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.
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.
Really? Pink Lemonade? Yes, but it’s a bit better than the syrupy fountain bubble from your favorite casual restaurant.
The appearance is similar to how you’d expect the common “virgin” version of the cocktail to be, but with a slightly darker color. On the nose it’s very clean and citrusy with not much else going for it. The cocktail starts sweet from the sprite/7up, moves to a clean mix of cranberry and citrus, then finishes with whatever liquor variants you used. The finish and in many ways star of this cocktail will all be about which vodka and which orange liqueur you add. For this evening’s recipe I went with my Boyd and Blair Potato Vodka and some Grand Marnier, the latter of which really classes up an otherwise simple (and frankly boring) recipe. Alternatively I think this cocktail could really benefit from a dash or two of orange bitters and/or some orange flower water to round out the flavor. Overall it’s a very simple drink, but a good starter if you’re new to mixing. A little extra attention to things like fresh juice and higher end spirits really can make this cocktail a bit better, but if you cheapen out on everything you’re going to get a mediocre experience.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10 Overall Rating: 7.5/10
1 1/2 oz Vodka 1/2 oz Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur) 1 oz Cranberry Juice 1/2 oz Lemon Juice 1/2 oz Lime Juice 4-5 oz Chilled 7up or Sprite Lemon Wedge
Shake all liquid ingredients except 7UP. Strain into an iced collins glass and top with pop. Stir gently. Squeeze in lemon wedge and drop it in.
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.
Every now and then I just happen to get a really good idea. Last night was one such example when I spontaneously was inspired by a bag of apples I picked up at the grocery store. For much of the warm weather this year I found myself making “smash” style cocktails which often feature an uncommon ingredient such as cucumber or basil and muddles it in a glass without straining off the extra chunks. Not everyone is fond of fruit or veggies floating in their cocktail, but as long as it tastes good I’m not complaining.
So, as mentioned earlier this year, I found myself picking up some Apple Crown Royal Whiskey and using it in a few choice cocktails, and I think my creating of the Harvest Apple Smash utilizes it perfectly with the changing of the seasons.
The unique presentation makes it look a bit like an “applesauce” drink, and that’s actually not that far off. With chunks of fruit and red skin floating throughout it just feels like you pulled a cup of cider off the press. The aroma is very apple-y with a whiskey forward and crisp fresh apple at the back of the scent. The flavor profile leans toward that a rich cider from a farmer’s market. The front of your palette is greeted with a little chunky fruit and a sweet apple flavor, mid palette it moves the apple whiskey, and finishes with a cinnamon and toasted apple finish. This is a cocktail right out of a fall festival, without the need for cider in the first place so it’s perfect for any time of year. If you’re looking to kick off your fall with a good cocktail, consider trying this new original cocktail!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Harvest Apple Smash
2 oz Apple Whiskey
1/2 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice 1/4 Thinly Sliced Apple
Apple Slice (Optional)
In a rocks glass muddle thinly sliced apples and cinnamon syrup until you get a chunky apple sauce consistency. Add lemon juice and ice. Pour over Apple Whiskey and stir well. Optionally garnish with a thin apple slice.
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 had thought for sure I had lost this recipe, and then I found it sitting in the drafts for the blog and I was pleasantly surprised. So picking up another bottle of bottom shelf blue raspberry vodka, I knew it was time to remake this drink for a new post.
In my continued efforts to create a set of 4 distinct cocktails based on the Avatar: The Last Air Bender series. Previously I brought you Uncle Iroh’s Pai Sho Earth Tea, and today the series continues, with the “Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard”. Designed to feel like an iceberg floating onto of cartoon blue waters this is a great summer drink to cool off and get tipsy at the same time.
A refreshing blue color makes for an inviting modern style cocktail. The smell is strong of the candy blue raspberry flavor of the vodka. Your first sip will begin with the cool ice on top (not a lot of flavor comes through initially). The cocktail hits to a tart flavor on the mid-palette thanks to the cranberry and lemon juices. Then the finish is where you’re punched with the candy blue raspberry with very little alcohol burn (as it seems more sweet).
Like the other drinks I’m working on for this series it’s mostly about the look and a bit less about the taste. That said however, this is a great starter for the 4 cocktails. Despite the volume of vodka it’s a very sweet and refreshing cocktail and is easy to toss together larger batches for a party. Just be sure you bring your trusty boomerang with you.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating 8/10
Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard
3 oz Freezer Chilled Blue Raspberry Vodka 1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
(Optional: Additional 1/2 oz Blue Vodka)
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until ice is broken into very small pieces. Serve in a pint glass. Optional Float additional 1/2 of Blue Vodka
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.
Coming out of the Christmas Season I was looking for something to break my month of making glass after glass of the Caribbean Christmas for myself and for my guests.
So flipping through my cocktail books, I was looking for something with Gin. I was in the mood for it’s crisp mix of juniper and other botanicals to sooth the season of sore throats, and found a recipe that while I’m sure I’ve made before, I don’t think I’ve made for the blog.
The Boston Cocktail is a striking golden color, and invites you in with a citrusy apricot on the nose. It starts sweet, moves to a slightly sour (but not overpowering) mix of fruit flavors, and finishes with a refreshing punch of the botanicals from the gin. I honestly have to say that this drink really impressed me. While lately I have favored American Style Gins for my home bar, I feel this particular cocktail would require a London Dry in order to really get the bouquet of flavors.
Presentation wise part of me wishes for a garnish, but I think a fun variation would be to hold the grenadine until the end, creating a red bottom similar to that of a tequila sunrise.
This is a strong contender for my menu, and moving into the new year I think it would really be worth adding for your next party. It’s rare to get such a good cocktail with the threefold batch of flavors, and it’s definitely one I recommend you try!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
1 1/2 oz Gin (London Dry Preferred)
1 1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy!
I felt today that after a long time I was due for a brandy based cocktail, and the La Jolla is both classy and refreshing all the same. It is simple in color and presentation, but a really impressive experience all around. The drink recipe itself doesn’t call for any garnishes (which is really a shame) so I’ve opted to add in an orange peel for my aroma and tasting notes.
To the nose you get a pleasant orange (mostly from the peel added, but some from the juice too). The slight oakiness of the brandy also comes through on the nose. Its taste begins light and sweet, moves quickly to a slightly sour (but not overpowering) lemon, and finishes with a unique battle of banana and brandy. The finish is really what stands out to me here. It’s banana, then brandy, then banana, then brandy again, and it goes back and forth 2-4 times as it settles. This is a surprising event while drinking and it really makes you want to go back for more.
If you’re looking for a diversion from the standard summer cocktails, you might want to give this a try.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Creme de Banane
1/4 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
(Optional Orange Peel Garnish)
Shake liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.