Skip navigation

Category Archives: gin

Twilight Lounge – December 23, 2011

“One martini is alright.  Two are too many, and three is not enough” – James Thurber

Back to my recurring series on gin, the stuff of legend.

Part of the series will be to review the various gins that I have and drink.  While I have made and enjoyed a number of gin cocktails (81 are listed in the index by my count), I decided to use my tried and true basics to conduct my taste tests – the classic martini and the gin and tonic.  Of course, I also sip and smell the gin unadorned as well to understand its unique nose and flavor.

Today’s review is New Amsterdam gin.  This is an 80 proof gin from The Amsterdam Spirits Company, which is actually a subsidiary of  E. & J. Gallo Winery.  This explains in large part the very innocuous nature of New Amsterdam, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

On its own the New Amsterdam has slightly floral and citrus notes on the nose, with lemon and orange being the most predominant.  The taste experience is also similar, with definite lemon and orange flavors coming through…and not much else.  There is barely a hint of juniper or other botanicals, and a sweetness to the flavor that, frankly, reminds more of a flavored vodka than a gin.

On to the martini.  I used my standard recipe of 3 oz gin, 1/2 oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth and 1 dash Angostura bitters and garnished with three unstuffed cocktail olives.  The New Amsterdam’s mild flavor really lets the vermouth come through, much more so than a typical London Dry gin would.  The citrus flavors do compliment the vermouth nicely.  However, I don’t drink a martini to sip vermouth and I missed tasting the gin.

Next was the gin and tonic.  I used a rocks glass (12oz) with 6 ice cubes (1-1/2 oz each).  2oz of gin, Shweppes diet (hey, I have to watch the weight!) tonic water and a lime wedge squeezed over the top complete the ingredient list.  A quick stir and it’s ready to taste.

By my gin and tonic standards this has a very mild taste.  The lime in the drink did play off the citrus notes of the New Amsterdam.  While refreshing, and suitable for a warm summer day, I missed the “bite” of my typical gin and tonic.  Again, the lack of a clear juniper component disappointed me.

The verdict?  I’m disappointed.  As I wrote early on, this strikes more as a flavored vodka than a gin.  I appreciate the attempt to widen the gin drinking audience, but it really should taste at least somewhat like gin.  On a scale of 1 to 5 I rate the New Amsterdam gin a 2.

Cheers!

 

A Few of My Favorite Friends

The Twilight Lounge – December 16, 2011

Gin, sweet, juniper laced, glorious gin.  Bombay gin.  Beefeater gin.  Tanqueray gin. Gin Wigmore (just checking to see if you are paying attention).  Hendricks gin.  New Amsterdam gin.  Seagrams gin.  Plymouth gin.  London Dry gin, local gin, craft gin…gin, gin, gin.  Invented by the Dutch, co-opted by the British, where would we be without it?  No martinis – the only civilized way to end an uncivilized day.  No gin and tonics.  No Aviations.  No Singapore Slings or Sleigh Wrecks!

The invention of modern gin is credited to Franciscus Sylvius in the 17th century, although its roots go back to 11th century Italian monks who used juniper berries to flavor crudely distilled spirits.  The term gin is derived from the Dutch word genever, their word for juniper.  Originally used for what was supposed to be medicinal purposes, the British came upon it during the 30 Years War and called it “Dutch courage” for the effect it had on their bravery when taken before battle. 

Gin’s popularity in Britian soared during the reign of  William of Orange, who assumed the British throne in 1689.  With the taxes placed on brandy from France and on beer being quite heavy, locally distilled gin became the spirit of choice throughout England.

From 17th century England, gin has seen its ups and downs.  It its high point in the quintessential martini as enjoyed by FDR and Churchill to it’s low point as bathtub gin during Prohibition, gin has been a staple of cocktail culture for centuries.  Over the next few weeks I’ll explore the different styles of gins and include a number of gin reviews as well.  In the meantime, have a gin question?  Then fire away and I’ll do my best to answer!

Cheers!

June 30, 2011 – Fargo, ND

One of the benefits of my job is getting to find neat cocktail lounges in places I’d never otherwise visit.  The HoDo Lounge in downtown Fargo is just one of those places.

It is located in the historic Hotel Donaldson and draws a crowd as eclectic as the drink menu.  The band added to the fun, playing a mix of original music and covers that kept the crowd moving all night long. 

The first drink that I had was the Firetruck.  It was an amazing cocktail that consisted of St. Germain, seltzer water, and (drum roll please) 10 year old Laphroaig.  Even though there was just a 1/4 oz of the Laphroaig in this drink it comes through loud and clear.  The St. Germain sweetens this up just a bit and softens the peaty flavor of the Laphroig, while the seltzer makes this a tall glass sipper that is refreshing.  An inventive and very interesting cocktail.

