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wait-whatThe Twilight Lounge – February 16, 2017                                                                               Wait… What?  This cocktail has been done before?

I decided to hit the Drambuie tonight, mostly because I just want to finish the bottle (it’s about half empty) to clear the space for something else.  While it’s nice to have around and I don’t mind it once in a while on the rocks, it is really, really sweet.  And that’s just not my taste.  Really.

So a quick search of the CocktailDB for Drambuie got me to the Flora’s Own cocktail.

Flora’s Own

  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz Gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1-1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pretty simple.  And sweet.  Cloyingly sweet.  Syrupy sweet.  Really, really sweet.  Ok, you get the idea.  I really thought the vermouth and gin would cut into the Drambuie, but the honey, syrupy sweetness is still there in spades, with a bit of vermouth on on the aftertaste to provide a bit of floral lightness.  The gin is barely there.  Maybe if I had used a London Dry instead of the lighter Plymouth it would have helped cut into the Drambuie.

But why the Wait… What?  I did a quick search for the Flora’s Own online, hoping to find something about it’s origin.  I mean, it does seem like something that might have come from the mists of time, or at least Scotland or Britain.  I wish I could say, as I didn’t find anything on the origin.  What I did find were two other cocktail blogs in the top 3 or 4 posts that had also featured the Flora’s Own!  So much for finding something unusual!

Cheers!

 

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Milwaukee, WI – March 7, 2012

So I’m sitting at the bar and I hear, in this low, almost whispering voice, “Nice pants.”  I look around and there’s no one within ear shot, so I shrug it off and take another sip of my drink.  But then I hear the voice again, “Great looking haircut.”  Again, I look around and nothing.  I try to shrug it off, but when a few minutes later the voice asks “Have you lost weight?” I call the bartender over.

“Brett, I keep hearing this voice saying things like “nice pants” and “great haircut”.  What gives, are you screwing with me?”

Brett looks me right in the eye and tells me, “It’s the peanuts, they’re complimentary.”

One of the nice things about Bryant’s (South 9th and Lapham, Milwaukee) is that you don’t have to worry about either random hours or complimentary nuts distracting your taste buds from the cocktails.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had occasion to stop by and enjoy these two outstanding creations by Emily.

First is the Glamour Shot, pictured above.  When Emily asked what I was in the mood for I quickly answered gin, but that I didn’t want something run of the mill or a classic.  So, out came the Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, Cynar liqueur, bar syrup and lemon juice.  An interesting combination I thought, between the ginger Canton and the bitter Cynar, with is derived from, among other things, artichoke.  The result was a terrific cocktail that leads with the ginger of the Canton then quickly follows with a slightly bitter bite.  The bar syrup and lemon juice round out the drink and give it balance so that it’s boozy, but in a mellow way.  An excellent offering from Emily.

The second drink is her Milwaukee Manhattan.  This drink was designed for a contest that Emily had entered (and, incidently, won) for the best variation on the classic Manhattan.  Featuring Bulliet rye whiskey with the usual sweet and dry vermouths (making this on perfect) and both Agnostura and Peychauds bitters, the twist is the addition of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur (which I love!).  Again, a very well constructed cocktail that tasted incredible.  The cherry from the Luxardo was out in front on this one, with the sweet vermouth, bitters and rye filling in behind it.  This is a complex cocktail, with layers of flavors to be discovered.  Again, kudos to Emily for a job well done.

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 330, Cocktail 335

At the height of the empire, it was common for officers in British Army to complete a tour of duty in India, the crown jewel of Britain’s holdings.  However, Indian foods and climate didn’t always agree with the men or their officers, requiring a remedy to soothe bouts of digestive system distress.  Hence, the Pink Gin.  With its combination of bitters, originally formulated as a digestive remedy that was full of a multitude of other fanciful health benefits and gin, which is, in my opinion, a remedy for nearly everything that ails me, how could her or his majesty’s officers and troops go wrong?

In keeping with name, I elected to use Peychaud’s bitters with this cocktail.  Using Angostura would have imparted a brown color, and then I’d have had to call this post Brown Gin…and that just doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing.

  Pink Gin

  • 2 – 1/2 oz gin
  • 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Add the gin to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill.  Add the Peychaud’s directly a chilled cocktail glass.  Swirl the bitters around in the glass and then pour the bitters off (you’ve just “rinsed” your glass).  Strain the gin into the glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.

This was a very nice, tasty alternative to my typical martini.  I used Plymouth gin, which is somewhat mild for gin and allowed the Peychaud’s to come front and center.  The earthy, herbal essence was backed up almost to perfection by the gin.  This cocktail was incredibly sippable, boozy, but not overwhelming. 

