April 27, 2012

the bloomwood bloom

The things I do for literature.

In a great (or dumb -- I haven't decided yet) moment, I decided to create a spin-off of my beloved Reading in the Kitchen series: Reading in the Bar. I wrote about it yesterday (you can read it here). The plan was simple. I like books. I like booze. Why not put them together?

Here's why: because it's much harder to write a blog post after testing your alcohol-infused recipes compared to regular food. In future, I'll plan ahead better and make the mixed drinks a full 24 hours before I plan to write about it. It's only fair. After all, I'm a talker when I drink -- not a writer. So keep in mind, I'm writing this post with a little (but responsible) buzz, and forgive any grammatical errors or nonsensical prose.

With that disclaimer in mind, join me for a drink or four as we discover a cocktail describe in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series.

In Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Becky Bloomwood and her fab friend/neighbor Danny celebrate her most recent purchase -- a vintage cocktail cabinet -- by mixing up a few drinks.

"We've had a margarita each and a gimlet, and my invention called the Bloomwood, which consists of vodka, orange and M&Ms, which you scoop out with a spoon."

The drink makes a reappearance in Mini Shopaholic, and I've always wanted to try it. The vodka and M&Ms were simple instructions, but what did Becky mean by orange? I tried Googling "what does orange mean in cocktail recipes" and a few other derivatives without much success. I was going to have to use trial and error to determine the most authentic version of the Bloomwood.

Business brought me to my parents house last night. They have a better liquor stash than I (which is not hard to be, because I have two beers and a few empty bottles in my collection), so this seemed like a good opportunity to get down to business. So while Dad was at band practice, Mom and I raided his liquor cabinet (with permission). It was all in the name of research, and my father is nothing if not a supporter of learning.

"I feel like a scientist," I said to Mom, as I assembled the collection of orange-infused beverages in our house. She corrected me, pointing out that cocktail making is actually mixology, but I still prefer to think that this was a science project gone terribly tipsy. We had four options to choose from. Being the dedicated scientist/mixologists we are, we decided to give each a whirl in this experiment.

The constants:
12 M&Ms
6 ice cubes
1 shot of vodka
1 cocktail glass
1 shaker

The variables:
1 shot of grand marnier
1 shot of triple sec
1 shot of curacao
2 shots of orange juice

Process: All things equal, changing the variable in each cocktail will yield a different result. Each cocktail will be made by putting 12 M&Ms in a cocktail glass. The remaining ingredients will be placed in a shaker. After vigorous shaking, the contents of the shaker will be poured into the glass. The drink will be consumed by sipping the beverage and eating the M&Ms with a spoon.

Our hypothesis: Based on the previous beverages made, the most likely alcohol used in the Bloomwood was triple sec (which is frequently used in margaritas). The least likely is the orange juice (which would make this a screwdriver with M&Ms).

Bloomwood No. 1 - Grand Marnier

Results: Not good. The booze was just too much in this one. When I pointed out that the M&Ms were quite good, Mom said they were ruined by the alcohol. We ended up taking a couple of sips from this one and throwing out the rest. However, in all fairness to drink, Mom later pointed at that it is possible this bottle of Grand Marnier has been sitting in our liquor cabinet for as long as I've been alive. We also did more research after the fact and decided we should have included 1.5 vodkas for every 0.5 Grand Marnier. So, I say this is inconclusive. It was our least favorite of all, but maybe we would have liked it better if we did it differently.

Bloomwood No. 2 - Triple Sec

Results: Much better than the last. We are pretty sure this is what Becky and Danny threw back when they went to town with the stolen liquor from Danny's brother. If I make it again, I would probably use slightly more vodka this round (maybe 1.5 for every 1 triple sec). I will tell you this -- drink this one responsibly. I had a little more fun this time around, and I stirred the M&Ms for several minutes to get some of that hard candy shell to melt into the drink. Fun fact: Did you know that after soaking in booze, M&Ms turn white? I know. It's amazing.

Now if only Sophie K. will confirm if this is what she had in mind when she wrote the books...

Bloomwood No. 3: - Curacao

Results: Our third favorite of the bunch, this one was pretty delicious. However, it's the one I think least likely of the bunch to be the real deal. Until last night If I made it again, I'd use my new Grand Marnier recipe and go 1.5 to 0.5. Not much else to say. Drinkable, but probably not it.

Bloomwood No. 4 - orange juice

Results: Mom and I's favorite from the bunch, this one is a screwdriver with M&Ms. What's not to like? But... I doubt this is what Sophie K had in mind when she envisioned this drink. Still, it's pretty tasty if you want something to drink.

In conclusion, I think the triple sec wins for best overall. It was yummy and authentic-seeming. And really, for all my initial belly-aching, this was not a bad way to spend a Thursday night.

If you would like to pair this beverage with a Shopaholic-worthy drink, be sure to check out my edible version of Becky's homemade curry here. The dish is delicious, and I can only imagine how much easier it would be to do this recipe on a tummy full of food.

Please be sure to let me know if you have any book-inspired drink ideas (or food) so I can keep this series and Reading in the Kitchen going.

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