Skip navigation

Tag Archives: gin

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!

 

Advertisements

rehorst-gin-2The Twilight Lounge – February 4, 2017

If you are a regular reader, you know that I like, no make that love my gin.  So, this review is far, far overdue, considering that a friend gave me this bottle of Rehorst gin for my birthday last year. Check that, Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin (Batch No. 10, for the record).

So, just what the heck is this from the Great Lakes Distillery?  It starts as Rehorst Gin, itself an interesting gin that includes sweet basil and Wisconsin Gingseng among its 9 botanicals (including the usual juniper).  Then the gin is aged in oak barrels to impart an additional layer of complexity not normally found in gin.  It is indeed limited, as only one barrel a month is bottled and released.

So how did Great Lakes Distillery do?  Pretty damn good in my estimation.  On the nose it is not as juniper forward as London Dry or even Plymouth style gins.  The oak has mellowed the botanicals out, smoothing their edge.  Sipping it there is not the heat I’d expect from a liquor that is 94 proof.  The oak comes through along with spicy hints, not unlike black pepper and rosemary, with the juniper on the finish.  With the oak aging, sipping this neat or on the rocks is akin to doing so with a good bourbon (and something I don’t typically do with gin).  Adding a twist and few ice cubes makes this a treat and a viable substitute for my traditional martini.

What else can you do with this gin?  Fortunately for you, I experimented with a number of combinations, some traditional and some new.  It made a great gin and tonic, spicy, woody and better with a lemon wedge in place of the classic lime.  As a martini it comes off almost like a Manhattan.  As a variant to the perfect Manhattan (1/2 sweet vermouth, 1/2 dry vermouth) it was divine!  Mixed with ginger beer was even better than having it with tonic water, a real treat.  The most interesting cocktail I concocted is what I call the Asian Gin Ginger:

Asian Gin Ginger

  • 2 oz Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin
  • 1 oz Tyku
  • 1/2 oz Top Note Ginger Beer Concentrate
  • Dash Bittercube Blackstrap bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Spicy, darkly sweet defines the Asian Gin Ginger.  Floral hints from the gin and Tyku make this not a truly boozy cocktail, but a sickly sweet one either.  Refreshing, I could drink several of these in an evening (and I did!)

My bottom line is that this is a terrific addition to the liquor cabinet.  It doesn’t replace the London dry gin in mine, but it is there in addition.  I give the Rehorst Barrel Reserve Gin two thumbs up!

Cheers!

hes back

The Twilight Lounge – March 5, 2016

It’s been a long and winding road…but I’m back and ready for more cocktails, fun and who knows what else!

I have been itching to get back to work here for awhile now.  I finally was pushed over the top this week while at Half Barrel in Rochester, MN (which I highly recommend checking out – a great selection of whiskies, great cocktails and very good food).  I started to chat with Kelsey, who was also there on business, about craft cocktails.  Finally, the bartender, whose name, regretfully, I did not get, joined in our conversation.  One thing led to another and the topic of my blog came up.  The bartender, based on the conversation, said he’d seen my blog.  I was stunned and said no way!  So I pulled it up on my phone and he said yeah, I’ve been on here a lot and read it and liked a lot of your cocktails!  I was blown away!  And resolved to return, so hear we are…

A few weeks ago I hosted a small gathering at my home and a friend brought me a bottle of Suze.  It is a liqueur made from gentian, a pretty tropical flowering plant.  The color is bright yellow, similar to Galliano, and the flavor is bitter with floral and spice hints.  It’s not unlike Campari although not as bitter.  Katie had seen it a local liquor store and it was new to her (as it was me) and she figured if anyone could make cocktails with it, it was me.

It took several attempts.  I started with vodka as a base, but that just didn’t have enough flavor to balance the Suze.  At the suggestion of my cocktail buddy Mark I switched to gin, using Beefeater, my go to London dry.  We got close with Beefeater, Suze, lemon juice and bar syrup, but it wasn’t quite there.

Finally, last night, with a light snow falling outside and me deciding to come home early I went back into the Twilight Lounge and took another crack at it.  This time I decided to use it more like bitters and did a mashup of a Martini and Manhattan.  Thus, the Inspiration was born.

The Inspiration

  • 2oz Beefeater gin
  • 1/2 oz Suze
  • 1/8 oz Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

On the first sip there was a smoky, velvety texture with a slight bitter aftertaste from the Suze, pleasing to my palate.  The Suze is evident but complimented by the botanicals from the gin.  After a few more sips a slightly nutty flavor was also evident adding a little more depth to the taste profile.  It’s a nice sipper and definitely something your friends have not had!

