SideBar: Earl Grey Gin Cocktail

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This is very much my new favourite cocktail for summer, and I’m really not a gin kind of person. Here is a very slight variation on a recipe from Sugar and Charm and I hope you find it as delightful as I do. I already had a batch of Earl Grey tea sitting in my fridge so it just seemed like a logical choice. Just remember that if you’re planning to drink these late at night you might want to go with decaffeinated tea bags.

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Grab yourself a pot of chilled Earl Grey tea (mine was vanilla Earl Grey which I think simply added to the goodness), some gin, some honey, some lavender (fresh sprigs are better but this was what I had), and a lemon.

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In a cocktail shaker (or the ol’ Captain-America-glass-and-sundae-spoon), plop some ice, a teaspoon of dried lavender, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey, and 1 1/2 oz gin.

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Tip in 6 oz chilled Earl Grey tea and shake it up (or give it a good stirring).

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Strain into a tumbler over ice and garnish with another sprig of lavender. I left the dried ones in, which meant I required a straw so as not to sip them up.

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SideBar: the Side Car

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I really should wait for Trav when I want to make fancy drinks. He has all the hardware and the appropriate and pretty glasses. But sometimes I get impatient (you’re all going, duh, REALLY?), and I wing it. This one is pretty easy, so there wasn’t a lot of room for error. Start by grabbing a pretty cocktail glass (or in my case a heavy tumbler) and rubbing the rim with lemon juice. Then dip it in granulated sugar.

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Grab yourself a cocktail shaker and dump in some ice. I do not own a cocktail shaker, so I made do with a Captain America glass and a sundae spoon. Sorry, Steve.

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Feel free to play with the following proportions to suit your taste. In the shaker, pour 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz Cointreau, and 2 oz Cognac. Shake vigorously (or stir with enthusiasm) and strain into your cocktail glass (tumbler).

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I should probably have served this with twist of orange or lemon but again I didn’t have any so a young sprig of rosemary did the job. Tada!

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Last-Minute Gifts: Home Made Coffee Liqueur

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Okay so it’s not THAT last minute, because it takes a week to percolate, but if you do it NOW it will be ready for Christmas. Plus it’s SOOOO easy you can finish it in minutes and then spend the rest of your time procrastinating about your other gift ideas. And for me I could make it with stuff I had on hand, which was nice.

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First, you need 700 ml vodka. It doesn’t have to be super fancy vodka. I have three open bottles here. For the record, none of these were originally mine. I just keep finding new booze in my cupboard. I swear.

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Next, you need 200g whole coffee beans (I doubled the recipe so this is 400g, don’t freak out).

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And some SPICES: 1 vanilla bean, 3 cinnamon sticks, and 15 whole cloves. That’s it.

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Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds, and chuck it and the rest of your ingredients into a large sealable container. I didn’t have anything that would fit anything over a litre so I used my camping water container (which holds like 20 litres). It’s a bit of overkill, I know. But you want to be able to give the liquid a good shaking, and then store it in a dark place for a whole week. I figured with the dark sides of the container I could leave it somewhere accessible and that would remind me to shake it every day. Because that’s the other thing you need to do: make sure to shake the container at least once a day.

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After the week is up, find yourself some appropriate bottles or jars. Since I used bottles for the Krupnikas I decided on jars for this, for variety’s sake. Wash them carefully (use Star San or other sanitizer if you can). This recipe makes about 1 litre of liquid, so plan accordingly.

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Strain the vodka through a sieve into a bowl for now (I used my trusty produce bag as a strainer to get all the wee bits that may have come loose in the shaking process). Do what you will with the boozy spices.

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In a large saucepan (that will hold the final amount of your liquid), dump 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water.

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Stir over high heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.

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Add in your coffee/vodka and give it a good stirring before removing from the heat. And now your liqueur is ready to go!

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Pour the liquid into pretty containers, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.  Aside from just drinking it straight or mixing it into the Pie’s favourite White Russians (or Trav’s White North), you could drizzle it on top of cake and ice cream and it would be amazeballs.

