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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!

 

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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!

grapefruit-jimmy-cagneyThe Twilight Lounge – February 12, 2013

As reported in my last post, I was recently in Florida.  And what do I do when I come home from Florida?  I bring home a case of Indian River grapefruit, of course – doesn’t everyone?  And just what the heck do I do with a case of grapefruit?  Make cocktails, of course!

So on the first day of spring training workouts for my beloved Cleveland Indians I thought it would be appropriate to come up with something new using all that grapefruit I have (yeah, I know, the Tribe is in Arizona, but I didn’t have any cactus laying around the Lounge).  As I thought about how to use the white grapefruit I pulled out the gin and St. Germain.  A bit of orgeat seemed in order as well as the Agnostura bitters.  Wow!  It’s not often that I hit one out of the park on the first try, but today I did.

Grapefruit League

  • 1-1/2 oz London Dry gin
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain
  • 1 bar spoon orgeat
  • 1 dash bitters
  • grapefruit juice

Combine all the ingredients but the grapefruit juice in a collins glass with a couple of ice cubes and stir.  Fill the glass the rest of the way with ice and then top with grapefruit juice, stirring again.

Very well balanced with the orgeat and St. Germain sweetening the tart grapefruit juice just enough so that the grapefruit still shines through.  The gin provides a nice base with a bit more punch than vodka would and the bitters help tie it all together into a nice, refreshing package.  The perfect sipper while contemplating dreams of World Series titles for my Indians – shhh, don’t spoil the moment for me!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – August 6, 2012

Ok, so I don’t really have a golden stingray – at least not the kind with four wheels and a bowtie on the grille. But I did recently find an interesting cocktail by that name.

I’ve recently decided to slim down the number of different liqueurs that I have at the Twilight Lounge (33 or 34 at last count) and have been using up the items I’m not planning on stocking anymore. One of those items is my bottle of Galliano. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I have several other anisette flavored liqueurs, and outside of Harvey Wallbangers, I haven’t found much to do with it (ok, so there are two cocktails I made with it during my 365 day journey, the Powerhouse and the Salt Lake Special).

So, I dialed up the CoctailDB and searched under Galliano and found the Golden Stingray. As has happened before, my initial reaction was no way this tastes good, but I figured what the heck and gave it a whirl.

Golden Stingray

  • 1 oz quality bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Galliano
  • soda water

Fill a rocks glass with ice and add with the bourbon and Galliano. Top with soda water, stir and serve.

I have to confess that the recipe I found on CocktailDB did not include the soda. I added that to cut the sweetness of the Galliano and make it a more refreshing summer sipper (it has been awfully hot this summer!). The primary flavor is the sweet anisette of the Galliano, but it is tempered by the bourbon (I’ve used both Maker’s Mark and Four Roses Small Batch).

A pleasant enough drink, but not enough to get me to continue stocking Galliano at the Twilight Lounge. So if you want one, you better get here soon!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 27, 2012

Yes, the age old question, Coke or Pepsi, finally comes to the Twilight Lounge.  Of course, I don’t really care which is better by itself.  Who drinks just plain Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola?  No, for this taste test I’m going to drink Coke and Pepsi the way it was meant to be drunk (no, not with cocaine), with rum!

For this face off I made two rum and colas using the same recipe.  2oz of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, 1 lime wedge, a 12 oz rocks glass filled with ice, topped with the cola.  So how did our competitors fare?

The rum and Coke has that very familiar, syrupy taste, which is not surprising since probably 98% of the all rum and cola’s I’ve had in my lifetime used Coke.  So this was a very comfortable drink, kinda’ like meatloaf with mac and cheese.  It tastes good because I’m used to it and have been drinking it all my life.

The rum and Pepsi was very good with a brighter, lighter flavor.  I think this actually allowed the Sailor Jerry to be put on better display and add more to the flavor profile of the drink, especially the spices.  It’s different, and that’s good in this case.  Kinda’ like getting that mac and cheese made with smoked gouda instead of cheddar.

