Tag Archives: cocktails

Greenmarket Cocktails, Take Two

Cherries, Gooseberries and Chamomile

We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.

But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.

I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.

Gooseberries

This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.

The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.

Summer In Manhattan Cocktail

First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)

Cherries, Gooseberries, and a Cocktail

Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)

Next up: gooseberries!

You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?

They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.

Gooseberry Cocktail

I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.

I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.

When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.

All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.

Gooseberry Cocktail

The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.

I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)

Finally, the chamomile.

The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.

I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.

Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.

If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.

We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.

– Laura

5 Comments

Filed under Drink, New York

Cocktails, Fresh from the Market

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil

On Wednesday night, Ryan and I decided to make a few cocktails with some ingredients from my office.

Yes, you read that right: my office. Luckily for me, Hearst Tower’s Cafe 57 hosts a greenmarket every Wednesday, featuring produce from local New York and New Jersey farmers.

Fresh Greenmarket Lavender

As you may know, I go crazy for the greenmarket as it is, so having one in the cafeteria of a 46-story office building is particularly exciting to me!

That’s why when I saw fresh lavender, basil and strawberries, I scooped them up right away! I admittedly didn’t know what I would do with my new treasures, but as I was sitting at my desk, the scent of lavender wafting into my nostrils, my mind wandered to cocktails.

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil from the Greenmarket

And then I knew: cocktails with ingredients fresh from the farmers themselves! Yum!

Ryan was obviously a willing partner, so we got to work on Wednesday evening, mixing and imbibing.

Live Basil Gimlet Cocktail

First up: a live basil gimlet, from the New York Times‘ Summer Drinks feature.

For this drink, from Scott Beattie’s Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Calif., we muddled five large basil leaves with 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounces of freshly-squeezed lime juice, and a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

Shake, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf. Delish!

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

Our second concoction was a creation of our own. We named it the Deutsch 75—a riff on the classic French 75, one of Ryan’s all-time favorite drinks.

While the classic French 75 is topped with champagne, we grabbed a sweet Riesling instead. Note that your choice of Riesling doesn’t need to be expensive—a bottle in the $10 range is just perfect for this refreshing summer tipple.

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

To try our Deutsch 75, take five or six fresh strawberries and muddle with 2 ounces of gin, 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar, and a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice.

After shaking and straining, pour into a chilled champagne flute and top with Riesling. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and another strawberry in the glass, if you wish.

Our berries were from Berried Treasures, located in Cooks Falls, New York. These berries were the small, sweet variety, rather than the large, mass-farmed kind, so I definitely recommend seeking out berries from a local farmer, if at all possible. You’ll taste the difference.

Purple Pilot Lavender Cocktail

Lastly, we modified a little bit (actually, a lot!) on one of our classic favorites, the Aviation. We’ve named our new creation the Purple Pilot.

For this drink, I chopped up a handful of the lovely lavender blossoms you see above, allowing them to release their aromas and oils. I muddled these blooms with 2 ounces of gin, an ounce of simple syrup, a 1/2 ounce of Crème Yvette, and 3/4 ounce of lemon juice.

(As a side note, Crème Yvette is a very old spirit that just recently returned to the market; it can be tough to find. You can order it from Astor Wines & Spirits, or, if you can’t find it, you can substitute Crème de Violette.)

After shaking and straining these ingredients in a Collins glass, I topped with soda and garnished with some fresh lavender blossoms. By the way, don’t you love our metal spoon straw? Our favorite bar, Little Branch, sells them for just $3 each.

Each drink was delicious, but yet simple enough to let our fresh ingredients shine through. I can’t wait to see what next week’s market brings. (I’ve got my eye on you, watermelon radishes!)

By the way, are you following us on Twitter yet? We’d love to get to know you.

– Laura

15 Comments

Filed under Drink, New York

Inspired, Fresh, and Vibrant: Eleven Madison Park

The Dining Room at Eleven Madison Park

About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to do something special for Ryan. I mean, it seemed only fair considering that it was him who treated me to tasting menus at both Per Se and wd~50 less than a week apart.

My immediate restaurant of choice was Eleven Madison Park, the winner of this year’s Outstanding Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation. We had a tremendous dinner there prior, so I couldn’t imagine it being much better, but we’ve both known for awhile that a return visit was in order.

