Ok, gotta make up for not posting in a year and post a bunch this week!
This is the second cocktail I designed (or I should say modified) for my annual Xmas party this year. While the base recipe is essentially the modern vodka classic of the “Lemon Drop” my variant once again utilizes an infused simple syrup and bitters to transform the basic sour into something a bit more complex. The Savage Drop gets it’s name from the two respective flavors Sage and Lavender.
Visually you’ve got a classy presentation with a classic “cloudy” sour color and a garnish of fresh sage (not optional this time). The garnish in this case adds a bright floral aroma to the cocktail. Without it you only have a faint citrus to smell. As flavor is not only about taste but also about smell, a nose full of sage leaves makes this a very inviting cocktail. For your inner palette however, you’re greeted with a slight sour, but it’s not over powering. Mid palette the drink transforms and opens up into a sweet citrus and vodka that you’d expect from the standard lemon drop. The finish is where everything comes alive though. The sage and lemon create an earthy and complex flavor balanced out but the whisper of lavender at the end. If you were unaware of the bitters used while drinking it, it’s unlikely you’d pick out that what it was.
This cocktail is certainly one for the season with the herbal notes, citrus zing, and just enough bite to please any guest at your event this year!
Add 3-4 springs of sage to 1 cup (240-250mL) of water over a stove top. Bring to a boil and give an extra 5 minutes to extract the flavor of the sage. Remove from heat and add 1.5 cups (192g) of granulated sugar. Stir to dissolve. Once dissolved, fish out sage springs and set aside on a paper towel. Pour syrup into a sterilized glass container. Before sealing container slip in 2-4 of the sage springs into the bottle, then seal. Store in the refrigerator. For best flavor use within 1-3 months.
The Savage Drop 2oz (60mL) Vodka (Ideally Kettle One) 1oz (30mL) Lemon Juice 3/4oz (22mL) Sage Simple Syrup 1 Dash Lavender Bitters 2 Leaves of Fresh Sage
Shake all ingredients (except sage garnish) with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Clap the sage leaves in your hands to release the aroma/oils. Gently place in the side of the glass.
Well, well, well…here we are again just a month out from my annual Christmas party. So to get back into posting again (hopefully) here’s the last cocktail I designed and the first one to post. As per usual I pick one cocktail for each core spirit to highlight and make for my guests throughout the evening. I found this year however, that picking a solid whiskey drink to be the most challenging. Thusly, after a few iterations I settled on this spirit forward creation using Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon and some homemade ginger syrup.
The Ginger 46 is all about the right presentation, since it’s a simple brown bourbon sour style drink it doesn’t looks like much on it’s own. Adding a skewer of crystalized ginger not only adds a little extra flair, but creates a difference in the flavor experience entirely. On the nose you’re mostly just smelling the bourbon. Maker’s 46 has a wonderful oaky sweetness that is a pleasant start. The cocktail (like any good one) has a threefold layer of flavor. It begins with sweet ginger, moves to the mellow but complex taste of the bourbon, and finishes with another round of ginger, but a bit more tart thanks to the lime and bitters. This cocktail really transforms however, when you take a nibble of the crystalized ginger and chase it with a sip of the cocktail. The ginger comes in sweet thanks to the coating of sugar, but by the time the cocktail hits its tail flavor notes, the spice of the root comes full force at you! Like a slap of gingerbread in the face, the experience is sure to delight your guests this holiday season.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7.8/10 Overall Rating: 8/10
To be begin start by making a batch of the ginger syrup: 1.5 Cups (360mL) of Water 2 Inch (5-6cm) Peeled Ginger Root 2 Cups (400g) Granulated (White) Sugar
Slice the ginger and add it to a pot of water. Bring to a boil and be sure the water has taken on a light brown color from the ginger. It should also be very fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour into a glass container (preferably disinfected with a little vodka), and seal. Store in fridge and use within 2-3 months.
Ginger 46 2 oz (60mL) Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon 1/2 oz (15mL) Ginger Syrup 1/4 of a Lime (Squeezed for Juice) 3 Dashes of Orange Bitters Crystalized Ginger
Mix everything but the ginger in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a small cocktail glass or coupe. Skewer 2-3 pieces of Crystalized Ginger on a pick, and balance on the edge of the glass. Serve and enjoy responsibly!
The 12 days of “Cocktailmas” continues with a variation on the modern classic, the “Lemon Drop.” Much like the Red Nosed Reindeer from my previous post, this variation was specifically created for my annual party.
