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How to Make a Heart Cocktail Garnish

Heart Garnish 2

Google “Valentine’s Day cocktails” and you’ll see an avalanche of pink and red, complete with rose petal and candy garnishes. Nothing wrong with that — we like fun too! That said, sometimes a classic cocktail like a Martinez or Bee’s Knees (both pictured here) is all you need to round out the perfect evening with your favorite person.

Heart Cocktail Garnish

Of course, the first thing Very Serious Cocktail People might point out is that a citrus peel garnish is so much more than looks. Proper garnish technique expels a fragrant cloud of essential citrus oils from the zest, adding a final touch of flavor and aroma that rounds out drinks and tickles the senses. Since we’re getting a little fussy with these drinks anyway, there’s no reason not to expel oils over the drink as usual, then, instead of dropping the twist into the drink, topping it off with a relentlessly Valentine’s-appropriate garnish instead. The best of both worlds never looked so good.

Heart Cocktail Garnish

To Make a Heart-Shaped Cocktail Garnish:

  1. Use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to peel a large strip of orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel.
  2. Trim the edges with a small sharp knife to make a long rectangle.
  3. Starting 1/2 an inch away from the edge, cut a long slit down the middle, all the way through the other edge.
  4. Shape into a heart — the intact end should be the point of the heart, and the loose ends should come together in the middle. You may need to trim the loose ends to get the shape and size you want.
  5. Use a cocktail pick to pierce through the sides and middle of your garnish, about 2/3 of the way down.
  6. Stir or shake up your beverage, expel oils with a standard twist if you’d like, and garnish away!

-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member

 

Heart Cocktail Garnish

Cocktail Pairings: Vietnamese-Style Fish with Turmeric and Dill + Aviation Martini

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Most food lovers have the classic pairings essentially memorized: pinot noir with mushrooms and earthy vegetables, cab with steak, sauvignon blanc with greens, and so on. In recent years, though, more and more chefs and bartenders have been paying attention to pairing cocktails with meals, and the principles remain the same — to look for a balance of flavors by either complementing or contrasting. Sharp and sharp mirror each other beautifully as Parmesan cheese and negronis; meanwhile, the contrasting approach has citrusy, crisp sherry cobblers cutting through the richness of duck for a pairing much greater than the sum of its parts.

This particular dish, Vietnamese-style fish with turmeric and dill (Cha Ca Than Long, originally posted at Culinary Chronicles), has a lot going on, especially when paired with an Aviation American Gin martini. As such, there are both complementary and contrasting elements.

I love Asian food with dry white wine, and a martini is really just a boozier expression of that pairing. The herbal notes in a dry vermouth and a fragrant citrus twist mimic my favorite characteristics in food-friendly white wine, while Aviation adds a woodsy, spicy, warming backbone. It’s a spirit-forward cocktail for a dish that can stand up to it, with loads of spice and complexity in its own right. The flavors are at once bright and deep; there’s a strong savory fish sauce base, and fragrant spiciness from fresh ginger.

What takes it over the top for me is fresh dill — lots and lots of fresh dill. It’s rarely recognized as a traditional southeast Asian herb; most often, you’ll see Thai basil or cilantro. Surprisingly (at least it was for me), dill is actually quite common in the cuisines of Laos and northern Vietnam. Here, it shows up in main-ingredient quantities, as opposed to the modest sprinklings herbs are usually relegated to.

Naturally, if you’re not up for cooking, an Aviation Martini doesn’t discriminate against takeout, either. No one delivers martinis last time we checked, but thankfully, those are as simple as cocktails get.

