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Joan, in all her fantastic competence and intelligence, is one of the few characters on Mad Men I actually like. Mad Men characters are generally fascinating and dynamic, but rarely likable. Really, how likable is sexism, racism, infidelity, self-absorption, lying, denial, and substance abuse?

Joan has been guilty of all of those things, but in Joan we witness an inner strength and tenacity that other characters lack. Because of that strength, and because Joan is good at everything she does, we watch her grow and change in positive ways. Hurray for leaving her doofus rapist husband! Hurray for recognizing that, while she loves her son, she also loves her job! Hurray for changing her mind on her, “marriage is everything and the end goal of all women” attitude! Hurray for seeing Roger as the man-child he is!

Unlike Don, Betty, and Roger, Joan doesn’t have a signature cocktail. I resigned myself to the task of re-watching previous seasons to see what she orders, then Episode 4: Mystery Date aired. During the dinner scene when Joan realizes what a doofus her idiot husband is, she orders a gin fizz. Hence, the Joan Holloway gelatin mold is a gin fizz with candied lemons. And it tastes lovely – I enjoyed eating the candied lemons suspended in the gelatin, but it’s optional.

Recipe for 5.25 cups

Candied Lemons (optional), I used the slices of three lemons, and this recipe from Real Simple magazine

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water (for boiling)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup lemon juice, strained, with zest reserved
  • 1 ¾ cups gin
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Candied lemon slices (optional)

Put 1 cup of water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the 3 packets of gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside. Put ½ cup water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lemon syrup, and return to saucepan. Reheat the syrup, and pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in gin and club soda.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the candied lemons. Place candied lemons into mixture, and the mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

Berries, herbs, and gin – a match made in my own voluptuary heaven. A few weeks ago I tried a berry rosemary gelato featured at my favorite neighborhood bar, Dolce Vita, and it was ridiculously divine. The addition of savory herbs to desserts may seem objectionable, but in proper proportion, a hint of rosemary, basil, thyme, or sage brings an unexpected brightness to boozy gelatin. Per Dolce Vita bartender Sam’s suggestion, I paired my berry rosemary gelatin with gin. Made from juniper berries and other natural botanicals, gin is perfect for pairing with savory herbs. The resulting gelatin mold was lovely (thanks to the combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), fruity, herby, and overall yummy.

Check out my previous experiments with herbs: Basil Blueberry Lemonade with Vodka, Rosemary Limeade with Blueberries and Gin, Lemonade with Thyme and Vodka.

Recipe for 5.25 cups

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ¾ cup water (for syrup)
  • Juice of one small lemon, zest reserved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups berries, pureed and strained (I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 cup gin

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 3 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put water and sugar over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and rosemary. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the syrup, reheat, and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in pureed berries (remember to strain!), lemon juice, and gin. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

This creation is the latest installment in my series of herb-infused boozy gelatin molds. The unique fusion of rosemary, limes, blueberries, club soda, and gin proves irresistible as a cocktail; and even yummier in gelatinous form. I adore the delightfully sweet and sour combination of berries, citrus, herbs, and booze.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ water (for syrup)
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of one lime (approx. ¼ cup) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup 100% blueberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¾ cup gin
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup blueberries

Put ½ cup of water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put water, blueberry juice, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add lime zest and rosemary leaves. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime/rosemary syrup, and return to saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in cold gin and club soda.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the blueberries. Stir in berries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

This gelatin mold is based on my new favorite cocktail of the same name. I first learned of the Bramble in The New York Times Style Magazine article written by Toby Cecchini (the object of my latest foodie crush). Cecchini describes my ideal cocktail – gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and a blackberry liqueur called crème de mûre. Oh yum…

The Bramble, popular in England, is relatively unknown in the states. Especially Austin. My continual attempts of ordering it result in well-intended blank stares. I resigned to purchasing crème de mûre and making it myself when mixologist Alfonso started working at my neighborhood bar, the fantastic Dolce Vita. Alfonso (pictured right) not only knows how to make the Bramble, he adds a few twists like a dash of soda and the occasional coating of the glass with absinthe. (I’ve yet to develop a taste for absinthe, but my friend Monti claims it’s a worthy addition.) Needless to say, Alfonso’s version reins as my favorite summer cocktail.

To transfer the Bramble to a gelatin mold, I created a simple syrup of water, sugar, lemon juice, and stewed lemon zest. After blooming the gelatin in water and dissolving it in the hot syrup, I added gin, club soda, and crème de framboise. (My usually well-stocked liquor store does not carry crème de mûre, so I went with the raspberry equivalent.) The resulting taste competed with the cocktail – but I need to tinker with ingredient proportions before it’s truly berrytastic.

The classic drink that inspired this mold is a favorite of my friend Bindiya. Made to commemorate Bindiya leaving Austin for the summer, it took several trials (and a lot of gin!) to create a mold I was happy with. Unfortunately, she left before I ultimately created the mold seen here.

To make this mold, I adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe published in the New York Times. (I was not happy with the recipe results, so I changed ingredient proportions). The resulting taste was perky (thanks to the lemon juice and stewed lemon zest), sweet, and slightly effervescent – perfect for the blistering Austin summer.

Per Bindiya’s request, I used lemons instead of limes. Blueberries were added because I love the fantastic merging of blueberries and lemons.

If you’re a foodie geek like me, you may enjoy learning the history of the gin and tonic.

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