Sunday, February 12, 2012

Three Winter Cocktails, Two Warm, One Frosty, To Get You Out of the Rut You’re Probably In

Orange, tarragon, and vanilla: these are the flavors at the fore of the cachaça-based
O Sonho de Paulo.
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by these extraordinary cocktails.
Okay. We can’t attribute this entire quotation to Shakespeare; but our amendment to the opening of “Richard III” suggests that when the winter doldrums have gotten you down, some fine tippling of superb drinks can bring the warmth of summer back into your life. We hear you say this winter hasn’t been such a bad one. That may be true for our neck of the woods, but as our planet shifts meteorologically into uncharted territory on a global level, we can feel safe and secure knowing that at least a well-crafted cocktail can calm our nerves.

So we’ll celebrate this strangeness of wintertime with three somewhat-strange cocktails, one from our hands, one from from a newish Williamsburg, Brooklyn, establishment that knows how to craft a supremely sippable wintertime drink (and some small plates of deliciousness to accompany it), and the third from a posh Midtown Manhattan restaurant mixologist.

Our first cocktail is one we came up with a few years back. We have no idea why we didn’t publish it sooner since we turn to it every time we crave some fresh-squeezed orange juice, which usually happens every winter. The cachaça in it makes it a little exotic, along with the tarragon-infused vodka, but we think that once you take the time to make this drink, you’ll keep all of its ingredients on your home bar shelf, or cabinet, or sideboard—wherever it is you allow your spirits to rest. It all comes down to the flavor. Imagine a creamsicle, but for adults only. The burnished sweetness of the cachaça and the anise flavors of tarragon mitigate the all-out vanilla yumminess of the Licor 43. An orange wheel touches your lips every time you sip and keeps the crushed ice in your glass. We call it O Sonho de Paulo, Portuguese for Paul’s Dream.

O Sonho de Paulo
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces cachaça
1/2 ounces tarragon-infused vodka*
1 ounce Licor 43 (or other vanilla liqueur)
1 ounce orange juice,
orange wheel, as garnish

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into double-rocks glass or goblet filled with crushed ice. Garnish with thin orange wheel.

* Tarragon-Infused Vodka
2 cups vodka
12 tarragon sprigs

In an airtight container, add 12 tarragon sprigs for every 2 cups of vodka. Let infuse for at least three days and up to five days (the longer you wait, the stronger the anise-grassy flavor), shaking the container at least once a day. Strain into another airtight container and label.

❤ ❤ ❤

Where we drank and dined at Betto. A small plate concept restaurant and bar, Betto graces the hipster streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with satisfying food and cocktails.

Last week we spent a night noshing on small plates and sipping well-crafted cocktails at Betto in Williamsburg with our lovely friends Tony, Jim, and Brooke. It was Tony’s birthday, and we had originally tried to get in to Fette Sau, but, lucky for us, it was overcrowded with what seemed like a Brooklyn geek pork-lovers convention mixed with some hotspot-seeking out-of-neighborhooders who caught the whiff of this popular BBQ joint. But enough of that. Let’s focus on Betto. Even though we feel that the small plates concept of dining has peeked and is now slouching towards back-lash territory, Betto seems to defy all odds and offers creative, seasonal fare, but with specials that are dinner-plate sized as well. Case in point: the pork shop slathered in a sage butter. What made chef Jason Denton’s chop so special was its level of doneness (slightly pink), and its saltiness (a little above average, to coax out the porky, sagy goodness). From the small, tapas-style plates we munched on, the roasted acorn squash with pepitas and the pillowy meatballs reigned supreme. We also could have eaten a whole bowl of the spaghetti with tomato (we had this dish separate from the meatballs for our non-mammal-eating friend), very al dente, bursting with umami savoriness.

Paul’s drink piqued everyone’s curiosity because of its ingredients and temperature: The Westburns cocktail boasted strangely both Breuckelen gin (a one-of-a-kind gin that’s a cross between a malty genever and a botanical traditional-style gin, made right here in one of the creative hubs of the universe) and Four Roses Bourbon (one of our favorites, especially the Single Barrel). But what made it unique was the hot water added once all the other ingredients (sweet vermouth, sugar, muddled orange slice and maraschino cherry) were mixed together. Imagine an old-fashioned toddy. It was love at first sip. Matt Carr, the man behind the stick who helped create this exquisite concoction, was kind enough to write out the recipe for us. Now you can enjoy it too.

The Westburns
(created by Matt Carr and Brittany Rogers, Betto)

1 ounce Four Roses bourbon
1 ounce Breuckelen gin (or another genever gin)
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters #6
1 raw sugar cube
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
5 ounces hot water

In a double-rocks glass, add the fruit, sugar cube, and bitters. Muddle. Add the booze and hot water. Stir and serve.

❤ ❤ ❤

Feel a little chill? Then make one of these Latin Lavas, hot-buttered rum at it very best. The secret: Santa Teresa 1796 aged rum.

We both recently attended another fabulous Hanna Lee Communications cocktail-and-food event at Michael’s New York, where mixologist Michael Flannery came up with the perfect hot-buttered rum drink he dubbed the Latin Lava. Made with the divine Santa Teresa 1796, from Venezuela’s oldest rum producer, this brew was considered a favorite by the cocktail cognoscenti there to support the brand, taste chef Kyung Up Lim’s take on Korean street food (yummy!!!), and see Hanna Lee tango. It was quite a spectacle. In fact, a night to remember.

The Latin Lava
(created by Michael Flannery, Michael’s New York)

1 1/2 ounces Santa Teresa 1796 rum
1/2 ounce Marie Brizzard anisette liqueur
1 pat housemade compound butter*
4 ounces hot cider
cinnamon stick, as garnish

Add hot cider to melt a pat of butter in an Irish coffee mug. Once the butter is melted, add rum and anisette liqueur. Serve with cinnamon stick.

* We’re not sure what additions were a part of the compound butter, but warming holiday spices, such as cinnamon, seemed to be included. Check out what’s in your spice rack, and if it sounds like it would go with hot cider, then go ahead and mix it in with your butter.

O Sonho de Paulo photo by Steve Schul © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz; Betto photo by Noah Fecks; Latin Lava photo coutsey Hanna Lee Communications