Virgin Old Fashioned Part One

Virgin Old Fashioned. Take away the whiskey but non of the kick.

Virgin Old Fashioned. Take away the whiskey but non of the kick.

Recently I picked up new ingredients to enhance my drink making repertoire. One of the essentials I had been missing was bitters – a needed ingredient in Manhattans and Old Fashions, both whiskey based drinks.

According to Wikipedia an Old Fashioned drink starts with muddling sugar and orange bitters then adding the whiskey, water and a twist of citrus. It’s served in an Old Fashioned Glass – and if you are curious what comes first “the glass or the drink” … it’s the drink.

Old fashioned drinks have come along way since the original in 1806. By the 1860’s the drink evolved to include a number of orange flavoured liqueurs, and became fashionable again and given the name “Old Fashioned”. Today recipes can include a splash of pop instead of water, brown sugar syrup instead of white sugar, a choice of bitters, and sometimes even a choice of liquor.

Interestingly enough when you google virgin old fashioned drinks there is nothing that comes up that is actually non alcoholic. Huh! Looking further, into cooking substitutions, again there is no substitution for whiskey. Not to be outdone, I looked up drinks made with orange bitters and … Bingo!

BarNoneDrinks lists 135 drinks containing orange bitters (which you can find here) and among them a number of drinks that use sugar, bitters and whiskey that could be adapted. Here is the first of a series of attempts to create some interesting New

Commodor Mocktail #1

This recipe is an alteration of the whiskey based drink found on BarNoneDrinks that for all practical purposes uses the same key components of a basic old-fashioned: sugar, bitters, citrus and whiskey (no water in this version).  Since there is no real replacement for whiskey – I chose to go unconventional and use something that recently came into the market: Dark Ginger Ale.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 oz. Dark Ginger Ale
  • 1/4 lemon – juiced
  • 1 tsp  sugar
  • 2 dash(es) orange bitters
Procedure:

Muddle sugar and bitters with lemon in bottom of glass. Add Ice and Ginger Ale and serve with a twist of orange.

My Thoughts:

Wow! This drink is a powerhouse. When creating a virgin drink, often all the drinks tend to blend together into either fruit juice blends or fizzy sweet beverages. The idea behind the Old Fashioned is actually simplicity and kick. And this virgin version brings both in spades.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 my kids love sour, and they finished off their testers and asked for more.
Taste: 4/5  Dad didn’t like this, but everyone else thought this drink was the bomb.
Simplicity: 5/5 easy as lemonade.
Ingredient finding: 3/5 two ingredients that are more challenging, dark ginger ale may only be seasonal, and orange bitters are a “ship in” item.

Raspberry Lime New Year’s Eve Spritzer

A simple but flavourful creation using fresh raspberries and homemade jelly.

A simple but flavourful creation using fresh raspberries and homemade jelly.

Tonight is NewYear’s Eve! Tonight you may be clinking glasses together family and friends, and if your home is filled with kids,  it’s nice to have an elegant alternate that the whole family can enjoy.

The idea of floating fresh fruit in a clear sparkling drink, served in a flute glass isn’t new. But it is an elegant way to celebrate new year. You can find recipes using champagne, sparkling wine and flavoured spirits bubbling in glasses on Pinterest, blogs and Facebook. Finewine’s and good spirits has their sparkling creation at the top of their new years cocktail list. Punchbowl.com shows a beautiful image of champagne being poured over raspberries on their page about New Year’s Champagne Cocktails.

Adding fruit jelly or preserves isn’t either. OSoSexy’s online magazine gives a recipe for a Cherry Berry Delight using raspberries both fresh and preserved with cherry infused spirits.

While you can often buy sparkling non-alcoholic ciders and wines to share with family of all ages, I wanted to offer something that added a hint of mixology and elegance not found in a bottled drink.

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz raspberry jelly
  • 1/4 lime squeezed (cut into two wedges)
  • 1 tbsp fine white sugar
  • Club soda (4 oz)
  • Fresh Raspberry
  • Ice
  • Procedure
Procedure:

Measure jelly into bottom of flute glass. Fill flute glass with ice and top with few raspberries.

Squeeze lime into cocktail mixer and drop fruit in after. Top with sugar and muddle to blend flavours further. Add ice and soda water and shake.  Pour over ice in flute glass adding more soda water to fill if necessary. Serve with stir stick to mix.

Stir before drinking.

