October 27, 2011

proof whisky, eye of newt and toe of frog, Vol. 57

Our cauldron is already bubbling and percolating in anticipation of Monday’s Halloween celebration. This year, we will conjure up some bewitching potions with our magical spirits. Enjoy today’s sweet sipper by a warm fire. Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

dark spirit 1 oz proof whisky • 3/4 oz Cointreau • 3/4 oz fig simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker add all ingredients. Add ice and shake until very cold. Strain liquid into an ice-filled cocktail glass or chilled martini glass.

Fig Simple Syrup • 1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/2 cup water • 3 fresh figs, chopped
Add sugar, water and figs to a small saucepan. Over medium low heat, cook until sugar has dissolved and figs are very soft. Mash figs as they cook. (Be careful not to let sugar boil or burn.) Remove from heat and let cool, then strain. Refrigerate in bottle or jar.


If you are entertaining a crowd or coven, mix a batch of this refreshing blood-red proof rum punch. 
Dress it up with dried-ice and ghoulish cubes.

Witches brew 2 cinnamon sticks • 5 whole cloves • 3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger • 1/3 cup water • 1/3 cup sugar • 3 cups sparkling cider • 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail, chilled • 1 liter bottle club soda, chilled • ½ bottle proof white rum • Ice
Bring cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, water, and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, uncovered, 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, then chill until cold. Combine all remaining ingredients, except ice, with syrup in a punch bowl. Add ice before serving. Adapted from recipe on (www.epicurious.com)


Fig Infused Whisky 500 mL proof whisky • ½ cup fresh ripe figs, stems removed and chopped
Add figs to the proof whisky and cover tightly with cap or lid on jar. Store in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks (the figs will rise to the top). Shake occasionally. Strain the infusion through a cheese-cloth into a clean container. Wash out whisky bottle and poor infusion back into the original bottle. NOTE: You can save the whisky-soaked figs in an airtight container for other recipes or as garnish. The whisky can be kept at room temperature for a few months. The figs should be refrigerated and consumed immediately. 
TIP: You can add figs directly to your proof whisky bottle or infuse it in a larger jar. If you do it in the bottle, you will need to pour out some of the whisky in order to make room for figs. Once figs are added, you will pour extra whisky on top to cover figs. You can also experiment with this recipe by adding anise seed, cloves or other spices. We picked up our fresh figs at Sun Valley on the Danforth.

Infusions The most popular infusions are normally sweet and fruit-based, however you can use your imagination to create many savoury combinations. Experiment with garlic, liquid smoke, basil, or oregano for some zesty Bloody Mary bases. Use your creativity to personalize your creations. For best results, use fresh ingredients with flavour combinations you know you like and use seasonal foods as much as possible.

Because we are focusing on proof whisky today, we recommend that you pick up on some of proof's natural tasting notes and use ingredients that will extract and highlight these. We have used figs for our recipe, but you can use orange peel, anise, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla bean, raisins, apricots, ginger, peaches, apples, blueberries, pears, apricots – you name it!

To infuse proof whisky, choose a clean, air-tight jar. Using smaller jars will allow you to create small batches of a variety of flavors at once. Wash the ingredients, place them inside the jar and fill it with proof whisky. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.

Infusion Time You will want to store your infusion in a cool, dark place or refrigerator and shake it 3-5 times a day for the duration of the infusion. On average the ingredients should stay in the liquor for 3-5 days. Some of your more intense flavors will only need 3 days, less intense flavors should stay in the jar for a full week or more (see the infusion times list below). You will want to do a taste test every few days to see if the flavors are sufficient. Once your infusion is complete, use cheese-cloth or paper coffee filter to strain the whisky into another clean jar or back into its original bottle. Store the finished infusion in fridge.


Here is a time chart for infusing various ingredients
4 days Intense flavors such as vanilla beans, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, mint, garlic, tarragon, basil, oregano, dill, thyme and peppers
1 week Moderate flavors such as cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, pitted cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
2 weeks Mild flavors such as pineapple, ginger and lemon grass.

Homemade infusions can be a great gift. Customize the flavours for your friends and dress up the bottle with a handmade label. Include a recipe card or necktag. On one side you can list the infusion ingredients and on the other side, recipes that would go well with this infusion.

Because Halloween lands on a Monday this year, we are keeping things very low-key  – making a fire and shelling out candy with friends. Here are a couple great seasonal recipes to enjoy on this spooky Hallow’s Eve.

Fig Preserves • 5 cups black mission figs, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup sugar
 • zest and juice of 1 large lemon • 2/3 cup proof whisky
 • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary minced • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
In a large saucepan, toss the fig pieces with the sugar and let stand, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the figs are juicy.  Add the lemon, rosemary, salt, and whisky and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer the fig jam over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, about 20 minutes. 

Let cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Serve with sharp cheeses, prosciutto and crackers.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 2 cups unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds • 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1/2 cup water • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro • 4 scallions, chopped • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Cook pumpkin seeds with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly, until seeds are puffed and beginning to pop, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Transfer to a tray and cool completely. Pulse seed mixture in a food processor with water, cilantro, scallions, and remaining 4 tbsp oil until mixture forms a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.


Visit Dry Ice and Gases Co. for your smoky cauldron effect. (http://dryiceandgases.com)

Proof proprietor, Michael Riley will be doing special proof rum and whisky tastings at the following LCBO stores this weekend. Come out and have a drink with him – he’s pretty darn friendly! And remember to pick up your Whisky Live tickets! It's next weekend!!


Happy Halloween!

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 8 degrees
Sunday: Sunny with variable cloudiness and a high of 9 degrees
Monday: Mainly cloudy and a high of 10 degrees

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