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Introducing the SideBar! and Bourbon Slush

I am positively chuffed to announce the addition of a bar to the Ali Does It DIY repository. The delightful Trav, a budding home bartender, has caved to my peer pressure kindly volunteered to show us the ropes with a few of the fun and fantastical alcoholic beverages you can mix up these days. Enjoy this one as a last taste of summer on your long weekend! – Ali

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Bourbon Slush Punch

So, food is tasty, and cooking is interesting, but we all know the truth: eating is just a thing we do so we can stay alive long enough get to the good part, which is drinking.

With that healthy, well-balanced guiding principle in mind, I give you the first SideBar offering: a bourbon punch from Smitten Kitchen that’s strong enough to make you dizzy, but delicious enough that you won’t notice until you stand up.

This one’s easy, and it disappears quickly. That’s why we quadrupled the recipe.

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First, you’ll need to make a strong black tea. I’m not a tea drinker, but Ali picked out an Assam tea that worked very well. Let it steep until it cools, and toss the leaves. You’ll need 4 cups of tea.

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Next is lemon juice. Don’t use juice from a bottle, though, you monster. Squeeze 1 1/2 cups of juice from some fresh lemons.

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Finally, you’re going to need 1 cup of granulated sugar, 6 cups of orange juice, and a decent bottle of bourbon. You can juice some oranges, but a good bottled orange juice tends to be much better than bottled lemon (or lime). For the bourbon, we used Wild Turkey 81, and I’d also suggest Four Roses Yellow Label as a similarly cheap option. You can use a pricier bourbon if you want, like Bulleit or Woodford Reserve, but some of that flavour is likely going to be overwhelmed by the citrus.

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Pour all the liquids into a fairly large mixing bowl, including the whole bottle of bourbon. Since you’re going to want a glass or three while you’re making the punch, you should probably buy another bottle just in case.

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Stir in the sugar.

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This is the base for your punch. You could probably shake this with some ice and drink it by itself, but we’re not done yet. Keep this refrigerated until you serve it.

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When it’s time to serve the punch (which was, in our case, immediately), put equal parts ice and punch base in the blender. Half a cup of each should make one serving, and 5 cups of each makes about two litres.

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Blend them together until slushy, then pour the punch into glasses and garnish with a lemon slice, lemon peel, or mint leaves. Mint in particular is always good with bourbon and orange. If the mixture isn’t slushy enough, blend some more ice in. If the flavour isn’t strong enough, add more punch base. We definitely had to do a bit of experimenting to find the exact ratio for small servings. A lot of experimenting.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember how many I had.

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My Husband Has a Thing

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… for White Russians (the drink, not our pink-skinned former Soviet comrades).  Our friend Trav mixes up alcoholic beverages as a hobby, and whenever we go to his house the Pie orders the same thing — a white Russian.  I am not a huge fan of mixing alcohol and milk so I crinkle my nose at these things but he’s a huge fan, so the other night I photographed Trav mixing one up so you could sit with me and either enjoy it with the Pie vicariously or (like me) judge him on his beverage choice.

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The mix is easy, but Trav likes to be perfect so he looks it up, every time.

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Start with 2oz vodka (this one is Newfoundland vodka, made from icebergs, and I’m not even kidding).

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Pour in 1oz Kahlua.

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Add some ice.

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Give that a stir.  Trav likes his bar spoon, which also conveniently doubles as a straw so he can test the drinks before he hands them out without getting his germy face all over the glass.

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Then carefully pour 1oz cream (light or heavy, that’s your choice) over the ice.  Ideally it’s supposed to float on top, but that’s hard to do, and personally I like all the swirly whirlies in there.

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While this was going on, I managed, for the first time ever, and with only a small amount of spillage, to properly create a crown float, which is Guinness Stout floated over a cider (in this case, Foundry).  I was right pleased with myself.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend.  We may steer clear of these beverages this time around, but who knows?