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The Twilight Lounge – February 25, 2012

A quiet evening at home after the week in Vegas is just what I needed last Saturday.  A couple of movies and cocktails were the order of the day.  However, I wasn’t content to have the same ‘ol same ‘ol, so I started rooting around in the Twilight Lounge amongst the drink recipes.  What caught my eye was this little number called the Melon Patch (yeah, I know, they caught your eye too, didn’t they?).  With vodka as its base, I knew it would be strong enough for me, yet with melon flavored Midori and orange flavored Cointreau, I knew that Gwen would also enjoy it.

  Melon Patch

  • 1-1/2 oz Midori
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz vodka
  • soda water

 

In a shaker with ice combine everything but the soda water and shake.  Pour, ice and all, into a rocks glass and top with soda water.

The vodka and soda water do a nice job of cutting the sweetness of the Midori and Cointreau, leaving a nice, refreshing cocktail.  The combination of the flavors evokes a hint of bananna along with the orange and melon flavors of the liqueurs.  This one would be perfect for warm summer evenings or pool side on a hot day.  It’s a good thing summer isn’t that far away!

Cheers!

Christmas CocktailDecember 6, 2011 – The Twilight Lounge

 So my eternal quest for a the perfect cocktail that combined chocolate and peppermint flavors has finally ended.  Typically, my past efforts had way too much peppermint and were as tasty as mint Listerine.  Tonight, however, I toned down the peppermint, amped up the Bailey’s (it ain’t Christmas without George Bailey, is it?) and added enough vodka to give it some punch.  Oh, and the Amaretto?   Well that adds depth and helps to counterbalance the peppermint.  Thus, behold the George Bailey!

  George Bailey

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka
  • 1-1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1/4 oz peppermint schnapps
  • 1/4 oz Amaretto

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

Mmmm, delicious.  Just the right combination of mint, chocolate and nuttiness from the Amaretto, with the vodka providing a base to make this a cocktail and not just a girlie sipper.  So pop It’s a Wonderful Life into the DVD player and give it a whirl.  Let me know what you think!

Merry Christmas!

December 3, 2011 – Germantown, WI

Last Saturday was the kickoff to the holiday season for me.  The decorations are all up (we’ll, OK, I’m still putting the finishing touches on the Twilight Lounge decor) and our first holiday party of the season was Saturday night.

Of course, I had to come up with Christmas themed cocktail to take for us to imbibe.  I seem to have a thing for green cocktails at Christmas, so when I stumbled upon a cocktail called the Grinch it seemed like a natural.  It called for Midori (very green indeed), lemon juice and bar syrup.  So I mixed up a batch and….waaaaaay to sweet.  The Midori is sweet enough as it is and with the additional bar syrup, well, there was just no way I’d be able to sip these all night long.  Factor in that Midori is only 40 proof and I knew I just had to do something.  And what was that something?  Vodka!

  The Grinch

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Midori liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Alternatively, you can just pour this, ice and all, into a rocks glass.  In that case, just double all the ingredients and you’ll be good to go.

This turned out to be a nice holiday sipper – not to sweet, not too boozy, but just right.  The melon flavor of the Midori is cut down by the vodka and lemon and is in the background instead of in your face.  Of course, the green color certainly matches the Grinch’s face, and the cherry is a nice reminder that his heart went from two sizes too small to two sizes too big!

Chears!

Monday, May 30, 2011

First, a little history.  A number of years ago, while I was living in St. Louis, my good buddy Andy invited me to head on out to Montgomery County, MO for a night of dirt track racing, good food and drinking.  How could I resist? 

To make a long story short, the night was long on drinking and short on most everything else.  The next morning we made for three hungover hombres.  I asked Andy what he had for breakfast…and the answer was bacon and a watermelon.  Oh, and nothing else to drink (the camp didn’t have potable water).  So, bacon and watermelon it was!

Ever since then Andy and I have joked about a watermelon bacon cocktail.  Yesterday I decided to try my hand at it (creating the pictured mess in the process!).

I early in the morning by infusing a 1/2 later of vodka with slices of bacon (yes, it was cooked!).  I let the bacon sit in the vodka for about 6 hours and then put it in the freezer.  The objective here was to get the fat from the bacon to solidify.  After a couple of hours in the freezer I pulled it out and strained it, leaving myself with a slightly brownish, bacon tasting vodka.  To say that the flavor was unusual would be an understatement.  It did taste like bacon and vodka, but the aroma was less than enticing.  But I didn’t let that stop me!

Next up was the watermelon.  I pureed several cups of fresh cut, seedless watermelon.  Then with my trusty sidekick Greg at my side I went to work.  The first iteration was 1 oz of the bacon vodka, 1 oz white rum, 1/2 an egg white, 3 oz watermelon puree, 1/2 lime juiced and 1/8 oz of peach liqueur.  How was it?  Well, it was drinkable, but the peach actually drowned out the watermelon while the bacon as a little too heavy handed.  Not a keeper.