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Ingredients for fish
  • 1 pound white mild fish, such as cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauch
  • 1 teaspoon powdered tumeric
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 green onions, green and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch sections
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch dill, tough stems removed
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 8-oz package of rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (for serving)
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped (for serving)
  • 1-2 fresh red Thai chiles, sliced thin (optional, for serving)

Preparation

  1. To marinate the fish, combine the fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, 1 tablespoon dill, and about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Mix marinade and add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Heat up 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft and slightly translucent, then add 1/3 of the dill bunch, as well as about half of the green onion. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then transfer everything to a plate and set aside.
  3. Heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the same skillet. Remove fish from the marinade and pat off excess marinade with paper towels. Pan-fry the fish in two batches for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Divide prepared rice noodles among 4 plates, then top with sauteed onion/dill mixture and fish. Top with remaining fresh dill and green onions, as well as the peanuts and red Thai chiles.

Ingredients for Aviation Martini

  • 1 1/2 ounces Aviation American Gin
  • 3/4 dry vermouth (Dolin Blanc used here)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Preparation

  1. Combine Aviation and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Here’s to eating and drinking well all winter!

-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member

 

Make-A-Gift Day

Aviation gift blog

Make-a-Gift Day is December 3rd, and I so appreciate the intrinsic value of gift-giving. Particularly gifts which make a “tailored-just-for-you” declaration to the receiver. The whole definition of what a thoughtfully crafted gift embodies: altruistic expressionism, makes me glow from the inside out.

I’m not the kind of gift-giver grabbing randomly for trinkets and baubles and gewgaws, to get as many folks crossed off of my shopping list as possible. My mother always said, “Don’t get them something that’s going to sit on a shelf and collect dust.” Do you want to spend a weekend afternoon dusting off an endless collection of knick-knacks which impart no sentimental attachment whatsoever; and from people, mind you, who meant well, but who obviously gave a millisecond of a thought towards the item?

Let’s avoid the mind-numbing and ungraceful fall down the rabbit hole looking for gifts. And let’s stop morphing into simplicity-mode for the sake of getting it over with, and gifting the always trending gift card: retail’s ultimate default present.

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For the cocktail cultured gurus on your list, holiday “Make-a-Gift” giving is a no-brainer. Like foodies who gravitate towards kitchen gadgets, imbibers of finely crafted spirits are attracted to all things batch distilled, along with cool barware to complement their mixologist skills. Putting together a special cocktail kit is one unique and reusable gift that will have the receiver smiling every time they shake, stir or blend a spirited concoction. There are limitless combinations!

Consider giving a thoughtful, homemade present this year, with Aviation American Gin as the centerpiece. A delicious, painstakingly crafted gin which exposes the palette to the fine traditions of small batch distillation. Here are some great suggestions to get your gears turning:

A bottle of award-winning Aviation American Gin, a Bull in China hand-blown mixing glass, a set of high ball glasses, a stylish ice cube tray, a 4-pack of ginger beer (Fentimans is remarkably delicious), a couple of fresh limes and a pack of Scrappy’s hand-crafted small batch bitters. They’ll be whipping up delicious, crowd-pleasing Mile High Mule cocktails with pride.

Streamline the gift with a pair of vintage stemmed Coupe glasses, a bottle of Aviation American Gin, an Aviation cocktail shaker, and a homemade bottle of clover honey syrup*. Bee Knees anyone?

Tea aficionados on your list? In a round vintage hat box, lined with crinkled tissue paper or shredded raffia, pack a set of Irish coffee mugs, a bottle of Aviation American Gin, a small bottle of Yellow Chartreuse liqueur, a box of loose cut Chamomile tea, a mesh tea ball, a homemade bottle of honey syrup* and a couple of fresh limes and TA-DA, you’ve just gifted a Chamomile Hot Toddy kit.

Please click on the “Cocktails” tab after you read this blog for more exciting Aviation Gin drink recipes. It might just inspire you to “make” even more gifts! Happy Holidays!

*Clover Honey Syrup recipe:

Combine equal parts honey to heated water and stir until honey is dissolved, let cool. Pour into a vintage apothecary bottle and tie with a tag and a gold metallic bow!

-Kelly Gajer, Aviation Team Member

Juniper Shortbread with Aviation Gin Icing

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Unlike fruit cake, holiday cookies are a tradition without much room for improvement. They’re easy, they’re festive, they’re fun to make, and even when they’re not the best, they’re still enjoyable. A cookie, like Adele, can do no wrong.

