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MV5BMTk5MjI4MzIxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODU1MDQ5__V1_UY268_CR6,0,182,268_AL_Milwaukee, WI – March 28, 2016

It was an unusually warm spring day that found me in Milwaukee’s Eastside at dinner time not too long ago.  I have to admit that when I first moved to Milwaukee and heard people talk about the Eastside I really thought they were pulling my leg – I mean, c’mon, there is no east side to Milwaukee, it’s the lake for crying out loud!  I finally asked a coworker one day and received the explanation that it was the area east of the Milwaukee River.  Now that made sense!

Soooo, being in the neighborhood early evening for business led to staying there for dinner and then a cocktail (well, maybe two) at Fink’s.  I enjoy the combination of neighborhood, slighty dive atmosphere (including the pinball machines at the back), friendly bartenders and the great craft cocktails.  So while watching old black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone on the TV behind the bar I ordered a Big Trouble in Little Cynar from the seasonal drink menu.

What drew me in initially to the Big Trouble was the Old Overholt Rye (it’s been too long since I’ve had that) and the Cynar.  I’m on a bitter kick these days and Cynar, the bittersweet artichoke liqueur fits the bill nicely.  Rounding out the Manhattan style cocktail was Carpano Antica, a deep and luxurious sweet vermouth.

So, how was it?  Delicious!  So much so that I had two!  The whiskey is there on the front and complimented with a slightly bitter and deep, smokey flavor on the back end.

The next time you find yourself on Milwaukee’s Eastside, definitely check out Fink’s!


May 25, 2011 – The Twilight Lounge

About a week and a half ago it was a quiet evening at home  – perfect for a bourbon based cocktail as I contemplated what I needed to get done the next day.  I started flipping through some of my cocktail books and found this little number.

  Gall Bracer

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/8 oz grenadine

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a rocks glass with 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball.  Squeeze a lemon twist over the top of the glass (discarding afterwards) and garnish with a cherry.

To properly mix, be sure to add the bitters first, then the grenadine and then the bourbon.  This applies anytime you are using bitters – adding it first to your ice will ensure it is fully incorporated, especially when you are stirring your cocktail (as opposed to shaking). 

In the Gall Bracer I used Knob Creek and this was a delicious sipper.  With just a hint of the Angostura and grenadine to mellow the bourbon out it really allows the flavor of the Knob Creek to come through as the king of this cocktail.  The flavors are actually reminiscent of a Manhattan, with the grenadine taking the place of what traditionally would be sweet vermouth.



Day 335, Cocktail 340

Every good movie (and, unfortunately, some not so good movies) deserves a sequel.  In the case of the Godfather, there were two sequels.  And hey, maybe if were lucky, there will be a fourth! 

So, Saturday’s cocktail is a sequel of a previous drink.  Our friend Patti was home alone this weekend with Greg out of town on family business.  So Gwen made plans for the three of us to go out to dinner and then karaoke.  Our dinner stop was Amici’s in Richfield.  We all had wonderful Italian meals, and of course, cocktails.  While Gwen and Patti had martinis (Bombay and Grey Goose respectively) I chose the Godfather Martini.  I know, it should not be called a martini, but I bit my tongue and ordered it anyway.  Essentially, this is the close cousin to the previously posted Godfather cocktail.  The Amici’s version is made with Dewar’s scotch while my Godfather uses Maker’s Mark bourbon.  Both, of course, have amaretto in them. 

So how was it?  Pretty good.  The proportions of scotch and amaretto (which I did not get) were just right, providing a nice balance between the smokey flavor of the Dewar’s and the nutty, almond flavor of the amaretto.  This is a slightly sweet cocktail, so be prepared for that if you are a boozy cocktail fan.  It won’t knock you over with sugar like some fruity ice cream drink, but it’s not like having a scotch on the rocks or Manhattan either.

As for the karaoke, well that went just fabulous as well.  Of course, after a cocktail or two, my singing always gets better!


Days 262 & 263, Cocktails 261 & 262

This post features a couple of Toms that I became acquainted with over the last two of days.

On Wednesday I tried something called the Tom Johnson Cocktail at the Twilight Lounge.

  Tom Johnson Cocktail

  • 1 oz Scotch
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

This drink is another one of those ones that when I looked at the ingredient list I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me!” … except this time I was right.  The flavor profile initially was lime with the vermouth and then scotch following it.  As I sipped on this drink the lime was always there, giving it a distinct margarita feel.  The scotch was barely present, which in my book is a waste of scotch!

Thursday night was, as usual, trivia night at Ivee’s.  My cocktail for the evening was the Tom Moore.

  Tom Moore Cocktail

  • 1-3/4 oz Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

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

Essentially this is a Manhattan made with Irish whiskey, and I enjoyed it.  In the future I’d probably cut the vermouth down to 1/2 oz, but since I enjoy sweet vermouth with my whiskey it wasn’t a problem.  The bitters add just the right touch of spice to this cocktail.

So there you have it, a tale of two Toms.