My Thoughts:

I created this recipe originally to look cool. The idea was to imitate he champagnes and I wanted something elegant for my blog banner. Later I perfected this, having an abundance of raspberry jelly left after my halloween drink creations. In november a friend showed me a video using limes and sugar with Cachaca (a spirit made with sugar cane) and I refined this further to make the drink for our New Year’s Party. My kids loved this in all it’s forms.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Yup.
Taste: 5/5  Refined and sweet.
Simplicity: 4/5  The jelly takes a bit to make, but the rest is a breeze.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 no fancy ingredinents required.

Virgin Manhattan Review


Virgin Manhattans. Left to right: Sophisticated Smoked Manhttan, Tasty & Tart Manhattan.

Virgin Manhattans. Left to right: Sophisticated Smoked Manhttan, Tasty & Tart Manhattan.

Now that I have a selection of bitters for use in drinks, I figured the first thing to do is determine how to use them in the most well know of drinks: a Manhattan.

Manhattans are made with bourbon or whiskey, sweet vermouth and orange bitters.
For the non-alcoholic choice, most sites give a juice based recipe for a virgin manhattan calling for cranberry, orange, cherry and lemon juice with orange bitters, which remind me a lot of a fruit punch. Since all the recipes had the same proportions I am using the recipe from DrinkMixer.com.
The challenge for the Manhattan virgin cocktail is coming up with something to replace the whiskey or bourbon. If you google the taste of bourbon you find descriptions like “smoky, burnt toast, molasses” used to describe the taste, along with the flavour of cherry or cherry coke. Ok well sounds like marvellous stuff!
Continuing the research I came across convivial.org which suggested a different take, using smoked tea and pomegranate juice to create a new experience using the idea of a smoky flavour from the original recipe. Ok sounds intriguing, and definitely not like fruit punch. But which is the preferred option? Time for some scientific taste testing – preferably on more than my little family of four. Well good thing I was visiting extended family!!

Virgin Manhattan – Tart and Tasty

This is the most commonly found recipe for a Virgin Manhattan. See the full recipe here.
Each element of this drink lends to a tart bright flavour creating a juice based beverage that has a slight kick and is slightly astringent. The drink is pleasant, however the prevailing flavours are citrus and cranberry and the cherry flavour seems lost in the mix. To me this drinks seemed like a poncy cranberry juice – lovely for breakfast but not something I would offer as an alternative to alcoholic beverages at a party.
Since the recipe calls for so little cherry juice (1/2 tsp) I am not sure what that element brings to the table. This is normally not something I have access to in Tumbler Ridge, and would have to choose to use either maraschino cherry juice (which cocktail:uk suggests), home-made cherry juice from frozen dark cherries or omit it all together.  As I was down in the “big city” I commissioned my husband to find said beverage, and was surprised and amazed at the price (so was mom). I have trouble justifying $8/bottle for a half teaspoon of something, and am now endeavouring to find out what else I can use this super expensive juice for, as I can’t justify pouring glasses of this as a straight beverage.
Our Thoughts:
In order to determine scientifically what the cherry juice adds to the drink, I remade this recipe in triplicate: one without the juice, one with maraschino cherry syrup and one as directed; and retested the results. The cherry juice added colour to the drink making it darker, but did it add any discernible taste? According to my kids: Nope! The more discerning palates notices a nicer taste in the black cherry juice version – so we determined that the cost may be worth it if serving this drink to adults.
Kid-o-metre 4.5/5 Either with or without the cherry juice, the kids rated this drink highly.
Taste: 3.5/5  What’s with the .5 right? well it’s the result of science man.
Simplicity: 5/5 A no brainer…unless you have to make your own bitters.
Ingredient finding: 3/5 two ingredients that are “ship in only” for our small town.

