Quick and Easy "Irish Cream"

There is something fundamentally disturbing about Irish Cream that doesn't need to be refrigerated. I'm looking at you, Bailey's. Bailey's claims that they use only fresh cream in their disgusting concoction and that the only preservative is alcohol, but I don't buy it. Apparently, companies can call whatever that chemical soup is sitting out on the table at truck stop diners "cream" as well.

How about some actual cream in your Irish Cream? There are some Irish Creams that require refrigeration after opening, and I'm more inclined to trust them, but it's so easy to put together your own version of this winter staple, I figure, why not?

This recipe is certainly not a traditional way of making Irish Cream, and the taste is completely unique, much less sweet than your typical Irish Cream thanks to the bittering effect of the stout, but It's so delicious and easy, it might be your go to after dinner desert drink from now on. This recipe makes six hefty servings. And it uses actual cream as the base.

Quick and Easy "Irish Cream" (Nathan Robertson, 2016)

Irish Whiskey                                   ⅓ cup (or more, to taste)
Guinness Stout                               1, 12-oz can
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream                  1½ cups
Chocolate Syrup                             ⅓ cup
Sea Salt                                           1 pinch

Scoop ice cream into a medium-sized glass bowel with a pour spout, add Irish Whiskey, chocolate syrup, and salt. Let concoction sit out for around 15 minutes to melt (or use the microwave, I found that 45 seconds to a minute worked well). Once ice cream is softened to the point that it is stirrable, add the Guinness and stir it in completely. Serve on the rocks.

Tres Flores

I have great respect for vodka. I'm always impressed by the skill of a master distiller who creates an outstanding, nearly neutral spirit, with or without the aid of filtration. I love the history and cultural significance of vodka. I enjoy the elegance embodied in a well-chilled, neat pour of vodka, drunk delicately, with a meal, so as to savor its fine subtly of flavor and texture. But I hardly ever use it in cocktails.

I used to be one of those people who avoided it because being a vodka "hater" was trendy; ironic for me, as no one who has ever met me would deign to call me trendy, but that dark time is behind me. These days, my reluctance to use neutral spirits as a base in cocktails boils down to my desire to have the base spirit influence the overall flavor of the drink. 

But every once in a while, I create a drink for which vodka is the perfect base, precisely because of its neutral quality. That was the case the other day, when I made a lovely young woman from Sweden the Tres Flores. I wanted the delicate floral flavors in this drink—elderflower, violet, and rose—to take center stage; vodka to the rescue. This drink is strong, subtle, and beautiful. It's also delicious. Martini drinkers who want something a little different will love it.

Tres Flores (Nathan Robertson, 2016)

Vodka                                                  2¼ oz
St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur     ½ oz
Crème de Violette                              ¼ oz
Rose Water                                         15 drops

Combine all ingredients, with ice, in a stirring vessel. Stir. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a rose petal and four drops of rose water, placed on the petal.

Pamp. and Circumstance

We're wrapping up Negroni Week at the bar I work in and we've gone through too many bottles of Campari to count. What an incredible ingredient! The more I play with it, the more versatile it becomes. My new favorite thing is to combine it with Fernet-Branca (the Bartender's Handshake!). Although both of the amari are bitter, they have very different bitter profiles that still play nice together. It's hard to beat the simplicity, elegance, and downright blissful taste of the classic Negroni (made with an excellent vermouth like Carpano Antica) but that hasn't stopped many of my regulars from requesting Campari-based libations for round two. Here's one of my favorites from the past week. It uses a dynamite grapefruit liqueur made by Combier called Pamplemousse Rose (pronounced pomp-luh-moose, hence the cocktail's name). Love this stuff; it's light on the pallet with an intense grapefruit flavor but it's still sweet enough to counter the bitterness of the Campari and Fernet and the tartness of the lime without any additional sweeteners.

Pamp. and Circumstance (Nathan Robertson, 2016)

          Campari                                  1 oz
          Pamplemousse Rose             1 oz
          Fernet-Branca                        ½ oz
          Gin                                          ½ oz
          Fresh Lime Juice                   ¾ oz

Combine all ingredients in shaker tin and shake with ice until properly diluted and chilled.  Strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange swath, expressed the oils over the top of the drink.