Review: Winc Wine Club

Winc subscription box wines
Winc is a monthly wine club from Northern California that, like most, works via an online subscription service. We had the opportunity to give them a try and were fairly impressed with the offering.

First, a bit about Winc. When you first sign up, you are asked several questions to determine your “Palate Profile.” They ask about how you like your coffee; your salt and citrus preferences; how much you like berry and earthy flavors; and how adventurous you are with trying new foods. The wine recommendations sent are based upon these questions. Most of their wines are around $13 a bottle but can be as much as $35. Rate the wines you get and you’ll improve the next set of recommendations. If you don’t want any wine this month, you can skip it.

A basic subscription includes three bottles plus a flat rate shipping. We received four bottles and a copy of the Winc Journal. The journal is particularly interesting. This one contained articles on terroir and an interview with winemaker Markus Bokisch. The journal talks about their featured wines with food pairing suggestions and rates the wines with regards to body, fruit, woodiness, earthiness, and sweetness.

Inside the journal are also cocktail recipes, using wines from your subscription box. Of our four, two were featured in cocktails in the journal and so we gave them a try as well. (See below.)

But first, on with the wines.

First up is 2015 Forma di Vida Graciano, a Spanish style red wine. Light on the sweetness, this wine has fruit flavors like dark cherry and plum. If you like your wine with lots of body, you’ll want to try this one, though it may be too heavy for people who don’t like strong flavors like we do. A / $13Summer Water cocktails

Next, we have 2016 Summer Water Rosé, which is aptly named as it is so light the alcohol content is barely noticeable. The cocktail included using Summer Water would be nice for the warmest summer days ahead. It gives the impression it would be right at home poolside. B / $15

Summer Water Shim
½ oz. fresh tangerine juice
1 ½ oz. Jardesca or Lillet Blanc
3 oz. Summer Water
1 fresh Bay Leaf

Chill the cocktail glass. Fill a shaker with ice and pour in the tangerine juice and Jardesca. Shake until the shaker feels frosty to the touch. Then strain into the glass and top with Summer water. Garnish with a Bay Leaf before serving.

Our third wine is 2015 Field Theory Abariño, a white wine from Andrus Island Vineyard. This one is extremely fruity and a touch sweet, but not overly so. It might be a favorite of the ladies. B /$18Finkes Widow cocktails

The fourth wine is 2016 Finke’s Widow Sparkling White Blend. A little sweeter than the Field Theory, it has a slight earthy undertone (like mushrooms) which gives way to the fizziness. B- / $13

Avocado-Do Slushy
¼ avocado
1 oz. shiso syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
¼ oz. fresh cucumber juice
4 oz. Finke’s Widow
2 shiso leaves

Shiso is Japanese basil but has a mixture of basil, anise, and mint flavors with grassy elements. You can substitute fresh mint if need be.

This recipe called for cucumber juice in the ingredients but coconut juice in the instructions. We chose to make it with the cucumber and adjusted the instructions. You could probably substitute coconut instead.

Puree a cucumber in a blender and then strain to extract the juice. Then combine all the other ingredients, except the shiso leaves, with the juice and stir. Pour into a medium sized glass and garnish with the leaves.

Negroni Spritz
3 oz. Finke’s Widow
2 oz. Campari
splash of soda
1 orange slice

Fill a rocks glass with ice, along with the orange slice. Pour the Campari and sparkling wine into the glass and top with a dash of soda. Mix gently before serving.

Winc’s website includes a recipes section for great food to serve with your wine. Here’s one example:

Garganelli with Lobster and Caramelized Fennel PureeGarganelli with Lobster and Caramelized Fennel Purée
serves 4
1 lb Garganelli pasta
1 1/2 pounds of lobster meat
salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. red chili flakes
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup white wine
¼ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ cup toasted slivered almonds
4 Tbsp. butter
½ cup torn basil leaves
lemon zest

Find a pot that is large enough to fit two live lobsters and fill it with water. Set the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Lightly salt the water. Add the lobsters to the pot, reduce the heat so that the water is gently simmering, and cook for 7 minutes.

Remove the lobsters and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Extract the meat from the lobsters—kitchen shears work great for this task. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Store the lobster meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and the red chili flakes. Wait one minute while the skillet gets hot, and then add the onions. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the fennel. Season with salt. When the fennel begins to soften, turn the heat down to low.

