So, I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed that the “kick off” 2020 post is not a cocktail, and is taking place as late as July! I’ve been meaning to get back to posting cocktails at the very least monthly, but things have routinely gotten in the way this year. Most notably was the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered liquor stores in my native Pennsylvania for a solid month and a half. That closure quickly depleted my regular stock of spirits and liqueurs and I’ve been slowly building back to a (smaller) working set.
One particular spirit however that I got the chance to try by ordering directly from a local distillery was “Wigle Pennsylvania Straight Bourbon.” Now I was at first taken aback by the name “bourbon” as I as well as many lovers of the spirit (including my cocktail book) mistakenly thought (think) that bourbon has to be made in Kentucky. However, despite the bulk of the American spirit being produced in KY, that is not the case. Unlike other regional favorites such as Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Tequila, or Champaign, The legal definition of a Bourbon is a spirit distilled from at least 51% corn with a combination of grains including wheat, barley, and rye. It cannot be distilled beyond 160 proof, and cannot be bottled at any less than 80 proof. It also must be aged in NEW charred oak barrels at no more than 125 proof. Outside of those specific stipulations it just has to be produced in the United States…and that’s it.
Ok enough Bourbon lessons, onto the spirit. From my native city, Wigle Whiskey crafts a 92 proof (46% ABV) spirit that is sure to catch the attention of even the most die hard bourbon purist. It’s smokey and sweet on the nose hints of cinnamon. Those hints become more pronounced the more you sip as it permeates your senses. The spirit starts smooth and sweeter leaning toward fruitier flavors but quickly moves to a stronger smoky oak with an intense burn on the back end (with hints of caramel). This isn’t you’re grandfather’s bottom shelf bourbon either. At between $40-55 for a standard 750mL bottle, it’s an investment in a local craft distillery, with the flavor and complexity of an even more significantly pricier product.
Overall it’s nothing spectacular, but it is great choice if you’re looking to step up your game with a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. I would avoid using it for more complex or juice based mixes though or else the flavor will easily get lost among your mixers. Pick up a bottle if you’re feeling a little adventurous, but do note that you can get similar tasting bourbons for much less.
Well I decided I better come back for at least once cocktail before the end of the year. The “Blue Christmas” I created specifically for my annual party, and based the color/title off of the old Elvis Presley Song of the same name. I went through a couple iterations creating the drink, but settled on potato vodka and the highlight special ingredient Rosemary Simple Syrup.
Base presentation is key here. A stemless cocktail glass makes for a short easy to hold but elegant designed drink. As the name suggests it’s a bright blueish/green cocktail, garnished with a lime wedge for some seasonal green. On the nose you’re greeted with mild citrusy notes. The palette on first sip is where things get interesting. If you go with a potato vodka (vs wheat like Absolut or a corn like Titos) you’ll get smooth refreshing start, which quickly moves to a sweet rosemary and vermouth flavor, and finishes with a slightly sweet and sour citrus from the lime. If you opt for a different vodka, you’ll likely get a little more burn on the back end. Either way this is a very easy drinking cocktail for your seasonal parties. If you’re less of a vodka fan and want to push the juniper flavor out more, I’d highly suggest trying the same recipe with a London Dry Gin such as Bombay or Beefeater!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.9/10
1 1/2 oz Vodka (Can also use Gin)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Blue Curacao (Increase to 1/2 if you want it bluer)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup*
Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float a thin lime slice on top.
*Rosemary Simple Syrup – Boil 1 cup of water with 2 large springs of rosemary for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir until dissolved and pour into a clean glass jar. (Optionally add the boiled rosemary springs into the syrup for further maturation of flavor) Refrigerate once cool.
So after a long break from posting new cocktails I’m back with a new MoM original that I’ve been making for a majority of the year. Blackbeard’s Curse highlights two main ingredients Rum and Bitters, in this case it has to be Bittercube Blackstrap in order to make the flavor just right. Visually you’re looking at a cloudy dark rum, brightened up with the lime wedges floating in the drink and on the nose are hints of lime, vanilla, and cinnamon. On the palette you’re greeted with a sweet lime flavor which moves quickly to the blend of rum and bitters giving you a molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon vibe. It finishes with a little burn as it’s still pretty much just straight Kraken on ice but it’s a refreshing punch with the lime making a sour comeback near the end.
