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C'octel

Charles Dickens - Winter Punch

Abigail Diaz

A couple of weeks ago I served cocktails at The Class Room for their pre- party / meet & greet for SOSUPERSAM.  The event was a great success and the vibe was just right for an evening of sick beats and boozy cocktails. I really wanted to do something different from the usual cocktail regime than I am used to doing. So with enough thought and prep I stumbled across this awesome Cognac-Rum Punch called the Charles Dickens in a NYT article. Just a brief history on the name, Charles Dickens the author loved making punch while entertaining guests in the middle of the 19th century. At that time, punch had become somewhat out of date, but if you are familiar with Charles Dickens he was a bit of an antiquarian. So for him, this tradition of making punch was something personal.   

Punch should not be the strength of a cocktail, it is meant to be a social drink. It should encourage you to return for another glass, so you have the chance to chat with someone else. The whole punch ritual should be a staple for any social gathering. 

I was intrigued and wanted to make this delicious sounding punch for the evening. Below is the recipe and steps to making it. Based on the responses it was a grand success! Guests loved the punch and were so surprised to know exactly how much booze was in the cocktail. The key to a great punch is to make sure that you can't taste the booze. Once you have that covered, you are on the path to a great night of spirits and joy.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 4- 5 Lemons
  • 3/4 cup Demerara Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Amber or Aged Rum (I used Mt. Gay Black Barrel)
  • 1 1/4 Jamaican Rum (preferably 100 proof) I used Mt. Gay Eclipse as I did not set fire to the punch & this is a rum from Barbados.
  • 1 cup Rémy Martin V.S.O.P.
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 2 lemons. Drop into a large heatproof bowl (or use a fireproof bowl if you plan to set the punch on fire) and combine with sugar. Muddle together with a muddler, pestle or the back of a wooden spoon. Let mixture sit for at least 3 hours to infuse (or infuse overnight).
  • Squeeze juice into a measuring cup. Halve lemons and squeeze lemon juice into the measuring cup to make 3/4 cup juice in total. (Save any unsqueezed lemon halves for another purpose.)
  • When ready to serve, bring 1 quart water to a boil. Pour rum and cognac into the bowl with the sugar and peels. If you want to flame the punch, do so now; see note below.
  • Add reserved citrus juice and boiling water and stir well. Grate nutmeg over top of punch and ladle into glasses.
  • NOTE: If you want to set the punch on fire, first make sure your bowl is fireproof. Silver or another metal is ideal; wood or tempered glass is not. Just after Step 3, use a fireproof long-handled bar spoon or ladle to remove a spoonful of the alcohol mixture, then light it on fire. Return spoon to bowl to ignite remaining punch. Stir flaming punch to help dissolve sugar; let it burn for a minute or two. To extinguish fire, place a metal tray over bowl. Proceed with recipe.



Summer Gin

Abigail Diaz

First, let me start by saying that a gin & tonic is one of my favorite cocktails. Before I started in the spirits industry my go-to gin was Bombay Sapphire and then I graduated to Hendricks. Jump to today and I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has not only one of the best gin's in the market (no lie), but also happens to be my favorite. The Botanist is the perfect gin with a fabulous balance of Juiper, sweet herbs and beautiful aromas. Okay, so back to the post at hand, I am so happy to see The Botanist featured in this month's LOCAL Houston magazine with two recipes from BCN. If you haven't been to BCN, you are seriously missing out. But not only is the whole experience at BCN amazing, their gin & tonics are on point. Below I have copied one of featured cocktails with the lavender syrup recipe. I also included a basic Botanist & Tonic recipe for you to enjoy at home. Cheers to the weekend and cheers to you! 


Botanist & Tonic

  • 2oz The Botanist
  • 6 oz Fever Tree Indian tonic water
  • 1 lemon slice

Lavender Gin & Tonic

  • 2oz The Botanist tinted lavender with Malva flowers
  • 1/2 oz lavender syrup
  • 6oz Fever Tree Elderflower tonic water
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 3 viola flowers for garnish

Lavender Syrup

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 dried lavender
  • Bring water, sugar and lavender to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once mixture starts boiling, remove from heat and let cool at room temperature. Strain out the lavender. 

Rum Punch

Abigail Diaz

This past Monday I had the pleasure of joining the fabulous members from the Houston Food Blogger Collective at a happy hour, supporting Taste of the Nation. Members gathered at Julep and sipped on a fantastic Mt. Gay Rum punch made by respected mixologist and bar owner Alba Huerta. What I loved about this punch was that it's not only simple to make, it is the perfect summer punch for an aged rum. All the ingredients married beautifully and it was deliciously easy to drink, which for a punch is key. Check out the recipes bellow for a single serving or punch.  Cheers!


