Archive | cocktails

Drinking Vinegars: Cocktails with Grapefruit and Cherry Shrubs

Drinking Vinegars have a multitude of great uses including:  turning regular boring cocktails into enhanced “craft cocktails”;  adding them to sparkling water or club soda with a squeeze of lime for a refreshing “craft mocktail”, or using them for health purposes to get yourself to drink more water (required on most of the popular diets).  Two of the newest drinking vinegars we’ve come up with at HeathGlen include the Grapefruit Cardamom Drinking Vinegar and the Spiced Cherry Drinking Vinegar, both of which are great for the holiday season ahead.  Here are a few of our favorite drink recipes to try them out with.

DIY Drinking Vinegars

If you are interested in making your own drinking vinegars, or for more general knowledge on mixology with drinking vinegars, click here to check out a detailed “how-to” post.

Now, on with the Recipes using drinking vinegars

drinking vinegars

Grapefruit Shrub Salty Dog

Recipe for Grapefruit Shrub Salty Dog

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour coarse salt onto a small plate. Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime or grapefruit wedge. Gently dip rims into salt to coat lightly. Fill glasses with ice cubes. Pour gin (or vodka) over ice in each glass. Add Grapefruit Drinking Vinegar and bitters and stir.

Drinking vinegars

Grapefruit Shrub Spritzer (Cocktail or Mocktail)

Recipe for Grapefruit Shrub Spritzer

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice and add vodka and grapefruit shrub syrup. Stir well.  Top off the glass with club soda or sparkling water and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Garnish with grapefruit peel.
  2. For a mocktail, just forego the vodka or gin.

 

cherry drinking vinegar

Bourbon Cherry Bomb Cocktail

Recipe for Bourbon Cherry Bomb Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon (I like rye whiskey but bourbon is great also)
  • 1/2 oz. Spiced Cherry Drinking Vinegar (use 1 oz if you like sweeter drinks)
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 3-4 dashes cherry bitters (other bitters are fine also)

Directions:

Add ice to a short glass (aka highball glass).  Add bourbon or rye and the Cherry Syrup.  Cut 1/2 lime into a few wedges and squeeze into the glass.  Add 3-4 dashes bitters.  Stir.

 

*** Additional Ideas for cocktails and mocktails can be found by entering the word cocktails into the search bar for this site.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

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Low Carb Cocktails – Cranberry Drinking Vinegar (Shrub)

While not a food group, cocktails are one of those things many people miss on a low carb diet (along with bread and sugar).  Alcohol itself, doesn’t pack in a lot of carbs or sugar, rather it is usually the mixers that take cocktails over the proverbial low-carb top.  With margaritas, it is generally the sweet and sour mix.  So… if you are going to imbibe over the holidays, why not try a low carb cocktail (margarita) dressed up beautifully with a Cranberry Shrub Syrup (aka drinking vinegar) instead of a sugary sweet and sour mix.  The low carb cocktail below was made with a Cranberry Hot Pepper Shrub Syrup, but you could use the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup if you’re not a fan of heat. And there are more ideas for low carb cocktails at the end of the post!

low carb cocktails

Cranberry Shrub Margarita (with Cranberry Hot Pepper Syrup)

Is a Shrub Syrup really an alternative for low carb cocktails?

Well, there is sugar in a shrub syrup for sure, but it is reduced considerably compared to a simple syrup.  Shrub syrups are typically 1/3 fruit, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 sugar.  Simple syrups can be anywhere from 1/2 sugar upwards and they often contain artificial flavors for the fruit.  Shrub syrups (at least ours) are made from real fruit.

In the case of the Cranberry Shrub syrups, the cranberries come from Wisconsin, and are purchased from our friends at the St. Paul Farmers Market fresh off the bog each Fall.  Nothing artificial is added to our syrups.

Also, it is important to note that you don’t need to add a lot of shrub syrups to get a lot of flavor in low carb cocktails.

Oh, and as far as low carb fruits go cranberries are at the top of the list.

So, while not “no-sugar”, you can definitely make a low carb cocktail with a shrub syrup.  I wouldn’t recommend cocktails on a daily basis if you’re leading a low carb lifestyle, but if you’re a little mindful during the holidays you could certainly imbibe without a lot of damage to your progress.

For those that don’t drink alcohol, these syrups are wonderful with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime.

