I Like Mine Red
Cocktailians need not fear the grape- there is always a time and place to enjoy both!
We are pure-bred cocktail lovers here at Julibox. There is an infinite universe from which to enjoy and a cocktail for almost every mood, moment, season and reason. But we can't pretend that we don't also enjoy a hearty glass of wine as well. In fact, when our dear founder found herself in the process of producing offspring, it was the vaunted grape and all it's ruby redness she most craved (that and mounds of candy). Wine is a perfect and easy companion to many meals and it just feels so very...civilized. Like, if one were to partake of cheese and charcuterie, then it must be wine to accompany it. And every book club is anchored by wine, right? We often hear people say "oh I'm a wine person but my friend- he loves cocktails". We've never understood why one must be one thing or the other. Why can't we all be both? So this month's collection is dedicated to hybridization; bringing wine and spirits together in one place. Now, we aren't the first to do this by any means. Most people have enjoyed a wine spritzer (wine with a splash of sparkling water) or sangria (which are sprouting up in every variety) and of course the classic champagne cocktail.
But first a little wine education for our cocktailians, yes? Wine is created from fermented grapes. It can als be created from other fruits. Because grapes are so perfect in nature, no additional sugar or additives are needed to start the fermentation process. Different wines are produced by the chemical reactions each grape uniquely creates. Of course the first production of wine dates back to before biblical times, and the beverage created back then was likely far less potent and far less pleasing that what we enjoy today. There are three words you need to know when referencing wine: Varietal, Classification and Vintage. Varietal refers to the type of grapes used to create the juice (pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet etc). Classification refers to the region the wine comes from (Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Chianti, Central Valley) and many are regulated just like champagne. Lastly, Vintage refers to wines that are produced almost entirely from grapes from a single year and typically serve as flagships for unique harvest. Wines vary in color from white to rose to red and each group can range in flavors from sweet and fruity to bold and spicy. Our advice to finding one you like? Pick a color and try the range! Once you find a varietal you like and you're ready to flex your wine-snobbery, narrow in on Classification and Vintage. We trust like gin or rum you won't have a single favorite, but several.
And that, my friends is our wine education 101- after all we are cocktailians and that is about all we need to know in order to create a great wine cocktail. That, and this: White wine is often thought of for summer cocktails- their fruity character and light-bodied flavor lend themselves to... well wine spiritzers and white sangria. Red wine is a great foundation to create wine cocktails with because their hearty structure can stand up to spirits without losing themselves in the process. Darker, full-bodied varietals like Old Vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are perfect options. And ports are perfect because they bring both full flavor and sweenter to the game. Check out a few of our favorite wine cocktails we unearthed from around the country:
Fig Manhattan: Ithaca, NY
Violet Hour: Seattle WA
Meyer Lemon, Tangerine & Rosemary Punch: NYC, NY
Posted: January 15, 2014 | Permalink
Exploring the World of Rum
We aren't shy about our love affair with rum. And this month seemed as befitting as any other to exploit it.
Ah, the inevitable dog days of summer. If any month deserved a cocktail (or two, or three, or four), it would indeed be August; a month filled with the last trappings of summer's heat. And who doesn't require a refreshing beverage during these days of heavy air and slow Friday afternoons?
Which is why, after some pontification on the matter, it became painfully obvious that this was the appropriate month for an exploration of rum-the quintessential spirit of the summer.
Let us start from the beginning. Pirates. Pirates and rum have always gone hand in hand. Even the origin of the word rum can be linked as such. Some believe the name came from the word rumbullion, which means an uproar (much like how you would describe a pirate overtaking your vessel). Others say it comes from the word rummer, the type of glass seamen used when imbibing on the tumultuous ocean. We think it got it's name because it rhymes with yum. Just kidding.
Anyway, rum is made from raw sugar cane. The juice is extracted and in some cases like in Brazil, distilled to create cacacha. In most cases, however, cane juice is turned into molasses and molasses is fermented and distilled to create all sorts of delicious rums. The majority of rum is made in the Caribbean and Latin America but a few are made in Europe as well. Rum, by nature of it's sugarcane component, is inherently sweeter than most other spirits. Rums can range in color from clear to dark based on its aging. Clear, silver or white rums are aged for a year or less in stainless steel drums. They are the truest flavor you get from the distillate. Gold, Dark and Aged rums can range from 2 to12+ years of aging in oak casks, from which they draw their color and flavor nuances.
