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wait-whatThe Twilight Lounge – February 16, 2017                                                                               Wait… What?  This cocktail has been done before?

I decided to hit the Drambuie tonight, mostly because I just want to finish the bottle (it’s about half empty) to clear the space for something else.  While it’s nice to have around and I don’t mind it once in a while on the rocks, it is really, really sweet.  And that’s just not my taste.  Really.

So a quick search of the CocktailDB for Drambuie got me to the Flora’s Own cocktail.

Flora’s Own

  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz Gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1-1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pretty simple.  And sweet.  Cloyingly sweet.  Syrupy sweet.  Really, really sweet.  Ok, you get the idea.  I really thought the vermouth and gin would cut into the Drambuie, but the honey, syrupy sweetness is still there in spades, with a bit of vermouth on on the aftertaste to provide a bit of floral lightness.  The gin is barely there.  Maybe if I had used a London Dry instead of the lighter Plymouth it would have helped cut into the Drambuie.

But why the Wait… What?  I did a quick search for the Flora’s Own online, hoping to find something about it’s origin.  I mean, it does seem like something that might have come from the mists of time, or at least Scotland or Britain.  I wish I could say, as I didn’t find anything on the origin.  What I did find were two other cocktail blogs in the top 3 or 4 posts that had also featured the Flora’s Own!  So much for finding something unusual!




The Twilight Lounge – March 12, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and as is usual, I’ll be pub crawling all day with my pal Mike.  We’ve been doing our St. Patrick’s day drink fest for 6 or 7 years and this year will be no different.  We’ll start at 6am at Bub’s Irish Pub in Germantown, work our way to Erin for post parade fun at the Tally Ho and then work back towards town.  There will be plenty of Irish whiskey, Guinness, corned beef and fair lasses in green to be sure!

As a prelude to the glorious day itself, I’ve been enjoying Irish inspired cocktails.  This one in particular caught my eye as I perused the Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.

Dancing Leprechaun

  • 1-1/2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • ginger beer

Add the whiskey, Drambuie and lemon juice to a shaker with ice.  Shake then strain into an ice filled Collins glass.  Add ginger beer to the top, stir and garnish with a lemon twist.

I used Tullamore Dew whiskey, which I like as much for it’s reasonable cost as I do it’s slightly smoky flavor.  Irish whiskey and ginger beer has long been a favorite of mine, and this cocktail is a nice twist on the typical Irish and ginger beer.  The Drambuie gives a bit of sweetness and a spicy, nutty flavor that I enjoyed.  It’s a refreshing cocktail that would be fun on a warm summer day (soon to be here) as well as on St. Patrick’s Day.



June 21, 2011 – La Crosse, WI

I’d been hearing about the Starlite Lounge for years from my buddy Greg.  His daughter Katie had gone to college at UW La Crosse and as a result, Greg and Patti had numerous opportunities to enjoy the retro and swinging atmosphere of the Starlite.  So, when I had the opportunity to spend a night in La Crosse on a recent business trip I knew exactly where I was headed.  As luck would have it, I even managed to select a hotel right next to the Starlite…it was fate!

Beca was behind the bar for the evening and proved to be an incredibley good bartender and host.  She took care of all her guests deftly and during the peak rush was banging out martinis and various assorted cocktails with no muss and no fuss.  Great job Beca!

The decor of the Starlite is exactly what you’d expect.  Plenty of 50’s style light fixtures and vinyl covered bachelor pad chairs down in classic Howard Johnson aqua and orange.  A mix of Rat Pack and other lounge music was in the background, loud enough to add to the atmosphere, but soft enough not to be intrusive. 

As I perused the cocktail menu, my eye immediately was drawn to the drink I knew I’d have to have first.  The Daddy-O martini just called to me, and I could not resist its singsong melody.  Made with four parts vodka and one part dry vermouth, and garnished with an olive, it was the perfect way to unwind from the days meetings and travels. 

As I contemplated what to have from the appetizer menu I next had a Rusty Nail (yeah, by now Beca was beginning to think I was old…).  Made with Macgregor and Drambuie, this was a nice follow up to the martini, was well made, and went with the seafood stuffed mushrooms perfectly.

For a night cap, I finally cajoled Beca into making me her favorite drink.  Given that it is Wisconsin, she popped out an excellent and authentic Brandy Old Fashioned, complete with muddled orange and cherries at the bottom of the glass and an extra dose of bitters.  I have to admit that the bitters through me for a bit and I originally guessed that it was whiskey, but Beca was delighted to correct me on that score.  It was perfect way to end my visit to this terrific throwback lounge!

Day 319, Cocktail 322

Ok, so not everyone is into Nutty Irishmen or Car Bombs (or Guinness for the matter) for St. Patrick’s day.  Some of us are looking for leprechaun’s and their pots of gold.  Poor little buggers, working their fingers to the bone making shoes, only to have some blundering idiot steal their earnings!

Whew!  Well, I had come across a cocktail called the Dancing Leprechaun in the Ultimate Bar Book while getting ready for last Saturday’s NID.  It looked good, but a little to complicated to mess with at a dinner party, so I didn’t use that night.  However, it was just the drink for Thursday night.  So I mixed one up and hoped to find a leprechaun’s pot of gold…

  Dancing Leprechaun

  • 1-1/2 oz irish whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • ginger ale

Combine the ingredients, except the ginger ale, in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to combine then strain into a collins glass filled with ice.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a lemon twist or wedge.

This would make a very good mid day break from the Guinness on St. Patrick’s day.  Light, refreshing with just a hint of whiskey and the honey sweetness of the Drambuie.  There’s even a connection between the Scottish Drambuie and the Irish whiskey – both Ireland and Scotland have chafed under British rule, so it’s natural that they join forces, at least in a cocktail!


