Monday, December 15, 2008

Beets and Champagne in a Festive Cocktail

I can’t say that I am fond of beets. It’s not that I mind eating things that taste like dirt; I am a self-proclaimed potato whore. I just think beets taste odd. I can accept a handful of shredded beets in my salad, and I’ve always had an affinity for tangy Harvard Beets. But beets in a cocktail?

Unfortunately, if you want to use local produce to make cocktails in the winter, your options are limited. So beets it is. Suck it up.

Now for the good news: This sparkling cocktail tastes amazing. The essence of beet is there, but it blends seamlessly with the warm, comforting flavors of cinnamon and maple syrup. A hint of cayenne pops in your mouth with each bubble.

It’s a lot of work; the beets need to be roasted, shredded, simmered and strained. The end result is worth the effort. I recommend the Spiced Beet Bubbly in place of your standard brunch mimosa to add some color to your morning, or as a festive addition to your afternoon holiday party where it is sure to extract some oohs and ahhhs.

Oh, and the color: A deep fuscia. Which means it will stain your clothes/carpet/counter. My own personal motto is, “If it stains, I will spill it.” Don’t wear white when preparing or drinking this cocktail.

My hesitation about beets? Gone with the first sip. The Spicy Beet Bubbly is shamelessly loved by beet whores and non-beet whores alike.

This post is written as part of Mixology Monday, whose December theme is "spice." You can check out more spicy recipes at this month's host's site, Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments.

Spiced Beet Bubbly

750 ml bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or sparkling cider
20 ounces fresh beets (2 large)
20 ounces water
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/8 tsp cinnamon (1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch mace

Roast beets:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce beets six or eight times with a fork or knife and wrap in aluminum foil. Place foil-covered beets on baking sheet in center of oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and allow beets to cool fully in the foil.

Spiced beet syrup:
Unwrap beets and shred with food processor. Place shredded beets in sauce pan, including all of the juice. Add enough water to cover beets (about 20 ounces of water). Cook uncovered over medium heat for 15 minutes. Do not boil. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne and mace. Simmer uncovered over low heat for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool fully. Strain, and compost the beets (or taste them - maybe you can use them in another recipe! For this cocktail, we use the syrup.)

To make cocktail:
4 ounces champagne, sparkling wine or sparkling cider
2 1/2 tablespoons spiced beet syrup
twist of orange peel

Pour sparkling wine into a champagne flute. Slooooowly add spiced beet syrup. Garnish with orange twist.

Serves 8. Beet syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe created by Leah Houghtaling , cocktail chef at Felicia's Atomic Lounge, Ithaca, NY with taste-testing input by her sidekick, Amelia Sauter, who also authors this totally awesome Felicia blog plus a humor blog of her own.

Photo by Leah Houghtaling.


Unknown said...

Wow. Creative! I love beets, but had never thought about putting them in a cocktail.

Anonymous said...

This was definitely tasty; I'm hooked! Great idea for using the winter produce - thanks for the recipe. :)