I created this as a simple drink for after work, and it’s become a new favorite rather quickly. For a long hard day keep the recipe as is, but if you’re looking for a slightly sweeter variant substitute in 1/2 oz simple syrup or 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar in place of the cubes. Outside of that pick up your blackstrap bitters and enjoy!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 8.8/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
2 oz Kraken Rum
1/2 Lime, cut into wedges
2 Sugar Cubes
3-6 Dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
In an old fashioned glass place 1/2 a lime cut into 4 wedges. Toss in 2 sugar cubes and give a healthy douse of bitters. Muddle together until sugar is well incorporated. Top with ice and add rum. Stir well.
For today I’ve got another side by side review of two liqueurs. Bols Ginger and Domaine de Canton Ginger. Both are ginger liqueurs designed for a variety of cocktails, and have similar flavors but very different nuances and price points.
We’ll start with the Bols (since I have more of it at the time of writing). The liqueur has a strong ginger aroma similar to ginger beer and is virtually colorless. At 24% ABV it’s the heavier of the two in its sugar content, but it makes up for it with an intense bite of ginger flavor especially at the back end. Early on you’re mostly hit with a sweet sugary flavor and some interesting caramel notes. Overall it’s not a bad flavor additive, but you won’t be drinking it straight. At around $13-15 it’s a resonable price for the flavor needed for certain cocktails. I’ll give it a solid 7/10 overall.
Next is the Domaine de Canton. A french style ginger liqueur at a slightly higher 28% ABV. Side by side there is a noticable color difference in that the Canton is slightly gold in color. There is still a bit of ginger on the nose, but it’s much less pronounced and considerably sweeter smelling. It also feels slightly (but just barely) thicker in viscosity as when you swirl it in the glass it will temporarily coat its inside walls. The like the aroma the ginger flavor is more subtle mixing in hints of vanilla and possibly some orange notes. The biggest advantage for the Canton that I can see is the lack of a harsh ginger flavor burn at the end. It’s a smooth drink from start to finish and extremely well rounded! However at around $33-35 a bottle it’s going to be something for your extended bar rather than a daily mixer. That said I’ll give it a solid 8.5/10 overall. Despite the higher price point, you’re looking at a reasonably priced product that could easily be served over ice, or with a nice pairing of dry vermouth or gin.
At the end of the day however the two products are very different but also a little the same. For some cocktails I think the Bols could make an easy substitute especially in recipes calling for 5 or more ingredients. However, if you’re looking to put a simple twist on your martini, don’t skimp on the cost for the more premium product, it’s worth every penny!
While I was out at the store recently I found myself thinking about Canadian Whiskey, and how my regular mixing brand has been Canadian Club for many years. However it’s a fairly basic and easy to come by garden variety bottle, and I was looking to switch it up for my restock. When I saw the uniquely shaped bottle of the Pine Creek and the word “rum” on the label I decided to have a closer look.
Pine Creek Canadian Whiskey is a 42 proof 10 year aged whiskey with a finishing age in rum barrels. I found this very interesting as I’ve had rum aged in whiskey barrels, but not the other way around. Additionally their first aging in traditional oak is specifically not in climate controlled storage offering an extra level of complexity between each batch, and at a reasonable $24.99 I was pleasantly surprised.
On the nose you’re warmed with oak with some caramel notes so nothing out of the ordinary for a general whiskey. However the flavor profile is another story. On the front end it’s very sweet, mid palette hits you with a traditional oak which reminds me a lot of a Bourbon, and on the finish creeps in warm molasses. There’s still a little finishing burn, but that’s to be expected with any spirit, and this product doesn’t pull any punches in that regard. The rum barrel finish that you get in the flavor is very mild at full strength, but I imagine with a little vermouth this could make an excellent Manhattan!
