Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MxMo XI: Winter Warmers Round-up

Our Winter Warmers Mixology Monday was followed by a Tuesday morning snowstorm. Though three inches doesn't change a thing in places like Boston or Portland, Me., it means a day off here in the Northwest. Even 24 hours after the last snowflake, many local establishments are still closed. The weather outside makes us thirst for warmth, so we'll try as many recipes as we can before the last icicle melts. Ambitious, perhaps, but we're inspired. Here's a full round-up:

Phil Varner, who posted a Lamb Martini recipe to kick off his blog of the same name, posted two drinks for this month's MxMo. Both full of fruit, he serves up the Autumneric and the Bitter Pear Winter. Kaiser Penguin struggled not to set anything aflame, and we're glad he didn't, because this Negroni looks delish. Sarah Klino debates the finer points of The Perfect Manhattan with her husband Brian until they come to a recipe they agree on. Isn't compromise tasty?

For Old Times' Sake
Ben Requena at GarnishBar remembers his childhood in Germany where Glühwein is a traditional treat. George Sinclair, Thinking Bartender from London, researches, revives and redefines The Bishop, which dates back to the 1820s. Jimmy of Jimmy's Cocktail Hour studies Oxford University Hot Rum Punch, delivering recipes for either a single serving or your next party. Seamus over at Bunnyhugs was inspired by a Jack London short story and the Queen Mum herself when he decides to try gin and milk. Hot gin? We'll have to try this one for sure.

For Your Sweet Tooth
Eje, host of the Spirits & Cocktails board at eGullet Forums, participates with a step-by-step guide to homemade Hot Chocolate (served with or without a nip of bourbon). And even though it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere, Haalo from Cook (Almos) Anything at Least Once plays along with a Cognac, Clove and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate recipe. Anita & Cameron, working together on Married…with Dinner, develop a tequila-Mexican chocolate drink, La Chispa—literally "spark" in Spanish.

For Two Kinds of Buzz
Our first coffee submission comes to us from last month's gracious host, Brenda at The Spirit World with a classic Spanish Coffee. Brenda posts a second recipe on her blog Culinary Fool: The Beautiful, which we hope she enjoyed after the work of that Spanish Coffee. Darcy at The Art of Drink offers up a Canadian Coffee complete with homemade maple whipped cream. Matt at My Bar Your Bar makes Monk's Coffee in Tampa, proving that even those enjoying 70-degree weather can spike coffee with the best of them. Michael from A Dash of Bitters takes the opportunity to make his first Irish Coffee at home for the occasion. Espressophile gets in the MxMo game with the Caffe Afal, and provides both alcohol-free and Calvados variations. Finally, Bo of Made Studio comments with his modern take on a coffee cocktail: the Simpatico.

For a Nightcap
"C" over at Slakethirst philosophizes on the essence of the Hot Whiskey Sling and even offers fashion advice for enjoying his ultimate winter warmer. If you have a hard time sleeping after reading this marathon post, Katie Loeb, eGullet member, shares her grown up sleep aid with a Caramel Apple Toddy. Sweet dreams, indeed. For those with dancing dreams, we submit a Sugarplum Brandy Cider.

Last, but certainly not least, our MxMo founder, Paul Clarke, endeavors a Rum Flip with "deeply weird" though fascinating results. We hope the heat is back on in Paul's office so he doesn't have to gulp down another rum flip tonight. With all the great choices listed above, we know Paul will have plenty to choose from to get cozy.

Thanks to everyone who participated this month, we here at Imbibe look forward to the event every month and it was our pleasure to host. February's MxMo is still in need of a host, please be sure to contact Paul if you're interested in hosting this virtual cocktail party on your own blog in the future.

Monday, January 15, 2007

MxMo XI: Sugarplum Brandy Cider

It's a chilly 35 degrees outside in Portland, Ore. today—we have to hand it to Mother Nature for setting the mood for this month's Winter Warmers theme. The following original recipe combines the seasonal flavor of apples and spice with the sweetness of summer plums. It's easy to prepare for a group, and the cider-soaked citrus sections burst with flavor!

Imbibe's Sugarplum Brandy Cider

4 1/2 to 6 oz. plum brandy (we like local distiller, Clear Creek's version)
24 oz. unsweetened apple cider
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
6-9 whole cloves
3-4 cinnamon sticks

Combine ingredients in a large pot and warm on low heat for at least 30 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't boil. Ladle into cups, straining out spices or leaving them in, according to personal taste. Garnish with some of the cider-soaked orange sections and, optionally, a sugarplum (traditionally, a small round or disc-shaped candy). Serves six.

Thanks to everyone who posted at this Mixology Monday. Looking at other recipes, there are plenty of warming options to tide us over until spring, but we always welcome more! Check back in a couple of days for the full round-up.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Asked, Doc Reveals

Imbibe readers may remember Dr. Cocktail’s challenge in his Rototo column in the Nov/Dec issue. He tantalizingly offered up a sumptuous cold-weather cocktail of his own creation, but pulled it back at the last second because of a long unavailable ingredient. He would reveal the recipe, he said, plus the formula to make the unavailable ingredient, if readers requested it—as they have!

Here’s Doc:
This is a drink I named the Addams’ Apple in honor of Chas Addams, creator of the Addams’ Family and author of some of the funniest (and darkest) cartoons ever to appear in the New Yorker. It’s a holiday drink. Thus my humor also trends to the dark side. But here’s the deal: it tastes like a cold cocktail of hot apple pie.

