Category Archives: cocktails

Cocktail Perfected: Clover Club

I’ve been working on an egg project, so it’s only fitting that I added an egg cocktail to my repertoire. I’ve never made a proper Clover Club with the egg white foam on top before and it was time I tried! I can’t believe I waited so long!

The Clover Club

2oz gin
0.5oz lemon juice
0.5oz raspberry syrup
1 egg white (or 3T of egg whites from a carton)
fresh raspberries for garnish

First, make your raspberry syrup. In a pot, add one cup of sugar and a half cup of water. Heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Reduce heat and add a half cup (or more for a stronger raspberry flavor) of fresh raspberries. Smash your raspberries as they heat up. Remove from heat and let your mixture stand for a few minutes before straining out the seeds with a fine mesh strainer. Chill before using.

To make the cocktail, add your ingredients to an empty cocktail shaker and dry shake (without ice) for about 20 seconds to fluff up the egg whites. Then, pause to add ice. Shake until fully chilled (>15 seconds) and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with three fresh raspberries. Enjoy while painstakingly covering hallowed out eggs with Japanese papers.

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The Beijing Bobsled

The Olympics are flying by like a bobsled on a fresh track, so I thought I’d make another cocktail to drink while I watch the wildly unfair women’s figure skating events this week. This is a variation of a gin rickey, with the addition of lychee liqueur. It’s refreshing, like the monobob.

Beijing Bobsled

2oz gin
1oz lychee liqueur
0.75oz lime juice (freshly squeezed!)
club soda

Add gin, lychee liqueur, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to chill and combine and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lime wheel and lychee fruit. Enjoy from your warm, comfy couch while you watch amazing athletes competing in the freezing cold.

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Going for Gold Cocktail

The Winter Olympics are here! We haven’t missed hosting an Olympics party since London (though I didn’t blog about last summer’s outdoor affair) so we are back at it again on Friday for the Opening Ceremonies. We ordering Chinese food and it wouldn’t be a party without a signature cocktail!

I wanted our drink to be gold and glittery so I ordered edible cocktail glitter from Brew Glitter. (It’s a shockingly tiny jar for $10, but a little goes a long way! Each jar is supposed to provide enough glitter for 20+ cocktails.)

It’s very hard to capture the glitteriness in a photograph, but I promise, in person it’s gorgeous!

Going for Gold

2oz gin
0.5oz dry curaçao or triple sec
0.5oz fresh lemon juice
tiny pinch of cocktail glitter

Add everything to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe and enjoy while watching the Parade of Nations or bobsledding.

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Cocktail Perfected: Pegu Club

Last week, Naoto made a Pegu Club and…it was not my favorite. We’ve made Pegu Clubs before and I love them so I was confused. I asked him what he had used and among the usual ingredients was…Marie Brizard’s curaçao. The recipe did call for curaçao, but poor Marie has been sitting in the back of the liquor cabinet for awhile now because she is my least favorite orange liqueur. I can’t remember why we bought her, but I know that we will choose almost any other curaçao, orange liqueur, or triple sec instead of Marie.

We made another Pegu Club, this time with Pierre Ferrand, one of my favorite cocktail ingredients. Pierre Ferrand is dry curaçao and added a little bit of complexity to the Pegu Club. Pierre is not too sweet and has a unique orange flavor.

So, last week, I made it my goal to test out all of our triple secs and curaçao to see which one is the best in the Pegu Club. (I knew it was going to be Pierre Ferrand.) I reported my results on Twitter over the course of ten days. It wasn’t a super scientific test, but it was fun trying new ingredients. In order of preference, my results are below:

Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Cointreau
North Shore Distillery’s Beehive Curaçao (limited edition)
Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
Bols Triple Sec
Marie Brizard Curaçao

For all of the test cocktails, I used Costco gin, and the same amount of lime juice, bitters, and orange liqueur. The Pierre Ferrand made a complex and delicious cocktail that wasn’t too sweet. Cointreau was slightly sweeter and brighter. (Honestly, I will probably choose Cointreau in the summer…it was really refreshing.) The North Shore was good, but it was even better when I added a teaspoon of simple syrup. Normally, I love Solerno and it was fine, but I don’t think the Pegu Club is the best use for this bottle. And the Bols was fine, but obviously not as good as Cointreau. (It never stood a chance!) And you already know how I feel about Marie. If you’d like to make you own, here’s the recipe:

Pegu Club

2oz gin
0.75oz triple sec or curaçao
0.5oz fresh lime juice
1 dash of Angostura bitters
1 dash of orange bitters

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and pour into a coupe (or a frosty martini glass in my case since my coupes are still mostly packed away) and enjoy the fruits of your cocktail labors.

