As part of the FDA study, the NFCA's Gluten in Medications Survey is now live. It only takes a few minutes, and this is valuable data that hopefully will lead to better rules and regulations, including labeling. If you or a loved one had Celiac Disease and/or avoids gluten, please link on over and click yourself some answers.
Ever since I tackled tonic water, I have been wanting to attempt homemade gin. Actually, that is a bit of a lie. Several years ago, I got into a rather heated discussion about my adamant dislike of gin. It falls into the category of "it tastes like licking a christmas tree, which I am not into". (see also, pine nuts)
For this reason, I had been seeking out a juniper-free gin. Apparently if you remove the juniper, gin it cannot be. Gin only is if juniper is present. This conversation lead to a quest for an "infused vodka" that contained all of the gin botanicals, sans juniper. We found one, but Four Square. It was ok, but very very very floral, and I say that in a grandma's perfume sort of way; not what I want in a cocktail, ever.
Recently being given a bergamot orange, I got inspired to muck around with centuries worth of fine acohol making. (Bergamot oil and/or peel is what gives earl grey tea its quintessential flavor and aroma.)
"Gin" or "infused vodka attempt 1"
4 cups vodka
1/4 ceylon cinnamon stick
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
2 whole allspice berries
1/2 a green corriander pod
1/4 tsp whole cubebs
1/4 tsp grains of paradise
zest of 1/4 a navel orange
zest of 1/4 a bergamot orange
I zested the citrus into the vodka, to aid in it funneling back into the bottle. I didn't use the full peel, because I fear the bitter.
I am hoping that the bergamont will offer up some of the intensity that the juniper usually does. I didn't have any licorice root, so I went with fennel seeds. The cubebs and grains of paradise are hard-to-find spices, but they don the back of the Bombay Sapphire bottle, so I thought since I was out at Christina's Spice Shop, I may as well pick some up and give it a try. The bay leaf isn't on any recipe either, but Knauer's recipe in Gourmet called for rosemary, and since I think that stuff takes like turpentine in large quantities, I thought maybe the bay would bring some earthiness and subtlety to the bottle.
I have had Crispin cider before, but I haven't written about it. On the whole, I don't write about products I don't really like. Crispin cider is ok. Its not great, though its better than most I have tried, it just isn't fantastic, and I don't see the point in writing about things that aren't fantastic.
Crispin's limited release of their Staggar Lee, well its worthy of grabbing a pen. The standard Crispin cider is a bit boring, one note, and while it is less sweet than the standard ciders (Magners, Original Sin, Harpoon) its still not a slam dunk. Stagger Lee is beautiful. There are complexities and flavors beyond that of apple. It is not floral, but a little smokey, and the rye barrel flavor really comes out. Its a bit pricey, $5 for a single bottle, but I believe its worth it. There are some subtle flavors that you have to go hunting for to find, so I wouldn't recommend it as a with-food beverage, but it certainly could handle a meal.