Frozen Daiquiris

The Daiquiri is a foundation for a huge number of cocktails, referred to at times as the Caribbean Trinity of rum, lime and sugar, originally named after a beach east of Santiago, Cuba just before the Spanish-American War.  Although lime, sugar and rum have been mixed long before throughout the Caribbean, the specific proportions in the recipe came together at this time.  It is one of my favorites, relying on the quality of the rum, and freshly squeezed limes.  Sweet frozen daiquiri drinkers may not realize how their favorite drink does not need to come out of a bottle of swill (AKA mix).  If you are reading this and normally buy a bottle of mix for any flavored daiquiri, please understand – nothing in that bottle is pure, and likely isn’t even real – that is to say no fruit – no lime juice, and sweeter than a fistful of candy bars.

I read an interesting story about the Strawberry Daiquiri (1863), Christian Zacharias haphazardly threw together the first Strawberry Daiquiri from his wife’s strawberry patch for a party during the American Civil War. The recipe would have been lost if not for a Confederate spy named James Welty, whose codename was Daiquiri.  He failed to remember vital intelligence concerning Union troop positions before the battle of Gettysburg due to too much of the strawberry overindulgence, leaving General Lee blind in his advancements. After the backbreaking battle was lost, General Lee’s only response to Welty was:  “Gettysburg, the war, all lost because of strawberries, Daiquiri?”

There is a reason for frozen drinks, why creating ice so densely fine is a tool for consuming alcohol – chilling liquid, adding air and texture, possibly opening up flavors, watering down the power of alcohol, as well as slowing the consumption of a powerful drink.  For example, if Zombies, and all the rum therein, were instead strained over ice, I would face-plant into oblivion in record speed, maybe not after one, or two, but far quicker than I would hope.  After all, no more than two Zombies were served to a customer in a Don the Beachcombers, where the drink was invented.  Crushed ice, or shaved ice is used to slow the transition, and thereby enjoying the drink longer.

With that said, I have not been a fan of frozen daiquiris for the reason of  peculiarly sweet packets or bottled mixers.  Fruity daiquiris have been mutilated with too much sugar, too many other ingredients, many times too much ice, the wrong rums, or worst of all – not enough rum.  I wanted to bring out the best flavors, and avoid the useless ones, excluding too much slush to sap the flavor out of the experience, not merely using any light rum, but mixing more than one kind for complexity.  Another main goal, and the reason for this post, I wanted to find the balance between drink and ice.

If strawberries are not in season, use frozen, but use no more than 3/4 the amount – still using fresh to breathe life into the flavor.  I tried purely frozen strawberries, and thought they were sweet, but felt they needed the freshness of even a tart, out of season strawberry. The genuine thrill of freshness never fails the taste buds, even sparingly offered.  The only banana I insist using is the level of ripeness reserved for cooking, such as banana bread, or banana cream pie.  Brown dots?  Not ripe enough.  Brown blotches?  Getting close.  If the banana is mostly brown, that is good enough.  If you can, wait until the banana has turned completely brown.  I’m talking about how much flavor this fruit will bring, the riper the banana – the more the banana will sweeten.  If you think they look disgusting, imagine how sweet they will taste in a drink.  If I’m going to eat a banana, I like a few freckles because I like flavor over texture.  For garnishing, I prefer a green-stemmed banana (I waited too long for my garnish banana…sticking a clove over a brown spot).

Since the Daiquiri is a Cuban drink, I wanted to use Cuban-styled rums.  I have not been able to purchase any Havana Club unfortunately, whose family stayed in Cuba, the brand I would choose if the embargo were not in place.  Some good rums got out though:  The family who created Bacardi escaped Castro, as did the family of the Matusalem brand of rum (Matusalem distills in the Dominican Republic, and Bacardi in Puerto Rico).  The venerable Beachbum suggests Plantation 3 Stars rum, which tastes delightful.  In the banana drink, I included Coruba dark rum, which is not Cuban, but Jamaican, for its sweet dark brown sugar flavor in the banana daiquiri, rather than a molasses flavor of other dark rums, and felt it blended remarkably well with the sweetness of Matusalem.

strawberry daiquiri2

 