Every rum has a signature based on the island it comes from. Flavor nuances can come from the type of casks used; the humidity and temperature of the island; the distillate process (copperpot, continuous column) and of course the aging and blending. Although rum was once considered the scourge of the seas, today is is a respectable and highly lauded spirit category that is gaining in appeal and fervor for producing some of the best tasting sipping spirits around. The best way to explore rum is to go out and buy a few different brands from different islands and see if you can taste the flavor nuances yourself. And while we love sipping rum with an ice cube and a squeeze of lime, we naturally think they are best enjoyed in a cocktail. Which is why we created the RumFest Collection. It features three different rums from three different islands. It is by no means a complete exploratory, but it should get you started on your journey!Posted: August 15, 2013 | Permalink
Future of Home Living
So when we were approached by PSFK to be apart of their fabulous new exhibit, we were beyond flattered.
To be considered among the must-have items for the future home was simply beyond. I mean, of course we love ouselves and think that no modern human could possibly live without us; it was simply delightful to think that we weren't alone in our self assessment. If you haven't yet had the chance, do get thee over to 15th street to check out the latest and greatest gizmos and gadets required to navigate through our world of convenient and functional living. From FanTV (a fan favorite, pardon the pun) to Click and Grow, you can grow your own herbs for your hand selected cocktails and program your favorite TV or music, making for one effortless but highly enjoyable impromtu gathering where every one is happily feeling chic and in-the know. Happy discovering, dears!
Posted: July 22, 2013 | Permalink
Margaritas and Tequila, oh my!
It's no secret that I love Mexican food. And once I came of age, the margarita quickly fell into place.
What's not to love about a margarita. It is the happy marriage of everything fabulous about a great cocktail: a simple balance between spirit, sweet and sour. Now I'm quite sure we have all had our very personal experience with tequila...whether it was with the docile margarita (or two) or 10 shots and a horrific flight to Tampa the next morning, we can all admit to having a story to tell where this robust spirit is concerned. But once we are all done with our early exploits with this Latin spirit, it is worth noting that the margarita may very well be one of the most approachable cocktails that can hang with you throughout your transition from a budding imbiber to a mature, discerning cocktailian.
A little background n'est-ce pas? Tequila, a serious spirit from the state of Jalisco, can be grown in a few other sanctioned regions of Mexico, but it must always be made from 100% blue agave plants. Baked and mashed under a tahona wheel, the resulting liquid is then fermented and distilled. Silver or Plata tequila is aged less than two months, Reposado is aged between two months and one year, and Añejo is aged between one and three years, while the new category Extra Añejo is three years or more.
The origination of the margarita is not entirely clear. Some say it was created in Texas, others in Ensenada, and still others somewhere near Tijuana. Wherever this citrus delight was first concocted, there is no question that the margarita is the most popular tequila-based drink the US. And for good reason: it's easy to make and infinitely customizable. The classic is eternally enjoyable. But with a few fresh ingredients, you can make this cocktail bend to your every whim. Add fresh berries or nectars in the summer or fresh herbs in the spring. For a remix that will see you through the winter months, drizzle a bit of saffron or clove syrup and you've got a warm and tangy margarita that will have your counting the days til cinco de mayo.Posted: July 19, 2013 | Permalink
A Grand Old Tyme
It doesn't take much for us to find a reason to whip out a cocktail.
And this month we have the most perfect excuse: the anniversary of the first cocktail party-ever. T'was a mere 96 years ago when a superbly fashionable woman named Mrs. Julius S. Walsh invited a handful of her closest friends over for an hour of cocktails and conversation in her impeccable mansion on Lindell Boulevard in St. Louis. It was held on a Sunday at high noon. Folks arrived shortly after attending church or after a slow stroll along the avenue (in today's speak this is known as unabashed people watching). She hired a bartender who, dressed in a spanking white overcoat, whipped up cocktails on demand serving a host of beverages including the sazerac, manhattan, gin fizz, clover leaf, bourbon on the rocks and even a mint julep for a special attendee. This illustrious event became the toast of the town, inspiring a wave of similar events from coast to coast.
