Cocktails

Gin Coconut Cooler

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It took me 14 years of living in New England, but I finally made it to Portland. The word all over Boston was that this city had an impressive food and drink scene. I'd heard restaurants named over and over again by friends within the hospitality industry. Now, people who live in Boston traditionally fall into two categories: those who head up to Maine, and those who go down to the Cape. We fall into the latter group, and it's almost impossible to get us to take any trips from April through November. Which only gives us the winter months to get away. Towards the end of last year, I told Eric I couldn't take it any longer. We had to go.  

During our time in Portland, we stayed at the Press Hotel, a charming property centrally located within walking distance to many great restaurants, bars, and shops. Our first stop was at Eventide, a seafood-extravaganza that made this pescatarian very happy. From there we got drinks at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club and Blyth and Burrows, which are just a few blocks away from each other (and only a couple minutes from where we stayed). Dinner was even more convenient: at Union Restaurant, on the ground level of the Press. After dinner, we walked briskly through the 19-degree air to the other side of town for some drinks at Bearded Lady's Jewel Box, a bar so charming I wish I could've bottled it up and taken the whole vibe home. The night ended around the corner at Chaval, a Spanish-themed restaurant and bar. Too full to get more than some tapas, we ordered the boquerones and a cocktail and were perfectly content. That was just our first night. The rest of the weekend was spent doing more of the same: trying bites at different spots, meeting chefs, bartenders and distillers along the way. By the end, we felt like we were a part of the community (which shows just how warm and welcoming everyone is). There will undoubtedly be a return trip, and I don't expect it'll take us as long to get back up. 

Activities like our trip to Portland are what get us through the winter months. I'm always trying to plan things for the weekends. Shows to see, restaurants to check out, friends to brunch with. It's the only way we can deal with the snow and cold. Another thing that helps me forget about the dreary weather is festive cocktails. These usually involves lots of lime and herbs (typically, mint). I know some folks (including my wonderful husband) who have major issues with cilantro, but I can't get enough of it in drinks. The fragrant citrus notes pair beautifully with the botanicals of a dry gin. A little heat (and a slight tingly/numbing effect) is provided from the Sichuan peppercorn syrup, but the creamy coconut milk keeps it mellow.

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Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food

Gin Coconut Cooler
Yield: 1 drink
Tools: cocktail shakermuddlercocktail strainer
Glassware: Rocks glass

Ingredients:
1 oz Sichuan peppercorn simple syrup (see recipe below)
1.25 oz lime juice
6-8 cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
2 oz gin
.5 oz green chartreuse
1 oz full-fat coconut milk

Directions:
Add lime juice, cilantro, and simple syrup to cocktail shaker. Muddle cilantro. Add gin, green chartreuse, and coconut milk, along with 3-4 ice cubes, and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass. Fill glass to the top with crushed ice. Garnish with cilantro.

Sichuan Peppercorn Simple Syrup
Yield: 1 cup
Tools: saucepan, strainer

Ingredients:
3  tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Add Sichuan peppercorns to the pot, turn off heat, and cover with a lid. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain Sichuan peppercorns from the pot, reserving liquid. Put the liquid back in the pan, along with the sugar. Set over medium-high heat. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Take off heat. Let the syrup cool completely before using. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food

Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) + Giveaway

Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) via A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) via A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Cocktail Artist. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own. 

When I think about bottled lemon or lime juice, I'm reminded of those little containers you get at the store filled with a liquid that mildly resembles citrus, but with a slight metallic flavor. I basically learned that bottled was not an option. Earlier this year, I heard about Cocktail Artist from my friend and Boston bartender, Tenzin Sambo... he started posting about his collaboration with them and I was immediately intrigued. I knew that he wouldn't put his name on something if it wasn't a stellar product. With that said, I remained skeptical. 

A box arrived with the lineup of Cocktail Artist products not too long ago and I immediately got started with quick, easy recipes, like a whiskey sour. I was surprised by how fresh the drinks tasted; lacking the artificial, cloyingly sweetness that comes with most bottled mixers. Now, when I'm in need of a cocktail, all it takes is a a few pours, a quick shake or stir, and I'm ready to go. 

Below I'm featuring a creation I made using the Cocktail Artist products. Of course, if you don't have a bottle of these products on hand, you can still make the drink. I went for my favorite spirit, mezcal, and utilized the great bottled citrus from their collection. I don't think I'd ever used grenadine before, but I wanted a bit more sweetness and so I poured a little on top. The color sort of reminded me of a Tequila Sunrise (it definitely does not taste like one, so don't worry)... hence the name. 

And fun news, everyone, but I'm hosting a giveaway of a set of Cocktail Artist products. One person is eligible to win bottles of the following: Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, Grenadine, Lemon Juice, Mint Syrup, Mule Mix, Manhattan Mix and Old-Fashioned Mix. Pretty much all you need to throw a really awesome party. 

Details: 
To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite cocktail is (what you like to order at a bar or mix at home).  Eligible to US residents only (sorry international friends)! Giveaway ends at 12PM EST on Friday, December 22, 2017. The winner will be notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. (Note: Be sure to fill out the e-mail field in the comment form) 

Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) via A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) via A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Sunrise/Sunset (Mezcal, Ginger and Grenadine Cocktail) via A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Sunrise/Sunset
Yield: 1 drink
Tools: cocktail shaker, muddler, cocktail strainer
Glassware: Highball

Ingredients:
2 oz mezcal
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
1" piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 3 slices
¼ oz grenadine
Mint, garnish
Crushed ice

Directions:
Add ginger, lime juice, and simple syrup to cocktail shaker. Muddle ginger. Add mezcal, along with 3-4 ice cubes and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into highball. Fill glass to the top with crushed ice. Top with grenadine and garnish with mint. Serve with a bar straw. 

Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe - www.athoughtforfood.net
Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe - www.athoughtforfood.net

There are few things I find more satisfying during these cold months than sipping a Manhattan. It's my go-to winter drink, which means we always have a bottle of Blanton's and sweet vermouth on hand. Traditionally, rye whiskey is used, but I prefer the sweetness of bourbon over the spicy notes in rye (with that said, I was recently introduced to Basil Hayden's Dark Rye, which is blended with port, and I've become a big fan).  If you've never made a Manhattan before, it's a good drink to learn (and it's easy to remember): 2 parts whiskey to 1 part sweet vermouth (often this is 2 oz and 1 oz, but if you're having a rough day, a larger pour may be necessary), a few dashes of Angostura bitters, all of which is stirred in a glass with ice and strained into a coupe. While the spirits are the most important ingredients here, we can't forget about the garnish. Now, it may be easier and cheaper to get your hands on some of those bright red maraschino cherries you used to have in your Shirley Temples when you were a kid, but please... please... invest in the good stuff (Luxardo are available at most liquor stores or online). Yes, it's $20 for a container, but when you're only having one per drink, a jar goes a long way. Believe me, it's worth the extra money.  

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe - www.athoughtforfood.net
Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe - www.athoughtforfood.net

CLASSIC MANHATTAN
Yield: 1 drink
Tools: Mixing glass, cocktail strainer
Glassware: 3.5 oz coupe

Ingredients:
2 oz Rye whiskey or Bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, garnish (Luxardo is recommended)

Directions:
Add 3-4 ice cubes to mixing glass. Add whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters and stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with cherry.