Archive for the 'beverages' Category

Winter Sangria with Rosemary and Ginger

Winter Sangria 2

It’s really just patriotic of me to mix up a big (red!) pitcher of sangria to warm us up as we sit planted in front of the TV this weekend, right? Sangria is my go-to when we have friends over – it’s like mulled wine, minus the heat, which leads me to conclude that sangria isn’t actually a summer drink – although my mind might change mid-July – it’s for the bleak midwinter, when there’s citrus aplenty and it’s just too chilly for a bubbly cocktail. The first batch was all oranges and lime, and I replenished it with sliced apples. (This is another great (dangerous) thing about sangria – the pitcher is bottomless if you replenish it over the course of the evening.)

winter sangria 1

About ten years ago, when we lived in Vancouver, we made sangria using cheap wine and Five Alive. I’ve only slightly upgraded my choice of wine, and haven’t stopped the Five Alive part. Usually I upend a bottle of red into a pitcher with said Five Alive and a whack of fruit, but recently I made some ginger syrup for something or other, and we had sangria with fresh rosemary and star anise at some restaurant or other, and all of the above are wintery flavours if ever there were any.

Ginger syrup

Use oranges or tangerines or lemons or limes or the last few wrinkly mandarins, and you can get away with cheap (but not too cheap) wine. And if you’re going to add sugar to your sangria, which is pretty typical, why not make it ginger syrup? Simmer equal parts sugar and water with a schwack of sliced fresh ginger, strain it into a jar, and keep it in the fridge for adding to soda (homemade ginger ale!) or vinaigrettes or cocktails. Or sangria.

Winter Sangria 3

To hold the ginger – without is just as delicious – just leave the syrup out. Taste your sangria and add a spoonful of sugar if it needs it, or not. It’s your sangria.

Just make sure you add a few good friends to the mix and it’ll be perfect.

Winter Sangria with Rosemary and Ginger

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3-4 slices fresh ginger
1 L Five Alive
1 bottle red wine
a sprig or two of fresh rosemary
a few slices of orange and/or apple
a few whole star anise or cinnamon sticks

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and ginger to a simmer; remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pour through a sieve into a jar and store in the fridge.

To make sangria, pour the Five Alive and red wine into a large pitcher. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, some orange and/or apple slices, a few whole star anise if you have them, and a pour of ginger syrup – a couple tablespoons to start, then more to taste. Stir and let sit for an hour before serving. Serves 2-8.

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February 09 2014 | beverages | 12 Comments »

Gatherings: Mixed Drink Mix Tape (A Side)

mixed drink mix tape

It’s pouring rain outside as I write this, but we’re hoping for a sunnier weekend, and even if that doesn’t happen this week (and it likely won’t, due to the fact that we have both our community parade of garage sales AND W’s very first soccer tournament AND an outdoor birthday party to attend) inevitably there will be some sunny occasion over the next few months that calls for a cocktail. And so for our series of posts on easy/fun/totally doable gatherings, Jan and I decided to round up a few simple drinks that will make your stoop the one on the block to hang around on. (I’m trying hard not to resort to the phrase “easy summer entertaining”, but you get the gist.)

And speaking of casual summer parties, there’s a reason they call it a mixer – the idea is that you mix things up, and mix people up, and mix drinks up… right? and the same goes for the mix tape, doesn’t it? I miss the mix tape – in the eighties, we’d spend hours compiling mix tapes that conveyed how much we cared about our friends/boyfriends/friends’ boyfriends. Mike made me a few mix tapes – I think that’s how I knew he liked me. So since most gatherings involve music (at our house, anyway), I decided to look to our CD collection for cocktail inspiration and make a mix tape for you – of songs and cocktails to go with them. Why not?

Here goes:

Whiskey in the Jar by Thin Lizzy/Metallica: because who doesn’t love drinking whiskey out of a jar on the front porch when it’s hot outside? While you’re at it, fan yourself with a rolled-up newspaper.
(To make ginger syrup, simmer 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water and a few slices of fresh ginger. Chill.)

Whiskey Ginger

One Mint Julep by The Clovers (also Ray Charles): this song makes me want to invite a few friends over to lounge in the grass or swing in a hammock (if we had enough for everybody), drink blackberry mint juleps in bare feet, and eat pie.

Blackberry mint julep

Orange Crush by R.E.M.: here’s a dreamy sweet treat: squeeze a good juicy orange over a scoop of good vanilla ice cream (or use Orange Crush); add a shot of vanilla vodka for the grown-ups.

Orange float

Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) by The Doors: this is a good excuse to make a whiskey sour, which seem to be trendy these days. (Maybe it’s Mad Men?) To make one, shake 2 oz. whiskey, 1 oz. lemon (or Meyer lemon! or grapefruit!) juice and 1-2 tsp. sugar with ice; strain into a glass. Or mix them up by the pitcherful in the same ratio. Oh don’t ask why…

Whiskey sour

It’s Martini Time by Reverend Horton Heat: I’m not a big martini-maker, but now I’m wondering why that is. I acquired a pair of martini glasses at a second hand shop; now I must retrieve my shaker from the tub toy area and put it to proper use. For a raspberry-lime martini, muddle raspberries with sugar, then add 1 – 1 1/2 oz. regular or raspberry vodka, 1 oz. lime juice and a splash of raspberry or cranberry juice or soda. If you like, shake it all up first and strain it into a glass with a fresh raspberry.

Raspberry lime martini

The B Side is over at Rolling Spoon – Brass Monkey by the Beastie Boys, Lemon by U2, Horchata by Vampire Weekend and Little Cream Soda by The White Stripes – with cocktails!

As always, Jan came up with a bunch of fun summer drinks – some not so boozy. They’re definitely worth perusing too – along with your own mix tape.

What’s your favourite summer cocktail? And song to go with it?

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May 29 2013 | beverages | 12 Comments »

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