June 30, 2012

Been Away, Drinking Dark and Stormies

So. I haven't been posting anything for a while...


Why? Mostly it's because Sarah and I have just been too busy in the evenings to be bothered with taking photos of and writing about the food we've been eating. She's been taking pictures of our weekly menus since she's been writing them up so I could potentially post those somewhere. Meh. Maybe I'll get to it someday, but don't count on it.

Also, I've been taking on slightly more of a leadership type role at Aikido of Santa Cruz and have been home in the evenings much less often to cook. Because of this Sarah has been planning easier dinners, things like sandwiches or veggie burgers or baked tofu on rice, stuff that's easy to prepare and quick to clean up. Unfortunately also not really post worthy.

But, I still had a bunch of photos on the camera. Mostly things from a year back that I just never got to. I had some free time this weekend and figured I'd just get the photos onto the network and set things up for a few posts at once.

This will be the first of the "old stuff" posts that I should have written a long time ago.

So, I'm sorry, we've been away, drinking Dark and Stormies.

Sarah and I have been on a cocktail kick lately. First it was wine (it's still wine really, just not as often), then sour beer for a little while (still this too actually), now it's cocktails. I've been reading up on the classics, trying to get a feel for how the most traditional drinks are built and how they relate to both each other and some of the newer cocktails being invented today.  I think I'm starting to get a good feel for things, but, not being a professional bartender, I have only myself and Sarah to practice on.  Boo hoo...

The Dark and Stormy is a classic.  Easy to make, easy to drink.

Dark and Stormy:

  2 oz. dark rum
  Juice of 1/2 fresh lime (1/2 - 1 oz.)
  4 oz. ginger beer

Build over ice in a tumbler in the order given. Stir briefly and gently. Imbibe.

Now.  Ginger beer (or ginger ale) can of course be purchased.  But why would anybody do that when making it yourself is so much more fun and tastes so much better?  That's right, no one.  The recipe below is one I've adapted from one posted by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the head bartender at Clyde Common, a great tavern in Portland, Oregon.

I've kept the basic structure of Morgenthaler's recipe, keeping the ratio of sugary to watery, but I've had to change the way the ginger gets in.  He uses ginger juice, which is a pain in butt if you don't have a juicer, something I don't and don't want to own, so instead I make a ginger simple syrup and up the water in the recipe to make up for the reduction in the "watery" ginger juice.

As Moregenthaler says, you can make the ginger beer in one of two ways: ferment by adding yeast, or add the syrup with lemon juice to carbonated water.  I prefer the natural fermentation method because it's more fun and I think the flavor is better in the final product.  Also, if you need to buy the carbonated water to mix the syrup with you've completely defeated the purpose of not just buying ginger beer in the first place.

A note on soda making: I've read into it a bit and am leaving out many many steps.  Please read more detailed instructions elsewhere before moving forward.  Nothing scary to worry about, there are just particulars I won't mention.

Ginger Beer:
  modified, makes one bottle

  3 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup*
  2 oz. Lemon Juice, fresh or not
  11 oz. lukewarm water
  25 granules Red Star Champagne Yeast (really, the tiniest amount, less than a pinch)

Add all ingredients to a well cleaned 16 oz. bail-top style beer bottle.  Let sit at room temp for approximately 24 hours.  Carefully and slowly check for carbonation by releasing the bail-top.  If carbonation seems sufficient move bottles to the fridge, if not let sit for another 6-12 hours and check again.  Continue to release the excess carbonation from the bottles once they move into the fridge as the fermentation will continue slowly despite the low temperature.   Drink.

*Ginger Simply Syrup:

  2 cups water
  2 cups sugar
  2 oz. ginger, peeled and finely diced
  1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  1 cardamom pod, broken

Boil water, sugar, and spices for about 3 minutes.  Let spices steep in syrup at least 1 day before straining into a clean jar.  Use liberally.


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