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Tag Archives: rye

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!


Day 285, Cocktails 283, 284 & 285

Nothing like a trip to Bryant’s to get caught up!  Brother Mark and I (along with another of Mark’s friends) stopped by there not too long ago for a Men’s League night.  We were delighted to find Emily, Michael and Katie Rose behind the bar.  That always means good things are in store for us!

My first was an effort from Emily, and it was fantastic!  Named the Robin’s Nest (see the picture), she used Hendrick’s gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, lime juice, rich syrup and muddled cucumber, salt and pickled ginger to create a dazzling mix of ginger and cucumber flavors.  The rich syrup is fuller and, well, richer – and is made with demerara sugar instead of the regular white sugar I use in my bar syrup.  This was an outstanding drink from Emily and if you walk ito Bryant’s and find her behind the bar you really need to try one of these.

Next up was a no name cocktail from Michael that he put together to satisfy my craving for something in rye and orange flavors.  His cocktail included Sazerac rye whiskey, Aperol, orange bitters and Lillet Blanc.  A very tasty cocktail, this one had just the right mix of sweet orange and floral flavors that complimented the Sazerac extremetly well.  I enjoyed sipping this one as we bantered with each other and the other patrons at the bar.

My last drink of the night was a Katie Rose effort, and she put together a fantastic effort.  Following up on my rye and orange inclination, she used Sazerac rye, Aperol, Punt e Mes, Cynar, Reagan’s bitters, Angostura bitters and lemon juice.  You would think between the bitters, Cynar and Punt e Mes that this would be a very bitter, difficult drink.  It wasn’t, though.  The Aperol helps sweeten it back up, counteracting the bitter flavor of the Cynar (which is a liqueur made from artichoke among other things) and the Punt e Mes, which is a bitter Italian vermouth.  The flavors in this cocktail are bold and strong, yet also work well together, creating a taste explosion in my mouth.  Well done Katie, especially considering she overcame a sprained thumb which made shaking painful for her.

If you are in Milwaukee and have not been to Bryant’s you really do need to try it out – you won’t be disappointed.


Day 264, Cocktails 263 & 264

Friday night was a stay in family night for us.  The kiddos picked out Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the DVD player and Gwen and the daughters put together a mini Tapas of appetizers for us.  My job was to whip up cocktails for us, non-alchoholic for the daughters, of course.

I had a can of Lychee fruit juice, which has become a favorite at the Twilight Lounge, especially for daughter number 2.  I started by mixing up her non-alcholic cocktail.  I began with a pint glass filled with ice.  Next I added about 3 oz of the lychee juice, 1 oz of orgeat, juice from 1/2 a lime (about 3/4 oz) and then topped it with tonic water.  Sometimes I’ll also drizzle in a bit of grenadine on the top for color, although I did not do that this time.  You can also top this with seltzer water or lemon lime soda – my daughter happens to like the tonic water.  It was soooo good that she had another!

You’ve seen orgeat in some of my cocktails, mostly tiki type fare.  It is an almond flavored syrup and is usually available in larger liquor stores with the other flavorings such as grenadine or bloody mary mix.  It is thick and sweet, so it doesn’t take too much to flavor a cocktail.  It is just one of those ingredients I always have on hand.

Now, what to make for the adults?

  Almond Lychee

  • 1-1/2 oz Appleton Estate VX amber rum
  • 1 oz lychee juice
  • 1/4 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 oz lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  You really need to work this one over to make sure the orgeat gets thoroughly incorporated.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lychee fruit.

I know, my picture doesn’t have a garnish – I didn’t have any lychee fruit in the house, but next time I will!  This is a nice, tiki style cocktail with a twist from the lychee juice.  The closest I can come to describing how it tastes is pear – but a little lighter.  There’s a bit of the molasses flavor from the rum and the lime helps provide a bit of tart, cutting the sweetness of the orgeat. 

The Almond Lychee was so good that we had two while watching good ‘ol Harry once again beat off the advances of what’s his name that shall remain unnamed.

