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Tag Archives: ginger ale

April 25, 2011 – Toledo, OH

Ok, stepping back a bit here, to Monday, April 25th.  One of my new colleagues took me to The Attic on Adams for dinner and a couple of cocktails.  Dive bar was the first description that came to mind as we walked up the outdoor stairs to the Attic.  It’s situated on Adams Street above Mano’s Greek Restaurant.  A large bar open to both sides of the room dominated the main bar area and there’s also a pool table in a side room.  New twists on traditional pub fare were on the menu, but what really caught my eye were the homemade infused vodkas.

Now I know, and before you go all postal on me, yes, I usually don’t like flavored vodkas.  But when it’s homemade flavored vodka, all bets are off.  And the Attic’s vodkas are both good and creative!  At the suggestion of our bartender, the effervescent Amelia, I started with a homemade apple – watermelon infused vodka that was served with lemonade and ginger ale, garnished with a lime.

  

Delicious is the only way to describe this cocktail.  Light, refreshing with the apple and watermelon clearly coming through.  It was fruity without being sweet and the kind of cocktail I could drink all day by the pool during the summer.  Amelia was dead on with this one!

Since she did such a good job with the first I was ready to follow her recommendation for the second cocktail of the evening.  This drink featured the Attic’s homemade salsa vodka.  That’s right, salsa vodka.  It was vodka infused with tomato, garlic, jalapeno, onion and cilantro.  It is served with pineapple juice and just a splash of lime juice and orange juice.

Damn, this was fantastic!  I wanted to grab a bowl of tortilla chips and dig in!  The salted rim (done at my suggestion) really finished off the presentation of this cocktail.  It truly tasted like liquid salsa – with a punch! 

If you find yourself near downtown Toledo, take the time to find the Attic and try one of their homemade flavored vodkas.  You won’t be disappointed.  I know they’ve inspired me to try some of my own this summer.

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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 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!

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 300, Cocktails 298, 299 & 300

Saturday night marked day 300 – I’m in the final stretch now!  Since we stayed home Saturday night it was easy to knock back three new cocktails while we enjoyed watching Dr. No (a James Bond classic with Sean Connery) and then Frost Nixon.  Both movies were evocative of classic style cocktails, so that’s what I stuck with for the night.

The first cocktail was from the old Tiki Bar TV podcast.  Unfortunately, Tiki Bar TV seems to have met its demise, but the catalog of 40 some odd episodes is still available on ITunes.  Check it out – it’s the most!

  Suffering Bastard

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lime
  • ginger ale

In a mixing glass combine the gin, bourbon and lime juice and stir.  Strain into a tiki glass with cracked ice.  Top with ginger ale and garnish with a mint sprig.

This is really a variant on the classic mules, although the use of the bourbon and gin makes it quite different from the versions using tequila and vodka.  It was quite tasty, and with the mint garnish, really has a tiki feel to it.

After the Suffering Bastard, I switched us to a gin based martini style drink.  We were watching Frost Nixon by then, and a martini just seemed like the drink to have.  I picked out something called the Sweet Martini from The Martini Book by Sally Ann Berk.

  Sweet Martini

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

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

The sweet version of my classic martini, this was good.  The use of orange bitters instead of the standard Agnostura was nice, offsetting the sweetness of the vermouth. 

After the orange bitters flavor of the Sweet Martini, I had a hankering for something with rye and orange – I know, a big surprise!  Here’s what I put together.

  Frost Nixon

  • 2-1/2 oz Old Overholt rye
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • orange slice

Place an orange slice in a shaker with ice cubes and add the rest of the ingredients.  Shake, shake, shake to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

A combination of a Manhattan and my favorite rye and orange combination.  Very tasty with hints of fresh orange juice and the orange bitters providing depth to the rye and vermouth.

As I finished up this cocktail the movie also finished up and it was time to call it a night.  And some night it was!

Cheers!

Day 198, Cocktails 192 & 193

And so my exploration of cocktails named Buck continues this week.  Tonight was a face off (no, it did not involve John Travolta and Nicholas Cage) between Irish and Scotch Whiskey.  As with last night’s cocktail, each cocktail features a 2 oz pour of the liquor in question along with the juice a lemon wedge and 5 oz or so of ginger ale.  And as with last night’s cocktail, each is cleverly named.  Let’s see how they fared.

  Scotch Buck

  • 2 oz scotch whiskey
  • 5 oz ginger ale
  • lemon wedge

Fill a collins glass with ice and squeeze the lemon wedge over the top.  Add the scotch and top with the ginger ale.

I used Cutty Sark for this one and I have to admit, it just didn’t click for me.  The smokey, peaty flavor of the scotch (and Cutty is by no means a strong scotch) did not blend well with the ginger ale or lemon.  It seemed like one big bar brawl in the glass.  I’ve come around to the idea of mixed drinks that use scotch, but this is one that won’t be on my list at the Twilight Lounge.

  Irish Buck

  • 2 oz irish whiskey
  • 5 oz ginger ale
  • lemon wedge

Fill a collins glass with ice and squeeze the lemon wedge over the top.  Add the irish whiskey and top with the ginger ale.

