Winter’s crisp chill is tinting the air and the festive season is upon us. As invitations start popping up in mailboxes and inboxes, here are two of my own cocktail party favorites.
A Refreshing Cucumber Daiquiri
You might question the logic of serving up a cocktail with cooling cucumber and bright lime during a time when warming libations rule, but sometimes I get bogged down in all the cinnamon-spiced concoctions and want something clean to cut the palate. This drink is that, with a tiny nod toward the season from the aged rum and Caperitif, a South African vermouth with notes of spiced orange.
1/2 small Persian cucumber, cut in half and quartered
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces aged rum
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Caperitif (optional) or a few dashes of Angostura bitters
Place ingredients in Boston shaker filled with ice and shake until cold, about 10 long seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a skewered rolled up slice of cuke.
Sticky Cocktail Chourico
Sticky and shiny in their pool of jelly-based coating, cocktail wieners may have an unappealing name but they sure do have a tempting look about them. This version uses chourico sliced on a bias in place of cocktail wieners, coating them in a mixture of vinegar, red wine, cherry and red pepper jellies, a dab of hot mustard and some hot sauce. Serve with toothpicks for skewering and a batch of cucumber daiquiris to cleanse the palate.
1 pack of turkey chourico, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices on a bias
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup sour cherry jam
1/4 cup spicy red pepper jelly
1 Tbsp hot Dijon
1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot sauce
First, heat oil a nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook shallot and sliced chourico until shallot is translucent and the sausage is darkly seared on all sides. Add the vinegar and red wine and let the alcohol cook off, about 1 min. Add the sour cherry jam, spicy red pepper jelly, Dijon and hot sauce and let simmer over medium low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until sauce is thick and sausage slices glisten. Serve immediately, with toothpicks for skewering.
The Great Pumpkin White Russian (for the basic girl in all of us)
While the White Russian is up there with the Espresso martini in the list of “bartender’s most hated” drinks, the truth is, it’s a darn tasty, indulgent drink. This version amps up the basic factor (“I’m subverting it!” my art history self would belligerently say) with pumpkin, spices, and a dash of Caperitif for a tinge of warm orange.
2 oz dark rum
1 oz Kahlua
1/4 oz Caperitif
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
Top with oat milk or heavy cream
Place ingredients in Boston shaker filled with ice and shake until cold, about 10 long seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with oat milk or heavy cream.
Getting to Know…Caperitif
Since I’ve suggested using this South African vermouth twice in one newsletter, I’d thought I’d give a little primer on it.
Background: Danish mixologist Lars Erik Lyndgaard Schmidt first read about Caperetif in a 1930 version of the Savoy Cocktail Book, and after extensive research, set out to replicate this forgotten South African vermouth. Working with South African winemaker Adi Badenhorst, in 2015 Caperitif was reborn.
What it is: A Chenin blanc-based wine infused with 35 + South African botanicals, including fynbos and satsumas, giving the vermouth a peppery, orange spice flavor. The version for sale in South Africa also includes Acorus calamus, a.k.a sweet flag, which is banned in the U.S. due to possible toxicity. To replicate calamus’ ginger-like spiciness, the company added more cinnamon to the American version.
Flavor profile: Black pepper, dried orange, ginger, cinnamon, pear
What’s it good in: While it has a natural affinity for bourbon, whiskey, rye and Scotch- based cocktails, Caperetif’s warm, spiced flavor also pairs nicely with tropical, tiki-inspired tipples; it would be a great addition to a Painkiller or Pina Colada.