Rediscovering Gin

Rediscovering Gin

Reprinted from “Foodista Magazine

November 6, 2011

Rediscovering Gin by: Warren Bobrow cocktail whisperer

Gin is suddenly hot again.  I didn’t forget Bourbon, nor have I forgotten Vodka.  I still take a sip of Absinthe now and again.  But for a slurp of flavor, packed with botanicals and dare I say juniper, nothing comes close to Gin for sensual aromatics and freshly cut herbal flavors.  Gin also is a powerful beverage-countries have made Gin their national drink- 80 proof and above are the normal dosage of palate warming alcohol.

Sure Rum is my usual go/to in a snifter.  But recently I’ve found that Gin has certain magical qualities on the rocks or straight from your freezer to your tongue.  Sure, you may want to pour some into a glass first, your lips will stick to the glass bottle!  No matter how attractive the packaging, pour some Gin into your glass first to fully appreciate the flavor packed into every glistening sip.

Caorunn Gin

Crisp and lively in a snifter- I’m charmed by the Celtic Botanicals and slightly salty nose.  Try a couple slices of Granny Smith apple in your glass along with a cube or two of distilled water ice.  This is very sophisticated Gin, meant for sipping. The apple is not just there for color- it’s there for flavor!

 

Bulldog Gin

The first tastes I get are from lavender, citrus oils and juniper berries.  This Gin will surprise your sense of flavor with an 80 proof alcohol level that tastes like some of the more powerful offerings.  I love this gin with a chunk of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice infused ice.  Nothing more is necessary!  It’s a bold Gin and you’ll know it immediately.

 

Hendrick’s Gin

My first impression of Hendrick’s drives the complex flavors of cucumber and Turkish Rose oil wrapping around and coating my tongue.  I’ve taken chunks of a peeled, European cucumber, muddled it with freshly squeezed lime juice, Royal Rose (Rose) Simple Syrup and a couple cubes of Rosewater infused ice cubes.  Then add a three shots of 90 proof Hendrick’s Gin to your glass.  Finish with Q-Tonic Water to taste.  That’s it!

 

Tanqueray Rangpur

The lime is already in the bottle with the Tanqueray Rangpur Gin.  My favorite way of enjoying this highly aromatic Gin is with a slice or two of cucumber and freshly drawn seltzer water.  The citrus elements are quite pronounced so the addition of extra citrus is just not necessary.  Sure you can mix this Gin with simple syrup, some Bitter End Thai Bitters and tonic water- it makes a finely twisted cocktail.   Less is more with Rangpur!

 

Nolet’s Dry Gin

Roses, freshly cut in the garden is the initial flavor of Nolet’s Dry Gin.  It’s almost fruity in nature- with the heady aromatics of sweet cream and Asian spices.  I don’t recommend mixing this Gin, there is so much going on in there- cutting it with a bit of well water may be all that is necessary.  I fully believe that even a drop of Vermouth would be overpowering.  This Gin rolls in at a hefty 95.2 proof, but it doesn’t taste hot in the glass.  Quite the opposite in fact.  It’s quite remarkable stuff!   Take a snifter, add one cube of ice.  Add a couple shots of Nolet’s and read a good book.

 

Beefeater Gin

Suddenly Beefeater is exciting again.  This staple of the cocktail lounge is making a comeback in creative cocktails the world over.  I’ve tasted it in a Martini and straight (without vermouth) but with the addition of a lemon zest.  My preference is the latter.  Beefeater Gin is dry, crisp – not like the Nolet’s or the Caorunn- certainly not as aromatic as the Bulldog, nor the Rangpur- but for the drinker who seeks something a bit more Vodka-like and merely scented, may I recommend Beefeater.  A drink that says- I’m cool… Here’s one for you- this should be called a Lemon Peel Cocktail.  Zest a Myer Lemon into a long thin strip.  Chill down a couple of shots of Beefeater Gin. Pour into a pre-chilled Martini glass. Garnish with the lemon zest and sip your way to England.  Elegant in a mixed drink and it should be at just under 100 proof.

 

Cocktails for Thanksgiving from Cocktail Whisperer: Warren Bobrow

Non-traditional/new traditional Thanksgiving drinks.

