Nov. 15 2013 07:14 PM

Getting creative with the amber spirit

11-20 cocktails
Frank and Amy Green preparing their San Francisco Fog
Photo by Kelly Davis

Recently, a couple of friends came up with an idea for a cocktail party: Pick a spirit—whiskey in this case—and have attendees buy a nice bottle of that spirit (in the $40 range) and use it to come up with a "signature" cocktail. Then, at the end of the night, there'd be a white-elephant-style exchange of the bottles and their remaining contents.

Folks put a lot of thought and effort into their cocktails—one couple, for instance, made smoked ice (more on that below). I wanted to do something with pumpkin and had in mind a nice, round, sweet-and-spicy pumpkin / bourbon cocktail. Caveat: I write about cocktails, I don't make 'em. I figured out a pumpkin simple syrup (white and brown sugars, water, pumpkin purée and spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and star anise—to taste) and added a dash of Bitter Truth celery bitters to counter the sweetness just a bit. 

The drink was still missing something, though, and since my trial run was two hours before the party, I didn't have time to experiment. A few days later, I spotted the Easy, Pilgrim on Saltbox's winter cocktail menu, made with Templeton Rye, a spiced-pumpkin reduction and Angostura bitters. Ah-ha! Rye's spiciness makes it a better choice than the sweeter bourbon. And a spiced pumpkin reduction! Jen Queen was kind enough to share her recipe (see below).

Even if my cocktail wasn't a complete success, here are a couple from the party that were:


San Francisco Fog by Amy and Frank Green

- 2 ounces Cyrus Noble bourbon

- 3 ounces coconut milk

- 2 ounces apple cider

- 1/2 ounce lemon-honey simple syrup

- Shake and strain over ice, garnish with
     fresh-grated nutmeg


Smoke Up Johnny by Lesley Emery and Mike Scheer

Adapted from the Smoke Signals cocktail from Laurelhurst Market in Portland

- 3 parts Wild Turkey Spiced bourbon

- 1 part Hartley & Gibsonís Amontillado sherry

- 1/2 part fresh lemon juice

- 1 part pecan simple syrup (simple syrup simmered with toasted pecans then strained)

- Stir and serve over smoked ice (made by melting ice in a smoker then refreezing it).

- Garnish with a flamed orange twist.



Spiced pumpkin reduction

 

3 cups of diced roasted pumpkin. 

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of apple juice (preferably non
      filtered)

1 cup of water 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice 

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Let cool, strain and store.


Email kellyd@sdcitybeat.com or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.

Calendar

  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5