Obedient Ingredients

A place to put cooking ideas to the test.


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Pickle Brine in Cocktails? Taste Test #1

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This is what I imagine cocktail creation looks like.

Especially when it comes to a new, unique ingredient that seems hard to incorporate.

Pickle brine.

Yup. And now it’s being canned for the general public to drink.

To many this may seem odd and quaint. Even if you love pickles you may raise an eyebrow at brine marketed as a beverage. As for me, I already know the power of drinking vinegar in the form of shrubs (sugar + fruit + vinegar) by itself or in a cocktail, so drinking brine by itself does not seem far off.

It helps to have a friend who is in the canning business, because when this local pickle company approached my friend to can their brine, I got excited because that means I get to try it before it’s on the market.

For the first time ever, I feel hip as s***!

But can this tasty, savory and salty drink find its way into a cocktail recipe? That’s what I’m really curious about today.

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Organizing potential cocktails for a (Harry Potter Christmas) Party

What do I serve at my upcoming (second annual) Harry Potter Christmas Party?!

Here is my Google excel sheet to organize my ideas!

Harry Potter cocktails

There are so many good ideas, but I NEED to narrow some drinks down. This is how I organize all of my thoughts together. The ones in yellow I have already decided I will make.

I already know I’ll be making Butterbeer, with a new and improved recipe which I will share soon.

My roommates have vodka they want to be used, so I’ve been researching how to use this liquor for the first time, since I never use it. I’m currently infusing pear, ginger, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a mason jar now. I also added some syrup I made using Pumpking beer and Amaretto, shook that on ice with vodka and lemon juice, and it was great!

Things to consider for providing cocktails at a party:

  • What booze do I already have on hand?
  • What ingredients do I already have on hand?
  • Can something be made into a punch? If it’ not a punch, then that means I will need to bar-tend (which I already need to do for the Butterbeer, since that is heated and should be drunk after I serve it).
  • If I buy a special ingredient for one drink (for example, Champagne) can I use it for a second drink, or a third drink? In other words, how can I be economical with what I am buying?
  • Will the drinks be diverse? I can’t have four whisky-based drinks that are all super sweet and have similar flavors (cinnamon, wintery spices, etc).
  • Will the drinks be unique enough to leave an impression, off-kilter a bit so they fit with the “magical” theme of Harry Potter, yet universally liked/tested so people will enjoy them?


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Homemade Bitters

This summer’s project is homemade bitters.

The best way I’ve seen bitters described goes something like this: You can have all of these great ingredients and amazing flavor combinations in a cocktail, but the addition of bitters makes you come back for me.

I’m not sure where I read that, but I enjoy the sentiment and agree; bitters in a cocktail add a depth to the drinking experience that is enticing.

I made four bitters:

  • House bitters
  • Coffee-Pecan
  • Charred Cedar
  • Apple

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Everything is taken from this great book by Brad Thomas Parsons called Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All with Cocktails, Recipes and Formulas. Check it out.

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Shrubs: Strawberries and Plums

Shrubs are vinegar, sugar and fruit. Shrubs are delicious and easy to make.

They are delicious, they quench your thirst (the Gatoraid of the 1800s) and they add a great twist in cocktails. They are a great addition to hot summer parties and a non-alcoholic alternative.

Shrubs are more tart/acidic because of the vinegar, and that tends to scare people away. But it is surprisingly refreshing when added with the right things.

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Add any shrub to soda water and lots of ice with a bit of fresh lime or lemon juice, and you’ll see this drink disappear during your summer parties.

I highly recommend this book with tons of recipes for shrubs and shrub-based drinks: Shrubs – An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch.

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Cocktail Measurements Matter: The Aviation

During my on-going campaign to distance myself from my new interest that costs me so much money, I suffered a huge defeat last month when I purchased two liqueurs for one of my favorite cocktail. One ingredient can be found in several drinks (like another go-to fave, the Last Word), and that is Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, a delightful cherry-flavored liqueur. It adds sweetness but also a bit more complexity with it’s funky delicious flavor.

Then there is that rare liqueur that is not in many recipes (hardly any, actually) and is even harder to find. And that is creme de violette. A violette liqueur. Floral tartness, a unique perfumy sweetness, a slight grape-candy-like bite.

Put these together along with gin and lemon juice, you got the Aviation cocktail.

But after testing two different recipes, an ounce or a quarter of an ounce off can make a huge difference!

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Two Fall Themed Cocktails (with Bourbon and Rye)

There are many fall-themed cocktails out there, and with Thanksgiving coming up, now is a good time to practice with them.

Here are two fall-themed cocktails that I am making for a Friendsgiving today (UPDATE: they were a success. I think the group was evenly split with which one they liked better). I tested them last night and they are fantastic, and I can only imagine how good they will be today since I let both alcohols infuse overnight with delicious fall flavors.

You will not believe what ingredients I used!!!*

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*(You probably CAN believe it: they are rosemary in bourbon and cinnamon, all spice, cloves and star anise in rye).

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