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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!

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!

The Twilight Lounge – February 3, 2012

Friday night was movie night around here and I had selected Patton to watch.  This definitely called for a cocktail, and I was in the mood for something new and different.  I also had a taste for St. Germain, so I went to their website to see what the had and found the Elder Fashion.  A twist on the Old Fashioned, and very straightforward to make, I decided to give it a whirl.

The original recipe called for rye whiskey, St. Germain and Angostura bitters, garnished with an orange slice.  I made the first one that way, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted – it was missing the orange/cherry components of the Old Fashioned.  So when I mixed up the second one I used orange bitters rather than Angostura.  That hit the spot!  I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of rye whiskey with orange bitters, and the St. Germain gave just the right level of sweet and that hint of elderflower.

  Elder Fashion

  • 3 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters

In a rocks glass combine all the ingredients and stir.  Add 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball, garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Much simpler to make than an Old Fashioned and just as tasty!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Milwaukee, WI – January 26, 2012

“Feeling different feeling strange
This can never be arranged
As the light fades from the screen
From the famous final scene”

My apologies to Mr. Seger and the rest of the Silver Bullet Band.  However, having played the “Stranger In Town” album until I wore it out as a teen, how could I resist a drink named “The Famous Final Scene”? 

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Mark Stoffel and I decided a Men’s League night was long overdue and headed downtown for a man date and a few good drinks.  We started at Umami Moto where I had their Shanghai Mule.  A twist on the classic Moscow Mule, this cocktail substituted TyKu Soju for vodka.  It was mild and refreshing cocktail, and actually would be a great poolside sipper on a warm day.  My original notes called it innocuous, which may have a little harsh, but there wasn’t a lot memorable about it (actually, if it were not for my notes, I wouldn’t be writing about it here because I did forget about it).

After our start at Umami, it was on to Distil, our primary objective of the evening.  Distil is one of Milwaukee’s latest hip cocktail lounges, serving up true cocktails, including several that are homemade, along with a great selection of hard to find and rare bourbons and other assorted spirits.  “The Famous Final Scene” was the cocktail that caught my eye, and not just for the name.  Consisting of Bulliet Rye, sweet vermouth, HUM Botanical liqueur and orange bitters, it reminded me of some of the rye cocktails I’ve conjured up at the Twilight Lounge.  I’m a fan of rye and orange bitters, and was really looking forward to trying this out.  Unfortunately, this cocktail (pictured above) was overwhelmed by the spicey ginger flavor of the HUM liqueur.  I couldn’t detect the rye or the orange bitters, and the vermouth helped sweeten it, but also wasn’t really discernable.  I’d love to try this drink with half the amount of HUM in it, but unfortunately, this cocktail is mass produced by the bar manager and stored in jugs waiting to be ordered, so the bartender on duty couldn’t tinker with the recipe to see if we could get it right. 

Fortunately, not all was lost for the evening.  Mark and I also ordered up a taste of the George T. Stagg 15 year old.  This cask strength bourbon clocks in at around 140 proof, but you’d never know it by how smooth and mellow it was.  Nice notes of charcoal and vanilla to my nose made this a delight.  Adding just a drop of water mellowed it even more so and allowed cherry notes to emerge as well.  All in all, an excellent sipping bourbon!

So, 1 out 3 got Albert Pujols $240 million … and all it did was keep me from getting a hangover!

Cheers!

Germantown, WI – December 18, 2011

Well, another 3 hours of watching the futility known as Cleveland Browns football.  The game started well enough with an opening touchdown drive that featured the bruising, no nonsense running of Petyon Hillis.  I actually felt like the Browns offense may have found a groove today between Hillis and his punishing running style and the athletic Seneca Wallace at quarterback getting the ball downfield to the Brown’s receivers. 

After that opening drive I decided to have a cocktail, and even though I want to feature gin over the next couple of weeks, I was inspired to have rye whiskey by watching Hillis.  Rye seems to match Peyton’s straight forward style of play.  Here’s what I came up with.

