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Tag Archives: dry vermouth

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!

Cheers!

 

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Milwaukee, WI – March 7, 2012

So I’m sitting at the bar and I hear, in this low, almost whispering voice, “Nice pants.”  I look around and there’s no one within ear shot, so I shrug it off and take another sip of my drink.  But then I hear the voice again, “Great looking haircut.”  Again, I look around and nothing.  I try to shrug it off, but when a few minutes later the voice asks “Have you lost weight?” I call the bartender over.

“Brett, I keep hearing this voice saying things like “nice pants” and “great haircut”.  What gives, are you screwing with me?”

Brett looks me right in the eye and tells me, “It’s the peanuts, they’re complimentary.”

One of the nice things about Bryant’s (South 9th and Lapham, Milwaukee) is that you don’t have to worry about either random hours or complimentary nuts distracting your taste buds from the cocktails.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had occasion to stop by and enjoy these two outstanding creations by Emily.

First is the Glamour Shot, pictured above.  When Emily asked what I was in the mood for I quickly answered gin, but that I didn’t want something run of the mill or a classic.  So, out came the Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, Cynar liqueur, bar syrup and lemon juice.  An interesting combination I thought, between the ginger Canton and the bitter Cynar, with is derived from, among other things, artichoke.  The result was a terrific cocktail that leads with the ginger of the Canton then quickly follows with a slightly bitter bite.  The bar syrup and lemon juice round out the drink and give it balance so that it’s boozy, but in a mellow way.  An excellent offering from Emily.

The second drink is her Milwaukee Manhattan.  This drink was designed for a contest that Emily had entered (and, incidently, won) for the best variation on the classic Manhattan.  Featuring Bulliet rye whiskey with the usual sweet and dry vermouths (making this on perfect) and both Agnostura and Peychauds bitters, the twist is the addition of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur (which I love!).  Again, a very well constructed cocktail that tasted incredible.  The cherry from the Luxardo was out in front on this one, with the sweet vermouth, bitters and rye filling in behind it.  This is a complex cocktail, with layers of flavors to be discovered.  Again, kudos to Emily for a job well done.

Cheers!

Twilight Lounge – December 23, 2011

“One martini is alright.  Two are too many, and three is not enough” – James Thurber

Back to my recurring series on gin, the stuff of legend.

Part of the series will be to review the various gins that I have and drink.  While I have made and enjoyed a number of gin cocktails (81 are listed in the index by my count), I decided to use my tried and true basics to conduct my taste tests – the classic martini and the gin and tonic.  Of course, I also sip and smell the gin unadorned as well to understand its unique nose and flavor.

Today’s review is New Amsterdam gin.  This is an 80 proof gin from The Amsterdam Spirits Company, which is actually a subsidiary of  E. & J. Gallo Winery.  This explains in large part the very innocuous nature of New Amsterdam, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

On its own the New Amsterdam has slightly floral and citrus notes on the nose, with lemon and orange being the most predominant.  The taste experience is also similar, with definite lemon and orange flavors coming through…and not much else.  There is barely a hint of juniper or other botanicals, and a sweetness to the flavor that, frankly, reminds more of a flavored vodka than a gin.

On to the martini.  I used my standard recipe of 3 oz gin, 1/2 oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth and 1 dash Angostura bitters and garnished with three unstuffed cocktail olives.  The New Amsterdam’s mild flavor really lets the vermouth come through, much more so than a typical London Dry gin would.  The citrus flavors do compliment the vermouth nicely.  However, I don’t drink a martini to sip vermouth and I missed tasting the gin.

Next was the gin and tonic.  I used a rocks glass (12oz) with 6 ice cubes (1-1/2 oz each).  2oz of gin, Shweppes diet (hey, I have to watch the weight!) tonic water and a lime wedge squeezed over the top complete the ingredient list.  A quick stir and it’s ready to taste.

By my gin and tonic standards this has a very mild taste.  The lime in the drink did play off the citrus notes of the New Amsterdam.  While refreshing, and suitable for a warm summer day, I missed the “bite” of my typical gin and tonic.  Again, the lack of a clear juniper component disappointed me.

The verdict?  I’m disappointed.  As I wrote early on, this strikes more as a flavored vodka than a gin.  I appreciate the attempt to widen the gin drinking audience, but it really should taste at least somewhat like gin.  On a scale of 1 to 5 I rate the New Amsterdam gin a 2.

Cheers!

