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Tag Archives: pomegranate

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?

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June 30, 2011 – Fargo, ND

One of the benefits of my job is getting to find neat cocktail lounges in places I’d never otherwise visit.  The HoDo Lounge in downtown Fargo is just one of those places.

It is located in the historic Hotel Donaldson and draws a crowd as eclectic as the drink menu.  The band added to the fun, playing a mix of original music and covers that kept the crowd moving all night long. 

The first drink that I had was the Firetruck.  It was an amazing cocktail that consisted of St. Germain, seltzer water, and (drum roll please) 10 year old Laphroaig.  Even though there was just a 1/4 oz of the Laphroaig in this drink it comes through loud and clear.  The St. Germain sweetens this up just a bit and softens the peaty flavor of the Laphroig, while the seltzer makes this a tall glass sipper that is refreshing.  An inventive and very interesting cocktail.

The second cocktail of the night was the unusually named Cucular Caley (pictured).  A melange of pomegranate vodka, Hendricks gin, Sailor Jerry rum and cucumbers, all topped with a bit of seltzer, this was an amazing drink.  It was slightly sweet, slightly spicy and slightly fruity, yet still boozy enough to remind me that it packs a punch.  Kudos to the staff for this fantastic cocktail!

With that it was time for me to head back to my hotel and get a good nights sleep before my drive back to Milwaukee.  You can be sure, though, that I’m looking forward to my next visit to Fargo!

Day 293, Cocktails 291 & 292

Saturday night and daughter number 1 was hosting a boy / girl Valentine’s Party in the Twilight Lounge.  That means two things.  First, Gwen and I got to stay home Saturday night to chaperone.  Second, the liquor cabinets were locked for the night as well!  What to do, then?  Well, a little advanced planning and move a few key bottles upstairs to the kitchen, that’s what to do!

I had a full bottle of pomegranate juice that had been around a for awhile and decided it was time to put it to use.  I poked around Colleen Graham’s cocktail blog (see the links list below) and found something called the Blushing Geisha.  I didn’t have the rose water that it called for, but went ahead anyway with this variant (that is the beauty of cocktails – you can change ’em any way you want to!).

  Blushing Geisha

  • 2 oz Ty Ku
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1/8 oz lemon juice
  • seltzer water

In a shaker combine the Ty Ku, pomegranate juice and lemon juice.  Shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a rocks glass filled 2/3 with ice.  Top with seltzer water. 

I was really suprised how well the Ty Ku flavors, especially the melon tones, came through in this drink.  I really expected the pomegranate to overpower the drink, but it didn’t.  This turned out to be a very nice showcase for the Ty Ku and would make a great cocktail for a warm summer night – and those aren’t that far off around here.

Next up was a totally off the cuff creation.  I had already figured to use vodka and the pomegranate in some type of cosmo type concoction.  Hmmm, I wonder how the Lillet Blanc would play with these?  And what about staying Asian themed by using some lychee juice?  Here’s what I came up with.

  Lychee Pom

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 1/8 oz lychee juice

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lychee fruit or leave ungarnished.

Wow, does the lychee ever stand clear!  It’s amazing the flavor that is packed into the lychee juice.  Sweet, and the closest I can come to describe it is pear flavors, but not quite as syrupy as pears are.  Either way, the small amount in this drink was still enough to have it become the defining the flavor, with notes of orange and floral flavors coming from the Lillet Blanc.  We enjoyed this one so much that we each had two.  By the time we were through with the second the party was also finishing up and we called it a night.

Cheers!

Day 254, Cocktail 252

Do not attempt to adjust your television…This is what happens when you have one too many.

OK, seriously, are there any Twilight Zone fans out there?  One, two, that’s it, just two?  Oh well.  At least my troll’s hair color matches tonight’s cocktail.

So, I concocted this cocktail on Tuesday, trying to use up my pomegranate juice after I realized it has a relatively short shelf life.  But that’s OK, because it’s good for you, right?  Well it is, but I just read a report today in Business Week magazine that states that the health effects of pomegranate juice have been overhyped, the company that makes POM Wonderful is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for making unfounded health claims and that pomegranate juice is no better for you than good ‘ol orange juice.  *Sigh”  At least it tastes good in cocktails.

  POM Wonderful

  • 2 oz rasberry flavored vodka
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake the night away.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime peel. 

Ok, ok, yes, I used flavored vodka!  It was purchased during a moment of weakness nearly 2 years ago and I’m trying to get rid of the stuff!  Other than that, this is a tasty little number, similar to that chick fave the Cosmopolitan (conscpicous in its continued absence from this blog).  In fact, Gwen asked for another one tonight, cementing its place in the chick cocktail section of my recipe rolodex.

It’s back to real cocktails in my next post (hmmm, must have been to Bryant’s again).

Cheers!

Day 243, Cocktail 240

Christmas Eve is always a special night for us.  This year, while the girls were at their church service I worked up a Polish style pork roast with homemade applesauce and my special homemade potato pancakes.  A cucumber salad with sour cream dressing and a nice bottle of reisling completed the meal.

Of course, I rarely cook with an empty hand, and last night was no different.  Colleen Graham’s cocktail blog provided the inspiration for my Christmas Eve cocktail.  It took a couple of iterations to get it right, but Gwen was more than happy to assist me!

  Peach Pom

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz peach liqueur
  • 3/4 oz orange juice
  • 1/8 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Shake in a shaker with ice to chill and mix.  Strain into a 6 oz chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a couple of fresh cranberries.

