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).

Pear-fect

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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!