Skip navigation

Tag Archives: cointreau

Lincoln, NE – March 13, 2012

I feel like I could have just as easily titled this post Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I’ll explain in time, but that’s what my two separate experiences at Marz in Lincoln, NE have been like.

My first visit was last August, and the notes and pictures are still in my Blackberry, just waiting to get published.  So, with a return trip to Lincoln this week I was really looking forward to visiting Marz again and having a some great cocktails and food.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Marz is located in downtown Lincoln and has an incredible hip and cool vibe.  With 20 something foot ceilings, a very long bar lines one side and cozy velour covered half circle booths run down the other side.  With a space age decor and a comfy lounge area at the rear, and a very nifty acid jazz, chill electronic soundtrack going, I liked it as soon as I walked in the door.

During my first visit I had an ongoing conversation with the bartender who was very knowledgeable and into her craft.  She started me with a Smokey Vesper since a James Bond flick was running on the TV over the bar.  For my second drink I had the Martian Sunrise (pictured above), which features Cuervo, pineapple and pomegranate juices in a riff on the Tequila Sunrise.  A strong drink with plenty of punch from the tequila it settled in nicely once some of the ice started to melt.  Interestingly enough I also got a taste of banana from this one, and wasn’t sure if it was from the drink or the banana split I had for desert!

Along with my drinks I had a dinner of the homemade mac and cheese, which was good, very good.  All in all, my visit there last August was quite impressive.  So when I arrived in Lincoln last night I was very much looking forward to eating and drinking there again.

Boy, what a difference 7 months makes!  The atmosphere was just as hip, and given that it was in the 70’s, the outside patio was full when I arrived around 9pm.  Unfortunately, that’s about where the goodness ended and mediocrity took over.  I asked the bartender what he makes that’s unique and his.  His answer was pretty much a blank look and then mumbling something about their Manhattan’s being good.  OK, so he’s not really a bartender into cocktails.  I ordered a Sidecar Named Desire from the menu.  Consisting of Raynar VSOP cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice I was surprised when it was served with a sugared rim that had been wetted with a lime wedge.  The first two sips were overwhelmingly lime and that was spoiling the drink – not to mention that anything resembling a sidecar has no business being served in a sugared rim.

At about this time the second bartender (whose best feature, I learned, was her breasts spilling out of the top of her sundress) came over to ask how it was.  I started to ask her about the sugared rim and her answer was that the bourbon – which prompted me to correct her to brandy, she didn’t even know what was in the thing – made it strong and so they thought it should be sweetened.  I told her the lime on the rim was too much so she offered to pour into a fresh glass, which I gladly accepted.  As we continued talking I tried to point out that a cocktail like this is supposed to be strong.  Her final answer was “I just do what they tell me to do.”  So, two lifeless bartenders on duty.

So, without the lime and sugar on the rim it was drinkable, but unremarkable.  It was a bit disjointed and needed, most likely, some work on the proportions of Cointreau and lemon juice, and also, most likely, a dash of bitters.

As for my dinner, I ordered the cleverly named Moons of Pluto which were described as provolone risotto balls served with marinara sauce.  It failed to mention that they were breaded and deep fried, which was disappointing.  The risotto and cheese was good, and I would have enjoyed the balls if they hadn’t been deep fried and just drizzled with a bit of olive oil instead.  As for the marinara, it had the consistency and flavor of slightly thinned out tomato paste.  Again, disappointing.

Finally, as way of adding insult to injury, there was only one dessert item available, a honey lavender creme brulee.  I normally may have gone for it, but was dismayed by only having that one choice and passed instead.

All in all I was very disappointed by the second visit.  When back in Lincoln down the road I may try it again in the hoped of finding the good Marz is back.

Cheers?

Advertisements

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!

When in Mexico I can only drink so many margaritas (even of the avocado variety) and palomas…so what to do?  At the house we were staying at we had both silver and reposado tequilas, along with Grand Marnier (for making margaritas).  So….one night after dinner and enjoying a fine Cohiba on the patio the inspiration for the Mexican version of the classic Manhattan hit me.  And it was soooo good, especially with the fine cigar I was enjoying with it (yes, it was Cuban).  So, without further adieu, the Mexican Manhattan.

  Mexican Manhattan

  • 3 oz reposada or anejo tequila
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Pour into a rocks glass.  No garnish needed.

Upon my return home I mixed this up using the Cazadores anejo that I brought home from Puerto Vallarta (oh, so smooth) and used Cointreau (I also don’t actually have any Grand Marnier at the moment).  The orange of the Cointreau is a very nice, slightly sweet complement to the Cazadores anejo. 

Another option if you have a really good reposada or anejo is to just add a couple of dashes of orange bitters instead of Cointreau.  This will give the orange flavor without the added sweetness of the liqueur.

So, when I need to escape winter I’ll be getting that bottle of Cazadores out and reliving the sun and sand of the beach at Puerto Vallarta!

Cheers!

