Friday, February 12, 2016

8-2-Eat: Desserts for Valentine's Day


8-2-Eat is my food-focused list series. A perfect Friday distraction. Valentine's Day is this weekend. Instead of fighting your way through the crowds at restaurants Sunday night, be a pro and make dessert at home. Your lover will be even more impressed...I guarantee it. Here are 8 delicious dessert suggestions.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake. Nothing says Valentine's Day romance like chocolate, and this mousse cake has three-time the chocolate for extra seductive power.

Chocolate Truffle Cake. Another chocolate winner, pictured above. This decadent flourless chocolate cake is sinfully delicious.

Mocha Baked Alaska
Mocha Baked Alaska. Wanna show off? Baked Alaska is visually stunning but delicious too.

S'mores Pie. This is a little more down home, but still a very sweet Valentine's Day dessert, especially if you and your significant other met at a summer camp.

Momofuku Milk Bar Blueberry & Cream Cookies. Couldn't score a Valentine's Day reservation at Momofuku? You can still enjoy the Milkbar treats at home, like these amazing Blueberry & Cream Cookies you can make yourself.

Tres Leches Cake. Creamy sweet goodness that gets even better with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Definitely a romantic choice.

By the Fire Sundae
By The Fire Sundae. Not into chocolate? Weird..but, I understand it's not everyone's thing. Instead, turn up the heat with this decadent fire-inspired sundae of maple-bacon ice cream, brown butter blondie, caramel sauce and smoked whipped cream.

Brownie-Blonde Sundae. For the couple that wants to have it all, this sundae features a chocolate-chip peanut-butter blondie, a peanut brownie, vanilla ice cream, peanuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oscar Cocktails Bonus: The Lightsaber (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Oscar Cocktails Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Lightsaber

Oscar Cocktails are inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture (plus two bonus cocktails). See recipes for all of this year's Oscar Cocktails here.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh live-action Star Wars movie, representing episode 7 in the cycle and set 30 years after 1983's Return of the Jedi. It tells the story of a young woman, Rey (Daisy Ridley), and a young man, Finn (John Boyega), who leave ordinary lives as a scavenger and trooper, respectively, to join The Resistance in battling the dark forces of Kylo Ren and the First Order. The film is nominated for five Academy Awards.

Alas, the latest Star Wars film was not nominated for Best Picture. But, I think it really should have been. After all, it's really great and wasn't nominating films that are both popular and acclaimed one of the reasons for expanding the best-picture slate beyond five films back in 2009? It's actually the first film in my lifetime that became the highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. and was not nominated for Best Picture, an honor enjoyed by Avatar, Titanic, E.T. and the original Star Wars. So I had to make the movie one of my two bonus Oscar cocktails.

The Lightsaber is a tiki drink of sorts--it's colorful and fruity--but instead of rum, it has a split base of cachaça and mezcal, nodding to the smoke those hot lightsabers make as they slash through whatever finds its way in their path. It was Rey's journey I wanted to honor with this drink, specifically her picking up Luke's lightsaber to become the heir-apparent to the line of the Jedi. As much as possible, the drink itself looks like her lightsaber--it's blue and in a tall, thin, cylindrical glass. And her opponent in the movie's climactic lightsaber duel, Kylo Ren, shows up here too, since I used his action's figure's lightsaber as part of the garnish.


Bonus: The Lightsaber (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Inspired by Luke’s—now Rey’s—blue lightsaber and her duel with Kylo Ren in the snowy forest of Starkiller base.

¾ oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal
¾ oz. cachaça
½ oz. light crème de cacao
½ oz. blue curaçao
½ oz. fresh lime juice
Bing cherry garnish

Combine mezcal, cachaça, crème de cacao, blue curaçao and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with bing cherry (preferably skewered with an action figure’s lightsaber). Serve with a straw.

Related

2016 Oscar Cocktails

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Oscar Cocktails: The Market Fizz(led) (The Big Short)

Oscar Cocktails 2016 The Big Short The Market Fizz(led)

Oscar Cocktails are inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture. See recipes for all of this year's Oscar Cocktails here.

The Big Short dramatizes the late 2000s financial crisis caused by bad mortgage practices and is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. The film is nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Director (Adam McKay).

The Big Short takes a serious complicated subject, the financial crisis of 2007-2008 that triggered a major economic recession, and manages to make a film that provides a lot of detail but in a way that's engaging, even funny at times with excellent performances from its all-star cast that includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.

