Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome to Fall!

Hi guys! I'm CJ. Nick and Adam have kindly allowed me to push my love of fall and apples on you all here at Chill The Glass. So! I love fall. It is my favorite season and so of course I live in a place where it doesn’t show up until mid to late October. This does not deter me from buying boots in August and tapping my foot waiting for that first day of slightly under 60 degrees. Since the temperature dipped to a scandalous 58 degrees at 2am on the first day of autumn I’m celebrating the start of the season with some drinks that bring the fall spirit into my house.
First is a Jack & Rose, no not that Jack & Rose, this drink is all about tart and sweet not freezing in the Atlantic Ocean. These are perfect for those of us in a less chilly climate who want a snappy cocktail to remind us of the leaves changing in other more deciduous places. Since fall is all about the apples I love applejack as it is one of the most delicious ways to drink them. Applejack is an American apple brandy and Laird’s is the easiest to find.
Glass Type: cocktail glass
Ingredients:                
  • 2 ounces applejack
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
Instructions
Shake the applejack and other ingredients well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  

I tend to go a little lighter on the grenadine because this can get too sweet if you aren’t careful. Also be aware that Rose’s Lime Juice, which is a common bar component, is sweetened (and says so in the name!) so use fresh lime juice for this one. The best part of this cocktail is that tartness and you don’t want to cover it up with a lot of sugar.

Second is a drink I call an Autumn Breeze. I found two incredible things last year, one was Red Jacket New York and the other was a spirits company called Art in the Age. Red Jacket is juice from apples so fresh it’s like you pressed your own. But I’m busy so they did it for me, do we live in a wonderful age or what? Art in the Age has a line of craft spirits and they are all delicious but my favorite is Snap. It’s a gingersnap in a bottle and wow, it is amazing! I couldn’t resist combining it to make something refreshing for those yummy fall afternoons.

Glass Type: highball glass
Ingredients:                
  • 3 ounces of Red Jacket Fuji Apple Juice
  • 2 ounces of Snap
  • Blood Orange Italian Soda
Instructions
Pour the apple juice and Snap over ice, top with blood orange soda
 
These are great made by the pitcher for brunch. The blood orange soda gives it a very pretty colour and these don’t pack a big punch so you don’t feel hung-over by noon!

Third and last a nice spicy drink with a kick for those nights when it actually starts to get cold and you need a warm up. I love mulled cider and spiked mulled cider is even better. If you can get your cider locally pressed it’s always preferable but for those who can’t Zeigler’s is a grocery store standard that’s perfectly serviceable. I like to doctor mine up with extra spice so it does double duty of being delicious and making the house smell good at the same time. This one is a tad bit time consuming because of the mulling but it’s so worth it.

Ingredients
  • ½ gallon of apple cider (not hard cider, Spiced Zeigler’s is a favorite if I can’t get local pressed) 
  • 6 cloves 
  • 3-4 star anise 
  • ¼ nutmeg, finely grated into the pan 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
Instructions
Pour the cider into a large pan on a low heat and let it warm through for a few minutes. Add all the spices turn the heat up. Once you see bubbles, turn down to a simmer and leave to tick away for 5–8 minutes. Be careful not to let this boil and do give it a stir. If you happen to wander off you will have lovely apple syrup but that's not what we want here. I wonder how I know that?

Once your cider is nice and warm and smelling fantastic, ladle about 4 ounces into a big mug and go for the spike! I add 1ounce of Applejack (Lairds) and 1 ounce of Scotch (preferably a very peaty one, I like Laphroig 10 year). The applejack is such a complement to the cider and the scotch adds the perfect smoky note that I love. If you really cannot stand a peaty scotch I would go with the more traditional bourbon, I keep Woodford Reserve in the house and it’s a good substitute that will give a mellow mapley note.

Let me know if you make any of these and enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Recipe Roundup

I've been making a bunch of fun stuff this summer, working my way through some of the weirder-sounding recipes I've been clipping. I have enough now that I can call it a roundup instead of just plagiarism!