Virgin Manhattan – Smoky and Strong

The second version I found online at convivial.org required some more challenging ingredients: Lapsang Souchong smoked black tea, a second black decaf tea, and pomegranate juice along with orange bitters and simple syrup and vanilla. I chose a rooibos de province from DavidsTea, since it’s fruity flavour would blend well with the pomegranate juice, and brewed up the two teas for the drink as per the instructions (2 bags tea per 6 oz boiled water).
This drink did not go over well with the adults in our family the first time I made it. Me own mum likened the drink to musty mattresses, dad said it reminded him of burned food while camping, my husband took two sips and simply refused to drink the rest. I made the tea separately, about a week later, and realized that my original tea brew was stronger than it should have been, and over steeped. The recipe indicated using two bags of tea for 6 oz boiled water, I used loose tea and used 2 tsp per 6 oz of boiled water. It is possible that this smoked tea is stronger than a bag version, and that overstepping created a more acidic and bitter flavour. My tea loving father tried the tea plain from the first batch, made a face and stated it tasted like medicine. My tea loving niece tried the tea from the second batch, and finished the glass, enjoying the taste. I tried both and the first attempt was indeed an epic fail.
The purpose of the smoked tea was to add the smokiness of the bourbon, but I have been told that bourbon isn’t smoky, it is sweet. The second batch of tea was indeed more tea like and had a hint of sweetness but the tea was made with only the regular amount called for (not double strength) which in this case was 1 1/4 tsp per 240 ml.
Ingredients:
I would recommend the following tweak:
  • 1 1/4 tsp Lapsang Souchong smoked black tea steeped for 3 minutes in 60z boiled water.
  • 2 tsp decaf black tea (rooibos or other) steeped for up to 6 minutes in 6 oz boiled water.
  • 1 1/2 oz pomegranate juice
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • (cherry for garnish)
Procedure:
Steep both teas as directed. Mix juice bitters, syrup and vanilla with 1 1/2 oz black tea only. Taste the drink, and ad the smoky tea in small increments (up to 1 1/2 oz) to get just the right amount of smokiness without overpowering the drink – similar to bitters, the flavour is very powerful. We found that 1/2 -1 tsp was enough to lend the smoky flavour and maintain the sweetness and fruity flavour of the drink with the original over steeped double strength tea. When remade with the regular strength tea….
Our Thoughts:

This drink, once perfected to a mild smoky taste was surprisingly easy to serve to both kids and adults. One adult still found the smoky flavour too much, but both kids rated this favourably and my youngest said it tasted like sour key candies. Compared to the first drink, due to the broad spectrum of opinions this drink rates lower. The original recipe calls this a Sophisticated Manhattan – which indicates that not every palate will appreciate this drink.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 kids loved it once the smoky flavour was reduced. Who would have thunk it!
Taste: 3.4/5  Slightly less preferred than the popular and common drink recipe.
Simplicity: 2/5 Bitters (bottled or DIY), special tea brews (2 of them), and simple syrup needed.
Ingredient finding: 2/5 the majority of these ingredients are not easily acquired in Tumbler Ridge.


Would I make either of these regularly? Probalby not. Neither feels worth the time or cost to make, and I would definitely not bother serving either to guests. The first drink is simply not impressive or noteworthy, the second with the recommended adjustment is a nice drink – however pomegranate juice is simply to0 difficult to get in little northern communities.

Blackberry Peppercorn Lemonade Review

Black Pepper Syrup gives quite a kick to this virgin cocktail.

Black Pepper Syrup gives quite a kick to this virgin cocktail.

In creating drinks without the kick of alcoholic beverages, finding alternate ingredients to add the interest becomes part of the fun and challenge for mixologists.

Black pepper syrup is an intriguing idea – sweet but with a heat and a hint of acidy and a brilliant flavour complex. There are many recipes online for this syrup, generally recommending a combination of cracked and whole peppercorns along with water and sugar. The cracked peppercorns deliver more heat, while the whole fruit provides a more mellow and rich flavour complex. In drink mixing this syrup often is paired with grapefruit, citrus and/or berries, are added to martinis for added heat.

(If you are interested in the recipe for the syrup I will be using check my blog here where I use it in a snake venom shooter I created over halloween.)

When looking up virgin drinks, I found two that paired blackberries with peppercorn syrup and added lemon to round out the flavours. Our family tested both.

Black and Blue Lemonade

This first recipe from FoodRepublic has all the makings of a great summer drink. The combination of black pepper syrup, fresh berries, lemons and a hint of basil for additional interest are all seasonal —especially up north — and more likely to be found in the summer months. The drink calls for muddling fresh basil, blackberries in the syrup and adding to a combination of 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part soda water. This drink is a very fresh and bright tasting with a serious kick from the lemons and peppercorns. You can find the recipe here.

