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Tag Archives: ice ball

Day 266, Cocktails 267 & 268

My journey into brandy based cocktails continues tonight with a pair of drinks that are similar but different.  However, before I dive into the cocktails, a bit about brandy.

What makes brandy (as well as cognac and armagnac) different from other spirits is that it is distilled from fermented grape juice (essentially wine) rather than grains.  Typically brandy is clear and picks up its brown color during the aging process in oak barrels (with the occasional addition of caramel coloring to provide product uniformity).  The French, being French, have specifically defined two regions of production where from the product is known as cognac and armagnac.  These two spirits are brandy, albeit very good brandy.

One last tidbit regarding brandy that you should be aware of is how aging is designated.  Unlike us Americans or the Brits, who simply put the number of years that a whiskey has been aged on the bottle, the French decided to be clever and use designations.  Those designations are:

  • V.S. (Very Special) – aged for a minimum of 2-1/2 years
  • V.O. (Very Old) – aged for a minimum of 4-1/2 years
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) – aged for as long as 10 years
  • V.V.S.O.P. (Very Very Special Old Pale) – aged longer than V.S.O.P.
  • X.O. (Extra Old) – a premium brandy or cognac

Cute, huh?

On to the drinks.  My first is the French Connection, although it does not bear any relation to the Gene Hackman flick of the same name.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Popeye Doyle wasn’t drinking brandy, but that’s just a hunch.

  French Connection

  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz ameretto

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

Well, that was simple, wasn’t it?  Very similar to the Godfather  and Godmother, this drink has a nutty, boozy flavor that will warm you up.  The sweetness that the amaretto imparts makes this a worthy after dinner drink to enjoy with your desert.

Next, I decided to strike out on my own with a similar, yet different cocktail.

  Orange Toffee

  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 drop English Toffee extract

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

Mmmm, delicious.  A nice brandy backbone with orange and just a hint of toffee, this is also a very nice after dinner drink.  Slightly sweet because of the Cointreau, you probably won’t be drinking these all night long.  But to enjoy with a cigar after a fine meal, well, that’s just living right.

You might be wondering why I used a mixing glass when the final product ends up in a glass with ice.  Two reasons.  The first is to get a good, thorough mixing of the ingredients.  If you try to do this in the rocks glass you’ll most likely end up making a small mess (or in my case, a rather large mess).  The second is to get that initial dilution of the cocktail with water melted from the ice, especially when you use an ice ball in the drink like I do.  If you don’t have that initial dilution you will knock yourself over with the strength of the drink and won’t have nearly as pleasant an experience as you should have.


Day 250, Cocktails 248 & 249

New Year’s Eve at the Twilight Lounge, and it was quite an event!  You can check out my about page for pictures of the festivities, so I won’t get into the details here.  Suffice it to say that the night finally ended at about 4am, give or take a few minutes. 

In addition to yesterday marking the end of the year, it was also my first chance to try out my bourbon balls.  I know, you’re thinking, what the hell are bourbon balls?  As a Maker’s Mark ambassador I get a freebie every year around the holidays.  This year’s gift was a mold to make ice balls – and was I ever excited!  Being able to have a solid, round ball of ice about the size of a baseball in my glass keeping my bourbon or scotch cold is fantastic.  The size of the ball keeps the drink cold yet it melts much slower than individual cubes.  You’ll be seeing more of my cocktails using the ice balls, just like yesterday’s cocktail (artfully posed on the Twilight Lounge poker table).

So, what to do with my ice balls and get ready for the party?  My first attempt featured 2 oz of Maker’s Mark bourbon, 1/2 oz Cavados, 1/8 oz maple syrup and 2 drops of my root beer extract.  I wanted to get a bit of root beer flavor and thought it would work well with the apple flavor of the Calvados.  Hmmm, not so much.  The root beer flavor I was shooting for was barely there and Calvados gave this drink a real rough edge.  So, back to the drawing board, and in a totally new direction.

  Ball Drop

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/8 oz maple syrup
  • 3 drops root beer extract

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball.

This was nice – and it looks great too!  With just hints of orange, maple and root beer with Maker’s this ends up being a very complex cocktail.  This is a great sipper and with the giant ice ball, it stays nice and cold without getting watered down.  In fact, it took me about an hour to drink this and there was still half of the ball left!