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.

Peppermint Fizz Review

Peppemint Fizz. A blast from my past repertoire of recipes from years back.

Peppemint Fizz. A blast from my past repertoire of recipes from years back.

Like Ebneezer Scrooge, this Christmas I was reminded back to my past, maybe not by a magical being but definitely to show me something I had forgotten. When I first was interested in the idea of non alcoholic drinks, I did most of my searching through recipe books, and wrote my favourite ideas on index cards which I kept and remembered (sort of). So after some searching I was able to find a recipe that I remembered fondly from my youth: Peppermint Fizz, a Christmas drink using crushed candy canes as the flavouring.

I have no idea where this recipe came from, as I wasn’t big on documenting my sources back then. When I look up the drink online, I come up with a strawberry shortcake character, and a drink that is brandy, peppermint schnapps and lemon juice which isn’t even close to the recipe on my index card. So this Christmas Season, why not review a blast from the past and move the first of my index card recipes into todays world of the web!

This is a great recipe to make with the candy canes Santa brought this year.

Ingredients:
  • peppermint candy crushed
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 2-3 large bottles Gingerale or 7-up
Procedure:

Whip cream to a custard consistency and fold in crushed candy. Freeze in ice cube trays. To serve place an mint cream ice cube into a tall glass or wine glass and fill with chilled pop. Stir slightly and serve with a pretty spoon, straw or candy cane to mix drink with.

My Thoughts:

This recipe is for a crowd, or for the whole 12 days of Christmas if you, like scrooge, don’t like to share. When I first remembered this recipe I made a small batch but was in a hurry and didn’t freeze the cream and candy into cubes, instead adding a dollop of whipped cream to the top of a glass of gingerale. The result was not the same, I recommend giving the cream and candy time to meld flavours and the frozen cubes slow the fizz process down, requiring more stirring, and we all found that similar to a float, we could add more pop and keep enjoying the drink.

If you want to make many drinks keep your peppermint cubes to about 2 tbsp of mix, the cubes will blend better with the gingerale and while seconds with the same peppermint cube may not be possible, the initial drink will be delightfully pepperminty.

I served this to some guests who dropped by and got positive reviews from everyone. This is a great thing to have for just that purpose, and I plan on keeping some of these cubes in the freezer this holiday to offer visitors. Merry Christmas!

Kid-o-metre 5/5
Taste: 5/5
Simplicity: 5/5   three ingredient and some patience. That’s it!!
Ingredient finding: 4/5 seasonal only, even up in Santa’s part of the world candy canes are only available at Christmas!

Cucumber Lime Fizz

Cucumber drinks are great all year. Left to right: Cucumber infused soda water & Cucumber  Lime Fizz.

Cucumber drinks are great all year. Left to right: Cucumber infused water & Cucumber Lime Fizz.

Did you know that cucumbers can cool blood and reduce swelling, erase pen ink, keep glass from fogging and clean surfaces without streaks? And if you eat it? Well! It eliminates bad breath, assists with hang-overs and provides you with 13 vitamins and minerals. Hooray for the mighty cucumber. They even have a National  Cucumber Day in the United Kingdom in June.

Ok so it’s November, but cucumbers are a favourite snack in my home (for 3/4 of us) and make an excellent addition to beverages. I found a wonderful recipe for a vodka infused cucumber ginger fizz from Martha Stewart which you can find here. I revamped to create something refreshing and sweet without the need for more cucumber the next day to treat any over indulgences. (Unless you love cucumbers like I do, then by all means enjoy them the next day!)

The original version instructs on how to make a cucumber infusion – giving an hour to have the flavours blend. Since cooking cucumbers in syrup is not an option here, two options present themselves: infusing cucumbers in water or sparkling water, or muddling cucumbers into a cold simple syrup and then straining the ingredients.

As the other two flavours are both strong — lime and ginger— I tested all options to see which would provide the best cucumber flavour against the true recipe. In order to compensate for the slower infusion rate of the cucumber in sparkling water or regular water, I gave each three time the infusion time of the vodka. Then created the recipe as directed and taste tested each.

Interestingly enough, there was very little difference between the drinks. The drinks are made with mostly sparkling water and all the flavours are very subtle. So I tried again but made smaller sizes, with the same amount of the flavouring ingredients (infusion, syrup, lime) and just less soda water.

Much more tasty and the differences between drinks was a little more noticeable.

Muddling the fresh ingredients in simple syrup and water gave the drink a bit more kick from the lime and ginger  (I used three small slices each of ginger and cucumber) gave the drink a more earthy taste and a slight opaqueness to the drink.  The infused version had a sweeter flavour, more clarity and tasted more like a refreshing pop. For all the drinks, the ginger and lime flavours came out stronger than the cucumber, while the cucumber lent more to the aroma and nuance of the drink.

I used soda water for my infusion and the salt added a stronger note to that drink than plain water or vodka, however the initial fizz from the soda water was long gone after the infusion process. The vodka infusion was easily replaced with any of the other infusions making this drink easy to adapt to a virgin recipe without a loss in flavour.

So the verdict? Both the muddling and the water infused options were my favourite of the bunch. I definitely recommend making the drink with the more concentrated recipe.

Fresh Cucumber Ginger Fizz – Muddling Method

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 slices ginger root
  • 3-4 slices cucumber (depending on thickness of slices)
  • 2 Tbsp simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
  • wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
  • soda or sparkling water
  • extra cucumber
Procedure:

Create garnish by slicing cucumber along length with a peeler and cutting into thirds. You will need one to two slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.

Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Muddle ginger and cucumber in cocktail shaker with simple syrup. Strain while pouring over the ice. Stir and serve.

Sweet Cucumber Lime Fizz – Infusion Method

Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp cucumber infused soda water (see below)
  • 2 Tbsp Martha Stewart’s ginger simple syrup
  • wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
  • 3-4 oz soda or sparkling water
Procedure:

To make soda infused water chop half cucumber coarsely and place in non reactive container with 1 can (1 2/3 cups) soda water. Allow to infuse for 3 hours, strain and keep in fridge until use. (Lasts 2 days)

To create garnish slice remaining  cucumber along length with a peeler. You will need two to three slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.

Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Pour ginger simple syrup into each glass, stir and serve.

My Thoughts:

What did my family think?

With a hubby who hates cucumbers and two kids who find ginger drinks overpowering, I had to go to outside sources. So after my first testing, I meandered over to my sister-in-laws with some samples and created both the “favourites” for her. Her comments? “Refreshing” Her preference? The more earthy muddled drink, which I agree feels more like a cocktail and less like a mixture of pops.

What’s your preference? With only two samplers at my disposal, I challenge you to do the taste test and comment on your thoughts.

Pear-fect

_MG_0111_replaced

Pear-fect Drinks for a Fall Day. From left to right: Pear Ginger Fizz, Rosemary Pear Collins.

Thanksgiving Monday in Canada, and specifically in our small town of Tumbler Ridge, is a pretty laid back kind of day. Turkey and ham bones were boiling for soups and left over apple chunks from garnish making were baking into muffins. The sky was grey, threatening rain, and the day was calm and warmish. That is warmish for fall in the Peace River Region of BC.

I decided to work of some of the turkey dinner by heading outside to tackle the leaves blown off the nearby trees and blanketing our yard. Some years, this is mute point, as the leaves are falling at the same time as the first snowfall, but this year – while we did have a skiff of snow a few weeks earlier – we’ve been enjoying a mild Autumn… so far. The day was perfect, or shall I say pear-fect and even though rain eventually fell on my new piles of leaves awaiting halloween themed bags, the kids were happy, we all had warm soup for dinner and I could sit back and relax in the evening.

To finish the Thanksgiving holiday I whipped up some pear inspired drinks. This was a great opportunity for me to pull out some frozen pears I had put away during the summer – and use the fresh rosemary brought to me from the nearest Safeway one town over (which works out to an hour and a half drive) and brought in by my niece when she came for thanksgiving dinner – thanks Jade!

Rosemary Pear Collins

Saveur describes their Spiced Pear Collins as “Pear puree, gin, and rosemary give this autumnal cocktail a crisp, woody sweetness, robust density, and sour, crackling effervescence.” So the challenge is to create the same flavour without the gin base. The original recipe also required three steps – making the pear puree, making a clove and rosemary simple syrup and then mixing the drink. I wanted to find a way to simplify this process as much as possible, without loosing the intensity of the flavours.

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz simple syrup (1 part sugar to 2 parts water)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz pear puree (see below)
  • Sprite, 7-up or other lemon soda
Procedure:

Muddle torn up rosemary from one sprig with simple syrup and pinch of cloves in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add fresh lemon juice and pear puree and shake well to mix. Add ice and 2 oz sprite and stir with spoon. Pour over iced filled collins glass using a julep spoon to strain out the rosemary leaves. Top with more soda and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

My Thoughts:

This drink needs lots of soda to cut the thickness of the pears, but the flavour of each component comes through beautifully when made with the fresh ingredients and ground spice. While the missing gin removes some of the brightness and some of the sour flavour, using fresh lemon juice and a little more than the original recipe replaces this somewhat. Lemon and rosemary pair together beautifully, and match the pear flavour and brightness of the soda. Maybe someday I’ll try the original, but I would be happy to serve this elegant drink at any dinner party.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 sweet enough but the flavours are more adult and not appealing to my youngest
Taste: 5/5 yum…
Simplicity: 4/5. simple to make if you have plenty of fresh pears
Ingredient finding: 4/5 can’t get fresh rosemary here, I buy it out of town and then have to freeze it for use.


