Infusion Lessons

With all the success Will has had making infusions, I figured “how hard could it be,” and endeavored to do some tests with Colorado’s favorite fruit, the Palisade Peach. In particular I decided to try infusing several different base liquors with peaches at the height of the season (late August), when they are at their peak of juicy and tasty magic.

This is the infusion experiment after putting the peaches and liquor in the jars.

This is the infusion experiment after putting the peaches and liquor in the jars.

I thought a side-by-side comparison was a good idea. It really wasn't.

I thought a side-by-side comparison was a good idea. It really wasn’t.

Following the guidance on Will’s posts, I cut up the peaches and put them in each of four labeled Mason jars (which worked well), with Rum, Tequila, Vodka, and Gin. Note that I used well-quality liquor since I figured the infusion would overwhelm the fineness of more expensive brands. I let them infuse for 11 days, and filtered out the peaches using a funnel and some cheesecloth. So far, so good. My original plan was to do a taste comparison test just to see how they different from the original they tasted. I started with the vodka and immediately decided it was not really such a great idea. Even when chilled, it just tasted boozy. I also noticed that the peach flavor was not very strong, even in the vodka.

This simple cocktail with vodka, vermouth, and Lillet was drinkable but not amazing.

This simple cocktail with vodka, vermouth, and Lillet was drinkable but not amazing.

Then I realized the second of my errors. I had not really thought at all about what cocktails I would make with these infusions. I just thought it would be great to infuse with those wonderful peaches. I realized that I did not want to make strongly flavored cocktails, because it would overwhelm the peach. Simply drinking the infusions straight, but giving it a good shake to make it cold, was one option. This worked well for the rum and tequila, but not for the vodka or gin. Then I tried a martini-like cocktail with the vodka. It was ok, but not wonderful.

This Perfect Martini using the peach-infused gin was very good.

This Perfect Martini using the peach-infused gin was very good.

The Queen's cocktail always needs a little something to make it interesting, and the peach infusion did the trick.

The Zaza always needs a little something extra to make it interesting, and the peach infusion did the trick.

After trying the rum straight and enjoying it, I made a daiquiri using the peach infusion. That was pretty nice. The peach flavor was only barely noticeable, but that’s ok, it did have that “synthesis” feel to it. I also tried a perfect Martini with the gin (very good) and then most recently, a Zaza (a.k.a., the Queen’s Cocktail). That was a terrific use for it, as it is a cocktail that needs some extra twist to be really good.

So, a summary of the lessons I learned:

  • It really is easy to make an infusion, and you don’t have to do it in large volumes.
  • Think about the cocktails you’re going to make with it beforehand. This helps you think about what to infuse (including both the liquor and the ingredient) and how long to infuse it.
  • Don’t bother with side-by-side comparisons. Just drink the infusion straight and very cold if you want to see what the pure flavor is like.

The Paloma Cocktail – Margarita’s More Popular Cousin

Paloma CocktailAccording to the Washington Post, a self-proclaimed authority on such things, the Paloma Cocktail is even more popular than the Margarita in Mexico. I don’t know anything about that, but it is una muy buena bebida and a perfect summer cooler for those looking for a tequila-based cocktail that goes down really easy . . . almost too easy, actually.

Not surprisingly, the Paloma’s base ingredient is tequila. And, as you’d expect for a drink that hails from Mexico, lime juice and salt are among its other ingredients. The original recipe also calls for grapefruit soda as the mixer. Jarritos is the brand most often mentioned in published recipes, but good luck finding it in most parts of the US. Squirt (a “citrus” soda) is more popular, but doesn’t work well in this drink, IMO. Eager to find a solution to this dilemma, the Consumatorium crew experimented with several ways of making this great cocktail and we think we’ve found a winner.

First, the final recipe, then we’ll lay out a couple of the other candidates just in case you’d like to try ‘em.

Paloma Cocktail Recipe

  • 2 oz Reposado Tequila (we used Hornitos)
  • 6 oz Whole Foods Pink Grapefruit Italian Soda
  • 3/4 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1-2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters
  • Pinch of salt (we prefer it in the glass, but you can salt the rim if you prefer – don’t do both)
  • Grapefruit Slice or Lime Wedge as Garnish

Pour tequila, lime juice, bitters and salt into a highball glass. Stir and fill the glass with ice. Fill the glass with grapefruit soda. Garnish and serve.

