Homemade Falernum

Homemade Falernum

Munktiki Johnny Ku

Munktiki Johnny Ku

Falernum is a complex spicy aromatic syrup commonly used in tiki cocktails. There are a few commercial falernum products available but most are excessively sweet and not nearly as nuanced as this simple recipe. Don’t be intimidated by the two-day process, active time spent on this recipe is only about 30 minutes.

Falernum #9

  • Zest of 9 limes, with all traces of white pith removed
  • 40 whole cloves
  • 1.5 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 tbls blanched slivered almonds, toasted
  • 6 ounces 151 rum
  • 14 ounces cold process 2:1 simple syrup (see below for recipe)
  • .25 tsp almond extract
  • 4.5 ounces fresh lime juice
Lime Zest

Lime Zest

Step 1: Place the lime zest, rum, ginger, cloves, and toasted almonds in a clean mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. Press solids down until covered by rum and let stand for 24 hours.

Step 2: Strain the mixture through damp cheesecloth, squeezing until no liquid remains. Discard solids.

Step 3: Place the strained solids in a clean glass jar. Add the simple syrup, almond extract, and lime juice. Shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 month. Makes about 24 ounces.

This falernum is so delicious that if it wasn’t for the 151 base I would top it with soda water and call it pop! Try it in the Chartreuse Swizzle or the Mai Tai Swizzle.

Source: Beachbum Berry Remixed by Jeff Berry

Homemade Orgeat & Falernum

Homemade Falernum on Left (Homemade Orgeat on Right)

Easiest Cold-Process Simple Syrup

The other day I was grinding table sugar in my Vitamix to create superfine sugar, which dissolves more easily when making cold-process simple syrup. It suddenly occurred to me that the entire activity could be done in my blender.

Cold-Process 2:1 Syrup:

  • 4 cups table sugar
  • 2 cups warm water

Place sugar in high-performance blender and pulverize on high about 20 seconds. Add the water and continue to blend on high until all the sugar has dissolved. Store in a clean glass bottle in the fridge.

This method is so quick and easy and successful that I suspect I will never make basic simple syrup on the stove again!

Mai Tais

Mai Tais

Gecko Tiki Ku Ali'i Edition

Gecko Tiki Ku Ali’i Edition

Long before The Vintage Cocktail Project and our interest in classic cocktails, D and I were infatuated with tiki drinks and culture. The first cocktail book we ever purchased was Beachbum Berry Remixed and we have an ever-increasing collection of tiki mugs.

Tiki Mug Collection

Tiki Mug Collection

Recently our focus on prohibition-era drinks has relegated tropical cocktails to the back-burner, but thanks to a recent heat wave D and I spent the weekend revisiting the Polynesian pop culture prevalent in 1950s America.

We decided to start with the most iconic drink of the era, the Mai Tai, but which one? Multiple individuals have claimed authorship over the Mai Tai and dozens of recipes exist for the bevvy. The two most likely creators are Victor Jules Bergeron Jr. aka Trader Vic and Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt aka Don the Beachcomber. The question of authorship is highly contested and seems to divide the world of tiki enthusiasts into factions. Not wanting to take a side, D and I figured we’d better test both recipes.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai calls for orgeat, a sweet and gently floral almond syrup, whilst Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle calls for falernum, a spicy syrup made with lime, almonds, ginger, and clove. Both syrups are available commercially but most aficionados agree that these products are of mediocre quality, lacking nuance and invariably excessively sweet. With this in mind we took a day to make our own orgeat and falernum with fantastic results.

We invited several guests over to sample the fruits of our labor. We started with Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, which was met with rave reviews.

Trader Vic's Mai Tai

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai

Our friend A declared it “the best cocktail I ever had!” Unlike the Mai Tais found in places like Hawaii this drink is shaken, not built, and is thus uniform in color. When I handed D his bevvy he looked disappointed and requested a 151 floater. In the spirit of fidelity to the recipe he was denied. But once he tasted the drink his faith was restored. The bevy is a delight, sweet but tart with orange undertones and an almost creamy texture from the orgeat.

Next up was Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle. Despite the names and the fact that both drinks contain rum and lime, the two concoctions are not at all similar. The Mai Tai Swizzle is much spicier, thanks to the delectable falernum, and packs a much stronger punch. D was immediately won over, preferring the assertive flavors of this version.

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle

Our guests were divided, with half the votes going to Trader Vic and half to Don the Beachcomber. The origins of the Mai Tai remain up there with such mysteries as who killed Kennedy, but by golly, with drinks this good we are simply happy that they exist!

I had one more recipe to try before the night was done, a contemporary spin on the Mai Tai by Brooklyn bartender Jeremy Oertel, using Campari as the predominant spirit. I had been excitedly anticipating this Bitter Mai Tai for several weeks and felt somewhat deflated by the results. The Campari dominates and refuses to marry with the other flavors.

