Archive | Beverages

Johann’s Easy Honey Mead

From DIY: Do It For the Bees

This proportion of 1 part honey to 2 parts water yields a semi-dry mead. The equipment and yeast can be found at any local brewery supply store. You can use beer, Champagne, or wine yeast. D47 white wine yeast works really well.

Makes approximately 5 wine bottle portions

2 one-gallon glass jugs
1 venting cap
51/3 cups honey
102/3 cups distilled water
1 package yeast (see above)
5 wine bottles
5 cork stoppers

Wash and then sterilize the jug, venting cap, funnels or anything else that will touch the brew with a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon.
Fill the glass jug with the honey and distilled water. Add the yeast according to package directions. Then attach the venting cap and fill airlock halfway with water. Set the jug in a dark place. Within a day the airlock should start bubbling and within a few days it should be bubbling briskly.

After 2 to 3 weeks the fermentation will slow to less than one bubble every five seconds. The liquid inside should be clear with a thick sediment of trub (sediment) on the bottom. The mead is now ready to be racked.… Read More

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Beekeeper’s Bumble Bee

From DIY: Do It For the Bees

Honor the bees by misting your propolis bitters over the drink through a handmade bee stencil like the one pictured on the right, which was cut from the lid of a fresh herb container. Download a pdf of this pattern.

Honor the bees by misting your propolis bitters over the drink through a handmade bee stencil like the one pictured on the right, which was cut from the lid of a fresh herb container. Download a pdf of this pattern. Photo by Erin Scott

Adapted from Charles H. Baker Jr.’s The South American Gentleman’s Companion, this variation of the original Bumble Bee subs out half of the rum for Armagnac and uses propolis bitters as an aromatic instead of angostura bitters.

1 ounce Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum 
1 ounce Tariquet VS Armagnac
1 ounce E.G. Flewellen’s mid-summer honey solution
.75 ounces lime juice
.5 ounces egg white
Kate’s propolis bitters (see below) in a spray bottle for garnish

Place all ingredients except bitters in a cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 5 seconds without ice. Add ice to fill one-third of your shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with three sprays of bitters over the cocktail.

Propolis Bitters Spray: Mix equal parts Hamilton Demerara 151 rum and propolis bitters (below) Pour into a cocktail mister (aka martini mister or martini atomizer).

Honor the bees by misting your propolis bitters over the drink through a handmade bee stencil like the one pictured on the right, which was cut from the lid of a fresh herb container.Read More

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California Julep

From the story An East Bay Winter Whiskey Ramble by Serena Bartlett


I learned about this combination from the restaurant manager at Oakland’s di Bartolo, a knowledgeable chap with many innovative drink ideas up his sleeve. You may need to wait until next summer to make it, but some of us planned ahead and cut up a locally grown watermelon into cubes and tucked them into the freezer.

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1 bunch fresh spearmint
Juice of one lime
½ cup simple syrup

Place the frozen watermelon cubes in a mixing bowl and use a hand blender to mix until textured but smooth. Stir in simple syrup and blend. Muddle the mint in each glass and sprinkle with lime juice. Fill each glass with the watermelon mixture and leave room for a healthy float of whiskey.

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The Hot Vegan Pancake

From the story An East Bay Winter Whiskey Scramble by Serena Bartlett

Everyone knows that breakfast is the best meal of all, and if they don’t, tasting this morning-inspired cocktail will remind them. This drink was concocted in Portland, Oregon, during a round-table discussion about the role of comedy in America’s current state of affairs. Since we had so many vegans among us, I thought I’d make a drink to suit everyone’s tastes.

For each drink, combine:
6 ounces vanilla soymilk
1½ teaspoons maple syrup
1 shot whiskey

Either heat the soymilk on the stove before heating the other ingredients, or microwave each mug of soymilk for about a minute and a half. This drink is also tasty on the rocks.

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Bourbon Glüg

From the story An East Bay Winter Whiskey Ramble by Serena Bartlett

On a fall trip to the coastline of Washington State, I discovered that the traditional Scandinavian glüg, a mulled wine that often sees the addition of such stronger spirits as aquavit, brandy, or vodka, tastes fabulous when fortified with whiskey. A few friends and I procured ingredients at a farm stand in the small town of Copalis Beach and made a heaping pot of it to warm us up after a day of clamming.

