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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!

Day 343, Cocktails 348, 349 & 350

Monday evening found me at Ivee’s On Main to watch the NCAA basketball final.  While the game may have been lackluster, the cocktails were not!  Recently Colleen Graham had posted the Fancy Whiskey in her cocktail blog.  I thought it looked like a pretty good drink.  Plus, it easily lent itself to doing a multiple versions and some serious tasting comparisons based on the type of whiskey used.  So, in the name of science and to be able to give you a complete report I embarked on a fancy whiskey journey.

First, the Fancy Whiskey recipe is:

  Fancy Whiskey

  • 2 oz whiskey(of your choice)
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • dash Agnostura bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to combine and blend.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

So, the recipe is pretty straightforward.  Let’s see how things worked out as I tried different whiskies.  The first was made with Maker’s Mark bourbon.  It was good, with the flavor reminiscent of a Manhattan, except orange flavored.  While 1 oz of bar syrup sounds like a lot, it did not overly sweeten the drink.  The use of triple sec helped with this cause since it is not as sweet as Cointreau is.  The bitters also help to keep the sweetness in line.  All in all, a good drink.

For the second variant I moved to Scotch and had Davey make it with Dewar’s.  It was very similar in taste to the Maker’s Mark version with a smokey peat element from the Scotch.  Depending on your specific taste you could amp up the smokey component of this drink by using a stronger single malt such as Laphroaig.  Again, a very good cocktail that I wouldn’t hesitate to order or make in the future.

Finally, for version three I switched to Canadian whiskey, Canadian Club to be specific.  This version was the least memorable of the bunch, probably owing to Canadian whiskey’s mellow character, particularly when compared to bourbon and Scotch.  It was a good cocktail, but didn’t have the heft that the first two versions had.  Think of this as the Fancy Whiskey lite!

All in all, three good cocktails.  Maybe those boys from Butler should have tried one of these, it couldn’t have hurt there shooting!

Cheers!

Day 336, Cocktail 341

Monday evening at the Twilight Lounge and I kept looking at the little bit of champagne left over from the weekend.  I needed a cocktail that would make use of my bubbly before it went totally flat on me.  But what to make?  A quick trip to the CocktailDB and a search on champagne gave me my answer.  The Americana cocktail called for champagne and “100 proof” bourbon, among other ingredients.  What better time to break out the Wild Turkey.  Not only is it 101 proof, but what could be more American for the Americana cocktail?  After all, none other than founding father Benjamin Franklin wanted to designate the turkey as our national bird.  So I gathered up the ingredients and went to work.

  Americana Cocktail

  • 1/4 oz Wild Turkey bourbon
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 1 dash Agnostura bitters
  • champagne

Combine the Wild Turkey, bitters and bar syrup in a mixing glass with a little cracked ice.  Stir to combine and strain into a chilled coupe.  Top with champagne and give a quick stir.

Basically, this is champagne with a kick.  There is so little Wild Turkey in this drink compared to the champagne and even the bitters, that I could barely notice it.  However, it was a nice way to use up the last of the champagne!

Cheers!

Day 335, Cocktail 340

Every good movie (and, unfortunately, some not so good movies) deserves a sequel.  In the case of the Godfather, there were two sequels.  And hey, maybe if were lucky, there will be a fourth! 

So, Saturday’s cocktail is a sequel of a previous drink.  Our friend Patti was home alone this weekend with Greg out of town on family business.  So Gwen made plans for the three of us to go out to dinner and then karaoke.  Our dinner stop was Amici’s in Richfield.  We all had wonderful Italian meals, and of course, cocktails.  While Gwen and Patti had martinis (Bombay and Grey Goose respectively) I chose the Godfather Martini.  I know, it should not be called a martini, but I bit my tongue and ordered it anyway.  Essentially, this is the close cousin to the previously posted Godfather cocktail.  The Amici’s version is made with Dewar’s scotch while my Godfather uses Maker’s Mark bourbon.  Both, of course, have amaretto in them. 

So how was it?  Pretty good.  The proportions of scotch and amaretto (which I did not get) were just right, providing a nice balance between the smokey flavor of the Dewar’s and the nutty, almond flavor of the amaretto.  This is a slightly sweet cocktail, so be prepared for that if you are a boozy cocktail fan.  It won’t knock you over with sugar like some fruity ice cream drink, but it’s not like having a scotch on the rocks or Manhattan either.

As for the karaoke, well that went just fabulous as well.  Of course, after a cocktail or two, my singing always gets better!

Cheers!

Day 327, Cocktail 333

Friday was a relaxing day for me, a time to recharge after the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  No, I was not hungover (I’m a professional, after all).  I had just minimized my schedule so that I didn’t have anything that had to be done.

