Showing posts with label pomegranate juice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pomegranate juice. Show all posts

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revamping the Jack Rose Cocktail

The Jack Rose is a classic, and one of seminal cocktail writer David Embury’s “six basic drinks.”

One thing that is permanent is change. Our tastes change all the time. One day we’re loving the sleek simple lines of a Calvin Klein sheath, the next we’re extolling the rococo color explosion of a Hermès print. This holds true for cocktails. Right now we are really into up drinks, like Manhattans and all their variations. Perhaps it’s the weather—in the colder months, we’d rather not be holding a glass of ice-filled social lubricant that continually negates the alcohol’s warming properties. But, alas, these rocks-free libations can be a little more difficult to pair with food. Especially if the cocktail uses spirits high in proof. (Ever take a sip of one after eating a bread-heavy canapé? It’s like tasting a communion wafer dipped in cheap wine. Alcohol throat-burn is not something to strive for when creating a harmonious cocktailing experience for your party guests.) “Up” cocktails, though, can and should be good foils for the hors d’oeuvres and party snacks we put into our mouths. That’s why we come up with perfect pairings. But perfect parings are never actually set in stone. Our tastes not only change then, they evolve. So, it’s important for the development of any chef, artist, writer—any creative person really—to reach into the past and reinvestigate matters that now, in the light of day, have become a bit troublesome. So now we will look back at an old cocktail recipe we honed years ago, one about which we have since changed our opinion.

The Jack Rose is that cocktail. The recipe is simple: applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine. Applejack is a Colonial American invention that was first made in an unusual process known as freeze distillation, also known as “jacking.” Apple cider (so important to these early settlers since potable water was hard to come by) is left to freeze during the cold months. Chunks of ice are removed from the cider when the water separates from the alcohol, making the remaining alcohol much more concentrated. Standard distillation supersedes this quaint process, and the liquor is much cleaner now, allowing for easy mixing with other spirits, juices, and sugars. Grenadine is essentially pomegranate and sugar, boiled down to a slightly viscous syrup.

When we first starting shaking these rosy-hued beauties and pairing them with simple fair, such as spiced nuts, we had three goals in mind, so as to avoid the dreaded alcohol burn.
  1. Keep the alcohol content low.
  2. Keep the sugar content on the plus side (the sweeter drinks usually pair more easily with the natural sugars in food).
  3. Make sure the cocktail has a decent amount of acid (such as juice, dairy, or wine-based spirits), since these acids create new flavors when confronted with foods ’ sugars and starches).
In our first iteration of the Jack Rose, we dutifully applied all three of these objectives: Applejack (Laird’s) with an alcohol content of 40% (the lowest level of alcohol a spirit can have to be called a spirit), check; a generous amount of grenadine (real pomegranate grenadine) to bring out the sweetness for easier food-pairing, check; and an amount of lemon juice to balance the alcohol and sugars, check. It’s a little on the sweet side, which may be off-putting to some, but allows for easier food pairings, especially with spiced nuts that in simpler circumstances would go well with an ice-cold beer.

But getting back to our main topic. Over the years, we’ve grown a little tired of our recipe. You see, we now prefer a higher-proof applejack that is far superior to our 40% abv applejack. It’s Laird’s bonded (50% abv) apple brandy. Much more complex, a little sweeter, and a little more fruit-forward, this spirit needs less sugar and more acid when mixed as a Jack Rose.

Keep in mind, though, that not all grenadines are created equal. Stirring s makes a decent one that is sweet, but not too sweet, such as the one made by Williams Sonoma. Avoid any all–corn syrup grenadines that look like fake blood in a bottle. Better yet, make your own, so that you can control the level of sweetness. Follow the recipes below, and you can whip up a perfect pairing that requires very little measuring, once you’ve got your ingredients all in place. Spiced nuts would be an ideal accompaniment.

Jack Rose
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces bonded apple brandy (50% abv, or 100 proof)
3/4–1 ounce real pomegranate grenadine (adjust according to taste)*
1/2–3/4 ounce lemon juice (adjust according to taste)

* Some brands are sweeter than others. Alternatively, you can make your own. See recipe below.

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Spiced nuts are the perfect accompaniment to a well-crafted Jack Rose.

Another great drink to try that uses apple brandy is the Hurricane Sandy.