That said, there are some ways to take them to the next level, especially if you’re an adult who’s had your fill of red and green sanding sugar and sprinkles. We’re talking about alcohol, of course; Aviation American Gin to be specific. The icing on this juniper-flecked shortbread has a whole 3-4 tablespoons of the good stuff, and definitely tastes like Aviation: aromatic, spicy, floral, and undoubtedly boozy. I used the icing itself sparingly, but since we’re all grownups here, feel free to use as much as your gin-loving heart desires.

As for the shortbread base, adding juniper seemed like a natural move. It’s not a common flavor in desserts, but its piney, slightly citrusy character is especially well suited for the season. Think rosemary, but less herbal and more woodsy. I used 40 juniper berries (roughly a tablespoon) in the shortbread dough, crushed in a mortar and pestle. It seemed like a lot at the time, but actually ended up having a pretty subtle effect — I liked that, but would absolutely feel comfortable doubling to two tablespoons on the next go. A bit of lemon zest brightens and boosts the juniper’s citrusy notes, and the rest of the cookie story is familiar: butter (so much butter), sugar, and flour.

If being an adult in the middle of a busy, sometimes-stressful holiday season isn’t enough of an incentive to treat yourself, we’re going to have to remind you that December 4th is National Cookie Day. Have a cookie — or four. You deserve it!

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For shortbread:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons juniper berries, depending on your fondness for juniper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons Aviation American Gin

Crush the juniper berries thoroughly, using a mortar and pestle (in a pinch, you can also use a plastic bag and a rolling pin). Add the crushed juniper and lemon zest to the sugar and use your fingers to rub the juniper and lemon zest into the sugar to release the fragrant oils.

Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and the sugar/juniper/lemon zest mixture until just combined. In a separate bowl, sift whisk together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter mixture. Use the mixer on low speed to mix the dough just until it starts to come together.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape it into a disk (it’ll be a little crumbly). Wrap the disk in plastic and chill in the fridge for half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two large baking sheets by lining with parchment.

Roll out the dough to an even ½-inch thickness, then cut into small 1 ½-inch circles using a cutter. Transfer to prepared cookie sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before icing.

To make icing, combine powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons Aviation American Gin, until smooth. Add the additional tablespoon of Aviation if necessary to achieve the consistency you’d like. Use a piping bag or simply drizzle the icing over the cookies with a spoon.

-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member

 

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

It is that time again, my friends. The time to buy stuff for people we know, some of whom we love, for a holiday that we are vaguely familiar with.

I kid, I kid!

It’s the holiday season and many of you are no doubt looking for grown-up stocking stuffers/tools for facilitating debauchery. And we have those in spades at our House Spirits PDX (Portland International Airport) location.

For that traveler in your family, grab a couple of The Carryon Cocktail Kits.

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In my most humble opinion, Gin and Tonics suit the holidays better than summer. They are the perfect complement for holiday dinners. Potato latkes, turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole pack a heavy punch. Gin and tonic, on the other hand, is light on the tongue and the botanicals in Aviation Gin are a pretty fierce digestive opener (very important for the most dignified holiday tradition of stuffing one’s face). But to have a great Gin and Tonic, you need more than gin. Behold The Carryon Cocktail Kit Gin and Tonic. It’s a travel-sized cocktail that includes a mini jigger, cloth napkin, mini spoon, a recipe card, and a bottle of tonic. All you need to add is some Aviation Gin to complete it.

If you want to add a little flare to your G & T, check out the Gin and Titonic ice cubes. Yes, you heard that right: a little tongue-in-cheek reference to the story of the Titanic, which I will assume you all know.

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If you’re a bit unsure about my over-confident assertion that Gin and Tonics are the cocktail for the holiday season, try a Mile High Mule Carryon Cocktail Kit. To really put a cherry on someone’s holiday sundae, get them a proper Mule Mug for their cocktail. We are carrying a beautiful line of handmade copper mugs from This Is Folklore Company, a local artist here in Portland, Oregon. My favorite is the all-seeing eye, but there are many other magnificent designs to choose from.

