Skip navigation

Tag Archives: martini

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!

Advertisements

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!

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!

 

A Few of My Favorite Friends

The Twilight Lounge – December 16, 2011

Gin, sweet, juniper laced, glorious gin.  Bombay gin.  Beefeater gin.  Tanqueray gin. Gin Wigmore (just checking to see if you are paying attention).  Hendricks gin.  New Amsterdam gin.  Seagrams gin.  Plymouth gin.  London Dry gin, local gin, craft gin…gin, gin, gin.  Invented by the Dutch, co-opted by the British, where would we be without it?  No martinis – the only civilized way to end an uncivilized day.  No gin and tonics.  No Aviations.  No Singapore Slings or Sleigh Wrecks!

The invention of modern gin is credited to Franciscus Sylvius in the 17th century, although its roots go back to 11th century Italian monks who used juniper berries to flavor crudely distilled spirits.  The term gin is derived from the Dutch word genever, their word for juniper.  Originally used for what was supposed to be medicinal purposes, the British came upon it during the 30 Years War and called it “Dutch courage” for the effect it had on their bravery when taken before battle. 

Gin’s popularity in Britian soared during the reign of  William of Orange, who assumed the British throne in 1689.  With the taxes placed on brandy from France and on beer being quite heavy, locally distilled gin became the spirit of choice throughout England.

From 17th century England, gin has seen its ups and downs.  It its high point in the quintessential martini as enjoyed by FDR and Churchill to it’s low point as bathtub gin during Prohibition, gin has been a staple of cocktail culture for centuries.  Over the next few weeks I’ll explore the different styles of gins and include a number of gin reviews as well.  In the meantime, have a gin question?  Then fire away and I’ll do my best to answer!

Cheers!

Day 307, Cocktail 309

On Saturday Gwen’s Newcomer’s group set up an outing to the Great Lakes Distillery.  GLD is the first distillery in Milwaukee since Prohibition and began operation a few years ago with their flagship Reehorst Vodka.  Since then they have branched out to include Reehorst gin, Roaring Dan’s rum (made with maple syrup) and absinthe.

We got a quick tour of the distillery, hosted by Jason Neu.  The tour was quick because essentially they have the still (pictured) and a few racks for aging (they are experimenting with bourbon and brandy right now), and … that’s it.  It really is booze production at its most elemental!

While I had the opportunity to sample the rum and absinthe I’m going to focus on the gin since I was able to enjoy a Reehorst gin martini while waiting for our tour to start.  The mix was pretty simple – a generous (probably 5 oz) pour of gin, a dash of cherry bark bitters and a twist. 

It was a pretty good martini.  GLD makes their Reehorst gin unique with the addition of Wisconsin grown gingsen and basil.  The addition of these flavors takes some of the edge off the juniper, making this a more accessible gin – several in our group who profess to not like gin enjoyed this one.

All in all it is great to see a local producer making high quality spirits from local ingredients.  I look forward to tinkering with the Reehorst gin and the Roaring Dan rum in the future.  Stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ginger Rye Fizz at the Twilight Lounge

Day 306, Cocktails 307 & 308

Friday night, and after a dinner of wings and oven fries Gwen and I settled in to watch another James Bond film, this one Pierce Brosnan’s “Tomorrow Never Dies”.  The cocktails for the evening, however, were anything but traditional Bond martinis. 

I had recently purchased a carton of pasteurized egg whites to use on cocktails.  Why?  Well, I am very interested in pursuing additional egg white cocktails for one.  Second, by using the pasteurized egg whites I’m assured of not getting any nasty little bugs in my drink.  Finally, it’s a lot easier to just measure out the amount of egg I need than having to crack open an egg and then figuring out what to do with the unused yolks.

So, down to the Twilight Lounge I went.  I already had my first cocktail in mind.  I had been anxious to take my rye whiskey, orange juice and ginger flavor combination to the next level with the addition of an egg white.  Here’s the result:

  Ginger Rye Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz Jim Beam rye
  • 3/4 oz Domaine de Canton liqueur
  • 3/4 oz orange juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash Agnostura orange bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes.  Shake to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish required.

