So I take my baby to the liquor store…

January 18, 2012

Drinking

… I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make me a bad mom.  Pretty sure…

I probably shouldn’t take so much delight in the odd looks I get from passersby in Premier Liquor when M and I walk down the aisles with little G in his car seat in the shopping cart, but there it is.  I should also note that Premier is a bit like going to a grocery store… it’s not a little cramped and dirty dive on the corner.

M and I made a trip to Premier last night, as it was the last night of their customer appreciation sale.  We tend to go once a quarter or so to replenish stocks (wine mostly, that we like to enjoy with dinner 1-2 times per week), and to satisfy my rather silly habit of buying interesting liquors that we’ll use a few times as we make up new cocktails, and then leave to get dusty in the booze cabinet.

Yes, we do have a booze cabinet.  One that, unfortunately, might make a visitor to our house think that they’d tripped into Mad Men land.

But no, our excessive drinking days are behind us.  We now favor quality over quantity (although neither of us ever were very tolerant of bad booze even in our “party” stages… we were kind of snobs like that).  And as G is still breast-fed, I imbibe rather infrequently now as a rule.  Though that makes it all the more important that when I do, it oughta be good.

(But back to Mad Men, I should note here that as we catch up on episodes via Netflix, M may often be found nursing a finger of scotch or other appropriate beverage.)

So, what new and possibly interesting liquors did I get last night?  I thought you’d ask!  I was tempted to get Domaine De Canton, a ginger-infused cognac.  It’s got a pretty bottle, which, while I would never use it as a sole selection criterion, I admit to appreciating.  However, I decided that making a ginger-infused anything (cognac, vodka, etc.) is too easy to do at home, and that it might not be the kind of thing that one would want an entire bottle of in any case (wow, look at me exercising restraint!).

I did take the plunge on St-Germain.  This elderflower-based liqueur is a bit trendy.  I tend to avoid trends as a general rule, as they often involve sub-par commodities.  However, in this case, the product sounded good enough to actually give a try.  I opened it up to smell it when I got home last night and am VERY happy with what my nose encountered!

Next, we are now the proud owners of a whole host of bitters.  We went a little crazy and bought The Bitter Truth Travel Set.  Not because we’re planning to travel with these… but because bitters go a long way, and we get to try a bunch of different flavors in smaller bottles than we could otherwise get.  I can’t wait to try out celery!  M would tell you, if he were here typing, that I have a bit of a mania when it comes to celery, but that’s really a different topic.

And last on my list (though M got a few things for himself, the most notable being Whistlepig Rye) is The Botanist gin.  Gin is a very interesting liquor.  It is, in its most basic form, a pure white distilled spirit, usually of grain, which is then flavored with the juniper berry.  To make things more complicated however, each producer tends to add other flavorings to the mix to differentiate their product.  Most often “botanicals” or “herbs” are added.  Some even use fruit (though I’m not really a fan of this… it reeks of wine-cooler-madness to me).  The Botanist’s claim to fame is its use of 22 native botanicles of Islay (pronounced eye-luh) in Scotland.  Islay is famous for its scotch-whiskey.  And in fact, The Botanist is distilled by a very respectable scotch producer, Bruichladdich (pronounced brook-lah-dick, thought that K is more guttural. you’re welcome).  For some reason, a gin distilled by a scotch producer just tickled me.  I really don’t know why, except that in my head I associate gin with England-proper rather than her sister countries in the UK.  I just don’t see the common caricature of a scot sipping a gin and cucumber cocktail.  My brain hurts just trying to imagine that.  (Somewhere I’m assuming there are Scots giving me the Scots version of the finger at my inability to think of them without resorting to stereotypes.)

I should note that neither Premier nor the liquor producers I’ve made mention of here have ever heard of me.  I’m providing links to Premier because I just like their store.  The links to the producers are here because what I like about most producer’s sites is that they contain cocktail recipes and/or tasting notes.  These sites do not disappoint (especially the tasting notes on the gin, they’re quite entertaining).  I like to visit sites like this to stimulate ideas.

See, I have this vanity about creating my own cocktails rather than relying on recipes.  This is largely because: a) when faced with a book full of recipes (such as Chronicle Books’ excellent The Ultimate Bar Book) I can never make a decision about what to have; b) when I *do* decide on a drink, I’m often missing some key ingredient; c) remember all of those interesting bottles of liquor I mentioned… I feel a responsibility to actually use them, and making up my own cocktails has proven to be the easiest way to do this.

For a while M and I were stuck on Champagne cocktails.  They’re inherently fun, and you can get away with getting a less expensive Champagne (though you can’t go full-on cheap here, bad Champagne will COMPLTELY ruin your drink) because it’s being mixed with other things.

I’ll leave you with one of my own recipes.  I’m trying to find a good name for it.  It’s times like these when I wish my name was something different.  Venus is such a good name for a cocktail that it’s already been used in a myriad of ways and is a bit tired.  Ah well.  If you think of a good name, let me know!

No Name Champagne Cocktail

—————————————-

1.5 oz Green Chartreuse

.5 oz Limoncello

Extra Dry Champagne or sparkling wine (a Prosecco would be lovely)

Lemon peel twist, or candied lemon peel

Place the Chartreuse and Limoncello in a Champagne flute.  Use a long swizzle to mix the two.  Top off the flute with Champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist after running it along the rim of the flute, or, for a sweeter drink, drop in a piece of candied lemon peel to both sweeten the taste and create more bubbles for a nice visual.

This drink has an herbal quality because of the Green Chartreuse.  The lemon peel twist version is best enjoyed as an aperitif (before-dinner drink), and the candied lemon peel version as a digestif (after-dinner drink) as it is sweeter.  The Limoncello adds more sweet than you’d imagine, but it still gives a hint of tart.  I personally prefer the version with the lemon peel twist as I feel the drink is better balanced by the extra acidity and hint of bitter on the rim of the glass.  However, the sweet version is also very nice.  Your mileage may vary, I hope you enjoy!

Nota Bene: It is tempting to use a dash of lemon bitters in this cocktail as opposed to the lemon peel twist (or in addition to).  However, as I’ve not had time to taste-test that yet, I didn’t feel comfortable including it in the actual recipe.

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4 Comments on “So I take my baby to the liquor store…”

  1. blogginglily Says:

    “silly habit of buying interesting liquors that we’ll use a few times as we make up new cocktails, and then leave to get dusty in the booze cabinet.”

    Maybe everyone does that. We certainly do. As the new liqueur du jour arrives, I push it into place in the liquor cabinet, which pushes the past liqueurs du jour back further and further with each iteration until they’re against the back of the cabinet. Then they’re dusted off and inspected, often the cap is stuck shut.

    Reply

    • Venus Says:

      I’m glad we’re not the only ones! This is probably how the boutique booze industry stays in business. They know our weaknesses. Chambord seems to be particularly susceptible to the stuck cap issue.

      Reply

  2. Ginger Says:

    I’ve been seeing that St. Germaine stuff around lately–I’m intrigued. How did you like it? Someone else described it as being “perfume-y” which makes me think I might not enjoy it, but I’m wondering…

    Reply

    • Venus Says:

      Hi Ginger, thanks for visiting and commenting!! I had a nice sip of the St Germain and what I’ve decided is:
      a) The bouquet is blindingly yummy… floral but amazingly not perfume-y, at least not a perfume I’d wear in any case.
      b) The mouth feel is almost syrupy. You can sip this alone (I’d recommend over ice if you do so), but it really works better as a mixer.
      c) I would say the most pronounced notes of the flavor are that of lychee, which I wasn’t expecting. It definitely is floral, no getting around that. What it really needs is an herbal mixed with it to bring balance and highlight the more interesting flavors by providing contrast. An easy match would be a fairly botanical gin. Another chancy mix that I’m surprised I’m even contemplating is Fernet Branca (which normally to me tastes like the bottom of a forest floor). If I ever try it, I’ll let you know.

      Reply

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