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Be sure to stop by our PDX kiosk and pick up some gifts for your more adult friends and family! See you soon.

-Carlene Ostedgaard, Aviation Team Member

Cooking with Juniper

Pork
When people think of juniper, they often think of pine trees. Often overlooked in the kitchen, juniper, when used well, can be a really lovely flavor in food. I love the structure that juniper offers Aviation American Gin and thought it could have similar properties on my dinner plate.
I found this recipe from a 2013 Bon Appetit and while I changed it a lot, I bet this version is delicious too.
My much altered recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half, plus two unpeeled cloves
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 pork chops, bone in
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add salt, sugar, juniper, peppercorns, garlic half, and 2 sprigs of thyme. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  2. Pour mixture into a bowl large enough to hold your pork and the mixture. Add 5 cups of ice cubes. Stir until ice cubes have melted and brine has cooled. Add the pork. Cover and chill for about 12 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Heat oil in skillet (I used a cast-iron pan). Cook chops until they reach 135 degrees, turning every few minutes so as not to over brown.
  5. Remove pan from heat and add in butter, unpeeled garlic and remaining thyme sprigs. Stir until butter has melted (add back to heat if needed). Turn chops over in pan to coat both sides with the glaze.
  6. Allow pork to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

-Kelly Sanders, Aviation Team Member

Aviation Gin-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet indeed — and a sweet potato, though slightly (and only slightly) less romantic than a rose, tastes just as delicious when it is mislabeled as a yam.

The sweet potato/yam distinction has been a mystery to me for a while — and if you’re in the same boat, I let Google hurt my brain a little, so you don’t have to. The quick and dirty rundown goes like this: yams grow in Africa and, to a lesser extent, Asia, and most Americans have likely never eaten a yam. What we have in the States are sweet potatoes of two varieties: firm, with pale flesh, and soft, with orange flesh. Because of a need to distinguish the two, at some point, grocery stores started labeling the soft orange ones as yams. Tricky, but now that we know the real story, let’s grab a bottle of Aviation American Gin from the liquor cabinet for inspiration, and get cooking.

Cardamom, coriander, and dried orange peel are three of the seven botanicals in Aviation, and served as culinary muses here. I coated chunks of sweet potato (the soft, orange variety) in spices, orange zest, salt, and olive oil before roasting them, then finished with a glaze of honey, lemon juice, and a hefty splash of Aviation. A sprinkle of parsley for freshness, and some toasted hazelnuts for a delicious nod to our Oregon home, and we’re done here.

If you stick to the classic pureed sweet potatoes covered in a blanket of toasted marshmallow at Thanksgiving, do your thing come November 26th, but I highly suggest you bookmark these for another time. Roasting is hands-down my favorite way to cook vegetables — crispy edges and browned bits will turn just about anything into a truly special dish full of flavor, texture, and dare I say, good looks?

Happy holiday season to you and yours!

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Aviation Gin-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 lbs orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Zest of one orange (lemon will work too)
  • Salt

To glaze and finish:

  • 3 tablespoons Aviation American Gin
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh chopped parsley and/or toasted hazelnuts

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel sweet potatoes and cut them into roughly 1-inch chunks. Spread them over a large baking sheet or casserole dish and combine with olive oil, coriander, cardamom, orange or lemon zest, and a couple pinches of salt. Toss to coat well and roast for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together Aviation American Gin, honey, and lemon juice, and set aside.

Remove baking sheet or dish from oven and pour glaze over the sweet potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes more, and gently turn them over with a spatula halfway through. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh parsley and/or hazelnuts.

-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member

Making Ginger Beer

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My latest weekend project was making homemade ginger beer using Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe, which you can find here. Aside from waiting for Amazon to deliver my champagne yeast, the project was quick and delicious. With loads of ginger beer ready to be consumed in my fridge, the next logical step was making cocktails but my Netflix account was calling my name, so I only had time for this quick cocktail. 1 minute later, I was sitting on my couch, remote in hand!

