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Blog

Liquor reviews, cocktail recipes, mixology trends, and seasonal ingredients. Includes cocktail tips and info on local whiskey, gin, vodka, beer, and liqueur.

Filtering by Tag: Devin Kidner

Girl Scout Cookie Cocktails, Part 3

Devin Kidner

It's time for Part 3 of our Girl Scout Cookie cocktail series, and today is really fantastic because it combines whiskey and peanut butter and beer. Oh yes. All three...

In case you're joining the conversation a little late, here is Part 1 (the Samoa) of our GSC cocktail experiment and here is Part 2 (the Trefoil)

Let's get down to business...

The Do-Si-Do has long been one of our favourite cookies. Creamy peanut butter sandwiched between oatmeal cookies are an instant classic. They're casual and perfect for a lunchtime snack.

Our riff is a little more...grown up...but still has all the flavour of these classic cookies, and has a twist...a beer twist.

Garnish:

Before you begin, grab an 8 oz. Ball Jar (we used the 8 oz. quilted jar because it's prettier), and create the cookie garnish.

You'll need:

  • A plate
  • Maple syrup
  • Pastry brush
  • Cookie crumbles (finely crushed Do-Si-Do cookies work well, or make some shortbread crumbles. Into a small bowl, add a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of sugar, and a tablespoon of flour. Rub together the ingredients with your fingers until they start to make little pebbles. Toss on a baking sheet (on top of some parchment) into a 350° oven for 10 minutes.)

Pour some maple syrup onto the plate and with the pastry brush, paint on the maple syrup around the top of the Ball Jar.

Pour the cookie crumbles onto the plate and roll the top of the jar in the crumbles until evenly coated. Set aside.

The Do-Si-Do Cocktail without the glorious beer float.   Photo credit: Brett Calomino

The Do-Si-Do Cocktail without the glorious beer float. Photo credit: Brett Calomino

Ingredients:

  • .5 oz creamy peanut butter (we used MaraNatha No Stir, Organic Creamy Peanut Butter)
  • 1.5 oz Four Grain KOVAL Whiskey (the mash is made with, among other things, oats! This gives the cocktail a wonderful oaty flavour, as well as a creamier mouthfeel)
  • 3 dashes of Oaked Grappa/Vanilla Bitters
  • .5 oz maple/brown sugar syrup

Shake all of the above ingredients for 10-12 seconds, or longer, until peanut butter has completely combined with the other ingredients. The mixture will be thick.

Add ice (I used 6-7 ice cubes), and shake again for 10 seconds. Strain into an 8 oz. Ball Jar filled with ice.

Now for the beer float!!!

PBBeer.jpg

See this amazing beer? It's brewed by Slapshot Brewing right here in Chicago. It's a brown ale brewed with peanut butter, and it is incredible. A great nutty aroma, a fantastic peanut buttery finish, it really does add a nice finish to our Do-Si-Do cocktail.

Why top an already fantastic cocktail with beer? A few reasons:

1. It adds a little bubble to the cocktail, making it more interesting to sip
2. It adds an incredible aroma to the top of the beer.
3. It adds more complexity to the beer.
4. Because...beer. Local beer. Local beer brewed with freakin' peanut butter. That's why.

So about that beer float. After you've strained your cocktail into the Ball Jar, fill the rest of the way with beer. It's that simple. Sip away!

Next week we will unveil our final Girl Scout Cookie Cocktail, the Thin Mint, but it will ONLY be available through our newsletter. So if you want to know how to create it, sign up here:

This Valentine's Day, Give Her (or Him!) a Cocktail!

Devin Kidner

Okay, don't JUST give her/him a cocktail. Also take them out to dinner. But mix them a cocktail to set up the evening (or as a nightcap), and start the night out right!

PennyLane.jpg

The Penny Lane tastes like a boozy chocolate dipped cherry. Find the recipe and technique below!

"Penny Lane"

2 oz. Ceres Vodka from Chicago Distilling Company
2 oz chilled hot chocolate made with local dairy (I used Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa)
2 tsp. cognac
1 oz cherry juice

OPTIONAL: 1 Meadow Haven Farm egg white

The Technique:

If omitting the egg white, shake the ingredients together with ice for 10 seconds. Strain into a glass and garnish with a cocoa powder heart.

If adding the egg white, shake all of the ingredients together without ice for 20 seconds, then incorporate ice and shake again for 10 seconds. Strain into a glass, gently shaking the egg white on top.

heart.jpg

The Garnish:

See that picture above? This is how you accomplish an awesome garnish on top of this drink, or really any drink.

It's super simple. Take a piece of cardboard and draw a shape on it. Then carefully cut it out.

Sit it on top of the glass and carefully shake cocoa/cinnamon/sprinkles over top.

Remove the template carefully and voila!

