Valentine’s Mocktails Review

Four very different valentines cocktails to consider for your sweethearts. From left to right: Mexican Chocolate Mocktail, Sweet Apple, Brazilian Strawberry Limeade & Hibiscus

Four very different Valentines cocktails to consider serving  your sweethearts this year. From left to right: Mexican Chocolate Mocktail, Red  Apple Delight, Brazilian Strawberry Limeade & Hibiscus Mocktail.

When I think about some of my most special Valentine’s Day memories they are with family. Going back as far as my childhood, I remember special valentines breakfasts where my mom made a special meal complete with strawberries, fancy pancakes and a chocolate. Dinner often had a little treat for each of us kids, and a card from my parents to each other that once read created a sentimental look in their eyes that us kids at the time didn’t understand.

At the time for us kids, Valentines was about getting  (or not getting) cards at school, and about chocolate and candy hearts, then later as a teen about who would (or would not) dance with you at the Valentine’s dance. And now as a parent and wife, I have come full circle and Valentine’s Day is again about family, sharing a special meal with them and a sentimental card with my spouse.

So as a mocktail enthusiast – I wanted to share some special Valentine’s drinks this year as part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations. The web is full of great pink, red and chocolate Valentine’s Mocktail ideas so we decide to try a few this Valentines weekend.

2015-02-13-by-eye-for-detail-005Hibiscus Mocktini

At Christmas I treated myself to a couple of Herbal Blossom Teas by Epicure that I hoped to try out in mixed drinks. One in particular called Scarlet O included rose petals, hibiscus and elderflowers – three ingredients that are hard to find up north. I also picked up rose water and hibiscus water on my trip to Vancouver – and so this recipe by realsimple.com jumped out at me when I was surfing the web. You can find the full recipe here and my adaptation below. The recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:
Our Thoughts:

This is not a very sweet drink and resulted in mixed reviews from my family. The colour and presentation are fantastic and the drink has a very interesting flavour complex. But, my two girls found it needed additional sweetener and more ginger ale than the recommended amount, and even with a shot of grenadine and added ginger ale only one of the two (the youngest interestingly enough) finished her drink. All four of us found the drink tasted more like tea than a cocktail, and this drink rated the lowest for the majority of our family. Would it work for an adult party? Perhaps, with a twist of pineapple juice thrown in. I would also consider trying this with Dark Gingerale to see if the flavour blend works better. Having no Red Zinger in town though, I am not sure what a different Hibiscus Tea would do to the drink.

Kid-o-metre 1/5 Not enjoyed without adding extra sugar and pop, then only moderately.
Taste: 3/5  Very unique a flavour and for a sophisticated palate.
Simplicity: 5/5 Nothing hard in this from a mixologist perspective. Don’t even need a cocktail shaker!
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Red Zinger was not available, an alternative is thanks to a local home businesses – remaining ingredients easy to find.

2015-02-13-by-eye-for-detail-002Red Apple Delight

This recipe by SoberJulie looked like a elegant sparkling apple juice coloured by a touch of grenadine. I was intrigued by the addition of sweet lime juice suggested and decided to give it a try at our family Valentines dinner. You can find her recipe here. The basic ingredients are also below. This make 4 servings.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 3/4 cups sweet lime juice
  • 4 tsp grenadine syrup
  • 1/4 cup carbonated water
  • 1 cup crushed ice
Our Thoughts:

This drink reminded me too much of Sunripe Apple Lime blend – while the presentation was elegant the drink itself could have used more fizz than it called for. That begin said, my youngest chose this as her second favourite drink of the four we tried over the evening.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 Kids had mixed feelings about it. One didn’t finish her glass and said it was too lime tasting for her.
Taste: 2/5  Isn’t really special enough and too much like something out of a carton.
Simplicity: 5/5 Very easy to make. The garnish is a little tricky, but by the third one I had mastered it.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All ingredients used to be easy to get locally, however my store has stopped carrying grenadine… sigh!

