it's okay to play with your food

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cocktail Hour!

Last night was the second meeting of SPEC- the Society for the Promotion of Extraordinary Cocktails, hosted by my lovely friends Ru, Sarah, and Shonni. SPEC appeals to the dorky lush in me, as each meeting* focuses on three vintage cocktails. So while getting tipsy, you are also getting a historical perspective into the world of libations. (It's also a great excuse for drinking it up in cute outfits!)
Photo from SPEC Meeting 1

The menu included an amuse bouche of mulled cider, the Clover Club, and Sazerac Cocktail. Both the Clover Club and Sazerac used Peychaud's bitters, which Sarah had to order from New Orleans as they are not readily found in our area. The Sazerac was a bit too strong for me, but the Clover Club was fun and fruity, with the good aspects of a Cosmopolitan but lacking the Sex in the City overtones.

The Clover Club turns out to be a home-grown phenomenon, created by The Clover Club of Philadelphia in the early 20th century. My only other experience with the drink, however, was in Michigan, at Zingerman's Roadhouse. Zingerman's specializes in classic cocktails (SPEC fieldtrip, anyone?) and their CC was pretty amazing. Though I can't imagine anything with gin and fresh raspberries leading me astray. It is also commonly frothed with egg white!

Speaking of cocktails, this week I finally dug into my homemade Christmas cordial, a kumquat clementine liqueur. Inspired by this NYT article - - I made three batches of cordial- two were Christmas gifts and one was for me. Aside from looking beautiful, with slivers of kumquats and clementine floating in a mason jar, the gin based liqueur tastes amazing. I've been drinking it on the rocks with a generous portion of seltzer. The citrus and clove combination is an immediate reminder of the holidays. It's sweet but not syrupy.

Below is my slight adaptation of the NYT recipe. My main change was in the spices used, since I didn't have certain ones that the recipe called for, while I thought others would also work well. Also, mine did sit for about 5 weeks.

Kumquat-Clementine Cordial

adapted from "Haste Makes Cordial" by Melissa Clark, New York Times, December 12, 2007
Time: 10 minutes, plus one week's macerating**

1/4 cup sugar, preferably superfine
3 tablespoons clementine juice (from 1 or 2 clementines) plus 1 clementine, thinly sliced
6 kumquats, thinly sliced and seeded
1 3/4 cups gin (375 milliliters)
3 peppercorns
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods

1. Have a glass bottle with a cork or a jar with a lid ready. Place sugar in a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon boiling water for 1 minute. Add clementine juice, and continue stirring until sugar dissolves, about a minute longer.
2. If using a jar, place clementine and kumquat slices inside. If using a bottle, you might have to curl slices into cylinders to fit them through neck. Add sugar syrup and remaining ingredients; break star anise in half if necessary to fit into bottle. Close jar lid or cork bottle; keep at room temperature. Shake once a day for one week before serving.
From kp: If keeping it for longer than one week, I would remove the majority of the spices after one week. Personally, I think the clove and cardamom flavors would get too strong.
3. Serve as is or over ice, or with a splash of seltzer, or topped with chilled white wine or sparkling wine, or as a hot toddy topped with boiling water. Or drizzle over ice cream.

Yield: About 2 cups.

** isn't that a great word?


Michael Greenberg said...

If SPEC is accepting applications, I would propose a field trip to either (a) Chick's wine bar for Katie Loeb's famous cocktails, or (b) Southwark. I can't promise that my outfit will be cute, though.

e said...

Oooh, SPEC sounds spectacular. How does one get invited?