  Peyton Hillis

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  • 1 lemon slice

In a rocks glass muddle the lemon slice with the bar syrup and bitters.  Add 5-6 ice cubes and the vermouth and rye and stir.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Mmm, I do always like the combination of orange bitters and rye, and I did again in this cocktail.  It is a takeoff on a traditional old fashioned, using lemon for a brighter taste than the orange in an old fashioned. 

Unfortunately, as I sipped my new cocktail creation I was again treated to the sight of the Browns unable to maintain their edge and losing yet again.  At least the cocktail was good!

Cheers!

Day 344, Cocktail 351

Well, I guess this serves me right.  I didn’t take any pictures of Tuesday’s cocktail, a whiskey fizz.  I did a quick online search for photos of whiskey fizz and I found some very nice ones, but just didn’t feel right using someone else’s photograph of the cocktail.  So I got cute and thought, “hey, I’ll find something sexy to use” and did a search for whiskey chicks.  Well, you can see how that turned out…

  Whiskey Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • lemon lime soda

Combine everything but the lemon lime soda in a shaker with ice cubes and shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a collins glass filled with ice cubes and top with lemon lime soda.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

This recipe came from Dale Degroff’s “The Craft of the Cocktail”, and it is very good – it beats just a plain rye and 7-Up anyday.  The lemon adds a much fresher component to the recipe than you would otherwise get just using the soda.  I used Jim Beam rye in this one, but a good bourbon would work just as well.

Cheers!

Day 331, Cocktail 336

While driving home after dropping daughter number one off at school Tuesday morning I noticed a stand of maple trees with buckets hanging off the trunks about 3 feet up from the ground.  Instantly I realized that someone was collecting the sap so that they could make…drumroll please…maple syrup!  Yum!

Cocktails with maple syrup have graced earlier posts of this blog, but I felt inspired to come up with a cockail that would use it again.  Rye seemed like a natural, and having chosen the Jim Beam all I had to do was decide what else should go into the mixing glass.  My fondess of orange as a pairing with rye is well documented, so choosing Agnsotura’s orange bitters was a fairly obvious choice to me.

  Orange Maple

  • 3 oz Jim Beam rye
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

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

Very nice, a good blend of all three flavors in balance.  The sweetness of the maple syrup helps make this a touch less boozy and compliments the orange flavor of the bitters.  Another winner from the Twilight Lounge!

Cheers!

Day 320, Cocktail 323

Another Friday night at the Twilight Lounge (and yes, the lights are low there).  With nothing else planned, Gwen and I went with the tried and true formula of home made pizza, cocktails, and, of course, a James Bond movie.  This weeks’s movie was Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance as 007.  One of my favorite scenes is when a former Russian KGB officer turned mobster jokingly asks Bond if he wants his martini shaken, not stirred.

As for the cocktail, I was back to egg whites.  I found this recipe on the CocktailDB and thought I’d give it a whirl.

  Whiskey Daisy

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 3/4 oz grenadine
  • 1/2 egg white

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and shake to mix.  Add 3-4 ice cubes and shake to chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The first flavor across my tongue was the lemon, followed by the fruit of the grenadine and then the rye.  I had used Jim Beam for the rye, which is on the mellower side.  I had also cut down on the lemon from the original recipe, which called for 1-1/2 ounces of lemon juice.  That was just too much and overpowered the drink.  The egg white, in addition to adding a frothy “head” to the drink that is visually appealing also added a slight creaminess to the drink.  Overall, very nice and a nice compliment to the action from 007 on the screen.

Notice that I initially mixed this drink without ice.  I did so to create more of an emulsification with the egg.  Doing so warm creates a better and more airy mixture.  Add the ice after you’ve given this a good hard shake and then shaking gently will maintain that airiness while chilling the cocktail.

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 304, Cocktail 306

Wednesday’s cocktail was less than spectacular, so this will be a relatively short post.

  Blinker

  • 1-1/2 oz rye
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

I have to admit that this cocktail just did not hit the spot.  The initial flavor was odd – the rye came through and it was very tart and almost tasted like there was lime in it, although there is none.  It was very disjointed and never did come together in the glass.  I suspect that a bit grenadine or bar syrup and perhaps a dash of Peychaud’s might help, but I didn’t the time Wednesday to fool around with it.  Maybe another day!

Cheers!