Slowly caramelize the fennel and onion, transforming them into something very soft and sweet. When the vegetables are sufficiently caramelized, add the garlic and the white wine; increase the heat, and cook until the wine has almost entirely evaporated. Add the heavy cream and cook until the cream has partially reduced.

Transfer the contents of the skillet to a blender and add the lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Add scant amounts of water if the puree is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. If you want, you can store this puree in the refrigerator for a day or two ahead of time before completing this dish.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, except under cook the pasta by one or two minutes. While the pasta is cooking, set a large skillet over medium heat and add the fennel puree, stirring occasionally.

When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the skillet with the fennel puree, making sure to reserve a cup of the pasta water. Add a little of the pasta water to the skillet and stir. Add the butter and the lobster. If you know how to flip the pasta in skillet with your wrist, do that now. Otherwise, keep stirring. Add the almonds and basil. If the pasta looks too dry, add more of the pasta water.

Taste the pasta while it is still in the skillet and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Before serving, garnish the pasta with lemon zest.

winc.com

Cocktails for Mother’s Day 2017

The Queens Choice
Moms come in so many varieties — no matter their shape or size, all are sweet, pretty, and strong. We want to give each one a cocktail of their own and a dessert along side. Kick your feet up, Mom. You’ve earned it!

The Queen’s Choice
2 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream
1 oz. Smirnoff Vanilla vodka
1/2 oz. butterscotch syrup

Combine Baileys Original Irish Cream, Smirnoff Vanilla, and butterscotch syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well; then strain contents into a coupe glass.

Lavender Collins
courtesy of elit Vodka
1.5 oz. elit vodka
¾ oz. lavender honey syrup
2 oz. sparkling water
2 drops butterfly pea extract
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

Build all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Do this next step in front of Mom so she can see the effect. Slowly add the lemon juice and watch the color change. Garnish with lavender sprigs.

Q Cucumber AppleQ Cucumber Apple Mule
3 parts Q Ginger Beer
1 part Milagro Silver tequila
1 part cucumber apple juice
½ part fresh lime juice
mint for garnish

Blend three 1 inch chunks of cucumber and half a green apple in a blender until liquid; then fine strain and discard solids. Add cucumber apple juice, tequila, and fresh lime to a shaker tin with ice and shake to combine. Strain over crushed ice into a tall Collins glass. Garnish with cucumber sticks, apple slices, and mint sprigs.

Ginger Éclair
courtesy of My Best Cocktails
1 oz. Stone’s ginger wine
1/2 oz. Bacardi rum
2 oz. chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. chocolate syrup
1 oz. heavy cream

Rim a frosted cocktail glass by dipping the rim in chocolate syrup and then in cocoa powder. Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into the prepped cocktail glass. Garnish with a ginger slice and a piece of dark chocolate. Alternatively, you can use a dark chocolate liqueur.

Coralina MargaritaCoralina Margarita 
created by Riesler Morales of Mexico City, Mexico
1 ¾ oz. Patrón Reposado
¾ oz. Patrón Citrónge Orange
¾ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. Mexican red wine
¼ cup dried hibiscus
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
lime wheel

Pulverize the dried hibiscus in a spice grinder; add the sugar and salt. Pulse until combined. Use this mixture to rim a coupe cocktail glass.

Combine Patrón Reposado, Patrón Citrónge Orange, simple syrup, and lime juice in a shaker tin; add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Carefully float red wine on the surface and garnish with a lime wheel.

Blackberry Thyme Champagne Cocktail
courtesy of Style Me Pretty
1/3 cup blackberries, plus 8 more for garnish
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 bottle of prosecco or champagne
4 sprigs of thyme

In a small saucepan, bring the blackberries, water, and sugar to a boil. Turn to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain blackberries and let syrup cool.

Add 2 Tbsp. of syrup to the bottom of each glass. Top with champagne and add in a sprig of thyme and 2 blackberries.

Sunday Morning HuesSunday Morning Hues
created by Lucinda—Mother of Zeta, 1 month old
1 oz. Creme Yvette
1 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
1 oz. Caffe Borghetti
1 oz. Espresso
1 oz. Mascarpone

Mix all ingredients except Mascarpone with ice in an Irish coffee mug. Top with Mascarpone cheese and garnish with an orchid.

