A cocktail rather than a drink, that’s what I had in mind this week. A cocktail that’s a bit more sophisticated and feels like a grown-up drink, one that you can savor on the back patio while discussing the events of the day with your loved one or friends. Our friend’s, Holly and Kurt, first introduced me to a Brandy Old Fashioned and it is one of my favorite cocktails; I don’t have it often but recently discovered it is easy to make at home. This retro cocktail is made with a sugar cube, bitters, Sprite (or 7-Up), cherries, brandy and finished with an orange slice. True mixologists will add a “flag”, a skewered orange slice with a cherry in the middle. Bing cherries are in season so I used them instead of the maraschino cherries. A Brandy Old Fashioned has a refreshingly sweet and light flavor and is an elegant way to transition the week into the weekend. It’s always fun to nosh on something equally as delicious while enjoying a cocktail, and Bacon Grissini are perfect with this cocktail. They are basically candied bacon on bread sticks. Yes, please!
Grissini sticks came from my catering days. Instead of the 8 that I made for the two of us at home, it was a production line of 60 to 120 grissini sticks! They were always the appetizer that was gobbled up; the servers could barely get around the room before the platter was empty. After the bread sticks are wrapped with a bacon slice and almost cooked, they are coated with a spicy sweet brown sugar mixture that caramelizes around the bacon after more oven time. They are a sweet and savory treat with a crunchy texture from the bread stick. It takes some practice to wrap the bacon around the sticks without breaking any (some days I would break about twenty percent of them, usually just at the end of wrapping) so take it slow and try to keep slight tension on the bacon piece as you wrap it around and down the bread stick. If you can find thinly sliced bacon, with more meat than fat, it will make it easier. You won’t need the whole slice of bacon so cut off the last quarter and save for later (freeze in a Ziploc bag for 2 months). They take about 30 minutes to bake and are so worth the wait. If you’re looking for more bacon candy, check out my post on Bacon-wrapped Dates.
Ahh, a Brandy Old Fashioned cocktail and some Bacon Grissini Sticks…….. It’s a better week already. Cheers to you and yours!
Eat well and share the love!
Brandy Old Fashioned Cocktail & Bacon Grissini Sticks
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
(cocktail adapted from Kurt Bergman recipe)
Serves two foodies
Brandy Old-Fashioned – makes one drink
1 sugar cube, or 1 teaspoon sugar
4 dashes bitters
1 cherry (pitted Bing or organic maraschino)
1 ½ ounces Brandy
Orange slice – garnish
In a cocktail glass add the sugar cube (or sugar) and bitters. Add a splash of Sprite and the cherry and muddle until the cherry is slightly mashed and the sugar is dissolved. Add the brandy, the ice and top off with Sprite. Garnish with an orange slice, or a “flag”: an orange slice skewered with a cherry in the middle. Repeat process for two cocktails.
Bacon Grissini Sticks
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
8 pieces of thinly sliced bacon, cut off about 2” (a quarter) from end of bacon
8 Grissini bread sticks (thin)
Heat oven to 375 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper (this keeps the grease off the bread stick ends and helps contain the mess).
Add all ingredients to a small shallow pan that is longer than your bread sticks. Mix well and set aside. Cover with plastic wrap until grissini sticks are ready so the sugar stays moist.
Starting at the top of the stick, place one end of the bacon piece and hold with your fingertips. With your other hand, start rolling the bacon around and down the bread stick. The bread sticks break easily and it takes some practice so go slow and gentle. Keep slight tension on the bacon piece while wrapping. It’s helpful to have a few extra bread sticks on hand. When finished, place the wrapped bread stick on the sheet pan and continue wrapping the rest.
Cook for 18 minutes, turning sheet pan 180 degrees halfway through the cooking process, until the bacon is just starting to firm up and get a little golden.
Using metal tongs, roll the grissini sticks in the grease to make sure the sugar has something to stick to. Transfer two sticks at a time to the sugar mixture and gently toss to well coat the bacon. Place back on the sheet pan and coat the remaining sticks.
Return sheet pan to the oven and cook the grissini for another 8 to 10 minutes until bacon is golden and crispy. Let cool about 10 minutes and serve.
(Grissini sticks can be made up to one day ahead: Cook as directed, transfer to airtight container and refrigerate. Reheat at 375 degrees F on sheet pan with clean parchment paper for 10 minutes.)
An old leather serving tray I found at an antique market, complete with a cigarette burn mark on the “Manhattan” recipe