Foodista guest contributor Christine Dionese caught up with friend and cocktail enthusiast, Chuck Cerankosky, co-owner of lively New York restaurants, Good Luck and Cure to learn how to simplify in her holiday kitchen and bar this year. While she's been known to zip around town to five different stores to create a single cocktail, Chuck thinks that's downright silly during the holiday bustle!
"As the Holidays swiftly approach, let's assume you've stocked your home bar to offer your guests a basic powerhouse trio of cocktails-- and with your modest quintet of vodka, bourbon, sweet and dry vermouths, and gin-- the ability for them to enjoy a Martini, Manhattan or Gin & Tonic. But you're looking to expand beyond the basic. In this case, know it is unnecessary to fret over running to a multitude of liquor stores to hunt down a budget-busting number of bottles. Just a few key cordials can translate your basic booze portfolio into a versatile, classic cocktail toolkit."
Christine: If we're keeping it simple, what are we shopping for Chuck?
"Curaçao perhaps tops the list. Choose a brand like Cointreau, Combier or Ferrand. Assuming you can muster up some basic simple syrup, a few ounces worth of fresh-squeezed citrus juices and dust off that bottle of Angostura bitters, watch curaçao go! With vodka (preferably a citrus version) it makes a cosmopolitan, with whiskey and champagne a Seelbach, and with gin shakes up a Pegu Club. Beyond this, you're only a few clicks away from Sidecars and Margaritas assuming you've got a random bottle or two of Brandy or Tequila kicking about.
Additionally, a good cherry liqueur, such as the Dutch Cherry Heering, or the Italian Luxardo Maraschino open up the door to the Blood and Sand (scotch) and even the moody classic "Remember the Maine," if you can find a whisper of absinthe lying about."
Christine: Alright, I can go along with this. But, what if someone wanted one unique liqueur their guests perhaps had not been drinking at every other party in town?
"To skate outside the boundaries of traditional recipes, get yourself a bottle of Bigallet China China. Based on a traditional French formula, this herbaceous, orange peel maceration proves an adventurous stand-in for curaçao, Campari or vermouth. Pronounce it "Sheena Sheena" and check it out in my Blood and Sandoval cocktail below, which, for any holiday party, is a clutch performer on par with Pablo himself. The tea smoke trick of this Blood and Sand remix alone will impress your guests better than Clark Grizwold's light show!"
BLOOD AND SANDOVAL
Yields one cocktail
1.5 oz Bourbon
0.75 oz. Bigallet China China
0.25 oz Cherry Heering
1.0 oz fresh-squeezed OJ
tsp Black Loose Leaf Tea, preferably Lapsang Souchong
1 sprig Rosemary
Combine all liquid ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Before shaking, prepare a sturdy dessert plate with the tea, and ignite using a flaming toothpick or bamboo skewer (it will not burn fast). As this smolders, invert a cocktail glass over the tea to collect the smoke. Shake the cocktail for 15 seconds, then strain into the smoked glass. Garnish with the sprig of rosemary.
Christine: And, if some guests opt for a non-alcoholic version?
Brew a cup of the tea with a sprig of rosemary. Strain and chill. Next combine 2 ounces of this smoky iced tea with 1 oz. tart cherry juice and 1 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Entertain holiday guests with the Blood and Sandoval or stop by Good Luck or Cure in Rochester, New York where Chuck will happily whip one up for you!
Christine Dionese is an integrative health specialist, medical journalist and food writer who loves stopping by Foodista to feature stories about where health and food culture intersect.