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Tag Archives: bourbon

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!

Minneapolis, MN – August 18, 2012

Recently Gwen and I found ourselves in Minneapolis for a weekend for a back to school shopping expedition to the Mall of America – but that’s another story.  The good news is that we were able to meet up with my good friend Ashish and his wife Lori for cocktails.  Ashish had picked out the Marvel Bar, and it was a winner!

The Marvel bar has a definite urban hipster vibe, from the low leather seating to the cool funk, jazz and electronica playing in the background.  On this Friday night the crowd cut across all age groups and was mostly dressed to impress.  However, the star of the show were the many craft cocktails on the menu, chock full of homemade ingredients.  Be prepared to wait as these drinks aren’t just sloshed into a shaker and then poured.  They do take some time to put together.

My favorite of the night was the Lincoln County.  Consisting of charcoal filtered Antica Formula vermouth, Campari and Cabin Still bourbon, this was an incredibly complex and amazing cocktail.  The Antica Formula is an Italian red vermouth that is deeper and richer than most sweet vermouths.  With the added charcoal flavor this was the dominant flavor, followed by the herbal bitterness of the Campari.  I was not familar with Cabin Still bourbon, but it did provide an excellent, if not economical base for the cocktail.  I thoroughly enjoyed this sipper and look forward to having it again!

All in all the Marvel bar stacked up well to its excellent press clippings and the praise the Ashish had heeped on it.  A definite must stop place when you’re in Minneapolis!

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!

Milwaukee, WI – February 16, 2012

As some of you know, I’m a fan of the Dinner Party Download podcast from NPR (and now a bona fide radio show).  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.  It’s lively, it’s entertaining and it helps prepare you for the weekend’s dinner party or other social events.  And, it has a weekly cocktail!

A while back (in October of 2010 to be exact) they ran a history bit regarding the great London Beer Flood of 1814.  It seems that a vat filled with 135,000 imperial gallons of beer gave way, causing more vats of beer to also collapse.  In the end over 320,000 imperial gallons of beer crashed out of the brewery and into the surrounding neighborhood, killing nine and destroying a number of homes and businesses (including several taverns).   

So where else to get a cocktail to remember the event than Milwaukee?  A call was made to Bryant’s looking for an appropriate cocktail, and bartender Katie Rose was up to the task, creating the “Last Call to Porter” for the show. 

Fast forward a year and a half, and, finally, I was at Bryant’s on an evening when Katie Rose was on duty.  I asked if she had what she needed to make me the Last Call to Porter, and, yes, she did!

  Last Call to Porter

  • 1 oz Knob Creek bourbon
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine
  • Porter beer

Combine the bourbon, Chartreuse and Benedictine in a shaker with ice and shake hard.  Strain into a chilled coupe and top with your favorite porter.

A wonderful, woody flavor emerged and danced across my tongue.  The combination of the liqueurs and the porter leave an impression of Aperol, but the finish is much stronger and is a very nice mix of sweet and bitter.  A fantastic effort by Katie Rose!

As to how she came up with the ingredients, she makes it sound easy.  The Knob Creek is aged for nine years and thus represents the nine who died in the flood.  The Chartreuse and Benedictine were selected since beer was originally invented by monks (and these two liqueurs were as well).  And the porter – well, you shouldn’t have to ask.

So, the next time you stop by Bryant’s and Katie Rose is behind the bar ask for a Last Call to Porter.

Cheers!

May 25, 2011 – The Twilight Lounge

About a week and a half ago it was a quiet evening at home  – perfect for a bourbon based cocktail as I contemplated what I needed to get done the next day.  I started flipping through some of my cocktail books and found this little number.

  Gall Bracer

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/8 oz grenadine

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a rocks glass with 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball.  Squeeze a lemon twist over the top of the glass (discarding afterwards) and garnish with a cherry.

To properly mix, be sure to add the bitters first, then the grenadine and then the bourbon.  This applies anytime you are using bitters – adding it first to your ice will ensure it is fully incorporated, especially when you are stirring your cocktail (as opposed to shaking). 

In the Gall Bracer I used Knob Creek and this was a delicious sipper.  With just a hint of the Angostura and grenadine to mellow the bourbon out it really allows the flavor of the Knob Creek to come through as the king of this cocktail.  The flavors are actually reminiscent of a Manhattan, with the grenadine taking the place of what traditionally would be sweet vermouth.

Cheers!

 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I’m sure by now you know that Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby yesterday.  And I’m nearly as sure that if you had any interest in race at all that you had a mint julep while you watched it, wearing your best party hat, of course.  Gwen and I also settled in to watch the race, and yes, she did have a party hat on.  We also had mint juleps, but not your traditional julep.

Juleps were originally developed as medicinal “tonics” to cure whatever might be ailing you during the 15th century.  A mixture of herbs, sugar and water, eventually alcoholic ingredients such as brandy or Cognac were introduced.  Over time mint became the herb used in juleps and then in the late 1800’s Kentucky bourbon become the choice of liquor to use.  Thus, the modern mint julep was born. 

As with most classic cocktails, there are certain standards and controversy about how to make a proper mint julep.  If you really want to be proper you will use a silver julep cup.  Using a julep cup allows the outside surface to become frosted over from the ice in the cup and adds a touch of elegance.  However, if you don’t have a julep cup (I don’t) you can use any tall cocktail glass.  I used a collins glass for mine on Saturday. 

The second point of contention in the making of a mint julep is just where and how the mint is used.  Some will simply garnish the julep with a large bunch of mint leaves extending from the top of the glass.  This presentation gives you a nice scent of mint with each sip of the julep.  Others will muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass before adding the ice and bourbon.  And what do I do?  Why, both of course! 