 

Note: Yes, it seems wrong to use Italian soda in a fundamentally Mexican drink. We have no national biases here :-)

Why You’ll Like the Paloma Cocktail

If you like grapefruit, you’ll love the taste. It is crisp, and a little tart, although that’s well-balanced with the sweetness of the soda. There is no mistaking the similarities to the margarita, but the Paloma is fruitier. The grapefruit dominates the tequila a bit, but not so much as to make the tequila flavor go away entirely. This is an excellent drink for those who don’t like a strong taste of alcohol in their cocktails. You know who you are. In a word, refreshing.

To get to our final concoction, we tried a couple of other recipes. One using club soda and grapefruit juice and the other using Izze Sparkling Grapefruit Soda, which is readily available.

The combination of grapefruit juice and club soda came out, well, a bit too juicy . . . and sort bland. It just didn’t have the grapefruit punch that our other candidates had. We added some simple syrup and created a passable version of the drink, although not great. The recipe we ended up with was:

  • 2 oz Reposado Tequila
  • 2 oz Grapefruit Juice (not grapefruit juice cocktail, but fresh grapefruit juice)
  • 4 oz of Club Soda
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • Pinch of salt in the glass

For our trial with Izze Sparkling Grapefruit soda, we used the standard recipe, but the drink came out much too sweet. The Izze’s sweet taste just overpowers the rest of the ingredients. Perhaps if a lot more lime juice was used? After we discovered the Whole Foods soda, we didn’t bother.

  • 2 oz Reposado Tequila
  • 6 oz Izze Sparkling Grapefruit Soda
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • A pinch of salt in the glass.

So, next time you’re thinking that a margarita is just what you’d like, give a Paloma a try. A great drink that you and your guests will love.

Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide

Old Mr. Boston

My wife found this book in a local used book store. The 1957 edition and what appears to be the 11th printing. The inside cover of the book states,  "Become a Magician - Learn 74 Unique tricks to mystify and entertain your customers and friends." The … [Continue reading]

Pineapple-Vanilla Margarita

Pineapple-Vanilla Margarita

Our most popular post since we started the Consumatorium is our recipe for making Pineapple and Vanilla Infused Tequila. Now that summer is here, it's getting viewed by loads of happy home bartenders and drinkers daily. In the post, we describe how … [Continue reading]

The Darquiri

The Darquiri

Simply put, this is a "Dark Daiquiri," portmanteaud for sake of simpler reference. I can't claim credit for the daiquiri nor a daiquiri made with dark rum. About the only thing I can take credit for here is a specific ratio of specific daiquiri … [Continue reading]

Deep Eddy Ruby Red and Soda

Deep Eddy Ruby Red and Soda

Here’s a quick summer cooler that couldn't be much easier. It combines the pink grapefruit taste of Deep Eddy’s infused vodka with soda to make an easy, refreshing cocktail. Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red has a strong grapefruit taste and is fabulous straight … [Continue reading]

Easy Infusions and Sample Cocktails

Plum Assignment

Will has posted numerous times on infusions and I have to say I was nervous to try it myself. It seemed like a big production. Then I realized I mainly didn't want to blow a whole bottle of liquor on some science experiment, and the epiphany followed … [Continue reading]

Mai Tai Time

Mai Tai

If you’re like me, Mai Tais are a treat enjoyed only when dining at a Polynesian or Chinese restaurant. Those Mai Tais, as you would expect from the establishment where they are made, are generally laced with overpowering Mai Tai or sweet and sour … [Continue reading]

Green Hornet

Green Hornet

Our recent post on Fernet and Coke got me thinking about what other warm weather drinks I could mix up using the lesser used bottles in the back of my liquor cabinet. Since I love the smell and taste of Green Chartreuse, but don’t use it in cocktails … [Continue reading]

Fernet and Coke

Fernet and Coke

I ran across a "recipe" (more of an idea since it's so simple) for Fernet and Coke a while back. It called for 2 full ounces of Fernet mixed with a few ounces of coke. As I’ve discussed before, Fernet-Branca is an Italian digestif that has an … [Continue reading]

Rosé is the new Albariño

Planeta Rosé on Leslie's patio

Did you know that rosé is the new Albariño?  Ok, not really, but it is when it comes to my backyard patio. A few years ago I discovered Albariño and it seemed to me the perfect summer patio wine.  Light.  Crisp.  A little fruity and pleasantly … [Continue reading]

So Many Rums. Which One Do I Use . . .