Glenfiddich’s A Scottish Lassi
created by Glenfiddich Ambassador Allan Roth
2 parts chamomile-infused Glenfiddich 12 Year
1 part unsweetened lassi (yogurt drink)
¾ part Orgeat
½ part lemon juice

To infuse the Glenfiddich, pour a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 and 2 chamomile tea bags to a pitcher. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain, rebottle, and label. Keep refrigerated. If you cannot find unsweetened yogurt drink. Add one part water to 4 parts unsweetened yogurt.

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with dried chamomile flowers, if available.

Espresso TiramisuExpresso Tiramisu
Courtesy of Lavazza
Serves: 6
Lavazza Espresso or Mocha coffee
Paste di Meliga biscuits (recipe below)
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
1 oz. powdered sugar
3 oz. heavy cream
1 oz. whole milk
¼ vanilla bean pod
cocoa powder

To make Mascarpone cream: place the mascarpone cheese in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar, whole milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste (from inside the vanilla bean). Use an electric mixer to obtain a soft creamy mixture; then refrigerate. Brew Lavazza Espresso or Mocha coffee.

Place a Pasta di Meliga biscuit (We used 2.) in the bottom of a cappuccino cup. Add a generous helping of the mascarpone cream mixture. Pour hot coffee around the cream. Dust lightly with bitter cocoa powder and serve with a spoon.

Paste di Meliga Biscuits
recipe from Saveur.com
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 lb. plus 5 Tbsp. real butter, softened
2 egg yolks

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add butter and egg yolks. Using your fingers, work butter and egg yolks into flour–cornmeal mixture until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead 4–5 times until smooth (dough will be soft and tacky). Cover dough with a clean damp kitchen towel and set aside to let rest for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch star-shaped pastry tip. Pipe 2 inch diameter spirals of dough out onto prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges turn pale golden, 20–25 minutes. Allow cookies to cool briefly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Salud! Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo 2017

Clarified Avocado Margarita
When the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo comes up, most of us automatically think “margarita” and “party.” We also love both of those; however, sometimes it’s fun to get outside the box. Here are several cocktails which are either margarita hybrids or inspired by the beauty and independent spirit of Mexico.

Give these cinco drinks a try and let us know what you think.

LageritaLagerita
courtesy Liquor.com
2 oz. tequila
¾ oz. Cointreau or Grand Mariner
1 oz. lime juice
4 oz. Mexican lager
1 lime wheel

Fill a highball glass with ice and set aside. Add the tequila, Cointreau and lime juice to a shaker and fill with fresh ice. Shake; then strain into the prepared glass. Top with the beer and garnish with a lime wheel.

This cocktail is inspired by the tamarind margarita served up at Casa Herradura. We turned it into something light and refreshing.

Tamarind and Tequila SodaTamarind and Tequila Soda
12.5 oz. bottle Tamarindo Jarritos (you can find this at a Mexican market or the ethnic section of a grocery store)
½ oz. ginger syrup
2 oz. añejo tequila
orange sliced, dipped in cinnamon powder

Shake syrup and tequila with ice. Pour into a tall glass. Top with half the bottle of Tamarindo and serve.

Spring Fling
courtesy of San Francisco Bartender Justin Blackwood (One Market Restaurant)
¾ oz. Crème de Violette
2 oz. Blanco tequila
½ oz. elderflower liqueur

Add ingredients to a rocks glass with ice and stir. Garnish with an edible flower before serving.

Margarita SangriaMargarita Sangria
courtesy of Completelydelicious.com
1 750 ml bottle dry white wine (like a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay)
1 1/2 cup blanco tequila
1 cup triple sec
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 orange, sliced
2 limes, sliced
fresh cilantro
crushed ice, for serving

In a large pitcher, combine the white wine, tequila, triple sec, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the orange slices, lime slices, and the cilantro. Chill for at least two hours and then serve over ice. Bear in mind the cilantro does get stronger as the pitcher sits so, if you have guests who aren’t fans of cilantro, then add it to individual glasses instead of the whole pitcher.

This next one makes a large amount and requires a bit of planning, but it can definitely be worth the effort.

Clarified Avocado Margarita
created by San Francisco Mixologist, Leon Vazquez
16 oz. Tequila Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro
6 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz. simple syrup
30 dashes orange bitters
1 avocado
2 serrano peppers
1 bushel of cilantro (approximately 40 leaves)
6 Tbsp. salt
40 oz. whole milk
lime twist for garnish

Combine 4 ounces lime juice, simple syrup, orange bitters, avocado, peppers and cilantro into an airtight container. Coarsely grind the peppers, avocado, and cilantro. Add 14 ounces boiling water and immediately cover so that no liquid evaporates. Let mixture sit overnight, then strain the mixture into a clean container and add Tequila Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro.

