Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I think Clay and I will be spending it in a flurry of cleaning, winnowing, and packing, getting prepared for whatever our next life adventure might be – romantic, right? In some ways, it is, as I’m fortunate to have a partner who is willing to explore many different possibilities for our next move: we spend much time fantasizing about staying in the PNW or moving far away to Alaska or moving back to the desert for awhile.
Of course, each possibility requires a different packing strategy, especially in the kitchen – if we move a few hours away, we can bring most of what’s in the pantry. If we move too far afield, we’ll have to find a foodie friend to take over some of the half used bottles of liqueurs and assorted fancy vinegars. In the meanwhile, for as long as we are here, I’ll be doing my best to use up what’s in the pantry and on the alcohol shelf.
I was doing part of this clean up work earlier this week. In addition to loving to cook, I’m also an avid gardener. Somehow or another, over the last five years, I ended up with thirteen orchid plants and one African violet that lived, very happily, in my office window. However, I don’t have an office window now, so the orchids had to come home to a house with four cats who are equally avid plant lovers, only they prefer them for lunch. My orchids have been valiant bloomers and I so want to keep them happy until we are settled. So we spent much of one day last week clearing out one half of the pantry shelves to store the orchids (there is a large window in the kitchen and I think they will have enough sunlight as long as the pantry door stays open during the day). In this process, I discovered that I have several nearly fully full bottles of odd liqueurs that had ended up in the very back of the shelves, including one full bottle of anisette. I’m fairly sure I was aiming to make a cocktail that required absinthe, but couldn’t bring myself to pay the price of good absinthe, so ended up with anisette instead. As I was thinking about Valentine’s Day cocktails, I’d had beets in mind and chocolate and then thought it would be worth it to experiment to see how these flavors went with the anisette, which has a very powerful licorice flavor. The recipe below is a lovely kiss of flavor – the earthy beets, the bitter chocolate, and the heady anise. If you have time or are better prepared than I am, I think it would be worth it to infuse the beets a bit longer in the simple syrup. I left them in the syrup just long enough for it to fully cool down and the earthiness was there, but I would have enjoyed it if it was a bit more intense
Red Beet Kiss
Serves One (but could be easily doubled or tripled – simple syrup makes enough for about three drinks)
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce beet infused chocolate simple syrup (below)
Martini glass, chilled
Combine the vodka and beet infused chocolate simple syrup in a shaker with ice and shake. Swirl a little bit of the anisette liqueur in the martini glass so that the sides of the martini glass are covered. Discard any remaining liqueur. Poor the vodka and syrup into the martini glass and enjoy.
Beet Infused Chocolate Simple Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
½ a beet chopped into small strips
1 teaspoon Dutch process cocoa
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cool and either let the beets infuse in the syrup for a day or so or use immediately once cooled.