Overall it’s certainly not your garden variety Canadian Whiskey, instead it’s almost a “Canadian Bourbon,” which for me is a welcomed change. I don’t know if it’s good enough for me to switch to it as my regular, but if you’re looking for something a little different than your basic bottle, consider picking up one of these.
The Desert Healer (also called Desert Cooler) is a refreshing cocktail and a great welcome back to posting here on the blog! After a (semi) dry 40 days I’m ready to share some great new recipes with all of you.
With temperatures continuing to rise as we reach closer to the middle of spring the Desert Healer will treat the wounds from those unseasonably hot days. The drink has a unique “sandy” color, it’s not the most appealing but the orange garnish certainly helps with that. The drink begins with a mild citrus and ginger on the nose. With the first sip you’re greeted with a little ginger, followed by a hint of gin, then a nice finish of citrus and mild cherry. As it settles you get a little more of the ginger beer fizz to round things out. Overall it’s a very mild drink without a ton of overpowering alcohol burn or biased flavors. It’s a great choice for a hot summer day, but not a day that you want to sacrifice on quality.!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10
Overall Rating 8.4/10
Desert Healer (Cooler)
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering Preferred) 3 oz Orange Juice
3-5 oz Ginger Beer
Shake juice and liquor ingredients with ice. Strain into an iced highball or collins glass. Top with ginger beer stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice
VARIATION: Add an extra 1/2 oz of Cherry Heering after stirring for a gradient effect and sweeter finish.
Let’s get one last cocktail recipe in before Lent shall we? I’ll be taking these 40 days before Easter to sober up and give my liver a break, but for today it’s party time! For today’s cocktail I’m finally ready to share the third cocktail in the Avatar Universe drink set. The “Fire Nation Flaming Rum Punch” is a kick in the gut in it’s intense volume of alcohol, but a wonderfully balanced mix of flavors similar to that of a classic Zombie.
The Flaming Rum Punch is a spectacle of color and real fire! If done correctly you’ll be able to ignite the cocktail and for your guests turn cinnamon into sparks with your fingertips. When the fire is out and the glass’ rim has cooled you’re greeted with a toasty cinnamon aroma and an inviting red-orange color. The first quarter of the drink is super intense as you sip off the layer of 151 rum, which hits hard but with a toasted cinnamon flavor with a simple fruity mix underneath. After you’ve gotten through initial shock layer, you’re left with a complex rum punch recipe. The drink starts sweet, moves to a smokey cinnamon on the mid palette with a little falernum and citrus creeping at the back end, and finishes with a “PUNCH” of rum on the back end with a sweet fruit tail as it sits.
Much like it’s predecessors in the series, this cocktail isn’t to be taken lightly. It kicks you from front to back, but is sweet enough to not be overpowering. Overall it’s a fun drink to pull out for a party, but not something I’d make everyday. If you’re got a well stocked bar, you might want to give it a try.
3/4 oz Sloe Gin
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Falernum (or 1/4 Orgeat, 1/4 Lime Juice, pinch of clove, pinch of ginger) 3 oz Orange Juice 1/2 oz Sweet/Sour 1 oz Spiced Rum 1/2 oz Gold Rum 1 oz Dark Rum 3/4 oz 151 Rum
Shake everything except 151 with ice. Strain into a highball or pint glass (no ice). Float 151 rum over the drink. Ignite. Sprinkle powdered cinnamon over as desired. Blow out flame and enjoy.
So I’m fairly embarrassed that the first cocktail of 2019 is in the middle of February, but I’m proud to finally be a day a head of a holiday for releasing a drink. This should give everyone the day to snag the ingredients if you don’t already have them.
Consulting a cocktail book of mine I was intrigued by this simple, but interesting cocktail. A visually simple light rose color, with an inviting nose of a light banana and tart berry. The drink starts off sweet with a mix of the flavors, hits with a banana and light vodka burn on the mid pallete, and finishes with the tartness of cranberry. I fell like this is a cocktail that could really be changed based on your choice of ingredients. A sweet banana liqueur will make a sweeter drink, while a stronger 99 Bananas will get you a punchier cocktail with less flavor and more burn. Additionally a cheaper vodka would make this drink more harsh than smooth and complex, so if you’re making it for a lover spend the extra cash and get a nice top shelf vodka.
