Category Archives: bitters

Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce Cocktails + A Practical Pantry Giveaway

We moved house and home in September. Into not our first place, but the first one that’s ours, mortgage and all. The joys (and headaches) of being new homeowners have been simultaneously overwhelming and exhilarating. How it’s supposed to be, right?

Moving stinks. Trust me, I get it. But I had a triple whammy of being a preserver, and burgeoning cocktail nut, during shoulder season. You can imagine the acres of delicate (and full!) glass we had to schlep. Like multiple carloads. Multiple MULTIPLE cardloads. Combined with forced down time during the height of the season. Now that it’s all said and done, the joy of sitting down and relaxing in our own space makes it all worth it, ten times over.

Another joy has been Cathy’s wonderful book, which was delivered a few weeks ago. I got a chance to sit down under a warm blanket and digest it with a cup of tea. This book is far more than meets the eye, folks (even though that cover is sure a looker!). Its nothing short of an inspirational collection of preservation techniques and recipes of all colors and flavors, from entry-level to expert territory. I have already bookmarked the Blackberry Hazelnut Conserve for next year’s list (if I don’t sub the black raspberries in my chest freezer in the interim). As someone who has waterbath canning pretty down (or so I’d like to think), I am most excited about Mrs. W’s forays into other areas. I’ve been pouring over the smoking and curing sections, looking at Gravlax, Guanciale, Hot-Smoked Salmon, Smoked Whole Chicken, and Maple-Bourbon Bacon. Plus, in the index, there are SEVEN entries under bourbon alone. Mrs. W is singing my tune.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry

I especially appreciate Cathy’s new twist on old favorites. Just in time for this month’s big holiday, her Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce recipe strikes just that chord. New preservers? Fear not – you can make the recipe, put into a jar and refrigerate. Want to be able to put it on your shelf or give as gifts? Follow Mrs. W’s waterbath canning instructions (it’s super easy – if you have hot sauce you are 90% there!) Just follow the recipe below.

Reprinted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow. Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Barrow. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce
4 cups (28 oz., 800 g) granulated sugar
4 cups (32 oz., 950 ml) nonchlorinated water
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cups (14 oz., 390 g) cranberries
1 cup (8 oz., 225 g) fresh raspberries
1⁄2 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)

1. Combine the sugar, water, zest, and juice in your preserving pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

When the mixture is briskly boiling, carefully add the cranberries. The berries will burst when heated and may splatter. Cook until most of the berries have burst and the sauce is thickening, about 12 minutes.

2. Add the raspberries and bring back to a boil that will not stir down. Boil hard for about 10 more minutes. Test the set using the wrinkle test or the sheeting test. Add the butter, if using, to clarify and clear the sauce.

3. Ladle into the warm jars, leaving 1∕2-inch headspace. Clean the
rims of the jars well with a damp paper towel. Place the lids and rings on the jars and finger-tighten the rings.

4. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

The sauce is shelf stable for 1 year.

Snowflake Kitchen | Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce Cocktails

The preserve is great all by itself, but I, of course turned it into several libations. First, I added a spoonful to a can of raspberry-lime seltzer while I waited for the jars to process in the waterbath. Then, I added 3/4 of an ounce of Michter’s Toasted Barrel bourbon and some Hella Bitter Aromatic Bitters. Then, the next day, it was the perfect happy hour accompaniment with some Bombay Sapphire Far East, homemade Kaffir Lime bitters, and tonic. However you choose to use it, any cocktails made with Mrs. W’s Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce are equally beautiful and delicious.

Interested in a deeper look at Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry? One lucky reader is going to take home a copy of this gorgeous book. Leave me a comment below, telling me what new-to-you preserve is first on your list for 2015. Then seek out some bonus entries. The giveaway ends on 11/10/14. Good luck!

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MxMo LXXXVII: Shiro Plum Rye Smash

I had exactly a million and one ideas swirling about for my very first Mixology Monday. This month’s theme is The Smash. Of course, all those great ideas all went out the window (thanks procrastination, humidity and stress!) and I decided instead to make one with what was on the shelf and in the fridge in between massive canning projects. ‘Tis the season, after all. This version turned out quite nicely, as most smashes I usually make are firmly on the sweeter side of things. Which gets old. Quickly.

