It’s Tea Time

With the temperature continuing to drop today, it seemed like a good idea to have another tried-and-true hot drink to warm me up.  This seems to be turning into a theme.

Blueberry Tea

Blueberry Tea

Mrs. Alchemy got in on the action and dressed-up the picture

This is a delicious warm drink that’s as enjoyable to breathe in as it is to taste.  It gets better as it sits, with the orange and cinnamon steeping in the hot tea and releasing additional flavours and aromas.  It does end up tasting a little bit like its namesake when everything has had a chance to meld.

  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz amaretto
  • orange pekoe tea* to taste (approximately 8 oz)
  • orange slice
  • cinnamon stick

In a warmed snifter, combine all ingredients.  Handle the glass with care as it will be extremely hot.  I like to hold it using a cloth napkin until it cools off just enough to cup it in my hands, where the heat will help get rid off the winter chill.

naz drave!

* In general, I drink my tea quite strong.  For this drink; however, I try to avoid letting it steep too long as it can become tannic and will overpower the more subtle flavours in the drink.  I suggest using water that is just below the boiling point and steeping the tea for only 2 1/2 minutes.


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

After a fairly mild November and December, winter has reared its ugly head around my house in a big way.  It’s currently -27°C (-16°F for any non-Canadians out there), and this definitely calls for a hot beverage.

Mid-January Hot Cocoa

A mug of chocolate gold

This rich chocolaty creation is a perennial winter favorite around my house.

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 1/2 oz of dark chocolate
  • 1 1/2 oz of Frangelico

Combine all ingredients except the dark chocolate and Frangelico in your favorite pot over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.  After everything is thoroughly mixed, add the dark chocolate, continuing to whisk to ensure it does not stick to the sides or bottom of the pot and burn.  Remove the pot from the heat before it boils, and pour it into a heated mug with the Frangelico.

This tastes best when consumed while sitting in your favorite chair, under your warmest blanket, while listening to Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton.

How do you like to warm up on a day like this?

à votre santé!

Link: Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

I stumbled across Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide last night, and spent some time reading through posts (after I finished trying to eat my monitor because their food pictures are so beautiful).  These appear to be people who enjoy good food and drinks as much as I do, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any recipes that look as good as their take on the French Martini.  I plan on sampling one of these as soon as possible; fortunately unfortunately, I have no Chambord and it will require a trip to the liquor store.  How will I ever survive?


Classic Cocktails: The Manhattan

A Perfect ManhattanOne of my favorite cocktails is an old classic:  The sweet, smoky, and slightly spicy Manhattan.  It’s simple to make and can be easily modified in a number of ways to suit individual taste.

Like many classics, the true origin of the Manhattan is unclear.  One of the most common explanations is that the drink was invented at New York’s Manhattan club in the 1870s for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill), Winston Churchill’s mother.  There are reports that the Lady was pregnant in France at the time, so the story is likely untrue.

The traditional recipe calls for only three ingredients (four if you include the garnish):

  • 2 parts rye whiskey
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • a dash of Angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry for garnish

Simply combine the first three ingredients and gently stir* them with ice for 15 to 20 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the cherry in the bottom of the glass, and enjoy.

Variations include changing the whiskey (I prefer bourbon) or the bitters (try orange bitters, or chocolate if you have them), using different vermouth (replace half the sweet vermouth in the basic recipe with dry to make a Perfect Manhattan), or adding some cherry juice for extra sweetness (making it a Sweet Manhattan).  Many versions change the spirit to something entirely different than whiskey, such as port (a Ruby Manhattan), dark rum (a Cuban Manhattan), or Anejo (aged/vintage) tequila (a Tijuana Manhattan).  The possibilities are endless.

How do you like yours?


* Shaking or over-stirring your Manhattan will introduce air bubbles, causing it to not be as smooth as it should be (i.e.: like silk).  It will also “bruise” the alcohol (a small amount of ice will melt, diluting your drink).  Both of these are bad things, and you probably don’t want them.

About Me

It’s time for my first ever blog post, and I suppose an introduction is in order.  I’m a 33-year-old Canadian man with a wife, two dogs, a newly acquired obsession with homebrewing, and a taste for fermented and/or distilled beverages.  I’ll be trying to focus on writing about my experiences with regard to the latter two, with the occasional foray into the world of alcohol-free beverages (I do love my coffee, after all).

A few rules I live by:

  • A martini requires good gin, plenty of vermouth, and at least three olives.
  • The phrase “single malt” is one of the most sacred terms in the English language (and “Johnnie Walker” is like fingernails on a chalkboard).
  • Always choose vintage port over tawny or LBV.
  • If a beer isn’t drinkable at cellar temperature, it isn’t drinkable period.
  • Yes, that ounce of Louis XIII cognac really is worth what the restaurant is charging for it.

A real post, with an actual topic, will follow soon.