Rum Punch Recipe:

SINGLE-

  • 1 1/2 oz - Mt. Gay Rum XO
  • 1 oz - Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz - Aperol
  • 1/2 oz - Turbinado Sugar
  • Seasonal Fruit

PUNCH- Serves 30

  • 48 oz - Mt. Gay Rum XO
  • 32 oz - Lemon Juice
  • 25 oz - Aperol
  • 16 oz - Turbinado Sugar
  • 48oz - Water
  • Seasonal Fruit

Lake House Spritz

Abigail Diaz

This weekend the boyfriend and I will be sipping on these delicious and easy cocktails on the lake. I am all about keeping it as easy as possible and tasting fantastic. What I love about these two Spritz cocktails are that one would think they would taste similar since they have similar bases, but the two couldn't be so more different. Both Aperol and Campari are from Italy, both are a hue of red and both make amazing cocktails with other spirits or on their own. But, the juice is oh so different. If you are like me, that likes sweet notes the Aperol Spritz is the best balance of not too sweet, but deliciously refreshing. For the bitter pallet, I recommend the Campari Spritz, which has a strong front sip and then gets mild quickly and it is just as refreshing. Colmagro Prosecco from Italy is what I used in both cocktails, I enjoyed how it balanced beautifully with both spirits and seemed to bring a subtle tartness and sweetness as well. 

On a random note, if you are wondering if there is a difference between spritz and spritzer there is! A spritz has booze, prosecco and club soda, where as a spritzer is wine and seltzer water (club soda or mineral water is ok too). Overall keeping it easy and tasty. Check out the recipes below for a weekend spritz.

Aperol Spritz

  • 4 1/2 oz Colmagro Prosecco
  • 2 1/2 oz Aperol
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 oz club soda

 

Campari Spritz

  • 2 oz Colmagro Prosecco
  • 2 oz Campari
  • 1 oz club soda

Toast to Brunch

Abigail Diaz

Highlights of brunching are drinking before noon and noshing on amazing food you wouldn't allow yourself to eat during the week. This past Saturday I had the pleasure with the Aces of Taste crew to host our second brunch. Chef Justin Turner of Bernie's Burger Bus created an amazing menu for our guests to enjoy. Working closely with him, we created two fabulous cocktails that our guests would enjoy. Both cocktails are fantastic options to do for a brunch, boat trip or backyard BBQ. Using a combination of less than four ingredients for both, these drinks will not only have your guests wanting a second, third or fourth, they are also going to ask you to always have it around. Cheers


Cointreau Rickey

  • 2 oz Cointreau 
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • Top with Topo Chico

She's Crafty

  • 2 TBS. Cointreau Sorbet
  • 2 oz Pink Lemonade
  • 2 oz Topo Chico
  • Mint Leaf for Garnish

Cointreau Sorbet

  • 1/2 Gallon Fresh OJ
  • 2 Cups 2-1 Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Cointreau
  • 1/2 TBS Vanilla Extract

Mix together all ingredients and spin into ice cream machine. Freeze for 4 hours after spinning is done. TIP: Make sure all ingredients are ice cold.  

Champagne Sips

Abigail Diaz

With my continuing pursuit of mastering every cocktail from Speakeasy, I felt compelled to learn about two of their champagne cocktails. The thing I love about these two cocktails are how they enhance the drinking experience. Many times the added ingredients seem to mask the taste of the champagne & personally that is just not right! Authors, Kosmas & Dushan impressed me with how easy these drinks can be made and how the champagne does not get lost with the added flavors. 

I decided to go with Perrier - Jouët Grand Brut, because in my opinion it is a pretty solid champagne, and also one of the recipes call for it. Enjoy these two fabulous cocktails this weekend. Cheers! 


Elderflower Spritz

  • 4 oz Perrier - Jouët Grand Brut
  • 2 oz St- Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz club soda
  • lemon wheel

Fill a large wine goblet with ice. Carefully pour the champagne over the large cold ice cubes, followed by the St - Germain, and finish with the club soda. Add the lemon wheels and stir slightly. 


Fraise Sauvage

  • 1 1/4 oz The Botanist gin
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz strawberry cordial
  • 2 oz demi - sec champagne ( I chose to stick with the PJ Brut)
  • 1 half strawberry, for garnish

SPEAKEASY SUMMER

Abigail Diaz

Summer is finally here and that means entertaining friends and family. With so many ready to serve cocktail options available for the masses, it is still nice to show your skills behind the bar. Here are two simple cocktails that will appeal to the poolside sipper and the backyard drinker. 

I recently finished reading Speakeasy, a cocktail book written by Jason Kosmas, Dushan Zaric the owners of the famous Employees Only speakeasy bar located in Manhattan. Hands down one of the easiest and most educational bar books I have read. I recommend Speakeasy for anyone who loves to cook & entertain, the way Kosmas & Zaric breakdown each drink and back story on that cocktail allow the reader to gain knowledge that google can't give you. Here are two of my favorites I will be sipping on this weekend. 


New York Sour:

  • 1 3/4 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/ 4 oz simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz dry red wine (I used Malbec)
  • orange half - wheel, for garnish

Taste: crisp, medium | Flavors: whiskey, citrus and stone fruits


Waterloo:

  • 4 (1 x 2- inch) chunks of watermelon
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz The Botanist gin
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Campari
  • lemon rind, for garnish

Taste: medium to light | Flavors: watermelon and fragrant juniper 

Cinco Cocktails

Abigail Diaz

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! 

