Equipped

Useful Tools of the trade. From left to right, julep spoon, cocktail shaker, muddler, double jigger, bar spoon, wire strainer, cocktail strainer.

Useful Tools of the trade. From left to right, julep spoon, cocktail shaker, muddler, double jigger, bar spoon, wire strainer, Hawthorn or cocktail strainer.

I can now say that my lab – or kitchen- is fully equipped with the tools of the bar tending trade. Ok, I don’t have an ice machine, bottle wrack or cool bar towel yet but those aren’t really necessary are they?

This week my last two tools arrived, the jigger and bar spoon. My last post celebrated my spoon with a series of blue drinks inspired by the Tick. And at since gaining a decent measuring tool, I can more precisely measure out smaller quantities of flavours from 1/4 oz and up without resorting to a common measuring spoon (that’s so kitchen tool, not bar tool!).

Has this made life easier? maybe a little. Cooler? definitely.

If you are interested in the uses of each, check out this link that not only describes the use of the bar spoon but lists and details the use of the Julep spoon, Hawthorn strainer, muddler and double strainer (or tea strainer). Ok so my strainer is kitchen sized (making me strain drinks first into a bowl to prevent overflow). But this is not a bad thing. When making batches of infusions there is often a lot of solids to remove from the syrup or infusion, and in this case bigger is better!

If you are serious about making cocktails and mixed drinks, but can’t get to a kitchen equipment store that sells the right thing, you can get everything at amazon – thank goodness for that! Here in my small northern town, mail order is wonderful.

 

Spoon!

Drinks inspired by the mighty tick. From right to left: Big Blue Moon, Mighty Blue and Blue on Ice.

Drinks inspired by the mighty tick. From right to left: Big Blue Moon, Mighty Blue and Blue on Ice.

“[The Tick is has an eating utensil in his hand. He is trying to come up with a battle cry that will strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers]

Tick: [shouts] Spoon!”

Yesterday a much awaited item to add to my arsenal of drink making tools arrived in the mail – a genuine bar spoon complete with twisted handle and metal disc on the end. With spoon in hand, I spent the next half hour waiting to yell “Spoon!” to my Tick loving hubby, who was in meetings… oh so many meetings.

So with the thoughts of blue drinks coursing through my mind, I set upon a mission to make a new drink inspired by the Tick – something big, blue and powerful.

Here is my Ode to the Tick.

The Mighty Blue

“Like a great blue salmon of Justice, the mighty Tick courses upstream to the very spawning ground of evil.” – The Tick 

This first drink is inspired by spiritdrinks.com recipe for Angostura Stinger. The recipe is a blend of mint, chocolate, orange, cream and bitters. Creating similar ingredients sans-booze was not difficult but took a few steps.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 oz mint simple syrup
  • 1 oz White Chocolate Cream (recipe below)
  • 2 oz blue curaçao syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 oz half and half cream
My Thoughts:

The taste of the white chocolate and cream mix well with the flavours to create a sweet powerful flavour that is best sipped. I omitted the bitters as the home version of the curaçao tends to have that component. Great for a dessert beverage.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 Sweet!
Taste: 4/5  nice blend when you keep the mint syrup light in the mix.
Simplicity: 3/5  Three recipes to make, but nothing hard to do.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Local Local Local.


 White Chocolate Cream
Ingredients:

6 oz white chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream

Heat whipping cream in saucepan on medium high. When heated add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat and pour into container to cool. Keep in fridge until use.

Blue Curaçao Syrup
Ingredients:

2 cups cold water
2 cups white sugar
1 tbps orange extract
peel of two mandarine oranges – chopped
10 drops blue food colouring

Mix water and sugar on medium high in a sauce pan until sugar is dissolved completely. Add extract and orange peels and continue to heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Give the ingredients a chance to infuse for half hour then tint mixture with food colouring to desired degree. Strain out peels and store in air tight container in fridge until needed.


The Big Blue Moon

“I am mighty. I have a glow you cannot see. I have a heart as big as the moon. As warm as bathwater. We are superheroes, men, we don’t have time to be charming. The boots of evil were made for walkin’. We’re watching the big picture, friend. We know the score. We are a public service, not glamour boys. Not captains of industry. Keep your vulgar moneys. We are a justice sandwich. No toppings necessary. Living rooms of America, do you catch my drift? Do you dig?.” – The Tick 

Seems there are a ton of ideas for blue drinks out there, both using the blue tinted citrus flavoured curaçao, or Sourz Tropical Blue or for virgin drinks the use of blue Kool-Aid or Hawaiian Punch. Since neither family friendly blue liquid was available locally, I decided to make my own curaçao syrup, add a dash or two of food colouring and work with something more “adult inspired.”

The original Blue Moon includes vanilla, cream, curaçao and orange juice but I wanted something fizzy and the rating on the recipe was not inspiring. The Blue Duck blends curaçao, vanilla and raspberry together in a martini flavour, this had potential to update with a fizzy twist. And I could use my new “Spoon!” to not only measure some ingredients but also to try a stirred drink.

Ingredients:

Serving Size: Two 9 oz drinks

Procedure:

Measure vanilla, lemon juice, blue curaçao syrup and blue raspberry mix into a martini glass. Stir to blend and pour into two 10 oz old-fashioned or highball glasses. Add Ice and top with club soda (about half can per glass). Stir again to mix and serve.

My Thoughts: 

This is a very tart drink. The pure vanilla can become overpowering, so care has to be taken to make sure the other flavours are in correct proportion. If you prefer something sweeter, use Sprite.

