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Category Archives: Cocktails

wait-whatThe Twilight Lounge – February 16, 2017                                                                               Wait… What?  This cocktail has been done before?

I decided to hit the Drambuie tonight, mostly because I just want to finish the bottle (it’s about half empty) to clear the space for something else.  While it’s nice to have around and I don’t mind it once in a while on the rocks, it is really, really sweet.  And that’s just not my taste.  Really.

So a quick search of the CocktailDB for Drambuie got me to the Flora’s Own cocktail.

Flora’s Own

  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz Gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1-1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pretty simple.  And sweet.  Cloyingly sweet.  Syrupy sweet.  Really, really sweet.  Ok, you get the idea.  I really thought the vermouth and gin would cut into the Drambuie, but the honey, syrupy sweetness is still there in spades, with a bit of vermouth on on the aftertaste to provide a bit of floral lightness.  The gin is barely there.  Maybe if I had used a London Dry instead of the lighter Plymouth it would have helped cut into the Drambuie.

But why the Wait… What?  I did a quick search for the Flora’s Own online, hoping to find something about it’s origin.  I mean, it does seem like something that might have come from the mists of time, or at least Scotland or Britain.  I wish I could say, as I didn’t find anything on the origin.  What I did find were two other cocktail blogs in the top 3 or 4 posts that had also featured the Flora’s Own!  So much for finding something unusual!

Cheers!

 

winter-solstice-at-juniper-61Wauwatosa, WI – February 14, 2017

St. Valentines Day found me at Juniper 61 in Wauwatosa for dinner with a friend (thank you City Tins – Restaurant Edition!).  Dinner was delicious (and was again tonight), but I knew the food would be delicious.  I also knew that I would get a great cocktail, and I was not disappointed.

I tried the Winter Solstice from the specialty cocktail menu.  With Knob Creek bourbon as it’s base I figured it had to be good.  What caught my eye, though, were the fruity, sweet additions:  Bird Dog Peach whiskey, the pear flavored Mathilde Poire and a float of Mathilde Cassis.  Soda water is the last ingredient, adding a bit of fizz and helping cut the sweet factor.

Overall a very refreshing and light bourbon cocktail.  It does verge on being too sweet for me (a dash or two bitters would probably take care of that), but I could drink a couple of these, no problem.  The bourbon is definitely there at the base, and the peach flavor is in the forefront (much like some of the peach liqueur and bourbon drinks I’ve played with in the past).  The pear and cassis provide depth.  In fact, I’d enjoy this on a warm summer day and think this should be the Summer Solstice rather than the Winter Solstice!

Cheers!

atn_promo_malibu

The Twilight Lounge – February 12, 2017

I wonder, if my bottle of Malibu was that big, would I have girls like that coming over all the time?

Unfortunately my bottle isn’t that big, and it’s been sitting in my liquor cabinet for far too long, leftover from a previous party.  I finally decided I’d need to drink it since the Malibu girls still haven’t come by.  The difficulty is that I don’t like coconut flavors or Malibu.  So what to do?

I realized I’d need to essentially mask the flavor of the Malibu.  I know, that is an anthema to what I typically do when creating cocktails, but it was the only way I’d be able to drink it.  The first decision was what to use for juice.  Orange or cranberry would have been the easy choices.  Pineapple made sense, but I thought that might be too sweet.  While perusing the juice aisle at the local grocery store I stumbled upon a blend of mango, pineapple and orange juice that sounded intriguing.  So into my cart it went and I was on my way.

Back at the Twilight Lounge it time to put a cocktail together.  I had my Malibu and I had my juice.  I could have just done the rum and juice (my apologies to Snoop Dogg), but that was pretty bland and a bit sweet.  After a little tinkering and a couple of trials, here’s what I came up with:

Snoop Dogg

  • 1-1/2 oz Malibu rum
  • 1/8 oz lime juice
  • 3-4 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
  • mango pineapple orange juice
  • soda water

Add the Malibu, lime juice and bitters to a collins glass and stir to mix.  Fill the glass with ice and then add a 50/50 mix of the juice and soda water.  Stir and garnish with a lime slice.

This is a nice, refreshing cocktail that I and the Malibu girls can enjoy.  The taste of the Malibu is barely discernable and the bitters add a nice, smokey depth to the drink.  The lime juice helps cut the sweet factor of the juice.  This will be a nice way to finish off my bottle of Malibu!

Cheers!

rehorst-gin-2The Twilight Lounge – February 4, 2017

If you are a regular reader, you know that I like, no make that love my gin.  So, this review is far, far overdue, considering that a friend gave me this bottle of Rehorst gin for my birthday last year. Check that, Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin (Batch No. 10, for the record).

So, just what the heck is this from the Great Lakes Distillery?  It starts as Rehorst Gin, itself an interesting gin that includes sweet basil and Wisconsin Gingseng among its 9 botanicals (including the usual juniper).  Then the gin is aged in oak barrels to impart an additional layer of complexity not normally found in gin.  It is indeed limited, as only one barrel a month is bottled and released.