Because I've been so into "classic" cocktails lately, you'll find that a lot of this year's cocktails are rather...high-octane. The sort of cocktails that are mostly all booze and really should be sipped rather than gulped down. This one is comparatively lighter, but made with serious ingredients--not unlike the film that inspired it. We've got mezcal for all that money that went up in smoke, Green Chartreuse for money and greed, lemon juice to represent all those bad mortgage investments (a bad investment is sometimes called a "lemon") and ginger beer to give the drink some fizz...er, fizzle, just like the market did. That's actually the root of the this drink: a "fizz" is a cocktail with predominant sour flavor and carbonated water--which could be soda or tonic, but here I used ginger beer.

Market Fizz(led) (The Big Short)
Inspired by the Wall Street meltdown, the bad investments (lemons), greed and crushed hopes depicted in the film.

1 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal
1 oz. Green Chartreuse
¾ oz. lemon juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 oz. Fever Tree ginger beer
Lemon twist garnish

Combine mezcal, Chartreuse, lemon juice and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a lowball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with lemon twist.

Related

2016 Oscar Cocktails

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Oscar Cocktails: The Woods (The Revenant)

Oscar Cocktails 2016 The Revenant The Woods

Oscar Cocktails are inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture. See recipes for all of this year's Oscar Cocktails here.

The Revenant tells the story of early 1800s American fur trappers fleeing from an Indian attack. When one trapper (Leonardo DiCaprio) is badly injured by a bear, another trapper (Tom Hardy) is assigned to tend to him but instead kills his son and buries the injured trapper alive, believing death will be soon. Instead, the trapper recovers and seeks vengeance. The brutal film is nominated for 12 Academy Awards--this year's most-nominated movie--including Best Picture, Actor (DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Hardy) and Director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu).

When I was thinking of early ideas for this year's Oscar cocktails, I first envisioned The Revenant's drink as a cross between an Old Fashioned and a Sazerac, nodding to the movie's historical setting amid the wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase territory (the Old Fashioned is based on the earliest cocktails, and the Sazerac originated in New Orleans). But that was before I saw the movie, which his such a visceral experience. It's setting in the snowy woods struck me as particularly important, for the movie is as much about revenge as it is survival. So I took the drink in new direction, wanting ingredients that were woodsy and botanical. This has a somewhat long list of ingredients, but they all play off each other well--the woodsy flavors of bourbon, muddled fresh rosemary and Douglas Fir Eau de Vie with the botanical gin, a touch of smoke from the Scotch, and sweetness from the maple syrup, another tree-based ingredient. The original Revenant cocktail was good--I might share it later--but The Woods is even better.

The Woods (The Revenant)
A woodsy and botanical drink inspired by the film’s damp, cold forest setting.

2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
½ oz. Clear Creek Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir
½ oz. Laphroaig quarter cask Scotch whiskey
¾ oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey
¾ oz. Leopold’s American small batch gin
½ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
½ oz. maple syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Rosemary sprig garnish

Add rosemary leaves and Eau de Vie to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add Scotch, whiskey, gin, vermouth, syrup, bitters and ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Related

2016 Oscar Cocktails

Monday, February 8, 2016

Oscar Cocktails 2016

Oscar Cocktails 2016 Best Picture Nominees

And the Oscar goes to...

That's what we'll be hearing 24 times on February 28th, during ABC's telecast of the 88th Academy Awards. A night that will be surely filled with glamour, tributes and surprises.

This year's crop of Best Picture nominees is one of the strongest in years. I liked every one of these eight films, and I think they are all deserving of their nominations. In fact, I think two more films--Carol and Star Wars: The Force Awakens--were also deserving, so I went ahead and created  bonus Oscar cocktails for those movies too.

Creating this set of Oscar cocktails was a lot of fun, but it was also quite challenging. As in previous years, I have two important criteria for each drink: 1) it has to honor and represent the film, be it the film's settings, characters or themes, and 2) it has to be a really great cocktail. I'm not just throwing ingredients together. I want them to harmonize and balance into a drink that's enjoyable any time of year. I think I've achieved that this year. I hope you enjoy them also.

Below are the recipes for all 10 of this year's Oscar cocktails. Over the next two weeks, I'll also create separate posts that tell the story behind each drink, starting today with The Martian and Spotlight cocktails. Those posts will be linked to the names of the cocktails in this story as they go up each day.



Market Fizz(led) (The Big Short)
Market Fizz(led) (The Big Short)
Inspired by the Wall Street meltdown, the bad investments (lemons), greed and crushed hopes depicted in the film.

1 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal
1 oz. Green Chartreuse
¾ oz. lemon juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 oz. Fever Tree ginger beer
Lemon twist garnish


Combine mezcal, Chartreuse, lemon juice and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a lowball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with lemon twist.

