The White Lion. Perfect Holiday Cocktail?

The Soft Roar of Cotton & Reed's Allspice Dram Shines in this Cocktail

Photo credit Farrah Skeiky

Photo credit Farrah Skeiky

When Cotton & Reed released a new liqueur earlier this year, an allspice dram, we knew immediately that it would be a must-have on our bar this holiday season. With Jamaican roots, Cotton & Reed's take on this predominately allspice berry liqueur has a base of rum with molasses that marries clove, long peppercorn, cinnamon, nutmeg, burdock, dried lime, nigella, ginger and gentian. 

We sampled several cocktails that employed Cotton & Reed's Allspice Dram with cocktail specialist and innovative mixologist, Lukas B. Smith. Allspice dram is this amazingly strong spice flavor bomb carrying forward flavors of the winter season, think gingerbread and fruitcake. You can create a rum cocktail like The White LIon using bright acidity from lime, but it will still purr "winter" with those rich, seasonal layered flavors in the background.

This could be the one. Your signature DC-sourced house cocktail to serve up as the perfect starter this holiday season while you, wearing that fabulous new sweater, join your guests for an attack on the homemade cheese ball. There, we've set the perfect stage for your party: You, the drink and the cheese ball. You're welcome. And thank you to Lukas and Cotton & Reed for sharing the recipe. Enjoy.

White Lion

  • 1.5 oz Cotton & Reed White Rum
  • 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Cotton & Reed Allspice Dram
  • Scant half ounce simple syrup

Instructions: 

Shake, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo credit Farrah Skeiky 

Photo credit Farrah Skeiky 

Cotton & Reed Allspice Dram is produced in 750 mL bottles priced at $35 retail.

ABOUT COTTON & REED | Cotton & Reed is DC’s only distillery and bar for rum devotees and new converts alike. The distillery was founded by Reed Walker and Jordan Cotton, former consultants to NASA and the space industry, and the bar program boasts the talents of Cocktail Specialist & Herbalist Lukas B. Smith. The distilling team combines the innovation of Head Distiller Chas Jefferson and Engineer Dr. Jen Phelps. Cotton & Reed balances unusual molasses and sugar varieties, rare botanicals, and distinctive yeast strains to make rums with the depth to spice up any cocktail. Visit Weds-Sunday at 1330 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002. www.cottonandreed.com

- Susan Able, Edible DC

A Wine Guy with a Few Cocktail Tricks Up His Sleeve  

The Samuelsson from Maxwell’s Brent Kroll 

By Tim Ebner, photography by Space Division 

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Looks can be deceiving. Especially when Brent Kroll mixes a cocktail. He’s better known as one of DC’s top wine sommeliers, who most recently went all in on his first business venture, Maxwell, a corner wine bar that’s come to Shaw. 

Sure, he can pick out the perfect Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley or surprise you with a refreshingly dry and crisp Riesling, but it’s his cocktail game that’s truly winning people over. In a tiny corner of Maxwell’s menu are four rotating drinks, seasonal cocktails with no-fuss rules.  

“We’re not trying to be craft cocktails,” Kroll says. “Actually, we are the anti-speakeasy because each of our cocktails is pre-batched and can be made in seconds.”  
 
That’s music to an at-home bartender’s ears, or those who might be entertaining several thirsty guests at a party. If you’re looking to experiment and add new flavors to your bar routine while keeping it straightforward and simple, then give Kroll’s peanut-infused rum cocktail—The Samuelsson—a try.  
 
“It’s kind of like a salted-caramel surprise,” he says. “With the dill you get a lot of that flavor on the nose. And in the warmer fall months you can still pick it fresh from the herb garden.” 

Peanuts are an unusual choice for a cocktail, but perfect for fall. They are harvested in September and October when the leaves turn yellow. Peanuts also pair nicely with one of Kroll’s top picks for rum: Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum, bottled in London but produced in Jamaica. It’s a medium, blended rum with a subtle butterscotch flavor.  

When fresh Virginia peanuts are added and infused for several days, their salt and fat help to create a much more complex flavor. It’s the oiliness and fat from the peanuts that stands out the most.  

On each sip, you get a buttery savoriness with only a slight hint of salt. Kroll combines his infused rum with an equal-parts mix of simple syrup and lemon juice. That cuts through the peanut flavor with a bright acidic burst of summertime flavor.  
 
Think of this drink as your seasonal sipper moving from September’s summerlike days to November’s colder, dark nights. “It perfectly captures that fall feeling,” Kroll says. “And regardless of the season, I always have a thing for savory cocktails—this one is definitely my favorite.” 

Look for it on his menu this fall at Maxwell for $11 a glass. Part of the credit also goes to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, owner of bar and restaurant Marcus at the MGM National Harbor Casino in Oxon Hill, MD. 

“It’s named after a trip I took to New York City, where I was scouting some wine bars,” Kroll says. “I stopped at his restaurant [Red Rooster] and had a chicken dish using nuts and dill. Right then and there, I wanted to incorporate the dish into a drink, so I named it after Marcus to pay homage.” 

His cocktails may be easy to make, but they do require a bit of prep work. For The Samuelsson, find Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum at many specialty liquor shops, including Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. If you’re in a pinch, El Dorado 5-Year Aged Rum does the trick too. Just avoid white or dark-aged rums, Kroll says. 

Any type of Virginia peanut will do. Just be sure to leave the skin on and roast about a half cup with olive oil and sea salt in a saucepan. For the infusion, add the peanuts to the rum and seal in a Mason jar for at least three days. Kroll recommends shaking the bottle once per day to ensure the proper infusion.  
 
