drinks

A Day For Gin

World Gin Day is celebrated on the second Saturday in June. This is a day to enjoy all things gin. For some of us, World Gin Day is every day!

I’ve always loved gin. I love the aromatics and the infinite flavours you can play with. The only things gin needs in order to be called gin is distilled alcohol and juniper berries. After that you can add anything else and it’s still a gin. In fact the name gin is derived from juniperus, the Latin word for juniper.

One of the more interesting gins I have recently discovered is and Australian gin called Ink. It was the deep blue/purple colour that drew me to the bottle. I then discovered that this blue/purple colour changes to a light purple/pink when you add tonic water. I was entranced! I was also very happy that this gin was not just a gimmick, but a beautiful tasting one as well.

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Ink is infused with 14 different botanicals including butterfly pea flowers. It is these flowers that give the gin its bright colour as well as its colour changing properties. Butterfly pea flowers are considered an aphrodisiac as the flowers resemble female genitalia. Not surprisingly their scientific name is derived from the Latin for clitoris – Clitoria ternatea.

With that in mind I started thinking of a way of showcasing this delicious and unusual gin while adding a feminine touch 🙂 After much thought I really couldn’t go past a classic gin and tonic with the addition of strawberries. Strawberries are associated with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, after whom aphrodisiacs are named.

Strawberry Gin and Tonic

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Ingredients
60ml gin
1 strawberry, sliced lengthways
90ml tonic water

Instructions
Pour the gin into a glass.
Add the sliced strawberry.
Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.
Add the tonic water.
Enjoy!
Makes one mixed drink.

For more gin drinks, check out my recipes for Glow In The Dark Gin & Tonic, Gin Alexander and Sage Mulled Wine.

I Never Drink … Wine

When Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi first uttered those immortal words in Tod Browning’s 1931 movie Dracula, he didn’t realise he would be giving birth to one of the most famous lines in vampire folklore. These words never appeared in Bram Stoker’s novel. They were unique to the film which is loosely based on the 1924 stage play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. It was this play that introduced us to an urbane, tuxedo wearing Count Dracula, much different to Stoker’s quite repulsive vampire. The romantic, cape wearing Count would become one of the most popular versions of the mercurial vampire in literature and cinema. His popularity does not appearing to be waning.

To celebrate Bela’s upcoming 134th birthday on Thursday October 20, I thought I would drink some wine in his honour 🙂 Sangria, a chilled Spanish red wine drink, is supposedly named after the Spanish word for blood – sangre – which reflects its dark red colour. I have chosen to meld a chilled Spanish sangria with a warm mulled wine. After all, if Dracula did drink wine he most certainly would want it served warm – like blood!

Hot Blooded Sangria

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Ingredients
1/2 cup blood orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
750ml bottle of red wine
1/3 cup brandy
1 blood orange, cut into pieces

Method
Place the juice and sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir until combined.
Add the cloves and cinnamon sticks. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 – 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes syrupy.
Add the wine and brandy. Cover and simmer, without boiling, for 5 minutes.
Add the blood orange pieces to a heatproof jug.
Pour wine over the blood orange pieces.
Drink while warm.
Refrigerate any leftover wine and enjoy cold over ice.

Spanish Rioja is traditional but you can use any red wine you like. I used a Vampire Merlot from Transylvania 🙂
You can use any variety of oranges when blood oranges are out of season.

Slow Chocolates and Warm Memories

As I wind down my reminiscing, I can’t help but think of the warm and nurturing hot chocolates we ended our evenings with at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. To symbolise my slow journey back through my past, I thought a slow cooker hot chocolate would be great. Don’t worry if you can’t drink it all in one go. Allow any leftovers to cool, then refrigerate until cold. It makes a great chocolate mousse!

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Special Equipment:
Slow Cooker
Stick Blender

Ingredients
300ml double cream
2 cups of milk
200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, give the chocolate a good whisk making sure you scrape any chocolate from the bottom and sides into the mixture. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
Turn off the slow cooker and very carefully blend the hot chocolate with a stick blender.
Serve piping hot.

Deathly Delights For Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th again and for some the day is seen as unlucky, for others it means nothing, and for people like me it’s a time to dip into mythology and try out a few recipes!

13 is sometimes considered the Devil’s number, but in a tarot deck the Devil card is actually 15. It is the Death card that is number 13. Ancient Egyptians believed there were 12 stages of life and the 13th stage was death and transformation in the afterlife. For them, 13 was a lucky number. The number 12 is often associated with completion, so it makes sense that the number 13 can symbolise death and rebirth into a new cycle. This is part of the Death card’s meaning – transformation and renewal.

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The Dracula Tarot

One of the key symbols in the Death card is the white rose. White roses epitomise purity, humility, reverence and innocence. They symbolise new beginnings and are therefore popular at both weddings and funerals.

