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Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

Can we all do a collective sigh of relief that it’s Friday and there’s time for creating the perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic?  My week started off with snow.  That’s right – snow, again, in Oregon, in March.  I usually spend one or two days each month around the Oregon capital in Salem, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for the daffodils around the capital mall to open.  I’d been so hopeful that they’d be blooming already, but no – they look as discouraged by the weather as I’ve been.  Instead, I had to tromp through the slush and snow to get to the office I work at when I’m in Salem, getting my feet wet and my shoes muddy.  Not to mention, it was also snowing in Portland as I was getting ready to leave on Monday morning.  Giant flakes of snow kept attacking me and the dog when I went out with her before I left.  Not fun.

It’s no wonder I’ve been increasingly leaning toward drinking white wine and making fruity, happy, summer cocktails.  I figure if I spend enough time pretending it’s summer, it will get here faster, right?  Yeah – so far, no luck.  I guess in the meantime, I will stay inside where it’s warm and dry, curl up on the couch and snuggle with Daisy (our dog).  I’ll also make up a Spanish G&T or two.

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

The great thing about creating a perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic (as compared to a regular gin and tonic), is that you can use all sorts of pretty aromatics in it.  I like the variety rather than having to dig around in the fridge each time to see if I have a stray lime hanging around.  For this particular G&T, I used a combination of satsuma mandarin orange peel, cardamom seed pods, juniper seed pods, and whole peppercorns.  I also through in a dash of grapefruit bitters, which are my new most favorite item in my liquor cabinet.  You can mix up the aromatics: fresh herbs are wonderful in a Spanish G&T – I love throwing in fresh rosemary, but lemon thyme works well, too, as would regular thyme, various types of mint, and so on.  You can also use citrus peel or citrus segments.  I’ve used blood orange ice cubes before, as well.  Really, this is the most versatile cocktail in my repertoire of cocktails.

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

So, make one of these up with what you have on hand and enjoy the warm weather (if you are living in a state where there is warm weather right now) or enjoy watching it rain or snow.

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

 

Creating the Perfect Spanish Gin and Tonic

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • tonic water
  • 2 drops grapefruit bitters
  • Various aromatics

Instructions

  1. Combine the gin, grapefruit, and aromatics in a glass. Top with tonic water. Enjoy!
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Blood Orange Martini

Blood Orange Martini

Blood Orange Martini

This Friday’s Happy Hour post continues my obsession with blood oranges in the form of a blood orange martini.  Would you believe that I’m really almost at the end of doing all my blood orange recipes after I got the box of oranges from my friend in Arizona?  I have blood oranges preserved in various ways.  I have blood orange bitters infusing through next week.  And I have a bag of frozen blood orange juice, which I’ve been using as ice cubes for cocktails, including for this blood orange martini.

I have a tendency to go way overboard with produce.  I’ve had years where I’ve ended up going to a u-pick farm and coming home with thirty pounds of cucumbers or sixty pounds of tomatoes.  My first year of u-pick, I picked just about every fruit that was available, and we had frozen berries and jams and pickles to last us nearly two years.  I’ve been a bit more moderate this last year.  I canned thirty pounds of tomatoes into spaghetti sauce.  I didn’t bother with pickles, because we still have some.  The good thing about being moderate is that by the time the blood oranges came into my life, I wasn’t overly exhausted from preserving all summer long.

One of the best things I did with the oranges was to make blood orangecello.  I used the same basic technique I used for my limoncello.  I used a veggie peeler to peel five blood oranges.  When you do this, use just the outer peel, not the pith.  I steeped the peels in vodka for four days in a quart jar (peels + enough vodka to fill the jar).  I made a simple syrup of 3 1/2 cups water and 2 1/2 cups sugar.  I strained out the peels from the vodka, combined it with the simple syrup and let that sit overnight.  The infused vodka and simple syrup go in jars and get refrigerated and that’s that.  The blood orangecello did not have an especially red hue to it – it looks like the limoncello.  The taste, however, is akin to a good triple sec.  It’s really lovely and especially lovely in this blood orange martini.

blood orange martini

If you don’t have the time to make the blood orangecello, triple sec or cointreau will also work in this recipe.

