Tag Archives: cocktails

Cocktails @ Bourbon Steak DC

My love for Bourbon Steak DC is no secret, but we typically go for lunch or dinner, only spending a few minutes at the bar while waiting for our entire party to arrive. Mostly that was tactical since as some of our bunch are lightweights, indulging in a smattering of cocktails before our dinner would have them passing out before the entree arrived. So when a friend suggested heading over there for happy hour to celebrate her late mother’s birthday, it was a great reason to have some cocktails and laughs in the lounge.

I was well aware of the tempting libations from previous visits and the restaurant makes great use of social media, tempting their followers from time to time with food and drink suggestions…

I started things off with an Achilles Heel, hanger one frasier river raspberry, metaxa ouzo, fresh lime and ginger served in a salted glass with cucumber garnish. I’m normally pretty wary of ouzo, but I knew I was in good hands with Duane Sylvestre who made sure I got the most out of the drink by encouraging me to tuck into the garnish after having a sip. Who knew that a little salted cucumber could enhance one’s cocktail experience so well?

The boy prefers his drinks on the sweeter side and cooled off with a classic Planter’s Punch to start while my friend opened with her usual, a Sazerac. It was a good thing we got there fairly early as we were able to chat with the bar staff and I could get out my cocktail nerdity before the lounge got too loud and crowded.

For my second round, I went with the Wooden Chair Rickey, Bourbon Steak’s entry into 2012’s Rickey Month competition.

It had a nice blend of flavors which I confess I can’t recall exactly at the moment–perhaps too much celebrating–garnished with pickled cherries. It satisfied the requirements of the classic Rickey, it was cold, tart and fizzy with more than a hint of sweetness, or as the drink is commonly called, “air conditioning in a glass”. I always try to order a few in the warm months and I’m glad I didn’t pass this one up.

Closing out the night with a delicious burger and a Planter’s Punch of my own, it was a really fun evening with a bit of nerdy celebrity spotting, many laughs and sharing memories and stories. Something I feel you can’t always do with your friends online.

As I’ve said before, unfortunately Bourbon Steak isn’t for the everyday meal or cocktail hour, but as a special treat to yourself every now and then–I think we’re up to once or twice a season, now–you will enjoy a great afternoon or evening with impeccable service, delicious food and as I can now confirm, amazing cocktails.

The Black Pearl

So, it’s been a while, how’ve you been? I took a much-needed hiatus from food blogging for a bit while I sorted a few things out, but there will be more about that later.

I also had to take a bit of a break from… calories. The boy and I have been doing our best to watch what we eat, get a bit more exercise and try to shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, this meant that I would have to cut back on something I love: booze. No more pitchers of martinis for me! Instead enjoying one or two drinks every few nights is a more conducive habit to good fitness goals. I wouldn’t cut drinking out completely, but applying a bit of moderation didn’t hurt.

Still, it had been a while since I’d come up with anything new on the bar and I decided that the result of my next set of cocktail experiments should reflect my “mourning period” and be colored an appropriate shade of black. Thing is, it is amazingly difficult to find “black” cocktails using Google without coming up with a lot of unhelpful results. I found a lot that have the word black in the name, but not too many that are the color black after being mixed. Or worse, recipes that didn’t “cheat” by using either Blavod Black Vodka which I wasn’t in the mood to hunt down, or Black Raspberry or Cherry liqueurs, neither of which I’m a fan of.

The Black Pearl

The flavors of peach, pear, orange and pomegranate come together for a cocktail on the sweet side with a gothic black tint.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz vodka, pear infused
  • 34 oz 100% pomegranate juice
  • 12 oz peachtree schapps
  • 12 oz blue curacao

Instructions

  1. Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

This recipe produced the visual result that I was looking for with that “just a hint of sweet” undercurrent that I enjoy. I have no problem with pink drinks, but when it comes to my bar, the “girlier” the cocktail, the faster you’re hitting the floor… I tried adding spirits of other colors, but the flavors didn’t help the drink at all and while it isn’t “true” black, with the right lighting, it does the trick. The fun of it is that the longer the drink sits–as if you’d let this cocktail settle?!–the purple of the pomegranate separates from the blue curacao to create a BIV (as in ROY G.) spectrum of color flowing from the top to the bottom.

With my usual boldness and panache, I’ll go out on a limb and call The Black Pearl–named by a good friend–my signature cocktail for the season. I’m not likely to be creating too many more drinks this summer as that might be too much temptation to break the drinking limits, it’s a safe call.

Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea

One of the latest entries in the pre-mixed cocktail world, Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea1 is posing itself as the company’s summer drink for 2011 along with its usual fare of “strike a pose”-inducing rums. I’m typically not a fan of pre-mixed bottled drinks, but given the LIIT’s gateway drink status, I figured I would give it a chance.

Considering what it takes to make a Long Island Iced Tea (recipe below), I wouldn’t be inclined to make one on the fly and it certainly wouldn’t be my party drink of choice unless I was making a pitcher–or bucket–ahead of time and letting guests ladle it out themselves. I do this with sangria and it works just fine. About the only fun of making a LIIT, or any other similar concoction is that you feel like a mad scientist pouring various fluids together to make a seemingly innocent mixture that will knock you on your ass. But beyond that, it’s sort of a pain, especially to make just one. I understand why companies make the pre-mixed versions.

Long Island Iced Tea

  • 12 oz. gin
  • 12 oz. rum
  • 12 oz. tequila
  • 12 oz. vodka
  • 12 oz. triple sec
  • 12 oz. lemon juice*
  • 12 oz. simple syrup
  • Coke (or similarly cola-like soda)
  1. Add ingredients to a Highball or Collins glass with 3-4 ice cubes and stir.
  2. Top off with Coke, from a “splash” to 2 oz. or so, to taste and color.

For such a “simple” drink, there are many variations on this recipe, the above is my take on it and produced a well-mixed, nicely sweet result.

* Many recipes call for sweet & sour mix, which I can’t stand. You can usually substitute lemon juice or a 50/50 mix of lemon and lime juice to your liking.

How does the Captain Morgan mix compare to the original recipe? It’s comparable, definitely has the right color, but the taste is a little strong on citrus and caramel to emulate the cola. If you’ve ever gone to a bar offering a special on LIITs, it tastes a bit better than the ones you’d get there. It makes for a prettier drink as mine was a bit murky from the type of juice I used and a blind taste test didn’t help since the original recipe has the slight carbonation that the Captain Morgan mix doesn’t. I’ve never heard of using flat cola to make a LIIT, but after two or three servings of either version, I doubt you’d miss it… or notice… or notice much else at that point except the location of the nearest comfy seat.

We found the 1.75 liter bottles at Calvert Woodley for about $20, so from a cost perspective, if your party theme demanded LIITs and your guests weren’t of terribly discriminating taste2, go with the Captain. The cost is a lot better than trying to grab even rail versions of the required liquors and the taste is smoother than making it with really cheap booze.

A Long Island Iced Tea is known as a “sipping cocktail” rather than one that should be slammed, so with proper serving sizes and moderation/discretion, it goes a long way. Given that everyone’s take on the LIIT is a bit different, I’d say that the Captain Morgan version is more likely to be easier on the alcohol percentages than one made by hand, but your mileage may vary.

For my money, I’d stick to keeping a classically stocked bar and not trying to bog down host or bartender duties mixing up tedious cocktails3 on the fly… unless that’s your thing, of course. I don’t judge.

1 Full disclosure: I was sent a gift card and rebate for purchase and reimbursement of the beverage in addition to promotional swag… or booty, one might say.

2 I’m talking the flavored malt beverage crowd, here.

3 I realize many “craft cocktails” are also falling into the tedious category, but I think most people planning a party around cocktails have done their prep well enough so they don’t get stuck behind the bar… I hope.

The English Garden

While I love the start of Farmers Market season in DC for access to great fresh goods, I admit that one of the first things I make a beeline for is strawberries. Whether I just eat them straight, make ice cream or sorbet with them or find a way to introduce them into my cocktails, I’m generally coming home with at least 2 pints.

English Garden Just over a year ago, I got together with Stephanie of Adventures in Shaw (and now Whisked!) to come up with a seasonal cocktail using strawberries, and I figured why not stick with what works for 2011.

I first tried my strawberry puree with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, lemon and gin and it was “good” but not great. It had the essence of fruit and floral notes, but was missing something. I recall that one of our favorite drinks at Againn was the Lady MacBethrecipe here–which uses an egg white to lighten up the drink and give it a lovely foamy head that feels like a pillow on the tongue.

I’d never used an egg white in any of my cocktails before, but after a little research I felt confident enough that it would work and had a very small chance of making me sick. I don’t have egg allergies and the risk of salmonella is small. Plus, as I use raw eggs in my cooking all the time, clearly I have no fear. So I modified the recipe, added in an egg white, shook until I thought my arms would fall off and ended up with a definite winner.

