Party time bottled cocktails!

On Sunday, I wrote up my agua fresca recipe while it was still fresh. My other big hits were my bottled cocktails and rum punch. I’ll get to the rum punch in my next post, but for now I want to concentrate on bottled cocktails.

Last year, when Jen and I hosted a party, I made a couple of bottled drinks–a Manhattan and a vodka martini–but I mostly shook drinks for a crowd of 25. From 2 until 10, I shook drinks. At the same time I was mixing drinks, I was manning the grill because we had 10 pounds of chicken wings to cook on the same day our oven died.

Yeah, that was a bad day.

Jen changed up her menu this year to rely less on the oven, and I switched up my cocktail menu to have more things premade. One of those was rum punch, but I again had bottled cocktails on hand. On this front, I owe a lot to Brad Ellis, from the site The Bar Mix Master Has Spoken. I know he’s not updating often these days, but he’s got a couple of great posts on planning a party and prepping bottled cocktails. He’s got a great formula for determining the ratios of spirit to mixer to water. And yes, you do want water–unless you plan to shake your premix over ice right at serving time, you won’t get any of the water that shaking over ice imparts.

My “bottles” were actually 60-oz. pitchers, so I had to scale his 25-oz. recipe up. Again, I did Manhattans, which were very popular–for the pitcher, I used Rittenhouse bonded rye and Cinzano sweet vermouth with Angostura bitters. And water, of course, to about 25-30%. The martinis this year were gin–Plymouth, to be exact, with Noilly Prat dry, a very light hand of Regan’s orange bitters, and again about 25-30% water.

I wound up shaking nothing this year and I’m not ashamed. You shouldn’t be either. Next time you have a party, make sure you’ve got some bottled drinks on hand and you’ll be able to spend more time with your guests.


Something nonboozy for a change

I don’t know why I’m awake this early, on the morning after our cocktail party. Frankly, I don’t know why I’m alive this early, but here I am, rocking you like a hurricane. The biggest hit of the evening was my rum punch, which apparently is potent enough to bring down nations. We should ship it to North Korea. But I’m not going to write that up just yet. I have a good recipe written down, so I can post that anytime.

What I will talk about is another hit of the evening–agua fresca. Since I was just winging it with that, I want to publish my recipe while I still remember what I did.

Jen has a Southwestern cookbook from which I got the basic recipe, but I doctored it up quite a bit. I have no way of knowing how “authentic” my version is, but frankly I don’t care. The recipe in the book is a pineapple-lime agua fresca, in which you peel, core, and puree a four-pound pineapple and mix that with lime juice and sugar.

Jen ordered a pineapple from FreshDirect, the grocery-delivery service we use. It came to us peeled and cored (but with the core still in the container) and clocked in at 22 ounces. That wasn’t going to make us enough agua fresca, I felt, so I thought for a minute and decided to supplement the pineapple and lime with some pomegranate juice we had on hand.

Agua Fresca de la Dietsch

  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks (mine was 22 oz.)
  • 2 limes, juiced (about a cup of juice)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup homemade grenadine

Technique: Put about a third of the pineapple chunks into a blender or food processor, along with the lime juice and sugar, and puree until smooth and the sugar fully dissolves into the liquid. Pour that out into a pitcher. Process the remaining pineapple in batches and pour into the pitcher. Add pomegranate juice and grenadine to the pitcher and stir.

Serve over ice and top with seltzer. Or, y’know, vodka. It’s your liver.

You might go easier than I did on the sugar. If you have extra grenadine or simple syrup on hand, it’s easy to adjust the sweetness in the glass to your liking. Better to adjust up than to start with a cloying drink.

Now, can someone please pass the milk thistle?

MxMo XIX Sparkles

Apologies for posting on the quick this time–the day job’s crunch period is whipping my ass, and on top of that, Jen and I are prepping for a cocktail party (more on that, I hope, next week, if I live through it). This month’s theme is fizzy drinks, hosted by Cocktailnerd.