From the moment we stepped through the door last night and were greeted by Stephanie, the fabulous maître d’, until the moment we left, we were treated to the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had—both personally and gastronomically—in my fine dining life. Yes, even better than the do-no-wrong Per Se (which was fantastic in its own right).

We were first treated to their signature gougères—a delightfully airy choux pastry, made with cheese. These were served piping hot out of the oven and presented their own enticing aroma the second they were sat upon our table.

Madison Park Smash at Eleven Madison Park

From there, we each ordered our first cocktail. I ordered the Monferrato, a balanced blend of Cocchi Americano (similar to Lillet Blanc, and a substitute for the now-extinct Kina Lillet), Triple Sec, Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, and champagne. Ryan tried the Madison Park Smash, a potent drink of cognac, Royal Combier, lemon, turbinado sugar, Angostura bitters and mint.

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do the tasting menu rather than the four-course prix fixe, but we weren’t sure what exactly we wanted to drink. After speaking with a sommelier, we elected to do wine pairings, but with a twist—we wanted beer and cocktails as appropriate too, and we were also thrilled to try more unique wines, rather than traditional pairings.

From there, we were off!

Chilled Pea Soup at Eleven Madison Park

The cavalcade of amuse-bouche begin immediately, opening with a chilled pea soup with buttermilk snow a ham crisp.

Fluke at Eleven Madison Park

Scallop Ceviche at Eleven Madison Park

The next amuse was a fluke, served on a crispy rice cake with basil and Meyer lemon, accompanied by a scallop ceviche with tangerine. The scallop, which was beautifully presented in a scallop shell, was so good that I briefly had to close my eyes and simply absorb the overwhelming wash of flavors.

But no time to waste—our third amuse was waiting! The third amuse was a goat cheese lollipop with beets, served with goat cheese croquettes with watercress and chive. The last time at Eleven Madison, we absolutely adored our heirloom tomato lollipop, but dare I say that the goat cheese and beet version was even better. (Is that even possible?)

And with that, the real fun began, as our first course, a sea urchin cappuccino with crab and apple, made its way out of the kitchen, along with our first beverage pairing.

The cappuccino, carrot-orange in color from the urchin, was served in a white porcelain dish, modeled after a true sea urchin’s shell. The dish’s top layer—an ethereal foam—was atop sweet slivers of king crab and apple. This dish was paired with a French pear cider, Domaine Christian Drouin Poire Cider, from Pays d’Auge, France, near Normandy.

Goat Cheese and Sturgeon at Eleven Madison Park

Our seafood theme continued with the second course: smoked sturgeon and caviar. This dish was served in two variations. The first, a dainty fingerling potato, was topped with crème fraiche, caviar, a bit of preserved Meyer lemon and a few chive flowers for a pop of color.

The second variation, one that Eleven Madison Park is well-known for, was a smoked sturgeon sabayon, served in an eggshell with the top so very delicately carved out. After devouring the smooth sabayon, a layer of pungent, chatreuse chive oil awaited me in the bottom of the egg shell.

The sommelier got a little funky (in a good way!) with our wine pairing for this course. To accompany, we were a Gurrutxaga Txakoli de Bizkaia, a white wine from Spain’s Basque region. As explained to us, the soil where these grapes grow is extremely salty, giving the wine minerality and even a little bit of fizz.

Foie Gras Terrine at Eleven Madison Park

The next course was perhaps the one that Ryan—let’s call him the Foie Gras Freak—was waiting for all night. A foie gras terrine with strawberries, celery and balsamic. We’re no stranger to unique foie preparations—in fact, one of our all time favorites in wd~50’s passionfruit-filled foie with dehydrated Chinese celery—so I knew from the moment this dish touched the table that it would be a hit.

Of course, it was, but perhaps even more intriguing to both of us was the wine it was paired with. Ryan is a huge Bordeaux fan, particularly a good Sauternes, so imagine our surprise when we were poured a Kracher Zweigelt Beerenauslese from Burgenland in Austria.

This wine, almost honey-like in both taste and texture, was virtually indistinguishable from a good Sauternes except for one thing: its color. The Kracher is a pale ruby, rather than honey-toned. (It’s also, upon research, much more wallet-friendly than the bottle of Château d’Yquem that you’ve been coveting.)

