The High Cotton

infusing life with Southern food, hospitality, and fun

Category: Drink

bulletproof

There’s a coffee trend sweeping the nation, y’all. You know it’s legit because you can now get it at Whole Foods. I’m talking about bulletproof coffee (or “mammoth coffee” if you’re ordering it at Whole Foods). Bulletproof coffee is regular black coffee with butter and coconut oil in it. I know, I know. G.R.O.S.S. But stay with me. I was immediately intrigued by the ingredients because, well, butter. My first experience with bulletproof coffee happened about a month ago when I ordered a small mammoth at Whole Foods. I’d heard rumors of coffee with butter in it, but had not heard of the coconut oil aspect before. I figured, what the heck, YOLO. Guys. It was AMAZING. The coffee flavor really came through, and it wasn’t sweet at all. I don’t put sugar in my coffee, so that was a positive in my view, but you could totally add sugar if you want and it would be fine.

Since then, I’ve learned a few things about bulletproof coffee you should know:

1. The coffee needs to be the best quality. The butter and coconut oil enhance the coffee flavor, so good coffee is really important. Also, life is short so you shouldn’t be drinking bad coffee anyway.

2. The other ingredients need to be good, too. Look for high quality butter, in particular. We use Kerrygold grass-fed.

3. Procedure is critical. After my first mammoth, I ordered another one at the same Whole Foods a couple of weeks later. It was made by a different person, and was absolutely terrible. The butter and coconut oil just sat on top like an oil slick. The flavor was totally off, too. The proper procedure is to add the coffee, butter, and coconut oil to a blender and then whir the whole thing together for a few seconds. The blending, along with the addition of refrigerated butter, can cool the coffee off so it’s also important to heat it up a little if that happens.

4. You can make bulletproof coffee at home, but you might want to save it for the weekend. It’s not that the making process is time-consuming. It’s more that you end up with a dirty blender. No one wants to deal with that on their way out the door for work. Another wrinkle can occur if, like us, you use a Chemex to drip brew your coffee. In that case, my earlier statement about the process not taking very long is out the window.

5. There is a debate about whether bulletproof coffee can serve as a meal replacement. I read an article recently where a guy drank bulletproof coffee in the morning instead of eating breakfast for two weeks. Basically, he was starving all the time. So maybe don’t do that. I’ve also found that if I drink it first thing, before I’ve eaten something, I get a stomach ache.

6. Bulletproof coffee makes you feel pretty great. I don’t know what it is, but bulletproof coffee makes me feel extra alert and on top of things.

Want to make your own? Just blend two cups of coffee with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of coconut oil. Note: I am going to start cutting back the butter little by little to see if I can tell the difference. Although butter is a magical substance, it is not exactly a health food.

Cucumber Rickey

We just got a new cocktail book called Shake.  As with many cool, food and beverage-related things these days, the book hails from Brooklyn, NY.

Shake: A New Perspective On Cocktails

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The book is sold out on their website, but you can pick it up at Williams-Sonoma like we did, or grab it on Amazon.  The photography and layout of the book are some of the best I’ve seen in any cookbook genre.  It’s really a pleasure to read, even if you never make any of the recipes in it.  But more importantly, the drinks are classic and delicious.  We can’t wait to make them all.

We wound up our weekend by making the Cucumber Rickey because we just happened to have all the ingredients for that.  Each recipe makes two drinks, which is perfect.  All cocktail recipes should be written that way, in my opinion.

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Ginger Beer is becoming more widely available.  We really like Fever-Tree.  The mint is from our garden!

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I dare you to find a drink more refreshing-looking than these.

The cucumber and mint flavors were perfectly balanced, and made the drink taste like an amped up gin and tonic.  It would be perfect for someone who doesn’t care for a normal G&T.  Mint can really overwhelm more delicate flavors, but not so here.  The ginger beer didn’t make it overly sweet, either.  It was just right for sipping on the porch.

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Enjoyment in progress.

Made in the South Awards

Every year, Garden & Gun has a “Made in the South” contest.  Products made all over the South are submitted for judging by a panel of experts in various categories like food, drink, style and design, etc.  The winners are consistently fantastic, but many of them are also totally inaccessible due to price (hello $700 eyeglass frames).  The overall winner in the drink category last year, however, was something normal people can actually buy, and something I actually own.  Yay!  I thought I would review it for y’all.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned

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Bittermilk sells pre-made cocktail mixers.  Anyone who’s ever had neon green margarita mix knows that pre-made mixers can go very, very wrong.*  Not so with Bittermilk. Their mixers are hand-crafted in small batches right in Charleston, SC (wut wut!).  I got Tom the bourbon barrel aged old fashioned and the smoked honey whiskey sour for Christmas last year and practically won wife-of-the-year.  The mixers don’t contain alcohol, so you can add your favorite brand of spirit to customize each one.  The bourbon barrel aged old fashioned mixer won Garden & Gun’s 2013 contest in the “drink” category, and rightly so.  We recently expanded our Bittermilk arsenal.  We obviously purchased more of the old fashioned and whiskey sour mixers (no brainer), and added in the Tom Collins.  They are all simply outstanding.  You can purchase them online through Bittermilk’s site, but if you live in the D.C. area, you can also pick them up at Salt & Sundry in Union Market.  That’s where we get ours.  I think we are going to have to start buying in bulk…

 

*True confession: just in case anyone thinks I’m a snob about this, I think Mr. and Mrs. T’s spicy bloody mary mix (available at practically every grocery and liquor store) is one of the absolute best mixers out there.  We kept that company in business tailgating in college.    

Weekend Food and Beverage

We had a relaxing weekend, which was welcome after all the travelling we did recently.  We spent a lot of time, as usual, eating and drinking things.  Here’s a short round-up.

On Friday night, we had dinner al fresco at Red Red Wine Bar, which is a perennial favorite.  We were having such a good time that I didn’t take any pictures.  I had their New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp.  They were slightly different than the bbq shrimp I’ve had in the past, but delicious.  The best part was probably the sauce, which I soaked up with a bunch of baguette.  No surprise there.

On Saturday, we ate lunch at a little beer garden a couple blocks from our house.  We’ve eaten there a bunch of times, but this was the first time we’d ordered the sweet potato fries.  They were so interesting!  The fries had cinnamon sugar sprinkled on them with a little syrupy drizzle.  There was sugar overload potential, but they were actually just fine, particularly once we dipped them in a little bit of dijon mustard.  Yum.

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This restaurant gets creative with their plain fries, too.  They add rosemary, truffle oil, and shaved parmesan.

We ate dinner at home on Saturday night.  I made pasta with butter roasted tomato sauce.

On Sunday, it was so hot that we were craving something cold.  We ended up having salads for lunch, and then taking the water taxi to the Chart House for drinks before dinner.  Tom had what we affectionately call The Barnacle (after our friend’s boat).  Everyone else calls this a Mount Gay and tonic.  The lime is really critical here.  If you can also add a water view (like we did), all the better.

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We took the water taxi back home, where I made a mushroom and leek gallette for a light dinner.  It was a first-time recipe that I kind of made up, and it turned out really well.  I just sauteed a pound of sliced mushrooms in butter, with salt and pepper, until they were golden brown.  I added a clove of minced garlic, cooked for another minute or so, and then de-glazed the pan with some wine.  We had a rose open, so I just used that.  Any kind of wine will do because you only need a couple of tablespoons.  Meanwhile, Tom sauteed two leeks and a quarter cup of shallots (plus salt and pepper) in a separate pan until they were soft.  We combined those two things, and set the mixture aside.  I put a prepared pie crust (the rolled kind) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Tom sprinkled the crust with grated gruyere cheese.  Next, I filled the crust with the vegetables (leaving a 2″ border), sprinkled the veggies with more gruyere and parmesan, and then folded the crust up around the veggies.  I brushed the crust with olive oil, and sprinkled salt and pepper over it.  Then I baked the whole thing at 425 for about 25 minutes until the crust was done.  Once it cooled a little bit, we just cut it into wedges and served it with a small green salad.  Delish.

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A House Divided

The last four days were stressful at our house.  No, not because of work or anything like that.  Because the Braves were playing the Nationals in a four-game series.  As you can tell from the title of this post, Tom and I do not root for the same team.  I’m the Braves fan, obviously.  The issue is even more contentious because the Braves and the Nats are in the same division, and for the past couple of seasons, have been in tight competition with each other.  The struggle is real, y’all.  Anyway, on Friday night, we expressed our opposing team pride via beer koozies.

