Monday, April 20, 2015

The Opal Nautilus

I have always enjoyed visiting historical castles and palaces, not only for their architectural grandeur, but to try to imagine how people must have lived.  I love thinking about the day to day lives of the people that brought amazing buildings to life - from the kitchen maids to the kings and queens with their odd habits.  Most of all I love looking at the objects that were used every day - jewelry, hair combs, weapons, and of course, their cocktail cups.  Perhaps the most extravagant are the meticulously carved, gilded, and gorgeously presented Nautilus Cups.  Nautilus shells are beautiful on their own, and are incredibly decadent when covered in gold.  Behold:

So when I found Nautilus shells a few months back, I knew immediately what I wanted to do with them.  Drink out of them.

A gorgeous vessel such as a Nautilus deserves a equally gorgeous cocktail, so when creating this drink I started off with one of my favorite spirits, Casa Dragones Blanco.  It's designed for mixing, and has a unique complexity with flavors of celery, agave, melon, grapefruit, fresh herbs, mint, and a subtle saltiness that makes it incredibly seductive.

When I first tasted Casa Dragones I wanted to make a cocktail with jicama, another flavor note that I find in the tequila.  The opal basil and the jicama work really well together, and just a touch of Aquavit plays up the herbal qualities of the tequila.  The cocktail itself is a lovely purple color, and with a few little leaves of opal basil floating on the surface, it is a lovely drink even without a Nautilus shell.

But trust me, you'll want to drink it out of a Nautilus shell, toes in the sand, feeling like royalty. 

The Opal Nautilus
Created by Gastronomista

2 oz Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Agave
1/4 oz Aquavit
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
4 Drops Bittered Sling Celery Bitters
Fresh Jicama
Fresh Opal Basil

In a large tin, muddle 1 Tablespoon Diced Jicama with Agave and 4 leaves of Opal Basil.  Add Tequila, Aquavit, Lime Juice and Bitters.  Shake with a large ice cube, and strain into your cocktail glass (or shell).

This post is to be included in Clinton Kelly's Make Over Your Margarita challenge, click through for more Margaritas! >>

Note:  The size of my shell was so large that I quadrupled the recipe.  For cocktails of such a large volume, use the buddy system and 2 straws. 

If you cannot find Casa Dragones Tequila, or if you're looking for something more affordable, try Altos Tequila.  It's great for mixing and also has nice vegetal characteristics.

Styling Notes
Pewter Tray - Vagabond House
Glass Straws - Hummingbird Straws
Real Nautilus Shell

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gastronomista Nominated for Saveur Best Cocktail Blog 2015!

YOU GUYS!!  I am SO EXCITED TO TELL YOU that Gastronomista has been nominated for the SAVEUR Best Blog Awards for the 3rd year in a row!!!

#4 = Gastronomista - CLICK TO VOTE

I am so overwhelmed and humbled by this nomination.  I have been working hard to push the boundary of the at-home cocktail experience - making culinary-based cocktails that are both beautiful and delicious.  I have many favorite recipes over the last year and I will be re-sharing them with you over the next month on social media with new notes and tips for those of you at home.

Gastronomista is my labor of love - and all of your feedback, comments, and shares mean the world to me.  Thank you for your never ending support, your enthusiasm for forward-thinking cocktails, and your thirst for life.  I cannot even express to you how much happiness this website brings to my life.  I am forever grateful for the opportunities that it has offered me, and I thank every single one of my readers for helping me get here.  I wish I could make each and everyone of you a cocktail to express my gratitude.  

Until I figure out that whole cocktail wonka-vision thing, please VOTE for Gastronomista for the WIN : Voting ends April 30th 2015

If anyone has wonka-vision suggestions, I am all ears.

All my love,


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Vermouth Cobblers!

 Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Spring is right around the corner, and I'm already craving refreshing cocktails made with low alcohol spirits, fresh fruit, and topped with sparkling water. The cobbler is a classic made with a range of different spirits from bourbon, brandy, or sherry and are topped with crushed ice.

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Today I bring you a Vermouth Cobbler, an extremely simple cocktail made with American Vermouth, Sugar, Orange Slices, and fresh herbs.  I used BroVo's Pink vermouth, a wonderfully aromatic and fruity rosé vermouth made in Woodinville, Washington.  I've topped it off with a sprig of rosemary to enhance the savory flavors found in the vermouth, a reminder that summer will be here soon!

