Friday, April 13, 2012


Looks pretty.  Tastes less so.
PDT Interview
Personal Preferences:  Something to kick off Friday Date Nite
Style of Drink: A stiff aperitif
Spirit of Choice:  gin or vodka-base, fruit or citrus accent
Last Drink: Pimms Cup #1

It’s been a while since we had such a stinker.   A true disappointment since the Tuxedo looks pretty good on paper.  I made two versions.  The one as prescribed by PDT, complete with the absinthe rinse and one without for The Partner’s licorice-averse tastes.  I thought the cherry and the absinthe might work together.  But honestly, unless you want a mouthful o’ licorice, I find nothing redeeming about absinthe.  It’s simply impossible control in any way whatsoever.  A “rinse” or a pour, there’s no difference; the result of which is to completely deaden the palate for any other flavor or nuance.

That said, even without the absinthe, The Partner was not a fan and with a couple sips off his bev, I have to say, this was not special enough to warrant making again.  To his credit, he didn't whine about "these classic cocktails" and in this case he would have been well within his rights to do so.

2 oz. gin
1 ½ oz. dry vermouth
¼ oz. Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled, absinthe-rinsed coupe.  Garnish with cherry & lemon twist.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pimm's Cup #1

PDT Interview
Personal Preferences:  Something new
Style of Drink:  A happy hour kickoff
Spirit of Choice:  Pimm’s
Last Drink:  Corpse Reviver #2

We have two bottles of Pimm’s.  One was a gift and I’ve been dying to try it for some time.  But the thought of cukes in a cup really doesn’t blow The Partner’s skirt up.  Plus, it’s rare that we have a cucumber left in the crisper by week's end since we love ‘em on our salads each night.  But tonight we had one of the English variety in the fridge, so it seemed the appropriate time to slip the Pimm’s Cup #1 into the lineup.

Pimm’s itself is an interesting concoction.  Back in the 19th century, oysters were all the rage with British gentlemen.  Gin, the national bev, was a bit too harsh to go with oysters, but is what was served with them nonetheless.  That is until 1823 when James Pimm opened his London oyster bar and served up Pimm’s House Cup – gin mixed with fruit extracts and various other liqueurs.  It started a rage that swept the Empire.  Before long, what we call Happy Hour was called "Pimm’s O’Clock".  Eventually, Mr. Pimm would create two similar mixes with different bases – scotch being the base of Pimm’s Cup #2 and brandy for Pimm’s Cup #3.

The spirit pours a little syrupy with a reddish brown tint.  The best way to describe the taste is somewhere between a very thin cough syrup and a watered down Jagermeister.  Not the most appetizing, but not as god awful as the cough syrup or Jager either.  When mixed with the other ingredients in this tipple, it’s quite refreshing.  A solid summer sipper with clean, bright notes of cucumber and ginger.  Definitely glad to have finally gotten around to this one!

Pimm’s Cup #1:
2 oz. Pimm’s Cup #1
½ oz. simple syrup
¾ oz. lemon juice
1 oz. ginger ale
3 cucumber slices

Muddle two cuke slices with the syrup.  Add the lemon juice and Pimm’s and shake with ice.  Serve in Collins glasses with ice and top with the ginger ale.  Use the last cuke slice to garnish.

UPDATE:  Well didn't this turn out to be the most notorious sipper of the summer!  For his birthday, The Partner decided he wanted to have just a few friends over for cocktails on the roof.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time behind the bar mixing different cocktails all night ("just a few friends" turned out to be 16).  So besides wine and beer, I featured two cocktails for folks to choose from that could be mixed quickly from only a couple ingredients.  Pimm's Cup #1 was one of them.  As a result, we burned through the two bottles we had on the bar.  With friends A. & R. leading the pack, and it became the most requested drink of the summer with calls, texts, and emails from all quarters asking for the recipe.  Thank goodness for the blog.  Responses were as easy as a pasted link.

What of The Partner you may ask?  He still claims he doesn't like it.  When asked if he'd like one he declines.  The reason:  "Cucumbers are for salads.  I don't like to drink them."  That is until a Pimm's #1 is mixed and placed in his hand without getting permission first.  Then it's:

"What is this?"
"Pimm's #1."
"The one with the cucumbers?"
"The one with the cucumbers."
"Hmm....  It's nice.  Refreshing."
"That's the cucumbers."
After hitting the bottom of the glass: "Ok, I'll have one more...."