It is obvious that this singular event is the inspiration behind our namesake. But it is so much more than that. It was the first time that people moved the occasion of imbibing from small, secret social clubs to an openly social event for the sole purpose of drinking and conversing together. And in today's world of twitter and facebook, texting and snapchat, we can't imagine a better movement than bringing people together in real time, face to face and glass to glass to enjoy a moment of honest interaction. To revive the lost art of conversation; to exchange ideas together in flesh and blood- over a fantastic cocktail, of course. So this month, we hold our glasses high, and toast to our dear Clara: a fascinating woman who changed the way we imbibe forever. Her little soiree may not have ever been meant to do much more than pass a lazy Sunday afternoon. Whatever her goal, we are very pleased with the result. To you, Mrs. Walsh; May You Never Be Out Of Spirits!
Posted: May 24, 2013 | Permalink
The French 75: A Sweet Encounter
There may not be a better cocktail than...
Ah, the French 75. Truely one on my most favorite cocktails. I first tasted this most delictible cocktail as created by the hands of a very special mixologist, indeed- Sasha Petrovsky. In 2005, I happened upon one of the earlier speak-easy tributes in New York, Milk & Honey. After some pomp & circumstance to get in, it was strongly suggested by my then fiance, to try one. The cocktail took a good 15 minutes to come- I had almost forgotten what I ordered. But then, it was presented in such great splendor that all was forgiven. With the sounds of Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith softly playing in the background, I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to experience this pre-WWI cocktail.
A perfect balance of sweet and tart with a kiss of champagne effervescence. Sasha made his with cognac, and I have to admit, I have never considered loving any other. The French 75 in all its cognac-based glory became the signature cocktail at our Fall wedding later that year. Sasha lent us his recipe and I have to say, our guests were effusive and gleeful all evening- at least what parts they can remember. We had several friends tell us they can't recall the last time they had ever been so "happy" and they were confused how it all happened with such a dainty, flower-laden drink. You're welcome. So it was with great joy that we featured the French 75 in Collection No.6, a cocktail near and dear to my heart.
We originally had intended to only include the cognac version, but we were met with such passion by our master curator to feature the gin-version we felt compelled to feature both. And let you decide where your loyalties will lie. I've had bountiful French 75's since that fated day in New York, and I intend to have plenty more. I have come to truely appreciate the gin-based version, and find it refreshing and aromatic in a very different way than it's cognac-based twin. As you may find, each version has a place- perhaps when you are looking for something a tad more complex you'll venture toward the dark side. When you are looking for something a bit lighter and springy, you'll grin with gin. Either way you go, you can't lose, but I'd venture to say you'll have a favorite. Sante!
Posted: February 21, 2013 | Permalink
If One Must Hibernate…
In the cold depths of these winter days, you may want to hibernate. And with temperatures falling below zero, why shouldn't you?
But there's no need to be bored whilst you keep toasty inside. Bring the party home, darlings. You can have a quiet night in with a few spirits to join you. Find three good bottles of the same spirit variety, like chilly-weather bourbon, and have a tasting soirée (we like Knob Creek, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and Bulleit to start). Invite each of your guests to experience them side by side and discuss the nose and flavors you taste. Then use your Julibox arsenal of cocktail-making magnificence and mix two or three different styles of drinks. For example, repurpose your Old Fashioned recipe by using a bourbon instead of rum. Try the High Society next to an Irish Buck (1.5oz Bourbon, a squeeze of lime juice and top with ginger ale). Mix and match the bourbons and cocktails to see which combinations you enjoy best. All bourbons have their own unique nuances and flavor profiles, so you'll find you love some straight and others mixed. Pour half cocktails so everyone can taste (and so you can get through them all without falling off of your couch).
Don't forget to eat! Try a few tasty vittles to complement your cocktail journey; we love a good scotch egg or wintery butternut squash crostini! Salud, friends!
Posted: January 22, 2013 | Permalink
Collection No.5 is Coming!
Who doesn't like a bit of mystery to spice things up a bit?
Every month, our curation team pours over what cocktails to include in our next collection. Be it seasonal, thematic, innovative or just a plain favorite, we always have that nagging question in our minds: will the people LOVE it? This month, we've decided to keep you in a bit of suspense on what you will be enjoying in a few short days. Some people like the element of surprise; others like knowing what lies ahead. We like a bit of both. So just to give you a sneak peek: Cocktail No. 1 is a twist on a delightful classic. It features two winter soothing flavors that will make you smile. Be sure to take a good whiff before you sip. It will only enhance the experience. Cocktail No. 2 has deep rich flavors and showcases a bit of innovation inspired by a throwback. How's that for showing the slightest bit of our knickers? Not good enough? Well stay tuned and keep an eye of for the post man. He's got the key to all your questions!Posted: January 15, 2013 | Permalink
Collection No. 3 on Sale NOW!
Make haste my friends, we've released a limited supply of Collection No. 3 Great Grains (with Chopin Vodka) for individual purchase. Check out our store to get one before they vanish!
There's not much better than a throw back- whether it's music, movies, clothes... and in this case cocktails! We're re-releasing our Collection No. 3 in its original state- with our friends Chopin. For those who have been loyal subscribers, you may recall that our little collection was wrought with challenges produced by that nasty Superstorm Sandy. Her antics caused havoc for pretty much everyone on the East coast. As such, our original collection, which was to include Chopin Vodka, had to ship without our dear ones (but did include two other tasty and worthy vodkas).
And now that our minature friends have been found and the world has been put right (mostly), we felt we simply had to re-release the Great Grains Collection the way we originally intended. But you'll have to put a move on it if you want to grab one before they sell out. Remember, these collections ship off schedule from our monthly subscriptions. So if you missed out on ordering for January, here's a great way to imbibe with the rest of us this month!
Cheers!Posted: January 09, 2013 | Permalink
Happy New Year, Darlings!
We're celebrating with a cocktail, of course. Though it's called Midnight Milk Punch, it's almost a perfect breakfast cocktail, and we know you may need a bit of hair of the dog after a glorious night of celebrating.
Just swap brandy for rum, and we'll make the waffles.
Midnight Milk Punch
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 2 pinches cinnamon, plus more for garnish
• 1 heaping tablespoon of caramel sauce
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1.5 ounces brandy
1. In a small saucepan over a medium flame, heat milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, caramel sauce, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir on and off to help dissolve the caramel. Keep on the heat for just a few minutes so you don’t scald the milk. Once the caramel is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let cool a few minutes.
2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the brandy and pour over the slightly cooled milk mixture. Cover and shake, shake, shake until a bit frothy. Pour into small glasses (about 4 ounces) and add an extra pinch of cinnamon to each for garnish.
A Good Excuse.
It’s been a long time. And for that, my friends I apologize.
I would love to say my cocktailing rants went on hiatus due to some healthy globe trotting to find new and fantastic cocktails to introduce you to. But instead it has been for another reason altogether. One I do hope you find acceptable. You see, whilst I have been busy establishing this cocktail journey called Julibox, I have also been developing the fourth addition to my family. And he arrived just after Labor Day. So it has been busy times, indeed. And since I am old hat at this whole baby business and therefore above reproach, I think those of you who have had a few (babies, that is) will appreciate my commitment to your cocktail journey. That’s right, YOUR journey.
And so I began my research with the utmost haste. Where was my first outing after my nine-month lockdown? Why, Gallow Green, of course! You see, I had just found out about my baking bun when I went to see Sleep No More, and I saw it fitting to revisit that haunting (and exhausting) experience when I received my proverbial freedom papers. Only this time, I got to kick my heels up and enjoy a few fine libations by the hands of the positively talented David Wondrich.
After identifying the unassuming building, we were led inside to a rickety elevator that felt like perhaps we weren’t going to make it to our destination. When the doors opened, we climbed a few more stairs and were greeted with the most lovely rooftop garden bathed in the retreating sunlight of a perfect Indian summer’s eve (sorry, something about the McKittrick makes me all flowery and verbose). We wove our way to a cozy table for four and proceeded to check out the menu.
Throughout the evening we watched who appeared to the evening’s host and hostess (among many other colorful characters) flit amongst the guests. And one of our tablemates was whisked off on an “adventure” that upon returning from, she wished perhaps she hadn’t looked so inviting. There was laughter and merriment and outrageously good cocktails. And this, I say, felt like the perfect welcome back to my cocktail adventures and the most perfect way to say goodbye to those warm New York suh-hummerrrr…..niiiiiiiiiiiights! (period incorrect, but who could resist?)
Here’s what I enjoyed best (and don’t be surprised if it makes its way into a Julibox Collection). For whenever you’re in need of a mid-winter pick me up…and because at the McKittrick, time does stand still...
Pimm’s Other Cup
1 oz Banks White Rum
4 oz Fentimen’s Victorian Lemonade
a dash or three of Peychauds
cucumber for garnish
The Importance of Being Iced Pt. 2
So we know dilution plays an important role in cocktails, but let's delve a little deeper, shall we?
Let’s explore how proper dilution is achieved and why the different kinds of ice are important to creating a great cocktail.
First off: Process.
