We had dinner at the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant on 2nd Avenue. As usual the food, service and Ukrainian beer were great. I saw something on the menu I’d never noticed before – Horse Radish Infused Vodka. Served chilled and straight in a shot glass with a pickle garnish, it was cold and crisp and just a great opener for the meal we had. If you want to try this and can’t get to the East Village, you’re going to need fresh horse radish root.
Just two simple ingredients – vodka and fresh horse radish.
Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate enough horse radish to fill 1/4 cup.
Add the grated horse radish to a liter of vodka and store for 48 hours. Taste it and if it isn’t strong enough give it another 24 hours. Strain out the horse radish and serve very cold.
Sloppy Joe’s Bar opened in Havana in the 1930s. It was frequented by Earnest Hemingway, Errol Flynn, Alec Guinness and many other celebrities. I recently came across their cocktail recipe book online and tried a few. They’re kind of fruity and tropical which makes them perfect on a hot day.
Sloppy Joe’s Cocktails
1 ½ oz. white rum
1 ½ oz. pineapple juice
1 tsp. Grenadine
1 tsp. Luxardo
Shake with ice and serve in a flute.
Juice of ½ lime
1 oz. white rum
1 oz. Italian vermouth
1 oz. Apple Jack
1 tsp. grenadine
Shake with ice and serve in a cocktail glass.
Juice on 1 lemon
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. green crème de menthe
1 egg white
1 ½ oz. gin
Shake with ice and serve in a flute. Typically, a “fizz” is topped off with some club soda, but not this one.
I watched a bartender make one of these and asked him what was in it. It’s basically gin on the rocks with a very theatrical presentation. He said it was called “Fanny’s Sweet Rhythm” and he didn’t know why. It’s pretty and tastes good so give it a try.
Muddle the mint and orange bitters in a rocks glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice, pour in the gin and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and sprig of mint.
Invert a half lime so that the peel faces in, place on top of the crushed ice and pour Green Chartreuse into shell. Light the Chartreuse, let it burn for 30 seconds to warm the oils in the lime skin, then tip into the drink.
Coquito is similar to eggnog but without the egg, it’s a Puerto Rican holiday drink that tastes like coconut candy. Family recipes vary a bit but this one is pretty standard. If you want to serve it to kids, replace the rum with whole milk and add some non-alcoholic rum extract.
1 can cream of coconut (15 ounce)
1 can evaporated milk (12 ounce)
1 can of coconut milk (13 ½ ounce)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups white rum
Grated nutmeg for an optional garnish
Pour the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Heat on medium and stir until it well blended and starts to simmer. Remove from heat, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Add in the rum and chill. Serve cold or on the rocks with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Wet the rim of a coupe glass with lemon juice and dip it into sugar sprinkled on a plate. Shake off excess and set it aside. Put the lemon juice, brandy, and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake. Strain into the sugared glass.
2 oz. Bourbon
1oz. sweet vermouth
Lemon twist garnish
Pour the Bourbon, Campari, and vermouth into a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with lemon twist.
1 ½ oz. white rum
¾ oz. orange Cointreau or curaçao
¾ oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ oz. orzata or orgeat
½ oz. dark rum
Lime wheel and mint sprig for garnish
Add the white rum, Cointreau, lime juice and orzata to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. Float the dark rum over the top. Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.
The Egg Cream started as a New York thing about a hundred years ago. Lately it’s become more widely known but in case you’re not familiar with it, it’s a New York candy store fountain drink that doesn’t contain eggs or cream. It’s made with some milk, chocolate syrup (or sometimes vanilla), and topped off with seltzer to give it a frothy head There are lots of theories of why its called an Egg Cream and I’ll leave you to Google that.
Egg Cream aficionados say the only correct way to make one is with Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup and seltzer from either a soda fountain or a seltzer syphon. I’m not so strict. If you can’t get U-Bet, Bosco is a good substitute.
Bottled seltzer is fine and better than club soda which contains some salty minerals.
The ingredients are simple:
2 oz. whole milk
1 1/2 oz. chocolate syrup
Start with the milk, add the syrup and stir, then fizz it with the seltzer. If you want a white head instead of brown, just change the order – milk, seltzer then add the syrup and stir.
