Marsha specializes in creating cocktails that are classically inspired and updated with modern techniques and exceptional ingredients. The Natural Mixologist creates custom cocktails for your brand, bar, catering, event & hosts mixology classes & molecular mixology: Organic & Gluten-Free
Upon hearing ‘cream soda’ I’m sure your mind goes straight to something comparable to a nasty little chemical filled can of corn syrup and artificial vanilla flavor. And I can’t blame you, unfortunately many fabulous recipes have been reduced to just that. Though I’m sure you can find a more natural alternative in some stores, why not make it yourself with this simple recipe!
A little background, cream soda doesn’t actually contain cream. The name comes from the fact that it used to be made with cream of tarter to help preserve the beverage. In this recipe we’ll be using lemon juice instead which gives you a more bright, zesty, and full flavor. Cream soda has many different variations, the original actually used milk. However, this was quickly superseded by Dr. Brown who created an entire line of sodas in Brooklyn in 1869. His original line of sodas included celery (Cel-Ray), black cherry, ginger and of course, cream soda. Although you can still find this brand today, I can’t confidently recommend it.
The Natural Mixologist cream soda is an incredible mixer you can make yourself as either a non-alcoholic drink by simply adding to club soda or of course, make cocktails! See below to see how I turned it into a phenomenal boozy-butterbeer (like it was intended to be) or add to whiskey for a magical Old Fashioned!
The recipe you’ll be making is actually a syrup which then should be put in a soda stream or mixed with club soda. You could equate it to a simple syrup…except it’s not quite as simple to make since there are a few more steps. But because it is a very concentrated syrup it does last longer so you could make a full liter and keep it in your refrigerator for three months.
1. Place sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar is caramelized. This can take up to 20 minutes. You want a lovely caramel color. But check on it often – you do not want it to burn.
2. Carefully add remaining water and lemon juice. Be careful as it will splatter a bit as you add in water. Add vanilla beans and seeds then bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for a minimum of 1 hour. I left mine overnight.
3. Discard vanilla beans & coconut chips (set aside*). But do not finely strain – you want to keep as many of the vanilla seeds as possible (the little black flakes). They are so flavorful!
4. Transfer the syrup to an airtight container. Syrup may be kept, refrigerated, for about 3 months. To serve, fill a 16-ounce glass with ice cubes and add 1 1/2 ounces syrup; top with seltzer and stir to combine. See my video below for how to make Boozy-Butterbeer!
*These coconut chips covered in vanilla seeds are still so flavorful! Remove the large pods and then put the rest to good use, #upcycle.
I made some gluten-free scones and added the vanilla-ed coconut and some dried apricot… amazing! Try putting them into a curry or sprinkle on anything. They would be an incredible addition to a butternut squash or roasted vegetable soup. Add some to your breakfast cereal or bowl of fresh fruit…the options are endless!
Why Barrel Age – you can create your own unique cocktails or add depth to un-aged and inexpensive spirit at home using barrel aging. Its super easy and just requires a bit of patience.
Using a small barrel, just 1-3-5 liters, will give you quick results. Even resting as little as 2-3 weeks will significantly change your spirit or cocktail. The barrel can impart hints of smoke, caramel and vanilla while making your drink smooth and complex.
But you do want to take care and not overdo it, as aging too long can create overpowering flavors. The best way to ensure you get just the right flavor is to taste your creation every couple of days (I know, tough). When it tastes great, pour most of your batch into a glass jar and serve it from there. Continue to taste the mixture still in the barrel to see if you would have preferred it more aged. There are not hard and fast rules regarding aging because temperature, humidity, barrel conditions, alcohol content all influence the aging process. And most important is your own taste preference.
Another thing, I learned the hard way, after you cure your barrel (soaking it in water to expand the wood and preparing it for the addition of alcohol) you must use it right away. Once a barrel is cured, you cannot let it dry out. When it dries the wood will shrink and if you try to use it again it may leak (mine did – so I had to buy more). You have to keep you barrel with something inside it at all times. If you are not aging a spirit, then fill it with water.
