Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs

Rosemary Snowballs

Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs made with fresh fallen snow. From back to front: Rosemary Limonade, Rosemary Citrus & Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs.

Some of the simplest virgin drinks are lemonades. Creating simple syrups from citrus and herbs, and pouring a tall iced glass full of sweet and tangy refreshment is the classic summer drink. So what to do when it’s blustering on a winter day? Well when they give you lemons, make lemonade. And when they give you mounds of snow, make lemonade snowballs!

The three recipes are my favourites from a summer of research in preparation for this blog, each using rosemary as the herbal note in the drink along with either lemon or lime. Each is a intriguing drink as a lemonade, bright tart and delicious, but not too sweet. Cold numbs the taste buds somewhat, so syrups used for snow cones and slushes often have to be slightly more concentrated.  I thought it would be fun to see how these lemonade syrups stood up to the snowball test.

Each of these syrups I poured over about 1 1/2 cups packed snow to make a 3 inch snowball.

Rosemary Limonade

The Kitchen has a wonderful recipe for syrup that is based on limes. I’ve always found limes sweeter than lemons and the tartness of this drink provides quite a punch (as described in the original recipe which you can find here.)
The original recipe calls for 1 part syrup to 2 part water or soda water, however for my purposes I poured 2 oz syrup over snowball (yep real fresh clean snow, but you can make this with 1 1/2 cups shaved ice if you don’t have the benefit of freezing cold snowy winters).
Rosemary Lime Syrup
  • 1 cup lime juice (6 limes)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • Peel of 2 limes
  • 2 (4 inch) sprigs rosemary

Mix juice and sugar, heat on medium until sugar dissolved. Add rest, lower to med-low and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, let cool overnight then strain and store.

My Thoughts: 

The original recipe is very strong and tart. The drink, as the recipe states, has a serious kick which is great for a thirst quencher and for those who like a more sour taste. We tested the drink as directed against the snow ball version, and the snow ball version is less sweet tasting but equally as sour. I tried cutting the syrup half and half with simple syrup for the snowball, which made the result still tart but pleasant and less likely to result in a “pucker power” face.

Rosemary Citrus Lemonade

The Kitchen also came up with this recipe using the both oranges and lemons, and  blending these with rosemary and honey for a wonderful flavour. The result is a wow factor to the drink that according to the the people at The Kitchen compares in flavour to Orangina.

The lemonade recipe calls for 2-3 tbsp syrup poured over ice and filled with water or soda water. When making this up I found that regular stirring was required to keep the syrup from sinking to the bottom of the glass. You can find the original recipe for this Rosmeary Citrus Lemonade here. The authors of The Kitchen mention that this syrup would make a fine granita, which would be a frozen version of the syrup, possibly straight up. So in keeping with the idea of this experiment I poured 2 oz syrup over snowball.

Rosemary Citrus Syrup
  • 2 lemons zest & juice
  • 2 oranges zest & juice
  • 4 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cups honey

Bring to a Boil 1 min, remove from heat and cool 10 min. Strain and store.

My Thoughts:

This recipe as a drink  when diluted with water as instructed (1 part syrup to roughly 2 parts water) is very pleasant and the orange juice and additional sweetness the honey provides makes this the sweetest of these three drinks. We found the rosemary quite strong in this blend and if rosemary is not your preferred flavour you may want to reduce the amount in half.

As a snowball, the orange added more colour to the snow than the other two drinks, giving visual appeal, and the snow mixed in to the syrup reduced the sweetness of the drink but not the other flavour profiles.

Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade

This last recipe was found at MyRecipes.com and is little different in its creation and execution. The syrup for this recipe, unlike the others, doesn’t incorporate the citrus into the mix. Instead the lemon juice is added in equal portion to the syrup as a fresh squeezed component and mixed in glass. You can find the recipe for the original drink here.

Because the original drink doesn’t incorporate the lemon I adjusted the concept slightly to make it work for the snow ball.

Vanilla Rosemary Syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cups water
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice (need 3 cups total)

Simmer all but the lemon juice until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool 30 minutes. Strain. Mix 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice with 1 oz syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over snowball.

Makes about 24 servings. If you are making smaller servings squeeze lemons as you use the syrup and store the remaining syrup without mixing the lemon in. The syrup should last about 1 month in the fridge.

My Thoughts:

This drink is very tart both in the liquid and snowball form. This is probably due to the fresh lemon used with the vanilla rosemary syrup. I found that adding a bit of simple syrup to the drink made a big difference, and would recommend the following formula for the snow if you like things a little sweeter: 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1 oz vanilla rosemary syrup.

Our Verdict:

For the sake of my tests I wanted clean fresh snow and had to live with what we mostly get: Powder. Great for skiing in, terrible for making snowballs out of. Warming the snow helped, so I left it in a bowl for a day (outside but near the house & covered) and by the next afternoon the snow was perfect for packing. It took about three cups of powder snow to make what would normally amount to one “packed snowball” which required hand packing without mitts (no fluff please!). After freezing my poor fingers, I realized one could pack the snow into a rounded bottomed glass and then simply tip the snowball out into the serving cup… much better, but not quite the same realness.

Pouring the syrups over the snow, once it was packed, did not fully saturate the snowball and the result was something that needed to be eaten with a spoon like granita. Stirring the snow up, and giving it a few seconds, allowed the flavour to blend into the snow more uniformly and after a minute or two the drink became, well, more drinkable. Kind of like a daiquiri.

But what about the taste? Well…

The Rosemary Limonade was the most powerful flavour of the three: the rosemary, sweetness and lime all blend for a tart and slightly sweet mix that is lovely, but more a slow sipper. The Rosemary Citrus Lemonade was the mildest and sweetest, easy to consume in large quantities with no “pucker power” (but possibly some mild brain freeze!). The Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade was the most sour, probably due to the high concentration of fresh lemon juice and low concentration of sugar in this recipe. The vanilla was lost though, masked by the stronger rosemary and lemon flavours, and I am not sure what the addition of that ingredient brings to the drink. (Guess that means further testing… next summer!)

So does super cooling the drink make a difference? According to an article in The Guardian the answer is yes. In fact, just as we found, the colder the beverage the sweetness will be less noticeable and the sourness of the drink will be more apparent. This explains why the limeade (which used the least amount of sugar and the strongest juice – 1 cup lime juice) was too strong at full strength, and the rosemary lemonade (where the syrup was diluted with lemon juice) did not taste very sweet, and lost some of it’s more interesting flavours to the cold.

These drinks could use something special for presentation.

These drinks could use something … fancy looking, to add a visual interest.

For presentation, these could use something… maybe a swirl of zest on a cocktail stick, a beautiful spoon for stirring, or a citrus wheel. I am hoping that Santa will bring some interesting accessories this year, cause there is not much in the way of local options, and shipping costs are a bit more than this girl can swallow.

General Review of idea below!

Kid-o-metre 4/5 The concept was super fun too much rosemary was not according to my kids.
Taste: 5/5 I made these over and over while we had fresh snow until I ran out of syrup… sometimes we blended syrups for more interesting flavours. Definitely a winter treat!
Simplicity: 4/5  not too hard to put together – snowball making skills may be required 🙂
Ingredient finding: 2/5 snow in abundance, rosemary not so much… And in warmer climates… I bet it’s the opposite!

 

Darkness Falls

Drinks made with Black Liquorice Syrup. From left to right:

Drinks made with Black Licorice Syrup. From left to right: Ghost Shooter, Spicy Night Cocktail, Tiger Ice Cream Shooter and Black Lagoon Mocktail

Today’s focus, for the second halloween blog, is black drinks.

When researching spooky drinks, I came across some beautiful layered drinks both shots and martinis featuring black vodka. The idea of layering a black beverage appealed to me, and I had just the ingredients in my kitchen! So in honour of me mum, who is a huge licorice fan, I created a black licorice flavoured syrup and started my experiments on what could be done with this new ingredient.

