In American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence's character Rosalyn Rosenfeld refers to the microwave as a "science oven," reminding us that this everyday appliance was once considered a futuristic gadget. Today, some of its best uses evoke nostalgia, like making a homey "baked" apple, zapping a bag of salty popcorn or, as one bartender on New York's Lower East Side has discovered, capping a fantastic wintery drink with an expanding puff of marshmallow fluff.
When Jill Dobias's mother bought a retro-styled microwave for Joe and Misses Doe, the restaurant Dobias owns with her chef husband, it was supposed to be a decoration. "I thought I'd never use it," she says, but when the weather grew colder and she started craving hot drinks, the appliance proved instrumental in the creation of three super-fun cocktails.
The Hot Queen is Dobias's curative toddy, made by microwaving cooled chamomile tea with orange bitters and simple syrup, then stirring in apple brandy and honey. The Rum Bum is a tart, aromatic take on spiked cider that includes aged rum and nutmeg. But the drink that makes the most dramatic use of the microwave's unique heating powers is the Dirty Santa. Dobias fills a large mug three-quarters of the way with cold coffee, then adds an ounce-and-a-half of whole milk, half-an-ounce of simple syrup and an ounce-and-a-half of bourbon. The best part comes next: She seals the mug with a hefty scoop of marshmallow fluff and heats it in the microwave for two-and-a-half minutes, prompting the marshmallow to puff up and bubble like it's come to life. A dusting of cocoa powder completes the drink. Feel free to try this at home.
Photo & copy; Justine Sterling
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