Bourbon Brûlé

The NY Times ran this article on bourbon and ginger, two of my favorite things. Of the three recipes, the Nor'easter was fine but unexciting, the Bufala Negra was revolting (I may need fancier balsamic vinegar but I'm not convinced it's worth trying again), and the Bourbon Brûlé was amazing. I had picked up some Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur and this was the perfect use for it. The caramelized orange slice is a little twee, but it really makes the drink and it's so pretty!


Ligurian Sea

Another pretty one. Mostly I'm proud of myself for getting the float right. I don't care for absinthe (or anything licorice/anisey) but I was curious about this (on a Cynar kick) and it worked. The absinthe blends with the other flavors in a way that mellows it out. I actually missed the step in the recipe about mixing the absinthe with water, so mine was stronger than intended! Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut.


Cameron's Cooler


We usually throw a big holiday party but don't do much other entertaining, so when we had some people over earlier this summer I was excited to try a couple of recipes from Food and Wine's feature on pitcher drinks. The Ginger Shandies seemed like the safe choice, and the Cameron's Cooler the wacky experiment. The Shandies went almost untouched, and I had to make a second batch of the Cooler. I'm not even sure how to describe it. Wine and Scotch? It shouldn't work but it does. Oddly refreshing.

Count Camillo's Derby

Another from Cocktail Virgin Slut, the Count Camillo's Derby is a nice twist on the Negroni. If you find Negronis too bitter, you might find this minty version refreshing.


The Catcher

Another from the Times, The Catcher is a nice twist on a Sidecar.

The St. Alicia

This one came from Twitter one Sunday night. Forgive me, I've lost the attribution. If it was you, please speak up! 

1 shot St. Germain
2 shots tequila
juice of 1 lime

Serve over ice in a tumbler with a salted rim, accompanied by several episodes of The Good Wife.

It's a nice twist on a margarita, with St. Germain replacing the Cointreau or Triple Sec. It's a little more tart and vaguely herbal.


Sour Cherry Gin Muddler

I think I've mentioned here before that I'm obsessed with sour cherries. I hoard them at the farmers' market during their incredibly short season, pit them and freeze them for use all year -- mostly for cocktail cherries, plus the occasional pie. I'm keeping some out of the freezer this year to keep playing with the NY Times' Sour Cherry Gin Muddler, which is super simple but of course changes dramatically depending on what type of gin you use. My favorite so far is St. George Spirits' Botanivore but I have more I want to try. Adding a splash of cherry juice to up the cherry flavor is nice too.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Cocktail Invention: The Flotilla

Although I'm obviously a fan of all sorts of wild and crazy cocktails, my wife Alexis prefers to keep things simple, especially when it comes to at-home drinking; she usually opts for a gimlet or a greyhound, if she's not just sticking with wine. So I was pretty stoked the other night when she asked me to create something new for her. The stipulations were thus: She wanted a drink with spiced rum (to go with the warmer-than-usual-for-April weather), lime juice, and something floral.

Right away I knew the trickiest part of this process would be to avoid making the drink overly sweet, like something a freshman would drink at a sorority party. I'd considered just making a St. Rita (tequila, St. Germain, lime juice) with the rum in place of the tequila, but the combined sweetness of the St. Germain and the rum would surely push the sugar meter too high. So I decided to cut the rum half-and-half with vodka, which would keep the booze quotient up but not impart any unwanted flavors. Alexis was happy with the results and I was excited to add something new to the cocktail pantheon.

I called it a Flotilla because the rum and lime juice both have obvious nautical connotations, and also I just like the word.



FLOTILLA

Recipe by Nick

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce spiced rum

0.5 ounce lime juice

0.5 ounce St. Germain

Combine all ingredients and shake with plenty of ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with a lime wheel.

Some notes while I sip this:

- A lot of spiced rums are pretty awful and full of artificial flavors to mask the poor quality of the actual rum. Those are probably fine if you're going to mix them with Coke or whatever, but if you want one good enough to sip on its own, I highly recommend Chairman's Reserve (which is what I used in this drink). It's what they pour at Red Medicine, so I think my opinion is well supported on this.