For the second iteration I dropped the rum and replaced it with 1 oz of vodka.  I also upped the watermelon to 4oz, kept the egg white, dropped the peach and added 1/8 oz of bar syrup (still with me?).  This was better, but still … funky.  While I was getting the creamy head I wanted from the egg white the whole thing was still disjointed and light on the watermelon flavor. 

In the next iteration I cut the bacon vodka down to 1/2 oz, used 2 oz vodka, 4 oz of watermelon puree and 1/4 oz bar syrup.  Now I was getting somewhere.  The bar syrup was helping to pull the cocktail into balance and the watermelon and bacon flavors were also well proportioned.  At Greg’s suggestion I opened up the liquor cabinet, looking for a flavored liqueur to add, hoping that this would be the final piece of the puzzle.  After several sniffs of a number of options, I settled on maraschino liqueur.  I added just 1/8 oz to the above proportions.  Yes, we have a winner!  The hint of cherry flavor from the maraschino liqueur was just what I needed to take the flavor load from falling completely to the bacon and watermelon.  Both, however, were clearly present, with the maraschino providing a very nice flavor base.

  Montgomery County

  • 1/2 oz homemade bacon infused vodka
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz watermelon puree
  • 1/4 oz bar syrup
  • 1/8 oz maraschino liqueur

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled 6 oz cocktail glass.  Garnish with a watermelon chunk.

Whew!  It was messy and took a lot of tries, but I think I finally got it.  Andy, this one’s for you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

During some random night last week I was again in the mood for a cocktail featuring egg white.  After thumbing through several cocktail books I found something called the Clover Club.  This is a classic cocktail (read as pre-Prohibition) that was enjoyed by the members of the Clover Club in Philadelphia.  The Clover Club was a group of civic minded business leaders who met regularly at the Bellevue-Stratford hotel.  Alas, while the Clover Club itself expanded to multiple cities in the early 1900’s, the cocktail didn’t make it past Prohibition.  It’s a pity too, because this delicious number beats the pants off a Cosmopolitan any day!

  Clover Club

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz grenadine
  • 1 egg white

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 60 seconds or more.  Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a half slice of lemon.

You really need to shake, shake, shake this cocktail, just like any other egg white cocktail.  The reason is to emulsify the egg and create an nice creamy head and fully incorporate the egg into the drink.

As for the cocktail itself – delicious is the only way to describe it.  Creamy, slightly sweet from the grenadine with just hints of juniper from the gin.  I used Bombay for this one – I wanted the full flavor of a London dry to stand up to the relatively large amount of grenadine and lemon in this one. 

Cheers!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I know that to some of my friends it seems like I just open up the liquor cabinet at the Twilight Lounge, pull out a few seemingly random bottles and whip up a cocktail that’s delicious and nutritious, just like that.  Alright, well, actually, it does sometimes work like that.  However, more times than not it takes several iterations to get a cocktail where I want it.  This week was an example of the latter as I worked on tonight’s cocktail over a span of several days, until finally I was able to say “That’s It!” to myself.

I started off with the notion that I wanted to recreate a root beer float.  That meant using the root beer flavoring from LorAnn Oils.  But what else to use?  I decided on a base of vodka, which provides pretty much a blank slate to work with.  My first crack at it was 2 oz of vodka (Sobieski, for those of you keeping score at home), 2 drops of the root beer flavor and 1/4 ounce of grenadine.  This effort was ok.  The grenadine was subtle but there, but the root beer was also subtle, and I wanted this to be bolder.  I also didn’t get the creaminess that a root beer float would have, but I didn’t want to add ice cream.  The second iteration kept the same amount of vodka and grenadine, but I bumped up the root beer flavoring to 3 drops and added 1 egg white.  Much better, as the egg white added the creamy texture that I wanted, but the root beer was still a tad muted.  Finally, version three came through when I bumped up the root beer flavor to 4 drops.  Ah yes, now I had a tasty cocktail that is evocative of the root beer float flavor I wanted to emulate. 

  Root Beer Float

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 drops LorAnn Oil root beer flavor
  • 1/4 oz grenadine
  • 1 egg white

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

When you shake this drink (as with any drink containing egg whites) give it as hard a shake as you can for 30 seconds.  This is about 10 seconds longer than I normally shake cocktails, but it is essential to get the frothy emulsification you want from the egg.  Also, as I’ve noted before, I use pasteurized egg whites purchases from my local grocer in the cardboard container (just like the milk you got at school as a kid).  It’s much easier to add the egg white to a drink when I can pour it from a carton, not to mention safer.  I use 1/2 oz of egg white when the recipe calls for 1 egg white. 