Black Licorice Syrup

The goal here is to make a concentrated syrup that will work even when diluted by half without loosing it’s flavour in the recipe. With all syrups, the best test is to mix 1:1 with water. If the resulting taste is perfect than the original syrup will work well in drink mixes.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 oz aniseed (or 1 tbsp aniseed extract)
  • Black food colouring (I used Duff Goldman brand)
Procedure:

Blend aniseed (or extract) with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes then remove from heat if using seeds and allow to steep 30 minutes. Strain and add sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves completely, then add food colouring drop by drop until the desired darkness is reached (about 10-15 drops). Because this food colouring looks purple when not strong enough, be sure to check syrup for darkness – you want BLACK. Taste syrup, it should be sweet and licorice flavoured. If still bitter add more sugar, if too weak and you have aniseed extract on hand ad a few drops until desired concentration is reached.

Ok that’s the foundation. Now for the fun!

Tiger Ice Cream Shooters

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First up, something fun to play with densities. Since Black Licorice syrup is definitely NOT black vodka, one cannot expect it to float on just about everything.

Black vodka is coloured with black Catechu and has no flavour other than that of the vodka – or so they say. Black vodka is also 80 proof, so wowee zowee it’s definitely NOT virgin! But does float nicely.

Sambuca, is another anise (or licorice) flavoured adult only beverage – and while not black is only 42% alcohol and in the liqueur category. Good! Nice to know, and somewhat relevant if searching for recipe ideas online.

Since my syrup is denser than any alcoholic original, I can’t expect it to float and have to find other ingredients that will float on it instead. Turns out that orange juice, both concentrated and in it’s normal diluted version both float nicely on syrups with a 1:1 sugar to water concentration. OK! Here goes the testing.

My first kick at the can was to layer concentrated OJ over the syrup and see how that faired. Too strong, too sweet. My hubby says also too orange tasting. Next try: three layers, same two on the bottom, but an added layer of cream (since it’s supposed to be like ice-cream eh!).Still not perfect. The cream hits the pallet too fast and is gone before the liquorice gets to your tongue.

So I tried mixing the cream and orange first then layering it on top. Better. Closer. Now to perfect it. According to my daughter, Tiger ice-cream is more orange than licorice. So, 1/3 licorice to 2/3 orange should do it. What was the verdict. Pretty Good!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 oz black licorice syrup
  • 1/2 oz orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 oz whipping cream
Procedure:

Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass. Mix juice and cream in cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake with no ice). Layer onto the syrup in the shot and serve.

My Thoughts:

I thought to drop a 2 oz ball of vanilla ice-cream into the mix, increasing the glass size to compensate. While it looks pretty, the drink becomes impossible to drink in a gulp and, since this is a layered drink, that is required to blend the flavours of the two layers. So, ice cream is not an option, regardless of cool (pun intended) factor of the ice-cream!

Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 Half of us like licorice, the other half not so much.
Simplicity: 4/5 One syrup, and the easiest thing to layer ever!
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Having aniseed in town is great, having aniseed extract in my cupboard was even better, made it easier. Black food colouring though needs to be picked up out of town.

Ghost Shooters

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This next shooter is another attempt to layer – but I wanted to try a different blend of flavours than the common orange and licorice. So I checked out what pairs with licorice or anise and came up with the idea of chocolate. Well, I happened to have some white chocolate cream left, so why not! The result is a layer of white chocolaty goodness floating like a ghost over the black drink. Add some whipped cream and some chocolate ships for eyes…Yup, spooky!

Ingredients:
  • 1  oz Black Licorice Syrup
  • 1/2 White Chocolate Cream
  • whipping cream – whipped
  • 2 chocolate chips
Procedure: 

Pour syrup into bottom of shot glass, carefully layer the chocolate cream over the syrup and let settle for a minute. Top generously with whipped cream, add two chocolate chips and serve.