A few tips:

  1. Make sure the amount of liquid in the glass is near the top but not right to the edge, otherwise, your template will get wet!
  2. If the template does get wet, just let it dry out on a flat surface. It will dry and you can reuse it.
  3. If you don't remove the template carefully, you will damage your cute little garnish! To save it, you could re-shake the cocktail then try again!

Adorable, right? Happy Valentine's Day!

Girl Scout Cookie Cocktails, Part 1

Devin Kidner

Heads up, folks! If you haven't already, you can start ruining your New Year goal to lose weight and invest in Girl Scout cookies.

If you haven't already been assaulted with cubicle-to-cubicle sales by eager mothers/fathers pimping out the cookies on behalf of their little scout, or persuaded into a case of Thin Mints by that clever gal at your doorstep, you can join the digital age, download an app, or yes, even search to see when cookies will be available at retail areas near you!

And if you're like me and you've decided you're ready for something a little more...grown up, then ditch the palm oil and indulge in something that, after a few of them, will make you forget you just blew your diet!

I present to you...HOLLOW LEG's first Girl Scout Cookie-Inspired Cocktail, the Liquid Cookie.

cookiescout

This gorgeous little number is inspired by my personal favourite, the Samoa, which, according to Wikipedia, are "Vanilla cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolate stripes."

I don't know about you, but when it comes to both cookies and cocktails, I'm no longer impressed by the fake stuff. Palm oil in my cookies? No thanks. Cheap coconut rum? Can't we do better? 

At HOLLOW LEG, we're all about using the best products sourced from awesome folks, and this cocktail has none of the fake stuff. With the Liquid Cookie, you'll taste the difference because it's made with the best ingredients...some of which will surprise you!

Samoas are known for their coconutty goodness. Instead of using something filled with artificial flavours, I went with a base of Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa.

Grappa, for those of you who don't know, is liquor made from the leftovers of wine making, called pomace. All of the seeds, peels, pulp, and stems are fermented and distilled creating what I can only describe as a liquored up wine drink. Rhine Hall, based in Chicago, then ages their grappa in oak barrels, mellowing out the flavour, and, creating a grappa that is sweet, toasty, and has lovely coconut notes, which are enhanced by the other fabulous ingredients in this cocktail. It's really something.

Now that we've got our coconut base, it's time to add caramel to your cocktail. We won't be doing this through flavoured vodka or (gasp!) high fructose corn syrup filed sauces. Nope! We'll be adding homespun caramel into our cocktail, which really is a cinch and so much more delicious than the store-bought stuff. 

I love Sally's Baking Addiction's recipe, which can be found here, except I don't add any salt and I use Kilgus Farmstead heavy cream. Oh, and I know y'all are gonna roll your eyes, but I also make my own butter from heavy cream and use that. I know, I know...

If you don't have time to make your own butter, then go for something organic and grass-fed. Local is better, but Kerrygold works, too. The most important part is that you start with ingredients that taste good!

Frozen hot chocolate. So. Good.

Frozen hot chocolate. So. Good.

Now we need chocolate. And I'm not talking a measly little drizzle. I'm not talking only a garnish. I'm talking chocolate.

Frozen hot chocolate.

Frozen hot chocolate is not difficult to make and the payoff is great. I usually take a really good hot cocoa mix, say Ghirardelli, make it to the specifications on the packaging + melt some extra dark chocolate into the mix, then let it cool by tossing it into a Ball Jar and then into the fridge.

Once cool, blend with ice in your blender. Remember, you want a little icy crunch so you feel like you're indulging in a cookie. In this drink, a little crunch is good!

This is the one!

This is the one!

You're almost there! Now you just need vanilla bitters to add that vanilla cookie flavour and add some complexity. Surprise, surprise...I make my own....but you can buy extraordinary bitters these days, my suggestion being these Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters from Bittercube based out of Wisconsin!

RECIPE:

2 oz Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa
1 oz homespun caramel
2-3 dashes vanilla bitters (or more if desired)

2.5 oz frozen hot chocolate

Garnish: Chocolate curls and/or a cocoa/cinnamon/sprinkles heart

Shake together the oaked grappa, bitters, and caramel first. You want to make sure the caramel is incorporated into the alcohol BEFORE shaking in the frozen hot chocolate.

Then pour in the frozen hot chocolate and shake again, for about 5-7 seconds. Pour into a glass.

RH012115-13.jpg

For a garnish, I cut a heart out of a piece of cardboard and then set it over my glass. In the picture below, I'm dashing a drink with pink sprinkles. On the Liquid Cookie I make the heart out of cinnamon, but you could also use bitter cocoa!

Enjoy your drink, darling!

You put WHAT in your winter cocktails?

Devin Kidner

One of the biggest challenges anyone dedicated to the local, seasonal way of eating faces, especially in the Midwest, is what the heck to do in the winter, when there's less variety of produce and it seems root veggies are in every. single. dish. 

It's no different for us here at HOLLOW LEG. Being dedicated to sustainable cocktails, working within the limits of freezing Chicago winters seems ridiculous.