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{ You can always make a smaller batch by halving the amounts }

2 cups 100% pomegranate juice*
2 cups sugar
1 ounce vodka

* You can always make this from squeezing pomegranate pips by using a hand citrus squeezer. Two large and heavy pomegranates and a splash of water should do the trick. This is very messy, so wear an apron and squeeze into a deep, wide bowl. 

Bring pomegranate juice to a boil over medium–high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sugar. Stir gently until sugar is dissolved. Keep heat low and simmer for up to 15 minutes, until mixture is slightly reduced. Allow to cool. Add vodka and stir. May be kept for quite a while in the refrigerator in a clean 750ml bottle (or 325ml bottle for half recipes).

  • Orange flower water (also known as orange blossom water) adds another layer of flavor to the grenadine. Anywhere from 1–2 teaspoons stirred in once the heat is turned off.
  • Lemon juice may round out the sweet-tartness. A half teaspoon should do the trick.
  • Pomegranate molasses may add that super pomegranate flavor you might be looking for. Add about an ounce at the very end of simmering, stirring to incorporate.
Other libations that use grenadine are the Fjord, Global Punch, the Hurricane, the Monkey Gland, and the Scoff Law.

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Spiced Nuts
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread nuts onto a cookie sheet or ceramic baking dish. Put in oven on center rack for about 15–18 minutes.

Mix the salt, mace, cumin, sand brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter on stovetop. Set aside.

Once you smell the nuts, they are most likely done (do not burn). Remove from oven and add to a mixing bowl. Pour melted butter over nuts and mix thoroughly. Add spice mixture and mix thoroughly.

Pour nuts into a serving bowl and sprinkle any remaining spice mixture on top.

Serves 4–6.

More Cocktail Buzz on the Jack Rose
To watch our video pairing the our first iteration of the Jack Rose cocktail with spiced nuts, click here.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pomegranates Make Easter Cocktailing a Joy: PAMA Nog

This light and fruity nog, made with three pomegranate expressions, will make your Easter celebrations an affair to remember. And because of its low-alcohol content, you can have two (or three).

Pomegranates ten years ago were exotic to most Westerners, especially to us East Coasters. Sure, we’d seen those burnished red orbs piled up in a produce-section crate at the grocery store, their crown-shaped nipples beckoning us to get a little closer, but by sheer ignorance we shuttered our eyes to their beauty. We just didn’t know what to do with them except make a mess with the arils, those pip-like seeds coated with the sweet juice that gives the pomegranate its distinct enchanting flavor.

The arils, pips, or seeds of the pomegranate (call them what you will) are the paragons of contrast: sweet and soft on the outside, hard and slightly bitter on the inside. Nibbling them can become an addiction.

Mythologically, the pomegranate, which originated in Iran, has bewitched many a soul, the most famous being Persephone, the Goddess of the Underworld in Greek tales. Poor Persephone. Abducted by Hades, god of the Underworld, she was forced to take a seat by his throne whilst he lorded over the dead. Her mom, Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, was thrown into a deep depression, so deep, as a result, winter enveloped all with its bitter chill. All vegetation shriveled up, and nothing new grew. Well, this didn’t sit well with Zeus, king of the Gods, so he ordered Hades to return Persephone to terra firma so that the shrubs and trees and flowers could once again bloom. But Hades, being devilish and cunning, tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds, so that she would be forced to stay—you see, the Fates had decreed that anyone who imbibed anything while they were roaming the dark and gloomy caverns of the Underworld were doomed to live eternity there. Six seeds were hardly enough to merit eternal damnation, so it was decided that six months a year would suffice. And during those six months, Demeter’s mourning chills the Earth, forcing the greenery into early retirement.

How dreary. And you thought pomegranates were life-affirming because of all the hullabaloo about its antioxidant properties.

But after six months of bitterness and cold, hope springs eternal. Yes, spring, the season of renewal and life, returns with the release of Persephone from Hades’s corpsy clutches. And what better symbol to promote this renewal than the egg. Going way back in Teutonic Mythology, the egg symbolized, you guessed it, renewal. Ēostre, the Goddess of spring, represented by the egg and the rabbit (yes, the bunny represents fecundity, so we get the Easter Bunny from her too), lent her name to the holiday. So eggs and Easter somehow become intertwined forever, as lovers united in a common vision of resurrection. Easter + eggs. The two words fit so well together, we can’t imagine an Easter without them. And after a gloomy winter, the more decorated these eggs are, the better.

