Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guess Who Came To Dinner?

That's right. John Waters came in to Range last night.

Famous for being infamous, Mr. Waters has equally delighted and horrified the world with trash films and kitsch for decades now, but it turns out that he's a really personable, friendly guy in person. Range server, Max, is a big enough fan that he knew the fact that Mr. Waters is the proud owner of the world's largest collection of plastic food. That's funny enough that I don't even care to fact-check.

Oh, and he drinks Ketel One Martinis, up with olives.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vin D'orange

Anyone who knows me knows I love Lillet. It's a delicious aperitif on it's own (on the rocks with a slice of orange), and it is a versatile ingredient in cocktails. You might remember it in such drinks as:
The Third Rail
  • 1.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon
  • 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 0.5 oz honey
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 5 dashes Fee's Brothers orange bitters
  • small chunk of orange
  • Shake, fine strain, serve up. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Lillet is essentially a commercially made Vin D'orange, which is an aperitif made by fortifying white wine with some sort of spirit, and infusing it with orange, vanilla, and other botanicals. Making this and other aperitifs is common throughout France, and each region has it's own specialty. It's a tradition that I want to push here, too, so I have started my own batch of Vin D'orange, using a simple recipe I found in a book called Aperitif, by Georgeanne Brennan. I altered it slightly due to container constraints, and because I can't help but mess with recipes (see Ramos Gin Fizz: Parts 1-4 below). Here's the actual recipe:

6 2/3 bottles French-style rose or white wine
1/2 quart vodka
2 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans
1 lemon, cut into several pieces
peels from 6 Seville or other bitter oranges

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for one month, stirring each day for a week, or until the sugar has dissolved. At the end of the month, using a fine-mesh sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth, strain the wine into another container. The wine is ready to serve in two months.

At the beginning of September I plan to take half of my Vin D'orange, and begin aging it in a small oak barrel I have at home. After a month or two I will combine the oaked wine with the non-oaked wine and it will be ready to drink. Even after just a week it's pretty tasty, so let's cross our fingers that it'll only get better.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 4

This weekend I continued indulging my Ramos obsession, and I decided to do something crazy: I followed the actual recipe to a tee. The results were so good that I'm afraid that I'll be making them for my girlfriend and myself every weekend, and will certainly get "Ramos Elbow". She insists that she won't put me through the shake-o-rama too often, but I can tell that we both enjoyed them way too much for this to be the end of it. The powdered sugar helped with the frothiness, the heavy cream somehow became light, and the orange-citrus-vanilla balance was complex and refreshing.

Lessons learned:
  1. I suggest using club soda rather than mineral water. The sodium in most mineral water can make your fizz have an slight Alka-Seltzer aftertaste which competes with the more delicate citrus-orange flower combo.
  2. I also cannot overemphasize the importance of going light on both the vanilla and the orange flower water (see Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 3 below).
  3. Use tall glasses so you can have room for plenty of soda water.
Once again, I encourage you to check out the Fizz, as made by legendary New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian.