Beverages Abroad Pt. I – Singapore

Here’s the first post of 2012! A very happy new year to all you bevvies!

Many apologies for not having posted in the past few weeks. As any good explorers know, one must go far and wide to obtain the treasures of the world — and boy, have I. Singapore was my destination! The wondrous city/country/island and my many friends there showed me the greatest hospitality – which included much alcohol.

So, I have returned from my epic exploration with much bounty to share (I even have pictures). Let’s get to it!

To not completely come off as an alcoholic, I’ll include a variety of beverages that Singapore had to offer. First, I present to you a Hawker center (Singapore’s solution for regulating food carts and stands) classic.

A creamy, malted chocolate beverage -- good at any time of dayThis is the Milo Dinosaur. This cup of malted chocolate milk isn’t your average cup of “Yoo-hoo.” It’s creamy (from the condensed milk *drool*); it’s cold (which is friggin’ FAN-tastic in the Singapore heat); and it’s topped with extra malt powder which turns into that slimy, chocolatey goodness that lingers at the bottom of your cup. Luckily it comes with a spoon: yum.

And here is the warm alternative which is popular in many Hawker centers: Pulled Tea.

Frothy Milk Tea

This take on the popular Asian milk tea drink is a warm delight. Just like the Milo Dinosaur, it’s real creamy, ahem condensed milk. This simple drink’s taste is only half the fun. The frothy bits at the top all come from the pouring motion. Ain’t no thang.

Ok, enough sober crap. Onwards, to the alcohol (the reason why we’re all here…)!

First off: a beer. Tiger Beer is Singapore’s national beer. It was average. Cheers.

Singapore's Budweiser

I can’t say it was anything phenomenal, but I figured I might as well try it. One does not simply fly across the Pacific Ocean to not try the local beer. Like the adage goes: when in Rome…

(drink beer).

Ok and here’s the last of the picture series. Here we have Singapore’s speciality: The Singapore Sling.

Fruity and colorfulFirstly, excuse the out-of-focus-ness.  Secondly, holy sh!t this was not what I expected. My friends and I went to the place where this drink originated: The Raffles Hotel. Having done zero background research on the drink, I was decently bamboozled at our order (my friends and I were also surprised to learn that you could toss your peanut shells on the ground – it creates a nauseatingly crunchy texture to the ground).

For a drink that was birthed in the watering hole of one of the most historical hospitality establishments of the colonial world, I was not expecting a orangey-pink monstrosity (with a maraschino cherry to boot). I think the story goes that the colonial manly-men of the day needed to mask the foul taste of their gin.  Thus, pineapple juice, grenadine, and sweet and sour mix was used to mask the taste. My hat is off to you, ye olde colonizers – never have I seen such shameless sweetening of a drink. Wear your man-parts with pride!

Anyways, sarcasm and colonialism aside, It was a decent drink. Admittedly, this is a departure from the original recipe, but I couldn’t complain. The foam was a nice touch; the sweetness and tartness put it somewhere between “Peeps” and “Ring-pop”; and there was an absolute lack of alcohol burn, despite the three liqueurs and heavy-handed pour of gin. An interesting drink, for sure.

Next time, expect Hong Kong.

-J Lo

“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

A Glass of Class: Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset

One handful of cranberries (Fresh gives better taste, but frozen works in a pinch)
Three shots vodka
One or two mint leaves
One spoonful of sugar
A few chunks of pineapple
Ice

Blend everything until the drink has a liquid consistency, then strain it into a tall glass.

 

Fruity drinks always remind me of the summer: sun beating down on the shores of turquoise water lapping at some sand, as you watch tanned beauties sip a Cosmo with those little chunks of sweetness bobbing at the top. Since we’re on the heels of the season, though, they’ve all but gone out of style. Reminiscing about the days we’ve since passed by, the two of us decided to make a ‘last hurrah’ drink before Ithaca plunges us into thirty weeks of night again. What better way to do that than throw some fruit and ice into a blender and hope for the best? Yet, we want everyone to enjoy this, not just the ladies (which is the stereotype, or so I’ve been told.) To make it more unisex-friendly, this drink has a nice bite to it without being bitter. It provides a fresh tinge on the way down too, courtesy of the mint. Beware, though; it comes out of the blender very pulpy and gritty, so strain it well unless you don’t mind drinking seeds and leaves. In the end, enjoy this drink as a requiem to summertime, or as a celebration to inevitable future lethargy.

Until next time, kids.

–C and L

J Lo announces his project – part 1 of infinity.

Kind readers,

As the first post, I will share with you my foremost project. This will be an on-going project until… well, until I run out of friends (God-forbid it’s because I run out of booze).

My first-ever original creation took place just under a year ago. This was before I had my own Boston shaker and other tools (actually, I had converted my unused coffee thermos into a shaker which worked brilliantly—put the ice and liquids in, clap the lid on tight, shake, and then use the drinking spout as your pour!). But anyways, I was hanging out with some friends at my place, and I was looking for something more manageable than just straight booze.

I started with a few mixes and then finally settled on a particular mix. I was playing with some Mango Absolut and some random mixers in my fridge. After a bit of ‘this’ and a bit of ‘that’, I passed the cup to my friend, Seojin, who enthusiastically burst out that she loved the creation. Surprised by the reaction, I cheesily announced that this was to be her drink. The whole group of us brainstormed a name for a quick minute, finally settling on “Seojin Special.”

Then and there, my project was born. The goal of my project: to create and then name as many of my original creations after my friends as possible.

Seojin Special

Formal prep

1.5 oz Mango Absolut
Fill two-thirds orange juice (I like pulp; haters stay away)
.75 oz lime juice
Dash of grenadine down the side of the glass (ooooh, pretty!)
Instructions: Build in highball glass full of ice. Be sure to remember a stir-straw.

Party prep
Use some standard of measure (a shot glass, a red cup, etc.) to define your ‘part’.

1 part Mango Absolut
2 part orange juice
1 part lime juice
Dash of grenadine
Instructions: Build into a cup with ice, and then pour (roll) between two cups 2-3 times to mix. Color should be somewhat like grapefruit juice.

This is a great fruity drink that is basic yet sophisticated at the same time. The alcohol can be switched for virtually any flavored vodka/rum or maybe even gin. For all you experimenters out there, try the orange, limejuice, and grenadine together to know what the ‘natural’ taste of the mixers is without the alcohol. This way, you can further experiment with other juices and tastes of alcohols.

General notes: The party prep is much less concerned about presentation. It’s fast and it’s hassle-free. Given that we are all rather eager to imbibe alcohol at this juncture in our lives and that we just want to get something tasty down the hatch to relax the atmosphere, the party prep set of instruction will cater to this mindset. I assume that not everyone has all of the standard glassware to present the cocktails or the appropriate tools with which to create them.

The formal instructions are bar-ready. With these instructions, I assume that you have all the tools and resources to execute a professional-looking cocktail. This is for all you fancy-pants out there who want the whole 9-yards.

ENJOY, ALL YE PEOPLE.

Next time: I talk about a cask.

J Lo, out.