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Oh, how boring January and February can be. Safely indoors, away from the nasty weather and with a little imagination, however, this dreary season can be the perfect time to entertain at home.
A veteran of Acacia Mid-town, Six Burner and The Tasting Room in Chicago, New Jersey native Michelle Peake of the soon-to-open Dutch & Co. is one of the few female mixologists in the city. "I was curious why you don't see more female bartenders in the industry," Peake says. She was told that because of the physical aspect of bartending, it inevitably led it to be a male-dominated field. "That was all the challenge I needed."
The artisan cocktails that she crafts aren't the usual candy-in-a-glass. What drives Peake instead is "taking the seed of an idea, whether from a dish I ate, a childhood memory or a spirit I just tried, and building that into a cocktail."
2 ounces of Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye whiskey
1/4 teaspoon of maple syrup
In a heat-proof 12-ounce glass mug, add the rye, maple syrup and spice packet. Fill the glass with hot water and garnish with a strip of orange peel.
5 whole cloves
5 whole allspice
3 whole star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger
Add the ingredients to a paper filter and fold over the top. Tea filters can be found at Ellwood Thompson's. Alternately, prepared mulling spices from Penzeys Spices or the Fresh Market can be used.
1 ounce of Martell VS cognac
1 ounce of Wild Turkey rye
1/4 ounce of simple syrup*
Fee Brothers Old Fashioned
Pour a healthy splash of green Chartreuse into a glass and turn to coat the inside of the glass. Add ice and set aside. In a cocktail shaker, combine the cognac, rye and simple syrup. Add ice and stir. Dump the green Chartreuse and ice from the glass. Strain the combined cognac, rye and simple syrup into the glass. Garnish with a curl of lemon zest and a dash of bitters.
Combine equal parts of white sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool before using. Simple syrup will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
2 ounces of Gran Centenario Reposado tequila
3/4 ounces of lime cordial*
3 basil leaves, plus more for a garnish
3 stems of mint, plus more for a garnish Club soda
In a Collins glass, add the basil and mint. Add the lime cordial and muddle gently. Add the tequila and ice, and top with club soda. Slowly rotating the glass, turn the cocktail into another glass to incorporate ingredients. Gently crush another stem of mint ("smacked" mint) and float it on top; add a basil garnish and a spoon straw.
* Lime Cordial
2 1/2 cups of white sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the limes, avoiding the white pith. I find it easiest to peel in a circular motion, starting at the top. Set the peels aside. Juice the limes into a sealable plastic container, add the sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Place the lime peels in the container and press them to release their oils, using a muddler or the back of a spoon.
Cover and place in a refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Remove lime peels, and reserve for another use. This lime cordial is perfect in other recipes, such as a gimlet or a margarita.
Honest to Goodness
1 1/2 ounces of Hendrick's Gin
Cucumber-ginger ice cubes*
Slice of cucumber
In a rocks glass, add the gin, cucumber-ginger ice cubes and tonic water. Garnish with a splash of bitters and a slice of cucumber.
*Cucumber-Ginger Ice Cubes
1 cup of ginger juice (Ginger People ginger juice can be found at Ellwood Thompson's Local Market)
1/2 cup of cucumber juice
1/4 cup of orange juice
For the cucumber juice, peel a cucumber (you may end up needing two, depending on the size) and cut into thick slices. Using a blender or food processor, purée cucumbers. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Combine the ingredients and pour into ice-cube trays.
1 3/4 ounces of Cirrus vodka
1/2 ounce of Cocchi Americano
3/4 ounce of Earl Grey tea
2 teaspoons of fig jam (can be found at Ellwood Thompson's Local Market)
In a large cocktail shaker, combine all of the ingredients. Add ice and shake. Double strain into a cocktail coupe.