Recipe for Cranberry Shrub Margarita (made with Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup)

Yield:  1 margarita

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec (or orange liqueur)
  • kosher salt for rimming the glass
  • Garnishes: thinly sliced limes, lime wedges or fresh cranberries

Directions:

  1. Use one of the lime wedges to moisten the rim of the glass and then dip glass rim into some kosher salt spread out on a plate.
  2. Combine the tequila, cranberry syrup, lime juice and orange liqueur in a shaker with ice.  Shake rather vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into low tumblers filled with ice.
low carb cocktails

Ingredients for Cranberry Shrub Margarita

More Low Carb Cocktails made with Cranberry Shrub Syrups:

 

Cheers!

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

 

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Cranberry Cocktails Using Shrub Syrups

It’s that time of the year….cranberries, pumpkin, gløggs, toddies, hot chocolate and of course, champagne.  In keeping with the holiday “spirit”, here are some recipes for cranberry cocktails and mocktails using a Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup or a Cranberry Hot Pepper Syrup as the flavor enhancer.  If you want to make your own cranberry shrub syrups for these cocktails, see this post.

Cranberry Cocktails made with Shrub Syrups

Cranberry Drinks made with Shrub Syrups

 

Cranberry Cocktails:  The Cranberry Martini:

Yield: 1 martini

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Put martini glass in the freezer to chill.
  2. Just before serving, fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. Pour in the vodka or gin, the shrub syrup and the dry vermouth. Squeeze the lime juice and add to shaker.  Cover with the lid and shake vigorously up and down for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into the chilled martini glass, dividing evenly.
  4. Garnish with either frozen cranberries or a lime slice.
** For Pitcher Martinis:  For 4 Servings, use 1 cup gin, 1/2 cup cranberry syrup, 1/4 cup vermouth, 1/4 cup lime juice.

Cranberry Cocktails:  The Cranberry Habanero Margarita:

Yield:  1 margarita

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec (or orange liqueur)
  • kosher salt for rimming the glass
  • Garnishes: thinly sliced limes, lime wedges or fresh cranberries

Directions:

  1. Use one of the lime wedges to moisten the rim of the glass and then dip glass rim into some kosher salt spread out on a plate.
  2. Combine the tequila, cranberry syrup, lime juice and orange liqueur in a shaker with ice.  Shake rather vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into low tumblers filled with ice.

 ** For Pitcher Margaritas (4 margaritas):

Cranberry Drinks:  Cranberry Ginger Tea:

yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tea bag (your favorite tea, but lemon ginger herbal tea works well)
  • 2 oz. light rum (optional)
  • 1/2 oz Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • cinnamon stick for garnish

Directions:  

  1. Make your favorite cup of tea (black and green teas can take the strong flavors of cranberry, but an herbal lemon tea or a white tea will allow the cranberry syrup to shine more)
  2. Add cranberry ginger syrup to taste (about 3 Tbsp. per cup works well), and the orange juice (addition of spirits optional).  Garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Crock Pot Cranberry Ginger Tea for Parties:

Yield:  8-12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 6 bags of your favorite tea (black, green or herbal lemon-ginger tea)
  • 12 oz Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup
  • 2 large lemons, sliced
  • 8 cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1 cup rum (or vodka or gin)

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil on the stove top.  Place the tea bags in a 6 quart pot (or crockpot) and pour the boiling water over tea bags.  Cover and let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes (shorter for black teas and longer for herbal teas).
  2. Remove the tea bags and add cranberry syrup, lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and dried cranberries, stirring just to combine. Cover and cook on a low heat setting for a few hours (taste occasionally).  Add Rum in the last half hour.
  3. Serve by ladling hot tea into cups and garnishing with a fresh lemon slice and/or a cinnamon stick.
  4. Can also be served chilled in a flute, topped off with a splash of sparkling wine or club soda.

Cranberry Drinks:  The Cranberry Sparkler:

Yield:  1 drink

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine the vodka, shrub syrup and lime juice in shaker and shake to combine.
  2. Pour over ice in a tall glass and top with sparkling cider.  Stir and enjoy.
  3. Garnish with fresh cranberries or apple slice if desired.

Cranberry Drinks:  Cranberry Mocktails:

Most cranberry cocktails can easily turn into cranberry mocktails.

  1. For the Cranberry Hot Tea simply delete the rum.  For the chilled tea, replace the splash of sparkling wine with a splash of club soda or ginger beer.
  2. The Cranberry Sparkler is also adaptable into a mocktail…simply delete the vodka and the drink is still wonderful and refreshing.