The second cocktail of the night was the unusually named Cucular Caley (pictured).  A melange of pomegranate vodka, Hendricks gin, Sailor Jerry rum and cucumbers, all topped with a bit of seltzer, this was an amazing drink.  It was slightly sweet, slightly spicy and slightly fruity, yet still boozy enough to remind me that it packs a punch.  Kudos to the staff for this fantastic cocktail!

With that it was time for me to head back to my hotel and get a good nights sleep before my drive back to Milwaukee.  You can be sure, though, that I’m looking forward to my next visit to Fargo!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well, I found this picture on my camera a couple of days ago…it’s dated May 14.  It looks delicious, doesn’t it?  I just wish I knew what the heck it is!  Obviously, made with Hendricks….

Wait a minute.  I just flipped through the spiral bound notebook that I use to write down new recipes and write my notes as I drink cocktails … and … I think I found it.  I’d swear that I’d looked before through my notebook and didn’t find this cocktail, but I’m sure this is it.  With Alzheimer’s moments like these, it’s no wonder that I’m getting AARP cards in the mail every other day.

  Mint Love and Happiness

  • 3 cucumber slices
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup
  • 2 oz Hendrick’s
  • 1 oz St. Germain

In a mixing glass muddle the cucumber, mint and syrup.  Add ice and the Hendrick’s and St. Germain.  Stir to mix and chill.  Double strain into a chilled coupe.  Garnish with a lemon peel floating on a mint leaf (fancy, I know). 

Ahh, a twist on one of my favorite spring/summer cocktails, this takes the Love and Happiness a step further with the addition of the mint.  The flavors of the Hendrick’s, cucumber, mint and St. Germain were just made for each other – sorta  like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (did I really just write that?).

As you mix this baby up, put the Raveonettes latest release “Raven In The Grave” on the old Pioneer and listen to “Forget That You’re Young” while you sip.  The aural experience will match the taste experience, I promise!

(Really – this post is written exactly as my mind worked through it – I really didn’t know what the drink was in the picture as I uploaded it – do you really think I could make this stuff up?)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

During some random night last week I was again in the mood for a cocktail featuring egg white.  After thumbing through several cocktail books I found something called the Clover Club.  This is a classic cocktail (read as pre-Prohibition) that was enjoyed by the members of the Clover Club in Philadelphia.  The Clover Club was a group of civic minded business leaders who met regularly at the Bellevue-Stratford hotel.  Alas, while the Clover Club itself expanded to multiple cities in the early 1900’s, the cocktail didn’t make it past Prohibition.  It’s a pity too, because this delicious number beats the pants off a Cosmopolitan any day!

  Clover Club

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz grenadine
  • 1 egg white

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 60 seconds or more.  Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a half slice of lemon.

You really need to shake, shake, shake this cocktail, just like any other egg white cocktail.  The reason is to emulsify the egg and create an nice creamy head and fully incorporate the egg into the drink.

As for the cocktail itself – delicious is the only way to describe it.  Creamy, slightly sweet from the grenadine with just hints of juniper from the gin.  I used Bombay for this one – I wanted the full flavor of a London dry to stand up to the relatively large amount of grenadine and lemon in this one. 

Cheers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Yeah, I know, I’m going backwards in time…I got a little out of order so that I could get my Kentucky Derby Mint Julep post in while it was still fresh.

So, last week I was in the Twin Cities for a series of customer meetings.  Fortunately, I had the chance one evening to try out a local spot near where I was staying.  Bricks American Pub, in Blaine, MN was suggested by my good friend Ashish and it lived up to his recommendation.  They have a well stocked bar and can serve up craft beers, wines and classic and speciality cocktails.

The cocktail I had was an off menu drink mixed up by Dave, our bartender for the evening.  It consisted of Tanqueray Ten, lemon juice, bar syrup and muddled basil.  It was very tasty as the fresh basil was perfectly balanced with the lemon and offset the flavor of the Tanqueray to perfection.  Not too sweet and not too boozy, this cocktail was just right!

I also sampled their brandy Old Fashioned along with my associate Mikhail.  Mikhail is from Russia and fortunately the Bricks Old Fashioned was a terrific introduction to this classic cocktail.  Dave made our Old Fashioneds properly, muddling the orange and cherry in the glass and not using premixed sour.  It was well done and was bursting with the fruit flavors along with the brandy. 

So, if you happen to find yourself in Blaine, MN in the future and are thirsty, definately check out Bricks – it will be worth your time!