Day 231, Cocktail 230

If Snoop Dog can have his gin and juice, then I can my gin and bourbon, right?

After Saturday’s movie night and the several Manhattan variations I had tried, I had the brilliant idea to combine bourbon with orange juice and Luxardo maraschino liqueur.  Actually, I used a clementine for the juice instead of an orange.  I had bought a box of them last week and this seemed like a good way to use one up.  Besides, since they are so much smaller they fit very nicely into my juice press!

  Cherry Orange Manhattan

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/8 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange peel.

This was a very nice cocktail.  I’ve enjoyed orange and maraschino with rye on several occasions, so its not a big suprise that the transition to bourbon with these flavors works well.  There was just a hint of the maraschino in the background and the Peychaud’s really helps pull this together in a tidy little package.


Day 230, Cocktails 227, 228 & 229

Saturday night was another Christmas movie night – the weather forecast here was just too lousy to plan anything else. 

We watched a couple of movies, including on of my all time favorites, “A Christmas Story”.  I just love the whole leg lamp scene, from the moment the major award arrives to the ignominious end, a shattered relic of its glory.  “Not a finger” is all poor Darrin McGavin can blurt out when he sees what’s happened to his prized lamp, and that just cracks me up every time!

Of course, nasty weather outside, a roaring fire and Christmas movies inside all lend themselves to cocktails being mixed with care in the Twilight Lounge!  We ended up with a lineup of three new cocktails, so let’s get to it.

  Gwen’s Red Carpet

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz pomegranate juice
  • 2 oz Pinot Grigio
  • seltzer water

Fill a collins or highball glass with ice cubes.  Add the ingredients in the order listed, topping with selzter water.  Give a quick stir and serve.

This was a recipe that Gwen found and originally called for champagne.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any about, so I improvised with the Pinot Grigio and seltzer water.  This was a nice starter cocktail, and I could easily enjoy several of these since they are not too sweet.  In fact, Gwen did have a second while I moved on to my next cocktail for the evening.

  Maraschino Manhattan

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

Fill a shaker with ice cubes and add the ingredients, bitters first.  Shake, shake, shake to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

This was very, very good.  You know how I love the flavor of Luxardo’s Maraschino liqueur and there was just a hint of it evident along with the bourbon and vermouth.  It was a very nice, slightly drier version of a sweet manhattan.  As much as I liked this I think it is the new house manhattan of the Twilight Lounge.

Finally, cocktail number three was an off the cuff mix prepared after I ran out of Pinot Grigio for the Gwen’s Red Carpet. 

  Not a Finger

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz pomegranate juice
  • 2 oz lychee fruit juice
  • lemon lime soda

Fill a collins or highball glass with ice cubes.  Add the ingredients in the order listed, topping with lemon lime soda.  Give a quick stir and serve.

This one really hit the spot, especially for Gwen.  In fact, she labelled it the best of the night!  The lychee adds a really bright, fresh flavor that I have a hard time describing…somewhat pear like, but it is a unique flavor that is really good.  If you can find lychee fruit juice in your local market pick up a can and try it out, you’ll love it!


Day 227, Cocktail 225

Wednesday night found me at Buca di Beppo for dinner with a few of the guys I work with.  I have to tell you that I was extremely disappointed to learn that the place is part of a chain.  I’d thought it was a charming, local Italian place.  Knowing that it’s not local takes away from the charm in a big way for me.  *Sigh*

Fortunately, the cocktails were still good.  I hadn’t had a Manhattan in a while and then realized that I have yet to post a Perfect Manhattan here.  Viola, my choice was made.

  Perfect Manhattan

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • dash Agnosturo bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

This and the straight manhattan have been favorites of mine for years.  The Perfect Manhattan is not quite as sweet since dry vermouth is substituted for 1/2 of the sweet vermouth.  The dry vermouth adds another very subtle flavor dimension and actually helps showcase the bourbon.  Do you have your own variation of a Manhattan?  If so, let me know so I can try it out!


Day 211, Cocktail 204

On Monday I decided to continue my Rob Roy exploration with the original cocktail.  But before I get to that, just how did this classic cocktail come to be called the Rob Roy? 

A bit about Rob Roy, the man.  He was a Scotsman, born around 1671 and died in 1734.  He was known as the Scottish Robin Hood, although he pretty much ended up destitute and died a poor man. 

So how does that get us to a drink?  The cocktail originated in Manhattan in the 1890’s at the same time that an operretta about Rob Roy was playing in a local theatre.  It is also coincidental with the arrival in Dewar’s scotch in America, so perhaps a creative Dewar’s sales rep also played a hand.

So what about the cocktail?  Let’s try it out and see.

  Rob Roy

  • 2-1/2 oz scotch
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The sweet vermouth is at the front of this cocktail with the scotch filling in behind it.  I still get flashes of an odd aftertaste, but this is better than the dry Rob Roy I had Sunday.  On the whole, though, I wouldn’t drink one of these again – it’s just too much a waste of good scotch in my book.