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The Twilight Lounge – February 12, 2017

I wonder, if my bottle of Malibu was that big, would I have girls like that coming over all the time?

Unfortunately my bottle isn’t that big, and it’s been sitting in my liquor cabinet for far too long, leftover from a previous party.  I finally decided I’d need to drink it since the Malibu girls still haven’t come by.  The difficulty is that I don’t like coconut flavors or Malibu.  So what to do?

I realized I’d need to essentially mask the flavor of the Malibu.  I know, that is an anthema to what I typically do when creating cocktails, but it was the only way I’d be able to drink it.  The first decision was what to use for juice.  Orange or cranberry would have been the easy choices.  Pineapple made sense, but I thought that might be too sweet.  While perusing the juice aisle at the local grocery store I stumbled upon a blend of mango, pineapple and orange juice that sounded intriguing.  So into my cart it went and I was on my way.

Back at the Twilight Lounge it time to put a cocktail together.  I had my Malibu and I had my juice.  I could have just done the rum and juice (my apologies to Snoop Dogg), but that was pretty bland and a bit sweet.  After a little tinkering and a couple of trials, here’s what I came up with:

Snoop Dogg

  • 1-1/2 oz Malibu rum
  • 1/8 oz lime juice
  • 3-4 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
  • mango pineapple orange juice
  • soda water

Add the Malibu, lime juice and bitters to a collins glass and stir to mix.  Fill the glass with ice and then add a 50/50 mix of the juice and soda water.  Stir and garnish with a lime slice.

This is a nice, refreshing cocktail that I and the Malibu girls can enjoy.  The taste of the Malibu is barely discernable and the bitters add a nice, smokey depth to the drink.  The lime juice helps cut the sweet factor of the juice.  This will be a nice way to finish off my bottle of Malibu!

Cheers!

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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?

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.

Day 365, Cocktail 364

It’s Easter Sunday and the last day of my year long cocktail journey (by the way – I didn’t plan it this way, but it did just happen to work this way!).  Since I need two to finish my quest, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing – a day / night doubleheader if you will.  The first cocktail was one that I wanted to be able to enjoy with our Easter Dinner, which was Polish sausages, potatoes, cabbage and more, followed by Gwen’s chocolate birthday cake.  As I flipped through my recipe books a drink I’ve had bookmarked for some time now looked it would fit the bill.

  Palm Beach

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball.

Very nice blend of pineapple, rum and gin, although a bit strong.  In fact, I ended up adding about another ounce of pineapple juice to keep this from knocking on my butt.  However, the rum and pineapple flavors of this drink complimented the sausage and sides with our dinner very well.  I just may have a new Easter cocktail!

So, with the Palm Beach, I’m down to my last cocktail.  I’m contemplating what to drink, but if you have a suggestion for my grand finale, I’d love to hear it!

Cheers!

Day 321, Cocktails 324 & 325

Patti and Gwen were out shopping Saturday when Gwen texted me “Patti wants to know if the bar is open?”.  Of course the Twilight Lounge is open!  If I’m awake (even at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon) then the Lounge is open. 

So when the girls arrived I busted open a couple of tiki cocktails on them.  Hey, it was sunny and almost 40, which passes for spring around these parts.  I could see the tiki torches in mind, and in a few short weeks I’ll see them for real around the Patio Lounge and Swim Club.

My first cocktail was the Trader Woody, which is yet another TikiBar TV recipe (and is pictured above).

  Trader Woody

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz amaretto
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • dash of lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to combine and chill.  Strain into a tiki glass and add cracked ice to fill the glass.

For this drink I used my Appleton Estate V/X rum and the Disaronno amaretto.  It’s a nice, basic tiki style drink with the rum and pineapple being the dominant flavors.  There’s a bit of nuttiness that normally would be provided by orgeat in this thanks to the amaretto.  By the time I was done with this I was thinking mai tai junior.

