Category Archives: Cocktails & Booze

drinking bloody marias at home + recipe

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

  Are you craving summer yet, Eugene?

After days on end of living under a hazy grey ocean of freezing fog that turned the city monochrome, the sun is out and teasing us with thoughts of July. This sunshine won’t last long, and I do hope our seasonal rains will finally arrive and soak the earth as they should, but I just can’t help basking in it all the same.

One of my favorite ways to celebrate this fleeting mirage has been to sip a spicy homemade Bloody Maria. Why a Bloody Maria rather than a Bloody Mary? Well, why drink vodka when you can have tequila! This classic brunch cocktail is actually perfect any time of year. In the summertime, you can make it with fresh tomato juice picked and squished straight from the garden or garnish with thinly sliced jalapenos. When the weather turns cool, a Bloody Maria can warm you up with its wonderful heat while also showcasing the gorgeous pickled veggies you canned over the year. Plus, it’s kind of medicinal with loads of vitamin C and the diaphoretic action from horseradish and hot sauce, which helps boost the immune system. Cough, cough.

For many years I thought I didn’t like Bloody Marys at all, but that was before we started making them at home with good quality ingredients. Making your own bloody mix isn’t difficult and is sooo worth the little bit of extra effort. It’s also a really flexible recipe that can be played with to create unique concoctions. Try using infused booze, like serrano pepper or black peppercorn tequila, some fire cider in place of the hot sauce is amazing, and don’t forget to experiment with the endless garnish possibilities out there – mini burritos, jalapeno poppers, or grilled cheese sliders, anyone?

Here’s how to make the perfect Bloody Maria at home…

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

bloody maria recipe

2 to 3 oz. good tequila
4 oz. organic tomato juice
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice
1/2 oz. worcestershire
fresh grated or good quality prepared horseradish to taste
pinch organic celery salt
hot sauce (or fire cider) to taste
fresh cracked organic black pepper and fine sea salt to taste
fresh ice cubes
Garnish: pickled onions, dilly beans, green olives, celery stalk, lime wedge, etc.

Combine all ingredients (minus the garnishes) together in a glass and stir. Add horseradish, hot sauce, salt, and pepper until it tastes nice and spicy and to your liking. Fill a metal shaker with fresh ice. Gently pour your Bloody Maria over the ice in the metal shaker and then pour back into the glass. Do this several times to mix all the ingredients well and to properly chill the drink. Be careful not to let it froth up! Once cold, strain into an ice-filled collins glass and garnish to your heart’s content.

 

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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8 home bar basics: how to make great craft cocktails and save the party

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

1. Measure your pours.

The biggest mistake home barkeeps make is not properly measuring the ingredients in a drink. Making a cocktail is all about balance. You need a jigger or one of these awesome measuring glasses with ounces, teaspoons, tablespoons, and millilitres. I recommend starting with classic cocktail recipes and learning ratios before experimenting with your own creations. This is a good way to learn what components work well together and how much of each to use when crafting. Get a copy of Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide here to start practicing old tried-and-trues. This will lead to confidence and inspiration in your home bar!

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

2. Use fresh ice.

Ice is actually an essential ingredient in most cold cocktails, since the water that melts as you stir or shake a drink helps to dilute, meld, and mellow the other components. Sometimes ice absorbs the weird old stale aromatics lingering in your freezer from leftover food and who-knows-what other ghosts of meals past. That can ruin your drink. Clean your ice trays often, use good water, and put some baking soda in the fridge/freezer. It’s also fun to have ice cubes of different shapes and sizes. Use larger ice for slow sipping liquor drinks, as the ice will melt slower and keep your drink nice and cold longer.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

3. Squeeze fresh fruit juice.

This is especially important for lime and lemon juice, although any fresh-pressed juice will elevate your cocktails. If you are using one of these manual citrus presses, you can expect about 1 ounce of juice per lemon or lime, 2.5 ounces per orange, and 8 ounces for a ripe grapefruit. Avoid concentrated and artificially flavored juices when possible.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

4. Have garnishes on hand.

Fresh sliced citrus peel (twisted to release and spritz the oils), good quality cocktail cherries, olives, fresh herbs like basil and rosemary springs, organic cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise, artisan salts, fresh cracked peppercorns, celery, carrots, pickles, dilly beans, sugar, etc. I also love these metal garnish picks to help create a nice presentation.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