Doesn't like it my @$$.  He's just a condiment snob.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cookin' with Booze

One of the things I've been struggling with on the bar is a glut of ancient liquor and liqueurs that The Partner and I have moved from place to place and have had since before we even knew each other.  You know the stuff-- those same bottles you’ve seen on your grandparents' bar or your parents' bar for as long as you've been able to form memories?  With about a year of barmanship and mixology under my belt now, I can see that there are certain bottles that will never go away unless they're thrown out.  But that's sacrilege in so many ways.  Denigrating the memories of the ancestors, waste, a crime against Dionysus.   That is until I had an inspiration when we were at Costco one day.

On a recent run to restock the staples we were cruising the meat case and I saw a pork loin that was in some horrid marinade (packaged, marinating meats are another crime against the gods in my book).  As I tossed it back into the case for some philistine to purchase one word on he label caught my eye: whiskey.  **DING**. Light bulb.  I instantly knew what I would do with all our ancient spirits!  After all, I cook with beer and tequila in chili and wine in all sorts of things all the time.  Why not whiskey?

So another permutation of the blog is born.  "Cookin' with Booze"! Here at two marinade recipes that I've concocted to cull the bar. Enjoy!
Note:  I tend to do palmfuls and fractions there of to measure dry ingredients and measure by eye with liquids.  So amounts here are approximate.  Taste and balance as you go (before adding the meat).

Whiskey Dijon Marinade
We have so many different kinds of whiskey, clearly holdovers from a time before Homo discovered vodka.  So this is the first use in cooking.  When cooked, the pork has a grilled & garlicky, sweet flavor.

1/4 c. Whiskey

Thanks to my neice, A. for this pic from her dad's grill.
1/4 c. Soy sauce

1/4 c. Dijon

1/4 c. Packed brown sugar

1/4 c. Finely chopped scallions

A couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Black pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Whisk it all up.  Marinate meat for a couple hours.  Baste with extra marinade while grilling.  This is good with pork loin roast.  But I imagine this would go well with steak or chicken too.

SoCo Chicken Marinade
What the hell is Southern Comfort, anyway??  Having a taste, I understand why it’s so popular these days when tastes trend so sweet.  This marinade will taste differently in the bowl than it does on the cooked chicken.  When grilled the chicken has a bright sweetness, not at all cloying like SoCo itself.

SoCo Chicken

1/3 c. Southern Comfort
¼ c. water
1 ½ t. cider vinegar
3 T. canola oil
½ lime, juiced
2T. light brown sugar
2T. minced onion
3 cloves garlic
1 T. chili powder
1 ½ t. ground cumin
½ t. cumin seed
½ t. celery salt
½ t. onion powder

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.  Add 6 chicken thighs and marinate for at least an hour.  Grill chicken on a hot grill and baste with additional marinade while grilling.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Date Nite | Marigold

A couple years ago, via Date Nite, we discovered Marigold, an amazing Indian restaurant in Chi’s Uptown neighborhood.  Instantly, it was a favorite and we became regulars – especially during the winter months when the warmth of Indian cuisine soothes and comforts.  The food was fantastic, with a menu that got the average Anglo diner past the standard curries, chutneys, and tandooris.  The atmosphere was upscale, trendy & chic with dark wood finishes and deep red walls and ruby lighting fixtures.  Tables were donned with white table cloths.  The bar was liberal and had a good wine list.  Service was friendly, personable, and attentive without being overbearing.  The owner/host knew us by name even when we hadn’t shown up in months. 

My cell cam sucks. Still, this Old Fashioned was as anemic as it looks.
After a particularly challenging few days at work, I decided The Partner (and I) needed a dose of Indian comfort this Date Nite and we headed up to Marigold once again.  Now, if you’ve picked up on a wistful tone in this entry, you’re not mistaken.  Things at Marigold have changed.  The food is still very good.  However, all the electric Date Nite ambiance is gone.  Little things are big, right?  The card stock menus have been replaced by plastic bifolds.  Gone are the table cloths.  And at 8pm on a Friday night, there were still tables – plenty of tables – to be had.  Contrast that with a couple years ago when, if you didn’t make a reservation in advance you weren’t likely to get a seat much before 9:30.  **sigh**  The service is still good, but nowhere near as personable.

Aiming for the cocktail menu, I had to try an Old Fashioned Indian (pictured) with tamarind puree & date palm sugar for muddling and rimming.  But it was disappointingly weak with nary a hint of Indian flavor  given the name, right?

It always makes me sad when places we like flame out so quickly.  We'll probably be back again as the food is still very good and on the whole it has not gotten as bad as Sola in it's drop. Marigold was such a unique place, too, with it’s combination of a trendy, hip vibe and rockin’ Indian fare that was both contemporary cuisine and comfort food all at the same time.  Truly unique.  Truly past what made it awesome.