~ by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits ~
As we transition from summer into autumn here on Nantucket Island, it is important to take advantage of what Mother Nature still has to offer. Temperatures begin to decrease a few degrees at night, the sun begins to set a little earlier each evening, and the crowds have all dispersed (other than those who come to enjoy our Endless Summer weekends and the ensuing weddings wrapped around them). Now you have time to breath and enjoy a moment to yourself. This time of year also invites you to repurpose your favorite spirits and adapt them to new cocktail creations for the autumn season.
The Spanish perfected the ultimate Gin and Tonic experience by serving it in a copa de balon (balloon shaped stemmed wine glass, like you would use to serve a fine Burgundy wine) filled entirely with ice so that your drink is cold, cold, cold! Place your garnish in the glass before pouring in your two essential ingredients. In this case, use a very aromatic cinnamon stick. Pour two parts gin over the garnish in order to aromatize your drink. Try Citadelle Gin from one of France’s oldest registered genievre distilleries. The rarity of this hand-crafted gin is that it is distilled in copper pot stills, similar to whiskey or brandy production. This makes sense considering it is made in the cognac distillery of its parent company (Pierre Ferand Cognac). Next add three parts tonic water. Keep in mind that if a large part of your drink is tonic, you should always use a freshly opened bottle of tonic. Fever Tree Tonic Water is a perfect choice as not only does it come in handy small bottle sizes for less waste, it is made with natural quinine with no artificial additives.
This recipe may seem a little stronger pour than usual. Keep in mind that the large amount of ice will slowly melt as not all sides of the cube are directly exposed to the liquid inside your glass. When your gin is diluted, it tends to actually taste more alcoholic in flavor than it really is. Hence, this drink will be less diluted from the melting ice than if you were to use just a handful of cubes to prepare your cocktail.
THYME TO BREATHE
Sounds like September in a glass when you are able to finally catch a breath after all the summer hustle and bustle. Muddle a sprig of thyme from your favorite local farm in a pint glass. Avoid using dried herbs as they do not impart the same effects on the drink and could make your drink bitter. Add two parts Triple Eight Distillery Nor’Easter Bourbon, made locally here by our island Master Distillers. Gently stir in a spoonful of maple syrup (the real kind, not the synthetic stuff) followed by another spoonful of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Pour the ingredients into a fresh rocks glass that contains just one large ice cube and garnish with a lemon peel. The smell and taste of this drink will transport you to think you are taking a discovery tour of New England’s picturesque covered bridges. Perfect as en evening nightcap while snuggled with your favorite blanket and while watching In the Heart of the Sea.
While you can make this drink with an assortment of different apple varieties, the tartness of the juice from a Granny Smith Green Apple seems to work best in this cocktail. Fill a highball glass with ice. Squeeze a quarter wedge of lime in the bottom of the glass, the acidity helps to balance the other components of the drink. Add one part of vodka and one part fresh green apple juice. Top with ginger beer. A dusting of nutmeg on top will transform what may seem like a summer cooler into a delightful fall creation. Garnish with a few slices of green apple to add to your afternoon “snack.”
Using quality products for this cocktail will result in a much better quality drink. Choose Keel Vodka as your spirit base; this premium light vodka is the ultimate in taste and smoothness with half the calories than in regular vodka. Fever Tree Ginger Beer is the choice for your mixer. Again, open a fresh bottle of this all-natural product packaged in a convenient small size bottle for less waste when creating your libations. Enjoy this drink when you need an afternoon refresher after a long run or bike ride on the ‘Sconset loop.
You didn’t think we would forget to add a drink made with Tequila, did you? This autumn inspired version of a classic drink will have you doing your Margarita Dance all the way to the cranberry bogs off Milestone Road and back. For starters, you will need to make a quick and easy Cranberry Puree. For this recipe, melt ½ c sugar in the juice of two large oranges using a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add one cup fresh cranberries and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries are soft. Set this aside to cool, then process in a small food processor and strain the concentrated liquid to use. Because of this key ingredient, it is helpful to make this into a batch drink that will easily store for several days in your fridge.
To create the batch, mix three parts tequila, one part orange liqueur and two parts cranberry puree. When you are ready to serve it, pour the drink over crushed ice (not regular ice cubes) in a tall glass and garnish with an orange twist. Using Fortaleza Reposado Tequila, which has been aged 8 months in American Oak, will add an earthy, cinnamon component to the drink. Grand Marnier is a perfect accompaniment as an orange flavored brandy for the liqueur. And the cranberries should most definitely come from Nantucket!
Put on your favorite wrap from Island Cashmere, relax as you read your newest novel from Mitchell’s Book Corner and sip on these tasty seasonal cocktails with a twist. You will fall in love with the sexy flavors of the season all over again.