Now Serving – Grape Time

By The Gentleman

Grape Time

When I was little my family would always have prawn cocktails as a starter before Christmas lunch. I hated it. I just can’t get over the texture of raw seafood. Everyone always said when I got older I’d grow accustomed to the taste, but I never did. For some reason, instead of having a prawn cocktail I would have a bowl of grapes (served in the same fancy glass as everyone’s prawn cocktails). This may sound like a punishment, but I loved it. I would just chow down on grapes and look at everyone else like they were the weird ones. I don’t have a bowl of grapes now, but I still always associate Christmas with eating grapes and that’s the inspiration behind our very grapey festive cocktail, Grape Time.

Grape Time

Grape Time

45 ml Alaskan Rock Vodka

45 ml White Grape Juice

15 ml Noilly Prat Dry White Vermouth

5 ml Grand Marnier

15 ml Grape and Balsamic Shrub

Ice

Grapes for Garnish

Soda Water

 

In a mixing glass half filled with ice mix vodka, grape juice, vermouth and Grand Marnier until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute. Add crushed ice, grapes and top with soda water. I cut a few grapes in half and put them in the glass and then slit one so it could rest on the lip of the glass. Grab your shrub and pour it in over the back of the spoon to get a layered effect. Add a pretty straw so you can mix in the shrub as you desire.

Grape Time

All of this stuff is pretty easy to find except the grape shrub. I made that myself by macerating grapes in sugar overnight before transferring it all to a mason jar with balsamic vinegar, which was left in the fridge for a week and the grapes were strained out. I use a 1:1:1 ratio for shrubs. If you don’t have the time to make it don’t stress, the shrub gives a slightly different flavour but was mostly for presentation.

Grape Time

This was exactly what I wanted, something that was oh so grape flavoured to bring me back to Christmas when I was younger. Vodka is the perfect partner because it doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the grape juice. Vermouth is also an obvious choice, adding a slightly herbal flavour and keeping it from getting too sweet but not veering too far away from that lovely grape flavour. If you can make the shrub then I encourage you to do so because it not only makes the drink look impressive, it also gives it a little bit of bite and something different. We are definitely fans of what balsamic can bring to a cocktail and it paired really nicely with the grape juice. It was basically an explosion of sweet, light grape flavour with a hint of fizz that was topped off by some booze soaked grapes at the bottom of the glass. I certainly didn’t get to eat those Christmas day, but I wouldn’t be turning them down now.

 

The Grape Time isn’t your normal festive cocktail and that’s okay because it’s damn tasty. Just roll with it, it’ll be fine and while you’re at it, have a bowl of grapes on Christmas day. It’s not weird at all…right?

 

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Advertisements

Now Serving – Modified Admiral

By The Gentleman

 

So the other night it was the midweek slump and The Lady was enjoying a night with the girls and I was on my lonesome catching up on House of Cards Season 2. All that political intrigue, backstabbing and Kevin Spacey Southern drawl made me work me up a mighty thirst. As I perused the bar I remembered there was an open bottle of Noilly Prat dry vermouth in the fridge from our adventures during Small Mouth Week that probably needed some attention while a bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey caught my eye  as aside from a recent sampling of Old Fashioned’s it’s not a spirit I recall using much. Looking at these two ingredients I wondered if there was a drink that combined the two and their is, an Admiral.

Modified Admiral

Modified Admiral

60ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth

45ml Bulleit Rye Whiskey

45ml Fresh Orange Juice

2-3 dashes Bitter Tears Lucille Blood Orange and Ginger Bitters

Orange Peel

 

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vermouth, rye and orange juice. Shake to combine and to cool the mix. Use bitters to coat a rocks glass. Strain into glass. Squeeze peel over glass to release oils then drop into glass to garnish.

Modified Admiral

Now I’ve called my drink a Modified Admiral because, as this was a spur of the moment thing, I didn’t have the other essential ingredient. An Admiral typically uses lemon juice instead of orange juice but I didn’t have any lemons on hand and couldn’t bring myself to use the little squeeze bottle of lemon juice. Channeling my inner Frank Underwood I didn’t let such a minor thing stop me on my path to drinking greatness, so I improvised and ever so slightly bent the rules. I also decided, since I’m already not making a proper Admiral, to try and jazz it up a little bit hence upping the amount of rye for some extra spicyness and the bitters, to just give it a hint of something different.

Modified Admiral

The drink had quite a murky colour, murky like Frank Underwood’s morals. It is probably one of those times when it needed to be double-strained to further clarify it given the amount of orange juice. That aside this was quite an enjoyable drink to sip as I watched Kevin Spacey plot his next move up the political ladder, he so sly. It was easier to drink than I expected given the fact that it had over three shots of alcohol in it. There’s no horrible after-burn yet the orange juice also doesn’t make it overly sweet either which I was concerned it might. Instead it’s just a pleasant sipping drink with that lovely aroma of orange citrus from the peel, a hint of sweetness from the orange, some spicyness from the rye, a slight tang and a bold dry white wine flavour from the vermouth. The vermouth is certainly the dominant flavour but I think there’s enough from the orange and rye that there’s a bit more complexity which is quite nice.

Modified Admiral

Like one of Frank Underwood’s political opponents I didn’t see this coming. A spur of the moment drink, slightly tinkered with and over three shots of alcohol in it? That sounds like a recipe for disaster nine times out of ten. Still, somehow, this managed to be a very pleasant drink that was the perfect thing for a midweek wind down with some good TV. At least the unexpected result is an enjoyable one, unlike the recipients of a House of Cards style blindside. Seriously, those people, get screwed over so damn much.

Modified Admiral

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.