blood orange martini

The cubes there in the front are frozen blood orange juice.  I used these when I made the blood orange martini, defrosting about four to get the juice.  I also used these to chill the martini a bit more after I’d made it.  The juice melts and doesn’t water down the cocktail.

blood orange martini

Blood Orange Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce blood orangecello or triple sec or cointreau
  • juice from one blood orange

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice or with blood orange ice cubes. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy! Serves 1
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Limoncello Lemon Drop

Limoncello Lemon Drop

A Limoncello Lemon Drop is sure to cheer on even the gloomiest winter days. After nearly a week with snow and ice on the ground (unheard of in the Portland metro area), we are finally back to normal weather – rain and more rain.  I can handle rain and more rain, though I still have a serious craving for asparagus and strawberries (and first of the season radishes).  January is such an odd time for seasonal foods.  There’s plenty of citrus in the market, and there are definitely all the root veggies still, but there’s not a single fruit or veggie that just screams January to me.

January is, however, a good time to start clearing out the pantry.  I’m down to three jars of limoncello and three of blood orange-cello.  I’ve got some blood orange bitters infusing, which used up a few spices and some of the blood oranges from the now infamous 40 pound box.  I’m thinking I might try some new recipes for the limoncello.  It’s great in cocktails, of course, like the limoncello lemon drop, but I’ve been thinking a bit about what else I can do with it.  Any thoughts?  I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Meanwhile, I did finish out using all the lemon cubes from the lemons from way back in December when I made the limoncello in the first place.  Lemon cubes (really, any citrus juice that’s been frozen) are so great for cocktails.  Toss one in and if it melts, no problem – it just adds to the flavor of the cocktail instead of watering it down.

limoncello lemon drop

I like my limoncello lemon drop a bit on the sour side.  I’ve always been a big fan of sour cocktails.  You can definitely adjust the amount of limoncello you use in these to make them sweeter.

limoncello lemon drop

Limoncello Lemon Drop

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • Juice from one lemon

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice. Shake, strain and enjoy!
  2. Serves one
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Limoncello Kiss

Limoncello Kiss

Limoncello Kiss

Here we are, finally, at the end of 2016 and it’s time for a Limoncello Kiss.  I can’t say that this year has been that bad for us. I am sorry, though, for the general unrest in the rest of the world.  I always face the beginning of a new year with a little anticipation and a bit of trepidation, as well.  With good reason, I suspect that this year will bring about some major changes in our lives.  We are facing a potential move again, so we’ll see.  I’ve used the last few days of 2016 tidying up around the house.  This has included cleaning out the garage and generally evaluating what’s worth moving and what’s not.

I’ve also had a great week cooking.  If there is any constant in the new year, I very much hope it involves cooking and blogging.  I’m also hopeful to be able to continue to be close to fresh and local foods, as these past nearly seven years of living in the PNW have transformed how I’ve cooked – we really do eat very seasonally and I enjoy the ebb and flow of the seasons for that reason.

The Limoncello Kiss is my farewell to 2016 – I thought this year needed a sweet kiss to finish it out.   If you are in the mood to make your own limoncello, Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe on Food Network is both quick and yummy.  Plus, with the leftover lemons, you’ll have a great excuse to make a lemon meringue pie or lemon bars.  The Limoncello Kiss is a nod to one of my favorite cocktails at Pastini’s which is a lovely pasta chain in Portland.

Wishing you all the happiest 2017!

Limoncello Kiss

Limoncello Kiss

limoncello kiss

Limoncello Kiss

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce vodka or gin
  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • Prosecco

Instructions

  1. Combine the vodka or gin and the limoncello in a champagne flute. Top off with chilled Prosecco.
  2. Enjoy!
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Grapefruit Negroni

Grapefruit Negroni

I get inspired quite a bit from eating and drinking while I’m traveling.  Case in point – I had a really good Negroni when I was stopped over at the Minneapolis airport last month.  It was a super booze-forward drink: I could definitely taste the gin and had to take it very, very slow so as not to be tipsy on my flight.  That said, I love the super bitter tones of any drink that has a bitter liqueur in it and Campari is definitely bitter.