So how did Great Lakes Distillery do?  Pretty damn good in my estimation.  On the nose it is not as juniper forward as London Dry or even Plymouth style gins.  The oak has mellowed the botanicals out, smoothing their edge.  Sipping it there is not the heat I’d expect from a liquor that is 94 proof.  The oak comes through along with spicy hints, not unlike black pepper and rosemary, with the juniper on the finish.  With the oak aging, sipping this neat or on the rocks is akin to doing so with a good bourbon (and something I don’t typically do with gin).  Adding a twist and few ice cubes makes this a treat and a viable substitute for my traditional martini.

What else can you do with this gin?  Fortunately for you, I experimented with a number of combinations, some traditional and some new.  It made a great gin and tonic, spicy, woody and better with a lemon wedge in place of the classic lime.  As a martini it comes off almost like a Manhattan.  As a variant to the perfect Manhattan (1/2 sweet vermouth, 1/2 dry vermouth) it was divine!  Mixed with ginger beer was even better than having it with tonic water, a real treat.  The most interesting cocktail I concocted is what I call the Asian Gin Ginger:

Asian Gin Ginger

  • 2 oz Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin
  • 1 oz Tyku
  • 1/2 oz Top Note Ginger Beer Concentrate
  • Dash Bittercube Blackstrap bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Spicy, darkly sweet defines the Asian Gin Ginger.  Floral hints from the gin and Tyku make this not a truly boozy cocktail, but a sickly sweet one either.  Refreshing, I could drink several of these in an evening (and I did!)

My bottom line is that this is a terrific addition to the liquor cabinet.  It doesn’t replace the London dry gin in mine, but it is there in addition.  I give the Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin two thumbs up!

Cheers!

MV5BMTk5MjI4MzIxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODU1MDQ5__V1_UY268_CR6,0,182,268_AL_Milwaukee, WI – March 28, 2016

It was an unusually warm spring day that found me in Milwaukee’s Eastside at dinner time not too long ago.  I have to admit that when I first moved to Milwaukee and heard people talk about the Eastside I really thought they were pulling my leg – I mean, c’mon, there is no east side to Milwaukee, it’s the lake for crying out loud!  I finally asked a coworker one day and received the explanation that it was the area east of the Milwaukee River.  Now that made sense!

Soooo, being in the neighborhood early evening for business led to staying there for dinner and then a cocktail (well, maybe two) at Fink’s.  I enjoy the combination of neighborhood, slighty dive atmosphere (including the pinball machines at the back), friendly bartenders and the great craft cocktails.  So while watching old black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone on the TV behind the bar I ordered a Big Trouble in Little Cynar from the seasonal drink menu.

What drew me in initially to the Big Trouble was the Old Overholt Rye (it’s been too long since I’ve had that) and the Cynar.  I’m on a bitter kick these days and Cynar, the bittersweet artichoke liqueur fits the bill nicely.  Rounding out the Manhattan style cocktail was Carpano Antica, a deep and luxurious sweet vermouth.

So, how was it?  Delicious!  So much so that I had two!  The whiskey is there on the front and complimented with a slightly bitter and deep, smokey flavor on the back end.

The next time you find yourself on Milwaukee’s Eastside, definitely check out Fink’s!

Cheers!

_tiajuana

The Twilight Lounge – March 27, 2016

Ok, so it’s a not a true Tia Juana, but it’s pretty close…

I’ve continued to look for cocktails to use my bottle of Suze in and often find myself substituting the Suze for Campari since they are so close in flavor and taste.  So last Sunday I found myself doing so with a cocktail called the Tia Juana.

Suze Tia Juana

  • 1/2 oz Suze
  • 1-1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1-1/2 oz tequila

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I used Noilly Prat vermouth and Cazadores tequila.  The yellow Suze combined with the Noilly Prat and Cazadores provides a deep gold color that is delightful to see in the glass.  The vermouth was front and center with the first sip, with a slightly bitter finish provided by the Suze.  As the cocktail warmed over the 30 minutes or so that I sipped it the vermouth did fade a bit.  Interestingly enough the tequila stays very subdued throughout, so if you are looking for something that tastes like tequila, Tia Juana isn’t for you.  In fact, for an all booze drink, this one does not taste boozy at all.

What drinks have you substituted ingredients for and how did it turn out?

Cheers!

Shamrock

The Twilight Lounge – March 12, 2016

Continuing on the Irish whiskey theme I stumbled upon the Shamrock while thumbing through The Ultimate Bar Book this afternoon.  In addition to being a whiskey drink, it would help use up the Crème de Menthe I’d been sitting on for far too long.  It’s not often outside of Christmas that I get to use it!

The Shamrock

  • 1-1/2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Crème de Menthe
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • maraschino cherry

Combine all the ingredients except the cherry in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a old fashioned glass filled with ice.  Garnish with the cherry.