The margarita is the #1 selling cocktail in North America and with its refreshing mixture of fresh lime juice and tequila, I understand why. The thing I love about margaritas is how versatile they can  taste and be presented. Although I love a good frozen margarita, the calories are not friendly for the summer bikini, the average 12 oz frozen margarita packs 675 calories. So I created four of my favorite margaritas that are packed with flavor and keep the waistline tight. All are freshly-made with easy ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store. The two ingredients that I love to make my margaritas with are Cointreau orange liqueur and Milagro Silver Tequila. Combining these two spirits work beautifully together to make a solid summer margarita.

Classic Margarita 

1 1/2 oz - Milagro Silver Tequila

1/2 oz - Cointreau

1 oz - Fresh Lime Juice 

Directions: Pour all ingredients in shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with lime wedge. 

Calories: 200

Black Berry Mint Margarita

1 1/2 oz - Milagro Silver Tequila

1/2 oz - Cointreau

1 oz - Fresh Lime Juice

1 oz - Black Berry Purée

4 - Mint Springs

Directions: Muddle Mint in shaker then add purée, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. Add mint spring for garnish. 

Calories: 300

 

Grapefruit Soda Margarita 

1 1/2 oz - Milagro Silver Tequila

1/2 oz - Cointreau Noir

1 oz - Fresh Lime Juice

3 oz - Topo Sabores Toranja

Directions: Pour tequila, Cointreau Noir and lime juice in shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. Top off with Topo Toranja and garnish with grapefruit peel. 

Calories: 250

Hibiscus Margarita 

1 1/2 oz- Milagro Silver Tequila

1/2 oz- Cointreau

1 oz - Fresh Lime Juice

1 oz - Fruit Lab Hibiscus Syrup 

Directions: Pour tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and pour over fresh crush ice. Add hibiscus syrup over and garnish with mint spring. 

Calories: 300 Calories

Southern Charm

Abigail Diaz

ACES OF TASTE "SOUTHERN CHARM" COCKTAILS

Last week I featured two new cocktails at Aces of Taste. The theme for this dinner was Southern Charm, in which I served a cognac punch and an apricot infused sidecar. Whenever you host or attend a dinner party, having a punch is a not only a time saver but a guest favorite. I chose to make a cognac punch because it’s usually not the first thing people think about for a punch base, but it was a sweet success. I wanted to show the versatility of what you can make with cognac, since traditionally people enjoy it neat or on the rocks. The play on the sidecar came from my colleague and friend Emily Perkins. She gave me this tasty recipe that not only was it visually appealing but delicious too. Overall the drinks were a hit. With a good amount of prep time, these drinks will be a party favorite. 

RECIPES BELOW

Apricot Infused Sidecar 

Prep Time: 24 Hours 

 Ingredients:

- 1Liter Rémy Martin V 

- 8 Apricots 

- Cointreau 

- Fresh Lemon Juice 

- 8 oz Water 

 ToolsBlender, Strainer, Half Gallon Container 

 Directions:

- Cut apricots in half and sauté them in a pan with 8oz Water

            * Slow Simmer, until apricots are soft

            * An average of 5 minutes

- Place cooked apricots and 1L of Remy Martin V in blender 

            * Blend until apricots and Remy Martin V create a juice like consistency 

- Remove blend and place in plastic container and leave over night. 

 **Next Day

- Strain and Filter- Recommend a tea strainer, to remove chunks 

 Cocktail Execution:

- 2 oz Rémy V Apricot Infusion

- 1 oz Cointreau 

- .5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice  


Rémy Martin Cognac Punch

Prep Time: 1 Hour

 Ingredients:

- 1Liter Rémy Martin V.S.O.P

- 1/2 cup Port Wine

- 3 cups of water 

- 6 oz super fine sugar

- 3 fresh lemons  

- 6 oz fresh lemon juice

 Tools: Fruit Peeler, Muddler,  Punch Bowl 

 Directions:

- Muddle lemon peels and sugar and let sit for 90 min. 

- Then muddle again and stir in the lemon juice.

- Add Rémy MartinV.S.O.P, port wine and water then stir.

- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 Cocktail Execution- To serve, pour into 1-gallon Punch bowl 

 

 

 

Berry Rickey

Abigail Diaz

I recently served this cocktail at a fashion event and it was a great success. It is a simple recipe to follow with tasty pairings of ripe berries and savory mint. I would recommend this cocktail to be at an social gathering. Not only does it taste refreshing and sweet, the pop of color in the glass is photo op worthy.  So I suggest the next time you want to impress guests & are not sure what to serve, remember the Berry Rickey. 

RECIPE BELOW


Recipe:

- 2oz Cointreau

- 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice

- 2 Blackberries

- 2 Raspberries

- 5 Mint Leaves

- 3-4 ozClub Soda

 

Directions: 

- Muddle the berries and mint in the bottom of a glass.

- Add Cointreau and fresh lime juice with ice, and top with club sod

- Stir briefly. Garnish with a berry and mint sprig.