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A Dandy Shandygaff

Beer cocktails. No other words spark controversy in the world of craft brew aficionados quite like these do. Beer cocktails have gained traction in the United States in recent years, thanks to creative and skillful bartenders. Still, detractors argue, “Why would you want to ruin a perfectly good craft beer?”

I used to be one of those people who considered beer cocktails blasphemous. However, some summer days are so uncomfortably hot that even a crisp, light beer seems too heavy. Mixing it with fresh juice or sparkling water renders it lighter and more refreshing. It’s a small point, but true enough.

A classic British beer cocktail, poolside is a perfect place to enjoy a shandy.

Poolside is a perfect place to enjoy a refreshing shandygaff.

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Beef & Stout Stew

Ah, springtime in the Rockies. That glorious time of year when it’s 60 degrees one day, snowing the next morning, and melting by afternoon. I almost held this recipe back as it’s a hearty recipe and would probably be better shared during the cold, dark, can’t-curl-up-without-a-blanket days of winter. But it’s too good not to share, which is to say that I lack the restraint to wait another six months before posting this recipe. To be fair, it’s likely we will have at least one more snow here before spring decides to stay. It’s still quite cool in the mountains, with the last of spring skiing just finished; it’s supposed to be chilly and rainy on Monday, so conditions still warrant a hearty, warm meal.

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Irish Ginger Cocktail

Simplicity sometimes gets an undeserved reputation of being synonymous with bland. This, my friends, is patently untrue. While simple can sometimes be boring, if done well, simplicity is classic, refreshing, and pleasant.

Ginger ale is a perfect “adult” mixer. Once your palate has moved beyond the saccharine sweetness of other soft drinks, it offers a sweetness accented by the sharp but delightful flavor of ginger. If you like that pungency, you can try this with a bit more booze and ginger beer (try finding the “craft” versions that contain whole pieces of this friendly rhizome).

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Guinness Ice Cream Pi(e)

Go ahead, be irrational. Celebrate Pi Day.

An irrational number is, quite simply, a number that can’t be written as a fraction. Pi is the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle, which rounds to 3.14. Hence, March 14 has been adopted as Pi Day. And what better way to celebrate math than with some delicious dessert?

It just so happens that this weekend is book-ended by Pi Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I decided to celebrate with a fusion of the two holidays and created a Guinness ice cream pie. I know this post is too late for you to make this to celebrate Pi Day, so go ahead and make it for St. Patrick’s Day instead. After all, there’s not much that is more Irish than Guinness!

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Elements of Flavor: a conversation with Jorel Pierce

Get Euclid Hall Chef de Cuisine, Jorel Pierce, talking about food and you’ll quickly see why he has been described as ‘innovative.’ A simple question about how he creates unique pairings (featured at events like the annual “Midnight Breakfast”) evolved into a fast-paced, fascinating conversation about the elements of flavor.

Pierce grabbed his legal pad and made a list of the tastes with which everyone is familiar: sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty, umami. This, he explained is absolutely not the way he thinks about food. These tastes are constants. Cavier, Pierce explained, will never be sweet, sour, spicy, or bitter. In and of itself, it’s only ever going to be salty and umami.

When you regard food in this manner, your variables become temperature, texture, and time. That’s where the magic really happens in cooking. You add heat to sweet and it gets sweeter. You decrease the temperature of something sour and you lessen the intensity.

“Let’s not write hard and fast rules about food. Let’s think about how food affects our mouth.”
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Hot Browned Buttered Rum

My mom has made hot buttered rum a bit of a Christmas tradition. While I didn’t get around to sharing it during the holidays, tomorrow is National Hot Buttered Rum Day (no, I’m not making that up.)

Hot buttered rum is a sip of American history. Hot toddies, mulled wine, and nog had been circulating though Europe for generations. Those European traditions were brought to the Americas but new world products created new drinks.

Rum is a uniquely Western Hemisphere product. While the dubious history is dark spot (it was a direct part of the triangle slave trade of rum, molasses, and slavery.) Molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, is what gives rum the smoothness and sweetness you won’t find in many other spirits.

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