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Day 309, Cocktail 311

Monday, Monday, Monday…it was just a blah kind of day this past Monday.  Very little to make it remarkable or even notable.  So how to cheer up Monday?

I pulled the Ultimate Bar Book down off the shelf in the Twilight Lounge and started flipping through it.  I headed right to the very beginning of the cocktails by spirit section, which is brandy.  I’m fairly well stocked in brandy between the cognac, brandy and Calvados that I have, so it seemed like a good place to start.  And then, there it was…the angels started singing and a single spotlight illuminated the entry.  The Barton Special Cocktail.  If this cocktail can’t make Monday special, what can?

I attempted to do some research on the history of this drink.  It does appear in the Savoy cocktail guide, but I really couldn’t find anything definitive regarding its history or just how Barton is.  However, I didn’t let that stop me from mixing one up.

  Barton Special

  • 1-1/2 oz Calvados
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz scotch

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

Ok, so I’m sure the selection of gin and scotch would make a difference in this drink.  I went with the Beefeater for the gin, figuring this would need all the oomph that a quality London dry would provide.  I used the Johnny Walker Red because, well, its what I had.  However, it’s big, smokey flavor figured to stand up to the Calvados.  Which is does, almost.  The clear flavor of this drink is the Calvados, backed by the smoky scotch.  The gin gets totally lost in this.  It really is just a huge shot…not much going on here with flavor to make this a distinctive cocktail.  I suspect some lemon and bitters would help pull this three headed beast together and tame it.  That experiment, however, will have to wait for another day.  So, alas, my Monday remained uninspired.


Day 303, Cocktail 304 & 305

Ah yes, the entire Brady clan enjoyed Alice’s pork chops and applesauce dinners…be sure to sound like a wiseguy while you say it!

No, I didn’t make pork chops and applesauce for dinner last night.  Instead, it was a pork roast with a garlic, onion and thyme rub along with mashed potatoes and braised brussel sprouts with bacon.  So no pork chops and no applesauce.  However, I felt that I needed something with apple to make the night complete.  A quick search of the CocktailDB for options and the next thing I knew I was in the Twilight Lounge whipping up the Calvados Cocktail to enjoy while I made dinner.

  Calvados Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and shake, shake, shake to mix and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, no garnish required.

A pretty decent cocktail.  A bit of a bite from the Calvados, not unusual for a brandy.  A touch of sweetness from the orange juice and Cointreau, while the orange bitters keeps the whole thing well balanced.  As an aside, the original recipe called for just one dash of orange bitters, but I amped it up and thought it was much better with two.

After dinner I was ready for dessert, and decided to try a home grown variant of the Calvados cocktail.

  Calvados Toffee

  • 1-1/2 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 drops LorAnn Gourmet English Toffee flavoring

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and shake, shake, shake to mix and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, no garnish required.

Very similar to the Calvados Cocktail with just a hint of toffee flavor that makes the drink, to me, a bit sweeter and richer.  I thought it was a very nice after dinner cocktail, but Gwen wasn’t too thrilled with it.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make this again.

I want to mention the flavorings I’ve been using lately.  I’ve mentioned before that I found these at a local cake / bake shop.  They are all labelled LorAnn Gourmet and they are a great way to have fun with cocktails on the cheap.  If you do get some, use them sparingly, they do pack a punch!


Day 250, Cocktails 248 & 249

New Year’s Eve at the Twilight Lounge, and it was quite an event!  You can check out my about page for pictures of the festivities, so I won’t get into the details here.  Suffice it to say that the night finally ended at about 4am, give or take a few minutes. 

In addition to yesterday marking the end of the year, it was also my first chance to try out my bourbon balls.  I know, you’re thinking, what the hell are bourbon balls?  As a Maker’s Mark ambassador I get a freebie every year around the holidays.  This year’s gift was a mold to make ice balls – and was I ever excited!  Being able to have a solid, round ball of ice about the size of a baseball in my glass keeping my bourbon or scotch cold is fantastic.  The size of the ball keeps the drink cold yet it melts much slower than individual cubes.  You’ll be seeing more of my cocktails using the ice balls, just like yesterday’s cocktail (artfully posed on the Twilight Lounge poker table).