For this Friday the 13th, I thought I would play around with the rose from the tarot Death card and the dessert called Death by Chocolate. There are so many ways this could have gone, but I really felt like a nurturing milk drink. I concocted two Death by Chocolate Delights – because I really couldn’t choose between them 🙂

Rose Water Iced Chocolate

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
1 scoop chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Place the milk and rose water in a glass and stir until combined. Add the chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate and Rose Water Milkshake

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
3 scoops chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Add the milk, rose water and ice cream to a blender or milkshake maker. Blend until smooth.

Drinks To Drive For

Gemelli, a great new food place, recently opened up near us. We’ve been there a few times trying out the menu. They have some great food but the standout favourites have to be their milkshakes. Four flavours range from Berry Cheesecake, Cara-Malt Popcorn, Chocolate – Chocolate – Chocolate to Vanilla Brulee. It took a while, but I tried them all 🙂 Choosing a favourite is difficult, as each has something unusual and delicious to tempt you.

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the wobbly jelly pieces in the Berry Cheesecake

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the caramel popcorn floating crunchily in the Cara-Malt Popcorn

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the chocolate filled wafers poking out of the Chocolate – Chocolate – Chocolate

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the bruleed marshmallow sitting in a mini ice cream cone, poking out of the Vanilla Brulee

I did not think there was a drink to match these in beauty and flavour but I was wrong. After conquering the milkshake challenge I turned to one of my favourite drinks – the Affogato.

What is not to love about cold ice cream served with a shot of hot coffee to pour over it? Affogato means “drowned” in Italian and refers to the ice cream being drowned by the coffee. When the hot coffee meets the cold ice cream a battle begins between the two. Will the heat of the coffee melt the ice cream or will the cold ice cream cool down the coffee? Both things actually happen. What you are left with is a warm, creamy, melting coffee flavoured ice cream which you both drink and eat with a spoon!

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Can it get any better? Yes! By the additional of alcohol. Affogato can be served with a shot of Amaretto, a sweet, almond flavoured liqueur. But the affogato here is served with Frangelico, a sublime hazelnut flavoured liqueur. It was a very pleasant surprise. While you are meant to pour both the coffee and the liqueur over the ice cream, I kept some Frangelico back for the end. Finishing my affogato with a final sip of warming Frangelico was the perfect end to a perfect drink.

I loved the affogato so much I decided to make my own version with vanilla and raspberry ice cream, served with a shot of hot coffee and a shot of Turkish Delight liqueur. The raspberry ice cream almost overpowered the coffee, but the coffee bravely fought back. The raspberry and Turkish Delight liqueur complemented each other beautifully and I was left with an intriguing mix of flavours which I liked.

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If you are happy to stray from the traditional flavours of an affogato, you can have heaps of fun experimenting. I’m wondering what coconut ice cream and coffee would taste like and what liqueur to pair them with and … I could go on but it’s time to have a coffee – without ice cream! 🙂

An Unexpected Delight

On the weekend, I went to one of my favourite places to buy gin – Nicks Wine Merchants. The staff are very knowledgable, friendly and helpful. As I wandered excitedly down the aisles perusing the offerings, a beautifully painted bottle caught my eye. Then I saw the name – Turkish Delight. Intrigued, I read the label. It was made in Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, Australia. I recognised the place immediately! A few years ago my partner and I went to Tambourine Mountain in search of this distillery and much to our disappointment discovered that it was closed on Sundays. I had really wanted to try their Turkish Delight liqueur. Well now I could 🙂 I grabbed the bottle and made my way quickly to the counter, almost forgetting about my gin. But as I passed the gin section I stopped, lured by the promise of piquant juniper libations. The staff were happy to help me choose a very unusual gin, which I’ll be sharing with you soon.

When I got home I didn’t know what to drink first. After much consideration I went for the Turkish Delight liqueur.

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It is a really grown-up liqueur, not sickly sweet, very fragrant and tasty, with a good kick of alcohol. Its light rose colour matches the sophistication of the drink. To accompany it I thought I would whip up a batch of my Turkish Delight Truffles – a fragrant blend of milk chocolate, cream and rose water.

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Ingredients
200g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup double cream
1 teaspoon rose water (or to taste)
cocoa for rolling

Instructions
Fill a saucepan about one-third full with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Set a heatproof-bowl over the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate and cream to the bowl. Occasionally stir with a metal spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in the rose water.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm enough to roll into balls.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place some cocoa into a small bowl.
Use a melon-baller to scoop chocolate into a rough ball and, working with one ball at a time, roll ball in the cocoa until covered then place onto prepared tray.
Continue until all the chocolate is rolled, topping up with cocoa as needed.
Refrigerate until firm.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Bitter Sweet

In my exploration of the five flavours through drinks, I’ve saved bitter for last. Not just because it is my favourite emotion – I mean flavour! – but because it was the most difficult. Like sweet, bitter has so many of my favourite flavours such as beer, wine, tea and coffee. How could I narrow down a drink with so many offerings? With great difficulty.

