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!

An Apple a Day…

Fall Apple Cocktails

Fall Apple Cocktails. From left to right: Sweet Orchard, Apple Ginger Sparkler, Caramel Apple-disiac, Apple Temple, Apple Lemon Fizz and Apple Pie Shooter.

Today was the day to start my first set of experiments – apple drinks. All the prep work was out of the way, all my ingredients laid before me. The ham and baked potato was in the oven, the potatoes peeled and ready to cook.

The Sweet Orchard

First on my list: something called The Orchard from Saveur which would use two of my new infusions. Pulling out the Apple Jack Syrup Infusion and All Spice Dram Infusion, grabbing a lemon and a rather expensive bottle of maple syrup (yep more sugar, you can see where this is going) I mixed up the first tester and just to be scientific… the original recipe (gotta know what your aiming for).  WoW! Sweet like eating candy!! And instant sugar rush. Ok, so I can work with this, the trick is how to cut the sweetness without diluting the taste – which was splendid. The original does this with the … you guessed it… booze.

After some research I discovered that the mixologist secret for a sweet drink is bitters. Well that’s great, except these are hard to come by and also booze. What do to… more research of course! And a solution, cider vinegar. Testing this on my two kids proved to be successful, the drink maintained their required sweetness but added a bit of brightness and that bitter taste that helps cut the sweet just enough to make the drink come alive.

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz applejack syrup
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz maple syup
  • 1/2 oz all spice dram infusion
  • 6 drops apple cider vinegar
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake well to break up syrups. Strain into a glass and serve.

My Thoughts:

When I offered this to my kids the first thing they said was “can you make this again, lots?” As far as simplicity, once you have the two specialty ingredients made up, it’s a cinch.

While this is a wonderful recipe, it’s more of a sipper due to it’s sweetness. Consider this a desert drink, maybe with some wonderful cheese.

Kid-o-metre 5/5. My kids can’t get enough
Taste: 4/5 very sweet so not for everyone
Simplicity: 3/5. Two special ingredients to make for the recipe but then easy to make
Ingredient finding: 4/5 All spice berries not available locally here, had to get from out of town.

Here are the recipes for the two specialty syrups. For more details see my previous blog.


 Apple Jack Syrup

2 cups green apples, peeled and chopped really thin
3 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cup sugar

Dissolve sugar in water, add apples and simmer until tender about 10 minutes. Apples should become translucent. Add cinnamon and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into mason jar, add 2 tablespoons brandy extract and let cool completely before sealing and storing. Let sit overnight or as long as you want in fridge.

All spice dram infusion

2 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup all spice berries
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons imitation rum.

Boil water and spices and simmer 10 minutes. Let steep half hour. Strain and add sugar. Heat to dissolve sugar, remove from heat and add rum extract. Cool and store in fridge until needed.


Next to tackle – another drink that required some form of bitters. Since this was not something I had originally prepped, back to the research and the grocery store for the most bitter of citrus: Grapefruit.

Most bitters involve some form of bitter herb as well as some flavouring agent. I chose to pair the flavour and bitterness of grapefruit peel with the essence of thyme and a touch of lemon and vinegar for some bite. The results turned out perfect and the recipe is a snap to make.

Thyme and Citrus Bitters

Ingredients:
  • 1 lemon – zested and juiced
  • 1 grapefruit – peeled and half it’s flesh
  • 2 oz apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dried Thyme
Procedure:

Zest and juice lemon into blender, cut skins off grapefruit, chop coarsely and put in blender with half of grapefruit flesh, add remaining ingredients and pulse until blended. Turn to high speed and pluse a few times more.

Pour into storage container (plastic is fine) and refrigerate overnight. Next day, strain with a fine wire mesh strainer into a bowl and discard pulp. Keep liquid refridgerated until use.

The Apple Temple

The original for this next drink comes from Bonappetit. Known as the fall classic, this martini used bourbon and brandy for it’s kick. In order to create something new and exciting without simply being another sparkling apple cider I added a splash of grenadine, and worked with as many fresh flavours as I could.

The result is not a perfect replica of the original, but hints at some of the flavour components, while being available for any palate.

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz applejack syrup infusion
  • 1 oz fresh apple sour (see below)
  • 1 oz fresh apple cider
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp thyme and citrus bitters
  • 2 oz club soda
  • splash of grenadine
Procedure:

Measure first 5 ingredients into a cocktail glass. Add ice and shake well to blend flavours and chill the drink. Rim a chilled champagne glass with sugar. Pour cocktail into glass and add soda water to top up. Add a splash of grenadine just before serving, and let it sink to the bottom for effect.

