Archive for May 2010

Don't forget about the Pimm's Cup

A cocktail I love to rediscover this time of year is the Pimm's Cup. Pimm's is a gin based liquor made in England of a secret blend of herbs and fruits. It is refreshing, extremely versatile, and low in alcohol content, making it the perfect cocktail for drinking in the hot summer sun during a game of croquette. Every year I change up my Pimm's cup recipe: classic Pimm's and lemonade with cucumber garnish; Pimm's with muddled strawberries, gin and soda; Pimm's with lime, mint and sparkling get the idea, and this year is no exception.

Muddling is one of my favorite ways to add flavor to a cocktail however, the process can be laborious and if the muddled fruit or herb is not strained out, the end result can be a bit like drinking a salad. A more efficient way to use herbs and fruits in cocktails is by making a flavored simple syrup. The process is easy. Boil equal parts water and sugar with the fruit or herb until you reach your desired flavor. Then strain and add to cocktail as needed. It should keep in refrigerator for up to a week.

The rule of thumb I have learned from working at a farm-to-table restaurant is what grows together, goes together. I like to think of this rule when trying to come up with cocktail combinations as well. Here is a great Pimm's cup recipe we have on the menu at the restaurant using Ransom Old Tom Gin, which is aged in pinot noir casks and has a nice herbal flavor to it, rhubarb, a vegetable in season right now and very dear to my heart, along with basil or mint.

Pilsen Cup
1.5 oz Pimm's
1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
3/4 oz rhubarb simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon

Shake w/ sprig of basil or mint. Strain and serve over ice in rocks glass.

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Summer Punch

This looks like a good cocktail that can be made en masse and on the cheap for a certain Memorial Day barbecue that may or may not be happening. Wink wink Alice. If it's on, it will be brought in a big recycled jug, using a free bottle of Citron and Jarritos soda. If it's not on, I'll be serving this drink all summer on my deck. Please visit.

Here's the recipe from the video. Makes one cocktail.
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Esprit or Cointreau
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Shake, strain and then top with 1/2 oz of orange soda. For the punch, I would definitely serve this over ice with a little more soda.

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Cooking: Part 1

As we head into the fertile time of year, I thought it would be helpful to have the calendar of when fruits and vegetables are in season for Chicago.
The above is a very simplified chart, especially if you frequent trendy eateries. I mean, where's the fiddlehead ferns and ramps in May?

I'm also putting together a little spice dictionary per country (to be posted soon) so that I can do more cooking off the cuff with what's in season.

Update: Epicurious has a state by state guide to what's in season here: Seasonal Ingredient Map. For May, it has a lot of things listed that are not included above like Cabbage and Cherries. Hmm.

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