Overall it’s a simple but interesting cocktail. Inviting in color and flavor, but not complex enough for the experienced mixologist to call a “regular.” If you’re looking to impress, but still keep under a budget this might be a good choice. Outside of that, I think there are better options for these three flavors.
Sometimes I’m just inspired and two original cocktails back to back area clear indication when something is going right. Continuing my journey into Zelda: Breath of the Wild Cocktails, I present Mipha’s Grace. In the game this power-up brings you back from the brink of death with the power of the Water Champion Mipha! I wanted to do a whiskey based drink for this particular cocktail as whiskey comes from Gallic meaning “water of life,” which is the perfect definition for this cocktail and the power in the game.
With a deep blue/green color and select lemon, cherry, and sugar garnishes this cocktail is a beauty in it’s presentation and it’s taste. The aroma is a neutral citrus and sweet, with a hint of apple on the back end. The drink starts with a cool and sweet flavor which moves to a sweet citrus, then finally finishes with a slight burn of apple, lemon, and cherry/berry. It’s not the best cocktail in the world, but it’s a great representation of the theme with a solid drink behind it. If you’re throwing a game themed party this might be a great choice for you. Outside of that it’s a fun novelty for an evening, but nothing special enough for a regular cocktail.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating: 7/10
1 1/2 oz Apple Whiskey
1/2 oz Blue Curacao 1/2 oz Gin 1/2 oz Orgeat (Almond Syrup) 1/4 oz Blackberry Brandy Cherry with stem Lemon Wedge Sugar
Prepare a cocktail glass by rimming the edge with a lemon wedge and coating in sugar. Chill. Shake whiskey, curacao, gin, syrup, and brandy together with ice. Strain into prepared glass over a single cherry (keep stem on). Squeeze remaining lemon wedge over drink and drop it in.
UPDATE 2019: This drink actually doesn’t need the orgeat syrup. Leave it out and you get a more well balanced cocktail that’s less sweet and more “rounded.” New overall rating at 8/10. With alcohol taste rating at 6.5/10
I’ve been off and on returning to my “wandering around” in the game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and I was struck with inspiration on the 4 “powers” you get in the game (Incoming SPOILERS). Revali’s Gale lets you glide upward with a gust of wind, making it easier to traverse mountains. For this original cocktail I wanted to play with both the visuals of the power and the flavors of the game’s region. Specifically using Grey Goose vodka to mimic the Rito (bird-like race) and the regional wheat flavor (wheat vodka); I played with various iterations of a mix of flavors to get the desired color and flavor. It had to be green, light, airy, and in a tall glass. Thinking about it more and more I wanted to also incorporate some mint to reflect the tall mountains and snow shown in the game. For that reason I decided to do a riff on the classic Mojito.
The “Revali’s Gale” is a light summer style drink, with refreshing flavor that will elevate you to new heights. The drink looks very similar to a classic Mojito, but is considerably greener and the bottom. It has a light minty aroma and paired with a few visual mint leaves a very inviting presentation. Like any Mojito you’re greeted with a light taste of your choice spirit and club soda which moves quickly to a little sweet lime. With this variation you get a finish of melon and mint which keeps you going back for more. As you drink to the bottom and start to mix in the darker liqueur components, you get more melon and citrus, but it’s not overpoweringly sweet. Overall this is a nice twist on the summer classic, and can really be enjoyed in any season. If you’re not a huge rum person and want to go for a vodka variant, this might be the cocktail for you!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 4/10
Overall Rating: 7.7/10
2 oz Grey Goose Vodka (or other Wheat Vodka)
1 oz Lime Juice
2 sugar Cubes 6-8 Mint Leaves
Splash Blue Curacao
Muddle Lime Juice, Mint, and Sugar in a mixing glass. Add ice, and vodka. Shake well. Strain into an iced collins glass and top with club soda. Add a splash of blue curacao, then a splash of Midori. Serve to a wandering hero.