Later last night I went down to the Twilight Lounge to write yesterday’s post.  As usual, I poured myself a whiskey on the rocks to sip on while I wrote.  Normally I would have had a scotch (Cutty Sark is my house blended) but instead decided to use Russell’s 6 Reserve Rye last night.  After a couple of sips, which I did enjoy, I decided to tinker.  After fooling around and adusting a bit here’s what I came up with.

  Blog Sipper

  • 2oz Russell’s Reserve Rye
  • 3 dashes Angosturo orange bitters
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice

In a mixing glass, combine the ingredients (bitters first) with ice cubes.  Stir for 30-45 seconds to combine and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass with large ice cubes or an ice ball.

Mmmm, that lovely combination of orange flavors and rye with just a touch of lemon is delicious.  The perfect cocktail to sip on while I muse over the cocktail world!


Day 246, Cocktails 242 & 243

Notice how everyone is always eyeing a good cocktail, especially when its made at the Twilight Lounge?  I mean just look at it…Gumby is all over it, Pokey is charging in, Kevin Mack is trying to head Pokey off and Bernie Kosar is about to hoist himself up into the drink.  And Chief Wahoo?  Why do you think he’s grinning?

Tonight I had a few fresh oranges and a brand new juicer (thanks to Gwen and the girls) to try out.  By now, you regular readers know that I border on a fetish for orange and rye whiskey, so this should be no suprise to you.

  Whiskey Special

  • 1-1/2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz orange juice

Combine in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled coupe.  Garnish with an orange peel and a dusting of ground nutmeg.

Hmmm….my official taste tester wasn’t too crazy about this, and I kinda’ agreed with her.  The flavor of the dry vermouth overwhelms the drink and the nutmeg just tastes gritty.  So what to do?  Well, that’s easy, try again!

  Whiskey Extra Special

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/8 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled coupe.  Garnish with an orange peel.

Now that’s more like it!  The Luxardo stays in the background and allows the orange flavors and rye to blend and play together very nicely.  This turned into a nice, semi boozy cocktail that I could drink all night!  Alas, work calls tomorrow, so I’ll hold myself to one tonight.


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.


Day 233, Cocktail 231

Ah yes, the eternal question, Ginger or Mary Ann?  Spicy, redheaded, buxom Ginger or the practical, girl next door Mary Ann?  Supposedly you can what kind of man he is by his answer to this question…Ginger or Mary Ann? 

Last night was Ginger’s night at the Twilight Lounge.  I had been at World Market over the weekend and picked up a bottle of Old Ballycastle Ginger.  This mixer, produced by Powell & Mahoney, caught my eye.  I figured it would be an interesting way to add ginger flavors to cocktails.  So on Tuesday I pulled it out and started playing around.  It definately tastes like ginger, but it also has a spicy after note, as in spicy hot.  Not too hot, but enough to let you know it’s there.

After tasting the Old Ballycastle Ginger I knew that this was just screaming for tequila.  Yet, I wasn’t in the mood for tequila and decided to work it with rye and orange juice.  Here’s the result:

  Ginger Rye

  • 2 oz Jim Beam rye
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz Old Ballycastle Ginger
  • 1 dash Angosturo bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.

A very flavorful cocktail with the ginger and orange combining nicely to complement the rye.  The spiciness of the ginger is barely there, but I did get a hint of it.  I was a bit suprised that it wasn’t more prevalent given how strong it was by itself.  I also really had to sneak up on this one and ended up with much more of the ginger than I thougth I would in it.

Oh, and I’ve always been a Mrs. Howell man.  She’s the one with the money!


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!


Day 219, Cocktail 217

Wow, I’m glad to finally be back.  A nasty headcold knocked me flat on Wednesday and Thursday.  I finally got my feet back under me on Friday.  I hope this is the only one of the winter!  So let’s get back to it.