The next two recipes were from a list of 6 truly inspiring Valentines Mocktail ideas by One Good Thing by Jillee who had come up with amazing recipes including exotic ingredients like pomegranate juice, papaya nectar, blood orange juice as well as more common (but hard to find in my town) ingredients like white grape juice and colourful sorbets. I wish I could try all her ideas, but am settling on two – the first one using strawberries and lime and the last using chocolate.

2015-02-13-by-eye-for-detail-003Brazilian Strawberry Limeade

This recipe is similar to something I had thought of while considering how to incorporate strawberries and cream into a drink. Jillee uses a combination of simple syrup laced with lime, strawberry puree and sweetened condensed milk to create a pink tinted creamy mixture. You can find her recipe here and the ingredients you will need are listed below. This drink makes a full pitcher (about 2 litres) ready to serve to 8 to 10 guests depending on size of glass.

Ingredients:
  • 4 smooth, thin-skinned limes, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pound strawberries, pureed
  • Ice
  • Light corn syrup (optional)
  • Red sugar (optional)
  • sliced strawberries and limes for garnish
Our Thoughts:

This drink rated in the top two for the majority of our family. The blend of fresh lime juice, strawberry puree and condensed milk is very sweet and natural tasting and I was amazed at how sweet the drink was considering that the sugar syrup is very light (1:6) and the only other sugar is in the condensed milk (6 tbsp in an entire batch).

I used fresh strawberries for this recipe (about 400 grams) and blended them with half the sugar syrup after blending (then straining) the limes with the other half. The original recipe calls for pureed berries – and having no pre-pureed strawberries I improvised. This may have mixed the drink more effectively – and also added more sweetness from the strawberries since they were almost liquified in the blender.

I would serve this at any Valentine’s Day party – and happily pay for this drink in a bar if it was available.

Kid-o-metre 4.5/5 Kids enjoyed it, but it was not the first choice for either, but both finished their glass!
Taste: 4.5/5  Fantastic! Truly worth the work and cost of ingredients and it’s a huge party sized batch.
Simplicity: 3/5 There is some time required to make this drink, and a blender is an absolute necessity. (Sorry Mom!)
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All ingredients for this were readily available at my local store in my little town.

Mexican Chocolate Mocktail

2015-02-13-by-eye-for-detail-004Chocolate is a must at Valentine’s Day as is cinnamon. Infact if I had to choose, I would pick the cinnamon hearts over a box of chocolate any day. So when I read the ingredients for this Mocktail on Jillee’s website, that she adapted from HGTV.com by adding a red sugared rim, I had to try the recipe out. I would have liked to adapt it slightly myself – by adding crushed cinnamon hearts instead of red coloured sugar – but cinnamon hearts are not available this year locally. The ingredients are below, and you can check out the links to see the full instructions.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 
2 cups almond milk, chilled
  • 4 glasses
  • Light corn syrup (optional)
  • Red sugar (optional)
Our Thoughts:

Wow! I am not a huge chocolate milk fan, but the cinnamon, cocoa and almond milk make this drink an absolute dream. This drink rated equal to the last recipe in our home. The recipe makes a perfect four servings and there was not a drop left in any glass. I would still love to try this with crushed cinnamon hearts – sigh. Maybe next year!

Kid-o-metre 4.5/5 Kids chose this as first and second choice of the four drinks.
Taste: 4.5/5  Like I say… Wow! This does require almond milk – which isn’t cheap, but well worth the investment.
Simplicity: 5/5 This is very easy to make. Requires some time for cooling of the ingredients, but no special tools.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All easily found locally.

I would love to create something new, and may spend a little time on Valentine’s Day coming up with my own creation, but while Valentine’s is about love – and I love mixology – it’s about relationships. So my goal for the day is to spend as much time with those I love as I can, being a mom and a wife and a friend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tastes like Christmas

Cinnamon and orange -

Cinnamon and orange – the recipe calls for cream or Sprite. Above I chose Sprite.

I have always enjoyed Christmas. Our Christmas Tree dominates our living room, the smell of cinnamon candles drifts through the air and holiday music starts playing as early as December 1st.