So, what to do with my ice balls and get ready for the party?  My first attempt featured 2 oz of Maker’s Mark bourbon, 1/2 oz Cavados, 1/8 oz maple syrup and 2 drops of my root beer extract.  I wanted to get a bit of root beer flavor and thought it would work well with the apple flavor of the Calvados.  Hmmm, not so much.  The root beer flavor I was shooting for was barely there and Calvados gave this drink a real rough edge.  So, back to the drawing board, and in a totally new direction.

  Ball Drop

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/8 oz maple syrup
  • 3 drops root beer extract

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball.

This was nice – and it looks great too!  With just hints of orange, maple and root beer with Maker’s this ends up being a very complex cocktail.  This is a great sipper and with the giant ice ball, it stays nice and cold without getting watered down.  In fact, it took me about an hour to drink this and there was still half of the ball left!


Day 187, Cocktail 184

Friday night and I was on taxi duty for daughter number two.  She had not one, not two, but three Halloween parties that she wanted to attend.  Gwen and I made her cut it down to two, but it still left me with quite a bit of taxi duty last night.

In between all the running around I managed to come up with a new, original cocktail to help us stay in the Halloween spirit.  Apple is a natural flavor for fall and even Halloween inspired cocktails (anyone up for some bobbing for apples with Charlie Brown and the gang?).  Calvados was a natural choice for me to use.  But what to mix it with?  How about some rye whiskey and maple syrup?  The result was named by Gwen, let’s check it out!

  Caramel Apple

  • 2 oz Jim Beam rye
  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1/2 oz maple syrup

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

I did not garnish this, although an apple slice or a caramel candy would both be fun garnishes.  A more traditional garnish would be an orange peel.  As the name suggests, this did end up tasting somewhat like a caramel apple, thanks to the blend of the apple flavored Calvados and the maple syrup.  While this might not be a true Halloween cocktail, it is definately a tasty fall treat that can be enjoyed in front a fire inside or outside!


Day 185, Cocktails 180 & 181

The Halloween season officially kicked into gear tonight when I set up the Halloween village pieces while watching Psycho and enjoying the first of a week’s worth of Halloween inspired cocktails.

The first cocktail of the evening was a classic, the Corpse Reviver.  This cocktail has been around since the 1930’s and is credited to Harry Craddock who had written the Savoy Cocktail Book.  The purpose of the Corpse Reviver was to revive one the next morning after a night of drinking (a problem I don’t seem to suffer from).    As near as I can tell, this is the original recipe that Craddock used.  I mention that because there is also a Corpse Reviver II recipe (just like any good Halloween movie, there has to be a part two) which is completely different, featuring gin, Cointreau and Lillet Blanc.  Unfortunately, I won’t get to this one this week.  I did have the original tonight, and here it is.

  Corpse Reviver

  • 2 oz Calvados
  • 3/4 oz XO brandy
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

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

This is a strong one, which I guess you need to revive a corpse.  If you like brandy and Calvados, you will probably enjoy this.  If you don’t, then you may want to pass.  I drank mine, and, well, maybe it tastes better when hung over…

On to the second drink of the night, the Halloween cocktail.  I picked this recipe up from, and I enjoyed it.  Once again it was a bourbon based cocktail that when I looked at the ingredient list I thought “you’ve got to be kidding”, but it worked out very nicely.

  Halloween Cocktail

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ginger ale

Combine the Maker’s Mark, orange juice and lemon juice in a shaker with ice.  Stir and strain into a collins glass filled about 3/4 with ice cubes.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a couple of large, pitted green olives – and if you’re really creative, you’ll carve little pumpkin faces into the olives!

The original recipe called for the juice of 1/2 of a lemon.  You can do this for the sake expediency, but I like my cocktails to be consistent, which is why I settled on 1 oz of lemon juice.  The flavor is suprisingly similar to a whiskey old fashioned between the orange juice and flavor of the olives.  Both Gwen and I enjoyed this one and I wouldn’t hesitate to make this drink again – and I just may do that this weekend!


