Sunday, July 28, 2013

The L'Orange and The Gene Splicer

The Orange Popsicle, or The Gene Splicer
Not the best way to start one's Sunday morning, opening the New York Times over coffee and seeing a headline heralding the demise of breakfast across the continent: A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA.

With the Florida orange business coming in at $9 billion a year -- second only to Brazil globally -- you'll perhaps forgive me if I don't take  beknighted little orange farmer, Ricke Kress, at face value when he suggests he's fighting against the big, bad FDA, consumer groups, and environmentalists to save the noble orange as a service to mankind.  I think it's pretty safe to say it's about profits.  And when the article concludes with Kress talking about how GMO technology might one day “... improve orange juice....  Maybe we can find a way to have oranges grow year-round, or get two for every one we get now on a tree.”  who is he kidding?  This is about Big Agribusiness doubling down on yet another mono-culture (think bananas and corn) and doing anything and everything it has to protect that monoculture, supersize its production and thus its profits.  Even if it means twisting nature by inserting pig or spinach genes into orange trees to do it.

Remember seasonal produce?  Wouldn't it be great to return to them.  We value things so much more when we can only enjoy them for a limited period of time each year.   Scarcity not only makes things more valuable, but when it comes to food, I firmly believe scarcity makes them taste better.  It's not like the Frankenfoods Big Agribusiness has produced to keep seasonal fruits and veggies in our supermarkets year round are tastier.  So now we have them year round.  How is it a bonus to the consumer?  For all their genetic manipulation, irradiation, and nitrogen storage foods have no taste and lousy texture.  Take tomatoes.  So we have them year round.  The outcome is that they're now orange/pink, mealy, and tasteless year round.  Unless you're willing to shell out $5-$7 a pound for "heirlooms".  Big Agribusiness is making our food supply more vulnerable to disease and species eradication the more they widdle our food stocks down to a mere handful of species.  Genetic diversity is a bulwark against disease and extinction.  As we're seeing with bananas and now oranges, we're just one bug away from losing some of our favorite foods.  But hey, as long as Southern Gardens Citrus, or Tropicana, or Florida's Natural, or Monsanto gets those record profits in the here and now, who cares if future generations never get to eat another banana or drink another glass of OJ again.  Right?

OK, ranting is over.  Let's drink.  In the interest of genetic diversity, I made two tipples here.  The first is more cocktail-like with nice depth and body.  It's a little sweet, but not cloying.  It's a surprisingly nice orange cocktail -- which doesn't get said too often.  Let's dub this one L'Orange, given most of its ingredients' French pedigree.  The other is a nice summer sipper -- light and tasty. In the summertime as a kid, I loved to make homemade popsicles by pouring straight OJ into popsicle molds and putting them in the freezer.  So seasonal.  Well, this one tastes just like that.  So we can call this one The Orange Popsicle, or the Gene Splicer.  I think I prefer the latter because it starts off as a L'Orange, but then you splice in some other ingredients, just like Southern Gardens Citrus and Monsanto!
L'Orange:  The template DNA for The Gene Splicer

1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 1/2 oz. Lillet blanc
1 oz. Cointreau

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add the OJ, Cointreau,  and Lillet.  Shake 12-15 times.  Decant into a chilled martini glass.  No garnish.

The Orange Popcicle, or the Gene Splicer
2 oz. orange juice
1/2 lime juice
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Lillet blanc
2 dashes orange bitters
2 oz. seltzer

Pour the OJ, lime juice, Cointreau, Lillet, and bitters in a Collins glass.  Fill with ice.  Top with the seltzer and stir.  No garnish.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sloe Gin Fizz or The Cure for US Health Care

Hello, Dilettante Friends! Long time no see.  Happy Fourth to you!  Life’s been busy the last four months, but not without it’s cocktails, despite what the dearth of entries might suggest!

So right to it, shall we?  

After years of wondering exactly what it was, I purchased a bottle of sloe gin about 3 months ago which promptly got shoved to the back of the bar, forgotten and unopened.  It got pulled out at last weekend’s Pride celebration and once again became a priority.  Wow.  Sounds just like the on-again, off-again health care deform reform in this country.  But I’m getting ahead of myself...

First, though, check out that awesome single block of ice in The Partner’s Manhattan. (Prepared with orange bitters this time around.  He seems to prefer that these days.  I know, right?  As you regulars will know, this is unexpected considering his constant whinging about classic cocktails being too citrusy and acidic.  **sigh**  Though I will admit, they do brighten the bev up a bit.)  For my birthday, The Partner’s parents contributed to the bar with a set of ice cube forms that yield these fantastic blocks of ice.  Coincidentally, they didn’t even know how much we covet the look, sound, cooling power, and overall effect of these when we go to trendy, hipster, shee-shee-la-la bars.

For mini-Date Nite, on a damp, foggy, July 3rd, we closed up shop a little early.  Never having had sloe gin before, I tried a sip of it straight.  The Partner winced.  Apparently, sloe gin figured into his days as a frat boy.  Wishing me well he took his Manhattan and several steps back, waiting for me to finish making my fizz.  The brand I have is Plymouth.  Click the link above and read the description of the taste.  Mmm-hmm.  Right.  Let’s just say it’s more akin to watered down cherry cough syrup from when we were kids and call it a day.

That said, I was a bit apprehensive on the first sip of fizz.  But to tell the truth, it was quite delightful and refreshing.  The lemon, gin and seltzer cut the medicinal sweetness of the sloe gin to nice effect. Had the weather been a bit less October in London and a bit more July in Chicago, I could have had multiple rounds of these.  The Partner even ventured a cautious sip...which turned into four:  “...[sip]...Hunh...[sip]...Oh wow...[sip]...This is a lot different than what we drank in college...[sip]...Sure beats drinking it straight outta a bota bag!”  

Good lord.

So I’ve read in my hometown rag that the administration might be postponing parts of the health care “reform” bill.  Possibly, in part, in order to get Dems through the mid-terms before elements of the bill go into effect.  Naturally, Republicans are making hay out of this, even though they’ve been fighting the bill tooth and nail for the past 5 years.  I say, hey, what’s the rush?  Politicians have enjoyed very comfortable health care benefits for decades.  So they’re good.  And We The People’ve gone 237 years without a comparable safety net.  What’s another two?  We’re hardier stuff anyway.  In the meantime, if we get sick and we’re under-age, unemployed, not employed, self-employed or our employer hovers around the cusp of 50+ employees and is tarrying about providing insurance, we always have sloe gin.  Straight.  For that cherry-flavored cough syrup experience of our childhood.  Or J├Ąger.  Or Pernod.  Or slivovitz.  Or...

Sloe Gin Fizz
1 oz. sloe gin
1 oz. gin
1/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup

Shake ingredients with ice.  Decant into a fizz glass with ice and top with club soda.  No garnish.