Don’t you always love a James Bond movie in summer? He walks into a fashionable international casino. He’s wearing a tuxedo, and the woman are all in fabulous gowns. Waiters come by with trays of drinks. The ceilings are always two stories high. And, of course, he orders his classic martini, shaken, not stirred!
Now that the warm weather is here, what you need are some mouthwatering cocktails to help you celebrate with friends and family! Fortunately, the ingredients can all be found locally.
The valley is now one of the hotbeds of distilling in North America. I had a fascinating conversation with Kelley Slagle of Farm-to-Glass Tours. Kelley is a former NYC mixologist who now makes her home in the Hudson Valley, giving expert tours of wineries, distilleries, and cideries. She shared with me some summer drink ideas with locally made spirits for the Hudson Royale and The Concord below.
So, here’s a fresh take on some fun drinks. Shake things up and enjoy!
St. Anne's Peak
2 ounces Harvest Spirits Cornelius Apple Jack
3/4 ounce strawberry syrup*
1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce Delaware Phoenix Walton Waters Absinthe
In a rocks glass, add ice to pre-chill glass. To shaker, add Apple Jack, strawberry syrup, lemon juice, and ice. Shake hard till very cold. Dump ice from rocks glass, add 1/2 ounce of absinthe, and roll glass to coat completely; dump excess. Add fresh ice to rocks glass. One large rock is best. Strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with one strawberry. Enjoy!
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 ounce Delaware Phoenix Walton Waters Absinthe
1. Place the sliced strawberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have softened completely and the syrup has a distinct strawberry flavor, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, and discard the solids. Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid, cover, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
5 ounces Orchard Hill Red Label Method Champenoise Hard Cider
1 ounce Cassis (Tuthilltown, Warwick Valley, Brookview Station, Hudson-Chatham, Adair Vineyards, or Tousey Winery)
Build in a champagne flute in the order given. Garnish with orange twist.
1 1/2 ounces gin from Tuthilltown Spirits
1 1/2 ounces Concord grape shrub*
1/4 ounce simple syrup*
4 ounces club soda
Orange twist garnish
Into a Collins glass, measure 4 ounces of club soda. Into a cocktail shaker, add gin, Concord grape shrub, and simple syrup. Fill shaker with ice. Shake till very cold. Strain into Collins glass. Fill Collins glass with ice. Twist orange peel over the top and put into glass.
*To make Concord grape shrub, fill a one-quart container with washed concord grapes, and cover with Orleans Method Red Wine Vinegar from Classic Wine Vinegar. Infuse for two weeks, stirring occasionally. Into a saucepan, strain while lightly pressing grapes to extract all juice and vinegar from the solids. Add two cups of sugar. Heat over medium-low heat to a simmer. Simmer for two minutes. Strain and cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
* To make simple syrup, add two cups water to two cups sugar in a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and remove from heat. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Hudson Valley Manhattan
2 1/2 ounces Tuthilltown or Hillrock Estate Rye
3/4 ounces sweet vermouth
2 droppers Tuthilltown Basement Bitters
Wedge of orange
Stir rye and vermouth on ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, top with bitters, and garnish with the cherry and orange slice.
Hudson Valley Prohibition Martini
3 oz Tuthilltown or Half Moon Gin
1 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes of Dutch’s ProhiBitters
Combine over cracked ice and stir. Strain into cocktail glass. Add a lemon twist.
Hudson Valley Old Fashioned
2 ounces Bourbon (Millbrook Dutchess Private Reserve, Tuthilltown Baby Hudson, Hillrock Estate)
2 dashes Hudson Standard
1 splash seltzer
1 teaspoon sugar
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange wedge
Place sugar and bitters in glass. Add club soda, and muddle with cherry & orange slice. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice cubes, and stir.
J&J Iced Tea
2 ounces Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine
3 ounces Strong black tea
1/2 ounce Cane syrup
1/2 ounce Lemon juice
2 dashes Tuthilltown Basement Bitters
Stir and serve over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Gangland Bay Breeze
1 1/2 ounce Dutch’s Sugar Wash Moonshine
2 ounces pineapple Juice
2 ounces cranberry Juice
Build cocktail over ice in a highball glass. Stir to mix. Garnish with a lime or pineapple wedge
Bitters and Shrubs
Bitters have traditionally been used as additives for cocktails. The Hudson Valley, with its numerous CSA’s and other farms, is a cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Originally, many liquors back in the olden times didn’t taste as the good as ones today. To cover up faults or to make them more palatable, bitters were introduced. In many cases, these bitters had their own medicinal powers.
Today, the Hudson Valley is making some really good ones.
Basement Bitters from Tuthilltown Distillers. This distinctive brand of bitters is made from rye spirit, Sasaprilla, and fourteen other herbs and spices balanced with local maple syrup and aged in one of Tuthilltown’s rye barrels for extra smoothness.
Dutch’s Colonial Cocktail Bitters is an essential aromatic ingredient for any home bar. Handcrafted using botanicals popular in the 18th century, the main ingredients—wild American Spicebush and Kinnikinnick leaf—were first introduced to early settlers by Native Americans acquainted with their fragrant properties. Dutch’s Spirits drew flavors from around the globe, such as Hungarian angelica seed, Pakistani red rose petals, Gabon sandalwood, French lavender, American bitter orange peel, and Egyptian chamomile.
Dutch’s Boomtown Bitters combines the ingredients of sarsaparilla and wintergreen popular at the time of the great logging boom in the Hudson Valley, with flavors representing American whiskies of the day, such as coconut and oak from the maturing cask.
Dutch’s ProhiBitters evokes the time of Prohibition. Gin quickly became the most widespread bootleg liquor around. Inspired by the bathtub booze, ProhiBitters is a blend of flavors tailored to tweak that gin martini. Big citrus notes blend with licorice, hibiscus, ginger root, and coriander will class up your cocktails.
The Hudson Standard Spiced Apple Bitters made by Hudson Wine Merchants is a wonderfully aromatic set of bitters made form Hudson Valley apples and a wonderful, sexy blend of herbs and spices. Fabulous with an Old Fashioned! The Hudson Standard Ginger Bitters is a gorgeous blend of exotic taste sensations and aromas. Ginger is blended with herbs and spices to make this spectacular elixir.
The Hudson Standard Pear Honey Ginger Shrub dates back to Colonial times and is made from fruit, sweetener, and vinegar to add flavor to water, seltzers, and cocktails.
Lots of bars are making their own shrubs these days. They are the hottest new taste sensation!