Friday, November 20, 2015

Tequila: You're Gonna Need It

Forgive me, I think the (somewhat tired) trope of drinking to handle one's family on the holidays is still funny. Maybe because I don't actually need that particular coping mechanism with family (and I'm not seeing them until Christmas anyway). But regardless, whether you love or hate your family, having a quick go-to cocktail will come in handy next week.  

Discovering that I can make a really good margarita at home came about earlier this week, when, wanting a cocktail, I "meh"ed my way through all the possible mixers on hand: ginger beer, Coke, tonic water... I wanted something fancy that didn't require oddball ingredients that I likely didn't have. Knowing I had a full bag of limes in the fridge, I thought I could bluff my way into a semi-decent margarita. 

So I went into the wayback machine and reviewed this post from the tequila mixology workshop at David's in Kennebunkport this spring. The secret I discovered there? A recipe for margarita mix. Ah-ha! It's the difference maker between a serviceable, but lacking, homemade margarita and one of restaurant quality. 

Making the mix is easy enough; it's near equal parts of fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup, and a splash of OJ. The recipe I had made a few cups of the stuff, so I thought reeeeeal hard (my last thinking of the day before cocktail hour!) and scaled it back to a recipe that makes 2 cocktails' worth. 

The simple syrup might be the only hiccup in your home bar game: either you have the stuff on hand or you have to spend ten minutes making some and waiting for it to cool. I scoured and found this Thai Tiki 1821 Bitters simple syrup, but also have a great stash of the Royal Rose flavored simple syrups that would work well too.  

Assuming you find one that goes with the general flavors of a margarita (pineapple, lemongrass, and bird's eye chiles? Sure, why not!), you are good to go. 

Bonus: today is the release of Liquid Riot's agave spirit, which is also available in the bottle at area liquor stores. So pick some up to put a local twist on this tropical drink. 

Small batch margarita mix

2 oz. simple syrup
2.5 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. orange juice

Makes enough for two cocktails


1.5 oz. tequila anejo
1/2 oz. Cointreau, Grand Marnier or triple sec
2 oz. margarita mix 

Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into rocks glass filled with ice and rimmed with salt (optional). Garnish with lime wedge. 

Enjoy the holiday! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Hour at Ebb & Flow

Every so often, I organize a happy hour meet-up for Portland food bloggers and writers. I'm always searching for a good venue - one that can accommodate a big group coming and going, which, with Portland's tendency towards small buildings, is one that's hard to find. Of course, it helps if the place tends towards the "foodie" to assuage the demands of the bloggers (just kidding, they're not demanding at all). In the past, we've gone to Salvage BBQ and Bayside Bowl, and this time, I hit on Ebb & Flow as the perfect spot for our most recent gathering. 

I am shocked (shocked!) to find that I haven't written about my love for the new-ish Mediterranean place here on the 'ole web log. I had dinner with Professor A. there for their opening a year ago and very much enjoyed it. I've gone several times since for drinks and snacks, always getting the flatbread with dips - if you ask nicely, the servers will make a sampler plate of all four of their dips. 

The dips (or mezze) all full of flavor - there's the htipiti (whipped goat cheese with chiles and tomatoes); taramasalata or whipped roe; revithia, a green humus; and melitzanosalata or an eggplant and sweet pepper dip. The dips come with a flatbread, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with savory spices and salt. 

Other hit menu items perfect for happy hour are the zucchini fritters, the lamb keftedakia (aka meatballs), and the beet and ricotta salata salad. 

During happy hour, the drinks are discounted - there's beer, wine, and well cocktail specials, and two specialty cocktails for $5.50. I enjoyed a whiskey sour: Old Overholt Rye, lemon, simple syrup, egg whites, and bitters. The other option was included mezcal, Campari, and something coffee-infused, but unfortunately no one was brave enough to order it over the crowd-pleasing whiskey sour.

The cocktail menu is certainly a creative one, making Ebb & Flow a nice place to join a friend for some snacks and a cocktail before dinner. Happy hour runs from 4-6pm, Monday through Friday.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

December Booze Events: Preview of Rhum Tiki Bar

If it's possible, I am the MOST excited about this next Portland Spirits Society event (new to the PSS? It's ladies who love booze - tastings, education, social, fun). 

I've long wanted to throw a tiki party at a Portland bar, and when I heard Jay Loring of Nosh and his business partners were launching a tiki bar, I knew they were the perfect people to talk to. Their new bar is called Rhum, and the chefs are Rebecca and Frank Anderson, who hosted the Hunter's Bend supper club for a while. 

So the tiki party is happening at Bramhall - the perfect underground, speakeasy-esque space to decorate with palm trees, torches, and flowers - on Tuesday, December 1st. The ladies of the Portland Spirits Society will get a private, VIP reception before the tiki party starts, with a tiki rum flight, snacks from the chefs, and a meet-and-greet with the owners and chefs. 

Buy your tickets soon - they're going fast! (I say that a lot, and it's always true, but especially so in this case. The tickets are almost half gone and they went on sale last night. You ladies love tiki!)

Other booze events of interest coming up (godspeed to all of our livers!):
  • Friday, November 20th - Liquid Riot's release of their agave spirit (aka tequila, but not legally allowed to call it that), 12pm-close, includes cocktails and Mexican food
  • Saturday, December 5th - Holiday rum tasting at Maine Maritime Museum, with yours truly! Rum will be provided by local producers Wiggly Bridge, New England Distilling, and Bartlett Spirits of Maine, tickets are $20/25
  • Sunday, December 6th - Repeal Day Ball from Rum Riots, fundraiser for the Portland chapter of the US Bartenders Guild, tickets are $10 and include $2 drink specials, a photo booth, and live music