A Glass of Class: Pumpkin King

The Pumpkin King (The Nightmare Before Christmas Cocktail)

Ingredients:
2 oz Eristoff Black (mixed berry vodka)
1 oz Godiva Chocolate Raspberry vodka

Directions: Stir ingredients with ice and pour into a cocktail glass.  Serve with a peppermint stick as a stir.

I found this recipe floating around the tumblrnet on a Halloween kick, and tried it early this weekend (with help from some far-less-poor-than-me friends from home.) The berry and chocolate flavors mix really well, and the peppermint stir brings the theme around perfectly. In addition to the drink, I point you to the site I found it: http://www.thedrunkenmoogle.com/. The site specializes in nerdy cocktails, which is right up my alley.

 

Happy Halloween, and pleasant screams.

–C & L

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Gimme! Coffee Cupping

Today we went to Gimme! Coffee’s weekly ‘cupping’ at their State St. location in downtown Ithaca. We got to try four coffee varietals: Kenya Kiandu, Guatemala Atilán, Honduras Linda Vista, and Honduras Las Penitas.

Flavor and aroma wheel

After we had a quick lesson about the coffee production process, we got down to ‘cupping.’ ‘Cupping’ is the method of determining the quality of coffee beans by coffee professionals. Small portions of different varietals are ground, smelled, and tasted to compare aromas, flavors, and quality.

Cupping setup

Coffee beans are very labor-intensive; they need to be picked manually at the height of ripeness. Machines cannot do this since the coffee berries on the same tree are at different stages of ripeness. The coffee bean itself is the seed of the fruit. The fruit is taken off through drying or washing.

The four varietals were ground up for us to smell. The aroma is not necessarily indicative of the coffee’s final taste, but it’s interesting to compare. The Kenya Kiandu has recently been rated an incredible 95 by Coffee Review. We thought the Kiandu smelled salty, almost like soy sauce. The two Honduran ones were more mild and what we thought coffee usually smells like. The Guatemala’s aroma was rich and hazelnut-y. After this step, we added hot water to the cups of ground beans and waited four minutes exactly for the flavors to be extracted. During the waiting time, the coffee grounds rise to the top of the cup and form a crust.

The ground beans of four varietals

Our coffee expert pours water in the grounds

After four minutes of waiting, we lightly scraped off the crust. More intense aromas burst from the brewed coffee as we put our noses right into the cups.

The crust of grounds forming

Smelling the brewed coffee

After smelling, we drank the coffees; the best way to get the full flavors of the coffee is to slurp! The more oxygen you mix with the coffee, the more flavor you get. The biggest surprise was the Kenya Kiandu. It was very different from most coffees we were used to. The Kiandu had the acidity of tomatoes and was strangely vegetable-y. The Honduran coffees, the more popularly consumed coffees, tasted nutty and toasty, similar to what we find in most coffee shops.

Our super friendly cupping expert

Gimme! Coffee has cuppings at their State St. shop at noon every Saturday. Their staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. It’s a great way to start your Saturday and get free coffee!

Peace, love, and drinks,

Sunnie and Audrey

Midnight Wine Talks #2: Cline

Varietal: Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-NYAY)

Vintage: 2010
Origin: North Coast, California
ABV: 14.5%
Price: ~$10-11

Winemaker’s notes: “Cline’s Viognier offers rich and distinctive aromas of pears, apricots, orange blossoms and honeysuckle.”

Our notes:

Sunnie: I don’t like it.

Audrey: Wow, already? Why?

Sunnie: I don’t like it.

Audrey: Oh, this is weird, you’re right. Not very drinkable for college kids. Although it does have a higher alcohol content than most wines.

Sunnie: Well maybe the flavor’s too young. I think it will mellow down the flavor if we drink it after 2-3 years.

Audrey: Gasoline. I taste gasoline…

Sunnie: Maybe we should chill it. Maybe that’ll improve the flavor.

(Ten minutes later)

Sunnie: …

Audrey: …

Midnight Wine Talks #1: Mirassou

Welcome to our new column where Sunnie and I will be ‘live blogging’ once a week about a different wine. School’s stressful and sometimes after a long day, you just want to pop a cork. We’re wine amateurs (although Sunnie’s taking the infamous Wines class and will be applying her education!) and might be bullshitting from time to time but like most young drinkers, we’re learning. Hopefully, this simple guide can help you find some good wines because let’s face it, selecting wines when you don’t know anything about them can be tricky. I’ve googled “good supermarket wines” on my iPhone while shopping more than once but it usually didn’t help. So, a bottle a week, it can’t be that tedious, right?

Mirassou

Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2009
Origin: California
ABV: 13.5%
Price: ~$9-10

Winemaker’s notes: “Offering intense flavors of cherry and plum, with delicate floral notes, and hints of vanilla… This versatile wine pairs beautifully with salmon, poultry, or risotto.”

Our notes:

Continue reading

A Glass of Class: Doubleshot!

Since fall break punctured our schedules with sleep and autumnal activities, Calvin and I missed a week. To make up for it, we have two fall-appropriate recipes for you boys and girls.