2 oz. Applejack
1 oz. apple cider
1/2 oz. pimento dram
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker loaded with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and if you want to do it up right, garnish with an apple slice that’s been soaking in brandy (Calvados is best) for a week, but no more. Drink the cocktail, chew on the apple.

Here, though, is the worm in the apple: It’s been a long time since pimento dram has been readily available in the U.S. What is pimento dram? It’s a Jamaican liqueur (both homemade and commercial) with a rum base flavored with the pimento berry. Hmm. Pimento berry. Is that the red wadded-up thing stuffed into a pickled cocktail olive? Nope, that’s something entirely (and blessedly) different. The pimento berry was encountered by seafaring British explorers in the 18th century. The natives called it “pimiento” (anglicized to pimento.) Once they tasted it, however, the English gave it a new name based on its flavor. They called it “allspice” because it seemed to encapsulate the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—all it one. It remains a favorite in Jamaica, but the current sole producer, Wray & Nephew, steadfastly will not import it to the States. They are missing out on a good bet though, especially in the winter.

So, what is to be done? Well, a couple of other serious (and estimable) doctors of the cocktail have developed formulas that re-create this genuinely superb cordial. I advised, and both Chuck Taggart of gumbopages.com and the team of Chad Solomon and Christy Pope (celebrated New York City bartenders and owners of Cuff & Buttons Cocktail Catering) have devised two turnkey pimento dram formulas. Remember, it was originally a homemade “folk” liqueur, so nuances of flavor varied anyway.

Here are the two formulae:

Chuck’s Jamaican Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur) No. 3
2-1/4 cups 151-proof Demerara rum
1/2 cup whole dried allspice berries, crushed
3 cups water
1-1/2 lb. brown sugar

Crush the allspice berries in a mortar and place in a 1-liter jar with a rubber seal. Cover with the rum and allow to steep for at least 10 days, agitating the maceration daily.

Pour through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquor as you can, then pour the strained liquor maceration through another strainer lined with a coffee filter (this’ll take a while).

Make a simple syrup with the water and brown sugar; heat until dissolved, then allow to cool. When cool, combine with the rum maceration and allow to age for at least one month. Decant and enjoy.

This will almost fill two 750 ml. bottles (we use the ones they sell fizzy French lemonade in, because of that nifty resealing rubber-lined ceramic stopper), so you can cut the recipe in half to makes less, unless you want to give some away.

Chad & Christy’s Pimento Dram
2 cups Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum
1/2 cup Myer’s Dark Jamaican Rum
1/2 cup whole allspice berries
3 cups water
1 1/2 lbs. granulated white sugar
1 oz. Angostura bitters
1 oz. burnt sugar

Crush the allspice berries with a mortar and place in a glass jar. Cover with the rum and seal tightly. Let the mixture steep for 14 days, agitating daily. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (like a chinois) pressing on the solids to extract as much of the spiced rum as you can. Pour the liquid again through a coffee filter.

Make a 1:1 simple syrup using your sugar and water, using gentle heat and stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool, then add it to the infused rum along with the Angostura and the burnt sugar. Bottle the mixture in two clean/sterilized 750 ml. bottles and let it rest for 1 month. After that, go crazy with it.

Both of these versions are simply excellent, and though they are preparation-intensive, the resulting liqueur is incredibly versatile and well worth the effort.

Let me know how you like the Addams’ Apple!

This is Doc, returning you now to your regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mixology Monday XI Is Upon Us

With the holidays over (we love 'em, but phew!), it's time for our turn to host Mixology Monday next week, January 15. What's MxMo, you ask? Cocktail Chronicles founder and regular Imbibe contributor Paul Clarke created the monthly web event as a way for amateur and professional mixologists to share recipes online; it's also a great foundation for a tasting party. Our chosen theme this month is Winter Warmers, inspired by our current issue.

Now, we know it's not cold everywhere, but we'd love to hear about your favorite cozy concoctions. What do you mix up when the weather is frightfully cold or you're just looking for something comforting to sip? Your submission can be an old favorite or a new creation, as long as you credit the source if it's not an original.

Here's how it works: post your recipe by Monday, January 15 and then comment on this post with the link or e-mail it to us at recipes at imbibemagazine dot com with Mixology Monday in the subject line. We'll post a roundup of the recipes within a day or two. Whether you're a MxMo veteran or a newbie, we welcome your submissions!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Oops!: A Correction

No, we weren't being clever in our current issue ("25 Great Winter Beers," January/February) when we said Delirium Noel -- one of our favorite Belgian beers -- is not your typical Italian beer. We accidentally printed a description of Italy's delicious Le Baladin Noel where the Delirium Noel write-up should have been, and didn't catch it before it was printed. Here's what the Delirium Noel entry should have said:

Delirium Noel (Huyghe Brewery)
Belgium, www.delirium.be
"Amber in color, with flavors of gingerbread and nutmeg and a frothy mouthfeel make this an accessible beer (besides having the best holiday label around). Bring this conversation starter to your next party."--Craig Wathen, owner of The City Beer Store in San Francisco.

We extend our sincere apologies to all fellow lovers of Belgian (and Italian!) beers, and also to Craig, for misdirecting his quote. Check out the latest issue, on newsstands now, for more great winter beers, as well as artisan gins, sustainable coffees, rye whiskies, a recipe for making your own Maraschino cherries, and more.
(Photo courtesy wallywine.com)