I love the idea of a blazing fire- friends and family gathered together to share a meal.  A celebratory evening is started nicely with cheery glass of cava and to it, the addition of a fruit puree.  I’ve taken organic strawberries, charred them in a cast iron pan, run them through the food processor *adjusting the sweetness to taste* then added a dollop or two of the puree into each glass.  The tangy-sweet quality of the strawberries when added to a chalky tasting Cava just says celebration in a glass.  You don’t need very much of this drink to say welcome to our table.

 

Another easy and exotic drink is a take off on the classic Rob Roy. In this case Blended Scotch Whiskey, instead of expensive Single Malt- is added to a short rocks glass with a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and topped with cool, rustic apple cider.  A small splash of sweet vermouth finishes the drink.  The cider melts into the deeper tastes of whiskey,  the sweetness of the cider and the herbaceous tinge of sweet Vermouth.

It is a very sophisticated drink.

Of course I recommend instead of a usual bottle of wine, a perfectly lovely, tangy punch to go along with dinner.

Hard apple cider is marvelous when combined with sparkling cherry juice and some lemon/lime juice for spark. The flavors of hard cider with the citrus juices are marvelous with turkey and the all your fixings!  You can drive up the alcohol level with some dark rum. 

Dessert calls for the classic and deeply warming-  Hot Toddy.

I’m especially fond of a hot buttered rum to go with a pumpkin or apple pie.  It’s a classic and the extra warmth it gives to the body (and spirit) is the perfect send-off to your friends!

The Chai Tea Toddy is an exotic approach to the classic water based Toddy with a bit of sweet butter.  You may also use freshly whipped sweetened cream on top instead of butter- your choice.

  I like to use dark spiced rum or a spiced whiskey for this hot drink.

  • 1 quart hot Chai tea or black tea.  If you want to make the drink sweeter, use some ginger/cardamom simple syrup
  • 4-5 shots Spiced Rum or good blended Whiskey that you have spiced a few weeks in advance. (save that expensive single malt for another day)
  • 1 pat sweet butter- per drink

If you use whipped cream, eliminate the butter.

How do I spice whiskey? Add apple pie spices with a vanilla bean (split) to a cheesecloth bag. Submerge into a bottle of whiskey for a couple of weeks before using.  Use the spiced whiskey for all your Whiskey based cocktails.

Friday Cocktails with Warren Bobrow

TGIF: Warren Bobrow’s cocktail hour – Rhuby Friday Martini

Warren Bobrow, Mixology Guru extraordinaire,  tells us that he is on a serious Gin kick. Apparently, it’s got him working in all sorts of ways.  Yesterday he received a bottle  of a new and unique spirit from his friends at Art in the Age located in Philadelphia.  They are the inventors of USDA Certified Root-Snap-Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum and now Rhuby.

 

What is Rhuby?  It is a unique USDA Certified Organic Liquor distributed by William Grant.  It’s a combination of neutral spirits with Rhubarb, beets, carrots, lemons, petigrain, cardamom, and pure cane sugar.  It’s 80 proof so it is no slouch when it comes to heat in the glass.

And this, good people, is Warren’s Friday cocktail using Hendrick’s Gin (available almost everywhere) and Rhuby.

Rhuby Friday Martini

First you will need to purchase a bottle of Rhuby.  If you live in Pennsylvania this is easy, just go to the high end State Store.  Outside of the northeast part of the country, you’ll need to point your Internet browser here. Trust me.  This is a gorgeous product. Drinking it is like stepping through a Colonial vegetable garden, completely twisted.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Shots Hendrick’s Gin or other good botanical gin
  • ½ Shot Rhuby (USDA Certified Organic Rhubarb “tea”)
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 shakes Angostura Bitters
  • Dry Vermouth
  • Rhubarb stalk for garnish

Preparation:

  • Fill a plant misting tool with dry vermouth
  • Mist the inside of a pre-chilled Martini glass with the dry vermouth
  • Keep cool
  • Fill a cocktail mixing glass ½ with ice
  • Add the Hendrick’s Gin and Rhuby (USDA Certified Organic)
  • Add a few shakes of the Angostura Bitters
  • Add the lemon juice (fresh squeezed is essential!)
  • Stir, don’t shake!
  • Strain into your misted Martini glass and sip through to a successful conclusion to your week.  Stir with Rhubarb stalk.

We love Warren. Every truly stylish web site should have one!

