Handsome Johnnies and Four Sassy Sisters

Since this pandemic started in early March we have pretty much socially isolated.  We’ve been all about following the rules and staying safe and healthy.  My husband and I are blessed that we not only love each other, but we also like each other…because three months, 24/7, is a lot of togetherness.  But this past weekend, after those three months, we had a wonderful long weekend with family.  Two of my brothers and sisters-in-law, a nephew, and a surrogate sister.  We spent the majority of our time outdoors.  We ate outdoors, drank outdoors, and we spent a lot of time around the bonfire.  The weather cooperated and it was great fun.

One of the very special events we missed because of Covid-19 was a John Prine concert in Louisville KY.  Sadly, John Prine lost his life to Covid-19.  We listened to a LOT of Prine’s music that weekend and enjoyed a few Handsome Johnnies, his signature drink.  If any of you are John Prine fans you know the song “When I Get to Heaven” where the chorus goes:  “And then I’m gonna get a cocktail, vodka and ginger ale [and] I”m going to smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long.”  So, in honor of John Prine, we enjoyed several vodka and ginger ales.  His song didn’t give us a recipe so we made our drinks with equal parts of vodka and ginger ale.

Enjoy.  And raise your glass to John Prine who went to heaven far too soon.

The other cocktail we made was also a vodka drink.  It was based on a cocktail I saw on Michael Symon’s site that I modified.  After we mixed it and tasted it the four of us decided to name it after us.  Four Sassy Sisters.  We’re not sisters by blood, but we’re sisters by choice, and we can be a little sassy.  The drink is really tasty and refreshing.  Perfect summer cocktail hour drink, no matter the hour.

Ingredients:

1 cup vodka

3/4 cup cranberry juice

3/4 cup pineapple  juice

3 oz grand marnier

2 7-oz bottles ginger beer

Mix the vodka and juices in a pitcher, add the ginger beer, and pour over glasses of ice.

This is a picture of the four sassy sisters.  Cheers!

NOTE:  My brothers bought Canada Dry ginger ale with lemonade to cut down on the gingery taste but an authentic Handsome Johnny contains just ginger ale.  As with any recipe, it’s all a matter of personal taste.  I’m typically a whiskey drinker and I’m thinking a Four Sassy Sister with whiskey might also be pretty tasty.  I have a preference for Fever Tree tonic and ginger beer.  Those bottle are 6.8 oz.  I think between 14-16 oz of any ginger beer would work fine in the sister’s drink.

The Golden Triangle

My friend Jane and I were recently in Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We went to a farm to table restaurant there that we had visited before called the Marq.  They have excellent food and some very creative cocktails.  One of which was called the Golden Triangle.  I am a fan of gin drinks and drinks that are not sweet so I knew I would enjoy the combination of gin and ginger in the Golden Triangle.  Jane and I both ordered one and we loved it!  I wrote down all of the ingredients from their menu and when we got home we set out to search for the ingredients.  Since we live in a rural area it is a often difficult to find unusual ingredients.  After visiting several liquor stores we finally found everything.  The most difficult ingredient for us to find was the Chartreuse which is a French liqueur made by Carthusian Monks of La Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble France.  It’s made from 130 Alpine herbs (who knew) according to an ancient formula dating back to 1605.  According to the bottle, the secret method of preparation is shared by three Carthusian brothers and is protected by vows of silence.  Whoa!  I also did not know that it is the only liqueur to have a color named after it.  According to the label it has a “totally  unexpected, remarkably beguiling, unique flavor.”  My friend and I both had to take a sip out of the bottle immediately after we purchased it…no worry about germs…it’s 110 proof.  Our facial expressions certainly attested to the taste description of unexpected and unique and perhaps even beguiling.  This is not a liqueur that I would drink by itself save for that sip in the liquor store parking lot.