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Hasegawa Tiki Night

We’ve been laying low this month since Covid numbers are up and several close calls have been had. To entertain ourselves last weekend, we had a little tiki night for two. You may remember our Fondue Fun Fest and our Hasegawa Supper Club from 2020–this was like that but so much easier since we took some help from take-out this time!

We re-used decorations and our playlist from a past tiki party. It was pretty low-effort, I admit, but it really did give us something to look forward to. I love party planning and trying new cocktails, which is something I’ve really missed during the whole pandemic.

I got some craft orgeat for Christmas so I’ve been trying to use it up in cocktails I don’t get to make often. (I have made my own orgeat before, but I always end up with lots of leftover ingredients that go to waste.) So, we started out with Mai Tais before we realized that we didn’t have enough rum to make a second round of rum cocktails. (We hardly ever drink rum…we’ve had the same bottles for almost 10 years! Very excited to try something new soon!) I turned to the internet for some other ideas and found this recipe for Inside the Suns. It was as if the internet took a look at the back of my liquor cabinet and threw together some neglected bottles into a very tasty drink.

For our dinner, we made Pioneer Woman’s cashew chicken and we got fried rice and crab rangoon from a local Chinese restaurant. Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Isn’t this just Chinese food with tiki drinks?” I’ll leave you with this fascinating story that explains the connection.

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Dive Bar Letter Writers

I’ve been planning to start a little letter writing club that blends my two favorite hobbies, letter writing and cocktail making, since before the pandemic and…it’s finally time!

On Sunday, July 25th from 2-4PM, I’ll be hanging out in the beer garden at Goldyburgers in Forest Park with a cocktail and my letter writing supplies. Goldyburgers is at 7316 Circle Avenue, which is a short walk from the Harlem Green Line and Oak Park Metra Stations and there’s street parking available, too. As the name implies, they do serve burgers and other food–I highly recommend the cheese balls. Goldyburgers is CASH ONLY, so while it’s free to attend the club, please bring enough cash to cover your drinks, snacks, and tip.

I want to make the club a regular thing, hopefully monthly, but it might take some time to find a good groove, so bear with me as we get this thing started. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@divebarletterwriters) or sign up for occasional email updates here.

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Cocktail Perfected: Jasmine

Naoto has spoiled me the entire pandemic by pouring my Manhattan into a frosty cocktail glass. This spring, as we’ve branched back into other cocktails (mostly involving gin,) we have continued to serve things up in a frosty glass. Most of my vintage cocktail glasses are tucked away until we remodel the kitchen. And they are too delicate for the freezer. So we’ve been using our Libbey workhorses–we have twelve of these, which are perfect for larger parties and for keeping a few in the freezer at all times.

Even when he’s not home and I’m mixing for myself while I water the garden, I’ve been treating myself to a frosty glass. I’ve been on a Jasmine kick since June. Jasmine cocktails are so crisp and tart and slightly bitter…perfectly refreshing on a hot evening. The original recipe calls for Campari, but I prefer the slightly more subtle Cappelletti. Both are delicious, so use what you have.

Jasmine

1.5oz gin

0.75oz fresh lemon juice

0.25oz Cointreau

0.25oz Cappelletti (or Campari)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a frosty glass (or a coupe if you want to be proper.) Serve as a reward for putting the hose away without swearing.

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Hasegawa Supper Club

For my birthday this year, I really wanted to drive up to Wisconsin to eat at a real supper club. I’ve eaten at a true Wisconsin supper club exactly once, but it is what my dining dreams are made of–many courses of delicious home-cooking without any pretension.

We were just starting to research the best options when the pandemic hit and everything shut down. It was really depressing. I didn’t give up on my supper club dinner–but there was no way I was going to Wisconsin in the middle of a pandemic. Soooo…once the library started opening back up again, I got this book and started planning a menu from home.

I should preface this with a disclaimer: supper club food is not for the weak of heart…there is a lot of cream and fat in many of the dishes. (Though there are a few tasty looking, lighter fish dishes in the book, in case that’s your thing!) So for us, this definitely isn’t a weekly thing, but it was really fun to make everything from scratch and to indulge a little bit–orrrr a lot!

