It’s another Mixology Monday and this month we are hosted by that Pegu drinking wild man Doug over at The Pegu Blog. Doug’s chosen theme is “Made From Scratch” wherein he instructs “mix up a drink which is produced with one or more ingredients that you make yourself, be it bitters, infused liquors, liqueurs, syrups, or even the garnish!” Well, that is certainly something up my alley as much as I love to make syrups, tinctures, infusions and the like.
I looked around the kitchen at my sundry bottles and decided I wanted to use two homemade ingredients – one that everyone should have in their repetois and one that is more esoteric. The two chosen made from scratch ingredients? Grenadine and Swedish Punsch!
Let’s begin with the grenadine. If you are used to Rose’s Grenadine, then you aren’t using grenadine. What you have there is red-dye-number-5-colored-high-fructose-corn-syrup, most likely with some sort of artificial cherry flavoring. Real, honest to goodness grenadine is pomegranate syrup. Further, homemade grenadine is one of the easiest bar staples anyone can make. There are tons of recipes for making homemade grenadine. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, google it. I’ll wait.
See?!?! A vertiable cornocopia of recipes. To me though, everything can be distilled down to two basic methods – cold and hot. The cold method is straight forward. Equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar; shaken until the sugar dissolves. That’s it. Simple. You get the fresh tart flavor of the pomegranate and the sweetening power of the sugar.
The second method, the hot method, is a little more complicated. At its most basic level, you heat the pomegranate juice and sugar and stir to dissolve. Some recipes tell you to reduce this down by a certain amount to make it thick and even more syrupy. Some have you add orange flower water after everything is reduced and cooled. The only thing I can tell you is to try out different recipes and find one you like. The last recipe I used came from Food & Wine’s 2008 Cocktail Book.
This particular recipe says to simmer two cups of pomegranate juice with one cup plus two tablespoons of sugar until thick enough to coat a spoon. Then add 1/8 teaspoon of orange flower water. Bottle and refrigerate for up to two weeks. I also add about an ounce of 100 proof vodka to the final, cooled, syrup to help with shelf life. And I’ll tell you, this is some tasty grenadine. Damn tasty!
The second “made from scratch” ingredient I wanted to highlight was swedish punsch. If you aren’t familiar with this ingredient, don’t be surprised. It comes up most often in old cocktail books and recipes usually dating prior to Prohibition. After reading through several old cocktail books and online discussions (especially on eGullet) I turned to the recipe used by Erik over at Underhill-Lounge. I won’t recreate Erik’s recipe here, but here is a link to his site.
The swedish punsch is some tasty stuff and personally, I hope I find more things to use it in. Everytime I see a recipe, I copy it down, but unfortunately, tend to forget about it until I find my bottle of punsch in the cabinet. Shame on me! The mixture of tea, arrack, rum and lemon is fragrant, pungent and completely enrapturing.
Now to find a cocktail that uses both of these ingredients. Whipping out my trusty Iphone, I started searching the Cocktails app for drinks contains swedish punsch. As an aside, if you have an Iphone and are a cocktail geek, you really should have this on your phone. It is by far one of the top three apps I have and worth way more than it cost. Seriously, buy it. DO IT!!!
Anyway, I found a drink that I had never tried before that used both grenadine and swedish punsch – C.F.H. Cocktail. The app tells me it is from page 43 of Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, circa 1930. So that is where I turned.
1/6 Swedish Punch
1/6 lemon juice
1/3 Burrough’s Beefeater Gin
That is the recipe – no instructions given in the Savoy. Luckily the Cocktails app instructs to shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The other problem is the ratios – why can’t these guys use a standard measure?!?! Sheesh! Well, looking at the recipe we can see that each ingredient, except the gin, is exactly one-half of the measure of the gin (1/6 v. 1/3). Knowing this, and not wanting to drink a humongous cocktail (at least not yet), I used one ounce of gin. This provided the following drink:
.5oz grenadine (homemade)
.5oz Swedish Punsch (homemade)
.5oz Calvados (Clear Creek Distillery’s Eau-de-vie-de-Pomme)
.5oz fresh lemon juice
This is one tasty beverage. Seriously, I was kind of surprised, but WOW! It is just sweet enough and everything plays so nicely in the glass. For the first one I made (and yes I made more than one!), I used Plymouth gin. The second one I made, I used Aviation gin. I was a little worried that the extra oomph of the Aviation would throw the drink out of whack. I was wrong. It adds an extra layer of flavor and really highlights the calvados and the punsch. This is certainly a cocktail that requires a little bit of experimenting with using various gins. Something I plan to do in spades!
I want to thank Doug at The Pegu Blog again for hosting this month. This should be a great theme that will keep plenty of people in the kitchen for a bit.