I’ve been thinking about that Negroni quite a bit and wondering if I could make a variation with what I have in the liquor cabinet – namely a bottle of Aperol that I used this summer to make Aperol Spritzes but that has been lingering on the shelf ever since.  I did a bit of research and found out that it’s not that unusual to substitute Aperol for the Campari in a Negroni so thought I’d give it a try.  While I was at it, I also had a grapefruit on hand and since grapefruits are bitter, I thought, why not?

My experiment in mixology paid off – this is a fruity, slightly sweet, slightly bitter drink.  It’s simple and straightforward and would probably have had even better grapefruit tones if Clay hadn’t tried to help by juicing the grapefruit and then dropping the cocktail shaker on the floor (yep – it already had the gin, vermouth and Aperol in it.  I don’t recommend this step – it leaves the floor a really sticky mess).  Fortunately, the grapefruit was only juiced half-way and there was enough to start over and make this cocktail.  This is a great watch a classic movie and snuggle under the blankets kind of drink.  Happy Friday Happy Hour!

negroni-with-grapefruit

Grapefruit Negroni
Serves 1

1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Aperol
Juice from ½ a grapefruit

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake.  Serve in a martini glass.  Enjoy!

Kiwi Berry Gin and Tonic

Kiwi Berry Gin and Tonic

Several weeks ago, I noticed that the local markets were selling kiwi berries, which just look like miniaturized kiwi fruit.  Usually, I’m quick to try a new fruit, but I’d purchased some gooseberries early in the season and then let them linger in the fridge until they were unusable.  I was hesitant to jump on the kiwi berry bandwagon until I knew what I could actually do with them.

But if you linger too long…I finally bought one little pint of fruit and fell instantly in love.  It turns out that kiwi berries can be eaten as is – skin and all.  They really are just little kiwis, with a slightly sweeter taste.  They were so lovely, I went back to the store the next day to get more (because they also looked very photogenic, but I ate/used all of them before I got a good photo for the blog) and they were all gone.  I searched around town and couldn’t find any more.

Fortunately, I’d split about half the berries and infused them in some gin, which means I do get to enjoy the kiwi berry season for a little longer than they are available.  If you can’t find kiwi berries in your market, you can definitely use regular kiwis for this recipe.  The kiwi infuses a slightly sweet tart tone to the gin.

If you live in a mild climate, you can grow your own kiwi berries.  I think I see a garden project coming on for next year.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit back and enjoy a kiwi berry infused gin and tonic.

infusions

The front picture is the kiwi berry infused gin.  The back picture is fig infused brandy – I’m sure you’ll be seeing a cocktail inspired by this in October.  I love this photo, as it seems a bit mad-scientist-about-to-go-awry.

kiwi-berry-gin-and-tonic

Kiwi Berry Gin and Tonic
Serves 1

2 ounces kiwi berry infused gin (recipe below)
1/2 lime
tonic water
1 kiwi to garnish (or a few kiwi berries)

Pour the lime juice and infused gin over ice cubes in a cocktail glass.  Add the tonic water and stir.  Garnish with kiwi slices or kiwi berries. Enjoy!

Kiwi Berry Infused Gin
5 to 7 kiwi berries, sliced in half (or 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced)
Gin to cover the berries or kiwi slices

In a pint jar or similar container with a lid, cover the kiwi berries or kiwi with gin.  Refrigerate for at least a week.  When the flavor is to your liking, strain the fruit out using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.  Refrigerate and enjoy!

 

Blackberry Basil Gin and Tonic

Blackberry Basil Gin and Tonic

As you can probably tell, I’m into herby cocktails this summer.  This gin and tonic is no exception – blending the best of berry season with purple basil.  Gin and tonics are one of my favorite cocktails, and while I like a very classic G&T,  I don’t mind mixing things up a bit every now and then and adding other flavors to it.  I especially enjoy drinking this while sitting on the patio on a hot summer day.  I used purple basil for this, but would have used regular green basil, too if that’s all I had on hand.

blackberry basil g and t 2

Blackberry Basil Gin and Tonic
Makes 1

1 ounce gin
1/2 lime
3 basil leaves
5 blackberries
tonic water
ice

Muddle the basil leaves, three of the blackberries and half of the lime in a glass.  Add the gin and the ice and top with tonic water.  Garnish with the remaining lime and blackberries.

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