There are two main forms of achieving dilution in cocktails; shaking and stirring. Knowing how these processes work in relation to the ice and your drink will be a large part of the battle in achieving the desired flavor.
Note that most drinks reach between 30-50% dilution level, providing a balance between the ice-cold water, spirits, and other ingredients. Very few cocktails, such as an Old Fashioned, rely simply on ice to provide dilution over a slow period of time. For most cocktails, this process should be quick to make our drink come to life, which means either shaking it or stirring it to create a more elegant and transparent effect.
As a general rule, we shake cocktails that have citrus in them, and stir those that use only spirited ingredients. As "Lesson 1" mentioned, surface area plays a role in the rate of dilution, meaning the smaller the ice and the more of it, the higher the rate of dilution. However, for our home-bar purposes, we can most often make a great tasting cocktail from a wide range of ice, whether it be a single large 2" cube or several ice-tray cubes. It's just a matter of understanding the physics behind the process and making minor adjustments when necessary.
Second: Understanding Different Uses of Ice.
After shaking or stirring a cocktail, ice plays another important role in a drink: keeping it cold.
It is said that a drink starts to "die" after it hits the glass and is presented at the bar. Simply stated, a cocktail is best when first poured. This is for two reasons: (1) it starts to get warmer and farther away from its ideal drinking temperature and (2) if there is ice in the glass, it starts to over-dilute the drink within a matter of minutes, greatly diminishing its enjoyment.
So, we have to stay acutely aware how we're keeping a drink cold and not over-dilluted. Drinks that are served up (martinis, daiquiris, gimlets, etc.) are not poured over ice; instead, we chill the glass to prolong the proper temperature. However, drinks served in rocks or highball glasses are typically best when strained from the ice used to prepare them and poured over fresh ice. Often, large cubes or spheres are placed in stirred whiskey drinks while long spears are used in a Collins. These large-format ice cubes minimize the surface area exposed to the liquid, thus keeping the drinks cold and ensuring proper dilution. Purchasing or creating your own forms for freezing large-format ice at home is possible, and will easily improve the quality of your cocktails.
Crushed-ice cocktails (Mint Juleps, tiki cocktails) use many tiny ice pebbles to keep the drink very cold and refreshing. These cocktails are typically composed using a mixing technique called "swizzling,” which marries the ingredients but allows most of the dilution take place after it’s been served. As these drinks rose in popularity in the 1800s—especially the Sherry Cobbler—straws also gained popularity to avoid the unsightly avalanche of ice pebbles caused when drinking from the side of a glass. Of course, Scotsman crushed ice-machines aren’t terribly practical at home, so I recommend hand cracking ice cubes with the back of a spoon, or crushing lots of ice at once with a Lewis bag and wooden mallet to increase the surface area for these style cocktails.
Ultimately, knowing how a drink should taste when properly diluted is the key to taking your drinking experience to a new level. Though quality ice is important, the valuable lesson is learning to employ good technique and knowing how to take the imperfect ice you may have at home to make perfectly delicious cocktails.
Enjoy!Posted: August 31, 2012 | Permalink
The Importance of Being Iced
Have you ever gone out for a drink, had a cocktail nirvana moment, then rushed home
to see if you could self-replicate? Did the results come out a loose interpretation of a fleeting memory?
That's happened to me too.
So what is it about drinks at the bar versus drinks at home? You buy the same spirits, you get the freshest fruit. You buy the fancy muddler and the high-class shaker and still 7 out of 10. Why? The reason can often be simple. And it is likely due to the first molecule you ever learned about in that dreaded high school chemistry class. That’s right. Good ole H2O, often known in cocktail application as ice.
Typically when people think ice and cocktails, they think I need ice to make this drink cold. But that’s just part of the equation. While true- ice does make things cold- it has a whole other purpose that is often overlooked by home cocktailians. Until now.
Lesson One begins here:
Let’s begin with the easy part. Ice is made of water, yes? So when it melts, it dilutes the drink. Now, before you start thinking ugh, horrible watered down cocktails, understand dilution is an important and lovely thing when it comes to a well made cocktail. It is the key to cocktail magic. It can help bring out aromas and flavors you may not have noticed before and help balance all of the other ingredients perfectly. It can also extend the life of a cocktail, preventing it from becoming insipid or just plain un-enjoyable. Dilution is often the difference between an OK cocktail and a wide-eyed-moment-of-bliss cocktail.
