Recently Linz and I engaged in a spot of friendly family rivalry: IFC 2014, the second annual Bacher-Murray clan cooking competition. For the uninitiated, “IFC” stands for “Iron Fucking Chef,” because the Bachers and the Murrays are just that badass and also because they do not shy away from a healthy dose of profanity.
Delicious food was cooked and eaten by all eight of us, but food isn’t what we concern ourselves with on this blog, is it?
Linz and I cooked a Mediterranean/Mexican fusion falafel salad, and to fit that theme I tested and carefully selected a few “featured” cocktails to go with the meal: the Lion’s Tail, which you’ve already read about on this blog, an as-yet unnamed beverage incorporating citrus and pomegranate, and a non-alcoholic version of the same (basically a pomegranate lemonade). I chose these flavors for their respective ties to both Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.
I do like cooking. Not as much as Linz, but maybe I’m getting there. Cocktails have been kind of a “gateway drug” to cooking — in recent weeks I’ve started looking forward to getting home from work, having a shower, fixing myself a nice drink and attempting whatever awesome-sounding recipe Linz has pulled out of the internets.
So of course I like fixing drinks for myself. But I have just as much (or more) fun fixing them for other people. After the hurricane of throwing together an appetizer, a full meal-sized salad, a dessert, and three different cocktail choices between eight people in an hour or less, I can say with some certainty I don’t think I’d like being a bartender. But they also say we sometimes learn best when under stress.
I had fixed both the Lion’s Tail and the Bourbon Pom before, so I knew they’d hold up well — especially since their flavors are pretty apparent just looking at the ingredients, so it was easy for folks to choose something they’d enjoy.
On the other hand, the pomegranate lemonade was a new one for me, in that I had never fixed it before the last five minutes of our allotted cooking time. I didn’t know whether it would be heavy on the sours of the citrus or the bitters of the pomegranate; whether it would be too sugary or too watery.
I went into it pretty much blind, and I was pretty nervous about the results. But it went over well, and I’m glad I thought to provide the non-alcoholic option; it meant our diners could enjoy the same flavors present in the Bourbon Pom without the booze. Even if only one person selects that beverage (as was the case), it’s still worth the effort and whatever stressing out I might’ve done about it at the time.
(Later that weekend I fixed one for myself, and it is pretty tasty.)
So yeah, I like drinking in general. But the low-cost, high-return of mixing cocktails for our friends and family has become a rewarding hobby, and like cooking, it’s a skill I can apply to a lot of different contexts.
Without further ado, Andrew and Lindsay’s IFC 2014 Cocktail Menu:
The Lion’s Tail
2oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/2oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2oz lime juice
1tsp simple syrup
1-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients over ice; serve straight up or on the rocks in your glass of choice (I recommend a double Old Fashioned) and garnish with the lime.
Most recipes will tell you to strain this drink, but fruit juices produce a nice frothing effect when shaken that separates in the glass almost like a freshly-poured Guinness. The greater the quantity of fruit juice, the greater the effect; pour it right away before the drink settles out in the shaker. The end result is a smooth, creamy head over a spicy, boozy bourbon drink. Delish.
Next up: the Bourbon Pom, so named for the brand of pomegranate juice I found in our grocery store.
1.5oz pomegranate juice
1Tbsp Il Tramonto Limoncello
1Tbsp lemon juice
Shake all ingredients over ice; strain or pour straight up/on the rocks. Again, to get that nice foam on top of your drink just pop the top off your shaker (right away!) and pour straight into your glass. Crack that lemon peel over the top to release some more of those lovely citrus oils.
Careful with your measurements on this drink — the first time I fixed it, I put in an OUNCE of limoncello instead of a tablespoon, and the result was waaay too sweet. Like, lemon-drop candy sweet.
And last but not least, the non-alcoholic pomegranate lemonade.
3/4 – 1 cup cold water
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1.5Tbsp lemon juice
1.5Tbsp simple syrup
Combine in a tall glass, throw in a few ice cubes, and stir — carefully! Your average pint glass is full to the brim with these quantities, so either scale it down or be sure to put it in something a little more spacious. Again, garnish with your slice of citrus.