The “Pink” of this drink comes from the Peychaud’s Bitters added to the mix, which adds primarily a little color to the otherwise cloudy cocktail.
Visually the drink is very inviting with its crusted sugar rim, and pink color. On the nose it smells of sweet lemons and the choice potato vodka. I specifically chose a potato vodka for this cocktail as its smoother nature brings out a more rounded flavor to the cocktail. Like any other basic sour cocktail it’s very citrus forward with the full ounce of lemon juice, but the sugar rim cuts through that on every sip. The late palette is where this cocktail really shines bringing a slight burn from the vodka and a complex hint of flavor from the bitters. While any basic sour recipe can easily be livened up with a dash or two of your favorite bitters, the Peychaud’s add a unique anise flavor (that normally isn’t my preferred flavor) which doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole. The use as well of a “Rich Simple Syrup” (2:1 with Turbinado Sugar) tones down the stronger flavors of the lemon and the burn of the vodka down for a more mellow variant on the modern classic.
Pink Lemon Drop 2 oz Vodka (Potato Preferred) 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice 1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup 1 (Generous) Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters Sugar
Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with a lemon wedge then dip in sugar. Place prepared glass in freezer to chill. In a shaker add ice, vodka, fresh lemon juice, rich simple syrup, and bitters. Shake until well chilled. Strain into prepared glass.
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.
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
Well, after over 2 months I figured it was time for a new cocktail review. To start this is certainly one of those drinks that has a terrible name, because it does nothing to inspire and just tells you what’s in the drink.
Names aside we’re talking about a simple drink that leans to be a significantly sweet drink best used as a digestif cocktail. The aroma lends it self very much to the creme de cassis (black currant) but also hints to the earthiness of the vermouth. With an inviting deep burgundy color accented by the lemon twist, it’s certainly a beautiful drink. The flavor profile is surprisingly smooth. Based on the two ingredient list I was skeptical but it’s in fact a well balanced cocktail. While I can normally pull a; front, mid, and after taste to a cocktail this simply teeters between cassis and vermouth over an over in that order. The flavor is very cassis forward, but you get the warm earthiness of the vermouth under it.
To rebalance the cocktail and make it more than just an after dinner sipper, I’d like to remake this with 3/4 oz of lemon juice and a dash of simple syrup. It’s a good drink but is lacking more citrus than the barely noticeable aroma on the twist. If you’re making this one for yourself try the citrusy variant for a better tasting cocktail.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overal Rating: 6/10
1 oz Creme de Cassis
1 oz Dry Vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (spiral)
So earlier in the week I found myself craving some apple brandy (or at least the blend that is Applejack). It’s been almost 4 years since I last had some, and despite being a little over my current budget I decided to pick some up. After trying a few new brandy cocktails from my recipe book, this one jumped off the page as a good choice for a hot summers day (when it’s still spring).
Like most drinks shaken with pineapple juice the final pour creates it’s own unique frothy garnish. The drink begins with a light and sweet apple aroma, but it is very subtle. For the taste profile it begins with a similar light apple flavor that the aroma presents with, moves to complex pineapple juice on the mid palette, and finishes with the “grain spirits” flavor from the Applejack’s blended component. The finish is really the most complex and re-inviting flavor. Applejack as a whole doesn’t actually contain a ton of apple brandy, and it instead feels almost like a weak whiskey than a complex flavored brandy. I have found that in other recipes that add a little syrup and a little more citrus bring out the apple flavor a lot more, so a variation on this with a half ounce of lemon juice and a half of simple syrup could round out the cocktail a bit more. As is though it’s not a bad cocktail, but it does have room to improve. At the very least it needs 3 dashes of bitters rather than 1.
I’m both proud and ashamed to say that this is the first cocktail with scotch that I’ve featured. I was privileged last year to be able to try a friend’s single malt scotch and it was one of the best things I’ve ever had! However it’s sort of a crime to mix it with anything, so that’s why we have blended scotch. My bottle of Teacher’s Highland Cream is a unique scotch due to its strong use of “peated malt.” A flavor that can really only be described as tasting like “burnt grain,” which is no where near as bad as it sounds. The scotch (while far from the quality of a nice single malt) does make for a fantastic whiskey sour.
So, flipping through my book of cocktails I was surprised to find this well balanced drink among many of the overly sweet or strong recipes. This particular cocktail had two other variants, but I felt that the one I chose to make represented the best of all three in terms of balance and presentation.