My decorations both around the home and on the tree have been collected since I was about two, including hand made Christmas decorations my mom lovingly collected from me each year and kept safe. These gems originally hung on my parent’s family tree, along with by siblings creations and the decorations we received from friends and family each year. Now that I have my own family, I received all these treasures and they hang along side those my kids have brought home or received on our family tree. And because I am crafty, there are some new decorations that we have made as a family, hanging amongst the rest.

One of my favourite family crafts at Christmas is to make pomanders. The smell of cloves, cinnamon and orange permeate the air for weeks after and the smell will continually remind me of the festive season, along with pine needles and turkey.

So when I started thinking about Christmas beverages — and wanted to make something new to contribute — my first thought went to orange and cinnamon. The result was tasted and tested for perfection and described as “tastes like Christmas!” by my daughters.

Liquid Pomander Shooter

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Fill a third shot glass with cinnamon syrup. Carefully layer orange juice concentrate over this to fill next third glass. Repeat with whipping cream  (or sprite) for last third of glass to fill. Serve.

My Thoughts:

This is a simple but powerful drink packs a punch. I originally made this recipe with Sprite, wishing to maintain the purity of the pomander flavours of cinnamon and orange. The result was very sweet and too strong for my children.

By adding a layer of cream, the tartness of the concentrated orange juice blends with the cream when you tip the combo back, leaving a sweet but bright taste once done. My youngest still found he cinnamon too strong though, saying she needed water, or more pointing at the water since it seems the drink left her speechless.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 Strong cinnamon taste not appealing to some younger kids.
Taste: 4/5  Most who tasted this liked it.
Simplicity: 4/5 Once you get the hang of layering, this is easy to do. One simple syrup to make ahead.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All ingredients available, all year.

Bottoms Up!

Old fashioned Home Made Eggnog Review

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog  Testing. Left to right back row: recipes from Instructables.com, Spice and Foodie & About Food. Front row: recipes from All Recipes.com and A Sweet Pea Chef

My husband tells the story of his childhood in Saskatchewan, where at Christmas powdered eggnog mix was available. He recalls that when made up into a drink the stuff was terrible, but alone on a spoon, as a kid this stuff was heaven.

At Christmas eggnog comes along side the milk and cream in the dairy section, while quantities last, but the drink isn’t really very real tasting. So this year, for the holidays, our family decided to do a comparison of some recipes for home made eggnog from scratch.

The Competitors

I chose recipes using different techniques to see which our family and friends preferred. Three with the basics: egg, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. And two with additional extras.

1. About Food offers a recipe for a cooked eggnog using whipped cream as the frothiness. The recipe says it takes 65 minutes but the actual requirement is to let the custard chill for at least 4 hours, so I would say make it the day before. I found this recipe the most time consuming of the bunch.

2. Spice and Foodie has a recipe called Hubby’s Old Fashion Eggnog that is made cold and then chilled. This is by far the easiest recipe, also the thinnest as it doesn’t use whipped cream, egg meringue or custard for thickener.

3. Instructables.com gives a recipe that combines yolks with milk and spice (booze is optional so we omitted it), and then folds this into beaten egg whites to create a whipped thick nog. The egg whites give a fluffy texture, and add the thickness.

4. All recipes.com used two additional ingredients: condensed milk and salt in an uncooked version of eggnog. This one uses whipped cream for thickening.

and lastly

5. A Sweet Pea Chef adds cloves and cinnamon to the mix in a cooked eggnog recipe. This is the thickest recipe of the bunch, and the most cooked. The addition of the other spices does change the final flavour.

Our Thoughts:

Eggnogs are supposed to be thick. But how thick? The cooked eggnogs create a custard that becomes the thickening factor. I found that the Sweet Pea Chef recipe(#5)  almost too thick, while the Spice and Foodie recipe (#2) could have used some thickening.

As far as taste – the most nutmeg flavour was in the Spice and Foodie recipe (#2) calls for a full teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg in it’s recipe. The only other recipe asking for the same amount was the Sweet Pea Chef recipe (#5), but there two other spices blend for the flavour profile.