The Bitter and the Sweet. (Originally posted on Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog)

Amaro & Vermouth: The Bitter and the Sweet

Originally Published Sep 9 1:56 pm by Warren Bobrow

 

My first experience with the romantic taste of Amaro came in Rome, when I was traveling in Italy with my parents. They would pull my sister and me out of school for a month or more at a time to see many of the European countries. My parents liked the best things that life had to offer — and rather than stick us on an impersonal tour bus, they would immerse us in local food, wine and museums.

I first noticed people enjoying Amaro in a street-side café. We were staying at the Hassler Hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps. Tourists find this staircase irresistible for photography and for pausing to enjoy a relaxing cocktail from the multitudes of street-side, stand-up table cocktail bars. There were several tall tables set up beside the steps, and young men in sharply cut suits were sipping tiny glasses of a caramel colored liquor with shots of espresso on the side.

I also remember that there was a tall, red tinged cocktail in almost everyone’s hands. I direct tweeted world famous “Cocktalian” Gaz Regan for his Negroni cocktail recipe and am including it here for good luck.

                      Negroni (recipe courtesy of Gaz Regan, via Twitter)

“I prefer 2 gin, 1 each campari & sweet vermouth. Gin: Traditional. Beefeater or Tanqueray fit the bill. Vermouth: Noilly Prat always.”

Little did I know at the time that what they were drinking would pave the way to my future desire to whisper about cocktails. I wanted to taste what these stylish people were drinking, because I was very sophisticated for a 12-year-old! At the end of my usual dinner bowl of Tortellini in Brodo, I remember sipping at my tiny glass hesitantly. It smelled faintly of citrus, and the texture of the liquor was soft on my inexperienced palate. The finish (as I remember) went on and on, seemingly for years.

 

Italian Vermouth in many ways is similar to Amaro, but a bit less bitter on the tongue.  Some uniquely flavorful ones from Italy are Punt e Mes and the esoteric, salubrious Carpano Antica.  The Carpano is a rum raisin-filled mouthful of sweet vanilla cake, laced with Asian spices and caramelized dark stone fruits. Punt e Mes is lighter and nuttier, with caramelized pecans and hand-ground grits in the finish.

I’m sure the alcohol is low — all these products (Amaro included) are low in alcohol, making them perfect in a cocktail. Amaro can be enjoyed as a digestif, it acts to settle the stomach after a large meal because of the herbal ingredients.

But what does Amaro taste like? The flavors vary from sweet to bittersweet to herbal, featuring orange blossoms, caramel and nuts. Some taste like artichoke, others like mint, and still others like a sweetened root tea. They may be enjoyed in a cup of hot tea as an elixir, or dropped into a small cup of espresso to “correct” the sweet, thick coffee.

 

You can drink Amaro straight or on the rocks, or even as an adjunct to other alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients. I love Ramazzotti Amaro, Averna, Branca Menta and its twin (without the mint), Fernet Branca. There are dozens that I’ve tasted around Europe and at home in New Jersey.

But why is Amaro so fundamental to the Italian style of living? Perhaps the explanation will be: with everything sweet, there must also be a bitter side?

I’m not sure, since I’ve read that Amaro is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. Whatever the explanation is, the use of the bitter herbs, roots and spices are pleasing to drink and stimulate conversation. Because of the low alcohol level, the drink is uniquely designed to extend your meal into further conversation, not end it immediately with a cup of coffee.

A dash of bitter and a dash of the sweet make life go round and round.

Seabras in Newark, NJ. My work for NJ Monthly Magazine (originally published in NJ Monthly)

Seabra’s Marisqueira

In the Ironbound section of Newark, an ebullient, down-to-earth crowd rolls up its sleeves for heaps of the freshest fare of the sea, Portuguese style.

Reviewed by Warren M. Bobrow
Originally posted June 16, 2010

Chowing at the bar.

Chowing at the bar.
Photo by Ted Axelrod.
A plate of sautéed garlic shrimp.

A plate of sautéed garlic shrimp.
Photo by Ted Axelrod.
Waiters delivering epic orders.

Waiters delivering epic orders.
Photo by Ted Axelrod.
Chef Jack Fernandes cozies with a fearsome-looking, sweet-tasting bruiser of a halibut.

