Tag: cocktail

Meet In Your Kitchen | Mr. Susan’s Kimchi Michelada

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Food really helped carve out my identity, it made me realize who I am, but it was also entrée into other cultures.”– Susan Choi

What happens when you grow up in Germany, move to LA to a Mexican neighborhood at the age of six together with your Korean parents then replace California with NYC and finally end up in Berlin with a Dutch husband? You love schnitzel, traditional German food and traditions like Sunday afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake); your mother’s Korean cooking becomes a safe home inside yourself, a culinary bond to your roots; you develop a weak spot for Mexican ice cream, and adapt to the culinary playfulness that Americans master to perfection so easily.

This is the culinary map of Susan Choi, the owner of Berlin’s acclaimed Mr. Susan bar. Why Mr. Susan? – Susan says “Why not!” Susan embraces, no she celebrates all the colors and shapes, the flavors and textures, the stories and people that this map keeps bringing into her life. She dove deep into each of these cultures, they became a part of who she is today. She welcomes them with respect, curiosity, and infinite excitement and she finds in them endless inspiration to feed her mantra: Life’s a feast!

“My parents worked so hard for us. It is the classic kind of immigrant story where your parents work like a bajillion jobs, bajillion hours to make sure that you have everything that you could want in the world. Every single opportunity I have is because of my parents.“ – Susan Choi

Susan is one of the most positive and energetic people I know – I can’t really imagine her having a bad day. The obstacles in her life were tough, from brutal racism to having to learn to assimilate to a new culture over and over again yet she never let go of staying true to herself. She always knew, even at a very young age, that she either learns to stand her ground or lose the battle and drown. The headwind made her stronger, she’s a tough woman but she managed to keep her soft side. And this combination makes her so lovable, so irresistible, and charming, and also – especially when she stands, smiling, at the counter of her bar sipping an iced coffee – it makes her the cutest. I could just squeeze her.

Her New York life was quite glamorous. Working as a consultant, being a regular in the city’s spectacular restaurants, she developed an even deeper fascination for food in general but also for the people who create it. She learned about the magic of a place, thriving from the dishes, the guests, the location, the interior, and first and foremost, she learned that you lose everything without keeping quality on a constant high level. When you visit Mr. Susan bar today, you can see that she soaked up every detail during her journey. Susan truly understands what makes or breaks a bar, or a restaurant.

Germany’s culinary traditions left a deep mark in her memory. The food, the rituals, the smells, and taste, she finds home in them and they paved her move to Berlin. During one of her first nights in the city, she sat on a swing over the Spree river sipping an Aperol Spritz on a warm summer’s eve and she knew, this is my home. Catering pop-ups and events quickly opened the door to another new city. Berlin welcomed this vivid woman with open arms, thankful for the excitement she brought to the Berliners’ palates. 

Be it her food or her drinks, there’s always something unique and thrilling in Susan’s compositions. Visually and in taste. Maybe because she learned to go through life with open eyes, she never misses a detail. The first drink I had at her bar was served with a paper straw with pink flamingos on it. The straw – and the flamingos – were upside down. It bugged her so much that she had to flip it. Together with her husband Robbert – the two are one of the most complementary couples I’ve ever met – she created a bar that excites, that is fun, and invites you to have a chat at the bar just like you were at home in your kitchen throwing a house party with only fabulous drinks and people (of course).

The recipe Susan shared with me for the Meet in My Kitchen podcast is her playful version of a Korean inspired Mexican drink: Kimchi Michelada! She makes a popsicle of tomato juice refined with kimchi juice and lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce then she puts the bright red frozen juices into a glass and pours ice-cold beer over it. Despite the fact that I’m German, I’m not the most passionate about beer, but this drink got me hooked. There’s nothing better to have in your glass on a hot summer’s night! If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use ice cube molds, that’s totally fine. Susan shows how to make the drink in a tutorial in the Highlights of the podcast’s Instagram Stories, click here and go to the Highlight #5 Mr. Susan.

The podcast episode with Susan Choi is in English. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Susan on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Kimchi Michelada

by Susan Choi / Mr. Susan

No popsicle molds? No problem, try using ice trays for ice cubes!

Makes 6-8 popsicles

For the Kimchi Michelada Popsicles

  • 0.5 Liter / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of unsalted organic tomato juice
  • 250 ml / 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 100 ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon kimchi juice*, or to taste, you can buy the kimchi directly from Susan (click here) or at any Asian shop and many organic shops
  • 100 ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 8-10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (Susan uses L&P)

* Kimchi is a live product, it will continue to ferment over time thus have different flavor profiles so adjust to taste! You’ll need to buy roughly 500g / 17 1/2 ounces of kimchi and then drain it for the right amount of kimchi juice. You only use the liquid for the popsicles, you can use the drained kimchi for other recipes or snacks. The more fermented the kimchi, the juicier it’ll be.

For serving

  • About 2-4 tablespoons lime juice, to brush the outside of the glasses
  • Tajin (chili-lime sea salt), to sprinkle the outside of the glasses
  • Your favorite beer. We suggest a crisp lager. It can also be enjoyed with alcohol free beer!

For the popsicles, mix the ingredients together and pour into your favorite popsicle molds (or ice trays for ice cubes). Freeze for minimum 12 hours. 

For serving, brush some lime juice on the outside of a tall glass (just a wide strip) and sprinkle with chili salt. Place a popsicle in the glass and pour in your favorite beer. Or pour the beer into the glass and lay the popsicle on top of the glass (looks prettier and more dramatic).

Elderflower Syrup and a Friday Hugo Cocktail

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail

It’s Friday, the weekend is near, the perfect day for a summery cocktail! I don’t need something frilly, I prefer simple and light drinks like a Hugo. This fruity long drink is from the Tyrolean region, it is originally made with sparkling wine but I like it with fruity white wine. The drink is mixed with elderflower syrup, mint leaves and lemon peel, all ingredients I find in my fridge or on the balcony apart from the syrup and this had to change! Not only does it make a nice cocktail it’s also deliciously refreshing in a glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon, for those hot summer days ahead of us! That’s reason enough to make my own syrup.

I jumped on my bike, went to the park and came home with 25 big elderflowers. They just started to blossom here last week, I noticed their sweet smell as I was jogging. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe by my mother for years, she has been making her own syrup since she first tried a Hugo. I was always too late to pick the flowers and didn’t want to repeat this mistake again. When I came back home with the elderflowers I was stunned by their beauty which tends to fade into all the leaves and flowers  in the park so I never gave them proper attention. Their smell is enchanting and they feel so fragile!

I rinsed them briefly before pouring hot water mixed with sugar and citric acid over them and then I had to be patient. They have to sit for 5 days, stirred once a day, they infuse the syrup slowly with their distinctive aroma.

Strained and bottled, I was happy about my work, and satisfied to be able to make a Hugo with my own elderflower syrup from now on!

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail

 

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail

For the syrup

For 2 bottles of elderflower syrup you need

fresh elderflower umbels, briefly rinsed, 25
(use the whole umbel, cut the thick green stem off, the white florets should have just opened)
sugar 1kg / 2 pounds
water 1oooml / 2 pints
citric acid 30g / 1 ounce
organic lemon, thinly sliced, 1

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar and citric acid in it. Place the elderflower umbels in a large ceramic or glass bowl (not metal!), pour the hot water over them and put the lemon slices on top. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 5-6 days at room temperature, stirring once a day.

Sterilize glass bottles with spirit.

When the syrup is done, strain it through a cotton or linen kitchen towel and bring it to a boil. Strain through a towel a second time and fill in your sterilized bottles. Close well and put in your pantry. The syrup will last at least a year at room temperature, open bottles should be stored in the fridge.

 

For the Hugo cocktail

Fill a wine glass with sparkling wine or dry white wine. Pour in a dash of the elderflower syrup (to taste), add 1-2 ice cubes, stir and garnish with 2-3 strips of lemon peel and 3 mint leaves.

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail

 

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail

 

Elderflower Syrup for a Hugo Cocktail