Cheers!

Day 365, Cocktail 365

Whew!  The last cocktail of my year long sojourn is finally here – and I can hardly believe its been year since I started!  It’s really been quite the journey and I’ve had some very interesting cocktails…along with a few clunkers.  So as I contemplated what to make as my 365th cocktail I decided to try to find something that would combine two of my favorite ingredients, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Luxardo maraschino liqueur.  There aren’t a lot of recipes that call for this combination, but I did find one that would fit the bill.

  Bourbon Crusta

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

Mmm, a nice, tart cocktail that highlights the maraschino.  The bourbon comes in on the back end of this drink but it really does a nice job of showcasing the maraschino.  Typically, a crusta also would include a sugared rim, which I skipped, half out of expediency to get to the drink and half out of the fact that I didn’t want the extra sugar.  However, if this drink is too tart for you, just add a 1/4 oz of bar syrup.

So, in the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny, that’s all folks!

Cheers!

Day 363, Cocktail 363

Friday night and another movie night for Gwen and I.  I had just purchased a box of those “Cutie” clementines and figured that they would back an excellent mixer for a cocktail.  They are slightly sweeter and less acidic than orange juice, and they fit so nicely into my lemon press, so I figured why not!  I’ve also been on a bit of a ginger kick so I wanted to incorporate that into the drink as well. 

Thus, with clementines and Domaine de Canton in mind, what to use for the base spirit?  I reached for the Rehorst gin.  I wanted something more than vodka, but didn’t want the full impact of a London Dry gin.  With it’s clean aftertaste and subtle use of juniper I knew the Rehorst would be a good choice.  Next I also pulled out the St. Remy brandy.  As I thought this cocktail through I figured I would need a bit of “darker” flavor as well to balance out the juice and ginger flavors I wanted.  So, let’s see how this worked out.

  Cutie

  • 1 oz Rehorst gin
  • 1/2 oz St. Remy brandy
  • 1 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1 oz clementine juice

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

Very nice, if I say so myself.  This really hit the spot and the flavors all worked together as I planned.  Not too sweet, with a backbeat of ginger from the Domaine de Canton and several layers of flavor from the Rehorst and St. Remy.  All in all, a very nice cocktail for clementine season!

So, I’m now down to two cocktails to had today to finish off my year long journey.  I’ll be having one with our mid afternoon dinner and then the final cocktail early this evening.  If you have a suggestion for my last cocktail, let me know!

Cheers!

Day 356, Cocktail 359

Tax season is over!  Hopefully you’re getting a modest refund.  If you wrote a check, well, you have my sympathy!

To celebrate the end of the tax season I pulled out a recipe from Colleen Graham’s blog that she had published a week or so ago.  How could I resist something called the Income Tax Cocktail?  This is basically a Bronx cocktail with the addition of bitters – perhaps indicative of the bitter pill paying taxes is?  We’ll never know for sure as the actual origins of this drink don’t seem to be known, at least not that I could find.  So let’s give this a try and see how it comes out.

  Income Tax

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Agnostura bitters

Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish, if desired, with an orange peel.

It was…alright.  Kinda’ like doing taxes, I’m more relieved to be done with this than enjoying the actual cocktail.  The sweet vermouth dominates the flavor, most likely because the Agnostura bitters are playing right into sweet vermouth at the expense of the other ingredients.  Kinda’ like our government, huh?

Cheers!

Day 350, Cocktail 356

Monday, besides being the first official day on the new job,  was also my final turn into the home stretch of my cocktail journey – I’m now counting down the final 10 cocktails to complete 365 new and different cocktails in 365 days.  Number 10 was discovered on the internet via the CocktailDB, one of my better sources of cocktails during the past year.  I was still in an egg white mood, even though I swore that the Golden Fizz was my last for a while.  So I searched on egg white as an ingredient and found this fun cocktail.  I have no idea where the name came from, but it sure looked good!

  Bachelor’s Bait

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1/4 oz grenadine

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes and shake long and hard to mix thoroughly and emulsify the egg.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  No garnish required.

Again, a delicious drink with the egg white adding a layer of body and creamy texture that just makes these drinks so tasty and good!  With a hint of orange from the bitters complimenting the gin (I used Beefeater) wonderfully.  The grenadine provides both a hint of color and a bit of sweet taste to compliment the orange bitters.

One more note about the egg white.  I have mentioned in previous posts that I use a pasteurized egg white product from the dairy section of my local grocery store.  This makes sure I won’t make myself or guests sick and also makes it easy to make cocktails without separating a bunch of eggs.  Just use 1/2 oz of egg white from the carton when a recipe calls for 1 egg white.

Cheers!