Day 317, Cocktail 320

So what happens when you don’t hit a nail square on the head?  It gets bent, of course!  I know, I’m grasping here, but (in the words of Brett Hertzberg, the father of modern bartending in Germantown) it’s all I got.

So the Bent Nail is a variation of the classic Rusty Nail.  How it get the name Bent Nail is beyond me as my research turned up nothing.  If you happen to know, please share with me and my readers!

So, without further adieu:

  Bent Nail

  • 1-1/2 oz Canadian whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Drambuie
  • 1/4 oz Kirsch

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a coupe.

I used the coupe for this since this a relatively small drink at just 2-1/4 oz of ingredients.  When accounting for ice melt while mixing it probably comes in at a little less than 3 oz.  As for the taste, it’s good.  Just a hint of cherry from the kirsch, which also helps cut the sweetness of the Drambuie.  It’s not as bold as a Rusty Nail, given that the Canadian (I used Canadian Club) doesn’t have the smokey, peaty components that Scotch does.


Day 291, Cocktail 288

The stream of consciousness continued on Thursday as I moved forward with more Lillet Blanc.  I had been thumbing through Mittie Hellmich’s “Ultimate Bar Book” looking for more recipes that used the Lillet.  I didn’t really see anything in the fortified wine section so I started looking through the whiskeys when I came upon the Prince Edward.  The history on this cocktail is a little murky – hell, who am I kidding – I couldn’t find anything on the history of this cocktail.  Frankly, that suprises me a bit, but on with the show anyway.

  Prince Edward

  • 1-1/2 oz scotch
  • 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4 oz Drambuie

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a rocks glass with ice, or in my case, an ice ball.  Garnish with an orange slice.

This is a tasty cocktail.  The Drambuie really sweetens it up and helps the floral and orange flavors of the Lillet shine and not be overshadowed by the scotch.  I used Johnny Walker Red, which gave a nice, smokey backdrop to the cocktail.  This was a very nice sipper, indeed.


Day 191, Cocktail 189

Even before the day began I knew that we were screwed.  As if it really matters which bozos are running the show in Washington or your state’s capital.  I “love” (that’s dripping with sarcasm, by the way) all the Republicans who say that they are going to change the way business is done in Washington.  Really?  Which party was in charge when about 75% of the current total national debt was rung up?  Oh, right, Republicans.  Don’t get me wrong, the Democrats aren’t any better.  Which is why it was easy to name tonight’s cocktail

  We’re Screwed

  • 2 oz Russell’s Reserve Rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Drambuie
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 6-8 good dashes of Agnosturo orange bitters

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

I love what the orange bitters does in this drink.  It just comes alive and nearly leaps out of the glass and says “hey, I taste great!”.  The combination of the bitters and Drambuie really complements the rye extremely well.  I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with the orange bitters this winter.  It sure beats watching what the jackasses in Washington do!


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!


You Drank Cocktails Made With That!?!

Day 44, Cocktails 39, 40 and 41

In my previous post I described my friend and business associate Ashish’s dinner drink consisting of Maker’s Mark and Amaretto.  However, the real purpose of dinner was just to get ready for a visit to my favorite cocktail lounge, Bryant’s.  I had been telling Ashish about the great combination of atmosphere and drinks there and he was anxious to try it out.  Fortunately for us Chad Doll was on duty and we were in for a treat!

As usual, I threw myself at the mercy of Chad’s bartending talents.  However, somewhat uncharacteristically of me, I asked what he could put together with Scotch.  This is quite a departure for me as I typically place Scotch, particularly single malts, on an altar and savor them neat or maybe with a couple of ice cubes, but never, ever mixed with anything else (the Smokey Vesper excepted).  However, Chad, being familiar with my tastes and idiosyncracies came up with this gem for me.

New Coat of Paint

  • Dewar’s Scotch
  • Drambuie liqueur
  • Lemon juice
  • Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • Peychaud’s bitters

Chad served this up in a chilled coupe and it blew me away!  The combination of the Dewar’s and Drambuie was perfectly complimented by the Luxardo (man, I do like my Luxardo!)  It was the perfect sipper and went down very smooth and easy…almost too smooth and easy!

With my appetite whetted, I asked for another Scotch drink.  Of course Chad obliged, with a classic this time.

  Rusty Nail

  • 2 oz blended scotch
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie

In a shaker glass combine the scotch and Drambuie.  Stir to mix and pour over ice cubes in a rocks glass.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

This was another first for me and again, it was delicious.  I was beginning to seriously get that I’ve been missing out on a lot with my deification of scotch.

My third and last drink of the night has an amusing story.  I was ready for a change of pace as Ashish and I had been talking about gins.  Chad, meanwhile, had also been making a few cocktails for some of the other patrons using cucumber.  So, when he asked what I’d like next I asked for something with gin and cucumber.  It’s a good thing that I promptly forgot that request because he made me bourbon based cocktail.  As I quizzed Chad on the ingredients he suddenly slapped his forehead and exclaimed “You asked for gin and cucumber!”  We all got a good laugh while I enjoyed my last drink of the night.

  No Name

  • Bourbon
  • Calvados
  • Agave nectar
  • Agnosturo bitters

Another really good blend of flavors.  The apple of the Calvados was a great compliment to the bourbon and bitters with the agave nectar providing the necessary sweetness.  Agave has been one of the hot “flavors of the moment” and I think it’s time I picked some up to play with at the Twilight Lounge.

Ashish, I hope you enjoyed your Bryant’s experience!