Meet the Vermouth Sleuths

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Vermouth was a crucial building block of the American bar scene. Early versions of the Manhattan and martini were made with twice as much vermouth as either whiskey or gin. But World War II cut off access to imports and squelched demand for European brands. More than 50 years later, the classic cocktail revival inspired bartenders to seek out high quality European vermouth once again. And when they couldn’t find it, bartenders turned to Haus Alpenz.

I wrote about the Vermouth sleuths at Haus Alpenz over at Tales of the Cocktail

Grape Cocktails

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The Concord Crush from Will Cook for Friends

Grapes usually make their way into our cocktails through wine, Pisco, vodka or other grape-based alcohols. But the fruit itself is full of flavor. And it’s grape season. Take that grape and smash it, juice it or infuse with it!

Here are a few grape cocktails to try.

Napa Valley Mojito ~ Grapes and sparkling wine are the perfect pair in this brunch cocktail (that you can drink any time).

Green Grape Pisco Sour ~ The Pisco Sour is rich, light and airy all at the same time. Adding grapes adds more flavor while keeping the luxurious feel.

Grapes of Wrath ~ Concord grapes, mezcal and sherry take the lead — with help from Barolo Chinato, a spiced fortified red wine that enhances the drink’s graped-up flavor.

Concord Crush ~ A grapey Gimlet with a splash of elderflower liqueur. Ooh, la la!

Grape Negroni ~ Grape-infused vermouth is an ingenious way to add the flavor of Concord grapes to this Negroni-inspired cocktail.

Cocktails Made With Yogurt

Cloud Hopper yogurt cocktail

Cloud Hopper Cocktail at GreenRiver in Chicago (photo: Kailley Lindman)

Yogurt: It’s not just for breakfast.

Because of its health benefits, yogurt has taken over the dairy section. Greek, Icelandic, whole fat, non-fat, goat, cow or sheep — there are more varieties of yogurt at most markets than all other milk products combined. But the next frontier for cultured dairy is behind the bar.

I wrote about yogurt cocktails for Tales of the Cocktail (also includes a recipe for Top of the Monk’s Honey Almond & Chevre Fizz!)

DIY Spiced Rum

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Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of spiced rum! Skip the Captain Morgan, because making your own is so easy. Try your DIY Spiced Rum in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy or any other cocktails you’d normally use the store-bought stuff in.

Spiced Rum
3 cups light rum
1/2 cup gold rum
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
zest of half an orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 allspice berries
1 star anise pod, broken
2 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 slice of ginger, roughly the size of a nickel
3 black peppercorns

Combine ingredients in a glass jar. Let steep for two days. Sample to check flavor and make possible adjustments. Steep for up to five days, shaking daily. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the larger items and then strain again through a coffee filter into a bottle.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.

How to Make a Smoldering Halloween Cauldron With Dry Ice

Dry Ice Halloween PunchI played with dry ice! It’s easy to make a smoky, foggy Halloween cauldron for your punch. I’m not that careful and I managed not to get hurt!

You don’t need eye of newt or wing of bat to brew a batch of toil and trouble this Halloween. All you need is some dry ice. This magic ingredient turns an ordinary punch bowl into a bubbling, smoldering cauldron that’s perfect for parties.

Dry Ice Punch Bowl Tutorial at SheKnows