Day 178, Cocktails 173 & 174

Ok, so maybe I’m being a tad melodramatic, breaking out the Peaches and Herb, but it sounded good in my head. 

Tonight’s cocktails feature a pairing that deserve to be brought together, whether its for the first time (it is for me) or its after being seperated (most likely at birth).  Kajmir is the odd blend of vodka, brandy and vanilla flavors (a gift that must be drunk!) and Kahlua, the well known coffee flavored liqueur.  I thought these two would play well together but wasn’t satisfied with just the two of them.  Orange is definately a flavor that should work.  Thus, the first of two cocktails was born.

  Orange Mocha ‘Nilla

  • 1-1/2 oz Kajmir
  • 3/4 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Triple Sec

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and mix.  Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange peel.

It took a couple of tries to get this just right, but once I did I had a very lovely, fall flavored cocktail.  The orange of the triple sec, mocha of the Kahlua and the vanilla of the Kajmir all blend very well without being too sweet.  I think you’ll like this one.

Next I tried to play with another fall flavor, apple.  For this effort I broke out the Calvados.  Here was the final version I came up with.

  Apple Mocha ‘Nilla

  • 1-1/2 oz Kajmir
  • 3/4 oz Kahlua
  • 1/2 oz Calvados

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and mix.  Strain into a coupe, no garnish required.

Hmmm, not as good as the Orange Mocha ‘Nilla.  The Calvados is strong and even I kept dialing it back it was still front and center.  Maybe if I had gone down to 1/4 oz of Calvados, but that will have to wait for another night.


Day 170, Cocktails 165 & 166

Although the weather here over the weekend was more like summer than fall, there’s no doubt that autumn is here.  All I have to do is look out in the yard and see all the leaves on the grass to know that it’s October.  This time of year also means apple picking and making apple pies and homemade applesauce…mmm, mmm good!  At the Twilight Lounge it also means its time for the Calvados.

Just what is Calvados, you ask.  The answer is really quite simple.  It is an apple brandy that originates from the  Lower Normandy region of France.  It has been around since the days of Charlemagne in the 8th century and has continued since then pretty much the same.  Of course, modern Calvados are made by hundreds of producers, but all come from the Calvados appellation controlled region of France.

Tonight I have two cocktails that are original recipes (as far as I know) and are variations on the same theme.  The first is a classic style cocktail that I call a Nailed Apple.  The name comes from the twist that this is on a Rusty Nail

  Nailed Apple

  • 2 oz Cutty Sark scotch
  • 1 oz Drambuie
  • 1/2 oz Calvados

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Rim the glass with a twist and serve.

Very similar in flavor to the Rusty Nail, but with just a hint of apple from the Calvados.  If you are a scotch fan the fun you can have with this drink by trying different scotches is nearly endless.  For example, I think making this with a smokier scotch such as Laphroig would be an amazing cocktail.

The second cocktail of the evening is a variation that adds even more fall flavor.  I call it the Maple Apple.

  Maple Apple

  • 2 oz Cutty Sark scotch
  • 1 oz Drambuie
  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1/8 oz maple syrup
  • seltzer water

Combine all the ingredients except the seltzer water in a mixing glass with ice.  You’ll want to add the maple syrup last so that it doesn’t end up just sticking to the ice.  Stir to chill and combine.  Pour (ice and all) into a rocks glass and top with selzter water. 

I think this one turned out pretty good as well.  I can imangine sitting besides the fire pit on a crisp fall night with this drink in my hand.  The increased amount of Calvados comes through with more apple flavor while the maple syrup adds just a touch of sweetness.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Day 89, Cocktail 91

Another Friday night at the Twilight Lounge, and it’s another retro cocktail night.  With no plans for the evening it’s a great time to try a couple of new ones on for size.