It is minty and it is creamy…and the whiskey is well hidden behind those two.  Aside from it being green and sweet, I’m not sure what else to think about this cocktail.  If we weren’t heading into St. Patrick’s day I’m pretty sure this would not have ever found a way into a glass raised to my lips.  But I suspect if you are a fan of ice cream drinks then you’ll enjoy this one.

Cheers!

shamusderp1

The Twilight Lounge – March 12, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and as is usual, I’ll be pub crawling all day with my pal Mike.  We’ve been doing our St. Patrick’s day drink fest for 6 or 7 years and this year will be no different.  We’ll start at 6am at Bub’s Irish Pub in Germantown, work our way to Erin for post parade fun at the Tally Ho and then work back towards town.  There will be plenty of Irish whiskey, Guinness, corned beef and fair lasses in green to be sure!

As a prelude to the glorious day itself, I’ve been enjoying Irish inspired cocktails.  This one in particular caught my eye as I perused the Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.

Dancing Leprechaun

  • 1-1/2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • ginger beer

Add the whiskey, Drambuie and lemon juice to a shaker with ice.  Shake then strain into an ice filled Collins glass.  Add ginger beer to the top, stir and garnish with a lemon twist.

I used Tullamore Dew whiskey, which I like as much for it’s reasonable cost as I do it’s slightly smoky flavor.  Irish whiskey and ginger beer has long been a favorite of mine, and this cocktail is a nice twist on the typical Irish and ginger beer.  The Drambuie gives a bit of sweetness and a spicy, nutty flavor that I enjoyed.  It’s a refreshing cocktail that would be fun on a warm summer day (soon to be here) as well as on St. Patrick’s Day.

Cheers!

 

hes back

The Twilight Lounge – March 5, 2016

It’s been a long and winding road…but I’m back and ready for more cocktails, fun and who knows what else!

I have been itching to get back to work here for awhile now.  I finally was pushed over the top this week while at Half Barrel in Rochester, MN (which I highly recommend checking out – a great selection of whiskies, great cocktails and very good food).  I started to chat with Kelsey, who was also there on business, about craft cocktails.  Finally, the bartender, whose name, regretfully, I did not get, joined in our conversation.  One thing led to another and the topic of my blog came up.  The bartender, based on the conversation, said he’d seen my blog.  I was stunned and said no way!  So I pulled it up on my phone and he said yeah, I’ve been on here a lot and read it and liked a lot of your cocktails!  I was blown away!  And resolved to return, so hear we are…

A few weeks ago I hosted a small gathering at my home and a friend brought me a bottle of Suze.  It is a liqueur made from gentian, a pretty tropical flowering plant.  The color is bright yellow, similar to Galliano, and the flavor is bitter with floral and spice hints.  It’s not unlike Campari although not as bitter.  Katie had seen it a local liquor store and it was new to her (as it was me) and she figured if anyone could make cocktails with it, it was me.

It took several attempts.  I started with vodka as a base, but that just didn’t have enough flavor to balance the Suze.  At the suggestion of my cocktail buddy Mark I switched to gin, using Beefeater, my go to London dry.  We got close with Beefeater, Suze, lemon juice and bar syrup, but it wasn’t quite there.

Finally, last night, with a light snow falling outside and me deciding to come home early I went back into the Twilight Lounge and took another crack at it.  This time I decided to use it more like bitters and did a mashup of a Martini and Manhattan.  Thus, the Inspiration was born.

The Inspiration

  • 2oz Beefeater gin
  • 1/2 oz Suze
  • 1/8 oz Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

On the first sip there was a smoky, velvety texture with a slight bitter aftertaste from the Suze, pleasing to my palate.  The Suze is evident but complimented by the botanicals from the gin.  After a few more sips a slightly nutty flavor was also evident adding a little more depth to the taste profile.  It’s a nice sipper and definitely something your friends have not had!

Cheers!

Gloom LifterRockford, IL – December 2, 2014

Business recently took me to Rockford, IL and there I discovered Alchemy.  It’s part craft beer, part craft cocktails and part craft pizza.  While I enjoyed the pizza I had, I really enjoyed the cocktails!

First was the Gloom Lifter.  It starts with Tullamore Dew as the base, but what really caught my eye was the egg whites.  It also has lemon juice, raspberries and flamed bitters in the mix.  Served in an elegant coupe this was a very well balanced and proportioned cocktail.  Cinnamon and cardamom on the nose the cocktail was light, slightly sweet and smokey.  I was a little disappointed that there was no spiciness in the taste, but it was overall an excellent cocktail and will be sure to lift the gloom of winter!

The second cocktail I enjoyed was the Cold & Heavy Snow.  Using Milagro silver tequila as its base I was drawn to it with the house made ginger beer.  Finishing off the cocktail is lime juice, cider and cinnamon.  I really enjoyed the this cocktail – the ginger beer was spicy and well made and the cider and cinnamon added a bit of holiday cheer.  Another winner.

If your travels take you to Rockford, Alchemy is worth a stop!