Rum Comparison

In my daily run to the liquor store today, I noticed that the Rum section is becoming almost as overwhelming as the Vodka section. Rums from different countries; with a variety of alcohol content; dark, light, medium color; 100% pure cane sugar or . … [Continue reading]

Storing Citrus

Progressive Produce Keeper

One of the challenges for the home bartender is that keeping fresh ingredients on hand is more difficult, since (hopefully) you do not use them as fast as a public bar does. We've previously discussed keeping vermouth and certain other ingredients … [Continue reading]

Gin and Tonic with Blueberry Mead

G&T with Blueberry Mead

The other day, I met with Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan, the founders of Sap House Meadery in Ossippee, NH. Yeah, that's mead, as in honey wine, the ancestor of almost all fermented drinks. These guys have done a great job building their business and … [Continue reading]

Four Need-to-Know Margaritas

Margarita

There are about 42,000 margarita recipes out there and that doesn't even count the frozen varieties or the ones you can buy pre-made in a jug at the grocery store. While many of these are tasty, like our own Pomegranate Margarita and Ginger … [Continue reading]

American Trilogy

American Trilogy

The American Trilogy is decidedly not a classic cocktail. Created in 2007 at New York's Little Branch bar, it's a relatively new drink with a name that is a bit of a conundrum. While it's primary ingredients, Rye and Laird's Apple Brandy are truly … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Copenhagen, Denmark

Rapscallion at Ruby

Following up on our Stockholm bar review last week, the Consumatorium team continued our Northern European tour and headed to Copenhagen, Denmark. There, we found two things that threw us for a loop. One, everything was shockingly expensive and, two, … [Continue reading]

Daiquiri

The IBA standard Daiquiri  with a 9:5:3 ratio.

After I wrote the post on the Whiskey Sour, and having learned a bit more about the Sour family, I decided to dive into the Daiquiri. It's a classic cocktail, of course, invented early in the 20th century. The Daiquiri is apparently the namesake of a … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Pharmarium in Stockholm, Sweden

Pharmarium-1.jpg

For most of our readers, Stockholm is not part of the usual pub crawl circuit. That, however, doesn’t keep the Consumatorium team from covering all the bases for our international and traveling followers. And what better bar for us to cover than the … [Continue reading]

Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail that you've probably never really had.

There are five distinct components of the sense of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. The cocktail repertoire covers all of these in various ways. Today we're going to talk about sours and, in particular, the Whiskey sour. The Sour family … [Continue reading]

Cocktail a la Louisiane – The Best Classic Drink You’ve Never Heard Of

a-la-Louisiane-2014-03-15-1-2.jpg

This drink is more commonly known as the a la Louisiane or just la Louisiane these days. That is, of course, if you can find a bartender who has even heard of it. When a friend recently took me to Tavern Road, the terrific craft bar in Boston, the … [Continue reading]

A Pair of Green Cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day

St Patricks Day Green Drinks

I set out to create a drink for St. Patrick's Day with the following goals. It's main ingredient had to be Irish and the final product had to be green. As it turns out, the green part is a bit challenging. I tried Green Chartreuse, but the amount … [Continue reading]

King Cole Cocktail

King Cole

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might recall the amaro comparo we did a while back, Amari Throwdown. In it I stated that Fernet-Branca was, "awful . . . just awful." So you might be surprised that I'm posting about a drink … [Continue reading]

Dog Sled Accident

My own version with high-rye bourbon and Amaro Chiocharo

Bourbon and Amaro. That's it. I could end this blog post here, and you could probably figure it out, and it will be good. But if I did that I probably wouldn't be earning my keep. I first tried this drink at my friend John's ski condo - he always … [Continue reading]

Barrel Aging Cocktails – Part II

Barrel Aging Cocktails

Note: This is the second part of a series on aging cocktails in oak barrels. You can find the first part here. A few months ago, I started the process of aging cocktails in barrels. That's not just the spirits themselves, but the entire mixed … [Continue reading]