Monday, April 7, 2014

Artichoke Negroni

If you've been a reader of Gastronomista for a while, you probably know that I love the Negroni.  It's a modern classic and it has everything I'm looking for in a cocktail: sweet, bitter, and strong, not to discount that seductive red hue. 

But sometimes, a girl must build on the classics.  This spring I've been inspired by complex Amaros and all the gorgeous produce that has started to show up at the market.  I found these gorgeous little artichokes, and I thought that they would be not only fantastic garnishes, but a delicious addition to a cocktail.  The Italian bitter Cynar (CHEE-nar) is made predominantly from artichokes, but doesn't really taste like artichokes.  So naturally, I wanted to make my own artichoke infusion.

But here's the problem, all of the vegetal infusions I've done have turned out disgustingly bitter.  I've read into it a bit, and it can be blamed on oxidization.  Bah!

I recently received a Sous Vide Supreme, which is opening my mind and inspiring me in more ways than any appliance has ever inspired a lady!  I became interested in a Sous Vide after this summer's Tales of the Cocktail, where I was introduced to the method of Sous Vide for making "barrel aged" cocktails.  Instead of leaving the cocktail to age in a barrel for 6 months, the Sous Vide rapidly ages the cocktail and also eliminates any extra oxygen from the process.  Barrel aged cocktails that use vermouth should be aged in a Sous Vide instead of a barrel because the nature of the barrel aging process causes the vermouth to oxidize, thus making the cocktail extra bitter and slightly "off" tasting.  I figured the method could be used for vegetable infusions as well.  

Experiments in the Sous Vide
Baby Artichokes & Gin
Those sweet perfect baby artichokes got chopped up, and put in a vacuum bag with some gin, and I put it in the sous vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  The result was a gorgeous bright green artichoke gin, that tasted perfectly of fresh artichokes and juniper!  Brilliant!

Artichoke Gin!
Naturally, I wanted to pair it up with Cynar, doubling down on the artichoke.  But as the handsome man in my life put it: "you've set yourself up for a Negroni".  Two spirits with artichoke flavor is a lot of bitterness, so I used Cocchi Bianco for the vermouth to add just a bit more sweetness.

So dear readers, behold: The Artichoke Negroni.

The Artichoke Negroni benefits from the trifecta of sweet, bitter, and strong, and a squeeze of grapefruit peel does a magnificent job of brightening up the vegetal flavors.  I garnished it with a quarter of a baby purple artichoke and a grapefruit peel flower, skewered together and rested on the surface of the cocktail.

I hope you enjoy this cocktail as much as I do.

Artichoke Gin

3 Mini Artichokes, Halved
2 c. Gin

Seal in a vacuum pouch and submerge in the Sous Vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Ferenheit.

Equipment: Sous Vide Supreme, vacuum sealer, & vacuum pouches.

Pro Tip: Use the seal function only, do not use the vacuum function when preparing liquids. 

Artichoke Negroni

1.5 oz Artichoke Gin
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano Bianco
1 oz Cynar

Squeeze grapefruit peel over cocktail, and swipe the rim of the glass.  Fold into a petal, skewer with a quarter of a fresh baby artichoke, and float on the surface of the cocktail. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gastronomista - Finalist for Saveur Best Cocktail Blog 2014!!

Devoted Drinkers & Epic Imbibers,

I'm thrilled to announce that for the second year, Gastronomista is a finalist for the Saveur Best Blog Awards for the BEST COCKTAIL BLOG 2014!

I'm incredibly humbled to be part of the amazing group of fellow cocktail writers, many of whom have websites that I admire and respect greatly. 

Now you, dear reader, you hold all the power.  Please take a moment to vote for Gastronomista:


Voting ends 4/9/2014

Please support Glass Backwards (Best Video), and The Year in Food (Best Cooking Blog)!

Millions of thanks for all of your support, and of course, your votes (wink wink). 


Monday, March 31, 2014

Avuá Cachaça - Pan Am Cocktail

I was recently introduced to Avuá Cachaça, a relatively new cachaça on the market.  After a boozy night out on the town touring some of New York City's best bars, including Sasha Petrosky's famed Milk & Honey, I'm convinced that this is a bottle I want to keep in my library of libations.

You might be wondering, what the *#&^ is cachaça, and how the *#&^ do I pronounce it? Cachaça (kah-SHAH-sah) is a Brazilian spirit that is distilled from Sugar Cane Juice.  It is also known as aguardente, pinga, caninha, and can be attributed to the Portuguese colonization of South America. 

While most people know cachaça as "Brazilian Rum", it in fact has a very different flavor profile.  Tasting Avuá (av-wah) was honestly one of my first experiences with cachaça, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Avuá is made by one of Brazil's only female distillers, and the brand invokes 1950's bossanova Brasil.  Think the golden age of travel, classic 50's cars, and the gorgeous beaches of Brasil...

Avuá Cachaça comes in two expressions, the Avuá Cachaça Prata (unaged), and Avuá Cachaça Amburana (aged).  This is where cachaça becomes really interesting: it is aged in 28 different kinds of wood native to South America!  And each wood has it's own flavors that come from the specific type of wood and the terroir of the land, all of which are imparted to the cachaça! 

