Playing host to friends from out-of-town this past week was like a vacation-at home. Author, Nancy Davidson from New York and Chef & Consultant Diane Stopford from Dublin, San Diego & New York were in Tennessee to judge “The Jack”, but came early to hang-out and have a bit of “food on fifth” Nashville fun.
I have two friends here in Nashville who host a monthly pot-luck dinner called “Third Thursdays”. Writer Nancy Vienneau and Gardener Gigi Gaskins guest list includes a large fan base of food folk who write, cook, garden, promote & delight in delicious, locally grown seasonal foods. There is always a large and wonderful display of culinary delights. More food than can be eaten…which leads me to the story of how Nancy, Diane & I created our “Autumnal Cocktails” (for pot luck dinners).
Nancy Davidson is not only a food & travel writer but an inventor of stories, a teller of food tales and a creator of cocktails. The “creator of cocktails” part came in very handy when the three of us decided mid-day last third Thursday to create some seasonally inspired cocktails to take as our pot luck dinner contribution.
RECIPES & PHOTOS TO FOLLOW:
“Let’s Get Figgy” aka/Mediterraneo
To Make: Put all ingredients into a large cocktail shaker, shake vigorously, taste & adjust to your liking.
To Serve: Add a few ice cubes to glasses, add a bit of additional fig jam into glasses on a spoon, pour fig cocktail into glasses over spoon & ice. The fig jam on the spoon is a great presentation, adds a needed additional bit of sweet and can be slowly stirred into the cocktail or just eaten off the spoon. For larger gatherings add extra fig jam to the shaker and decant into a glass bottle before serving. (This cocktail might be great for a Sunday Brunch with slices of toast.)
“Indian Summer” aka/Garden Margarita
For this cocktail we used: Hornitos Tequila, fresh Cucumber, f0ur large fresh Basil Leaves, a simple syrup infused with home-grown Habanero Peppers & Seasoned Pepper-Salt Mix, freshly squeezed Lime Juice & Pomegranate Seeds, all to taste.
For Infused syrup: chop Habanero peppers & add to water-sugar mixture; add salt-pepper seasoning; bring to a slow boil; remove from heat & let cool. Strain peppers out of syrup before using. (when working with very hot peppers use gloves to protect hands if needed)
Blend cucumbers & Basil Leaves with cooled simple syrup & lime juice. Pour into cocktail shaker and add generous amount of Tequila.
Half the seeds are put into a bottle……
To Serve: Pour into small glass over ice cubes. “Indian Summer” packs quite a kick from the habaneros, but the sugar in the simple syrup and the cool of the cucumber work together to cool down the heat. A great cocktail for cool fall evenings.
“Autumnal Cocktail” aka/Midsummer Night’s Dream (Redux)
Into a large glass jar pour Rum, Triple Sec & Orange Juice. Add in seeds of half of a Pomegranate. Add cooled simple syrup with fruit. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.
To Serve: Pour over liquid over ice along with some pieces of fruit and enjoy. You can add a garnish of an orange wedge if desired. “Autumnal Cocktail” has a true autumn flavor profile. The cinnamon, pears, oranges & subtle star anise aromas combined with the Rum made a perfect cool evening drink.
Well, I must admit this was my first foray into the world of actually creating cocktails from “scratch”. We worked with whatever I had in my liquor cabinet, refrigerator, garden & pantry. Nancy and Diane were both whizzes at putting together flavor profiles for each drink that reflected autumn. Nancy “authored” them appropriately, I added hand-written tags as we sampled.
After a few hours of being kitchen mixologists we packed up our cocktail collection & drove off to “Third Thursday”. Our cocktails were a hit before a fantastic dinner spread. We hope you try them yourself and maybe make up a few of your own.