Salted limes make vodka happy…

Salted Lime Vodka Collins

Salted Lime Vodka Collins

I’ve been on a real Pok Pok tear lately — I’ve been cooking out of the book for the past few weeks and my daydreams have begun to feature fish sauce wings (a recipe I haven’t made yet). But even more than Ike’s famous wings, I have been craving a certain cocktail from Pok Pok — the salted plum vodka collins. Besides the odd beer here and there, this is the only thing I drink while dining there.

It is sweet, tart, tangy and intriguingly different from any other cocktail I’ve had. Once I discovered it, it was all I ever needed.

In fact I used to sit at the bar in the early days of Pok Pok (when it was less busy and you could actually just walk in and sit there) and stare down the bartender as he made it. I was determined to figure the recipe out — and after a few drinks one evening, I had it on mental lock down.

But alas, the day I was craving it the strongest, I didn’t have any salted plums on hand to get my fix. However I did have salted limes, which one of Pok Pok’s sister restaurants, The Whiskey Soda Lounge, uses in their salted lime vodka collins. Unsurprisingly, that is my go-to cocktail when I eat there.

Clearly there is a theme in my life — I like vodka drinks, I love salted things and put an Amarena cherry in there and I’m sold!

The ingredients for both cocktails are the same, except for the limes and plums, of course.

The basics...not pictured is the soda water.

The basics…not pictured is the soda water.

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Homemade Nocino: Green walnuts & boozy infusions

Nocchino

Usually when I think about infusing booze with something, it’s fruit. Take last year’s rumtopf experiment for example. But this year my husband convinced me to try something different – a green walnut infusion, known by Italians as nocino.

I’ve had nocino before (from a batch my husband made) and wasn’t too impressed. The flavor was interesting, full of spices and citrus notes, but it was served straight up it and burned like firewater. I like things boozy but I can’t handle things that are that strong. I found out later it was made from Everclear — no wonder!

This time around my husband wanted to make it with vodka instead which was much more appealing to me. He also said he wanted to play around with the finished liqueur, so instead of serving it up we could mix it into ice cream bases or cocktails. Mentioning boozy ice cream is pretty much the way to my heart so it was an easy sell.

A hundred and one green walnuts later, we got to work:

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A toast for a friend…

Image

I sent a text yesterday as we have both been traveling, but I felt like he deserved more than that (though I’m sure we’ll celebrate in person when we see each other next). So here’s to my pal DB — hope you had an awesome birthday. Much love, my friend!

Cheers!

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will not need help identifying which bottles are mine and which are his…please don’t hold the flavored vodka against me — it makes an excellent smoothie!

The Beer Chronicles Continue: Anthem’s Hops Cider

I know, I know, it’s a cider, not a beer. But ever since I got wind about a cider made with hops, I have been dying to try it. And, since Anthem’s Cherry Cider is the most popular hit out of all of the beer I’ve covered, I felt it was necessary to review this one as well. That my excuse — I’m doing it for the people!

Ahem.

Anyways. I’ve mentioned that I love hoppy beers. I especially love the season when many Oregon micro breweries do their “fresh hopped” beers. These tend to be less bitter and more herbaceous and floral than their regular run-of-the-mill counterparts. While this cider is dry hopped, not fresh, I still held on to the hope that the palate might be similar. I was also hoping it would blow me away — which Anthem’s cherry version failed to do.

Let’s just say, as visions of apples and hops danced in my head, I was pretty anxious to open this bottle!

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The Beer Chronicles Continue: Pink Peppercorn IPA

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy New Belgium’s beers. In fact, their sour beer is still one of my top favorite beers of all time. So when I spotted a 22-oz bottle of their Pink Peppercorn IPA at a specialty beer store, I picked it up immediately. It’s from their Trip Series, which means it’s a collaboration beer between New Belgium and Elysian (a well-known Seattle brewery to those of us in the PNW).

Here, this says it all:

I should also mention that, like a good little Oregonian, I love IPAs. So as you can imagine, I’ve been very excited to drink this beer!

Last night, when I finally sat down after doing loads of dishes and laundry, it seemed like the perfect time to crack it open. I usually try to save beers like this for when my husband is home so he can enjoy them too, but the last time we split a beer, I sucked my half down in record time and he left his to languish on the table. It was still there — untouched — the next morning. Alcohol abuse like that is not tolerated in my household.

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Additions to the Rumtopf: A boozy work in progress

About a month ago, my friend DB and I followed in our non-existent German ancestors’ footsteps and began making rumtopf. We each have our own crock, full (so far) of rum, strawberries, blueberries and nectarines.

I added some more goodies — fresh local blackberries and Bing cherries — to my crock this weekend. While I was in there, I tasted some of the liquid, rum with sugar and fruit juices. It is so amazingly good, I can’t even believe it.

In fact I’m tempted to start another batch now, because as soon as December hits I am going to plow through this one.

Blackberries and cherries macerated in sugar

Rumtopf crock brimming with goodness!

Want to start your own crock of boozy fruit? Check out the first post to see how!