Alec Guinness in ‘Our Man in Havana’ at his local bar where he drank quite a few Daiquiris.
The Daiquiri was invented in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Instead of calling it something bland like a ‘rum sour’ it was named after a local beach, the Daiquiri.
The Classic Daiquiri
The original and simplest –
2 ounces light rum
1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
3/4 ounce simple syrup*
* 1 cup of sugar & 1 cup of water – heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear.
Add the rum, lime juice and syrup to a shaker with ice. This is a classic so serve it in a classic Nick and Nora cocktail glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime. This can easily become a frozen daiquiri by making it in a blender that will slush the ice.
Hemingway Daiquiri aka Papa Doble
Invented by Ernest Hemmingway when he lived in Havana –
2 ounces light rum
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with lime.
Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
You don’t need a slush machine for this one –
2 oz dark rum
¾ oz Key Lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
A few strawberries
6 ice cubes
Add the rum, lime juice, syrup, strawberries, and ice to a blender. Mix until you get a slushy consistency. Pour into a coupe and garnish with a sprig of mint.
A subtle hint of banana –
2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounce banana liqueur
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: banana slice
Add the rum, banana liqueur, lime juice and syrup into a shaker with ice. No bananas here except for the liqueur and garnish. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a banana slice. You can easily make this a frozen banana daiquiri by making it in a blender with the addition of about a ¼ of a sliced banana.
“The Order of Chartreuse was more than 500 years old when, in 1605, at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, a small suburb of Paris, the monks received a gift from Duc Francois Hannibal d’ Estrées, Marshal of King’s Henri IV artillery . . . “
A friend unexpectedly stopped by for dinner. I took him shopping with me to get something to cook when he noticed pomegranates at the grocery store. He mentioned that he’d seen them before but never tried one.
I said, “What? How could you live in New York and never have had a pomegranate? Let’s get a couple and I’ll show you how good they are.”
How to cut and remove the seeds –
Cut the skin around the top and remove it.
Make 5 shallow cuts along the sides and pull apart into sections.
Break up the seeds into a bowl.
Fill the bowl with water so the membrane floats and can be removed.
Ready to eat.
Pomegranate Juice –
On the street in Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast.
Put the seeds in a blender with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and blend for a few minutes.
Strain the mixture, squeezing the seeds in a sieve.
Ready to drink.
Pomegranate Liqueur –
After we’d made my Aunt Lena’s Coffee Sport and it turned out so well, Bridget and I got adventurous and decided to try making pomegranate liqueur. I went to the nearest Korean grocer. In NY, Korean grocer means general merchandise and very fresh and varied fruit and vegetables. I picked out 12 pomegranates and went to the cashier. As I started to unload them from the basket to the counter, a couple got on line behind me.
When they saw what I was buying the woman asked, “What could you possibly do with all of those pomegranates?”
Her husband looked embarrassed and so did she. “I apologize. Those words just fell out of my mouth.”
“There’s no need to apologize. And since you asked, my wife and I make some old Italian cordial recipes and this is for one we one we made up.”
The cashier who knew I shopped there regularly said, “These are very expensive. And you’re buying so many.”
“Maybe but that will turn into a bottle of something that will be worth it.”
The woman who apologized asked, “Why can’t you just use bottled pomegranate juice?”
Maybe I looked a little indignant when I said, “Bottled juice just won’t be a good as fresh. We squeeze the juice, strain, then simmer it until it’s thickened a bit. Then we mix it with simple syrup and grain alcohol, and it’s done. That’s it, a simple cordial and ready to drink.”
Hot chocolate season is coming up. There’s an article in L’Italo Americano that will make you want some Italian hot chocolate now.
ITALIAN CURIOSITIES: THE TRUE STORY OF ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE
“. . . The fall is the season of the queen of sweet delicacies, the creamiest of treats, the most decadent of the cold season’s offerings: la cioccolata calda. If you tried it, you know that Italian hot chocolate is on a different level: there is nothing else in the world that can compare to it, at least when it comes to hot cocoa drinks. You may find others that are nice, that taste delicious and that do hit the spot if you need a chocolate fix, but no Italian will in earnest say any of those are better than our beloved cioccolata calda. . .”