The cooked About Food recipe had a cooked egg flavour reminiscent of tapioca pudding. The nutmeg taste is enhanced with the addition of the recommended garnish, but personally I would recommend doubling the amount in the recipe as well. Others who sampled this found this was their preferred option, saying that for those who do not normally like eggnog, this is the better one. That must be so, because my eggnog hating daughter loved this recipe.

We found the Sweet Pea Chef recipe also very cooked in flavour, and the no one preferred this choice. My husband said the combination of spices remind him of pumpkin pie and that this could be very good mixed with something. My friends suggested it would be excellent on Christmas deserts. For a drink, we gave it a couple days and tried it again, diluted with milk (half and half, or just a bit less milk if we wanted it richer). The flavours had blended and the drink was much more eggnog like.

When it comes to simplicity the Spice and Foodie (#2) recipe wins, but for flavour and thickness the competition is between AboutFood’s recipe (#1), Instructables recipe (#3) and AllRecipes.com (#4). While I liked the cooked version, as a eggnog fan the recipe #3 wins out for thickness and flavour. The addition of egg white meringue makes this recipe very frothy, light and flavourful, while adding whipped cream in recipe #1 and #4 increases the richness tasted in the beverage and competes with the flavour of the nog. Interestingly, the meringue thickened recipe (#3) has the most whipping cream in the recipe of all the five tested! Guess that goes to show what whipped egg whites can do.

_MG_9621The Verdict

The winner of the tasting challenge was #1 with the most votes. The cooked quality was great for all ages, and the taste is preferred by even non eggnog fans.

Second and third go to Instructable.com and Spice and Foodie, each having advantages over the others.

If I was to host a party and look for a recipe to serve, I would go with the recipe from Instructables.com, which is fairly simple to make doesn’t require cooking and cooling, or tempering over time, and has the great frothy look from the meringue.

For giving as gifts? I would choose the safest approach and go with the winner. And for home, just to have and enjoy any time? The Spice and Foodie recipe since it requires little time and no additional ingredients. That being said, I would probably pick up a whipping cream bomb and add a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg to the glass and then Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

Italian (or not) Cream Soda

 

Whether or not they're truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

Whether or not they’re truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

If you were to google Italian Cream Soda recipes you would come up with a wealth of ideas based on the concept of mixing purchased flavoured syrups, soda water ice and cream in a glass in a way that lets the syrup sink, the cream float and the drink look five kinds of cool. Because these flavoured syrups work well in flavoured coffees, teas and cocoas, milkshakes, lemonades and cocktails as well as sodas; Italian Sodas and Italian Cream Sodas are often served in trendy coffee shops.

Interestingly enough in researching about Italian Sodas, the origins are not, well, purely Italian.

According to Quattro Formaggi and Other Disgraces on the Menu a site focussing on “food known as Italian food and the food of Italy”, Italian sodas (made with syrups and soda water) and Italian Cream Sodas may or may not have originated in Italy. According to the site “In Sicily, a traditional soft drink is made by adding fruit syrups (e.g.: lemon, orange, mandarin, chinotto) to sparkling or seltz water.”  and fruit syrups were also used over shaved ice or added to iced water in Italy to make a drink called granita. According to wikipedia “An example of an alternative to Italian soda that is really from Italy is the chinotto, a carbonated drink made from the juice of a native Italian citrus fruit called the myrtle-leaved orange or myrtifolia.[1]” 

Some sites suggest that Italian Sodas originated when two italian immigrants introduced flavoured syrups in 1925, in San Francisco, by adding their syrups to soda water. Other site such as Art of Drink suggest that American companies were already doing this. Wikipedia also suggests that cream sodas were made as early as 1852; and that a patent for cream soda-water was granted in the USA in 1865 to Alexander C. Howell, and in Canada a patent for Ice-Cream Soda was granted in 1886 to James William Black. You can check out more details of these patents here if you are interested.

One thing for sure is that mixing soda water and flavoured syrups has been around for over a century. And mixing cream into the drink, either known as the “Italian Cream-soda” or “French Soda” or “Cremosa” is not an Italian concept but still a good idea that has become poplar in North America.

So back to the research and into the lab – ok the kitchen but lab sounds cooler.

