yes, you can use catnip in cocktails.  It's got a mild mint scent with none of the burn that mint usually has.  Check out our catnip julep we made for the derby.

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Santa Fe Spirits Wheeler's Gin OG Sour.  A nice looking drink to have in your hand as the sun goes down. And whether the you’re looking at the sunset through desert cactus or from the top of a big city high-rise, you’ll be ready to enjoy the night with the OG Sour from Santa Fe Spirits.

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...Yeah we got a little corn-ball there, but it was fun.

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Next up, we continue to look at Wheeler's Gin in the classic G&T.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tom Collins: Colin's Collins (Cherry Collins)

Santa  Fe Spirits: Wheeler's Gin Colin's Collins
(Cherry Collins)

Welcome Back as we continue our look at Wheeler’s Gin from Santa Fe Spirits.  Today we are going to make a variation of the Tom Collins called Colin’s Collins.  This was specifically given to us by Santa Fe Spirits themselves, and so we hope to do it proud.  We’re assuming that this was invented by someone named Colin, but in a world where uncertainty lurks around every corner, one can never truly know. 

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Colin’s Collins
...or should it be The Colin’s Tom Collins ...or Tom Collins by Colin ...anyway, this variation relies on Gin and some other stuff.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Gin:  Such as Wheeler’s Gin from Santa Fe Spirits.
Lime:  Limes that yield a good amount of juice.
Soda Water:  It should be high carbonation and unflavored.  Unless you have a soda-gun at home, we recommend using something from a glass bottle, as it holds better carbonation.
Luxardo Cherry Syrup:  This dark and sweet syrup comes in jars of Luxardo cherries but is also sold separately by Luxardo.  This should not be confused with Luxardo’s Maraschino liqueur, which is a clear, cherry flavored liqueur.
Optional: Simple syrup (tastes may vary).

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While the original recipe for a Tom Collins called for a large wine-glass full of gin (no, really it did), 3 ounces is where you'd wanna set a maximum for this one. 

As you can see, there is no ice in the glass.  One of the reasons is that your gin should already be chilled a bit, but it is also because we're going to use a thick syrup here, and ice has a tendency to harden it up and prevent proper mixing.

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Made from Marasca Cherries, Maraschino should be pronounced Mara-ski-no, so keep that in mind.

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While you can find Luxardo Cherries cheaper online, it should be no surprise that since we live in the most expensive city in North America, the store that sold this to us charged us $25 for it.  We know some of our fans aren't exactly at the point where they don't have to care about spending that on a whim, so let's look at alternatives...

Now the cherries you see near the ice cream toppings at the grocery store are total crap, so don't think you can just use that and get away with it.  Also, don't just put some cherries in a blender, it's probably not a good idea.    

There are many different ways to make these at home, with recipes ranging from extremely simple (cherries + Luxardo maraschino + sugar), to complex ones which add sugar, spice, and everything nice.  But yes, you still need to buy at least something from Luxardo.  There are also some videos on youtube which show the steps involved.  So when cherries go on sale, this might be something you'd want to try.

Recipe 1Recipe 2Video.  

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Now, the only warning here is that the cherries are slathered in thick maraschino syrup, which will stain anything it touches.  With that in mind, you may want to hold off on them as a garnish if you want to keep that brunch-tastick outfit of your white polo shirt and khakis safe from cherry-red destruction.

Our thanks again to Santa Fe Spirits for their participation with Wheeler's Gin.  Check out our next entry where we will once again feature Wheeler's Gin in the Gin Sour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Yankee Rose

The Yankee Rose is (as far as we can tell) a creation of our own, with a Gin as the base spirit.  Why do we call it the "Yankee Rose"?  Because English Rose and Desert Rose were already taken, and this was the best we could come up with.   So in keeping with the namesake, we will be using an American gin:  Wheeler's Gin from Santa Fe Spirits

Santa Fe Spirits has been nice enough to provide us with some, so that we can show you that there's more to Gin than just throwing half the ingredients of Italian salad dressing into a bunch of vodka and calling it a day.  Wheeler's Gin is certainly not some conjurer of cheap tricks that, and not only contains the familiar gin botanicals, but also ones that are unique to its home in the American Southwest.  Check out our martini we made with it here.

But now on to The Yankee Rose.