So can cocktail perfection be had merely through the proper use of ice? For the point of today's blog, yes. It can be the secret sauce that gets your drink from a 7.0 to a 9.0 (let us save the 10's for the bartenders). Unfortunately, there is no indicator light for when you’ve achieved the perfect level of dilution in any cocktail. But there are a few handy tips that can improve your sipping results dramatically.
Tip One: Make the good stuff. You spent all that money on top shelf ingredients, your ice shouldn’t play second fiddle. Take the time to make some ice from purified water. Less impurities means the harder the ice will freeze and the longer it will last in your cup. Plus you can avoid those times when your tap water brings its own unintentional flavor to the party.
Tip Two: Make it the old fashioned way. In the old days, cocktails were revolutionized by the “Ice King”, Frederic Tudor. This industrial pioneer decided cocktails (and every other drink) would be infinitely more enjoyable cold. And hence he harvested huge blocks of ice from local ponds and delivered them to various venues. Bartenders would hack off large chucks to cool their drinks, which up until then, were served at room temperature. Why was that so special? Aside from new to the world cold drinks; two words. Surface area. The less surface area the ice has, the slower it melts, achieving measured dilution and helping to bring your drink one step closer to perfection. No, I’m not suggesting going out to a buy a 12x12 chuck of ice and a sturdy ice pick. But if you see one of those ice ball molds or extra large ice cube trays that make only 4 cubes, you may want to invest.
Tip Three: Look at your ice. If you are making a stirred drink, you’ll want to keep stirring the drink until the edges of your ice cubes go from sharp to round. If you are making a shaken cocktail, you’ll want to shake until the outside of the shaker becomes nice and frosty (so that’s why bartenders prefer a metal shaker!).
Ok, so we understand ice is for cooling and diluting. But purified mega-chucks of ice can’t be the key that unlocks all cocktail success, can it? Of course not. That was just the tip of the… right.
So what about crushed ice and shaved ice and --for the really advanced-- ice spears and Lewis bags?
That my friends, is where Lesson One ends and Lesson Two begins…Posted: August 23, 2012 | Permalink
Swizzle and Sip
Who doesn’t welcome the summer solstice? It ushers in a feeling of freedom and anticipation fostered since grade school.
When warmer days meant the inevitable end of a school year and a summer full of adventures to be had.
I feel the exact same way as an adult, only my anticipations are less about what camp I may have conned my parents into sending me to, or which pool would have the hottest lifeguards. Instead, my eager anticipation centers on what cocktail will be my summer flight of fancy. Will it be a spritzer or a martini? A punch or a new fangled margarita? In the past, my wandering eye has led me to sure bets like the Caipirinha or a Hemmingway Daiquiri. But this summer, I thought I’d explore the world of punches.
Now I’m no stranger to punch drinks. In my youth there was the Hairy Buffalo, which many would argue vehemently is not a punch drink (tell that to my Midwest college buddies). As a more refined adult, this has been mercifully replaced with a slew of rum punches of varying flavors and inspirations. But I couldn’t help but wonder if there are other punches out there. A few underrepresented elixirs that perhaps do not have a sordid history with a scraggly bearded man with a wooden leg. And in the midst of my wondering, I stumbled upon a story about Barbadian punch.
What caught my eye was two fold; it hails from Barbados, my husband’s ancestral homeland; and it features- oddly enough- gin. And we all know gin is the spirit of summer. The spirit used in this age-old recipe was not the gin we know today, but rather its grandfather, Holland gin or genever. It is mixed in much the same way countless other punches are, with a foundation of citrus, sugar and water. Only this recipe gets slightly more specific, calling for coconut water and Demerara sugar (Demarara sugar is a large grain, unrefined sweetener made from sugar cane).
Sounds delightful. So I looked to my bar to see what I could see. A quite random bottle of genever (given as a gift last Christmas) and a stack of handmade swizzle sticks, courtesy from a recent trip to St Lucia Distillers. Finally, I get to use a swizzle stick (and no, I do not mean the plastic kind with so-and-so brand perched on top).
Prior to said trip, I had no idea swizzling was a method, let alone an official cocktail tool. So I set about swizzling and sipping and sipping and swizzling. And after a few rounds of perfecting this pale punch, I give it a stamp of approval and pass it along to you with a high recommendation (and a nod to Imbibe magazine for the timely discovery)…
2 oz genever
2 oz coconut water
½ oz lime juice
½ oz demerara syrup (2:1)
2 dashes Angostora bitters
And the Gold Goes to…
I don’t know about you, but all this 2012 Olympic gallantry has me reaching for a bottle of Gin...
and heading over to my local fish monger to try my hand at fish and chips!