Going back to the original idea of “sodas” – as a drink mixed from home made syrups and club soda – I am taken by the idea. This is something that can be created – using easy to find ingredients available at any grocery store and I can control the sugar and preservatives. And what happens if the syrup is replaced by concentrated juices?

Oh the possibilities for recipes.

Torani.com has a huge list of Italian Soda recipes based on their syrups. Since I have orange flavoured syrup of my own on hand I check out their Orange Cream Soda recipe. With this recipe, as in most of their recipes, they recommend about 2 tbsp (1 oz) syrup to 1 cup of soda water. If making a cream soda add “a touch of cream”.

Going further, other recipes have increased the concentration of syrup, suggesting 3 tbsp (1.5 oz)  per half cup soda or 6 tbsp (3 oz) per cup in a website Butter With a Side of Bread, or at Brown Eyed Baker. Other sites like  allrecipes.com and Hersheys suggest  3 tbsp (3/4 oz) syrup to 1 cup soda water.

Our best bites has a great step by step explanation on how to mix the drink. The secret is to add the syrup, then the ice. Top with soda water and then a splash of cream. The ice keeps the mixture more separated, in theory.

Ok time to test drinks.

Cinnamon Orange Cream Soda

 

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-014Adding the idea of juices to the concept. I came up with this dazzling creation.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour cinnamon syrup, then orange juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins or shake glass (it should layer somewhat). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

When I was a small child orange juice was my comfort food/drink. If my mom was already in the room, I couldn’t call “mommy” and realized that at some level. So I cried “orange juice”. To this day, OJ is one of my favourite drinks. Add a splash of cinnamon, a dash or milk and OH MOMMY!

The whipping cream is heavy enough that it floats beautifully on the drink, slowly mixing in to give a nice effect. The cinnamon syrup sinks and shows up at the bottom and the ice does the trick of keeping the layers separated when adding the soda water. Seems Our Best Bites was right!

What did my family think? It rated one of the better choices (with or without cream) for each of our family members.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Both kids loved this
Taste: 5/5  Flavours work in perfect proportion
Simplicity: 4/5  Two recipes to make, one that takes a little time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 It’s all in town baby!

Black Forest Cream Soda

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-006

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour chocolate, cherry juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins glass. Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

This is a balancing act between the cherry and chocolate flavour. Depending on the concentration of cherry juice, you may need to tweak this slightly. I made cherry juice out of 1 bag frozen dark sweet cherries and 1 cup water (recipe below) which made a rich dark juice.

My youngest daughter didn’t like this when she tried it. She declared she doesn’t like black forest cake. So we told her it was chocolate cherry soda. She tried it again, and loved it. What’s with that?? Tried this both with and without the cream, we think the Italian soda (no cream) may have the edge over the Italian Cream Soda or French Soda version.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 good when you get the right balance
Simplicity: 3/5 While drinking chocolate is easy to whip up, having all the ingredients made and at hand takes time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 all available within town – small town that is!


 Cherry Juice Recipe
Ingredients:

1 bag (600 grams) frozen dark sweet cherries (I used president’s choice brand)
2 cups water – divided
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer cherries in 1 cup water for 15 minutes, strain using fine mesh strainer reserving liquid. Return cherries to pot and add remaining water. Simmer another 15 minute, allow to cool. Pour cherries, with the water they were cooked in, into blender and blend until liquified. Strain pulp reserving liquid. Discard pulp.

Add 1/2 cup sugar to liquid from both batches and return to heat. Heat just until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Cool and store or freeze in 2 oz portions (ice cubes) if you wish the juice to last more than 2 weeks.


 Cherry Jubilee Cream Soda

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-012

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour juice and syrups into bottom of glass (collins for full portions or champagne glass for two smaller servings). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

I served this in half portions in champagne flutes for added elegance and looks beautiful when cream is added.  When I first made this I used half and half cream which is normally recommended for Italian cream soda recipes online. The cream quickly mixed into the drink. Using whipping cream slows this process creating beautiful lines of white descending into the red of the juice – just the way it should look.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 Both kids liked this but it was not the preferred choice of the three.
Taste: 4/5 Lovely, but when I wasn’t looking my husband added chocolate!
Simplicity: 4/5 Two special ingredients to make up, again once prep is done it’s a cinch.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 No problem

In chatting with my hubby, who has never been a carbonated drink fan, he regularly ordered Italian Cream Soda’s when out with his buddies back in Vancouver, BC. His reason? The cream mellows out the carbonation making the drink enjoyable.