I first tried this without the raspberry mix, forgetting I had an additional blue ingredient in my pantry. Without the added ingredient the beverage was too sour and the vanilla dominated the blend. Adding that one extra ingredient changed the mix to something worthy of writing about. Why the name Big Blue moon when the drink is far from the original? Well the tick doesn’t talk at all about ducks!

Kid-o-metre 3/5 with the addition of blue raspberry, this drink was acceptable but not guzzled down when served with dinner.
Taste: 4/5  Tart and good when thirsty, would be good with salty tortillas and dip.
Simplicity: 5/5  one recipe, simple to make, rest is all bottled ready to use from the local store.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Small town possible.

Blue on Ice

“Let your journey into hugeness teach us all a lesson. Absolute power is a sticky wicket. And, Arthur, chum, you were the stickiest. Don’t you get it, good friend? Some of the best things come in small packages.” – The Tick 

This one is directly inspired by the layered drink called the Toronto Maple Leafs. I was looking for a layered shooter, using the colour blue, but also using my wonderful new spoon. In the end I also got to use my long spoon to pull the iced cream from the bottom of my blender (another reason they  make the shaft so long – just for that purpose!)

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz blue curaçao syrup (see above)
  • 1 oz Irish Cream Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 oz whipping cream
  • 3 ice cubes or 1/4 cup ice

Serving Size: Two shots

Procedure:

Divide blue curaçao syrup between two shot glasses. Carefully layer Irish Cream Syrup over the blue syrup. Toss the cream and ice into a blender or magic bullet and use the ice chop setting if you have one to crush the ice into slush. Spoon over each drink and serve.

My Thoughts:

I originally tried this with the two ingredients from the original recipe. Because of the lack of the alcoholic bite, the final drink was too sweet and needed something new to cut the flavours. So I decided to try layering cream on the top. Even with whipping cream the density of the two top ingredients was too close and after four attempts I realized I had to be creative to get that final ingredient layering on the top. Inspired by the Maple Leafs who spend all their time on the ice, I decided to throw caution to the wind and toss the cream into a blender with a little ice, creating an iced cream that happily sat on top of the drink looking like a pile of ice shavings from the Zamboni.

I left these two drinks sitting for my kids to try, by the time they got home from school the iced cream had melted into a froth, leaving white moustaches on both girls after they tipped the drink into their mouths. I am guessing there would be a small brain freeze with the original, not a problem for such as the tick, who has such a small brain to start with I am sure it would never be affected!

“Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future and it’s up to me to lie in it. I am destined to be a superhero, to right wrongs and pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere. You don’t fight destiny, no sir! And you don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future or you get all…scratchy. Hey, I’m narrating here!” 
– The Tick 

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Whether it’s melted or iced, this drink is pure yum!
Taste: 5/5  Gotta be good if it’s inspired by hockey right?
Simplicity: 3/5 This one takes skill baby!
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Even up north, these things are easy to find… especially the ice!


Irish Cream Syrup

This is the recipe from Allrecipes.com for DIY Original Irish Cream. I just omitted the whiskey!

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 tsp chocolate syrup (Hershey’s or similar)
1 tsp pure almond extract

Add all but cram to blender, blend well then add cream and blend again. Pour into container and store in fridge. Lasts about 1 month refrigerated.


Well there you have it, that was fun! Not too scientific this time, in keeping with the theme…

“Oh, science… boring… interest… fading…” – the Tick

Bye for now!

Just Muddling Through

When I decided to become serious about making non alcoholic drinks I went out and researched the tools needed for the trade. As I am from a small northern town, getting said tools turned out to be a challenge – but I muddled through by hitting up the dollar store and grabbing the next best things. Instead of a cocktail shaker, I grabbed a tupperware like shaker/measuring cup thing that was about the same shape. Instead of a julep spoon or cocktail strainer, I plucked a plastic can strainer from the shelf. And instead of a muddler, I worked with a meat tenderizer hammer and used the side of that.

Yup.

And the thing is that all these tools did the job, didn’t look very cool I admit, but they did work. I muddled through and continued to work on recipes.

When I finally did pick up a cocktail shaker, I have found that the strainer in the top really doesn’t work well with bigger items that tend to clog it up. So for the purposes of making beverages that are fresh and interesting, without the alcohol, I found that I wasn’t using the cocktail shaker as was created but tended towards the practices of some professionals, sticking a glass on top, shaking and straining with a separate tool. I eventually replaced my plastic strainer with a real cocktail strainer, and yes it’s a nice tool to have, but it’s the muddler that has become my favourite irreplaceable tool.

According to wikipedia a “muddler is a bartender‘s tool, used like a pestle to mash—or muddle—fruits, herbs, and/or spices in the bottom of a glass to release their flavour.” If you are going to try to make drinks that taste fresh, powerful and edgy, you can either stick fresh fruits and veggies into a blender and strain out the chunks (or not) with a fine mesh strainer, pick up a juicer, or muddle the items in juice or syrup and then strain. While I have used the blender method – and it’s great for smoothies – but staining the juice takes time.

The first time I heard about a muddler was watching Luis Sanchez on youtube. I was looking up the impossible dream – virgin martinis. Luis will show you three absolutely fabulous recipes that use fresh fruit, herbs and spices – each which I have tried and love. Since then I have invented my own creations, muddling herbs with simple syrups and spices with fruit to see what works. And I got to tell you that while muddling through with a meat tenderizer was ok, the real thing is much cooler!