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Chestnut Cup

Chestnut CupWhether you enjoyed a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo or a Mint Julep for Derby Day, the first weekend in May has plenty of reasons to celebrate craft cocktails. Classics are always a good choice—they represent formulas that are often simple, but solid. Whenever a new recipe appears that rewards us with flavors and surprises us with simplicity, we take note. Such is the stuff that classics are made of. It's not always easy to produce something tasty that reads like it has been around forever. We cocktail nerds have the tendency to overthink recipes—we like to tinker—and with so many options at our disposal, it's just too tempting to add a dash of this or a spoonful of that. So, when we spotted Raul Yrastorza's Chestnut Cup in the March/April 2015 issue of Imbibe Magazine, we knew we had a winner.

The signature cocktail from Santa Monica's Chestnut Club is looks like a Julep in a tall glass of crushed ice, but that's where the similarities end. The Chestnut Cup is multi-dimensional, not just sweet and spiritous. The preparation is a bit unorthodox. Shaking with a single cube will start the chilling process while mixing, but the ice is quickly overwhelmed by the warm ingredients. The dilution that results helps cool and elongate the drink before it meets the rest of the ice in the glass.

Chestnut Cup by Raul Yrastorza
1 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz Campari
.75 oz orgeat

Add ingredients to a shaker with a single ice cube. Shake to combine, then strain over fresh ice cubes in a tall glass. Top up with crushed ice and garnish with an orange wheel.

The gin base sets up a light, floral character that works so nicely with lemon and orgeat. There is an obvious balance among them—the strong, the sour acid, the sweet almond syrup—but then comes the Campari. Actually, Campari contributes some sugar to the equation but its bitter overtones are what you notice first. However, it doesn't dominate the flavor, and bitterness isn't the only thing Campari has going for it.

We already adore most drinks that include Italian potable bitters, and the Chestnut Cup is no exception. But what is it about this drink that has us so excited? It's probably the orgeat. If we were break down the recipe and swap in simple syrup, we would have a well-balanced, bitter gin sour. That might be a delicious cocktail too, but good orgeat (especially homemade orgeat) brings a softness to this drink that is hard to describe. The almond nuttiness is almost creamy in a way that adds depth and texture like it does in a Mai Tai. It reminds us of the Peruvian Summer Smash, or maybe a bitter version of a sweet Fog Cutter, although that's taking it pretty far afield. We also appreciate the fact that this is a sophisticated summer cooler and that the mere ounce of gin allows us to have two if we are so inclined. It's also an interesting gateway to other gin cocktails (like many gin classics, this does not taste like gin). We can't help but wonder what another Amaro might do in Campari's place, or how this formula would withstand some base spirit change-a-roo. Whatever adjustments you decide to try or comparisons you make with other cocktails, there's no getting around the fact that the recipe is simple and result is delicious.

The Getaway

The Getaway Detail

Five years ago, back when we were knocking bottles around in Minnesota, Derek Brown was mixing his way toward multiple accolades in Washington DC. A two time James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist and craft bar entrepreneur, Mr. Brown has been recognized numerous times for his professional achievements and was recently named Bartender of the Year by Imbibe Magazine. This drink has been around for several years, but we hadn't tried it until now.

We've always been a fan of cocktails that put an unusual twist on classics, so when we read about The Getaway we knew we had to try it. It has been described as a Cynar Daiquiri which is probably as good of a reference as any. Some of you following along will immediately know what that means, but for everyone else, a few links can help you understand that description. First of all, Cynar is an Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Transform Bottom Shelf Booze into Premium Liquor

Bread Filtration

Many of our readers come to expect great things at this time of the year from Summit Sips. Year after year we share innovative recipes and unusual techniques, saving at least one special idea to kickoff the spring. This year, it's all about incredible spirits at bargain prices. We are going to describe an oddly innovative technique to transform cheap vodka into premium liquor for only fifty cents!

It's All About Filtration High-quality filtration is a technique that is often employed by spirit manufacturers to change an otherwise unremarkable product into something worth marketing. It is possible to improve flavor (and even remove color) by simply running the spirit through a filter. Good products can be made even better, and some of the most popular brands use filtration to set their product apart. For example, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is a filtered product. They choose not to call the

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Bicycles & Baskets

Bicycles & Baskets

This could be the perfect, simplest blend of your best-tasting ingredients. The floral/citrus Bicycles & Baskets is a whiskey-based original from Kask located here in Portland, Oregon. The menu describes this signature recipe as the perfect drink for a picnic. We won't disagree, but it's actually a drink that can be enjoyed any time. The name evokes images of pedaling leisurely toward a favorite location to enjoy the spring air or summer sun, but it's also a reference to the liqueur made from elderflowers that are supposedly picked by hand in the French hills and transported by bicycle to the distillery. Whichever visual applies for you, this might be a recipe worth scaling up to a batch that can fill a bottle for portability.

Rye whiskey has always held a leading position when it comes

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Turn Signal

Turn Signal Detail

Here's a fun cocktail that is easy to make and tastes great. It's an easy-drinking whiskey concoction that is reminiscent of a sour, but instead of the acidic tang, you get a lightly bittersweet raspberry effect. Grapefruit juice isn't a tart citrus—if anything, it's a little sweet and bitter—and what better time to explore it than at the end of winter. Sure, you could wait for warmer months to make this as a refreshing thirst quencher, but we would rather grab the fruit now and enjoy it. In addition to grapefruit which is enhanced by the Campari, the Turn Signal also contains raspberry syrup. You can make this easily enough by following our fermented raspberry syrup recipe, but you don't have to take that much time if you don't want to. You could just puree some fresh or frozen berries, strain the juice and add sugar.

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Barrel Aged Cocktails Without the Barrel

Oak Infusion

Let's jump right in with the details: We are using toasted oak chips and a charred oak stick in a mason jar to age scaled-up portions of our favorite drink recipes. The results are—in a word—amazing. We could also say surprising, or even easy. Given the fact that we have done true barrel-aging in the past, we were pleased to discover this time-saving alternative that produces results that are similar, if not better than the traditional method. It's so simple, in fact, that we plan to keep it going so that we always have aged, pre-mixed cocktails in the house. This is also so much more satisfying given the limited investment. It's hard to justify not doing this. If you have been thinking about making barrel-aged cocktails but haven't had a chance to track down a barrel—or perhaps you don't want to spend the money on

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Batches and Bowls

Oleo Saccharum

Whether you are prepping for a weekend party or a spring picnic (we are probably several months early for that), you may be looking for ways to enjoy the event and the company of your guests without spending time mixing individual cocktails on request. Beer and wine are easy options, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice good flavors and quality ingredients just because you'd rather join the party instead of busily shaking craft cocktails. As log as you are willing to do some preparation a day or so ahead of time, you don't need to play bartender. We are talking about batched cocktails—a common request we get from friends who are either searching for the perfect recipe or are interested in techniques they can leverage to make the process easier once guests arrive.

For us, the Super Bowl refers to any vessel large enough to hold a batch of Philadelphia

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