Patti and Gwen approve of the Trader Woody

The second cocktail is courtesy of Beach Bum Jerry’s Intoxica recipe book.  Called the Cesar’s Rum Punch, it was created by Joseph Cesar, the head bartender of the Grand Hotel Oloffson in Haiti in the 1960’s.  During its heyday in the ’70’s you could find Mick and Bianca Jagger, Michael York and other assorted celebrities at the bar.  Your first Cesar’s Punch was on the house, accompanied by the warning “You won’t like it here.”  Let’s see how we like it at the Twilight Lounge!

  Cesar’s Rum Punch

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz grenadine
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes.  Shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a tiki glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, lime and orange wheels speared together with a mint sprig.

The original recipe called for Rhum Barbancourt, which I did not have, so I substituted in my Appleton Reserve V/X.  I’m not sure that it makes that much difference as this has an almost overwhelming lime presence at first, followed by the fruitiness of the grenadine and then the rum.  And when I say overwhelming, I mean it.  This was in your face lime taste, although there was enough grenadine and bar syrup to tone down the sour component of the lime.  Overall, a fun drink, and it does break the typical tiki flavors of rum and pineapple.

After two tiki drinks the girls and I were in the mood for something different, and the night was still young (who am I kidding, it was still afternoon!).  So for the next two drinks you’ll just have to wait for the next post!

Cheers!

Day 265, Cocktails 265 & 266

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down
They say “Brandy, fetch another round”
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”
(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

This 70’s classic by Looking Glass seems as good a way as any to introduce a week of Wisconsin’s favorite, brandy.  More brandy is consumed (by far) in Wisconsin than any other state (40% of Korbel’s total output of brandy ends up here), but the bar at the hotel where one of my friends stayed did run out of brandy, along with Miller Lite.)  So with winter in full swing and several bottles of brandy in the Twilight Lounge liquor cabinet it seemed like a good time to explore this Wisconsin favorite.

  Saratoga Cocktail

  • 2oz brandy
  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/8 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

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

I amped the pineapple up from 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz after making my first one.  The pineapple just seemed lost without the extra 1/4 oz.  My modified drink was good with a very complex and layered flavor profile.  The brandy, maraschino and pineapple all blend harmoniously.  Towards the end it did start to get a little syrupy sweet the way some drinks with pineapple can get, but overall I thought this was a winner.  By the way, for those of you keeping score at home I used Korbel brandy and Luxardo maraschino liqueur.

The Saratoga on the left and Pisco Punch on the right.

For my next brandy drink I decided on the Pisco Punch.  Pisco is an acquired taste.  It is a brandy distilled from white muscat grapes and has a sharp flavor to it, somewhat similar to kirschwasser.  So why choose it?  Well, I had a bottle left over from New Year’s Eve courtesy of Christian and Meredith and had some pineapple juice left from the Saratoga.

  Pisco Punch

  • 2 oz Pisco brandy
  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angosturo bitters

Combine all the ingredients with 1/2 cup of cracked ice in a blender.  Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled wine glass.  Garnish with a cherry or lime slice.

I had to let this one grow on me.  This drink, although it looks frilly, is not.  Between the pisco and the bitters it is a sour son of a gun.  As I expected, it was a complete no go for Gwen.

Well, that’s it for today.  Off to watch the Packers with all my brandy swillin’ friends at Ivee’s!

Cheers!

 

Day 256, Cocktail 255

About this time of year, as the reality of January sets in, I can’t help but think how much nicer it would be to be in Florida for the next couple of months.  I mean, what’s better than getting the bikini on while still on the train as it thunders south?  So after a quick search online I came up with Thursday’s cocktail, which  was enjoyed at Ivee’s while I was playing trivia.  Davey did a great job of mixing this one up for me while I defended my status as the trivia guru.  One sip and I felt warm all over (and a bit smarter as well).

  Florida Special

  • 1-1/2 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth

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

A very nice, well balanced cocktail.  The dry vermouth cuts the natural sweetness of the pineapple juice, keeping this drink from becoming syrupy and overly sweet, especially if you are going to have more than one.  The rum is there, as is the sweet vermouth, providing a multi-layered flavor effect.  I definately had Florida’s beaches in mind as I sipped this during the evening.

Cheers!

