Beverages

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Shrub Two Ways

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s inevitable. This time of year especially. You go to the farmers market and drool over the rainbows of produce. The rhubarb has that perfect blush that begs you to bag up more than you could ever use at once and cart it home. The ruby strawberries glimmer, covering tables, overflowing from their containers. You can just imagine how red they are on the inside, and you take one from the little sample bowl to confirm your suspicion. They taste almost as much like candy as they do like fruit, they are so sweet and perfect in every way.

So you haul it all to your car and then to your kitchen. And then reality strikes. It’s Monday again and no, you’re not going to get around to making that strawberry pistachio pie you’ve been pining after, or pickling that rhubarb to go with the pâté you brought home from the market. You feel guilty, seeing those sad fruits softening by the day every time you open the fridge.

When it comes to fruit that is beginning to turn, I used to turn to compote (the rhubarb) or freeze them smoothies (the strawberries), but this summer that all changes. I started making shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. It’s painfully simple, goes perfectly well with just sparkling water on those long warm days when you want something fruity and tangy and refreshing, and can welcome a taste of your favorite gin or tequila when those long summer days turn into warm evenings and you want a cocktail to sip while you light up the grill.

It seems shrubs are the fancier version of my dad’s old “it’s-too-hot-out” beverage: a Perrier with an entire lemon juiced in. Tart and bubbly and immediately cooling. They take a little forethought, yes, but in all they take about 15 minutes to make and your friends or guests or whomever is lucky enough to partake will be impressed and thankful. I promise.

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Strawberry Margaritas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Strawberry Margaritas

Strawberry Margaritas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

You know what I haven’t quite been doing enough of this summer? Making cocktails at home. I always feel so accomplished when I whip up a delicious drink in my own kitchen, especially on a hot summer day, which lord knows we’ve been having in Portland. And I have never actually made a blended cocktail at home. Until now, that is. You see, when I got a bottle of Oregon Fruit Products pourable fruit in the mail, I decided it was time to change that.

Oregon Fruit Products has been around for a long time – eighty years in fact. And they’ve just come out with pourable fruit, a syrupy diced fruit sauce that’s easy to add to dishes, desserts, and drinks. They pick their fruit at the peak ripeness, so it really does capture that taste of Oregon summer. The convenience of this is great – you store it in the freezer, and then thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use. It’d be great on your waffles on a Sunday morning or in a power smoothie. (Keep in mind that since it’s a new product, you may see it with the old “Berrst” label until they update all the packaging. But it’s the same stuff. I promise.)

I decided to whip up a batch of strawberry margaritas for me and Jonah. After my discovery that no, you don’t have to have triple sec to make a margarita, I’ve enjoyed a simple shaken version a couple times this summer. But let’s be honest, blended just feels fancier, no?

Strawberry Margaritas

Makes 2 cocktails

Ingredients

4 oz tequila
Juice of 3 limes
10 dashes of orange bitters (or roughly 1/2 tsp)
1 cup Oregon Fruit Products’ Pourable Fruit Strawberry
1 1/2 cups ice
Optional: lime wedges and margarita or kosher salt for glass

Instructions

Combine tequila, lime juice, orange bitters, and fruit in a blender, and blend to combine. Add ice, and blend until smooth.

If you’re going for a salted glass, pour plenty of salt onto a plate or shallow bowl. Run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass. Press the rim of the glass into the salt.

Fill with margarita and enjoy!

This is a sponsored post. Oregon Fruit Products sent a me a sample of Strawberry Pourable Fruit, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Just a Sip... // Serious Crust

Just a Sip… (What I’ve been drinking lately)

Lately, I feel like there have been quite a few occasions surrounding, well, drinks. In the summertime, it’s easy to settle in on the deck with a cold beer, but the cold weather seems to bring out some more interesting, unique cocktails, or a glass of that red wine you’ve been saving in the basement for the past few months. (Yes, there is a bottle of red I’d been saving for my birthday, and yes, it was opened over the weekend.) So let me tell you a bit about what I’ve been drinking lately.

Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends

Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately)// Serious Crust
Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

To celebrate the launch of their new line of chilled juices, ZICO Coconut Water threw a “Brunch-for-Dinner” fête. These juices are a perfect blend of the hydrating benefits of ZICO’s coconut water with the taste of your favorite fruit juice. Noshing on brunchy bites like fruit and yogurt, flapjacks with apricot chutney, and breakfast sandwiches, the evening was a lovely celebration of both healthy and delicious. Because why not have the best of both worlds? As for cocktails, the Sunset in Paradice was on the sweeter side, made with gin, sake, ZICO Chilled pineapple mango juice blend, bitters, and a lime cordial. The Spicy Orange was my favorite – a little spicy from the ginger, not too fruity or sweet, and bubbly from the champagne. You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar’s New Fall Cocktails

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust
The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

If you find yourself in downtown Portland, looking for cocktails after a show at the Schnitz or a long day at the office, might I recommend The Heathman Restaurant and Bar? They just launched their new fall cocktails, and let me tell you, they are stellar.

Collaborating with Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen, the new drinks are refreshing, wintery, fun, and most of all, awfully tasty. Combine them with a few bites from Chef Michael Stanton, and you’ll be a happy camper. Trust me. My favorite might have been the new 50 Shades of Gin beverage (inspired by the book set at the Heathman) with gin, fresh tangerine, pomegranate juice, lemon, and fresh thyme. Or the Orchard Old Fashioned, an old fashioned featuring clear creek pear brandy and apple bitters. It’s hard to decide.