A nice, semi sweet cocktail.  The peach flavor is at the front with the pomegranate and orange supporting it.  The lemon juice actually helps cut the sweetness, so don’t skip over it for this drink!  This was a very nice starter before our dinner, and would also work well with a nice chocolate dessert!

Cheers!

Day 234, Cocktail 232

Wednesday was a mellow day – typical for mid-week most of the time around here, especially in the winter.  A laid back cocktail was in order as well.  Nothing too boozy or too hard to make.  I did a search of the CocktailDB for rye whiskey and found this drink.

That is the Whiskey Squirt pictured to the left.  I like it’s nice, pink hue and it looks really good in my Christmas themed highball glass!  I have several different sets of holiday themed glasses – and the secret is to shop Goodwill for them.  You can find some really neat glasses for very little money there!

  Whiskey Squirt

  • 1-1/2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4 oz bar syrup
  • 1/2 oz grenadine
  • seltzer water

In a shaker combine the ingredients with ice.  Shake to mix.  Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.  Top with seltzer water and give a quick stir. 

This drink is very similar to the fizz style drinks that I’ve had previously.  It’s light, refreshing and the grenadine provides just a hint of pomegranate flavor to mesh with the whiskey.  To really make this drink pop, use real grenadine, which is a pomegranate based syrup.  If you use Rose’s or similar grenadine all you are getting is red colored corn syrup and you’ll miss out on the real flavor of this drink.

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

Day 223, Cocktail 221

This is the post wherein I attempt to make our friend Andrea very sad for having left beautiful Milwaukee for Boston…

Saturday night was our annual NID Holiday cocktail party.  Definately another occasion to come up with an orginal Christmas cocktail — and one that I could make up by the pitcher full!  Now, the first time I did this several years ago Andrea got wrecked on my creation, causing us to change the name from the Sleigh Ride to the Sleigh Wreck.  Even though she swore off of them, I’m pretty sure they were the cause of her dancing on the bar at our annual holiday party that year.  Andrea, if you’re reading this, set me straight if I’ve missed anything.

Anyway, back to Saturday night.  I tinkered around for a bit and came up with this.

  Bad Santa

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 bar spoon peppermint schnapps

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a mint leaf or green striped candy cane. 

Both Gwen and I, as well as several of our friends enjoyed this one.  The pomegranate juice keeps it fruity without being sweet and the peppermint schnapps give it just a whiff of mint flavor.  Definately a crowd pleaser for those holiday parties!

Now, if you do want to mix it up by the pitcher full, just work the scale up.  I used 3 cups vodka, 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1 cup triple sec and just 1 oz of peppermint schnapps.  I also added about 3/4 cup of ice to the pitcher and let it melt in.  This is really important to remember when mixing large batches.  When you mix a cocktail one at a time, you’re getting about 20% water into the drink from the ice melting.  Thus, adding ice or water to your large batch mixes still gives you the proportion.  Otherwise, you risk having your guests dancing on top of your bar by 10pm instead of 1am!

Cheers!

Day 189, Cocktail 187

Finally, the big day is here!  It seems almost anticlimatic, probably because for the grown ups the fun was last night!  The kids are out trick or treating, so it’s time for Gwen and I to relax with a cocktail while passing out the candy. 

Yet another web search for Halloween cocktails yeilded tonight’s drink.  This drink is ubiquitious and it’s origin is unclear.  But, it looks good, tastes good and has a name that fits!

  Black Widow

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 3/4 oz creme de cassis
  • 3/4 oz triple sec
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz pomegranate juice

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

This is a nice little Halloween cocktail, fruity, but not too sweet.  It has a dark, ruby, almost black color and with the licorice whips makes for a somewhat sinister presentation.

Cheers!

Day 183, Cocktails 178 & 179

Sometimes, the sequel is as good as the first movie, like the second Godfather.  And some time, it’s not so good, like Legally Blonde 2.  Sunday’s cocktails were kinda’ of the same thing, sequels, both good and bad.

The first sequel was the Love Potion No. 9.  I decided to make a fizz version to enjoy while watching football.  I got out a mixing glass, filled it with ice and started pouring.  Vodka, check.  Chambord, check.  Cranberry juice, oops…no cranberry.  Well, how about grapefruit juice then?  So, on I went substituting ruby red grapefruit juice for the cranberry.  Of course, I did have the lemon juice, whew.  So, I put all the ingredients together, gave a good stir and then poured the drink into a collins glass, filled it with ice and topped it with seltzer water.  Well…it’s not bad, but it’s not really a knockout drink either.  The grapefruit juice and chambord is disjointed and the drink never really came together. 

The great thing about sequels is that you can always find another drink to reprise.  For my second sequel I chose the Majesty’s Pomegranate that I had just enjoyed at the Klavier the night before.  This was a delicious combination of Ketel One Citrus vodka, grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice and lime juice.  Since I don’t have any citrus vodka I improvised by adding a bit of lemon juice to the cocktail.  Here’s what I came up with.

  Majesty’s Pomegranate Fizz

  • 2 oz Smirnoff vodka
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1-1/2 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir well and pour into a collins glass.  Add ice to fill the glass and top with seltzer water.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

This one really hit the spot.  The pomegranate is the featured flavor with the citrus playing a supporting role.  And, unlike my last effort, there is a nice balance of flavors. 

So, sometimes the sequel works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  You just never know until you try!

Cheers!