Miscommunications. Grumpy people. Mercury in retrograde. But this past Friday it didn’t matter, I was having cocktails that evening. In fact, when something went wrong that afternoon at work, I would just cheer myself up by declaring, out loud, “I’m having cocktails tonight!” I wouldn’t be surprised if it annoyed my coworkers a bit, I probably said it over a dozen times, but it got me through a shit day and that’s all that mattered to me.
And I wasn’t be facetious about it. For the only time in the past year, I went out with the sole purpose to drink alcohol. It’s a Christmas miracle… and the second gathering of local bloggers (Appetite Portland, The Blueberry Files and Portland Food Map) for a night celebrating obscure holiday cocktails, cheese and shrimp dip. We drank, we nibbled, we gossiped and quickly got our Yuletide gay on and it honestly didn’t get much gayer than:
• 3 oz Vodka
• 1 oz Midori Melon Liqueur
• 1 oz Cointreau Orange Liqueur
• 1 oz Sour Mix
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well,
strain into a large cocktail glass, and serve.
When I use to drink, I was a ‘girl drink drunk.” I liked Raspberry Kamikaze’s and Lemon Drops and other brightly colored drinks and I loved the gay bars that I sipped them in. The only thing missing from this drink was a Lady Gaga song playing in the background. It had a color somewhere close to Hi-C ‘Ectoplasm’ and the first sip felt like turpentine. But, as they tend to for me, it got better after the shock of alcohol and sour mix. It was also helped by the Queso Leonora goat cheese that was paired with it (Many a thanks to Kara from The Cheese Iron who opened up a good dozen cheeses so I could decide what to pair). Goat cheeses, because of tangier and citrusy flavors it greatly complimented the melon and sour in the drink. The creaminess of the paste also worked greatly to mute the burn of the vodka.
My notes merely say, “Sweet. Kicky.” My notes do not state that I also felt a bit buzzed by the time I reached the end of it and noticed that I was swearing a bit more than I normally do.
I was ready to move on to:
• 2 oz Orange Juice
• 1 ½ oz Bulleit Bourbon
• ½ oz Lime Juice
• 1 splash Grenadine Syrup
• 1 splash Ginger Ale
Preparation: Pour over rocks.
I think the word “Holiday”, in this case, was meant to be more European meaning(ie, vacation) because the drink–as Dawn so perfectly put it–tasted more like a glass of boozy grapefruit juice. It was nice and light but in no way invoked the mental image of celebrating a New England Christmas. This was for suntan lotion, beaches and palm trees. Apparently, bourbon is a huge hit with the crowd. After this drink was finished, two bottles came out for a taste test/pairing with the Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese. Uplands Extra Aged was name the ‘Best in Show’ this year at the American Cheese Society Awards in Seattle but this slightly younger version is much more accessible and has also taken home the award. This was definitely the best cheese on the plate. The sweetness and salt in the cheese played well to the Bourbon’s caramel notes and the cheeses finish lasted well after the alcohol did on the palate.
- Glass of wine
- Honey stirred in, to taste
So we go from the least holiday like drink to the most. Like the mulled wine we enjoyed last year, this was the most reminiscent of the holiday season. While traditionally made with a white wine, A opted for the Casillero del Diablo. While a much meatier wine than I enjoy, the honey cut into it was one of the best I’ve tasted.
The cheese, a just legal raw milk Dutch Farmstead Cheese from Cato Corner in Connecticut. The creamy, milder paste did well with the stronger edge of the wine. The raw milk and washed rind gave just enough depth to the cheese preventing it from getting lost underneath the gaminess of the wine.
•1 oz Dark Creme de Cacao
•1 oz Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
Preparation: Shake with ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass. Sprinkle with
cinnamon. Variation 1: Rim glass with cinnamon. Variation 2: Use Kahlua instead of
creme de cacao.
This was the one that boggled myself and Kara the most for the cheese pairing. My first instinct was a fresher goat cheese, which I know pairs nicely with chocolate. It honestly was the Eggnog aspect of it that through me off. Outside of a few sips of store bought Nog, I’m far from being knowledgeable about the traditional drink. I can say, however, that the cooked version that Kate brought with her was beautiful. Rummy, spicey and citrusy, I found it to be perfect on it’s own. But the addition of the liqueurs never overshadowed the fact that we had started with such a wonderful Nog base. The cheese, however, was probably my least favorite of the pairings. The mushroom of the Colston Bassett Stilton was just a little off putting with the drink itself. The chocolate and hazelnut made sense, as both rich chocolates and nuts usually pair well blues, but I think it was the egg in the nog that made it a bit of a conflict, rather than compliment, for me.
The highlights of the night, outside of having an excuse to spend some time with some great friends, were ‘The Ultimate Holiday,’ which went down for all of us a bit too easy, and the Dutch Farmers Cheese, which was just all around beautiful both texturally and flavor wise.
Happy Holidays to all!