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
2 oz Bacardi Silver
2 oz Matusalem Platino
4 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned & halved (if not in season 
  use 3 frozen & 1 fresh)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste - double for truly sweet drink)
3/4 oz cream 
6 oz shaved ice (to taste) 
1 strawberry, mini lime wedge, mounding tsp whipped cream for 
  garnish

In a blender combine rum, strawberries, lime juice, syrup, cream and ice and blend until strawberry is thoroughly combined.  Garnish:  Clean and hull a strawberry, fill with whipped cream, garnish your garnish with a tiny triangle of lime.  Serves two.

banana daiquiri2

Frozen Banana Daiquiri
4 1/2 oz Matusalem Platino
1 1/2 oz Coruba
4 extra ripe bananas, in pieces (passed the brown dot phase)
1 oz fresh lime juice 
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste)
3/4 oz cream 
6 oz crushed ice
1/2 banana, cherry and clove for garnish

Blend all ingredients except ice in blender until smooth, creamy and firm.  Stir in shaved ice until preferred texture.  Garnish with dolphin banana with rinsed and dried cherry in its mouth, inserting a positioned clove for an eye.  If you feel the need for fins, slit a spot for a trimmed lemon peel, or pineapple leaf, or even shaping your fin from an Anna’s cookie.  It’s all for fun anyway, right?  Serves 4…only once, and then you’ll have to make another pitcher.

If you prefer to make banana daiquiris for two, here is the recipe for nearly half the amount, not strictly cutting the ingredient amounts in half.

2 oz Matusalem Platino
3/4 oz Coruba
2 very ripe bananas, in pieces
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (to taste)
1/2 oz cream
3 oz crushed ice

Note:  Do you not own a blender, or are between blenders because your old one died?  An ice shaver works perfectly well, not to say it replaces a blender, but focusses on just the ice to scoop in after the ingredients have been pureed in a food processor, or muddled (both of which I have tried).

God Jul!

God Jul!  For those of you who do not speak Swedish (like me – even though I’m Swedish-American), it means Merry Christmas.  Pertaining to the approach of Christmas, not “the holiday season” since it does not have anything to do with Thanksgiving or New Years, this drink is like drinking Christmas Spirit.  However, this is how I see it, or from my perspective growing up with one of many traditions.  We called it “grog” in pronunciation, even though it should have been pronounced “wassail.”  It was my grandmother’s recipe, and meant to be non-alcoholic – no wine, no brandy, and certainly no rum.  Yet rum made its way in, only after it was done brewing all day, and resting through the night to be ready to drink the next day.  Whether a Christmas party, or merely to drink a bit of happiness into your life, we’d put the wonderment into a big, coffee maker with a spigot to warm it back up, and a bottle of rum nearby for the adults.  As a boy I never could see any reason to change what was perfect.

What we made was wassail, a hot mulled cider (Old English wæs hæl, literally ‘be you healthy’ – an ancient southern English ritual intended to ensure a plentiful cider apple harvest for the next year.  The term wassail was meant for both drink and toasting).  Regardless, we didn’t call it that.  We called it grog.  When looking up various recipes for grog, or glögg in Swedish, I quickly found out several missing ingredients.

Glögg, pronounced somewhat like glooog (roughly translated: “glow”), is a sweet, high-octane, mulled wine.  According to the Wine & Spirits Museum in Stockholm, King Gustav I of Sweden was fond of a drink made from German wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It was later named “glödgad vin” in 1609, which meant “glowing-hot wine.” The word glögg is a shortened form that first appeared in print in 1870.

There are several recipes I am fond of, all which include various fruits, either sweet red wine or port, or both, and all with fortifying spirits.  Here’s a Swedish glögg recipe:

2 bottles sweet red wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 oz dark rum (with this I prefer Gosling's)
1 1/2 oz brandy (doesn't need to be expensive with so many flavors)
1 1/2 oz port wine
10 dried prunes
4 pieces dried apricots
4 pieces dried apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 oranges (washed and sliced)
rind of 1/3 of a lime (no pith - either peeled or grated)
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1/4 cup pistachios (should be almonds, but allergic to)
2 Tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom pods
4 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 cup brown sugar (light)

Bind up cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and lime rind in cheesecloth.  Bring all ingredients, except alcohol and wine, to near boil (do not boil) and simmer for at least one hour, preferably 3 hours.  Remove bound up spice packet.  Add remaining ingredients only minutes before serving, reheating to near boil (again, do not boil).  Serve in heatproof glass cups (so you can see inside – this Christmas gift comes with see-through wrappings), adding a small helping of fruit and nuts to each glass, and a teaspoon to eat by.  Garnish either with an orange peal in the drink, or an orange slice on the rim of the glass.