Also, whatever you have previously aged in your barrel will be absorbed into the wood and will flavor whatever you put in it next. Use this extra flavor to your advantage. Say you aged a sherry or sweet vermouth cocktail, you could then age a white whiskey (unaged and inexpensive) and it will not only get the woody flavors, but also the previous cocktail.
This is such a simple and cool way to create a unique cocktail. Please tell me how yours turned out &I am happy to give you more tips on using your barrel. Have fun!
Aged Vieux Carre
(Makes 1 Liter — scale up proportionally for larger batches)
Glass: Double Rocks or Old Fashioned
Garnish: Orange and Lemon Peel
Directions: Add all ingredients to your barrel and allow to rest, preferably three weeks or more, but at least one week, or when it suits your taste. (I understand if you can’t wait – it is that good!)
Once it is aged to your liking, pour 2 ounces over ice and stir to chill. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice (preferably one large piece) and garnish.
The Spanish Bullfighter
(Makes 1 Liter — scale up proportionally for larger batches)
Making your own flavored Simple Syrup is an easy way to customize your cocktails and elevate your mixology.
Lavender simple syrup is just that; simple. Equal parts sugar and water heated to a boil, lavender buds are added in and allowed to rest just as you would a tea. The great thing about simple syrup is you can use this process for a variety of flavors that suit your recipe or taste buds! Some of my other favorite simple syrups include: lemon-ginger, mint and hibiscus.
Flavored simple syrups are a perfect addition to enhance your favorite cocktail, recipe or even just mixed with soda water as a better alternative to soda.
Making your own simple syrup at home is a great way to dip your toe into the world of healthy(er) drinking. The average soda contains around 39g of sugar, in addition to all sorts of yucky chemicals, corn syrup and additives. Don’t even get me started on diet soda.
In a small pot, bring your water to a boil. Once the water is boiling add the lavender and allow to boil for 30 seconds to a minute.
Turn off the heat and swirl the lavender buds around then add your sugar and swirl again. Now allow the combination to cool for about 15 minutes.
Once the simple syrup has cooled down you will want to strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean glass container.
If I’m making my syrup for a specific recipe I like to make more than needed, that way I have it on hand for other uses. Your simple syrup can be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. You should always label your simple syrup so you know when to throw it out, if it lasts that long! However, if you have not labeled it and want to make sure it’s safe for consumption, look for any white cloud like matter that grows from the bottom of the container. Whether it be lavender or any other flavor, this would indicate that it has gone off. It’s the number one indicator that your simple syrup has past its date and should be thrown it out.
Now that you have this glorious creation it can be used for many things, check out my cocktail recipe below featuring Astral Pacific Gin by The Spirit Guild.
Impress your friends by using it in place of plain simple syrup or sugar. Enhance your tea drinking experience tastes great in black tea, fabulous in Earl Grey, Chai or Darjeeling.
You can also get creative and use it in other baking ideas; short bread in place of sugar, drizzle over vanilla ice cream, add it to pudding, even great on chicken! Share below and let us know how you’ve used it!
Most hangovers are caused by all of the chemicals and harmful ingredients that are in the cocktails that we drink. However, even if we drink naturally, but drink too much, we can be left with a hangover in the morning. I was interviewed by BuzzFeed Creative Hannah Chamberlain, along with several other LA mixologists, about what my go to hangover cure was recently.
I certainly recommend drinking too much. But if we do, then an all natural hangover remedy that I highly recommend will help you back on your feet!
Apple Cider Vinegar – it dissolve foreign substances in the body and will also balance pH levels and increase deficient minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron.
Honey – Because of its antioxidant properties, honey neutralizes the toxins created by consuming alcohol. Dr. John Emsley, UK Popular Science writer and chemistry academic, claims the natural fructose in honey helps the body rapidly metabolize alcohol. According to Dr. Emsley, “the fructose in honey is an essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.”
