Rosemary, Baby! (Bourbon & Aperol Punch with Rosemary & Grapefruit)

rosemary cocktail rosemary baby

The rosemary cocktail doesn’t come any more Hallowe’eny than this: “Rosemary, Baby!” – a little sweet, a little bitter, with just enough herbal and citrus flavor to balance it out. Oh, and it’s blood red. Good for individual cocktails or a party punch!

It should come as a shock to absolutely no one (who either knows me or has glanced at this blog) that I like cocktails. Whenever I go to a new restaurant, the first thing I check out is the cocktail list. And whenever we throw a party, we try to have at least one cool cocktail on offer as an option to beer and wine. Fun, right? But you know what’s not fun? Spending your entire party behind a bar, mixing individual cocktails for 30 people.

That, my lovelies, is why God invented the punch bowl.

Nerd Alert: Here is a short, mostly-accurate history of the term “punch”. Punches date back to the 1600s, when British sailors required something to drink that wouldn’t spoil in the tropical heat of India and Indonesia. (Unlike us modern dummies, British sailors were entitled to ten pints of beer a day. Yes, entitled). A true punch will always be a balance of five flavors (some kind of citrus, a sweetener, a base spirit, a weak portion like juice or wine and a seasoning portion, like herbs or spices). It’s meant to be less potent than a standard cocktail, allowing party-goers to gather around the bowl and socialize. Here endeth the lesson.

rosemary cocktail rosemary baby
Rosemary, Baby!

Since neither Matt nor I planned to dress as a bartender for Halloween, we decided to go the punch route. After many, many minutes of research, we settled on this recipe from Prime Meats. Now I know what you’re thinking and, no, we didn’t choose it just because we love that restaurant and used to go there all the time when we lived two blocks away. And we didn’t chose it simply due to its perfect Hallowe’en name, Rosemary, Baby!, an homage to one of my favorite horror films. We chose it because it sounded delicious. And it was. Delicious, that is.

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Blackberry-Ginger Fizz

A blackberry ginger fizz is a great cocktail for using up your late summer blackberry haul. Add ginger beer and elderflower and enjoy!

Blackberry Ginger Fizz

There are times in every person’s life when you have to make the hard decisions. When you find yourself at a crossroad. Do you turn left or right? Recently I was faced with one of those decisions. My own personal King Solomon’s choice, except if the baby was a blackberry. A lovely little blackberry.

Here’s how it began. It was an ordinary Sunday morning, unseasonably a little chilly but nice enough for a stroll. Matt and I headed to the Beacon Farmer’s Market, where we often buy our produce supplies for the week.

We usually get there on the early side, a half an hour or so after they open, but this particular Sunday we dragged our feet a little. We were tired, you see. I won’t bore you with the details but we’re in the process of trying to buy our first house and the stress of it had begun to take its toll. For the last month or so, pretty much every night, one or the other of us (sometimes both) will leap out of bed at 3:30 in the morning, convinced beyond all reason that this whole thing is a HUGE mistake.

Or that house we love? A MONEY PIT!

Or there is NO WAY a bank will actually give us a loan. Do they KNOW how bad our jokes are? [Matt is on the phone with the bank right now – apparently, they do.]

So we were tired and slow and showed up at the market late, after the majority of the stalls had been picked clean. Corn? Sold out by noon. Eggplants?  All gone. Sungold tomatoes? Don’t make me laugh.

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The French Blonde (or Red Head)

The French Blonde

Back when Matt and I lived in Brooklyn (a.k.a. before we moved to Beacon, went insane and thought it would be wise for two freelancers to try and buy a house), we occasionally went to a lovely little restaurant called Buttermilk Channel. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because they inspired our Spiced Pickled Grapes recipe (and I talk about the place constantly to anyone who will listen). It’s not a “fancy” restaurant, but everything is prepared with care and with an eye towards seasonality, including their cocktails. It was through their inventive menu that I began to expand my cocktail palate beyond gin and tonics and margaritas (though I still love both, of course. I’m not a monster).

For me, cocktail perfection is all about balance. I like a little sweetness, but not so much that I feel like I’m sipping dessert. (Matt, an unapologetic prom-drinker, doesn’t always agree with me on that). [Camera swish pans around to reveal Matt drinking Baileys straight from the bottle, a milky dribble glistening on his chin. “You knew what I was when you married me”, he says quietly.]

I want to taste a little kick of alcohol but I don’t want to shake my head a like a teenager chugging Southern Comfort out of a paper bag after every sip.

After extensive (ahem…) research, I have come to believe that fresh grapefruit juice is the best mixer of all time.

The French Blonde

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The Rhubarb 75

Rhubarb 75What’s that? You say it’s spring and you want a delicious, refreshing cocktail. Oh, and it has to be perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too tart? So demanding!

Well, you are in luck, my nerdy friends. Let me introduce you to the Rhubarb 75.

As you may know, a classic French 75 is made with gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and champagne so all you need to do is make a Rhubarb Syrup, and you’re good to go.

Rhubarb Syrup
Rhubarb

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Rhubarb Syrup

Rhubarb Syrup

I know it seems like the only spring vegetable I’m excited about is ramps and that’s just not true (it’s kinda true). At the farmer’s market this weekend the ramps were pretty much over (gah, I’m now expecting condolence cards), but the beautiful, bright pink stalks of rhubarb were a fantastic consolation prize.

While we usually go straight for a rhubarb crumble (Matt actually made one and we meant to blog it but ate it too fast), this time I really wanted to go the cocktail route and for that I knew I would need a rhubarb syrup.

Rhubarb Syrup

This really couldn’t be simpler. All you need is some rhubarb, sugar, water and if you’re feeling fancy, a bit of lemon peel or ginger.

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Our winter warmer — Maple-syrup Old Fashioned

Maple-syrup Old FashionedWhen it’s dark at 4.30pm, your drafty home refuses to get above 55F, and there’s ice on the INSIDE of the windows, what do you do to warm up in the evening?

You could make a big fort in the middle of your living room with every blanket you have in the house. You could rub two kittens together and bathe in the glow of their static electricity (DISCLAIMER: DOES NOT WORK WITH CHICKENS).

Or you could make these Old Fashioneds with maple syrup.

Maple-syrup Old FashionedMaple-syrup Old Fashioned

Mixologists will tell you that these are not real Old Fashioned cocktails, since they aren’t strictly made with plain sugar or simple syrup. While they’re explaining that to you, nod sagely and drink up and then demand another glass of “whatever the hell you want to call it, Poindexter”.

Emily bought me the PDT Cocktail Book and a fine Boston cocktail shaker set for Christmas (do you think she was trying to tell me something? Should I be making more cocktails? Is the answer to that question ever “no”?) which I needed to test out, and their “Benton’s Old Fashioned” was a great starting point. Now they use bacon-infused bourbon, which, delicious as it sounds, I just couldn’t put my hand on.

So use whatever whisky or bourbon you have – we’ve tried both Jack Daniels and the local Hudson Whiskey pictured in these shots. Feel free to adjust the amount of maple syrup or bitters; these are just general suggestions that work for us.

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