5. Stock mixers, bitters, and syrups.

Mixers are non-alcoholic ingredients or lower alcohol content ingredients in a cocktail recipe. We like to keep bottles of fruited or spiced liqueurs, organic tomato juice (I know, I know: see above), sweet and dry vermouth (BUY GOOD QUALITY VERMOUTH! Cheap vermouth will ruin your drink. I love the sweet Italian vermouth called Antica Formula, but you can also try the Cocchi or Dolin – keep it in the fridge), ginger brew, tonic water, a soda syphon, homemade sour mix (coming soon), champagne or prosecco, and of course, fresh citrus juice. You will also want to have bitters in the cabinet.

The bitter flavor is often shunned, but it’s necessary for both flavor balance and general health. Bitters stimulate the digestive system, which is why cocktails have been called apperitifs and digestifs throughout history – bitter aromatics stimulate appetite before a meal, encourage digestive prowess, and help relieve belt-loosening bloat. They also balance flavors and take the edge off of sweet and sour flavors. You’ll need Orange, Angustura, and Peychauds, but go ahead and grab a bottle of Cherry, Peach, or Whiskey Barrel bitters to try too.

You should also make a batch of simple syrup. Making a liquid sugar syrup for your sweetener ensures that the sweetness will be distributed more evenly throughout the mixture. They are simple to make too! Once you get that down, you can make all kinds of flavored syrups to play with in your creations. Having a bag of super fine caster sugar is a good idea too.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

6. Know when to stir vs when to shake.

Do you want your drink to be clear or frothy? Are you using something with bubbles? Milk? Egg? All of these require specific techniques. A good example of my first pet peeve is the classic Manhattan. Nine out of 10 times, a bartender will shake my Manhattan, serving a watery, chunky ice disappointment. This beautiful combination of bourbon, vermouth, and bitters likes to be stirred and strained to produce a silky cocktail that’s clear as a jewel.

Generally speaking, cocktails with fruit juice, eggs, and cream should be shaken, while drinks composed entirely of spirits should be stirred. How long should you shake? Look for frosty condensation to form on the outside of the shaker and then double strain using a boston strainer and a mesh strainer. For stirred drinks, fill a pint glass half with ice, add the cocktail ingredients, and stir using a bar spoon around the perimeter of the glass for about 20 seconds and then strain with a julep spoon.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

7. Use the right glass.

From tall Collins glasses for soda drinks, rocks glasses for old fashioneds, and pints for beer, to champagne flutes and toddy mugs, having the right glass is an important component of any drink. You can find my favorite glassware here: Kitchen and Bar Tools.

Cold cocktails should be poured into well-chilled glasses just before serving. This helps keep them cold longer and adds a nice frosted glow to the drink. We always keep a few glasses in the freezer, but you can also give them a quick freeze by swirling ice water in the glass for about 30 seconds and then dumping out before pouring the drink into the now chilled glass.

This technique also works for warming a mug, but you’d fill the cup with boiling water, allow it to heat up, and then dump before serving your hot drink.

 

8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

8. Buy good quality liquor.

Higher quality spirits make better tasting cocktails. However, you don’t have to break the piggy bank to stock your home bar. We usually pick up a bottle for the cabinet each week, always keeping staples stocked too. The first rule is NO PLASTIC BOTTLES. You always want to buy alcohol in glass to avoid nasty chemical leaching from the plastic. Gross! Generally, I’ve found that bottles priced at $25.00 or above to be reasonable for good quality liquor, while assorted liqueurs can range from $30 to $70 (and up from there if you’re really serious about making an investment and drinking some fantastic booze). We usually spend around $25 to $50 for vodka, $35 to $55 for bourbon, rum, and gin, and $35 to $70 for brandy, tequila, and cognac.

For more cocktail and home bar building tips visit: WHISKEY

 

Cheers!

 

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peach purée + golden balsamic shrub

Sweet Peach Purée + Golden Balsamic Shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

I know the memory of peach season is fading fast as the weeks fly. Summer is long gone now and the spindly limbed maples are dropping their flame-colored stars all around the city. While fall offers its own charms, I am so happy to have this preserved peach shrub, and Steven has been mixing up some tasty cocktails to celebrate.

Seriously, this is the most amazing deliciousness of a drinking vinegar I have made yet. The peaches were so juicy and sweet, that I changed up my usual technique to balance the flavor a bit more on the fruit side. Here’s how it went:

 

peach purée + golden balsamic shrub 

2 cups chopped fresh peaches

1.5 cups organic sugar

1.25 cups organic golden balsamic vinegar

Mix chopped peaches and sugar together in a jar and mash. Cap and allow the sugar to dissolve and draw out the peach juice for about 4 days in the refrigerator. Next pour the syrupy concoction into a blender and purée until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the vinegar and whiz in the blender until combined. Let the flavors meld for about a week in the fridge.

Now make this cocktail…

Peach Shrub Smash by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

peach shrub smash cocktail

2 oz good bourbon

1 oz peach shrub

juice of 1/2 a lime

ginger brew

Fill a shaker with fresh ice and pour in the bourbon, shrub, and lime juice. Shake and strain over an ice cube in a rocks glass. Top off the drink with bubbly ginger brew and enjoy.

 

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autumn star cocktail

Fall Cider Cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

We suited up for a good soak of fall rain and headed down to the annual Mushroom Festival at beautiful Mount Pisgah Arboretum. Besides the main event (an impressively HUGE wild mushroom display that is collected and organized by taxonomic classification by local mycologists and students) the festival also has on-site apple pressing and cider for sale! You know what that means? Fall cocktails!

Steven has been pretty excited for this cider. One of his favorite creations of the season pairs fresh apple juice with spicy ginger liqueur (he used Canton) and a nice smooth bourbon for a classic flavor combination. I like to let the apple garnish soak in the cocktail for a few minutes before nibbling. I can’t wait to sip this on the porch tomorrow night with jack-o’-lanterns glowing in the darkness of Halloween.

 

autumn star cocktail

Ingredients

1.5 oz to 2 oz bourbon

.5 oz ginger liqueur

4 oz Mount Pisgah apple cider

fresh grated organic sweet cinnamon

apple slice

Directions

Place a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Fill a shaker with fresh ice and pour in the bourbon, ginger liqueur, and apple cider. Shake and strain into the rocks glass. Garnish with an apple slice cut so the seed star shows and then grate fresh cinnamon over the top. You could also make this a hot toddy by warming up the apple cider and then pouring in the booze – served in a mug, of course!

 

Fall Cider Cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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homemade huckleberry booze

Huckleberry Recipes by Salt+Fat+Whiskey Huckleberry Recipes by Salt+Fat+Whiskey Huckleberry Recipes by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

Pushing through a dense web of bendy limbs, the sweetly perfumed stench of valerian fills my brain, making me dreamy as leaves crunch under my feet. With softly angled knees, I scan the bushes at eye-level for clustering orbs: cerulean, oxblood, indigo. Fingertips and smiling lips stained. My skin prickles at the thought of cougars stalking where trees meet the meadow and jealous bears watching me pluck their irresistible treats. I hope they don’t mind my visit. This is my favorite hike of the summer, and I’m not deterred…so far.

My basket becomes heavy with precious gems as rain soaks the ground. I will cherish this berry bounty all autumn and winter long. My little joys of summer.

 

Huckleberry Recipes by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

This year I decided to preserve my most favorite native fruit by making several preparations. (Don’t worry, I ate myself silly while harvesting too.) I briefly considered separating each Vaccinium species to test flavor nuances, but they each offer uniquely sweet, sour, and savory elements that make the combination really nice. Some are even kind of oniony! These recipes can also be made with plain old cultivated blueberries, or any other berry you’re going to really miss when the weather turns cold.

 

huckleberry honey cordial

This is my very first fruit cordial! I used the fruit spirits master recipe in the brand new and damn fantastic book Foraging and Feasting. I’ve read that fruit cordials age well as the alcohol mellows, but the authors of this book recommend drinking within a year. I am going to let this baby age for at least 3 months before trying, but I am curious to see how it holds up – if it lasts through the winter. 

1 cup huckleberries, mashed

4 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup

good vodka (gin or brandy)

Mash your huckleberries in a glass quart jar and then add the honey. Pour vodka over the fruit until filled to the top of the jar. Shake well! Allow to extract for a month in a cool, dark cabinet. Strain out the berries, making sure to mash out any remaining juice. Age for another month or two if you can wait. Serve in cocktails, mixed with champagne, or over ice.

 

huckleberry maple shrub

Thoughts of blueberry pancakes swimming in syrup came to mind as I was making this shrub. So, at the very last-minute, I grabbed my jug and poured that liquid heaven into my precious bubbling berries. This is the “hot method” for making shrubs, but you could also use the cold method found here and just add the maple syrup when you add the vinegar.

1 cup huckleberries

1/2 cup organic sugar

1/2 cup organic maple syrup

3/4 cup champagne vinegar

Heat 1 cup of water and the sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and gently simmer for 3 minutes. Add the berries and maple syrup, mashing them well with a fork, and simmer together on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add the vinegar and shake well. Allow to infuse and mellow for 5 days before straining.

 

drunken huckleberries

You can soak berries (or other fruits for that matter) in vodka for a week and then use the infusion to make tasty cocktails. The berries become little boozy nuggets as they plump with alcohol while also imparting sweetness and flavor. I love to add a few soaked fruits as a garnish to each glass as a nice nibbling treat. I infused 1 pint of vodka with 1/2 cup of huckleberries.

 

berry kamikaze cocktail 

1 1/2 oz berry infused vodka (drunken huckleberries above)

1 oz Cointreau (triple sec)

1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

1/4 oz simple syrup (optional)

1 spoonful of berries as garnish

Shake all ingredients together with fresh ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float the berries on top to garnish.

Huckleberry Recipes by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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how to make cocktail drinking vinegars: blackcap raspberry shrub + two cocktails

blackcap raspberry shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

Some people call me Huckleberry Hound. When fruiting season pops in the mountains, you’ll find me scanning the thick forest understory with berry eyes on. I love huckleberries, but truth be told, I’m easily wooed by any and every berry I’ve ever tasted, and those dazzling gems of the Rubus genus never fail to charm me.

A love of wild berries has inspired some local farms here in Eugene to grow untamed species and offer them up at the market. Like seeing an old friend, I was excited to spot one of my favorite berries a few weeks back, glistening darkly from the farm stand. Rubus leucodermis or Blackcap Raspberry is a native perennial that can be found growing erect and armed in fields, canyons, wooded hills, and lower mountains across the West, from Montana to Washington and south through California. You can identify a Blackcap pretty easily in fruit once you’ve tried them, and also by looking at the underside of the leaves for a light grayish to white tomentose or frosted appearance, which is in stark contrast to the vibrant, crinkly green leaf tops. You might also come across a “primocane” which is a new shoot of the bramble with a glaucous or silvery color to the branch.

rubus-leucodermin-drawing

Blackcaps boast a heavy earthiness that adds an almost perfumed complexity to the subtle sweetness of the fruit’s sugar. The experience is very different from common raspberries, offering more of the deep wine-like flavors found in almost-too-ripe blackberries. Blackcaps are also quite seedy and require some serious flossing and toothpicks after a gorge out session, so I decided to brainstorm some other appropriate uses for these beauties.

Several years back while tripping around Portland, Steven and I wandered into a super cool at the time, but now closed craft cocktail bar serving all sorts of fancy drinks in fancy glasses with fancy shaped ice. I ditched the classics and ordered something unfamiliar and perplexing. Booze with fruited vinegar. This was at the beginning of what would soon become a meteoric rise in popularity of something called a shrub or drinking vinegar, and with good reason.

People have been imbibing these sour syrups since at least colonial times in the US and around the world for centuries. Evolving from a medicinal preparation of herbal infused vinegar, today we enjoy them mixed with bubbly soda water or swirled into cocktails for a tart bite. You can use just about any combination of fruit, herbs, and vinegar to create a shrub, as well as experiment with sweeteners like white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, or honey. I like to taste each component first to figure out the different notes I want to highlight. Sometimes a bold vinegar like balsamic will round out the depth of black cherries, while a champagne vinegar can brighten more delicately flavored fruits and herbs.

 blackcap raspberry shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

blackcap raspberry drinking vinegar 

There are several ways to make a shrub, but I like the cold process for blackcaps. I promise to cover the hot method in a future post! You can use this as a basic guide for any fruit you want to play with, keeping a ratio of 1:1:1.

1 cup blackcap raspberries

1 cup organic white sugar

1 cup organic champagne vinegar

Using a glass bowl or jar, mash the berries with the sugar and stir until well incorporated. You want to break the fruit membranes as much as possible and press out the juice until the sugar becomes totally saturated. Cover and allow the mashed fruit and the sugar to do their thing in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, shaking the jar when you think about it. The sugar will help further breakdown the fruit and draw out the liquidy goodness. Once a few days have gone by, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer to catch the seeds and press the fruit pulp to release all of the remaining juice you can get into the jar. Compost the seeds and pressed pulp. Now add the vinegar to your fruit juice and sugar solution and stir well to be sure the sugar dissolves. Allow to meld and mellow in the refrigerator for another week, shaking every day. No need to refrigerate after that unless you want to, since the shrub will be shelf stable.

 

blackcap raspberry shrub cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail #1

2 oz dark rum

3/4 oz blackcap raspberry shrub

1/2 oz dry sherry (we used Jerez Cortado Hidalgo 20 Anos)

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp caster fine sugar 

dash of Angostura bitters

ginger brew

Chill a tall glass in the freezer. Fill a shaker with ice, add the first 6 ingredients, and then shake. Remove the glass from the freezer and fill with fresh ice. Strain contents of shaker into the glass filled with ice and top with ginger brew. Enjoy!

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail #2

1 oz white rum or Cachaça

1 oz dark rum

1 oz blackcap raspberry shrub

1/2 oz ruby port

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

dash of Angostura bitters

ginger brew

Chill a tall glass in the freezer. Fill a shaker with ice, add the first 6 ingredients, and then shake. Remove the glass from the freezer and fill with fresh ice. Strain contents of shaker into the glass filled with ice and top with ginger brew. Enjoy!

 

More shrub recipes:

Peach and Golden Balsamic Shrub

Huckleberry Maple Shrub

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

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corpse reviver 2 on a sunday

corpserevivergroup

We woke late in the morning, moseying into the kitchen to fry smoked bacon slices picked up at Deck Family Farm during Saturday Market the day before, and scramble some locally laid eggs with fresh basil and white cheddar. After a night shared celebrating a friend’s visit from Florida, we needed a classic “hair of the dog” brunchy refresher. This seemed especially appropriate…

 

corpse reviver 2

3/4 ounce Gin

3/4 ounce fresh squeezed organic lemon juice

3/4 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce Cocchi Americano (an aperitif wine)

Absinthe rinse

fresh ice

Chill a coupe glass in the freezer. Remove and pour a dash of absinthe into the glass. Swirl the liquid around to coat the bowl of the coupe and then pour out (into your mouth). Mix all other ingredients together in a shaker with fresh ice and shake well. Double strain with a Boston strainer and a mesh strainer into the glass to catch any lemon pulp. I am a pulp fiend, but this is neither the time nor the place! Drink. Feel better.

corpsereviver2

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sunshine & white wine

 

sunnywine

Sometimes that’s all you need.

 

 

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bitter greens grilled cheese & a cocktail

bittercress

Tiny beaded rosettes of weedy bittercress (Cardamine oligosperma) appear first thing each spring alongside mighty toothed dandelion greens. Within days, the untended garden pops alive with yellow and white flowers.

Bittercress quickly bolts with slender siliques reaching toward the sun, ready to shoot.

My fingertips gently tickle the tops and I hear the seeds burst forth and fly through the air like little rockets.

I pull them from the ground and think of lunch…

bittercresssand5

 I cut the roots and wash the dirt from the greens.

Bitter weeds on grilled cheese?

Oh, yes.

A few dandelion flowerheads too?

Why not?

bittercresssand1

I use the most sour sourdough, sharpest cheddar, and freshest butter possible.

Crack black peppercorns over the cheese and then layer on the greens.

Grill and flip over medium-high heat.

Grill and flip until crisped and golden.

bittercresssand2

bittercresssand3

 

And…a little something bubbly to cleanse the palate between each buttery, cheesy, salty bite:

 

champcocktail

 

Champagne Cocktail

Drop 1 sugar cube in the bottom of a flute

Two drops of Angostura bitters

1/2 oz cognac

Top with bubbly

The sugar cube will slowly dissolve and dazzle with long-lasting effervescence.

Cheers to spring!

 

champcocktail2

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