Summertime drinkin’ with the Leland Palmer

If there’s one thing I like to do in the summer, it’s going to the park to drink outside and play cornhole. Of course everybody brings loads of beer. But I like to make a big jug of something liquory, but not too liquory; because let’s be real, you’re going to be drinking all day.

My friend Laura posted this recipe on my Facebook wall recently. An adult version of an Arnold Palmer with jasmine tea and gin, with a Twin Peaks-inspired name to boot? Sign me up. She said that she had made it, and that it was delicious! Oh but by the way she substituted Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong for the jasmine, agave for the honey, and homemade kaffir lime liqueur for the limoncello.

So yeah, she totally made a different drink. Which also sounds amazing! But as a fan of jasmine tea and honey, I wanted to make this drink.

However, like Laura, I am a little incapable of trying a recipe without futzing with it in some way. One of my favorite gin cocktails involves lemon juice, honey, and peppercorns; I found myself drifting to peppercorns again when thinking of this drink. That said, I don’t want to rehash the same thing over and over. And pickled peppercorns or black pepper both seem not quite right. Black peppercorns are too bold, pickled green peppercorns are too… pickled. But what about pink peppercorns? Fruity, citrusy, with just a hint of spice?

the Leland Palmer

Aww yeah.

The Leland Palmer
Adapted from The Leland Palmer by Damon Boelte for Bon Appétit

Serves 6

3 cups freshly brewed jasmine green tea (I used 4 teaspoons of DAVID’sTEA Dragon Pearls in 3 cups water) *
1/3 cup honey (or agave nectar for a vegan drink)
3/4 cup gin
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
3/4 cup limoncello
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 12-oz can seltzer, chilled
ice cubes, for serving
lemon slices, for garnish
pink peppercorns, for garnish

Stir pink peppercorns into gin and set aside to infuse for at least an hour.

Brew jasmine tea, then stir in honey until fully dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.

In a large pitcher combine cooled sweetened tea, infused gin (including peppercorns), limoncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice. Chill until ready to drink.

Just before serving, stir in seltzer. Pour over ice, then garnish with lemon slice and/or a few additional pink peppercorns sprinkled on top if desired (they’ll float).

* If you are using high quality tea, consider making two half-batches of tea with the same leaves (or making a double batch of the cocktail and making two 3-cup batches of tea with the same leaves, which is what I did).

Twelve days of food gifts: basil vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

I’m sorry! I’m sorry, okay? I skipped not just one, but two days of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts. I’m a horrible person.

Honestly, I think this Gchat jinxed me:

Emily‬: oh I meant to tell you
I really like your little 12 days of gifts thing
that you’re doing
me‬: hahaha thanks
Emily‬: you’re so creative/not lazy
I admire you
me‬: haha i don’t know how the fuck i’ve managed
to get this done

But we’ve still got time, right? It’s not Christmas yet. And the two gifts I have left don’t take too much time. Will you let me make it up to you?

With basil vodka?

basil vodkaBasil Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1/2 cup basil leaves

Put basil leaves in a clean glass jar, then pour vodka over them. Let infuse in a cool dark place, shaking at least 2 times per day, for 2-3 days.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When basil flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the basil leaves.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Twelve days of food gifts: peppercorn vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

It’s day five of the stuffed grapes twelve days of food gifts. If you’re just joining us: Every day I post a recipe, links to packaging supplies, and printable labels so you can go ahead and make some last minute gifts.

Today it’s time for another boozy treat. Obviously.

So, jalapeno vodka, habanero vodka, chipotle vodka… these all sound really tasty, right? But sometimes you want something just a little spicy — not something that will melt your face off. Especially if your face might already be melting off. Since you’re doing shots.

Enter peppercorn vodka. Peppercorns are great for  an understated heat, which I guess is why we use them to gently spice food on a daily basis. They also give a lovely tint to the vodka. And they infuse fast. If you find yourself a couple of days before Christmas and you haven’t started anything yet, you could whip up a batch of this in less than forty-eight hours, including bottling and labeling.

peppercorn vodka

Well? Get to it.

Peppercorn Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1 scant tablespoon dried peppercorns (any color, but I used black)

Mix vodka and peppercorns in a clean glass jar. Seal and put in a cool, dark place. Let it infuse, shaking the jar several times per day, for 1 to 2 days for a subtle peppery flavor — longer for a real spicy kick.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When pepper flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the peppercorns.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Twelve days of food gifts: Old Bay vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

So somehow I’ve managed to post three food gifts in a row as part of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series. If I get through all twelve, that will be your Christmas miracle right there.