 

Day 356, Cocktail 359

Tax season is over!  Hopefully you’re getting a modest refund.  If you wrote a check, well, you have my sympathy!

To celebrate the end of the tax season I pulled out a recipe from Colleen Graham’s blog that she had published a week or so ago.  How could I resist something called the Income Tax Cocktail?  This is basically a Bronx cocktail with the addition of bitters – perhaps indicative of the bitter pill paying taxes is?  We’ll never know for sure as the actual origins of this drink don’t seem to be known, at least not that I could find.  So let’s give this a try and see how it comes out.

  Income Tax

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Agnostura bitters

Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish, if desired, with an orange peel.

It was…alright.  Kinda’ like doing taxes, I’m more relieved to be done with this than enjoying the actual cocktail.  The sweet vermouth dominates the flavor, most likely because the Agnostura bitters are playing right into sweet vermouth at the expense of the other ingredients.  Kinda’ like our government, huh?

Cheers!

Day 332, Cocktail 337

Last week Gwen took us on a world tour for our dinners, visiting a different country each night of the week.  On Tuesday I took her Cuban cue (Cuban sandwiches for dinner, and they were delicious!) and found a Cuban styled drink for us to have with dinner.  Rum seemed a logical choice and after a quick web search for Cuban cocktails I found this at a website sponsored by the Cuba Tourism agency.  So with my Cuban sandwich in hand, a cold El Presidente cocktail at hand, all I needed to complete my night was a Cuban cigar.  Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad.

  El Presidente

  • 2-1/2 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1/8 oz triple sec

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice cubes.  Stir to mix and chill.  Strain into a collins glass and then fill with cracked ice.  Garnish with a lemon slice.

This is a nice cocktail, although the flavor profile was dominated by the dry vermouth and then the lemon juice, with just a hint of rum.  The grenadine and triple sec help balance things out a bit, but I tend to think that a little less vermouth and lemon would allow the rum flavors to come out a bit more.  All in all, this wasn’t as emblematic of Cuba as I had hoped it would be. 

Cheers!

Day 310, Cocktail 312

Ok boys and girls, let this be a lesson to you…do not let middle aged men drink and have access to bermuda shorts. 

With that said, Tuesday night I was again somewhat aimlessly wandering through the Ultimate Bar Book, looking for a cocktail for the evening.  A few pages after the not so special Barton’s Special I found Tuesday’s drink.  Thinking of Bermuda got me thinking of warm weather, summer and fun.  Yes, the pool is still buried under several feet of snow and ice, but it is March.  Spring training is under way and it won’t be long before the warm breezes reach us, the tiki torches are lit and we are on our way to summer fun.

In the meantime, the Bermuda Highball (and those guys in the funny shorts) will have to sustain me.

  Bermuda Highball

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • ginger ale

Combine the gin, brandy and vermouth in a mixing glass with a few ice cubes and stir to mix.  Pour, ice and all, into a collins glass, fill with ice and top with the ginger ale.  Give a quick stir to mix.

A pretty tasty cocktail that is well balanced.  I used St. Remy brandy and Beefeater gin in this one and they both blended well with the vermouth.  There were hints of the vermouth that came through the ginger ale, with the gin and brandy playing nice supporting roles.

So breakout the shorts and get ready for summer!

Cheers!

Day 279, Cocktail 279

Saturday night was a stay at home movie night…although come to think of it, we ended up watching a bunch of episodes of World War II in Color that were on the DVR.  Not quite a movie, but it was video entertainment.  Gwen and the girls whipped up a cheese fondue for dinner (I guess I should call it a TV dinner since we did eat in front of the TV) – it was delicious!

In keeping with our habit, we both wanted a gin based, martini style cocktail.  I thumbed my way through Sally Ann Berk’s “The Martini Book” and found a cocktail called the Hoffman House Martini.  In its heyday, the Hoffman House was one of New York’s premiere hotels and bars.  Located on Madison Square (before there was a Madison Square Garden), it hosted an A-list clientele.  It was also at the forefront of the movement that took martinis dry — removing the sweeteners out of the cocktail and using dry vermouth.  Alas, this venerable piece of cocktail history is no more.  The Hoffman House was torn down in 1915 to make way for an office building.  Fortunately,  their cocktail lives on.

  Hoffman House Martini

  • 4 oz gin (use a London Dry)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 4 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail shaker and garnish with cocktail olives (in my case, three of them, sans stuffing of any kind). 