Spoiler Alert: Citrus doesn't grow in a climate like Chicago's. Picture by Kilroyart

Spoiler Alert: Citrus doesn't grow in a climate like Chicago's. Picture by Kilroyart

Sustainable cocktails, sure! But is this a sustainable business model? What the heck are you spiking cocktails with in the dead of winter?

And forget about the winter! Did you know here at HOLLOW LEG, when we work the Midwest scene, we steer clear of citrus fruits, which are pretty much the staple in mixology? They are used in everything from garnishes to anchoring flavour, and for good reason: they lend their acidity, bitterness, and characteristic sharp flavour to create complexity and balance in cocktails.

I’ve been asked why. Why no citrus? Why not just make my life easier and squeeze that wedge of lemon into the Pucker Up, a drink that uses fresh cranberry sauce, rose hip liqueur, vodka, and egg whites? Isn’t there something lacking without citrus?

The answer to me is simple. It’s unnecessary.

Unlike our lack of common baking spices in the Midwest (if someone knows where I can source local cinnamon, black pepper, and mace, please let me know, because for now I’m sourcing Fair Trade!), acidity can be achieved right here in the Midwest through a seemingly unusual but traditional source: Vinegar.

That’s right, y’all. Vinegar.

Mine doesn't look so beautiful, so here's a pic from Williams-Sonoma. Gah, overachievers.

Mine doesn't look so beautiful, so here's a pic from Williams-Sonoma. Gah, overachievers.

It was easy here in ChiTown when the spring and summer stopped by for a visit. Anyone who has tasted rhubarb knows you need no lemon to make it zing; young blueberries and blackberries are tart as all get-up; tart cherries hit at the perfect time and make for a gorgeous sour syrup; quince and crab apples are fantastic tart-ing staples; and persimmons nearly burn your tongue off with their astringency, which can fake as something sour when balanced well. 

It’s when cranberry season comes ‘round, I know we’re at the end. As soon as cranberries hit the market this year, I had a mini-panic attack. How am I going to incorporate acidity into cocktails through the long winter? 

I have a whole pantry of locally dried fruits and preserves, but it was a Midwestern baking tradition that made me reach for vinegar.

Vinegar Pie.

Return to a traditional baking staple for cocktails! Picture by glutenfreeeasily.com

Return to a traditional baking staple for cocktails! Picture by glutenfreeeasily.com

Nelson Algren, back in the 1930s, wrote in his book, America Eats:

Early Illinoisans felt keenly the absence of native fruit. Along toward the spring their systems developed a craving for something tart. To satisfy the craving, ingenious housewives invented the vinegar pie - vinegar, molasses, water, a little nutmeg and flour enough to bring the mixture to the consistency of custard. When baked in a pie tin, the resulting product was much relished and remained a favorite springtime dessert until young orchards coming into bearing provided real fruit pies to take its place.

Brilliant!

With that I thought, “Well, dang. I bet it’d work for cocktails, too.” So I created the Pucker Up, a delightfully unique cocktail with a bitter-fruity cranberry sauce-syrup, smooth CH Vodka, KOVAL Rose Hip Liqueur, a shaken egg white from Meadow Haven Farm, and homemade apple cider vinegar. Just a few drops.

Here’s the recipe:

PUCKER UP!

Ain't it pretty?! Picture by Brett Calomino.

Ain't it pretty?! Picture by Brett Calomino.

2 oz homemade cranberry sauce-syrup (cranberries from Ellis Family Farm)
1/2 oz KOVAL Rose Hip Liqueur
1.25 oz CH Vodka

1/8 tsp (a couple drops) of homemade apple cider vinegar
1 Meadow Haven egg white

(or if you don’t have access to Meadow Haven, use a pasture-raised egg from a source you trust. I cannot stress this enough. It can be harmful to your health if you consume raw eggs, but a local farmer has your back and generally, their eggs are pretty dope!)

Combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. And I mean vigorously. For at least 20 seconds to get an incredible merengue out of the egg.

Then shake with ice. 

Strain into a pretty glass (it doesn’t have to be any particular shape as long as it makes you smile) by tipping the glass at an angle and pouring the libation slowly down the side. Shake out any remaining egg white over top. 

Garnish, or don’t garnish.

What resulted was something tangy, airy, slightly bitter, and aromatic. It was delightful. Folks would ask me, “What is in this?! I can’t put my finger on it,” and when I’d say, “Homemade apple cider vinegar,” their jaws dropped.

It’s true, folks. We’re hard core here in the Midwest. We don’t need no stinkin’ citrus! You can make plenty of varieties of vinegars at home, and they can all be incorporated into cocktails beautifully.

Listen, I’m not knocking those cocktails that use citrus, but I find that when we place limitations on ourselves, it forces us to be more creative with what we concoct.

That’s the whole idea of HOLLOW LEG: Creating unique drinks from local, forgotten and oftentimes underused ingredients to please your palate and inspire you to keep reaching for the weird. 

Because weird can be amazing. 

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