Has it really been four months since my last post?  I guess there was just way to much gin, bourbon and scotch during the last 120 days.  However, the good news is that I’m tanned, rested and ready!  A week in Puerto Vallarta will do that for a guy!

Of course, there was more to the vacation than family, sun and beach.  There was tequila!  One advantage to renting a house for the week was the opportunity to mix up cocktails for everyone using great, fresh local ingredients.  One of those cocktails was the above pictured Avocado Margarita.  It’s more like a cross between a smoothie and a margarita.  But with fresh limes and avocados at my disposal, I couldn’t pass this one up.

      Avocado Margarita

  • 1-1/2 oz silver tequila
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup diced avocado
  • 1 oz half and half
  • 1 tsp sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a blender with one half cup ice and puree until smooth.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lime wedge or lemon peel.

I used Patron silver since that’s what we had, and used Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau (again, that’s what we had – and, oh, by the way, makes excellent margaritas!).  This was served with a dinner of grilled shrimp, mahi mahi and rice with poblano pepper and chorizo.  It was delicious – smooth, not to sweet, not to avocado flavored and just a hint of tequila.

Unfortunately, I only had enough avocado for one round the night we did these, but I’m sure this will find its way into my glass again!

Adios amigos!

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. 

Cheers!

Day 324, Cocktail 328

An elderly woman lived on a small farm with her grandson, just yards from the border with North Dakota.  The land had been the subject of a dispute with the US for decades as to whether the farm was in the US or Canada.  One day her grandson came rushing into the house, waving a letter.  “Good news Grandma!” he shouted.  “There’s been an agreement reached between Canada and the US and our farm is in North Dakota.  You have the final approval to accept or reject the agreement.  What do you want to do?”

“Why, approve it of course” was the woman’s reply to her grandson.  “I can’t take another winter in Canada!”

Bada bum!

Ok, maybe that wasn’t my best lead in, but it was a lead in.  I found this drink while thumbing through the Ultimate Bar Book, looking for something straightforward and simple.  This fit the bill.

  Canadian Cocktail

  • 2 oz Canadian whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 2 dashes Agnostura bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or into a rocks glass with an ice ball or several large cubes.

This was a nice sipper, with just a hint of orange from the Cointreau and a nice flavor punch from the bitters.  No surprise here that I liked this, having enjoyed orange flavors in my whiskey cocktails for some time now.  By the way, I used Canadian Club for the whiskey, which is my house Canadian.

So just what makes Canadian whiskey Canadian?  Most Canadians use a base of rye, however, do not confuse them for nor substitute them in for rye whiskey.  The reason for this is that corn and other grain based neutral distilled spirits find their way into Canadian whiskey.  Flavor wise, Canadians are perhaps the most mellow and easy going of the whiskey family, often times with notes of vanilla and sweetness not found in other whiskeys.

Cheers!

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!

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 294, Cocktail 293

Yes, I’ve fallen a bit behind with the posts…not the drinks, mind you, just the posts.  This post actually harks back to last Sunday (and you thought I was going to write the herald angels sing, didn’t you!). 

So, last Sunday I was at a bit of a loss so I picked up the Ultimate Bar Book and just started thumbing through the gin section.  I came across the Guggenheim, which fit my needs for something relatively simple and for which I had everything on hand.  It also kind of fit the stream of consciousness motif I’ve been in.  You see, this is a variant on a cocktail known as the Between the Sheets, which is itself a variant of the classic Singapore Sling

  Guggenheim

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Cointreau

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish necessary.

A nice cocktail.  The orange of the Cointreau takes control of the flavor profile while the brandy and florals of the gin (I used Beefeater) played supporting roles.  Not too boozy, not too fruity, this one is just right.

Cheers!

Day 270, Cocktail 272

As I’ve meandered through brandy cocktails this week I’ve come to appreciate brandy as a base spirit.  It’s really quite versatile and has been working quite well with a number of flavors.  I’ve also noticed the number of cocktails that use Cointreau, the orange flavored liqueur.  This got me thinking about what could I come up with that would use brandy?  Orange seems to work well, but what else would?  I let my mind wander (something its good at, just ask my teachers) and finally reached the Cooper Brothers cocktail that I had created earlier in this journey.  I decided to give it a whirl, using brandy in place of the rye whiskey.

  Brandy Cooper Brothers

  • 1-1/2 oz brandy
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1/4 oz Domaine de Canton
  • 1 orange slice

Muddle the orange slice in a mixing glass.  Add ice and the liquid ingredients.  Stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Nice, very nice.  This may even taste a bit better than the original rye whiskey version – it’s a little mellower and the orange flavor seems to really pop.  You might also be wondering why I muddle the orange slice instead of just using juice.  The reason I muddle the orange slice is that I really work over the peel, getting the oils from it to release and mix with the liquid ingredients.  This adds quite a bit of flavor and aroma to the cocktail.  It’s an extra step worth taking!

Cheers!