Punch Recipe for the Holidays: Horse & Carriage

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Horse & Carriage from Saveur

What punch should you make for your holiday party? Here is my official endorsement: Horse & Carriage! I made this last week and it was a hit. Gin, elderflower and champagne are an obvious (to me) combination, but what really made this punch stand out was the chamomile tea. It added complexity and sophistication to what otherwise could have been a bit of a one-note concoction. I wish I had made a double batch! (It went fast.)

I modified the recipe a bit from Saveur’s to include more sparkling wine. I think this is a big improvement on the flavor, with the added benefit of making a larger amount of punch. It didn’t taste very balanced the original way, in my humble opinion.

Horse & Carriage (modified)
4 tablespoons citrus sugar (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh lemon juice
6 ounces gin
3 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3 ounces triple sec
10 ounces cold chamomile tea
8 oz. sparkling wine
Lemon and orange wheels, pomegranate seeds for garnish and ice block (instructions below) Continue reading

Fall Gin Cocktail: Apple Business

Apple Business4 (credit Alice Gao)It’s fall … even though the weather where I am doesn’t quite feel like it yet. To get a little of that autumnal atmosphere into my life, I mixed up an apple cocktail. It’s simple to make, but has a lot of complex flavors going on. The floral notes in the gin really went well with honey. Come on, fall! I’m ready for you!

It’s no secret Nolet’s is one of my favorite gins, so I was more than happy to try this recipe when they sent it to me. I just used plain old clover honey (like the kind that comes in a squeezy bear), but this would be excellent with some blackberry honey or orange honey.

Apple Business

2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh apple juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce honey

Shake all ingredients over ice, and then strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with apple slice.

Recipe by Theo Lieberman, Milk & Honey (NYC)
Photo by Alice Gao

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

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The garden at Savvy Housekeeping is overflowing with cucumbers! So we got together and made this lovely, late-summer cocktail with some of the bounty. It has a delicate and sweet flavor that’s a good antidote to the muggy weather we’re having now. We used lemon cucumbers and purple basil, but you can also use English cucumber and whatever your favorite basil variety is.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

1 English cucumber or 2-3 small lemon cucumbers
8 basil leaves
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 oz gin

Peel the cucumbers, then chop into chunks and discard the peels. Muddle basil, cucumber, lime, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin, then shake for 15-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Negroni

An aperitif is a before-dinner drink that stimulates the appetite—usually it’s something light with a bitter or herbal flavor. But that doesn’t mean you have to drink them before a meal. One of the most well known (and loved) aperitif cocktails is the Negroni, and they’re as popular before dinner as they are late in the evening. This is a drink that had to grow on me, but once it did, I couldn’t get enough of it’s bold flavor. One Negroni leads to more. Also, there are a lot of fun twists on the Negroni … I’ll have to share a few soon!

Negroni
1 ounce London dry gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth

Fill and old fashioned glass with ice and then pour in each ingredient and stir. Garnish with an orange slice or twist.

Negroni photo by Kenn Wilson

In a seminar about the history of the Negroni a few years ago at Tales of the Cocktail, I liked this old Campari ad they showed that acknowledged just how much of an acquired tasted Campari is:

Martini

The Martini is the simplest of classic cocktails. But like almost everything else having to do with cocktails, there’s much debate about what is the “right way” to make a Martini. To me, the only right way is the one that tastes good to whoever gets to drink it. That’s not to say that I don’t have my opinions on the subject, however. So here’s my two cents on the common disagreements … that you’re free to take to heart or ignore. Of course, I think I’m right.

  1. Gin vs. Vodka: If you want to get technical about it, a Martini is supposed to be made with gin. So if you prefer it with vodka, that would be a Vodka Martini. I don’t care about the semantics, but that will help you if you’re ordering it and don’t want to confuse the bartender. I favor a Martini made with gin, because the flavors of the gin mix well with vermouth and vodka is neutral. But, it’s like your mouth and stuff. So whatever.
  2. Shaken vs. Stirred: Generally, if a cocktail is made with only lightweight alcoholic ingredients (so no juices, liqueurs, or syrups) then there’s no reason to shake the drink. Stirring is enough to bind the ingredients together as well as chill and dilute the cocktail properly. But some people like it shaken, whether because it’s faster or because they have an affinity for quoting James Bond. I don’t like the ice shards that come from shaking, so I’m heavily biased toward stirring Martinis. (I think you should be, too, but I won’t—and can’t—stop you from shaking.)
  3. Ratio of dry vermouth to spirit: Some people drink chilled gin and call it a Martini. I don’t know what they have against dry vermouth. I like a dry Martini (recipe below), but even a Martini that uses twice as much vermouth as I did tastes good to me. Experiment and then remember the ratio! My favorite is 4 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth.
  4. Garnish: Olives or a lemon twist are the traditional garnishes. I like when my drink comes with a snack, so I usually go for olives. But I’ve had them with a cornichon (aka, tiny pickle) and find that to be just as satisfying. (If you add a little pickle or olive brine to the drink, that’s a “dirty” Martini.)

Without further delay, it’s time to actually drink a Martini:

Martini

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Pour the gin and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive or lemon twist.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman