Sunday, June 7, 2015

A “Brilliant” Cocktail Keeps a Roomful of Book Critics Happy

The “Brilliant” cocktail shines with the flavors of spicy ginger, lime, and Junípero gin. Make our spicy ginger syrup and you’re ready to dazzle your guests at your upcoming spring/summer party. Photo by Steve Schul.

We’re thrilled now that warm weather has returned — especially after such a long, cold winter. To combat memories of the abominable blizzards, we came up with a “Brilliant” solution. This drink was created for the National Book Critics Circle spring cocktail party 2015, held at the Center for Fiction, in East Midtown. Sarah Russo — a terrific publicist and advocate for the NBCC — gave us only one requirement for the cocktail: we must use Junípero gin, by Anchor Distilling Company of San Francisco. We love this juniper-heavy dry gin, laced with many other herb and bark flavors, and were thrilled to have it as a starting point. The evening’s forecast was warm and very humid, so a cool refreshing drink was in order. We started out with the French 75 as inspiration, and as the basis for the proportions. Lime juice with ginger sounded tropically thirst quenching—a good pairing for the gin. We mixed up a batch of our own Cocktail Buzz spicy ginger syrup, added gin, squeezed some fresh lime juice, shook it up with ice to chill, and topped it all with champagne. Delicious and refreshing—a new summertime favorite! We served it that night to the thirsty literary crowd of book critics and might have heard a murmur, or perhaps the review . . . “Brilliant!”

Paul and Steve mix up some “Brilliant” cocktails for the National Book Critics Circle spring cocktail party. Photo courtesy Sean Sime.
(created by Cocktail Buzz for the NBCC)

1 1/2 ounces Junípero gin (or one redolent with juniper)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Cocktail Buzz spicy ginger syrup*
2 ounces champagne

Shake gin, lime juice, and ginger syrup in an ice-filled shaker for 15 seconds. Strain into a champagne flute or highball glass. Top with champagne. (You can add an ice cube or two if it’s a particularly close night.)

*Cocktail Buzz Spicy Ginger Syrup

6 ounces fresh, unpeeled ginger, washed and diced (or sliced with a mandoline or pulsed in a food processor)
3 cups of water
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch salt

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Strain mixture into a jar and store in refrigerator for about a week.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Two Tang Cocktails To Send You Into Orbit

Calling all Apollo 11 Aficionados! Try our orange, scotch, and amaretto cocktail,
A Midwinter Tang.

Our friends Sara Kate Gillingham and Penny de los Santos asked us to come up with a Tang cocktail, one that would kick off a dinner for six winners of a school raffle, who requested the menu be based on Tricky Dick Nixon’s White House dinner to honor the Apollo 11 astronauts. The reason they asked for such a cocktail was simple: one of the lucky recipients of Sara Kate and Penny’s feast—turns out it was his birthday—requested that the powdered mix, which was used to fuel the astronauts, fuel him as well.

The first question we asked was, Do they still make that stuff?

The answer, we discovered, was a resounding yes—although, we had to ask our checkout worker at the grocery store where to find it. There are two sizes: first, a jug that you can rest easily in the palm of your hand and second, a container four times the size of the jug, suitable only for overly large families. We opted for the former. But we discovered why those containers were so big: it takes two tablespoons of Tang to make one serving!

Both Penny, a photographer, and Sara Kate, founding editor of The Kitchn, love scotch, bourbon, and gin, so they asked us to use one of those spirits in the cocktail. We immediately reached for the bourbon, whipped up a small batch of Tang, and mixed the two. All it made were two sad faces. But like intrepid astronauts, we persisted, eager to explore unknown terrain. Although the bourbony Tang did not send us into orbit, the scotchy and ginny Tangs did. So we decided to make two separate drinks. Our goal was to keep them simple but make sure that orangey Tang-y essence made our mouths vibrate a little.

Here’s what we came up with:

A Midwinter Tang
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces light blended scotch whisky (we used Glendrostan)*
1 ounce Tang
1/2 ounce amaretto (we used Luxardo)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake in ice for 15 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe (or on the rocks in a rocks glass, if you prefer). Serve with salty and spicy potato chips.

* Feel free to try any scotch on hand. We also tried A Midwinter Tang with Drumguish Single Highland Malt, and it made the drink delightfully tingly.

The Orbiter
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
3/4 ounce Tang
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake in ice for 15 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe (or on the rocks in a rocks glass, with a splash of soda, if you prefer). Serve with salty potato chips.

❤ ❤ ❤

Sara Kate and Penny chose A Midwinter Tang to serve the winners. Asked if they liked it, Sara Kate responded, “Maybe too much.” Check out her writeup of the event on The Kitchn.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz