Review: Lavazza Coffees – Santa Marta, Kilimanjaro, and Intenso

With coffee cocktails all the rage now, having a good cup of java as the base for a great drink is more important than ever. Lavazza’s two single origin coffees and its Intenso dark roast all bring something different to the table, and each will make a great base for a different style of coffee cocktail.

Lavazza Santa Marta – A single origin Colombian coffee from the oldest coffee growing region in the country, Santa Marta has a subtle smoky flavor, evocative of slightly burned sugar or burned toast. This coffee has a very nice acidity and balance and a smooth mouthfeel with nuts and caramel in the finish with very little bitterness. This coffee would be a great mate for bourbon, bonded whiskey, or Scotch, because it has the body and the sweetness to create a great balance between the spirit and the coffee. B+

Lavazza Kilimanjaro – Another single origin coffee, this time from high in the mountains of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The coffee has a balanced fruit undertone, with notes of cherry and blackberry. There is a slight sweetness to the coffee which compliments the acidity of the berry flavor. This coffee is extremely smooth and flavorful, and because of the inherent fruitiness, this coffee will work very well with rum-based coffee cocktails. B+

Lavazza Intenso  The darkest roast of the three, Intenso is a traditional Italian dark roast coffee. With unmistakable notes of dark chocolate, this well-crafted coffee has a wonderful mouthfeel. Underneath the chocolate is just a hint of oak, making for a complex yet thoroughly enjoyable cup of coffee. A great use of this coffee would be a brunch cocktail made with limoncello instead of a Bloody Mary or Mimosa… such as the one below. A

each $10 per 12 oz bag / lavazza.com

How about one of those new coffee cocktails, then?

The Coffeecello
6 oz cup of Intenso
1 oz Limoncello
1 sugar cube (optional)
Ice as needed

While the coffee is still hot, dissolve a single sugar cube in the coffee if desired.  Once the coffee is room temperature, put coffee and limoncello in a cocktail shaker, mix and pour over ice. Garnish the glass with a zest of lemon or a sugared rim.

Cupping Coffee with Intelligentsia

Intelligencia Coffee
There is no scent warmer and more inviting than that of coffee beans roasting. The moment we stepped through Intelligentsia’s front door, all traffic woes were forgotten in favor of a good mood. We knew the afternoon would only get better. We walked past huge bags of newly roasted coffee beans and paused a moment before an enormous roasting machine with its large paddles for stirring the beans as they roast.

Large roaster machineHave you ever experienced cupping coffee? During our visit to Intelligentsia Coffee’s San Francisco facility, we learned how to perform this delightful ritual used by coffee roasters to determine the quality of their newly roasted coffee beans. There are elements each bean is rated upon with regards to types of aromas and initial flavor profiles. We discovered that each roaster has their own proprietary checklist they work from.

Cupping coffee — a tasting system that involves a significant amount of protocol — isn’t quick and there’s a specific way to sip the coffee from the spoon. Loud slurp noises are acceptable! However, it is worth the time because fine beverages meant to be savored — including coffee.

For cupping, the first thing you do is lean over the cup to take in the aromas. You can use your hand to wave the scents toward your face. Aromas range from floral to leguminous; the goal is to identify additional scents, such as botanicals, floral, or citrus.

Next you sip the coffee and determine the following factors:

  • Taste – There are sixteen types of taste descriptors, ranging from acrid to delicate; then from soft to creosol. Elements like saltiness and bitterness levels are notated on a checklist.
  • Sweetness – How prevalent or how missing sweet notes are present in the brew. The type of sweetness can vary as well; honey-like or sugary or syrupy if overdone.
  • Acidity – Varying types of acidity can enhance a coffee’s flavor or add to bitterness. Acidity ranges from lactic to acerbic with the harshest being kerosene like.
  • Complexity – Complexity involves the balance of the flavors present in a cup and whether elements in the flavor profile complement one another or compete, creating odd or negative tastes.
  • Aftertaste – This is typically used to describe negative tastes at the end of a beverage. While it is often a sign of something wrong with the bean or during the roasting, it can be a pleasant association as well.

A Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel put out by the Specialty Coffee Association shows all the common elements to look for.

Our host, Mark Cunningham explained how any coffee is at its finest during the cupping and that it will never be better than at that moment. He told us that a good coffee will still taste good after it’s gone cold, but lesser quality coffees get bitter and harsh.

Our cupping completed, we came back to our coffee after touring the roasting floor to discover the truth in his statement. The cups of varying roasts tasted just as amazing as when we first sipped from the spoon. The big chain coffees’ burnt-tasting dark roasts are no longer palpable. Strong doesn’t need to be bitter or charred; in fact, it is much better when it isn’t.

Cupping RitualIntelligentsia also offers a variety of artisan teas called tisanes. We sampled two of them at the cupping. Both were wonderful blends of tea, spices, and botanicals such as cardamom, rose hips, and turmeric. They are expanding in the tea area by continuing to produce new blends.

Just how does Intelligentsia obtain their high quality coffees? By working with small, family owned coffee bean farmers around the world. Their buyers are very hands-on in their search for the best beans to purchase, taking the time necessary to visit the farms and sample the raw product. With the climate and soil compositions determining the flavors of the coffee after roasting, this is an important step. It makes sense when you realize that beans mature at different times of the year, depending upon where in the world the plants are growing. One thing Intelligentsia insists on are beans properly matured on the plant before harvesting. We liken that to the taste difference between garden grown tomatoes and those picked early and expected to ripen on the way to the grocery store. Most fruits and vegetables stop ripening once harvested so their flavors aren’t robust as those garden grown. Coffee beans wouldn’t be any different.

Just recently opened to the public (previously their clients were bars and restaurants), Intelligentsia has red coffee trucks which make appearances around town in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Follow them on Twitter to find out where you can catch them. They also recently opened a monthly coffee subscription service. Additionally, Intelligentsia offers classes on brewing for barista training.

In closing, we learned that Two Sisters Bar and Books in San Francisco created a couple of cocktails featuring Intelligentsia coffee. They were kind enough to share those recipes with us. We made them with the Intelligentsia coffees and found them both to be amazing cocktails. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

The Bluegrass BuzzThe Bluegrass Buzz
created by Mikha Diaz for Two Sisters Bar and Books
3 oz. Intelligensia Cold Brew from cold brew concentrate (diluted at a 6:1 ratio)
1 1/2 oz. Old Forester 86 bourbon
1/2 oz. brown sugar simple syrup (equal parts brown sugar, gently packed, and boiling water; stir to combine)
lightly whipped heavy cream

Combine cold brew, bourbon and brown sugar simple syrup in a small tin or pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a small rocks glass. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of lightly whipped cream.

The Sharp Shooter
created by Kathryn Kulczyk for Two Sisters Bar and Books
1 1/2 oz. Cold Brew Cognac (4 oz. El Diablo blend, ground for cone drip filter, infused into 750 ml. Maison Rouge 100 proof cognac)
3/4 oz. Ancho Reyes liqueur
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica vermouth
3 hard dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Combine cognac, liqueur, and vermouth in a small tin or pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a small rocks glass. Top with three whole coffee beans.

intelligentsiacoffee.com

Memorial Day Cocktails, 2017

Spiked Cherry Lemonade Slushies
If you’re like us, this long Memorial Day holiday weekend is much anticipated. We want to kick off this holiday of remembrance and thankfulness with a set of cocktails to serve your veterans and those who honor them. What are cocktails without food to serve alongside? We’re sharing a chicken and chorizo dish you can cook indoors or out. Now, on with the drinks!

Playa Fortuna
created by Ryan Wainwright
1 1/2 parts Bacardi Superior
3/4 part lime juice
3/4 part coconut cordial (equal parts of coconut water and sugar)
1/4 part Falernum
4 drops tartaric acid (1 part cream of tartar and 5 parts water)
edible flower for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with an edible flower and serve.

Rose Basil MartiniRose Basil Seed Martini
The original Strawberry Basil Martini recipe came from foodandwine.com. However, we discovered a rose basil seed drink at a convenience store which also sells Indian food items and decided to give it a shot. The drink is sweetened so the simple syrup is intentionally omitted.
3 strawberries plus one slice to use as a garnish
3 fresh basil leaves
1 oz. gin (We used Brockman’s)
1 oz. vodka
2 oz. Rose Basil Seed beverage (you can add more if you want a stronger rose taste)
½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Put the strawberries and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle them. Add ice, gin, vodka, and lemon juice; then shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with the Rose Basil beverage, garnish with the strawberry slice, and serve.

Spiked Cherry Lemonade Slushies
2 oz. Blue Ice Vodka
1 tsp. Crystal Light Lemonade mix
1/2 tsp cherry syrup
3/4 cups water
1 cup ice
maraschino cherries

Add all ingredients , except the cherries, into a blender and blend until the drink has a smooth and slushy texture. Pour into 2 glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Auchentoshan Berry White
1 1/2 parts Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
1/4 part fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 parts Shrub & Co. Strawberry w/ Meyer Lemon Shrub
3 1.2 parts Belgian witbier (wheat beer)
4 dashes rhubarb bitters

Build the drink in tall glass with ice. Then fill the remaining space with Belgian wheat beer. Garnish with a lemon peel before serving.

Laphroaig Back Yard CollinsLaphroaig® Back Yard Collins
recipe by Ivy Mix, NYC
1 1/2 parts Laphroaig Select
3/4 part Cherry Heering Liqueur
3/4 part lemon juice
1/2 part orange juice
1/2 part vanilla syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 vanilla bean split open; boil together and cool before using)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
light lager beer
lemon wheel (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients except the lager in a cocktail shaker; shake and strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Next, top with the beer and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Banana Beach
created by mixologist, Jane Danger
3 oz. Baileys Almande
2 oz. coconut puree
1/2 oz. agave syrup
1 1/2 ripe bananas
banana slices and grated nutmeg for garnish

Combine Baileys Almande, coconut puree, agave syrup, bananas, and ice into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the contents into a tall glass. Garnish with banana slices and freshly grated nutmeg.

Svedka's Imperial BlueSvedka’s Imperial Blue
1 1/2 parts Svedka Blue Raspberry Vodka
1 1/2 parts black tea
3/4 part fresh lime juice
3/4 part simple syrup
1 part sparkling wine
3 raspberries

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the raspberries. Then combine with the remaining ingredients, except for the sparkling wine. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling wine and stir. Garnish with raspberries and loose black tea.

Modelo Summer Crusher
cocktail by Betsy Maher and Austin Hartman, New York
12 oz. Modelo Especial
1 1/2 oz. strawberry chipotle syrup (recipe below)
1 oz. blanco tequila
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
Modelo Summer Crushersalt
ground chipotle
1 strawberry for garnish

Rim a mason jar with salt and ground chipotle pepper mixture about half an inch down the jar. Fill the jar to the top with crushed ice. Combine tequila, strawberry chipotle syrup, and fresh lime juice into a shaker with ice. Shake 18-20 times. Strain over the crushed ice and top with Modelo Especial. Garnish with a strawberry.

To make Strawberry Chipotle Syrup
12-15 medium to large strawberries
3 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground chipotle

Boil the water and add ground chipotle. Blend strawberries in a blender. Lower the water temperature and add the strawberry mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off heat, add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Let cool before using.

Cool Mule
1.5 parts Three Olives Cucumber Lime Vodka
.75 parts lime juice
.75 parts simple syrup
3 cucumber slices
10 mint sprigs
ginger beer

In a mule mug, muddle cucumber and mint. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and shake well. Pour into the mug and top with ginger beer. Use a cucumber slice or lime wheel to garnish. Serve!

Sweet and Smoky
We took a typical mezcal cocktail and changed it up.
3 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. agave nectar
3 dashes Orleans bitters
2 maraschino cherries plus 1 Tbsp. syrup from the jar.
ginger ale

Place the two cherries inside a rocks glass. Then combine all remaining ingredients except the ginger ale in a shaker glass with ice. Shake well to thoroughly mix in the agave nectar. Strain into the glass and top with ginger ale. Note: if this is too sweet for your tastes, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.

Many of us fire up the grill for the first time of the year on Memorial Day weekend. Use an iron skillet with a lid or an iron Dutch Oven to roast this chicken dish on the grill. If your grill has three burners, light the outer two and place the skillet on the unlit center portion. Then you can sit back and enjoy your cocktails while it cooks.

Basque Roast ChickenBasque Roast Chicken
original recipe courtesy of Canadian Living.com; of course we put our own spin on it.
3 sweet red peppers, halved and cored
1 sweet onion, thickly sliced
1 28 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, drained (use whole tomatoes if you like your meal chunky)
5 oz. cured chorizo sausages, cut in chunks (We had problems finding chorizo in sausage form so used what was available. It worked but the chorizo blended in with the tomato sauce more than it should have; the taste certainly didn’t suffer.)
10 cloves garlic
¼ cup mezcal
8 small chicken breast pieces (half-breasts, thighs or drumsticks)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

On the grill, roast the red peppers, cut side down, until blackened. Let cool enough to handle. Peel off blackened skins and slice into strips. Then put the peppers, onion, tomatoes, chorizo, garlic, and mezcal into the skillet.

Toss chicken with oil to coat. Combine thyme, salt, sweet and smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper; rub all over chicken. Place on top of the vegetable mixture in the pan.

Cover with the lid and roast for about 45 minutes. If you prefer to cook this in an oven, then bake for the same amount of time at 450°F. Serve with flour tortillas.

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.

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