Pear Puree

The original recipe from Saveur suggest a pear puree made in the blender from pears, lemon juice and rosemary. For my version I simply used pears, sliced, gently heated and covered in simple syrup, then frozen until needed. This is a basic technique for freezing fruit and results in sweet pears ready for any purpose. When I need them, simply defrost and throw into baking, drinks etc.

If you don’t have any frozen pears, follow this option:

Ingredients:

2 pears – peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 oz lemon juice

Put sugar, water and lemon juice into a sauce pan, heat until sugar is dissolved. Add pears and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into blender. Allow to cool slightly to prevent blender explosions and then puree. Pour into storage container, should last about 1 week or make about 5 cocktails.


Pear Ginger Fizz

There are a bunch of recipes for this online, all different and most alcoholic. Food in a minute had a wonderful non alcoholic version using a blender, canned pears and lemonade as the base. Working with this as my starting point, I found that the chunks of ginger and the thickness of the drink made for a more smoothy type drink great for breakfast, but not as an evening sipper.

So I adjusted the concept slightly to create something more cocktail like in taste and presentation.

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 oz pear puree (see above)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • club soda
Procedure:

Muddle ginger, puree, lemon juice and sugar in bottom of a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously to blend flavours. Add a splash of club soda to thin puree and stain into short glass filled with ice. Top with more club soda and serve with lemon wedge garnish.

My Thoughts:

Thinning the drink with soda instead of lemonade adds sparkle and gives the drink a more cocktail feel. The fresh lemon and ginger add brightness. The final drink is thick but not like a shake, and smooth – no chunks making it a pleasure to drink. The addition of sugar adds a hint of sweetness. Compared to the original, this is a very similar flavour and doesn’t loose on the intensity with the thinner version.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 similar to the other pear creation, this was not a big hit for  my 6 year old
Taste: 4/5 Has a tendency to settle, stir lots.
Simplicity: 4/5 simple to make
Ingredient finding: 5/5 when in season, every item can be found close at hand. Out of season, canned pears are easy to come by.

 

 

Apple Shooters, Sparklers and Fizz

My love of sweet apple drinks started about 8 years back, while out with my husband’s band Heavy Things (now Down Water Union) at a bar gig. After the event the wives all shared an apple pie shooter – which tasted sweet and exactly like apple pie if you had soaked the apples in vodka for a week! While I loved the flavour I only had the one since for me – it’s never been about getting inebriated.

The idea of enjoying shooters – for the taste instead of the alcoholic hit stuck with me. Knowing that kids love candy and sweet drinks, one of my missions has been to provide super strong hits of flavour without the consequences of the alcohol. I hope to come up with many ideas for shooters in future blogs, however in time for thanksgiving I decided to work on a all ages version of my first shooter: the apple pie shooter.

The original apple pie shooter is layered sweet shooter. Layered drinks rely on science – yep love me some science!

My kids and I did a whole set of experiments on density while we were home schooling during the teachers strike. We used honey, water, and oil, a penny, grape and a cork. The penny sunk through all layers, the grape floated on the honey which was the bottom layer as it is the most dense. The oil floated above the water and the cork floated on the oil. It looked pretty cool and we kept it around for about a week before I finally tossed it all out.

Putting a sweet drink and the coolness of layers together, I figure this will be a huge hit with the younger crowd.

Apple Pie Shooter

This is a layered drink, so specific tools are needed to make this happen smoothly. While any shot glass will work, for layered drinks I prefer a tall 2 oz shot glass so that the layers are visible. The recommended technique for layering is pouring over a spoon that fits well into the inside of the shot glass. For some great tutorials check out WikiHow or  Mix that Drink. Since I don’t have a specialty twisted handle bar spoon and a bunch of quick pour spouts at hand, I prefer the simple way of layering drinks using a slow pour over the back of a spoon.

Layering drinks is all about knowing the density of your choices. This can be fun if you like to experiment, as you work out which syrup, juice or cream will sink or float over the others. The rule of thumb is that the more concentrated the drink or syrup the more dense it is. Normally creams will float over juice which floats over syrup. If you are wondering, simply add your first liquid and then slowly pour your second along the side of the glass. While it won’t be perfect for presentation, if the second drink sinks, it’s more dense and should be poured first for your future drinks.