Oscar Cocktails 2016 Bridge of Spies Moscow Mole
Moscow Mole (Bridge of Spies)
A riff on the classic Moscow Mule cocktail with Chartreuse, an ingredient with a secret recipe.

1 ½ oz. vodka
½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
½ oz. lime juice
4-6 oz. Fever Tree ginger beer
Half lime wheel garnish

Combine vodka, Chartreuse and lime juice in a copper mug filled with ice. Stir ingredients and top with ginger beer. Garnish with half lime wheel.


Brooklyn Heritage (Brooklyn)
Brooklyn Heritage (Brooklyn)
A riff on the Brooklyn cocktail inspired by the film’s setting and the Irish and Italian backgrounds of its characters.

2 oz. Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey
¾ oz. Carpano dry vermouth
¼ oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Hella aromatic bitters
2 dashes Hella orange bitters
Maraschino cherry garnish

Combine whiskey, vermouth, liqueur and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with cherry.



Fury's Fuel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Fury's Fuel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Inspired by the film’s automotive themes and generally wild nature.

1 oz. Captain Morgan black spiced rum
½ oz. Marca Negra espadín mezcal
½ oz. Jaegermeister
½ oz. Cinnamon syrup (see note)
½ oz. grapefruit juice
Bittermens ‘Elemakule tiki bitters
Flamed orange peel garnish

Combine rum, mezcal, Jaegermeister,  Cinnamon syrup, grapefruit juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a chilled coupe. Flame the orange peel over the drink, then rub it around the rim before dropping it into the glass.

Note: to make cinnamon syrup, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, discard cinnamon sticks, and store syrup in refrigerator.



The Red Planet (The Martian)
The Red Planet (The Martian)
Inspired by Mars’ red color and the fiery rockets needed to get there.

1 oz. Marca Negra espadín mezcal
1 oz. Mount Gay extra old dark rum
½ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
¼ oz. Aperol
¼ oz. Campari
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
½ dash Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub
Orange peel garnish

Combine mezcal, rum, vermouth, Aperol, Campari, agave nectar, bitters and shrub in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Strain into a rocks glass with a single large-sphere ice cube. Garnish with orange peel.



The Woods (The Revenant)
The Woods (The Revenant)
A woodsy and botannical drink inspired by the film’s damp, cold forest setting.

2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
½ oz. Clear Creek Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir
½ oz. Laphroaig quarter cask Scotch whiskey
¾ oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey
¾ oz. Leopold’s American small batch gin
½ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
½ oz. maple syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Rosemary sprig garnish

Add rosemary leaves and Eau de Vie to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add Scotch, whiskey, gin, vermouth, syrup, bitters and ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.



The Strong (Room)
The Strong (Room)
A strong drink inspired by Jack’s hair—The Strong—a metaphor for the strength to be brave through the tough times.

1 ½ oz. Rittenhouse rye whiskey
½ oz. Amaro Averna
½ oz. Nux Alpina Nocino walnut liqueur
½ oz. Drambuie liqueur
½ oz. cold-brewed coffee
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl mole bitters
Orange peel, garnish

Combine whiskey, Averna, liqueurs, coffee and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.


The Scoop (Spotlight)
The Scoop (Spotlight)
Inspired by the reporters’ search for the big scoop and the black-and-white truth.

1 ½ oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey
½ oz. Becherovka
½ oz. Amaro Montenegro
½ oz. Kahlua
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey-barrel-aged bitters
1 dash chocolate bitters
Small scoop (1/4 cup) of Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, softened
Rolled wafer cookie garnish

Combine whiskey, Becherovka, amaro, bitters and ice cream in a cocktail shaker. Shake until mixed and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with rolled wafer cookie.


Bonus: Love Unspoken (Carol)
Bonus: Love Unspoken (Carol)
Inspired by Carol’s martini and her love for Therese, which at the time “dared not speak its name.”

1 tsp. absinthe
2 oz. Bombay Sapphire London dry gin
¾ oz. Dolin dry vermouth
¼ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1 tsp. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Bittermens burlesque bitters
2 greens olives and 1 cocktail onion, garnish

Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with absinthe. Combine gin, vermouth, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold, then strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with olives and onion.


Bonus: The Lightsaber (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Inspired by Luke’s—now Rey’s—blue lightsaber and her duel with Kylo Ren in the snowy forest of Starkiller base.

¾ oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal
¾ oz. cachaça
½ oz. light crème de cacao
½ oz. blue curaçao
½ oz. fresh lime juice
Bing cherry garnish

Combine mezcal, cachaça, crème de cacao, blue curaçao and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with bing cherry (preferably skewered with an action figure’s lightsaber). Serve with a straw.

Related

Oscar Cocktails 2015

Oscar Cocktails 2014

Oscar Cocktails 2013

Oscar Cocktails: The Red Planet (The Martian)

Oscar Cocktails 2016 The Martian The Red Planet

Oscar Cocktails are inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture. See recipes for all of this year's Oscar Cocktails here.

The Martian, adapted from Andy Weir's popular novel, tells the fictional story of NASA astronaut  Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is presumed dead and marooned on Mars when his crew must abandon their mission during a surprise storm. Watney must use his ingenuity to survive alone on the red planet and find a way to communicate with Earth so he may return home. The film is latest great science fiction epic from director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner). It is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Actor (Damon).

The Red Planet is one of several Oscar cocktails with a split base--meaning that rather than having the typical one base spirit, it has two--in this case mezcal and rum. This was a decision made for flavor, as well as color. I wanted the smokiness of mezcal to represent the rocket fuel needed for interplanetary travel, but the sweetness and brown color of rum as well. To make the drink the ruddy reddish-orange of Mars, I used equal parts of Campari (which is red) and Aperol (which is orange). When combined with the brown rum, you get that nice ruddy red-orange color like the surface of Mars.

When I first made this drink, I used all the liquors and served it "up" (i.e. without ice) in a coupe. It looked cool, but it was missing something, and it wasn't sweet enough. The added 1 tsp. of agave nectar was just enough sweetness to balance with the smoky and bitter flavors and serving the drink on the rocks--with a single large round ice cube--added an additional visual cue for how the drink is meant to represent Mars.

The Red Planet (The Martian)
Inspired by Mars’ red color and the fiery rockets needed to get there.

1 oz. Marca Negra espadín mezcal
1 oz. Mount Gay extra old dark rum
½ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
¼ oz. Aperol
¼ oz. Campari
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
½ dash Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub
Orange peel garnish

Combine mezcal, rum, vermouth, Aperol, Campari, agave nectar, bitters and shrub in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Strain into a rocks glass with a single large-sphere ice cube. Garnish with orange peel.

Related

2016 Oscar Cocktails

Oscar Cocktails: The Scoop (Spotlight)

Oscar Cocktails 2016 Spotlight The Scoop

Oscar Cocktails are inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture. See recipes for all of this year's Oscar Cocktails here.

Spotlight is based on the true story of a group of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the Catholic Church's cover-up of child sexual abuse among Boston-area priests. The film is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams) and Director (Tom McCarthy). It's considered a front-runner in the Best Picture race.

I had a good idea what I wanted to do with the Spotlight cocktail, but it took me three tries to execute it the way I wanted. My thought was to focus on the film's journalistic theme. Newspapers are, as they say, "black and white and read all over," so I wanted a drink with black and white ingredients. I thought about doing something with dark liquors like whiskey, amaro and coffee liqueur mixed with something white like vanilla ice cream. Hence, this was going to be dessert cocktail.

Getting the ingredients right was a challenge. On my first go, the ice cream didn't incorporate well with the other ingredients, ending up as a big lump in the drink. I needed to let it soften a bit first before mixing the cocktail. Because the ice cream is frozen, this cocktail requires no ice, and the ice cream cools the mixture as it melts and combines with the liquors. But if the ice cream is too cold, it won't melt completely. Setting it out for about 5 minutes did the trick.

I also needed to tweak the flavors to get the right. Initially, I made the drink with Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, but I thought its bitterness was getting in the way of the sweet creaminess of the ice cream. So I replaced it with Becherovka, an Eastern European herbal liqueur with prominent notes of cinnamon. This balanced much better with the other ingredients, making a smooth, satisfying drink. I garnished the cocktail with a rolled wafer cookie--a visual nod to the reporter's pencil--and called it "The Scoop," a double entendre for the drink's scoop of ice cream and shorthand for a breaking news story.

The Scoop (Spotlight)
Inspired by the reporters’ search for the big scoop and the black-and-white truth.

1 ½ oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey
½ oz. Becherovka
½ oz. Amaro Montenegro
½ oz. Kahlua
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey-barrel-aged bitters
1 dash chocolate bitters
Small scoop (1/4 cup) of Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, softened
Rolled wafer cookie garnish

Combine whiskey, Becherovka, amaro, bitters and ice cream in a cocktail shaker. Shake until mixed and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with rolled wafer cookie.

Related

2016 Oscar Cocktails