The first was born out of the fact that I still had the Kajmir sitting out from the Tuesday’s effort.  I pulled my copy of “The Martini Book” of the shelf and started browsing.  (By the way, as you know, I do not condone the name of this book by Sally Berk.  It would be far more appropriate to call it the cocktail book.  Ok, I’ll move on as I did promise to limit my rants).  One recipe that caught my eye called for vanilla flavored vodka, Calvados and dry vermouth.  Hmmm, the Kajmir should do nicely in place of the vanilla vodka I reasoned.  So, my version became the Apple Pie cocktail.

  Apple Pie

  •  3 oz Kajmir
  • 1/2 oz Calvados
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth

Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake away.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a thin slice of apple (Granny Smith or another tart apple works best).

Not bad.  It is reminiscent of a slice of apple pie courtesy of the blend of Calvados and the Kajmir.  This would be great to have in about 2 months after harvesting apples and sitting in front of a roaring fire.

Gwen wasn’t wild about the Apple Pie, so it was back down to the Twilight Lounge to mix her up a drink.  I have been working on this cocktail variant of the Love and Happiness for a while now, and think it’s ready to publish.

  Gin Mint

  • 3 oz Hendricks gin
  • 3/8 oz St. Germain
  • 2 slices of cucumber, about 1/8″ thick
  • 2 slices of lime, about 1/8″ thick
  • 3-4 grains of kosher salt
  • 1 small sprig of mint

Place the St. Germain, cucumber, lime, salt and mint into a mixing glass and muddle.  Be sure to just go up and down with your muddler, do not twist.  Twisting will pulverize the mint and cucumber seeds and make it harder to strain out.  Add 4-5 ice cubes and the gin and stir thoroughly.  Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish by floating a cucumber slice.

This is a very nice, refreshing, hot summer evening cocktail (which, by the way, is exactly the kind of evening we’re having here).  The St. Germain sweetens the drink just so while the salt helps bring out the best of the cucumber.  Give this a try with one of those fresh cucumbers from you garden.  Really, go ahead, I’ll wait why get it.


Day 85, Cocktail 88

Back to cocktails tonight, but I still have some passion fruit juice left over from tiki week.  What to do?  Simple, pop open the Cocktail DB and do a search for passion fruit.  Well, if I can’t find one that I want to try from among the 48 recipes that popped up then I do have a serious problem. 

I selected a little number called the Jinx that calls for gin, Calvados, passion fruit juice and Angnosturo bitters.  I set about mixing one up down in the Twilight Lounge.  Into my shaker went ice, Bombay, Calvados and the passion fruit juice.  Shake, shake, shake and into a chilled cocktail glass.  Head for the lounge chair and the game, take a sip…and I forgot the Agnosturo.  No big deal, right.  Wrong!  My first couple of sips tasted a bit disjointed and the Calvados was giving me a harsh edge.  Back to the bar to pour this baby back into the shaker and add the dash of Agnosturo bitters that it called for.  A few shakes and back into the glass.  What a difference!  The Agnosturo was the glue that pulled this cocktail together, smoothing the Calvados and briding the apple flavor to the passion fruit.

So, tempted to skip the bitters?  Go ahead, and make it without it.  Take a couple of sips and then put the drink back in the shaker and add the bitters.  Trust me, you’ll taste the difference!


  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz passion fruit juice
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake to mix and chill.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.  No garnish needed!


You really want me to drink this?

Day 52, Cocktail 49 

As previously mentioned, sometimes the drinks at the Twilight Lounge don’t work out so well.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I had noticed that apple juice was a common ingredient in a few of the meager number of Polish cocktail recipes using Old Krupnik that I had been able to find.  Being the explorer that I am (and an afficianado of the “boozy” drink – thanks Chad!) I thought “why not use Calvados instead of apple juice?”  The answer is simple…because Calvados doesn’t mix particularly well with Old Krupnik!  I used a base of Chopin vodka and varying amounts of Old Krupnik and Calvados.  But no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t come up with anything that I’d drink again, let alone serve my friends.  In the end, I threw the mix I had into a rocks glass over ice and tried adding ginger ale to make it palatable.  Yeah, like that really helped.  So, like a doctor that buries his mistakes, this little cocktail adventure will also be buried. 

Don’t despair though, tomorrow I will have a winner for you – the Stanski, which has been a Twilight Lounge staple for years.