In Wisconsin, Friday’s are fish fry day, and that goes all year long, not just for Lent.  Gwen’s Newcomer’s group had put together a trip to a local bowling alley for their fish fry and bowling last Friday.  Being a former kegler myself I was more than happy to go along.

While we were bowling Gwen offered to get me a drink from the bar and I asked for my usual bourbon and coke.  I say usual because when I’m at a typical neighborhood tavern kind of place that’s what I stick with (unless I order an old fashioned, Wisconsin’s state drink).  So I was just a tad disappointed when she came back with a bourbon and seven, which is her drink.  It was an honest error, and the good news is that it counts towards my goal since I haven’t had one in I don’t know how long.  I am going to dispense with the recipe, however.  I’m sure you know how to make one of these already.  My next post will get back into the normal routine!

Cheers!

Day 321, Cocktails 326 & 327

Last Saturday, after the couple of tiki cocktails that I had whipped up, the girls were ready for something different.  There’s been a bit of a buzz over the last year for cocktails that are mixed with tea (and for liquor bottled with tea) that I’ve largely ignored.  However, with a couple of adult beverages already in me, my inhibitions were lowered and I decided to give tea based cocktails a try.

For this effort I pulled out my bottle of Evan Williams bourbon and my Stirrings Peach liqueur.  These are two flavors that go well together and also seemed a natural to go with a Southern inspired tea based cocktail – particularly since I’d be using Gwen’s sweet tea.  After fooling around with the bourbon, peach liqueur, tea and maple syrup (yes, that’s right, maple syrup – it adds depth to the flavor profile)  I settled on two versions of the same cocktail.  One is sweeter and one is more boozy, thus fitting Gwen’s and my tastes.

  Sweet Peach Tea

  • 1-1/2 oz Evan Williams bourbon
  • 1/8 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 4 oz sweet tea

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to chill and combine.  Pour into a collins glass, adding ice if needed.  Garnish with a peach slice.

This drink has a nice, sweetly mellow flavor.  I really had to cut down on the peach liqueur, having started with 1/2 oz.  Even that small amount overwhelmed the drink.  However, for my taste, this was a bit too sweet, so I adjusted it for my taste.

  Peach Tea

  • 2 oz Evan Williams bourbon
  • 1/8 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 4 oz sweet tea

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to chill and combine.  Pour into a collins glass, adding ice if needed.  Garnish with a peach slice.

This version gets closer to the boozy cocktails that I prefer while still maintaining all its southern charm.  With more bourbon and less tea there is a deeper, smokier quality and the maple notes come through stronger as well, which make a nice compliment to the bourbon and peach.

By the time we got through these cocktails it was definitely time to call it a night…which, of course, we didn’t do.  The cocktail experimenting was definitely over though!

Cheers!

Day 311, Cocktail 313

Wednesday was my friend and Men’s League founder Mark’s birthday.  I had invited him to come over to the Twilight Lounge for a drink, but he instead invited me over for a cocktail so he could show off his latest effort, as well as his new bar room in his basement.  The room is spectacular, with stone walls, a beamed ceiling and a table and benches that Mark assembled and antiqued himself – and this table is so solid I’m sure it could take a direct hit from a cruise missile!

The cocktail was also solidly built and delicious.  Here it is:

  Mark’s Bourbon Pear

  • 1-1/2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz Mathilde Pear liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredient in a shaker with ice and shake to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a couple of basil leaves.

Excellent cocktail Mark!  The pear is evident and softens the bourbon, making for a very drinkable, yet boozy cocktail.  And the basil garnish adds a nice botanical scent and flavor to the drink.  A cocktail that I highly recommend!

Cheers!

Day 300, Cocktails 298, 299 & 300

Saturday night marked day 300 – I’m in the final stretch now!  Since we stayed home Saturday night it was easy to knock back three new cocktails while we enjoyed watching Dr. No (a James Bond classic with Sean Connery) and then Frost Nixon.  Both movies were evocative of classic style cocktails, so that’s what I stuck with for the night.

The first cocktail was from the old Tiki Bar TV podcast.  Unfortunately, Tiki Bar TV seems to have met its demise, but the catalog of 40 some odd episodes is still available on ITunes.  Check it out – it’s the most!

  Suffering Bastard

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lime
  • ginger ale

In a mixing glass combine the gin, bourbon and lime juice and stir.  Strain into a tiki glass with cracked ice.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a mint sprig.

This is really a variant on the classic mules, although the use of the bourbon and gin makes it quite different from the versions using tequila and vodka.  It was quite tasty, and with the mint garnish, really has a tiki feel to it.