Bitter Mai Tai

Bitter Mai Tai

D was also underwhelmed but suggested that it might have been better when not served directly opposite two stunning versions of the Mai Tai. Only one of our guests was enamored with this drink, preferring it because it is not at all sweet. She also loved the color, equating it to raspberry, whereas all I could conjure was Pepto Bismol. I feel I will need to give this drink a second chance on a fresh palate as it was not at all the masterpiece I had hoped it would be.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai:

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce orange Curacao (we used Pierre Ferrand)
  • .25 ounce orgeat
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce dark Jamaican Rum (we used Myers’s Plantation Punch)
  • 1 ounce amber Martinique Rum (we had to substitute Angostura 1919)
Angostura 1919

Angostura 1919

Shake over crushed ice. Pour contents, including ice, into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint.

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle:

  • 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • .75 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce Cointreau
  • .25 ounce falernum
  • 1.5 ounce Myers’ Plantation Rum
  • 1 ounce Cuban rum (we used Havana Club 7 year)
  • 6 drops Pernod (we used an eyedropper and measure 1ml)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Myers’s Plantation Punch

Myers’s Plantation Punch

Shake over crushed ice. Pour contents, including ice, into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint.

Bitter Mai Tai:

  • 1.5 ounces Campari
  • .75 ounce Jamaican rum (we used Myers’s Plantation Punch)
  • .5 orange Curacao (we used Pierre Ferrand)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .75 ounce orgeat
Oragne Curacao

Orange Curacao

Shake over ice. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass. Fill with crushed ice.

Tiki nights we can't remember with friends we can't forget

Tiki nights we can’t remember with friends we can’t forget

Sources:

Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trader_Vic’s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_Tai

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_the_Beachcomber

http://www.imbibemagazine.com/Bitter-Mai-Tai-Recipe

Homemade Orgeat

Homemade Orgeat

Munktiki Big Head

Munktiki Big Head

Orgeat, a sweet almond syrup with floral undertones, is a fundamental ingredient in tiki cocktails. There are many commercially available orgeats on the market but most contain artificial flavors and/or high fructose corn syrup. What’s more, despite the fact that the primary ingredient in orgeat is almonds, many mass-produced orgeats contain no nuts at all. Orgeat is simple enough to make at home and well worth the effort. This recipe, adapted from Beachbum Berry Remixed, contains only 5 ingredients and comes together in just a few hours. Try it in Trader Vic’s Mai Tai or the Kona Swizzle.

Orgeat Syrup:

  • 500 grams almonds
  • 800 ml water
  • 700 grams white sugar
  • 100 ml brandy or vodka
  • 2 tbls orange flower water
Blanch Almonds

Blanch Almonds

Step 1: Blanch almonds in boiling water for one minute then drain in a colander. Run cold water over the almonds to cool, then slip the almonds from their peels. You can skip this step and save about 15 minutes if you purchase pre-blanched almonds.

 

 

Step 2: Soak blanched almonds in cold water for 30 minutes.

Almonds in Blender

Almonds in Blender

 

Step 3: Add almonds and 800 ml water to a powerful blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec and whirl on high for about 10 seconds until crushed fine but not eviscerated. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let stand for 1-2 hours. If you do not have a powerful blender then you can crush the almonds in a food processor or with a rolling pin or meat mallet on a cutting board before adding them to the water in a bowl.

 

 

 

Straining Almond Mixture

Straining Almond Mixture

Step 4: Strain the puree through a nut-milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth into another large bowl, being sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the pulp (this helps release all the almond oils.) Add the pulp back into the liquid and allow to stand another hour. Strain again, this time discarding the solids.

Step 5: In a medium saucepan over low heat stir the strained liquid and the sugar until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes. Add the orange flower water and the brandy or vodka. Pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes well over a liter of syrup and can easily be halved.

Homemade Orgeat on Right

Homemade Orgeat on Right (Homemade Falernum on Left)

Cherry Bounce

Cherry Bounce

Cherries

Cherries

 

I am blessed to live in a neighborhood that hosts a farmer’s market each Sunday morning from May until October. I eat only local fruits and vegetables during these months and am deeply saddened when the season comes to an end. This year I decided I’d try to preserve some of the market bounty for the winter months.

Recently I came along this recipe for Cherry Bounce, a mixture of liquor, sugar, and fruit, deciding to put it to the test. I settled on rum as the base spirit, rather than the rye called for in the recipe, because I feel that rum and cherries contain a similar and complementary flavor profile. But as always, you should make the recipe your own.

Cherry Bounce:

  • 750ml Appleton Estate Jamaican rum
  • 4 cups whole sour cherries, stemmed
  • 1.5 cups sugar

 

In a saucepan bring the cherries and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cherry Bounce

Cherry Bounce

 

Let cool. Add the cooled cherry mixture to a 1.5litre glass jar (I sterilized the container for 10 minutes in boiling water), and then top with the rum. Seal the jar and give the contents a good shake to combine the flavors. Store in a cool dark place for 3 months.

 

 

Once aged, strain the cherry pulp from the infused liquor. Will keep for 2 months.

 

I look forward to providing recipes using the Cherry Bounce in the fall!!

Cherry preserve

Cherry preserve

Note: Sour cherries are smaller and more tart than sweet cherries. If you cannot find sour cherries you can substitute a sweet cherry such as Bing or Lapin, but reduce the sugar by half and add a tablespoon and a half of fresh lemon juice before boiling.

 

Source: Todd Appel http://imbibemagazine.com/Cherry-Bounce-Recipe

Image Credit

Title: Cherries by Benson Kua is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

 

Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino Cherries

D and I both love cherries, in pretty much any form. But the specialty cherries made in-house at high-end cocktail bars have a special place in our hearts. For the past couple of years we have been purchasing Luxardo brand maraschino cherries, which are light-years ahead of their neon-red counterparts found at the grocery store. But at a whopping 22$ a jar, and with a shelf life of about 4 months, they are not the best deal in town. This year we decided we would make our own cherries and I’m flabbergasted at the simple perfection of this recipe.

You will need to invest in a cherry pitter if you do not already have one.

Cherry Pitter

Cherry Pitter

I purchased a Good Grips brand pitter for about 11$ and it worked very well. I consider it an investment in years of maraschino cherries to come.

Note: Sour cherries are smaller and softer than the sweet cherries you find all summer long. They are much more tart, as their name suggests, and only available for a couple of weeks each summer. I prowl my local farmer’s market each July in search of these rare and treasured berries.

Maraschino Cherries:

  • 1 pint sour cherries, cleaned, stemmed and pitted
  • 1 cup Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is best)

    Maraschino Cherries

    Maraschino Cherries

 

Bring the liqueur to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the cherries. Let cool. Poor into a large mason jar (I sterilize mine in boiling water for 10 minutes.) Refrigerate. Wait at least two days before consuming. Will keep for several months.

 

 

 

 

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/dining/181arex.html?_r=1&

 

 

 

Summer Sippers

Summer Sippers

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset

Summer is in full swing, at least in my hemisphere, and this means it’s the perfect time to sit back and relax with a refreshing frosty beverage. For most of the year I prefer a short drink, to the point that when a bartender asks me what I like I always specify no rocks and no soda before I even consider the spirits that suit my mood. But for a couple months each summer these rules fly out the window. The dog days of summer beg for a long, cool, revitalizing bevvy. My normally spirit-forward palette suddenly craves seasonal fruit and citrus. Here are a few thirst-quenching cocktails guaranteed to beat the heat!

Sour Cherry Gin Sling

(Adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sour-cherry-gin-slings)

Fresh sour cherries are only available for a couple of weeks a year so get them while the getting is good! Be sure to buy an extra pound or two to make your own maraschino cherries!!)

For the sour cherry syrup:

Cherry Syrup

Cherry Syrup

  • 1 pound sour cherries, stems removed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Zest of ½ orange

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat (there is no need to pit the cherries). Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, discarding the solids. Allow the syrup to cool before use. The syrup will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.

For the Slings:

Cherry Sling ingredients

Cherry Sling ingredients

  • 2 ounces Gin (we used Broker’s)
  • .66 ounce Cointreau
  • .66 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2.5 ounces sour cherry syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Soda water

Pour the gin, Cointreau, lime, and cherry syrup into a large Collins glass (12-14 ounces). Fill with ice, leaving only a couple of ounces of headroom. Top with soda (not too much or you will dilute the wonderful flavors!) and a couple of dashes of bitters. Garnish with a lime wheel and a maraschino cherry. Bask in the sunshine!

 

 

Violet Fizz

(From A.J. Rathbun’s Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Our liquor cabinet is full of obscure ingredients purchased with a specific cocktail or two in mind. Recently I’ve made it my mission to find additional uses for these liqueurs. The Violet Fizz marries one of my favorite floral spirits with citrus to produce summer in a glass.

Violet Fizz:

Violet Fizz

Violet Fizz

  • 2 ounces gin (we used Broker’s)
  • .5 ounce Crème de Violette
  • .25 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • Club soda

Build the drink in a highball glass (8-9 ounces) by adding the gin, violette, lemon juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice until ¾ full. Top with club soda. (Tip: always use a fresh can or single-serving bottle of soda when creating fizzy cocktails. Family-sized bottles and open cans loose their carbonation quickly.) Garnish with a lemon wheel, maraschino cherry, or a violet if you have one!

Strega Fizz

(Source: http://www.cocktaildb.com/recipe_detail?id=2228)

Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur, reminiscent of a simplified yellow Chartreuse, but with more citrus notes. It is relatively inexpensive and drinks well on its own or mixed into cocktails. This simple recipe, which seems to capture the essence and color of sunshine, is delightfully light and quenching.

Strega Fizz:

  • 1 ounce gin (again we used Broker’s)
  • 1 ounce Strega
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • Club soda
Strega Fizz

Strega Fizz

Add the gin, Strega, and lemon juice to a highball glass (8-9 ounces). Fill with ice until ¾ full. Top with soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.