Scallop at Eleven Madison Park

Next, a scallop, perfectly seared with crayfish, smoked potato puree and black garlic. This was served with my favorite wine of the night, a 2006 Domaine Bruno Colin La Boudriotte Premier Cru from the Chassagne-Montrachet, an appellation in Burgundy, France.

I’m going to pause here for a minute to talk about the service. The people are one of many things that make Eleven Madison Park such a special restaurant and once again, they didn’t disappoint. There is never any pretension, snobbishness or haughtiness in the dining room. The staff is jovial, genuine and knowledgeable. They walk a tremendously fine line of being there just when you need them without hovering. It’s truly remarkable.

In fact, Ryan and I even chuckled as they would seemingly appear out of nowhere to pull out our table whenever either one of us needed to scoot by the use the restroom. Not once did we manage to trick them! (They must have eyes in the backs of their heads.)

After the scallop, we were quite full, as expected, but we powered through. Fine dining can be painful.

Broccoli at Eleven Madison Park

Anyway, the next course was variations of broccoli with parmesan, lemon and lardo. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable (how did they know?) and this dish reminded me exactly why. Perfectly-formed cylinders of broccoli stems were served along roasted stems and leaves, all topped with a broccoli jus. The pairing, Dugges Nevermind the Bollox India Pale Ale, from Mölndal, Sweden, was superb too.

Eggplant at Eleven Madison Park

Vegetables starred in the next course too, as a trim slice of roasted eggplant was served alongside bulgur and licorice. It was also accompanied by a crispy eggplant chip—paper-thin and perfectly crisped. Our pairing was an earthy Rioja from Spain, a 2002 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Reserva.

Lamb at Eleven Madison Park

And finally, the last of the savories (and my all-time favorite protein): lamb. A succulent, juicy pink loin with morel mushrooms, English peas and a lamb-mustard seed jus. This was accompanied by a 2004 Olga Juge Cornas from the Rhône Valley.

Then, the most extraordinary part of the night: we were treated to a tour of the kitchen. Stephanie took us back as service was winding down.

We stood briefly in awe of the massive spotless kitchen, adorned with photos of Miles Davis (more on that in a minute), a list of a few adjectives (a few of which are included in this post’s title), and a large sign that says “Make It Nice.”

In the Kitchen at Eleven Madison Park

Stephanie told us that when Chef Daniel Humm first moved to the U.S. from Switzerland, he knew very little English and “make it nice” became a catch-all phrase.

The story of the Miles Davis photographs is a little more complex: in a 2006 review, a critic from the New York Observer said that Eleven Madison Park needed “a bit more Miles Davis.”

The restaurant took the suggestion to heart and created a poster of a few of the words used to describe Miles, used in the title of this post and hung prominently in their kitchen. Last year, Sony Records gave the restaurant two photos of Davis, which now also proudly hang in the kitchen.

Nitro Cocktail at Eleven Madison Park

While we hung out in the kitchen, we were treated to an Aperol nitro “cocktail.” I was never good at chemistry, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves on this one. (Another fun fact: the chef in the photo, Becky, went to the same high school as me and even graduated the same year! Small world, huh?)

Nitro Cocktail at Eleven Madison Park

After this, we returned to our table but Eleven Madison Park was still not content just yet. Our next pre-dessert treat was an egg cream—or Eleven Madison’s take on it anyway.

Fresh malt syrup, vanilla and olive oil is whisked together table side and then topped with soda from a classic seltzer bottle. The smooth concoction was not too sweet and just the right balance of tradition and innovation.

Chocolate Dessert at Eleven Madison Park

Our real dessert came next. It was a chocolate cannelloni with espresso, caramel and yogurt. The chocolate cannelloni had the thickness of a tuile and gave off a satisfying crunch when the spoon touched it.

We even had a pairing with our dessert: a coffee cocktail with cognac, port and demerara sugar.

Egg Cream and Mignardises at Eleven Madison Park

The parade of mignardises came next. Too many and too delicious to even describe. We were left with a complimentary bottle of V.S.O.P. cognac to supplement these—just another special touch from Eleven Madison.

As our evening began to wind down we realized we were the last table in the restaurant and still felt absolutely no rush from the staff.

In fact, while we sipped our cognac, we spent a few minutes chatting with our service captain about everything and nothing—favorite restaurants, The British Invasion, and the things we love about EMP and food in general. It was a relaxed, yet engaging conversation.