Cheers!

grapefruit-jimmy-cagneyThe Twilight Lounge – February 12, 2013

As reported in my last post, I was recently in Florida.  And what do I do when I come home from Florida?  I bring home a case of Indian River grapefruit, of course – doesn’t everyone?  And just what the heck do I do with a case of grapefruit?  Make cocktails, of course!

So on the first day of spring training workouts for my beloved Cleveland Indians I thought it would be appropriate to come up with something new using all that grapefruit I have (yeah, I know, the Tribe is in Arizona, but I didn’t have any cactus laying around the Lounge).  As I thought about how to use the white grapefruit I pulled out the gin and St. Germain.  A bit of orgeat seemed in order as well as the Agnostura bitters.  Wow!  It’s not often that I hit one out of the park on the first try, but today I did.

Grapefruit League

  • 1-1/2 oz London Dry gin
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain
  • 1 bar spoon orgeat
  • 1 dash bitters
  • grapefruit juice

Combine all the ingredients but the grapefruit juice in a collins glass with a couple of ice cubes and stir.  Fill the glass the rest of the way with ice and then top with grapefruit juice, stirring again.

Very well balanced with the orgeat and St. Germain sweetening the tart grapefruit juice just enough so that the grapefruit still shines through.  The gin provides a nice base with a bit more punch than vodka would and the bitters help tie it all together into a nice, refreshing package.  The perfect sipper while contemplating dreams of World Series titles for my Indians – shhh, don’t spoil the moment for me!

Cheers!

Honey Boo Boo MartiniWisconsin Dells, WI – November 20, 2012

….and I don’t feel fine!

I had remained blissfully unaware of the existence of that overweight and underbrained miscreant knows as Honey Boo Boo until she was brought to my attention last fall, by my boss, of all people!  Since then I’ve lamented her as a sure sign of the apocolypse and have worked hard to avoid her and her “family”.

Frankly, I had been doing a pretty good job of that avoidance…until I walked into the bar at the House of Embers in Wisconsin Dells…and was greeted by the sign at left.  Arrrrgh!  I wanted to poke my eyes out!  And no, I did not have one!  You all know my disdain for flavored vodkas – and this has two of them!  In fact, I had to order a double Bombay martini to wash the taste out of the mouth.  In fact, just writing this has brought back horrible memories that will require another Bombay martini to wash away!

Cheers!

AP BRITAIN NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATIONS I GBRThe Twilight Lounge – January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!  It was an odd New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day for me.  First, half the family (Gwen and daughter number 1) were in London for the New Year’s Day parade, which daughter number 1 was in.  Second, I was at Disney in Florida with daughter number 2.  Sooo, no holiday party this season at the Twilight Lounge (much to the chagrin of some of our friends) and, amazingly for me, no booze, no champagne, no beer, no nothing on New Year’s Eve.  I think I was 15 the last time that happened!

Finally, yesterday we were all back together.  Tonight was movie and cocktail night.  Hmmm…a new bottle of gin from London (Brokers), a case of fresh Indian River white grapefruit from Florida.  Yeah, you know where this is going.

London Calling

  • 3 oz Brokers gin
  • 1/4 oz orgeat
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters
  • 1-1/2 oz St. Germain
  • fresh white grapefruit juice
  • tonic water

 

Combine the gin, orgeat, bitters and St. Germain in a mixing glass without ice.  Stir vigoursly to mix.  Pour into a collins glass filled with ice, fill to nearly the top with grapefruit juice and add a splash of tonic water.  Stir and serve.

I loved this one – and nailed it on my first attempt!  The orgeat and St. Germain compliment the grapefruit and cut its tartness just enough.  It’s not sweet, but not bitter either.   The gin gives a nice base and just a hint of juniper comes through, adding a layer of complexity that vodka would not add.

So, the next time you take a split vacation between London and Florida, you know what to have to drink!  Mind the gap and stay calm and carry on!

Cheers!

Madison, WI – July 12, 2012

I found myself in Madison, WI for an evening recently – and for the first time in my various travels around the midwest.  Being just 90 miles from home was different, but I still managed to hunt down a good cocktail lounge to while away my evening.  The Opus Lounge was my target for the evening.