With both my kids and my hubby fans of this concept, I can see that we continue to experiment with flavours in the future, and as long as no more are called after a hated desert, I am betting of further sighs of happiness from my family.

Simple Syrups

simple syrup making is pretty easy: sugar, water and any flavouring you want.

Simple Syrup: a key ingredient.

As I work my way through recipes for drinks, both common and unusual, simple syrups keep showing up as a key ingredient. Simple syrups, like alcoholic infusions, can be flavoured with herbs, spices or fruit and add sweetness and flavour to cocktails, lemonades, iced teas, coffees, fizzes and sodas.

When I started working to create virgin drinks with similar tastes to the original alcoholic drinks, I found that simple syrups were a way of creating flavours that imitated some of the sweeter liqueurs like cinnamon and peppermint schnapps, Curaçao, and even Kahlua. Unlike their originals, these syrups lack the bite or kick that the alcohol provides, and will be sweeter. This means that in order to adapt recipes less syrup should be used or the drink will become simply too sweet for most palates.

In my testings and trials of drink making I have found that adding bitters, soda water or more sour beverages can counteract the sweetness of the simple syrup. The key, though, is to make the flavouring in the simple syrup strong enough that the amount needed is halved in comparison to a liqueur, without loosing flavour.

Simple Syrup – basic recipes

Ingredients:
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
Procedure:

Measure water and sugar into a pot and heat at medium high. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved in the water and the water turns clear.  Turn off heat and allow syrup to cool. Store in container, well sealed, in cool location.

My Thoughts:

Simple syrup recipes are easy to find online. The basics are that the more sugar the stronger the syrup but the components are the same: Sugar and water.

Some call a one to one ratio thick or rich simple syrup as does What’s Cooking America others refer to a rich simple syrup as a stronger sugar concentration While Allrecipes  suggests that a 1:1 ratio is known as simple syrup. . About Food suggests a rich simple syrup is 2:1 ratio. Whatever it’s called there is four common ratios. 1:1 sugar to water; 2:1 sugar to water; and 1:2 sugar to water; and 1:3 sugar to water.

I find that the stronger syrups are better for more sour or bitter combinations such as dark or semi sweet chocolate, coffee, lemons, grapefruit and raspberries. More dilute syrups work best for drinks where multiple syrups and strong juices will be used without diluting the drink with soda water or use of bitters.

Simple syrups can also be made with flavoured or alternate sugar sources. Brown sugar makes a pleasant and darker tasting simple syrup, and caramelizing white sugar then introducing the water changes the flavour of the syrup to introduce darker flavours into your drinks. I provided the recipe for carmel syrup in my post all about apples here as it takes a few more steps and some practice to get right.

You can also find how I make my coffee syrup which I use at half strength instead of kahlua from my previous post used in my version of Carmel Apple-Disiac, and my cinnamon heavy syrup recipe here as part of my recipe for apple pie shooters.


Orange Simple Syrup

This is a wonderful bright tasting syrup that is infused with the essences of orange zest. The resulting syrup is clear and slightly orange in colour.

Ingredients:
  • Orange zest from two oranges
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cup sugar
Procedure:

Heat water in pot on medium high and add orange zest, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep half hour. Return to medium high heat and add sugar. Bring back to a low boil and cook until sugar is dissolved and no crystals are left on the bottom. Remove from heat, cool and pour into container for storage. Leave rinds in place to continue to infuse. Store in fridge until use and strain rinds as used.