These cranberry cocktails have all been happily tested in my home kitchen.  Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Mixology Basics using Shrub Syrups

Blueberry Shrub Martini

Blueberry Shrub Martini

Winter cocktail season is upon us, from the steaming hot toddies in the Stanley thermos, to the soothing cognac in the snifter beside the fireplace, to the bubbly effervescence of champagne cocktails on New Years Eve.  With the popular DIY movement underfoot, it is likely that you may want to try your hand at a few craft cocktails.  This post will help you with some basic ratios and ideas for mixing up craft cocktails using beverage syrups (either tangy shrub syrups or their sweeter sister – simple syrups).  There are also links to specific cocktail recipes that use shrub syrups as an ingredient.

First things First:  What is a Shrub Syrup?

Basically a shrub syrup is a fruity-acidic concentrated syrup that can be used to flavor carbonated water, iced tea, lemonades, cocktails or mocktails.  Bartenders (mixologists) are embracing shrub syrups as an innovative alternative to the sour element of citrus in cocktails.

Three different Shrub Syrups

Three different Shrub Syrups

The term “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word sharāb meaning “to drink”.  The American version has its origins in the 17th century, when vinegar was used to preserve berries and other fruits.  The shrub syrup of Colonial times resulted in a sweet and sour syrup that was most often mixed with water and served as a refreshing drink on the porch or in the field.

A common ratio of ingredients in making a shrub syrup would include equal parts of fresh berry juice, apple cider vinegar and pure cane sugar. Of course, variations in the type of fruit, vinegar or sugar are endless, but the classic recipe uses the ingredients listed above in equal parts.  Aromatics or herbs are often added, sometimes in place of the berries and sometimes as an enhancement to the berries.

Can I Make My Own Shrubs?

The process of making shrubs also varies.  The quickest and easiest method of making shrubs is the stove top method, outlined as follows:

  • add equal parts of sugar and water to a pot and heat until the sugar dissolves;
  • add fruit to the sugar syrup and simmer until fruit breaks down and is blended into the syrup;
  • strain the syrup, add the vinegar to it, pour into a bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Some people prefer a “cold processing” method, which is basically as follows:

  • let the berries steep in sugar for several days until their juices are released;
  • Strain the berry-sugar syrup to remove pulp or solids, add vinegar and bottle up

A final popular method is:

  • infuse the vinegar with fruit and let sit for several days;
  • strain, and then add sugar to taste

I vary my method for making shrub syrups depending on the type of fruit or shrub base.  Strawberries are slower to release their juice, and I might opt for cold shrubbing  strawberries.  Some of the woodier herbs need quite a bit of heat to release their oils and I would opt for a stove top shrubbing process in this case.

If you are making your own shrub syrups, give yourself some lead time before you plan on using them.  The vinegar is very strong and pungent at the beginning.  It will mellow quite a bit over time as it melds with the fruit and sugar.  After a few weeks you will have a shrub syrup with sweet, tart and fruity flavors in perfect harmony.

Why use Shrub Syrups in Beverages rather than just Simple Syrups?

Blueberry Lavender Simple Syrup with Rum and Soda

Blueberry Lavender Simple Syrup with Rum and Soda

Both the tangy shrub syrups and the sweeter simple syrups have their place in beverages, it is really just a matter of taste.  The shrub syrups can add a depth and complexity that you might not get with a simple syrup and they are, of course, less sweet.  Many of the cocktails that recommend using shrub syrups will also include bitters.  This tends to round out your drink, giving you the full range of sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.  A few other reasons the shrub syrups are coming back in vogue include:

  • many are made with apple cider vinegar, which is considered good for your health (but hard to get down by the spoonful)
  • shrub syrups add complexity and depth and cut the sweetness (see above explanation)
  • they are often considered an alternative to using citrus juices in cocktails, which some people cannot have or do not like
  • cocktails with shrub syrups are said to stimulate the appetite
  • they are shelf stable (unlike citrus), and easy to keep on hand (can store for up  to a year in the fridge)
  • vinegar is a good carrier of chile peppers if you like to add spice to your beverages.

How Do I Use the Beverage Syrups in Cocktails and Mocktails

Bourbon withTart Cherry Shrub

Bourbon withTart Cherry Shrub

I think mixology is very similar to baking actually.  The core ingredients are always there in fairly specific ratios and then you can get creative with flavor enhancement around this core.