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Ingredients you will need:
1) Gin.  A gin that is much more designed to carry numerous flavors to your nose after you sip it, rather than jump straight up there before you even get even the first bit down.   While originally intended for the very soft and primarily lavender Brooklyn Gin (hence calling it the Yankee Rose seemed almost obligatory), Wheeler's Gin from Santa Fe Spirits was a great fit for this.  Additionally, we are still amazed that a distillery from New Mexico is producing top-shelf spirits like Gin and Applejack, which are so often thought of as East Coast territory.  If you don't want to use alcohol, check out our alcohol-free version of this on our tumblr.

2) Rose Water.  This stuff has been used by civilization for many things over the centuries.  A great way to flavor baked goods, teas, or add a little something different to soft drinks, Rose Water is even something you can make at home (here's a video of some lady showing you how).  But Disclaimer; If you don't know exactly what the rose pedals have been through, like if they've been chemically treated by a florist or have been otherwise exposed to things not for eating, then just go pick up some Alwadi Rose Water.  It's not hard to find, and they specifically make it for edible uses.  So you can feel safe and secure knowing that someone somewhere had made sure you aren't getting bad chemical stuff.  This stuff also lasts quite a while in the fridge, so you'll be able to use it for many different applications.  

3) Simple Syrup.  This shouldn't be hard.  Seriously, if you don't know how to do this by now you might want to go practice right now.

4) Seltzer.  It is important that you use seltzer/soda water with absolutely nothing added to it.  No minerals, flavors, or anything else.  This is a delicate drink and that stuff can throw things off.

5) Shaker and Ice.  The same goes for ice.  If your tap water often has strong smells or certain flavors to it (be they good or bad) then avoid using it for this and use filtered or distilled water for the ice to be used here.  It's easy to torpedo a drink of top-shelf everything only to shake it over ice from the nastiest water available.

6) Bitters.  You can really use whatever bitters you like, and we're hoping to feature some unique ones here soon, but for now, you will see us use Angostura.

7) Citric Acid.  Here's the part where lots of you are going to say "What?  I can't get all chemistry-lab intense into this."  But this stuff is as easy to find as sugar, costs about the same, and dissolves in cold water as well.  That little pack up there (when full) was less than $2 and we picked it us at our local Lebanese Spice Shop.  We know not many of you are gonna have a local Lebanese Spice Shop, but don't worry, the stuff is still everywhere and is often used by health-conscious people as a meat-tenderizer.  It's also sometimes called "Lemon-Salt" but it's got no lemon flavor or actual salt in it.

8) Pint Glass.  That's what we're making this in, but once you get this down, you can decide for yourself how you want it.

DON'T you dare try to just add lemon juice or something to this instead of citric acid.  Citric acid has no flavor and won't upset the flavor balance in this (it only lowers the PH a little bit).  If you throw citrus juice in there then that's all you're gonna taste in this. 

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The level of sweetness is always subjective, but you will want it to be on the sweeter side of your usual range, as that quality really compliments the rose water's natural flavors and fragrances.

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A tiny bit of this stuff goes a long way.  Just 1/8th of a teaspoon can probably drop it a full PH point, so always add the smaller amount you think you will need and then add more if you want.  We find that about a quarter works best for us, maybe a bit more or less depending what kind of mood we're in.

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Before you do anything else, if your cocktail shaker is metal, then rinse it out right here and now.  You just put citric acid in there, you don't want a residue of that sticking to the insides for hours  after this and start munching away at the metal do you? 

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This is by far the most fragrant and fragile drink we've ever done.  You can miss the mark only a little on it, and end up with something you don't like, so it's not for the timid.  But once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to show your friends/co-workers/bosses/neighborhood drug dealers a great warm-weather cocktail that no one has ever seen before.

It should be noted that it is possible to not add Gin and make this an alcohol-free beverage.  In fact, it was the alcohol-free version we made on a whim, which led us to this new discovery.    

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We would like to thank Santa Fe Spirits for participating is this recipe, and check out our next episode where we feature Wheeler's Gin in Colin's Collins.  ...go buy some.   

We'd also like to thank Al Wadi, Angostura, and The Boylan Bottling Co. for ...making the delicious things we bought for this.  Please keep making nummie things.  