Vermouth is a fortified wine - so essentially this is a grown-up wine spritzer!  Use a high-quality vermouth to ensure the quality of your cocktails, and don't forget to store the vermouth in the refrigerator.  The best part?  As the party goes on, you can add more sparkling water and secretly hydrate!

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Vermouth Cobbler

3 oz BroVo Pink Vermouth
1/2 oz Simple Syrup or a Spoon of Sugar
Club Soda or Seltzer (I used Fever Tree Club Soda)
2 Orange Slices
Sprig of Rosemary

Muddle Sugar and an Orange Slice in the bottom of a high-ball glass.  Add vermouth and top with crushed ice.  Top with seltzer and garnish with a Rosemary Sprig and a Fresh Slice of Orange. 


Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Gastronomista Vermouth Cobbler

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pickleback Redux - Beets!

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

I've loved beets ever since I was a kid - especially when pickled in cider vinegar with loads of cinnamon and cloves.  I used to eat them straight out of the jar as a midnight snack.  I was always hypnotically transfixed by the vibrant magenta hue of beets - something I continue to find to be mesmerizing.  

I also have a bit of a Kombucha obsession - and when I purchased the new Beet Health-Ade Kombucha I was impressed that they were able to retain the vibrancy of the beets.  So, naturally I wanted to make it into a cocktail!

I instantly thought of a pickleback - a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice.  The kombucha has a slight vinegary taste to it, so it's an honorable substitution. 

The Beet Pickleback can be done in two ways. 

Option 1 - Shot of White Whiskey (I used Jim Beam Ghost - a filtered bourbon) followed by a shot of Beet Kombucha.

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Option 2 - A Beet Pickleback Cocktail made with White Whiskey, Beet Kombucha, Simple Syrup, an Applewood Smoked Salt Rim, and Garnished with Pink Peppercorns and a Quick Pickled Beet Slice.

I'll take the latter, thank you very much.

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

It's a bit like a briny bloody mary, but with more sweetness thanks to the beets and the corn in the bourbon.  The smoked salt rim makes this cocktail extra savory, and adds a wonderful smoked aroma to the cocktail.  The pink peppercorn adds just a touch of spiciness with a subtle floral flavor, and the peppercorns look mighty pretty floating in this deceptive pink drink.  This is an awesomely surprising cocktail.  In the words of Taylor Swift:  "This.  Sick.  Beet."

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Beet Pickleback Cocktail
Created by Gastronomista

1 oz Jim Beam Ghost
2 oz Beet Kombucha
1/2 oz 1:1 Simple Syrup

Applewood Smoked Salt for Garnish
Pink Peppercorns for Garnish

Swipe rim of glass with fresh lemon juice, and rim glass with Applewood Smoked Salt.  In a mixing glass, stir White Whiskey, Beet Kombucha, and Simple Syrup with Ice for 30 seconds, and strain into the cocktail coupe.  Garnish with a Quick Pickled Beet Slice.

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Quick Pickled Beets

Slice Beets into Thin Slices.  Place in a bowl with 1/2 Cup White Vinegar, 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes, and then strain.  Add peppercorns, sugar, or salt to taste. 

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Gastronomista Beet Pickleback

Monday, March 23, 2015

Anthony Bourdain Interview - Craft and The Virtues of Doing Things the Hard, Slow Way

Anthony Bourdain - Photo by Brent Herrig
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Bourdain to discuss his latest project, the short film series Raw Craft and his role as lead juror for the American Craft Council Rare Craft Fellowship Awards. In partnership with The Balvenie, the Awards events were held over a lovely lunch hosted at New York’s Le Bernardin, and honored the four finalists with clips from the series of each of the artists and their work. The series takes the viewer into the workshops of artisans and craftspeople making beautiful, quality objects that are reminiscent of another era. Instead of close ups of flaming grills, food markets, and seafood towers, the films feature shots of red hot steel, metal grinders, and details of intricate stitching.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Green Beast Pipette

As my most loyal readers know, I have an ongoing obsession with beautiful glassware.  So, when I saw an Absinthe Pipe for the first time, I pretty much lost my proverbial sh*t.

Absinthe Pipes are by no means a vintage re-creation, have no historical ties, nor dusty stories of notable authors sitting around Parisian cafes drinking absinthe in a glass pipe.  They have likely come to market in the last 20-25 years or so in Prague, a novelty item to increase the fetishization of absinthe.  Which, I'm ok with.