I know that sounds like a lot of ingredients.  But the idea is richness, deep thought-provoking richness, the kind your most precious memories from Christmas past will conjure.  Also, if you would prefer, I’ve heard of substituting Aquavit (or Akvavit) for the brandy, but not for this precise recipe  This is where I haven’t experimented enough to make this call – maybe if Aquavit is added, maybe the cardamom will seem too powerful.  Sorry for not knowing for sure.

Even though I’m talking about glögg, I’m writing this to show the grog recipe I grew up with, regardless if it’s really wassail.  It’s a simple recipe, easy to make, and so happy and bright with flavor.  You could even use it as an ingredient if making a mulled wine.  I am very proud of this drink, and so glad my parents shared this recipe with me.

glögg

Julglögg (Christmas Grog)
1 quart hot tea (black tea - just use teabags)
2 tsp whole cloves
1/4 cup stick cinnamon
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart orange juice
1 pint grapefruit juice (not ruby red)
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water

Make hot tea by steeping for 5 to 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring water to boil and dissolve sugar completely within to make a simple syrup.  Add cloves and cinnamon to tea, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add cider, orange juice, syrup, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice.  Bring to boiling point, but do not boil.  Simmer for a few hours.  If you don’t have time, just cover and let it sit all day.  Either way, let it stand overnight to marry the flavors.  Serve hot (but do not boil).  If you’re in the mood, add a splash (or more) of amber rum.  Silver rums feel a little too rough, and spiced rums think they are in charge.  I first thought dark rums would be ideal, instead learning they kind of clash as well.  A list of rums that work:  Appleton, Matusalem, Mount Gay, El Dorado, Pusser’s, and Bacardi.  Due to how more mild it is to any other, Gosling’s is the only dark rum capable for this recipe.  Finally, garnish with a slice of orange with a number of whole cloves poked into the skin, thanks to my loving parents for sending my wife and I a box of delicious Florida oranges.

Merry Christmas to all who read this.  Astonished to see so many people from so many places visit this website, I hope I can be of any help, even if it just means a suggested recipe for an option of what to make with certain flavors.  Thank you one an all.  And for those who do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you a Happy New Year.  Be safe.

Lujoso Mojito

Mojitos in the summertime…mmm…refreshing and invigorating.  In Beachbum Berry’s book Remixed (yeah – I really like what the man has offered the world), he made a rendition of the drink, calling it a Frohito.  I thoroughly enjoyed that drink, and appreciated the mint syrup aspect of it.  I have nothing against the Mojito, and will continue to drink them without reservation.  The Bum’s idea tasted almost the same, but smoother, friendlier, and since it’s frozen – slower going down (I normally drink Mojitos on the rocks).  I enjoy making flavored syrups, or if your prefer “infused simple syrups”, and like how a syrup can pack flavor in, while softening the flavor as well.  After trying the Frohito, I thought, “What about a lime syrup too?”  I also wanted a more Cuban style rum, as the last change to his recipe.

Making these syrups is more work than you may intend.  However, making syrups are just as rewarding as drinking them, at least in my opinion.  If you do not agree, there are mint syrups and lime syrups for purchase.  No big deal.  It might go without saying a homemade version will taste better, and the only preservative is vodka.  Something else to keep in mind, if you are making more drinks, and have no intension of storing these syrups (or any syrups), there is no need to add vodka, since its only use is preservation.

Lujoso Mojito
4 oz Bacardi light rum (or Matusalem - one of my favorites)
1 oz lime syrup*
1 oz mint syrup**
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
18 oz crushed ice (2 1/4 cups)

Pour 1/4 oz mint syrup into 2 chilled glasses, each.  Blend rum, lime juice, lime syrup and ice until frappéd. Gently pour (pile…it’s got to be thick) equal amounts of slush into each glass.  Top each drink with 1/4 oz mint syrup.  Garnish with small mint sprig and lime wheel.

*Lime syrup
1 cup sugar
5 oz water
3 oz fresh lime juice
peal of 1/2 of a lime (one piece - no white, which is sour)
cap-full of vodka

First, you need to set up the ingredients, then you can drink.  Peel the lime, since it is difficult after the lime is squeezed.  I know I said in the ingredients half a lime’s peal, and making it one piece.  I guess I live in Utopia, but try your best.  Sometimes pealing in a zig-zag pattern works…sometimes.  Regardless, two whole pieces are fine, or even three.  My point is not to grate the peal – keeping as solid of a surface area as possible.  Bring water and juice to a slow boil (slowly).  Add sugar and peal, and slow boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  I may not understand this, but I rapid boiling might be too high of a temperature.  Take pan off heat, keep stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cover, let sit for 1 hour.  Uncover, remove peel, and let cool.  Strain through a fine-meshed sieve.  Bottle, adding a cap-full of vodka, gently stirring in to incorporate, or stir in the vodka before bottling – whichever is easiest.  Store in the refrigerator.  May keep up to 3 weeks.  As with all syrups, keep a close eye on them for any change.

It’s so dark you can’t see light through it. Mmm…I can’t wait!

**Mint syrup
8 oz mint leaves (tightly packed, washed, stems discarded)
water
3 oz simple syrup
cap-full of vodka

The most time-consuming part of making mint syrup.

Wash 2 bunches of mint in cold water, stripping leaves from stems, discard the stems.  Tightly pack leaves into an 8-ounce cup, empty into a pan filled half way with rapidly boiling water.

You’ll really like the smell of this.

After 5 seconds or so, when the leaves wilt and vibrantly turn green, swiftly strain the leaves.

I bought one bottle at the store because it’s a good-sized bottle. Ever since I have made my own simple syrup, which is a huge savings for one, and better tasting.

Blend with 3 oz of simple syrup until completely liquified, scraping the insides of the blender to get every tidbit chewn.

Don’t you hate when this happens?

With a fine-meshed sieve, strain by pressing down to get as much syrup possible.  Toss the solids.

Seriously, try to get every drop

Stir in a cap-full of vodka, and bottle.  Store in the fridge.  You should get 3 ounces of lovely deep green mint syrup, and can drink off that for maybe 2 weeks.  But even with the preserving vodka, keep an eye on it.  Without vodka, it’d last only a few days (I got this recipe from Beachbum Berry, in his book Remixed.  Yet in the instructions to this, he said he adapted it from a 2003 recipe from one of Martha Stewart’s magazines.  When I searched for it to see how different, I found an updated recipe in Martha Stewart Living, May 2010, which looks closer to this.  I don’t want to get into trouble, nor from Mr. Berry for that matter).

{Okay, for clarification, yes, I said “chewn.” As in the verb “hewn” is the past participle of “hew”. I prefer not to say chewed. “Chewn” exists, but is not recognized, that is not by any other source than the Urban Dictionary. If I don’t agree with the spelling of a word, I change it in hopes it’ll catch on with popularity. After all, American English alters constantly according to what is commonly spoken. For example, I won’t ever pronounce it “wheelbarrow” – it’s always been a “wheelbarrel.”  To me at least, and understandably i might be the only one thinking this way: Chew is an irregular verb.}

Especially after making infused syrups for a couple of hours, this tasted that much better.

As you can see, this recipe is for 2 glasses.  Making one is possible by halving the ingredients, yet is so much more friendly if including someone else you care about.  Understandably sweeter than the mojito you might be used to, this drink simply seems more refreshing, whether due to its smoothness from the shaved ice, or a trick played from not using citrus juice and raw vegetation.  When first trying this, I did not have the 1/2 oz of lime juice in the recipe.  My lovely wife, who normally, if not always, preferring sweeter drinks to mine even said she wanted a little more lime flavor, but no more lime syrup with how sweet it already was.  After stirring in a 1/4 oz of lime juice to each glass, it evened the score and made it a better drink.  If you’re slow-grilling for 3 hours, enjoying a hot weekend get-together, or imagining a trip to an island in the Spanish Caribbean, frappé some of these up and make your relationships stronger.  And something I should say with every alcoholic recipe – please drink responsibly.