After contemplating a citrus sangria, a root beer float with real beer and numerous tea infusions I finally settled on a tried and true bitter combination – mocha. Chocolate and coffee are great companions and both can be bitter. I chose to celebrate their union in stages. A marriage of fresh brewed coffee blended with melted chocolate is topped with a dollop of cream infused with instant coffee and sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The result – a luscious, messy indulgence 🙂

Hot Mocha

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A bitter-sweet symphony of coffee and chocolate.

Ingredients
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup freshly made coffee
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
cocoa nibs for serving (optional)

Method
Whisk the cream and coffee together by hand until thick.
Place the fresh coffee and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and combined with the coffee.
Divide evenly between two heat-proof glasses or mugs.
Top with coffee whipped cream.
Sprinkle with cocoa nibs if desired.

Note:
The cream can sometimes separate when dropped into the hot mocha. You can allow the mocha to cool slightly before dolloping the cream or you can enjoy it as a buttery, creamy mocha.

Full Moons & Full Drinks

Moon

Dracula Tarot Moon Card
Created by Vicky Vladic
Illustrated by Anna Gerraty

December’s full moon falls on xmas day, which is a very rare event. The last one was in 1977 and the next one will be in 2034. In honour of the full moon and the shining bright star that is a part of the xmas story, I created a very special drink – a glow in the dark gin and tonic. The inclusion of apple is tasty, but the star hidden inside makes it a perfect solstice and xmas addition 🙂

Quinine, found in tonic water, glows under UV light so, if you have a blacklight you can shine it on this drink for a glowing surprise.

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Gin & Tonic By Day

 

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Gin & Tonic By Blacklight

Glow In The Dark Gin And Tonic
For each glass you will need:
100ml frozen tonic water
100ml frozen apple juice
50ml gin
apple slice cut crosswise to show the star shape

Method
Freeze the tonic water in large cubes.
Freeze the apple juice in large cubes.
Place the ice cubes into a large glass.
Pour in the gin.
Add the apple slice and wait for the cubes to melt.

Saline Solution

Next in my exploration of the five taste sensations through drinks is the realm of salt. When we think of salty drinks we think of soups and broths. Cocktails that may come to mind are ones that have salt encrusted rims such as salty dogs and margaritas. A favourite of mine growing up was the tequila shot – lick your hand between your thumb and forefinger, sprinkle with salt, knock back your tequila shot then bite on a slice of lemon or lime – we always used lemon. This classic shot has been the subject of much debate. One theory suggests that you salt a slice of lemon or lime, pop it in your mouth and chew on it, then drink down a shot of tequila. I haven’t tried this version  – yet 🙂

Synchronistically, my local bar Hopheads has tapped a couple of salted beers recently. I tried one and was really surprised. Even though beer is not usually sweet, the overt taste of salt takes you back at first. After a few sips I began to enjoy it but it’s definitely not a favourite. They also had a cucumber and mint soft drink seasoned with salt and black pepper. With salty drinks on my mind I knew I had to try it. My first sip sent waves of disappointment through me as I thought “it’s horrible!” but a few sips in and I began to really appreciate its flavours. It actually reminded me of the doogh I made for the sour drinks blog. I began to wonder what it would be like with a spoonful of yoghurt or a few shots of gin.

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For the recipe below I explored the world of salted teas. I have always wanted to make Tibetan butter tea as it combines some of my favourite flavours – tea, butter and salt. Sadly, the one I made was awful. I don’t know if it was me or the recipe but I really didn’t like it. Neither did my partner. Unperturbed I experimented with a different salty tea called Noon Chai – I just loved the name and happily the flavour! Noon Chai, also called Pink Tea, is a salted and spiced Kashmir tea with a surprise ingredient – bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). You can garnish it with chopped nuts like pistachios or almonds if you like.

Noon Chai

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Ingredients
1 teaspoon green tea leaves
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk

Method
Place the tea leaves and half the water into a saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk until combined. Add the remaining water, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Whisk until combined. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer.
Strain and serve.

A Bloody Birthday Drink

October 20th is Bela Lugosi’s birthday. He would be 133 years old if he lived. Considering he is one of the most famous actors who played Dracula, he may still be living – or undead!

As I continue to explore the five taste sensations through drinks, I couldn’t resist creating a Bloody Virgin Mary. Not only is it a drink most appropriate for a vampire, it is also a celebration of umami flavours. Umami is a Japanese word and is used to describe the unique flavour of savoury. Best examples of umami flavours can be found in aged foods such as cheese, cured foods, fermented foods, meats, sauces, seaweed and stocks.

Bloody Virgin Mary
A heady combination of savoury and salty flavours.

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Ingredients
1 + 1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup beef stock
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 spring onions, finely chopped

Method
Place the tomato juice, beef stock, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spring onions in a blender. Blend until combined. Pour into a jug. The mixture will be frothy so chill in the refrigerator until settled before serving.