Day 236, Cocktails 236 & 236

Mark and Sue invited me over on Friday night to watch “Control”, the 2007 bio pic of Ian Curtis, the lead singer and soul Joy Division.  As with so many others, Curtis’ flame burned hot but for not nearly long enough as he took his own life at the age of 23.  From the embers of Joy Division emerged New Order and Joy Division is still influencing bands today.  As I go back and listen to some of their tracks the raw energy and emotion that Curtis puts into his singing is unbelievable.

A benefit of watching the movie with Mark and Sue was a couple of new cocktails from Mark.  Both of these were his recipes and both were delicious.  The first was called the Mark Tai and his take on a Mai Tai.  It consisted of light rum, Cruzan Black Strap rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, triple sec and bar syrup.  This was a tasty cocktail that Mark has come up with.  Not as rum intesive as the Mai Tai’s I make using the Trader Vic recipe, but very good.

The second was Mark’s version of the Hemingway daiquiri.  He used light rum, Campari, lime juice, bar syrup and maraschino liqueur.  Basically he uses the Campari to replace the grapefruit juice.  The result was outstanding.  Just enough of the maraschino flavor that I love in a cocktail and the Campari adds a nice touch of bitter, very similar to what grapefruit juice would do.  Another outstanding effort by Mark.

Cheers!

Day 160, Cocktail 155

It’s been a hectic week and I’ve gotten behind here as well as with a few other things – I guess that’s life!

On Wednesday night I did have the opportunity to have dinner at Trocadero with a couple of co-workers from St. Louis, Mike and Kevin.  It was a splendid night and was warm enough to eat outside even though it was nearly 9 o’clock and the end of September.  We don’t get many nights like that in Milwaukee by this time of year so we took advantage of it.  Mike and Kevin split a bottle of wine with their dinner.  Me?  I had a cocktail, of course!

I enjoyed what the Trocadero calls a Pineapple Ginger.  As you would guess from the name, fresh pineapple juice and freshly grated ginger are the main flavor components of this cocktail.  The base spirit in this drink is Patron Citronage and the recipe also calls for lemon and lime juices.  The presentation is completed with a brown sugar rim and a lime wedge.

I liked this drink.  Typically, many pineapple drinks can get very sweet and syrupy.  This one, however, stays well balanced with the ginger toning down the pineapple juice and mingling exceptionally well.   It would be very easy to enjoy several of these through an evening.  Another grade A effort from the Trocadero!

Cheers!

Day 132, Cocktails 132 & 133 

This post references back to last Friday, the 133rd of the journey.  It was dinner at home and Gwen was making burritos, so tequila seemed logical.  I pulled Mittie Hellmich’s Ultimate Bar Book down off the shelf (heck, who am I kidding, it resides right on top of the bar these days) and started thumbing through the tequila section.  Since I still had some pineapple juice left, the Matador caught my eye. 

 
                           A Pair of Matadors 

   Matador

  • 1-1/2 oz gold tequila
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cube.  Garnish with a cherry.  

This turned out to be quite tasty and a very nice compliment to the burritos (which were spicy).  I also love the way this drink looks with the foam on top from the hard shaking that the pineapple juice recieved.  It adds a visual element to the cocktail that is very pleasing to my eye. 

Once dinner was over I was ready to try another cocktail and delved back into the tequila section of the Ultimate Bar Book.  This time it was the Blue Margarita that caught my eye. 

Blue Margarita

 

  Blue Margarita 

  • 2 oz Cazadores tequila
  • 1 oz blue curacao
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake, shake, shake.  Rim a chilled cocktail glass (you’ll need the 6 oz version for this cocktail) with a lime wedge and then salt the rim.  Strain the cocktail into the glass. 

This twist on a margarita is more visual than flavor changing since the curacao has an orange flavor, not unlike the Cointreau or triple sec.  The blue is dramatic, and I’ve used it in several other cocktails in the past.  Just check out the Cocktail List & Index page for a complete list of drinks that I’ve done with blue curacao (or any other liquor or liqueur for that matter).  With the extra shot of orange flavored liqueur the tequila is not quite as up front and center like a margarita usually is, but it is still there. 

So there you go, a nice pair of tequila drinks to try out the next time you have Mexican, or any thing else for that matter! 

Cheers!