1 1/2 oz Aviation American Gin
2 oz Ginger Beer
2 oz Soda water

I like my drinks tart but a little simple syrup wouldn’t hurt if you like yours a little sweeter. To make, pour everything into a glass with ice and stir. It’s just that simple.

-Kelly Sanders, Aviation Team Member

Juniper

Juniper Berries

When gin is discussed, you can’t get too far into it without mentioning Juniper. But this tree comes in many varieties given it’s ancient origins and quite a few are poisonous. Consequently the species Juniperus communis is what we use in Aviation American Gin, and is the generally accepted juniper for all gin. It is THE defining characteristic of the spirit itself.

For centuries juniper has been used in medicine and many alchemical processes employed alcohol as solvent. So one can only assume that eventually juniper soaked in alcohol evolved into something beyond a medical necessity and other desirable ingredients were also added. Given that so many essential oils are contained in the cone (not an actual berry) that list of ingredients must have come readily.

Primarily containing sugars, but also pinene, that unmistakable pine taste, limonene for herbal citrus qualities, and myrcene which is found in hops and cannabis amongst others. Just those flavors alone suggest a huge range of plants that could accompany in this delicious tincture known as ‘Dutch courage’. And given it’s range of potential, it’s no wonder pre-prohibition America was demanding it in most cocktails.

Our method for creating Aviation American Gin takes care to assure all these flavors and aromas are translated to the final product. By steeping our botanicals in spirit prior to a second distillation the oils are extracted to a higher degree and strict cuts during the second run assure they’re used to their full potential. This, to me, is why Aviation is the premier gin for cocktails.

Aviation Cocktail

Aviation Cocktail

And the list of classic gin cocktails is almost universally adored among the cocktail dedicated: Negroni, Martinez, Gimlet, Aviation, or the Corpse Reviver #2. Another staple is for sure the most controversial – The Singapore Sling. All drink makers seem to have their own version of this beverage and over time it was bastardized into obscurity excepting it’s strange cousin seen at lounge bars and Chinese restaurants.

To fully understand the magnitude of gin’s diversity I think there’s no better potpourri.

Singapore Sling

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Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Aviation American Gin
  • 1½ ounces Pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce Cherry Heering
  • ½ ounce Lime juice
  • ¼ ounce Cointreau
  • ¼ ounce Bénédictine
  • ¼ ounce Grenadine
  • Dash of Angostura bitters

Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a pineapple leaf.

-Miles Munroe, Aviation Team Member

Spooky Ookie Garnishes

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Halloween is just around the corner. Craft stores are dangerously rife with spiders, crows, bats, and cats. The spookiness is abounding. So, why not prepare some adorable cocktails with dark and mysterious garnishes?

Here are three easy cocktails, complete with super creepy Halloween garnishes.

The Aviation American Gin Zombie Punch

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Ingredients

Add gin and punch mix in a shaker full of ice. Strain mix into a glass and top with soda water. Add zombie hand King Cube.* Finish with a pinch of habañero salt.

*Zombie Hand King Cube: Purchase small skeleton hands from craft store. Fill King Cube Tray (by Tovolo) and rest skeleton in water. Freeze overnight.

Cinnamon Ginger Flying Mule

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Ingredients

Shake gin and syrup in a shaker with ice and strain into copper mug full of ice. (Hand engraved copper mug by This is Folklore, Portland.) Top with ginger beer. Stir gently. Garnish with slice of apple and ginger.

Aviation American Gin Ghost Chili Cool Shooters

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Ingredients

Pour gin into frozen Cool Shooters (by Friends of Fred) ice shot glass. Add a pinch of Jacobsen’s Ghost Chili Finishing Salt to shot. Garnish with sparkly spider.
Invite your friends over to greet trick-or-treaters and imbibe the spirits of Halloween!

-Rena Hartman, Aviation Team Member

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