There’s something about the Olympic Games that makes us feel a little more patriotic than we normally do. Suddenly, wearing red, white and blue well past the Fourth of July is a totally cool thing to do. And let’s just admit we feel a little bit more “us” and a little less “them” just for these next two weeks. Perhaps we should embrace this thing called the global community beyond gymnastics, swimming and track, and look further to the cherished nuggets that this years’ Olympic host city can offer our palates.
Let us begin with Gin. It all started as a medicinal tonic called Genever that was provided to the British troops as “Dutch courage” (aka liquid courage) in Holland during the Thirty Years war. The troops took a special liking to this juniper-flavored elixir and brought it back home with them en masse. In an attempt to bolster the English economy and the quality of gin, the government promoted Gin’s unfettered manufacture, which shockingly led to over production, widespread drunkenness and the entrance of what we call “swill” or poor quality hooch. It quickly became more popular than beer, which ironically was more expensive than a slug of Gin. Many years later, a new policy was put in place that helped improve the quality, price and respectability of the spirit. And the rest is history.
There are several styles of gin available today with a strong heritage harkening back to the days of yore. Genever, considered the forefather of gin, is a Dutch style that is sweet, aromatic, lower proof and made for sipping chilled and neat. Old Tom, scarcely found today, is also one of the original versions with a slightly sweet taste. London Dry emerged as the most popular, crafted with the newly minted continuous pot still and gently enhanced with various flavors. It was coinedLondon Dry primarily because the majority of the distilleries that made it were located in the city of London. Finally, Plymouth is a full-bodied fruity and aromatic style that is only made by one distillery in the world (they won the Survivor Outlast: Gin Edition as several outlying port cities created their own styles of Gin once London Dry became the behemoth).
Now, on to the viddles. Fish & Chips are a British national institution. What do you think of when someone says “Britian”: Big Ben, Harrods, The Queen, The Underground, Becks and… fish & chips! Its origin also dates back to the 17th century, but they weren’t the inseparable couple they are today. While chips do not originate in England, (that would be the French) there are claims that fried fish does. In any case, the English do take credit for marrying them together. Whether it was the North or the South is still a hotly debated topic to this day. But once they were wed in edible matrimony, you could find fish and chips on virtually every corner, consumed as a homestyle favorite, an end of the week treat or a late light gnosh. Long considered a commoner’s food since nourishing the masses during WWI, not much has changed today including the newspaper and brown paper bag it is served in. What’s the magic combination? Cod. King Edward potatoes. Lard. Salt & Vinegar. Side of mushy peas.
So while we find ourselves swooning over the countless stories of heroism and athletic prowess, and wondering why we didn’t hang in there a bit longer during those pee wee gymnastics classes, let us raise our glasses to London. Cheers to the Brits, for one crunchy plate of deliciousness and some fantastic gin to wash it all down.
Posted: July 31, 2012 | Permalink
Just Add Ice: Allow Me To Introduce You To Julibox
First of all, I’d like to thank you for visiting our site!
So what was I doing when I thought up this service? Enjoying a cocktail.
What is Julibox? Why, it is a guided journey into the world of cocktails and spirits, led by a diverse and creative curation team of bartenders and mixologists from around the country. And it all happens in the comfort of your own home, at your own countertop/bar/kitchen table, with your own group of friends. All you need is a sense of adventure, some ice, a few glasses and perhaps a shaker wouldn’t hurt. Discover a new cocktail. Discover a classic. Learn what a “pony” is. Wow your friends. Impress yourself. But most of all, enjoy the magic of cocktails made by your newly minted skills in the comfort of your own home.