I do enjoy a good julep, especially on Derby day.  However, this year I decided to make a variation of the mint julep to provide a bit more flavor.  Here’s my recipe for a Peachy Mint Julep.

  Peachy Mint Julep

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1 bar spoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 4 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon

In the bottom of a collins glass gently muddle the mint with the sugar and peach liqueur.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the bourbon.  Stir to mix and chill using a bar spoon.  Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves extending above the rim of the glass and serve with a straw.

The Stirrings Peach Liquer adds just a hint of peach flavor and sweetness to complement the mint and the charcoal, smokey notes of the Maker’s Mark.  This is particularly a good way to get your non-bourbon drinking friends to try a julep since it is a bit mellower than a traditional julep.

Cheers!

Day 365, Cocktail 365

Whew!  The last cocktail of my year long sojourn is finally here – and I can hardly believe its been year since I started!  It’s really been quite the journey and I’ve had some very interesting cocktails…along with a few clunkers.  So as I contemplated what to make as my 365th cocktail I decided to try to find something that would combine two of my favorite ingredients, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Luxardo maraschino liqueur.  There aren’t a lot of recipes that call for this combination, but I did find one that would fit the bill.

  Bourbon Crusta

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

Mmm, a nice, tart cocktail that highlights the maraschino.  The bourbon comes in on the back end of this drink but it really does a nice job of showcasing the maraschino.  Typically, a crusta also would include a sugared rim, which I skipped, half out of expediency to get to the drink and half out of the fact that I didn’t want the extra sugar.  However, if this drink is too tart for you, just add a 1/4 oz of bar syrup.

So, in the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny, that’s all folks!

Cheers!

Day 362, Cocktails 361 & 362

…but it turned out I was mistaken.

So tonight’s mea culpa is that I had a miscount on my days.  I’ve actually been off by two days, and it’s two days the wrong way, meaning I have 2 less days to complete my journey.  Fortunately I was ahead of the count in terms of cocktails, so all is well.  However, I’m sure Andy will have something to say about all this!

Now, back to the fun stuff – the cocktails!  I did two last night, the first a recipe from Dale Degroff’s “The Craft of the Cocktail” that I selected for its ease of mixing and cool sophistication.

  Black Rose

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash grenadine

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a rocks glass over an ice ball.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

For this drink I used Knob Creek bourbon and it was a winner!  The deep, charcoal flavor of the bourbon was mellowed ever so slightly by the grenadine and Peychaud’s.  It was reminiscent of a Manhattan, but without the sweetness and allowed the bourbon to still be the star.  I really liked this drink and will definitely be having it again!

Unfortunately, Gwen didn’t really appreciate the Black Rose.  She asked me to make something with cucumber, so here’s what I put together for her.

  Cucumber Mule

  • 2 cucumber slices, about 1/4″ thick
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 2 oz Cazadores tequila
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1-1/2 oz Old Ballycastle ginger
  • Seltzer water

Muddle the cucumber and bar syrup in the bottom of a collins glass.  Add the tequila, lime juice and ginger and stir.  Fill the glass with ice and top with seltzer water.

Mmmm, a nice variation of the Monterrey Mule that lets the hint of cucumber compliment the ginger and tequila.  I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing cocktail and can’t wait to have it on a warm summer evening – assuming summer does show up around here sooner or later….

Cheers!

Day 347, Cocktail 355

Yes, I’m still alive – although based on my 50th some of you may have thought I’d dropped dead!  Actually, what has happened is that I’ve started a new job that requires a fair amount of travel.  Last in particular was hectic, but on the other hand I will have the opportunity to try new cocktails while travelling, so all is well.  Now to the task at hand, getting caught up here.

A week ago Friday I was back to egg fizz cocktails, finishing up the exploration I had begun earlier that week.  The last cocktail of this side journey was inspired by the earlier reported Whiskey Fizz, but with addition of egg white.  Since the gin version of this cocktail in Degroff’s “The Craft of the Cocktail” is called the Silver Fizz, I decided to name this one the Golden Fizz.

  Golden Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • lemon lime soda

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, bar syrup and egg white in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously to combine and get a nice emulsion going with the egg white.  Strain into a chilled Delmonico glass and top with lemon lime soda.

Mmmm, this is good.  The extra body and creaminess from the egg really takes what was a Whiskey Fizz to a new level.  This drink is even pleasing to the eye with its white, foamy head.  You can also use any good bourbon or rye whiskey in this one.

Cheers!

Day 345, Cocktail 352

Wednesday was my window of opportunity to smoke some beef brisket.  As some of you already know, when I roll out the smoker and make BBQ, whether it’s pork shoulder, brisket, turkey or ribs, it’s an all day affair for me.  And to be honest, I enjoy it immensely, in part because it’s a great reason to sit outside most of the day and sip bourbon laced cocktails!

Typically I would have enjoyed a simple bourbon and cola or perhaps just on the rocks.  When I lived in the Carolina’s it would have been bourbon and Mello Yello (if you haven’t tried that you do not know what you’re missing!).  On Wednesday I decided to be adventurous and a recipe I found at Drinks Mixer website.  Here it is:

  Bourbon Black Hawk

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz sloe gin

Combine the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice and stir to mix.

A pretty straightforward drink, which is, frankly, overly sweet and doesn’t allow for much of the character of the bourbon to come through.  I used Evan Williams bourbon but could hardly tell it was there through the sloe gin.  I guess it was nice to try, but I don’t expect to make this one again.

As for the brisket, well, it turned out rather nicely!

Cheers!