Friday Happy Hour: Chin Up Cocktail

If you don’t know David Lebovitz, now is the time to check him out. He’s a Chez Panisse alumni and his accolades are numerous and impressive (for example: Named Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle).

He’s written a number of cookbooks, and though his credentials are intimidating, his recipes and style of cooking are not. In his words:

“I use basic, honest ingredients; fresh fruit, good quality chocolate, real vanilla, and pure butter. I don’t believe that baking (or cooking) should be out of reach to people and strive to share recipes that are do-able for a majority of cooks and home bakers.”

In 2006 he packed up and moved to Paris, where he’s been doing his thing and writing yet another cookbook called My Paris KitchenAs fellow Americans abroad, his observations on life and food are not only insightful, but often witty and hilarious.

Anyway, his blog is also really impressive, and though being a pastry chef, he clearly loves cocktails too, and I was pumped to find this recipe for a Chin Up.

We’re building a distillery here in Barcelona and have been playing with barrel aging our gins, so when I read this recipe, I simply had to try it 🙂

Cheers!

Friday Happy Hour: Chin Up Cocktail via David Lebovitz

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of cucumber
  • Tiny pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 60 ml (2 oz) Corpen Barrel Aged gin
  • 15 ml (1/2 oz) Cynar
  • 15 ml (1/2 oz) dry white vermouth (we used Murcarols)

Instructions

  1. Muddle one slice of cucumber with the salt in a mixing glass.
  2. Add the gin, Cynar and vermouth, and fill the mixing glass full of ice. Stir until cold.
  3. Strain into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass and float a VERY thin slice of cucumber slice on top (too thick and it will sink).
  4. Drink and enjoy!
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/07/14/friday-happy-hour-chin-up-cocktail/

Friday Happy Hour: Shrub Bramble – I guess that makes it a “Schramble?”


We’ve gone off the deep end with shrubs. I’ve talked about this once already, and now we’ve got about six in the refrigerator, with many more on the way. They really are lovely with just ice and sparkling water, but it’s Friday, and we’d like a little something that’s appropriate for happy hour.

So here we present you with a Shrub Bramble, which lends itself to being called a “Shramble” if you like silly names. This recipe replaces the lemon juice that is normally in a Bramble with a lemon shrub. The shrub we used is mostly lemon with bit of lime and uses white wine vinegar, which is subtle and allows the citrus to shine though. Like any shrub in a cocktail, this lemon adds a depth and complexity to one of the main flavors.

The Bramble has a whole history that goes along with it, that I won’t do justice if I attempt to recount. If you want more info, check out the explanation from the guys at Gin Foundry and Dillford’s Guide. We started with the Dillford’s recipe and adjusted to our taste.

With that said, drink up!

Friday Happy Hour: Shrub Bramble- I guess that makes it a “Schramble?”

Ingredients

  • - 60ml (2 oz) Corpen Gin
  • - 20-30ml (1 oz) Lemon Shrub (use your judgment based on how strong/bitter your shrub is)
  • - 15ml (1/2 oz) Simple Syrup
  • - 15ml (1/2 oz) Crème de Mûre or Crème de Cassis

Instructions

  1. Add gin, lemon shrub and simple syrup to a shaker full of ice.
  2. Shake until cold
  3. Fill old fashioned glass with crushed ice
  4. Pour contents of shaker over ice
  5. Retop with crushed ice and drizzle with crème de mûre or crème de cassis
  6. Garnish with a lemon wedge, blackberry and/or mint sprig.

Notes

- Every shrub is a little different, feel free to tone up and the shrub and tone down the simple syrup for more bitterness.

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/05/26/friday-happy-hour-shrub-bramble-i-guess-that-makes-it-a-schramble/

Friday Happy Hour: Pomegranate Shrub Vodka Soda

It’s official. I’m in love with shrubs.

What is a shrub, you ask? Well, there are certainly others who can explain it better than I can, but the basics are this: fruit + sugar + vinegar. Sounds strange, yes, but the roots of this drink go all the way back to the Romans who used it as a way to preserve fresh fruit. It’s a really interesting combination of sweet and sour, and even if you are skeptical, worth a try.

Anyway, a friend made some pomegranate shrub and gave us a small bottle when we were in New Orleans in December. We hadn’t really done much with it until recently when the weather started getting nice.

Shrubs can be used to make both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which makes them pretty versatile in application, and there are TONS of recipes online about how to make them (our friend referenced this one).  Most of these recipes say they are “fantastic additions to cocktails” but don’t really go into the details about what cocktails, what proportions or anything really.