Interestingly enough, for you Bond fans, this was also Ian Fleming’s favorite drink.  Why he never had James Bond drink this is a mystery, but I wish he had.  I would have had one much sooner than now!

Cheers!

Day 301, Cocktails 301 & 302

We had some fresh grapefruit in the house, which is currently one of number 2 daughter’s favorite snacks.  I figured that she wouldn’t miss one (it’s not like their that big or anything…), so I grabbed one and took it down to the Twilight Lounge with me.  I didn’t have anything in mind, figuring I’d just experiment and see what I could come up with.

For my first effort I wanted to use the Death’s Door gin that I had in the cabinet.  I was almost out and figured that maybe this would be a good way to use it up, particularly since it is not overly botanical like the London dry gins.  As I looked throught the liqueurs cabinet my eye was drawn to the Luxardo maraschino liqueur (another shock, I know).  I also grabbed the bar syrup figuring that the tart grapefruit would need a little sweetness beyond what the maraschino would provide.  Thus, after a little tinkering, the Death by Grapefruit was born.

  Death by Grapefruit

  • 2 oz Death’s Door gin
  • 1 oz ruby red grapefruit
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Even though I only used 1/4 oz of the Luxardo, it is the maraschino flavor that comes front and center initially, followed by the tart grapefruit and then the juniper of the gin.  It definately needs the bar syrup, otherwise this would be a very tart cocktail.  All in all, a pretty good effort, if I say so myself.

For my next cocktail, I decided to stay in the same vein of gin, but swapped out the Luxardo for Ty Ku, the delightful mangosteen and melon flavored liqueur.  Again, after a little bit of trial and error, here is what I settled upon.

  Ty Ku Grapefruit

  • 1 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1 oz Ty Ku
  • 1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

As with the Death by Grapefruit, the supporting liqueur is what comes through first, in this cast the Ty Ku.  It is then followed by hints of grapefruit and then even more subtly the Plymouth.  I had chosed the Plymouth because of its relatively neutral presentation (for a gin, that is), and because I was almost out of the Death’s Door.

Of the two drinks from last night, I’d have to give the nod to the Death by Grapefruit, although I thought both were good.  Give ’em both a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Day 292, Cocktails 289 & 290

The Dinner Party Download has been a favorite podcast of mine for a while now.  The unique blend of cocktails, current events and food put you in perfect position, as the hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam remind you weekly, to win this week’s dinner party.  I enjoy the interviews that they do as well as the history and cocktail segment.  In this segment you get a tidbit from history and then, a cocktail to commemorate the event.  Last week’s event was the accidental loss of an H-bomb by the US Air Force during an exercise off the coast of Georgia.  The bomb is still out there somewhere, at the bottom of the Atlantic and is now known as the Tybee bomb.  And thus, this cocktail was born!

  Tybee Bomb

  • 2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 maraschino cherry, soaked in moonshine for 2 days

Combine all the ingredients, except the cherry, in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a cocktail glass and drop the marinated cherry into the bottom for garnish.

Wow, what a great cocktail (and yes, I do have moonshine, so I was able to marinate the cherry in it – I think Pisco or cherry brandy would also work if you don’t have ‘shine laying about the bar).  Silky smooth thanks to the egg white with hints of cherry and just a bit of bite from the moonshine soaked cherry.  This was my first foray into egg white cocktails at home and it was delicious!  Thanks Rico and Brendan!

I would have made another on Friday while Gwen and I were waiting to go out for dinner, but we were limited on our egg availability.  So I went in a completely different direction for my second effort of the night.  I put 2 oz of Maker’s Mark bourbon in my shaker with ice and 2 orange slices and a drop of my English Toffee flavoring.  I shook hard and long and then strained it into a rocks glass with a bourbon ball and an orange slice for a garnish.  It was enjoyable, but not quite right.  I got the hint of toffee flavor that I wanted, but it was pretty strong with bourbon.  I think either Cointreau or triple sec would help this out, and maybe a dash of bitters.  I’ll have to play around with this one some more and let you know what I come up with.

Cheers!

 

Day 279, Cocktail 279

Saturday night was a stay at home movie night…although come to think of it, we ended up watching a bunch of episodes of World War II in Color that were on the DVR.  Not quite a movie, but it was video entertainment.  Gwen and the girls whipped up a cheese fondue for dinner (I guess I should call it a TV dinner since we did eat in front of the TV) – it was delicious!