Which brings us to the drink. We’ll call it PAMA Nog (we get nothing promoting the brand, it just sounds good). Look at the photo: It’s like a wee present, dappled in little jeweled seeds, life’s beginnings. These little ruby eggs of sweet and bitter, floating atop a cloud of pomegranate–blueberry juice laced with a hearty dose of PAMA pomegranate-flavored liqueur, when we bite into you and take a sip of your smooth and creamy essence, we become one with all mythologies that hand down their circle-of-life fables to the generations; we are cradled by their stories. (It’s that good.)

So what we’re trying to say is Steve’s drink, PAMA Nog, is a celebration of this life-cycle, and what better holiday than Easter to fete the renewal of life. In Christianity, Jesus rises from the dead after a nasty run-in with the Roman authorities, and it is on Easter that Christians commemorate this event — much like the Ancient Greeks would pay homage to Persephone, and the Northern Europeans would honor Ēostre — in song, dance, parades, dramas, and special holidays.

We just chose to add some liquor to our medium. But you will find the whole egg in there — yolk and white separated at first, then reunited in bibulous bliss. Mmm. Happy Lip-Smacking Easter.

(created by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)

Serves 2.

2 ounces PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 egg, divided (yolk and white separated)
5 teaspoons sugar, divided (4/1)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup pomegranate–blueberry juice (or just pomegranate juice)
nutmeg, freshly ground
pomegranate seeds, as garnish

In a bowl, beat the egg yolk and 4 teaspoons of sugar with a mixer until it lightens in color and sugar is dissolved. Add PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, milk, pomegranate-blueberry juice, and stir to combine.

Place the egg white and the 1 additional teaspoon of sugar in a bowl and beat with mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill. Whisk before serving. Divide between two glasses and garnish with pomegranate seeds and freshly ground nutmeg. Enjoy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cocktail Buzz Creates a Hot New Fall Cocktail for Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol NYC Launch Party

Last night marked the book launch of Dan Brown’s new novel, The Lost Symbol, at New York City’s Gotham Hall, and we were asked by the nice people of Doubleday Books to come up with a signature cocktail to kick off the event. If you ever get the opportunity to attend an event at Gotham Hall, you will be happy you walked through its doors. What a glorious space, with high glass-tiled ceiling, and gorgeous Egyptian-style detail in the bars that once haunted this old, restored bank. And for the event, the book jacket’s symbols were projected in bright red all over the upper walls, providing a warm, passionate glow. It was if the book jacket had come to life.

The publicity people at Doubleday wanted a simple yet delicious (but, of course) martini-style cocktail that reflected the book’s red jacket. We started playing with some pomegranate juice, which mixes nicely with many spirits and makes any drink glow a deep rich red (see photo and recipe below). The St-Germain adds a delightful herbal touch. We ended up making three drinks we just loved, and the folks at Doubleday chose one.

Truth be told, we were given no information about The Lost Symbol. Everything about it has been shrouded in mystery, yet due to the success and popularity of his earlier books, this new one quickly rose to number one on Amazon in pre-sales. The only things we were told were the title and that it featured Robert Langdon, who was played by Tom Hanks in the film version of The Da Vinci Code. After doing a little Google sleuthing of our own, we discovered that the Freemasons and George Washington’s putative treasonous acts were perhaps the focus of this The Lost Symbol. (Our sleuthing paid off—there were cherry trees everywhere, a nod to the myth that Washington chopped down one of those suckers for reasons we really cannot recall; and the men and women behind the stick, as well as the cater-waiters, sported white perukes, providing a whiff of the eighteenth century.)

We’re delighted with the results. The Langdon’s Folly reminds us of white grapes bursting with juicy tangy sweetness. They are easy to make, light in alcohol, and perfect for your next fall cocktail party (or after your book club has finished discussing one of The Lost Symbol’s chapters). Drinking two would not be considered indecent.

Langdon's Folly
(created by Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
1 ounce vodka
1/4 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. You can add an orange twist to this drink. Do not twist above cocktail—simply toss into the drink. A small peel (using a vegetable peeler and about 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inches without the pith) would float nicely.

photos © 2009 Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz