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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Scottish Mule

August 29/30, 2010 ((part of Cocktail Chronicle)

My Mom categorizes all foods into Hot, Cold, or Neutral. It is not about temperature but about their ‘property’. ‘Cold feet’ during the winter months? Eat ginger, a major ’Hot’ food. Problem with breakout? Try green mung bean (‘Cold’) soup and stay away from all nuts (’Hot‘). The philosophy is to eat ‘neutral’ or combine “hot’ and ‘cold’ foods together so they become ‘neutral’.

She would’ve approved 2 drinks on Clock Bar‘s cocktail menu. Both are gin based and both utilize ginger in the form of ginger beer. Scottish Mule pairs it with cucumber while Ginger Rogers with mint, both ’Cold’ foods.

Interesting AND, ‘balanced’ according to Mom. Why didn’t I think of that? Time to bring out the flasks.

If you think I didn’t try omitting the soda altogether by just muddling cucumber and ginger root together, I did. But guess what, ginger beer, or at least Reed’s , has additional flavors that really add complexity. Not to mention the effervescence makes the drink pop.

By now, you probably have guessed that I have never been to Clock Bar. I just read their menu off the net. Until I recover from my recent experience at A16, any eating/drinking pilgrimage will have to limit to within 25 mile radius from Sunnyvale.

Inspired by the ingredients of Scottish Mule on Clock Bar’s cocktail menu (Makes 1):

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3” English cucumber, cut into several pieces
  • Half a lime, cut into 2 wedges
  • 0.1 oz ~ 0.2 oz simple syrup (personal taste)
  • 1 oz Reed’s ginger beer


  1. Muddle cucumber and lime wedges in a shaker. Squeeze the lime to fully release its juice then take them out.
  2. Add gin, simple syrup and put away the shaker in the frig until serving time.
  3. Before serving, strain through a fine sieve. Press hard to get all the juices out.
  4. Put a couple of ice in a glass. Pour the liqueur mixture into the glass and top it off with 1 oz ginger beer.

Shot in the Dark

August 27/28, 2010 ((part of Cocktail Chronicle)

I normally don’t bother with recipes that call for soda or seltzer.  I prefer feeling as well as tasting the liqueurs. I tried to stay open-minded and made a couple of drinks with teas. None changed my mind.

Untill now.

The picture in MIXSHAKESTIR for Shot in the Dark is gorgeous: Two layers of light and dark rum with a crown of jewel-like raw sugar. The Girl in me sighs with ooo’s and ahhh’s while the Mom in me frowns: “à la minute?!”

Then there is that “4 oz ginger beer”, in 1 drink?

So it needs a little tinkering.

I use turbinado at hand instead of raw sugar. I do away with the lemon juice and muddle lemon peels instead. Without the lemon juice, I happily toss out the syrup. I half the amount of ginger beer and chill the light rum mixture for several hours so I don’t shake it with ice. Yes. I am THAT paranoid with diluted drinks.

What I end up with is basically lemon-infused light rum with ginger beer and dark rum.

What I first notice is the nose. The aroma of caramel from both the turbinado sugar and Goslings dark rum is heady. Right behind it, the lemon and the ginger slowly surface. After a sip, yes, they are all there. Even with the soda, I taste it all.

Dilution, within reason, can be a beautiful thing.

Inspired by Shot in the Dark in MIXSHAKESTIR (Makes 2):

  • 3 oz light rum
  • 5 ~ 6 strips of lemon peels
  • Turbinado sugar for the rim
  • 1 small lemon wedge
  • 4 oz Reed’s ginger beer, well chilled
  • ½ ~ 1 oz dark rum (I prefer Goslings Black Seal vs. Meyers)


  1. Muddle lemon peels with the light rum in a shaker. Set aside in the frig for a couple of hours.
  2. Wet rims of 2 narrow glasses with the lemon wedge. Dip in sugar. Chill.
  3. Before serving, drop 2 pieces of ice in each glass. Divide the infused rum evenly. For each glass, pour 2 oz of ginger beer, and use the back of a spoon, pour ¼ ~ ½ oz of the dark rum to have it float on top.

Yuzu Old-Fashioned

August 25/26, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

When I am in the mood for American whisky, I want an Old-Fashioned. I like its complexity and find the flavors of orange and lemon marry beautifully with bourbon. But making it is a bit of work.

I rarely have oranges at hand unless I plan for it. Not to mention the chopping, the actual muddling of lemon, orange, maraschino cherry, and the extra cleaning, straining they leave behind.

As a mom, I need to expand my repertoire of good AND quick drinks.

Yuzu came to me in a light bulb moment. Its intense bitter orange, citrus flavor makes more than an adequate stand-in and is arguably more interesting. Granted that oranges and lemons are easier to come by and unquestionably cheaper, but I can’t easily go to swanky bars for inventive drinks anymore. $14.95 for 12oz (See Yuzu Friendly) is a deal.

To completely do away with muddling, the maraschino cherry stays only as a garnish.

I have to call this my original.

Inspired by Old-Fashioned in MIXSHAKESTIR (Makes 2):

  • 4 oz (½ C) Maker’s Mark
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) pure Yuzu juice
  • ½ oz (1 tbsp) simple syrup
  • 6 drops of Angostura bitter
  • 2 maraschino cherries for garnish

Redheaded Stepchild

August 24, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

I wanted to try this recipe because of the rim treatment: sugar and cayenne pepper.

However, an alarm did sound off when I read 2 oz peach brandy, and only 1 oz Calvados??!! It’s gonna be way too sweet and perfumy, for my taste.

I made it anyway.

The rim treatment does add interest and tickles the tongue (if not burns.) The drink itself is pretty to look at and indeed aromatic. Just … what did I tell myself? too perfumy and too sweet, even after a 25% peach brandy reduction.

Next time (if there is one,) cut the peach in half, and use granulated sugar, instead of superfine for the rim. Much prettier.

Based on Redheaded Stepchild in In the Land of Cocktails (Makes 2):

  • 1 tsp (superfine, but I would use granulated) sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon wedge to wet the rim
  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) peach brandy
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) Calvados or AppleJack (I use Laird 100 proof)
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) orange juice


  1. Prepare 2 Martini glasses.
  2. Mix sugar and pepper in a shallow plate. Wet HALF of the rim of each glass with the lemon wedge. Dip and rotate the rim to coat the wet half with the sugar mixture. Chill the glasses.
  3. Before serving, add peach brandy, AppleJack, orange juice to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into chilled glasses.

Pomegranate Gimlet

August 23, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

This is too easy, isn’t it. With a base of gin, lime juice, and simple syrup, muddle with basils, you get Basil gimlet; With cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno, you get Kachumber. Here, add pomegranate juice, you get Pomegranate gimlet.

But some days, like today, easy and refreshing is just what one needs.

Based on Pomegranate Gimlet in MIXSHAKESTIR (makes 2):

  • 2.5 oz (5 tbsp) gin
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) lime juice
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) pomegranate juice
  • 0.75 oz (1 1/2 tbsp)  simple syrup


  1. Put all ingredients and ice in a shaker. Shake and serve.

Jimmy Nardello

My first encounter with Jimmy Nardello is probably 3 years ago at Sunnyvale Farmer’s Market. A long green pepper with many twists and turns. They looked lethal to me. “What is it?” “Italian pepper. Sweet!“

At home, William lightly brushed them with olive oil then salt. Put on a hot grill until they went limp. Man, were they good.

Indeed no heat what so ever. Thin flesh and thin skinned, its pepper flavor is not strong or earthy like green bell peppers but decisively fruity. Better yet, cooking is SO easy.

No chopping, deseeding or de-skinning. Just roast it whole either on a grill or in a hot oven. You can peel the skin as you go like my very civilized husband. Or, follow Steward of Gondor and me, devour everything. The skin is too thin to bother and the few seeds are just more nutrients. The only thing I put back on the plate is the stem.

Since then, every summer at Farmer’s Market, and only at Asian stands for whatever reason, I see its appearance as the signal to summer.

A couple of months ago, they showed up at Full Circle Farm. “What is it?!” I could barely contain myself. Rose patiently spelt out: “J.i.m.m.y. N.a.r.d.e.l.l.o”.

Hello Jimmy, it’s about time we are introduced properly.

Oven Roasted Jimmy Nardello

Brought over by an Italian immigrant to Connecticut in 1887, this pepper is named after his 4th son who donated the seeds to Seed Savers Exchange, and now it is registered on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Tastes.

At farmer’s markets or Whole Foods, you can only find green Jimmy Nardello. But as they mature they turn flaming red and become sweeter and even fruitier. Equally delicious.

As far as I know, Full Circle Farm is the only place that sells red Jimmy Nardello as well as the green ones. Do a side by side tasting and judge for yourself.

Seasoning-wise, all it needs is a little oil and salt. If you don’t have a grill, do it in the oven for a comparable result. Line the peppers more or less a single layer. Some overlapping is fine. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Broil at 450F for 10-12 minutes until you see the charred marks. Then turn each one to the other side for another 10-12 minutes. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and serve.

If you line your baking sheet with foil and parchment paper like I do, there isn’t any pot or pan to clean afterwards. This has got to be the most mom-friendly vegetable.

23 Skidoo

August 22, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

St-Germain Elderflower liqueur is essential here. If you believe their website, the blossoms are hand harvested in the foothills of Alps and ‘bicycled” to the processing facility by sturdy old peasant men and women. In the world of John Deere tractors with chaser bins, this sure makes a better marketing story. True or not, its somewhere between lychee and passion fruit aroma is the focal point of this drink.

I love the original recipe but unfortunately, I am out of lemons today. Lime makes a different drink but still delicious. Phew.

Based on 23 Skidoo in MIXSHAKESTIR (Makes 2):

  • Half a lime, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) Gin
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) St-Germain Elderflower liquor
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 6 oz of chilled sparking wine
  • 2 sprigs of thymes for garnish (optional)


  1. Chill 2 champagne flutes.
  2. Muddle limes, thyme sprigs and simple syrup in a shaker.
  3. Add gin and St. German. If you can, put it aside for 2 hours or more.
  4. Before serving, add ice to shaker. Divide mixture equally among the chilled flutes.
  5. Top each glass with 3 oz (6 tbsp) of sparking wine. Drop a piece of ice and serve.

PC Fizz

August 20, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

Fizz is foam which traditionally calls for egg white.

I don’t know about you, but my eggs are precious. Mine are from Full Circle Farm. I need the white as a cushion during cooking, so the brilliantly orange yolk stays giggly soft; so when I break it open, it flows like lava. My egg white stays where it is.

Then I found Lecithin. The herbal supplement supposedly for nerve and brain function is also a natural emulsifier. All you need is a powerful immersion blender.

Let’s just say … it works. But holding an electric tool with fast spinning blades in front of a 2-year-old? Additional blender stick and cups to clean? Not good.

The foam does add intrigue, but the mixture itself is good without it as well. The lemon and the lime add flavors but the extra acidity also helps to tone down Chartreuse. It is still unmistakably herby, but thanks to Pimm’s No. 1, more in a soothing, herbal tea kind of way.

Based on PC Fizz from MIXSHAKESTIR (Makes 2 big ones or 3 reasonables)

  • 3 oz Pimm’s No. 1
  • 1 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz lime juice
  • 1 egg white or ½ tsp Lecithin


  1. If using egg white, put all ingredients in a shaker (no ice) and shake for 30 seconds. Then add ice and shake for another 30 seconds. Pour into highball glasses and serve.
  2. If using lecithin, put all ingredients except lecithin in a measuring cup. Stir well.  Pour half of the mixture to an immersion blender cup with lecithin. Tilt the cup a little to its side with the blender staying near the surface. You need to be at it for at least a couple of minutes to get enough foam. Pour the other half of the mixture to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into highball glasses. Spoon prepared foam on top.

Yuzu Friendly

August 19/21, 2010 (part of Cocktail Chronicle)

The original recipe calls for Yuzu-Honey Marmalade which I thought is too exotic for my down home establishment.


But then every month at Sushi Sam, I swoon over Chef Ito’s amaebi in yuzu sauce. Its citrus flavor is so bright, it practically makes the amaebi jump in my mouth. What would it do to a mixed drink?

One day William came home with a bottle of pure yuzu juice, $14.95 for 12 oz, from Berkeley’s ultra gourmet The Pasta Shop. Now I can find out.

It is extremely tart and sharp by itself. Diluted with alcohol, its distinctly bitter orangy character emerges, with a strong backbone of acidity.

Can’t say I can think of a substitute … I can muddle orange peels but I can’t add the strong acidity without also putting in other flavors, like lime or lemon. Maybe the $14.95 is well-spent.

Inspired by Yuzu Friendly in MIXSHAKESTIR (Makes 2)

  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) vodka
  • 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) Lillet Blanc
  • 0.75 oz (1 ½ tbsp) Yuzu juice
  • 0.2 oz simple syrup
  1. Mix all in a shaker with ice. Shake and serve.


October 2010