Winter Warmers in NE Portland

Hot Buttered Rum at The Box Social from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

A couple of my favorite spots in my neighborhood, The Waypost (when I’m feeling like going somewhere relaxed and homey, where the bartenders are incredibly friendly and you can often find great music) and Box Social (where I go when I’m feeling a little fancier, or am out past midnight), have released their own fall drinks. When I go to The Waypost this time of year, you can pretty much expect to find me with a glass of their pumpkin infused bourbon. But the other night they had run out, so I let Antonio talk me into their cider toddy instead, and man oh man was it good – gingery, spiced, and just all around cozy. The Box Social, the last stop on my birthday celebration train, made it hard for me to decide on a nightcap. Do I go for the hot toddy, the mulled wine, or a delicious bourbon cocktail? No, I went for dessert in a glass: a hot buttered rum. I haven’t had a hot buttered rum in a long time – my mom used to make them around Christmas from a mix she bought at Williams Sonoma – but the one they made me at Box Social convinced me that they should rival hot toddies as far as winter warming drinks go.

Wine Tasting Class at WineUp on Williams

Wine Tasting Class at WineUp on Williams from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

We’ve lived in our house for over a year now, which means we’ve been walking by WineUp on Williams for, well, a whole year. Why we’ve never gone in is beyond me. Jonah bought me a groupon for a wine tasting class there, which finally got us in the door, and now I have a feeling we’ll be there a lot. The place is owned by a fellow named Wayne, who is chatty and friendly, and will not accept any excuses for why you aren’t drinking more wine. He is crazy knowledgeable, the staff is very kind, and their wine selection is great. After class ended (it was an hour an a half, tasting 5-6 wines, chatting with fellow classmates, and noshing on bread and cheese), we sidled up to the bar for some more. If the class isn’t so much your thing (they happen every two weeks) consider just stopping in for a glass of wine and music (on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights). I recommend sitting at the bar and getting to know the folks who run this lovely spot.

So there’s a little taste of what I’ve been sipping. Have you had any must try (or must make) cocktails lately? Opened a bottle of wine you love? What are you planning on drinking with your Thanksgiving dinner? Whatever is your fancy these days, I hope it keeps you nice and warm!

ZICO Spicy Orange Cocktail

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

Ginger Syrup

3T grated ginger
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Cocktail Assembly

2oz ZICO Chilled Orange Juice Blend
1oz Vodka
¼oz ginger syrup (recipe below)
1oz Champagne
1 dash Old Fashioned bitters

Instructions

Ginger Syrup

Bring mixture to a boil to dissolve sugar, strain, chill. Makes about 1 cup.

Cocktail Assembly

Combine vodka, syrup, coconut water, and bitters in a shaker. Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Rhubarb Bourbon Sour // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Rhubarb Bourbon Sour

Rhubarb Bourbon Sour // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Sometimes you have a week that is hard, but also totally reviving. The beginning of last week was tough, but things quickly got better: good food was made and fun was had and cocktails were made. And an old friend from college came to visit, which always is exciting and soothing at the same time. Isn’t it nice when people who knew you when (“when” being just a few years ago in this case, but still) can kind of ground you and make everything seem ok? That happened. It was nice.

But before she came to visit, and before there was weekend and all that, there was this cocktail. I had finished the actual rhubarb from the dessert I made for Passover, but I had a bunch of this sour syrup left over. And I had bought a bottle of Bulleit bourbon. So, you know, rhubarb bourbon sour time it is. With a little research and a little improv, Jonah and I whipped up this drink. If you don’t have sour rhubarb syrup laying around, you can make it pretty easily by following a rhubarb simple syrup recipe like this one or this one, but I would cut the sugar so that the tang of the rhubarb can really shine.

Rhubarb Bourbon Sour

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

1 shot (1.5 oz) bourbon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp powdered sugar (or half a shot of simple syrup) – Note: if you are making rhubarb simple syrup from one of the recipes above, you can nix this sweetener part, or add it to taste.
1/2 shot rhubarb syrup
1 egg white

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice, shake for about 10 seconds. Add ice, shake thoroughly. Pour into glass. Sip and enjoy. Yeah, it’s that easy.

The Rattlesnake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

The Rattlesnake: a cocktail

The Rattlesnake // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Sometimes, when you’re spending all day cooking, it’s important to spoil yourself with a cocktail break. And sometimes you are given an all access pass to someone’s liquor cabinet, and you have lots of cocktail blogs to choose from (There Will Be BourbonSpirited Alchemy5 o’clock cocktails…), and you finally pick one called the Rattlesnake, and whip up a batch for all the chefs in the kitchen. Just sometimes.

This cocktail is creamy and light, tasting kind of like a grown up lemon curd/lemon meringue drink. Adapted from There Will Be Bourbon, the recipe below makes enough for 6 drinks. When I’m making that amount, I like to use a trusty tupperware with a good seal instead of a shaker… it means you have to do less work by making all the drinks in one batch.

The Rattlesnake

Makes 6 cocktails

Ingredients

9 oz. bourbon
5 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbl sambuca (the recipe called for absinthe, but you can use any anise-liqueur)
2 Tbl powdered sugar (or simple syrup, if you’ve got some around)
3 egg whites

Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a tupperware (or cocktail shaker, if you’re only making 1 or 2) with ice. Shake it up! Until the egg whites get nice and frothy. If you want more froth, you can add more egg whites. I wasn’t initially going to add any but when I tasted it without them, it was VERY bourbon-y. So I added half as many as the original recipe called for (which is 1 per drink). I never really realized what egg white did to a drink other than create that frothy foam, but it really mellowed out the flavors. Add bits of whatever you like until it tastes how you want. Strain into glasses filled with ice. If you’re feeling fancy, you can garnish with a lemon peel, or a sprig of mint or rosemary.