Thanks to poet and friend Joy Katz, I’m a member of a facebook group of ambitious cooks and bakers and cocktail makers. We share recipes, pictures, successes and failures. We recommend restaurants, we argue about techniques, all in the spirit of making ourselves better cooks. Mostly I lurk, in awe, as my co-members describe and display elaborate meals of their own making.
One member especially has attracted my attention. Nata makes cocktails. They’re delicious. Her photos are beautiful. She serves her drinks in fun vintage bar ware, some of which resembles my own collection, inherited from my mother. Her instructions are clear. Her combinations of ingredients are provocative and never fail to make me thirsty. Check out her blog and you'll see what I mean.
So I was delighted when she began posting snippets about her forthcoming book, Nata’s Cocktails. (Click on the link to purchase.) As soon as it went to print, I ordered a copy and Nata and I began a correspondence.
I proposed a collaboration to spread the word about Nata’s book. I would send Nata a poem to inspire a cocktail, the recipe for which I would share with you, along with information about how you could buy her book, which, I should add, comprises recipes for ten seasonal drinks.
Nata was game! I sent her David’s poem The Party of Ideas. A few days later, Nata’s recipes along with photos appeared in my inbox.
About her recipes, Nata writes:
I put together a Gin Flight, a way to afford the drinker the opportunity to sample 3 different cocktails, without being brought to one’s knees. I did so knowing that the poet has a preference for gin. Each drink is no more than 3 ounces in total, with approximately 1.5 oz of gin each. Each cocktail is served in a different (vintage) glass, and in a progression from lighter to more full flavored.
As to not be a slave to a cocktail shaker when serving them to friends, I prepared the mixes in advance and kept them in the freezer. They are well chilled when it comes time to serve. There are several steps involved in each (with some parts being made a day or 2 ahead) but I always find it worthwhile to proceed in this way. Like any recipe, the results of advance efforts contribute to a memorable conclusion.
I have tried not to use any spices/foods or machinery that are difficult to find, but I do have a small coffee grinder that I purchased just for use with herbs, etc. Substitutions and variations are something that should be encouraged. As for juices, fruits, & herbs, the fresher the better.
Sit back, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the Flight!
Since each drink involves several parts, I’m going to take the next few days to shop for and prepare the ingredients. Come Friday, it’s cocktail time! Wheeee.
Won’t you join me?
The complete recipes are below the jump:
The recipes shown are for one drink and as with all recipes, they can be adjusted to your taste for sweetness/tartness.
Moondog (A nod to the Viking Poet)
1.5 oz Gin
Juice of half lemon (approx. 1 ounce)
¾ oz. Juniper/Rosemary Syrup*
Lavender Dust Rim+
Place the gin, lemon, and syrup together in a small pitcher, stir well with a barspoon and place in the freezer until ready to serve.
Moisten the rim of the glass with the remains of the squeezed lemon and dredge it through the lavender dust. Carefully pour in mixture and serve.
* Juniper Rosemary Syrup
1 c. sugar added to 1 cup of water with 10 Juniper berries/and a handful of rosemary. Brought to a boil until the sugar dissipates. Remove from heat and let cool before using. Maybe made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge.
+ Lavender Dust
Grind 2 T. of dried organic lavender in a small (coffee) grinder or a mortar & pestle, then add it to ½ cup of superfine sugar. Store in a jar.
I Hung It Up
1 oz. of Roasted Orange/ Peppercorn/Clove Syrup*
Juice of half a lime
.5 oz, unsweetened Cranberry Juice (not cocktail, fresh if possible)
Several dashed of Orange Bitters
Roasted Orange dust+
+Roasted Orange dust
Remove the peels from 2 oranges with as little pith as possible, save the orange for making juice. Stud the peels with 10 or so cloves and place on a small cookie sheet into a pre-heated 300 degree oven. Roast for about 15 minutes. You are trying to dry out and crisp up the peels without burning them. Often I find that turning off the oven after that time, and just leaving them in really does the trick. Crispy but not burnt. Let cool, remove cloves (save them for the syrup), and place into a small grinder until pulverized. Add to about ½ cup of super fine sugar and keep in a airtight jar.
*Roasted Orange Syrup
Squeeze the juice from the 2 oranges and place it with 1 cup of sugar, ½ t. each of crushed black and pink peppercorns, and the roasted cloves, into a pan and cook until sugar has dissolved. Set aside, cool and strain. May be kept in the fridge for several days.
Place the syrup, lime juice, cranberry juice, and gin into a mixing glass. Store in freezer until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, moisten the edge of the glass with remains of the lime and dredge it through the roasted orange dust. Remove the cocktail from the freezer, add several dashes of orange bitters and stir. Pour gently into the dredged glass.
1 oz. Spiced Port Syrup*
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Gin
In a small vessel, place the Syrup, Campari, and Gin, stir and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Before serving, stir in a good dosing of Angostura Bitters.
*Spiced Port Syrup
4 thin oval slices of Ginger
4 Crushed Juniper Berries
Seeds from 2 Cardamom Pods crushed
1” of a cinnamon Stick
1/3 c. raw sugar
1 c. of Ruby Port (such as Sandeman’s)
Place the above ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil then reduce heat and let gently boil until reduced by ½ . Approx. 15 min.
Let cool and strain. May be made in advance and stored in the fridge.