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Friends With Good Taste
We recently had a first-class fall cocktail made by a friend of ours who is a fanatic about drinks and aperitifs, both with spirits and without. I must confess that when he and his wife have come over to our house to create cocktails that accompany our selections of Cuisinette horsesdoovers, they bring their own bar fixins’ on a trolley. We are so fortunate in our friends! This couple even has a room dedicated to Tiki Bars, which is probably better decorated and stocked than most genuine Tiki Bars. It is all too wonderful to behold.
A Daisy By Any Other Name
But back to this cocktail that has the incongruous name of Calvados Daisy. Cocktail Monkey, however, informed me that the term daisy in mixology means that it is a sour cocktail modified by a liqueur. As the site further explains:
…you will start with two parts spirit, one part sweet, and one part sour.The difference here is that the spirit is divided between a base spirit and a liqueur. The ratio is 3:1 spirit to liqueur. In most cases that is 1 ½ ounces of your base spirit and ½ ounce of liqueur.The amount of sugar or syrup you add will vary depending on the sweetness of the liqueur you’re adding.
It is perfect for Thanksgiving, much better than the sometimes overly sweet mulled cider. Flaming the cinnamon stick can be accomplished over a burner or, as in this photo, with a kitchen blow torch. The honey syrup in the recipe is simply one part honey to one part hot water, which is then stirred until combined. The charred cinnamon stick gives you a subtle smoky and spicy aroma as you finish the drink. Boker’s Bitters, which I had never heard of, has a long history going back to 1828, with conflicting printed recipes on how to create it. It has an aroma and flavor of coffee and chocolate mixed with cassia, cardamom and bitter orange peel.
- 2 oz Calvados
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz honey syrup
- 1/2 oz Pear Liqueur
- 1 dash Boker's Bitters
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice.
- Shake all ingredients briefly to chill.
- Strain into a double rocks glass with a large ice cube or crushed ice.
- Garnish with a smoking cinnamon stick.
Distilled, But Dry
Our Travelling Bartender also introduced us to Seedlip, made by a delightfully quirky British company that specializes in flavored distilled waters. We keep a bottle or two in the fridge to make thirst quenchers both for our friends who want something non-alcoholic as well as for ourselves. Their cocktails are inventive and tasty. Locally, Seedlip is carried by a new business with the clever name of Umbrella Dry Drinks, solely featuring non-alcoholic beverages.
Seedlip’s founder, Ben Branson, actually got start-up funds from Diageo, a global spirits distributor that owns Johnny Walker, Tanqueray and Guinness. If you are curious about the beautiful labels and the graphics on his website, both he and his father have been respected brand designers. But it still comes down to his perfecting these unusual (and somewhat savory, rather than sweet) distilled waters. Branson was inspired by a book written by Dr. John French in 1651, in which he chronicled his experiments in distilled waters with herbs as medical treatments.
Branson refined his experiments to three signature blends. The first is Garden, which I find to be the most vegetal – a blend featuring peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, hops and thyme. The second, titled Spice, is a distillation of allspice, green cardamom, cascarilla, grapefruit and lemon.The third is called Grove and features aromas and flavors of bitter orange, blood orange, lemon grass, lemon, mandarin and ginger – it remains my favorite.The Seedlip site offers a thoughtfully curated selection of drinks made with all three distilled waters. In fact, you should try Seedlip’s CosNOpolitan for yourself – 2oz Seedlip Grove 42, 1 oz organic cranberry juice, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz simple syrup – all shaken not stirred with ice, garnished with an orange peel in a coupe glass. Highly satisfactory. And not a speck of alcohol.
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After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.
Drinks sound fantastic; that Tiki room is EVERYTHING!!
I know! And they have collected the “decor” themselves, over time. The Old diver “helmet” is the bomb! Let us know if you make the Calvados Daisy too!
I’m glad that there are finally good substitutes for booze on the market that aren’t sickly sweet. This makes 3 Alexandria businesses you’ve recommended that I need to visit (this, the fishmonger and the new knife sharpener). I’ve been using Beanstalk Farm for herbs and micro greens recently and have been very happy withe quality and service; they’re in Herndon. Do you have any thoughts on a good source for dried mushrooms? They turned into a staple during lockdown.
I have read about Beanstalk Farm and it’s good to hear a positive review from you as I had wanted to look into what they were doing. It seems like a good possibility for this winter too.I do not have a great source for dried mushrooms locally. The best I have had has been from Plantin. Check to see who has the best pricing and selection, perhaps The French Farm, but there may be a local reseller.