As a preserver, I usually have fruit and syrup in excess at my disposal: in recent memory I’ve put up mulberry syrup, shiro plums in honey syrup, smoked cherry syrup, rhubarb in syrup, pickled blueberries, two kinds of cocktail cherries, and jams galore. This cocktail, as a nice change of pace, prefers instead to straddle the sweet-sour fence, with help from rosé and tart shiro plums. A nice change from your average smash, topped off with some funky, piney propolis bitters from Stonewall Apiary which take the drink over the top. I may make variations of a whatevers-in-season fruit smash a lot folks, but this riff is a keeper. Shiro Plum Rye Smash | Snowflake Kitchen

Shiro Plum Rye Smash
1.5 oz Rye (I used New England Distilling’s Gunpowder Rye)
1 oz rosé (Something from Spain)
.75 oz rhubarb syrup (homemade)
1 shiro plum, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon Stonewall Apiary Propolis Bitters
1/2 teaspoon Sweet Annie Pollen
Crushed Ice

Muddle pollen, plums and rye. Add rosé and rhubarb syrup, and stir well. Add crushed ice, and a few dashes of bitters. Top with a more creative plum garnish than what I can come up with. Cheers!

mxmologo

Cherry and Sweet Annie Manhattan

What a strange winter this is. Not one, but TWO polar vortices, sheets of rain, and finding myself grumpier than usual about it. Most winters, I can scurry between house and car and office and car and house and other than deliberate ski trips, stay cozy inside. This winter, however, I have to take the furry guy that takes up most of my Instagram feed out for at least thrice daily walks. Some days, it’s chilly but lovely – the perfect thing to clear your head. Other days (ahem, today) it’s all driving snow and wind and even a Swix hat, Xtra tufs and two base layers can’t keep out the chill.

If I had a fireplace, I would make one of these after making a raging fire and stare off into nothingness for a while. Alas, as my personal fireplace is only in my head, I will have to settle from the internal warmth that comes from bourbon. Back on the bitters train, a Manhattan makes a great vehicle for tinkering. If you are a cherry fan, this one is definitely for you.

Cherry and Sweet Annie Manhattan | Snowflake Kitchen

Cherry and Sweet Annie Bitters
1 cup sweet cherries, thawed
1/2 cup sour cherries, thawed
1 cup high proof liquor (grain alcohol or unflavored moonshine)
2 tablespoons gentian root (or other bittering herb)
1 tablespoon wild cherry bark
1 tablespoon fenugreek
1 long branch of sweet annie, broken into smaller pieces
2″ cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Mash the thawed cherries and mix with the bittering herbs into the alcohol in half pint or other glass jar with a lid. Toast the spices over medium heat until fragrant, and swirl into the same mix. Top with the sweet annie and infuse for at least three weeks. Shake once daily and start tasting after three weeks or so. My batch was ready at four.

The Sweet Annie really makes these bitters. It’s intensely herbal tasting, but also fragrant. Cherry bitters a lovely, but try to find some if you can. I am lucky to have Sub Edge Farm closeby, and they bring bunches to market in the fall. Desperate? Email me – maybe I’ll even share my stash.

Cherry and Sweet Annie Manhattan
Inspired by the Manhattans at Firebox Restaurant in Hartford, CT
1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce cherry bounce
1 ounce ginjinha
5 drops Cherry and Sweet Annie bitters

Mix the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker, or mason jar. If there is no ginjinha to be found, sweet red vermouth will work. Also if you have no cherry bounce (shame on you and make it next year!) – double your bourbon. You could even add a spoonful of cherry jam. Shake – stir – as you see fit. Add ice if you feel like it – this is an easygoing cocktail. Strain into a glass of choice – I alternate between a fancy coupe glass and a plain old Duralex tumbler – and then add bitters. No garnish needed, but a brandied or chipotled cherry would do you just fine. Alas, all I had was a clementine peel.

(Long Overdue) Vanilla Coconut Maple Bitters

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It was a tough year. (Dear anyone that has any influence over these things: can 2014 continue an upward trend? Thanks.) I know its a bit early for a year-end retrospective – blame the incessantly grating Christmas creep. Since we last spoke, there have been all sorts of changes around these parts, mostly of the personal variety. I like to think that I’m willing to do a lot for people – to put my time, sweat, love and attention towards a multitasker’s nightmare of shared projects. And as long as those projects continue to give back – via a paycheck, gratitude or otherwise, that works for me. It’s a simple equation, really (isn’t it always?) when those endeavors stop giving back and become more of a source of pain than of fulfillment, then it is time to reevaluate and sometimes move on. Needless to say, when your days are consumed by personal evaluation, your writing gets pretty dull. Seriously – you should see my drafts folder. Let’s just say its been a year of full-on mental and physical decluttering.

The first casualty was my writing, but initially, so was my kitchen – enabled by my move to a much more urban location with excellent food aplenty. Obviously neither were great for my health or my wallet, so I eventually made my way back into the kitchen. Then – full disclosure – I hid there for a while. I realized that the kitchen shouldn’t always be a place of refuge. It can and should be a haven from stresses of work, play, and everything in between. But (and this may be a bit of a ‘duh‘ moment for most of you), I find there is something missing when my life is devoid of creativity and collaboration. And, after some navel gazing, I’ve come to accept that I get a lot of fulfillment not just from cooking and preserving but also from this blog.

So as I’ve reevaluated my life, I’ve reevaluated this space. Do you ever get a moment to take a step back and really think about how to do something right? I almost never get that chance. Thanks to the talented Cyn at River Dog Prints, ye olde blog has had a lovely reno (so come on and visit snowflakekitchen.com, you RSS readers). The new digs are emblematic of the new reality and I am quite taken with them.