Chlorophyll – helps bind to toxins to assist them safely out of the body. It helps to hydrate, balance pH, and is rich in enzymes and antioxidants.
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt – Dehydration has significantly dropped your body’s sodium levels. Drinking salt will raise them quickly, and give you an energy boost. It will also help replace the vital minerals and electrolytes lost.
And Yoga is great for detoxifying the body and moving around the stagnant energy to get your blood flowing (all of which needs to happen after drinking). Twisting poses and back bends to reverse the blood flow and wring out the toxic build up in your spine are best!
event to be held at the James Beard Nominated Trick Dog in San Francisco, my heart leapt. I pictured tasting batch after batch of pulled pork with bourbon. And that is just what happened. I tried many, many recipes and methods (marinades, dry rubs, wet sauces, oven roasting vs crock pot) and want to share the results with you! Watch the video here….
When you cook with alcohol you want to choose flavors that mirror your spirit or ones that contrast. For example, key lime pie with Grand Marnier whipped cream would mirror each others’ flavors, whereas chocolate cupcakes with bourbon frosting would be a contrast.
I finally settled on a classic southern rub and a barbecue recipe to highlight out the flavors of the bourbon. Lexington Bourbon as it is an approachable classic bourbon that is grain forward with caramel, vanilla-spice, and a high rye, peppery middle. The finish is nutty with a hint of smoke and paprika. I wanted a recipe to highlight those qualities and I found it! And the judges from Tasting Panel Magazine agreed! I started with a dry rub based on the famous Memphis Dust recipe, and then altered it to accentuate the Lexington by substituting smoked salt and smoked paprikafor their un-smoked counterparts. Then I added vanilla, either ½ pod, split open with seeds and pod added to the sauce or vanilla extract.
The sauce is a tweaked classic barbecue sauce (you could use your favorite store brand and add in the extras for a shortcut). The sugar is removed to allow for the addition of apricot preserves, which complement the marzipan/nutty notes of the Lexington. Yes, we’re cooking with Bourbon! And orange juice is added to soften the spicy notes and heat. If you do like your barbecue sauce on the sweet side, add in some maple syrup – a natural companion to bourbon.
If you don’t want to suffer in the summer heat, the smoky additions in this barbecue recipe give you some of the flavor of grilling while offering the convenience of crock pot cooking. There is nothing quite like the smokiness and flavors of grilling, sometimes you don’t have a grill (I don’t) and even if you do, crockpots are easy, and your home will smell amazing!.
5 t Brown Sugar*
2 t Smoked Paprika*
1.5 t Dried Ground Garlic*
1.5 t Ground Black Pepper*
1 t Dried Ground Ginger*
1 t Dried Ground Onion*
0.5 t Dried Rosemary*
0.25 t Dried Ground Mustard*
2 t Smoked Salt
1/2 c. Lexington Bourbon
1/2 c. Orange Juice*
1/2 c. Water
1/4 c. Ketchup*
5 oz. Apricot Preserves*
4 T Apple Cider Vinegar*
1 t Vanilla Extract*
Sauté the bacon till browned and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. While sautéing the bacon, combine all dry ingredients together, mixing completely. In an additional bowl, combine all wet ingredients, combining thoroughly. Next, brown the pork in the bacon grease, occasionally turning till browned on all sides.
Add the pork and bacon to a crock pot. Sprinkle all sides of the pork with dry ingredients, adding all dry ingredients to the slow cooker. Then pour in your wet ingredients. Cover and allow to cook on high at least 6 hours.
After 6 hours, or up to 8, remove the meat and set aside. If you have a lot of grease in the cooking liquid, strain off with a spoon, such as by lowering a ladle into the pot until the ladle rim falls just beneath the surface of the floating oil so that the spoon fills with the fat. Discard this excess fat. Wearing food preparation gloves pull apart the pork and remove any large pieces of fat or connective tissue that have not broken down. Return the pork to the sauce and stir to combine. Can be served now or kept warming an additional several hours.