- Do you know about these ice cube trays? They're pretty great (and cheap) and you should get them if you want perfect ice cubes in your drink.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Talking hangovers with a medical expert

I'm pretty sure I never got a single hangover before my late 20's, but ever since then I've gotten plenty; in fact, I seem more prone to them then the average person. And, sure, there have been lists of so-called "hangover cures" circulating since the dawn of the printing press. But if they worked for everyone, we probably wouldn't be complaining about them anymore, right?

I wanted to learn more about hangovers, what causes them, and why some people get them more often (and more severely) than others. So I decided to invite an actual medical professional to the west coast Chill The Glass headquarters for a discussion on the topic. Luckily for me, I didn't need to look far to find one; my wife, Alexis Rheinwald-Jones, is a clinical nurse practitioner who specializes in nutrition-based medicine, metabolism, and other food- (and drink-) related issues.

Here's what she had to say about the chemistry behind the morning-after blues.

*   *   *   *

When I'm having a hangover, what's actually going on in my body?

Well, there are several ways in which alcohol disrupts your normal physiology. One of the main factors is dehydration; alcohol pulls water out through your cell membranes and into your bloodstream, where it gets excreted out by your kidneys. That's why you have to pee so much when you drink. The dehydration is the main thing that causes your headaches the day after, so it's really important to hydrate as much as possible while you're drinking. Alcohol also causes your blood vessels to dilate, which contributes to headaches as well.

What about queasiness and nausea? Is that also caused by dehydration?

It can be, but there are several other factors as well. Alcohol irritates your stomach and the lining of your intestines; it causes your blood sugar to fluctuate quite rapidly -- moreso than most foods; and it generally causes an inflammatory response in your immune system, and all those things can make you feel nauseated. Also, in the morning you're coming off the neurotransmitter high that makes you feel good when you're drinking, and that dip can make you queasy (as well as depressed and irritable).

Why do some people get worse hangovers than others?

Food allergies (and your immune system's response to them) are one factor. If you're allergic to potatoes, and you drink a bunch of potato-based vodka, you're obviously not going to feel good because your immune system is working hard to combat it. And people with a lot of food allergies are definitely going to be more prone to hangovers, assuming they're regularly being exposed to those allergens, because their immune system is always on overdrive and therefore their body can't devote as many resources to processing alcohol.

Aside from that, differences in your genetics and your environment can make your body more or less efficient at fixing the imbalances that alcohol causes (dehydration and so forth).  In functional medicine, we're always looking for the most "upstream" cause; in other words, the most basic thing in the body that's causing the symptom. So, if someone is more prone to a hangover, their cell membranes could be having more trouble holding in water (which would cause more dehydration). Or they could have a hormonal imbalance that causes their blood vessels to dilate more easily, which would also make them more prone to headaches.

What are some possible ways to prevent a hangover from happening the next day, either while drinking or after drinking?

Again, if there's something else in your health that's out of balance, you can bet that that thing is contributing to whatever you're feeling during your hangover. So it's a good idea to try to find and address that issue. But in the short term, there are some things you can do to generally help the organs that are responsible for getting things back into balance after you drink.

For most people, it's a good idea to drink about twelve ounces of water per serving of alcohol (i.e., an ounce and a half of hard liquor, five ounces of wine, or twelve ounces of beer). Ideally, you should drink water in between alcoholic drinks, because you'll be more effective at getting in a greater volume of water if you spread it out of a longer time; also, you won't be consuming alcohol in such a concentrated dose at once, so you're giving your body more time to process it.  Eating food while you're drinking can be helpful too; again, you're giving your body more time to process the alcohol.

Beyond that, some specific supplements can be helpful in preventing hangovers. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) and gamma linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid that's found in evening primrose oil) are both anti-inflammatory and can help to combat the inflammation that alcohol causes. Milk thistle and dandelion root are some of the supplements that help speed up liver function and get your body to process alcohol more quickly. There are also enzymes in your liver that de-activate the toxins in alcohol so they can be excreted, and some of the nutrients that help with that de-activation are B-vitamins, SAM-e, and N-acetyl cystine.

With the supplements you mentioned, is it typically more effective to take them before drinking, or after drinking?