My thoughts:

This is lovely and refreshing, the thyme and citrus add a nice touch but the grenadine may not work with this flavour complex. Alternates would be to make a red apple syrup and use that to keep the flavours more pure.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 sweet enough for kids to love
Taste: 4/5 grenadine not best option for colour
Simplicity: 3/5. Three special ingredients to make for the recipe
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store


Apple Sour Recipe
4 green tart apples
2 oz lemon juice (bottled is fine for this)

Quarter the apples, with skins on, cut out the cores and chop into thumb size bits. Fill blender with apples and add lemon juice. Start blender on lowest setting, chop by pulsing until apples are finely chopped. Turn to next setting and blend until the apples are moving freely through the blades without help. Increase speed and continue until you get to top speed and the apples are pulp. Pour apples into strainer over the bowl, and use the back of your wooden spoon to push and squeeze all juice out of the pulp.


 Caramel Apple-Disiac

This recipe proved to be the most challenging to get close to the original four at cosmopolitan.com. When creating a coffee liqueur replacement, the concentration of coffee per tbsp of syrup becomes double what would be found in the most common coffee liqueurs. So, when I created this recipe using the same concentrations of each ingredient and compared it to the original I found the taste of coffee in the virgin drink too overpowering – you couldn’t taste the apple at all.

In altering the recipe, it soon became apparent that additional ingredients would be required to add depth and richness. After about 6 tries, I finally came up with something that is very close to the original in flavour, but milder in kick.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp coffee syrup (see below)
  • 2 oz fresh apple sour (see above)
  • 1 tbsp apple juice concentrate (undiluted from frozen)
  • 1 oz carmel syrup (see below)
  • 2 oz fresh apple cider
  • 6 drops apple cider vinegar
  • 1 oz cream
 Procedure:

Measure all ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a slice of apple if desired.

My Thoughts:

This is an acquired taste. With the addition of carmel and decrease in amount of coffee flavour, my non coffee non drinker husband found the drink more enjoyable and finished the glass. My kids however do not like this, due to the richness of the flavours.

I made this for a few relatives this thanksgiving at dinner – one thought there was banana in the drink due to the way the flavours mix. She said “I taste about five things at once in the first sip”. Do these flavous work together, the veridic is still out with my family.

Kid-o-metre 0/5. Definitely an adult taste complex
Taste: 3/5 as not everyone will love this.
Simplicity: 1/5. Three special ingredients to make for the recipe
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store


Coffee Syrup Recipe

2 cups strong coffee
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp vanilla

Heat coffee and sugar in sauce pan until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Bottle and keep in cool place until needed.

Caramel Syrup

2 cups white sugar
1 cup boiling water

Boil water and have measured and ready. Heat sugar in sauce pan on medium heat stirring regularly. When sugar starts to melt it will caramelize, keep stirring just until sugar is almost all melted. Remove from heat and carefully pour in hot water. The sugar will sizzle and pop from the water and the results will be a ball of toffee and some caramel tasting water, don’t worry. Return to heat and dissolve toffee sugar in water until the results are a thick dark rich syrup.

IMPORTANT: Hot melted sugar will keep on cooking and burn quickly if you don’t work quick, don’t let the sugar start to boil and bubble this means it’s burning. YEP, this took me two tries to get it right.


Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, choose one drink and enjoy. Then when your ready, try another. This is the first three apple options I created this holiday season – and the most difficult. My next blog will be the other three : Apple Pie Shooter (virgin), Apple Lemon Fizz and Apple Ginger Spritzer.

Stay Tuned!

Prep Day – Part Two

Flavouring drinks with fruit, spices or herbs is a process of patience. A friend of mine living in the lower mainland is huge into infusions, posting his creations on Facebook. Fruit infused water is becoming all the rage, with special bottles and pitchers for the task. Mixologist and bartenders often use a simple syrup in recipes – infused with herbs and spices or fruit – along side the more potent flavoured spirit.

Naturally, without the option of flavoured spirits, the job of creating flavoured syrups or liquids becomes more essential in a virgin drink. This has led me on a mission of creating simple syrups flavoured with all kinds of things from coffee to orange zest and from chai tea spices to apples. If you choose to try some of your own creations, Serious Eats will give loads of hints on how to infuse spirits, Toned and Fit gives some great tips on what and how to infuse fruits into water, and about.com gives a list of recipes for simple syrup infusions using heat, or go to Carey’s Reclaiming Provincial blog to see how she uses a cold infusion method to make strong bright fruit and herb syrups.

From what I have read, the pros of doing these infusions yourself is more natural flavours, more options than you would find in your local stores and the cost is much less. All you need is sugar, a pot, knife, grater, peeler, fine wire mesh strainer and storage containers. Seems like mason jars are the best bet – less costly and don’t absorb flavour. But they lack a bit of elegance. Buying bottles however adds to the cost and from my experience the cooler the bottle the more it costs. So what are your alternatives? Muddle and strain. Faster, simpler, but not the same. Nope.