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This photo is blurry, but not because of the beer drinking.

The beer is “Porch Rocker” from Sam Adams.  Apropos, we thought.  Rocking on the porch with a cold beer while listening to baseball through the open windows is about as summer as it gets.  In the end, the Braves and Nats split the series, so no harm, no foul.  Peace has been restored.

Pink Margaritas

Two drink posts in a row!  Yesterday, we closed out the weekend with an evening cocktail on our porch.  We had planned to have classic margaritas, but Trader Joe’s was out of their margarita mix (it’s the best, trust me).  In a pinch, Tom had the great idea to use Trader Joe’s pomegranate limeade.  Pink margaritas!!

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This was a new product for us, since we don’t really buy fruit juice much.  It is generally just a vehicle for sugar and empty calories, but so are margaritas.  Considering the application, I was happy to try this out.  Plus, the drink turns out such an attractive color.

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Summer in a glass.

Tom just mixed tequila, a splash of grand marnier (because we were out of triple sec) lime juice, pomegranate limeade, and ice in a cocktail shaker.  Voila.  We would normally rim the glasses with salt, but I got impatient.

Sazeracs

I’ve been getting into whiskey a little bit more lately.  For some reason, red wine has started giving me headaches if I have more than one glass (zut alors!).  This is new, unwelcome, and has necessitated a change in beverage focus.  Hence the sazerac.  Sazeracs are a New Orleans classic, and there are a bunch of recipes out there.  We are lucky enough to have an amazing cocktail place a couple blocks from our house (Level), which is where I recently had one of the best sazeracs ever.

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I don’t know exactly what recipe Level uses, but I will be asking the next time I order one.  In the meantime, when we make sazeracs at home, we use this recipe from a friend:

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 4 ounces rye (rye is traditional, but you can also make this with bourbon)
  • 8 dashes bitters (preferably Peychaud’s)
  • 2 teaspoons anise-flavored liqueur, such as Herbsaint or Pernod
  • Lemon twists

Directions

  1. Fill two rocks glasses with ice to chill. In a third glass or cocktail shaker, stir together sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Add rye or bourbon, bitters, and ice. Stir until chilled.
  2. Discard ice from glasses and add 1 teaspoon anise-flavored liqueur to each. Swirl to coat bottom and sides of glasses with liqueur, then pour off the extra. Strain sazerac mixture into glasses and garnish with lemon twists.

Try one of these out.  Y’all can thank me later.

Spa Water

We continued to have horrendous weather over the weekend.  It rained and rained and rained.  And, for good measure, it was freezing.  A friend of ours was helping someone move a sailboat.  They eventually had to dock less than half-way through the trip because it started sleeting!  When we saw him at the marina, he said he’d never been so cold in his life.  I think they all wanted to kiss the dock when they finally tied up.

Tom came up with this delicious cocktail to help combat our weather-related malaise.  It reminded us of that cucumber and/or mint water you get at the spa, hence the name.  I also keep cucumber-infused water around a lot in the summer, so it was a nice reminder of warmer weather, too.  We should have brought a pitcher of these to the guys moving the boat!

We’d never used mint bitters before, so were surprised to discover that they are a great shade of green!  It makes the drink even better, I think.  They are also seriously minty, so you’ve been warned.

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Such a pretty color!

Spa Water Cocktail

2 oz vodka

1-2 dashes mint bitters

3 slices seedless (hothouse) cucumber

Ice

Mint and cucumber garnish (optional)

Put the vodka, bitters, and cucumber slices in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously for about a minute to really bruise the cucumber slices and release their flavor.  Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass.  Garnish with a sprig of mint and a cucumber slice, if desired.

Three Stars

Earlier this week, we went to a beer and bourbon dinner at Graffiato in D.C.  Graffiato is a Michael Isabella restaurant that serves primarily Italian food, and we could see that influence in the menu for the dinner.  The drinks were provided by Jefferson’s Bourbon and Three Stars Brewing Company.  The whole thing was really cool.  We’ve been to many wine dinners, but it was great to do something a little different.  Especially on a Wednesday!