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Santa Fe Spirits: Wheeler's Gin Martini

Today we will begin taking a look at Wheeler's Western Dry Gin.   Produced by Santa Fe Spirits, Wheeler's is a gin which fits into the center of the gin spectrum.  Now, people hear that and they thing "well if it's just in the middle then why bother and blah blah blah" but think about it... how often do you want the extremes of anything?  Hot sauce?  No, you like Sriracha and Cholula, not the extremes blandness of Frank's hot-sauce-flavored water or the insanity of weaponized pepper-spray.  Sushi?  Well, fresh is good but not a lot of you are going to starting fish that are still swimming around, and let's not even think about the other end of that equation.  Not even alcohol.  Fuck the 3% beer crap, but that doesn't mean you're gonna start downing the 96% Spirytus Staropolski any time soon (actually we did do that once and also started cooking with it.  After our hands caught fire we decided it wasn't really the best thing to have around). 

Needless to say, Wheeler's is not the gining-est gin that has ever gin-ed.  It is also not so delicate, that such as the landing of sakura petals upon your arm in spring, your first sensory perception of their presence is simply by their smell.   Nope, this is a gin, a real gin, that isn't afraid to know when to hold em and know when to fold em (right now the people at Santa Fe Spirits are probably cringing and saying "why did we let these city-people touch out awesome stuff?").  It's because we know a good thing when we drink it and Wheeler's is a great gin that delivers exactly what a gin should, without harsh tones, over-powerful menthol flavors, or hastily distilled base spirits.  People think that because gin is a clear spirit, it's simple, but in fact the opposite is true.  With no oak-smoke to hide behind, gin has to bring it's A game to the table right out of the gate, without the benefit of added time or a caramelized smoke screen.  Sante Fe Spirits knows this, and you dear imbiber get to enjoy the benefits of their wisdom. 

Wheeler's is also unique, in that along with juniper, it includes cascade hops, white sage, osha root, and Cholla (that's pronounced Choi-Ya) Cactus blossoms picked directly by the distillery.  The end result is a gin that can not only hold it's own in a martini, but can also mix into recipes which are extremely delicate.  And we're about to show you exactly that:

Santa Fe Spirits's Wheeler's Gin
The Martini.

You may remember in our original martini episode, we used a gin that was of the London Dry variety.   These are very good and they are popular, but they are not the same as other gins, as we are about to see.

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The Martini is very cruel to gin.  If the gin isn't good, it will put those qualities straight out there and let you know about it.  Even gins that are ok to use in other drinks are slain at the hands of this very serious recipe.  

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What we have here is a premium dry vermouth, but our "friend" who brought it happened to put it in an unmarked container, so we can't show you the actual label name.  Maybe they were afraid to carry it with them, or maybe they were afraid we'd end up drinking it all (a distinct possibility), but either way, you'll have to wait for a future post to find out about quality vermouth.  So thanks for that ya dork (you know who you are).   

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Some martini purists out there are going to hem and haw about how the gin must be at least some ridiculously low temperature.  This is straight up wrong.  Gin is an aromatic.  An aromatic doesn't work, if it's something like minus a kergillion-billion degrees below zero, because you're not gonna smell anything!   Chilled, yes.  Freezing?  No, you're doing it wrong. 

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While they don't drop that many olives into it, the martinis served at (now defunked) Cornelius Oyster Bar in Prospect Heights Brooklyn, were actually similar to this, in that they often had quite a few lose olives floating around in a class such as this.   One (or 2) of these and a plate of  raw bluepoints were the absolute best way to end a hard day at work, and still end up spending less than $20. 

In the end, Santa Fe Spirits Wheeler's Gin goes well in a martini or just on the rocks.  The gin itself has a unique background noise to it and we're assuming that it's the Cholla Cactus flowers, but since we've never had Cholla Cactus flowers, we can only assume that's the case.  It's no bottom shelf gin and seems to work best when it's between 45 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.   Though for science sake we did taste 2 separate neat ounces at room temperature to see what was what.  While amplified, the searing that often happens with mass-produced gins was not there at all, while surprisingly the botanical strength was very pleasantly strong.  A great accompaniment to a hearty herbal focaccia in the shade on a summer afternoon.

Next time, Wheeler's Gin in:  The Yankee Rose.