Fentiman’s Fermented Sodas

The realm of fancy craft beverages is not limited to beers and spirits.  Everything from coffee to soda has something going in the craft or artisanal arena. Brands such as Q drinks, Fever Tree and Fentimans have all stepped up to make non-alcoholic mixers to step up the cocktail game beyond the mainstays of Coke, Canada Dry and Schweppes. On a recent trip to the home-brew store, their cooler section, drew my eye and I picked up a smattering of interesting bottles to try.  My tasting panel includes myself, The TruantMuse (my photographer), and 2ndTinyestBear (Muse’s girl child age 5).  Despite being fermented beverages, these are all alcohol free.  They lack even the warning label that might be required if you have at least 0.01% possible alcohol that you might see on a bottle of raw kombucha.

All three of these drinks are built on a base of fermented ginger extract.  (Ginger, water, yeast)  The process of fermentation seems to divorce most of the ginger flavor from the brew as none of them have anything like the sharp flavor you might find from a ginger beer.  Each was a unique experience without any similar flavors.  Additionally because the drinks are naturally fermented they have their own carbonation which is much softer than something mechanically carbonated with CO2.

 

 

Curiosity Cola

Cola is a beverage with a long history and a number of fierce fans and detractors on all sides.  There are expectations here that can’t really be met without a blindfold.  Flavors in this drink were more complex than you might think at first, there were flavors on the front and back of the palette with some lingering elements of licorice in the aftertaste.  Not tart or acidic, like some others, but it did have some similar elements to Pepsi noted by at least 2 of us.  Displacing either of the big two colas is a tall order because they are both consistent, and ubiquitous.  This cola didn’t knock anything out of the park and lacking a soda gun option or the cost savings of a larger size I doubt you’ll see this in anything but a specialist venue.  If I did cola on a regular enough basis to need some handy I would likely select this over Mexican Coca-cola but both have their difficulties in buying any in quantity.

Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger

Possibly the best of the three bottles.  Unlike any other orange soda you might have had this is almost more like fizzy orange juice than fountain orange soda.  Even the 5 year old could identify the Mandarin flavors in the soda, she called it good and finished her drink.  The complex orange flavors were excellent and had a lot of potential as both a soda and a mixer for any citrus cocktail.  I think a lot of what drew me to it is the lack of a syrupy consistency common to things like Orange Crush or Fanta.  The second thing is perhaps a bartender’s love for citrus of any stripe.  We have become inured to the flavor of the artificial orange and generally lack an appreciation for how diverse the citrus family can be.  Seeing something that wasn’t just artificial blood orange flavoring as an alternative was an experience.

Victorian Lemonade

The only loser of the bunch.  With a 1/3 rating, this drink was not well received by anyone except myself.  Comments included “Metallic”, “No Lemon”, “Too Lemony”.  Personally I found the drink tart and dry, which was in keeping with my expectation of lemonade in most cases.  I think the second round of sweetener might have something to do with the distaste.  All other drinks had only cane sugar.  I’m not entirely sure what the intent was here with the term Victorian.  I’m sure the story is long and involves ingredients common to the day but honestly if the drink wasn’t good there is probably a reason it’s not the kind of lemonade we make now.

This is only 3 of the 10 plus flavors that Fentiman’s offers.  If the rest are anything like what we tasted I think you’re in for a treat no matter what you select.

AM Drinking: Midnight Sunrise

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The name of this drink is something of a joke.  The two main components are an Advocaat egg nog liqueur and orange juice.  Advocaat is dutch and while the low country isn’t exactly above the arctic circle the name has kind of stuck.

The Recipe:

2 oz Egg Nog Liqueur (advocaat)29
2 oz Pulp free Orange Juice

There isn’t anything terribly complicated here, advocaat has some lemon custard flavors to it that blend well with citrus and as a morning drink has much to recommend it.

As an AM drink I also try to shy away from anything that requires ingenuity this early in the morning.  If you want to expand this beyond the 2 ingredient level you can also float a little cream on the top and add club soda which turns it into an Australian drink called a fluffy duck.