I was a bartender throughout my twenties, as I was working my way in and out of grad school (I did not take a very direct course).  Bartending helped me get familiar with the flavor profiles of the many spirits and liqueurs, but back then fresh fruit was only seen on the garnish tray.  While the current popularity of mixology has definitely enhanced the creative side of cocktails, it has also brought the status of a “mixologist” up to celebrity chef status, which can be intimidating to those of us who just want to make and share a good drink.

I think perhaps we need to relax with this trend a bit more.   Mixing your own cocktails is basically about learning the approximate ratios between a spirit, a sweetener (syrup), and a complementary liqueur.  Flavored bitters, fresh fruit, smoke,  fresh vegetables or herbs are the enhancements that might take a good cocktail to a great one.  When starting out with DIY mixology, you might find you are plenty happy with “good”.

The following blueprint is one easy way to look at mixing drinks in your home with the materials you have at hand.  For a more in-depth look at mixology, I would recommend DIY Cocktails, by Marcia Simmons & Jonas Halpren or Edible Cocktails, by Natalie Bovis.

For Martinis or Cocktails that are Strained into chilled glass (aka “up”):

Blueberry Tarragon Shrub Martini

Blueberry Tarragon Shrub Martini

  • 2 oz. Base Spirit
  • 1/2 oz. Beverage Syrup (Shrub or Simple Syrup)
  • 1/2 oz. Complementary Liqueur
  • Bitters (anywhere from a dash to 5 drops)

For Cocktails that are served over ice (on the rocks or on crushed ice):

  • 2 parts spirit
  • 1 part citrus
  • 1/2 part syrup
  • Splash of soda
  • muddled fresh herb, berry or vegetable

For Easy Mocktails:

  • 1 part Beverage Syrup
  • 4 parts Carbonated non-alcoholic beverage (i.e., club soda, ginger Ale, Ginger Beer, tonic water, etc.)
  • muddled herb, berry or vegetable

Cocktail/Mocktail Recipes with Shrub Syrups & Beverage Syrups

If you are interested in specific cocktail recipes tested by yours truly and family, enter cocktails in the search bar and you’ll find several posts on specific recipes using shrub syrups.  Some of the recipes use HeathGlen’s beverage syrups or shrub syrups and some are just fun seasonal cocktails to try with or without the syrups.

Spicy Michalada (Beer with Orange Chipotle Shrub Syrup)

Spicy Michalada (Beer with Orange Chipotle Shrub Syrup)

Take inspiration from our syrup recipes or our coctail recipes.  If, however, you are not in the “spirit” to make your own syrups, or don’t have the time or ingredients, you can always purchase them online from HeathGlen.

 

 

 

Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart

Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart

Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart

We are rapidly coming upon “Entertaining Season” and cheese trays are one of the easiest, yet most elegant, ways to delight your guests with good food.  I developed a Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart for the MN Cheese Festival this year which highlights some of the most popular pairings of cheese and preserves.   The particular flavors of the jams listed on the chart are specific to HeathGlen’s Kitchen, but similar jams from elsewhere can easily be substituted.

It was really fun putting this photo together because I  got to try so many scrumptious combinations.  My husband walked in the kitchen towards the end of the photo session and, while the place was a huge mess, the array of textures and colors and smells was quite compelling to him.  He surprisingly said,  “that is some good looking food”, and proceeded to gobble up the leftovers.  The husband is a fairly taciturn type of guy, so hearing these words expressed so strongly was quite a surprise.  I think this will be our opening spread at the family Thanksgiving get-together this year.

Other great items to include on your cheese trays are nuts, honey and carmelized onions.  Wine and cheese pairings are a subject unto their own, and there are many resources to help you with that end of things.  Just google cheese and wine pairings and you will quickly be overwhelmed by information.

Another Version of a Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart:

Here is one other type of cheese and jam pairing chart that I put together a while ago.  It doesn’t have the actual photos of the pairings, but it defines the types of cheeses in a different way, which may be easier to work with.

Cheese & Jam Pairing: Chart B

Cheese and Jam Pairing: Chart B

Hopefully these Cheese and Jam Pairing Charts will be useful to you in putting together cheese trays for the holidays.  If you are interested in any of the specific jams I list, they can be found here at my online store.  

 

Cheers!

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