So we started with the most basic recipe. The pomegranate shrub we have is delicious when added to sparkling water, so why hide that amazing flavor with something fancy? This a a simple vodka soda with shrub added. Vodka is the definition of neutral, so try ANY flavor shrub with this recipe.

Cheers!

Friday Happy Hour: Pomegranate Shrub Vodka Soda

Ingredients

  • - 45 ml (1.5 oz) Pomegranate shrub
  • - 60 ml (2 oz) Vodka
  • - Squeeze of lime
  • - Slice of lime for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice
  2. Squeeze lime into glass
  3. Add vodka and shrub
  4. Stir
  5. Garnish with lime wheel and enjoy!
  6. (wasn't that easy?)
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/04/28/friday-happy-hour-pomegranate-shrub-vodka-soda/

Friday Happy Hour: Oaked Negroni

We love a good Negroni. It’s a classic, and it’s one of those simple recipes that uses equal parts of three ingredients; in this case gin, Campari and vermouth. Add an orange peel as garnish and you’re done. So simple.

Some die-hard Negroni fans feel like any departure from the classic proportions is sacrilege, but that hasn’t stopped an endless number of variations. I’ll be the first to admit that Campari is an acquired taste, and not everyone’s cup of tea. Equal parts of everything usually ends up leading to a Campari-forward cocktail. While many love this bitterness, there are many variations out there that tone it down by dialing back the Campari.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I love anything that has been put in a barrel, so when I started seeing barrel-aged Negronis, I had to try them. What can I say, they are also delicious.

My one criticism is that the barrel treats all of the ingredients equally, and depending on your gin, may end up muting some of the botanicals that make it unique. So we ran some tests using oak on the Campari only.

We used toasted wood chips, not a barrel (yet) and a ratio of 1g to 100ml. We tried a light toast and a heavy toast, and four days was plenty to get some of the nice oak characteristics and a hint of sweetness from the caramelized sugars in the wood.

Between the two, we preferred the light toast, but the possibilities are endless, so check your local homebrew store and experiment for yourself to find the combination you like. As a rule of thumb, the more surface area the wood has (chips vs. chunks vs. larger pieces of oak, aka “dominos”), the faster it will impart those oak flavors. It is possible to “over-oak,” so you’ll just have to taste it every day or two.

Enjoy!

Friday Happy Hour: Oaked Negroni

Ingredients

  • - 45 ml (1.5 oz) Corpen Gin
  • - 45 ml (1.5 oz) Oaked Campari *
  • - 45 ml (1.5 oz) Vermouth
  • - Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice.
  2. Pour into old-fashioned glass, over ice.
  3. Garnish with orange peel.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

* = Use toasted oak chips of your preference in ratio of 1g:100ml for 2-4 days.

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/04/21/friday-happy-hour-oaked-negroni/

Friday Happy Hour: Cherry-Infused Brandy Manhattan

This recipe is a bit of a happy accident. Last year I was experimenting with cherries to make our own garnishes for cocktails. Someone had left some brandy at our place after a party, and I thought I’d play with this forgotten bottle.

The process was simple: Buy some fresh cherries (the sweet kind, not the bitter/sour kind), remove the stems and the pits, put them in a jar, and fill the jar with brandy so the cherries are completely submerged.

Leave the jar in the refrigerator for some period of time (days, weeks, months), and that’s it. Super easy.

The problem was when I tried the cherries after a few weeks. WAY too strong with brandy and not enjoyable as a garnish for anything. The alcohol in the brandy had also pulled the color out, so they resembled green olives more than cherries. Again, not good for a garnish.

Honestly, then I forgot about them. They lived in the back of the refrigerator for months. It was only recently that I realized what I did have was a nice cherry-infused brandy, which was much more interesting than the cherries themselves.

So, what to make with cherry-infused brandy? How about a Brandy Manhattan?  It is sometimes also called a Metropolitan, which causes some confusion. There is another version of a Metropolitan cocktail out there, that is a cousin of the Cosmopolitan and includes vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice. I am not talking about this drink.

As the name would imply, this lovely drink uses the same ratios of a regular Manhattan, but with brandy in the place of Rye.

Cheers!

Friday Happy Hour: Cherry-Infused Brandy Manhattan

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz) Cherry-infused brandy
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Sweet vermouth
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters (or other savory bitters)
  • Garnish with a Maraschino cherry (the real kind, like Luxardo or Amarena)

Instructions

  1. Chill glass
  2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice for 20-30 seconds
  3. Pour into chilled glass, add garnish.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

If this is too much brandy for you, you can tone it back to 45 ml (1.5 oz).