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz cinnamon syrup (see below)
  • 1 tsp butterscotch syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz Apple Sour (find recipe here)
  • dash ground cinnamon
Procedure:

Slowly pour cinnamon to just about fill half shot glass. Gently drizzle butterscotch syrup over this layer using spoon technique. Layer Apple Sour (juice) over butterscotch. Let drink settle, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and serve.

My Thoughts:

I originally tired this with equal parts of each liquid, but found that the butterscotch was too heavy a flavour for the drink. I like the flavour of fresh apple that the Apple Sour gives, as well as the green colour gives a neat look to the drink. If you prefer a more cooked taste for your “pie” replace the Apple Sour with fresh apple cider or fresh bottled apple juice. Feel free to experiment with your three components to create the perfect “apple pie” taste for your family.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Tested on my own daughters, passed with flying colours.
Taste: 4/5 Who doesn’t love apple pie?
Simplicity: 2/5. Three special ingredients and some technical skill required
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store


 Cinnamon  Heavy Syrup
Ingredients:

2 cups water
6-8 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Combine spices and water in sauce pan, bring to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 1 hour. Return to medium heat and add sugar. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves and liquid turn clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into container and let sit for stronger flavour for up to 4 days. Strain out spices and store in fridge until needed.

Butterscotch Syrup

I took the Butterscotch Syrup recipe from a blog when I was looking up how to make Butterbeer for halloween. Treasures by Brenda has a bunch of ideas on this, and had a great recipe for butterscotch syrup that I can say is by far the bestest. Check out her blog here, and look for “Harry Potter Butterbeer Recipe #1 – A non-alcoholic recipe.”

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, brown sugar, half and half cream and salt in a small saucepan and simmer gently for five minutes. Stir in vanill and let cool.


Apple Lemon Fizz

This is a simple recipe that looks a bit like ale when it’s done. While the original is called a fizz, due to it’s citrus, sugar and soda water ingredients, you could just as easily classify this in a beer/ale category. The idea for this comes from Food 52 and called for an apple brandy. Homemade Applejack syrup infusion to the rescue!
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz Applejack Syrup Infusion (recipe here)
  • 1 oz Apple Sour (recipe here)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • White of 1 egg (if it’s a large egg, that’s sufficient for two drinks)
  • Chilled club soda
Procedure:

Mix first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake will to mix (about 10 seconds). This will emulsify the egg and is called a dry shake. Add ice, repeat process until very foamy, then strain into a old-fashioned glass. Add a splash (about 2 oz) club soda to give it a nice thick foamy head. Serve immediately.

My Thoughts:

The recipe seems cool, but in the end was a upscale version of apple lemonade. While the foamy head is cool, it doesn’t bring anything to the taste of the drink and dissipated quickly. Of all the drinks, this experiment was less satisfying, but yielded some ideas to work on and probably needs just a tweak in presentation to finish it off.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 Not as sweet as some of the others, but the foam gives great moustaches!
Taste: 2/5 would I buy this in a restaurant… perhaps not.
Simplicity: 5/5. Not brain science
Ingredient finding: 5/5 yep! Easy to find the ingredients

 Ginger Apple Sparkler

This is a super simple recipe that is refreshing and lovely anytime. While I have this in my fall repertoire, you can bet I will pull it out next summer on a hot day too. This idea is thanks to Martha Stewart with a slight alteration since I wasn’t able to find sparkling apple cider in town, and wanted to use my favourite muddler instead of making yet another syrup.

Ingredients:

2 oz Apple Sour or fresh apple juice
4 slices ginger
2 oz simple syrup (1 part sugar, 2 parts water)
club soda

Procedure:

Muddle ginger in simple syrup until flavour are well blended. Add apple juice or apple sour and ice. Shake to mix and strain over ice into old-fashioned. Top with club soda and garnish with a piece of candied ginger and a cinnamon stick if desired.

My thoughts:

I reduced the amount of lemon in the original drink, as my apple juice wasn’t as strong as an apple cider would be. Using my fresh pressed green apple juice (apple sour) give the drink a different look from the original as the liquid is slightly more opaque and of course green tinged. I love ginger, and the fresh muddled ginger is a stronger flavour than would be found in a syrup.

If you wanted to omit the fresh ginger, try using ginger ale instead of club soda. Haven’t done this yet myself, so don’t know how it would compare. If you do, please comment!
Kid-o-metre 2/5 Too strong for my youngest (7 yrs) but my 11 year old loved it.
Taste: 4/5 Nice refreshing, but not everyone likes ginger
Simplicity: 5/5. Super easy, nothing but simple syrup to make.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store if you adapt as suggested.
Do you have some ideas for apple drinks – that you have adapted for an all ages audience? I would love to hear them!