Mudder’s Milk Part 5: Big Damn Heroes

To Recap:
Mudders Milk 1 : Where I aim to misbehave
Mudders Milk 2: Mighty fine shindig
Mudders Milk 3: Too Pretty to Die
Mudders Milk 4: Coming to a middle

I think this is going to be our final installment.  With enough experimentation I’ve gotten this to the point where it can be reproduced consistently every time.

Start with 1/3 cup of rolled oatmeal.  Using a food processor blend the oats until you’ve got the whole thing to a flour like consistency.

You can do as much as you want and keep it in a storage container but 1/3 cup is about as much as you need for a single serving.

Put the oat flour into a small resealable container with slightly more than 1/3 cup of water.   Add to the mix about a tablespoon of cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and ground allspice.  Mix the oats well and place the sealed container in the fridge overnight.

While the oats are soaking we prep the apples.  Take a whole apple, peel, core and dice finely.  To the apples add a similar amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  Add about a tablespoon of granulated sugar to the mix and then a small amount of water.  Place the whole into a pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Once the apples are good and soft you strain the results and put the apples through a food mill, chinoise or strainer.

I usually do up three apples at a time and keep the results in another container.

Once you have the cold soak and the apples done you can basically do this any time you want.

To the 1/3 cup oats I drain off any excess water and give it a good stir.  Add about two spoonfuls of apple and a good pinch of brown sugar and put it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Stir the results and spoon it into a glass.  Add 1.5 oz of coole swan irish cream and 1 oz of spiced rum.

For the rum I am currently using Eastside Distilling’s Spiced rum which uses the same kind of spice mix as their holiday spice liqueur and has a wonderful spicy flavor.

Stir up the whole mix to get it good and smooth, then drink to your heart’s content.

What I love about this is that most of the work can be done in advance and can be portioned out into single servings without any problems.  It only takes a minor amount of heat, or none at all if you’re camping hard.  With a small amount of well sealed camping storage you can have breakfast drinking for several days ready to go.

To answer a question from my last post I did make an attempt to do this with with apple butter.

The big difference between the apples I’ve been using and apple butter is about a half cup of sugar.  The consistency is about the same but when you boil the apples down for an extra couple of hours the spices get a lot stronger.  The result is a thicker, much sweeter product.

Two spoonfuls of apple butter was just too much.  The result was cloying and too sweet by far.  Maybe without the brown sugar it would have been ok or with less apple butter but I can say that the effort needed to make apple butter was not worth it for the drink.  The extra hours of stewing and the effort of putting apples through a strainer were more work than really needed.

Using store bought apple butter could be a good alternative but I think cost wise the apples would be cheaper and give a perfectly excellent result.

Wolverines! : The Red Dawn Cocktail

Red DawnRed Dawn

I named this little number after the movie but really it’s like a sunrise in a couple of respects.

6 oz Orange juice
1.5 oz Vodka
1 oz Grenadine
1.5 oz Cherry Liqueur

In tall glass with ice pour the ingredients over the back of a spoon similar to a float.  Start with Cherry, then grenadine, then vodka, then OJ.

Don’t stir or shake.

This isn’t a super advanced drink but it does carry some nice fruitiness in a morning beverage.

AM drinking really should be simple, you’ve just woken up and I’m not one to break out the shaker at the crack of noon.

Mudder’s Milk Part 4: Coming to a Middle

To Recap:  Mudders Milk 1  In which we set our sails to distraction

Mudders Milk 2 In which we fail and learn that having to eat your mistakes can still be damn tasty.

Mudders Milk 3: Where we try Cold Soaking

Welcome back everyone to my attempt to create a drinkable oatmeal cocktail.  In our previous episode we tried cold soaking the oatmeal with some very good results.  Suggestions were made as to how to proceed and we present the results.

premud 1

Using a small blender I took about 3/4 of a cup of rolled oats and powdered them.  I was expecting something a bit more like steel cut oats but instead wound up with something more like oat flour.

premud2

I fouled the next step.  Normally with cold oats you only need a small amount of liquid to get the whole thing going since none of it is going to boil off.  I could have done a half cup to 3/4 cup of milk but being out of milk at the time I instead used water and didn’t bother to check my notes and used 1.5 cups of water.

premud3

The result was thin and after a stir looked pretty smooth.  I placed the container in the fridge overnight and prayed that I wouldn’t have to start over.

