Biden Thyme

From Rye Bar in San Francisco – “Biden Thyme” – thyme-infused gin, citrus shrub, lemon and lime

Need I say more? Yes, it is time. It’s Biden Time.

This fabulous in-oh-so-many-ways cocktail was brought to us by our daughter, Sara, for a post-election treat. In addition to the Biden Thyme, we got a Jamaican rum-based cocktail which was labelled “I’m Speaking.” Guess whose face was on that! That spoke to Andy. Check out today’s Andy’s Corner.

Well, this is a food blog (of sorts), so let’s talk first about thyme. Clearly, there are lots of food bloggers out there who like the thyme/time idea. To name a few, there’s AheadOfThyme.com, MotherThyme.com, Tummy-Thyme.com, MyDarlingLemonThyme.com (ahhhh, cute!), SavoringTheThyme.com, ThymeToChange.com, – and maybe my favorite – NeverEnoughThyme.com (which, should you be interested, is a domaine name that’s for sale – for about $3400).

I thought it would be fun to try to replicate the Rye Bar’s thyme cocktail, but I decided to infuse the shrub with thyme, rather than the gin. Shrubs were already on my radar, since we find them a nice alternative to wine in the evening – topped with soda water or tonic water, rather than mixed with alcohol. And if you’re wondering what a shrub is – other than a big leafy bush – it’s “drinking vinegar” – best made by mixing equal parts sugar, fruit and vinegar – and then allowing the mixture to sit for several weeks. Once mellowed, you can make whatever cocktails or mocktails suits your fancy. And you can use it to create an easy vinaigrette just by adding a little oil.

The other kind of shrub

About the time I was mixing up my thyme and lime (a rhyme) shrub, our 15-year-old grandson, Moss (of blogging fame), sent me a photo of a chocolate cake he had just made. And it said, “BYE!” (explanation point is mine). Perfect. Though Moss was saying goodbye to a friend off to Chicago for college, I had other thoughts. It was BYE to Trump. BYE TRUMP!!!!!!!

from Moss in San Francisco “Bye” Coffee and Chocolate Cake

Moss is a way fancier baker than I am; I’ve never made little frosting rosettes in my life. For that matter, I never make layered and frosted cakes any more. But I do make snacking cakes, which I define as a single layer unfrosted cake that is easy to make and keeps well. The kind you snack on.

I suggest you make Moss’s lovely masterpiece for a special occasion (like the end of the pandemic or to celebrate the first week of Biden and Harris in office). He used 3 6″ cake pans and filled the layers and frosted it with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Then he drizzled over a homemade Salted Caramel Sauce.

For my snacking cake, I took the same coffee and chocolate cake recipe that Moss uses (which comes from Ina Garten) but I downsized it from 3 layers to a one layer cake. And I just used powdered sugar to top it. I’d put my cake’s photo next to Moss’s, but I don’t need to be embarrassed by having mine compared mmmm…unfavorably…with my grandson’s.

As we look forward to “A Better Thyme” (not to suggest that the current thyme varieties are lacking), there’s a line from Amanda Gorman’s inspiring inaugural poem that seems to be the perfect conclusion; the first line references both the Hebrew Bible and the musical Hamilton; the second is all Gorman:

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.

Our version of the Biden Thyme Cocktail, using our Citrus Shrub recipe

Citrus Shrub

  • Servings: 12 maybe, if using 2 oz per serving
  • Print
You can substitute oranges or grapefruit for either the limes or the lemons; just be sure they’re organic.  Or use 2 c of another fruit.  Substitute other herbs.  Be creative!  For a mocktail use about 2 oz mixed with tonic or soda water.  For a gin cocktail, mix 1 oz of shrub with 1 1/2 oz – 2 oz gin; serve with ice or shake with ice and serve in a martini glass.  Garnish with a teeny thin slice of lemon or lime.  Or use the shrub as the basis for a vinaigrette.

  • 2 c sugar
  • enough sprigs of thyme to make about 2 T of fresh leaves (definitely don’t use dried thyme)
  • 1 c chopped organic lemon (ends cut off but peel left on – chopped into about 1″ pieces)
  • 1 c chopped organic lime (ends cut off but peel left on – chopped into about 1″ pieces)
  • 2 c organic apple cider vinegar

    In a bowl, muddle the sugar and thyme, pressing hard with a wooden spoon.  Let sit for an hour or so and then add the lemon and lime.  Stir well; cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for one day.

    The next day add the vinegar to the sugar mixture and stir well again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for another day.

    Muddle the fruit once more, then strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer into a clean 1qt jar (I estimate you’ll have about 3c of shrub).  Cover with a lid.

    Store the shrub mixture in the refrigerator, and give it a good stir or shake every day for the first week.  The shrub should easily keep for 3 months. Allow several weeks for the flavors to meld and mellow before enjoying. Shake again before using.

    Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

    My version of Moss and Ina’s Coffee and Chocolate Cake

    Coffee + Chocolate Snacking Cake

    Double the recipe if you want a 2 layer, frosted cake. Triple it for a 3-layer cake. Adapted from Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe.

    • 3/4 c + 2T flour, plus more for pans
    • 1 c sugar
    • 1/4 c + 2 T cocoa powder (I used an unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
    • 1/2 c buttermilk, shaken
    • 1/4 c vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 c strong, freshly brewed hot coffee – or the one serving (.11 oz) teeny packet Starbucks Via Instant Dark Roast coffee dissolved in 1/2 c hot water (that may sound too strong – but it isn’t)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

    Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Using either an electric mixer or a food processor,  on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

    Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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