Bring whole milk to a boil. Add the boiling milk and the remaining 2 ounces of lime juice to the strained mixture, the milk will curdle. Strain the liquid slowly with cheesecloth. Pour liquid into a clean container, cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve neat with a lime twist.

No celebration of independence is complete without some thing savory to go with the drinks. This recipe comes to us from Brooklyn’s McCarren Hotel & Pool.

Spicy Chorizo TacosSpicy Chorizo Tacos
5 pounds fresh chorizo
1 Tbsp. olive oil
100 g Spanish onion, diced
10 g garlic, crushed
10 g fresh red Thai chile, sliced very thin, seeds intact
5 sprigs epazote (epazote has a distinctively sharp, herbal flavor, reminiscent of oregano and fennel with minty, pine notes)
½ cup cilantro leaves (save the stems and mince them fine to include in the meat mixture)
2 quarts Queso Fresco cheese
corn tortillas
vegetable oil
¼ cup pickled chiles
¼ cup Spanish onion, finely minced
lime wedges
sriracha hot sauce

In a large pot or skillet, brown the chorizo, onion, and garlic with the olive oil. As it cooks, add the cilantro stems, red chile, and epazote. Once the chorizo is done, turn off the pan. In a separate small skillet, heat up the vegetable oil on high. Then fry the corn tortillas until soft (1-2 minutes), with tongs, flip the tortilla over and fry the other side. How long you fry them will determine whether you get soft tortillas or hard ones…longer makes them hard. Put each cooked tortilla onto paper towels to soak up the vegetable oil. After frying the desired number of tortillas, turn off the skillet and remove it from the stove burner to avoid a fire hazard.

Queso Fresco cheese can be sliced or crumbled between your fingers. Either works for this recipe, though we prefer to crumble it. In the center of each tortilla, layer the chorizo mixture, pickled chiles, minced onion, cilantro leaves, and cheese. Squeeze a lime wedge across the mixture and add a dash of sriracha sauce. Fold the tortilla in half into a taco and serve with plenty of napkins.

Calling All Geeks: Cocktails for National Star Wars Day 2017

May 4th is here, and Star Wars fans are breaking out the lightsabers… and their booze bottles.

To celebrate “May the fourth,” we asked fans and a popular fan podcast for cocktail suggestions and then put our own spin on them. Many of the photos don’t do the drinks justice because some elements like smoke and edible pearl dust don’t show up well in the pictures — but trust us that they make a fantastic presentation in person, particularly under the right party light conditions. The Star Wars ice molds (which can also be used for chocolate) and light saber skewers can be found on Amazon. The edible stars and pearl dust are available where cake-making supplies are sold.

May the fourth be with you… and the hangovers not.

Pink NebulaPink Nebula
Courtesy of One Shot Podcast
1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon
½ oz. grenadine
1/2 oz. strawberry syrup
1 dash peach bitters
1 small scoop silver or pink edible pearl powder
¼ tsp. edible star shaped glitter

Mix gin, lemon, grenadine, and strawberry syrup in a shaker and shake. Add the pearl powder to the glass and then pour the shaker contents into a martini glass. Dash with bitters and serve with lemon peel garnish.

Note: you can turn this into a “Black Nebula” with Mr. Black liqueur or black vodka; however, both of those are difficult to get in the U.S.

Greedo’s Last DrinkGreedos Last Drink
To be served over a discussion about whether Greedo or Han shot first. Original recipe by Sugarspunrun.com
1 oz. Midori
1 oz. whiskey
2 oz. tonic water
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass and serve.

Princess Leia
courtesy of Daily Dot
1 ½ oz. pear vodka (raspberry vodka is also nice)
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
edible gold glitter or pearl dust

Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Sprinkle glitter/dust over the top of the drink and serve.

Jedi Mind Control
original recipe from completecocktails.com
¾ oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
1 oz. vodka
1 ½ oz. Hpnotiq liqueur
½ oz. Falernum tropical syrup (any syrup made for tiki cocktails works fine)
2 oz. cranberry juice

Mix together and served in a chilled cocktail glass.

Kylo RenKylo Ren
original recipe by allmommywants.com
1 1/2 oz. cherry vodka
1 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. Fireball whiskey
1 Tbsp. Grenadine
1 Tbsp. ginger syrup

In a bar shaker add 3-4 pieces of ice, vodka, tequila, fireball, ginger syrup, and grenadine. Shake well to combine; then add to a 9 oz. glass and serve.

Darth Vader
Fan inspired and also called a Black Jesus
2 oz. Johnny Walker Black Label whisky
1 oz. Jagermeister

Pour Jagermeister into the glass; then float the Johnny Walker Black Label on top and serve.

Yoda
1 ½ oz. vodka
1 ½ oz. Midori
3 oz. hard apple cider

Add vodka and Midori in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Top with the hard apple cider and serve.

Rey-tini
courtesy of Partida Tequila
2 oz. añejo tequila
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
1 oz. Champagne

Build all ingredients except the champagne into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with one ounce of champagne and garnish with a long lime twist.

Dagoba Swamp SodaDagoba Swamp Soda
courtesy of GeekGirlBrunch
2 oz. rum
1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
1/2 oz citrus vodka
1/2 lime
12 fresh mint leaves
3 oz. club soda (lemon-lime soda also works wonderfully as a substitute)
2 tsp. sugar

Muddle half the mint leaves in a shaker. Add all the remaining ingredients except the soda in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass or canning jar glass; top with soda. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

We included this next cocktail last because it requires some advanced skill, or
at least some patience with learning the presentation process.

Death Star
cocktail inspired by GeekyHostess
1 oz. Jagermeister
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. whiskey
2 oz. sweet and sour mix (or mix simple syrup and lemon juice to make your own)

Place all ingredients into a glass with a Death Star ice sphere in it. Stir to mix theingredients and enjoy.

Smoking Death StarTo make the smoking Death Star ice sphere:
1 Death Star ice ball mold
1 stainless steel cooking funnel (make sure the hole isn’t too large or you will have problems with the cherry plug falling in)
Maraschino cherries (we used a small lime wheel because our hole in the ice ball was too large for a cherry)
drink skewer
stainless steel seasoning injector (with a solid needle, not the one with holes on the sides)
cooking foil
wood chips (cedar and oak work great but use what you have access too; you want to be sure the chips are not from wood treated with chemicals)
lighter
ice pick or soldering iron

Create a hollow Death Star ice sphere by filling the ice mold and putting it in the freezer. How long can vary depending upon the type of mold you have and your freezer temperature. We used a silicon mold and put it in for two hours, then flipped it over for another two.

Next, use a pick or a clean soldering iron to create a hole, large enough for the funnel spout to fit in, on the top and return the sphere to the freezer. Insert the skewer through the cherry and set aside. Lay out the foil on a heat resistant surface and pile the wood chips in the center. Use the lighter to burn the wood chips and place the funnel over top to capture the smoke. Pull the ice ball out of the freezer and place over the funnel, inserting the spout into the hole in the ice ball. You may need to tilt one side of the funnel to encourage the smoke to enter the sphere. Once filled with smoke, quickly plug up the hole in the ice sphere with the skewered cherry to trap the smoke inside. Then return the ball to the freezer while you mix up the Death Star cocktail.

When ready, carefully place the Death Star ice ball filled with smoke into a cocktail glass. Pour the cocktail over the ball. Then give the cocktail to your guest, along with a knife or small hammer so they can “destroy’ the Death Star, releasing the smoke. We used the information in a video on how to fill a hollow ice ball with smoke, and then used a Death Star Silicon Mold. The video from Cocktail Chemistry is here.

Book Review: How to Drink French Fluently — A Drinker’s Guide to Joie De Vivre

How to Drink French Fluently—A Drinker’s Guide to Joie De Vivre.

How to Drink French Fluently, a book sponsored by St. Germain (aka St-Germain), is gorgeous. The photos interspersed throughout are lush and beautiful, making this a perfect coffee table book.

This book is a drinker’s guide, but it has so much more to offer than just cocktail recipes. Of course there are plenty of those from acclaimed bartenders, and each centers around St. Germain. For the elderflower liqueur lover, these thirty cocktails are sent from heaven.

The book is divided into five times of the day when a cocktail is considered appropriate—brunch, daytime, aperitif, dinner, and as a nightcap. Each section contains an explanation of the history of cocktail traditions for that time of the day and what to serve with each of the drinks during those occasions. Then come the wonderful cocktails included in each section. We have to fess up to trying nearly all of them, except for two which contain fruits not yet in season.

There is one small section near the back of the book which is particularly impressive. These pages explain how to make the unique ingredients called for in the book’s recipes. Among those ingredients are Gewürztraminer syrup, strawberry shrub, lemon cordial, St. Germain sorbet, smoked tomato-infused St. Germain, and even ice cubes made with St. Germain. We loved the ice cubes so much, we tossed a few into a tall glass of iced tea for a new take on sweet tea.

Here are a few of our favorite cocktails from the book. Once you try them, you’ll want to try the rest.

Rivington PunchRivington Punch
1 oz. dry rosé wine
½ oz. St. Germain
1 ½ oz. Aperol
¼ oz. Combier Framboise
1 oz. soda water
1 strawberry
1 grapefruit crescent

Stir all of the ingredients in a wine glass over ice. Garnish with a strawberry and a grapefruit crescent.

Voodoo Down
2 dashes orange bitters
¼ oz. ginger syrup
¼ oz. honey syrup
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. St. Germain
½ oz. Trinidadian Rum
1 oz. 12-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon

Put all ingredients into a shaker and shake with ice. Strain over ice into a double rocks glass and serve. No garnish is needed.

Voodoo DownMidnight Bouquet
1 dash grapefruit bitters (We used orange bitters instead)
½ oz. St. Germain
¾ oz. Amaro Averna
¼ oz. San Andres Alipus mezcal
1 ½ oz. añejo tequila
1 grapefruit twist

Stir all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Then strain into a coupe glass. Next, express the oils from the grapefruit twist over the surface before using it as a garnish.

A /$20 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

Austin Edition of Lucid Cocktail Classique Showcases Stellar Absinthe Cocktails

April is the perfect time to visit Austin, Texas, and the weather was outstanding for an afternoon of sampling some of the best absinthe cocktails regional bartenders had to offer.

A couple of months ago, we — Drinkhacker and Hood River Distillers, the importer of Lucid Absinthe — encouraged bartenders to come up with new cocktails that showcased absinthe in more of its glory than you’ll find in, say, a sazerac or a zombie cocktail. Turns out that “absinthe forward” can mean a lot of different things, and the drinks submitted really spanned every type of cocktail imaginable, from classic tiki drinks to old-school flips. Lucid narrowed down the finalists to a dozen, and ten were on hand on Monday to prepare their cocktails and submit them for judging.

Our winner was Chris Morris, who’s opening a bar called Ready Room in Houston this coming May. Morris made his cocktail with passion, talking about his inspiration drawn from Italian spiked coffee drinks, and crafted it with skill. Balanced and seductive, the surprising drink is one you can make it at home yourself, and which you probably should:

Sogni D’Oro
1½ oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Borghetti Espresso Liqueur
1 oz. Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
¾ oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 barspoon Coconut Nectar

Add all ingredients and ice to shaker. Shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (roughly 15 seconds). Double strain into a glass tea or coffee glass, finish with grated cinnamon.

Morris wins a cool thousand bucks for his drink — and Shaun Meglen, of Austin’s Peche cocktail bar, took home the $500 “fan favorite” prize, as voted by consumers who got to taste all the cocktails as well. Meglen’s drink is pure tiki, finding a bit of zombie-esque inspiration while turning out so vibrantly pink that it feels tailor-made for the summer. Here it is:

Roxy Rouge
1½ oz. Lucid Absinthe
¼ oz. Creme de Cassis
½ oz. Hibiscus Orgeat
½ oz. Coconut Cream
¾ oz. Lemon Juice
1 barspoon Vanilla Tincture
splash Brut Sparkling Wine

Shake all ingredients (except bubbles), strain over crushed ice. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs, edible hibiscus flower, and lemon peel flower.

The rest of the field had some impressive entries. Picking a winner was truly tough, but the good news is you can give them all a spin for yourself if you’ve got the time (and, in some cases, the wherewithal to track down some crazy ingredients).

Rye’d Away
A booze-heavy spin on the sazerac by Christopher Ayabe.
¾ oz Lucid Absinthe
3 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
¼ oz Demerara Simple Syrup
1¼ oz Michter’s Rye
½ oz Benedictine

Stirred, served up in a Nick and Nora glass.

Poolside at The Pogo Lounge
This tiki style drink from David Perez is served with coconut-anise bubbles, made by aerating tea with an aquarium pump.
¾ oz. Lucid Absinthe
¾ oz. Pot Still Rum
½ oz. Coconut Liqueur
1 oz. Fassionola
¾ oz. Lime Juice
½ oz. Demerara syrup

Shake and serve on crushed on ice into a Zombie or Collins class. Garnish with coco-anise foam.

Patent Pending
Robert Britto serves up a spicy drink punched with galangal root juice, a funky, earthy ginger-like root.
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
½ oz. Velvet Falernum
¾ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
¼ oz. Freshly Juiced Galangal Root Juice (finely strained with a chinois)

Combine all ingredients in a Boston shaker tin. Shake for an average 12 seconds. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Rim and garnish with a simple lemon swath.

The Pop Tate
Caer Maiko’s upscale root beer was a personal favorite.
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
¾ oz. Root (by Art in the Age)
¾ oz. Orgeat
½ oz. orange juice
1 egg white

Served up in an absinthe glass, garnished with an aromatic bitters design.

Voltaire
By Zach Barnhill
1 oz. Citadelle gin
1 oz. French vermouth
½ oz. Lucid Absinthe
½ oz. Suze
Lemon zest

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Stir until right temperature. Strain into Nick and Nora. Lemon zest and discard.

Wide Awake Dream
By Aaron Kolitz
½ oz. Lucid Absinthe
¾ oz. Krogstad Aquavit
1½ oz. Dolin Blanc
3½ ml Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
Lemon Oil
Garnish: Flamed star anise pods-studded lemon peel

Mr. Sandman
By Marla Martinez
1½ oz. Lucid Absinthe
¾ oz. Hoodoo Coffee Liqueur
¾ oz. Ginger Syrup
½ oz. Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Top with Topochico

Combine all ingredients into shaker tin, shake and strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice, top with Topochico. Garnish with mint sprig and candied ginger.

Land of Milk & Honey (A Bohemian Flip)
Saving Philip Coggins’ craziest cocktail of all for last.
1¼ oz. Lucid Absinthe
½ oz. Pendleton Canadian Whiskey
½ oz. D’Aristi Xtabentún
1 oz. Milk
¼ oz. Round Rock Honey Syrup
3 dashes Extinct Chemical Co Acid Phosphate
1 Whole Egg
10 drops Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters

Pour 1 oz absinthe into a separate glass, add ice cold water slowly until louche effect begins; pour into shaker. Add remaining spirits, 1 oz milk, 3 dashes of acid phosphate, and whole egg to shaker. Pour remaining ¼ oz. of absinthe and ¼ oz. honey syrup into jigger, and pour gently flamed mixture directly into shaker.
Dry shake for emulsification of egg. Add ice, shake. Strain neat. Garnish with 10 drops (1 per year of anniversary of the repeal of the absinthe ban) of Dead Rabbit Bitters on froth, rake into a pattern.

Thanks to all of our bartender competitors for participating. Next stop: Los Angeles in the late summer!

All photos courtesy Jessica Fradono Photography.

Recipes for National Gin and Tonic Day 2017

Spicy Tomato Gin and Tonic
When we were buying extra gin and tonic water to make the recipes below, the checkout clerk noticed our items and started singing. He said he belongs to a group that perform songs from the burlesque era and said many of them are about gin and tonic. So, in a way we celebrate a bit of musical history along with the cocktail on April 9th: National Gin and Tonic Day.

These six cocktail recipes are variations on the basic Gin and Tonic theme. We couldn’t resist adding two dessert recipes as well. All of them are perfect for a warm evening out on the porch, watching the sunset. We know you’ll love them as much as we do.

Pomegranate Gin & TonicPomegranate Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Distillery 209
2 oz. No. 209 gin
4 oz. Q Tonic
20 pomegranate seeds
2 sage leaves
2 whole cloves

Add ice cubes to a stemless wine glass. Add all ingredients and serve.

Spicy Tomato Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Sumptuous Living
2 oz. gin
2 oz. Q Tonic Water
½ cup yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)
¼ cup hothouse cucumber (wrapped in plastic at the market, sliced)
1 sprig fresh dill
1 thin slice jalapeño pepper
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes celery bitters
1 oz. fresh lime juice
steak seasoning
2 whole cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
2 cucumber slices (for garnish)

Wet the rim of a highball glass with cut lime; then dip it in steak seasoning. Place tomatoes, cucumber, dill, and lime juice in bottom of glass; muddle for one minute. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, bitters, gin, jalapeño, and tonic water. Fill with ice and stir gently — be careful not to disturb rim. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices before serving.