Mmmm, this was a very nice cocktail.  Silky smooth texture from the egg white that complimented the balanced ginger, orange and rye flavors of my liquid ingredients.  We both thoroughly enjoyed this cocktail!

After we finished this first cocktail (about the time that Terri Hatcher bit the dust in the movie) I paused the DVR and it was back down to the Lounge to come up with the second cocktail of the night.  Basically, I used the same recipe with different ingredients.

  Elderflower Gin Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz Beefeater gin
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain liqueur
  • 3/4 oz orange juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash Agnostura orange bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes.  Shake to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish required.

Another very well balanced, silky smooth cocktail.  In this one the interplay between the orange and the elderflower flavored St. Germain is divine, with the botanicals of the Beefeater chiming in to perfection.  Again, I could drink these all night!

As it was, this drink got us to the end of the movie (of course, Bond vanquishes his foe and gets the girl) and we called it a night shortly thereafter.  But I hope you give one or both of these a try and let me know what you think.  If you haven’t had a cocktail with egg white in it, you really should try one!

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 272, Cocktail 275

Saturday night rolled around with no big plans, so it seemed like a good night for a gin based cocktail.  Besides, after a week of brandy, I was ready for something along the lines of a good martini.  So I started perusing some of the other blogs I’ve come across and realized that the drink I was seeking must be in Daddy-O’s Martinis Blog.  John Apodaca is the erstwhile Daddy-O and specializes in vintage cocktails and cocktails with a vintage twist.  While perusing his blog I came upon this little number that used not only gin but St. Germain as well.

  French Lemon Gimlet

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1-1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel or lemon slice.

Ok, so I did a certain liberty by replacing the lime juice from the original recipe with lemon juice.  The reason is actually pretty simple.  I had fresh lemons and no fresh limes on hand!  The result is a cocktail that really allows the St. Germain to shine without being overly sweet.  You can the lemon and gin for that.  It must have been good since I ended up making three of them for Gwen!

Cheers!

Day 257, Cocktail 256

Friday night was a date night for Gwen and me.  No kids, no friends, no worries, just the two of us (isn’t that a song?)  I decided to try someplace new and did a web search for Milwaukee bistro.  A number of interesting choices popped up and I chose one that was relatively close to home – NSB Bar and Grill.  Formerly known as the North Shore Bistro it has undergone a few changes, including the name.

When we arrived it was going to be 10 – 15 minutes for a table.  Fortunately, there were seats at the bar (I know, a shock that we’d wait at the bar), which ran the length of the dining room.  I was pleased to see that it was well stocked with liquor and liqueurs and also pleased to see a number of tempting selections on the speciality cocktail list.  While Gwen went for her usual dirty Bombay martini I opted to try out the Pear Flower.  This consisted of Grey Goose la Poire, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and bar syrup.  The result is pictured here and was delicious!  The pear flavored Grey Goose was a perfect match for the St. Germain and grapefruit juice.  The lemon juice added just the right amount of sour to offset the sweetness of the St. Germain.  Regular readers know that I’m no fan of flavored vodkas, but this cocktail makes a strong case for them. 

As for dinner, Gwen had the Pan Seared Tilapia with Pistachio Lemon Butter while I opted for the Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Both meals were also very good and made for a great evening out for us.

Cheers!

Day 164, Cocktail 162

One of my favorite movies is Pleasantville.  William H. Macy is the erstwhile George Parker, who arrives home with a hearty “Honey, I’m home!”  Of course, his on screen wife Betty Parker played by Joan Allen promtply greets him at the door, martini in hand.  George takes a swig and then sniffs and asks “Is that meatloaf I smell?” to which Betty says, “of course, it’s Tuesday.”

Well, its Tuesday, and yes, we had meatloaf for dinner.  So of course, a martini style cocktail was in order.  I found this cocktail in The Martini Book.

  Fare Thee Well

  • 2-1/4 oz Plymouth gin
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/8 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz Cointreau

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with unstuffed cocktail olives.

This was a very nice, light variant of the classic martini that I do so adore.  The vermouth flavors were very much present but did not overpower the gin, allowing it to still shine through.  The Cointreau added just a hint of orange, making this an interesting twist on my classic martini.  So fire up the oven, make yourself a meatloaf and mashed potatoes and enjoy a cocktail with your dinner!

Cheers!