After the Suffering Bastard, I switched us to a gin based martini style drink.  We were watching Frost Nixon by then, and a martini just seemed like the drink to have.  I picked out something called the Sweet Martini from The Martini Book by Sally Ann Berk.

  Sweet Martini

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in mixing glass with ice and stir to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

The sweet version of my classic martini, this was good.  The use of orange bitters instead of the standard Agnostura was nice, offsetting the sweetness of the vermouth. 

After the orange bitters flavor of the Sweet Martini, I had a hankering for something with rye and orange – I know, a big surprise!  Here’s what I put together.

  Frost Nixon

  • 2-1/2 oz Old Overholt rye
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • orange slice

Place an orange slice in a shaker with ice cubes and add the rest of the ingredients.  Shake, shake, shake to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

A combination of a Manhattan and my favorite rye and orange combination.  Very tasty with hints of fresh orange juice and the orange bitters providing depth to the rye and vermouth.

As I finished up this cocktail the movie also finished up and it was time to call it a night.  And some night it was!

Cheers!

Day 299, Cocktails 296 & 297

Tonight’s first cocktail is courtesy of the Dinner Party Download (to which, if you are not already subscribed to, you should be!)  The history behind the cocktail was the marriage of Charles Sherwood Stratton, better known as Tom Thumb, to Lavinia Warren in 1863.  The wedding was a huge spectacle, and may have been the wedding of the century.  Although many at the time considered yet another publicity stunt by P.T. Barnum, by all accounts the couple was very much in love.

The cocktail itself was created by John Ginetti of 116 Crown in New Haven, CT, the birthplace of Stratton and Sherwood.  It’s called the 4th and Clyde.

  4th and Clyde

  • 1 oz Hendrick’s gin
  • 1 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz St. Germain
  • 1/8 oz honey
  • pinch of chili flakes

In a mixing glass, with no ice, combine all the ingredients and stir to combine.  You need to do this warm in order to get the honey to incorporate.  Once blended, add ice and stir to chill.  Double strain into a chilled coupe.

A very nice cocktail that is well balanced.  Slightly sweet from the honey and St. Germain with a touch of heat from the chili that helps bring the bourbon forward.  I really enjoyed this cocktail.

This led me to tweak the recipe just a bit to create what I called the Tom Thumb.

  Tom Thumb

  • 1 oz Hendrick’s gin
  • 1 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz St. Germain
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/8 oz maple syrup

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

Subtle changes to the ingredient list, but big changes in flavor.  The orange of the Cointreau really balances very nicely with the St. Germain’s elderflower, but maintains the sweetness.  The maple syrup replaces the chili flakes, taking the heat away, but allowing the bourbon to still come through nicely.  Not what I’d consider a boozy cocktail with all the sweet ingredients, but not overly sweet either, as was the case with the 4th and Clyde.

Give this pair a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Day 292, Cocktails 289 & 290

The Dinner Party Download has been a favorite podcast of mine for a while now.  The unique blend of cocktails, current events and food put you in perfect position, as the hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam remind you weekly, to win this week’s dinner party.  I enjoy the interviews that they do as well as the history and cocktail segment.  In this segment you get a tidbit from history and then, a cocktail to commemorate the event.  Last week’s event was the accidental loss of an H-bomb by the US Air Force during an exercise off the coast of Georgia.  The bomb is still out there somewhere, at the bottom of the Atlantic and is now known as the Tybee bomb.  And thus, this cocktail was born!

  Tybee Bomb

  • 2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 maraschino cherry, soaked in moonshine for 2 days

Combine all the ingredients, except the cherry, in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a cocktail glass and drop the marinated cherry into the bottom for garnish.

Wow, what a great cocktail (and yes, I do have moonshine, so I was able to marinate the cherry in it – I think Pisco or cherry brandy would also work if you don’t have ‘shine laying about the bar).  Silky smooth thanks to the egg white with hints of cherry and just a bit of bite from the moonshine soaked cherry.  This was my first foray into egg white cocktails at home and it was delicious!  Thanks Rico and Brendan!

I would have made another on Friday while Gwen and I were waiting to go out for dinner, but we were limited on our egg availability.  So I went in a completely different direction for my second effort of the night.  I put 2 oz of Maker’s Mark bourbon in my shaker with ice and 2 orange slices and a drop of my English Toffee flavoring.  I shook hard and long and then strained it into a rocks glass with a bourbon ball and an orange slice for a garnish.  It was enjoyable, but not quite right.  I got the hint of toffee flavor that I wanted, but it was pretty strong with bourbon.  I think either Cointreau or triple sec would help this out, and maybe a dash of bitters.  I’ll have to play around with this one some more and let you know what I come up with.

Cheers!