Just as craft beer has taken off in the last decade, so has the craft cocktail. One of the most intriguing books I’ve come across in a long time is “Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails,” by Matthew Biancaniello.

Biancaniello points out an exceptional cocktail is comprised of four essential elements: the name, the look, the smell and the taste. Here are three recipes from his new cookbook to add to your repertoire:


MAYAN CAMPFIRE

(adapted from "Eat Your Drink")

• 2 ounces tequila

• 3 tablespoons Hershey's chocolate syrup

• 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked jalapeno tequila (recipe follows)

• Enough marshmallows to cover top of glass (4 to 6)

In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, chocolate syrup and smoked jalapeno tequila with ice. Shake, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Place the marshmallows on top and slowly toast them with a small kitchen torch. Be very careful not to apply the flame for too long on any one area near the rim of the glass. The whole process should take less than 10 seconds.

Smoked Jalapeno Tequila:

• 10 smoked jalapenos

•1 (750 ml) bottle 123 Organic Reposado (Dos) Tequila 

Place the jalapenos in a quart-size jar and pour in the tequila. Cover and let sit in a cool, dark place to infuse for at least 2 weeks. Strain back into the bottle. This infusion becomes so strong with smoke and spice that it is intended to be a tincture and not consumed on its own. It will keep in a cool, dark place for at least a year.

Our assessment: This is a fun and unusual cocktail, sure to spark some conversation – just be extremely careful using a torch.


CHAI ICED TEA 

• 2 ounces chai-infused gin (see below)

• 2 ounces condensed milk

• 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Into a cocktail shaker with ice, pour the chai-finused gin and condensed milk, shake and then strain into 3 or 4 shot glasses. Garnish each with a cinnamon stick.

Chai-Infused Gin:

• 2 tablespoons dried chai tea

• 1 (750 ml) bottle CapRock gin (or other gin)

Put the chai directly into the bottle of gin. Let it steep for about 1 hour, agitating it every 15 minutes, and then strain into a clean bottle. Tea is one of the few things that can overinfuse in alcohol, so it’s really important to watch this carefully. The infused gin will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

Our assessment: This drink is smooth and exotic. The chai-infused gin is also great with just a splash of tonic in a rocks glass with ice.


WARM TEA

• 2 ounces Calvados

• 3/4 ounce honey syrup (see below)

• 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

• 2 ounces hot Earl Grey tea (see below)

Pour the Calvados, honey syrup, lemon juice and tea into a teacup, stir together and serve.

Honey Syrup:

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Pour in 3 cups honey (preferably buckwheat honey). Stir until all the honey has dissolved. Let cool, then strain the syrup into a glass bottle and seal. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Earl Grey Tea:

Pour 2 ounces loose Earl Grey tea in the filter of a glass teapot and pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Let it sit for 2 minutes, then remove the tea and filter.

Our assessment: Earl Grey tea and apple brandy make a delicious hot toddy combo.

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