1 gallon apple cider
¾ bottle of an inexpensive spicy red wine
8 ounces berry jam
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup maple syrup
1 cup cranberry sauce or ½ a bag of frozen whole cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
5 or 6 whole star anise
2 oranges, chopped into rounds
⅓ cup toasted pecans
Bourbon to taste (we used Bulleit)

Pour the wine and apple cider into a large stockpot over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients except for half of the toasted pecans and the whiskey and simmer for at least a half hour before the first mug is served. Keep on low heat and serve warm throughout the evening. Add a splash of whiskey and a few pecans before serving.… Read More

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Horchata (Rice Milk) or Haleeb Min Lawz (Almond Milk) with Rosewater


From the story: Exploring Culture and Conversion Through Food by Anisa Abeytia

This is the easiest way to make these drinks. It is quick and a little messy at the end, but the yield is worth it, especially on a hot summer day.

2 cups almonds or brown rice
½ cup Rapadura sugar
1–2 teaspoons rosewater

Grind the almonds or brown rice in a food processor until coarse, but not a powder. Place in a pitcher and cover with 3–4 cups water. Use the smaller amount if you want a thicker drink. Let stand overnight with sugar, stirring occasionally. Strain out the pulp through a sieve or with cheesecloth. Add rosewater.
Serves 4–6

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Spiced Elderberry Cordial

From: The Regal Elder Part II by Kristen Rasmussen Vasquez

This is quite different from the elderflower cordial you might have made a few months ago. (See Edible East Bay Summer 2016.) Elderberry cordial is a strong, thick alcoholic syrup, which has both medicinal and culinary applications. Some herbal practitioners suggest taking it regularly for cold and flu prevention, and while there is limited peer review, much anecdotal evidence suggests that the berries enhance immune response. Use it to top pancakes, or, as I particularly enjoy, with sparkling wine for an elderberry kir royale. Feel free to experiment with the spice blend, add other ingredients such as citrus peel and herbs, or keep the cordial simple by using only the berries.

1¼ cups dried elderberries or 2 cups fresh
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
1 star anise
About 3 cups brandy
Honey (or other sweetener like maple syrup) to taste

Place elderberries, cinnamon, and star anise into a clean quart-size glass jar. Add brandy to fill the jar and cover with a lid. Label the jar with contents and the date. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 weeks.

When berries have adequately macerated, strain cordial through cheesecloth over a large bowl.… Read More

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Classic Elderflower Cordial

From The Regal Elderflower by Kristen Rasmussen

Photo by Kristen Rasmussen

Photo by Kristen Rasmussen

Cordial—essentially flavored and diluted simple syrup—is the most common way to preserve this special summer forage. Enjoy in beverages from lemonade to champagne or drizzle over huckleberry pound cake or panna cotta.

Makes 1 liter

20 medium elderflower heads (about 2 to 3 inches across)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
4 cups water
3½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid (an optional ingredient helpful in preserving the cordial)
A 1-liter bottle and cap or cork (or enough smaller bottles to accommodate 1 liter of liquid)

Clean the flowers as described above, then drain and place them in a large bowl together with the lemon zest. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the elderflowers and zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Prepare bottles and caps by washing with soapy water then plunging into boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilize and allowing them to air dry. (Corks should not be washed or soaked, so purchase clean new corks from a wine-supply company.)

Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and pour into a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and sugar. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.… Read More

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Fig Chai-Spiced Rum

From DIY Gifting, Season’s Steepings by Annelies Zijderveld

Illustrations by Jillian Schiavi

chai--spicesWarming spices scent the kitchen during the height of holiday baking season, so why not offer them in a spirited way. Golden-hued aged añejo rum provides a smooth foundation for this steeped spirit with its hint of deep, subtle sweetness from dried figs and kick of spice in the finish from masala chai. This spiced rum is a devilishly delicious spirit to sip, but try using it in a holiday take on a White Russian that omits the coffee liqueur. Or stir it up with ginger beer for a unique Dark and Stormy.

There are many masala (spice) chai (tea) blends on the market. Most have a hearty offering of cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, and are likely to include star anise or black pepper, but spices used and concentration can vary, so look for one with complexity, where a single spice doesn’t dominate the flavor profile and the whole effect develops harmoniously on the palate. Keep in mind that the spices will intensify when infusing.

Note: Don’t toss those boozy figs when you’re done infusing. Chop them up and serve on a scoop of vanilla ice cream or bake them into a loaf of holiday bread.… Read More

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