This sort of dialogue extends not only into the service, but also the menu, the food, the drinks. This is exactly what we love the most about Eleven Madison Park.

– Laura and Ryan

Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

8 Comments

Filed under Drink, Food, New York

A Taste of Portland

A few weeks ago, we read about The Beagle, a new restaurant in the East Village.

The menu and concept (is it a restaurant with great cocktails or a cocktail bar with good food?) were immediately appealing to us, but we were especially intrigued when we learned that The Beagle’s owner, Matt Piacentini, is the co-owner of Clyde Common, the restaurant in Portland, Oregon’s Ace Hotel.

Additionally, The Beagle’s chef, Garrett Eagleton, has worked at Portland favorites Le Pigeon and Lincoln. (And he’s also a Texan, so we automatically love him.)

We love the Ace and Portland has been on our trip radar for awhile now, so we headed over to The Beagle to see what we have to look forward to when we make it out West again.

The space is really well-done, without feeling precious or overly kitschy like so many new restaurants in the city are. The walls are a deep, lush blue, paired with crisp white paneling and European-styled light fixtures and dining tables. The Beagle is small, but not at all cramped—in fact, it’s one of the few restaurants of its kind where you could easily take more than four people.

Since they really tout their cocktails, we spent entirely too much time poring over their very thorough and creative drink menu.

We eventually settled, but it wasn’t without great debate. Ryan got the Queimada Swizzle—a take on our favorite, the Queen’s Park Swizzle—made with Rhum Agricole, lime juice, orgeat and pineapple, and I had the Daisy de Santiago, a refreshing, tart blend of white rum, lime juice, yellow Chartreuse, and chilled seltzer (served from one of those great antique bottles).

A final drink, the Prince of Wales, combined rye whiskey, maraschino liqueur, champagne, pineapple and angostura bitters.

While the drinks themselves hinted at the impending summer, the blue-and-white striped paper straws gave me an immediate rush of sandy beaches, salty hair, and scorching sun.

Our first “tidbit” plate continued my summer flashback: mini-corns, skewered, and slathered with mayonnaise, lime and cilantro. There isn’t too much to say about that plate, because, really, what could possibly be wrong with that combination?

The next dish was equally successful. Bitter radicchio came together with rich blue cheese, thick-cut bacon, briny Castelvetrano olives and the nutty crunch of farro.

We shared another small plate—the squid. The tender squid packed a punch, as they were served with green chilies and prosciutto, atop a bed of crisp frisee. Squid is one of those things that is so easily overcooked, so it’s always nice when it melts in your mouth.

My favorite course of the evening (Ryan’s, too!) was the confit pork cheek, a large plate that we also shared. The pork cheek was served with braised pork belly, applesauce and a pork reduction.

The cheek was beyond juicy and fork-tender—it’s easily one of the top five best things I’ve eaten this year. The pork reduction was tangy and the applesauce mellowed everything out with its mild sweetness.

I’ve also neglected to mention the broccolini it was served with. I’ve been enjoying the beautiful yellow-budded broccolini at the greenmarket recently and The Beagle did it full justice—the tops and stalks were crisp and the yellow flowers added some great floral notes.

For dessert, we shared the chocolate custard with grapefruit and crispy cornflakes. This was also fantastic—the grapefruit was fresh and tart, the cornflakes were indeed crispy, and the chocolate was rich without being too sweet. It was almost like eating a chilled ganache, which I’ve admittedly done in my own kitchen on more than one occasion.

The Beagle impressed us every level—our server was attentive and friendly, the space feels excellent and the food matches up.

If you find yourself in the East Village, or are simply in need of somewhere new to try, head over to Avenue A. (And be sure to report back and tell us what you think!)

– Laura

The Beagle on Urbanspoon

2 Comments

Filed under Drink, Food, New York

Orange Cream Punch

Laura and I decided to add some sun to our dreary day indoors with this orange vanilla creamsicle punch. It’s a grown up (but low alcohol) version of a creamsicle with basil added for a nice herbal scent and added visual punch (pun intended).

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 16 oz. San Pellegrino Aranciata
  • 2 oz. Vanilla bean syrup

Combine ingredients in a pitcher with large ice cubes, stir, top with soda.

– Ryan

20110504-064523.jpg

2 Comments

Filed under Drink, Living