I really should post here more often. Not sure why, but it always seems to be the impending deadline of finding the right cocktails for my annual Christmas party that gets me motivated. Granted it’s August and I have plenty of time, but still…
For this year’s gin cocktail I wanted feature my new favorite gin produced by a local microdistillery. Lucky Sign Spirits in Millvale, PA is cranking out some awesome products and this cocktail highlights both their rested gin and limoncello. From the moment I first tried the “Gin Rested in Bourbon Barrels” I was determined to make a martini with it. While the rested gin certainly elevates a standard martini, this MoM variation brings a lively and refreshing twist to the classic.
The Lucky Gold cocktail has a clean citrusy aroma and a jewel-like pale yellow color. On the front of you’re palette you’re greeted with a sweet honey flavor, followed by the rested gin in the middle. The finish for this drink is a wonderfully complex lemon and vermouth finish (a very earthy flavor) which delights the tongue for sure. For a spirit forward cocktail there’s very little burn which makes for a fantastic party cocktail. As far as a simple martini variation goes this is easily one of my best creations to date! If you can’t find yourself some rested gin (and I don’t expect it to be honest) then a simple American style gin with 1/2 a barspoon of a smokey bourbon or rye should get you very close.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10 Overall Rating: 9/10
Lucky Gold 1 part Rested Gin 1/2 part Limoncello 1/4 part Dry Vermouth Barspoon Honey Syrup Thin Lemon Slice
Mix all in an iced mixing glass for 45-60 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a thin lemon slice.
Yet another incoming cocktail for my annual Xmas party!
A few months back I found myself picking up a bottle of the Italian Liqueur Aperol. My last venture into this class of bitter spirits led me to Campari, which… I’m not gonna lie is probably the worst tasting stuff on the face of the earth. The only reason I keep it in the back of my liquor cabinet is on the off chance I ever meet anyone who wants a Negroni. Knowing that it’s basically a Manhattan ruined by Campari, you’ll never see me reviewing that on this blog. That said I was skeptical that I’d even like the stuff, but was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. To my friends I’ve been describing it as “Campari that doesn’t suck.” Where Campari is strong, bitter, and horrible, Aperol is light, less bitter, and quite pleasant. The most common cocktail using it is the Aperol Spritz, however I couldn’t bring myself to get a bottle of Champagne just for one drink. Therefore I found myself looking to take the base recipe and replace the fancy sparkling wine for a more common ingredient. Enter club soda, and the Aperol Fizz.
This is both a liqueur drink and a gin drink depending on how you decide to categorize it. For my party I’m considering the gin cocktail, even though the Aperol is really the star and main flavor throughout. Served in a tall glass, the inviting pink color makes for a striking presentation. On the nose it’s a strong bitter citrus mostly from the liqueur. The cocktail begins light and sweet with a hint of carbonation in the front, on the mid palette you taste the bulk of the Aperol’s bitterness, and it finishes a bit less bitter with the gin and lemon coming through. The cocktail thanks to it’s main ingredient has a very distinctive flavor. Muck like the liqueur itself it’s best used as an aperitif, and for that it makes for a perfect starter for a cocktail party. Light on palette without sacrificing flavor, it’s certainly worth a try. Just be sure it’s a flavor you and your friends/family would enjoy.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10 Overall Rating: 7.8/10
Aperol Fizz 1 1/2 oz (45mL) Aperol 1/2 oz (15mL) Gin (Bombay Sapphire Preferred) 1/2 oz (15mL) Simple Syrup 1 oz (30mL) Lemon Juice Club Soda
Chill a collins glass in the freezer with 3 large ice cubes. Once chilled, fill glass with each ingredient and top with club soda. Stir lightly to combine.
Counting my post of the Milkshake Shot back in August, I have decided to do a “12 Days of Cocktails” here at Medium of Mixology for the next 11 days. I’m overdue to review some new drinks and finish off the year with a BANG so to speak. As 2020 has been a dozen dumpster fires inside of another dumpster fire, we could also use a few good drinks to numb the pain of this year from ever harming us again.
So, a few months back I finally got my hands on some Pomegranate Liqueur. I’ve seen it in various recipes over the years, but could never manage to track some down until recently. Granted I wasn’t going out of my way to find it, but the bottle certainly did catch my attention. Pama Pomegranate Liqueur mixed Pomegranate Juice with Vodka and Tequila for an interesting sweet and tart flavor for a cocktail. Drinking through a whole bottle in a week I was convinced that it was the perfect choice for a Christmas themed cocktail creation.
After a bit of trial and error I finally came up with this simple crowd-pleaser! Specific to the season this cocktail requires the “Winter Spiced Cranberry” Sprite only available in November and December every year, so if you want to make this later in 2021 stock up now.
Visually perfect for your guests both in person and/or virtual this season, it’s bright red color offers a nice Christmasy invitation for you. On the nose it’s very much just he cranberry sprite, with a slight bit of tartness on the back end. As for the flavor profile it starts cold and tart, moves to a strong cranberry taste, and finishes with a nice sweetness at the end. What I did find interesting about this creation was that depending on what you’ve been eating/drinking prior it can taste sweeter or more intensely tart. If you’re looking for the sweeter side then start with this cocktail early, but if you want the more bitter tartness then go for it later in the night. The cherry at the start or finish of the cocktail (finish preferably) makes for a nice final treat before going back for more. This recipe would also be very easy to “batch” in advance and simply then pour 2 oz over ice and the sprite for your guests.
