Apple Amaro

As you may recall, I was making a bit of an effort in January to drink as little as possible.

However, the Apple Ginger Tea Toddy was kind of awesome.

While I was drinking it the second, or third, time, I thought to myself, “Self, you know this isn’t too far from my Hercules recipe. What if I made a chilled bitter beverage with apple juice instead of wine?”

And why do people who don’t drink, often end up as an afterthought at bars, with kind of shit choices?

It’s like vegetarian’s in restaurants, there’s no reason vegetarian food can’t be as delicious, or even more delicious, than food with meat, if you put a little effort and thought into it. And salt, salt, for goodness sake, and seasoning herbs.

Why can’t people who don’t drink have interesting bitter aperitif or digestiv beverages?

Apple Amaro

Apple Amaro

500ml Apple Juice
250ml Gingerzizer Ginger Apple Beverage (or Apple Juice, a little honey, and some crushed ginger root)
Peel 1 Tangelo (hey, it’s what we have, pick any orange relative in your fridge.)
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
6 Cloves, Crushed
1 tsp Coriander Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Fennel Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Gentian Root
1 tsp Cinchona Bark
1 scant tsp Angelica Root
1 scant tsp Calamus Root
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Chinese Black Tea
?2 TBSP Cider or White Wine Vinegar

METHOD: Bring all ingredients other than tea and vinegar to a simmer. Turn off heat, add tea and steep for 15 mins. Taste and add vinegar to bring acidity up to the level of a young red wine. Chill.

I initially made it without the sugar or vinegar, but without the sugar, the bitterness was quite off putting. Without the vinegar, it lacked impact on the palate.

I had the Angelica & Calamus for another project, common ingredients in old vermouth recipes and sometimes Gin. I think the Angelica might have been a mistake, it has a floral, curry thing going on that is a little off putting in combination with the other spices. I’d probably leave both of them out next time.

On the whole, it is an interesting first effort. Ideally, I want to figure out a way to make a Sanbitter Syrup, as replacement for that discontinued product. It’s a start and the Apple Amaro is pretty darn tasty with a little Rye Whiskey. Don’t tell the vegetarians.

Baladin “Ginger”

Baladin – GINGER SODA This ginger soda contains no colorings or preservatives. It’s ingredients are simply water, natural brown sugar, lemon juice, carbon dioxide and the unmistakable infusion of herbs, zests of bitter and sweet oranges from Garagno PGI, spices and vanilla which gives it its distinctive aroma and flavor.

We were just lamenting the loss of Sanbitter, one of the more similar beverages might be Baladin “Ginger”. I have no idea why it is called “Ginger”, it tastes more like Aperol and Soda. Maybe a bit more grapefruit, than Aperol’s Orange, but pretty darn similar.

I think “Garagno PGI” might be a mis-spelling/abbreviation of Gargano, Puglia.

Baladin Ginger

Sanbitter & Bitter Lemon

Sanbitter & Bitter Lemon

Recently, I was contacted by a friend about participating in a home bar crawl to several bartenders’ houses.

Rock Star Bartenders’ Home Setups, Grant Marek

**Cough**Yes, the name of the article is **ahem** inaccurate, at least in my case!

I drew the lucky straw and they started at my house at 11 AM. Made Ramos Fizzes and served coffee and pastries.

The second stop was at Josh Harris’ apartment in the Mission.

He served us a drink made with Sanbitter and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon, about 50/50, on cracked ice, which totally hit the spot on that ridiculously, unseasonably, hot November day.

I’ve spent most of the rest of the last few months trying to track down some Sanbitter, I enjoyed that non-alcoholic aperitif so much, but not had much luck.

This month, a month of ‘experimenting with sobriety’, I really wanted to track them down, but BevMo! was out stock on both Fever Tree Bitter Lemon and Sanbitter.

I remembered seeing some bottles at Tower Market, before it became Molly Stone’s, but they didn’t really turn over the inventory with the new management, so I had some hope it would still be there. Score one for slow inventory turn over.

Fever Tree Bitter Lemon is exactly that, a sort of cross between lemon soda and tonic water. One of my favorites of Fever Tree’s flavors.

Sanbitter is sort of a non-alcoholic campari-soda. It’s maybe a bit more cherry-ish, than Campari, but similar in flavor with a nice bitter aftertaste.

Right up my alley.

Combining them is a great idea, Thanks Josh! I’m told, they should have this combo at the new and excellent Trick Dog, if you don’t feel like tracking down your own carton of Sanbitter.*

*Update! Apparently, the Sanbitter product has been discontinued, so the Sanbitter & Bitter Lemon Highball will NOT be on the menu at Trickdog. They still have 3 excellent non-alcoholic drinks, so go anyway!

Apple Ginger Tea Toddy

“Say there Erik, all these non-alcoholic drinks and beverages are awesome, but have you noticed the weather outside? It is F-ing C.O.L.D.”

(Or, well, as cold as it ever gets in San Francisco, which is to say, not very cold.)

“How about a seasonally appropriate drink?”

OK, then, here’s a spiced cider toddy, enlivened with a little smoky Lapsang Souchong tea.

(Sorry for the sloppy pour, you might want to remove the peels before straining into a glass.)

Apple Ginger Tea Toddy
(for two)

1 Cup Apple Juice.
1 Cup Ginger People GingerGizer (An extra spicy Ginger, Lemon, and Honey Beverage.)
1 Whole Star Anise.
1 Cinnamon Stick, plus extra for garnish.
2 Whole Cloves, plus a few extra reserved for garnishes.
3 Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed.
Peel 1/2 Orange (or other citrus, I used tangerine.)
1 Lemon Peel, plus an extra reserved for each garnish.
1 teaspoon Lapsang Souchong Tea (Lapsang Souchong is kind of the Islay Scotch or Mezcal of tea. It is smoke dried over burning pinewood fires, giving it a distinct ‘campfire’ flavor. Like Islay Malt and Mezcal, it tends to provoke a strong positive or negative response among people who try it.)

METHOD:
To create garnish, stud a lemon peel with whole cloves for each serving.
Bring all Apple Juice, GingerGizer, and spices to a simmer on stove or in the microwave. Turn off heat and add Tea. Cover and brew for 4 minutes. Strain into a warmed glasses and garnish with clove studded lemon peels and cinnamon sticks.

You could add booze, but with the heat from the ginger and astringency from the tea, you might be happy with this virgin Toddy without any booze at all.

AppleGingerTeaToddy

Baladin Spuma Nera

Spuma Nera

Baladin SPUMA NERA SODA Younger drinkers will certainly find “unusual” the taste of this drink and may wonder what it reminds them of. If they know that Spuma Nera, or “dark” as it was once called, could be considered the “mother” of chinotto, then they would know where they have already tasted it. In making this drink, we have gone back to the traditional recipe, which forsees – as the basis for the mertyle-leaf orange drink chinotto – the use of the pink part of the rhubarb root as well as an orange zest infususion. Of course, no colorings or preservatives are added.

Baladin Spuma Nera reminds me most of a non-alcoholic Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and soda, aka a non-alcoholic Americano. Quite tasty, with a light sweetness and bitterness. If I were in the business of making soft drinks, this is the type of thing I would aim for.

Had these first at the Mario Batali Italian food Wonderland, Eataly, in New York. Have since discovered that Avedano’s carries it.