Mudder's Milk4-1In the morning the container had separated putting a small quantity of cloudy water on top of the layer of oatmeal.  I poured this off and was left with what you see above in the first photo.  The texture is pretty good, the smell and flavor are about a hundred times better than the baby oatmeal I tried and this looks like it’s going to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2 is apples.  All previous attempts have resulted in apples with a slightly chunky texture that is not ideal for drinking.

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We start by peeling and coring.  Then dice them into small mostly uniform pieces.

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Add a little baker’s sugar so the apples will sweat and about an ounce of water to get them started.  Next season with ground cinnamon and grated fresh nutmeg.

After a little time I added another ounce of water to help them soften and stir periodically to keep them from sticking.

After a good 10-15 minutes the apples were still not very soft and I’m starting to think that I need a different approach to them.  So I pulled them off the stove and into a solid bowl for a good muddling with my Oxo Steel Muddler.  I like this thing a lot, Wood makes me edgy about flavor carry over and the thing eventually wearing out and putting splinters in my drinks.  I don’t have a good history with wooden kitchen implements so this muddler feels good being both solid metal in the rod and plastic on the head for cleaning.

It made pretty short work of the apples but at the end they were still pretty solid.  Another approach is definitely needed.

Mudder's Milk4-5

 

I added the muddled apples and the oatmeal back into the pot for a little heating and blending.  At this point I made mistake number two which was to forget to season the oatmeal.  This stuff is bland, bland bland when it’s plain and for this drink I need something that is going to help mask the alcohol.  The seasoning on the apples hasn’t been able to carry the day before and this time was no exception.

This part only took about 2-3 minutes and if you’re prepping this stuff for camping or events this is the point at which you can do you run out of pre-prep.  All the previous steps can be done hours in advance and set aside.

Mudder's Milk4-6

 

Once the mixture was warm enough that cold booze wasn’t going to make the effort pointless I spooned the now somewhat more solid oatmeal into a parfait glass.  This is about 4-6 tablespoons.

Mudder's Milk4-7

 

For this attempt we’re going to use some Silver Bacardi Rum and a bottle of dirt cheap Emmet’s Irish Cream.  I would use Coole swan for this in the end but I’m not going to waste the good stuff on an unsure outcome.  You might ask, why rum?  The original effort for this came from a discussion with a lovely pirate girl and so I’m using rum in an effort to keep at least the sousant of piratical flavor.

Mudder's Milk4-8

 

1 oz of Silver Rum
1.5 oz of Irish Cream

Stir well in the glass and you should wind up with something like this:

Mudder's Milk4-9

 

Flavor: Harsh on the alcohol side.  This could be too much rum or just cheap irish cream that is the problem but it does make me think that I haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of alcohol I’m using in this.  The oatmeal is fine and the apples are tasty.

Texture: The oatmeal is perfect.  No clumps until right at the end when I’d let the glass settle a bit and even then it wasn’t big enough to stop drinking.  The apples were still huge and did require chewing.

Problems: Oatmeal was bland.  I need to season on both the apples AND oatmeal and sweeten with some brown sugar before I add the apples.

Apples were still huge: I’m thinking either putting them through a food mill, blender, or stewing them in more liquid rather than sort of poaching them like I have been doing.  Applesauce seems like a good idea for some reason but I have a feeling that it won’t work out as well as what I have been doing.  They need to be softer and mushy but not liquid.

Boozey: With both rum and bad irish cream this was a hit in the mouth every drink.  The irish cream is a for sure but using something like coole swan is going to help.  Less rum, this is an AM drink and doesn’t need that much of a hit.  I’m also thinking of something a bit more flavorful like barenjager, which is a honey liqueur and is very creamy and might help with the need for less sugar.

 

Nutella Cocktail

In my various travels around the interwebs I stumble across (or am pushed) into various sites with curious and interesting drink ideas.

This one in particular falls firmly into the category of “fuzzy drinks” for which I have to come up with a better title.  This is one of those drinks made with liqueurs only, nothing hard and nothing crazy.

I think one could probably expect a light-weight drink from a site called Crazy Adventures in Parenting.  But of any of us who except parents has a good reason to drink.