By no means perfect, it is a good and simple cocktail to get you in the holiday spirit!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 4/10 Overall Rating: 8/10
Red Nosed Reindeer 1 1/2 Shots Pomegranate Liqueur 1/2 oz Gin Top Cranberry Sprite Luxardo Maraschino Cherry
Straight build in an iced tumbler. Garnish with a single cherry on a pick and balanced on the edge of the glass.
So, earlier today I was digging through my recipe book, looking for something else when I came across the recipe for “The Lusty Lady.” It was a featured cocktail on the back of a sampler pack of bitters, and given the elegant design of the cocktail I decided it would be worth featuring here on the blog…and it does not disappoint!
Though the recipe isn’t a super easy one in it’s execution, it is a good test of the home bartender to give a little extra class to a simple gin based recipe. Now in advance this cocktail calls for an egg white, and subsequently a dry or reverse dry shaking method. Although it is perfectly safe to consume egg whites in cocktails as the alcohol kills off any latent bacteria, it is worth noting that if it bothers you, you might want to pass this one by.
That said this is an impressive and deceptively simple cocktail. Any drink with egg white is going to create a nice foamy head and be velvety smooth on the tongue and this drink certainly fills that standard out nicely. The texture is extremely light and smooth from start to finish. The aroma is mostly blocked by the egg white foam, but there is a slight hint of the lavender bitters that comes through. It begins with simple and sweet tastes, but without a lot of distinguishing flavors, it then moves to a warm gin on the mid palette, and finishes with a slight hint of citrus and lavender with very little burn. Do note that I opted for an American Gin, which is significantly milder and than a traditional London Dry or Ginever. With that change up you can expect an earthier and more pronounced flavor to come through across the entire cocktail.
This is simply an OUTSTANDING cocktail, and with fresh ingredients it really takes a simple recipe to a new level. If you’re looking to impress a friend or date (with restaurants being closed) this will certainly do the trick.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 (Could be higher with a London Dry)
The Lusty Lady
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/8 oz (A bar spoon) Cranberry Juice
1 Egg White
2-3 Dashes of Lavender Bitters
Shake all ingredients without ice for 8-10 seconds to emulsify egg. Add ice and shake for an additional 15 seconds to chill. Double Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with two cherries on a pick.
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.
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!
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.
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
The Vesper is arguably the best martini you’ve never had. It’s origin is thanks to Ian Fleming’s famous character James Bond, in the 1953 Novel (and 2006 Film) Casino Royal. As Bond himself describes it the drink contains: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
Now unfortunately for us Kina Lillet hasn’t been in production since the mid 1980s, and Gordons Gin has also changed since then as well (and is now known for being fairly low end). Bond also usually requests a Russian Vodka, which personally I’m not a fan of. So, for a modern Vesper it’s best to stick with your favorite of the harder spirits, and pick yourself up a bottle of Lillet Blanc. The remaining instructions hold true making for a truly classy cocktail.
The drink straight out of the shaker will be a cloudy white, but eventually will turn clear as it hits the air and settles. The thin waft of a lemon peel (best used a kitchen peeler for) brings a distinct lemony aroma to the nose. On the front of your palette you’re greeted with refreshing gin flavor, a lemon and Lillet hit you quickly after that, and you’re finished with a slight burn from the vodka (depending you your choice you may get a smoother flavor). This cocktail I’d say depends quite highly on the quality of your ingredients. Granted I’m using a mild American Style Gin here as well as a cheaper American Vodka, so the flavor profile will reflect the Lillet and Lemon more than the vodka and gin. If you’re looking for a stronger flavor try mixing with Beefeater or Bombay for the gin, and/or Boyd & Blair, Kettle One, or Absolut, for the vodka.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.4/10
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Vodka
1/4 oz Lillet Blanc Lemon Peel
Shake all with ice. Pour into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Squeeze lemon peel over drink (express the oils) and drop it in.
For the past month I’ve been wanting to highlight this cocktail, not only because it’s a strange combination of Mint and Cucumber, but it’s also quite possibly one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had (and knowing this blog, that’s saying something).
So as is the case with many of my favorite drinks, this one comes courtesy of Common Man Cocktails. Their more classic rendition of the East Side shakes the ingredients and strains out any of the vegetable partials, which to me seemed a bit wrong. So I opted for creating a smash style variation that I feel is far superior. Smash drinks in general will contain less common ingredients and will often leave the renaming chunks in the glass after muddling (hence the name).
This cocktail is really something amazing though. It’s taste reminds me of summer. It’s refreshing, colorful, and goes down smooth (regardless of your choice in gins). The mystery of handing someone a glass with cucumbers mashed into it is both inviting in it’s color and it’s curious differences. It has a strong smell of cucumber and gin, with very small hint of the mint (if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t know what you were smelling). The drink starts off sweet, moves quickly to a mild sour, and finishes with the complex blend of the gin, cucumber, and mint. I should really note here that the mint (while vitally important) doesn’t add a ton of it’s own flavor to the drink. Instead it acts as a way to cut through the more intense sour of the lemon, and round out the more “green taste” of the cucumber.
This cocktail goes well beyond just a “make it again” recipe, it now belongs on the menu. In fact it might be one of the highest rated cocktails I’ve ever reviewed! Although now I guess I need to start buying cucumbers on a regular basis now.