I used Bushmills for this cocktail and, wow, what a difference!  The lemon, ginger ale and Bushmills all come together to create a light, citrusy cocktail that was delicious and very smooth.  This is one that I would have again!

Cheers!

Day 197, Cocktail 191

Wow, I can’t believe that I’m now 6 cocktails behind!  The weekend was spent putting the new floor in the Twilight Lounge – pictures will be coming soon as I still have some trim work to do.  It does look pretty good and (drum roll please…) I now have a dance floor for all those late night parties!

The downside was a lack of new cocktails this weekend – hard to believe, I know.  I’m actually pretty sure I had something new on Friday, but for the life of me I can’t find my notes or recipe – the Lounge is still a mess!  However, I’m back in the saddle with a new one for you tonight.  Actually, I think this will be first in a series for this week…

  Bourbon Buck

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 5 0z ginger ale

Fill a highball glass with ice and squeeze a lemon wedge into the glass, dropping the spent wedge in.  Add the bourbon and then top with the ginger ale.  Stir and enjoy!

This was a much tastier drink than I expected.  The interplay between the ginger ale and the lemon is very nice with the bourbon as a mellow backdrop.  By the way, I used my favorite, Maker’s Mark for this one.  I have to admit, I’m constantly impressed by the versatility that ginger ale and ginger beers offer when mixing cocktail.  Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid and my mom would make me drink warm ginger ale to settle an upset stomach.  It’s amazing how much better ginger ale tastes when it’s mixed with some booze and ice!

Cheers!

That's a fine looking mule there...

Day 50, Cocktail 47

I’ve done a couple of other mules previously, but figured it was time for a Polish twist (did I mention Polish Fest is this weekend?).  Really, like Mexico and Moscow are the only places that have mules?  I started thinking about this one last night as I was tinkering with the Old Krupnik and saw a variety of recipes that mixed it with ginger beer or ginger ale.  I tried two versions of this little number tonight and with Gwen’s tasting help (and she got the winner).  After talking through the pros and cons,  I settled on this final version.  So, without further adieu, the Polish Mule.

  Polish Mule

  • 1 oz Sobieski vodka
  • 1 oz Old Krupnik
  • ginger ale

In a collins glass mix the Sobieski and Old Krupnik together with 3 ice cubes.  Add 3-4 more ice cubes and top with ginger ale.  Garnish with a lime slice.

The honey flavor of the Old Krupnik and the ginger ale work very well together.  The vodka is used to give this drink the backbone it needs.  If I had used 2oz of Old Krupnik the honey flavor would have overwhelmed the ginger ale.  This makes a very nice summer cocktail that’s different from your run of the mill rum and cola or gin and tonic.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Day 24, Cocktails 23 and 24

It’s a two ‘fer post with a couple of variations on the same theme, always an interesting way to compare cocktails and their ingredients!

The first drink I have for you tonight came from the television show “Great Cocktails”.  It’s hosted by Steven Phillips, a long time bartender from New York.  It’s a decent show, with lots of good tips as well as fun facts and plenty of cocktail history.  You can catch it on Fine Living Network.  Check it out and see if you don’t learn something. 

The topic of this particular episode was vodka.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy vodka (heck, my last post was a vodka drink).  But I have a little bit of trouble taking it too seriously.  By itself, a good vodka is devoid of any flavor or character.  Which is why we have the proliferation of flavored vodkas on the market.  They make life very easy (too easy, if you ask me) for the mediocre bartender.  A really good bartender will rarely work with flavored vodkas – that’s what juices, liqueurs, bitters and other flavor adders are for.  However, I do admit that when I want to whip together a quick drink, vodka is sure easy to use because of the lack of flavor.  (Editorial note – potato vodkas do offer some distinct tastes, and I’ll get to those sometime this year.)

So, enough pontificating.  The drink that caught my eye was the Moscow Mule.  Here it is.

  The Moscow Mule

  • 1 oz Luksusowa vodka
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • ginger ale

Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes.  Add the vodka, lime juice and top with ginger ale.  Stir to mix and garnish with a lime wedge.

With the vodka receding to the background the interplay between the lime and ginger ale is interesting.  It’s light, refreshing and pretty good.  I wouldn’t hesitate to have this one again or to serve it to friends.  It’s definately different.

So, as I was making this I thought, hmmm, I wonder how this would taste with tequila in place of the vodka.  I mean the lime and tequila go together like white on rice.  Fast forward several hours and I did just that.  Thus, the Monterrey Mule was born.

  The Monterrey Mule

  • 1 oz Cazadores tequila
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • ginger ale

Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes.  Add the tequila, lime juice and top with ginger ale.  Stir to mix and garnish with a lime wedge.

I have to admit that I’m not nearly as enamored with the result of this one.  To me, the tequila and ginger ale seem to be bickering amongst themselves while the lime sits on the sidelines.  Maybe a pinch of salt would help bring this together…if it does, I’ll let you know.  Until then, give it a try and let me know what you think.  It may be just me that doesn’t like this one.

Cheers!