English Garden

English Garden, instagram style

  • 1 12 oz. gin
  • 12 oz. strawberry puree*
  • 12 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
  • 12 oz. simple syrup
  • splash lemon juice
  • 1 large egg white (about 2 tbsp?)**
  1. Pour gin, strawberry puree, St. Germain, simple syrup and lemon juice into cocktail shaker and give a good stir to blend ingredients.
  2. Add egg white, stir, then give a good shake (no ice, yet) to mix ingredients and prepare yourself for what’s about to come. I was also advised that removing the spring from a cocktail strainer, balling it up and adding it to the shaker in this step would help. The insert from a ball whisk would likely also do.
  3. Add ice, I usually fill 2/3 of the way, and shake like your life depended on it. I found that a clear shaker was the most fun for this because you can see the mixture get really frothy. But seriously, give it a good hard shake. You aren’t trying to create a mousse or meringue, but you are trying to get that quality from the egg white to lighten the drink.
  4. Using a mesh strainer, strain into cocktail glass. As you’ve likely pulverized the ice into shards and pellets, this will keep the drink ice-free, it should also keep strawberry bits out of the drink depending on how smooth your puree is. You may find that you need to tap or shake the strainer to get everything through.

* Strawberry puree is made by chopping and hulling strawberries, add sugar to taste and stir. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then puree in blender, food processor or with immersion/stick blender. Strain and keep in fridge. (If solely for cocktails, adding a tablespoon vodka will help it last longer)

** If you have an egg allergy or just fear raw eggs, you can also use pasteurized or powdered egg whites. No promises that it will have the same effect, but may be easier if making a lot at once.

I call it an English Garden because it has the feel of having afternoon tea, with cakes and biscuits, out on a patio or in the garden… while getting nicely hammered. Unfortunately there’s already a drink called English Garden that is similar but tries to be more English than Garden. Still, I should probably find a new name for mine.

Any ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Bringing Pickles (not back) Back

A few months back there was all kinds of fuss in the cocktail world about the “pickle back”. A shot of pickle juice served after a shot of whiskey, lauded by many as a great combination. Pickle juice cocktails were soon to follow, cute but not terribly long lasting as a drinking fad.

A cosmopolitan with a pickle back that's an actual pickle. I got ALL of that beat. Way way back in the Summer of 2003, the guy I was dating had gotten me to sit down and watch Office Space for the first time ever. Everything I’d heard before had not prepared me for how little I would be impressed by the film. Sure it was funny, but as I’ve said before, my “office” movie is Nine to Five. The things I remember most from Office Space are Gary Cole and “my O face”.

After I called the Superman III scheme a few seconds before a character mentioned it, he realized the viewing was quickly going downhill, so he shook up a batch of cosmos but the only snack he had was a jar of pickles. We weren’t proud, we were short on funds and we weren’t putting on pants, so pickles it was.

Lemme tell ya, the best ideas are born of desperation! And as it so happens that today is another day when I’m not proud and happen to have a pickle handy, I’m takin’ it back to ’03! Unfortunately, supermarket jar dills work much better than the deli variety, it relies more on salty than sour, but if you’re a homemade pickle person you can easily make them to your taste. So don’t bother with pickle juice with your cocktails, think more about a pickle pairing!

Yelp DC Drinks Week Mar. 1-7

As if RAMW’s Unleashed wasn’t enough for you next week, Yelp is also getting 17 DC bars and restaurants to participate in Yelp Drinks.

Yelp Drinks flyer with details and participating venues

Who’s up for a city-wide happy hour… all day long, all week long?!

For many of us, there is nothing like unwinding with a cold beer, glass of wine or a tasty cocktail. This March, for the first time ever in DC, Yelp brings you Yelp Drinks, a city-wide opportunity to sample some tasty, alcoholic beverages at some of the places that locals love most! Participating locations will feature up to 3 adult beverages for 50% off, all week long during their business hours.

Yelp Drinks prices are good all day Monday through Sunday while supplies last. Though we’re calling this a happy hour, it’s more like a happy week – lasting for 7 straight days!

I know some of us cast a side glance at those people sitting at bars with drinks in the early daylight hours, but maybe next week they’re just taking part in the deals. Not just restricted to Happy Hour, these specials being offered all day is pretty unique. From $2.50 for a Great Lakes Amber Lager at SOVA Espresso and Wine to $14 for a Pitcher of Fusion Sangria Margaritas at Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, there’s something for everyone in this list: beers, mixed drinks, martinis, classic cocktails and perhaps a few surprises. The “100 calorie cocktails” being offered at PS7’s are intriguing to say the least.

There’s a kickoff party tonight at The Park at Fourteenth from 5-10p if you want to mingle with some fellow Yelpers–is that what they call themselves? Between Unleashed and Yelp Drinks, I’m looking forward to chasing away some of the winter doldrums with a few friends, a few bites and more than a few drinks!