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Odd and New Ingredients

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I find the increased useage of savory or more culinary inspired ingredients as a very exciting new direction for cocktails. Ginger and lemongrass are becoming more common as well as other few aromatic herbs.

My newest find came from a Martha Stewart Living "Good Thing"! I was blanching the last of the summer bounty of my garden tomatoes and had the skins in a small pile on my cutting board when I remembered in one of the magazine issues those were suggested to be dried in the oven and then crumbled into powder. Hmmm, how can this be added or garnished into a cocktail? sprang immediately to my mind! :rolleyes:

Gary or Mardee, do you have any that can be shared?

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We did a lot of experimentation with fruit/herb Margaritas last year. We made purees of strawberries and tarragon, for example, and added them to classic (frozen) Margaritas. Results were very good if I do say so myself.

Raspberry/sage, and pineapple/mint worked well, too.

Ryan Magarian and Cathy Carey in Seattle do lots with herbs, too. Do either of them visit this board?

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Ryan Magarian and Cathy Carey in Seattle do lots with herbs, too. Do either of them visit this board?

I'm in Seattle but I'm not familiar with these two. Where in Seattle are they?

FWIW, at a local bar, I had a fabulous Chartreuse made with fresh thyme.

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Sorry, her name is Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Food Studios. You can find her at www.kathycasey.com. Ryan works with her, and I believe he also tends bar at Restaurant Zoe on Second Avenue.

Robert--could you correct me if I'm wrong about this? Thanks

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Try a basil mojito--same family as mint--maybe with some bruschetta or pizza for noshes. Also, many folk I know like to get their dairy for the day by using blue cheese- or feta-stuffed olives. Yum

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Hi Mardee! Welcome to eG! :cool:

I have tried using basil. Yum.

I've been fiddling with the combination of strawberries and black pepper with rum. I've also been tinkering with the combination of jalapeno pepper, cinnamon and chocolate for a Mexican Mole inspired cocktail. Quite surprising, and flavourfully good. :wub:

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I've had a great deal of luck (and fun!) infusing vodkas, and had any number of surprising successes. Perhaps the most outstanding success -- and the most surprising to boot -- was cucumber. Peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped and steeped in decent-quality vodka (no need for the Grey Goose here) for about 5 days, it took on all the discrete notes of the cuke -- floral, crisp, clean and almost minty. Plus, it imparted just enough water so that, when taken straight from the freezer and poured in a handy shot glass, fine sheets of ice crystals formed that crashed lightly on the tongue. A pity only that we don't have enough screaming hot summer days in San Francisco to get the maximum impact.

Other successes have been vanilla (natch), cinnamon, tarragon, black pepper and mint. Star anise created a Sambuca-like brew that was clear and golden, but turned opaque white with the introduction of ice -- very dramatic. Fruits are surprisingly fickle: Every type of melon ends up tasting like canteloupe; berries usually give up all their tartness and little sweetness; never, ever put the pith of citrus fruit in lest you spend hours unpuckering -- zest only, please!

Fresh ingredients should steep less time than dry, and all should be consumed relatively quickly, as the richness of flavor does fade with time. Freezing helps. (Couldn't hurt!)

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CheNiPenso,

Be sure to check out this thread in the Cocktail forum where a bunch of us sort of made herbacidal's thread into an Infusion Club of sorts where we give suggestions, solutions and generally discuss the infusions we made. Some pictures, I think, are in there too!

Enjoy! It is a bit long, but I hope some of it helps. :cool:

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You're so right about citrus peel. Incidentally, I've made my infusing life easier with this serrated peeler -- the serrations grab onto the rind and make it possible to remove just the top layer in big strips. Takes about a minute to do an entire lemon.

I was talking with a wine maker who also plays around with infusions, and he said his most successful one lately was orange and saffron. I plan to give it a try soon.

Interesting about the cucumber. Have you ever been to the Orbit Room in SF? Last time I was there, the head bartender, Alberta, had a gin infused with apple and cucumber that was just fantastic. She used it in a Pimms-based drink that blew me away.

I had a rather embarrassing experience with an infusion I made several months ago. I used a big jar that I'd previously made refrigerator pickles in, and although I couldn't detect a thing when I poured the vodka in and added the tangerine peel, the result was a very weird combination of tangerine, cucumber, dill and allspice. It was almost good -- in fact, if it were lemon instead of the tangerine, it probably would have been great -- but it was really just weird.

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Sorry, her name is Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Food Studios.  You can find her at www.kathycasey.com.  Ryan works with her, and I believe he also tends bar at Restaurant Zoe on Second Avenue.

Robert--could you correct me if I'm wrong about this?  Thanks

Don't know Ryan, but Derek at Zoe has created some tasty drinks. I don't think he works with KC.

edit to add - bartenders are doing interesting combos at Cascadia and Troiani in Seattle too.


Edited by tsquare (log)

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Ryan is "Ryan Magarian", he built up the original bar program for Zoe here in Seattle, and as I recall their menu still has several of his signature drinks on it. Just look for any herbal infused spirits, and those will be his doing.

Ryan just recently worked up an impressive cocktail program for Holland America Cruise lines:

http://uk.us.biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040315/sfm114_1.html

-Robert

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That's right, Robert. Thanks. I was in touch with Ryan yesterday & found out that he's working at Holland America and with Kathy Casey, but not at Zoe. Sorry for the confusion.

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Interesting about the cucumber. Have you ever been to the Orbit Room in SF? Last time I was there, the head bartender, Alberta, had a gin infused with apple and cucumber that was just fantastic.

Ah, the Orbit Room. Tangential side note -- I despise bloody marys, but if I were forced to have one, it would be theirs, a brilliantly vertiginous concoction of celery, olives, carrots, beans and god knows what all else erupting from the glass. Truly more of a salad than a beverage. I guess it appeals to me because there's no room left for tomato juice. :smile:

I myself did try apple and pear each, with less than stellar results. The apple browned while steeping, and disintegrated a bit, making for a cloudy brew that didn't strain well and tasted a bit off. The pear tasted like nothing at all. I don't recall what type of apple I used; certainly I'll try it again with granny smith or something equally firm and potent, hopefully to better effect.

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