Holiday Ginger Beer

Another idea for a DIY Holiday Gift with a relatively short turnaround time.

Why not spice up your Ginger Beer with some holiday zest?

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

10 oz Ginger, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 Orange
4 Allspice Berries, crushed
5 Cloves, crushed
1 small stick Ceylon Cinnamon, crushed

1 1/2 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

32 oz Water
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast

METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Over low heat, dissolve sugar in 24oz water with spices and orange zest. Add ginger to blender bowl with 16 oz water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam. Makes a half gallon and a bit more.

Shopping List

For a trip to Scarlet Sage:

Wintergreen Leaf
Wild Cherry Bark
Tonka Bean
Sarsaparilla (Jamaican)
Sassafras Bark of Root
Licorice Root
Birch Bark
Burdock Root
Dandelion Root
Cardamom Pods (Green)
Cardamom Pods (Black)
Spruce Oil

Huh, when I smelled these individually, I couldn’t quite imagine how they fit in to Root Beer. Now that I smell them together, they kind of make sense.

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.

Dozier Cooler

It’s been a while since I last tortured you with a culinarily inspired original cocktail with at least one difficult or nearly impossible to obtain ingredient.

Since this is a sort of “variation” on the Bull-Dog Cocktail, I thought I’d put it up.

I was paging through the February, 2008, Gourmet magazine. You know, looking for recipes that wouldn’t involve a million steps, a million dollars, or a trip to the gourmet grocery store. I ran across a dessert topping (or is it a floor wax?) which involved Clementines in a Spiced Ginger Syrup.

I had clementines and all the spices required.

But, then, I thought, hey! if that’s not a drink, I don’t know what is.

So in the original recipe we’ve got a syrup spiced with ginger, star anise, and cardamom. Sliced Clementines. And a pomegranate seed garnish.

How to parse that out and translate it into drink-i-ness.

The easiest way would be to simply make the syrup as the recipe calls for, pick a spirit, add clementine juice, and away you go.

Ha, we do not take the easy way! (Actually, we do take the easy way, as there is no pesky pantry work involved here.)

Dozier Cooler*

4 Cardamom Pods
2 oz Pisco (I used Alto del Carmen)
Grenadine, hopefully homemade
1 oz Clementine Juice (or Mandarin)
1/8 oz Clandestine La Bleu Absinthe** (or another not too wormwoody Blanche)
Bundaberg Ginger Beer (or other spicy ginger beer or ale)
Cardamom Leaf (Yeah, I know. I’m probably one of three people in North America with a Cardamom plant. You can order one of your own from: Mountain Valley Growers. Failing Cardamom, use Thai Basil. Failing Thai Basil, Mint.)

Crush 4 cardamom pods and combine with 2 oz Pisco in a mixing glass. (Ok, we’ve got our cardamom.) After at least an half an hour, or whenever you finish making dinner, cover the bottom of a collins glass with grenadine. (Ok, we’ve got our pomegranate.) In a mixing tin, combine the Pisco, Clementine Juice, (Uh, duh, clementines,) and the Absinthe (OK, we’ve got our Anise.) Ice and shake. Add ice cubes to the highball glass and strain the Pisco mixture in. Top up the glass with ginger ale. (Ta da! We’ve got ginger!) Spank a cardamom leaf and add it to the glass. Serve with a straw and/or swizzle.

I think it was pretty true to the original Gourmet recipe and Mrs. Underhill gave it the thumbs up.

*According to this website, the Clementine, “…was created at the beginning of the 20th Century in Algeria by a French missionary by the name of ClĂ©ment Dozier, hence the name Clementine.” Hence the name Dozier Cooler.

**The original recipe is supposedly based on the spices used in Algerian sweets. If you really wanted to stick to North Africa/Middle East, you could use Lebanese Arak instead of Absinthe.