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Menu, glass, and Three Stars sticker swag.

Ok, true confession time.  I don’t eat meat.  I eat fish, eggs, and cheese, but no meat.  Don’t worry, I haven’t always been this way.  I’ve tasted plenty of pulled pork barbecue, Brunswick Stew, and fried chicken so I’ve still got my Southern bona fides.  About a year ago, though, I gave up meat for lent.  At the end, I realized I felt great and decided to keep it going.  I’m not super strict about it so if something has chicken broth in it, I don’t make a federal case out of it or anything.  I mention this because the above menu has a lot of meat on it, but Graffiato totally hooked me up.  Instead of the charcuterie, I got a lovely smoked salmon.  Instead of the beef brisket, I had rockfish.  Tom had all the meat, though, including his first ever head cheese.  But that’s another post.  Also, I need to get better at blog photography.

ANYWAY, the real reason for this post is Three Stars Brewing Company.  The name comes from the three stars on D.C.’s flag.

DC Flag

According to the internet (ahem), the flag’s three stars were inspired by George Washington’s coat of arms.

Three Stars was born when two home brewers decided to scrap their day jobs and brew beer full time on a larger scale.  I always wonder how people decide to do that.  I’m so risk averse!  I really need to know exactly where my paycheck is coming from, you know?  Should I be more comfortable with risk?  Ok, enough introspection.  Back to the beer.  We tasted some great stuff, particularly a Russian Imperial Stout made with 007 yeast.  It is called, of course, From Russia with Love.  The Movement was also awesome, which surprised me because it is an American Pale Ale.  That style is not normally my favorite, but this one was really flavorful and easy to drink.  Three Stars has an open house every Saturday at their brewery in D.C. where you can go and taste their beers and get a tour.  We are definitely doing that soon so stay tuned.  They are waiting on federal approval for their labeling, and then you’ll be able to buy it retail.

Lowcountry Produce Bloody Mary

I was wandering around my local Fresh Market awhile back and spotted Lowcountry Produce products on one of the shelves.  Because the label had the word “lowcountry” on it, you know I had to take a closer look.  It turns out that Lowcountry Produce stuff comes from Lobeco, SC, about 10 miles from where I grew up.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had to come all the way to Annapolis, MD to discover a fantastic product that comes practically from my parents’ backyard.  Crazy.

I’ve tried several of their products now and highly recommend all of them.  Everything tastes so fresh (because it is!).  My favorite thing so far has been the Dilly Beans.  They are basically pickled green beans that are perfect for a vegetable platter or salad.  But I must confess that my favorite use for them is in a bloody mary!

I feel like people either love or hate a bloody mary.  I’m obviously in the “love” camp, but a friend of mine is not a fan.  At least she wasn’t until Tom made her one using his very own recipe.  Now she’s a convert, and you will be too if you’re not into them already.  Dilly Beans are technically optional, but Lowcountry Produce ships everywhere so get your hands on some.  You won’t be sorry.  Here’s the recipe:

1 c. ice

2 oz vodka

1 t prepared horseradish (not horseradish sauce)

1/4 t Tabasco

1 t worcestershire sauce

6 oz tomato juice

lime wedges

Dilly Beans

Old Bay

salt and pepper to taste

Take a rocks glass and rub a lime wedge around the edge.  Roll the edge in a shallow plate of Old Bay to coat.  Set that aside to dry for a minute while you make the drink.  In a cocktail shaker, mix the ice, vodka, horseradish, Tabasco, worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, salt, and pepper.  Add a squeeze of lime juice.  Shake and strain into the glass.  At this point, you can either add the ice you used in the shaker to the glass or drop in one of the fancy giant ice cubes that are everywhere now.  Since the drink will be cold from the shaking, you can also leave the finished drink sans ice if you want to.  Garnish with a lime wedge and as many Dilly Beans as you’d like.  Drink up!

PS – if you are in a pinch and need to use store-bought bloody mary mix, try Mr. and Mrs. T’s Spicy.  It’s not like homemade, but it’s passable in an emergency.

PPS – Yes, I have a sterling silver holder for my Tabasco.  What about it?