Put on your extra sparkly tiaras, dear readers, because we've been invited to a cocktail party today ... and its a spicy one! In fact, its a virtual cocktail party in support of Kara Newman's delicious new book: "Spice & Ice."
I'll be honest, I jumped at the chance to get in on this. Apart from the fact that I love an unusual cocktail, the opportunity to work with Kara Newman (who's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Gourmet, and Wine Enthusiast to name but a few) is an absolute thrill for me. So thrilling, in fact, that I ran right out and picked up a copy of the book as soon as I heard about the event. Its lovely!
Spice & Ice is a chic little cocktail cookbook that deftly pairs all manner of spirits with a stunning assortment of spiced and spicy ingredients. With drinks named "Coco-Grenade" and "Sangria Scorcher" and ingredients such as harissa, wasabi and thai chiles, Newman's recipes are inviting to say the least. Today, I'm going to share with you her "Fall Spice Cocktail".
In Kara's words, "this drink falls more on the 'spiced' than 'spicy' side, of the spectrum. This sweet cordial pairs well with autumn pies and other desserts or makes a great sipper to enjoy fireside." We may be past Fall, but the winds are still wicked and the roaring fires still necessary, so I'd say its perfect for winter too!
Be aware that this drink calls for a little prep-work: you'll need to prepare the chipotle-orange syrup in advance. Trust me, its easy. It takes all of 15 to 20 minutes and you will be rewarded greatly for your efforts. If you're old enough to drink, you're old enough to delay gratification, right? Right. Let's get to it!
Fall Spice Cordial:
recipe reprinted from Spice & Ice with permission of the author
- 1 ounce bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
- 3/4 ounce chipotle-orange syrup, recipe to follow
- 1 ounce vanilla vodka or Navan vanilla cognac
- 2 dashes orange bitters (I used Fee Brother's because that's what I had on-hand)
- orange peel for garnish
Mix together all the ingredients, except for the orange peel. Shake together with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with the orange zest. Serve and enjoy, repeat as necessary!
- 2 cups water
- 1 chipotle pepper
- 2 strips dried orange peel, or fresh peel if dried is not available
- 3/4 cup sugar
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and add the chipotle pepper and orange peel. Cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve and add the sugar. Return to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour the syrup into a container and keep in the refrigerator.
Diva's notes: I used fresh orange peel, because my market didn't seem to have any dried. I don't think the drink suffered for it a bit. I also chose to use Navan, the vanilla cognac, because I simply do not enjoy commercial vanilla vodkas. If you're ok with them, or have made your own vanilla vodka, go for it. The Navan is pricey, no doubt about it, so opt for the vanilla vodka if you prefer. In future iterations, I'd probably substitute 1/2 cup of agave nectar for the sugar, but that is a personal choice as well.
So, how does it taste? Intriguing and delightful! The acidity of the orange tempers the sweet caramel notes of the bourbon; and the hint of chipotle provides a rather addictive bit of warmth on the finish. Simply put, it makes you want to take another sip - and that's the sure sign of a well-crafted cocktail. I loved it and you will too!
I'm not sure who else is on the guest list for this lovely little fete, but I know for certain that my friend Charmian Christie, from Christie's Corner, will be bringing something to the party. Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice, will be there too. I can't wait to see what they've stirred up. Look for their offerings, as well as the others, on Kara Newman's Spice & Ice Blog. Come thirsty, its bound to be a delicious affair!
Many thanks to Charmian for connecting me with Kara, and to Kara for adding a little more spice to our weekly Happy Hour here on Beach Eats. If this drink is any indication, Spice & Ice is going to get a LOT of use, Chez Diva.