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Tag Archives: chopin

Day 328, Cocktail 334

Last Saturday our friend Jenny threw a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband Kevin.  They had just finished their basement, including a nice bar set up.  Naturally, our gift to Kevin was a variety of barware and a bottle of vodka, Cointreau, some ginger beer, lemons and limes.  To go with this starter package was a list of four cocktails that could be made from the box.  On that list were the Moscow Mule, Kamikaze, Lemon Drop and Caipiroska.  Another advantage of inviting me and Gwen to the party is that you get a built in bartender!

I actually started out the evening sticking with the Moscow Mule, which I’ve had before is in the index.  Simple and straightforward, it is the cocktail that turned America into a vodka drinkers in the 1940’s.  Using ginger beer instead of ginger ale really makes this a treat!  However, after a couple of the mules (and a Cincinnati loss to UConn in the tournament) I was ready for something different and tried out the Lemon Drop.

  Lemon Drop

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1-1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz orange juice

Rub the edge of a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon wedge and then rim with sugar.  Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I used Luksusowa, a good Polish potato vodka.  This is a nice, girly cocktail, with the lemon and orange flavors sweetening the vodka.  If you like Cosmopolitans then you will like this one as well.

A word about vodka.  Please, please, please, don’t overspend on vodka!  You can easily spend $40 to $50 on premium vodkas.  However, unless you are a master distiller who has spent a lifetime tasting and comparing distilled spirits, you will not be able to distinguish the difference between a $20 vodka and a $50 vodka.  If you want to keep one premium around, and in the freezer, for shots (which I sometimes do), that’s fine.  My current selection of vodka includes two premiums, Grey Goose (given to me as a gift) and Chopin (purchased on sale for $30, $20 off the regular price).  The rest of my vodka selection is Sobieski and Luksusowa, both value priced at around $20 for a 1.75L. 


Day 112, Cocktails 112 & 113

The birthday bash for Mom continued today.  After a warm, sunny day at the pool something fresh and fruity seemed in order.  My brother Adam had been telling me about a gin, mango and ginger ale cocktail that he had recently had that sounded delicious.  Meanwhile, he was planning a seafood buffet for dinner this evening and I had told him about my Huiquin, a gin, sake and ginger flavored cocktail.  After some thinking, I asked Adam to pick up some mango when he went to the grocery store today.  My plan was combine the two cocktails we had talked about.  The result was the following two new cocktails.

  Momma’s Mangoes

  • 2 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1 oz Domaine de Canton
  • 1 oz dry sake
  • 2″ x 2″ slice of mango, peeled

In a shaker muddle the mango.  Really work the mango hard, nearly to a puree.  Add 3-4 ice cubes and the remaining ingredients.  Shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktial glass.  No garnish required!

Wow!  A terrific, perfect blend of flavors!  The Chopin provides a great base and the ginger flavor of the Canton and the sake work perfectly with the mango.  From the first sip to the last the layers of flavors worked well together.

The second drink was a fizz version using the same ingredients.

  Momma’s Mangoes Fizz

  • 2 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1 oz Domaine de Canton
  • 1 oz dry sake
  • seltzer water
  • 2″ x 2″ slice of mango, peeled

In a pint glass muddle the mango into a puree.  Add the remaining ingredients and a couple of ice cubes.  Stir to mix.  Fill the glass with ice and top with selzter water.  Stir and enjoy.

A larger, refreshing version, great of cookouts and afternoon sipping.  Because of the selzter the flavors are not quite as bold, but this still works very well.

The neat thing about today is that it shows how easy it is to adapt a basic recipe to multiple uses.  Give it a try yourself and let me know how it goes!


James Thurber

Day 69, Cocktails 65, 66

“One martini is alright, two martinis are too many and three martinis are not enough.”  I have to say that James Thurber’s take on martinis is spot on!  Through the lens of history I remain jealous of the cohort that enjoyed the golden age of nightclubs, dining, entertainment and cocktails of the 50’s and 60’s, as Thurber did.

In our own little way Gwen and I try to relive the swank life when we are at home on Friday nights, such as last night.  After a swim in the pool and having fired up the grill we contemplated which movie to watch (Gwen’s job) and what martini style cocktail to enjoy (my job).  Normally the cocktail would be a straight up martini, but since I’m on this little adventure, the order of the day is something new.  Also, note that I wrote martini style cocktail.  To me, there is only one cockatil called a martini.  It does drive me to distraction when we go to a bar or lounge and are offered the opportunity to peruse the “martini” menu.  It’s not a martini menu, its a cocktail menu!  A martini is a cocktail!  It would be like going to an Italian restaurant and looking over the spaghetti section of the menu and seeing penne, ziti and linguine!

