Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Applejack


How did I go through the first 35 years of my life never having tasted applejack? Well, I don't know that, but I do know this, it is mighty good. "What is applejack", I hear you ask? How kind of you to help my narrative along by asking questions. Applejack is an whiskey made from fermented apple cider and then cold-distilled (or "jacked").

My favorite applejack is made by Laird and Company (pictured above) and it happens to be the oldest native distilled spirit in the United States and is made in New Jersey. Their applejack is a blended whiskey with an apple brandy base and it taste like good whiskey with a lovely apple aroma and taste which lingers on the tongue. I was pleasant surprised that it wasn't sweet. I really look forward to trying their aged apple brandy which doesn't seem to be sold near here. Hmmm.. New Jersey is not far from here, this might be a good time for a road trip! Drink away, friends. Rest assured that I am not far behind you.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Buenos Aires Breeze


Note: This drink requires advance preparation

4 Tablespoons loose leaf Mate tea
1 cup vodka
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
the rind from 1 lemon (be careful not to include the pith)

Directions: Mix vodka with the Mate tea in a clean jar and let sit for no more than 4 hours but no less than 2. In the meanwhile, mix the sugar, water, and lemon peel in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Strain, discarding the lemon peel, and let the syrup cool. Once the Mate mixture has brewed long enough, strain it with a fine strainer and then strain a second time through a coffee filter. Mix the now sediment-free Mate mixture with the sugar syrup. Drink immediately or let mellow overnight. Pour over ice and enjoy.

Thoughts: Mate can be an acquired taste. It is a very strong tea made from yerba mate leaves that you drink from a gourd with a metal spoon called a bombilla. It is available at specialty stores or online. Here are a few places that sell good mate:

http://www.guayaki.com/
http://www.gauchogourmet.com/

I became obsessed with drinking mate after reading Hopscotch by Julio Cort√°zar which is one of my favorite novels of all time. The characters prepare mate on every other page and by the time I was finished, I had to try some. It can be very bitter but it is quite wonderful. I have been wanting to make a tea liqueur for some time and this came out just as I had hoped. It is a little bitter bit the lemon sugar syrup provides a lovely balance with the intense bitterness of the mate brew. Mate is said to have many health benefits so if anyone asks, you are not drinking a cocktail, but rather a salad.