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/24/friday-happy-hour-cherry-infused-brandy-manhattan/

Friday Happy Hour: Bijou Cocktail

A couple of weeks ago we went on a green Chartreuse kick, and did some experimenting with a variety of cocktails. One that stood out was the Bijou (“jewel” in French), which combines gin, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and a dash of orange bitters.

I’ll credit this Esquire article for our original inspiration, and pointing us to the original, very old recipe by Harry Johnson, first documented in the late 1800s. (Here’s a link to digital version of  Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved (Illustrated) Bartender’s Manual and a Guide for Hotels and RestaurantsThis recipe is on page 129).

The original recipe has equal parts of the principal ingredients, but most modern versions have tweaked the ratios. A couple of days later we played with these ratios ourselves and definitely preferred ours more gin-heavy and dialed-back on the Chartreuse. The one we settled on was closer to this version from Imbibe Magazine.

Chartreuse is a lovely and complex liqueur that touts 130 different plants and flowers. In laymen’s terms, this means it will likely overpower an herbal/flowery gin. We used one of our Corpen gins that is more earthy to complement, rather that compete with, the herby flavor of the Chartreuse.

Friday Happy Hour: Bijou Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 45 ml (1½ oz) Corpen gin
  • 22 ml (¾ oz) green Chartreuse
  • 30 ml (1 oz) sweet vermouth (white)
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters
  • Lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Squeeze lemon peel express the oils and discard.
  4. Garnish with a cherry.
  5. Enjoy!
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/17/friday-happy-hour-bijou-cocktail/

Friday Happy Hour: Boulevardier Cocktail

We’re trying something new here. I’ve been working on building a craft distillery here in Barcelona, and in the interest of professional development, we’ve kicked our cocktail game into high gear over the last couple of years.

Here’s the first installment in what will become a recurring theme: Cocktails we love, we are experimenting with, and/or have made up ourselves.

Our first installment in this series is the lovely Boulevardier, which we recently had at Mark’s Bar in London (downstairs in HIX Soho). Upon ordering this, the bartender said “Ah yes, a whiskey negroni.”

Yep, that’s about right, and exactly why we love it.

Friday Happy Hour: Boulevardier

Ingredients

  • 1 oz (30 ml) Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Campari
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Sweet Vermouth (we use Casa Mariol's Vermut Negre)
  • Garnish: Orange twist or Maraschino Cherry (the real kind, like Luxardo or Amarena)

Instructions

  1. Chill an Old Fashioned glass
  2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice for 20-30 seconds
  3. Pour into chilled glass, add garnish.

Notes

- We like to over-pour on the whiskey here, but that's us, about 1.5 oz (45ml).

- Bourbon can be used in place of rye if you wish, but we prefer the spiciness the rye adds to this drink.

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/10/friday-happy-hour-boulevardier-cocktail/

Three Belgian Breweries in Three Belgian Cities (Brussels, Bruges and Ghent)

We just got back from a trip to Belgium, and have been drinking Belgian beer for over a week straight.  We generally plan our itineraries around food and booze, first mapping out where/what we will eat and drink, then we see what kind of historic things we can fit in between. Breweries, distilleries and wineries almost always have top priority.

This trip was of course no exception and Belgian beer has a reputation that needs no explanation, so I’ll cut to the chase. We visited three cities: Brussels, Bruges and Ghent and hit one brewery in each. There are hundreds of breweries in the country, but we selected these three because they were centrally located and easy to get to on foot.

More from Cantillon brewery.

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#1 Cantillon – Brussels

Rue Gheude 56, 1070 Anderlecht, Belgium

Practical Stuff:
Open: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1000 – 1700
Closed: Wednesdays, Sundays and public holidays
Cost: 7€ (comes with two sample sized beers)
Tour is self-guided and takes about 45 minutes.
More info: http://www.cantillon.be/

Going to Cantillon is like stepping back in time to see how beer was made 100+ years ago. Here they make Lambics, Gueuzes, Faros and Krieks the old fashion way, literally. Nearly all of the structure and equipment is the original from when it opened in 1900.

The process of milling and mashing the grain is pretty much the same as modern breweries today, but what is truly fascinating about this place is that they rely on spontaneous fermentation to make their beer. That means they do not add yeast, but instead pump their wort to a large shallow tank that is exposed to the ambient air, and wild yeast finds its way to the liquid. They are the only brewery in Brussels still doing it this way.

The beer is then pumped into large oak or chestnut barrels where it is left to ferment for up to three years. Yes, you read that right, three years. The beer can then be bottled or have fruit added, which gives them their kreiks.