In my personal experience, it's most effective to take them both before and after (and both of those should be before you go to sleep). And then if there are lingering effects in the morning, maybe try another dose.

Because of the differences in genetics, food sensitivity, etc. that you mentioned before, will some of these supplements be more effective or less effective from person to person?

Definitely. For example, if you're someone who's more prone to dehydration due to your cell membranes releasing water too easily, the fatty acids I mentioned could be the most helpful. Or, if your liver isn't processing alcohol as efficiently, the milk thistle/dandelion root will be more effective.

Why is it that I never seem to get hangovers two days in a row, even if I drink again the second day?

I think this is just a self-moderation effect. Even if you're not consciously trying to temper your drinking the second night, your body is sending you messages to remind you of how you felt that morning, and that can affect your choices. So even if you're drinking a fair amount on day two, you're probably not going to add the bag full of Cheetos or big handful of M&Ms or whatever else might compound the effects of alcohol and give you another hangover.

Some people (such as Roger Sterling) think that clear liquors are less likely to give you a hangover than dark liquors. Is there any reason why that would be true?

Yeah, there is some truth to that, at least for some people. Dark liquors get their coloring from something called congeners, which are a byproduct of the fermentation process; clear liquors usually have them filtered out. And some people are sensitive to congeners; their immune system perceives them as a toxin and fights them, so those people would definitely feel worse drinking dark liquors. It's possible that, since congeners are a yeast byproduct, people who are sensitive to them might have candida or another yeast colonization. But there's also an argument for a genetic component; if you're better at processing congeners, maybe you had ancestors who had more of them in their diets.

Okay, now let's hear your thoughts on some of the more popular day-after hangover cures. Tell me what might make each of these effective (or not).

Hair of the dog (generally):

This can be useful for the anesthesia effect, since alcohol generally helps you be less attentive to things that are bothering you. But there's also some discomfort produced by the effect of alcohol rapidly leaving your system, so having a little extra the next day can slow down that process so it doesn't feel as bad. That being said, even if it does make you feel better, you are making a little more work for your body by giving it more alcohol.

Having a Bloody Mary at brunch the next day:

It works because you're getting the anesthesia plus electrolytes, which can help with the dehydration issue. And the nutrients in the tomato juice might help your liver and kidneys be slightly more effective at speeding up the clean-up process. But the same caveat applies about the alcohol ultimately taxing your body a little more.

Greasy diner food:

Actually, even though it's not that great for you, there certainly are some reasons why this would help. There's a lot in eggs that's helpful -- the lecithin helps with cell membrane repair, and good quality eggs are fairly anti-inflammatory and can be a good source of omega-3. Consuming fat, in general, causes a domino effect that makes your gallbladder contract and enables your liver to empty a little more of the toxins you took in the night before, so that can help speed things along. And the carbs in the diner food (potatoes and toast and whatnot) certainly can help re-equilibrate your blood sugar, which might be low after a night of drinking.

In general, you're probably just going to need more food the day after heavy drinking, so if you're trying to stick to a strict diet, be aware that it's going to be pretty hard to get right back on immediately after a bender.

Coconut water:

Again, it can be helpful in restoring your blood sugar, and also the specific blend of electrolytes in coconut water is very absorbable, so for a lot of people this can be a way to feel better quickly. Potassium also leaves your body when you get dehydrated, and coconut water is usually fortified with it.

Pain medication:

I'm not a big fan of most pharmaceutical pain meds because they all have negative side effects. That said, the anti-inflammatory element of ibuprofen can certainly make you feel better. (But don't take it on an empty stomach.) Tylenol isn't the best thing to take after drinking because it taxes your liver the same way alcohol does.

Vigorous exercise:

This can definitely help some people feel better. Exercise can be a remedy for a lot of issues because it causes your body to make all its chemical reactions happen faster; it increases production of enzymes to speed up your metabolism.

Just staying in bed:

Sure. Your headache isn't going to kill you, which means it's going to go away eventually. Time is the great healer.

* * * *

Alexis Rheinwald-Jones is the founder and lead practitioner of Alexis Health. Check out her website for more health tips and information on her practice, or click here to subscribe to her monthly newsletter. On Twitter, she's @alexishealth.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good booze for sipping

My booze preferences are nothing if not mercurial, and right now I find myself in a mode where I don't often feel like mixing an actual cocktail for myself. But I don't want my contributions to this blog to dry up just because I'm tending toward laziness, so instead I'll talk about some spirits that are great all by themselves, with nothing added but ice (and maybe not even that).

Sipping candidate #1: Bourbon

If you're ordering bourbon in any small-town bar in Kentucky, you ask for it straight up or you risk a lot of funny looks from the bartender and your fellow patrons. (I know this not because I've actually been to Kentucky, but because I am a regular viewer of "Justified.") Maybe you'd like to practice at home before you make the trip. Here are some of my favorite bourbons that stand up quite well on their own.

Pricey pick: Blanton's Single Barrel ($50)

Even the most pretentious of boozehounds will be impressed if they see a bottle of this on your shelf, and rightly so. It's rich, sweet, smooth, and delicious, and at 92 proof it'll take the edge off rather quickly but also won't burn your throat going down even if you drink it neat.

Affordable pick: Bulleit ($25)

Bulleit is very good bourbon, and it's also fairly ubiquitous (not advertised-during-NFL-games ubiquitous, but available-in-most-decent-liquor-stores ubiquitous). Great in an Old Fashioned or all by itself, and therefore a wise choice for your liquor cabinet.


Sipping candidate #2: Rum

Like tequila, rum is known to most people as strictly a cocktail ingredient (or something reluctantly gulped from a shot glass). That's because Bacardi has essentially cornered the international rum market, almost to the extent that "Bacardi" and "rum" are as interchangeable as "Kleenex" and "tissues." Bacardi is perfectly suitable in a mojito or a piña colada, but it's definitely not for sipping. If you want to consume rum straight-up, aged rum is the only way to go.

Because of its dark color, aged rum can easily be mistaken for dark rum, even though the two spirits are nothing alike. Dark rum is basically light (read: clear) rum with coloring and flavoring added. Aged rum, like bourbon or scotch, gets its amber tint from spending many years in a barrel. Therefore, a good aged rum might actually remind you more of whiskey than it does other types of rum, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Pricey pick: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year ($40)

Slightly-less-pricey pick: Cruzan Single Barrel ($30)

Either of these is a great choice for sipping on a warm summer evening. Throw in a lime wedge if you really want to live it up.


Sipping candidate #3: Mezcal

In the past few years mezcal has emerged from relative obscurity to become a popular component of many craft cocktails. The shorthand way of describing mezcal is to say that it's the scotch of tequila; it's aged much longer and tends to have the same kind of smoky flavor associated with scotch. Because it has such an intense and distinct taste, it'll come through strongly even in a cocktail where it's a minority ingredient. But once you've tried it in a cocktail, you may be tempted (as I was) to see what it's like on its own. The answer: Pretty damn fantastic.

Mega-pricey pick: El Jogorio Espadin ($80)

I know, I know. This is definitely a once-in-a-while purchase for once-in-a-while sipping. (Or you can go Full Gwyneth and give bottles out as party favors at your next locavore BBQ. Up to you.) It has some very distinct notes that separate it from even most top-tier mezcals, although I am neither knowledgable enough nor pretentious enough to be able to tell you exactly what those notes are.

Regular-pricey pick: Alipus San Baltazar Guelavila ($40)

Mezcal is priced pretty similarly to single-malt scotch, so there aren't a lot of good choices below this price point; however, the Alipus is great on its own or in cocktails, and it doesn't have the overly-smoky profile that I've tasted in some cheaper mezcals.


Sipping candidate #4: Aquavit

Here comes the weird one. Aquavit (or akvavit) is a very popular spirit in Scandinavia but a total unknown to most Americans. It's similar to vodka in that it's distilled from grain or potatoes and typically comes in at 80 proof, but the flavor is quite different. As with gin, herbal infusions help to take away the astringent alcohol-y taste, but the most unique (and noticeable) element is caraway. That's right, caraway. So if you're intrigued by hard liquor that tastes vaguely of rye bread, aquavit is your pick! (Seriously, it's worth a try. Twenty million beautiful blonde people can't all be wrong.)