Avuá Cachaça Prata is more grassy and floral on the nose, mixed with some of the expected tropical fruit flavors.  On the palate it has a dry creamy entry, which then blossoms into flavors of tropical fruits such as banana and mango with a hot peppery note, and a finishes with mint and a touch of salt.  Compared to Avuá Cachaça Amburana, aged 2 years in Amburana Cearensis wood, has a resin flavor on the nose, with tropical fruits, Jasmine, and a lot of brown sugar.  On the mouth it starts out clean and creamy, and then opens to flavors of pepper, a bite of tannin at the back of the palate, followed by a smooth, creamy finish reminiscent of flan. 

This is good stuff, people.  And mixed with cocktails, it's even better.

My favorite cocktail of the evening was the Pan-Am, a surprisingly simple yet dangerously strong cocktail made with the Amburana expression.  Word to the wise, be careful with these bad boys, after a few you'll be ready to book a flight to Brazil, perhaps never to return from the land of this água-benta.

Avuá Pan Am 
Created by Cervantes Ramirez - Little Branch

2oz. Avuá Cachaça Amburana
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/4 oz. dry vermouth

Stir with ice, and strain onto a large ice cube in a low ball glass. Swipe rim of glass with orange peel, squeeze, and drop into the glass.

Note: This variation is different than the one listed on the Avuá website.  It's damn good none the less.





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Glassbackwards - Cocktails Served Backwards

You sit down at a bar, peruse the menu, decide on a tipple, order, and then... wait.  It is this moment of waiting that has indescribable power.  This moment is filled with anticipation - a pause - and it is the time I always use to watch the scene behind the bar.  I carefully observe the tender of bar, watching his or her hands quickly trade bottle for bottle, add ice, bitters, and then delightfully shake the concoction or stir with casual flair.  It's a glorious moment, a moment when one always asks themselves, will the cocktail be as magnificent as I've imagined???  And then, there it is.  A glorious potation filled glass shimmering in the bar's candle light, waiting to be devoured.  And then, the moment of climax: the first sip.


Jude Goergen from Glassbackwards has found a way to make this moment of anticipation even better - each cocktail is prepared backwards.  Yes, backwards, and, some might argue, it's even better that way. 

I'm beyond in love with these videos, I love the character they are able to impart about each tipple, and the people behind the drinks (of course, revealed at the end).  They celebrate the fun and creativity in cocktails, which really is the best part.

A few of my favorites:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Montane Cocktail - Veuve Ambal & Hella Bitters Cocktail Competition

I was invited to participate in the Veuve Ambal & Hella Bitters Cocktail Competition - a blogger competition between fellow booze-obsessed writers.  Naturally I accepted, as I am a woman interested in the progression of all things cocktail, and it sounded like a great excuse to play around with the classic Champagne Cocktail.

The rules are simple, to use both the Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc and Hella Bitters in a new and creative cocktail!

I've been a fan of Hella Bitters for years now, and have even had the opportunity to meet the handsome lads who run the Hella Empire.  Veuve Ambal, however, is new to me.  I notoriously love anything with bubbles in it, and have a deep seeded love affair with white Burgundy wine, a cousin of this sparkling wine.  Made in Burgundy France, Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc is made of only white grapes, and has many of the same flavor characteristics as a classic white burgundy.  It has notes of ripe pear, apricot, and floral notes of jasmine and hibiscus, with an undertone of chalk or slate.

Note:  Sparkling wines such as Veuve Ambal are traditionally made in similar methods to Champagne, although only sparkling wines made in Champagne, France may don the name Champagne.  Many sparkling wines made outside of the region are equally, if not more delicious, and can often be purchased at a fraction of the price of their name brand cousins.  

I wanted to make a play on a Champagne Cocktail that balances the sweetness of the champagne with a touch of savory bitterness.  One of my favorite products as of late is Pine Syrup made by the duo from Dram Apothecary.  It's made from hand-foraged Colorado Pine, Organic Sugar, Herbs, and Spices, and is made in Silver Plume, Colorado, an old mountainous mining town.  The pine pairs nicely with the sweet, summery flavors of pear and apricot, and gives it a wild savory note.  A bar spoon of Punt E Mes gives the cocktail a bit more robust flavor, enhanced by the flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg  in the Aromatic Hella Bitters.

Finally, to brighten the flavors of the cocktail, I shake the Punt E Mes, Pine Syrup, bitters with ice and a fresh lemon peel to impart the citrus oils into the spirits.  This technique adds a subtle brightness that enhances all of the other flavors without making the cocktail too sour.    

Finally, top with bubbles, wipe a lemon peel around the rim of your glass, and you're ready to serve!

Lemon Peel in the Tin
Add Bitters, Pine, & Punt E Mes
Add Bubbles
Wipe with Lemon Peel

The Montane Cocktail

1/2 oz Dram Pine Syrup 
Barspoon Punt E Mes
5 dashes Aromatic Hella Bitters
3 oz Brut Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc (or to the top of your glass)
2 Lemon Peels, One to Shake, One to Garnish 


Shake Punt E Mes, Pine Syrup, bitters, and lemon peel with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and top with Veuve Ambal.  Wipe rim of glass with second Lemon Peel, squeeze peel over cocktail releasing the oils, and float on top of the cocktail.


 photo Gastronomista_The-Montane-Cocktail_zps1d664f86.gif

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