Classic Hot Cider

3 parts store-bought cider

1 part cinnamon

1/2 part brown sugar

A small handful of chocolate chips

(For hard cider only) 1 part mid-tier or higher vodka

Mix everything together in a large pot. Put the pot on medium heat for about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure everything is blending nicely. Taste often to adjust for your personal tastes (or just for fun, it’s hard to wait for cider.)

In celebration of the annual Apple Harvest Festival, we made a few thermos-fulls of hot cider. Unfortunately, this was the night after the festival, so we didn’t get to enjoy it out in the crisp fall air, and had to pay stupid amounts of money for cider in the commons. Awesome. Yet, that night, we rang in the eating season (as I so affectionately call it) with a delicious, sweet-and-tart aperitif. This recipe is all Calvin’s; I cannot take any credit for it. However, I can hold up my personal counterpart to it…

Fall Breeze

2 shots Bacardi Limon

1 shot peppermint schnapps

1 tbsp cinnamon sugar

Iced tea (use whatever you like; I make my own with some Crystal Light)

Mix everything together. Drink out of a big jug with three X’s on it to feel like a true American.

I stayed in the Ith this fall break, which got me a number of weird looks. See, I live three hours away from home, and have my car up here. Why didn’t I go home, people who made ridiculous treks to see their families for a meager three days would ask me. I am simply too lazy to go home for no reason. It’s nothing against my family, I love them, fall just turns me into a lump. So, I hung out with some friends over break, making absurd concoctions, trying to embody the taste of the autumn air I do so adore. I didn’t succeed, but I’d say this comes pretty close. A brisk, biting, smooth drink to keep you warm during the cool October nights. And we do so hope you all enjoy your fall as much as we do.

–C and L

“If Life gives you lemons, cut them into slices and you’re well on your way to making SANGRIA”

Cue, backstory

I spent this past summer in Shanghai doing an internship, exploring the city, and just bumming around a bit. Shanghai, as I soon found out, has always been a mix of old and new. You could find old men crowded around an intense game of Chinese chess, a crowd of fanny pack-toting tourists, a hip and trendy Starbucks coffee shop, and a local with his pushcart selling meat skewers all on the same street. Louis Vuitton? Check. Fake eggs at a local market? (I’m not kidding) Check. Authentic Italian thin-crust pizza? Check. You get the idea.

On one of my gastronomical explorations with one of my friends, we went to a Mexican brunch place called “Maya”. Boasting a “brunch menu below 50 RMB” on Sundays, this offer was a steal. While perusing the menu, the drinks list naturally caught my eye (yes, even on a Sunday morning). Bellini! Mimosa! And then Sangria! My God, people. This was not the first time I’d been to brunch, so I’m not sure why the idea of having a little bit of drank with Sunday brunch was such a novelty (Oh right, I know why, it’s because I live in America).

So to do my first real brunch justice, we ordered white wine Sangria.

Our Sangria arrives. Condensation forms around the wine glasses from the ever-present humidity. Ice cubes bob amongst the fruity bits and pulpy pods of lemon, orange and grapefruit. Bubbles fizz around the edges from the added Perrier. To use my native, regional Bay Area, proverbial term… it was “hella” good. For those of you who are not acquainted with the jargon: it was the bomb dot com, it buttered my toast, etc.

The Sangria was refreshing, simple and absolutely tasty. Better yet, when I was done sipping on the bubbly wine, there was still floating fruit to fish out! Double whammy.

Om nom nom nom.

Brunch and Sangria

Fast forward to a week later… my friend who is leaving Shanghai mentions two bottles of wine that he forgot to give to his boss as a going-away present. My mind whirs a little, and then I give him the look. I give him the upward shift of the eyebrows, a subtle smirk indicative of mooching, and the “you know what’s up” expression all in one go. He takes a second to process my meaning. We all know how that one ended up.

Utilizing the unique and fruity flavors of Asia, I devised this simple recipe:

Shangria (see what I did there?)

1 Bottle (750 mL) of red or white wine (I used a 2007 Australian Shiraz while in Shanghai)

4 Lemons (or substitute half limes)

3 Kiwis

6-8 Lychees

1 Pink Lady Apple (or whatever’s freshest near you)

1 Asian Pear

1 cup Orange Juice

2 cups Peach Nectar

Sparkling Water

Cut lemons into slices. Skin the kiwis (I had no idea how to do this, so check it out) and similarly slice. Peel and seed the lychee. Make sure to crush the lychee so the inner pulp becomes exposed (which releases juices). Finely dice the apples and pears.

Place all fruit in a pitcher or bowl and add wine and juices. Allow Sangria to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best. Add sparkling water to taste right before serving. Serves 5-6.

Sangria sitting in fridge overnight. Fruity bits floating...

Note: You can use any kind of fruit. Play around with the recipe and be creative. For red wine Sangrias, all kinds of berries work very well. For white wine, grapefruit, mango and watermelon would make great additions.

So whether you’re in need of a summer throwback or just have some leftover wine that your friend forgot to give their boss that you can mooch off of… Sangria’s your go-to!

Enjoy!

-J Lo