Technically, what I mixed is "must," a mixture of honey, water, and yeast which I'll brew for about ten days, and then rack for another couple of months. While I'm confident I adequately sanitized the utensils and mixed the ingredients to proper ratios, it is my first try. If the ratios aren't correct, or if any of the ingredients were contaminated, the product mightn't be drinkable.
So I used cheap ingredients. Bread yeast, which is all I can find in my neighborhood. The cheapest (yet delicious) honey I could get by the 2.5 kilogram jug. Raisins to feed the yeast, because I have a bag I've been trying to finish. It doesn't make sense to use expensive ingredients when my inexperience might ruin the batch, and anyway, I was impatient to get started.
Not that I don't have high expectations for the finished product. I live in a great region for honey, so the "cheap" honey is a decent quality. Additionally, I'll add a sliced vanilla bean when I rack the mead, brought back from Karnataka by some friends last month.
My dad makes wine. Don has made wine, as well as ginger beer. This is my first attempt at brewing. I'm crazy about mead, by the way. I love the delicate simplicity of the flavors. I like blueberry mead. I like macadamia honey mead. I've always coveted it and I've always known it was simple to make. After all these years, I think it's time.
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I used a Carlo Rossi jug with a balloon on top, the same way my dad brews his Chateau Phanny whites and reds, which he makes with bread yeast and Welch's frozen grape juice concentrate. The only issue was, what should I do with the Carlo Rossi wine? Don makes sangria. I always thought he was a genius for making sangria, but a quick recipe search on Google and reddit convinced me that I didn't need to go shopping; I could mix sangria using whatever I had in the house.
This is how I made it: I poured out a big glass of the wine, and drank it. As I did so, I filled the jug back up with about 3/4 of a cup of not-from-concentrate orange juice, 1/2 a cup of sugar, about two shots of vodka, a few cloves, and some lemon peel. Ten minutes later, it tasted just like sangria, a stupendous improvement on Carlo Rossi's California Red.
An improvement on flavor, at least. I woke up with a headache after just a couple of glasses, thanks to sulphites and the addition of sugar and vodka. It took me five days to finish the 1.5 liter batch, but it went down easy.
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Anyone who knows me better than slightly, knows how I feel about beverages. Until I moved to Japan, I had a huge collection of fancy bottles, accumulated from my insistence on tasting every new drink that was ever sold in America. In college I worked at a Frullati, a chain in the mall that serves smoothies and fresh juices. There I learned everything there is to know about making blender drinks. I also learned that I never want to work anywhere I don't have daily access to limitless fresh juice. In First Class on Emirates, I'm kept alive by fresh orange, carrot, lemon-mint, grapefruit, and mango juices. One girl said to me, "I've never seen anyone drink as much juice as you do."
I mix fresh lemonade, and squeeze fresh Valencia juice, at home. I've used up two juicers, one in Japan and one in Dubai, and I wore out the gears on a stainless steel citrus crusher. But I'm not a snob about freshness. My sister-in-law called me "the juice monster." It seems that when I come to visit, I drink all the juice in her fridge.
As I'm writing this, I'm enjoying a Bloody Mary. I use an entire lemon in one cocktail.
I'm a bit sad that a friend is leaving Dubai tomorrow. As a consolation, today I inherited her Kenwood blender, her Bosch juicer, and a jar of spirulina. Vitamin Yay! When I wake up tomorrow, I'll break in the blender with a smoothie made from two Valencia oranges, a pear, romaine lettuce, spirulina, and ice.
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Bubbles! My yeast, it lives!