My Thoughts:

They now sell chocolate covered licorice, so this combo wasn’t much of a stretch. Does it work in a shooter? Yup. Sweet and creamy dessert type shooter. However don’t tryp to do this with no hands as some whipped cream topped shooters dictate. You’ll choke on the chocolate chips, and the chocolate cream is too thick to tip upside down, but mostly you’ll choke. Trust me. I tried it.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – even with chocolate
Taste: 3/5 an aquired taste.
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though. Minimal ingredients required.
Ingredient finding: 3/5

Black Lagoon Mocktail

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This next recipe is an adaptation of Matha Stewarts Black Lagoon Cocktail. She had the great idea of making licorice flavoured ice cubes and then floating them in a blend of rosemary lemon vodka and seltzer. I had a similar syrup that I chose to use – stronger citrus flavour and brilliant in the drink. If I made the drink with club soda – hold the vodka – and followed the rest of the recipe I should in theory be able to create an all ages version.

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz rosemary citrus syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 oz club soda
  • Licorice Ice Cubes
  • Black liquorice for garnish (didn’t have this at the time for the pic!)
Procedure:

Combine syrup, juice and club soda in a 8 oz old fashioned glass filled with Black Licorice Ice Cubes. Stir to blend flavours. Cut the ends off a black licorice stick to make a staw and serve immediately.

My Thoughts:

According to the original recipe as the drink melts the colour goes from clear to black. I have not had a chance to find this out yet, primarily because I failed to read the original directions – oops! I make the ice cubes out of the licorice syrup, strong sugar syrup it turns out, and the ice cubes turned into super sweet licorice toffee! So not to be undone, I scooped it out of the ice cube tray, plopped it in the bottom of the drink and continued as directed. The syrup added a super sweet flavour to the drink, slowly dissolving in the soda. The result was pretty terrific.

Check out the real way to make licorice ice cubes here if you want the original look.

You’ll also note that there is no licorice straw in my drinks. Seems there is no licorice in town this week… sigh.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 not a hit – with kids
Taste: 5/5 liquorice and rosemary, who knew!
Simplicity: 3/5 two recipes, not hard though (Colette, follow the directions gal!).
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Rosemary and food colouring from out of town


Rosemary Citrus Syrups

This syrup comes from a recipe for Rosemary Citrus Spritzer – all virgin from The Kitchn. I am continually finding great uses for this syrup!

Ingredients:

2 lemons – zest and juice
2 oranges – zest and juice
4 (4 inch) sprigs rosemary
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 honey

Boil all ingredients one minute, remove and cool 10 minutes to steep. Strain and store in airtight container until use. Lasts about 1 month.


Spicy Night Cocktail

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I love licorice flavour and was looking for flavours that complement the flavour of aniseed other than orange. Cinnamon and cloves came up and I just had to try it out.

This drink is made with syrups and soda water, to keep the beverage as clear as possible, the licorice and cinnamon syrup do infuse upward making the drink muddy, grey and mysterious.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour cinnamon and licorice syrup into bottom of flute glass. Mix orange simple syrup, sour mix and soda water in cocktail shaker with a bit of ice to chill it and stir well. Strain, and pour carefully, layering if possible, over the darker syrup base. Top with some clear soda water to keep the top as light as possible. Serve.

My Thoughts:

I wish this was more distinctive in look from the Black Lagoon, when the drinks are both blending light into dark. Next time I make this I will consider ice as a barrier from the two elements mixing. I made this as an afterthought, feeling like I needed one more offering for this blog. I have not tested it on my family yet and me mom is not here to tell me the drink is terrific. (I stand alone in my household, with no licorice loving companions, what ever will I do?)

If you have been enjoying this, I would love to hear from you! A shout out to those in the UK who have been following and in the USA – Hi Y’all! Did you know that in the UK Licorice is spelled Liquorice? Yup! Just a small fact you may —or may not— care about.