The other ingredient, Domaine de Canton,  is not nearly as sexy or exotic.  While the liquor stores we visited didn’t carry it (and after being told by a liquor distributor that was in one store that it would be extremely difficult to find and we might have to special order it) we found it on the shelf in our local Meijer store.  This is a ginger flavored liqueur made in France since 2007.  Prior to that it was made in China from 1992-1997.  This liqueur is 56 proof.  It contains syrup made from crystallized Chinese baby ginger, orange blossom honey, and vanilla.

Finally, this drink needs simple syrup infused with ginger.  Which is so tasty I need to find something else to use it on or in.

The glasses are rimmed in a combination of salt and gochugaru.  Coincidentally, before even having our cocktail at the Marq, I had purchased gochugaru at the Spice Merchant in Marquette to use in another recipe.  So here we go.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz of good gin

1/2 oz domaine de canton

1/4 oz chartreuse

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz ginger simple syrup

salt and gochugaru

Combine all of the ingredients and ice in a shaker and shake, shake, shake!  Pour into cocktail glasses rimmed in the salt and gochugaru and enjoy!  My husband, who claims to not like gin or ginger, enjoyed one of the cocktails and said it was very refreshing!

Thanks to the bartender at the Marq who very graciously gave us the recipe!  Just one more reason to frequent the Marq when we’re in Marquette next!!  And thanks to the salesman at the Marquette Spice Merchant who went into the back room and found the gochugaru for me.

NOTE:  To make the ginger infused simple syrup combine 2 cups of sugar and two cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Thinly slice 8 oz of ginger and bring the syrup back up to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow it to steep for at least 30 minutes.

 

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pudding Shots

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A few weeks ago we went to our favorite music festival and I made pudding shots.  I made three different pudding shots – a caramel apple with Apple Pucker and Butter Shots, a coconut cream with Malibu Coconut Rum, and a chocolate and salted caramel with Baileys.  The chocolate was the most popular and I just made another batch for a friend.

Ingredients:

1  4 oz. box instant chocolate pudding

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup strong coffee

3/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream

1/2 cup caramel topping

8 oz cool whip

salt flakes

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In a medium size bowl whisk together the pudding, milk, coffee, and Baileys.  Whisk in the caramel topping.

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Fold in the cool whip.

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Spoon into little cups with lids, garnish with salt flakes and enjoy.

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Store the pudding shots in the refrigerator.

 

 

Bourbon Cherries

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When we were visiting our daughter over the Christmas holiday she had made some bourbon cherries that made a great Manhattan. Maybe not a traditional Manhattan, but a pretty good variation. I made a batch of these tasty cherries when I got home and I think the longer they “cure” the better.

Ingredients:

1 fifth of bourbon (I used Evan Williams)

1 pint of grand Grand Marnier

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 T vanilla (or 2 vanilla beans slit)

1 T whole allspice

3 cinnamon sticks

a little grated nutmeg

32 ounces of frozen, pitted tart cherries

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In a large heavy kettle combine bourbon, grand mariner, sugars and spices. Over low heat whisk until sugars are completely dissolved. DO NOT boil. Turn the heat off and allow it to steep and cool down.  Once off the heat stir in the vanilla.

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Put the cherries in glass jars and pour the cooled alcohol mix over the cherries. You can leave the spices in the jars but be careful to remove them before serving.

To prepare your faux Manhattan…

In a small glass with a little ice pour “cherry juice” over the ice. Add a couple dashes of orange or Angostura bitters. Spear a few cherries on a cocktail pick and serve. You can add a bit of orange or lemon peel for garnish if you wish. A traditional Manhattan has a little sweet or dry vermouth but the grand mariner is a great substitute.

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I think these cherries would be awesome over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or on a dish of homemade rice pudding.

Cheers!  Happy New Year.

Pineapple and Coconut Rum

Take a fresh pineapple, remove the peel and dice into medium size cubes. Put the diced pineapple into a glass jar (mine filled a 2-quart canning jar) and add coconut rum until the pineapple is completely covered. Keep the jar on your counter and invert it a couple times a day until you are ready to partake. Serve straight up or over ice. And make sure none of that pineapple goes to waste. 

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