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)
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.
You know how sometimes you’re just in the mood for something. Well, today I was in the mood for some brandy. It is that mood which lead me to find the “Alpine Glow” which according to my records is a drink I’ve actually made once before (just not for the blog).
Like many modern cocktails the name makes pretty much no sense in regard to the presentation, the color, or the aroma of the cocktail, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it. This is also not really a brandy drink as much as it’s a rum drink with brandy, but hey being rum biased myself I’m perfectly fine with that.
With the case of many tiki style drinks the float of rum causes the flavor to shift halfway through the drink. A visually pleasant sandy brown (which may change with the use of a red dyed grenadine) with a dark floating section of the rum with a lemon twist is very inviting for a short glass. It’s aroma is dominated by the rum, but if you squeezed your twist it should bring some citrus aroma to that as well. Your first half of the drink will greet you with a sweet tropical rum with an aftertaste of brown sugar (which is impressive for a drink that doesn’t contain any). After you’ve sipped off most of the dark rum float and cleansed your palette with some crackers, that’s when the real taste comes through. It starts with a sweet orange, hits a general sweet and mostly indistinguishable taste on the mid palette (likely rum and sweet/sour), and finishes with a citrusy brandy flavor. Even with the float this is a cocktail for those who’s palette leans on the sweet side. Since starting this blog I’ve always leaned sweet, but I do appreciate the complexity of something like an old fashioned or a Manhattan. However, this drink plays right into my love for sweet things, especially on a warm day. It may be far from perfect, but I’m actually surprised I haven’t included it on my regular menu (as it contains many common ingredients). So is the “Alpine Glow” worth it? Yes and no. It doesn’t leave you with a great impact, but it IS a great drink for a midweek cocktail.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7.8/10 then 6/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
1 1/2 oz Gold Rum
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Grenadine
2 oz Sweet and Sour
3/4 oz Dark Rum
Shake all except garnish and dark rum. Strain into an iced tumbler. Float the dark rum and garnish with a lemon twist.
Not so much a cocktail this time as much as an event. Highlighted as Rita’s favorite drink in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” the simple Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist, has become a staple drink to make for every enthusiast out there. Finally getting my timing right this year I decided I was overdue.
For a good “Groundhog Day” cocktail it’s important to get a good sweet vermouth. Raise your eyes off of the bottom shelf and spend more than 8 dollars on a bottle. Trust me for this, and a good Manhattan, you’ll thank me later.
For my day to day needs I go with the Dolin Rouge vermouth as it’s a nice mixer and actually does wonders in various dishes in the kitchen. This French Vermouth will run you around $16 per 750mL bottle, and it’s well worth it.
As for the drink itself it’s been debated on whether or not to use a twist of lemon or orange, but really I’d say the difference is negligible and adds more aroma than anything else. A good vermouth will have a spicy nose, and a balanced and slightly “sweet” flavor for the deep red/copper color. The after taste brings warm notes of citrus and a slight smokiness.
If you were living the same day over and over this drink might get boring, but for something different on a friday night, why not give it a try.
The Groundhog Day
1 1/2 to 2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Lemon or Orange Twist
Straight build in a rocks glass over ice. Rub the twist around the glass’ rim and drop it in.
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.
It’s been quite a while since I featured a drink on the blog here, but this one I felt was classy enough that I just had to review it! With the 3 primary ingredients being far from cheap, before you even mix this it’s a drink of a very different caliber.
You’ll start with a strong citrus aroma and a pleasantly “classic” amber color of the drink. The drink starts with a sweet flavor, and slowly moves to warm and herbal, and finishes with a bit of oaky cognac. This a truly classic style drink with a strong bite and a complex set of flavors. The only thing that holds this drink back is my use of a cheaper VS Cognac. With an older aged variety, this drink could become even better!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 9/10
Overall Rating: 7/10
Sir Knight Cocktail
1 oz Cognac
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
Dash Angostura Bitters
Stir all but lemon with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Well, at this point I think it’s safe to say that I can’t keep up with last year’s schedule of “a new drink every Monday,” but I will certainly try to keep getting drinks out to you guys. So, you may see a surplus of new recipes over the next week, then a bit of a break. Just remember to check back here occasionally for a new drink or two.
Ok so down to business. Today’s cocktail is certainly of a different caliber than most of the fruit based drinks you’ll find me making. The “Queen Elizabeth’s Wine” is appropriately named for both it’s color and taste. The cocktail’s main aroma comes from the dry vermouth in the drink, but unlike some other vermouth cocktails the flavor doesn’t overpower the drink. You’ll start off with a sweet wine taste (something like a Pinot Grigio), but it quickly moves to the lead liqueur of Benedictine. The finish has a nice mild vermouth taste and keeps you going back for more. It’s a rather small drink and fills a traditional small cocktail glass perfectly, but for a modern variation you could easily bump up the Benedictine to 2.5 oz and the lemon juice to 1.25 with a dash of citrus bitters. Even if you’re not huge on the taste of vermouth, this might be worth a try.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10
Queen Elizabeth’s Wine
1 1/2 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Stir and strain with ice into a chilled cocktail glass. Garish with a lemon twist (rub over edge of glass)
Well as long as we still have a full month of summer, let’s keep the tropical drinks flowing!
The Trade Winds is a wonderfully aromatic cocktail with citrus and raspberry notes. It has a dark and mysterious burgundy color with an inviting lemon twist within. The drink starts sweet, moves to a tart raspberry, then finishes with a sour brandy flavor. A great sweeter drink and well balanced it’s easy to recommend as a light starter.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
3/4 oz Light Rum 3/4 oz Brandy (Apricot Brandy Used) 3/4 oz Raspberry Liqueur 1 oz OJ 2 oz Sweet/Sour Lemon Twist
Shake and strain liquid ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This week I’m featuring an additional drink as I forgot to post last Monday.
Recently I tried Mitch Hutt’s version of the “Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster” from his recent Geek and Sundry Vlog.
The drink is a unique sea foam green color with a citrus and gin aroma. The cocktail starts sweet and goes quickly to sour. Then you get a moderate gin flavor and it finishes with a tart bourbon taste.
Alcohol Rating: 6-7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
Make it Again? Yes!
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster
1/2 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Gin
1 oz Sour Apple Pucker
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist
Today’s cocktail is one that I’ve been sitting on for quite a while, but have still wanted to make. The “East India” is mildly fruity and mildly bitter. I’m always impress at pineapple centered drinks as well as the froth up in a similar way that cream or milk does in desert style drinks. While the drink calls for Brandy, my bar isn’t stalked with the standard, but instead I have both apricot and blackberry brandies. Given the pineapple flavor I chose my apricot as I imagined it to be the best possible complement. Although given the name of the drink I’m surprised I wasn’t using my Bombay Dry Gin (maybe next time). I also think that Orange Bitters might have been a better choice here.
The drink starts sweet with a light bitter in there as well, but as it reaches the back of your tongue and throat you get more of the alcohol. While I’m not certain that the flavors present were due more to the original recipe or my use of Apricot Brandy, the unique complexity of this drink has certainly made me want to try it again. I also feel like the lemon twist could have been more dominant if there was a dash of lemon juice in the mix as well, but then again I don’t think this drink even needs a sour element.
Alcohol Rating: 3-4 of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 (with possible variations)
Worth Making Again? Yes
1 1/2 oz Brandy (Apricot Brandy Used)
3/4 oz Cointreau (Triple Sec Used)
2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 oz Pineapple Juice