After having the Ward 8, a cousin of the Whiskey Sour,  last Monday, I realized I hadn’t really explored sours since starting this blog.  Most bars that you go to will be able to immediately make you a whiskey sour or one of its many variants.  Unfortunately, most will use a bottled mix.  This is unfortunate since all it takes to make a sour is lemons and bar syrup.  Yep, it’s that simple.  Oh, and actually, they’re not really sour either.  More on that in a moment. 

Sours, in general, have been around since the 1700’s when English sailors took to adding rum to lime and other citrus juices.  This mix was done to preserve the lime juice, a necessity to avoid scurvy on long voyages.  By the 1860’s recipes for whiskey sours had been published.  Because there are so many different sources, I find it difficult to say just where the drink got its start.  Suffice it to say that it has been a bar staple for 150 years, particularly in its whiskey form.

I started my journey into sours with the classic whiskey sour.  Most recipes call for bourbon, however, I used rye and really liked it.  Rye, to me, is the quintessential American whiskey and seems to work just a tad bit better with the lemon juice than bourbon.  Don’t get me wrong, making a whiskey sour with good bourbon is also a wonderous thing…I just prefer the rye by a nose.

  Whiskey Sour

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredients with ice in a mixing glass.  Shake to mix and pour, ice and all, into a rocks glass.  Garnish with any a lemon or orange slice and cherry.

Alternatively, you can strain the mixed sour into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy up.  However, as with an Old Fashioned, I prefer to have this on the rocks.  It’s also important to use freshly squeezed lemon juice.  The difference in taste is noticeable.  With fresh lemon juice you will have a much brighter flavor to your cocktail.

I like this drink – alot!  The lemon and rye – I used Jim Beam rye – work wonderfully together and the froth you get from shaking gives the cocktail a festive look out of the shaker.  The simple syrup cuts the tartness of the lemon juice.  While not quite sweet, this drink is not sour at all.  Mix one up and let me know what you think!


Day 218, Cocktail 216

Yesterday was a quiet evening at home with a ton of stuff to catch up on after Paula and Cookie’s visit.  So a simple cocktail was in order and this little number from the Ultimate Bar Book seemed to fit the bill. 

  Ward 8

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 bar spoon grenadine

Fill a rocks glass with a couple of ice cubes.  Add the ingredients, stir and then top the glass with ice.  Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

What can I say, I just love the combination of orange and rye.  I used Jim Beam rye for this one and it was delicious.  The lemon really made this tart.  Next time I think I’d add a dash of bar syrup and perhaps a dash of bitters as well. 


Day 216, Cocktails 213 & 214

Saturday night was a night out on the town for Paula, Cookie, Gwen and me.  We started by stopping by Bryant’s for a cocktail before dinner.  Proprietor John Dye was manning the bar when we arrived and I asked John for something with rye and ginger beer.  He came up with an original cocktail on the spot that has no name.  It consisted of Old Overholt rye, Gosling ginger beer, Branca Menta, Peychaud’s bitters and lime juice.  It was very tasty and had just an overtone of mint, which I originally guessed as creme de menthe, incorrectly so as it turned out.  The mint flavor came from the Branca Menta, which is a mint version of Fernet Branca.  Very herbal, almost bitter tasting, it helped round out the cocktail John made in a way that creme de menthe would never be able to do.

After our drink at Bryant’s we headed to Casablanca for dinner.  The food was excellent and the atmosphere was interesting.  We’ll definately return soon!

After dinner we headed to another favorite, the Foundation Tiki bar in Riverwest.  There I enjoyed a Blue Moana.  This tasty treat consists of vodka, blue curacao, lime juice with hints of orange and almond.  I’m sure the almond comes from orgeat syrup but I couldn’t quite figure if the orange was coming from orange juice, triple sec or Cointreau.  I also did not have a chance to quiz the bartender as shortly after we arrived a busload of pub crawlers arrived and the bar was hopping for the next hour!

All in all a great evening as we got to take my mom and Cookie to two of my favorite bars in Milwaukee.  We’re already looking forward to their next visit!