The cocktail itself is visually saved by the orange twist as its opaque and deep sandy brown isn’t the most inviting of colors. The aroma is a strong blast of fresh orange, which opens the imagination for what’s to come. The drink opens on your palette with a mild orange and whisky flavor. It moves to a sweet cherry and vermouth in the middle (however most of the cherry seems lost in this cocktail), and it finishes with the malt of the scotch beneath the complexity of the vermouth.
This is a uniquely complex cocktail which (at least for me) is overpowered by the use of the Teacher’s Scotch. I think by exploring other blended scotchs (likely with a more balanced flavor) a better cocktail may emerge. It’s certainly worth trying and I think worth making again, especially if you’re into whiskies. A dash or two of some orange bitters may also make this drink more well rounded, and a bit less sweet.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating 7/10
Blood and Sand
1 1/4 oz Scotch
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cherry Brandy or Liqueur (Cherry Heering) 1 oz Orange Juice Orange Twist
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
I should also mention that I tried an alternate version of this cocktail which uses 3/4 of an ounce of the four ingredients and calls for a stir and strain. Apparently with a quick google search this is the “classic” version of the drink. It sports a darker color and slightly more balanced flavor, but the tasting notes are very much the same. The use of more fruit though makes for a better finish to the drink (having a bit to munch on).
Variation: Stir and Strain 3/4 oz of all ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
So I thought I should throw something quick together for the holiday, and what I came up with was actually pretty solid! The Witch’s Brew is loosely based on the Rainbow Road Cocktail, but with a bit less red and yellow and more violet.
As with any layered cocktail the Witch’s Brew has a killer presentation with three distinct layers and multiple flavors for your cackling palette. As for the flavor, again you’re looking at traditional layered drink fare. So the flavor will change the more into the drink you get. It starts with the melon and sweet rum both in flavor and aroma. The back flavor once it settles leans to the citrus of the juice, but then you get pulled back into overproof rum territory quickly as it settles in. As the upper layer slowly disappears, you begin to get a sweet and floral flavor creeping in. Overall it’s a simple drink, but complex in its ingredients list…I’d say that’s perfect for a true brew.
Alcohol Taste Rating (8/10 then 4/10)
Overall Rating (7/10)
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 1/2 oz OJ
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Creme de Violette
1/2 oz Midori (Or other melon liqueur)
3/4 oz 151 Rum
In an iced mixing glass stir Blue Curacao and Orange juice to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass. Then stir grenadine and Creme de Violette with ice, and strain pouring on the side of the glass (should sink to bottom). Finally stir Midori and 151 rum with ice, and strain on the side of glass (or with a spoon) layering mixture on top. Garnish with a cherry (with stem).
Today we’ve got a tasteful and tasty spin on the classic sidecar recipe. Although given your working set of ingredients you may have to substitute here and there (as I did). I want to start by highlighting my use of a VSOP Brandy in place of Metaxa (a Greek Brandy with a stronger “winey” flavor). You MAY be able to use both Brandy and some Sweet Vermouth to achieve a similar flavor to the Metaxa. The former being much easier to find than the later depending your your location, and that difference will give you a slightly different flavor profile. In addition my use of Cassis Syrup over Creme de Cassis will make my overview of it lean sweeter than it would be normally. A common variation also calls for Chambord rather than Creme de Cassis.
So, I love this drink for 2 main reasons. First is the use of the sugar rim (which is something I wish I saw in more cocktail recpies); and second is the incredible finish that keeps you going back for more. With its deep red color, you’re greeted with an incredible forward aroma of what almost smells of agave nectar. With a sip from the sugar rim you begin with a sweet and simple flavor, move to a subtle currant and lemon, then finish with a richly sweet and oaky finish. The finish is what really caught my attention with this drink. Early in your sip is just feels like a fruity sweet drink, but the complexity of the oak from the brandy to the subtle orange of the Grand Marnier makes this damn near perfect! I do wish there was more to the front and mid palette here, but I’m willing to compromise for something this good!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 9.8/10
Au Currant Sidecar
1 1/2 oz Metaxa (or VSOP Brandy)
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis (or Chambord) 1 oz Grand Marnier
1 tsp Superfine Sugar
Rub the edge of a cocktail glass with the lemon wedge and rim with granulated sugar. Shake liquid ingredients and superfine sugar with ice (approx. 15 seconds). Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.