Touring Cantillion is really an amazing experience because the place is unlike any brewery you’ve ever been to before. Like all great tours, at the end you get two tasting glasses to drink in the bar area. Even if you don’t feel like doing the tour, you can still buy a bottle and hang out for a drink.

Fair warning though, lambics are not for everyone because they are quite sour/bitter. If that’s not your thing, the tour is still worth seeing.

 

Ok one more from the half moon brewery in Brugge.

A photo posted by bbbliteration (@bbbliteration) on

#2 Brouwerij De Halve Maan (Half Moon Brewery) – Bruges

Walplein 26, Bruges, Belgium

Practical Stuff:
Daily Tours between 1100-1600 in Dutch, English and French. On Saturday Tours available til 1700.
Check their website for times of the tours and to book your reservation.
Cost: 8.50€ (comes with a glass of their Brugse Zot Blond)
Group guided tour takes about 45 minutes and includes lots of stairs.
More info: http://www.halvemaan.be/en/brewery-visit

Half Moon Brewery in Bruges is set in a beautiful part of a ridiculously picturesque city. Nestled between a cafe-lined plaza and one of the city’s canals, this brewery is half modern and half museum. The brewing kettles were recently upgraded and the bar/restaurant area looks like an upscale brewpub. Taking the tour however, you see the evolution of machinery and equipment that have been used over four generations of brewing.

The tour meanders up and down stairs, through old lofts and between tanks. A brief stop on the roof gives an amazing view of the city, but also make it clear that they have no more room to expand their facilities and production. The solution, our guide explained, is to build a beer pipeline from the brewery to a bottling facility over a kilometer away. That’s right, a beer pipeline.

Beers here were great; they go by two different labels: Brugse Zot (with a blond and a dubbel variety) and Straffe Hendrik (with a tripel and quadrupel variety). You can try them all in the bar/restaurant and get lunch or dinner while you’re at it.

 

#3 Gentse Gruut – Ghent

Rekelingestraat 5, 9000 Gent (When you look this up by the address on Google maps it puts you on the wrong side of the river. It is directly across from Gravensteen Castle on Rekelingestraat)

Practical Stuff:
Tour by appointment, mainly for groups Check their website to book.
Cost: 9.00€ (8+people) or 10.00€ (less than 8 people). Comes with three tasters.
Tour/tasting can be paired with some small food items.
More info: http://www.gruut.be/

Gentse Gruut is super interesting because they do not use hops in their beer, but rather a mix of herbs. This is apparently how beer was made before the days of hops, we’re talking medieval time here. Only one of their five beers has any hops in it, and honestly it was hard to tell which.

To be honest, we did not figure out the tour at this brewery, which recently moved locations. After walking by it several times (see note above about the address on Google maps) we came into what looked like a reception or event hall. There was a bar, tables and chairs, and OH HEY! a very small brewing setup. Given the really small size, it’s impressive the reach this beer has because we saw it all over the city. We certainly could have asked about the tour, but we really just wanted to sit and drink this hop-less beer, which turned out to be SUPER good.

One more interesting fact about this place is that the head brewer/owner is a woman named Annick De Splenter, which is really cool to see in an otherwise dude-dominated industry.

 

Have you been to any other awesome breweries in Belgium? Let us know because we’ll definitely be doing the pilgrimage again soon!

La Rovira Brew Bar: Another Awesome Craft Beer Stop in Gràcia

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Last Monday, August 1o, La Rovira opened its doors and taps just in time for Festa Major de Gràcia. Since then, as far as we can tell, they’ve been killing it. One or both of us have been three times since the opening, partly because it’s minutes away from our place, but mainly because they have an incredible selection of craft beers from all over. La Rovira tap line up-traveling to taste La Rovira has 18 beers on tap from craft breweries far and wide and with many, many more in bottles. It’s enough to keep any beer enthusiast busy for a while. They are also serving their own beer called De La Vila, which was made just for the Festa Major. It’s a light session IPA with a citrus and floral nose and a slightly fruity taste with mild bitterness from the hops. Most standard IPAs have an ABV (alcohol by volume) in the 5.0-7.0% range (some are much higher); this one comes in at 4.7%, which means you can drink it all afternoon on a hot summer day and still find your way home.  

We are super pumped to have another great craft beer bar in the neighborhood, and La Rovira joins some other greats along Gràcia’s growing beer route like Chivuo’sCara B, El Col-leccionista, Catalluna and La Cervesera Artesana (and if you’re a homebrewer, there is Family Beer).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to head back over to finish the rest of the 18 beers. See you there. Cheers.

La Rovira Brew Bar
Carrer de Rabassa, 23,
08024 Barcelona
+34 691 20 24 10
Metro:  Joanic I (L4/yellow line)