After reading a few of the Yelp reviews and seeing the menu when I first arrived I was concerned that this would be a menu driven cocktail lounge lacking any real creativity.  Boy, was I wrong, and am I ever glad I was!

The decor is urban chic with a soundtrack to match that ranged from hip hop to acid jazz and many alternative formats in between.  As I scanned the booze behind the bar I saw what I thought were too many flavored vodkas, but then, who doesn’t have too many flavored vodkas these days?  The menu was also full of what sound like fruity, girly drinks and, my pet peeve, is called a martini menu (a martini is a cocktail, and this was a cocktail menu!).  

Fortunately, Marilyn, the bartender on duty, came to the rescue and patiently demonstrated that she and Opus have real cocktail chops.  I ended up sampling three of the menu items, the Dill Collins, an interesting riff on the classic Tom Collins which was very refreshing on a warm summer evening.  This cocktail featured Death’s Door gin over muddled cucumber, dill, lemon and a sugar cube.  Club soda and ice finish off this drink.  It was delicious – the dill was just barely there and added a nice dimension to the drink.

 
Next was the Royal Highness featuring Plantation rum, cassis, bolivar bitters, lime, Domaine de Canton and egg white among its ingredients.  Yes, I said egg white, and when a bar is mixing cocktails with egg white they get my full attention!  This drink evoked visions of tiki torches and tropical beaches for me.  There was a slight coconut flavor, which I could not figure out for the life of me since this drink had none in it.  It did have a smooth, creamy texture courtesy of the egg white and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 
The third menu item was the Pimm’d Up Bondurant.  Only the second cocktail I’ve seen anywhere using the venerable Pimm’s No. 1 and it was delicious.  This is basically a Pimm’s sour with Domaine de Canton in it.  The ginger of the Canton played off the Pimm’s perfectly.  This sipper was served up in a cocktail glass, but would have worked equally as well in a collins glass on the rocks.
I finished the night with an off menu drink from Marilyn that featured Laphroiag scotch, ginger and lemon flavors.  Again, a homerun that has me wishing I had written down the recipe – but unfortunately, didn’t.  

Bottom line is that if you’re looking for good cocktails in Madison, look no further than Opus Lounge.

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?

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!

The Twilight Lounge – February 11, 2012

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” – Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca.

Ah yes, one of my favorite cocktail movies and a great way to introduce one of my favorite gins and the subject of the next installment in my occasional series of gin reviews.  The Original Bombay London Dry gin!

Original Bombay is now a product of Bacardi, Ltd., and is, within the Bacardi product portfolio, second banana to Bombay Sapphire.  Which, to me, is really too bad because Original Bombay is a fine gin in its own right.  Using their “vapourization” distillation process, the vapor coming off as the gin is distilled is passed through a total of eight botanicals:  coriander, lemon peel, angelica root, cassia bark, iris root, liquorice, juniper berries and almonds.  With a recipe that dates back to 1761, this is about as original as modern gins get!

Taken straight, the juniper definitely is what jumps out on the nose, followed by a warm, sharp boozy note.  Not unpleasant, but not for the faint of heart either, this is a man’s shot.  That said, it does go down smooth, with the juniper coming to the fore with afternotes of lemon and nuts.  It stays smooth throughout and doesn’t leave me reaching for a chaser.

Now, for the martini.  I started with my “standard” recipe…and again, didn’t like it because the vermouth was too overpowering.  So, again, I’ve changed my standard martini recipe to 3 oz gin, 1/8 oz (1 bar spoon) Noilly Prat dry vermouth, 1 dash Angostura bitters.  Now this is what I wanted!  The vermouth makes a nice compliment to the strong juniper of the gin, with the bitters helping to mellow things out a bit.  What can I say?  This has been my go to drink for nearly two decades, so, of course I liked it!  This is the baseline martini for me, against which all others are judged.

On the gin and tonic.  Again, in the name of full disclosure, this is my preferred gin and tonic.  The Bombay is strong enough to stand up to the tonic and is complimented by it, rather than being lost in it.  Add the lime wedge, and, well, I think you have a bit of gin and tonic heaven.  Those Brits sure knew what they were doing when the added quinine water to their gin (ok, so it was to fight disease, but who cares why they did it?).

Overall, I really like the Original Bombay.  It has been a staple of my liquor cabinet for decades now, and is the classic example of a London Dry gin.  Simply put, you cannot go wrong with it!  I rate the Original Bombay a 5 out of 5!

Cheers!