So, the verdict?  I liked them both.  The rum and Coke is familiar and comfortable.  But the rum and Pepsi just was a bit better as a cocktail.  I liked that the rum was more prominent.  After all, that’s I why I drink cocktails!  In my book, Pepsi is the winner!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 25, 2012

A quiet evening at home after the week in Vegas is just what I needed last Saturday.  A couple of movies and cocktails were the order of the day.  However, I wasn’t content to have the same ‘ol same ‘ol, so I started rooting around in the Twilight Lounge amongst the drink recipes.  What caught my eye was this little number called the Melon Patch (yeah, I know, they caught your eye too, didn’t they?).  With vodka as its base, I knew it would be strong enough for me, yet with melon flavored Midori and orange flavored Cointreau, I knew that Gwen would also enjoy it.

  Melon Patch

  • 1-1/2 oz Midori
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz vodka
  • soda water

 

In a shaker with ice combine everything but the soda water and shake.  Pour, ice and all, into a rocks glass and top with soda water.

The vodka and soda water do a nice job of cutting the sweetness of the Midori and Cointreau, leaving a nice, refreshing cocktail.  The combination of the flavors evokes a hint of bananna along with the orange and melon flavors of the liqueurs.  This one would be perfect for warm summer evenings or pool side on a hot day.  It’s a good thing summer isn’t that far away!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 3, 2012

Friday night was movie night around here and I had selected Patton to watch.  This definitely called for a cocktail, and I was in the mood for something new and different.  I also had a taste for St. Germain, so I went to their website to see what the had and found the Elder Fashion.  A twist on the Old Fashioned, and very straightforward to make, I decided to give it a whirl.

The original recipe called for rye whiskey, St. Germain and Angostura bitters, garnished with an orange slice.  I made the first one that way, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted – it was missing the orange/cherry components of the Old Fashioned.  So when I mixed up the second one I used orange bitters rather than Angostura.  That hit the spot!  I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of rye whiskey with orange bitters, and the St. Germain gave just the right level of sweet and that hint of elderflower.

  Elder Fashion

  • 3 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters

In a rocks glass combine all the ingredients and stir.  Add 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball, garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Much simpler to make than an Old Fashioned and just as tasty!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

 

 

Twilight Lounge – December 31, 2011 / January 1, 2012

Oh boy…another New Year’s Eve party at the Twilight Lounge is in the books, and it was …. fun!

Ok, so I’ll get to the Burning Santa in a bit.  In the past I’ve always had a signature cocktail that I mix up for the party.  This year I didn’t and we instead made it BYOB.  So I cleared out room in the fridge, had the Lounge all spiffed up and the playlist ready to go on the quadrophonic (with the concert hall effect setting on the Yamaha – try it at home, you’ll dig it the most). 

As usual, my music started in the mellower, lounge and jazzy side with selections from Vince Guarldi, Sade, Tom Jones, Air and Nouvelle Vague giving way to Amy Winehouse, the Rolling Stones, Social Distortion and then finally, as the party got cranked up (and our guests liquored up) dance music with heavy doses of 70’s disco (anyone for It’s Raining Men and the Bee Gees) along with Motown and R&B (Gap Band anyone?).

 

                                                Calm Before the Storm

Things stayed pretty mellow until midnight.  Of course (and against my will), we turned on ABC at 5 til midnight to watch that stupid ball drop on tape delay.  A champagne toast and plenty of kissing and hugging ensued.  That always seems to get the New Year’s Eve party into gear.  The dance music and booze kicked in.  The shots we were doing probably helped as well.  The first was a moonshine shot (imported from North Carolina) with moonshine marinated cherry in the bottom.  Poor Andy thought the cherry was going to be nice and sweet and offset the moonshine – little did he know!  The second speciality shot of the night was Cuervo silver with a very hot (and homemade) pickled jalapeno ring in the bottom.  That baby was fiery!

After downing a few of these specials it was time for Burning Santa.  A New Year’s Eve tradition at the Twilight Lounge (see picture above) we burn a little more of Santa each year!  Don’t ask me why – we just do it!  From there the fez came out (you know its a party when the fez comes out!) and it was game on.

Happy New Year – enjoy peace, prosperity and cocktails!

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!