Whew, OK, I got that off my chest.  So, back to the cocktails for the night.  I pulled my copy of the “Martini Book” by Sally Ann Berk off the shelf down in the Twilight Lounge (I know, the book’s title is incorrect, but I’ve finished whining for now), and started browsing for a cocktail to make.  After a bit of searching I decided to try a modified version of what is called the Cold Comfort.

  Cold Comfort

  • 3 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz krupnik honey liqueur

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake to chill.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

While not to Gwen’s liking I did enjoy this crisp, lemon – honey flavored drink built on a solid foundation of vodka.  At 3-1/2 oz of 80 proof liquor it definately qualifies as boozy, which makes it a good starter for a night in.

For round two I decided to strike out on my own after mixing up a virgin cocktail for #2 daughter that included orgeat syrup.  Orgeat is an almond flavored bar syrup, essential for any well stocked tiki bar (more on that topic in upcoming posts). 

  Blue Almond

  • 3 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/8 oz orgeat

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes and stir, stir, stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

This was much more agreeable to Gwen and I enjoyed it as well.  I was able to strike a nice balance of orange flavor from the curacao with sweet almond from the orgeat.  Of course, the blue color is always pretty in a chilled cocktail glass.

As for the movie, we got about 1/2 way through Slumdog Millionaire.  Not exactly cocktail swilling fare, but a very powerful film.  If you haven’t seen it yet and want to feel fortunate for what you have then by all means, watch it.


Day 54, Cocktail 50

Round one of Polish Fest is over, with round two to come later tonight.  The pierogies and stuffed cabbage rolls from Busia’s were great and a nod also goes to the potato pancakes (although they were not quite as good as my own homemade pancakes).  Among tonights festivities will be the vodka tasting, which I will report on in my next post.

Several years ago, I was getting ready for Polish Fest and fooling around with my first bottle of Old Krupnik.  After a few tweaks, the Stanski was born – one of my earliest original cocktails.  It is still a Polish Fest favorite at the Twilight Lounge.


  • 1 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1 oz Old Krupnik
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • ginger ale

Fill a shaker with ice cubes and add the vodka, Krupnik and Peychaud’s.  Shake to mix and then strain into a rocks glass with 4-5 ice cubes.  Top with the ginger ale.


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. 


The Archies knew what they were singing about...

Day 49, Cocktails 45 & 46

The Polish Fest countdown continues.  You know that this has to be the biggest, best Polish festival in the country when the web site is simply … no “Milwaukee” or any other modifier!

Tonight, I wanted to work something with Old Krupnik.  Krupnik is a traditional Polish liquor that has been around since the 1300’s.  It is distilled from grain and is flavored with honey and an unnamed host of herbs.  The Old Krupnik that I have at the Twilight Lounge comes from the Starogard distillery located in Gdansk.  It is honey flavored, but hints of all the other goodies inside hit you at different times when sipping. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), recipes that use Old Krupnik are few and far between.  I have one that I created a couple of years ago for Polish Fest that will be posted later this week.  Most of what my research turned up calls for apple juice, which I didn’t have.  Another common mixer with Old Krupnik seems to be ginger beer or ginger ale.  Now that did make sense, but I wanted to see if I could use the ginger flavored Domaine de Canton instead.  So after a couple of iterations, here’s what I was able to concoct:

  Chopin’s Honey

  • 1 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1 oz Old Krupnik
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 3/8 oz Domaine de Canton

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes.  Stir until you can’t stir any more and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange peel.

Between the Krupnik, Cointreau and Canton you have pretty sweet drink.  For me, I couldn’t drink these all night.  But having one before dinner will certainly help whet your appetite.  This vodka gives this cocktail its base while the honey of the Krupnik takes front and center.  The orange and ginger flavors of the Cointreau and Canton provide interesting undertones for you taste buds to discover.

Tonight’s second effort is similar but different (yeah, right…).  I found this recipe on line while looking doing a google search for Polish cocktails.  Incidentally, for the amount of vodka produced and consumed in Poland you’d think there would be more.  Apparently, the folks in the motherland just drink the stuff straight! 

  Rose of Warsaw

  • 1-1/2 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes.  Stir, stir, and stir some more.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

This drink really showcases the Luxardo.  Although I enjoy Luxardo, I wish I had dialed back to amount to maybe 1/2 oz so that the Chopin would have a chance to shine.

Well, that’s all for tonight.  Have a favorite way you like your Polish vodka?  Let me know!