So I am embarking on yet another infusion experiment, working on the list from part one.

Apple Jack Syrup Infusion

First up is Apple Jack or Apple Brandy. Turns out this is pretty easy to make, but normally takes about three weeks to infuse the apples into the brandy and wine. Since I wasn’t using brandy, I made a simple syrup instead, and added a dash of brandy extract at the end to give it it’s aged flavour. I found the concept for DIY applejack from wikiHow.com and altered the recipe as follows:

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups green apples, peeled and chopped really thin
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar
Procedure:
Dissolve sugar in water, add apples and simmer until tender about 10 minutes. Apples should become translucent. Add cinnamon and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into mason jar, add 2 tablespoons brandy extract and let cool completely before sealing and storing. Let sit overnight or as long as you want in fridge.
My thoughts:
This recipe is super sweet without the alcohol, practically syrup you could put on your pancakes! So it will require a little tweaking, or adding something to cut the sweetness in the cocktail it includes. Most likely club soda or tonic water.

 All Spice Dram Infusion

Next, I researched what is All spice Dram. Serious Eats to the rescue! Turns out it’s rum based, no problem, just pull out the imitation rum and omit the rum. Here is what I did:

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all spice berries*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons imitation rum.
*NOTE: If you don’t have whole all spice berries, this is essential. I originally tried this with ground, bound in cheesecloth, but the spices didn’t infuse into the water.
Procedure:
Boil water and spices and simmer 10 minutes. Let steep half hour. Strain and add sugar. Heat to dissolve sugar, remove from heat and add rum extract. Cool and store in fridge until needed.
My thoughts:

While this doesn’t have the kick from the booze, it has a lot of flavour from the spice, and in most cases the recipes is calling for a few drops – so the booze isn’t the essential part. By infusing the spices like a tea before putting in the sugar, I got a nice concentrated taste to the syrup and probably would not even bother with the rum extract in the future.

Walnut Infusion Experiment

Remember those roasting nuts in the oven? They were to try to create a walnut flavoured syrup – which will either rock or be terrible I figure. Verdicts still out, as I wait for this to infuse. What I have done is find out how to infuse walnuts in oil, and then transfer that concept to syrup. Original recipe from Food.com. Process is to boil the nuts, stain the liquid, roast the nuts, smash them and then infuse them. As nuts are oil based this may or may not work with syrup but I couldn’t see wanting oil for a cocktail or mixed drinks. What did I do to alter the recipe? Well…

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
Procedure:

Drop nuts in boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Strain reserving liquid. Spread nuts onto a baking sheet and roast at 350 F for 15 minutes (until golden brown). Remove from oven, cool, place in a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin. Pour into mason jar or other 500 mL container. Meanwhile, add sugar to reserved liquid and heat to dissolve sugar completely. Pour over nuts, let cool and store. How long? Not sure, but I am giving it 2 days and then will test to see if this was a great idea or a complete failure.

Next up: Juicing with no blender. In order to get the kick in an apple drink, and without investing in a juicer, I looked up how to juice with my blender. Turns out it’s not that hard. I found the instructions for juicing on chalkboard mag.com. The equipment is simple: a good blender, a fine wire mesh strainer, a wooden spoon & a bowl to catch the juice.

Apple Sour Recipe

In order to make a decent apple juice, that has a kick, juice your own apples. I purchased granny smith, but any super tart apple would do the trick, as long as they are juicy ones. The goal? To create something similar to Sourpuss Liquor.
Ingredients:
4 green tart apples
2 oz lemon juice (bottled is fine for this)
Procedure:

Quarter the apples, with skins on, cut out the cores and chop into thumb size bits. Fill blender with apples and add lemon juice. Don’t forget this step! Lemon juice BEFORE blending makes sure that the apples don’t brown.

Start blender on lowest setting, chop by pulsing until apples are finely chopped. Turn to next setting and blend until the apples are moving freely through the blades without help. Increase speed and continue until you get to top speed and the apples are pulp.

Pour apples into strainer over the bowl, and use the back of your wooden spoon to push and squeeze all juice out of the pulp. The juice will be a nice green colour.

My thoughts:

I decided to take the remaining pulp add just enough water to cover (about 1 cup) and bring to a simmer on medium low, this way I got a little more flavour out of the apples, and more of the sour out of the skins. Once the apples pulp had lost the green tint (about 10 minutes) I removed from heat and poured again into my strainer. I tried this liquid, found it lacked the sweetness of the first batch, but had a nice kick, so I simply poured the second press in with the first and sealed up the juice for later. Since the juice is fresh, it won’t last long and needs to be refrigerated.

Next blog: the drink mixing!