Mint Simple Syrup

Ingredients:
  • Peppermint leaves – chopped (about half cup)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
Procedure:

Heat water to boil in pot and add peppermint leaves – allow to simmer 5 minutes then turn off heat and allow to steep up to 1 hour. Strain leaves from water, keeping the infused liquid, and return peppermint water to medium high heat. Add sugar and dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and taste liquid for strength. If liquid feels too weak, add more peppermint leaves and allow to infuse for a few days in the syrup. If desired add a drop or two of green food colouring.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t have a fresh source of peppermint leaves when I first created this recipe. In order to “cheat” I simply added a few drops of real peppermint extract. Careful to taste the recipe as you add more mint – peppermint is very strong and you can end up with toothpaste floured syrup instead of something wonderful for drink making purposes.


Depending on how often you make a certain drink, or use a flavoured syrup it may be better for you to have the basic recipe for sweetness and add flavour other ways. In many cases I have chosen to make a simple syrup and add flavourings by muddling them into the drink instead of infusing the ingredients into a number of syrups and then storing these for later use.

Storing multiple simple syrups can take up space and be expensive if you choose to procure fancy bottles for your liquids to reside. I keep some of my most used syrups on hand – in fancy bottles- cause it looks much cooler when mixing drinks then pulling out multiple plastic Ziplock tubs or old pickle jars. But the majority of my syrups are stored in the cheapest containers I can find and reside in an old fridge in the basement for when I need them.

Apple Shooters, Sparklers and Fizz

My love of sweet apple drinks started about 8 years back, while out with my husband’s band Heavy Things (now Down Water Union) at a bar gig. After the event the wives all shared an apple pie shooter – which tasted sweet and exactly like apple pie if you had soaked the apples in vodka for a week! While I loved the flavour I only had the one since for me – it’s never been about getting inebriated.

The idea of enjoying shooters – for the taste instead of the alcoholic hit stuck with me. Knowing that kids love candy and sweet drinks, one of my missions has been to provide super strong hits of flavour without the consequences of the alcohol. I hope to come up with many ideas for shooters in future blogs, however in time for thanksgiving I decided to work on a all ages version of my first shooter: the apple pie shooter.

The original apple pie shooter is layered sweet shooter. Layered drinks rely on science – yep love me some science!

My kids and I did a whole set of experiments on density while we were home schooling during the teachers strike. We used honey, water, and oil, a penny, grape and a cork. The penny sunk through all layers, the grape floated on the honey which was the bottom layer as it is the most dense. The oil floated above the water and the cork floated on the oil. It looked pretty cool and we kept it around for about a week before I finally tossed it all out.

Putting a sweet drink and the coolness of layers together, I figure this will be a huge hit with the younger crowd.

Apple Pie Shooter

This is a layered drink, so specific tools are needed to make this happen smoothly. While any shot glass will work, for layered drinks I prefer a tall 2 oz shot glass so that the layers are visible. The recommended technique for layering is pouring over a spoon that fits well into the inside of the shot glass. For some great tutorials check out WikiHow or  Mix that Drink. Since I don’t have a specialty twisted handle bar spoon and a bunch of quick pour spouts at hand, I prefer the simple way of layering drinks using a slow pour over the back of a spoon.

Layering drinks is all about knowing the density of your choices. This can be fun if you like to experiment, as you work out which syrup, juice or cream will sink or float over the others. The rule of thumb is that the more concentrated the drink or syrup the more dense it is. Normally creams will float over juice which floats over syrup. If you are wondering, simply add your first liquid and then slowly pour your second along the side of the glass. While it won’t be perfect for presentation, if the second drink sinks, it’s more dense and should be poured first for your future drinks.

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz cinnamon syrup (see below)
  • 1 tsp butterscotch syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz Apple Sour (find recipe here)
  • dash ground cinnamon
Procedure:

Slowly pour cinnamon to just about fill half shot glass. Gently drizzle butterscotch syrup over this layer using spoon technique. Layer Apple Sour (juice) over butterscotch. Let drink settle, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and serve.