I’ve also become more taken with bitters. I tried citrus bitters earlier in the year. They were good, but I found myself having to use a pretty large amount (like close-to-equal parts with the main booze of the drink) to get the flavor I was after. Ready to tinker again, I treated myself to a bottle of Onyx 111 and picked up some gentian root and other herbs from the Penn Herb Company. And though I’ve only had these bitters with one whiskey drink and one spiced rum drink, I am already enamored with them. They’re that little-something-extra-you-can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on that takes your drink over the top.

Vanilla Coconut Maple Bitters | Snowflake Kitchen

Vanilla Coconut Maple Bitters
Adapted from Imbibe Magazine’s Homemade Vanilla Bitters

1 cup Onyx Moonshine (or other high proof neutral liquor)
1 scant teaspoon gentian root
4 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 tablespoon fenugreek
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
Grade B maple syrup, to taste

Decorticate the cardamom (apparently that is the correct word!) and then toast the peppercorns, fenugreek, cardamom and coconut over medium-low heat until fragrant. Take care not to burn the pan. Add your toasted spices to a glass jar that has a lid – either a locking jar with a gasket or a mason jar will work well. After scraping, cut the vanilla pods in half so that they completely submerge and can fully infuse the ‘shine. Add the gentian root, vanilla and add Onyx to cover. If you don’t have high-test moonshine to work with, grain alcohol would work just fine. I find that a higher proof alcohol really does make a difference here – spring for the high-test hooch, people. The bitters need to infuse for a while – start tasting after three weeks or so. Once you can taste all of the flavors, strain and add maple syrup to taste – I ended up adding approximately 1/4 cup. Bottle into a smaller jar, or better yet find a vessel with an eyedropper. The coconut makes the bitters taste almost creamy, and the dark maple syrup and fenugreek add an almost malty flavor. I’m sure these are only the latest in a long line of bitters experiments.

So make these, tweak to your taste, and invite me over. I’ll bring chutney and cheese and we can catch up. And thank you for sticking around – I am so looking forward to many good things in store for the future.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bitter

If you’ve been making double duty syrups and infusions for a while, no doubt you’ve been imbibing some homemade cocktail greatness. And while they can be spectacular (one Kate here, requesting rhubarbarita delivery, stat), sometimes they can fall a little flat. Bubbles are pretty great most of the time. Plastic bottle rotgut or top shelf artisanal spirits – depending on your mood, both have their place. Though, I still have yet to find a place for watered down light beer or jagermeister. Not even since during college. But it all can get kind of boring after a while. Nothing a little secret ingredient can’t fix.

Want to take your cocktail nerd up to eleven? Bitters, my friend.

Grapefruit Vanilla Bitters with Pink Peppercorns and Cardamom by Snowflake Kitchen

Not just that funky bottle with the label torn off in the back of your Dad’s liquor cabinet. (No? Just mine? Ok then.) Homemade bitters are the secret ingredient that you can never figure out. The one thing that takes your drink over the top and makes it not just memorable, but elevates it to obsessive.

So forgive me if this post finds itself a bit late in terms of seasonality, but good organic citrus can be found year round, even if the great stuff is more of a winter thing. Make it anyway. Your future cocktail nerd won’t regret it.

Grapefruit Vanilla Bitters with Pink Peppercorns and Cardamom
Adapted from Autumn’s Grapefruit Bitters with Juniper
Rind of approximately 2 grapefruits
3 tablespoons pink peppercorns
10 cardamom pods, cracked
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
Onyx Moonshine, to cover

First off, wash and peel your grapefruit. Supreme it if you want, and make Marisa’s Grapefruit Jam or AJ’s Preserved Grapefruit with Mint Sugar Syrup with the fruit. Or just dip it some vanilla sugar and scarf it – you’ll thank me later. Chop the rind into small pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients and top with a high-proof liquor. Everclear and vodka work just fine, but I was lucky enough to have Onyx Moonshine on hand. Surely you’ve heard of ‘shine – its unaged whiskey – and this particular spirit is particularly delicious. Onyx is a local product for me and business that I love, and just so happens to make great bitters. I highly suggest you seek it out for yourself.

Grapefruit Vanilla Bitters with Pink Peppercorns and Cardamom by Snowflake Kitchen

Long story short: peel your grapefruit, use the fruit elsewhere, add everything to a jar, top with Onyx, and wait. Start tasting after 3ish weeks or so. Unlike other bitters made with bitter herbs, this one takes a while to infuse. I was happy with mine after a month, but yours may need to age for a longer or shorter amount of time. Add a tablespoon or so, and taste. You can always add more. (Note: for true bitters made with bitter herbs, most recipes call for only a drop. Citrus pith bitters are less intense, and you should add more volume to get the same bang for your buck). The grapefruit and vanilla play wonderfully with gin or St. Germain in a cocktail.

PS: I also made a meyer lemon version with coriander, ginger, chile and bay leaf with the same method. It’s really great when mixed with Bulleit Rye Whiskey. Make that too.