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A regular of mine at The Royale (one of the ones I had a crush on) came in one night many years ago and ordered “a Manhattan, put it up on skates.” I shot him one of my perplexed Charlie Brown faces; he unfurled a devilish Cheshire grin (catnip to a female bartender who was fed up with her boyfriend at that point). He’d just heard this phrase, probably earlier that night during his own shift, and couldn’t wait to test it out on me. My demurely flirtatious reply: “What the fuck does ‘put it up on skates’ mean?”

It meant, shake the shit out of a Manhattan so hard that when you strain it, perfect, adorable little ice floes, teensy shards small enough to scoot through the coils of your Hawthorne strainer, dot the surface of your cocktail. To this day I know of nobody else who’s ever heard of or used this expression, but it’s always stuck with me as quite a cool thing to say… although yes, nowadays we know that all-alcohol cocktails like the Manhattan ought to be stirred, not shaken, lest you “bruise” their precious molecules. (See: “Don’t ever shake that drink, or you’ll kill it.”) Someday I’ll side-by-side taste-test that theory, but for now what can I say except that it was the 00’s; we were the young and the reckless, and I was really hoping to kiss this guy soon.

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We made coffee espresso-infused* vodka this week. It was totes easy! We just took a cup of fresh, dark-roast beans and gently cracked them open by applying pressure with the bottom of a measuring cup. (See photo.) Then we dumped ‘em into a fifth of vodka (something middle-shelf; I think we used Stoli or Ketel) and stored it in a cool, dry place for a few days. Voila!

We’ve suffered through fiasco infusions before. (Would you like to taste the most terrible homemade peach-flavored vodka ever? No, you would not.) This one’s practically foolproof because, unlike a delicate peach, the robustness of the beans lets you know by smell whether or not your infusion’s balanced, needs more time, etc. We knew we had something good after about a week, when the espresso aroma actually eclipsed the alcohol-y smell of the vodka. Next, of course, came the question of what cocktail to invent with it…

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