This is based on a drink first served us over a year ago at Flatiron Lounge. Jen requested a Seelbach, but we couldn’t remember the precise recipe offhand. The bartender took what ingredients we could remember, thought for a moment, and offered her take on it. You’ll note it’s basically a Red Hook but with added bubbly.

I wish I could say I used Red Hook Rye for this, but it’s still a bit out of my budget. This version uses bonded Rittenhouse. Note, too, that I used Carpano Antica instead of Punt e Mes. Chalk that up to how busy we are. Neither of us had time to get to a shop with Punt e Mes, so I used what was on-hand.

Red Hook Fizz

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Luxardo maraschino

Technique: Shake over ice, strain into an ice-filled glass, and top with fizz.

Lost and found

As most of you already know, two classic lost ingredients have started peppering liquor stores again–absinthe and crème de violette. I found the Lucid absinthe about a month ago, but it was only last week that I finally tracked down this beauty:


The first damn thing I did with it was to mix a proper Aviation, using Paul Clarke‘s recipe on Serious Eats.

What a revelation. The violette lifts this drink above the clouds, and it’s easy to picture yourself in the cocktail lounge of a Pan Am Clipper sipping this drink.

Then, last night, I remembered my vow to work through the absinthe cocktails in the Savoy. I grabbed my copy and started flipping through. I don’t really have a plan to work through them in order or anything like that. If a drink sounds good and we have all the ingredients, I’ll test it out. So it’s just coincidence that I landed in the A’s, with the Atty Cocktail.

I don’t know the meaning of the name. While stomping around on eGullet, Erik Ellestad suggests that it might come from the common abbreviation for attorney–which is ironic, given that Mrs. Bitters is a lawyer-coddler. Erik notes of the drink that

it is a fascinating, elegant and complex thing, with the hints of Absinthe and Violet trading each other for flavor dominance as you sip.

Atty!Couldn’t put it better myself. I didn’t quite use his proportions, instead crunching through the math in my head to adapt the Savoy formula (one part vermouth, three parts gin, and three dashes each of violette and absinthe) into an ounce-based recipe.

So, my version of the Atty.

Atty Cocktail

  • 3/4-oz. French vermouth
  • 2 1/2-oz. gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1/4-tsp. crème de violette (Rothman and Winter)
  • 1/4-tsp. absinthe (Lucid)

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

The drink suffered from a not-long-enough stir, so be sure to either stir it well or shake it to make sure it’s properly chilled.

Mo Bloody

Perhaps it’s the holiday weekend, but Bloody Marys are in the air. I have to say, I don’t drink Bloodies very often. I don’t like the flavor or texture of most commercial tomato juices, as they tend to be heavy on the palate and the tummy. Often, I feel like half my meal becomes the Bloody, since it’s so filling.

However, Jen loves them, and so I’ve learned to make them at home, and when I start with good ingredients, I’ve learned to like them myself. I’ve written up my Bloody Mary recipe before, but I’m going to revisit it today, but with a twist. Back then, Anita from Married With Dinner urged me to try a homemade tomato juice. It’s taken quite a while to get around to it, but I finally did.

Well, sort of. Jen made the juice; I made the Bloodies. After the break, her technique, but first, a pretty picture.

Bloody Mary

photograph by Jennifer Hess; the 360 vodka was sent to me for review

She started by blanching and peeling a dozen fresh plum tomatoes. She chunked them up and puréed them in a food mill before pressing them through a fine metal sieve to remove the seeds. Because we were planning to use it for Bloodies, she left it unseasoned. A food processor will work for the purée, if you don’t have a food mill.

My friend Ed Mathews makes a kickass habanero hot sauce called Evil Hot, and I added a teaspoon of this to the tomato juice, plus Worcestershire, Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters, lime juice, horseradish, and the Colonel’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Yummy, and perfect with the bread pudding Jen made for brunch.