I’m going to share two recipes from our feast in case you want to create a little Wisconsin supper club happy hour at home.

We started out with the Wisconsin classic, brandy old fashioneds. Did you know that 1/3 of Korbel’s brandy is sold in Wisconsin? (I didn’t know until I read the book.) If you like a sweeter cocktail, this might be for you. It was fun to try, but I’ll stick with a regular Old Fashioned. (Or I’ll at least skip the 7-Up and make it with club soda!)

Brandy Old Fashioned (from the Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook)

1 sugar cube

2 dashes of bitters

2 orange slices

1.5oz brandy (Apparently Korbel is the official brandy of Wisconsin, but we used something from Trader Joe’s!)

lemon lime soda (We used 7-Up.)

Maraschino cherry

Muddle the sugar, bitters, and orange slices in the bottom of a glass until the sugar has dissolved. Add the brandy, soda, and ice. Stir to mix and garnish with an orange wedge and a maraschino cherry.

I’m glad we tried it for the full experience and when we can finally (safely) dine out again, I’m totally going to order one at a real supper club in Wisconsin.

Along with the old fashioneds, we had two appetizers. The first, pictured at the top, was beer cheese from Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club in Madison, Wisconsin. This place has been around since 1947 and it’s a top 5 contender for our supper club road trip.

The beer cheese is so easy to make and I found it perfect on Club crackers (because they’re a classic!)

Beer & Cheese Spread

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

2 cups shredded swiss cheese (Sargento makes this, but you can also shred your own for better texture.)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

0.5 tsp dry mustard

1 small garlic clove, minced

0.5-0.66 cups beer (We used Heineken.)

Add everything but the beer in a large mixing bowl. Beat in enough beer to make a spreadable cheese…add it slowly because you can always add more but it’s hard to take it away…(says the person who had to add more cheese to soak up the extra beer!) I used my stand mixer and beat everything on high to get it to combine. I don’t think my execution was perfect but man, was it tasty! And easy!

Naoto was in charge of the second appetizer–bacon wrapped water chestnuts. This recipe is from The Packing House in Milwaukee. The Packing House is at the top of my must-see list. They have a famous fish fry that is so popular, they built a drive-thru for it. And they have a piano player who has been performing there for forty years. And apparently their banana cream pie is not to be missed…

The bacon-wrapped water chestnuts were soooo good–I love water chestnuts and they were the perfect vehicle for the crisp bacon and the sweet and salty sauce.

For our salad, I made homemade blue cheese dressing from The House of Embers at the Wisconsin Dells. Named because they smoke ribs over embers of charcoal, The House of Embers has been around since 1959. I love the dark and moody feel of the place! The blue cheese dressing was excellent, but we did skip the recommended bacon on our salads. (Sad!) I chilled our plates in the freezer before adding the lettuce (iceberg!) and tomatoes and we served the dressing at the table. I highly recommend chilling your salad plates! It made everything feel so fresh!

For our entree, we went with the classic, Steak Diane. The recipe is from Joey Gerard’s: A Bartolotta Supper Club. Joey Gerard’s is a newcomer–they’ve only been around since 2012 though they are part of a restaurant group that’s been active since 1993. Friends, this Steak Diane recipe was incredible. I don’t want to oversell it here, but…I finished the whole steak. (That never happens…I usually take the sides much too seriously to bother with the steak!) Honestly, I kind of want Naoto to make it again this weekend. If you don’t know Steak Diane, it’s a classic dish, popular in the 40s and 50s, made with mushrooms and cream and so much more. Back in the day, it was often flambéed tableside. This recipe used a magical mix of butter, shallot, garlic, brandy, white wine, beef stock, dijon, cream, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce. It was an orchestra of flavor!

For dessert, we did stray from the cookbook. We planned to make the Buck-a-Neer Supper Club‘s peanut butter pie, but we couldn’t justify an entire pie for the two of us! It is a recipe we want to try…maybe someday when we can have people over again!

Instead, we made Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Budino. (No regrets!) They’re kind of like really rich chocolate puddings and I’ve been wanting to make them for awhile. A tiny portion is just the right amount to end the meal.

If I had been eating at a restaurant, I may have indulged in a grasshopper.

I can’t wait to share a real supper club dining experience here someday…but in the meantime, I give the Hasegawa Supper Club five stars!

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Fondue Fun Fest

Over July 4th weekend, Naoto and I went all out for a fondue feast. I’ve been wanting to have fondue for awhile now, and at the beginning of the pandemic, I made it one of our stay-at-home goals…who knew at the time we’d have so much time to accomplish that list!