Black Pepper Lemonade

Dole foods promotes their frozen products with a lemonade using frozen blackberries. This is a great option for a drink that can be made all season. The recipe is simple, also using fresh lemon juice, black pepper syrup and blackberries muddled in a glass, strained and poured over ice. This is in my opinion more of a martini as the drink is left concentrated, but they recommend serving it over ice, which will help to dilute the taste. As an added interest, the recipe calls for a salt and pepper rimmer. You can find the entire recipe with the syrup they used, the rimmer and the drink here.
My Thoughts:
My family found the Black Pepper Lemonade sweeter and more flavourful than the the more earthy Black and Blue Lemonade. However the pepper is very prominent and we cut the recipe by half for the kids. The Salt & Pepper Rimmer was not popular amongst the younger crowd either, but as someone who adores peppercorn encrusted steak and tenderloin, the addition made the drink all that more spectacular. On a hot summer day though, I can see choosing the more subtle, tart and complex flavour of the Black and Blue Lemonade to quench my thirst, the brightness of the fresh ingredients and the fizz of the soda are a combination that is hard to resist.
At the end of the day our family voted. Black Pepper Lemonade came out victorious.
Kid-o-metre 5/5
Taste: 4/5 
preferred the non fizzy drink
Simplicity: 4/4 
for the Black Pepper Lemonade which was simpler to create
Ingredient finding: 3/5 
Blackberries (fresh and frozen) and basil are not commonly found all year locally.

 

Virgin Mudslide

Virgin Mudslide. Takes a bit of work to get the genuine taste, but results are worth it.

Virgin Mudslide. Takes a bit of work to get the genuine taste, but results are worth it.

Two of my favourite flavours in liqueurs are Irish Cream and Kahlua. So some of the first experiments I tried was a way to replicate the flavour of these in a syrup without the use of alcohol.

Finding recipes for DIY Irish Cream was fairly easy, finding one that kept true to the flavour of my favourite Baileys was a little harder. In order to be true to science, I needed to test the recipe as it should be, as well as without the alcohol to make sure that the flavours remained consistent. So I now have a bottle of Irish Whiskey in my cupboard awaiting further use down the road, after using about two oz for testing. But it was worth the expense.

Here are a few of the sites I found if you wish to do your own comparison.

Top Secret.comBrown Eyed BakerSaveur and A Cozy Kitchen all used a combination of coffee, chocolate and vanilla along with cream or condensed milk.

BBC Foods Recipes, Cupcake Project and All Recipes.com added almond extract or essence into the mix. Each of these recipes is almost identical, calling for the same proportions of almond, coffee, chocolate and vanilla along with condensed milk and cream. The difference was in the cream, some call for light cream (18-30%% milk fat), or for heavy cream (36% milk fat) or for single cream (18% milk fat).

What I found was that these recipes all tasted pretty similar when followed with the whiskey. The difference was when the whiskey was withheld. See, the whiskey masks some of the more subtle flavours and dilutes the drink adding it’s own flavour and strength. When removing this strong element from the mix, the first list of recipes tasted strongly of mocha but not irish cream. The almond extract was the key.

Of the recipes online, the one that I fell in love with was from All Recipes.com which called for heavy cream or whipping cream. You can find the recipe here.

Virgin Mudslide

One of the most common drinks using both Irish Cream and a coffee liqueur is the Mudslide. This has been made into deserts, into shakes with the addition of ice-cream , and into slushes (called a frozen mudslide) with the addition of crushed ice. My goal was to create something that had the same taste as the original, or as close as I could get.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and serve.

My Thoughts:

This is a sweeter recipe than the original, due to the concentration of both the syrups. The original recipe I worked with called for 1 part both liqueurs and vodka to 2 parts milk. Because the vodka was omitted and the syrups were more concentrated and thick, I needed to up my milk quantity in order to get a drink that wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. The coffee liqueur is also stronger that Kahlua is when it comes to the coffee flavour. In order to compensate I had to cut the coffee down from equal proportions of both syrups.

The final drink is very nice. Lacks the kick of the original which is more than half alcohol. But retains the essence of the drinks flavours. To dress it up I garnished the glass with shaved chocolate.

What did my kids think? “Mum, can you make this again?”

I tried this warmed up and served with whipped cream as a treat for my kids after a cold day in our snow filled world.

The Elixir Review

Rosemary Citrus Spritzer

Rosemary Citrus Spritzer

When I first started working on virgin drinks, at the beginning of the summer, I made a bunch of drinks that existed online, to see what had been done, what I liked, and what concepts were out there. I found a site called The Kitchn where they discussed three amazing non alcoholic drinks served at a restaurant in New York called  Eleven Madison Park.

Now I am on the other side of the continent from New York, and much more north y’know. So of the three drinks, only one used ingredients that I could find in my local store – or heck anywhere close by for that matter. This drink was called the Elixir.

Using my pre-created syrups, some fresh mint from a friends garden and one additional syrup that I made for the drink, I whipped up a batch and served it to my family. Kids, adults, the whole lot of us all loved it without exception.

Here is the link to the recipe for Elixir. Thank you to Sam Lipp of Eleven Madison Park’s who shared these creations with The Kitchn’s team who shared it with the world.

Go check it out for yourself here!

Kid-o-metre 5/5
Taste: 5/5  This guy is a pro y’know
Simplicity: 4/5  Two syrups to make, but not hard to whip up.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Even up north we can enjoy this New York taste.

Bloody Orange Mocktail

Bloody Orange Mocktail. Before and after "blood" injection.

Bloody Orange Mocktail. Before and after “blood” injection.

Halloween is a combination of the the imaginary and the real, the spooky and the fun, the mystical and the macabre. Tonight we are focusing on the macabre – a take on a recipe from Better Home and Gardens called Bloody Orange Cocktail. The idea s is blend of orange and citrus, with a splash of bubbles and vodka. The blood element is raspberry syrup in a syringe that is injected into the drinks after serving. Wonderfully macabre and yet wonderfully tasty.

You can find the recipe here for the original drink.

When looking for an alternative to the liqueurs found in the original drink, I had to be a bit creative. The original calls for a combination of orange juice and soda water, along with Liquor 43. This Spanish liqueur is citrus and fruit based, but as the name implies it has 43 ingredients. I decided to go with something ginger and citrus based and had just the recipe in mind.

Set with my drink base all created I thought that the rest would be simple, add some sugar to my preexisting raspberry juice and Bob’s your uncle. Not quite that easy. First, I only had frozen raspberries and the raspberry juice I had made from frozen raspberries. The original recipe called for fresh raspberries, juiced. Turns out 2 cups of raspberries makes about 1/2 cup juice according to the Oregon State University. So I needed 1/2 cup of juice.

Second, it turns out that the key to making the raspberry juice is time. Ten minutes to be precise, as the sugar syrup gets stronger due to evaporation and the pectin in the juice begins to work. Once the liquid cools the result was surprising. Jelly! Yep, delicious spread on your toast jelly.

Once that ingredient was perfected, the injected juice keeps it’s integrity in the drink and requires a bit of stirring to dissolve and blend. So that the blood infusion looks more realistic. Here is my new recipe for this great idea of a drink, without the booze, but with plenty of kick.

Bloody Orange Mocktail

The virgin version of this blends the flavours of orange, lime and ginger with a sparkle of soda for brightness.

Ingredients:
  • 10 ml raspberry syrup/jelly (see below)
  • 10 ml syring (no needle)
  • 1 oz orange simple syrup
  • 1 tsp orange juice concentrate
  • 1 oz ginger citrus syrup
  • 4 oz soda water (or ginger ale)
Procedure:

Fill 10 ml syringe with raspberry syrup/jelly and set aside. Mix syrups and orange juice concentrate in a shaker with ice. Pour over ice and top with soda water. Plunge syringe into drink and instruct recipient to inject blood before drinking. Serve and enjoy the reactions.

My Thoughts:

The blend of orange and ginger is delicious. When we had this drink for dinner, my kids found the novelty of the syringes fun and used the syringes to stir occasionally if the jelly started to sink to the bottom of the drink. You can find syringes at novelty stores or at pharmacies.

When I injected my blood, I found that the syrup just shot into the drink and started dissolving, but my glass was shy on ice. The ice and the slowness of the injection helps to keep the integrity of the jelly intact.


 Raspberry Syrup/Jelly

100 grams frozen raspberries
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Procedure:

Cook raspberries in water on medium until defrosted and then simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and press raspberries through wire double strainer over a bowl and collect all juice (should be about 1/2 cup). Return juice to pot and add sugar. Heat to a gentle boil (medium high) and continue to cook 10 minutes. Watch the pot and adjust heat as necessary to keep boiling but not overflowing. After 10 minutes remove from heat and pour into heat resistant container with lid. Allow to cool completely before using.

Ginger Lime Syrup

2 cups water
1 cup chopped ginger
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 cup sugar

Procedure:

Place water, juice, zest and ginger into pot and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes then add sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved completely  (medium heat). Remove from heat and store for two days in fridge to allow flavours to blend. Strain syrup and store until needed.


While this drink features the macabre, there is nothing truly scary about the taste. My youngest gave this a full 5/5 and asked for seconds while my eldest decided she loved the jelly so much she simple injected a second syringe directly into her mouth.

I have seen this drink done with raspberry puree called Vampire Cocktail (drink also features orange and amaratto) on Self Proclaimed Foodie (recipe here) and Bloody Shirley Temple (using grenadine and sprite) for an all ages drink at Your Southern Peach (recipe here).