Strawberry Gin and TonicStrawberry Gin and Tonic
by Alice Seuffert
2 oz. gin
3 oz. tonic water
2 Tbsp. strawberry syrup
2 sprigs of rosemary
¼ of a lime
1 strawberry

In a glass filled with ice add gin, tonic water, and strawberry syrup. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, a piece of quartered lime (squeeze in juice), and strawberry.

For Strawberry Syrup:
4 cups strawberries (32 ounces/2 lbs, stems removed, halved)
2 cups water
½ cup sugar (we used honey instead)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 10-15 minutes until strawberries are completely cooked–soft and light pink in color. Remove from heat and let cool. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (ensure fit so mixture and liquid does not leak out the sides) and place strawberry mixture in the strainer. Allow juice to drain into bowl and lightly press mixture into strainer until syrup has completely drained. Chill strawberry syrup until ready to use. Store in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

The 25 Pounder25 Pounder
created by Mikha Diaz of Two Sisters Bar and Books, San Francisco
1 1/2 oz. Burnett’s Gin infused with Earl Grey Tea (To infuse, place 3 tea bags into 750 ml. gin and allow to steep for at least 48 hours.)
3/4 oz. bergamot orange juice
3/4 oz. honey simple syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part boiling water–stir until combined)
sparkling wine or tonic water

Combine gin, juice, and honey simple syrup into a pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a 6 oz. flute and top with tonic water. No garnish is needed.

Blood Orange Elderflower Gin Cocktail
courtesy of The Little Epicurean
1 oz. gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 1/2 oz. ginger ale or tonic water (we used dry sparkling blood orange soda)
1 oz. blood orange juice (we couldn’t find just blood orange so used raspberry blood orange juice)

In a serving glass, combine gin, St. Germain, lime juice, and ginger ale. Top the glass with ice. Slowly pour in blood orange juice. Garnish with blood orange slices and fresh lemon thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Blackberry and Lemon Gin and TonicBlackberry Lemon Gin and Tonic
courtesy of RealHouseMoms.com
6 blackberries
8 mint leaves
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. simple syrup
6 oz. gin
tonic water
additional mint leaves and lemon wheels for garnish

Using two lowball glasses, place three blackberries in each glass. Add four mint leaves per glass, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. of simple syrup per glass and muddle together. Fill each glass with ice, followed by 3 oz. gin. Top each drink with tonic water; then garnish with a lemon wheel and mint leaves.

Gin and Tonic Cake
by Jessica Merchant
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly zested lime rind
1/4 cup gin
1/4 cup milk
juice of 1 lime

Gin and Tonic CakePreheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add in sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy–about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl if needed. Add in each egg one at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next. Next add in vanilla and lime zest and mix. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients. Then add in gin, milk, and lime juice, mixing until combined and scraping the bowl if necessary. Add remaining flour and beat until just combined.

Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden and center is not jiggly. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately poke holes across the top with a toothpick or fork. Pour gin glaze over; then let cake cool completely. While cake is cooling, mix up icing and once the cake has cooled, add the frosting. Note: you can sub tonic water in for the gin/milk portion of the recipe if desired.

For Gin Glaze
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. gin
juice of 1 lime

Mix ingredients together until a glaze forms, then pour over cake immediately while it is still warm. Note: start with 1-2 tablespoons of gin, if more non-gin liquid is needed, use tonic water.

For Gin Icing
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. gin
1 drop of vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together until a very thick but spreadable icing forms. Once cake has completely cooled, spread a thin layer of icing all over the cake. Note: start with 1-2 tablespoons of gin, if more non-gin liquid is needed, use tonic water.

Cucumber Gin and Tonic SorbetCucumber Lime Gin and Tonic Sorbet
by Kristen Olson
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
zest and juice from 2 medium limes
1 small cucumber, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups tonic water
3 oz. gin

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium low, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. In a blender, mix together the simple syrup, zest, and juice from two limes, cucumber, 2 cups of the tonic water, and the gin. Blend until smooth. Strain the mixture into a baking pan or baking dish. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours or until slightly frozen. Break up and stir with a fork. Freeze another 2 to 3 hours or until almost solid. Spoon icy mixture into the blender and blend until lighter and smooth. Return the mixture to the baking pan and freeze until scoopable. Cover and store in the freezer for up to two months. When ready to serve, scoop the sorbet into glasses with an ice cream scoop; top with a lime slice and additional tonic water and gin if desired.

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