In keeping with our habit, we both wanted a gin based, martini style cocktail.  I thumbed my way through Sally Ann Berk’s “The Martini Book” and found a cocktail called the Hoffman House Martini.  In its heyday, the Hoffman House was one of New York’s premiere hotels and bars.  Located on Madison Square (before there was a Madison Square Garden), it hosted an A-list clientele.  It was also at the forefront of the movement that took martinis dry — removing the sweeteners out of the cocktail and using dry vermouth.  Alas, this venerable piece of cocktail history is no more.  The Hoffman House was torn down in 1915 to make way for an office building.  Fortunately,  their cocktail lives on.

  Hoffman House Martini

  • 4 oz gin (use a London Dry)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 4 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail shaker and garnish with cocktail olives (in my case, three of them, sans stuffing of any kind). 

I used Beefeater gin for this (although Bombay or even Plymouth would also be good choices).  And it was delicious.  It was like a dirty martini on steroids.  The orange bitters really popped in this drink and brought out the botanicals in the Beefeater.  I normally use Angostura bitters in my martinis, but I believe that I’ve been converted to using the orange bitters going forward.  And trust me, changing my regular martini is a once an epoch event, so you know how much I enjoyed this drink! 

I’d love to hear your take on it – give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Cheers!

Day 236, Cocktail 234

Last night Gwen hosted her Newcomer’s Christmas party.  While I had mixed up a batch of Sleigh Wrecks for her party we decided to have a pre-party cocktail down in the Twilight Lounge.  She was really in the mood for a martini, so I pulled Sally Berk’s “The Martini Book” of the shelf.  After a bit of thumbing I found the perfect martini type cocktail to get us started for the evening.  Note that in her book Ms. Berk refers to this as a Christmas Martini…which I will not do since there is only one cocktail called a martini in my world!                                               

  Christmas Cocktail

  • 3 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/8 oz peppermint schnapps

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

This was a very nice take on the traditional martini with the peppermint schnapps providing just a hint of peppermint flavor to give it a holiday twist.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!  In the meantime, I’m signing off to go make Gwen another one!

Cheers!

Day 228, Cocktail 226

One of my first and most famous cocktails was on the agenda Thursday night, all by happenstance.  This cocktail was originally invented two years ago for the Christmas holidays and made its debut at the NID Christmas cocktail party.  Andrea, in particular, enjoyed this cocktail so much that we had to change the name from the Sleigh Ride to the Sleigh Wreck.  According to Andrea, “Too many of these and you’ll be dancing like an elf with a tablecloth on your head! hahahaha Wrecked me for the whole next day!!!”

So Thursday I stopped by the Klavier for a quick cocktail and Chris Peters, the owner, was there.  She offered up a Sleigh Wreck to celebrate it hitting the menu there.  Woo hoo, the big time now, on a lounge menu!  Later that night I was at Ivee’s for my usual Beat Stan at Trivia night and again was offered a Sleigh Wreck by Davey.  Twice in one night!

So, with out further adieu, The Sleigh Wreck:

  Sleigh Wreck

  • 1-1/2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1/2 oz Chambord
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz cranberry juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a large cocktail glass (I use my 6 oz glass) and garnish with 3-4 fresh cranberries.

This is a sure fire winner with a slight rasberry flavor from the Chambord.  Not too sweet, and not too boozy, too many of these and you’ll be wrecking your sleigh, so be careful!

Cheers!

Day 222, Cocktails 219 & 220

You didn’t really think that just one cocktail would be enough while we watched White Christmas on Friday night, did you?  While Gwen stayed with the White Christmas, I decided to continue my exploration of the whiskey sour theme.  I went back to The Ultimate Bar Book and perused the options that Mitte Hellmich presented.  The first one that caught my eye was the Double Standard.

  Double Standard Sour

  • 3/4 oz whiskey
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup
  • 1/8 oz grenadine

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake to chill and mix and pour into a rocks glass.  Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

I like this one.  The whiskey (Jim Beam rye) and gin (Plymouth) interacted well (somewhat to my suprise).  The grenadine added a very nice flavor dimension as well.  However, I found this to be just bit a sweet – probably because it only has 1-1/2 ounces of booze, 25% less than the other sours I’ve been mixing.  With this in mind, I decided to try my own version.

  Gold Standard Sour

  • 1 oz Jim Beam rye
  • 1 oz Plymouth gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

If I liked the Double Standard, I really liked this one.  The extra booze cuts into the sweetness and lets the gin and rye flavors be more readily available to the palate.  The Peychaud’s adds another dimension of complexity that makes the flavor profile more interesting as well.  It’s a nice twist on a classic sour – give it a try and let me know what you think!

Well, after three sours, my sour exploration was done for the night, along with the movie.  Do you have a favorite Christmas movie that calls for a cocktail?  If so, share it with us!

Cheers!