Chef Jack Fernandes cozies with a fearsome-looking, sweet-tasting bruiser of a halibut.
Photo by Ted Axelrod.

The bar area by the front door brims with displays of iced lobster, cockles, clams, whelks, snails, and bright pink prawns, their glaring black eyes and antennae intact. Freshly charred sardines and grilled white anchovies touched with sweet red peppers and olive oil come into view along with ceramic dishes of steamed clams dotted with fiery green sauce (garlic, puréed with olive oil, hot chilies, and parsley). The bar is clearly not just a great place to sip a lip-smacking caipirinha. It’s just as much about feasting on sparkling seafood.

Located in the Ironbound section of Newark, just off bustling Ferry Street, Seabra’s Marisqueira was founded in 1989 by the former owner of what is now the A&J Seabra Supermarket corporation of Fall River, Massachusetts. In 2000, three Newark businessmen—Jack Fernandes, Antonio Sousa, and Manuel Cerqueira—banded together to buy the popular restaurant. They work in the restaurant, too—Fernandes running the kitchen, Sousa and Cerqueira the front of the house. Their supportive attitude has fostered a strong esprit de corps.

“We are our own bosses now,” says manager Mario Martins, who, like most of the staff, has been at Seabra’s (See-AH-bra’s) since the start. “We wanted to control our own fate. We can decide the future of our passion.”

As even a single meal at the Marisquiera makes clear, that passion is for freshness and faithfulness to Portuguese culinary tradition. Pointing to a patron eating fish soup at the bar, Martins says, “Everything we serve is prepared fresh daily. We make fish soup from scratch. That is a bowl of our culinary history. ”
Cheerful, efficient waiters in black pants and crisp white shirts lead diners past the perennially packed bar and the bustling glassed-in kitchen to the blue-and-white tiled dining room. Seductive aromas of sautéed garlic shrimp accompany them on the journey. Hardly a word of English is heard among the patrons.

A good way to start is to order garlic shrimp and sop up the garlicky, saffron-laced, white wine sauce with the warm, locally baked, crusty bread. Don’t be put off by the need to peel the shells. It’s part of the fun of eating Portuguese. The aforementioned caipirinha (which is Brazilian, but never mind) goes well with fish and shellfish, thanks to its large hit of lime juice and its fuel of cachaça, which is Brazilian sugar cane rum.

Fresh North Atlantic sardines, charred and smoky from the charcoal grill, come with hunks of fresh lemon. If you’ve only had canned sardines, you’re in for a discovery. Eat them with your hands; they’re gone in two quick bites. Fresh grilled white anchovies also take you far from their oil-cured cousins. Served in a cazuela (ceramic bowl) with sweet onion and red vinegar, they are not at all salty and are in fact reminiscent of fresh brook trout. For a hearty and heady meal in a bowl, try sopa do mar, heaped with whole Jonah crab claws, whitefish, hake, and several head-on giant shrimp peering over the steaming surface of tomato-and-fish stock.

Most entrées come with thinly sliced, pan-fried, Portuguese-style crispy potatoes, another perfect soaker-up of broths and sauces. Sautéed green beans and sliced carrots in green garlic sauce complete the presentation of delicious charcoal-grilled grouper. Two split, grilled Nova Scotia lobsters come doused with a tasty butter sauce. Seabra’s staff honors requests for no sauce or sauce on the side not with rolling eyes, but with a warm reply: “Sure, no problem.” The waitstaff is also adept at finding the right Portuguese wine or sangria to complement the food. The best Portuguese wines, little known here, are great values—high in quality, low in price.

A fine entrée is pescada cozida com todos—white potatoes, hard-boiled egg slices, and sweet onion simmered with hake, a sweet, white-fleshed fish served in seaside towns along Portugal’s coast. Another entrée, bacalhau (dried, salted codfish) is served roasted with olive oil, garlic, green peppers, and onions, in a deep bowl. To extract most of the saltiness, Seabra’s soaks the crusty slabs of bacalhau for several days before cooking.

The kitchen staff turns out more-than-respectable meat dishes, like luscious, spit-roasted suckling pig with baby clams, and zesty pork tenderloin pounded into scallopini, pan-fried till crisp. Grilled short ribs smeared with a sweetly perfumed, caramelized garlic paste, make irresistible finger food. Same for baby lamb chops served with garlic flan.

