Tis the season for schnapps Sunday, Dec 5 2010 

Last winter, the beau began experimenting with some homemade schnapps following this handy Danish schnapps website — which I’ve since learned is the same source the folks at Publican used as a guideline for their first round of schnapps this fall.

For those unfamiliar, Scandinavian-style schnapps are essentially grain neutral spirit (GNS) plus whatever flavor you can dream up, sealed together for a few weeks and then aged a few more, and sweetened as needed. That’s it. The beau has used vodka as a base, but Scandinavian-style schnapps can be made with aquavit or even pure grain spirit. (German-style schnapps, on the other hand, are generally made from fermented fruit — which leads its maker into distilling territory, which is illegal sans license in these parts.)

For Christmas this year, we decided to share with family & friends one of last year’s most successful DIY flavored schnapps: cinnamon. I love the bite of the slightly spicy flavor and the crimson color.

This weekend marked the time when the steeping ends and aging begins, so I took a few photos:

unsealing the 3-week-old vodka & cinnamon mixture

tasting -- very important!

strain #1: separating liquid from cinnamon sticks

the remnants

strain #2: back into the jar the liquid goes, for a few weeks of aging

I’ll keep you all posted on how the final tasting goes…ideally in time for Christmas!


October cocktail club: The Manhattan Saturday, Dec 4 2010 

Playing catch-up, let’s revisit October’s cocktail club, shall we?

Maureen hosted, and led us on a historical journey of the manhattan, from Winston Churchill to the Galveston Daily News. I’ll save the details for those who’d like to download the presentation, but I should note that consuming two manhattan cocktails that night (one standard, one perfect) was a special challenge given that Maureen & I had tied one on tight the night before, for whatever reason.

We were troopers. Most of the club agreed that the perfect was better…or it could have just been that one manhattan in, everything in the world tastes better.

Maureen mixed up the following traditional recipes:

2 parts rye whiskey (we used Old Overholt)
1 part sweet vermouth (we used Martini & Rossi)
2 dashes bitters (we used Peychauds)
lemon rind knot garnish

Perfect Manhattan
2 parts rye whiskey
1/2 part sweet vermouth
1/2 part dry vermouth (we used Noilly Prat)
2 dashes bitters
lemon rind knot garnish

Both drinks are prepared by combining the ingredients (save bitters) in a mixing glass with ice, then straining into a tumbler (my glassware is sadly void of traditional cocktail glasses) and bittering accordingly. To garnish, I tied strings of lemon rinds into neat little knots. Lovely.