New Year’s Eve presents the perfect opportunity to break out a little sparkling wine and create some festive cocktails. The folks at Serious Eats had the right idea and created a pretty tasty looking roundup of sparkly cocktails. Here at the Westervin’s, we decided to take their Sparkling Bourbon Pear cocktail and bump up the winter (it’s not that cold down here in Arkansas, so we need something to remind us it’s winter, right?) with some cranberries. Despite the maple syrup, which is added to the purée, this isn’t an overly sweet cocktail. The lemon and cranberry really give it a nice tang, which along with the champagne makes for an easy drinking sipper.
For the Purée:
2 bartlett pears, cored and sliced into eighths
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice, from two lemons
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Large handful of cranberries
1 tsp clementine zest
1/2 tsp grapefruit zest
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
For the Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer:
1 cup roasted pear puree
2 cups WL Weller Special, or Bourbon of your choice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2oz Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer
Cranberries and ground clove to garnish
Preheat oven to 400F.
Arrange sliced pears on parchment lined baking sheet.
Combine cranberries, 1oz water, citrus zest, and ginger in a small ramekin.
Place pears and cranberries in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are a bit caramelized.
Allow to cool and then place in blender with 2.5oz of lemon juice and a dash of ground cloves. Purée well.
Combine 1 cup of purée with 2 cups of bourbon and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. This is your mixer.
To create your cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice, add 2oz of your mixer, and fill with champagne. Garnish with cranberries and ground cloves.
Sometimes, when winter feels relentless, you just need a tropical drink. Here’s our current favorite tiki cocktail. It’s really easy to make as long as you have a blender.
8oz Coconut Cream
7oz Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)
2oz of fresh lime juice
Add all of that to a blender with ice, blend, and serve. It makes quite a bit, so we usually halve the recipe for two drinks.
In no time, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical isle. Also, check out that awesome coconut mug that Sarah got me for Christmas. If you’d like one of your own, have a look at retroplanet.com.
The Pegu Club was a gentelman’s club for British officers in Burma, which was set up in the late 1800’s. The signature drink of the club is the now classic Pegu Club Cocktail, which for one reason or another I had never made. But with the weather heating up, it seemed like a good time to give it a go. If you’re a gin fan, I’d suggest you try it as well.
Pegu Club Cocktail
2 oz London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Orange Curaçao
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 dash Angostura
1 dash orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime twist.
A few things to note here. First, see that awesome glass? We picked up four of these for a dollar each at Deals, and these things are super sturdy. If you are in need of some fancy-pants pint glasses, run to your nearest Deals and buy ’em up. Second, within the glass is the Añejo Highball from Dale DeGroff, which just so happens to be one of the cocktails we’ll have at our upcoming wedding. We decided to keep the bar fairly small (since we’ll have a lot of beer) and have a suggested cocktail for each major spirit. The other consideration was that I wanted all of the suggested cocktails to be really straightforward. No shaking, no straining, just stirring. Got to keep people moving and put cocktail novices at ease. If you can measure liquids, you can stir up our cocktails. So just what is in this Añejo Highball, you ask?
Start with a half glass of ice
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau)
1.5 oz aged rum (El Dorado 5yr)
fill with ginger ale
stir and enjoy with a slice or two of lime!
After you’ve agitated the rum allspice concoction for 10 days, you’ll need to strain all of that allspice out. It’s probably easiest to run it all through a coffee filter. As with most homemade libations that you have to strain, make sure you press on the spent allspice to extract as much flavor as possible. Once you have your strained allspice rum, you’ll need to make a 1:1 simple syrup with brown sugar (simmer a 1:1 mixture of sugar to water in a small pan until it is clear and not cloudy). Let the syrup cool off, combine it with rum, and pour it into a bottle. It will probably taste pretty rough at first, so you’ll want to let it sit around for awhile. Paul Clarke recommends 30 days or so.
There you have it! Allspice dram. A pretty straightforward liqueur that is perfect for the season, and considering it’s use in tiki drinks, it’s probably pretty good in warmer months, too. All you really need to make it yourself is time. Of course you can always buy St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram at your better equipped liquor store. In any case, you may be wondering what kind of cocktail this could possibly be used in? Well, luckily for you, I’ve got just the thing.
Chicago Winter Sidecar
1.5oz Bourbon (preferably something higher than 80 proof)
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz pimento dram
1tsp honey (adjust to taste)
2 dashes of coffee bitters
Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass (champagne saucer). Garnish with a lemon twist and maybe a few allspice berries. If you feel a bit squeamish about the raw egg white, the drink will work perfectly fine with out it–you’ll just loose a bit of texture. This recipe builds upon the Black River Sidecar.
The Chicago Winter Sidecar is really good. I think it’s one of two whiskey-based drinks that Sarah actually liked (the other being Paul McGee’s Gristmill at The Whistler), both of which have a dose of allspice dram. So if you don’t happen to be very fond of whiskey or find yourself hanging out with someone who ‘hates the stuff,’ you might suggest a cocktail with a little bit of dram: a miracle cure for the whiskey averse.
So yesterday I mentioned that I needed quite a bit of allspice, and I know you all had some trouble sleeping because you kept thinking, “What could he possibly be up to?” Well, here’s you answer: allspice (or pimento, if you want to be old-school) dram. It was a common ingredient in many tiki drinks, and along with the revival of both classic and tiki cocktails, it’s enjoying a bit of a comeback. There is even a commercial variety on the market: St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. But who needs to buy a finished product when you can make it yourself? Not me! Continue reading →