Most people serve the pipe filled with crushed ice and the absinthe poured on top, instead letting ice water slowly drip into a glass of absinthe.  There are some pipes that are shaped to hold the ice and the sugar in separate glass bubbles, which makes it all seem somehow more exotic.  Some light the absinthe on fire in the pipe, and then quickly drink it (although this seems like a sure way to lose one's eyebrows, so I will be staying away from this method as I quite like my eyebrows).

I prepared one of my favorite cocktails to make in the pipette, The Green Beast.  It's such a simple cocktail, great to make for single servings (especially in a glass pipe) or to prepare as a punch for parties.


The Green Beast

1 oz Pernod Absinthe (Original Recipe)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz 1:1 Simple Syrup
4 oz Water

Shake with Ice and Strain into the Pipette.  Garnish with a Cucumber Ribbon.


Styling Notes
Glass Pipe - Courtesy of Pernod-Ricard
Pewter Tray - Vagabond House

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Isfahan Rose - A Cocktail Inspired by Middle Eastern Desserts

In 2002 I traveled to Iran when I was studying with the Architectural Association of London.  It was a life-changing trip.  It was a miracle that I was even able to go given the political climate, but my professors at the AA were relentless (and thrived on the joy of taking an American to the "Axis of Evil").  Iran was everything but evil.  In the streets the people were incredibly kind, generous, and had only curiosity about me, the only American on the trip.  

Photo by Tim den Dekker
The architecture was devastatingly beautiful, the mosques overwhelming and humbling, and the food brought me to my knees.  I still vividly remember some of the gorgeous meals we had - traditional stews with layers of meat, rice, fresh herbs and loads of saffron, the dried figs purchased for a few dollars from street vendors, the smells of spices in the bazaars, and fresh cheese sandwiches with nuts and honey that we ate on the side of the dusty highway as we made our way across the country.  The traditional sweet, Gaz quickly became an obsession. The nougat candy made with rosewater and pistachios that was soft, creamy, and will forever remind me of that magical trip to Iran.

Photo via Wikipedia
When I was developing this cocktail I was first thinking about Turkish Delight, the jelly sweet with rose water and pistachios.  I have always loved Turkish Delight - my grandmother used to send boxes of it to us for the Holidays.  I always found it to be so exotic - the powdered sugar, the sweet jelly-like sweets that contrasted with the nuts hidden inside.

I wanted this cocktail to have a creamy softness to it - to be almost like a cloud.  After I made it, I realized that it was not Turkish Delight inspired as I had hoped, but instead inspired by the nougat Gaz that I fell in love with so many years ago.  It is soft and subtle with the pistachio and the rosewater evident from the first sip.  My favorite part is finale - the candied pistachios sink to the bottom and are a delicious treat at the end of the drink.

This cocktail has since brought back a flood of memories of that amazing trip and the incredible young architects I traveled with.  I hope that one day I will be able to return to Iran and once again, bask in its beauty.

The Isfahan Rose
Created by Gastronomista

1 Egg White
1-1/2 oz Gin (I used Martin Miller's Gin)
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Pistachio Orgeat (recipe below)
1/4 oz Creme or Half & Half
3 Drops Rose Water
1 oz Seltzer

Combine Egg White, Gin, Lemon Juice, Orgeat, Creme, and Rose Water in a Boston Shaker and shake for about 30 seconds.  Open and add ice.  Shake for another 30 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail coupe and top with seltzer water (I used Fever Tree Spring Club Soda).  Garnish with a few rose petals and candied pistachios.

 Pistachio Orgeat
Adapted from Cider & Rye

1/2 Pound Shelled Pistachios
1-1/2 cups Sugar
1-1/2 cups water

Crush Pistachios either in a food processor or place in a bag and crush with a hammer.  Add to a small pot and simmer with sugar and water.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, and let cool.

Transfer cooled mixture into a non-reactive container such as a glass jar and let sit overnight.

The next day, set up a strainer over a large bowl with cheesecloth large enough to contain all the pistachios.  Place mixture into the strainer with the cheesecloth and let strain into the bowl below.  When enough of the syrup has strained out, use the cheesecloth to press more syrup out of the nuts.

Transfer syrup into a small bottle.

Place the remaining nuts on a baking tray with tin foil and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes on 350.  Use the candied pistachios for the garnish, but they are also delicious over yogurt or for snacking!

The resulting syrup is gorgeous - pure pistachio.

Pistachio Orgeat


Styling Notes
Silver Plate - Vintage
Bottle Opener - Vintage
Cocktail Coupes - Waterford Elegance Collection 

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