My Thoughts:

I originally tired this with equal parts of each liquid, but found that the butterscotch was too heavy a flavour for the drink. I like the flavour of fresh apple that the Apple Sour gives, as well as the green colour gives a neat look to the drink. If you prefer a more cooked taste for your “pie” replace the Apple Sour with fresh apple cider or fresh bottled apple juice. Feel free to experiment with your three components to create the perfect “apple pie” taste for your family.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Tested on my own daughters, passed with flying colours.
Taste: 4/5 Who doesn’t love apple pie?
Simplicity: 2/5. Three special ingredients and some technical skill required
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store


 Cinnamon  Heavy Syrup
Ingredients:

2 cups water
6-8 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Combine spices and water in sauce pan, bring to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 1 hour. Return to medium heat and add sugar. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves and liquid turn clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into container and let sit for stronger flavour for up to 4 days. Strain out spices and store in fridge until needed.

Butterscotch Syrup

I took the Butterscotch Syrup recipe from a blog when I was looking up how to make Butterbeer for halloween. Treasures by Brenda has a bunch of ideas on this, and had a great recipe for butterscotch syrup that I can say is by far the bestest. Check out her blog here, and look for “Harry Potter Butterbeer Recipe #1 – A non-alcoholic recipe.”

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, brown sugar, half and half cream and salt in a small saucepan and simmer gently for five minutes. Stir in vanill and let cool.


Apple Lemon Fizz

This is a simple recipe that looks a bit like ale when it’s done. While the original is called a fizz, due to it’s citrus, sugar and soda water ingredients, you could just as easily classify this in a beer/ale category. The idea for this comes from Food 52 and called for an apple brandy. Homemade Applejack syrup infusion to the rescue!
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz Applejack Syrup Infusion (recipe here)
  • 1 oz Apple Sour (recipe here)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • White of 1 egg (if it’s a large egg, that’s sufficient for two drinks)
  • Chilled club soda
Procedure:

Mix first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake will to mix (about 10 seconds). This will emulsify the egg and is called a dry shake. Add ice, repeat process until very foamy, then strain into a old-fashioned glass. Add a splash (about 2 oz) club soda to give it a nice thick foamy head. Serve immediately.

My Thoughts:

The recipe seems cool, but in the end was a upscale version of apple lemonade. While the foamy head is cool, it doesn’t bring anything to the taste of the drink and dissipated quickly. Of all the drinks, this experiment was less satisfying, but yielded some ideas to work on and probably needs just a tweak in presentation to finish it off.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 Not as sweet as some of the others, but the foam gives great moustaches!
Taste: 2/5 would I buy this in a restaurant… perhaps not.
Simplicity: 5/5. Not brain science
Ingredient finding: 5/5 yep! Easy to find the ingredients

 Ginger Apple Sparkler

This is a super simple recipe that is refreshing and lovely anytime. While I have this in my fall repertoire, you can bet I will pull it out next summer on a hot day too. This idea is thanks to Martha Stewart with a slight alteration since I wasn’t able to find sparkling apple cider in town, and wanted to use my favourite muddler instead of making yet another syrup.

Ingredients:

2 oz Apple Sour or fresh apple juice
4 slices ginger
2 oz simple syrup (1 part sugar, 2 parts water)
club soda

Procedure:

Muddle ginger in simple syrup until flavour are well blended. Add apple juice or apple sour and ice. Shake to mix and strain over ice into old-fashioned. Top with club soda and garnish with a piece of candied ginger and a cinnamon stick if desired.

My thoughts:

I reduced the amount of lemon in the original drink, as my apple juice wasn’t as strong as an apple cider would be. Using my fresh pressed green apple juice (apple sour) give the drink a different look from the original as the liquid is slightly more opaque and of course green tinged. I love ginger, and the fresh muddled ginger is a stronger flavour than would be found in a syrup.

If you wanted to omit the fresh ginger, try using ginger ale instead of club soda. Haven’t done this yet myself, so don’t know how it would compare. If you do, please comment!
Kid-o-metre 2/5 Too strong for my youngest (7 yrs) but my 11 year old loved it.
Taste: 4/5 Nice refreshing, but not everyone likes ginger
Simplicity: 5/5. Super easy, nothing but simple syrup to make.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 everything available in a small northern town with only one store if you adapt as suggested.
Do you have some ideas for apple drinks – that you have adapted for an all ages audience? I would love to hear them!