I used Beefeater gin for this (although Bombay or even Plymouth would also be good choices).  And it was delicious.  It was like a dirty martini on steroids.  The orange bitters really popped in this drink and brought out the botanicals in the Beefeater.  I normally use Angostura bitters in my martinis, but I believe that I’ve been converted to using the orange bitters going forward.  And trust me, changing my regular martini is a once an epoch event, so you know how much I enjoyed this drink! 

I’d love to hear your take on it – give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Cheers!

Day 275, Cocktails 276 & 277

After last Saturday’s French Gimlet I was in the mood last night and tonight to continue to play around with the St. Germain.  It’s just soooo delicious and I want to see just where I can take this.  On Sunday Gwen and I watched a couple of episodes of “Drink Up” that I had on the DVR.  This is a 1/2 hour long show on the Cooking Channel and features several cocktail recipes in each episode, along with a number of other food and entertaining tidbits. 

One of the drinks that caught my eye used St. Germain and bourbon.  I’ve paired the St. Germain with rye previously, so I was pretty sure that this would be a winner, and it was.

  Westlake Cocktail

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz St. Germain liqueur
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass over cracked ice or ice cubes.  Garnish with a big, oversized orange peel.

Oh, yeah…this is a lovely blend of elderflower, orange and smokey bourbon flavors.  It’s very well balanced, not too sweet but yet the St. Germain is prominent.  I used Maker’s Mark for this cocktail, but I’m sure any quality bourbon would work well.

Tonight I wanted to continue the theme and did a search on the web for St. Germain cocktails.  I found this one, and though it was very similar to the Westlake, I decided to try it so that I could compare and contrast.

  Elderflower Manhattan

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz St. Germain liqueur
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Agnosturo bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

Very, very nice.  This is a twist on a perfect Manhattan, with the St. Germain filling in for sweet vermouth.  With the dry vermouth this is a bit more boozy than the Westlake since it is drier.  I could drink way too many of these in one sitting – its just that right mix of sweet and dry.

Give these two takes on bourbon and St. Germain a try and let me know which you liked best.

Cheers!

Day 256, Cocktail 255

About this time of year, as the reality of January sets in, I can’t help but think how much nicer it would be to be in Florida for the next couple of months.  I mean, what’s better than getting the bikini on while still on the train as it thunders south?  So after a quick search online I came up with Thursday’s cocktail, which  was enjoyed at Ivee’s while I was playing trivia.  Davey did a great job of mixing this one up for me while I defended my status as the trivia guru.  One sip and I felt warm all over (and a bit smarter as well).

  Florida Special

  • 1-1/2 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth

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

A very nice, well balanced cocktail.  The dry vermouth cuts the natural sweetness of the pineapple juice, keeping this drink from becoming syrupy and overly sweet, especially if you are going to have more than one.  The rum is there, as is the sweet vermouth, providing a multi-layered flavor effect.  I definately had Florida’s beaches in mind as I sipped this during the evening.

Cheers!

Day 247, Cocktails 244 & 245

New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching and I’ve been getting ready for first ever New Year’s Eve party at the Twilight Lounge.  Not that it’s the first New Year’s Eve party we’ve ever hosted, just the first at the Lounge mind you.  Although we haven’t decided yet what to wear on Friday night, I think Josephine Baker has the right idea.  If there is ever a night to wear a tuxedo, it’s New Year’s Eve!

So, on Tuesday, I was idly perusing The Martini Book when I stumbled upon a cocktail called the Tuxedo.  Perfect for my needs, heh?  When I saw maraschino liqueur and orange bitters I just knew I’d have to try it.

  Tuxedo

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1-1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/8 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 4 dashes orange bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir.  Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Mmmmm, this is pretty good.  It combines two of my favorite flavors, the maraschino liqueur and orange bitters.  However, as I sipped it I had a tough time really getting the maraschino flavors to come forward.  They were hidden by the vermouth, at least to my taste buds.  So, for round two I headed back to the bar and tinkered and came up with an improved (at least in my humble opinion) Tuxedo.

  Tuxedo Deluxe

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 4 dashes orange bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir.  Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Now we’re cooking!  This was the just right blend of vermouth, maraschino and bitters, swimming in a pool of vodka.  I loved this drink and will probably have one on New Year’s Eve! 

Do you have a favorite that you’ve made your own by tinkering with it?  If so, let me know, I’d love to try it out!

Cheers!