“You can tell when the peanuts infuse because they’ll start to reduce a little, and if you bite into one, it’s devoid of all flavor,” he says. 

On the last day, Kroll adds dill to the infusion, then waits one more day before straining the spirit to separate out the peanuts or dill. Closer to his bartending shift, Kroll pre-batches a one-to-one mix of simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. The bright citrus gives way to a salty rum finish—something only a sommelier’s palate could master.  
 
“Wine definitely teaches you about aging, as well as the balance of flavors,” Kroll says. “When you’re tasting wine, it’s the same as tasting cocktails. You have this math in your head, where you say, ‘How do I combine or pair something that’s slightly salty, acidic, sweet and savory?’” 

The Samuelsson

Ingredients:  

  • Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum or El Dorado 5-Year Aged Rum  
  • Lemon juice  
  • Dill (stem on) 
  • Virginia peanuts (skin on) 
  • Olive oil 
  • Sea salt 
  • Sugar 

To make the infused rum: 

Allow at least 3 days for the rum to infuse with the peanuts. Kroll typically infuses for a full week. Roast about a half cup of peanuts with olive oil and sea salt in a medium saucepan on high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.  

Place the roasted peanuts in a Mason jar, add the rum and tightly seal the lid. Allow the mix to sit for up to a week, remembering to shake the infusion once per day. On the final day, add 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh dill with the stem on; let it sit for 24 hours. To batch, use a mesh strainer, separating out the peanuts and dill. Pour the rum back in the bottle. 

To make the lemon simple syrup mix: 

Kroll recommends making lemon simple syrup in small batches to ensure freshness. In a saucepan combine equal parts sugar and water, stir and bring to a boil. Then, allow the mix to cool. In a squeeze bottle add equal parts lemon juice and simple syrup. Refrigerate and keep for up to 1 week. 

To make The Samuelsson: 

Partially fill a cocktail glass with ice cubes. Pour equal parts infused rum and lemon simple syrup, either 1 or 2 shots each. Garnish with a sprig of dill. 

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Summer Strawberry Tart

The Last Bite

Recipe and photography by David Santori

The sweet, heady smell of ripe strawberries waiting to be devoured on the counter in my kitchen reminds me how much I love to make fruit tarts and how much they remind me of home in France and summer.

Like the apricot tart my grandpa used to lovingly prepare for my brother and me when we came to see him for lunch or after school. Or the strawberry tart my dad always requests as a dessert for his birthday dinner. Or perhaps the cherries my grandma pitted carefully to prepare her famous clafoutis. I guess you could say summer fruits and tarts are une tradition de famille for me!

I’ve always been interested in making French desserts gluten-free ever since a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with a strong reaction to gluten and mourned the idea of having to give up French cakes and tarts. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating new dough an crust recipes as well as cakes to put a smile back on his face and really experiment with new textures, flavors and consistency. It’s been quite fun.

So of course I wanted to share with you a tart I created a while back—updated and tweaked for this occasion. A soft, crumbly, buttery tart crust. Hints of mint and orange. Let me be very honest and already tell you that trying to resist eating a second piece is impossible. Une tarte vraiment délicieuse.

Happy summer!

David Santori, on Instagram @frenchieyankee

Summer Strawberry Tart with Grand Marnier and Mint

Makes 1 (9-inch) tart

For the gluten-free crust

  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon gluten-free oat flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1 stick or 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
  • 4–5 tablespoons iced water

For the strawberry purée

  • 7 ounces strawberries, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons blond cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch

For the topping

  • 16 ounces sliced strawberries
  • ⅓ cup red currant jelly
  • 1½ tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped mint

To prepare the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer sift the brown rice, oat and tapioca flours with the powdered sugar, xanthan gum and baking powder. Add the sea salt and mint and mix well on medium speed with the paddle blade.

Drop the butter cubes in the bowl and work until it becomes crumbly and sandy.

Drop the iced water in the bowl 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together and form a ball.

Flatten the ball, cover and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Using some of the tapioca flour to prevent sticking, roll out the dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan. Line the pan with the dough, pressing in the corners and sides, and trim it without any overhang.

This crust recipe does not leave much overhang. Leave the crust thick to absorb the strawberry juices as much as possible.

With a fork, make small holes over the entire surface of the bottom. Place the dough and tart pan back in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Prepare the purée in the meantime. In a small food processor, purée the strawberries, sugar and orange zest. The purée should stay chunky, not liquefied. Transfer the purée to a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Let the purée cool in a small bowl.

When the dough is ready, line the bottom of the tart with parchment paper and pie weights (or baking beads; dried beans work as well) and blind bake the dough for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven, remove the parchment paper and the weights, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Pour the strawberry purée into the crust and return the pan to the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the tart is cooling, prepare the topping.

Melt the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn.

When it is melted, simmer for 3–4 minutes until it becomes a thicker and denser glaze and coats a spoon well.

Whisk the Grand Marnier in the glaze. Add the salt and stir again. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Slice the strawberries lengthwise and put them in a small bowl. Pour the glaze over the strawberries, add the chopped mint, stir delicately and make sure they are all coated.

Arrange the slices of strawberries neatly in a circle in the tart, starting from the outside and going in. Place the tart in the fridge until ready to be served. Keep the strawberry and glaze juice at the bottom of the bowl and drizzle a teaspoon or 2 on the plates upon serving slices.