This could almost be in my AM drinking category if I were inclined that direction but really the combination of Milk, Godiva and Frangelico isn’t all that unique.  Hazelnut and chocolate are about as inseparable as chocolate and peanut butter.

What makes this drink interesting to me is the garnish used on the glass.

  1. Put the Nutella into a bowl and microwave for 15 seconds to warm.
  2. Drizzle Nutella inside your martini glass.

I think you could reasonably use this same feat in any number of concoctions with or without Godiva in the mix.  Nutella is considerably easier to handle than bar chocolate, fudge, chocolate syrup or even magic shell.  It’s more of a gel than a liquid and it doesn’t take much in the way of heat to make it pliable enough to move.

Personal suggestion would be to use a squeeze bottle of some type and simply heat the bottle in a pan of hot water for a couple minutes.  You’re going to get a more even heat without the drying out and gumminess that a microwave is going to impart.  If you’re going to be drinking or making a lot of these then putting the bottle back in the water keeps your chocolate fluid while you’re working your shaker.

Ps. No Gin, no Martini!

Mudder’s Milk Part 3

To Recap:  Mudders Milk 1  In which we set our sails to distraction

Mudders Milk 2 In which we fail and learn that having to eat your mistakes can still be damn tasty.

 

Chapter 3: A dish best served cold…

A suggestion was made by my mother, who is a dietitian (and married to a very nice executive chef), that I should first cold soak the oats before attempting any shenanigans with the recipe.

So the basic cup and a half of rolled oats goes into a tupperware and to which is added a quantity of milk not to exceed 1.5 cups.  Addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in an attempt to get the flavor to impart over a longer time and then the whole boat goes into the fridge overnight.

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Post-Fridge Results

 

At First blush the results are not appealing, it looks watery and has no apparent change in texture.  As you can see it looks about the same overall.

IMG_20130423_095312
Oats removed from liquid for reference.

The next part is to heat the oats up, add apples and liquor.  This part went about as expected, they didn’t reduce as much as previous attempts which is good as a slightly watery texture will make them easier to drink.  But as the final photos show this is still a bit lumpy compared to what we’re shooting for.

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Lessons learned: As a prep method cold soak would allow someone in the field to put this entire mess into a large sealed container and then simply break out and heat to desired portion.  Apples can be prepared separately and added without issue.

Problems:  Still not thin enough, needs blending but will that release starch and turn into a mess.

Next attempt: Put rolled oats into food processor to get desired texture, then cold soak.

AM Drinking: Business Time

If you’re ever having one of those mornings where you stayed up way too late, slept way too little and still have to get up and do things that aren’t “work” or operating heavy and dangerous machinery you know the wonders of not having drunk enough the night before.

I create this category for the people who are perpetually at 5 o’clock and see no issue with the thought of making a lovely drink before the sun has rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

business time

This morning we showcase a lovely little beverage that rolls up a number of morning flavors.  It isn’t much to look at, but it helps to get through the sunday doldrums when it’s not warm enough for mojitos but not cold enough for hot cider.

6 oz Milk (2%)
4 oz Coole Swan (irish cream)
1.5 oz Below Deck Coffee Rum
1 oz 360 Double Chocolate Vodka
1 oz Bols Creme de Cacao

I used a good sized Working Glass Tumbler for this one as there was no way my old fashioned was going to hold this much and it would make my collins look a bit weak.  These things will get a full post at some point as a quick and dirty shaker but that’s for another day.

The alcohol presented here isn’t strong enough to curdle the milk so you don’t get the chewy nasty sensation you might otherwise.  This is a strong drink for taking long lovely pulls on over eggs and toast.  I’m not a coffee drinker so the double chocolate and Cacao are pulling double duty tamping down the very very strong coffee flavors from the below deck.  The rum is my favorite base for anything, with brandy a close second, and here you have both caffeine and alcohol in one shot which is really the best of both worlds.

This lives in the same category as the buttery nipple, the white russian and many other cream or milk based drinks.  Entirely opposite of the fruit based drinks one normally sees, this is not a sipping beverage and carries very little in the way of subtlety.  Just watch out because the Coole swan sneaks up on you.