Now you’re asking how does all this magic happen, exactly? Allow me. After years of cocktailing around the country (and a few choice cities abroad) and working in the industry myself, I’ve had more than a fair share of libations and met a gaggle of truly awesome and talented bartenders in my time. I decided to “box” up all of those experiences by creating Julibox and bring it over to your house. Curation is where it all begins. The Julibox Curators are a meticulously selected group of bartenders and mixologists who I’ve met along my cocktail journeys; a mix of trophy-toting mixology champions, self-taught mavericks and white-hot rising stars with enough creativity to shame Picasso (if he were a bartender, ever). Every month, our Curation team scours the country for a few great cocktails worthy of admission into a Julibox. Cocktails can come from a host of inspirations: the hottest new trend for the season; an incredibly delicious but little known base spirit; the best selling potion at the “it” hotspot in the “it” city; an imaginative original creation; or a personal fav that just begs for sharing. Each month, your Julibox will include the recipe for two different cocktails, uniquely “Juli-ized” for easy preparation at home and enough ingredients to make two of each- four cocktails in all. And as if that weren’t enough, the curator du jour will even share their story as to why each cocktail is so worthy of your time and palate. When you receive your Julibox, hop online and watch a step-by-step vignette on how to make each cocktail we send you. It’s almost like having a personal session with one of the country’s best mixologists, right in your home, every month. That’s what you get when you order a Julibox. And that’s called cocktail magic.
Ok, so you like cocktails and you’re feeling the magic of the box. But are you really? Allow me to illuminate. How many times have you gone to a swanky bar and ordered the same drink you've been ordering since 1994 because you are unfamiliar with all those fancy names and brands and you don't want to have cocktail buyers remorse? A fair amount, n’est-ce pas? Or how about this one: you grab a “featured recipe” from one of your favorite foodzie/spirits websites, head out to your local store with your laundry list of ingredients and the shiny anticipation of that first sip. You get it home, muddle through the prep and you find yourself wishing you had just grabbed a bottle of your house rum and a liter of soda. But now you’re out $120 and you have no idea how to repurpose that bottle of crème de violette. Been there? Done that? Me too. Don't live life cocktail repressed!! The magic of Julibox isn’t just in the curation of some truly awesome libations and access to some pretty fab creators. It’s also in the trial. Demo #2: You try cocktail A. It’s cool. 3 stars. Try cocktail B. Love, love, love. This is cocktail nirvana! And made by my very own hand! #wonderfulworldofjulibox. And NOW you can go out and buy that big ol’ bottle and know it’s probably not going to last you through the weekend—I mean month.
Now you get it.
So. Now, go get it.Posted: July 23, 2012 | Permalink
What’s in a name?
Seemingly unrelated backstory: It all began with a pale purple martini...
A few summers ago I went to visit the new W Hotel in Hoboken. I had a few hours left over on the nanny clock so I grabbed my best buddy aka the hubby, and we planted ourselves at an outdoor table overlooking the Hudson River and the west side of Manhattan. I perused the cocktail list and landed upon the Violette. I took a sip and my summer cocktail was born. This was summer 2009. The summer of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had”, Blackeyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow”, and Lady Gaga’s “my my my my Poker Face”. It was also the summer of… pause for a moment of silence…the King of Pop’s death.
After enjoying a few, I immediately thought: Cocktail party! At our house! With Violette martinis! Yes! Yes, we must! Our friend and owner of Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette (the star of the show) shared the recipe with me. And I in turn shared said cocktail with 6 other friends over amuse-bouche of chilean seabass and mango salsa on crispy flatbread, while listening to a carefully selected medley of Telefone Tev Aviv, Bebel Gilberto, Shae Fiol and Kruder & Dorfmeister peppered with- you guessed it– Michael Jackson (RIP). And did I wow? Yes, I did. And my little cocktail gathering was lauded amongst my dear friends for many summers to come.
Fast forward to today’s topic at hand. Why the name Julibox? I began my search for a name once the idea of Julibox had crystallized. After cycling through several names like sipproof and littleboozebox, I took to the internet in search of the origins of the cocktail. There are many, many myths and only one consistent theme: no one really knows (or agrees) on its origin. But then I read a nugget about the first cocktail party, which was hosted in St Louis, Missouri in 1917 by a wonderful woman named Mrs. Julius S. Walsh. Why wonderful, you ask? Because she invited 50 of her closest friends to her home at NOON on a SUNDAY for COCKTAILS (and lunch was served thereafter). And I thought now THAT’S the kind of lady I’d want to hang out with!! A: Cocktails. B: Before noon. C: On a Sunday. How utterly scandalous! And her story doesn’t end there. She was also known to have hosted eggnog parties (they were spiked) and a “baby party” where everyone dressed up as toddlers and drank whisky from baby bottles. Tres Chic. But it was her cocktail party in 1917 that spread like wild fire across the nation as the new “it” social event and landed her in the history books. She single handedly revolutionized the drinking experience from a bustling Midwestern city. Now that’s something to aspire to. Hence the name, Julibox.
So no, my name is not Julie. But I am from the Midwest.Posted: July 19, 2012 | Permalink