Fairly-affordable pick that is also the only one I've seen for sale in the States: Linie ($30)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Improved Dirty Martini

I love olives. Put pretty much any kind of olive in front of me and I'll eat it. I also love martinis, and I'll put as many olives in the glass as it will hold. So I'm very excited to try the Olives 7 Ways, as described in this New York Times article, "The Dirty Martini Cleans Up Well."

Fortunately, to tide me over until I have time to get to the East Village, the article included a home version of the recipe, "The Improved Dirty Martini," and I made my first one tonight.



I couldn't find Perry's Tot (I didn't look very hard) so I used Dorothy Parker, for the very scientific reason that it's made by the same distiller and has the same label design. I did get Noilly Prat and the Cerignola olives. In lieu of an eye dropper, I dipped a chopstick into a small dish of olive oil and kind of flung the drops onto the drink. The drops are smaller than in the Times photo, but it worked.

Instead of a dish of olives on the side, I put a single Sicilian olive in the glass.

You guys, this thing is amazing. It's incredibly smooth, and you can taste the olive and the salt without it being olivey or salty, if that makes sense. It has a slight bitterness and tang that I really like. It really is a far cry from the "slop of random brine" of the classic dirty martini. The olive oil adds a scent more than anything. I was worried about the drink being oily but it's really just a garnish. Even on the last sip I never felt like I was drinking oil.

With the 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, I can see why a stronger gin was recommended, and I'm looking forward to trying different ones and playing around with the proportions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Brisa Frances

Okay, so you would not expect The Grove to be a place to find a good cocktail, and you certainly would not expect a bar called (ugh, I can barely even type this) Mixology 101 to be the establishment that would serve said cocktail. And yet, dear readers (both of you!) that is exactly the case. (Editor's note: I will be censoring the bar's name from now on because I find it that offensive.)

The menu at M******y 101 is pretty extensive, with a solid mix of the old-school and the new-fangled.  Since I'm perfectly capable of making the former at home, I opted for one of the modern drinks, the Brisa Frances. (I did ask the bartender if he could make a Holland Razor Blade, but alas, they had no cayenne.) And luckily for me, M******y 101 has the recipes for many of their cocktails printed on the walls, so I didn't have to awkwardly ask the bartender for the exact measurements.

I'm always partial to mezcal cocktails, as well as anything with a touch of absinthe (or a lot of absinthe, or just plain absinthe), and I also love a good cucumber margarita, so the Brisa Frances seemed like an ideal choice.  As expected, it was refreshing and delicious and just the right amount smoky.



***

Recipe (transcribed from the walls at this place):

1.5 ounces mezcal


0.75 ounce agave syrup

0.75 ounce lime juice

0.25 ounce absinthe

0.5 ounce cucumber juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass with fresh ice cubes, and top with soda water and a cucumber peel.

***

Some notes:

- Mezcal is easier to find than it used to be. BevMo sells a few varieties, and even less well-stocked liquor stores often have one or two. As with any other spirit, you can safely buy a cheaper variety if you're going to use it exclusively in cocktails like this one, but if you want one that's good for both mixing and sipping, you should probably get something in the $30-40 range.

- As far as making cucumber juice goes, if you don't have a juicer at home, you have a few options. You can put cucumber in a blender or food processor and strain it, or just go to a juice bar and have them juice you up a pint or so of cucumber-only.  It should keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

- There are a couple of brands of absinthe you can buy in 100-ml bottles like this one, which is ideal if you just want to be able to add a splash of it to a drink like this one (or for rinsing the glass to make a Sazerac). We'll get into sipping absinthe in a subsequent post.

- To make agave syrup, mix agave nectar (the squeeze-bottle stuff you buy at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) with equal parts boiling water, stir it up, and let cool. You'll end up with a much thinner liquid that dissolves more easily in drinks (especially cold drinks), and it'll last longer too. (And don't worry, it's still insanely sweet even in diluted form.)