For dessert, the dense, creamy, sweet house-made flan is even better with pulls of Seabra’s smoky, thick espresso. Caveat: The noise level can be high. Best defense: Bring a bunch of fun-loving friends and create a joyful noise of your own.

Carnival of Chaos Cocktail uses Tuthilltown White Whiskey!

Carnival of Chaos Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of our friend Warren Bobrow

2 oz. Tuthilltown White Whiskey (The White Dog)
1-2 oz. unfiltered Apple Juice (fresh, if you can get it)
2 droppers of Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
Maraschino cherries

Muddle Maraschino cherries in a shaker glass.
Add Bittercube Blackstrap bitters, then White Whiskey and apple juice
Add fresh ice and shake. Serve on the rocks in a short glass with a few slices of apple.

Cracker Jack Snap Cocktail- uses SNAP (USDA Certified Organic Snap Liquor-80 Proof!)

Not a sickly sweet cordial.  Nor a candy flavored slurp.. This is serious stuff!

Cracker Jack Snap Cocktail

Wow!!! Another wonderful recipe from our friend Warren Bobrow.

2 ginger snap cookies, crushed
Luxardo Cherries
4 oz. (a real kick) Tuthilltown NY Corn Whiskey
2 oz. Snap (USDA Certified Organic Ginger Snap liquor)
A few scant shakes of Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters
Splash of ginger beer, then another.

Muddle cherries and a few ginger snap cookies to a paste.
Add whiskey and Snap.
Shake in a few splashes of Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters.
Hit it with the ginger beer.
Shake and strain into a tall glass with plenty of rock ice.

Zombie Root Carousel (Work done for Tuthilltown Spirits)

Zombie Root Carousel

Recipe courtesy of Warren M. Bobrow  Editor & Food Journalist/ Photojournalist from www.wildriverreview.com/wildtable

In a cocktail shaker, mash several maraschino cherries to a pulp
2 oz. of Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Root USDA Certified Organic Liquor
Finish with a shake or two of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters and some freshly scraped ginger root.

Add ice, top with Q-Ginger ale. Shake, strain and pour over fresh ice in a tall glass.

 

The Mount Washington Slushy. Originally published on Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog

A New Cocktail for Cool Fall Nights

The sun is setting a bit earlier now, and close friends are gathering outside for the last eating and drinking events of the season. We still have some evenings left under the stars before fall fully sets in.

Instead of drinking lightly scented, crisp white wines with our dinners, our palates are beginning to reset towards darker, more aromatic flavors. Alcohol levels in our cocktails are also a bit higher now with the cooler weather, sometimes for flavor and other times for the body-warming aspects of a carefully mixed drink.

The Mount Washington Slushy Cocktail is a creative example of a handheld fall warmer. It combines the earthy aromatics of maple syrup frozen into ice cubes, along with the peppery, spicy flavors of rye whiskey. Then in a nod to the classic Sazerac cocktail, there is a touch of the mysterious liquor absinthe.

The Mount Washington Slushy

Grade A maple syrup as needed

Spring water as needed

Regular ice cubes as needed

6 drops Angostura bitters combined with finely chopped orange zest to make your own “orange bitters”

A few scant drops of absinthe

2 shots rye whiskey or Canadian whiskey

Freshly cut orange rind

Homemade brandied cherries (recipe below) and/or fresh mint for serving

Put about 1 Tbs. Grade A maple syrup into each compartment in an ice cube tray, cover with spring water and place in the freezer to create “maple ice.” Do this the morning before preparing your cocktails to give the ice a chance to solidify.

To a cocktail shaker, add a few drops of maple syrup and a few cubes of regular ice. Add the bitters and absinthe to the shaker. Add the whiskey, then shake until frost appears on the outside of the shaker.

Rub the rim of a short tumbler glass or mint julep cup with a freshly cut orange rind. Gently squeeze the rind over a flame, then place in the glass, if desired.

Strain the liquors into the glass, add a few cubes of the maple ice and garnish with a homemade brandied cherry and/or fresh mint. Serves 1.

Homemade Brandied Cherries: Wash and pit a few pints of dark red cherries. Place the cherries in a sterilized jar and cover with applejack or an inexpensive brandy. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least a week or more.

What you will have after a few weeks of steeping are high-quality cocktail cherries — and they make great hostess gifts, too!