(Try to ignore Naoto’s hair here…it’s even longer and more epic now!) Randomly, we own three fondue pots. I received the metal one for a Christmas gift in college and then learned cheese works better in ceramic, so I bought the ceramic one at Marshall Fields (RIP) almost twenty years ago. And my parents found the burnt orange 70s model at a thrift shop. So we figured we’d break out alllll the pots for our three course fondue fest.

We started with traditional Swiss fondue. I have (had?) a fondue cookbook but I couldn’t find it in time for the fest, so we relied on Food & Wine for the recipe. (We halved the recipe since there were only two of us which was more than enough and included leftovers.) We made the fondue in the pot, adding the cheese slowly and stirring often. It worked like a charm! (We learned our lesson the last time we had fondueseven years ago!)

We had bread, carrots, potatoes, and broccoli for dipping. I can’t believe we forgot apples and pretzels for this round!

After we’d had enough cheese (yes, there is such a thing!) we started preparing the main course–meat and vegetables.

For the main course, we used this recipe for a broth fondue. We built the broth in the pot and let it come to a boil slowly. We found this was a nice way to pace ourselves…

We were going to do a few kinds of meat and vegetables, but we ended up just going with steak…next time I would add shrimp or chicken for some variety. (We were afraid of having too much food!) With the steak, we had carrots, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, and mushrooms.

We ended up making little shish-ka-bobs, mixing meat and vegetables together on the same fork.

My favorite combination was steak + carrot + zucchini dipped in ponzu sauce. Fondue sauces are a great part of the experience and next time we’d like to experiment with more. I have to say though…the ponzu was the perfect citrusy balance to the meats and vegetables.

For the dessert round, I mixed up some Brandy Alexanders while Naoto prepped the fondue ingredients. It was a very indulgent evening!

For the chocolate fondue, we used this recipe and we made it on the double broiler on the stove before we transferred it into the fondue pot. We dipped strawberries, bananas, brioche, marshmallows, and pretzels. I had to blow out the flame after a few minutes because the pot got too hot and the chocolate was burning, so we need to find a better heating element for the chocolate fondue next time! Maybe just a little tea light? It took three days of soaking to get the pot clean!

It was such a fun project to plan and to execute. I’m really missing hosting parties and it might seem silly to make a big to-do on a regular ol’ Sunday night, but I found it such a great distraction. I love a good theme party and why not throw one just for ourselves? Oh, and it was a perfect excuse to wear my kaftan and bask in the 1970s for the evening. (P.S. We used these forks from our coffee shop pal, Madonna.)

Cheers to more celebrations this summer.

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Okinawa Part 3: Orion Beer

This day was the highlight of Naoto’s trip, can you tell? It’s called Orion Happy Park for a reason! We were scheduled for the first tour of the day and we totally lucked out–we were the only ones on our tour! We felt so fortunate, as the next tour was packed. Before going on the tour, we spent some time in the little Orion museum. I love looking at old packaging, so it was neat to see how the Orion cans and bottles have changed over the years. There is nothing better than a retro label–I especially loved the cherry blossom editions. We started by learning about the grains used in Orion beer. Naoto was a very involved student, asking a lot of questions of our personal tour guide.

We learned a little bit about the science behind the brewing process, like when the mixture actually becomes alcohol. This display shows how many cans Orion fills in one minute. Isn’t that crazy?!

The bottling and canning processes were so interesting. I’ve been on a few brewery tours and I always love watching the bottles get filled and topped and labeled. This part made me so happy and also felt so Japan. The floor of the factory is blue, like the ocean. The crane is pink, the color of coral. And the walls are painted the color of the sand. The factory celebrates Okinawa in every way. 
After the tour, we were able to go to the tasting room to enjoy a sample. I don’t drink beer, but they had a delicious bottled tea. Oh and the ORION SNACKS!! It’s peanuts and rice crackery things covered in a mix of almond cheese, turmeric, curry, chili, onion, and garlic powders, paprika, pepper, soy sauce, beer yeast, sugar. They are so crunchy and good. I’m not a huge curry person, but these are just a perfect little drinking snack. We bought a big bag of them in the little snack-sized portions like you see above. We’re almost done with them and we’ve been looking for more here in the US to no avail. Sigh…guess we’ll have to go back to Japan someday for more. I think Naoto would toast to that!

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