But to recap, I’m making awesome homemade edible gifts for my friends and family this year. Then I’m posting the recipes, along with links to specialty packing supplies, and fun printable labels.

And I think I’ve mentioned my love of Old Bay before, right?

Old Bay vodkaThis is a fun infused vodka that I wasn’t really able to find any guidance on the internet about — it doesn’t seem like it’s been done. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, or if it did technically “work” whether it would be something anyone would willingly put in their mouth.

Who’m I kidding, my friends will drink anything.

Just kidding! Kind of. But it ended up being something I would totally drink. It’s a fun vodka that is not your typical fruity/sweet infusion, but doesn’t go all the way to the other side by being ALL HOT PEPPERS ALL THE TIME. It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but not in a way that burns your lips. A bit of a celery-seedy aftertaste rounds it out.

This would be great for taking shots, as the vodka burn is reduced a little bit by infusing. It also makes a great bloody mary, obviously. But it would be fun to experiment with this in any savory cocktails that you’re into.

Old Bay Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1 heaping teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Mix vodka and Old Bay in a clean glass jar. Seal and put in a cool, dark place. Let it infuse, shaking the jar several times per day, for 3 to 5 days.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When Old Bay flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the sediment. You may have to change out the filter a few times — since Old Bay is ground, it gunks up the filter pretty quickly.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Pickled Bee Sting, aka the perfect summer drink

pickled bee sting

In my opinion, a hearty amount of pepper makes everything better. And honey, the sweetness countered with a delicate floral taste, not to mention the fun of trying all the different varieties. And lemon juice, the perfect accompaniment to make anything taste a bit brighter.

Then there’s the gin, which I somehow manage to enjoy despite my history with it. I must have been about ten years old, and my dad was sitting on the sofa watching television, holding one of the mason jars we used as drinking glasses. I climbed over and sat next to him.

“What’s that?”
“Sprite.”
“Can I have some?”
“Sure.”

Yep, my dad was and still is a major trolldad. So, I took a hearty gulp. Of straight gin. Thinking it was Sprite.

In his defense, he expected me to smell it and maybe take a tiny sip and realize my mistake. But he told me it was Sprite! And I was a very trusting child.

Anyway, this drink is very ginny. If your dad pranked you when you were a kid and you haven’t yet recovered, I would recommend against it. If you want to make this drink, you should enjoy gin.

The original recipe called to muddle black peppercorns. I tried this a few times, but it never quite worked — muddling a dried spice, especially when it’s spherical, is difficult. Peppercorns are pretty hard. I graduated to coarsely grinding black pepper into the drink, which tasted good but gave it an unpleasant grittiness. I still drank them from time to time, but wondered if something could be done to improve the situation.

Enter pickled green peppercorns.

pickled green peppercorns

I’d been intrigued by them on my past five or so trips to the Asian market, but couldn’t think of a reason why I needed them. Finally, I said screw it and bought them… and immediately came up with plenty of ways to use them. Revisiting this drink was one of them.

Pickled Bee Sting
Adapted from the Bee Sting by John Gertsen

Honey Syrup:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water

Cocktail:
12-15 pickled green peppercorns
1/2 shot honey syrup
1/2 shot lemon juice
2 shots gin (I like Hendrick’s)

So, first you’ve got to make your honey syrup. I’ve had some in my fridge since our annual Christmas cocktail party and it’s still fine, so you might as well make a good bit. Combine honey and water in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently, until honey dissolves into water and you’re left with a homogenous syrup. Put it in a little jar, and label it so you remember what the hell it is six months down the line.

Pluck your peppercorns off the stalk, and rinse the brine off of them with cold water. Go ahead and pop one in your mouth if you want to get an idea of how spicy they are — they taste basically like black pepper, but a bit more mild and with a juicy pop.

Muddle the peppercorns in the bottom of your cocktail shaker, then top with honey syrup, lemon juice, and gin. Fill with ice, then shake shake shake. Strain into a cocktail glass, or if you’re me, a rocks glass, because you don’t have cocktail glasses. If you’d like, throw another couple rinsed peppercorns in there so you have something to chomp on at the end.

Sip and savor the floral, citrus, and spicy notes, preferably while sitting on a porch.