Day 365, Cocktail 364

It’s Easter Sunday and the last day of my year long cocktail journey (by the way – I didn’t plan it this way, but it did just happen to work this way!).  Since I need two to finish my quest, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing – a day / night doubleheader if you will.  The first cocktail was one that I wanted to be able to enjoy with our Easter Dinner, which was Polish sausages, potatoes, cabbage and more, followed by Gwen’s chocolate birthday cake.  As I flipped through my recipe books a drink I’ve had bookmarked for some time now looked it would fit the bill.

  Palm Beach

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball.

Very nice blend of pineapple, rum and gin, although a bit strong.  In fact, I ended up adding about another ounce of pineapple juice to keep this from knocking on my butt.  However, the rum and pineapple flavors of this drink complimented the sausage and sides with our dinner very well.  I just may have a new Easter cocktail!

So, with the Palm Beach, I’m down to my last cocktail.  I’m contemplating what to drink, but if you have a suggestion for my grand finale, I’d love to hear it!

Cheers!

Day 363, Cocktail 363

Friday night and another movie night for Gwen and I.  I had just purchased a box of those “Cutie” clementines and figured that they would back an excellent mixer for a cocktail.  They are slightly sweeter and less acidic than orange juice, and they fit so nicely into my lemon press, so I figured why not!  I’ve also been on a bit of a ginger kick so I wanted to incorporate that into the drink as well. 

Thus, with clementines and Domaine de Canton in mind, what to use for the base spirit?  I reached for the Rehorst gin.  I wanted something more than vodka, but didn’t want the full impact of a London Dry gin.  With it’s clean aftertaste and subtle use of juniper I knew the Rehorst would be a good choice.  Next I also pulled out the St. Remy brandy.  As I thought this cocktail through I figured I would need a bit of “darker” flavor as well to balance out the juice and ginger flavors I wanted.  So, let’s see how this worked out.

  Cutie

  • 1 oz Rehorst gin
  • 1/2 oz St. Remy brandy
  • 1 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1 oz clementine juice

Combine all the ingredients in a Boston shaker with ice and shake and roll to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Very nice, if I say so myself.  This really hit the spot and the flavors all worked together as I planned.  Not too sweet, with a backbeat of ginger from the Domaine de Canton and several layers of flavor from the Rehorst and St. Remy.  All in all, a very nice cocktail for clementine season!

So, I’m now down to two cocktails to had today to finish off my year long journey.  I’ll be having one with our mid afternoon dinner and then the final cocktail early this evening.  If you have a suggestion for my last cocktail, let me know!

Cheers!

Day 356, Cocktail 359

Tax season is over!  Hopefully you’re getting a modest refund.  If you wrote a check, well, you have my sympathy!

To celebrate the end of the tax season I pulled out a recipe from Colleen Graham’s blog that she had published a week or so ago.  How could I resist something called the Income Tax Cocktail?  This is basically a Bronx cocktail with the addition of bitters – perhaps indicative of the bitter pill paying taxes is?  We’ll never know for sure as the actual origins of this drink don’t seem to be known, at least not that I could find.  So let’s give this a try and see how it comes out.

  Income Tax

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Agnostura bitters

Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish, if desired, with an orange peel.

It was…alright.  Kinda’ like doing taxes, I’m more relieved to be done with this than enjoying the actual cocktail.  The sweet vermouth dominates the flavor, most likely because the Agnostura bitters are playing right into sweet vermouth at the expense of the other ingredients.  Kinda’ like our government, huh?

Cheers!

Day 350, Cocktail 356

Monday, besides being the first official day on the new job,  was also my final turn into the home stretch of my cocktail journey – I’m now counting down the final 10 cocktails to complete 365 new and different cocktails in 365 days.  Number 10 was discovered on the internet via the CocktailDB, one of my better sources of cocktails during the past year.  I was still in an egg white mood, even though I swore that the Golden Fizz was my last for a while.  So I searched on egg white as an ingredient and found this fun cocktail.  I have no idea where the name came from, but it sure looked good!

  Bachelor’s Bait

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1/4 oz grenadine

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and shake long and hard to mix thoroughly and emulsify the egg.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  No garnish required.

Again, a delicious drink with the egg white adding a layer of body and creamy texture that just makes these drinks so tasty and good!  With a hint of orange from the bitters complimenting the gin (I used Beefeater) wonderfully.  The grenadine provides both a hint of color and a bit of sweet taste to compliment the orange bitters.

One more note about the egg white.  I have mentioned in previous posts that I use a pasteurized egg white product from the dairy section of my local grocery store.  This makes sure I won’t make myself or guests sick and also makes it easy to make cocktails without separating a bunch of eggs.  Just use 1/2 oz of egg white from the carton when a recipe calls for 1 egg white.

Cheers!